• Egypt's el-Sissi says need growing for joint Arab force

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's president said Sunday that the need for a joint Arab military force is growing every day as the region faces the threat of Islamic militancy. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said in an address to the nation aired by local TV that Egypt's military has no interest in invading or attacking other nations, but will defend Egypt as well as the region "if required and in coordination with our Arab brothers." A soldier-turned-politician, the Egyptian leader said both Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have offered to dispatch military forces to aid Egypt following last week's beheading in Libya of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State militants.

  • Iran responds to US warnings it might quit nuclear talks

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    GENEVA (AP) — A senior Iranian official is responding sharply to warnings that Washington is ready to quit nuclear talks unless Tehran agrees to a deal that demonstrates it does not want atomic arms. Ali Akbar Velayati says staying or leaving "depends on the Americans." Velayati was responding to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, shortly before Kerry's arrival Sunday to Geneva. Kerry said President Barack Obama was "fully prepared" to pull the U.S. out before accepting a deal leaving Tehran with potent nuclear arms-making ability. Their exchange may be an attempt to play to their home audiences but could also signal difficulties at the talks with only a month to go to a first-stage deal.

  • Turkish military enters Syria to evacuate troops, tomb

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Hundreds of Turkish troops backed by tanks took part in an overnight operation into neighboring Syria to evacuate dozens of besieged soldiers guarding an Ottoman tomb and remove the remains amid fears the shrine was threatened by Islamic State militants. The mission late Saturday, saving Turkish soldiers reportedly stuck for months at the tomb of the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, was the first such major military incursion by Turkey since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said nearly 600 Turkish soldiers on some 100 tanks and armored personnel carriers crossed into Syria near the border town of Kobani late Saturday, as drones and airplan

  • Attacks kills 19 people in Iraq

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Multiple bombings, including a suicide truck bomb attack on Shiite militiamen, killed 19 people on Sunday in Iraq, as police found four bodies with gunshots wounds in the capital, officials said. Police officials said the deadliest attack took place Sunday afternoon when a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden truck into a checkpoint manned by Shiite militias near the city of Tikrit. Eight militiamen were killed and at least 15 wounded in the attack. Tikrit, which fell under the control of the Islamic State group last summer, is 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad. Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen now control most of the areas and roads leading to Tikrit, but have yet to retake the city.

  • Jerusalem mayor, bodyguard apprehend Palestinian attacker

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    JERUSALEM (AP) — The mayor of Jerusalem says he and his bodyguard apprehended a Palestinian who stabbed an Israeli near City Hall. Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement issued Sunday that he was riding in his car when his entourage spotted a "terrorist" with a knife. He said he and his bodyguard leapt from the car, the bodyguard drew a weapon, and they held the man until police arrived. He said the Israeli who was stabbed was "lightly injured." Israeli police confirmed the mayor was at the scene and said an 18-year-old Palestinian had stabbed a 27-year-old Israeli in the stomach. It was the latest in a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis over recent months, mostly in Jerusalem but also in the West Bank

  • US defense secretary calls Afghan army 'a powerful force'

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Sunday called Afghanistan's army "a powerful force in their own right" but declined to say whether he thinks the U.S. can scale back military training and advising this year as planned. Carter wrapped up two days in the war zone by consulting with U.S. and Afghan commanders at Kandahar air field, an important hub in the network of U.S. advisory posts that are due to close before year's end. In a question-and-answer session with reporters at this base in southern Afghanistan, Carter declined to say whether his visit had convinced him that the Kandahar operation should stay open longer. The advisory work here will wind up this summer unless President Bara

  • Leading Kuwait opposition figure sentenced to 2 years

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    KUWAIT CITY (AP) — An appeals court in Kuwait on Sunday sentenced a leading former opposition lawmaker to two years in prison after he was found guilty of insulting the country's ruler. Musallam al-Barrack's lawyer Thamer al-Jedaei told The Associated Press his client will appeal the case to the country's Supreme Court. Al-Barrack's charges stem from a speech he gave during a rally in October 2012 in which he called on Kuwait's ruler Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah not to "drag the country into a dark abyss," and said Kuwait risked becoming an autocratic state under new electoral laws. Due to subsequent opposition boycotts, parliament is now largely stacked with pro-government lawmakers.

  • Palestinians threaten to end security ties with Israel

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The Palestinian president has threatened to stop security coordination with Israel if the country continues to withhold millions of dollars of Palestinian tax revenue, a senior Palestinian official said Sunday. Nabil Shaath said President Mahmoud Abbas warned European leaders on a trip to Europe last week that Palestinian officials would discuss the matter during a Palestinian central council meeting next week. "We have told the international community that we will not be able to continue the security coordination and the Palestinian Authority itself may not be able to continue functioning if Israel continues stealing our money," Shaath said.

  • AP Interview: Liberia leader urges help in post-Ebola phase

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Liberia's leader on Sunday urged the United States and other countries to keep up their support to the West African nation as it recovers from the Ebola epidemic and refocuses attention on infrastructure projects that will better position it to tackle future outbreaks of disease. In an interview with The Associated Press, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Liberia needs outside help to see through its "post-Ebola agenda" of building up basic public services — development that she said was needed to prevent another deadly epidemic from becoming "a global menace.

  • Yemen's Hadi says still legitimate president

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The embattled Yemeni leader who resigned the presidency last month and has fled the rebel-controlled capital said on Sunday that he is still the country's legitimate president and is ruling from the south. The surprise move to withdraw his resignation and challenge the Shiite rebels known as Houthis raised the stakes in Yemen's political deadlock, fanning fears that the strategically located country could now face a regional split. "Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi exercises his functions as president of the republic in Aden with legitimacy not subject to questioning," his office said in a statement after he met with governors from all six southern provinces and received their backing.

  • Report: Saudi men detained for dancing at birthday party

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's morality police detained a group of young men for dancing at a birthday party and referred them to prosecutors, according to a state-linked media report. The news website Ayn al-Youm reported Saturday that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice raided a private property in the city of Buraydah, arresting the men inside for "loud music and inappropriate dancing." Buraydah is the provincial capital of Saudi Arabia's Qassim province, which is home to some of the kingdom's most conservative clerics, who practice a strict interpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism.

  • Hadi, once-quiet leader of Yemen, strikes newly defiant pose

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    CAIRO (AP) — Virtually powerless for months, Yemen's embattled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi looked ready to leave the country after fleeing Shiite rebels who seized the capital in September and held him captive in his own home for weeks. But the soft-spoken technocrat who has long avoided the limelight stepped straight into it on Saturday, renouncing his own resignation and challenging the Shiite Houthi rebels who hold large parts of the country. Hadi's sudden resurgence after years of quiet rule raises fears that Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, only united in the 1990s, will fracture into mini-states, complicating American efforts to combat al-Qaida's powerful local franchise.

  • Israel announces purchase of 14 more F-35 fighter jets

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel said Sunday it will purchase 14 additional next-generation F-35 fighter jets for approximately $3 billion. The deal adds to the fleet of 19 U.S-made jets already purchased in 2010, the Defense Ministry said. The recent signing with Lockheed Martin Corp. includes an option for 17 more in the future. The first such planes are to arrive in Israel in late 2016. The F-35 is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program, with an estimated cost of nearly $400 billion. The program aims to replace a wide range of existing aircraft for the U.S. and several partner countries. Israel plans for the stealth jet, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, to replace its fleet of F-16 warplanes and maintain its a

  • Egypt prosecutor refers 215 to trial for forming armed group

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's top prosecutor has referred 215 alleged Islamists to trial in a criminal court on charges of forming armed groups responsible for killing half a dozen security personnel and damaging public property. The prosecutor said Sunday in a statement that only 125 defendants are detained. No date has been set for the trial. Egypt's courts are swamped with the trials of hundreds of Islamists and supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi on charges that include violence against state officials, treason and illegal protests. Harsh sentences, including life in prison and the death penalty, have been handed down in swift trials.

  • Deaths in Saudi Arabia from MERS virus climb to 385

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry says two more people have died after contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS, pushing the total number of deaths from the virus in the kingdom to 385. The ministry's statement on Saturday says that 902 cases of MERS have been discovered in Saudi Arabia since the virus was first identified in 2012, though 490 people who contracted it have recovered. Some 57 people have contracted MERS in the kingdom since the start of February. The virus has affected people in other parts of the world, but has mostly remained centered in Saudi Arabia. MERS belongs to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses that include both the common cold and SARS, or severe ac

  • Israeli premier says coming month 'critical' regarding Iran

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's premier says the coming month will be "critical" for preventing a nuclear deal with Iran. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the U.S. Congress may be the body that influences the emerging deal between world powers and Iran. He said he will travel to Washington to explain why the deal is "dangerous to Israel, dangerous to the region and dangerous to the world." Netanyahu's vehement opposition to compromising with Iran over its nuclear program has further stressed his relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama. The White House is considering ways of undercutting the upcoming visit. Several members of Congress have said they will boycott Netanyahu's address.

  • Report: Swedish journalist released from captivity in Syria

    Updated: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    HELSINKI (AP) — Swedish tabloid Expressen says Swedish journalist Joakim Medin has been released from a weeklong captivity in Syria. Medin, 30, said in an interview with the paper Sunday that he and his interpreter were captured by Syrian government forces while working in the Kurdish parts of the country. The paper said Medin, who works as a freelancer for Swedish media, was released late Saturday after spending a week in an isolation cell. Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ulla Jacobson confirmed that Medin has been released, but was unable to give other details.

  • Yemen leader says still president after fleeing capital

    Updated: Sat, Feb 21, 2015

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The Yemeni leader who resigned the presidency last month and fled to the country's south on Saturday said all actions taken since Shiite rebels stormed the capital, Sanaa, last September are illegitimate, hinting that he will seek to reclaim his power and office. The move exacerbates worries over a regional breakup and further instability in the volatile country, the Arab world's poorest and home to a powerful al-Qaida affiliate. The rebels, known as Houthis, control Sanaa and several major cities, while the south is largely free from their rule and officials there have rejected the rebel takeover amid talk of a potential secession.

  • Afghanistan dialogue with Taliban could begin in March

    Updated: Sat, Feb 21, 2015

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — After more than a decade of warfare, negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban are set to begin, officials, diplomats and experts said as President Ashraf Ghani declared that peace is closer now than at any time since the war began following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. On Saturday, Ghani said that "the grounds for peace have never been better in the last 36 years" of continuous Afghan wars, including 13 years of conflict with the Taliban. Since taking office in September, Ghani has rolled out a complex strategy aimed at forcing the Taliban leadership to accept that their cause — replacing his government with an Islamist emirate — is hopeless.

  • US fears Palestinian Authority collapse without more cash

    Updated: Sat, Feb 21, 2015

    LONDON (AP) — The U.S. fears that without a cash injection, the Palestinian Authority could collapse, entailing serious security implications for Palestinians and Israelis. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the issue Saturday with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in London. Kerry said the possibility of the Palestinian government halting security cooperation with Israel or disbanding because of its economic predicament was real. The U.S. is trying to find a solution. Israel has withheld tax revenue from the Palestinians since they decided to join the International Criminal Court last month. U.S. options are limited. Its relationship with Israel is strained amid their leaders' dispute over Ira




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