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US Official: Russia Unlikely to Support Full-Scale Offensive on Syria's Idlib

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 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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HRW: Egyptian Security Forces Committed Widespread Abuses in Northern Sinai

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 18:55
The Egyptian military and police forces have committed widespread abuses in the northern Sinai Peninsula, according a new report by Human Rights Watch, which said some of the actions amount to war crimes. The report alleges that Egyptian security forces, who have been conducting military operations against Islamist insurgents in the region, have engaged in unlawful action against civilians in the region. The report describes widespread extrajudicial arrests and killings, as well as...
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Israel Heading Toward Political Crisis

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 18:50
“This is a night of a marvelous victory! Marvelous!” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu triumphantly declared after hearing the election results.  That was 49 days ago, and Netanyahu appeared securely positioned to — come July — become the longest serving prime minister in the Jewish state's history. However, early Tuesday, in the second of four readings, the Knesset voted 66 to 44 to order a new round of elections.  Netanyahu sought the vote as he has...
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White House Adviser Travels Abroad to Get Support for Peace Plan

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 17:48
President Donald Trump's son-in-law is in Morocco Tuesday as part of a three-day trip to garner support for his Middle East peace plan. White House officials said Tuesday Jared Kushner would also visit Jordan and Israel, along with U.S. representative for Iran Brian Hook and U.S. international negotiator Jason Greenblatt. The trip comes as the U.S. prepares to unveil the economic part of the plan at a conference in Bahrain in late June. The Palestinians have already rejected the...
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Iraq Kurdish Region Gets New President, Opposition Boycotts

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 16:17
Iraq's self-governing Kurdish region has elected a new president in a parliamentary vote boycotted by a key opposition party.   Former prime minister Nechirvan Barzani will follow his uncle Masoud Barzani in office. The elder Barzani resigned in November 2017 after a failed bid for independence from Iraq.   The Barzani family and their Kurdistan Democratic Party have dominated Iraqi Kurdish politics for generations. The opposition Patriotic Union of Kurdistan stayed away...
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Iran's Guard Talks Tough, Says it Has no Fear of War with US

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 15:09
Iran's influential Revolutionary Guard said Tuesday it doesn't fear a possible war with the United States and claimed that America hasn't grown in power in recent years — the latest tough talk from Tehran amid escalating regional tensions and a crisis with Washington.   "The enemy is not more powerful than before," said the Guard spokesman, Gen. Ramazan Sharif.   Tensions between Washington and Tehran soared recently over America deploying an aircraft...
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Iraq Sentences 2 More French IS Members to Death

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 14:02
An Iraqi court sentenced on Tuesday two more French members of the Islamic State group to death, bringing the total number of French former jihadis condemned to death this week to six. The men were identified as Karam el-Harchaoui and Brahim Nejara. They are among a group of 12 French citizens who were detained by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in neighboring Syria and handed over to Iraq in January.   The Kurdish-led group spearheaded the fight against IS in Syria and...
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Israel Moves Toward New Elections

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 12:43
Israel moved closer to new parliamentary elections Tuesday as lawmakers voted in favor of the first of three procedural moves necessary to dissolve the current parliament. The 66 to 44 vote set a tentative date of September 17 for a new election, if the measure makes it through the final two rounds of voting. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been unable to form a new government since his party won the most seats in an election last month. He has until Wednesday to reach a...
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Israel's Netanyahu Struggles to Avert Snap Elections

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 04:56
Israel is facing a political crisis after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition. If he is not able to draw enough support by Wednesday night, the parliament will be dissolved and the country will hold new elections on August 28th. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
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