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Emirates Throws Airbus A380 a Lifeline With $16 Billion Deal

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 14:24
The Middle East's largest airline, Emirates, announced Thursday it struck a deal with Airbus to purchase 20 A380 aircraft with the option to buy 16 more in a deal worth $16 billion, throwing a lifeline to the European-made double-decker jumbo jets.   The Dubai-based Emirates already has 101 A380s in its fleet and 41 more on order, making it the largest operator of the jumbo jet.   "This new order underscores Airbus' commitment to produce the A380 at least for...
Categories: Iraq

Syria Responds to Tillerson's US Military Engagement Pledge

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 14:02
Syria's Foreign Ministry said Thursday the U.S. military's presence in Syria is an act of aggression and a violation of sovereignty. The comments came after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlined plans in a speech Wednesday for the United States to remain engaged diplomatically and militarily in Syria long after the defeat of the radical Islamic State group. The United States has led a coalition carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq...
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Human Rights Watch Calls on Leaders to Fight Back Against ‘Authoritarian Populists’

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 11:31
Human Rights Watch released its annual report for 2018, calling on political leaders to fight what the group calls "authoritarian populist agendas." “The past year showed the importance of pushing back against the threat posed by demagogues and their abusive policies,” according to Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. Roth accuses authoritarian populists of seeking ‘to replace democracy – elected government limited by rights and the rule of law – with their...
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Tillerson Pledges Long-term US Military Engagement in Syria

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 07:15
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has outlined plans for the U.S. to remain engaged in Syria, both diplomatically and militarily, long after the defeat of the so-called Islamic State. Tillerson gave a major policy speech Wednesday on the way forward for the U.S. in Syria at an event at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University in California. He listed a number of reasons why it is crucial for the U.S. to remain in the troubled country, including preventing a resurgence of the...
Categories: Iraq

Syria's White Helmets Seek Help in Saving Civilians Suffering in Eastern Ghouta 

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 03:10
A Syrian volunteer group has pleaded for immediate help from the international community and aid organizations to help stop the massacre of civilians by Syrian regime forces in Eastern Ghouta, one of the remaining rebel-held areas in Syria. Regime forces have stepped up their airstrikes and ground operations against rebels in the region in recent weeks. Siraj Mahmood, a spokesperson for the White Helmets rescue group in Eastern Ghouta, told VOA that civilians were being targeted...
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Syrian Kurds Appeal to UN as Turkey Prepares to Attack

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 01:43
Syria’s dominant Kurdish party on Wednesday called on the U.N. Security Council to act quickly to ensure the safety of Kurdish-controlled territories in the country’s north, including an enclave that Turkey has threatened to attack. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will launch a military offensive in the coming days against territories controlled by the dominant Syrian Kurdish militia in northwestern and eastern Syria, and in particular the enclave of Afrin, where an...
Categories: Iraq

In Lebanon's Palestinian Camps, US Cuts Stoke Fear

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 23:10
As he awaited medical assistance made possible by foreign donors, Ahmad Said spoke darkly about the sudden cut in U.S. aid to the U.N. agency upon which he depends.  "Things are bad, things are very bad," the 84-year-old muttered.  In Beirut, Said waited his turn to be seen by a doctor for leg pains at a clinic run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the organization that assists Palestinians refugees like him and one now thrust into deep...
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Lawyer: Elderly American-Iranian Jailed in Iran Hospitalized with Heart Problems

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 22:29
An 81-year-old American-Iranian imprisoned in Iran, Baquer Namazi, was hospitalized earlier this week due to a drop in blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat, his lawyer said Wednesday. It was the fourth time that Namazi, who was detained in February 2016 and later convicted of espionage charges which he denied, had been taken to a hospital in the past year, according to the statement by lawyer Jared Genser. Last September, Namazi, a former Iranian provincial governor and ex-UNICEF...
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Belgium Counters US With $23 Million for UN Palestinian Refugees Fund

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 21:41
Belgium has stepped in to help out the U.N. Agency assisting Palestinian refugees with an immediate disbursement of $23 million after the Trump administration suspended $65 million in aid for the international organization. Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Wednesday that "for a lot of Palestinian refugees, the UNRWA is the last life buoy." Among the group's projects are helping half a million children get an education and fending off attempts to...
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Egypt Presidential Hopeful Says Bureaucrats Blocking His Bid

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 21:37
A rights lawyer who hopes to run in Egypt's presidential election in March said Wednesday that bureaucrats loyal to the government were obstructing efforts to get him on the ballot, while his campaign officials said police and government supporters were intimidating potential voters. The complaints, aired at a news conference at Khaled Ali's campaign headquarters in downtown Cairo, suggested that he was struggling to secure the 25,000 signatures, or "recommendations,"...
Categories: Iraq

Under Siege in Syria's Idlib: 'No Other Place to Go'

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 21:26
More than a year has passed since Abdulkafi Alhamdo tweeted about what he, his wife, and baby daughter endured during the months-long siege of rebel-held eastern Aleppo by Russian-backed Syrian government forces, as cluster and barrel bombs wreaked havoc around them. “There was a time when I just cried for two days, not for myself but for my family,” he reported, as he described the savage destruction and death he witnessed around him. Now the 32-year-old former English language...
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Ethiopian PM Arrives in Egypt for Talks on Sharing Nile

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 21:25
Ethiopia's prime minister arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for a two-day visit to discuss a massive dam that Egypt fears will cut into its share of the Nile, at a time of heightened tensions among the countries that rely on the river. Hailemariam Desalegn is the highest-ranking Ethiopian official to travel to Egypt to take part in what has become a regular meeting of the "High Joint Commission" to address the issue. He will meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on...
Categories: Iraq

UN Invites Syrian Government, Opposition for Peace Talks

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 19:03
United Nations special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura announced Wednesday that the U.N. would host the Syrian government and opposition for peace talks in Vienna next weekend. The meeting is scheduled for January 25 and 26 and will focus largely on constitutional issues, a statement released by de Mistura said. "The special envoy looks forward to the participation of both delegations in this special meeting. He expects that delegations will be coming to Vienna prepared for...
Categories: Iraq

Syrian Kurds Appeal to UN as Turkey Prepares to Attack

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 18:42
Syria's dominant Kurdish party on Wednesday called on the U.N. Security Council to act quickly to ensure the safety of Kurdish-controlled territories in the country's north, including an enclave that Turkey has threatened to attack. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will launch a military offensive in the coming days against territories controlled by the dominant Syrian Kurdish militia in northwestern and eastern Syria, and in particular the enclave of Afrin,...
Categories: Iraq

4 Years On, Ancient Heart of Homs Still Abandoned Ruins

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 17:28
Sumaya Bairuty walked through abandoned streets pocked with shell craters amid rows of destroyed buildings, at times climbing over giant sand barriers before reaching her parent's apartment in the once rebel-held district of Bab Dreib in this central Syrian city. The 38-year-old English-language teacher who works in the capital Damascus comes to Homs by bus once a week to spend two days with her parents, who live alone in their newly fixed apartment in the heavily destroyed and mostly...
Categories: Iraq

UN Palestinian Refugee Agency Seeking New Funding After US Cuts

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 15:32
The head of the United Nations agency that supports Palestinian refugees said Wednesday he is looking for "new funding alliances" after the United States announced it is withholding tens of millions of dollars. Pierre Krahenbuhl said the U.S. decision leaves the U.N. Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) with the most critical financial situation it has ever faced. The United States is the agency's top donor, and on Tuesday State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert confirmed to...
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El Salvador Eyes Work Scheme with Qatar for Migrants Facing Exit from US

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 05:45
El Salvador is discussing a deal with Qatar under which Salvadoran migrants facing the loss of their right to stay in the United States could live and work temporarily in the Middle Eastern country, the government of the Central American nation said on Tuesday. Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration said that as of September 2019, it would eliminate the temporary protected status, or TPS, that allows some 200,000 Salvadorans to live in the United States without fear...
Categories: Iraq

Iraqi Forces Go It Alone in Islamic State Raids 

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 02:15
Iraq's security forces have advanced to a point where U.S. special operations forces "hardly ever" accompany them on raids against fighters with the Islamic State terror group, according to a top coalition official. "The operations are increasingly done without us physically present with them," Brigadier General James Glynn, deputy commanding general of the special operations joint task force for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Pentagon reporters Tuesday...
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Yemen Seeks Saudi Cash as Plunging Currency Deepens War Woes

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 01:34
The Saudi-backed government that rules parts of Yemen said Tuesday that it urgently needed a $2 billion deposit pledged by Riyadh in November to stabilize a currency that hit new lows this week and save its people from starvation. Yemen has been divided by nearly three years of civil war between an internationally recognized government based in the south and the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that controls the north, including the capital, Sanaa. The conflict has unleashed a...
Categories: Iraq

US to Withhold Millions from Palestinian Refugees

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 23:00
The United States said Tuesday it is withholding tens of millions of dollars from the U.N. agency that supports Palestinian refugees, and could cut more if reforms are not made. U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert confirmed to reporters that the Trump administration will withhold $65 million dollars from its initial 2018 contribution to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). She said a $60 million tranche would be disbursed to avoid having a "negative...
Categories: Iraq