• 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.

  • Fears mount over Palmyra as IS expands territory in Syria

    Updated: Thu, May 21, 2015

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Fears mounted over the fate of one of the Mideast's most prominent archaeological sites after Islamic State militants overran the historic Syrian town of Palmyra, seizing control Thursday of its temples, tombs and colonnades within hours. The takeover also expanded the extremists' hold, making them the single group controlling the most territory in Syria. "The Syrian regime appears to be in terminal decline, and the Islamic State group in its timing is capitalizing on recent losses by government forces in the north and south," said Amr Al-Azm, an antiquities expert and professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio.

  • A look at Palmyra, the historic Syrian town captured by IS

    Updated: Thu, May 21, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — A look at Palmyra, the Syrian archaeological gem captured by Islamic State fighters. LOCATION: A desert oasis surrounded by palm trees in central Syria, Palmyra is also a strategic crossroads linking the Syrian capital Damascus with the country's east and neighboring Iraq. Home to 65,000 people before the latest fighting, the town is located 155 miles (215 kilometers) east of Damascus. HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE: A UNESCO world heritage site, Palymra boasts 2,000-year-old towering Roman-era colonnades, temples and priceless artifacts that have earned it the affectionate name among Syrians of the "Bride of the Desert.

  • Mideast youth unemployment rises amid post-Arab Spring chaos

    Updated: Thu, May 21, 2015

    KITTEH, Jordan (AP) — Fawziyeh Sharif and dozens of other young women who make jeans for the U.S. market in a factory in this village in northern Jordan consider themselves lucky — even though they spend 48 hours a week bent over sewing machines for minimum wage. Sharif, 24, landed her first-ever job when the Ivory Garments Factory opened last year and created employment in an area where options had largely been limited to men joining the army and women staying home. Sharif said the job boosted her confidence and that she hopes to work her way up to section supervisor. Yet for millions of young people in the Middle East and North Africa, jobs remain out of reach and the problem has only worsened in the post-Arab Spring tu

  • Report: Iranian ship with Yemen aid has arrived in Djibouti

    Updated: Thu, May 21, 2015

    WASHINGTON (AP) — An Iranian cargo ship loaded with aid bound for Yemen arrived in Djibouti on Thursday and is anchored offshore, a U.S. official said. Iran's semi-official Fars news agency said the ship is in Djibouti waters and will dock "within hours." The diversion of the ship to the small African country where the U.N. is coordinating the response to Yemen's conflict would defuse a potential crisis with Saudi Arabia, which had warned the ship not to proceed directly to Yemen. Iran had provided the ship with a naval escort and warned against any interference. Iran supports the Shiite rebels in Yemen, known as Houthis, who seized the capital last year, but Tehran denies arming them.

  • Senior Israeli diplomat: 'This land is ours'

    Updated: Thu, May 21, 2015

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's new deputy foreign minister on Thursday delivered a defiant message to the international community, saying that Israel owes no apologies for its policies in the Holy Land and citing religious texts to back her belief that it belongs to the Jewish people. The speech by Tzipi Hotovely illustrated the influence of hardliners in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government, and the challenges he will face as he tries to persuade the world that he is serious about pursuing peace with the Palestinians. Hotovely, 36, is among a generation of young hard-liners in Netanyahu's Likud Party who support West Bank settlement construction and oppose ceding captured land to the Palestinians.

  • Germany charges 2 alleged members of Islamic State group

    Updated: Thu, May 21, 2015

    BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors say they have filed terror charges against two men they say are members of the Islamic State group who traveled to Syria via Turkey in May 2014. Federal prosecutors said Thursday that 27-year-old Ayoub B. and 26-year-old Ebrahim H. B. — whose surnames were withheld under German privacy rules — have been charged with being members of a foreign terror organization. The 27-year-old allegedly underwent weapons training and later took part in fighting near Syria's Iraqi border. Prosecutors said the 26-year-old volunteered to carry out a suicide bombing in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, but the plan collapsed after some of the IS members he traveled with were arrested.




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