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Iraq

US Team Tours Mideast, Gains Sense of Obstacles to Peace

Voice of America - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 11:48
On their current Mideast tour, senior Trump administration officials are getting a close-up view of some of the towering obstacles to their yet-to-be-released blueprint for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.   Blockaded Gaza, a likely focal point of any future U.S.-endorsed Palestinian entity, has been sinking deeper into a humanitarian crisis in recent months, while cross-border violence between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel flared again this week.   Meanwhile, Hamas rival...
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Iran Confirms 1 Victim in Alleged Gang Rapes in Southeast

Voice of America - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 04:21
An Iranian official said authorities investigating accusations of recent mass abductions and rapes of women in southeastern Iran have confirmed that at least one complainant was raped. In an interview with Iran’s state-run news agency ISNA published Wednesday, Sistan Baluchistan province judiciary chief Ebrahim Hamidi said one of three women who have filed complaints about being raped in the city of Iranshahr has been confirmed as a rape victim by medical examiners. It is the first...
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Syria Moves Troops Ahead of New Offensive

Voice of America - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 03:32
The Syrian government is deploying its military forces in southern Syria, in preparation for a looming offensive against the southern governorates of Daraa and Quneitra, as confrontation in the north and northeast are winding down. Abdulllah Nassar, a member of the White Helmets in Daraa, told VOA that people are bracing themselves for the offensive. “The Free Syrian Army is on alert, and everyone is planning for a battle,” Nassar said. The Syrian regime continues to drop leaflets...
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Humanitarian Crisis Feared as Saudi-Led Alliance Seizes Yemen's Hodeida Airport

Voice of America - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 21:22
Saudi-led coalition forces have seized Yemen's Hodeida airport from Iran-aligned Houthis, a big step toward recapturing the port city following a week of fighting that spilled into residential neighborhoods. The airport's seizure Wednesday was announced by coalition commander Abdul Salamm al-Shehi in a video posted by the United Arab Emirates' official WAM news agency. The effort by the Saudi alliance to take the city has fueled fears of a humanitarian crisis, as it is the...
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Britain Ends Royal 'Boycott' of Israel

Voice of America - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 21:00
In 1986, Margaret Thatcher arrived in Israel for the first official visit to the Jewish state by a serving British prime minister. Asked at a news conference why Britain’s queen had never visited, she snapped back, “I am here.” The Iron Lady’s response got a chuckle, but it did not satisfy the Israelis. For 70 years successive Israeli governments have tried to persuade Britain to send a Royal on an official visit — something both Buckingham Palace and Downing Street have been...
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Palestinian Rockets, Israeli Airstrikes Heat Up Gaza Border

Voice of America - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 20:07
Palestinian militants fired 45 rockets and mortars Wednesday at southern Israel, rattling farming communities on the Gaza border. The Israeli military said it responded with airstrikes on 25 facilities belonging to Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza. Violence has flared on the Gaza frontier for nearly three months, and it could intensify. Palestinians have been flying burning kites across the border causing massive damage to Israeli crops and nature reserves, and there is...
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Turkey Getting F-35 Jets, Despite Congressional Objections

Voice of America - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 19:45
Despite opposition in Congress, Turkey will receive its first F-35 Joint Strike fighter jet this week, Pentagon and aviation industry officials tell VOA. Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-35, will hold a ceremony Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas, for Turkey’s new jets, according to a company spokesperson. Both House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contain restrictions on Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program. U.S. lawmakers are concerned about...
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Refugee Crisis Reaches Record Levels

Voice of America - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 10:36
An unprecedented 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homelands worldwide -- the highest levels of displacement on record, according to a just-released report by UNHCR. In June 2016 the UN Refugee Agency launched the #WithRefugees petition to petition governments to work together and do their fair share for refugees. But as the world gets ready for World Refugee Day on June 20, that message is not really being heeded. VOA’s Julie Taboh has more.
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US Concerned by Iran’s Reported Arrest of Dervish Man’s Lawyer

Voice of America - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 05:55
The United States says it is “deeply concerned” by reports that Iran has arrested a lawyer who defended a religious minority member executed by Iranian authorities on Monday for allegedly killing policemen.  In a tweet posted Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington is concerned that the lawyer, Zeynab Taheri, was reportedly detained for “disturbing” Iran’s public opinion. “We call for her immediate release and (an) end of the Iran regime’s...
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Recycling Rubbish into Revenue, Plan Brings Hope to Women in Jordan

Voice of America - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 05:30
Sameera Al Salam folds a discarded piece of newspaper into a long strip then loops it round her finger to form a tight circle, the first stage of making the upcycled handbags, trays and bowls the Syrian refugee hopes will help her earn a living. Al Salam, 55, was a hairdresser with a passion for "art and making things" before she fled her war-torn homeland for Irbid in northern Jordan with her family in 2012. Now she has two teenagers and a husband left paralyzed by a stroke...
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Facts About World Refugee Day

Voice of America - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 04:00
Who is a refugee? The United Nations defines refugees as people fleeing conflict or persecution. They are granted refugee status by the country they enter, which grants them protection under international law and makes them eligible for aid. People who are displaced from their homes but remain in their country are not considered refugees. How many refugees are there worldwide? As of mid-2017, 65.6 million people have been displaced. Of that number, 22.5 million fled to other...
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US-led Coalition Says Kills Islamic State Oil and Gas Head in Syria

Voice of America - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 23:10
The U.S.-led coalition in Syria said on Tuesday it had disrupted Islamic State's funding by killing the man who ran its oil and gas network and other members of the group last month. "The death of these [Islamic State] members hinders the terrorist group's ability to finance operations throughout Iraq and Syria ... the ability to pay fighters, procure weapons, and maintain equipment will be degraded," it said in a statement. The coalition said it killed the oil and...
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Egyptians Angered by New Austerity After Eid Feast

Voice of America - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 23:07
Many Egyptians hoped to ignore their economic hardship as they celebrated the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Instead, they were told they will have to tighten their belts even more. With the Eid al-Fitr feast in full swing, the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Saturday declared it was slashing fuel subsidies, pushing up prices of petrol and public transport by as much as 50 percent. People returning to work Tuesday in Cairo seethed at the new sums they had...
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Media: Saudi-led Coalition Control Large Parts of Hodeida Airport

Voice of America - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 21:30
Arab media are reporting that Saudi-led coalition forces have captured dozens of Houthi militia fighters after taking control of large parts of Yemen's Hodeida airport. Witnesses say the Houthis have been reinforcing their positions around Hodeida's port, the country's largest, as coalition forces try to tighten their noose on the city. VOA could not independently confirm if the Houthis still controlled any parts of the airport complex. Hodeida airport is approximately 10...
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White House Mideast Team Holds Talks with Jordanian King

Voice of America - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 20:36
President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is in the Middle East to help lay the groundwork for an expected Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.   Kushner, along with White House envoy Jason Greenblatt, arrived in Jordan on Tuesday for talks with King Abdullah II, a key U.S. ally. A White House statement said the talks included discussions on the Gaza humanitarian situation and U.S. efforts to "facilitate peace between the Israelis and...
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UN Chief: Record Number of Countries Involved in Violent Conflicts

Voice of America - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 17:49
The number of countries involved in "violent conflicts" is the highest in 30 years, while the number of people killed in conflicts has risen tenfold since 2005, the U.N. secretary-general said Tuesday. Antonio Guterres added that the number of "violent situations" classifiable as wars, based on the number of casualties, has tripled since 2007. He also told reporters in Oslo, Norway, that "low-intensity conflicts" rose by 60 percent since 2007. Guterres...
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Iran Rebuffs Trump's Call for OPEC to Increase Oil Output

Voice of America - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 17:34
Iran lashed out Tuesday against U.S. President Donald Trump's call on OPEC to increase oil production and limit global energy prices, saying the cartel "is not an American organization."   The OPEC oil ministers began arriving in Vienna on Tuesday ahead of their official meeting Friday, when they will also confer with Russia, a non-OPEC country that since late 2016 has cooperated with the cartel to limit production.   Analysts expect the group to consider an...
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UN: Record 68 Million People Worldwide Displaced in 2017

Voice of America - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 17:13
The United Nations refugee agency says a record 68.5 million people around the world were forced to flee their homes last year due to war, violence and persecution. Filippo Grandi, the world body's High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in Geneva Tuesday that the final numbers for 2017 were nearly three million higher than in 2016.  He said more than 16 million people were newly displaced last year, due to ongoing, protracted conflicts and a lack of solutions to those...
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UN Chief Warns Gaza Violence Close 'to the Brink of War'

Voice of America - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 04:39
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the escalation of violence in Gaza is "a warning to all how close to the brink of war the situation is," and he is urging Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers to recommit to the cease-fire that ended their 2014 war. The U.N. chief said in a report to the Security Council obtained Monday by The Associated Press that he is "shocked" by the Israeli Defense Forces' use of live fire since border protests began in Gaza on March...
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Turkey Orders Jailing of NBA Star's Father

Voice of America - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 01:35
The father of Enes Kanter, a Turkish player for the U.S. professional basketball association's New York Knicks and an outspoken critic of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was sentenced to 15 years in a Turkish prison Monday. Mehmet Kanter was charged with "being a member of a terrorist organization." Mehmet Kanter is currently not in Turkey, ESPN reported, but is at risk of being detained upon his return. His whereabouts are unknown. In a statement to Bleacher...
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