• Syrian official: Islamic State militants in Palmyra's museum

    Updated: Sat, May 23, 2015

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Islamic State fighters broke into the museum of Palmyra, though a Syrian official said its artifacts have been removed and are safe while the U.S.-led coalition conducted airstrikes on the group's installations near the captured ancient town — the first such reported attack in the central province of Homs. The Department of Defense said in a statement that U.S.-led coalition aircraft had attacked an IS position near Palmyra, which goes by the modern name Tadmur, destroying six anti-aircraft artillery systems and an artillery piece. The Islamic State group captured Palmyra on Wednesday, raising concerns around the world they would destroy priceless, 2,000-year-old temples, tombs and colonnades locate

  • At Mideast forum, officials seek world's help

    Updated: Sat, May 23, 2015

    SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) — Mideast-weary though it may be, the international community has a duty and an interest in helping the countries of the region both rebuff violent extremists and fix the refugee crisis that in part has resulted from the fight with them — that was the message coming from the regional World Economic Forum Saturday. "In Iraq and the region as a whole, the biggest challenge we face is extremism and terrorism, but this has repercussions at the international level," said Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi. "Terrorism is not plaguing Iraq alone but is spilling over," agreed Saleh Muhammed Al Mutlaq, Iraq's deputy prime minister. "If it does, it will affect the stability and security of the whole world

  • AP Interview: Top UN official says Europe must open borders

    Updated: Sat, May 23, 2015

    SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) — Borders must be "open to Syrians everywhere," including in Europe, to help ease the logistical burden of Middle Eastern countries that have absorbed close to 4 million Syrian refugees, the head of the U.N. refugee agency said Saturday. Antonio Guterres also appealed to the international community to boost development aid to refugee host countries such as Jordan and Lebanon. "They are the first line of defense for global collective security and they are pillars, essential pillars, for regional security," Guterres told The Associated Press at a regional World Economic Forum conference. "If they fall, the consequences will be dramatic for the whole world.

  • Yemeni official: President will not attend peace talks

    Updated: Sat, May 23, 2015

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni government spokesman Rageh Badi said Saturday that embattled Yemeni president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi will not attend upcoming peace talks in Geneva as Saudi-led airstrikes continued to hit multiple provinces in Yemen. The announcement is a blow to the planned talks, which are aimed ending weeks of airstrikes against an Iran-supported rebel group amid a growing humanitarian crisis that has left millions short of food and fuel. Badi says Hadi will not attend due to the security situation and because Shiite Houthi rebels have not satisfied a government pre-condition to pull out of towns and cities they occupy — including the capital, Sanaa.

  • Syrians try to build case against Assad in chlorine attacks

    Updated: Sat, May 23, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — With only a cloth mask for protection, Firas Kayali rushed to try to rescue the residents of a house in a village in rebel-held northern Syria after a barrel bomb, suspected to be filled with chlorine gas, hit nearby. Once a house painter and now a member in a volunteer rescue team, Kayali tried once, twice, three times to break into the house, but he was overcome by the gas and passed out. Only 20 minutes later, after the gas dissipated, was the team able to get into the house. Inside, they found a toddler dead, still wrapped in his blankets in bed, Kayali told The Associated Press, recounting the May 2 attack. The child's father died a few days later, his lungs collapsed, in a hospital near the Turkish borde

  • Egypt court acquits 17 in protest that saw mother shot dead

    Updated: Sat, May 23, 2015

    CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court acquitted 17 people on Saturday over taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration earlier this year in which a young mother was shot to death in downtown Cairo. At least one of those affected by the decision is a witness to the killing of 32-year-old Shaimaa el-Sabbagh, an unarmed protester taking part in a peaceful demonstration. A police lieutenant faces a manslaughter charge over her killing at the January demonstration on the eve of the anniversary of Egypt's 2011 revolt against autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Azza Suleiman, an activist who is among those acquitted, said she was at a restaurant across the street when the protest began.

  • UN envoy: IS poised to become 'serious threat' in Libya

    Updated: Sat, May 23, 2015

    SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) — Islamic State extremists can pose "a very serious threat" to divided Libya if rival governments there fail to reach a unity deal quickly, the United Nations envoy to the North African country said Saturday. Bernadino Leon, who is mediating political talks, told a regional conference of the World Economic Forum that he hopes for a deal before the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in mid-June. Libya has fragmented since the capital of Tripoli was overrun last year by Islamist-allied militias who set up their own government and parliament there while Libya's internationally recognized government withdrew to the east of the country. The U.N.

  • Cyprus' rival leaders take stroll through divided capital

    Updated: Sat, May 23, 2015

    NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Rival Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders took a stroll together on both sides of the divided capital's medieval center on Saturday to raise the feel-good factor as talks aimed at reunifying the ethnically split island kick into gear. It's the first time that the leaders have done so since the east Mediterranean island was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey, which maintains more than 30,000 troops in the breakaway north, recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence.

  • AP Interview: Leader says Mideast pays price for gender gap

    Updated: Sat, May 23, 2015

    SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) — Bring more Arab women into the workforce, invest in "bite-sized" infrastructure projects and get the private sector more involved in training young job seekers — these are the prescriptions of a leading Gulf entrepreneur for growing Middle Eastern economies and combating rampant youth unemployment. Decision-makers long seemed paralyzed by the sheer size of the troubled region's economic problems, but attitudes have changed in recent years, said Omar Kutayba Alghanim, co-chairman of this week's regional World Economic Forum conference and a leader of private sector efforts to tackle youth unemployment.

  • 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




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