• AP Analysis: At Mideast forum, hopes for future amid chaos

    Updated: Sat, May 23, 2015

    SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) — Against a backdrop of Iraq and Syria in flames, Middle Eastern political and business leaders sought to focus on a future of growth and investment for a region that for long has lagged behind. But present-day reality proved rather difficult to ignore, with the Islamic State group wreaking havoc not far from these Dead Sea shores. "We are all aware of the crises in the news," host King Abdullah of Jordan told invitees at the regional World Economic Forum, held at a Dead Sea resort whose calm belied the mayhem raging a few hours' drive away. "But there is another, deeper reality," the monarch optimistically went on.

  • US rejects nuclear disarmament document over Israel concerns

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States on Friday blocked a global document aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons, saying Egypt and other states tried to "cynically manipulate" the process by setting a deadline for Israel and its neighbors to meet within months on a Middle East zone free of such weapons. The now-failed final document of a landmark treaty review conference had called on the U.N. secretary-general to convene the Middle East conference no later than March 2016, regardless of whether Israel and its neighbors agree on an agenda. Israel is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has never publicly declared what is widely considered to be an extensive nuclear weapons program. A conference m

  • IS militants purge Syrian town of Assad loyalists

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State group militants hunted down Syrian government troops and loyalists in the newly captured town of Palmyra, shooting or beheading them in public as a warning, and imposing their strict interpretation of Islam, activists said Friday. The purge, which relied mostly on informants, was aimed at solidifying the extremists' grip on the strategic town that was overrun Wednesday by IS fighters. It also was part of a campaign to win the support of President Bashar Assad's opponents, who have suffered from a government crackdown in the town and surrounding province in the last four years of Syria's civil war.

  • Islamic State loyalists claim Saudi mosque attack

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A suicide bomber unleashed a blast in a Shiite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia as worshippers commemorated the birth of a revered saint, killing at least 21 people and wounding dozens more in the deadliest attack seen in the kingdom in more than a decade. Loyalists of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bombing. The claim of responsibility, made in a statement circulated on pro-IS Twitter feeds, could not be independently confirmed. It was issued by what purported to be a Saudi branch of the Islamic State group, which is based in Syria and Iraq, but it was not known if the perpetrators had a direct connection with the group's leadership or were sympathizers acting independently in its

  • Heavy Saudi-led airstrikes target Shiite rebels in Yemen

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The Saudi-led coalition on Friday launched heavy airstrikes against Shiite rebels in Yemen, targeting camps and weapons depots in the rebel-held capital, as a U.N. agency said some 234 children were killed in violence over the past two months. Residents of Sanaa awoke to the sound of explosions early Friday morning as warplanes targeted weapons caches in Noqum mountain, sending up bursts of flames and columns of smoke. As night fell over Sanaa Friday night, another set of airstrikes across the capital sent residents scrambling for shelter. Witnesses told The Associated Press the airstrikes were among the most extensive and powerful since the beginning of the coalition campaign on March 26.

  • Analysis: At Mideast forum, hopes for future amid chaos

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) — Against a backdrop of Iraq and Syria in flames, Middle Eastern political and business leaders sought to focus on a future of growth and investment for a region that for long has lagged behind. But present-day reality proved rather difficult to ignore, with the Islamic State group wreaking havoc not far from these Dead Sea shores. "We are all aware of the crises in the news," host King Abdullah of Jordan told invitees at the regional World Economic Forum, held at a Dead Sea resort whose pacificity belied the mayhem raging a few hours' drive away. "But there is another, deeper reality," the monarch optimistically went on.

  • AP Interview: $100 billion Saudi city to be ready by 2035

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) — A $100 billion city-from-scratch in Saudi Arabia is to be completed by 2035 and will serve as the main logistics and manufacturing hub for countries on the Red Sea, the world's "largest new emerging market," said the CEO of the company in charge of the mega-project. The business model of an entire city being built by the private sector was so unusual that it required adjustments in the beginning, said Fahd al-Rasheed, the Group CEO of Emaar Economic City (EEC), which is building the King Abdullah Economic City. "Putting that first phase together is the most difficult point," he told The Associated Press in an interview on the sidelines of a regional conference of the World Economic Forum hoste

  • Egypt's president: Lack of 'justice' fueling extremism

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) — Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who has led a massive ongoing crackdown on Islamists, said on Friday that the fight against extremism in the region must go hand-in-hand with pursuing greater "freedom, equality and justice." El-Sissi spoke at a regional World Economic Forum conference in Jordan. He says extremism increases because of "desperation, regression of values of justice." Egypt has waged a sweeping crackdown against Islamists since el-Sissi, then the army chief, led the overthrow of elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 amid massive protests demanding the president's removal. Since then Egyptian security forces have killed hundreds of Islamists in

  • South Sudan alleges Khartoum role in new rebel offensive

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — South Sudan's military on Friday accused the Sudanese government of aiding a new rebel offensive in the southern country where oil fields are now threatened by fresh fighting. The recent defection in South Sudan's Upper Nile state of a key general to the rebel side was likely tied to incentives from Sudan's government, including weapons and ammunition, South Sudanese military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer told The Associated Press. The general, Johnson Oloni, had previously been a member of the government's military alliance against rebel forces loyal to former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar, whose fighters control some parts of South Sudan and are pushing to seize oil fields.

  • UK bomb maker sentenced to life for killing US soldier

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    LONDON (AP) — A British man was sentenced Friday to life in prison for making a roadside bomb that killed a U.S. soldier in Iraq in 2007. Anis Abid Sardar, 38, was accused of assembling bombs in Syria that were planted on the western outskirts of Baghdad that year. One of the devices killed Sgt. 1st Class Randy Johnson, 34, of 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. Johnson, from Washington, D.C., died after his armored vehicle struck a bomb on Sept. 27, 2007. Four other soldiers were injured. He was arrested years later after FBI investigators found his fingerprints on some of the devices. Prosecutors said he was a "highly dangerous man" working with "murderous intent against coalition forces.

  • Abbas: Israeli settlement expansion blocks any peace deal

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday said Israel is blocking peace by continuing to expand settlements on occupied territory, but reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 border. "What prevents the achievement of this desire is Israel's continuation of its occupation and settlement activity and imposing realities on the ground," said Abbas, speaking at a regional World Economic Forum conference in Jordan. Abbas did not refer to the changed circumstances created by the formation of a new hard-line Israeli government this month; key members of which oppose land concessions to the Palestinians. A U.S.-led negotiation effort broke down about a year ago, and cu

  • Iraq deputy PM appeals for more help

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    SOUTHERN SHUNE, Jordan (AP) — Iraq's deputy prime minister is appealing for greater international help in fighting the Islamic State group, saying its recent takeover of the key city of Ramadi was a "big disaster" and that the country's own forces could not adequately fight back. Saleh al-Mutlaq, speaking to AP at a regional conference of the World Economic Forum in Jordan on Friday called for a "new strategic plan" for Iraq and for international coalition forces to "terminate" the Islamic State group in Iraq. The jihadi group's conquest last week of Ramadi essentially completes its takeover of the key province of Anbar, whose other main city, Fallujah, fell over a year ago.

  • Turkey: 2 trapped in landslide at dam construction site

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish officials say two construction workers are trapped under debris after a landslide at a dam construction site in northeast Turkey. Adil Sabanci, a regional hydraulic works official, told the state-run Anadolu Agency that two other workers were rescued Friday from the landslide at the Hamzadere Dam construction site in Ipsala, close to Turkey's border with Greece. Anadolu said the landslide occurred while workers were pouring concrete. Its cause is under investigation. Despite efforts to improve workplace safety, a monitoring group says close to 1,900 people died in work-related accidents in Turkey last year, most of them at construction sites.

  • Syrian troops evacuate besieged compound in northwest

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — Activists and state media say Syrian troops who had been besieged for nearly a month in a hospital compound in the country's northwest managed to withdraw. State TV says the troops pulled out of the compound in the town of Jisr al-Shughour and reached government-held areas as other forces covered their withdrawal with intense shelling and airstrikes. An unnamed military official is quoted by state TV as saying the troops left the compound carrying the bodies of their dead and wounded comrades. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says dozens of troops fled the compound, which was captured Friday by Islamic militants led by Syria's al-Qaida affiliate.

  • Turkey: businessmen, police detained in new raids

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Officials say police have detained dozens of businessmen and police officers in a new wave of raids against people suspected of links to a movement led U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, which the government accuses of attempting to topple the government. The governor's office for central Konya province says police have warrants to arrest 69 people suspected of "membership in the pro-Fethullah terror organization" and other crimes. It says raids were launched Friday in Konya and 19 other provinces. The detained officers include the former police chief for Konya and other senior officers. The governor's office did not identify the wanted businessmen.

  • Deputy Russia FM: Western Mideast policies 'short-sighted'

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) — A deputy Russian foreign minister says external players cannot solve the Syria crisis and that "short-sighted'" Western policies in the Middle East have helped destabilize countries such as Syria, Iraq and Libya. Vasily Nebenzya spoke Friday at a regional World Economic Forum conference. Russia has been a key ally of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and has shielded him diplomatically. Nebenzya says Assad has made mistakes, but is "being supported by a portion of the population." The Russian diplomat says "it is difficult to imagine how the sides (in Syria) can talk these days," but that any solution is up to Syrians.

  • AP PHOTOS: Fleeing Yemen war, thousands stuck in Djibouti

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    OBOCK, Djibouti (AP) — Fleeing the war at home, thousands of Yemenis have made it across the Gulf of Aden to find refuge in Djibouti, a sleepy Horn of Africa nation where the United Nations has set up a staging hub for aid for the conflict-torn Arab country. Many of the refugees are relieved to have escaped after two months of Saudi-led airstrikes targeting Yemen's Shiite rebels and fighting on the ground between rival factions that have pushed their country to the brink of collapse. They arrived with just the few belongings they could carry, mostly on small, rickety fishing boats. Others came on bigger vessels crammed with people, reversing a perilous, centuries-old route which countless African migrants have taken in the

  • Erdogan to provide Mercedes to top cleric following uproar

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    ISTANBUL (AP) — "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?" Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his office will provide a Mercedes to the country's top Muslim cleric, who returned one following an uproar over his extravagance. Mehmet Gormez, head of the government body that regulates religious affairs, returned his Mercedes after news media reported that his office had spent 1 million Turkish lira ($384,000) on the new car. Late Thursday, Erdogan said he would allocate a Mercedes to Gormez: "In response to the rudeness displayed against our head of Religious Affairs, we said, 'let's make a gesture.

  • World Bank: Gaza economy on 'verge of collapse'

    Updated: Fri, May 22, 2015

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Gaza's economy is on the "verge of collapse," a new World Bank report warned Friday, saying the unemployment rate there is now the highest in the world and calling on Israel and international donors to remedy the situation. It charged that "blockades, war and poor governance have strangled" the economy of the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas. The report said Gaza's GDP would have been four times higher if not for conflicts and restrictions, including a blockade in place since 2007. Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade on Gaza after Hamas violently seized the territory from forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

  • US presses Israel on talks for Middle East nuclear-free zone

    Updated: Thu, May 21, 2015

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States has sent a top official to Israel amid an effort to revive talks on a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, a central issue of a landmark treaty review conference that some fear will end Friday without progress on global disarmament. The State Department confirmed that the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation was in Israel to discuss the issue. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman declined comment on Thomas Countryman's visit, saying it was a "very sensitive" matter. Establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons in one of the world's most tense regions is a rare point of agreement between the United States and Russia these days.




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