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WEAPONS PROLIFERATION

 

 

THE MAGOG INVASION

 

 

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The Magog Invasion

 

 Introduction:

 

The ancient people called Magog are commonly believed to have been the ancestors of the Russian nation. The prophet Ezekiel spoke of an invasion of Israel by Russia, which has not yet been fulfilled. What could cause Russia to come against the tiny nation of Israel -- which has no oil and no real strategic value? This question has puzzled Bible scholars for centuries. However, recent developments in the Middle East have for the first time in history lent credence to this long-awaited prophecy.


[READ THE FULL INTRODUCTION]
 
 
 

Behold a Red Horse

 

 

Price R 249.00

 

 


•What does the Bible say about “wars”?
•How can the classic literature of centuries ago impact todays (and tomorrow’s) tactics and strategies?
•Which technologies are predicted in the Bible? Which ones have yet to be witnessed?
•In what ways have the economies of scale in violence been reversed?
•What is the threat assessment and risk analysis pending today?
•In what ways can a country be regarded as a “one-bomb target”?
•What are the likely implications of trans-humanism in the quests for the “Super-Soldier”?
•How could electromagnetic pulses emerge to become the “Great Equalizer”?
•Where is the safest place to be?
 Dr. Chuck Missler, an honor graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, with an international background including three decade’s experience in the board rooms of the defense industry, reviews the major Biblical references to warfare, the trends in modern weapons technology, and some of the current preparations for war among the major powers.
 

Behold a White Horse

 

 

Price R 249.00

 

 

 

The final world dictator seeking global domination will also be an “Assyrian” who is here characterized by a bow, riding a white horse. It is interesting how many confuse this counterfeit with the rider of the white horse in Revelation 19. In chapter 6, however, this rider is among some very bad company!
 “Behold a White Horse” explores the career of the first of these “Four Horsemen” who seems to have at least 33 titles in the Old Testament and 13 in the New Testament and the common term “AntiChrist” really isn’t one of them. We also explore the only physical description of him in the Scripture!
 • Why is he a “mistaken identity”?
 • How do we know this is NOT the Christ?
 • What is the precedent condition(s) for his appearance?
 • What is the precedent condition for the unsealing of the Seven Sealed Book? What is the Seven Sealed Book?
 • Is his “bow” a pun? How? Why?
 • How can he “go forth to conquer” if he is a “peace maker”?
 • Is the Church on the earth at this time? How do we know?
 • Is He alive today? How do we know?
 • How can he be the “Seed of the Serpent”?
 Join Chuck Missler as he looks at the first of the Five Horsemen.

 

This briefing pack contains 2 horse of teaching

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2 MP3

1PDF NOTES FILE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Up to 700 feared dead after migrant boat sinks off Libya

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:31:24 PMGo to full article
Graphic showing the location where hundreds of migrants are feared to have drowned after the fishing boat they were in capsized in the MediterraneanBy Antonio Denti PALERMO, Italy (Reuters) - As many as 700 people were feared dead after a fishing boat packed with migrants capsized off the Libyan coast overnight, in what may be one of the worst disasters of the Mediterranean migrant crisis, officials said on Sunday. Twenty eight people were rescued and 24 bodies recovered from the 20 meter-long vessel, which sank around 70 miles from the Libyan coast, south of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, the Italian coast guard said. The new deaths fueled calls for a stronger response from Europe to the increasingly deadly migrant crisis playing out in the Mediterranean. International aid groups and Italian authorities have criticized the European Union's "Triton" border protection operation, which recently replaced the more comprehensive Italian search-and-rescue mission "Mare Nostrum".
 
 

Sea of sorrows: Many migrants drown trying to reach Italy

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:29:01 PMGo to full article
Migrants receive first aid upon disembarking from Italian Navy ship "Driade" in Messina's port, Sicily, Italy, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Italian ships have picked up some 10,000 people, many of them refugees of war and persecution, over the past week, an unprecedented number in such a short period. The influx is putting pressure on Italy's shelter system and raising calls for a better response to the emergency. (AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi)ROME (AP) — Migrants seeking a better life in Europe have died by the thousands in the Mediterranean Sea in recent years while fleeing poverty and bloodshed in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
 
 

UK archbishop Welby in 'condolence' visit to Egypt

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:32:21 AMGo to full article
The Archbishop of Cantebury Justin Welby speaks during a press conference at the State House in Juba, South Sudan on January 30, 2014The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, leader of the Church of England, arrived in Egypt on Sunday to offer his condolences over the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by jihadists in Libya. During his one-day visit, Archbishop Welby was to meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, and Coptic Pope Tawadros II, officials said. Archbishop Welby will also lead a communion service at the All Saint's Angelican Cathedral in Cairo's upscale Zamalek district.
 
 

France provides first weapons to Lebanon for Islamic State fight

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:40:34 AMGo to full article
Lebanese troops patrol in the village of Ras Baalbak in the eastern Bekaa Valley near the border with Syria on January 23, 2015The first French weapons from a $3 billion Saudi-funded programme will arrive in Lebanon on Monday as allies seek to bolster the country's defences against the Islamic State group and other jihadists pressing along its Syrian border. Anti-tank guided missiles are set to arrive at an air force base in Beirut, overseen by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Lebanese counterpart, Samir Mokbel. France is expected to deliver 250 combat and transport vehicles, seven Cougar helicopters, three small corvette warships and a range of surveillance and communications equipment over four years as part of the $3 billion (2.8 billion-euro) modernisation programme. It is being entirely funded by Saudi Arabia, which is keen to see Lebanon's army defend its borders against jihadist groups, particularly the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra, instead of leaving the job to Hezbollah militants, who are backed by its regional rival, Iran.
 
 

Egypt's Morsi faces possible death penalty in first verdict

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:25:20 AMGo to full article
Egypt's deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi waves inside the defendant’s cage during a trial at the police academy in Cairo on December 7, 2014Egypt's ex-president Mohamed Morsi faces being sentenced to death Tuesday on charges of inciting the killing of protestors in the first verdict against him nearly two years after his fall from power. He also faces the death penalty in two other trials, including one in which he is accused of spying for foreign powers, and escaping from prison during the 2011 anti-Mubarak revolt. A death sentence on Tuesday against Egypt's first freely elected president cannot be ruled out, experts say, especially since judges have already passed harsh verdicts against leaders of his blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi was toppled by the then army chief -- and now president -- Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on July 3, 2013 after mass street protests against his year-long rule.
 
 

US seeking to allay Gulf fears amid regional chaos

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:57:41 AMGo to full article
A Tribal gunman loyal to the Shiite Huthi movement stands guard on April 16, 2015 in the capital SanaaWith conflicts raging across the Middle East, the US is seeking to reassure its Gulf allies that it has a regional strategy which will be bolstered, not shredded, by any Iran nuclear deal. The US administration appears increasingly caught in a game of whack-a-mole as it confronts a series of complex challenges, with Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen just the latest complication in a regional tinderbox pitting Sunnis against Shiites, and even Sunni against Sunni. From the war in Syria, to the collapse of Libya's government, the battle against the Sunni Islamic State militants and the conflict in Yemen, the so-called Arab Spring has unleashed decades of pent-up sectarian and tribal tensions. "The growing complexity of the various struggles the United States now faces have all the focus and simplicity of a kaleidoscope, and it is unclear that the United States and its allies have any clear strategic options that offer a credible response," wrote Anthony Cordesman, expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
 
 

IS shows purported executions in Libya of Ethiopia Christians

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:21:37 AMGo to full article
Black-clad Islamic State group fighters leading handcuffed hostages, said to be Egyptian Coptic Christians, to their deaths in Libya in FebruaryThe Islamic State jihadist group on Sunday released a video purportedly showing the executions of some 30 Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya. The 29-minute video purports to show militants holding two groups of captives, described in a text on the screen as "followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church". Before the killings, the video shows purported footage of Christians in Syria explaining how they had been given the choice of converting to Islam or paying a special tax, and had decided to pay. The video bore the logo of IS's media arm and was similar to footage released in the past, including of a group of 21 Coptic Christians, mainly Egyptians, beheaded on a Libyan beach in February.
 
 

Saudis pledge to fund aid for Yemen, keep up air raids

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:27:20 PMGo to full article
A Tribal gunman loyal to the Shiite Huthi movement holds his weapon on April 16, 2015 in the capital SanaaSaudi Arabia, which is leading a bombing campaign against Shiite rebels in Yemen, pledged Saturday to cover the entire $274 million in humanitarian aid sought by the United Nations for conflict-torn Yemen. Fighting and air strikes in Yemen over the past two days have left 130 people dead, according to medics, military and tribal sources. Overnight, 52 people were killed, including at least 27 people who died in the southwestern city of Taez from air strikes and in clashes between loyalists and the Iran-backed Huthi rebels. The kingdom "stands with its Yemeni brothers" and hopes for "the restoration of security and stability", the state Saudi Press Agency said.
 
 

Rouhani says Iran's military strategy purely defensive

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:07:49 PMGo to full article
Iranian soldiers in camouflage march in the annual parade marking the anniversary of Iran's war with Iraq (1980-88) in Tehran, on September 22, 2014Iran's military is purely for defence and should not be seen as a threat in the Middle East, President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday amid rising tension with Saudi Arabia. With a Saudi-led air campaign against Huthi rebels in Yemen putting Tehran, the region's dominant Shiite power, at odds with its Sunni rival Riyadh, Russia this week moved to supply missiles to Iran. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of arming the Huthis, Yemen's Zaidi Shiite minority which has long complained of marginalisation and has fought several conflicts with central authorities.
 
 

Israel, Palestinians agree on tax revenue transfer

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:00:33 PMGo to full article
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that he has reached an agreement with Israel in which essential tax revenues it collects for the Palestinians will be transferred following a four-month freeze.
 

Rouhani says Saudis will harvest hatred in Yemen

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:25:21 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani harshly criticized Saudi Arabia Saturday, warning that the Saudi royal family in Riyadh will harvest the hatred it is sowing in Yemen through its airstrike campaign.
 

Australia foils alleged terror attack for Gallipoli centenary

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:42:41 AMGo to full article
By Christopher McCall and Matt Siegel MELBOURNE/SYDNEY (Reuters) - Hundreds of Australian police on Saturday arrested five teens planning an Islamic State-inspired terrorist attack next week at an event to mark the centenary of the landings at Gallipoli during World War One, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. More than 200 police were involved in a series of raids in the southern city of Melbourne in the early hours of Saturday, police said, following a month-long sting operation. The run-up to this year's centenary - a major holiday in Australia and New Zealand - has been marked by numerous television programs and commemorations, sparking concerns that radicals may target the celebrations for a high-profile attack. Five people were arrested," Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters.
 

Israeli military networks breached by hackers: researchers

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:23:12 AMGo to full article
Illustration file picture shows a man typing on a computer keyboard in WarsawBy Joseph Menn SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Hackers have managed to penetrate computer networks associated with the Israeli military in an espionage campaign that skillfully packages existing attack software with trick emails, according to security researchers at Blue Coat Systems Inc. The four-month-old effort, most likely by Arabic-speaking programmers, shows how the Middle East continues to be a hotbed for cyber espionage and how widely the ability to carry off such attacks has spread, the researchers said. Waylon Grange, a researcher with the Blue Coat [PRJCBB.UL] who discovered the campaign, said the vast majority of the hackers' software was cobbled together from widely available tools, such as the remote-access Trojan called Poison Ivy. The hackers sent emails to various military addresses that purported to show breaking military news, or, in some cases, a clip featuring "Girls of the Israel Defense Forces." Some of the emails included attachments that established "back doors" for future access by the hackers and modules that could download and run additional programs, according to Blue Coat.
 
 

Iran presents Yemen peace plan to UN

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:51:33 AMGo to full article
Picture taken on April 17, 2015 shows the wreckage of a truck reportedly belonging to Huthi rebels which was destroyed the day before in an air strike by Saudi-led forces at a market in the Dar Saad suburb of the port city of AdenIran presented a four-point peace plan for Yemen to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, demanding international action to end the "senseless" Saudi-led air campaign against rebels backed by Tehran. Saudi Arabia, for its part, responded swiftly to a UN aid appeal for its impoverished neighbour. The Iranian call came as intense bombing by the regional coalition hit Yemen again and Al-Qaeda seized more ground in the chaos. "It is imperative for the international community to get more effectively involved in ending the senseless aerial attacks and establishing a ceasefire," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in a letter to Ban.
 
 

Amid growing migrant crisis, 20 burn victims rescued at sea

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:30:55 AMGo to full article
Injured women wait to be treated in the hospital of Lampedusa Island, Southern Italy, Friday, April 17, 2015. According to rescuers the women were injured in the explosion of a gas cylinder before leaving for Italy. An unprecedented wave of migrants has headed for the European Union's promised shores over the past week, with 10,000 people making the trip. (AP Photo/Mauro Buccarello)MILAN (AP) — The unabated flow of migrants fleeing instability in Libya brought a new horror on Friday: The discovery of 20 migrants adrift at sea who had suffered grave burn injuries in a cooking gas explosion before departing Libya, and then were forced onto a smuggler's boat without treatment.
 
 

Israel, Palestinians 'reach accord' on frozen taxes

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:12:45 AMGo to full article
A participant holds a banner reading 'Israel is bombing with our taxes' during a pro-Palestinian rally on July 21, 2014 in front of the Israeli Embassy in BerlinIsrael has agreed to transfer in full hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes collected for the Palestinian Authority but frozen in a row over the International Criminal Court, the Palestinian premier said. Rami Hamdallah, in a statement from his office late Friday, said Israel pledged at a meeting with Palestinian officials to hand over the taxes collected between December and March, amounting to almost half a billion dollars. The Palestinians had threatened to turn to the International Criminal Court over Israel's decision in early January to retain the taxes in retaliation for the Palestinians joining the ICC.
 
 

Obama, Renzi pledge to focus on threats from Libya

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:23:37 PMGo to full article
President Barack Obama listens as Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks during their joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 17, 2015. The president hosted the prime minister to discuss issues including Ukraine, Libya and Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama pledged Friday to work more intensely with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on threats coming from instability in Libya that have led to an influx of migrants across the Mediterranean.
 
 

Obama urges Gulf nations to help with chaos in Libya

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:17:11 PMGo to full article
Obama and Renzi chat as reporters enter the room before their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in WashingtonPresident Barack Obama on Friday urged Gulf nations to help calm the chaotic political situation in Libya, saying that outside military action would not be enough to help reduce tensions in the war-ravaged North African country. After a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the White House, Obama said a political solution was needed in the oil-rich Mediterranean state, where two rival governments are fighting for control. "We're going to have to encourage some of the countries inside of the Gulf who have, I think, influence over the various factions inside of Libya to be more cooperative themselves," Obama told reporters. "In some cases, you've seen them fan the flames of military conflict, rather than try to reduce them." Obama is set to meet with leaders from Saudi Arabia and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Washington on May 13 and 14 to discuss a host of crises in the Middle East.
 
 

Greece seeks more EU aid to cope with soaring immigration

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:12:14 PMGo to full article
PIRAEUS, Greece (AP) — Greece appealed to its European Union partners Friday for more help in policing its sea borders as immigrants increasingly make dangerous journeys to escape war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
 

Libya stability key to migrant crisis: Renzi

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:52:17 PMGo to full article
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks during a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, DC, April 17, 2015Restoring stability in Libya is the only way to solve the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Friday, as President Barack Obama warned re-establishing peace could not be achieved by military force. Speaking at a joint White House press conference after authorities in Italy confirmed more than 11,000 migrants had been rescued in the past six days alone, Renzi said the problem would only be solved by peace in Libya. The increasingly violent and chaotic situation in Libya has prompted a hike in the number of migrants trying to reach Europe, a tide that has not abated despite the tragic ending suffered by many attempting the crossing. On Sunday, some 400 migrants dreaming of a better life died after their crowded boat capsized off the coast of Libya, with bedraggled survivors later being taken to Italy.
 
 

Intense Yemen bombing, Qaeda attack after UN peace call

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:32:32 PMGo to full article
Smoke rises above the Alhva camp, east of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, on April 17, 2015, following an alleged air strike by the Saudi-led alliance on Huthi rebel campsIntense bombing by a Saudi-led coalition hit Yemen again Friday, three weeks into an air war against Iranian-backed rebels, as Al-Qaeda seized more ground in the chaos amid UN calls for peace. The facility belonged to the elite Republican Guard, which remains loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Renegade troops loyal to Saleh are allied with the Huthi rebels, whose sweeping advance forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh last month. Speaking in Riyadh, he added that there had been 100 sorties in Yemen on Thursday, indicating that there is no end in sight to the operation.
 
 

Former president defiant as humanitarian toll mounts in Yemen war

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:43:14 PMGo to full article
Smoke billows during an air strike on the Republican Palace in Yemen's southwestern city of TaizBy Mohamed Mokashaf ADEN (Reuters) - Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Friday he would not leave the country, dismissing reports in the Gulf Arab media that he was seeking a safe exit as Saudi Arabian war planes bomb troops loyal to him and their Houthi militia allies. The United Nations, meanwhile, said about 150,000 people had been driven from their homes by three weeks of air strikes and ground fighting and more than 750 people killed. The Iran-allied Houthis, a Shi'ite Muslim movement from northern Yemen, have formed an alliance of convenience with Saleh, who is widely believed to be plotting behind the scenes to make a comeback on Yemen's tumultuous political scene. The person who can say to Ali Abdullah Saleh 'leave your country' has not been and will not be born," he wrote on his Facebook page.
 
 

Montenegrin police arrest 16 for smuggling migrants

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:19:37 PMGo to full article
PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — Police in Montenegro say they have arrested 16 people suspected of smuggling into Serbia 138 Syrian migrants who were trying to flee their war-ravaged country and reach Western Europe
 

Obama invites Mideast leaders to White House, Camp David

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:49:41 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has invited the heads of Gulf Cooperation Council countries to the White House and then to Camp David. Negotiations over Iran's nuclear capabilities and the turmoil in Yemen are topics high on the agenda.
 

Americans with illegal Iraq War souvenirs go unprosecuted

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:43:25 PMGo to full article
This undated photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows an Iraq government seal, representing Saddam Hussein’s initials in Arabic, that was recovered by federal investigators and formally repatriated to Iraq in a March 16, 2015, ceremony at the Iraqi consulate in Washington. Officials traced the seal to a civilian U.S. employee, who had it shipped to a residence in Maryland in 2004. Laws prohibit the export and sale of antiquities that belong to foreign governments. The case was presented to federal prosecutors, but they declined to file charges. (AP Photo/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) — American military members, contractors and others caught with culturally significant artifacts they brought home from the Iraq war are going largely unprosecuted, even as swords, artifacts and other items looted from Saddam Hussein's palaces are still turning up for sale online and at auctions.
 

 

 

 

 

Obama, Italian Prime Minister Renzi to meet at White House

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:38:52 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2014, file photo, U.S. President Baravk Obama left, puts his hands on the shoulders of Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi after the family photo session of the G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia. Obama will host Renzi at the White House on Friday, April 17, 2015, to compare notes on a range of issues, including Ukraine, Libya and Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is set to meet with President Barack Obama.
 
 

Spate of attacks shake Pakistan's dwindling Sikh community

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:04:26 AMGo to full article
Pakistani and Indian Sikh devotees gather at the Gurdwara Panja Sahib during the annual Vaisakhi festival in Hasan Abdal, on April 14, 2015Pilgrims descended from all over the world on a small town in Pakistan that is home to one of Sikhism's holiest sites this week, dipping into holy spring water and solemnly offering prayers. They have come from India, Britain and the Middle East to the Panja Sahib Gurdwara in Hasan Abdal, 55 kilometres (35 miles) from Islamabad, where Guru Nanak, the founder of the religion, is said to have imprinted his hand. The 500-year-old religion was founded in what is now part of Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country of nearly 200 million people. Most Sikhs left Pakistan for India after both countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.
 
 

U.N. chief urges immediate ceasefire by 'all parties' in Yemen war

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎06:32:53 AMGo to full article
By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for an immediate halt to the fighting in Yemen, the first time he has made such an appeal since Saudi-led air strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels began three weeks ago. "That is why I am calling for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen by all the parties," Ban said in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington. Ban did not mention the decision by his outgoing special adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, to resign his post in frustration at the failure of the U.N.-brokered peace talks. Ban has chosen Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to replace Benomar, diplomatic sources said.
 

UN chief calls for immediate cease-fire in Yemen

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:04:41 AMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Thursday for an immediate cease-fire in Yemen to spur peace talks and get lifesaving aid into the impoverished Middle East nation.
 

Migrants 'thrown overboard' in religious row as toll climbs

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:53:18 AMGo to full article
Italian Red Cross personnel prepare to give first aid to shipwrecked migrants as they arrive in the Italian port of Augusta, in Sicily on April 16, 2015Italian police on Thursday said 12 African migrants had died after being thrown overboard by fellow passengers in the latest high-seas tragedy in the Mediterranean, as another 41 boat migrants were feared drowned in a separate incident. Police in the Sicilian port of Palermo said they had arrested 15 Muslim migrants suspected of attacking Christian passengers after a religious row on a boat headed for Italy, which is struggling to cope with a huge spike in illegal migrants arriving on its shores. They were charged with "multiple aggravated murder motivated by religious hate," according to a police statement. Distraught survivors, who set off from Libya on Tuesday before being rescued by an Italian vessel on Wednesday, told a "dreadful" story of "forcefully resisting attempts to drown them, forming a veritable human chain in some cases," police said.
 
 

Top Asian News at 10:30 p.m. GMT

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:32:40 AMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — China should not be concerned if the U.S. deploys an advanced missile defense system in South Korea to counter the threat from a nuclear North Korea, a U.S. military commander said Thursday. Commander of U.S. forces in Korea, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, told a congressional hearing that if employed, the Theater High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system would be focused on the defense of the Korean Peninsula and would not have "any influence beyond that."
 

UN chief set to nominate new special envoy to Yemen

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:04:40 AMGo to full article
FILE - Assistant UN Secretary-General, Special Adviser to Secretary-General on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, speaks to a reporter during an interview with The Associated Press in Sanaa, Yemen, in this Nov. 18, 2013 file photo. The U.N.'s special envoy to Yemen has stepped down after four years of efforts at a peaceful political transition in the Arab world's poorest country fell apart amid a Shiite rebel uprising and Saudi-led airstrikes. A U.N. statement late Wednesday April 15, 2015 said Jamal Benomar "has expressed an interest in moving on to another assignment" and that his successor will be named "in due course." (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday is expected to nominate the head of the U.N. Ebola mission as the new special envoy to Yemen, the country's U.N. ambassador said Thursday.
 
 

EU urged to label Israeli West bank produce: report, sources

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:12:11 PMGo to full article
A view of an Israeli settlement in the West Bank is seen on September 5, 2014Sixteen out of the 28 EU countries want the bloc to label products from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, diplomatic sources told AFP Thursday, confirming a Haaretz report. The plan was first mooted in 2012, angering Israel, but the 16 member states told EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini it was now time to press ahead as part of efforts to realise a two-state peace deal. "We would welcome you taking the lead in the (European) Commission in order to complete this important work on labelling settlement produce/products," the foreign ministers said in the letter, reproduced by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Continued Israeli settlement building "threatens the prospect of a just and final peace agreement," they wrote, adding that labelling would make it clear to consumers what they were buying as endorsed by EU leaders at a summit in 2012.
 
 

Police: Muslims threw Christians overboard during Med voyage

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:09:19 PMGo to full article
MILAN (AP) — The International Organization for Migrants says 41 migrants are feared drowned in a new Mediterranean shipwreck.
 

Abuse rampant in F1 host Bahrain despite promises: Amnesty

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:04:28 PMGo to full article
Bahraini protestors take cover during clashes with police following a demonstration to mark the fourth anniversary of the Saudi-led Gulf coalition that helped the Bahraini government crush the Arab Spring-inspired uprising, on March 13, 2015, in DaihBahrain, host of a Formula One Grand Prix this weekend, is carrying out rampant human rights abuses against opposition activists despite promises of reform, Amnesty International said Thursday. Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa deputy head Said Boumedouha said "four years on from the uprising, repression is widespread and rampant abuses by the security forces continues. Bahrain's authorities must prove that the promises of reform they have made are more than empty rhetoric. A government statement said Amnesty "misreported" Manama's "respect of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to peaceful assembly" which are "protected by Bahrain’s constitution".
 
 

Putin says S-300 sale to Iran prompted by progress in nuclear talks

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:13 PMGo to full article
By Denis Pinchuk and Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Iran's drive to find a solution in talks over its disputed nuclear program had spurred his decision to renew a contract to deliver S-300 missile defense systems to Tehran. Moscow's move to provide the advanced surface-to-air missile system to Tehran, which irked the West and drew protests from Israel, followed an initial agreement with world powers under which Tehran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of international economic sanctions. A final deal on Tehran's nuclear program is due by end-June but Moscow has moved quickly to try to secure contracts in Iran before sanctions are lifted and has urged engaging Tehran more in attempts to solve regional crises.
 

'US national' shot, wounded in Pakistan's Karachi

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:35:36 PMGo to full article
Pakistani policeman are picutred in Karachi on January 19, 2015A woman identified by police as a US national was shot and wounded in Karachi Thursday, officials said, with leaflets found at the scene claiming the attack on behalf of the Islamic State group. The victim, in a stable condition after being shot once in the head and once in the arm, was identified by police as Debra Lobo, a member of faculty at the city's Jinnah Medical and Dental College. "Lobo was on her way to the college when her car came under attack by two armed assailants riding on a motorbike on Shaheed-e-Millat Road in the eastern part of the city," a police official told AFP requesting anonymity. The incident was confirmed by senior police official Pir Mohammad Shah, who said she was a US national.
 
 

Philip Morris 1Q results top Street's view; raises outlook

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:54:39 PMGo to full article
NEW YORK (AP) — Philip Morris International Inc.'s first-quarter profit fell, pressured by a strong dollar. Still, its performance beat analysts' expectations as it shipped more cigarette.
 

Lebanese broadcaster on trial at UN tribunal

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:14:00 PMGo to full article
LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands (AP) — A Lebanese television network went on trial Thursday at a special U.N. tribunal, accused of obstructing justice by releasing identities of confidential witnesses in the long-running probe into the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
 

Bible stories and thrillers make Morocco filming choice

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:19:47 PMGo to full article
In this photo dated Sept. 25, 2014 actor Tom Cruise drives a BMW covered with cameras during the shooting of a scene for Mission Impossible filmed in Rabat, Morocco. It has been a banner year for filming in Morocco with more money spent by foreign film productions in the country in 2014 than in the past five years put together, as it rides on its reputation for stability and exotic locales. (AP Photo/ Paul Schemm)OUARZAZATE, Morocco (AP) — "QUIET!" The cry rings out in English, French and Arabic across the cobblestoned streets of Jerusalem, as filming begins for a scene in the series "A.D. The Bible Continues."
 
 

Australia will soon pay refugees to resettle in Cambodia

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:29:14 AMGo to full article
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Refugees from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia who are being held on the Pacific atoll of Nauru after being rejected by Australia could soon be paid to resettle in impoverished Cambodia in an arrangement by the Australian government that has been condemned by human rights activists as inhumane and potentially dangerous.
 

Amnesty says Bahrain reforms don't end rights violations

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:14:28 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this March 28, 2013 file photo, a Bahraini anti-government protester holds up a picture of jailed opposition human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja as she participates in a prayer for al-Khawaja's freedom after a march in Malkiya, Bahrain. Government reforms put in place by Bahraini authorities in the wake of widespread anti-government protests four years ago have failed to end serious violations of human rights in the strategically important Gulf nation, Amnesty International said in a report released Thursday, April 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Government reforms put in place by Bahraini authorities in the wake of widespread anti-government protests four years ago have failed to end serious violations of human rights in the strategically important Gulf nation, Amnesty International said in a report released Thursday.
 
 

4 ways a surging dollar rattles world economies, markets

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:43:00 PMGo to full article
U.S. visitors Zach Branch,19, right, and Madison Franklin, 18, both from California, kiss in front of the Parthenon during their visit at the Acropolis hill in Athens, on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. The strong U.S. dollar makes European vacations cheaper for American tourists. U.S. bookings to some European countries are up 20 percent so far, according to European tourism officials and American travel companies. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. dollar hasn't been on a roll like this since Ronald Reagan sat in the White House and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" ruled the box office.
 
 

Feared drowning of 400 migrants raises alarms in Europe

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:41:38 PMGo to full article
In this picture taken on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 a woman waits to disembark from an Italian Navy vessel in the harbor of Reggio Calabria, southern Italy. The precise number of migrants who have perished in the Mediterranean sea as they flee poverty, war and other conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and Asia is unknown. Only the bodies that wash ashore or are found drowned in the sea or dead aboard, of thirst or exposure, by rescuers are counted. (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)MILAN (AP) — The feared drowning of 400 migrants in a shipwreck this week in the Mediterranean Sea — one of the deadliest such tragedies in the last decade — raised alarms Wednesday amid an unprecedented wave of migration toward Europe from Africa and the Middle East.
 
 

Top Asian News at 9:30 p.m. GMT

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:32:29 PMGo to full article
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A year ago, as South Korea writhed in grief and fury after more than 300 people, most of them school kids, drowned in a ferry sinking, it seemed things would never be the same. Yet not much has really changed as the first anniversary of the Sewol disaster is marked Thursday. Experts believe it will be decades before any major shift is seen in widespread attitudes that make safety subservient to economic progress and convenience. Already there's growing fatigue and frustration among citizens who see their government sliding back to business as usual, and a lack of accountability at high levels.
 

More people worldwide are opening bank accounts

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:49:47 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this March 9, 2013 photo, a woman uses her phone as she walks by an advertisement for a 4G telecommunications network in Hangzhou, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, the World Bank said the number of people opening their first bank accounts - either on mobile phones or at bank branches - jumped by 700 million between 2011 and 2014. (CHINATOPIX via AP)NEW YORK (AP) — Africans using cellphones, older Chinese, and Indians getting a push from their government have fueled an unprecedented surge of people opening their first bank accounts.
 
 

UN envoy on sexual violence heads to Mideast on first visit

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:18:44 PMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. special representative on sexual violence said Wednesday she is making her first trip to the Middle East where extremist groups are increasingly using rape and sexual attacks as a "tactic of terror."
 

Israel premier likens Iran to Nazis at Holocaust remembrance

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:21:09 PMGo to full article
A man prays next to a wagon from WWII on display on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Netanya, Israel, Wednesday, April 15, 2015. The wagon München 12 246 was built in Germany in the early 20th century to transport cattle. During World War II thousands of people were transported in it to the death camps. The wagon was bought in Germany and transported to Israel in 2014. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)JERUSALEM (AP) — As Israel marked its Holocaust memorial day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared Iran to the Nazis on Wednesday and warned the Islamic Republic must be prevented from obtaining nuclear weapons.
 
 

Delta's 1Q profit rises on more traffic, lower fuel prices

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:25:59 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this March 14, 2015 file photo, people watch a landing Delta Air Lines jet approach the Narita International Airport from a popular viewing spot at Sakuranoyama Park in Narita, east of Tokyo. Delta Air Lines reports quarterly financial results on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)DALLAS (AP) — Delta Air Lines plans to reduce international flying later this year as travel demand in some places weakens due to lower oil prices and the strong U.S. dollar.
 
 

List of migrant deaths grows after boat capsizes off Libya

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:33:44 PMGo to full article
ROME (AP) — Fleeing poverty, war or other violence in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, migrants have died by the thousands in the Mediterranean over the years while trying to reach Europe.
 

German government split on surging refugee numbers

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:06:45 PMGo to full article
A refugee pushing a stroller in the Marienfelde Refugee Transit Center in South Berlin, on January 29, 2015Divisions surfaced in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government Wednesday on whether the country which is Europe's top destination for asylum seekers should take in more refugees. Merkel ally Volker Kauder, parliamentary leader of Merkel's conservatives, said that "Germany can welcome significantly more refugees. He said that Middle Eastern countries shelter proportionally far more refugees, telling the top-selling Bild daily that in Kurdish areas, "five million people live with one million refugees". Germany had accepted a total of 105,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq since the start of the Syrian war, compared to some European countries who had taken just hundreds, he said.
 
 

Calgary imams fight back against Islamic State recruitment

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎06:07:22 PMGo to full article
Imam Azfar Ayub Qadri leads the Muslim prayer on March 30, 2015 in the Al Madinah Islamic center in CalgaryA group of Calgary imams is marking the first line of defense at the foot of the Rocky Mountains against the Islamic State group's recruitment of Canadians as fighters. Several imams issued a religious edict against IS jihadists last month, denouncing its threats against Canada and its online recruitment after dozens of Canadians -- mostly from Calgary -- traveled to Syria to join their cause. "Some Muslims, having the fatwa against them, they will have second thoughts" before seeking to join an extremist group, said Khalil Khan, president of Calgary's Al Madinah Islamic center.
 
 

Mideast's arch-survivor stands in way of Saudi success in Yemen

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎06:04:44 PMGo to full article
Militant loyal to Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi prepares a shell for a tank in the country's southern port city of AdenBy Noah Browning and Michael Georgy DUBAI (Reuters) - Three weeks of Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen have led to defections of army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, military sources said, dealing a blow to his efforts to stage a comeback. Saleh has teamed up with his old foes, the Iranian-allied Houthis, against his former backer Saudi Arabia, displaying the political skill that enabled him to rule the heavily armed and fractious country for more than three decades. Saudi Arabia launched the air attacks last month as Houthi rebels, who had taken control of the capital Sanaa in September, closed in on the port city of Aden and forced Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh. Further splits could weaken Saleh and help Saudi Arabia and its allies beat back the Houthis, who are engaged in street battles for control of Aden.
 
 

UN envoy to visit Iraq, Syria to address sexual violence

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:31:18 PMGo to full article
Zainab Hawa Bangura will travel to Iraq and Syria this week to address the use of rape, sex slavery and other sexual violence by extremists like Islamic StateA UN envoy will travel to Iraq and Syria this week to address the disturbing use of rape, sex slavery and other sexual violence by extremists like the Islamic State. A UN report released this week showed Islamic State fighters and other jihadists used sexual violence as part of their strategy to terrorize civilians, drive out populations and generate revenue.
 
 

White House standoff with Congress over Iran bill not over

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:27:49 PMGo to full article
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., center, shakes hands Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passes S.615, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, during a committee business meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Republican and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reached a compromise Tuesday on a bill that would give Congress a say on an emerging deal to curb Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)WASHINGTON (AP) — Legislation empowering the U.S. Congress to reject an emerging Iran nuclear pact is expected to sail through both houses of Congress, leaving President Barack Obama with the tough task of selling the deal to skeptical lawmakers.
 
 

Israel happy at compromise deal on Iran between Congress-Obama: minister

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:21:30 PMGo to full article
Israel's PM Netanyahu and minister Steinitz attend cabinet meeting in JerusalemIsrael is pleased at a compromise deal on Iran achieved between the United States Congress and the administration of President Barack Obama, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Wednesday. In what was seen as a setback for Obama, the U.S. president agreed on Tuesday that Congress should have the power to review a nuclear deal with Iran, reluctantly giving in to pressure from Republicans and some in his own party over the barbed issue. This is an achievement for Israeli policy," Steinitz told Israel Radio, citing a March 3 speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress in which he argued against a then-emerging framework agreement with Tehran on curbing its nuclear program.
 
 

Philippines says Muslim rebel who backed IS group has died

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:48:21 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this file photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011, Ameril Umbra Kato, the commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, rides a horse inside his rebel stronghold in Maguindanao province in southern Philippines. The commander whose rebels have pledged support to the Islamic State group died Tuesday following a long ailment, the Philippine military and insurgents said Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Nickee Butlangan, File)MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Muslim rebel chief whose forces in the southern Philippines have pledged support to the Islamic State group has died following a long ailment and was replaced by a Middle East-trained militant, the Philippine military and insurgents said Wednesday.
 
 

UN: 21M children in Mideast risk missing out on education

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:44:24 PMGo to full article
Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, speaks during a press conference, in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, April 15, 2015. An estimated 21 million children in the Middle East and North Africa are out of school or at risk of dropping out despite improved access to education in the region over the past decade, the United Nations said in a report released Wednesday. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)BEIRUT (AP) — An estimated 21 million children in the Middle East and North Africa are out of school or at risk of dropping out despite improved access to education in the region over the past decade, the United Nations said in a report released Wednesday.
 
 

Israeli researchers say attacks against Jews spiked in 2014

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:26:50 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015 file photo, people hold candles and a placard reading "I am Charlie" as they gather to commemorate the victims of a terror attack against French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Jewish communities around the world faced an "explosion of hatred" last year, with the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks rising by 38 percent, according to a report released Wednesday, April 15, 2015 by Israeli researchers. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Jewish communities around the world faced an "explosion of hatred" last year, with the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks rising by 38 percent, according to a report released Wednesday by Israeli researchers.
 
 

Millions of Middle East children out of school, UN warns

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:14:42 PMGo to full article
Syrian children attend a class at a school for refugees in the Lebanese village of Qaraoun on December 16, 2014Poverty, gender discrimination and violence are keeping more than 12 million children in the Middle East out of school, despite efforts to expand education, the UN children's agency warned Wednesday. An additional three million children in Syria and Iraq have been forced out of school by conflict, UNICEF said in a new report. "But in recent years, progress has stalled," it said, with 4.3 million primary-aged children and 2.9 million lower secondary-aged children out of school. An additional 5.1 million children are not receiving pre-primary school education, bringing the total number of the region's children out of school to 12.3 million, the report said.
 
 

Kerry: still confident US can conclude Iran nuclear deal

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:23:49 AMGo to full article
Spectators stand at a security fence behind the national flags of Italy, Canada, Britain and the United States, from left, to watch the arrival of foreign ministers prior to a meeting of the G7 Foreign Ministers in Luebeck, northern Germany, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. The meeting is being held ahead of the G7 leaders summit in Germany from June 7 to 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)LUEBECK, Germany (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday he is still confident that the U.S. administration can conclude a nuclear deal with Iran after President Barack Obama agreed to sign legislation giving Congress the right to reject an agreement.
 
 

World powers turn screw on Yemen rebels

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:23:39 AMGo to full article
Huthi rebels brandish their weapons during a rally in Taiz, in the Yemeni Highlands, on April 10, 2015The UN Security Council vote came after Iran, which is accused of backing the rebels, proposed a ceasefire followed by foreign-mediated talks. The Huthi revolt has forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee the impoverished Arab state and threatens to provoke a humanitarian disaster. The conflict has also further heightened tensions in the broader Middle East, with Saudi Arabia accusing Iran of fomenting the rebellion.
 
 

US House leader: Obama force request stalled in Congress

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:04:14 PMGo to full article
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, following a GOP strategy meeting. In a direct challenge to the White House, a Senate committee pushed toward a vote on a bill that would give Congress a chance to weigh in on any final nuclear agreement that can be reached with Iran. The top Republican leaders in the House and Senate insisted on Tuesday that lawmakers have a say. Boehner said "Congress should absolutely have the opportunity to review this deal," telling reporters. "The administration appears to want a deal at any cost." (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)WASHINGTON (AP) — The leader of the U.S. House of Representatives said Tuesday it will be "virtually impossible" for Congress to approve President Barack Obama's proposed authority for use of military force against Islamic State militants.
 
 

Russia's sale of missile defence to Iran could help secure nuclear deal

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:48:00 PMGo to full article
Cadets walk close to a Russian surface-to-air missile system S-300 PMU during a military exhibition on February 20, 2015 in St. Petersburg, RussiaRussia's decision to supply Iran with the S-300 missile air defence system was seen by critics in Israel and the United States as proof this month's framework nuclear agreement was already making Tehran more of a threat. Israel was predictably angered by Russia's decision to arm its arch-foe.
 
 

'Strong' evidence of Syria regime chemical attacks: HRW

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:30:20 PMGo to full article
A United Nations arms expert collects samples on August 29, 2013, as they inspect the site where rockets had fallen in Damascus' eastern Ghouta suburb during an investigation into a suspected chemical weapons strikeEyewitness accounts and evidence collected from Syria's northwestern Idlib province "strongly" suggest regime forces dropped toxic chemicals on civilians several times last month, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. The report came as a monitor said at least 12 people were killed on Tuesday in a barrel bomb attack in the province. Human Rights Watch said the chemicals appeared to have been packed into crude explosives-filled barrels that were dropped by military helicopter on rebel-held areas during heavy fighting for Idlib city. "Evidence strongly suggests that Syrian government forces used toxic chemicals in several barrel bomb attacks in Idlib governorate between March 16 and 31, 2015," the New York-based group said.
 
 

Netanyahu to Putin: lifting missile ban to boost Iran 'aggressiveness'

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:31:16 PMGo to full article
Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted a ban on supplying Iran with sophisticated S-300 air defence missile systems, like the one seen here during a parade in Alabino, outside MoscowPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed Israel's "grave concerns" Tuesday over Moscow's decision to lift a ban on supplying Iran with sophisticated S-300 air defence missile systems. In a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he warned that such a step "would only increase Iran's aggressiveness in the region and would undermine the security of the Middle East," his office said. An ensuing statement from the Israeli premier called the "sale of advanced weaponry to Iran" a "direct result of the dangerous deal on the table between Iran and the P5+1," a reference to major world powers. "Can anyone still seriously claim that the deal with Iran will enhance security in the Middle East," Netanyahu asked.
 
 

German minister: Too early to reward Iran over nuclear talks

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:02:01 PMGo to full article
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier smiles as he signs the Golden Book of the city of Luebeck prior to meeting of the G7 foreign ministers in Luebeck, northern Germany, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. The meeting is being held ahead of the G7 leaders summit in Germany from June 7 to 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, Pool)LUEBECK, Germany (AP) — Germany's foreign minister said Tuesday it's too early to reward Iran for a preliminary agreement on its nuclear program, criticizing Russia's decision to lift a ban on delivery of an air defense missile system.
 
 

Iran expects delivery of Russian missiles by end of the year

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:35:31 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this undated file photo a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display at an undisclosed location in Russia. The Kremlin says Russia has lifted its ban on the delivery of a sophisticated air defense missile system to Iran. Russia signed the $800 million contract to sell Iran the S-300 missile system in 2007, but later suspended their delivery because of strong objections from the United States and Israel. The decree signed Monday, April 13, 2015, by President Vladimir Putin allows for the delivery of the missiles. (AP Photo/File)MOSCOW (AP) — Russia said Tuesday that it would be at least six months before it could deliver the S-300 air defense missile system to Iran, but the Kremlin confirmed that a barter deal to supply Russian goods in exchange for Iranian oil was already being implemented.
 
 

Israel 'dismayed' at S-300 missile deal with Iran: Netanyahu

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎06:49:33 PMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday expressed Israel's "dismay" to Russian President Vladimir Putin at Russia's decision to lift a self-imposed ban on supplying S-300 missiles to Iran. A statement from Netanyahu's office said he "expressed Israel's dismay at the decision... (and) told President Putin that this step will only increase Iran's aggression in the region and will destabilize security in the Middle East." Putin lifted the ban on delivering the air defense system to Iran on Monday.
 

Israel's leader speaks to Putin over Russia missiles to Iran

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎06:09:25 PMGo to full article
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's prime minister says he has spoken to Russia's president to convey his displeasure over Russia's decision to sell advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran.
 

Iraq's Al-Abadi making in-person appeal to Obama for help

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:47:28 AMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is making an in-person appeal to President Barack Obama on Tuesday for more help defeating the Islamic State militants, hoping recent gains in the fight will encourage more investment from a war-weary United States.
 

US vets return to Mideast to battle past and present demons

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:31:20 AMGo to full article
In this Feb. 26, 2015 photo, Jamie Lane, 29, an American veteran originally from Mt. Pleasant Michigan, poses for a picture in front of an Iraqi Army Humvee captured and later abandoned by Islamic State militants in Tel Hamis, Syria. Lane is among growing number of Iraq war veterans returning to the battlefield, this time without the American military, to join in the fight against the Sunni militants who now hold territory in a third of Iraq and Syria. (Courtesy Jamie Lane via AP)BAGHDAD (AP) — A decade after his first Iraq tour, former U.S. Marine Jamie Lane has returned to the battlefields of the Middle East to fight a still unvanquished enemy and wrestle with the demons of his past.
 
 

Senate committee to vote on controversial Iran bill

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:15:11 AMGo to full article
In this April 2, 2105 file-pool photo, Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, or Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne, in Lausanne, Switzerland after Iran nuclear program talks finished with extended sessions. Snap back? Not so fast. The biggest enforcement provision in the preliminary nuclear agreement with Iran is turning into one of its mostly hotly contested elements. And this debate barely involves Iran. Instead, it concerns the Obama administration’s promise to quickly re-impose sanctions on Iran if it cheats on any part of the agreement to limit its nuclear program to peaceful pursuits. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, File-Pool)WASHINGTON (AP) — In a direct challenge to the White House, a Senate committee is to vote on a bill that would give Congress a chance to weigh in on any final nuclear agreement that can be reached with Iran.
 
 

Top Asian News at 2:30 a.m. GMT

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:32:13 AMGo to full article
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities have released five women's rights campaigners whose detentions sparked an international outcry and underscored the government's tight restrictions on independent social activism, lawyers said. Lawyer Liang Xiaojun said the five were let go after more than a month in detention under a form of conditional release that still allows charges to be brought later.
 

Fleeing Yemen war, refugees arrive in Horn of Africa

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:54:57 AMGo to full article
A Yemeni refugee plays at a boarding facility run by the UN High Commission for Refugees in Obock, a small port in Djibouti, on April 12, 2015Refugees from war-torn Yemen describe the terror of intense airstrikes as they arrive in the Horn of Africa, where aid agencies are fearing an influx of people. On the sun-blasted shores of Djibouti, those who have taken a perilous boat ride across the Gulf of Aden describe the horror of the airstrikes that pounded their homes in Yemen. "Suddenly the planes came and airstrikes hit," said Murisala Mohamed Ahmed, a community leader from Yemen's Bab al-Mandeb region, the key shipping channel at the entrance to the Red Sea that separates Africa from Arabia. "The military positions were near, and we feared for the children... we had to come to Djibouti," he added, crossing the narrow straits to the Horn of Africa, only 30 kilometres (20 miles) wide at its narrowest point.
 

 

 

 

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Thousands of Yemeni troops along Saudi border side with President Hadi: officials

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:34 PMGo to full article
ADEN (Reuters) - The Yemeni commander of a vast military district covering half the country's border with Saudi Arabia pledged support to Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on Sunday, local officials said. The announcement puts at least 15,000 troops in the desert border area on the same side as the kingdom, the world's top oil exporter, after three weeks of an inconclusive bombing campaign it has led against Iran-allied Houthi rebels. (Reporting By Mohammed Mukhashaf and Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Jon Boyle)
 

Clashes, Saudi-led air strikes kill 44 in Yemen

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:55:57 PMGo to full article
A Yemeni tribal gunman of the Popular Resistance Committees loyal to fugitive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, raises his weapon in a street during clashes with Shiite Huthi rebels on April 18, 2015 in Taez in southwest YemenClashes between rebels and pro-government forces in Yemen and Saudi-led air strikes killed 44 people, medics and local sources said Sunday, as Riyadh pledged to cover a UN humanitarian aid appeal. The UN says hundreds of people have died and thousands of families fled their homes since the air war was launched on March 26 at the request of embattled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
 
 

Iran, Afghanistan announce security cooperation against IS

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:25:26 PMGo to full article
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani shakes hands with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani (R) during an official welcoming ceremony following the latter's arrival at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran on April 19, 2015Afghanistan and Iran announced Sunday plans for enhanced security cooperation to combat threats from the Islamic State group, including possible joint military operations. Standing alongside visiting Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said the tumult hitting the region meant intelligence must be shared. His comments came after IS, which holds swathes of Syria and Iraq, said it was responsible for a suicide bombing in Afghanistan's eastern city of Jalalabad which killed 33 people.
 
 

WWI Ypres gas attack sears the memory 100 years on

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:47:39 PMGo to full article
An excavation site following the line of World War I trenches is pictured near Ypres in Belgium on November 10, 2003One hundred years ago, a green cloud of chlorine gas drifted gently towards Allied trenches around Ypres, promising an agonising death as Germany sought to break the bloody stalemate World War I had become. "The impact on the men was terrifying," said Robert Missinne, a local teacher who has researched what happened in the April 22, 1915 attack which is commemorated Wednesday in the bloody battlefields of Ypres, a strategic Belgian town near the French border.
 
 

Khamenei says Iran nuclear weapons are a U.S. 'myth'

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:05:57 PMGo to full article
Iraqi women walk past a poster depicting images of Shi'ite Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at al-Firdous Square in BaghdadIran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told military commanders on Sunday the United States had created the "myth" of nuclear weapons to portray Iran as a threat, hardening his rhetoric before nuclear negotiations resume this week. Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran, has supported the talks but continues to express deep mistrust of the United States. "They created the myth of nuclear weapons so they could say the Islamic Republic is a source of threat.
 
 

Iran Guard rejects inspection of military sites

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:02:57 AMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard said Sunday that inspectors would be barred from military sites under any nuclear agreement with world powers.
 

EU dreams of Iranian gas to break dependence on Moscow

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:34:58 AMGo to full article
File picture shows phase 15-16 of the South Pars gas field facilities in the southern Iranian port of Assaluyeh on the shore of the GulfThe EU is hoping future gas imports from Iran can break its dependence on Russia as prospects grow for a nuclear deal that would include lifting sanctions on Tehran. The European Union is betting on so-called Southern Corridor pipelines to supply gas to southern Europe via Turkey from fields in Azerbaijan and nearby countries, including Iran. "It's one of our priorities," EU commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete said Wednesday in the Latvian capital Riga when referring to the gas route. Due to be operational in 2019, the project is expected in an initial stage to deliver 10 billion cubic metres of gas per year to Bulgaria and Greece.
 
 

France provides first weapons to Lebanon for Islamic State fight

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:40:34 AMGo to full article
Lebanese troops patrol in the village of Ras Baalbak in the eastern Bekaa Valley near the border with Syria on January 23, 2015The first French weapons from a $3 billion Saudi-funded programme will arrive in Lebanon on Monday as allies seek to bolster the country's defences against the Islamic State group and other jihadists pressing along its Syrian border. Anti-tank guided missiles are set to arrive at an air force base in Beirut, overseen by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Lebanese counterpart, Samir Mokbel. France is expected to deliver 250 combat and transport vehicles, seven Cougar helicopters, three small corvette warships and a range of surveillance and communications equipment over four years as part of the $3 billion (2.8 billion-euro) modernisation programme. It is being entirely funded by Saudi Arabia, which is keen to see Lebanon's army defend its borders against jihadist groups, particularly the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra, instead of leaving the job to Hezbollah militants, who are backed by its regional rival, Iran.
 
 

US seeking to allay Gulf fears amid regional chaos

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:57:41 AMGo to full article
A Tribal gunman loyal to the Shiite Huthi movement stands guard on April 16, 2015 in the capital SanaaWith conflicts raging across the Middle East, the US is seeking to reassure its Gulf allies that it has a regional strategy which will be bolstered, not shredded, by any Iran nuclear deal. The US administration appears increasingly caught in a game of whack-a-mole as it confronts a series of complex challenges, with Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen just the latest complication in a regional tinderbox pitting Sunnis against Shiites, and even Sunni against Sunni. From the war in Syria, to the collapse of Libya's government, the battle against the Sunni Islamic State militants and the conflict in Yemen, the so-called Arab Spring has unleashed decades of pent-up sectarian and tribal tensions. "The growing complexity of the various struggles the United States now faces have all the focus and simplicity of a kaleidoscope, and it is unclear that the United States and its allies have any clear strategic options that offer a credible response," wrote Anthony Cordesman, expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
 
 

Israel PM to request extra time for forming govt

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:12:20 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to ask for more time to form a governmentIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to make a formal request for extra time to piece together a new government, the president's office said Sunday. After a surprise election victory, Netanyahu was on March 25 tasked by President Reuven Rivlin with forming the next government and given four weeks to do so.
 
 

Iran leader urges military to increase 'preparedness'

 
‎19 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:10:38 AMGo to full article
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shows him attending a meeting in Tehran on April 9, 2015Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the country's armed forces Sunday to increase their "defensive preparedness", hitting out at a US warning of possible military action. He told commanders and troops in a speech that Iran "will never accept such stupid remarks", a jab at General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, though he did not name him. The United States has long said targeted bombing of Iran's nuclear sites and other key facilities may be needed if Tehran -- which denies seeking the bomb -- does not rein in its atomic activities. "All bodies from the ministry of defence to the army and the Sepah (Revolutionary Guards) should increase their military and defensive preparedness.
 
 

Yemen government rejects Iranian peace plan

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:39:48 PMGo to full article
A Iranian flag flutters in the winds at the Iranian ambassador's residence in SanaaYemen's government has rejected a four-point peace plan for the country that Iran submitted to the United Nations, a spokesman said on Saturday. Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab coalition partners have been bombing Iranian-allied Houthi rebels for three weeks in order to halt advances that could give the rebels full control of the country. The conflict, though rooted in local rivalries, has been described as a proxy war between predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran, both top OPEC oil producers. The Iranian plan calls for an immediate ceasefire and end of all foreign military attacks, humanitarian assistance, a resumption of broad national dialogue and "establishment of an inclusive national unity government." "We reject the Iranian initiative," Yemeni government spokesman Rajeh Badi told Reuters by telephone from Qatar's capital, Doha.
 
 

Saudis pledge to fund aid for Yemen, keep up air raids

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:27:20 PMGo to full article
A Tribal gunman loyal to the Shiite Huthi movement holds his weapon on April 16, 2015 in the capital SanaaSaudi Arabia, which is leading a bombing campaign against Shiite rebels in Yemen, pledged Saturday to cover the entire $274 million in humanitarian aid sought by the United Nations for conflict-torn Yemen. Fighting and air strikes in Yemen over the past two days have left 130 people dead, according to medics, military and tribal sources. Overnight, 52 people were killed, including at least 27 people who died in the southwestern city of Taez from air strikes and in clashes between loyalists and the Iran-backed Huthi rebels. The kingdom "stands with its Yemeni brothers" and hopes for "the restoration of security and stability", the state Saudi Press Agency said.
 
 

Saudi soldier killed in Yemen border clash

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:05:22 PMGo to full article
Saudi soldiers from an artillery unit fire shells towards Yemen from a post close to the Saudi-Yemeni border, in southwestern Saudi Arabia, on April 13, 2015Fighting along Saudi Arabia's border with Yemen has killed a soldier from the kingdom, the Saudi-led coalition spokesman said on Saturday. The soldier is the seventh to die since coalition aircraft on March 26 began air strikes in Yemen to stop a southern advance by Iran-backed Huthi rebels. Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri told reporters there was continuous fighting from Friday afternoon until late that night along the frontier in the southwestern Saudi region of Najran. Saudi Arabia has reinforced the border with artillery, tanks and hilltop lookout posts to block the incursion of any Huthis, whose traditional stronghold is just over the border in northern Yemen.
 
 

After Israeli elections, US Zionists cast votes of their own

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:08 PMGo to full article
NEW YORK (AP) — Call it the other Israel election.
 

Rouhani says Iran's military strategy purely defensive

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:07:49 PMGo to full article
Iranian soldiers in camouflage march in the annual parade marking the anniversary of Iran's war with Iraq (1980-88) in Tehran, on September 22, 2014Iran's military is purely for defence and should not be seen as a threat in the Middle East, President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday amid rising tension with Saudi Arabia. With a Saudi-led air campaign against Huthi rebels in Yemen putting Tehran, the region's dominant Shiite power, at odds with its Sunni rival Riyadh, Russia this week moved to supply missiles to Iran. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of arming the Huthis, Yemen's Zaidi Shiite minority which has long complained of marginalisation and has fought several conflicts with central authorities.
 
 

US military option 'old habit that dies hard': Iran FM

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:06:13 PMGo to full article
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed the threat of US military strikes against Iranian nuclear installationsIran's foreign minister dismissed Saturday the threat of a US military strike against Tehran's nuclear sites, describing such warnings as an "old habit that dies hard" given ongoing diplomacy. Mohammad Javad Zarif, who leads the Iranian side in talks with six world powers that aim to end the dispute over the Islamic republic's nuclear programme, said threats of conflict should be off the table. He was responding to General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who Thursday said "the military option... to ensure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapon is intact". The United States has long said targeted bombing of Iran's nuclear sites and other key facilities may be needed if Tehran -- which denies seeking the bomb -- does not rein in its atomic activities.
 
 

Australia FM hails Iran effort to defeat IS

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:29:46 PMGo to full article
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeting Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Tehran on April 18, 2015Australia's foreign minister on Saturday hailed Iran's efforts to crush the jihadist Islamic State group in Iraq, saying on a rare trip to Tehran that the militants can be defeated. Julie Bishop is Australia's highest-ranking official to visit Iran in 12 years and she discussed the conflict in Iraq with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. Australia is part of an international coalition in Iraq and has 500 troops deployed there.
 
 

Rouhani says Saudis will harvest hatred in Yemen

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:25:21 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani harshly criticized Saudi Arabia Saturday, warning that the Saudi royal family in Riyadh will harvest the hatred it is sowing in Yemen through its airstrike campaign.
 

Iran presents Yemen peace plan to UN

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:51:33 AMGo to full article
Picture taken on April 17, 2015 shows the wreckage of a truck reportedly belonging to Huthi rebels which was destroyed the day before in an air strike by Saudi-led forces at a market in the Dar Saad suburb of the port city of AdenIran presented a four-point peace plan for Yemen to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, demanding international action to end the "senseless" Saudi-led air campaign against rebels backed by Tehran. Saudi Arabia, for its part, responded swiftly to a UN aid appeal for its impoverished neighbour. The Iranian call came as intense bombing by the regional coalition hit Yemen again and Al-Qaeda seized more ground in the chaos. "It is imperative for the international community to get more effectively involved in ending the senseless aerial attacks and establishing a ceasefire," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in a letter to Ban.
 
 

Obama open to 'creative negotiations' on Iran sanctions

 
‎18 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:37:36 AMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday left open the door to "creative negotiations" in response to Iran's demand that punishing sanctions be immediately lifted as part of a nuclear deal, even though the initial agreement calls for the penalties to be removed over time.
 

Gulf states unhappy about U.N. chief's ceasefire appeal: sources

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:30:59 PMGo to full article
By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Several Gulf Arab states are unhappy about U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon's call for an immediate ceasefire by all sides in Yemen and are expected to raise the issue in a meeting with him early next week, U.N. diplomatic sources said on Friday. The main topic of the meeting will be the replacement for the outgoing U.N. envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar, who announced his resignation on Wednesday. "Gulf states are not happy about the speech and expect to make that point with the SG (Ban) in the meeting," one of the diplomatic sources said on condition of anonymity.
 

Iran presents Yemen peace plan to United Nations

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:03:37 PMGo to full article
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif takes part in a press conference at Necessidades Palace in Lisbon on April 15, 2015Iran on Friday presented a four-point peace plan for Yemen to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling for international action to end the "senseless" Saudi-led air campaign on Huthi rebels. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Ban in a letter that Tehran stands ready to help the United Nations restore peace to Yemen, where the rebels have taken over the capital and driven President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.
 
 

Iran submits four-point Yemen peace plan to United Nations

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:53:21 PMGo to full article
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens to a question during a joint news conference with his Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo at the foreign ministry in MadridBy Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran's foreign minister on Friday submitted a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outlining a four-point peace plan for Yemen, where Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have been targeted for three weeks by Saudi-led air strikes. The plan, which Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced earlier this month, calls for an immediate ceasefire and end of all foreign military attacks, humanitarian assistance, a resumption of broad national dialogue and "establishment of an inclusive national unity government." "It is imperative for the international community to get more effectively involved in ending the senseless aerial attacks and establishing a ceasefire, ensuring delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance to the people of Yemen and restoring peace and stability to this country through dialogue and national reconciliation without pre-conditions," said Zarif's letter, which was obtained by Reuters.
 
 

4 firms, 5 individuals charged in Texas over exports to Iran

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:46:32 PMGo to full article
HOUSTON (AP) — Four companies and five individuals have been accused of illegally exporting to Iran high-tech electronics that could be used for military weapons.
 

Most senior Baathist general to evade US in Iraq reported killed. Does it matter?

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:28:38 PMGo to full article
Douri's name was one to conjure with before the US invasion - he was one of the organizers of the massacres in the Shiite south and the Kurdish north that followed Iraq's defeat in Kuwait in 1991 - and since. He reemerged last year in alliance with the Islamic State at the time insurgents overran the city of Mosul.
 

Iraq testing body of suspected Saddam VP

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:09:42 PMGo to full article
Saddam Hussein's former deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri speaks in Baghdad on March 26, 2003Iraq is to test the body of a man killed on Friday by pro-government forces to determine if it is that of Saddam Hussein's long-fugitive deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri. Killing him would be a significant victory for Baghdad, but Duri has previously been reported dead only to resurface in audio and video messages.
 
 

Obama says will sign bill allowing Congress to review Iran deal

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:52:24 PMGo to full article
U.S. President Obama listens during joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Renzi at the White House in WashingtonBy Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday a bill allowing Congress to review a deal concerning Iran's nuclear program was a "reasonable compromise" he planned to sign, and he expressed confidence it would not derail talks with Tehran. Obama told a White House news conference that Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Bob Corker and the panel's leading Democrat, Ben Cardin, had agreed they would protect the bill from "poison pills" amendments that would be tilted toward trying to kill an agreement with Iran. Since the White House said on Tuesday that Obama would sign the bill, it has sought to reassure anxious negotiating partners.
 
 

U.S. charges four companies, five people over alleged tech exports to Iran

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:52:24 PMGo to full article
By Lindsay Dunsmuir WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four companies and five people have been charged with illegally exporting high-tech microelectronics, uninterruptible power supplies and other products to Iran through Taiwan and Turkey, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday. The charges come as Iran and six major powers, led by the U.S., are set to resume talks on April 21 on securing an agreement that would curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions. According to the 24-count indictment unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, from July 2010 onwards the five people charged obtained approximately 28 million military grade parts, worth $24 million, from companies across the world.
 

Iran vows nuclear enrichment 'without limits' unless sanctions end

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:02:21 PMGo to full article
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif takes part in a press conference at Necessidades Palace in Lisbon on April 15, 2015Iran is ready to resume nuclear enrichment "without any limitations" unless sanctions are totally and immediately removed at the end of negotiations, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Friday. "If we take the path of confrontation, the US and the UN will continue with their sanctions, and Iran will continue with its enrichment programme. Global powers reached a framework agreement for a nuclear deal with Iran on April 2. They must now resolve a series of technical issues by a June 30 deadline for a final deal, including the steps for lifting sanctions on Iran, and remaining questions over the possible military dimensions of its nuclear programme.
 
 

Hezbollah blames Saudi Arabia for spread of extremism

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:08:15 PMGo to full article
A Hezbollah supporter chants slogans, as he holds a picture of the late Iran revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, left, and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, during a Hezbollah-organized rally titled "in solidarity with oppressed Yemen" in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, April 17, 2015. The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has launched his harshest criticism yet of Saudi Arabia, blaming the kingdom for the spread of extremist ideology in the Muslim world and the killing of civilians in Yemen. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group launched his harshest criticism yet of Saudi Arabia on Friday, blaming the kingdom for the spread of extremist ideology in the Muslim world and the killing of civilians in Yemen.
 
 

Former president defiant as humanitarian toll mounts in Yemen war

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:43:14 PMGo to full article
Smoke billows during an air strike on the Republican Palace in Yemen's southwestern city of TaizBy Mohamed Mokashaf ADEN (Reuters) - Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Friday he would not leave the country, dismissing reports in the Gulf Arab media that he was seeking a safe exit as Saudi Arabian war planes bomb troops loyal to him and their Houthi militia allies. The United Nations, meanwhile, said about 150,000 people had been driven from their homes by three weeks of air strikes and ground fighting and more than 750 people killed. The Iran-allied Houthis, a Shi'ite Muslim movement from northern Yemen, have formed an alliance of convenience with Saleh, who is widely believed to be plotting behind the scenes to make a comeback on Yemen's tumultuous political scene. The person who can say to Ali Abdullah Saleh 'leave your country' has not been and will not be born," he wrote on his Facebook page.
 
 

Russia lifts ban on air defense sale to Iran. A game changer?

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:10:42 PMGo to full article
So when Moscow this week reversed a 2010 ban on the $800 million sale, many Iran watchers rolled their eyes. Russia has a history of putting strategic politics before commercial transactions – including previous S-300 deals with Iran and Syria, and the fitful construction of Iran’s nuclear power plant at Bushehr. Along with Iranian officials, he is portraying the S-300 deal as a “stabilizing” move in a volatile region, at a time when Russia is challenging the US and West over its annexation of Crimea, wars in Ukraine and Syria, among other issues.
 

Obama says surprised Russia held off so long on arms deal with Iran

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:08:37 PMGo to full article
U.S. President Obama addresses joint news conference at the White House in WashingtonU.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday he was surprised Russia had waited as long as it did to seal a deal to sell missile defense systems to Iran, given the tensions between Russia and the United States. Obama said the sale was initially set to occur in 2009, but Russia put it on hold at the United States' request. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday the sale was resumed because of progress in nuclear talks with Iran.
 
 

Pending Formula One race spurs renewed Shi'ite protests in Bahrain

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎06:23:37 PMGo to full article
The Formula One race set for Sunday in Bahrain drew protests on Friday as activists accused the Gulf kingdom of again staging the annual event to paper over human rights abuses, four years after being forced to cancel it during Arab Spring uprisings. Bahrain's majority Shi'ite Muslim community has used the annual Formula One occasion since then to highlight grievances over what they see as failed promises of democratic reform in the Sunni Muslim-ruled island country. "The regime uses the race to say Bahrain should unite, while in fact they are cracking down and it's just used to burnish the government's image, to make more money and make it look like everything is just business as usual," Bahraini democracy activist Ala'a Shehabi told Reuters. Bahrain, important strategically because it hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet as a bulwark against Shi'ite Iran across the Gulf, has grappled with low-profile but persistent unrest since a Shi'ite-led revolt demanding reforms and a bigger role in government were put down in 2011 with the help of Saudi Arabia.
 

In tightly ruled Saudi, Yemen war is 'something good'

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:50:42 PMGo to full article
A street in the Saudi capital Riyadh shows a billboard bearing an image with a soldier and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, reading "my country, we all protect your soil"This is wartime in Saudi Arabia, a tightly controlled Islamic kingdom where almost every audible voice is behind the three-week-old air campaign against Shiite rebels in neighbouring Yemen. "Our king has done something good," said Saud Mubarak, an unemployed man in his mid-20s. He echoed the government view of the absolute monarchy that the Saudi-led military coalition acted to stop the Huthi rebels' advance and to help the legitimate government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghamdi, former head of the religious police in the holy city of Mecca, said "over 90 percent" of people in the kingdom support the operation in Yemen, which has been dubbed "Decisive Storm".
 
 

Iran needs 'up to 500 airliners' in next decade

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:40:01 PMGo to full article
US sanctions ban manufacturers from selling new aircraft or parts to Iranian companies, which has grounded much of the country's fleetIran will need to acquire 400-500 airliners over the coming decade to renew its aging fleet, suffering from years of US sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme, the country's aviation chief says. Those sanctions ban manufacturers from selling new aircraft or parts to Iranian companies, which has grounded much of the fleet. The fleet consists of only 140 functioning aircraft, Ali Reza Jahangirian, head of the Iran Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), was quoted Friday by state news agency IRNA as saying. "That is lower than the average international norms in terms of international indexes of population and area," he said, adding that an eventual nuclear deal with world powers would ease the way toward solving the problem.
 
 

Obama to host Gulf leaders in May

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:18:27 PMGo to full article
US President Barack Obama will welcome the six leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council kingdoms to the White House and Camp David in MayUS President Barack Obama will welcome the six leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council kingdoms in mid-May for talks on Iran's nuclear program and the conflicts in Yemen, Iraq and Syria. The meeting was announced in early April by Obama, who is seeking to reassure Gulf states following a framework accord reached on Tehran's contested nuclear program earlier in the month. Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia fears its regional rival Iran, which has a Shiite government, will continue to develop an atomic bomb after the sanctions that are strangling Iran's economy are lifted.
 
 

Obama invites Mideast leaders to White House, Camp David

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:49:41 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has invited the heads of Gulf Cooperation Council countries to the White House and then to Camp David. Negotiations over Iran's nuclear capabilities and the turmoil in Yemen are topics high on the agenda.
 
 

UN chief calls for immediate Yemen ceasefire

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:30:43 PMGo to full article
Tribal gunmen loyal to the Shiite Huthi movement on April 16, 2015 in Yemen's capital Sanaa during a demonstration against the UN Security Council decision to slap an arms embargo on themUN chief Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen and begun the hunt for a new peace envoy to the war-torn country, where Al-Qaeda is expanding its territory. Ban's plea follows more than three weeks of air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition aimed at driving back Iran-backed rebels whose sweeping advance forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh. Yemen "is in flames," Ban told the press in Washington on Thursday. His remarks followed the resignation of his envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, a Moroccan-born career diplomat who lost the confidence of Saudi Arabia and its allies.
 
 

Former Yemen president Saleh says will not leave country

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:11:39 PMGo to full article
Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh talks during an interview with Reuters in SanaaFormer Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would not leave the country in a post on his official Facebook page on Friday, contradicting reports in the Gulf Arab media that he sought a safe exit. The person who can say to Ali Abdullah Saleh 'leave your country' has not been and will not be born," he wrote. A Saudi-led alliance has been bombing Yemen's Iran-allied Houthi rebels and army units loyal to Saleh for three weeks, fuelling speculation that he might seek a political settlement that protects him and his powerful family.
 
 

Two Qaeda suspects killed in Yemen drone attack

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:46:54 AMGo to full article
An image grab taken from a video released last year by the media arm of AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), which the US classifies as the deadliest franchise of the Sunni extremist movementTwo suspected Al-Qaeda militants were killed overnight in Yemen in a drone strike believed to have been carried out by the United States, a tribal source said on Friday. It "killed the two occupants, two members of Al-Qaeda," said the source, identifying one of the victims as Khaled Atef, a cousin of the province's Al-Qaeda chief. Al-Qaeda militants have exploited the breakdown of security since a Saudi-led coalition launched an air war last month against Shiite rebels fighting Yemeni forces. Among its gains, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has seized almost all of Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt province.
 
 

Assad says Turkish support 'main factor' in Idlib takeover

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:33:39 AMGo to full article
Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front man checkpoint at entrance of Idlib citySyrian President Bashar al-Assad said Turkish military and logistical support was the main factor that helped insurgents to seize the northwestern city of Idlib from government control last month. Idlib, a short drive from the Turkish border, is only the second provincial capital to fall to insurgents in the four-year-long civil war. "Any war weakens any army, not matter how strong, no matter how modern," Assad said in an interview with Swedish newspaper Expressen, published on Friday.
 
 

Higher sales brewing for India's tea exporters as drought grips Kenya

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:17:07 AMGo to full article
A worker plucks tea leaves at the Amchong tea estate in the northeastern Indian state of AssamBy Rajendra Jadhav MUMBAI (Reuters) - Lagging rains, output and demand were just some of the things worrying Bidyananda Barkakoty, a small tea garden owner in a northeastern Indian state, until about a month ago. A recent dry spell in distant Kenya has since given him a reason to smile. Barkakoty is hoping the crop-damaging drought in top tea exporter Kenya will open a window of opportunity for Indian planters like him as rains improve output prospects at home. Industry sources are projecting a rise of about a tenth in exports this year from India, the world's No. 2 tea producer.
 
 

Australian FM to tackle Iran on nuclear and asylum seekers

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:47:52 AMGo to full article
Australia-bound Afghan and Iranian asylum-seekers are evacuated by Indonesian authorities from a tanker in Merak port on April 10, 2012Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop visits Iran at the weekend looking for Tehran to take back failed asylum seekers, but the rare trip also has deeper significance as the West seeks to seal a deal to rein in the Islamic state's nuclear ambitions. The first visit to Shiite Iran by an Australian foreign minister in 12 years follows the framework political agreement reached last month under which Tehran would accept strict nuclear controls in return for the easing of damaging economic sanctions. Canberra welcomed the progress towards a comprehensive agreement over Iran's nuclear programme in the Lausanne talks between the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany. Bishop said the framework was an "important step towards a final agreement, which will address international concerns about Iran's nuclear programme", but noted many details remain to be addressed, with a final accord due by June 30.
 
 

UN chief calls for immediate cease-fire in Yemen

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:04:41 AMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Thursday for an immediate cease-fire in Yemen to spur peace talks and get lifesaving aid into the impoverished Middle East nation.
 

U.N. chief to name new Yemen envoy as peace efforts stall: sources

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:58:54 AMGo to full article
By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is naming Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to replace his outgoing special envoy to Yemen, who resigned after his peace plan to halt the war there failed, diplomatic sources said on Thursday. They said Ban has briefed some members of the United Nations Security Council informally about his intention to appoint Ould Cheikh Ahmed to replace Jamal Benomar, a veteran Moroccan diplomat who brokered a 2011 transition plan aimed at quelling political turmoil in Yemen. "The SG (Ban) has decided to name (Ould Cheikh Ahmed) and will send a letter to the council soon about the appointment," a diplomatic source said on condition of anonymity.
 

Amid chaos, Al-Qaida consolidates hold of Yemen province

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:13:11 AMGo to full article
Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, chant slogans during a demonstration against an arms embargo imposed by the U.N. Security Council on Houthi leaders, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, April 16, 2015. Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen seized Thursday control of a major airport and sea port and oil terminal in southern Yemen, consolidating their hold of the country’s largest province amid wider chaos that is pitting Shiite rebels against forces loyal to the country’s exiled president and a Saudi-led air campaign. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen consolidated control over much of the country's largest province on Thursday, capturing a major airport, an oil terminal and the area's main military base, and striking an alliance with local tribal leaders to administer the region.
 
 

UN chief set to nominate new special envoy to Yemen

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:04:40 AMGo to full article
FILE - Assistant UN Secretary-General, Special Adviser to Secretary-General on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, speaks to a reporter during an interview with The Associated Press in Sanaa, Yemen, in this Nov. 18, 2013 file photo. The U.N.'s special envoy to Yemen has stepped down after four years of efforts at a peaceful political transition in the Arab world's poorest country fell apart amid a Shiite rebel uprising and Saudi-led airstrikes. A U.N. statement late Wednesday April 15, 2015 said Jamal Benomar "has expressed an interest in moving on to another assignment" and that his successor will be named "in due course." (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday is expected to nominate the head of the U.N. Ebola mission as the new special envoy to Yemen, the country's U.N. ambassador said Thursday.
 
 

Iraq signals unease with Iran general's battlefield prominence

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:08:49 PMGo to full article
Iraq's Prime Minister Abadi speaks during a news conference at the Foreign Ministry in BaghdadBy Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister said on Thursday that he welcomed Iranian assistance in Iraq's battle against Islamic State but suggested unease with the prominence of a top Iranian general, who has been widely seen in photos from Iraq's battlefields. Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran's al-Quds brigade of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was almost an invisible man until Islamic State's Sunni jihadists overran cities in northern and central Iraq last year.
 
 

Obama could ease many Iranian sanctions without US Congress

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:54:39 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this April 14, 2015 file photo, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Even if Congress rejects his final Iranian nuclear deal, President Barack Obama could use his executive pen to offer Tehran a hefty portion of sanctions relief. Legislation is being ushered through Congress by Corker, to give Congress a say on a potential agreement. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Even if the U.S. Congress rejects his final Iranian nuclear deal, President Barack Obama could use his executive pen to offer Tehran a hefty portion of sanctions relief on his own.
 
 

Putin confident on economy, offers to mend ties with West

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:08:36 PMGo to full article
Iran expects delivery of Russian missiles by end of the yearMOSCOW (AP) — Russia has weathered the worst of its economic troubles and is on the road to recovery, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday during a marathon call-in TV show, offering to normalize ties with the West if it treats Moscow as an equal partner and not a "vassal."
 
 

Expanding Qaeda seizes airport in southeast Yemen

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:50:09 PMGo to full article
A Yemeni tribal gunman of the Popular Resistance Committees loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, monitors a street behind stones during clashes with Shiite Huthi rebels on April 16, 2015 in the city of TaezAl-Qaeda militants seized a provincial airport Thursday in war-wracked Yemen, where the jihadist network's deadly local franchise has exploited growing instability to expand its foothold. Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has sought to tighten its grip on the largely lawless southeast since an armed rebellion sweeping the country added to a breakdown in security. For years, Yemen has been a key US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda, allowing Washington to carry out drone attacks on its territory.
 
 

Obama could ease many Iranian sanctions without Congress

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:38:48 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this April 14, 2015 file photo, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Even if Congress rejects his final Iranian nuclear deal, President Barack Obama could use his executive pen to offer Tehran a hefty portion of sanctions relief. Legislation is being ushered through Congress by Corker, to give Congress a say on a potential agreement. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Even if Congress rejects his final Iranian nuclear deal, President Barack Obama could use his executive pen to offer Tehran a hefty portion of sanctions relief on his own.
 
 

Putin upbeat on Russian recovery, but doth he protest too much?

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:34:19 PMGo to full article
Russian President Vladimir Putin spent much of his marathon TV call-in show on Thursday reassuring the nation that better times are just around the corner. The farmer is reportedly John Kopiski, a British man who has lived in Russia for nearly two decades. He said Russia has seen the worst of the economic downtown caused by Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine and plunging global oil prices. Of course, the economic challenges Russia faces extend far beyond the agriculture sector.
 

Putin says S-300 sale to Iran prompted by progress in nuclear talks

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:19:22 PMGo to full article
Putin takes part in a live broadcast call-in in MoscowBy Denis Pinchuk and Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Iran's drive to find a solution in talks over its disputed nuclear program had spurred his decision to renew a contract to deliver S-300 missile defense systems to Tehran. Moscow's move to provide the surface-to-air missile system to Tehran, which irked the West and drew protests from Israel, followed an initial deal under which Tehran would curb its nuclear activities in exchange for an end to economic sanctions. A final deal with six world powers is due in June but Moscow has moved quickly to try to secure contracts in Iran before international sanctions are lifted and has urged engaging Tehran more in attempts to solve regional crises.
 
 

In wake of Argentine prosecutor's death, a tangled web of questions

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:53:53 PMGo to full article
A series of revelations have jolted supporters of the dead prosecutor who accused Argentine President Cristina Kirchner of conspiring to cover up the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish center here. Prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead at home with a single bullet in his temple on Jan. 18.
 

New Yemen VP says he hopes to avert Saudi invasion

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:30:13 PMGo to full article
Followers of Houthi group raise weapons as they demonstrate against arms embargo imposed by the U.N. Security Council on the group in SanaBy Angus McDowall and Mohamed Mukashaf RIYADH/ADEN (Reuters) - Yemen's newly-appointed Vice President Khaled Bahah, a widely respected figure named this week to shore up the legitimacy of the exiled Saudi-backed government, said on Thursday he hoped to avert a Saudi-led invasion to restore unity to the country. Arab military exercises planned for Saudi Arabia have raised speculation that Riyadh is considering land operations in Yemen, after three weeks of air strikes that failed to halt advances by Shi'ite fighters now in control of most of the country. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi named Bahah, a former prime minister and diplomat, as his deputy this week in an attempt to widen support for his government, now exiled to Saudi Arabia since the Iran-backed fighters, known as Houthis, seized the capital and launched a lightning advance on the south. Bahah is one of the few figures in Yemen whose popularity crosses regional and sectarian lines.
 
 

Saudi-Iran rivalry over Yemen deepens Mideast sectarianism

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:25:24 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Wednesday, April 8, 2015 file photo, smoke billows from a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen. Saudi Arabia’s government insists it is not at war with Iran despite its three-week air campaign against Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen, but the kingdom’s powerful clerics, and its regional rival’s theocratic government, are increasingly presenting the conflict as part of a region-wide battle for the soul of Islam. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's government insists it is not at war with Iran despite its three-week air campaign against Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen, but the kingdom's powerful clerics, and its regional rival's theocratic government, are increasingly presenting the conflict as part of a region-wide battle for the soul of Islam.
 
 

Russia blames U.S. for security crises and turmoil in Ukraine

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:18:30 PMGo to full article
A woman walks past a building damaged by fighting in DonetskBy Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW (Reuters) - Top Russian officials accused the United States on Thursday of seeking political and military dominance and sought to put blame on the West for international security crises, including the conflict in east Ukraine. Evoking Cold War-style rhetoric, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said a drive by the United States and its allies to bring Kiev closer to the West was a threat to Moscow and had forced it to react. "The United States and its allies have crossed all possible lines in their drive to bring Kiev into their orbit.
 
 

Israelis stand in silent tribute to Holocaust dead

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:17:46 PMGo to full article
Israelis attend a ceremony marking the Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 15, 2015 at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in JerusalemCommemorations began at sunset on Wednesday and were to continue Thursday with Israeli leaders attending official ceremonies at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, parliament and elsewhere. At opening commemorations for the six million victims on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared arch-foe Iran to Hitler's Germany.
 
 

EU Foreign Policy Chief: confident of final Iran deal in June

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:09:17 PMGo to full article
The European Union's top foreign policy official said on Thursday she was "confident" that a preliminary deal on Iran's disputed nuclear program would lead to a final deal by the end of June. Federica Mogherini was responding to a question about whether a move by Russia on Monday to lift a ban on sales of weapons to Iran had the potential to derail the preliminary deal reached by Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany on April 3.
 

Al-Qaeda seizes airport in southeast Yemen

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎06:50:40 PMGo to full article
Armed Yemeni members of the southern separatist movement in the port city of Aden's Dar Saad suburb on April 14, 2015Al-Qaeda militants Thursday seized a provincial airport in southeast Yemen while tribal forces took over an oil terminal, as the war-wracked country slides further into turmoil. "The military unit in charge of security at the facility withdrew without resisting" Al-Qaeda fighters, said an official at the airport in Mukalla, capital of Hadramawt province. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the jihadist network's powerful Yemeni branch, earlier this month took advantage of the growing chaos to overrun Mukalla. Military sources said AQAP now controls the whole of the city of more than 200,000 inhabitants, except for a camp of soldiers loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Saudi Arabia.
 
 

Somali exile fights for Olympic dream

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎06:16:38 PMGo to full article
Faisal Jeylani Aweys fled his native Somalia 14 years ago and hopes his sport taekwondo could provide medals for the troubled countryFaisal Jeylani Aweys has not seen his native Somalia since he fled 14 years ago, but he lives in hope of winning an Olympic medal for his war-torn country. He left with a sister for Switzerland at the age of 13. In Switzerland, Aweys quickly became a black belt and qualified to become a referee and coach. "For a long time, I fought in the name of my club, not Switzerland, as I did not have a passport,." he said.
 
 

Thousands of teachers in Iran demand higher wages

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:56:04 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's semi-official ILNA news agency says thousands of teachers have staged nationwide protests demanding higher wages.
 

Yemen tribesmen seize oil terminal: military source

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:44:05 PMGo to full article
Yemeni members of the southern separatist movement, loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, on April 15, 2015 in Aden's northern suburbsYemeni tribal forces on Thursday took control of a major oil terminal in the country's southeast after soldiers protecting the site withdrew, a military source said.
 
 

U.N. envoy to Yemen resigns

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:16:20 PMGo to full article
United Nations Special Adviser on Yemen Jamal Benomar speaks during a U.N.-facilitated dialogue session attended by representatives of Yemen's feuding parties in SanaaThe United Nations envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, resigned on Wednesday, according to a U.N. statement, signaling that his effort to end fierce fighting in the country had failed. Benomar, a veteran Moroccan diplomat, brokered a 2011 transition plan aimed at quelling political turmoil in Yemen. Until that time and beyond, the United Nations will continue to spare no efforts to re-launch the peace process in order to get the political transition back on track," the statement said. A U.N. diplomatic source said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was considering appointing Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to the post.
 
 

Chinese president to visit Pakistan next week

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:34:27 PMGo to full article
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (left) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a 2014 meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in BeijingChinese President Xi Jinping will visit Pakistan next week, Islamabad said Thursday, with investment in the energy sector and Taliban talks in neighbouring Afghanistan likely to feature on the agenda. Xi was originally scheduled to visit Pakistan last September but Beijing cancelled the trip as Islamabad was in the grip of major anti-government street protests. China has been a key financial and military ally of Islamabad over the years and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif secured promises of $42 billion worth of investment when he went to Beijing in November last year.
 
 

No breakthrough between Iran and U.N. nuclear watchdog

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:44:07 PMGo to full article
An Iranian flag flutters in front of the United Nations headquarters, during an IAEA board of governors meeting, in ViennaThe U.N. nuclear watchdog said it had a "constructive exchange" with Iran this week but there was no sign of a breakthrough on aspects of its nuclear program that the agency says Tehran has failed to fully address. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is investigating Iran's nuclear program in parallel to talks between Tehran and six world powers that aim to broker a deal by the end of June to scale down the program in exchange for sanctions relief. In any final deal, the IAEA would play a major role in monitoring Iran's compliance. The IAEA said in March it expected progress with Iran this month on outstanding issues related to the nature of neutron calculations and alleged experiments on explosives that could be used to develop an atomic device.
 
 

Exclusive: How Nigeria's 'smooth' election nearly went wrong

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:41:25 PMGo to full article
An electoral officer marks the thumb of a voter with ink at the start of voting during governorship election in Epe district in Nigeria's commercial capital LagosBy Ed Cropley and Tim Cocks ABUJA (Reuters) - As Muhammadu Buhari closed in on Nigeria's presidency, an aide to election commission chairman Attahiru Jega sent a text message to an independent voting monitor, warning of an imminent threat to the electoral process. The aide had unearthed a plot by supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan to disrupt the public announcement of the national election results and kidnap Jega in a bid to wreck the count, according to pro-democracy advocates and a Nigeria-based diplomat. Central to the plan, they said, were Jega's security detail and Godsday Orubebe, a former cabinet minister from Jonathan's Niger Delta, an area whose leaders feared a change of power would mean an end to the perks it enjoyed under Jonathan's presidency. The commission, called INEC, also declined to comment and turned down requests for an interview with Jega, whom Reuters was unable to reach independently.
 
 

Houthi official calls for unconditional end to Saudi-led bombing in Yemen

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:52:13 PMGo to full article
DUBAI (Reuters) - A senior Houthi official told Reuters he rejected the idea that Saudi-backed Yemeni president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi could return to the country, accusing him of "treason". Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi movement's politburo, added that the Saudi-led bombing campaign against the Iran-allied Shi'ite Houthis must stop "immediately and without any conditions". (Reporting by Noah Browning; editing by Andrew Roche)
 

New Vice President says hopes there will be no Arab ground campaign in Yemen

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:52:13 PMGo to full article
RIYADH (Reuters) - Yemeni Vice President Khaled Bahah said on Thursday he hoped there would be no ground campaign by an Arab coalition in Yemen. Planned military exercises in Saudi Arabia have raised speculation that the Saudi-led coalition bombing Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen for three weeks was considering the use of ground troops. (Reporting By Angus McDowall and Noah Browning; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
 

Heavy fighting erupts in Yemeni city of Taiz: residents

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:52:13 PMGo to full article
(Reuters) - Heavy fighting broke out in and around the central Yemeni city of Taiz on Thursday, residents said, pitting an army brigade and tribesmen against the Shi'ite Houthi militia and allied army units. The combat opens up a new front for the Houthis, who have been fighting battles with militiamen across southern Yemen, and signals that control over the army by the Houthis' powerful ally, ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, may be weakening. ...
 

Half Yemeni population is going hungry as violence worsens: WFP

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:26:19 PMGo to full article
Boy searches for food amongst litter on a streetside in SanaaBy Joseph D'Urso LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Worsening violence in Yemen has made almost half the country's population "food insecure", with flour shortages, closed shops and disrupted supply routes driving up food prices, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Thursday. The agency says someone is food insecure if they lack "all-time access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life". The United Nations says the conflict in Yemen has killed 600 people, wounded 2,200 and displaced 100,000 since Houthi rebels allied with Iran seized the capital Sanaa in September.
 
 

Iran nuclear talks to resume in Vienna April 22-23

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:19:43 PMGo to full article
BRUSSELS (AP) — Major world powers and Iran will resume talks next week on Tehran's nuclear program, aiming to come up with a comprehensive deal by the end of June.
 

The Latest: Putin wants refund if French don't deliver ship

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:02:37 PMGo to full article
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during an annual call-in show on Russian television "Conversation With Vladimir Putin" in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, April 16, 2015. Speaking Thursday in a televised call-in show with the nation, Putin said the nation's economic performance has remained strong, despite Western sanctions slapped on Russia over the Ukrainian crisis and a slump in global oil prices. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service via AP)MOSCOW (AP) — 2:56 p.m. (1156 GMT; 7:56 EDT
 
 

Yemen urges rebel army units to drop support for Huthis

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:31:27 PMGo to full article
A Shiite Huthi rebel loads an artillery shell into a tank near the airport in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on April 15, 2015Yemen's newly appointed Vice President Khaled Bahah called on renegade army units Thursday to drop their support for Shiite rebels fighting his exiled government. "I call on all troops and security forces personnel to accept the command of the legitimate government and protect the country," he told reporters in Riyadh, where he is exiled along with President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. Troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have allied with the Shiite Huthi rebels fighting pro-Hadi forces. Coalition member states have not ruled out sending ground forces to Yemen, but Bahah said he hoped that would not be needed.
 
 

New round of Iran nuclear talks April 22-23 in Vienna: EU

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:28:36 PMGo to full article
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif talking to press after the announcement of an agreement on nuclear talks at the start of AprilMajor world powers and Iran will hold fresh talks in Vienna on April 22-23 to build on the framework accord reached on Tehran's contested nuclear programme, the EU announced Thursday. The talks will take place at political director level, involving first Helga Schmid of the EU's external affairs arm and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi. Marathon talks in Lausanne last month ran overtime but finally produced a framework political agreement whereby Iran would accept strict controls over its nuclear programme in return for the easing of damaging economic sanctions. The restrictions are meant to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, as feared in the West, although Tehran insists its programme is purely for civilian use.
 
 

World powers, Iran to meet in Vienna next week, EU says

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:42:51 PMGo to full article
World powers will hold talks on April 22 and April 23 with Iran in Vienna, the European Union said, as part of efforts to reach a historic deal to end a standoff over Tehran's atomic ambitions. "A bilateral meeting of EU Political Director Helga Schmid and Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi will kick off the talks on 22 and 23 April followed by a plenary meeting of all E3/EU+3 Political Directors and Iran," the EU said in a statement, referring to the group of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
 

Conflicting takes mean tough work ahead for Iran nuke deal

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:19:34 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this March 16, 2015 file photo U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, listens to Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, before resuming talks over Iran's nuclear program in Lausanne, Switzerland. As negotiators prepare to start drafting a final deal to curb Iran's atomic activities, conflicting U.S.-Iran takes on key elements mean tough work ahead of a June 30 deadline. Though six world powers remain at the bargaining table, the real negotiating is between the two nations. (Brian Snyder/Pool Photo via AP, File)VIENNA (AP) — As negotiators prepare to start drafting a final deal to curb Iran's atomic activities, conflicting U.S.-Iran takes on key elements mean tough work ahead of a June 30 deadline.
 
 

Cuba to be dropped from US terror blacklist

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:44:11 AMGo to full article
President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Cuba's President Raul Castro during their meeting on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas, in Panama City, on April 11, 2015Cuba hailed US President Barack Obama's move to drop Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terror, a landmark step paving the way toward restoring ties frozen for five decades. Obama notified Congress on Tuesday of his "intent to rescind" Cuba's inclusion on the blacklist, after a lengthy review launched late last year as Washington openly began a rapprochement with its Cold War foe. Otherwise, it will go ahead, removing a key hurdle to renewing US diplomatic relations with the communist authorities in Cuba.
 
 

Iran's Rouhani says nuclear deal possible only if sanctions lifted: state TV

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:12:59 AMGo to full article
Iran's President Rouhani prepares to depart after the end of a press conference on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly in New YorkIranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday Tehran will not accept a comprehensive nuclear deal with major powers if all sanctions imposed on Tehran are not lifted, state television reported. "The end of these negotiations and a signed deal must include a declaration of cancelling the oppressive sanctions on the great nation of Iran." Iran wants sanctions that include nuclear-related United Nations resolutions as well as U.S. and EU nuclear-related economic sanctions, to be lifted at once. The U.S. says that sanctions against Iran would be removed gradually. In what was seen as a setback for Barack Obama, the U.S. president agreed on Tuesday that Congress should have the power to review any deal with Iran, backing down to pressure from Republicans and some in his own party.
 
 

Kerry says confident Obama can get final deal on Iran

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:51:58 AMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry speaks to media on the second day of G7 foreign ministers meeting in the northern German city of LuebeckU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday he was confident Barack Obama would be able to get Congress to approve a nuclear deal with Iran after the U.S. president acknowledged lawmakers would have the power to review an accord with Tehran. "Looming large is the challenge of finishing the negotiation with Iran over the course of the next two and a half months," Kerry said after arriving in Germany for a Group of Seven foreign ministers' meeting in the northern city of Luebeck. In what was seen as a setback for Obama, the U.S. president agreed on Tuesday that Congress should have the power to review any deal with Iran, giving in to pressure from Republicans and some in his own party over the barbed issue. The role for the Republican-controlled Congress injects a new element of uncertainty into the delicate final stages of negotiations between major powers and Iran aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
 
 

Kerry: still confident US can conclude Iran nuclear deal

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:23:49 AMGo to full article
Spectators stand at a security fence behind the national flags of Italy, Canada, Britain and the United States, from left, to watch the arrival of foreign ministers prior to a meeting of the G7 Foreign Ministers in Luebeck, northern Germany, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. The meeting is being held ahead of the G7 leaders summit in Germany from June 7 to 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)LUEBECK, Germany (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday he is still confident that the U.S. administration can conclude a nuclear deal with Iran after President Barack Obama agreed to sign legislation giving Congress the right to reject an agreement.
 
 

UN nuclear inspectors in Iran to try to probe suspect site

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:04:49 AMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — U.N. nuclear inspectors are in Iran on a long stalled visit meant to investigate suspicions that Tehran worked on nuclear weapons, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.
 

Israel happy at compromise deal on Iran between Congress-Obama: minister

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:02:55 AMGo to full article
Israel's PM Netanyahu and minister Steinitz attend cabinet meeting in JerusalemIsrael is pleased at a compromise deal on Iran achieved between the United States Congress and the administration of President Barack Obama, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Wednesday. In what was seen as a setback for Obama, the U.S. president agreed on Tuesday that Congress should have the power to review a nuclear deal with Iran, reluctantly giving in to pressure from Republicans and some in his own party over the barbed issue. This is an achievement for Israeli policy," Steinitz told Israel Radio, citing a March 3 speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress in which he argued against a then-emerging framework agreement with Tehran on curbing its nuclear program.
 
 

Congress will not derail nuclear talks, Iran says

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:25:20 AMGo to full article
Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif addresses during a joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Mogherini in LausanneIran will not allow U.S. domestic politics to derail nuclear negotiations, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Wednesday, after U.S. President Barack Obama conceded that Congress will have the power to review any final deal. Republicans and some Democrats in Congress had pressured Obama to allow legislative oversight of the nuclear negotiations. The development injects a new element of uncertainty into the delicate final stages of negotiations between major powers and Iran aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
 
 

White House standoff with Congress over Iran bill not over

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:32:52 AMGo to full article
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., center, shakes hands Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passes S.615, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, during a committee business meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Republican and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reached a compromise Tuesday on a bill that would give Congress a say on an emerging deal to curb Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)WASHINGTON (AP) — Legislation empowering Congress to reject an emerging Iran nuclear pact is expected to sail through both houses of Congress, leaving President Barack Obama with the tough task of selling the deal to skeptical lawmakers.
 
 

World powers turn screw on Yemen rebels

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:23:39 AMGo to full article
Huthi rebels brandish their weapons during a rally in Taiz, in the Yemeni Highlands, on April 10, 2015The UN Security Council vote came after Iran, which is accused of backing the rebels, proposed a ceasefire followed by foreign-mediated talks. The Huthi revolt has forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee the impoverished Arab state and threatens to provoke a humanitarian disaster. The conflict has also further heightened tensions in the broader Middle East, with Saudi Arabia accusing Iran of fomenting the rebellion.

 

 

 

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Iraqi forces recapture 2 towns from IS near crucial refinery

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:59:12 PMGo to full article
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi security forces have gained full control over a contested area south of the country's largest oil refinery Friday as part of ongoing operations to secure the rest of Salahuddin province following the recapturing of Tikrit, a senior Iraqi military official said.
 

Iraq massacre site turns into 'shrine' of anti-IS war

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:55:00 PMGo to full article
Shrine on the Tigris river waterfront, which is believed to be the place of the 2014 Speicher massacre where hundreds of mostly Shiite army cadets were executed by the Islamic StateOn the Tigris River waterfront where jihadists executed hundreds of captured Iraqi army recruits last year, bloodstains are gradually being covered by streaks of candle wax dripping down the quay. A symbolic tombstone has been laid where Islamic State group fighters carried out their assembly-line slaughter, shooting the young mostly Shiite men in the head before tipping them into the river one by one. Two weeks after troops and militia retook Tikrit, the main site of the "Speicher massacre" -- named after the military base near which the victims were seized -- is fast becoming a pilgrimage destination. Every day, dozens of Iraqi fighters visit the narrow quay of the river police building, located inside the sprawling palace complex that now executed dictator Saddam Hussein built in his hometown.
 
 

Higher sales brewing for India's tea exporters as drought grips Kenya

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:17:07 AMGo to full article
A worker plucks tea leaves at the Amchong tea estate in the northeastern Indian state of AssamBy Rajendra Jadhav MUMBAI (Reuters) - Lagging rains, output and demand were just some of the things worrying Bidyananda Barkakoty, a small tea garden owner in a northeastern Indian state, until about a month ago. A recent dry spell in distant Kenya has since given him a reason to smile. Barkakoty is hoping the crop-damaging drought in top tea exporter Kenya will open a window of opportunity for Indian planters like him as rains improve output prospects at home. Industry sources are projecting a rise of about a tenth in exports this year from India, the world's No. 2 tea producer.
 
 

Islamic State, security forces clash in Iraq's largest refinery

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:30:35 AMGo to full article
A view is seen of Baiji oil refineryIslamic State militants clashed with security forces inside Iraq's largest refinery on Thursday and held on to recent gains in the west of the country, as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the extremist group remained "very, very dangerous". The insurgents suffered a major defeat this month when Iraqi troops and Shi'ite paramilitaries routed them from the city of Tikrit, but are now striking back at Baiji refinery and in the western province of Anbar. The top U.S. military officer, General Martin Dempsey, told reporters "the refinery itself is at no risk right now." But he expressed concern that the militants had penetrated the refinery's outer perimeter and were now inside. Islamic State sympathizers circulated photographs on social media late on Thursday appearing to show the militants inside the refinery with the caption: "the soldiers of the (Islamic) State advance to cleanse what is left of Baiji refinery".
 
 

10 Things to Know for Friday

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:02:39 AMGo to full article
Migrants arrive at Palermo's harbor, Italy, after being rescued at sea, Wednesday, April 15, 2015. The U.N. refugee agency says the shipwreck in the Mediterranean this week, in which 400 migrants are presumed to have died, is among the deadliest single incidents in the last decade. The tragedy comes amid an unprecedented wave of migration toward Europe from Africa and the Middle East. UNHCR Italy spokeswoman Barbara Molinario says 900 migrants have died or gone missing at sea so far this year, part of a phenomenon the agency has been tracking since 2011. (AP Photo/Alessandro Fucarini)Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
 
 

Iraq PM downplays criticism of Saudi airstrikes on Yemen

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:55:13 AMGo to full article
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, April 16, 2015Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sought Thursday to walk back sharp criticism of the Saudi air campaign against Shiite militias in Yemen and welcomed news that the Saudi embassy in Baghdad will reopen soon. Abadi, a Shiite, told the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "We are on the same boat in the region. "We have suffered so much from wars in Iraq.
 
 

Iraqi PM seeks more security for Reuters bureau in Baghdad

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:53:08 AMGo to full article
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on Thursday he had asked for more protection for the Reuters office in Baghdad after the news agency's bureau chief left the country due to threats. Abadi, who has been in Washington meeting with President Barack Obama to seek support in fighting Islamic State militants, said he was seeking more information after last week's departure from Iraq of Reuters bureau chief Ned Parker. "We want more information so that I can take action," he said at an event organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. After a Reuters report last week that detailed lynching and looting in the city of Tikrit, a post on a Facebook page linked to armed Shiite groups demanded Parker be expelled.
 

Iraq's largest refinery not at risk from IS group: US

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:49:41 AMGo to full article
A US soldier stands guard in front of the Iraqi Northern Oil Refinery near the town of Baiji, on November 10, 2007Iraq's largest refinery in Baiji is not "at risk" despite an offensive by the Islamic State group that has breached parts of the facility, the US military's top general said Thursday. The IS militants have "penetrated the outer perimeter" of the vast oil refinery and the US-coalition was concentrating bombing raids and surveillance flights over the area, General Martin Dempsey told reporters. "The refinery itself is at no risk right now, but ... we're focusing a lot of our ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and air support there," the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
 
 

General: US focusing airstrikes to protect Beiji refinery

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:12:34 PMGo to full article
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, left, accompanied by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, right, speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Thursday, April 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)WASHINGTON (AP) — Losing the capital of Iraq's western Anbar province to advancing Islamic State forces would be a tragic but not crippling blow to Iraq's counteroffensive, the top U.S. military officer said Thursday.
 
 

Iraq signals unease with Iran general's battlefield prominence

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:08:49 PMGo to full article
Iraq's Prime Minister Abadi speaks during a news conference at the Foreign Ministry in BaghdadBy Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister said on Thursday that he welcomed Iranian assistance in Iraq's battle against Islamic State but suggested unease with the prominence of a top Iranian general, who has been widely seen in photos from Iraq's battlefields. Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran's al-Quds brigade of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was almost an invisible man until Islamic State's Sunni jihadists overran cities in northern and central Iraq last year.
 
 

Dempsey: US focusing airstrikes to protect Beiji refinery

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:07:20 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — Losing the capital of Iraq's western Anbar province to advancing Islamic State forces would be a tragic but not crippling blow to Iraq's counteroffensive, the top U.S. military officer said Thursday.
 

ISLAMIC STATE

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:00:34 PMGo to full article
Map shows location of fighting across Iraq.; 2c x 5 inches; 96.3 mm x 127 mm;
 

THE DOGS OF WAR ARE HOWLING AGAIN

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:00:09 PMGo to full article
For one brief, shining moment, it seemed as though Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, now seeking the Republican nomination for president, might be a strong voice in the GOP for military restraint. Alas, that Rand Paul is quickly disappearing. Having formalized his presidential ambitions, he and his surrogates have been running to get in line with the armchair warriors who dominate foreign policy circles in his party. That leaves all hope for a sense of humility about American intervention with the Democratic Party -- or, more to the point, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, the expected nominee.
 

Iraq PM vows to end sectarian divisions at end of US visit

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:46:11 PMGo to full article
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, April 16, 2015Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wrapped up his inaugural visit to the US on Thursday, winning pledges that long-delayed F-16 fighter jets will soon be delivered and vowing to calm the sectarian tensions dividing his country. The new prime minister, who took office in September and replaced the divisive Nuri al-Maliki, denied he had come to Washington with a shopping list of weapons for Iraqi forces. Vice President Joe Biden congratulated Abadi on "a very successful visit," adding that the Iraq-US partnership would "grow long after" the Islamic State group is defeated. During talks with US administration officials, Abadi said he had been assured that 36 F-16s ordered by Iraq as far back as 2011 would be delivered soon.
 
 

In Iraq, battle to oust Islamic State outstrips needed political reforms

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:45:46 PMGo to full article
When the Pentagon announced this week that Islamic State fighters have been pushed out of more than a quarter of the Iraqi territory they invaded and laid claim to last year, the missing element of that cautiously upbeat assessment was Iraq’s political environment. US officials, beginning with President Obama, have said since last summer that the Sunni Islamist extremists would not be uprooted and defeated unless the Iraqi government took vigorous steps to address the Sunni Arab community’s political estrangement. Yet despite some small rays of progress since Haider al-Abadi became prime minister last September, the Shiite Muslim majority has relinquished little in the way of political power and the government has accomplished few meaningful steps to heal Iraq’s deep sectarian divides, some Iraq experts say. “There still have been no real overtures or even grand gestures to the Sunni community to erase their doubts that they won’t just be second-class citizens in Iraq, and that’s taking a toll,” says Wayne White, a former State Department specialist on Iraq who is now a scholar with the Middle East Institute in Washington.
 

Assange agrees to be questioned in London: lawyer

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:25:20 PMGo to full article
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during a press conference inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on August 18, 2014WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has agreed to be questioned by Swedish prosecutors in London over rape allegations, his Swedish lawyer Thomas Olsson said on Thursday. "We sent a confirmation earlier today to the prosecutors that Julian Assange agrees to be questioned in London," Olsson told AFP. He said Assange made no specific demands about the questioning. Swedish prosecutors offered in March to question Assange in London, dropping their previous demand that he come to Sweden to answer to the 2010 allegations, making a significant U-turn in the case that has been deadlocked for nearly five years.
 
 

Thousands flee as IS group advances on Iraq's Ramadi

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:16:53 PMGo to full article
People leave their hometown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, April 16, 2015. Clashes between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants pressing their offensive for Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province, has forced more than 2,000 families to flee from their homes in the area, an Iraqi official said Thursday. The Sunni militants' push on Ramadi, launched Wednesday when the Islamic State group captured three villages on the city's eastern outskirts, has become the most significant threat so far to the provincial capital of Anbar. (AP Photo)BAGHDAD (AP) — More than 2,000 families have fled the Iraqi city of Ramadi with little more than the clothes on their backs, officials said Thursday, as the Islamic State group closed in on the capital of western Anbar province, clashing with Iraqi troops and turning it into a ghost town.
 
 

U.S., allies focus on Iraq in latest air strikes on Islamic State: statement

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:20:26 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and its allies staged 20 air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq in a period from Wednesday to Thursday morning, the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement. Nineteen of the strikes occurred near eight Iraqi cities and hit tactical units, fighting positions, vehicles, weapons and buildings, the statement said. Another attack near al Hasakah, Syria, destroyed to fighting positions and hit a tactical unit. (Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Sandra Maler)
 

How McDonald's Became a Target for Protest

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:54:00 PMGo to full article
How McDonald's Became a Target for ProtestOn Thursday, Bloomberg reported that 130 McDonald's locations in Japan would be closed due to lagging sales amid food scandals. In Hawaii, for example, franchises offered 60-cent burgers and gave away birthday cake. Elsewhere in the country, the Fight for 15 minimum wage protests raged, forcing shut McDonald's franchises in places like Denver and Chicago and hosting a die-in outside a McDonald's in Manhattan. There is something about McDonald's that makes it the target of continual protest—more than other fast-food franchises and more than other powerful global moneymaking entities with less-than-sterling reputations for fair pay.
 
 

New Yemen VP says he hopes to avert Saudi invasion

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:30:13 PMGo to full article
Followers of Houthi group raise weapons as they demonstrate against arms embargo imposed by the U.N. Security Council on the group in SanaBy Angus McDowall and Mohamed Mukashaf RIYADH/ADEN (Reuters) - Yemen's newly-appointed Vice President Khaled Bahah, a widely respected figure named this week to shore up the legitimacy of the exiled Saudi-backed government, said on Thursday he hoped to avert a Saudi-led invasion to restore unity to the country. Arab military exercises planned for Saudi Arabia have raised speculation that Riyadh is considering land operations in Yemen, after three weeks of air strikes that failed to halt advances by Shi'ite fighters now in control of most of the country. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi named Bahah, a former prime minister and diplomat, as his deputy this week in an attempt to widen support for his government, now exiled to Saudi Arabia since the Iran-backed fighters, known as Houthis, seized the capital and launched a lightning advance on the south. Bahah is one of the few figures in Yemen whose popularity crosses regional and sectarian lines.
 
 

Saudi-Iran rivalry over Yemen deepens Mideast sectarianism

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:25:24 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Wednesday, April 8, 2015 file photo, smoke billows from a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen. Saudi Arabia’s government insists it is not at war with Iran despite its three-week air campaign against Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen, but the kingdom’s powerful clerics, and its regional rival’s theocratic government, are increasingly presenting the conflict as part of a region-wide battle for the soul of Islam. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's government insists it is not at war with Iran despite its three-week air campaign against Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen, but the kingdom's powerful clerics, and its regional rival's theocratic government, are increasingly presenting the conflict as part of a region-wide battle for the soul of Islam.
 
 

Russia blames U.S. for security crises and turmoil in Ukraine

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:18:30 PMGo to full article
A woman walks past a building damaged by fighting in DonetskBy Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW (Reuters) - Top Russian officials accused the United States on Thursday of seeking political and military dominance and sought to put blame on the West for international security crises, including the conflict in east Ukraine. Evoking Cold War-style rhetoric, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said a drive by the United States and its allies to bring Kiev closer to the West was a threat to Moscow and had forced it to react. "The United States and its allies have crossed all possible lines in their drive to bring Kiev into their orbit.
 
 

"Jeb Bush's Elephant In The Room Is Role In Slow-Walking Bush V Gore Recount" Says Des Moines Register Article By National Democratic Strategist Robert Weiner and Policy Analyst Daniel Wallace

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:14:00 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON and DES MOINES, Iowa, April 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Jeb Bush's role in slow-walking the Bush v Gore recount is the "Elephant in the Room" for 2016, say national Democratic strategist and former Clinton White House staffer Robert Weiner, and policy analyst Daniel Wallace, in an article in today's The Des Moines Register.  They contend that 2016 campaign media has ignored questions on Bush's role, documented in the article from phone logs and emails, in slow-walking the 2000 election recount, and suppressing Democratic votes earlier, until the election was stopped by the Supreme Court. "The Florida governor's office in Tallahassee made 95 telephone calls to the George W. Bush presidential campaign, its advisors, lawyers and staffers during the 36-day recount period, records show," Weiner and Wallace point out in an article titled "Jeb Bush's Elephant in the Room: Role in Bush v. Gore Recount" published in the Des Moines Register on April 16.
 

Obama tells wounded vets, soldiers they are not alone

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎06:44:50 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is assuring wounded soldiers and veterans they are not alone, telling them, "We've got your back."
 

Gunmen shoot and wound US citizen in southern Pakistan

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎06:39:01 PMGo to full article
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Police say gunmen have shot and wounded a U.S. citizen in the Pakistani port city of Karachi.
 

Putin says S-300 sale to Iran prompted by progress in nuclear talks

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:13 PMGo to full article
By Denis Pinchuk and Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Iran's drive to find a solution in talks over its disputed nuclear program had spurred his decision to renew a contract to deliver S-300 missile defense systems to Tehran. Moscow's move to provide the advanced surface-to-air missile system to Tehran, which irked the West and drew protests from Israel, followed an initial agreement with world powers under which Tehran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of international economic sanctions. A final deal on Tehran's nuclear program is due by end-June but Moscow has moved quickly to try to secure contracts in Iran before sanctions are lifted and has urged engaging Tehran more in attempts to solve regional crises.
 

'US national' shot, wounded in Pakistan's Karachi

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:35:36 PMGo to full article
Pakistani policeman are picutred in Karachi on January 19, 2015A woman identified by police as a US national was shot and wounded in Karachi Thursday, officials said, with leaflets found at the scene claiming the attack on behalf of the Islamic State group. The victim, in a stable condition after being shot once in the head and once in the arm, was identified by police as Debra Lobo, a member of faculty at the city's Jinnah Medical and Dental College. "Lobo was on her way to the college when her car came under attack by two armed assailants riding on a motorbike on Shaheed-e-Millat Road in the eastern part of the city," a police official told AFP requesting anonymity. The incident was confirmed by senior police official Pir Mohammad Shah, who said she was a US national.
 
 

Russia hopes U.N. Syria talks will lead to united fight with IS

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:36:07 PMGo to full article
A man walks in a street with abandoned vehicles and damaged buildings in the northern Syrian town of KobaniBy Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - Latest U.N. efforts to resolve the Syria crisis could succeed this time and lead to a united front against Islamic State followed by a political transition, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva said. Earlier this week, the United Nations said its Syria envoy would launch fresh consultations with Syrian factions and interested countries on a new round of peace talks, a year after the last such initiative collapsed. "The Free Syrian Army was partly defeated, partly joined the extremist forces of Daesh," he said, using an Arabic term for Islamic State.
 
 

NBC changes account of reporter's kidnapping in Syria

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:22:29 PMGo to full article
NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel said a review found the masked men who snatched him and his team in Syria were Sunni militants, not Assad forcesUS television network NBC News has altered its account of the 2012 kidnapping of its top foreign correspondent, saying the masked men who snatched him and his team in Syria were Sunni militants, not Assad forces. The story was the latest setback for NBC, which is reeling from the suspension of star news anchor Brian Williams after he admitted embellishing an Iraq war story and amid accusations he embellished other stories. The review came after The New York Times contacted NBC about the story, and Engel said he reached the new conclusion after contacting "multiple" US law enforcement and intelligence sources with direct knowledge of the case. The group, known as the North Idlib Falcons Brigade, was led by Azzo Qassab and Shukri Ajouj at the time.
 
 

Mom Busted For Naked Twister Party, Sex With Her Daughter’s 16-Year-Old Boyfriend

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎02:16:04 PMGo to full article
A randy, 35-year-old Georgia mother has lost custody of all five of her children after she hosted a party for her teenage daughter and the girl’s teen friends which allegedly included alcohol, drugs, naked Twister and sex between the mother and two male teen partygoers. The mother is Rachel Lynn Lenhardt. It was Lenhardt’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor who contacted the county sheriff this week about the party, which occurred several weeks ago, police say. The sponsor found out because Lenhardt spilled her guts when the pair met for coffee (to discuss Lehnardt’s plans to stop drinking).
 

Morocco arrests French woman, companion for militant links

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:56:43 PMGo to full article
RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Moroccan police have arrested a French woman of Moroccan origin and her male companion in the southern city of Safi for suspected links to the Islamic State extremist group.
 

A look at EU's handling of the Mediterranean migrant influx

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:51:21 PMGo to full article
In this picture taken on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 a woman waits to disembark from an Italian Navy vessel in the harbor of Reggio Calabria, southern Italy. The precise number of migrants who have perished in the Mediterranean sea as they flee poverty, war and other conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and Asia is unknown. Only the bodies that wash ashore or are found drowned in the sea or dead aboard, of thirst or exposure, by rescuers are counted. (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)BRUSSELS (AP) — More than 400 migrants were reported missing and at least 10,000 more have been rescued in the Mediterranean this week, highlighting the scope of the challenge facing the European Union and further exposing weaknesses in its migration policy. Here's a look at the situation:
 
 

Senators Moran and Blumenthal, Representatives Benishek and Honda Introduce New Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎01:15:00 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON, April 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "It's bad enough that veterans have had to bear the cross of exposure to toxic agents during our military service," said Vietnam Veterans of America National President John Rowan. "VVA is gratified that this is a bipartisan effort in both houses of Congress," Rowan emphasized.  "We applaud Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Dick Blumenthal (D-CT), and Representatives Dan Benishek (R-MI) and Mike Honda (D-CA) – and their energetic and committed staffs – for introducing S. 901 and H.R. 1769.  We will pull out all the stops to work with them in seeking additional co-sponsors for this very necessary legislation.
 

Former Czech PM Stanislav Gross dies at age 45

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:55:48 AMGo to full article
FILE- This March 20, 2009 file photo shows former Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, in Prague, Czech Republic. Gross who became the country’s youngest prime minister at the age of 34 has died. The Social Democratic Party says Gross died Thursday, April 16, 2015. The public television says he was battling a serious disease. He was 45. (Rene Volfik/CTK via AP, file)PRAGUE (AP) — Stanislav Gross, who became the Czech Republic's youngest prime minister but was forced to resign nine months later, has died at the age of 45.
 
 

UN presses Libya peace talks under shadow of drownings

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:23:43 AMGo to full article
Members of Libya Dawn, a militia alliance that includes Islamists, surround a crater following a reported air raid by Libyan pro-government forces south-east of Tripoli in MarchDelegates from Libya's rival parliaments gathered in Morocco Thursday for what UN mediators demanded be a "final" push for a unity government to stem mounting jihadism and a desperate exodus of asylum-seekers. Rival governments have battled for power in the North African country since last August and just Wednesday an air strike blamed on the internationally recognised administration hit an air base controlled by its opponent. Jihadists loyal to the Islamic State group which controls swathes of Iraq and Syria have exploited the power struggle to launch increasingly grisly attacks including the videotaped beheadings of 21 Christians in February. UN envoy Bernardino Leon, who has been shuttling between the warring sides for months, said that the reported drowning of up to 400 would-be asylum-seekers off the Libyan coast earlier this week should be the spur for an agreement.
 
 

Air strikes near Tripoli as UN peace talks on Libya resume

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:56:27 AMGo to full article
By Ahmed Elumami and Aziz El Yaakoubi TRIPOLI/RABAT (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government carried out air strikes on Wednesday near the capital Tripoli, which is controlled by its rivals, officials said, as United Nations-brokered peace talks resumed in Morocco. U.N. Special Envoy Bernardino Leon condemned the air strikes as an attempt to prevent a Tripoli delegation from travelling to Morocco for the new round of talks. "We have seen negative messages (aimed) towards this dialogue but we have never seen air strikes at the moment when one of the delegations is taking off on its way to the talks," Leon said, according to a U.N. statement. Two governments, one based in the east, the other in Tripoli, are fighting for control of Libya and carrying out tit-for-tat air strikes, four years after the ousting of veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi.
 

Protester lands mini copter on US Capitol lawn

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:47:26 AMGo to full article
A bomb disposal officer checks a mini helicopter or gyrocopter after it landed on the US Capitol South Lawn April 15, 2015, in Washington, DCAn anti-corruption protester was arrested after he landed his mini helicopter on the US Capitol lawn and piloted it through Washington's no-fly zone, triggering a national security investigation and shocking bystanders. The Federal Aviation Administration said it is investigating the incident along with other US authorities, adding that the pilot was not in touch with air traffic controllers while in the air. The pilot, Douglas Hughes, was detained and illegal transport charges are pending against him, US Capitol Police said. The arrested pilot is a Florida man who was conducting civil disobedience to call for campaign finance reform, according to the Tampa Bay Times, which had interviewed and filmed him prior to his audacious flight.
 
 

Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:00:42 AMGo to full article
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
 

Iraq says Islamic State still fierce; eyes Baiji, Anbar fights

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:56:52 AMGo to full article
Iraq's Prime Minister Abadi speaks during a news conference at the Foreign Ministry in BaghdadBy Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister said on Wednesday that the Islamic State remains a fierce adversary as he outlined plans during a trip to Washington to prioritize battles in the refinery city of Baiji and Anbar province, where the militants are striking back. Haidar al-Abadi, speaking to reporters a day after meeting U.S. President Barack Obama, portrayed a mixed picture of a weakening Islamic State eight months after U.S.-led air strikes against the group began in Iraq. The United States estimates Islamic State has lost about a quarter of the populated areas it seized in Iraq.
 
 

Air strikes near Tripoli as U.N. peace talks on Libya resume

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:55:36 PMGo to full article
By Ahmed Elumami and Aziz El Yaakoubi TRIPOLI/RABAT (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognized government carried out air strikes on Wednesday near the capital Tripoli, which is controlled by its rivals, officials said, as United Nations-brokered peace talks resumed in Morocco. U.N. Special Envoy Bernardino Leon condemned the air strikes as an attempt to prevent a Tripoli delegation from traveling to Morocco for the new round of talks. "We have seen negative messages (aimed) toward this dialogue but we have never seen air strikes at the moment when one of the delegations is taking off on its way to the talks," Leon said, according to a U.N. statement. Two governments, one based in the east, the other in Tripoli, are fighting for control of Libya and carrying out tit-for-tat air strikes, four years after the ousting of veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi.
 

Islamic State seizes village in Iraq's Anbar province

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:12:31 PMGo to full article
Islamic State militants gained ground in western Iraq on Wednesday, overrunning another village near the capital of Anbar province in a dawn raid, police sources and local officials said. Hundreds of families were fleeing Albu Ghanim after security forces came under attack from the militants overnight and withdrew from the area, around 5 km (3 miles) northeast of the provincial capital Ramadi. Large parts of the province had slipped from the government's grasp even before Islamic State seized the northern city of Mosul last June and proclaimed a caliphate straddling the border between Iraq and Syria. Security forces and Shi'ite paramilitaries have since regained some ground in Iraq, although core Sunni territories remain under Islamic State control, including Nineveh province, of which Mosul is capital, and most of Anbar.
 

Top Asian News at 10:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎12:02:24 PMGo to full article
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A year ago, as South Korea writhed in grief and fury after more than 300 people, most of them school kids, drowned in a ferry sinking, it seemed things would never be the same. Yet not much has really changed as the first anniversary of the Sewol disaster is marked Thursday. Experts believe it will be decades before any major shift is seen in widespread attitudes that make safety subservient to economic progress and convenience. Already there's growing fatigue and frustration among citizens who see their government sliding back to business as usual, and a lack of accountability at high levels.
 

Fierce clashes in Iraq as IS seizes villages near Ramadi

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:54:10 AMGo to full article
BAGHDAD (AP) — Fierce clashes are underway in Iraq's western Anbar province where residents say Islamic State militants captured three villages near the provincial capital of Ramadi.
 

Rights group accuses Serbia of harassing migrants

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:52:37 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 file photo, Serbian border police officers detain Kosovo migrants near the northern Serbian town of Subotica, not far from the border between Serbia and Hungary. Human Rights Watch said in its report released Wednesday, April 15 that thousands of people fleeing Afghanistan, Syria and other violence-ravaged countries in Asia and Africa have been targets of assaults, threats, insults and extortion as they pass through Serbia on their way to the border with Hungary where they try to sneak into the European Union. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Migrants fleeing wars and persecution are experiencing widespread harassment and abuse by police as they cross Serbia while trying to find shelter in Western European states, a leading rights group said Wednesday.
 
 

Millions of Middle East children out of school, UN warns

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:39:00 AMGo to full article
Syrian children attend a class at a school for refugees in the Lebanese village of Qaraoun on December 16, 2014More than 12 million children in the Middle East are not being educated despite advances in efforts to expand schooling, the UN children's agency UNICEF said on Wednesday. The figure does not include children forced from school by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, who would bring the total not receiving an education to 15 million, the agency said in a new report. "But in recent years, progress has stalled," it says, with 4.3 million primary-aged children and 2.9 million lower secondary-aged children out of school. An additional 5.1 million children are not getting a year of pre-primary school education, bringing the total number of the region's children out of school to 12.3 million, the report says.
 
 

Four Britons who sought to get to Syria arrested on return to UK

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:05:50 AMGo to full article
Four Britons who were detained in Turkey on suspicion of trying to cross illegally into Syria were arrested on their return to England on Wednesday, police said. The four were part of a group of nine people, all members of the same family, who were detained in Turkey at the beginning of the month. One of the nine, a 21-year-old man named in the media as Waheed Ahmed, the son of a British local politician, was arrested when he returned to Britain on Tuesday. Thousands of foreigners have joined the ranks of Islamic State and other militant groups in Syria and Iraq, many of them crossing via Turkey.
 

New U.N. site for flights in conflict zones issues warnings on Libya, Egypt

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:01:38 AMGo to full article
A new United Nations website distributing warnings about risks to aircraft in conflict zones issued its first advisories on Wednesday, for countries including Libya, Iraq, Egypt and South Sudan. The website was set up after the downing of a Malaysian passenger aircraft over an area of fighting in Ukraine last year and is hosted by the U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The initial advisories came from the United Kingdom, and warned of the risks of anti-aircraft weaponry in Libya, Iraq, South Sudan and the Sinai peninsula area of Egypt.
 

Australia defence minister unable to name IS chief

 
‎15 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:07 AMGo to full article
Kevin Andrews (C), Australia's Minister for Defence, inspects a Royal Australian Navy helicopter flight simulator at the Australian International Airshow at the Avalon Airfield on February 27, 2015Australia's defence minister has been left red-faced after apparently being unable to name the head of Islamic State on the day he committed more troops to help defeat the jihadist group. Kevin Andrews was repeatedly asked during a television interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation late Tuesday to identify the IS chief -- widely seen as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. She added: "Minister, you're responsible for putting Australian men and women in harm's way in the cause of this mission, I'm surprised that you can't tell me the name of Islamic State's leader. It came just hours after he jointly announced with Prime Minister Tony Abbott that 330 non-combat troops were heading to Iraq for two years.
 
 

US says 'more robust' rules after Blackwater shooting

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:53:41 PMGo to full article
An armoured vehicle belonging to an unidentified private security company escorts a truck (unseen) near Iskandaria, south of Baghdad, Iraq, September 20, 2007The US State Department offered assurances Tuesday that it had strengthened the rules governing private security firms in the wake of a 2007 shooting in Iraq in which 14 people died. The four ex-employees of the US private security firm had been convicted on an array of charges ranging from first degree murder to voluntary manslaughter stemming from the incident in Baghdad's Nisour Square. "We respect the court's decision in this case and have no comment regarding the findings of the decisions here," acting State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.
 
 

Oil rises on U.S. production dips, Middle East tensions

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:47:12 PMGo to full article
Pumpjacks taken out of production temporarily stand idle at a Hess site while new wells are fracked near WillistonBy Robert Gibbons NEW YORK (Reuters) - Crude oil futures rose on Tuesday on signs of falling U.S. oil production, weakness in the dollar and tensions in the Middle East, particularly Yemen. North Dakota's February oil production fell 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) versus January, data showed on Tuesday, although the number of producing wells hit a record high. "Today's (U.S.) led crude spike was spurred primarily by supportive supply side headlines suggesting a quicker production response to rig declines than previously anticipated," said Jim Ritterbusch, president at Ritterbusch & Associates. ...
 
 

Boehner seeks more robust role for U.S. troops in Iraq

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:45:52 PMGo to full article
U.S. House Speaker Boehner reacts during a news conference on Capitol Hill in WashingtonU.S. troops in Iraq should be doing more than training and advising Iraqi soldiers in the fight against Islamic State, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday. Boehner, who recently returned from a Middle East trip with other lawmakers, stopped short of advocating a combat role. Boehner said he did not know whether the 4,500 U.S. troops left in Iraq following the long war there should be augmented.
 
 

Obama warns Iran its fighters in Iraq must answer to Baghdad

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:22:05 PMGo to full article
U.S. President Obama answers reporter's question after bilateral meeting with Iraq's PM al-Abadi in Oval Office at White House in WashingtonBy Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama warned Iran on Tuesday that its fighters must respect Iraq's sovereignty and answer to the government in Baghdad in the battle against Islamic State militants. Iran-backed Shi'ite militias have played a major and growing role in battling the Sunni Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot also known as ISIL, that emerged from the chaos in Iraq and neighboring Syria and which swept through northern Iraq last June. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has had to rely on Shi'ite militias, some of which are backed by Iran and advised by Iranian military officers, as Iraq's regular military deserted en masse last summer in the face of the Islamic State onslaught.
 
 

Obama hails progress in fight against Islamic State in Iraq

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎11:08:46 PMGo to full article
US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office on April 14, 2015 in Washington, DCPresident Barack Obama hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House on Tuesday and hailed the US-backed Iraqi forces' progress against the Islamic State group. Critics say Obama's drawdown of US troops in Iraq was a strategic blunder that allowed the Islamic State to flourish and drive Iraq's US-trained army out of northern cities.
 
 

Top Asian News at 8:30 p.m. GMT

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:32:19 PMGo to full article
ANSAN, South Korea (AP) — Once or twice a week, a mother's ritual begins. Shin Jumja applies pink lipstick and face powder, gets in her car and drives to the high school her oldest son attended before his death. Sometimes she brings a colorful plant.
 

US House leader: Obama force request stalled in Congress

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎10:04:14 PMGo to full article
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, following a GOP strategy meeting. In a direct challenge to the White House, a Senate committee pushed toward a vote on a bill that would give Congress a chance to weigh in on any final nuclear agreement that can be reached with Iran. The top Republican leaders in the House and Senate insisted on Tuesday that lawmakers have a say. Boehner said "Congress should absolutely have the opportunity to review this deal," telling reporters. "The administration appears to want a deal at any cost." (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)WASHINGTON (AP) — The leader of the U.S. House of Representatives said Tuesday it will be "virtually impossible" for Congress to approve President Barack Obama's proposed authority for use of military force against Islamic State militants.
 
 

Another news victory for ABC over NBC

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:56:00 PMGo to full article
NEW YORK (AP) — NBC's "Nightly News" has lost to ABC in the ratings for the second straight week and only the second time since 2009, increasing pressure on the network to decide whether suspended anchor Brian Williams will return.
 

Boehner: 'Virtually impossible' to pass Obama force request

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:34:39 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday it will be "virtually impossible" for Congress to approve President Barack Obama's proposed authority for military force against Islamic State militants.
 

Yemen al-Qaida branch says top cleric killed in drone attack

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:29:37 PMGo to full article
This wanted poster from website of the U.S. State Department's Rewards For Justice program shows a mugshot of Ibrahim al-Rubaish, the top cleric of Yemen's al-Qaida branch. The group said in a statement on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 that al-Rubaish, a Saudi-national wanted by the U.S. was killed in a drone attack two days earlier. (U.S. State Department Rewards For Justice via AP)CAIRO (AP) — Yemen's al-Qaida branch announced on Tuesday that its top cleric, a Saudi-national who has had a $5 million bounty on his head, has been killed, allegedly in a drone attack.
 
 

AP Interview: Libya army chief bets on military solution

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:59:07 PMGo to full article
Military chief of Libya's internationally recognized government, Gen. Khalifa Hifter, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Hifter said in an interview that he is "betting on a military solution" if U.N.-led talks fail to end a conflict that has split the country in half. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The military chief of Libya's internationally recognized government expressed skepticism Tuesday about U.N.-backed talks aimed at ending the country's political split and said in an interview that he is "betting on a military solution" if a deal remains elusive.
 
 

Blackwater and the Iraq War Time Warp

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:54 PMGo to full article
Blackwater and the Iraq War Time WarpWar moves quickly: In less than an hour in Baghdad in the fall of 2007, American contractors working for Blackwater shot and killed 14 Iraqis, including children. Justice is slower, and it took until Monday for four of those contractors, who were convicted in August, to be sentenced to jail for 14 of those deaths. So much has changed since then: The debate has quieted, and the American occupation of Iraq has ended. Blackwater has gone through two name changes in an attempt to distance itself from Nisour and other notorious incidents in Iraq, becoming first Xe Services and then Academi.
 
 

U.S., allies conduct 18 air strikes in Syria, Iraq against Islamic State: military

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:34:10 PMGo to full article
U.S.-led forces targeted Islamic State militants in Syria with three air strikes and conducted another 15 strikes against the group in Iraq from Monday to Tuesday morning, the U.S. military said. All three of the strikes in Syria were conducted using fighter aircraft and hit targets near Kobani, it said in a statement released on Tuesday. In Iraq, the air strikes were conducted with fighter and attack planes as well as drones and occurred near Bayji, Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadim and Sinjar, it said.
 

Obama pledges support to Iraqi leader in fight against IS

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:06:50 PMGo to full article
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and President Barack Obama walk through the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, following their meeting. The Prime Minister’s visit is to discuss U.S.-Iraq policy and the fight against the IS group. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama brought Iraq's prime minister to the White House Tuesday to pledge U.S. support for his effort to run Islamic State militants out of its country, while making it clear that ultimately Baghdad must be in charge of its own destiny.
 
 

Bahah appointment aims to shore up Yemen's government in exile

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:05:50 PMGo to full article
By Angus McDowall and Mohammed Mukhashaf RIYADH/ADEN (Reuters) - By appointing the widely-respected Khaled Bahah as his deputy, Yemen's president and his Saudi backers seek to shore up a government-in-exile whose legitimacy is central to Riyadh's military campaign against Iran-allied Houthi rebels. While President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is seen as ineffectual and lacking support even in his embattled hometown of Aden, the last city nominally under his control, Bahah commands admiration across much of Yemen's political spectrum. "Khaled Bahah is beloved of everyone. He's a strong man - the opposite of Hadi, whose weakness led the Houthis to take control of most of the country," said Mohammed Hazam, a civil servant in Sanaa.
 

Iraq's Abadi made no specific request for military assistance from U.S

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:54:23 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi made no specific requests for military assistance from the United States in his meeting with President Barack Obama on Tuesday, the White House said. (Reporting By Julia Edwards and Emily Stephenson)
 

Attacks kill 28 civilians in and around Baghdad

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:52:04 PMGo to full article
People and security forces gather at the scene of a car bomb explosion in a parking lot outside Yarmouk hospital in western Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Car bombs went off Tuesday morning in and around the Iraqi capital, killing and wounding civilians, officials said. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)BAGHDAD (AP) — A wave of attacks in and around Baghdad on Tuesday killed at least 28 people as Iraqi security forces repelled an attack by the extremist Islamic State group on the country's largest oil refinery, officials said.
 
 

Gunter Grass warned of 'sleepwalking' into world war in final interview

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:37:20 PMGo to full article
German novellist Gunter Grass was awarded the Nobel Literature Prize in 1999Germany's Nobel-winning author Gunter Grass said he feared humanity was "sleepwalking" into a world war, in the last interview he gave before his death on Monday. Spain's top-selling newspaper said the interview, carried out at the author's home in Luebeck in northern Germany on March 21, was his last before his death aged 87.
 
 

Highlights: Military weapons delivered to Iraq, planned aid

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:30:45 PMGo to full article
Highlights of military assistance delivered to Iraq as of December 2014:
 

TV Upfronts: Sony's Crackle Orders Dennis Quaid Drama, Animated Comedy Series

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎07:01:43 PMGo to full article
The streaming network is known for its flagship series, 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee' with Jerry Seinfeld, which returns on June 4.
 

Obama offers Iraq $200M in humanitarian aid

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎06:56:26 PMGo to full article
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and President Barack Obama get up from their seats after their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. The Prime Minister’s visit is to discuss U.S.-Iraq policy and the fight against the IS group. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama pledged $200 million in U.S. humanitarian aid to Iraq Tuesday to help those displaced by Islamic State militants, an offer of assistance that appeared to fall short of the Iraqi prime minister's request for greater military support.
 
 

Ex-guards sentenced for Iraq shootings plan appeal

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:32:59 PMGo to full article
This combination made from file photo shows Blackwater guards, from left, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nicholas Slatten and Paul Slough. A years-long legal fight over a deadly mass shooting of civilians in an Iraq war zone reaches its reckoning point, when the former Blackwater security guards are sentenced for the rampage. Three of the guards, Heard, Liberty and Slough, face mandatory decades-long sentences because of firearms convictions. Slatten faces a penalty of life in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder. (AP Photo)WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense lawyers are vowing to appeal the convictions of four former Blackwater security guards after a U.S. judge handed down lengthy prison terms for their roles in a 2007 shooting of unarmed civilians in Iraq.

 

 

US wants Mosul offensive on IS in April-May

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:50 AMGo to full article
Smoke billows after an US air strike near the Mosul dam, Iraq's largest, on the Tigris river, on August 17, 2014The US wants Iraq to launch its offensive to retake the strategic northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group in April or May, military officials said. Mosul is believed to be held by 1,000-2,000 IS fighters and 20,000-25,000 Iraqi troops are needed to carry out the offensive, an official with US Central Command said on Thursday. US-led coalition aircraft have recently focused air strikes in the area of Mosul and Kurdish forces have made inroads on the ground nearby. Kurdish peshmerga forces have also launched successful offensives against IS-held roads near Mosul, which is in the north of the country.

 

 


Military Space News, Nuclear Weapons, Missile Defence

 

 

 

 
 

Space Domination: Pentagon to Beef up Defense of Satellites

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (Sputnik) Apr 17, 2015
United States satellites could be vulnerable to attacks, according to the deputy secretary of the Defense Department, who urged the government and private sector to work together to protect the key space assets. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, speaking during a session at the annual Space Symposium conference, said the satellites were "absolutely critical" to the operation of the US
 

DARPA demos Persistent Close Air Support System

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 17, 2015
Close air support (CAS)-delivery of airborne munitions to support ground forces-is difficult and dangerous because it requires intricate coordination between combat aircrews and dismounted ground forces (for example, joint terminal attack controllers, or JTACs). DARPA's Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program focuses on technologies to enable sharing of real-time situational awareness and we
 

Allies concerned at China's maritime moves

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) April 16, 2015
US, Japanese and South Korean diplomats Thursday renewed concerns about moves by China to stake its claim to disputed seas and urged Beijing to preserve freedom of navigation in the key waterways. Deputy US Secretary Tony Blinken repeated America's position that all competing claims in the South and East China Seas should be dealt with according to the rule of law. Countries should "not
 

Iran poses growing cyber threat to US: study

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) April 16, 2015
Iran poses a growing threat to America's computer networks and has launched increasingly sophisticated digital attacks and spying on US targets, according to a new report released Thursday. Iran's far-reaching hacking efforts indicate the regime is searching for vulnerable infrastructure that could be hit in future cyber assaults, said the study by private cyber security company Norse and th
 

Lithuania eyes German Army artillery

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Vilnius, Lithuania (UPI) Apr 16, 2015
Lithuania is to begin negotiations with Germany over acquisition of an undisclosed number of Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled artillery systems. Disclosure of the talks, to be held beginning in May, was made by Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Juozas Olekas following a meeting with German Federal Minister of Defense Dr. Ursula von der Leyen. "The Federal Defense Minister
 

Chinese president to visit Pakistan next week: Islamabad

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Islamabad April 16, 2015
Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Pakistan next week, Islamabad said Thursday, with investment in the energy sector and Taliban talks in neighbouring Afghanistan likely to feature on the agenda. Xi was originally scheduled to visit Pakistan last September but Beijing cancelled the trip as Islamabad was in the grip of major anti-government street protests. China has been a key finan
 

Russia Should Consider Launching Super-Heavy Rockets From Vostochny

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Moscow (Sputnik) Apr 16, 2015
Russian space experts should study the possibility of launching super-heavy rockets from the Vostochny space center currently under construction in Russia's Far East, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday. The space center's launch facilities include those needed the heavy version of the Angara rocket, but "launches of the super-heavy [version] should also be considered," Putin told
 

Russia to Maintain Leadership in Space Exploration - Medvedev

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Moscow (Sputnik) Apr 16, 2015
The Russian government will do its utmost to preserve the country's leading role in space exploration, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday. On April 12, Russia observes the anniversary of the first-ever manned space flight carried out by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961. Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth, with his flight lasting 108 minutes. In 2011,
 

Saab tests BriteCloud active decoy system

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Basildon, England (UPI) Apr 16, 2015
An expendable active decoy system by Selex ES has been successfully fired from a Gripen jet fighter during capability tests in Sweden. Saab, maker of the Gripen, intends to offer the BriteCloud system as an enhancement option to electronic warfare systems aboard the Gripen. The testing involved three releases from a Gripen using a standard Gripen counter-measures dispenser.
 

Taiwan opposition reveals female presidential candidate

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Taipei (AFP) April 15, 2015
Taiwan could be on track for its first ever female leader after the island's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announced Wednesday that its chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen will run for president. Officially accepting the party's nomination, Tsai pledged to maintain the "status quo" with China, as her party - traditionally sceptical of Beijing - faces tough questions on its cross-s
 

Saab, Embraer formalize deal for Brazil's fighter program

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Linkoping, Sweden (UPI) Apr 16, 2015
Saab of Sweden and Embraer of Brazil have formalized their partnership to supply Gripen NG fighters for Brazil's F-X2 air force project. The agreement signed earlier this week follows a previous Memorandum of Understanding on management of the F-X2 project for the Brazilian Air Force and the transfer of Gripen technology. Under the management agreement, Embraer will have a leadin
 

Sagem, Exensor developing battlefield sensor system

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Apr 15, 2015
An intelligence gathering system based on remote battlefield sensors is being jointly developed by Sagem of France and Sweden's Exensor. The system, to be used by special forces and army intelligence units is for a program of the French procurement agency DGA that is called SAIDRe, or Système d'Acquisition d'Information et de Renseignement. Sagem said the system will be used clo
 

Mexico issues alert over stolen radioactive material

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Mexico City (AFP) April 16, 2015
Authorities issued an alert for several Mexican states Wednesday after thieves snatched potentially deadly radioactive material used for industrial radiography. The iridium-192 source, marked X-571, was inside a container when it was stolen on Monday from a truck in Cardenas, a town in southern Tabasco state, the interior ministry said in a statement. "This source is very dangerous to pe
 

UN denounces Libya air strike as 'unacceptable'

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Tripoli (AFP) April 15, 2015
A UN envoy trying to broker a unity government in war-torn Libya condemned as "unacceptable" an air strike Wednesday targeting militia near the capital. Bernardino Leon called for an investigation into who carried out the raid, as media loyal to authorities in the militia-held capital blamed warplanes of the internationally recognised government. "The UN condemns in the strongest terms t
 

Inflight entertainment exposes airliners to hackers: US report

 
‎17 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:36:20 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) April 15, 2015
Hackers could exploit inflight entertainment systems to fatally sabotage the cockpit electronics of a new generation of airliners connected to the Internet, a US government report warns. It comes weeks after a co-pilot crashed his Germanwings A320 into the French Alps killing all 150 on board, prompting talk of airliners one day being 100 percent automated. Inflight cybersecurity is "an
 

China, Russia and eastern Europe boost defence spending: study

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Stockholm (AFP) April 12, 2015
Military spending increased sharply in 2014 in China and Russia and the Ukraine conflict prompted eastern European countries to boost their defence programmes, according to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released Monday. The United States remains the world's biggest spender on defence, but it spent 6.4 percent less year-on-year in 2014, while China, R
 

Guardians of the Galaxy: Russia Creates International Space Patrol

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Moscow (Sputnik) Apr 12, 2015
Russia's Ministry of Defense on April 1 established the Aerospace Monitoring Forces (AMF) tasked with providing security to spacecraft and the International Space Station (ISS) and enforcing international rules of space conduct. The military corps, dubbed the Space Patrol by the Russian media, will carry out joint missions in cooperation with similar forces under development in other count
 

Tehran wants 'nuclear-free world': Iranian FM

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Astana, Kazakhstan (AFP) April 13, 2015
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday insisted his country wants a "nuclear-free world," days after Tehran's leadership cast doubt on an outline deal to curb its nuclear programme. Zarif made the comment during a visit to ex-Soviet Kazakhstan as he praised the Central Asian nation for giving up its nuclear weapons after the collapse of the USSR. "Kazakhstan is an impor
 

Russia lifts ban on supplying S-300 missiles to Iran

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Moscow (AFP) April 13, 2015
President Vladimir Putin on Monday lifted a ban on supplying Iran with sophisticated S-300 air defence missile systems after Tehran struck a landmark framework deal with the West over its nuclear programme. A decree signed by Putin gave the go-ahead for "the shipment from Russia to Iran", ending Moscow's self-imposed ban on supplying the surface-to-air missiles to the Islamic republic. T
 

Don't interfere with Iran talks, Kerry urges Congress

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) April 12, 2015
Secretary of State John Kerry will this week defend an emerging deal intended to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, urging skeptical US lawmakers not to put up obstacles that could scupper the tough negotiations. "I'll lay out the facts," Kerry told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday when asked about a different narrative emerging from Iranian leaders about the outlines of a deal agreed in Lausan
 

U.S. Special Operations Command orders MUOS-capable radios

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Rochester, N.Y. (UPI) Apr 13, 2015
U.S. Special Operations Command has given Harris Corporation an order for additional Falcon III radios for its wideband tactical communications network. The radios to be supplied under the $27 million order are the AN/PRC-117G manpack radio system and the AN/PRC-152A handheld radio system. Both are ready for use with the military's Mobile User Objective System, or MUOS, a next-generatio
 

Taiwan rejected as founding member of AIIB: Beijing

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) April 13, 2015
Taiwan's bid to become a founding member of China's new regional development bank has been rejected, Beijing said Monday, dashing the island's hopes of having a platform in the institution from the start. Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Beijing-based State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said in a statement that a Hong Kong report the island had failed to become a founding member of the Asian
 

KUKA Systems Aerospace opens French facility

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Augsburg, Germany (UPI) Apr 13, 2015
A new facility for the research, development and production of robotic manufacturing systems has been opened in France by KUKA Systems Aerospace. The facility is in Le Haillan, a suburb or Bordeaux. "This exceptionally well-equipped building enlarges our footprint so we can continue expanding our business," says Philippe Prat, managing director of KUKA Systems Aerospace – Le Ha
 

ECA Group develops illegal-drone detection system

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Apr 13, 2015
Technology to rapidly locate, identify and track illegal drone aircraft and their operators has been developed by the ECA Group of France. Groupe Gorgé, parent company of ECA Group, said the technology is for use by its IT180 drone and includes a number of transponders. "After detecting the offending drone through land-based resources, the strategy consists of activating the IT1
 

New DARPA Programs Simultaneously Test Limits of Technology, Credulity

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 12, 2015
Less than one week after releasing Breakthrough Technologies for National Security, DARPA's latest summary of the Agency's mission, accomplishments and funding priorities for extending its legacy of technological disruption, the Agency has announced four major new programs-evidence of DARPA's commitment to pursuing high-risk/high-reward research and making the impossible possible. The prog
 

France, India to Boost Space Cooperation, Other Joint Projects

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
New Delhi (Sputnik) Apr 10, 2015
In June 2014, an Indian rocket put into orbit five foreign satellites, including one built by France. "We will further our cooperation in the field of space. We will sign more joint cooperation programs. We will further our cooperation in joint launching of satellites," Richier told journalists. The diplomat spoke ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi's trip to France scheduled
 

DARPA Seeks to Create Software Systems That Could Last 100 Years

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 12, 2015
As modern software systems continue inexorably to increase in complexity and capability, users have become accustomed to periodic cycles of updating and upgrading to avoid obsolescence-if at some cost in terms of frustration. In the case of the U.S. military, having access to well-functioning software systems and underlying content is critical to national security, but updates are no less proble
 

NASA selects proposals for ultra-lightweight material development

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 12, 2015
NASA has selected three proposals to develop and manufacture ultra-lightweight (ULW) materials for future aerospace vehicles and structures. The proposals will mature advanced technologies that will enable NASA to reduce the mass of spacecraft by 40 percent for deep space exploration. "Lightweight and multifunctional materials and structures are one of NASA's top focus areas capable of hav
 

Saudi-led planes hit Yemen rebels as gunfire kills five

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Aden (AFP) April 13, 2015
Saudi-led warplanes hit rebel positions in southern Yemen Monday including the rebel-held presidential palace in Aden as gunfire killed five people in the port city, medics and residents said. The palace complex in the main southern city was President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's last refuge before he fled to neighbouring Saudi Arabia as the coalition air war began on March 26 and has been repea
 

Top China official confesses to graft

 
‎14 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎08:54:33 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) April 13, 2015
China's former state assets chief Jiang Jiemin - one of the highest-profile casualties of the country's anti-graft drive and an ally of ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang - confessed to corruption at his trial Monday. Jiang admitted his offences at the Hanjiang Intermediate People's Court in the central province of Hubei, the court said on its Sina Weibo microblog. He is accused of briber
 

Canada Grants Kiev Access to Sophisticated Satellite Imagery

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Moscow (Sputnik) Apr 12, 2015
Ukraine has gained access to Canadian satellite images that Ottawa's own military forces could hardly afford; it still remains unclear how much the agreement with the Kiev regime will cost Canadian taxpayers. Canadian authorities have announced they would provide Ukraine with satellite imagery from its Radarsat-2 satellite; however, Ottawa's decision has sparked controversy among Canadian
 

India, France jet deal may fuel trade partnership

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
New Delhi (AFP) April 11, 2015
India's multi-billion-dollar deal to buy 36 fighter jets from France will cement strategic political ties between the two countries at a time when both are looking to kickstart their economies, experts say. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his first trip to France, said Friday he had ordered the 36 "ready-to-fly" Rafale jets as part of a push to modernise his country's ageing warplane
 

Chile first Latin America country to allow drones

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Santiago (AFP) April 10, 2015
Chile introduced regulations Friday making it the first country in Latin America to officially allow drone flights. The measure regulates both the public and private use of drones, remote-controlled aircraft whose use has skyrocketed in recent years for uses ranging from military airstrikes to delivering mail. "Drones are aircraft that were operating outside the law. With these rules, un
 

China blasts Obama over military 'muscle' in South China Sea

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) April 10, 2015
Beijing hit back Friday at US President Barack Obama's criticism of Chinese construction in the disputed South China Sea, arguing that it is Washington that has greater military "muscle". The Chinese foreign ministry's retort came a day after Obama warned that Beijing was "using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions", amid reports of controversial Chinese la
 

Raytheon, Kongsberg team for naval missile

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Apr 10, 2015
Raytheon and Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace of Norway are in a teaming agreement for continuing development and production of Kongsberg's Naval Strike Missile. The missile, which can be fired from land or sea, is for use against land and maritime targets. It has a range of more than 124 miles and is currently operational with the Royal Norwegian Navy and is part of Poland's land-based co
 

Russia supplying weapons, troops to Ukraine separatists

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Frankfurt (AFP) April 11, 2015
NATO believes that Russia has supplied more troops and weapons to pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine, a German newspaper reported on Sunday. "We have noticed again support for the separatists, with weapons, troops and training. Russia is still sending troops and arms from one side of the open border with Ukraine to the other," a NATO official, who was not named, told the Frankfurter All
 

IS video shows destruction of ancient Assyrian city

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Baghdad (AFP) April 11, 2015
The Islamic State group on Saturday released a video that shows militants smashing artefacts at the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq before blowing up the site. The undated video suggests that the site, on the Tigris river about 30 kilometres (18 miles) southeast of Mosul, was completely levelled. Destruction at the site was reported more than a month ago but the extent o
 

Boeing acquires 2d3 Sensing

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
St. Louis (UPI) Apr 10, 2015
Boeing reports its acquisition of 2d3 Sensing, a software and services company, to strengthen the image processing capabilities of its unmanned aircraft. 2d3 Sensing, located in California, was a subsidiary of Britain's OMG plc. It's expertise is motion imagery processing of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data generated from aerial platforms. The company's products and se
 

China orders media giant Sina to 'improve censorship'

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) April 12, 2015
China's government has threatened to shut down Sina, one of the country's most popular news websites unless it "improves censorship", state media reported, in a rare public glimpse into controls over the press. The online portal "distorted news facts, violated morality and engaged in media hype", the official Xinhua news agency on Saturday cited the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) a
 

Hacked French TV station admits new 'blunder' over password

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) April 10, 2015
French TV5Monde television channel, which suffered a major hack by self-proclaimed Islamic State militants this week, on Friday admitted an Internet security 'blunder' Thursday during a programme discussing the cyber-attack. The gaffe came during a report by fellow TV channel France 2 on the attack on TV5Monde, which authorities say was likely a "terrorist act". A TV5 Monde journalist be
 

Obama urges patience on Iran deal

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Panama City (AFP) April 11, 2015
President Barack Obama pressed opponents Saturday of a deal on Iran's contested nuclear program to be patient and not "screw up" the potential for a historic agreement. In addition to staunch Republican opposition in the United States to an accord with the Islamic republic, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Thursday that there were no guarantees of an agreement. "I d
 

German army to recommission 100 tanks

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Frankfurt (AFP) April 11, 2015
The German army is to bring back into service around 100 tanks sold to industry, the ministry of defence said on Saturday. The move will bring to 328 the number of "Leopard 2" tanks the German army has at its disposal, up from 225 at present, a ministry spokesman told AFP, confirming a report in the weekly magazine Der Spiegel. The tanks will have to be updated to integrate the latest te
 

ECA Group joins project for underwater counter-mine vehicle

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
La Garde, France (UPI) Apr 10, 2015
The ECA Group of France is to design an autonomous underwater vehicle and its launch and recovery system for an Anglo-French counter-mine program. The work will be performed as a partner in the Maritime Mine Counter Measures program, or MMMC, which is managed by OCCAR, the European Union agency for joint military acquisition projects. Others in the program for an AUV to detect an
 

India's Modi visits French aviation hub Toulouse

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Toulouse, France (AFP) April 11, 2015
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday paid a lightning visit to Toulouse, the hub of the French aerospace industry in the southwest of the country. With stops at the production line of the Airbus A380 as well as the National Centre of Space Research (CNES), Modi confirmed India's interest in the European high-technology sector. The visit came the day after Modi announced that N
 

Thales supplying intercoms for Australian military vehicles

 
‎12 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎05:29:49 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Apr 10, 2015
Intercom systems for thousands of new Australian military vehicles are being provided by Thales to Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia. Under an Australian project, the Australian Defense Force will acquire up to 2,536 medium and heavy category logistic trucks, including protected vehicles for operational deployment and tactical training and unprotected vehicles for tactical tra
 

China defends land reclamation on disputed islands

 
‎10 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:33:52 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) April 9, 2015
Beijing reaffirmed its right to build on disputed islands in the South China Sea on Thursday after satellite imagery emerged of construction operations turning tropical reefs into concrete artificial islands. The newly released images prompted concern from the United States, which warned China that its island building activity posed a threat to regional stability. "In our view, China's
 

French TV hack 'a step up' in cyberjihadism: experts

 
‎10 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:33:52 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) April 9, 2015
The "unprecedented" cyber-attack on French television channel TV5Monde represents a major "step up" in the Internet warfare being waged by highly specialised jihadist hackers, experts said Thursday. Since January's three-day Islamist attacks in Paris that killed 17 people, hackers have launched hundreds of assaults on French websites, from denial of service attacks that snarl up web traffic
 

Iran calls nuclear deal into question over sanctions timetable

 
‎10 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:33:52 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) April 9, 2015
Iran's leaders plunged the hard-won framework accord on their nuclear program into doubt on Thursday, warning they may not sign a final deal and would demand immediate sanctions relief. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's response to last week's outline deal had been keenly awaited, and came as a blow to supporters of the plan to rein in Tehran's nuclear ambitions. "What has been don
 

Iraqis do not want to be 'puppets' of Iran: US

 
‎10 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:33:52 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) April 9, 2015
US Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that Iraqi leaders have asserted the country's sovereignty in their war against jihadists and do not want to be "puppets" of Iran or other outside powers. In last month's battle over the town of Tikrit, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had insisted that forces fighting the Islamic State group must be under Baghdad's authority and not answer to ne
 

Terrain-following autopilot capability eyed for Rafale fighters

 
‎10 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎03:33:52 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Apr 9, 2015
French Air Force and Navy authorities are jointly working to develop an autopilot terrain-following capability for its single-seat Rafale fighters. The terrain-following capability, which is to undergo flight trials by the Air Force's Centre d'Expériences Aériennes Militaires, or military aircraft test center, and the French Navy's Détachement du Centre d'Expérimentations Pratiques

 

 

Nuclear Weapons, Proliferation and Policy Doctrine

 

 

Nuclear Weapons, Proliferation and Policy Doctrine

 

 
 

Russia lifts ban on supplying S-300 missiles to Iran

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:52:03 AMGo to full article
Moscow (AFP) April 14, 2015 - President Vladimir Putin on Monday lifted a ban on supplying Iran with sophisticated S-300 air defence missile systems after Tehran struck a landmark framework deal with the West over its nuclear programme.

While Iran welcomed the development, it sparked strong condemnation from Israel and triggered concern in Washington.

A decree signed by Putin gave the go-ahead for "the shipment from Russia to Iran", ending Moscow's self-imposed ban on supplying the surface-to-air missiles to the Islamic republic.

The move comes before any sanctions have been lifted on Iran, with difficult technical talks potentially resuming next week following the April 2 deal with six world powers aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear drive.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted the missile deliveries were not covered by UN sanctions, and that the progress in the nuclear talks meant there was no longer any need for Russia to maintain the ban.

He said the missile system was "exclusively defensive" and did not pose a threat to Iran's foes.

While not the most sophisticated of Russia's missile systems, the S-300 would bolster Iran's defences against any attack on its nuclear sites.

Washington said US Secretary of State John Kerry had raised his concerns directly with Lavrov in an early morning phone call.

"We don't believe it's constructive at this time for Russia to move forward with it," said State Department acting spokeswoman Marie Harf.

"We think given Iran's destabilising actions in the region, in places like Yemen or Syria or Lebanon, that this isn't the time to be selling these kinds of system to them," Harf told reporters.

She added, however, that discussions between nuclear experts could resume next week aimed at resolving the technical details of the April 2 agreement.

- Israeli outrage -

Israel -- which strongly opposes the emerging nuclear accord -- lashed out at Russia's decision, saying it was proof that the Iranians were using the nuclear deal to arm themselves.

"This is a direct result of the legitimacy that Iran is receiving from the nuclear deal that is being prepared, and proof that the Iranian economic growth which follows the lifting of sanctions will be exploited for arming itself and not for the welfare of the Iranian people," Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said.

But Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehqan hailed the Russian move as a step towards "lasting security" in the region.

Moscow had blocked deliveries to Tehran in 2010 after the United Nations slapped sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme barring hi-tech weapons sales.

Iran then filed a $4-billion suit at an arbitration court in Geneva for the cancellation of the $800 million order by Russia, which has long been Iran's principal foreign arms supplier.

The framework nuclear deal agreed in Lausanne this month marked a crucial advance in a 12-year standoff between Iran and the West, which disputes Tehran's denial that it is seeking to build a nuclear bomb.

World powers must resolve a series of contentious issues by a June 30 deadline for a final deal, including the steps for lifting global sanctions imposed on Iran, and lingering questions over the possible military dimensions of its nuclear programme.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has plunged the accord into doubt suggesting that "nothing is binding". President Hassan Rouhani has demanded that sanctions be immediately lifted when any deal is signed.

Global powers Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US have said sanctions will only be gradually eased and want a mechanism to ensure they can be swiftly reimposed if Iran breaks its word.

Neither Israel nor the United States have ruled out air strikes if Tehran pursues any development of a nuclear bomb.

But Moscow and Tehran have remained on good terms, with Russia agreeing to build new nuclear reactors for Iran and both sides supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

 

 

Iran holds Obama 'responsible' for fate of nuclear deal: Zarif

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:52:03 AMGo to full article
Lisbon (AFP) April 15, 2015 - Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday that US President Barack Obama was 'responsible' for making sure that Washington respects a final agreement over Iran's nuclear programme even though Congress has been given a say on the accord's fate.

"It is the obligation of the government of the United States to implement its international agreements. And we will hold the US government, the US president accountable" for the application of the treaties that they sign, Mohammad Javad Zarif told journalists in Lisbon.

He was reacting to a move by the US Senate foreign relations committee on Tuesday giving the green light to a bill that would give Congress the right to review a possible final agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Zarif, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, said Iran would study the bill "to see if it infringes upon or hinders the capability of the president to carry out the obligations that he is going to assume with Iran."

Israel, which is bitterly opposed to the emerging agreement between Iran and world powers that would rein in but not halt Tehran's nuclear activities, has welcomed the US bill.

Global powers reached a framework agreement for a deal with Iran on April 2. They must now resolve a series of technical issues by a June 30 deadline for a final deal, including the steps for lifting sanctions on Iran, and remaining questions over the possible military dimensions of its nuclear programme.

Iran wants sanctions lifted immediately the deal is signed, while the powers are saying they will be eased gradually, and want a mechanism to ensure they can be swiftly re-imposed if Iran breaks its word.

Zarif also said that Russia's decision to go ahead with the sale of S-300 air defence missile systems to Iran is "fully legal" and has no impact on the talks for a nuclear deal with major powers.

"Russia is fulfilling its contractural treaty obligation to deliver the S-300 defence capabilities to Iran. It had nothing to do with the negotiations," he said during a joint news conference with his Portuguese counterpart Rui Machete.

"I think it is the right decision that Russia has made, it is a contract that we have with Russia which is fully legal and will have no impact on the negotiations."

Tehran talks fail to resolve UN nuclear watchdog questions
Tehran (AFP) April 15, 2015 - The UN atomic agency failed during talks in Tehran Wednesday to resolve long-standing questions over Iran's alleged past efforts to develop nuclear weapons, an Iranian official said.

"We discussed certain solutions to resolve the two outstanding questions, and it was decided to wind up the discussions at the next meeting," said Reza Najafi, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, quoted by ISNA news agency.

"We hope to reach this stage at the next session," he said without giving a date, at the end of a one-day visit by chief IAEA inspector Tero Varjoranta and a team of experts.

Iran had agreed to answer agency enquiries about alleged explosive testing and research into nuclear bomb making by last August.

Wednesday's meeting was the first since Iran and six major powers agreed on April 2 the main outlines of potentially historic deal curtailing Iran's nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.

Western officials say it is crucial for Iran to answer the IAEA's questions about the "possible military dimensions" of its activities before any sanctions can be eased.

Iran rejects the allegations as false information provided the IAEA by the Islamic republic's enemies, complaining that Tehran has not even been given an opportunity to see much of the supposed evidence itself.

Under the April 2 agreement, Iran agreed to scale back dramatically its nuclear programme and submit to ultra-tight IAEA inspections in order to make any eventual dash to make a nuclear bomb extremely difficult and easily detectable.

The accord has a target date of June 30.

 

 

Could skeletons in Iran's closet trip up nuclear deal?

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:52:03 AMGo to full article
Vienna (AFP) April 15, 2015 - Possible skeletons in Iran's closet -- the subject of talks in Tehran on Wednesday -- could yet spook the historic Iran nuclear deal, experts say.

The UN nuclear watchdog conducts regular inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities and these will be increased if world powers and Iran can finalise their outline agreement by a June 30 deadline.

Such a deal will see Iran dramatically scale down its atomic activities. Combined with tighter UN inspections, this will make any dash to make nuclear weapons extremely difficult and easily detectable.

Talks on this could resume as early as next week.

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency also wants Iran to answer allegations that prior to 2003, and possibly since, Iran's nuclear programme had "possible military dimensions" -- "PMD" for short.

This means alleged research by Iran into how to make a nuclear bomb such as high-explosives tests and looking into how to explode fissile material in a missile's warhead.

An IAEA probe into this has been stalled since August. On Wednesday though, the IAEA's chief inspector Tero Varjoranta was due to hold a new round of talks in Tehran.

- Having a laugh? -

The allegations are based largely on information passed to the IAEA by unnamed other countries -- experts say Israel and the US are the likely sources -- and deemed by the watchdog to be "overall, credible" in a major 2011 report.

Some of the accusations could well be bogus, experts say.

Robert Kelley, a former US nuclear weapons scientist who later worked in atomic intelligence analysis for the US government and for the IAEA in Iraq, says some are "laughable".

Claims of explosives testing and a subsequent "sanitisation" at the Parchin military base, as well as over Iran's use of certain detonators and activities in the Marivan region, make little sense, said Kelley, who is now at the SIPRI peace research institute.

It is also unclear how much comes from a controversial trove of more than a thousand pages of documents known as the "alleged studies" that reportedly come from a laptop acquired by US intelligence in 2004.

Yousaf Butt, a nuclear physicist at the British-American Security Information Council, said that the West should not be "obsessing" over the past, particularly since some of the evidence seems "shoddy".

But analysts, including Kelley, say that Iran still has a case to answer.

"Although some of the individual evidence is questionable, there is no doubt in my mind that Iran pursued nuclear weaponisation work," Mark Fitzpatrick, a former US State Department official now at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, told AFP.

- Off the hook? -

The six world powers agree that Iran cannot continue stonewalling, not least because clearing up what happened in the past is vital for having confidence that Iran will stick to its commitments in the future.

"In a final deal Iran will not be let off the hook for its past work," Kelsey Davenport at the Arms Control Association told AFP. "It is vital for the IAEA's credibility."

Western officials have made clear that Iran's main aim in the hoped-for deal with major powers -- getting painful sanctions lifted -- will not happen until the IAEA's questions are addressed.

"PMD (possible military dimensions)... is part of the package. It is necessary to get sanctions relief," a European official involved in talks said.

All UN Security Council nuclear-related resolutions will be lifted "simultaneous" with the completion of "actions addressing all key issues" -- including PMD, according to a US State Department fact sheet.

The same document -- disputed by Iran as a mixture of "truth and lies" -- says that Iran will be "required to grant access to... suspicious sites".

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Friday that it would be "very difficult to imagine [a final deal] that did not require... access at Parchin."

- Fessing up -

Iran though rejects the IAEA's claims, saying they are based on forgeries supplied to a gullible and partial watchdog by its enemies. Parchin, it says, is not a nuclear site so the IAEA has no right to go there.

Even if some of the claims are true, it would be very difficult for Iran to make any kind of confession, not least because this would mean the country had violated the supreme leader's "fatwa" forbidding nuclear weapons.

A possible solution, therefore, might be to have a "fudged" admission, Fitzpatrick said, with Tehran saying the dirty work happened before the fatwa and putting the blame on "rogue" scientists.

Without this, or if Western nations make "politically impossible demands for acknowledging culpability", PMD is "one of the ways" the whole deal could yet fall apart, he said.

 

 

US Senate panel votes for congressional review of Iran deal

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:52:03 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) April 14, 2015 - A US Senate panel approved a measure Tuesday that would give Congress input on the fate of any final international deal to curb Iran's nuclear program.

In a display of bipartisan cooperation on what has been a divisive issue, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 19-0 in favor of allowing lawmakers to review and potentially reject the final accord.

The vote came after panel chairman Bob Corker and top Democrat Ben Cardin struck a compromise on language in order to soothe concerns of the White House and some congressional Democrats.

"I think we've reached a balance here," Corker said.

A framework deal reached in Switzerland marked a breakthrough in a 12-year standoff between Iran and the West, which asserts Tehran is seeking to acquire a nuclear bomb -- a claim Iran denies.

Global powers must resolve a series of technical issues by a June 30 deadline for a final deal, including the steps for lifting sanctions on Iran, and remaining questions over the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program.

Several US lawmakers, including those who fear the deal might not be strong enough, want to weigh in and for Tehran to be afforded no sanctions relief until the review period is over.

Cardin and Corker were adamant that their bill would allow the talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany -- to continue unimpeded by congressional intervention.

"It is clear we will only act after the administration presents us with an agreement," Cardin said.

But he also stressed the White House would not be able to lift the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran without a congressional green light.

"Only Congress can permanently change or modify the sanctions regime," Cardin added.

- Support for terrorism -

Under the legislation, which heads to a full Senate debate and vote, the total review period would be reduced to 52 days, from the 60 days in earlier drafts.

That includes a 30-day review, plus 12 days for a possible veto by President Barack Obama and a 10-day window for an attempt to override such a veto.

Contentious language obligating Obama to certify to Congress that Iran was not engaging in terrorism was removed from the bill.

But it does require the president to make detailed reports to Congress on several issues, including Iran's ballistic missile work and its support for terrorism, particularly against Americans.

The measure appears to have support from the White House, which had threatened to veto the orignal bill out of fear it would derail the negotiations.

"What we have made clear to Democrats and Republicans in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is that the president would be willing to sign the proposed compromise that is working its way through the committee today," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said shortly before the vote.

The panel convened after Secretary of State John Kerry came to Capitol Hill Monday and Tuesday to assuage concerns about the deal.

While some Democrats pressed Kerry on why lawmakers should let the White House move ahead with the Iran accord without their involvement, the top US diplomat provided "an irrefutably compelling case" for supporting the deal, House Democrat Jan Schakowsky said.

Senator Marco Rubio, who announced Monday he is running for president in 2016, withdrew his amendment that would have required Iran to recognize Israel's right to exist.

Some lawmakers warned extraneous elements could upend the bill, and Rubio acknowledged the importance of a securing congressional review of the Iran agreement.

Washington's powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC voiced approval of the measure, saying: "Congress should review any agreement to ensure it meets US objectives, and object if it fails to do so."

A final deal, the group said, "must be subjected to the constitutional system of checks and balances that is the bedrock of our democracy."

 

 

Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable ballistic missile

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:52:03 AMGo to full article
Islamabad (AFP) April 15, 2015 - Pakistan on Wednesday test-fired a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, the military said.

The Ghauri Ballistic Missile has a range of 1,300 kilometres (807 miles) and can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

It came a month after the test-firing of the surface-to-surface nuclear-capable Shaheen III missile with a range of 2,750 kilometres.

"The training launch of the Ghauri missile system was aimed at testing operational and technical readiness," the military said in a statement.

Pakistan and neighbouring India -- which have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 -- have routinely carried out missile tests since both demonstrated a nuclear weapons capability in 1998.

Tensions are higher than normal after Pakistani authorities last Friday freed on bail Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The move was furiously condemned by India and denounced by the United States and France.

The release followed nearly four months of wrangling over Lakhvi's detention after a judge granted him bail in December. Pakistan's government slapped Lakhvi with a series of detention orders but judges repeatedly cancelled them.

 

 

Tehran wants 'nuclear-free world': Iranian FM

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:52:03 AMGo to full article
Astana, Kazakhstan (AFP) April 13, 2015 - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday insisted his country wants a "nuclear-free world," days after Tehran's leadership cast doubt on an outline deal to curb its nuclear programme.

Zarif made the comment during a visit to ex-Soviet Kazakhstan as he praised the Central Asian nation for giving up its nuclear weapons after the collapse of the USSR.

"Kazakhstan is an important player in this field, as a country firmly committed to a non-proliferation regime and which voluntarily refused nuclear weapons," Zarif said in a meeting with the head of Kazahstan's Senate.

"We all want a nuclear-free world."

Tehran and international powers including Russia made a major breakthrough on April 2 in a 12-year standoff by agreeing an outline deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear drive.

Tehran's denies Western claims that it is seeking to make a nuclear bomb.

Global powers must resolve a series of difficult technical issues by a June 30 deadline on order to seal a final nuclear deal, including the steps for lifting global sanctions imposed on Iran.

Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who will have the final say on any deal, has plunged the accord into doubt suggesting that "nothing is binding" while President Hassan Rouhani demanded that sanctions be immediately lifted when any deal is signed.

During his visit to Kazakhstan, Zarif thanked President Nursultan Nazarbayev for supporting international talks over a framework deal after two rounds of nuclear talks were held in the country in 2013.

Nazarbayev, whose country shares a recently-completed 930-kilometre rail link with Iran and mutual neighbour Turkmenistan, congratulated Zarif on the framework deal while acknowledging that "not all issues have been solved."

Nazarbayev, who has sought to maintain good ties with the major regional powers of Iran, Russia and China, is expected to travel to Tehran to meet Rouhani later this year.

 

 

Don't interfere with Iran talks, Kerry urges Congress

 
‎16 ‎April ‎2015, ‏‎09:52:03 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) April 12, 2015 - Secretary of State John Kerry will this week defend an emerging deal intended to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, urging skeptical US lawmakers not to put up obstacles that could scupper the tough negotiations.

"I'll lay out the facts," Kerry told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday when asked about a different narrative emerging from Iranian leaders about the outlines of a deal agreed in Lausanne, Switzerland earlier this month.

"Everything I have laid out is a fact. And I'll stand by them."

The Lausanne framework marked a major breakthrough in a 12-year standoff between Iran and the West, which disputes Tehran's denial that it is seeking to acquire nuclear bomb.

Glob