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UN: Attacks on Healthcare Facilities in Libya Likely War Crimes

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 16:07
The United Nations — in a joint report by the UN Human Rights Office and the U.N. Support Mission in Libya — condemns widespread, indiscriminate attacks by all armed groups in Libya against healthcare facilities and personnel, saying they could constitute war crimes. The U.N. agencies have recorded 36 attacks on medical facilities, personnel or patients between May 2017 and May 2018. But, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani notes monitors are severely restricted in their...
Categories: Iraq

Once a Foe, US Now Hopes Iraqi Firebrand Shi’ite Cleric Becomes a Friend

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 15:23
The prospect of firebrand Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr wielding the greatest influence of any Iraqi leader over the formation of a government in Baghdad would have prompted panic in Washington years ago. In the wake of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and ouster of Saddam Hussein, al-Sadr’s Mahdi army butchered Sunni Muslims in Baghdad and resisted Coalition forces. In inflammatory sermons, Al-Sadr urged his followers to attack American soldiers and to throw out “foreign occupiers.” But...
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Syrian Monitor: Dozen Die in Airstrike Likely Led by US

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 11:19
A Syria war-monitoring group says at least 12 pro-government fighters were killed in airstrikes the previous night in the country’s east. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says none of the fatalities were Syrian nationals but foreign fighters. Syria’s government forces have relied on support from the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group and also regional militias organized by Iran to wage war on rebels and Islamic State militants. In Damascus, government media...
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VOA Interview: Former Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 09:22
VOA Contributor Greta Van Susteren interviews former Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who said Pakistan has been a “most loyal ally” of the United States, but the US “ditches” Pakistan when it’s politically convenient and favors Pakistan’s enemy, India.
Categories: Iraq

Iran’s Striking Truckers Jolt Government into Addressing Grievances

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 08:29
A newly launched strike by Iranian truckers in seven of Iran’s provinces appears to have alarmed the government, jolting officials into trying to persuade the drivers to return to work. The Iranian state-run news agency Tasnim quoted a transport official on Wednesday as saying it is “reasonable” for truck drivers to demand greater fees for transporting cargo to compensate for their rising costs. The official, Dariush Amani of Iran’s Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization, said...
Categories: Iraq

At least Four Killed, 15 Wounded in Baghdad Bomb Blast

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 06:41
At least four people were killed and 15 wounded in a suicide attack in Iraq's capital Baghdad on Thursday, a military spokesman told Reuters. The attack took place in the predominantly Shi'ite Shula district, in northwest Baghdad. According to a statement from Iraq's National Security media center, the attacker detonated an explosive vest after he was besieged by security forces at the entrance to the Saqlawiyah park, resulting in the death and injury of "a number of...
Categories: Iraq

UN Envoy: Gaza Strip on 'Verge of Collapse'

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 20:53
The United Nations envoy for the Middle East peace process warned Wednesday that the Gaza Strip “is on the verge of collapse” and urged the international community to prevent conflict from erupting there again.   “We must act urgently to avoid another war, to alleviate the suffering of people and to empower the Palestinian government to take up its responsibilities in Gaza,” Nickolay Mladenov told a U.N. Security Council meeting on the subject.   Violence has spiraled in the...
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Macron Heads to Russia to Save Iran Nuclear Deal

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 20:49
French President Emmanuel Macron heads to St. Petersburg Thursday for talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, whose support is key on matters ranging from salvaging the Iran nuclear deal to securing steady European gas supplies. Business also is high on the agenda of Macron's two-day visit, which coincides with a key economic forum in St. Petersburg. Some observers say Macron's trip comes within a broader context of thawing European relations with Russia, as seen in...
Categories: Iraq

Egypt Detains Activist Blogger Amid New Wave of Arrests

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:27
An Egyptian activist and blogger known for documenting police abuse was detained on Wednesday, security officials said, the latest in a new wave of arrests following elections earlier this year. Wael Abbas was taken from his home in a Cairo suburb on accusations that include disseminating false news and joining an outlawed group, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media.   The Arabic Network for Human Rights said...
Categories: Iraq

Syrian Official Rejects US Demand for Iranian Withdrawal

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 16:53
Syria on Wednesday dismissed American calls for the withdrawal of Iranian troops and Lebanese Hezbollah militants from the war-torn country. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad told Russia's Sputnik news agency that "this topic is not even on the agenda of discussion, since it concerns the sovereignty of Syria." U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a list of demands this week for a new nuclear deal with Iran, including the pullout of its forces from Syria,...
Categories: Iraq

Israel Court Freezes Deportation Order Against Rights Worker

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 16:47
Human Rights Watch says an Israeli court has frozen an expulsion order against its local director, allowing him to remain in the country while he fights the planned deportation.   Israel this month ordered Omar Shakir to leave the country, claiming he supports boycotts of Israel. The group says that neither it nor Shakir, a U.S. citizen, support boycotts and accuses the government of trying to stifle criticism of its human rights record.   Shakir had been given until midnight...
Categories: Iraq

France: New US Sanctions on Iran Could Destabilize Region

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 13:01
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Wednesday if the United States imposed new tough sanctions on Iran, it risks further destabilizing the Middle East. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened earlier this week to apply "unprecedented financial pressure" on Iran if it does not change its behavior, as he laid out a 12-point list of demands for a new nuclear deal. Le Drian told France Inter radio that levying new sanctions will not foster dialogue, but would...
Categories: Iraq

Iraq's Election Creates New Uncertainties for US

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 04:30
As the winning Iraqi political blocs enter a period of intense negotiations to form a new government following a general election, the United States faces new challenges to protect the gains made against Islamic State and prevent Iran from boosting its clout via Shiite militias in the new Iraqi government, experts warn. Iraq held elections to pick a new parliament and government on May 12 for the first time since the emergence of IS in the country in 2014. Results were announced last...
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Pompeo: US Working to Bring Home US Detainees from Iran

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 03:33
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed Tuesday to bring home American detainees in Iran, saying “the entire United States government” is working “diligently” and is utilizing “every avenue” and “mechanism.”  “I mentioned a handful of names yesterday. There are more around the world I didn’t identify in yesterday’s remarks," said the chief American diplomat during his first appearance at the State Department briefing.   In his first major foreign policy address on...
Categories: Iraq

UAE Denies Trying to Meddle in 2016 US Election

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 02:30
The United Arab Emirates said Tuesday that it did not try to influence the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump's favor. UAE  Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted the denial following U.S. news reports that Donald Trump Jr. met with Saudi and UAE envoys in 2016. "Attention needs to be paid to facts over innuendo and speculation. The UAE made no effort to influence the 2016 U.S. election," Gargash wrote. "Like other governments...
Categories: Iraq

Media: Israeli Security Cabinet Convening in Underground Bunker

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 23:54
Israel's Security Cabinet, a forum of senior ministers headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has begun holding its weekly meetings in a secure underground bunker in Jerusalem, Israeli media said Tuesday. The facility, known as the "National Management Centre," was first used by the Security Cabinet in 2011 to rehearse a national crisis scenario. It was carved out beneath the government complex in Jerusalem and includes living quarters as well as command...
Categories: Iraq

Palestinians Ask ICC for ‘Immediate’ Probe Against Israel

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 23:07
Calling it a “historic step” toward justice, the Palestinian foreign minister asked the International Criminal Court on Tuesday to open an “immediate investigation” into alleged Israeli crimes committed against the Palestinian people. The development was sure to worsen the already troubled relations between the internationally backed Palestinian Authority and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Peace talks have been frozen for over four years, and contacts between the...
Categories: Iraq

Syrian Army, Police Celebrate Recapturing All of Damascus

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:14
Syrian government forces raised their flag over the Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus on Tuesday as state media promoted what it said was the "liberation" of the last quarters of the capital from rebels and Islamic State group militants. Police motorcycles flying the flag roared into what was left of the neighborhood in a show for state media, and a detachment of soldiers raised the government's standard from the roof of what is now a shell of a building. The...
Categories: Iraq

UN Condemns Collective Expulsions of Migrants From Algeria

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 16:45
The U.N. human rights office is calling on the government of Algeria to stop the collective expulsions of thousands of migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, condemning this practice as a violation of international human rights law. Between March 8 and April 19, the U.N. human rights office reports Algerian authorities carried out at least six mass round-ups of sub-Saharan African migrants in Oran, Duira and Boufarik. Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says raids reportedly are carried...
Categories: Iraq

Group: Egyptian Army Intensifies Home Demolitions in Sinai

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 13:57
An international rights group says the Egyptian military has intensified home demolitions in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula as part of its campaign against a local affiliate of the Islamic State group. Tuesday's report by Human Rights Watch says the military has vastly expanded widespread destruction of homes, commercial buildings and farms in Northern Sinai province since February 9. It says "the new destruction, including hundreds of hectares of farmland and at...
Categories: Iraq