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Bahrain Imposes Entry Visas on Qatar Nationals, Residents

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 01:15
Bahrain said on Tuesday it would impose entry visas on Qatar nationals and residents in what it called a security measure. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut diplomatic, transport and trade ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of financing terrorism. Doha denies that and says the boycott is an attempt to rein in its support for reform. “The new measures aim at preventing harming the security and stability of the kingdom of Bahrain particularly in light of the...
Categories: Iraq

Cleared of Islamic State, Raqqa Remains a Deadly Battlefield

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 00:15
Syrians hoping to return home to Raqqa now that the city has been liberated from the clutches of the Islamic State terror group are being told to wait indefinitely. Coalition officials say the problem comes from potentially thousands of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and booby traps littered across the city, some already taking a toll. “Civilians deaths have already been reported by some of those who have tried to return,” Major General James Jarrard, commander of Special...
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World Bank Approves $400 Million to Rebuild Liberated Iraqi Areas

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 23:56
The World Bank on Tuesday approved $400 million in additional funding to help rebuild services to Iraqi areas recaptured from Islamic State militants after a three-year military campaign, the global development bank said. The World Bank also said it would fund studies on how to involve the private sector in the reconstruction of Mosul's airport and restore public transport terminals as well as parts of the railway network. "The package represents an additional financing to the...
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Prime Minister: Iraq to Pay Kurdish Peshmerga, Civil Servants

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 22:55
The Iraqi government plans to soon start paying the salaries of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and civil servants working for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday. The semi-autonomous KRG has been struggling to pay the Peshmerga and its employees since 2014, after Baghdad stopped payments to it because of a dispute about oil-sharing revenue. "We will soon be able to pay all the salaries of the Peshmerga and the employees of the...
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Iran Says Supreme Leader Limits Ballistic Missile Range

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 22:47
Iran’s supreme leader has restricted the range of ballistic missiles manufactured in the country to 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles), the head of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said Tuesday, which limits their reach to only regional Mideast targets. The comments on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s orders appear to be an effort by Iranian authorities to contrast their missile program, which they often describe as being for defensive purposes, against those of countries like North Korea, which...
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Lebanese Army Gets Two A-29 Light-attack Aircraft From US

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 22:18
The United States delivered two A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft to Lebanon's army on Tuesday, a sign of continued U.S. support despite Israeli accusations that the Lebanese military is controlled by Hezbollah. The planes will be used as armed observation aircraft, a security source in Lebanon said, and represent a big upgrade for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). Earlier this month, U.S. ally Israel said Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shi'ite Muslim movement, had gained...
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Access to Food 'Precarious' for Syrians Stranded Near Jordan

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 18:35
The U.N. humanitarian chief called for immediate “life-saving” access to 50,000 displaced Syrians stranded on the sealed border with Jordan, as aid officials reported a sharp drop in food supplies in the remote desert camp since Syrian government forces advanced toward the area in the summer.   Black market prices for food have soared and malnutrition is on the rise among young children in the Rukban camp, the officials said.   Mark Lowcock, the U.N. official, told the U.N....
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Somalia Remains World's Worst for Unsolved Journalist Murders

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 17:45
Somalia is the world's worst country for unsolved murders of journalists for the third straight year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. In its 10th annual Global Impunity Index, released Tuesday, the committee said more than two dozen journalists were murdered over the past decade in Somalia, where a prolonged civil war continues. After ranking third last year, Syria, in the throes of a more than six-year civil war, claimed the second worst spot on the index,...
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Libyans Accuse Egypt of Bombing Civilians in Darna

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 17:32
Lawmakers and forces controlling an eastern Libyan city have accused the Egyptian air force of conducting deadly airstrikes, leaving a dozen civilians dead including an entire family.   Lawmaker Hamad al-Bandaq said Tuesday the fighter jets bombed a house in al-Fatayah district in eastern Darna late Monday, killing at least 12 people. Most of them were women and children who were paying a visit to their sick relative, he said.   A second airstrike bombed a shepherd and his...
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Egyptian Government's Youth Event Slammed on Social Media

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 17:11
A planned gathering of international youth organized by the Egyptian government has been slammed on its own social media hashtag, with dozens of posts criticizing leaders for their poor human rights record and campaigns against free speech. Billed as the "World Youth Forum" under the patronage of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the event is scheduled for Nov. 4-10 in the Red Sea city of Sharm el-Sheikh. It encouraged people to use the hashtag #WeNeedToTalk for English and...
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Syria Activists say 4 Children Killed in Government Shelling

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 14:50
At least four Syrian children were killed in government shelling as they left their school in a rebel-held town, part of an intensifying campaign against the last opposition holdouts outside the capital Damascus, activists reported Tuesday.   The violence comes as Russian-sponsored talks are underway in the Kazakh capital Astana to consolidate so-called "de-escalation zones" designed to freeze the lines of conflict and allow humanitarian aid to rebel-held areas besieged by...
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UN Official: Over 13 Million People Inside Syria Need Aid

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 06:15
More than 13 million people inside Syria still need humanitarian assistance and nearly half are in "acute need'' as a result of having fled their homes, of hostilities, and of limited access to food, health care and other basic needs, the U.N. humanitarian chief said Monday.   Mark Lowcock told the Security Council the number of Syrians who have been displaced within the country for a long time has dropped from 6.3 million to 6.1 million. But he said "levels of new...
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Special US Envoy Reports ‘Important Progress’ in Mideast Peace

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 03:25
U.S. special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt was in Israel Sunday as part of the Trump administration’s attempt to get Israel-Palestinian peace talks back on track. Greenblatt tweeted that “important progress” was made. “Meaningful steps forward on key economic issues — revenues, customs, and investment — that help support the search for peace,” he said. Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner was also at the talks in Ramallah which included Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah,...
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US, Qatar Agree to Further Curbs on Terrorist Financing

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 01:55
Qatar has agreed to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation with the United States to crack down on illicit financing of militant groups, a joint Qatari-U.S. statement said on Monday following a visit by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin's visit to Doha marked the end of a week-long trip aimed at curbing terrorist financing. There were earlier stops in Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, where the U.S. in May announced the Terrorist Financing Targeting...
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Women in Saudi Arabia Cheer News They Will Be Allowed into Sport Stadiums

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 00:40
Women in Saudi Arabia on Monday welcomed the announcement that they will be allowed to watch sporting events in previously all-male stadiums for the first time. The move is the latest in a series of reforms in the deeply conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom that last month granted women the right to drive. A statement from the General Sports Authority, carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency late on Sunday, said three stadiums in the major cities of Jeddah, Dammam and Riyadh were...
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Trump Vows Justice as US Captures Key Benghazi Militant

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 22:13
U.S. special operations forces captured a militant in Libya accused of playing an instrumental role in the Benghazi attacks, officials said Monday, in a high-stakes operation designed to bring the perpetrators to justice five years after the deadly violence.   President Donald Trump identified the militant as Mustafa al-Imam and said his capture signified that the four Americans who died "will never be forgotten.'' Justice Department officials were escorting al-Imam by...
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Analysts: Turkey May Pay Heavy Price for Iraqi Kurdish Leader's Resignation

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 22:07
Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani's announcement he plans to step down was greeted with jubilation in Turkey’s pro-government media. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Barzani, his once close ally, of betrayal for his decision to hold a September independence referendum. “Ankara, whether or not it indicated clearly, would be clearly happy with the removal of Mr. Barzani as president and replaced with someone else, so that would be seen by a welcome development,” said...
Categories: Iraq

Stuck in Sandstorm, Some Syrians Pause for Reflection

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 21:55
By early afternoon brown dirt blocked the sunlight and a film of dust had settled on the counter. Abbass, 21, packed up a small window display of gold jewelry while his father tapped on a calculator.   The sandstorm in northeastern Syria was going nowhere. No sense staying open for the day.   The men lingered in the shop with a couple of neighbors, hoping the storm would pass before the walk home. They told us only their nicknames, joking that if the government of Syrian...
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Bahrain Convicts Activist's Family Members, Militant Suspects

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 19:44
A Bahrain court sentenced three family members of a prominent activist to jail terms on weapons charges Monday, rights group the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said and accused authorities of using torture to extract confessions. In a separate case, Bahrain's Public Prosecutor announced Monday that it had sentenced 19 unnamed defendants to prison terms for contacts with a banned party it says is backed by Iran and involved in militant attacks. The cases...
Categories: Iraq

US Commends Kurdish Leader Barzani for Stepping Down

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 18:30
The United States is commending Masoud Barzani's decision to step down from his position as president of Iraq’s Kurdistan region. "President Barzani is a historic figure and courageous leader of his people, most recently in our common fight to destroy ISIS.” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement Monday. “This decision represents an act of statesmanship during a difficult period." The statement called on Iraq and Kurdish Regional Government to...
Categories: Iraq