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Mideast Peace Plan Hopes Dim Amid Israeli Political Crisis

Voice of America - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 21:55
President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to push the Trump administration's long-awaited plan for Mideast peace, just as Israel was thrust into the political tumult of an unprecedented second election in the same year.  Kushner and U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt stopped in Israel as part of a Middle East tour to rally support for the administration's upcoming economic...
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Trump Adviser Bolton: Iranian Threat Persists Despite US Actions

Voice of America - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 20:28
U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser said Thursday the U.S. has helped prevent Iran from undertaking acts of aggression but warned the threat from Tehran still exists. "I don't think this threat is over, but I do think you can make at least a conditional claim that the quick response and the deployment of and other steps that we took did serve as a deterrent," John Bolton told reporters in London. Trump announced last Friday he would send 1,500 more...
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Israel Heads to New Elections

Voice of America - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 17:42
Israel is in political turmoil after its parliament voted to dissolve itself a month after it was sworn in. Just seven weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a convincing victory in national elections, he suffered a major political setback. The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, voted for new elections in September after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government amid infighting and high demands from smaller parties. Netanyahu, a right-wing conservative who has been in power...
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Saudi Arabia Asks Nations to Respond to Iran With 'Firmness'

Voice of America - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 16:40
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on Thursday urged Muslim nations to confront recent attacks in the region that the U.S. and its allies have blamed on Iran with “all means of force and firmness.” Ibrahim al-Assaf made the comments at a meeting of foreign ministers of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation ahead of a series of summits in the kingdom beginning Thursday. Al-Assaf said the alleged sabotage of boats off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and a drone attack...
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Israel to Hold New Elections After Netanyahu Fails to Build Coalition

Voice of America - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 08:55
Israel is heading for new elections after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a new government by Wednesday. Netanyahu won the April 9 election on the assumption that he would be able to garner enough support to form a governing coalition. After weeks of negotiations with smaller parties, he failed to secure 61 seats in a 120-seat parliament. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, Netanyahu is also battling allegations of corruption, which could have contributed to his political woes.
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Turkey Brings Home Dozens of IS Children from Iraq

Voice of America - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 04:34
The Iraqi Central Court of Investigation Wednesday handed over 188 children of Islamic State (IS) Turkish citizens to Turkish authorities in a process to repatriate dozens of IS fighters, as well as their children and wives, held in Iraqi prisons. The Turkish foreign ministry and its embassy in Baghdad told VOA the move is part of Turkey’s effort to bring home its citizens, particularly minors, ahead of Eid al-Fitr or Festival of Breaking the Fast at the end of the Muslim holy month of...
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Israeli Parliament Dissolves in Favor of Another Early Election

Voice of America - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 01:29
Israel’s parliament voted early Thursday morning to dissolve itself and hold an unprecedented second early election after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a coalition government. The lawmakers voted 74 to 45 to break up and hold a new vote Sept. 17. Netanyahu had a Wednesday deadline to form a new government after winning the April 9 election. He was hoping to form a coalition between his conservative Likud Party, ultra-Orthodox lawmakers and another...
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Journalists Accuse Syrian Government Forces of Targeting Reporters

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 23:35
Pro-government forces in Syria have been deliberately targeting journalists covering the war there, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which notes that a number of reporters have been injured by suspected pro-government forces in recent days. "The Syrian government and its allies seem to be intent on not only violating the human rights of the country's people, but also on attacking journalists who cover those violations," said Ignacio Miguel Delgado Culebras,...
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US Official: Russia Unlikely to Support Full-Scale Offensive on Syria's Idlib

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 22:53
A senior U.S. official said Wednesday that Washington does not believe Russia will allow an all-out military offensive on the Syrian province of Idlib, which has been under Syrian government assault for the past month. "Our conversations with the Russians have not indicated that the Russians are ready to support a full-scale offensive into Idlib," U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey told reporters. "They tell us that this is only a limited set of military...
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US Accuses Iran of Preparing 'Campaign' of Attacks 

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 22:42
VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report.   Leading U.S. defense and security officials warn Iran was getting ready to unleash a wave of attacks across the Middle East targeting the United States and its allies when the decision was made to send more troops to the region.    Speaking separately, the acting secretary of defense and the country's top-ranking general Wednesday defended intelligence reports suggesting Tehran had planned to raise the...
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Sharp Slide Reported in Iran Crude Exports

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 21:59
Iranian crude exports have fallen sharply in May to around 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), tanker data showed and two industry sources said, after the United States tightened the screws on Tehran's main source of income.    The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in November after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and six world powers. Aiming to cut Iran's sales to zero, Washington this month ended sanctions waivers for importers...
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Deadline Approaches as Israel's Netanyahu Struggles to Form Government

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 21:39
The possibility of new Israeli parliament elections loomed large Wednesday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unable to form a new government in the waning hours before a midnight deadline. There was no sign of a breakthrough in the Israeli leader's talks with former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose five-seat bloc in the 120-member Knesset is crucial to Netanyahu's efforts to gain a controlling majority. But Netanyahu has refused to meet Lieberman's demand...
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Israeli Leader Uncharacteristically Quiet Over Gulf Crisis

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 20:46
Israel's prime minister has been a vocal critic of Iran over the years, accusing the Islamic Republic of sinister intentions at every opportunity. But the outspoken Benjamin Netanyahu has remained uncharacteristically quiet throughout the current crisis between the U.S. and Iran. While Israel has welcomed Washington's pressure on Tehran, the crisis has nonetheless put Netanyahu in a delicate position, not wanting to be seen as pushing the Americans into a military confrontation...
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Diplomatic Ballet Precedes Arab, Gulf and Islamic Summits

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 20:27
Iran's deputy foreign minister, Abbas Arakji, wound up a three-nation Gulf visit to Oman, Kuwait and Qatar just as U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton began a diplomatic visit to the United Arab Emirates. The diplomatic ballet comes just hours before Saudi Arabia convenes Arab, Islamic and Gulf summits in Mecca to discuss escalating tensions with Iran. As preparations continue for the historic triple summit in Mecca Thursday, Iran, the United States and its Arab allies continue...
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Murder Puts End to Iranian Politician's Career

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 20:20
The story was bizarre, but yet simple and straightforward by all Iranian standards: The former mayor of Tehran killed his second wife, disappeared for about seven hours and finally turned himself in to the police. This was the simple and straightforward part of the sad story of a well-known Iranian politician, MIT educated Mohamad Ali Najafi, 68, who served briefly as Tehran's mayor in 2018 before resigning for "personal reasons" in less than 6 months. His career included...
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Family, Lawyer: Egypt Has Rearrested Al-Jazeera Reporter

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 17:00
Egyptian authorities rearrested an Al-Jazeera journalist who was ordered released last week after more than two years in detention on accusations of spreading false news, his family and lawyer said Wednesday. Under Egyptian procedure and following last week's court order, Mahmoud Hussein had been transferred from prison to a police jail to await his release. But his lawyer, Gama Eid, said that instead of being freed, Hussein was apparently ordered detained again in a separate...
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Libyan Commander Hands Over Prominent Militant to Egypt

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 16:38
A prominent Egyptian militant wanted for scores of terror attacks in his country was handed over by Libyan forces loyal to a commander pushing to take the capital of Tripoli and flown back to Egypt on Wednesday.   Egyptian TV networks aired footage of a blindfolded Hisham el-Ashmawi, a former army officer turned militant, landing in Cairo and being taken off a military plane.   El-Ashmawi was captured last October in the Libyan city of Derna, a longtime bastion of Islamic...
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Jordan Stands by 2-State Israel-Palestinian Solution

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 16:28
Jordan on Wednesday stood by a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, exposing a rift with the United States as the Trump administration tries to rally Arab support for a peace conference next month in Bahrain.   Presidential advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt met with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman. The official Petra news agency said the two parties "discussed regional developments, especially efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli...
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Trump National Security Adviser Accuses Iran of Tanker Attacks Off UAE

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 11:55
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Wednesday that Iran was "almost certainly" responsible for attacks earlier this month on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Speaking to reporters during a visit to the Abu Dhabi for what he called talks on "important and timely regional security matters," Bolton did not give any evidence to back up his accusation, but said the tankers were hit by naval mines. Iran previously denied responsibility...
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US 'Concerned' Iran’s Intranet Project Will Repress Internet Freedom

Voice of America - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 11:05
This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service. Nike Ching contributed from the State Department. The Trump administration has expressed concern about reports that Iranian authorities have made progress in developing a domestic intranet and firewall system to shield Iran from the global internet.  In a written response to VOA Persian questions, a State Department spokesperson said its concern centered on new measures in Iran to create a “so-called National Information Network”...
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