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Qatar to Give $30 Million to Help Texans Rebuild After Harvey

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 05:24
Qatar is donating $30 million to help people in Texas recover from Harvey, its ambassador said Thursday, as the Persian Gulf nation works to show it’s a constructive global player amid a diplomatic crisis with its neighbors. The contribution appears to be the largest by far from a foreign government to assist with the hurricane that devastated stretches of the Texas coast. It was announced as the leader of Kuwait, which has been mediating the Qatar crisis, was in Washington discussing the...
Categories: Iraq

US Monitors Russia-backed Syrian Army's Advances in Deir el-Zour

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:35
As the Syrian government forces, backed by allied militias and Russian airstrikes, continue to advance against the Islamic State group in Deir el-Zour, Syria, the U.S.-led coalition says it is monitoring the army to ensure it does not cross a deconfliction zone established across the city. "We do monitor and watch where they are and where they are going at the same time as they move closer to the middle of the Euphrates Valley," Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the U.S.-led...
Categories: Iraq

Egypt Blocks HRW Site After Torture Report

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:20
Egypt blocked the website of Human Rights Watch one day after the organization released a report on systematic torture in the country’s jails. Reuters attempted to access the website late Thursday but was unsuccessful. “Egyptian authorities keep insisting that any incidents of torture are isolated crimes by bad officers acting alone, but the Human Rights Watch report proves otherwise,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said Thursday. The report, “We Do...
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Trump Offers to Mediate Talks on Qatar Crisis

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 01:30
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he would be willing to step in and mediate the worst dispute in decades among the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states and Qatar, and said that he thinks a deal could come quickly. "If I can help mediate between Qatar and, in particular, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, I would be willing to do so, and I think you would have a deal worked out very quickly," Trump said at a joint news conference with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber...
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Tunisia's New Government Gets Party Backing for Reform Push

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 23:07
Tunisia's two main parties on Thursday gave parliamentary backing to Prime Minister Youssef Chahed's new cabinet, handing him the initiative to push sensitive economic reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund. Chahed's cabinet needs strong support to reform public sector wages and overhaul the pension system to improve national finances. Infighting and social protests have kept past governments from pushing through tougher austerity reforms. Chahed on Wednesday...
Categories: Iraq

Some Syrian Schools Erase Assad But Tensions Rise over Kurdish

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 22:47
The few bullet-marked schools Islamic State did not flatten or booby trap around its former Syrian stronghold of Raqqa are buzzing for the first time in years with the sound of children learning. In the village of Hazima, north of Raqqa, teachers gave ad-hoc alphabet lessons to crammed classrooms on a recent summer's day before the start of term. "Right now, the most important thing is to get children into class," said teacher Ahmed al-Ahmed, standing next to a hole in...
Categories: Iraq

Coalition Confirms Syrian Military Gains in Deir el-Zour

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 22:15
The U.S.-led coalition to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has confirmed that Syrian military forces have made it to the Islamic State-held city of Deir el-Zour. Coalition spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon told reporters Thursday the Syrian military had arrived on the outskirts of the city and “linked up with their besieged brigade” that had been trapped in the city for nearly three years. The coalition estimates there are some 2,500 ISIS fighters in and around Deir el-Zour, which...
Categories: Iraq

Dry Jordan Launches Project to Grow Crops From Seawater

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 17:42
Water-poor Jordan on Thursday launched a project using seawater to produce crops with clean energy.   Jordan's King Abdullah II and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, which contributed most of the $3.7 million cost, inaugurated the facility in the kingdom's Red Sea port city of Aqaba.   Haakon told reporters he was "impressed by the way innovative ideas have been translated into a plant the size of four football fields.''   The facility, part of the...
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Pregnant Kate Misses Prince George's 1st Day at School

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 16:57
Prince George went to school for the first time Thursday, but it was a rite of passage missed by his mother, who is struggling with acute morning sickness in the early stages of her third pregnancy. The 4-year-old George was accompanied by his father Prince William, on his first day at Thomas's Battersea. The two future kings walked to the school entrance hand-in-hand before George was greeted by senior teacher Helen Haslem, who introduced him to the other...
Categories: Iraq

Syrian Army, Allies Face Arduous Test in Eastern Syria

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 16:24
The lifting of a vicious 32-month Islamic State siege of a Syrian regime enclave in Deir el-Zour city earlier this week marks a significant battlefield success for government forces. But the fight for eastern Syria is just beginning and analysts warn the toll in civilian casualties will be high. With IS still controlling several neighborhoods in the city, and also much of the wider oil-rich province that stretches to the Iraqi border, the battle for eastern Syria is likely to prove an...
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Saudi Filmmakers Build Audiences Without Cinemas

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 14:38
With daring filmmakers, untold stories and entertainment-starved young people, Saudi Arabia has all the makings of a local movie industry — except for theaters.   As the traditionally austere kingdom cautiously embraces more forms of entertainment, local filmmakers are exploring a new frontier in Saudi art, using the internet to screen films and pushing boundaries of expression — often with surprise backing from top royals.   "Saudi Arabia is the future of...
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Israeli Warplanes Strike Alleged Syrian Chemical Weapons Facility

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 10:41
Syria says two people were killed when Israeli warplanes struck a military facility near Hama that Western nations allege is linked to Damascus' chemical weapons program.  Syria claims to have handed over all of its chemical weapons, as part of an internationally-brokered deal in 2013, but the U.N. accuses Damascus of using chemical weapons on a number of times since.   Arab media Thursday showed footage of what appeared to be burning buildings, following an Israeli airstrike...
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After Year of ‘Repression' in Bahrain, West Remains Silent, Amnesty Says

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 10:17
Bahrain's government has crushed dissent and violently cracked down on protests in the past year, Amnesty International said on Thursday, and it accused Britain and the United States in particular of turning a blind eye to its abuses. Amnesty said in a report on Thursday that it had documented how the Bahraini government, from June 2016 to June 2017, arrested, tortured, threatened or banned from travel at least 169 activists and opponents or their relatives. Bahraini authorities...
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UN Seeks to Protect Children from Work in Lebanon

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 05:07
With child labor soaring in Lebanon following the outbreak of war in Syria, the United Nations published Wednesday the first guide in Arabic to help farmers and officials seeking to protect them from risks like sexual abuse and injury. Children as young as 5, largely Syrian refugees and poor Lebanese, are missing out on school and harming their health by working on farms, especially in remote, rural regions like the Beqaa, it said. "Abuse and exploitation is widespread,"...
Categories: Iraq

Iraqi Student Pilot Killed in Arizona F-16 Crash Identified

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 04:00
An Iraqi student jet fighter pilot was killed when an F-16 jet crashed during a training mission in southeastern Arizona, authorities said Wednesday. The Iraqi air force identified the pilot as Capt. Noor Faleh Rassan Al-Khazali, but it didn't list an age or hometown.   Al-Khazali was killed Tuesday when his Fighting Falcon jet went down in the southern Arizona desert during what an Arizona Air National Guard official called a routine training mission. The U.S. Air Force has...
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Real-life Indiana Jones Finds Ancient Religious Sites in Turkey

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 23:30
Hollywood's famous archeologist Indiana Jones has nothing on Mark Fairchild.  The film character and the religion professor both teach at a university in Indiana.  Like Jones, Fairchild travels to far-off places in search of Biblical antiquities and doesn’t like snakes.  In fact, his students call him Indiana Mark.  And like the hero of five adventure movies, Fairchild is also a film star, of sorts, in a new documentary by two of his former students. Matt...
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Biblical Archeologist Searching Ancient Turkish Sites

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 22:15
Like the film character Indiana Jones, Mark Fairchild is a professor at a university in Indiana. He travels to far off places in search of Biblical antiquities and doesn’t like snakes. That’s why his students call him Indiana Mark. It’s also one of the reasons he’s the focus of a new documentary. Erika Celeste reports from Huntington, Indiana.
Categories: Iraq

Egypt's Deja Vu

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 20:17
Egyptian activists accuse the government of using the fight against terrorism as cover to lock up political opponents and human rights workers. Egyptian authorities deny wrongdoing, but overflowing prisons and harsh treatment have led critics to compare conditions to those that led to the Arab Spring in 2011.
Categories: Iraq

Rights Group: Egypt Exerts Growing Control Over Local Media

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 16:46
Egypt's privately-owned media are increasingly dominated by businessmen linked to the government and its intelligence agencies, a rights group said this week. Reporters Without Borders, known by the French acronym RSF, said in a Tuesday report that "the regime's domination of the media continues to grow and is even affecting pro-government media."   Virtually all Egyptian media outlets are openly supportive of the government, which in recent months has blocked...
Categories: Iraq

A Decade Later, Still No Contract to Build Guggenheim in UAE

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 16:40
A planned Middle East outpost of the Guggenheim remains unbuilt as the Louvre Abu Dhabi readies for its opening, with the New York-based museum acknowledging that “no contract has been awarded” to build the $200-million project over a decade after its launch. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, envisioned in 2006 as a deconstructive jumble of Arabic features and modern design by architect Frank Gehry, was to sit near the Louvre outpost on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island. But the Guggenheim told The...
Categories: Iraq