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Russia, Iran Maneuver for Influence in Syria

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 18:00
Once-hidden Russian-Iranian disagreements over Syria are starting to surface. Moscow and Tehran are jostling to wield the main influence over the government of President Bashar al-Assad, adding further complexity to the still-far-from-complete endgame of Syria’s brutal civil war, say diplomats and analysts. Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Iranians want to be able to present themselves as the true victors of the conflict that has left almost half-a-million people dead and to...
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HRW: 'Mass Surveillance App' Used to Target Muslims in China's Xinjiang

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 15:54
The Chinese authorities are using a “mass surveillance” app to profile, investigate, and detain Muslims in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says. The New York-based watchdog said on May 2 that the mobile app is being used to "collect a wide array of information from ordinary people in Xinjiang," ranging from their blood type and height to their “religious atmosphere” and political affiliation. The tool monitors people’s movements by tracing...
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Displaced Families Languish in Tripoli as Libya Fighting Continues

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 15:51
The ongoing fighting in Libya pitting the western-backed government in Tripoli against a renegade Libyan general has displaced tens of thousands of people who are now flooding the Libyan capital. Local aid workers say they don't have the capacity to take care of these families if the war expands and soldiers in Tripoli are warning there appears to be no end to the standoff. VOA's Heather Murdock is in Tripoli with this report.
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US Ending Iranian Oil Sanctions Waivers

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 12:48
The United States is tightening its economic sanctions on Iran by ending a set of waivers Thursday that had allowed some of the country’s largest oil buyers to continue their purchases. With the expiration of waivers for eight buyers, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States would be exerting “maximum pressure” on the Iranian government. The U.S. State Department called the move a fulfillment of the Trump administration’s promise “to get Iran’s oil exports to zero and...
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Rains Test Iraq in Era of Climate Change

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 11:40
After years of meager rains and scorching summers, the wettest winter in a generation has revived Iraq’s famous rivers and filled its lakes, bringing welcome relief to a country facing severe water challenges in the era of climate change. The rains have restored freshwater marshes of southern Iraq — a region some scholars see as the biblical Garden of Eden — and transformed lands once parched for water into fields of grain and cereal. But the deluge has also tested a country more...
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Saudi Arabia Responding to Iran Oil Tanker Emergency

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 07:23
An Iranian oil tanker carrying more than 1 million barrels of fuel oil suffered a malfunction in the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia, authorities said Thursday, raising concerns that the vessel could be leaking. The incident involving the Happiness I came as U.S. oil exemptions for Iranian crude oil purchases expired, part of President Donald Trump’s maximalist approach against Tehran. Saudi Arabia’s state-run television channels and news agency said authorities received a...
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Rights Activists Denounce Iran's Crackdown on May Day Protesters

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 03:56
This article originated in VOA's Persian service. Iranian police have arrested dozens of labor rights activists who rallied peacefully in Tehran to mark International Workers' Day, sparking denunciations from Iranian and global rights activists.  VOA sister network RFE/RL's Radio Farda said eyewitnesses told it that at least 35 people were arrested outside the Iranian parliament during Wednesday's rally marking the occasion also known as May Day. The...
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Saudi Coalition Attacks Air Base Next to Yemen Airport

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 03:28
The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen raided an air base adjoining Sanaa’s airport, Saudi news agency SPA said late Wednesday. The raids targeted drone maintenance sites, a communications system and locations of drone experts and operators, SPA quoted coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki as saying. “The terrorist, Iran-backed Houthi militia have transformed Sanaa airport into a military barracks and a place to launch drones to carry out terrorist attacks that...
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Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Comes Amid Growing Anti-Semitism

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 02:03
Israel is observing one of its most solemn days of the year — Holocaust Remembrance Day — with the president warning the government not to get too cozy with some Europeans.     "Ideas of superiority, national purity, xenophobia, blatant anti-Semitism from left and right are hovering over Europe," Reuven Rivlin said Wednesday night.    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hosted leaders from Hungary, Lithuania, and...
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Algeria Army Chief Calls for 'Dialogue' With Protesters 

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 21:31
Algeria's army chief called Wednesday for dialogue between protesters and state institutions, a day after pushing back against demonstrators' demands for top politicians to quit.    "I remain entirely convinced that adopting constructive dialogue with the institutions of the state is the only way to exit from the crisis," Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah said in a statement published by the defense ministry.    This is "the...
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May Day 2019: Workers Demand Rights, Respect

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 17:07
Higher salaries, better working conditions, maternity leave, minimum wage and an end to discrimination against temporary or foreign workers: These were among the concerns as hundreds of thousands of union members and labor activists rallied around the world to mark May Day. The tradition of May Day marches for workers' rights began in the United States in the 1880s. It quickly spread to other countries at a time when industrialization pitted poorly paid employees who had few...
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Iran Wants 'Good' Relations With Saudi Arabia, UAE

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 15:37
Iran said Wednesday it hopes to have good relations with arch-rival Saudi Arabia and its allies, and called for an end to their bitter dispute with Gulf neighbour Qatar. Riyadh broke off relations with Tehran in 2016 after protesters angry at its execution of a top Shiite cleric torched its diplomatic missions in Iran. The following year the kingdom and its allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates imposed a trade and travel boycott on Qatar, demanding that it mirror their hardline...
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Growing Concerns Over Saudi Arabia’s Rights Abuses

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 05:55
The recent mass execution of dozens of Saudi citizens has drawn wide criticism from rights groups and governments around the world, which have urged Saudi authorities to stop such public executions and put an end to the growing human rights abuses in the Muslim kingdom. Saudi Arabia last week beheaded 37 Saudi men, of whom 34 were minority Shiites, for alleged terrorism-related crimes. With an already poor human rights record, Saudi Arabia has seen a growing increase of rights...
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UN Envoy 'Optimistic' of Syria Constitution Committee Soon

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 03:12
The U.N. special envoy for Syria said Tuesday that he is "optimistic" an agreement can be reached on the long-sought formation of a committee to draft a new constitution for the war-torn country so it can meet this summer. Geir Pederson told reporters after briefing the Security Council that he based his optimism on the "intensive" and "very good" dialogue he has had with the Syrian government and opposition — as well as "tangible progress,"...
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Iran Designates All US Troops in Middle East as Terrorists

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 02:50
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signed a bill into law on Tuesday declaring all U.S. forces in the Middle East terrorists and calling the U.S. government a sponsor of terrorism. The bill was passed by parliament last week in retaliation for President Donald Trump's decision this month to designate Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards a foreign terrorist organization. It was not clear what the impact of the new Iranian law might have on U.S. forces or their Middle East...
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Governments Prepare for May Day Protests Worldwide

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 01:45
Major cities around the world have ramped up security, increasing police presence and even using drones to monitor crowds expected at May Day rallies. International Workers' Day, which is commonly known as May Day, celebrates the international labor movement on the first day of May every year. It’s a national holiday in more than 80 countries around the world. France, which has been recently rankled by violent anti-government yellow vest protests, plans to deploy more than 7,400...
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Relatively Young New Leader Named in Algeria Amid Protests

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 23:36
Algeria's ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party, has elected Mohamed Djemai, a businessman, as its new leader, state television said on Tuesday, a month after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika quit in the face of mass protests. Bouteflika's exit however has not quieted protesters, who are now demanding the dismantling of an entire ruling elite entrenched for decades, a shift towards more democracy and a crackdown on systemic corruption and cronyism. The 50-year-old Djemai,...
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Turkey's AK Party: US Move Against Muslim Brotherhood Would Damage Democracy in Mideast

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 23:30
The spokesman for Turkey's ruling AK Party said on Tuesday that if the United States designated the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization, it would hamper democratization efforts in the Middle East and serve militant groups like Islamic State. The White House said on Tuesday President Donald Trump was working to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organisation, a step that would bring sanctions against Egypt's oldest Islamist movement. Egyptian...
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US Urges Russia to End 'Escalation' in Syria's Idlib

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 22:34
The United States on Tuesday urged Russia to abide by its commitments and end an "escalation" in Syria's northwestern Idlib region after a monitor said air strikes killed 10 civilians. "The violence must end. The United States reiterates that any escalation in violence in northwest Syria will result in the destabilization of the region," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. "We call on all parties, including Russia and the Syrian...
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Lebanese Cabinet Begins Discussing Austerity Budget

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 21:12
Lebanon's finance minister says the government has started open-ended discussions to quickly approve the country's draft austerity budget.   Lebanon's economy is suffering from slow growth, a high budget deficit and massive debt.     Ali Hassan Khalil told reporters after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday that the government aims to reduce the percentage of the budget deficit compared with the gross domestic product.   Leaks through the media about steps that...
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