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US's Kushner Makes Little Headway on Mideast Peace Plan in Gulf

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 19:59
White House adviser Jared Kushner made a whirlwind visit this week to rally U.S.-allied Gulf Arab allies to support his still- unannounced Middle East peace plan, the leaked contours of which suggest little has been done to address Arab demands. Kushner’s approach to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not appear to have progressed since his last regional tour in June, focusing largely on economic initiatives at the expense of a land-for-peace deal long central to the official...
Categories: Iraq

Erdogan, Kushner Discuss Middle East Peace Efforts

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 19:31
White House adviser Jared Kushner and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the Trump administration's Israeli-Palestinian peace plan at a meeting Wednesday in Ankara. Kushner has special responsibility for Israeli-Palestine policy and is touring the region to build support for what he reportedly calls "the deal of the century.” Erdogan is a critical player in the region because of his strong backing of the Palestinian cause and Hamas. Hamas is working closely...
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Israeli PM Vows to Bar Iran From Securing Presence in Syria

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 19:10
Israel's prime minister vowed to prevent Iran from securing a lasting presence in Syria as he visited Moscow on Wednesday for talks focusing on regional security. For Benjamin Netanyahu, it's the first trip to Moscow since September's downing of a Russian warplane by Syrian forces that were responding to an Israeli airstrike. The incident left 15 Russian crew dead and threatened to derail close security ties between Russia and Israel. Russian President Vladimir Putin said...
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At Least 25 Killed in Fiery Cairo Train Crash

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 18:13
Egyptian media say more than 25 people were killed and dozens wounded Wednesday after a passenger train crashed into the platform at Cairo's main rail station. The impact caused a fuel tank on the platform to explode, setting fire to the train. The accident at the Ramsis railway station set off a massive fireball, incinerating the front cars of the train and causing horrific burns to passengers and bystanders on the platform adjacent to the crash. Surveillance cameras captured the...
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At Least 25 Killed in Locomotive Crash, Fire at Egypt's Central Cairo Station

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 18:08
At least 25 people were killed and dozens injured after a locomotive crashed into a platform at high speed at Cairo's main railway station on Wednesday, causing its fuel tank to explode.
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Iran's President Rejects Resignation of His Foreign Minister

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 13:13
Iran’s president rejected the resignation of his foreign minister on Wednesday, throwing his full support behind the diplomat who negotiated the country’s nuclear deal with world powers as both men face growing pressure from hard-liners as the accord unravels under American pressure. President Hassan Rouhani earlier gave a speech praising Mohammad Javad Zarif after the foreign minister’s sudden resignation shocked the Islamic Republic late on Monday night. His rejection of the...
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IS Families in Syria Flee Group's Last Stronghold

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 07:09
Coalition-backed Syrian forces are close to defeating the last Islamic State militant stronghold in Syria, but the battle is fierce as militants defend their web of tunnels inside a camp crowded with women and children. In recent days, thousands more people have poured out of the battle zone, some near death and others vowing that IS will fight on. VOA Middle East correspondent Heather Murdock is on the scene in Syria and has this report.
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First Iranian-American Woman to Win Oscar Turns to Iran-Themed Films

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 06:00
The first Iranian-American woman to win an Oscar, Rayka Zehtabchi, says she wants to build on Sunday’s triumph of her documentary about menstruation by producing several films with Iran-related themes. “I’m very interested in telling Iranian stories as well as women’s stories,” the 25-year-old Los Angeles-based filmmaker told VOA Persian in a Skype interview on Monday. “I was raised in Southern California pretty much my whole life, but the older I get, the more I feel like I connect with...
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Syrian Kurds Seek Other Means of Trying IS Militants

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 05:30
In an effort to reduce the burden of Islamic State foreign fighters, U.S.-backed Syrian forces have recently handed over more than 300 IS militants, who have been captured in Syria, to the Iraqi government, which will reportedly try them for their actions against Iraqi civilians and security forces.  Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) officials have indicated that the move has been made to seek legal avenues outside Syria to try the militants for the crimes they have committed, since the...
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Iraq PM Says Country Could Take Non-Iraqi IS Detainees From Syria

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 03:56
Iraq could help transfer non-Iraqi Islamic State detainees held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday. Iraq will either help repatriate those citizens to their home countries, or prosecute on its own those suspected of having committed crimes, he said at his weekly news conference. "Some countries could ask Iraq to help to transfer some of her Daesh citizens to the other country, like France for example," Abdul Mahdi...
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8 Facts: Yemenis 'Dying Every Day' as UN Makes Record Appeal

Voice of America - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 23:26
Donor pledges of $2.6 billion for Yemen fell "a long way" short of $4.2 billion requested by the United Nations on Tuesday for the world's worst humanitarian crisis, aid agencies said. Aid agencies, including Save the Children and Oxfam, called for a ceasefire to help them reach more people in need in Yemen, where a proxy-war between Saudi Arabia and Iran has displaced millions and pushed them to the verge of starvation. "Yemeni people ... are dying every single day...
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Iran's Rouhani Stands by Moderate Ally Zarif After Surprise Resignation

Voice of America - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 23:25
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held back from accepting the resignation of his foreign minister on Tuesday, standing by a moderate ally long targeted by hardliners in internal factional struggles over a 2015 nuclear deal with the West. The minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif - a U.S.-educated veteran diplomat who helped craft the pact that curbed Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief - gave no reason for his decision to quit when he announced it on Instagram on Monday. But...
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Task Force: US Efforts to Battle Extremism 'Unsustainable'

Voice of America - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 22:04
The United States will need to significantly change its approach to fighting terrorists and extremist groups or face the prospect of more never-ending wars in the Middle East, Africa and beyond, according to a new report that is already resonating with key lawmakers. The blunt assessment, issued by the bipartisan Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States in a report released Wednesday, is the result of a comprehensive look at U.S. military campaigns against terror groups such as Islamic...
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Thousands Evacuate Last Islamic State Hold-Out in Syria

Voice of America - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 20:02
The United Nations says in the last three days some 9,000 people have evacuated the final piece of land still held by the Islamic State terror group in Syria. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Syria (OCHA Syria) said of those fleeing the Syrian village of Baghuz, 99 percent are women and children, and 6,000 civilians have been brought to the nearby al-Hol camp for displaced persons in northeastern Syria. Just last week, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic...
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China, Saudi Arabia Try to Walk Together Amid Hurdles

Voice of America - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 16:06
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Beijing on Thursday for a two-day visit to boost the country’s international image sullied by the recent killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and to enhance economic ties. But the path to better ties between Saudi Arabia and China is riddled with political hurdles. China has spent the last few days assuring Iran, Saudi Arabia’s political rival, that the Crown Prince’s visit would not affect its approach to the Middle East....
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Angry Basra Youth Find Outlet in Iraqi Rapper’s Music

Voice of America - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 10:22
A youth-led protest movement in the southern Iraqi port city of Basra, which saw riots last summer over failing services and soaring unemployment, has found an artistic outlet in the words and beats of homegrown rapper Ahmed Chayeb.  The 22-year-old rapper, also known as Mr. Guti, says his generation is fed up with the false piety of politicians and religious authorities who preach about faith and duty but have let Basra fall apart.  “We need to be critical of everything...
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France Discussing With Iran Fate of Citizen Arrested in October 

Voice of America - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 04:55
France is in touch with Iran to improve the conditions of a French woman who was arrested in October on the Gulf island of Kish for allegedly signing an illegal mining contract, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday. Nelly Erin-Cambervelle, a 59-year-old businesswoman from Martinique, had been on the island as part of her import-export business and her arrest until now had not been made public. "She went to Kish island, not far from Dubai, which is considered to be...
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Trump Administration Says US-Born Jihadist Can't Return

Voice of America - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 03:00
The United States said Wednesday that it would refuse to take back a U.S.-born Islamic State propagandist who wants to return from Syria, arguing that she is no longer a citizen.    The Trump administration's refusal to admit Hoda Muthana, 24, could set precedent and face legal challenges, because it is generally extremely difficult to lose US citizenship.    "Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,"...
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US Sanctions Indian National, Declaring Him a Drug Trafficker 

Voice of America - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 01:10
The Trump administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Indian national Jasmeet Hakimzada, declaring him a major foreign drug trafficker.  Six other people and entities were also sanctioned, including Hakimzada's parents, who allegedly help him run his operation. "Jasmeet Hakimzada's global drug trafficking and money laundering network has been involved in smuggling heroin and synthetic opioids around the world," a senior Treasury...
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Morocco: Arab Spring Anniversary Brings Reflection, Beatings

Voice of America - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 23:42
Moroccan police fired water cannons at protesting teachers who were marching toward a royal palace and beat people with truncheons amid demonstrations around the capital Wednesday. Several demonstrations were held Wednesday, marking exactly eight years after the birth of a Moroccan Arab Spring protest movement that awakened a spirit of activism in this North African kingdom. Participants in the movement recalled to The Associated Press how it changed them, even as Wednesday's...
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