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Updated: 4 hours 37 min ago

Rapper Nelly's Planned Saudi gig Sparks Social Media Stir

4 hours 46 min ago
Rapper Nelly is to perform in Saudi Arabia next month, but his planned concert in the ultraconservative kingdom is not being welcomed by everyone. Some Saudis on social media are pointing to the American rapper's 2015 guilty plea for possession of marijuana. Smuggling drugs is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia and possession of drugs is also a crime. Others say it's disgraceful that Saudi Arabia's new Entertainment Authority is officially sponsoring the male-only concert...
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Libya's Parliament Votes in Favor of UN Road map

5 hours 8 min ago
The barely functioning Libyan parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of a new United Nations action plan, which is aimed at giving new life to stalled political talks and healing the country's deep divisions. Abdullah Ablahig, spokesman for the Libyan House of Representatives - which is based in the eastern city of Tobrouk - told The Associated Press that parliament convened Tuesday and voted in favor of the new U.N. envoy Ghassan Salame's road map. The new plan is designed to pave...
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Israeli Parliament Marks 40 Years Since Historic Sadat Speech

5 hours 24 min ago
Israel's parliament is holding a special session to mark 40 years since the historic visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.   Sadat's 1977 address to the Knesset is credited with paving a path for peace between the countries. Two years later Israel and Egypt signed a formal peace accord and Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula it had captured in the 1967 war. They have maintained quiet but close security ties since. Israel later made peace with Jordan...
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Flooding in Western Saudi Arabia Forces Schools to Shut

5 hours 46 min ago
Saudi authorities have closed schools and universities after flooding in the kingdom's second-largest city, Jiddah, and the country's Red Sea coastal regions.   Videos shared on Twitter and other social media sites on Tuesday show people stranded in tunnels and on roads with cars engulfed by floodwater.   Schools have also been closed in the areas of Mecca and Taif. Saudi Civil Defense warns that heavy rainfall is expected to last until at least Wednesday...
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Russia, Syria Say Presidents Discuss Syrian Political Resolution

11 hours 13 min ago
Syria and Russia disclosed Tuesday a meeting between President Bashar al-Assad and President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, saying the leaders discussed the need to focus on a political resolution for the Syrian conflict. Reports from the Kremlin and Syria's SANA news agency said Putin described military operations in Syria as nearing an end and congratulated Assad on a successful fight against terrorists. Assad, who according to Russian media was in Sochi for about four hours Monday,...
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US Targets Iranian Counterfeit Scheme in Yemen

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 06:01
U.S. officials are spotlighting Iran’s efforts to spread its influence across the Middle East with what they describe as a “large-scale” counterfeiting operation, sophisticated enough to fool some European regulators. Treasury officials in Washington exposed the counterfeiting ring Monday, sanctioning a network of individuals and companies, including two based in Germany, linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and its elite Qods Force. The department said Iran used the...
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UN Envoy Says Conflict Likely If Palestinians Fail to Unite

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 00:08
 The U.N.’s Mideast envoy says reconciliation talks between Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas must succeed, warning that failure “will most likely result in another devastating conflict.” Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council Monday that “critical intra-Palestinian talks” are scheduled to open in Cairo on Tuesday.   He said the Oct. 12 agreement between the rivals, aimed at restoring the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s rule in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, started...
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Israel Moves to Deport 40,000 African Migrants

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 19:46
The fate of 40,000 African migrants in Israel remains unclear after lawmakers approved a proposal to deport them. The Cabinet in Jerusalem voted unanimously Sunday to close the isolated Holot detention facility in the Negev Desert. Holot houses thousands of Africans who entered Israel illegally. The center is due to shut down in three months, and residents will face the option of leaving the country or going to prison. Impoverished Africans, mostly from war-torn Eritrea and Sudan,...
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World Food Program Fears More Yemen Deaths Amid Blockade

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 17:04
The head of the World Food Program in Yemen said on Monday that millions of Yemenis face the risk of more deaths as aid deliveries cannot get to those in need because of the continuing blockade of the war-ravaged country by the Saudi-led coalition. Speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from Sana'a, Stephen Anderson said it is "heartbreaking" that millions in Yemen depended on sustained access to humanitarian aid. Of a population of 26 million, some 17 million Yemenis...
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Iran, Lebanon Reject Arab League Criticism as Tensions Mount

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 16:45
Iran on Monday rejected a harsh statement by Arab League foreign ministers condemning the Islamic Republic and its proxy Hezbollah, saying the tirade was “full of lies” and the product of Saudi “pressure and propaganda.”   State media quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as calling on Saudi Arabia to stop its “barbaric attacks” on Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been at war with Tehran-backed rebels since March 2015. He also called on Saudi Arabia to drop its...
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Palestinian Activists Angry at Nick Cave Over Israel Show

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 16:16
Supporters of an international boycott movement against Israel have lashed out at rock star Nick Cave after he played in the Jewish state and accused the pro-Palestinian activists of trying to bully musicians.   The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel called Cave's shows a “propaganda gift” that helps “art-wash” Israeli policies toward Palestinians.   Cave plays Monday in Tel Aviv after an almost sold out show there the night...
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Iraq's Top Court Rules Kurdish Referendum Unconstitutional

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:47
Iraq's top court ruled Monday that a Kurdish independence referendum was unconstitutional. The court said the decision should cancel the results of the vote in which an overwhelming majority of those who participated supported independence. Iraq's central government has repeatedly made known it saw the vote as illegal, and the Supreme Court ruled last week that no region was allowed to secede. Kurdish authorities accepted the earlier ruling, saying it represented a starting...
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15 Dead, 5 Hurt in Stampede for Food Aid in Morocco

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 20:04
A stampede in a southern Moroccan village left at least 15 people dead and five others injured Sunday as food aid was being distributed, the Interior Ministry said. The crush took place in Sidi Boulalam, in the province of Essaouira, as a local association was distributing food aid in a local weekly "souk," or market, the ministry said in a statement.   King Mohammed VI has given instructions that "all measures be taken to help the victims and their families,"...
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Police Question Israeli Leader Over Corruption Accusations

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 18:51
Police have arrived at the official residence of Israel's prime minister in what is believed to be part of an investigation into corruption allegations. Police have previously questioned Benjamin Netanyahu over allegations that he received gifts from Hollywood and business figures. A separate probe is looking into secret talks with the publisher of a major Israeli newspaper in which Netanyahu allegedly requested positive coverage in exchange for reining in a free pro-Netanyahu...
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Saudis, Allies Discuss Iran Ahead of Arab League Meeting

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 18:25
Saudi Arabia asked Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Sunday to condemn what Riyadh and its allies see as Iran's meddling in Arab affairs and its alleged support for militias in the region, according to Arab diplomats.   The diplomats said a Saudi draft resolution is proposing a declaration of solidarity with the kingdom and stating Arab support for actions it might take to safeguard its national security in the face of meddling by Tehran.   The diplomats spoke on...
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Turkey Hosts Iranian, Russian FMs as Ankara-NATO Dispute Festers

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 17:15
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Melvin Cavusolgu is hosting his Russian and Iranian counterparts at the Mediterranean Sea resort of Antalya to prepare the ground for Wednesday’s summit in Russia to discuss Syria. Despite Ankara backing opposing sides to Tehran and Moscow in the Syrian civil war, they have been increasingly cooperating to resolve the conflict. The three countries armed forces are deployed in creating a “de-escalation zone” in the Syrian enclave of Idlib, one of last strongholds...
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Turkish Capital Bans LGBT Cinema, Exhibitions

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 16:17
The Turkish capital Ankara has banned the public showing of films and exhibitions related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, the governor's office said on Sunday, citing risks to public safety. The move is likely to deepen concern among rights activists and Turkey's Western allies about its record on civil liberties under President Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party. "Starting from Nov. 18, 2017, concerning our community's public...
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Israel PM: Security Must Come First in Any Peace Plan

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 15:22
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has made clear to the U.S. that Israel's security concerns must come first as the White House tries to restart a peace process with the Palestinians. His comments Sunday came after Israeli news reports claiming to detail the peace plan under development.   At a weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said "we heard plenty of speculation this weekend" about President Donald Trump's peace efforts. He then declined to comment,...
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Lebanon May Skip Arab League Meeting to Avoid Saudis

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 10:44
Lebanon’s foreign minister may not attend an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Sunday and a final decision will be taken in the morning, a senior Lebanese official told Reuters Saturday. The official said Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil wanted to avoid an anticipated confrontation at the meeting with Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies over the regional role of the Iran-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah. The emergency Arab foreign ministers meeting is being convened at the request of...
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Saudis Bristle at German Official’s Lebanon Remark

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 04:54
Saudi Arabia has summoned its ambassador in Germany home for consultations over comments by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel about the political crisis in Lebanon. The Saudi foreign ministry said the government also handed Germany’s representative in Riyadh a protest note over what it said were “shameful” comments Gabriel made after a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart. After a meeting in Berlin with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Gabriel told reporters that Europe...
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