• Saudi woman arrested while attending soccer game

    Updated: Mon, Dec 15, 2014

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A Saudi woman arrested while attending a soccer game in the kingdom claims she did not know women were prohibited from going to the male-only stadiums, the state-linked Okaz newspaper reported on Monday. Saudi Arabia enforces a strict segregation of the sexes and has no designated areas for women at soccer stadiums, though authorities have announced plans for "family" areas from where women can watch matches. However, there have been exceptions for foreign women. In October, an Australian female supporter of Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club was permitted to attend a match at Riyadh's main stadium. And in January, a group of American women traveling with members of U.S. Congress watched a lo

  • Iraqi prime minister visits United Arab Emirates

    Updated: Mon, Dec 15, 2014

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday made his first visit to the United Arab Emirates since taking office in early September as he seeks to expand cooperation with the wealthy, Western-allied Gulf nation. The Emirates, a seven-state federation that includes the oil-rich capital of Abu Dhabi and the regional commercial hub of Dubai, is among the most prominent Arab members of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group that has seized territory in Iraq and Syria. The UAE has carried out airstrikes against the militants and hosts air bases used by other coalition members.

  • EU pledges aid to help rebuild in Syrian

    Updated: Mon, Dec 15, 2014

    BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union countries pledged their assistance Monday to help rebuild basic services and local government in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo if a U.N. plan to halt the fighting there can be implemented. Success of the plan "is crucial for political reasons, for security reasons, for the refugees," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said. "And also as a symbol, of what Syria can be and what Syria should not be." Meeting in Brussels, foreign ministers of the 28 EU nations expressed full commitment to U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura's efforts to seek localized "freezes of hostility" in Syria. On Sunday, the ministers held a separate meeting with de Mistura.

  • Saudi prince's news channel to go live in February

    Updated: Mon, Dec 15, 2014

    MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's pan-Arab news channel will finally take to the airwaves early next year. Officials for the channel, dubbed Alarab, said Monday it will begin broadcasting on February 1 from its base in the Bahraini capital, Manama. The channel promises to provide "an objective, fresh and unbiased view of world events," according to a press statement. Officials didn't say how much it would cost. The channel had previously been expected to begin operations in 2012 in Bahrain, a tiny island kingdom connected by a causeway to Saudi Arabia that is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

  • Saudi Arabia: 1 officer killed in hostage rescue

    Updated: Mon, Dec 15, 2014

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A Saudi security officer was killed in an operation to free three foreign laborers taken hostage by a gunman in the capital, Riyadh, according to a police statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency on Monday. Saudi police said an attacker armed with an assault rifle seized the workers Sunday evening near a mosque and opened fire when surrounded by police. Police said they were able to free the hostages after a heavy exchange of gunfire. The attacker was wounded and captured in the shoot-out. In addition to the slain officer, a civilian and a member of the security forces were also injured. Security officials did not disclose the identity of the attacker, possible motives for the a

  • Hamas stages military rally to mark anniversary

    Updated: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Islamic militant group Hamas displayed rockets and other heavy weapons Sunday during a rally marking the 27th anniversary of its founding. It also launched a drone that prompted Israel to scramble fighter jets in a precautionary measure, the Israeli military said. Several thousand people attended the show of force in Gaza City, a lower turnout than in previous Hamas anniversary rallies. The group's leaders watched from a stage, including former Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who brandished an assault rifle and flashed a V-for-victory sign. Sunday's march came three-and-a-half months after the end of a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.

  • Egypt briefly detains 3 over alleged sabotage talk

    Updated: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — Cairo police briefly detained three Egyptians, including two with British citizenship, after a man told them he overheard them discussing ways to destabilize the country during next month's anniversary of the 2011 uprising, a security official and a British diplomat said Sunday. The Egyptian official said that a brother and sister, both Egyptians with British nationality, and their Egyptian cousin were apprehended at a subway station Saturday night after a passenger told police they were speaking in English about burning homes and businesses on the anniversary of the January 2011 uprising which led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

  • Egypt stock market loses $3B amid oil plunge

    Updated: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's stock market shares plunged by 22 billion Egyptian pounds (just over $3 billion) in Sunday trading as low oil prices dragged down regional economies. The benchmark EGX30 index closed 5.23 percent down, with 170 stocks declining and just five showing gains. Stock broker Yasser Rashad said there was an immediate dip at the start of Sunday's session over fears that share prices would continue to drop for the rest of the week. Wael Ziada, head of research at regional investment giant EFG Hermes, said the drop is a knock-on effect caused by the steep decline in oil prices. The markets in Egypt and Gulf Arab countries "are correlated in terms of their performance because the investor base intersects.

  • Shiite rebels, allies replace Yemeni governor

    Updated: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni Shiite rebels and allied politicians sacked the governor of a strategic Red Sea province and replaced him with an ally on Sunday, amid an escalating power struggle with the country's embattled president, a local official said. The rebels, allied with supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, seized control of the capital Sanaa in September before pushing into the Red Sea province of Hodeida. On Saturday the rebels seized control of a district north of the capital. The months-long conflict between the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, and President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has plunged the impoverished country deeper into turmoil.

  • Rebels advance on 2 bases in northwestern Syria

    Updated: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — Rebels and al-Qaida militants took over at least three government checkpoints Sunday around a pair of military bases in northwestern Syria, activists said. The positions that fell to opposition fighters in heavy fighting are located around the Wadi Deif and Hamidiyeh bases outside the town of Maaret al-Numan in Syria's Idlib province. Rebels have been trying to capture both facilities since 2012, but have not been able to take either despite several attempts. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees activist collective both reported the opposition advances Sunday.

  • Journalists, police are detained in Turkish raids

    Updated: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Police conducted raids in a dozen Turkish cities Sunday, detaining at least 24 people — including journalists, TV producers and police — known to be close to a movement led by a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric who is a strong critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It was the latest crackdown on cleric Fethullah Gulen's movement, which the government has accused of orchestrating an plot to try to bring it down. The government says the group's followers were behind corruption allegations that last year that forced four Cabinet ministers to resign. Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, denies the accusations. During a speech on Saturday, Erdogan vowed to "bring down the n

  • Families of captive Lebanese troops stage protest

    Updated: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — Scores of families, friends and supporters of some two dozen Lebanese police and soldiers held captive by militants have rallied in central Beirut, calling for their quick release. Fighters from the Islamic State group and al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, known as the Nusra Front, have held the men hostage since abducting them in August during a cross-border raid. The militants have already killed at least four of their captives. The families of the abducted security forces have been staging a sit-in in downtown Beirut to try to pressure the government to move quickly to secure their release. On Sunday, supporters turned out to voice their support for the families and efforts to bring the captives home.

  • Libya: Fighting closes largest oil export terminal

    Updated: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — The minister of oil in Libya's Tripoli-based government says the country's largest oil shipping terminal has been shut down due to clashes between rival militias. Mashallah al-Zawi said foreign workers in the Sidra terminal have been evacuated to the eastern town of Ajdabiya. He also said the National Oil Corporation has declared a force majeure in Sidra and another port to the east, Ras Lanuf, because of the clashes. Both are controlled by eastern militias loyal to Libya's rival elected government, based in the eastern city of Tobruk. The Tripoli-based government — backed by militias from the western city of Misrata and Islamist factions — ordered its forces to "liberate" the Sidra terminal as par

  • OPEC chief urges oil investment despite low prices

    Updated: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The secretary-general of OPEC on Sunday urged Gulf Arab nations to keep investing in oilfield development despite the plunge in crude prices and gave no indication the cartel was prepared to shift its strategy to halt the slide. Oil prices have shed nearly half their value since late June, including a 4 percent tumble Friday that left benchmark U.S. oil prices at $57.81 a barrel — their lowest level since May of 2009, when the U.S. was still in recession. Speaking at a forum in the Gulf commercial hub of Dubai, Abdullah al-Badri said continued investment by Gulf nations will help prevent a shortfall in oil supplies once demand picks back up.

  • A lonely fight defending Egypt's jailed dissidents

    Updated: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — When a group of activists is arrested in Egypt, the call for help goes most often to lawyer Ragia Omran. She then starts a long trek through police stations and prosecutors' offices, trying to get their release or at least some respect for their rights. It's a lonely, grueling struggle, and not one Omran expected to have to wage. In 2011, she was among the revolutionaries who took to the streets and led an uprising that brought down Egypt's long-ruling autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The revolt gave rise to a brief period of greater freedoms and hope for real democracy. Nearly four years later, all that has been reversed.

  • Officials: 11 Egypt fishermen drown as boat sinks

    Updated: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — An Egyptian fishing boat crashed into a container ship early Sunday in the Gulf of Suez, killing 11 fishermen and injuring 11 while 23 men remain missing, officials said. Egyptian naval vessels and other security and medical teams raced to the shores of the town of Al-Tur, the capital of southern Sinai, to aid the fishermen. Three other vessels nearby aided in the search for the missing men, authorities said. Security officials said 45 fishermen were on the boat at the time of the collision. Hospital officials confirmed the casualty figures. Those officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to brief journalists.

  • Shiite rebels expand territory in Yemeni capital

    Updated: Sat, Dec 13, 2014

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's Shiite rebels defeated rival tribesmen and took control of a northern district of the capital on Saturday, expanding their control of the city, their spokesman said. Mohammed Abdel-Salam, spokesman of the rebels known as Houthis, said the forces took control of Arhab, a district of greater Sanaa. The group already controls most of the capital and several other cities. Military and tribal officials said the Houthis used tanks and artillery to shell houses and neighborhoods of rival tribes. The fighting left dozens dead, including 12 tribesmen, they added. Houthis usually refrain from announcing deaths among their ranks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized

  • Egypt sends 439 to military trials over violence

    Updated: Sat, Dec 13, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's top prosecutor referred 439 people to military tribunals on Saturday for acts of violence including the killing of three policemen last year, while authorities denied entry to a prominent American scholar arriving at Cairo's international airport, the latest incidents in the country's sweeping crackdown on dissent. Security officials said that one group was 139 men he described as Islamists from the southern province of Minya, while another was comprised of 300 from the Nile Delta province of Beheira. The cases involve last year's wave of violence that came in retaliation to a bloody police dispersal of an Islamist sit-in. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they was not authorized to

  • Militias battle in central Libya near oil terminal

    Updated: Sat, Dec 13, 2014

    TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Islamist-allied militias from the western city of Misrata clashed with an eastern militia that holds a major oil terminal on Saturday, in violence that killed at least two people, Libyan officials said. The officials say the Tripoli-based government — backed by Misrata militias and Islamist factions — ordered its forces to "liberate" the Sidra terminal. The officials said that aircraft affiliated to Omar al-Hassi's rival government carried airstrikes targeting an air base in the central city of Sirte but caused no major casualties. An aide to al-Hassi, the Tripoli-based prime minister, said that the assault on Sidra is the beginning of a wider offensive called "Sunrise.

  • Islamic State group shoots down Iraqi helicopter

    Updated: Sat, Dec 13, 2014

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Islamic State group militants shot down an Iraqi military helicopter, officials said Saturday, killing the two pilots onboard and raising fresh concerns about the extremists' ability to attack aircraft amid ongoing U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. The attack happened late Friday in the Shiite holy city of Samarra, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad. A senior Defense Ministry official told The Associated Press the Sunni militants used a shoulder-fired rocket launcher to shoot down the EC635 helicopter on the outskirts of the city. An army official corroborated the information. Both spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to speak to journalists.