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Iraq

Egypt Extends Its State of Emergency for Another 3 Months

Voice of America - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 15:28
Egypt has extended its state of emergency for yet another three months, according to a decision from President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.   The president's decision - a re-declaration of the state of emergency - was published in the official gazette on Thursday and was due to go into effect the following day. The new declaration should be approved by parliament within seven days.   Egypt has been under months-long state of emergency, which has already been extended once,...
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Hamas Leader Says Reconciliation Deal Reached With Fatah

Voice of America - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 10:15
The Palestinian Hamas faction says it has reached a deal with its rival Fatah over its political reconciliation. Fatah leader Ismail Haniyeh issued a statement Thursday saying the two sides had struck an agreement after two days of talks in Cairo, under what he called Egypt's "generous" sponsorship.  Haniyeh said details of the agreement would be announced later in the day in the Egyptian capital. A Fatah spokesman confirmed the announcement in an interview with the...
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Some US Officials See Little Downside to Decertifying Iran Nuclear Deal

Voice of America - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 05:40
Iran may well make good on some of its threats to lash out at American interests and targets, should U.S. President Donald Trump move forward with decertifying the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday pledged a "tougher" response if Trump decides to find Tehran is not in compliance with the nuclear deal, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. An Iranian military spokesman further promised this week that his country’s...
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Europe Scrambles to Save Iran Nuclear Deal

Voice of America - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 04:27
European countries are scrambling to cobble together a package of measures they hope will keep the Iran nuclear deal on track if U.S. President Donald Trump ignores their pleas and decertifies the landmark 2015 agreement this week. The package would include a strong statement backing the deal by European powers, together with efforts to lobby the U.S. Congress and put wider pressure on Iran, officials said. But without strong U.S. support for the deal, senior officials in Berlin, Paris...
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Russian Prime Minister Strikes Energy Deals in Morocco

Voice of America - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 03:45
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a string of energy, military and other deals with Morocco during a North Africa tour.   Medvedev met Wednesday with Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani and presided at a signing ceremony for 11 bilateral agreements.   The agreements cover cooperation in areas such as customs, agriculture, the military and culture, as well as energy efficiency and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.   The disputed Western Sahara...
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OECD: Laws Discriminating Against Women Cost Mideast, North Africa Billions of Dollars

Voice of America - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 02:00
Women in the Middle East and North Africa are better educated than ever before, but legal and social barriers are hampering their access to jobs and careers, costing the region billions of dollars a year, experts said Wednesday. Just under a quarter of women in the region are in the workforce — one of the lowest rates in the world, said the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The region also has the lowest proportion of female entrepreneurs, according to an...
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Arab Rivalries Exposed as Egypt Targets Qatar in UNESCO Vote

Voice of America - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 01:03
Arab states may want their turn at the helm of UNESCO, but the barbs hurled by Egypt at rival candidate Qatar during the vote highlights the fractious geopolitics paralyzing the workings of the U.N. cultural agency. The Paris-based body is known for designating World Heritage sites like the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and Grand Canyon National Park, but it has struggled for relevance as it becomes increasingly hobbled by regional rivalries and a lack of money. After two days of a...
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Hezbollah Dismisses US Rewards for Arrest of Its Operatives

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 23:56
Lebanon's Hezbollah group dismissed multi-million-dollar rewards offered by the United States for the arrest of two of its senior members, saying on Wednesday they would have no impact. Washington has offered up to $7 million for information leading to the detention of Talal Hamiyah, head of Hezbollah's foreign operations, and up to $5 million for Fu'ad Shukr, a top Hezbollah military operative. The move on Tuesday came as the Trump administration prepared to unveil a...
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Iraq Orders Arrest of Kurdish Independence Election Officials

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 20:10
An Iraqi court on Wednesday issued arrest warrants for several officials tied to the recent referendum for Kurdish independence. A spokesman for Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council said the court issued arrest warrants for the referendum commission chairman and two of his aides for "violating a valid court ruling, which considered the independence vote invalid." The supreme court ruled Sept. 25 that the referendum vote would violate Iraqi law, but organizers carried out the...
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IS Claims Suicide Bombing Targeting Damascus Police

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 19:24
The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for Wednesday's triple suicide bomb attack on the main police headquarters building in Damascus, Syria. At least two people were killed and several others injured. IS issued a statement via the Telegram messaging app, saying three fighters with explosive belts carried out the attack. Two of the Islamic State bombers blew themselves up in front of the building, while the third set off his explosives after being surrounded by...
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US Rules Out Negotiated IS Withdrawal from Syria's Raqqa

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 19:14
The U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State group said Wednesday that it won't accept a negotiated withdrawal for hundreds of IS militants holed up in the Syrian city of Raqqa, once the extremists' de facto capital. The remarks by coalition spokesman, Col. Ryan Dillon, came as coalition allies were working out ways to safely evacuate an estimated 4,000 civilians who remain trapped in the city. The coalition has said IS militants are holding some civilians as human...
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Council of Europe Presses Italy on Libyan Migrant Returns

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 18:03
The Council of Europe is asking Italy to explain what its naval ships are doing off Libya's coast amid concerns that Europe-bound migrants who are sent back to Libya face "a real risk" of torture or inhuman treatment. In a Sept. 28 letter published Wednesday, the council's human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, warned Interior Minister Marco Minniti that Italy again risked violating the European Convention on Human Rights. The convention prohibits exposing people to...
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Iran FM Briefs Parliament on Trump's Threat to Nuclear Deal

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 15:38
Iran's foreign minister on Wednesday warned of a tough response from Tehran if President Donald Trump presses ahead with his threats to scuttle the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. The state-run IRNA news agency reported that the country's top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, briefed lawmakers during a closed session of parliament on Trump's anticipated refusal to certify Iran's nuclear deal with world powers. The agency quotes Zarif as saying that if the United States acts...
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President Trump Expected to Decertify 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 08:31
On October 12, President Donald Trump is expected to announce whether his administration still finds Iran in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. VOA’s Margaret Besheer takes a look at the deal and what could happen if the president chooses not to certify Tehran’s compliance.
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EU Aims to Reopen Embassy in Libya

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 04:30
The European Union is seeking to reopen its embassy in Libya pending security conditions, officials said on Tuesday, offering further political support for the Tripoli government struggling to establish control. EU leaders will announce at their summit in Brussels on Oct. 19-20 that they "encourage work underway to rapidly establish a permanent EU presence in Libya", according to their draft joint statement seen by Reuters. But the statement makes clear no such move is...
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International, Domestic Worry Over Expected US Decertification of Iran Deal

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 03:00
President Donald Trump is expected to announce this week that he will no longer certify Iran's compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, giving Congress 60 days to decide whether to re-impose U.S. sanctions on Tehran. "The president has reached a decision on an overall Iran strategy and wants to make sure we have a broad policy to deal with that, not just one part of it, to deal with all of the problems of Iran being a bad actor," White House Press Secretary Sarah...
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Russia Accuses US of Pretending to Fight Islamic State in Syria, Iraq

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 02:51
Russia accused the United States on Tuesday of pretending to fight Islamic State and of deliberately reducing its airstrikes in Iraq to allow the group's militants to stream into Syria to slow the Russian-backed advance of the Syrian army. The Pentagon strongly denied the accusations, saying that the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State posts data every day on the number and result of strikes for the public to see. In the latest sign of rising tensions between Moscow and...
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US Targets Key Hezbollah Leaders

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 02:35
The United States is moving to ratchet up pressure on Hezbollah, offering millions of dollars for information that leads to the arrest or capture of two of the Iranian-backed terror group's top officials. The State Department on Tuesday announced a $7 million reward for information about Talal Hamiyah, who runs Hezbollah's External Security Organization, and $5 million for information about Fu'ad Shukr, a senior operative who helped plan the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine...
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Iran Hardliners, Pragmatists Show Unity in Response to Trump

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 01:08
A tough line from President Donald Trump has been met by a show of unity from both sides of Iran's political divide, uniting hardliners who cast the United States as an implacable enemy with pragmatists who seek rapprochement with the West. Iran, which has kept up a steady drumbeat of angry statements for days, lashed out again Tuesday, threatening to teach the Americans "new lessons" and keep "all options on the table" if Washington blacklists its Revolutionary...
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Security Council Endorses UN Plan to Break Libya Stalemate

Voice of America - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 00:22
The U.N. Security Council endorsed a U.N. action plan Tuesday to break the political stalemate in Libya that has divided the country into competing governments with two parliaments and an array of rival militias. A presidential statement approved by all 15 members backs the proposal by new U.N. envoy, Ghassan Salame, to amend the U.N. peace agreement signed by different Libyan factions in 2015. It also welcomes Salame's objective of supporting a Libyan-led transition that will lead...
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