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Smuggled Iraqi Artifacts Are Returned Home

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 08:50
More than 4,000 ancient Iraqi artifacts that were smuggled into the United States almost a decade ago are going home. They were brought into the country illegally by the arts and crafts store chain Hobby Lobby. In July 2017, the Department of Justice brought a civil complaint against the store, and Hobby Lobby agreed to pay a $3 million fine and to return the artifacts to Iraqi authorities. Sandzhar Khamidov has the story, narrated by Anna Rice.
Categories: Iraq

US Opening Jerusalem Embassy on Territorial Anomaly 

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 08:06
The Jerusalem no man’s land where the U.S. says part of its new embassy to Israel will be located is a territorial quirk of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a quirk that originated at the start of hostilities in 1948. The U.S. will inaugurate the embassy Monday in an existing consular complex at the southwestern corner of a no man’s land that appears as a five-sided box on contemporary U.S. government and Google maps of Jerusalem. That zone first appeared on a map in a much smaller form in...
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21 Fare Hike Protesters Arrested in Egypt

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 02:21
Egyptian police arrested 21 people for taking part in rare protests against the government's surprise decision to hike fares on Cairo's subway as part of austerity measures meant to overhaul the economy, officials said Saturday. The arrests, mostly at Helwan metro station on the southern outskirts of Cairo, took place two days after the government announced the second round of subway fare hikes since March 2017. The hikes were by up to 250 percent, raising fares from 2 to up...
Categories: Iraq

Iraqis Head to Polls

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 22:19
Iraqi citizens voted for members of a new parliament, May 12, 2018. It was the first such election since Islamic State militants were driven out of the cities, towns and villages inhabited by millions of people.
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Israel Closes Border Crossing After Palestinian Protesters Break In

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 19:46
Israel has closed a border crossing with Gaza a day after it was damaged during Palestinian protests. The military said dozens of Palestinians on Friday broke into the Kerem Shalom terminal and set a gas pipeline alight. The blaze damaged the pipeline and a conveyor belt that transfers goods in and out of the territory. Israel said the crossing will remain closed until the damage is repaired and the situation assessed. Meanwhile, it is expected to be open for only humanitarian cases,...
Categories: Iraq

Iraqis Vote in First Election Since Victory Over IS

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 18:12
Dressed for the occasion in flowing gowns and a traditional suit, Payman Salih, her husband and four of her daughters waited outside a polling station in Iraq for a final family member to cast their ballot. For the first time since Islamic State militants were driven out last year of the cities, towns and villages inhabited by millions of people, citizens are voting for a new parliament — and ultimately a new government. "We want freedom and a peaceful life away from militant...
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Dinner Diplomacy: Netanyahu’s Unusual Run-in With UAE Envoy

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 17:05
Officially, their governments don’t speak. The United Arab Emirates doesn’t even formally recognize that Israel exists. But an impromptu bit of dinner diplomacy between Israel’s prime minister and a prominent Emirati ambassador sheds light on one of the worst kept secrets in the Arab world: the quiet ties between Israel and some of its Arab neighbors that are increasingly coming out in the open as they find common cause against mutual foe Iran. The venue back in March was Cafe Milano,...
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Joy, Outrage as US Embassy Set to Open in Jerusalem

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 12:50
With the opening Monday of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the region is bracing for both celebrations and unrest. The United States plans to host about 800 guests at an opening ceremony of its embassy. U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will be on hand, while Trump addresses the ceremony via video, reaffirming his December 2017 decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv. "I have determined that it is time to officially...
Categories: Iraq

Joy and Outrage as US Embassy Set to Open in Jerusalem

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 12:40
With the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, the region is bracing for both celebrations and unrest. Experts say President Donald Trump's decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv amounts to U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a decision that has drawn praise from Israelis and angered Palestinians. VOA's Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from the State Department on Monday's ceremony.
Categories: Iraq

Low Turnout in First Vote for Iraqis Since Victory Over IS

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 08:59
Low turnout and voting irregularities marked the initial hours of voting Saturday in Iraq’s first elections since the country declared victory over the Islamic State group. Voting began early Saturday morning in a contest that has no clear front-runner after weeks of official campaigning. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is facing stiff competition from political parties with closer ties to Iran. After hours of reports of low turnout in Baghdad, al-Abadi partially lifted a security...
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Iranian Teachers Jailed, Shackled After Peaceful Protest

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 04:12
Iranian human rights activists say several teachers arrested for staging a protest in Tehran have been sent to the city's Evin prison, known for its jailing of political dissidents under harsh conditions. The activists said the teachers were jailed at Evin after participating in a peaceful demonstration Thursday outside the Iranian government's planning and budget office building in Tehran. That rally was one of at least 30 held across Iran by the Coordinating Council of Iranian...
Categories: Iraq

Israel-Iran Tension Reaches Unprecedented Level

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 03:43
In the escalating confrontation between Israel and Iran, Israel's defense minister called on Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on Friday to rid his country of Iranian forces based there, warning their presence would only cause more trouble for the war-ravaged country.  Avigdor Lieberman's comments were followed by threats from an Iranian cleric that Tel Aviv or Haifa would be in danger if Israel did "anything foolish."  The war of words followed the...
Categories: Iraq

One Dead, 49 Injured as Israel Fires on Palestinian Protesters

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 23:27
The Gaza Health Ministry says one Palestinian was killed and 49 were injured Friday when members of the Israeli army fired on protesters near the border fence with Israel and the Gazan city of Khan Younis. In a statement Friday, the Israeli Defense Forces said about 5,000 Palestinians took part in the protests, most of which it said were peaceful. IDF said it only targets protesters who threaten the border. Protests at the border have been taking place for weeks over the...
Categories: Iraq

Top Diplomats From Britain, France, Germany to Discuss Iran Deal

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 22:13
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is expected to host a meeting Tuesday with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany in Brussels to discuss the future of the Iran nuclear deal, now that U.S. President Donald Trump has announced the United States is pulling out of the deal. The EU's External Action Service made the statement Friday, adding that Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif also is expected to meet with the three foreign ministers and...
Categories: Iraq

Rebuilding, Returning, Renegotiating: Iraq's Diverse Election Wishes

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 21:17
Many areas that Islamic State militants once controlled in Iraq look like Mosul's old city. It was once the heart of the militants' de facto capital in Iraq. Now, it is broken and mostly abandoned and bodies still decay where they landed. Voters here say they are disillusioned, as they try to rebuild with whatever money they can scrape together. "Look at how bad things are around here," said Saad Dowed, a taxi driver and father of four in old Mosul. Across the street...
Categories: Iraq

Rebuilding, Returning, Renegotiating: Iraq's Diverse Election Wishes

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 21:17
Iraqis are voting for their first new national parliament since Islamic State militants were driven out of the country last year, but analysts say no one party is expected to be the clear winner. From Mosul, Baghdad, Irbil and northern displacement camps, VOA's Heather Murdock looks at Iraq's diverse, and often desperate needs as locals anticipate the formation of a new government.
Categories: Iraq

Popularity of Israel's Netanyahu Rises as Iran Tension Flares

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 20:30
Israel’s tough stance on Iran has boosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity at home, and he can expect more good press in the coming days when the United States opens its embassy in Jerusalem. Three corruption investigations against Netanyahu, who has hardly been out of the headlines for weeks, show no sign of denting his popularity among his support base. As the closest Middle East ally of President Donald Trump, Netanyahu has been central to U.S. decisions that have...
Categories: Iraq

Europe Moves to Safeguard Interests in Iran After US Pullout

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 20:21
Europe's heavyweight economies took steps Friday to safeguard their interests in Iran, seeking to keep the nuclear deal with Tehran alive after Washington pulled out and said sanctions would follow. Germany and France have significant trade links with Iran and remain committed to the nuclear agreement, as does Britain, and the three countries' foreign ministers plan to meet Tuesday to discuss it. That is part of a flurry of diplomatic activity following Tuesday's unilateral...
Categories: Iraq

US Embassy in Jerusalem to Open With Initial Staff of 50

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 18:15
The new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will open with an initial staff of at least 50. That's according to senior Trump administration officials previewing the highly anticipated opening on May 14. The embassy is moving from Tel Aviv in line with President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.   Roughly 800 guests will attend. Officials say the U.S. delegation doesn't plan to meet any Palestinian officials during their visit.   Initial...
Categories: Iraq

Challenges Await Egypt's Sissi in New Term

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 16:09
Terrorism will be one of the major challenges facing Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi, who begins a new term in office next month after winning nearly 100 percent of the vote in February's election. In some quarters, however, Sissi's war on terror is described as a “heavy-handed” approach by security forces. “I would actually take it further and call it a dirty war,” Amnesty International Egypt campaigner Hussein Baoumi told VOA. “They have used the war on terror to...
Categories: Iraq