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French FM Visits Riyadh to Meet Lebanese Prime Minister

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 20:06
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir has again insisted Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is "not being detained against his will" in Saudi Arabia, while accusing Iran and its Hezbollah proxy militia of trying to dominate Lebanon and meddling in Yemen and Bahrain. Visiting French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian told reporters that he would meet the Lebanese prime minister and that Hariri was invited to travel to Paris. Paris invitation The odd saga of Lebanese...
Categories: Iraq

UN Agencies Renew Pleas to Lift Blockade on Yemen

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 20:03
Three United Nations agencies have renewed pleas to a Saudi-led coalition to lift a blockade that has halted the flow of essential supplies into Yemen, warning that the lives of "untold thousands" of people are at stake. "The cost of this blockade is being measured in the number of lives that are lost," the leaders of the World Food Program, the World Health Organization and UNICEF said in a statement. The agencies said 7 million people are at risk of famine in...
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Turkish FM: Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Jailed in US Was Relocated

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 19:52
U.S. authorities told Turkey that Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, arrested in the United States, was moved to a different location and is in good medical condition, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday. Cavusoglu said U.S. authorities had not replied to a first diplomatic note from Turkey, but responded to a second note sent on Wednesday inquiring about Zarrab's condition after the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons website showed that Zarrab had been...
Categories: Iraq

French Military: Coalition Opposed IS Withdrawal From Raqqa

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 19:20
France's military said on Thursday the coalition battling Islamic State in Syria had opposed a deal allowing fighters of the militant group to withdraw from their former bastion of Raqqa. The coalition had also been unable to launch air strikes against the fighters because they had mingled with civilians, French army spokesman Patrik Steiger said. A report by BBC television on Sunday said some 4,000 Islamic State militants, including hundreds of foreign nationals, had been...
Categories: Iraq

Lebanon's Hariri Will Travel to France

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 15:50
Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri has accepted an offer to travel to France in the coming days, the latest move in a nearly two-week saga surrounding his announced resignation earlier this month. Hariri has been in Saudi Arabia since the announcement, prompting questions about whether he was being held there and leading Lebanese President Michel Aoun to declare Hariri was being detained. Aoun has said he will not formally accept Hariri's resignation until he returns to...
Categories: Iraq

UN Security Council Faces Rival Plans for Renewing Syria Chemical Weapons Inquiry

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 12:32
The United Nations Security Council is set to vote Thursday on rival U.S. and Russian proposals for extending the mandate of a body set up to investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Authorization for the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) will expire at the end of the day unless it is renewed. The U.S. mission to the U.N. called for a vote on its proposal, which like the Russian plan would extend the JIM for one year. The U.S. text calls for JIM’s experts to continue their work...
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Lebanese PM Invited to France Amid Resignation Crisis

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 22:36
French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday invited Saad Hariri and his family to come to France after the Lebanese prime minister's surprise resignation earlier this month, amid allegations that Saudi Arabia is holding him prisoner. Hariri's older brother meanwhile broke his silence over the premier's shock resignation announced from Riyadh earlier this month, after speculation that the elder Hariri was being groomed by Saudi Arabia to fill the post. Bahaa Hariri, in a...
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Lebanon’s President Accuses Saudi Arabia of Aggression

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 18:46
Lebanon’s president has sharply upped his rhetoric against Saudi Arabia in the war of words that’s been waged between the two countries since the shock resignation earlier this month of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The Lebanese prime minister announced his resignation abruptly while visiting the Gulf kingdom, his longtime patron, in a pre-recorded  television address.   In a tweet, President Michel Aoun said he is sure Hariri is being detained against his will in...
Categories: Iraq

Survivors of Iran Quake Await Badly Needed Aid, 3 Days Later

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 14:46
Many survivors in Iran were still awaiting badly needed aid on Wednesday, three days after the powerful earthquake along the Iraq border killed more than 530 people and left thousands injured.   The delay in getting help to the needy came as public order broke down in many instances where aid was being delivered. Officials said families that were not affected by the quake rushed and took some of the aid supplies.   The police said they deployed forces to secure aid distribution...
Categories: Iraq

Iran's Earthquake Leaves Thousands Without Home

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 08:56
Sunday's Earthquake on the border of Iran and Iraq has left thousands of people without a roof over their head. Those who could not find a place under a tent spent the second night in a row in the open, fearing additional tremors. Officials say the earthquake that killed more than 500 people and injured many others was followed by 193 aftershocks. The death toll was lower in neighboring Iraq. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Categories: Iraq

Militant Convoy That Left Raqqa Contradicts America’s New Counter-IS Strategy 

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 06:15
When the Trump administration rolled out a new campaign in May to “annihilate” Islamic State, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis praised tactical changes that would provide “no escape” for the terrorists. But a convoy of thousands of Syrians — including hundreds of Islamic State (IS) fighters — permitted by U.S.-backed forces last month to leave the city once touted as the terror groups’ de facto capital, challenges that notion. Several officials told VOA it also highlights the “limitations...
Categories: Iraq

Iran to Probe State-built Homes Destroyed by Deadly Quake

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 02:45
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani launched an investigation Tuesday into why government housing built by his hard-line predecessor collapsed while others withstood a powerful earthquake near the border with Iraq that killed more than 530 people.   In the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab, which was reconstructed in the decades since the 1980s war with Iraq, the outer walls of apartment complexes tumbled away in the magnitude 7.3 earthquake Sunday night. The housing was built as a part of...
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UN: Syria Formally Joins Paris Climate Agreement

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 01:43
Syria has formally joined the 2015 Paris deal aimed at slowing climate change, the United Nations said on Tuesday, leaving the United States as the only country opposed to the pact. Syria, racked by civil war, and Nicaragua were the only two nations outside the 195-nation pact when it was agreed in 2015. Nicaragua's left-wing government, which originally denounced the plan as too weak, signed up last month. Syria announced last week that it intended to join. U.N. spokesman...
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Russia's Defense Ministry to Investigate Wrong Photos Used on Syria Statement

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 23:42
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday an employee had attached the wrong photos to a statement accusing the United States of providing de-facto air cover for so-called Islamic State in Syria after the mistake was spotted online. The ministry said it would investigate the incident, which it said was caused by a civilian employee, but did not say how or why the pictures used were incorrect. “However, the U.S. command’s refusal to carry out strikes on the convoys of ISIL terrorists...
Categories: Iraq

Threat of Jihadist Exodus Spurs Security Crackdown in Turkey

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 21:27
With the Islamic State and other jihadist groups facing imminent defeat in Syria, Ankara is becoming increasingly concerned that many fighters will escape into Turkey. In the past few years over 300 people have been killed in attacks in Turkey, blamed on jihadists. But with the prospect of thousands more militants escaping Syria to Turkey, security forces are now embarked in a desperate battle to thwart the threat, with hundreds of arrests in the past few weeks. The size of threat faced...
Categories: Iraq

Saudi-led Coalition Bombs Airport Runway in Yemen's Capital

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 19:58
The Saudi-led military coalition fighting Yemen's Shiite rebels bombed the airport in the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, on Tuesday, Yemeni officials said, though there were conflicting reports as to the extension of damage caused in the strike. The United Nations said most of the airport remained intact and that it would be able to receive aid shipments once they restart - after the coalition loosens the blockade of the war-torn country as it had announced. But Yemeni officials in...
Categories: Iraq

Lebanon's Hariri to Return 'In Two Days'

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 19:30
Lebanon's prime minister, Saad Hariri, says he will return to Lebanon "in two days" from Saudi Arabia, where he announced his surprise resignation on November 4. Writing on Twitter for the first time in a week, Hariri assured his followers that he is okay and that he would return without his family, who the prime minister said will be staying "in their home" in Saudi Arabia. Government officials in Beirut have said they believe Hariri is being held in...
Categories: Iraq

From Heady Aspirations to Dashed Dreams, Separatists Analyze Mistakes

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 18:58
Breaking up is hard to do, as separatists in Iraqi Kurdistan and Spain’s Catalonia have discovered. Even Scotland’s separatists have had to shelve plans for yet another independence vote, following signs Scots aren't ready to revisit the question. Monday, Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont bowed to defeat, saying in an interview in Belgium that he’s ready to give up on secession and explore a future relationship with Madrid short of full independence. He said, “I’m ready,...
Categories: Iraq

Iraqi Kurds Pledge to Respect Court Ruling Banning Secession

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 13:31
Iraqi Kurdish authorities said Tuesday they will respect a Supreme Court decision banning secession. The development comes two months after voters in the semi-autonomous region overwhelmingly voted in support of an independence referendum. Iraq's central government rejected the vote, saying it violated the constitution. "We believe that this decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes through...
Categories: Iraq

Iran in Mourning After Earthquake Kills 430

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 10:07
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pledged Tuesday his government would quickly help to rebuild areas affected by a deadly earthquake, as the country observed an official day of mourning for the victims. Rouhani spoke during a visit to Kermanshah, which was hit the hardest by Sunday's magnitude 7.3 quake along the Iran-Iraq border. WATCH: Report on Iran Earthquake Iran's state-run IRNA news agency said at least 430 people were reported dead and 7,000 others injured. Many...
Categories: Iraq