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  • Sweden, after IKEA tit-for-tat, hopes Israel ties will recover 

    Margot Wallstroem, Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs is pictured during an interview with AFP at her office on October 31, 2014 in StockholmSweden's foreign minister said Friday she hoped ties with Israel would recover after Stockholm's decision to recognise the state of Palestine led to an unusual exchange involving IKEA furniture. Margot Wallstroem was speaking exclusively to AFP one day after Sweden became the first EU member in western Europe to grant official recognition to the Palestinian state, prompting Israel to recall its ambassador to Stockholm.

  • Judge won't close hearing in Islamic State case CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge on Friday denied a government request to partially close a detention hearing for a 19-year-old suburban Chicago man who authorities say violated U.S. law by trying to travel to Syria to join Islamic State militants.
  • Analysis: In Syria, no good options for West 

    FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 file photo, Syrian Kurdish refugee Mohammad Hassan, 84, from Kobani, seen in the background, weeps on a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, Turkey, near the Turkey-Syria border. With the Syrian civil war in its fourth ruinous year, there is no end in sight, hundreds of thousands are dead, and millions have been displaced. The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group, after more than a month, is limited to airstrikes and has not dislodged the radical group from a single major town it controls in Syria or Iraq.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)UNDATED (AP) — With the U.S.-led assault on the Islamic State group, the world community is acting in Syria, but not in the Syrian civil war. When it comes to the issue that has undermined the region — the survival or fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad — there is still no plan.

  • Foreign jihadists flock to IS despite air strikes The Islamic State group is recruiting foreign jihadists on an "unprecedented scale" despite international efforts to stem the tide, according to experts and extracts of a UN report published by Britain's Guardian newspaper. Latest US figures show that around 1,000 foreign fighters are flocking to fight in Iraq and Syria every month, and experts warn that the newest militants may be more extreme than early recruits. "Many foreign fighters that originally left for Syria really did think they were going out for a humanitarian cause," said Erin Marie Saltman, senior researcher at counter-extremism think tank Quilliam. Russian fighters constitute the biggest single fighting force from a non-Muslim country, numbering over 800, and the US-led air strikes will only strengthen their resolve, according to a local expert.
  • Italy PM picks Paolo Gentiloni as new foreign minister in surprise choice 

    Italy's Prime Minister Renzi arrives for the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in MilanROME (Reuters) - Prime Minister Matteo Renzi appointed Paolo Gentiloni, a close ally and former communications minister, to be Italy's new foreign minister on Friday, in a surprise decision. Gentiloni, who was sworn in on Friday night by President Giorgio Napolitano, replaces Federica Mogherini, who left the foreign ministry this week to become the EU's new top diplomat. As foreign minister, Gentiloni, a senior member in the prime minister's Democratic Party (PD), will now play a key role in the remaining two months of Italy's presidency of the European Union, which ends on Dec. 31. ...

  • Muslim men over 50 pray at Jerusalem's Aqsa mosque amid tight security 

    Palestinians pray as Israeli police officers stand guard during Friday prayers in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi al-JozBy Luke Baker JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Muslim men over 50 prayed at the Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday amid intense security, a day after Israel closed all access to the sacred compound for the first time in more than a decade following violence on the streets. More than 1,000 Israeli police were deployed around the Old City's cobbled streets and the ancient gates that lead to al Aqsa, a spokeswoman said, in addition to undercover anti-riot units and observation balloons floating in the sky. ...

  • Israel presents maritime version of 'Iron Dome' 

    A model of Israeli weapon company Rafael' C-Dome is presented at the Euronaval show, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. Israel's state-owned defense contractor Rafael wants to leverage the system's much-vaunted success in protecting Israeli civilians in this summer's Gaza war, hoping to draw navies as buyers for a new maritime version seen as especially useful in protecting national economic resources at sea like oil and gas platforms. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)LE BOURGET, France (AP) — Israel's "Iron Dome" is heading to the seas, the maker of the rocket-blocking defense system says.

  • Air strikes fail to stem flow of foreign fighters to Syria: report 

    Smoke rises from an explosion in the Syrian town of Kobane after a US-led coalition air strike, as seen from the Turkish border in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province, on October 18, 2014Foreign fighters continue pouring into Syria at a rate of more than 1,000 a month, a pace that has not changed despite the US-led air campaign against Islamic State jihadists, the Washington Post reported late Thursday. "The flow of fighters making their way to Syria remains constant, so the overall number continues to rise," a US intelligence official said. It said the trend over the past year suggests there are more than 16,000 foreign fighters in Syria, the Post said.

  • Israel pledges to reopen Jerusalem flashpoint 

    Right-wing Israelis demonstrate at the Western wall plaza next to al-Aqsa mosque compound in the old city of Jerusalem, on October 30, 2014Israel shut the Al-Aqsa mosque compound Thursday then promised to reopen it, after clashes in east Jerusalem where police killed a Palestinian accused of trying to murder a hardline rabbi. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP the shrine would open early Friday "for dawn prayers, after midnight" following its first closure in decades. Israel said its clampdown on the shrine, which is holy to Jews and Muslims alike, was a temporary measure aimed at calming tempers. Thursday's closure brought Arab and US calls for Muslim worshippers to be allowed access, and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas condemned it as an Israeli "declaration of war".

  • UN chief launches campaign to end female genital mutilation 

    Kenyan Maasai women gather during a meeting dedicated to the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), on June 12, 2014, in EnkorikaUN chief Ban Ki-moon launched Thursday a global campaign to end the often deadly practice of female genital mutilation within a generation, as survivors said it had "shattered" their lives. "The mutilation of girls and women must stop in this generation, our generation," Ban said on a visit to the Kenyan capital Nairobi. "Men and boys must also be encouraged to support the fight against FGM -- and they should be praised when they do." FGM ranges from the hacking off of the clitoris to the mutilation and removal of the entire female genitalia, and is carried out from the youngest babies to teenagers.

  • Sweden recognises Palestinian state, Israel recalls envoy 

    A Palestinian flag hangs outside the Palestinian Representative Office in Stockholm, Sweden capital, on October 30, 2014Sweden on Thursday officially recognised the state of Palestine, becoming the first EU member in western Europe to do so, prompting Israel to recall its ambassador to Stockholm. We're choosing the side of the peace process," Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem told reporters as she explained the controversial decision. Just hours after the Swedish announcement, Israel said it was recalling its ambassador to Stockholm for "consultations". "This indeed reflects our irritation and annoyance at this unhelpful decision, which does not contribute to a return to (peace) negotiations," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon told AFP.

  • Clashes erupt as Israeli police kill Palestinian suspected of shooting Jewish far-rightist 

    Mourners carry the body of Moataz Hejazi into a Muslim cemetery in east JerusalemBy Luke Baker JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli police on Thursday shot dead a 32-year-old Palestinian man suspected of having tried hours earlier to kill a far-right Jewish activist, leading to fierce clashes in East Jerusalem and fears of a new Palestinian uprising. The Al-Aqsa compound, or Temple Mount, a holy site at the heart of the latest violence, was shut down for almost an entire day to all visitors as a security precaution. It was the first full closure of the site, venerated by both Jews and Muslims, in 14 years. Late on Thursday Israeli police reopened the complex. ...

  • Israel recalls envoy after Sweden recognises Palestine: ministry 

    A man walks by the entrance of the Palestinian Representative Office in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 30, 2014Israel recalled its ambassador to Sweden for "consultations" Thursday, hours after Stockholm officially recognised the state of Palestine, the foreign ministry spokesman said. "This indeed reflects our irritation and annoyance at this unhelpful decision, which does not contribute to a return to (peace) negotiations," Emmanuel Nachshon told AFP. He said the recall of Ambassador Isaac Bachman was for an unspecified length of time. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem announced her country's recognition of Palestine Thursday, making it the first major European country to do so.

  • Syrian air strikes kill over 200 civilians in 10 days: monitor BEIRUT (Reuters) - Bombing runs by the Syrian air force over the past 10 days have killed at least 221 civilians, a third of them children, a group monitoring Syria's civil war said on Thursday. The intensifying offensive by President Bashar al-Assad's forces has heightened concerns among his opponents that he may be taking advantage of U.S.-led air raids on Islamic State insurgents to regain territory elsewhere in the country. Since Oct. ...
  • Sweden recognizes Palestinian state, hopes will revive peace process 

    Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom attends a news conference at the Rosenbad government building in StockholmBy Simon Johnson STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Swedish government officially recognized the state of Palestine on Thursday and said there were signs European Union states would follow its lead. The move drew praise from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and criticism from Israel, and has displeased the United States, Israel's principle supporter. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told reporters her government hoped it would bring a new dynamic to efforts to end decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ...

  • Jerusalem on edge after police kill Palestinian gunman 

    Masked Palestinian youths clash with Israeli security forces in the mostly Arab east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Abu Tor on October 30, 2014Clashes raged in east Jerusalem Thursday after Israeli police shot dead a Palestinian accused of trying to kill a Jewish hardliner, as Al-Aqsa mosque compound was closed for the first time in decades. Israel said its closure of the flashpoint shrine, which is holy to Jews and Muslims alike, was a temporary measure aimed at calming tempers. Wednesday night's shooting incident and the subsequent killing of the suspected gunman sent tensions soaring to a new high, following months of almost daily clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in the occupied eastern sector of the Holy City. Officials from the Islamic Waqf, which administers the esplanade, confirmed it was the first time such a measure had been taken since Israel seized Arab east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.

  • Amnesty: Libyan militias committing war crimes CAIRO (AP) — Amnesty International said rival militias and armed groups in Western Libya are committing "mounting war crimes" with impunity.
  • Australia passes laws cracking down on foreign fighters 

    Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia, addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New YorkSYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia passed laws on Thursday aimed at preventing young people from becoming radicalized and going to fight in overseas conflicts such as those in Iraq and Syria, where scores of Australians have joined militant groups. Last month, the United Nations demanded that all states make it a serious criminal offence for their citizens to travel abroad to fight with militant groups, or to recruit and fund others to do so, in a move sparked by the rise of Islamic State. ...

  • Libya militias commit 'mounting war crimes': Amnesty 

    Smoke billows from buildings in Benghazi pounded by Libyan airforce, as they were reported storing ammunition belonging to Benghazi-based Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group, on October 22, 2014Pro-government and rebel militias vying for control of western Libya are committing war crimes including torturing detainees and targeting civilians, Amnesty International said Thursday. Libya is being rocked by fighting between militias in the west and in second city Benghazi, where troops are trying to dislodge Islamists who control most of what was the cradle of the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Moamer Kadhafi. Amnesty said militias in the west showed "an utter disregard" for civilian casualties and accused them of indiscriminately lobbing artillery fire into crowded civilian neighbourhoods, damaging homes and hospitals. "In today's Libya, the rule of the gun has taken hold," said Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa programme.

  • Palestinians urge UN to demand Israel end settlements 

    Buildings under construction are seen in the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit near the Palestinian West Bank village of Wadi Fukin, on September 4, 2014The Palestinians urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday to demand that Israel immediately reverse plans to build more Jewish settlements, at an emergency meeting called to address tensions in east Jerusalem. The 15-nation council met for urgent talks at Jordan's request after Israel announced plans on Monday to build 1,000 new settler homes in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians consider the capital of a future state.

  • Anonymous US comment on Israel roils relations 

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest pauses as he answers a question about insulting comments made towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a unidentified Obama official, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, during the daily press briefing oat the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)WASHINGTON (AP) — Anonymous White House criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that drew condemnation in Israel is roiling Washington politics, putting the U.S. administration on the defensive and prompting congressional demands for President Barack Obama to repudiate the remarks.

  • Israel's Netanyahu fumes at reported U.S. slur 

    A view of Wadi Fukin is seen from the Jewish settlement of Beitar IllitBy Jeffrey Heller JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An anonymous U.S. official's reported description of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "chickenshit", or worthless coward, drew a sharp response on Wednesday from the Israeli leader - no stranger to acrimony with the Obama administration. The American broadside, in an interview in The Atlantic magazine, followed a month of heated exchanges between the Netanyahu government and Washington over settlement-building in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, which Palestinians seek as the capital of a future state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. ...

  • Bangladesh Islamist party chief sentenced to death 

    Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami sits inside a police van after he was sentenced to death for his role in the deaths of thousands of people during the nation's independence war against Pakistan in 1971, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. Nizami, a former Cabinet minister, was tried on 16 charges, including genocide, murder, torture, rape and destruction of property. Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people, raped 200,000 women and forced about 10 million people to take shelter in refugee camps across the border in neighboring India during the nine-month war. (AP Photo/Tanvir Ahammed)DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A special tribunal sentenced the leader of Bangladesh's largest Islamist party to death on Wednesday for atrocities and multiple killings during the nation's independence war against Pakistan in 1971.

  • Kerry says Canadian parliament attack clearly 'terrorist act' By David Brunnstrom and Randall Palmer OTTAWA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that an attack on the Canadian parliament and the country's National War Memorial last week in which a soldier was killed was clearly a terrorist act. "Clearly, anybody who walks up in a premeditated way with a loaded rifle and attacks someone in uniform then purposely goes to a parliament, is committing, by common sense standards, a terrorist act," Kerry told a news briefing after talks in Ottawa with his Canadian counterpart, Foreign Minister John Baird. ...
  • Thousands mourn Canada soldier killed in Ottawa attack 

    The funeral procession for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo approaches Christ's Church Cathedral on October 28, 2014 in Hamilton, Ontario, CanadaThousands of mourners lined the streets of the Canadian city of Hamilton for the funeral procession of a soldier killed last week in an attack in the nation's capital. Wailing bagpipes and a solitary drum beat broke a solemn silence as hundreds of soldiers, veterans and police officers marched alongside the flag-draped casket of Corporal Nathan Cirillo to a cathedral in his hometown. His bereaved family, including his six-year-old son wearing his father's beret, also participated in the funeral procession, viewed on television by millions nationwide. Cirillo was fatally shot last week while standing watch at the War Memorial in Ottawa.

  • Germany warns security situation 'critical' due to radical Islam By Alexandra Hudson and Sabine Siebold BERLIN (Reuters) - Radical Islam poses a critical security threat to Germany, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned on Tuesday, saying the number of people capable of staging attacks in the country stood at an all-time high. Besides the risk posed by German jihadists returning from Syria, there was also the danger of violent clashes on German streets as rival extremist groups turn on each other - mirroring the conflicts of the Middle East, he told a security conference. ...
  • 'El Dorado' Britain must reduce its appeal to migrants: French mayor 

    A couple look at the view of the London skyline from Greenwich Park in LondonLONDON (Reuters) - Britain needs to overhaul the generous welfare system and lax identity controls that are making it a magnet for illegal immigrants who see it as "El Dorado", the mayor of the northern French port town Calais said on Tuesday. Last week French riot police in Calais used teargas to ward off hundreds of immigrants seeking to jump on trucks bound for Britain, where growing concerns over immigration threaten Prime Minister David Cameron's prospects of re-election. ...

  • Islamic bond market set to grow: experts 

    Dubai now the third global centre for sukuk following the recent listing of $750 million in such bonds by its government, and plans by Hong Kong to list its first successful offering of $1 billion on Nasdaq DubaiInvestments in Islamic bonds known as "sukuk" are set to grow worldwide as financial centres vie to tap an increasing appetite for Muslim-friendly debt, experts and officials said Tuesday. The global value of outstanding sukuk was $269.4 billion at the end of 2013, but the market is expected to expand at a double-digit rate, said the governor of Dubai International Financial Centre, Essa Kazim. "The sukuk market is likely to sustain double-digit growth in the next three years with assets in Islamic finance expected to reach $2.8 trillion by 2015," he told participants at the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum in Dubai. Kazim said Dubai was now the third global centre for sukuk following the recent listing of $750 million in such bonds by its government, and plans by Hong Kong to list its first successful offering of $1 billion on Nasdaq Dubai.

  • Macy's to head overseas with branch in Abu Dhabi 

    This artist rendering image released by Gulf Related on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 shows, Macy's at the Al Maryah Central in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Middle East will soon be getting its second Bloomingdales and the world’s first Macy’s department store outside the United States. Property developer Gulf Related and Dubai-based retail conglomerate Al Tayer Group said on Tuesday they plan to open both stores in a new shopping center being built in the United Arab Emirates’ oil-rich capital of Abu Dhabi. (AP Photo/Gulf Related)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Middle East is getting the world's first Macy's department store outside the United States, and just for good measure, its second Bloomingdale's too.

  • Iran accuses Turkey of prolonging civil war in Syria ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran accused Turkey on Tuesday of prolonging the three-year conflict in neighboring Syria by insisting on President Bashar al-Assad's overthrow and supporting "terrorist groups" in Syria, the official IRNA news agency reported. Tehran and Ankara back opposing sides in the civil war, which pits rebel forces including radical Sunni Muslim fighters from the Islamic State against Assad, Tehran's closest regional ally. ...
  • No British support for Mediterranean migrant rescues 

    Picture released by the Italian Navy on August 4, 2014 shows migrants on a boat in the Mediterranean Sea after being rescuedLondon (AFP) - Britain will not support planned EU search and rescue operations to save migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea as they try to reach Europe, the foreign office said on Tuesday.

  • Suicide bomber kills 27 militiamen south of Iraqi capital 

    Iraqi Army personnel transport a wounded soldier after a mortar attack in Jurf al-Sakhar, south of BaghdadBy Michael Georgy BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least 27 Shi'ite militiamen outside the Iraqi town of Jurf al-Sakhar on Monday after security forces pushed Islamic State militants out of the area over the weekend, army and police sources said. The attacker, driving a Humvee vehicle packed with explosives and likely stolen from defeated government troops, also wounded 60 Shi'ite Muslim militiamen, who had helped government forces retake the town just south of the capital. ...

  • Australian teenager features in second IS video CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian teenage runaway, dubbed the Ginger Jihadist by the media, has been featured in a second Islamic State propaganda video.
  • Austrian drones fly high, over Ukraine and beyond 

    CEO Hannes Hecher is pictured at the Schiebel camcopter factory on October 23, 2014 in Wiener Neustadt, some 50 kilometers south of ViennaIn the middle of the Austrian countryside, a few sleek, high-tech drones sit in a bright production hall, ready for missions over Ukraine, the Mediterranean or the Middle East. Schiebel, a small company originally specialised in landmine detection, has been manufacturing Camcopters -- a 3.5-metre (11.5-foot) long mini-helicopter equipped with cameras, radars and other sensors -- for close to 10 years. "Schiebel is actually the leading unmanned VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) supplier at present," according to Oliver Shorvon of London-based IHS Jane's Aerospace and Defence Consulting. Costing a few million euros, with over eight hours' endurance and weighing a mere 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds), the Camcopter -- which Schiebel insists is only for observation and not armed -- managed to impose itself over a dozen other drones, even those produced by top defence companies like Sweden's SAAB and Airbus.

  • U.S. unveils coalition to fight Islamic state in cyberspace By Ahmed Hagagy KUWAIT (Reuters) - The United States on Monday unveiled what it called an information coalition with Muslim and Western nations to combat efforts by Islamic State to recruit online and stoke sectarian hatred through a "cult of violence". U.S. officials told delegates from European and Arab countries at a meeting in Kuwait that this should complement parallel campaigns against the armed group on the battlefield and in the world of finance. ...
  • Secular party set to win Tunisia elections 

    Civil servants discuss at results from the Tunis region parliamentary elections in a Tunis voting center, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. Tunisia's main secular opposition party was claiming victory on Monday over once-dominant Islamists in the country's historic parliamentary elections. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia's main secular opposition party was claiming victory on Monday over once-dominant Islamists in the country's historic parliamentary elections.

  • British surgeon killed unlawfully in Syrian jail: London court LONDON (Reuters) - A British surgeon who died in a Syrian prison last year days before his planned release was unlawfully killed, a London jury investigating the case ruled on Monday. Abbas Khan, a 32-year-old orthopedic surgeon from London, was detained in Syria almost two years ago and found dead in a prison cell last December. His family said Khan had been arrested in the northern city of Aleppo within 48 hours of arriving in Syria to volunteer as an emergency doctor and had not hanged himself days before his scheduled release, as the Syrian authorities had said. ...
  • Jury: British doctor killed 'unlawfully' in Syria LONDON (AP) — The family of a British doctor who died last year in a Syrian prison claimed vindication Monday after a jury determined that he had been unlawfully killed.
  • U.S. sees Syria rebels in political, not military solution: Asharq al-Awsat newspaper 

    Rebel fighters carry their weapons as they move towards their positions at the frontline against forces of Syria's President Assad in the Handarat areaBEIRUT (Reuters) - The United States does not expect Syrian rebels it plans to train to fight Islamic State militants to also take on President Bashar al-Assad's forces, but sees them as a crucial part of a political solution to end the war, the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper quoted a senior U.S. official as saying. The United States, which is leading an international coalition bombing Islamic State in Syria, has said it wants to train and equip "moderate" rebels to fight the militant group which has seized tracts of land in Syria and neighboring Iraq. ...

  • Assad's warnings start to ring true in Turkey 

    Kurdish refugees look at their town of Kobani covered by thick smoke from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in Sanliurfa provinceBy Samia Nakhoul BEIRUT (Reuters) - When Sunni rebels rose up against Syria's Bashar al-Assad in 2011, Turkey reclassified its protégé as a pariah, expecting him to lose power within months and join the autocrats of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen on the scrap heap of the "Arab Spring". Assad, in contrast, shielded diplomatically by Russia and with military and financial support from Iran and its Shi’ite allies in Lebanon's Hezbollah, warned that the fires of Syria’s sectarian war would burn its neighbors. For Turkey, despite the confidence of Tayyip Erdogan, elected this summer to the presidency after 11 years as prime minister and three straight general election victories, Assad’s warning is starting to ring uncomfortably true. Turkey’s foreign policy is in ruins.



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