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European Commission to Move to Block US Sanctions on Iran

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 18:55
The European Commission will initiate plans Friday to prohibit European companies from adhering to U.S. sanctions against Iran, a move to help keep the Iran nuclear agreement intact and to defend European corporate interests. "We have the duty to protect European companies," Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said following a meeting of European Union leaders Thursday in Sofia, Bulgaria, "We now need to act and this is why we are launching the...
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Protest Camps Quiet as Gazans Fast and Fill Sandbags

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 17:29
Young men filled sandbags to prepare for future protests at encampments along Gaza's Israeli border on Thursday, though tents were mostly empty as Palestinians joined Muslims around the world observing the daylight fast at the start of Ramadan. After the bloodiest day for Palestinians in years on Monday, when 60 were killed by Israeli gunfire during mass demonstrations that Israel said included attempts to breach its frontier fence, calm and a heatwave descended on the...
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Iran Signs Oil Deal With UK Group as France's Total Exits

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 16:25
Iranian state TV is reporting that the country has signed an agreement with a British consortium to develop an oil field, just as another major company, France's Total, says it will withdraw from Iran because of the renewed U.S. sanctions. The new agreement is the first between Iran and a company from a key Western ally of the United States since Washington last week announced it will pull out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers. The U.S. said it was...
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Palestinian Official: US Ambassador to UN Is Not World's Schoolmarm

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 10:10
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi has accused the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley of trying to intimidate U.N. members to support Washington. Ashrawi spoke to reporters Wednesday, a day after Haley told the U.N. Security Council the violence at the Gaza border was instigated by Hamas militants and Iran. Palestinians in Gaza have been protesting for weeks and protests turned violent Monday when the U.S. inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has...
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Israel Says Hamas Curbed Gaza Protests After Egyptian Warning

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 06:00
Palestinian protests on the Gaza-Israel border have dropped off over the past two days, amid reports that Egyptian officials intervened to restore calm after dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire. Gaza's dominant Islamist Hamas movement denied that it was under pressure from neighboring Egypt to scale back the six-week-old demonstrations, and said they would continue, although fewer Palestinians were now gathering in protest tents. Gaza medics said two Palestinians...
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Amnesty: Yemenis Flee Hodeidah as Fighting Nears

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 05:55
Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been fleeing Hodeidah as fighting intensifies on front lines near the Houthi-held western province, Amnesty International said Thursday, warning that “the worst is yet to come” if the war reaches urban areas. Forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition are advancing toward Hodeidah port city, long a key target in the 3-year-old war, though local officials told Reuters this week they do not plan to launch an assault on densely populated areas...
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With Little to Lose, Gaza’s Men Drawn to Border Protests

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 04:02
Marwan Shtewi is poor, unemployed and at the age of 32 has never left the Gaza Strip. With few prospects and little to fear, Shtewi is among the crowds of young men who put themselves on the front lines of violent protests along the border with Israel, risking their lives in a weekly showdown meant to draw attention to the dire conditions of Gaza. While protest organizers voice slogans of defending Jerusalem and returning to the lost homes of their forefathers in Israel, it is the...
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Bomb Blasts Slam Gaza in Early Hours

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 03:20
At least five bomb blasts hit Gaza early Thursday morning local time. One person is believed to have been injured. VOA heard the blasts and a few ambulances racing down the streets in the minutes following.  Locals said they believed the targets were all Hamas facilities. This comes after mass demonstrations this week along the Gaza border with Israel that left more than 60 people dead and more than 2,700 injured. On Wednesday, a Hamas official said in an interview that 50 of...
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US Targets Hezbollah Leaders With Sanctions

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 00:46
The United States and Gulf partners imposed additional sanctions on Lebanon's Hezbollah leadership Wednesday, targeting its top two officials, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Naim Qassem. The U.S. Treasury Department said four other individuals also had been sanctioned, as was the group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. It was the third round of sanctions announced by Washington since the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal last...
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Armed Men Trap Election Workers in Kirkuk, Iraqi Officials Say

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 00:23
Iraqi officials said Wednesday that armed men had trapped election workers inside their offices in Kirkuk, disrupting the vote count in the northern city at the heart of a long-running dispute with Iraqi Kurds. Elections commissioner Riad al-Badran said the affiliation of the armed men was not known, but he accused them of pressuring the election workers, who he said were, "in effect, hostages.'' He did not say how many armed men were involved. The Patriotic Union of...
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Erdogan: UN Has 'Collapsed' in Face of Gaza Violence

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 00:02
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that the United Nations had "collapsed" in the face of events in Gaza where Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinian protesters on Monday as the United States relocated its Israel embassy to Jerusalem. Turkey has been among the most vocal critics of the Israeli use of deadly force against protesters at the Gaza border and of the U.S. decision to open its new embassy in Jerusalem. It called for an emergency meeting of the...
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US Court Sentences Turkish Banker in Iran Sanctions Case

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 23:30
A U.S. federal court has sentenced a Turkish banker to 32 months in prison for helping Iran evade American trade sanctions.  Mehmet Hakan Atilla was sentenced Wednesday. He was convicted in January on five counts of bank fraud and conspiracy. He was acquitted on one count of money laundering. Prosecutors maintained that Atilla used his position as deputy general manager for international banking at Turkish state bank Halkbank to help build and protect a scheme that enabled...
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International Court's Prosecutor Warns on Gaza Violence

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 23:20
The office of the prosecutor of the world's permanent war crimes court on Wednesday expressed "grave concern" about escalating violence in Gaza and said alleged crimes could be subject to an investigation. Dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire during protests on Monday, the day the United States relocated its Israel embassy to Jerusalem. "Any new alleged crime committed in the context of the situation in Palestine may be subjected to the office's...
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Egypt's Sissi Defends Cairo Metro Fare Hikes After Protests

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 23:08
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Wednesday defended fare hikes on the Cairo metro that sparked a rare display of public discontent last week, saying the move was necessary for the loss-making transportation network. “Do I today have the luxury of delaying reforms such as with the metro? No. Alright, won’t people suffer? Of course ... But do you not want the country to do well and become of importance?" Sissi said at a conference. The government said the higher fares,...
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Gaza Palestinians Fear Bleak Ramadan Ahead

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 22:42
On the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, many Gazans on Wednesday were worried about how they will put food on the table. With dozens of Palestinian protesters killed in recent weeks during a border face-off between demonstrators and Israeli troops, and with 80 percent of Gaza's 2 million population dependent on aid, the mood is bleak. "It is sad and depressing. In every home there is an injured person, in every home there is a martyr. All the mothers are sad, there is...
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OPCW: Chlorine Likely Used in Syria Attack

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 12:45
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Wednesday its investigators have determined chlorine was likely used in a February attack in northern Syria. The group based its report on interviews with health workers and witnesses as well as tests of samples from the site of the attack in the Saraqeb area of Idlib province. At the time, medical groups and first responders reported civilians had signs consistent with chlorine gas, including breathing problems and the...
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US on a Collision Course with EU Allies Over Iran Sanctions

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 10:01
President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal puts the United States on a collision course with some of its closest allies in Europe. Trump has directed maximum sanctions be applied to companies that continue doing business with Iran, causing alarm, especially in France and Germany, where companies like Airbus and Volkswagen have signed multimillion dollar contracts with Tehran. VOA’s diplomatic correspondent Cindy Saine reports.
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Israel at 70: Images of Victory, Violence

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 04:57
Seventy years since the day of Israel's founding, wildly contrasting images of victory and violence showcased the contradictions that bedevil the Jewish state. Deadly protests flared along the Gaza border, where troops killed dozens of Palestinians, while politicians feted the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as a symbol of ironclad alliance with Washington. And with improbably odd timing, seemingly oblivious to both, crowds gathered in liberal Tel Aviv to exult over the winner of a...
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Europe, Iran Work to Save Nuclear Deal

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 03:45
European and Iranian foreign ministers are working to salvage the nuclear deal, after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the pact. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said European and Iranian officials held talks to address various challenges — from maintaining and deepening economic, transport and financial relations, to protecting European companies doing business with Iran in light of promised U.S. economic sanctions against the Islamic...
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Gazans Mark 'Nakba' With Protests, Grief

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 01:30
A dirt road about 500 meters from Gaza's border with Israel — home of Kafa Ibrahim al-Najar, a 34-year-old father of two — was unusually quiet Tuesday morning. Between their house and the heavily guarded fence is a protest camp that often is packed with demonstrators. "Today is a silent moment for the people who died," al-Najar said. On Monday, 58 people died and more than 2,700 were wounded in Gaza protests, according to Palestinian officials. But by late Tuesday...
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