• UN Experts: Taliban radicals against peace gain prominence

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Radical splinter groups within the Taliban movement that oppose any negotiation with Afghanistan's new government are gaining prominence, U.N. experts said in a report circulated Thursday. The experts monitoring U.N. sanctions against the Taliban said that despite gestures by the international community and the Afghan government in support of reconciliation, "there are currently no clear signals that the Taliban leadership is willing to engage in a political negotiation in a meaningful way." The monitoring team noted, for example, that the release of Taliban members from the Bagram detention center and Afghan prisons, and the transfer of five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar in exchange f

  • Iraqi Kurdish troops battling IS open key corridor in Iraq

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    KOBAN, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi Kurdish forces battling Islamic State militants managed on Thursday to open up a key corridor so that thousands of people from the country's Yazidi minority who have been trapped on a mountain can flee, said a senior Kurdish official. The development was an incremental step in the battle to retake the town of Sinjar, at the foothills of the mountain by the same name, which fell to the Islamic State group in early August. The Kurdish peshmerga troops, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, launched the operation to retake Sinjar on Wednesday. Masrur Barzani, chancellor of Kurdistan Region Security Council, said the Kurdish forces advanced in battle, establishing the passageway to the mountain

  • Abu Dhabi's Etihad gets A380, complete with suite

    Updated: 5 hr ago

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Abu Dhabi's national carrier, Etihad, showcased on Thursday the arrival of its first Airbus A380, outfitted with "the only three-room suite in the sky." The A380 is the first of a fleet of 10 on order from Etihad Airways, which is to take delivery of four more of the double-decker jets next year. The A380 will operate daily to London Heathrow starting Dec. 27 and features "The Residence by Etihad" — a three-room suite, complete with a living room, a private bathroom with shower and a bedroom, as well as a dedicated butler at the very front of the plane's upper deck. The 11.6 square meter (125 square foot) cabin is for single or double occupancy.

  • Video claims responsibility for Tunisia killings

    Updated: 5 hr ago

    TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — A new video has surfaced with the Islamic State group claiming responsibility for the 2013 assassinations of two Tunisian politicians. The armed, bearded men in the video also condemned this Sunday's presidential elections in Tunisia, called on Tunisians to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State, and vowed vengeance on security forces. Mohammed Brahmi and Chokri Belaid of Tunisia's left-wing Popular Front coalition were fatally shot by men on motorcycles in 2013, provoking a government crisis. At the time, the government blamed Ansar al-Sharia, a Tunisian radical group with links to al-Qaida. Tunisia's Interior Ministry has accused French-born Boubakr Hakim of being involved in both attacks and o

  • Palestinian leader supports more talks on UN bid

    Updated: 5 hr ago

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he supports further negotiations on a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution that sets a 2017 deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from war-won lands the Palestinians seek for their state. His comments indicated that he is trying to avoid a clash with Washington at the council. The Arab-backed draft, submitted by Jordan on Wednesday, sets aside one year for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and two more years for implementing a deal. The Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967. The resolution is unlikely to face an immediate vote, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday.

  • Botched cyberattack on Syria group blamed on IS

    Updated: 6 hr ago

    LONDON (AP) — A botched cyberattack aimed at unmasking Syrian dissidents has experts worried that the Islamic State group is adding malicious software to its arsenal. Internet watchdog Citizen Lab says an attempt to hack into systems operated by dissidents within the self-styled caliphate could be the work of hackers affiliated with the Islamic State group. Citizen Lab analyst John Scott-Railton said there is circumstantial evidence of the group's involvement, and cautioned that if the group has moved into cyberespionage, "the targets might not stop with the borders of Syria." The Nov. 24 attack came in the form of a booby-trapped email sent to an activist collective in Raqqa, Syria, that documents human rights abuses

  • UN OKs measures targeting North Korea, Iran, Syria

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday approved resolutions criticizing the human rights situations of North Korea, Iran and Syria. North Korea has been outraged by the resolution that urges the U.N. Security Council to refer the country's human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. The council will meet for the first time Monday on North Korea's human rights violations. North Korea says the U.N. instead should investigate the CIA's harsh treatment of terror suspects. Its representative on Thursday said his country "totally rejects" the resolution and what he called the abuse of human rights issues as a tool for overthrowing a country's leadership.

  • FIFA meets amid crisis over Garcia's resignation

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    MARRAKECH, Morocco (AP) — Amid another crisis at FIFA, President Sepp Blatter and his executive committee opened a two-day meeting Thursday to discuss the sudden resignation of ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia and whether to publish his confidential World Cup report. Garcia quit Wednesday in protest over the handling of his World Cup bid investigation. The American lawyer's departure could increase pressure on FIFA to publish the 430-page report on the 2010 votes that awarded the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. The 27 members of the executive committee are split over releasing all or part of Garcia's report, which has led to three of them facing unethical conduct charges.

  • Germany arrests 3 accused of spying for Turkey

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors said Thursday that they have arrested three Turkish men accused of spying on compatriots in Germany for Turkish intelligence. The federal prosecutor's office said two of the suspects — identified in line with German privacy rules only as Muhammad Taha G. and Goksel G. — were arrested Wednesday at Frankfurt airport. The third, Ahmet Duran Y., was arrested at his home in western Germany. Muhammad Taha G. is accused of running the other two as agents, and they collected information for him on Turks in Germany as well as their "organizational structures," prosecutors said in a statement. They did not elaborate or say over what period the alleged spying took place, but said arrest warra

  • UN urges Syrian warring parties to stop fighting in UN zone

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Thursday urged Syrian government forces and rebel groups to stop fighting in the buffer zone between Syria and Israel and withdraw from the area which is patrolled by U.N. peacekeepers. The council strongly condemned recent intense fighting including the use of heavy weapons in the buffer zone, a spillover from the war in Syria. A resolution adopted unanimously by the council extends the mandate of the U.N. force, known as UNDOF, until June 30. UNDOF has patrolled the buffer zone between Syria and Israel since 1974, a year after the Arab-Israeli war and for nearly four decades it helped enforce a stable truce between the two countries.

  • Denmark targets 2 accused of jihadi propaganda

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish authorities have opened criminal cases against two men accused of incitement to violence by spreading jihadi videos and images online. Police in North Zealand on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old Dane accused of spreading "extremist video material" on the Internet. Investigators say the suspect had been under surveillance since returning from Syria, where he had traveled in 2013. In a separate case, a Copenhagen court on Thursday issued a detention order for a 26-year-old man who in July published Facebook photos of himself posing with severed heads, apparently in Syria. He also posted statements in support of the Islamic State group. Prosecutors said they would file an international arrest w

  • Yemen's parliament approves new Cabinet

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's parliament on Thursday approved a new government despite months of violence and political wrangling that has shaken the country. Parliament's approval could ease tensions but it is unlikely to resolve the power struggle between President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Shiite Houthi rebels who in September seized control of the capital, Sanaa, and are allied with loyalists of former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Houthis' power grab was met with suicide bombings and deadly attacks, mainly by Sunni rivals from al-Qaida and allied tribes.

  • Saudi says oil decisions not linked to politics

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's oil chief said in comments published Thursday that there are no links between the kingdom's decision to oppose production cuts and political objectives — an apparent response to accusations last week from Shiite powerhouse Iran. Petroleum Minister Ali Naimi was quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency as saying that there are "incorrect information and analyses ... linking petroleum decisions with political objectives." "These erroneous analyses will undoubtedly be exposed and proven wrong," he said, adding that eventually "others will see that what we are doing will yield the best results for the kingdom.

  • Gulf stocks gain with Dubai closing 13 percent up

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Gulf equity markets made massive gains Thursday with Dubai's main stock market rising 13 percent, just two days after closing at its lowest point of the year. Abu Dhabi's stock market closed 6.7 percent higher on Thursday while the Saudi index closed 8.9 percent higher. The upswing in Gulf equities comes on the back of a rise in the price of benchmark U.S. crude, which closed 54 cents higher at $56.47 on Wednesday. Brent crude gained $1.17 to close at $61.18. It also came a day after the U.S. stock market had its best day in more than a year after the Federal Reserve said it foresaw no interest rate hikes in the first quarter of 2015.

  • Egypt sends 41 Islamists to prison for rioting

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    ASSIUT, Egypt (AP) — A criminal court in southern Egypt has convicted 41 Islamists on charges of rioting in August last year, and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from one to 15 years. Prosecutors in the city of Assiut had argued that the defendants — all supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi — ordered or participated in riots there shortly after the security forces' deadly breakup of two Islamist sit-ins in Cairo on Aug. 14, 2013. The Assiut rioting included torching of churches and attacking government buildings. The court on Thursday also acquitted 60 defendants in the case.

  • Iraq PM drops lawsuits against journalists

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday ordered the withdrawal of all government lawsuits against journalists and media outlets, marking a departure from his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki, who was widely accused of using state institutions to target his political enemies. The move reflects al-Abadi's "keenness to ensure freedom of expression...and his desire that the media have a big role in building the country," a government statement said, without providing details on ongoing cases. It went on to urge all media organizations to practice "responsible" journalism. The Head of the Iraqi Journalists' Union, Mouyyad al-Lami, hailed the decree, saying it would help create a "safe environment for journalis

  • Shareholders back DP World's London delisting

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — DP World, one of the world's largest port operators, says its shareholders have approved delisting from the London Stock Exchange and the acquisition of a Dubai government-linked operator of free-trade zones for $2.6 billion. Chairman of DP World Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said in a company statement Thursday that the acquisition of Economic Zones World will help the company enhance its logistics operations. EZW runs the vast Jebel Ali free zone complex in Dubai and DP World operates its nearby port. Both companies are majority-owned by the government through its Dubai World conglomerate. The EZW transaction will be completed during the second quarter of 2015. The delisting is ex

  • Two-speed labor system in Qatar for 2022 World Cup

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Men crammed together, dozens to a room, on bunk beds so close they can reach over and shake hands. Qatar, on paper at least, has rules that forbid such uncomfortable conditions for its massive workforce of migrant laborers. Yet this is how the government-owned transport company, which the Gulf nation will use to ferry visitors around the 2022 World Cup, has housed some of its workers. As Qatar employs legions of migrants to build stadiums and other works for the football showcase, widespread labor abuses documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other critics have blackened its name and $160 billion preparations.

  • Iran to hold military drill near strategic passage

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's state TV says the military will hold a massive drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf next week. The report Thursday says the weeklong exercise will be carried out over 2.2 million square kilometers (0.85 million square miles) including the eastern part of the passage, through which one fifth of the world oil supply passes. It says the drill will begin Dec. 25 and include Iranian navy, air force, ground units and the elite Revolutionary Guard, with the troops test-firing new weapons.

  • Qatar: Building team to spring surprise in 2022

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    DOHA, Qatar (AP) — It's a cold, hard fact of football: Countries with tiny populations don't generally beat big ones with deep wells of talented players. So how embarrassing might the score be when Qatar — smallest host in World Cup history, with just 282,750 citizens — plays the opening game of its 2022 tournament against, for example, titans Brazil or Germany? At best 5-0? At worst 10-0, even 30-0? "Impossible, impossible," said Ivan Bravo, the former Real Madrid administrator working to prevent such a loss from party-pooping over the Middle East's first World Cup. "They will be ready to have a very good team, a competitive team.