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Iraq

Iraq's Al-Sadr: Next Government to Be 'Inclusive'

Voice of America - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 17:18
Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose coalition won the largest number of seats in Iraq's parliamentary elections, has sought to reassure Iraqis about their next government, saying it will be "inclusive" and mindful of their needs.   No single bloc won a majority in the May 12 vote, raising the prospect of weeks or even months of negotiations to agree on a government. Major political players began talks soon after the election's partial results were announced...
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Monitor: IS Fighters Leave Damascus Enclave

Voice of America - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 14:48
A Syrian monitor says Islamic State fighters are being evacuated from the last insurgent enclave near Damascus, a move that will restore state control over the area. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the evacuation of the fighters and their families from Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp began Sunday. Buses were carrying the fighters and their families to the Syrian Desert, east of the capital. Reuters reports the enclave is the last besieged insurgent area in...
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Report: Europe, China, Russia Discussing New Iran Deal

Voice of America - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 05:40
Diplomats from Europe, China and Russia are discussing a new accord to offer Iran financial aid to curb its ballistic missile development and meddling in the region, in the hope of salvaging its 2015 nuclear deal, a German newspaper reported Sunday. The officials will meet in Vienna in the coming week under the leadership of senior European Union diplomat Helga Schmid to discuss next steps after the May 8 decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to pull out of a 2015 nuclear accord with...
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Iraq Election Body Feared Effects of Recount, Member Says

Voice of America - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 04:47
As demands for a manual voter recount surge amid claims of election fraud in the Iraqi general elections, the country's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) is concerned a ballot-by-ballot recount could portray the newly introduced electronic system as a failure, one member says. During a telephone interview with Voice of America, Saeed Kakei, a member of the IHEC, said his request for a manual recount was rejected by other members of the election commission who...
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Egypt Detains Socialist Activist, Lawyers Say

Voice of America - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 02:13
Egypt's state security prosecutor on Saturday ordered a prominent activist detained for 15 days for investigation on charges of involvement with a banned group and inciting and taking part in illegal protests, rights lawyers said. Haitham Mohamedeen, a leftist lawyer, was taken from his home Friday, security sources said, the latest in a number of arrests of activists in recent weeks. At least 20 people have been detained by security forces over...
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Gazans Observe Ramadan While Mourning their Dead

Voice of America - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 19:28
In Gaza, the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan has been marked by violence between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces at the border. Protesters are angered by Israel's policies in the region, as well as the U.S. decision to move its embassy to the disputed city of Jerusalem. VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara reports on how Gazans are observing Ramadan as they mourn for those killed in the clashes.
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Populist Cleric’s Bloc Wins Iraqi Election

Voice of America - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 09:42
Iraq’s electoral commission said Saturday that a bloc led by populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who fought U.S. troops during the Iraq War, has won the most seats in Iraq’s national parliamentary elections. Al-Sadr’s Marching Toward Reform alliance with Iraq’s communists won 54 seats. The Conquest Alliance earned second place with 47 seats, while the Victory Alliance, headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi came in third with 42. Al-Sadr did not run for a seat in parliament...
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US Embassy Move to Jerusalem Aggravates US-Turkish Tensions

Voice of America - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 08:43
Turkey is furious over the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and Israel's use of live ammunition against Palestinian protesters in Gaza, and it has recalled its ambassadors from the United States and Israel. Tensions between Ankara and Washington were already simmering over the fate of an American pastor imprisoned in Turkey and the sentencing of a Turkish banker in the United States. VOA's Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine has more from the State Department.
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Gaza Mourns as Islamic Holy Month Begins

Voice of America - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 00:09
As the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins in the Gaza Strip, markets are open but business is sparse, and funerals are being held for the more than 60 people who died this week in protests at the border with Israel. As families prepare for the most somber holiday season in recent memory, many say they feel hopeless, angry and forgotten after 70 years of conflict. VOA’s Heather Murdock has this from Gaza.
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Saudis Arrest Activists Who Campaigned for Women's Right to Drive

Voice of America - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 22:39
Saudi authorities have detained at least six activists, including three of the country's most prominent women's rights campaigners, weeks before the kingdom is set to lift a ban on driving by women, people familiar with the arrests said Friday. The Associated Press spoke with two people in touch with the detainees' relatives. One activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussion, said five were arrested Tuesday and the sixth person was detained Thursday....
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In Speech, Pompeo to Call for 'Broad Support' Against Iran

Voice of America - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 20:42
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will outline a "diplomatic road map" next week that he hopes will convince European and other allies to apply pressure on Iran and force it back to the negotiating table, a senior U.S. official said on Friday. Rebuffing appeals from France, Germany and Britain, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States 10 days ago from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers, saying the agreement did not adequately curb...
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Erdogan Seeks to Rally Support for Palestinians 

Voice of America - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 20:24
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to rally opposition to Israel and the United States, calling for a mass rally in Istanbul in support of Palestinians as leaders of the Islamic world gathered for a summit. Addressing a crowd of tens of thousands, Erdogan attacked Israel, the United States and Muslim leaders for the situation facing Palestinians.  The Turkish president drew parallels with the battle to “liberate Jerusalem” with Turkey’s World War I victory at...
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US General: US-Iraq Military Ties Not Impacted by Election

Voice of America - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 19:56
The US military's relationship with Iraq's security forces will not be impacted by the election win of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose followers fought US troops in past years, a top general said Friday. General Joe Votel, who heads the US military's Central Command, which oversees forces in the Middle East, told AFP he had confidence in the positive dynamic built up while the Iraqis fought the Islamic State jihadist group for three years. "They are very focused on...
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Yemen Hit by Storms as Rare Tropical Cyclone Sagar Nears

Voice of America - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 19:10
A U.N. agency has issued a warning for the rare tropical cyclone Sagar in the Gulf of Aden, saying it threatens flash flooding, as authorities say it has struck Yemen's southern coastline. The Health Ministry's emergency center says that an elderly woman has died after her house caught on fire Friday because of the storm, and that her family failed to rescue her in Khor Maskar in Aden. Another building was evacuated after a balcony collapsed. The center says that flash flooding...
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Kosovo Jails Eight for Plotting to Attack Israeli Soccer Team in 2016

Voice of America - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 18:02
A court in Kosovo jailed eight men Friday for plotting to attack the Israeli national soccer team in Albania in a World Cup qualifying match in 2016. The court in the capital handed the defendants, who are all from Kosovo, jail terms ranging from 18 months to 10 years, totaling more than 35 years. A ninth defendant was ordered to pay a fine of 2,500 euros. The prosecution said the group had planned to attack the Israeli team with explosives and automatic rifles. The plan was...
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US References to Libya Model Ahead of Kim Summit Confuse

Voice of America - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 17:06
Libya is suddenly on the lips of President Donald Trump and his hawkish national security adviser John Bolton ahead of the much-vaunted summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, or more precisely, the "Libya model" is. There seems to be a disconnect between the two on what that actually means — and it won't be assuaging anger in Pyongyang, already bubbling over this week with leverage-seeking threats to skip the summit in Singapore on June 12. Bolton was referring to...
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EU Mulls Direct Iran Central Bank Transfers to Beat US Sanctions

Voice of America - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 16:51
The European Commission is proposing that EU governments make direct money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid U.S. penalties, an EU official said, in what would be the most forthright challenge to Washington's newly reimposed sanctions. The step, which would seek to bypass the U.S. financial system, would allow European companies to repay Iran for oil exports and repatriate Iranian funds in Europe, a senior EU official said, although the details were still to be worked...
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UN Human Rights Chief: Gaza is a 'Toxic Slum'

Voice of America - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 13:48
The United Nations human rights chief has slammed Israel for the systemic deprivation of Palestinian human rights.  Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said Friday at a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council to discuss "the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories" that 1.9 million people in Gaza are "caged in a toxic slum from birth to death."  The special session could establish a commission of inquiry into the violence along the...
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Egypt Opens Gaza’s Rafah Crossing for Ramadan

Voice of America - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:30
Egypt has announced the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the entire Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the longest length of time since 2013, President Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi announced on Twitter.   El-Sissi wrote on his official Twitter account that the opening would “alleviate the burdens of the brothers in the Gaza Strip.” The announcement late Thursday comes just days after Israeli forces shot and killed 59 Palestinians and injured more than 2,700 during mass...
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New US Sanctions Hit at Hezbollah-Linked Financier, Companies

Voice of America - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 04:49
The United States sought on Thursday to further choke off funding sources for Iranian-backed Hezbollah, imposing sanctions on its representative to Iran, as well as a major financier and his five companies in Europe, West Africa and the Middle East. The U.S. Treasury said Mohammad Ibrahim Bazzi was a Hezbollah financier operating through Belgium, Lebanon and Iraq, and was a close associate of Gambia's former president Yahya Jammeh, who is accused of acquiring vast wealth during his...
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