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  • Morocco posts fall in foreign tourist arrivals 

    Tourism is a backbone of Morocco's economy, along with revenues from exports and the remittances of Moroccans who work abroadMorocco has announced a 5.6 percent drop in foreign tourist arrivals for the first half of 2016, with holidaymakers apparently put off by unrest and attacks across the region. Morocco has been spared unrest triggered by the Arab Spring revolts that have rocked North Africa and the Middle East since 2011, as well as attacks claimed by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. The number of Moroccans living abroad who visited the country in the first half of the year was up by 1.7 percent, said the Moroccan Observatory for Tourism.


  • Private lives are exposed as WikiLeaks spills its secrets 

    In this Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 photo, a selection of private medical files published by transparency website WikiLeaks is shown in Paris. WikiLeaks’ global crusade to expose government secrets is causing collateral damage to the privacy of hundreds of innocent people, including survivors of sexual abuse, sick children and the mentally ill, The Associated Press has found.(AP Photo/Raphael Satter)CAIRO (AP) — WikiLeaks' global crusade to expose government secrets is causing collateral damage to the privacy of hundreds of innocent people, including survivors of sexual abuse, sick children and the mentally ill, The Associated Press has found.


  • US, Biden face tough task to mend relations with Turkey 

    FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2016 file photo, Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a news conference in Belgrade, Serbia. Biden faces a difficult mission when he travels to Ankara on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, to try to smooth over recent strains: He comes bearing no assurances that the U.S. will agree to Turkey’s demand that it extradite Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — With suspicions on both sides mounting, the United States is struggling to preserve its wobbly partnership with Turkey as the Turks entertain closer relations with Russia and fume over a U.S.-based cleric blamed for orchestrating last month's failed coup.


  • Sudanese migrant killed in Calais clashes 

    The two migrants were among a group of people from the "Jungle" camp who tried to access a motorway to smuggle onto trucks crossing the Channel to BritainOne Sudanese migrant was killed and another injured in clashes with Afghan migrants outside the French port of Calais, authorities said Tuesday. The two migrants were among a group of people from the "Jungle" camp who tried to access a motorway to smuggle onto trucks crossing the Channel to Britain on Monday night, local police said. A fight later broke out between groups of Afghans and Sudanese returning to the sprawling "Jungle", which is home to nearly 7,000 migrants from across Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.


  • Israeli air strikes target Syria after Syrian fire hit its territory Israeli aircraft attacked a target in Syria on Monday after errant fire from fighting among factions in Syria struck inside Israel, Israel's military said. The Syrian fire had hit an open area near the border in the Golan Heights, causing no injuries, and in retaliation the air force targeted a "Syrian army launcher", the military said. The Israeli military has responded similarly in the past when mortar fire has landed in the Golan, territory Israel captured in a 1967 Middle East war, during battles in the Syrian conflict.
  • Separated during migrant chaos, family reunites in Sweden 

    In this Aug. 14, 2016 photo, Mahdi Azizi hugs his mother goodbye before boarding a bus to return to a centre for unaccompanied minors, in Vasteras, Sweden. Love, not war, made the Azizi family flee Iran during last summer’s chaotic mass migration to Europe. Luck reunited them a year after a dark night in a Turkish forest separated 14-year-old Mahdi Azizi from his parents and sisters. (AP Photo/David Keyton)VASTERFARNEBO, Sweden (AP) — Love, not war, sent an Afghan family fleeing from Iran during last summer's chaotic mass migration to Europe. Luck reunited them a year later, after a dark night in a Turkish forest separated 14-year-old Mahdi Azizi from his parents and sisters.


  • Analysis: Turkey's potentially momentous shift on Assad 

    FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2015 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, shakes hand with Syrian President Bashar Assad as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, looks on, at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia. For five years fighting has raged in Syria -- a globally resonant nightmare kept going in part by the insistence of Bashar Assad’s opponents that he must go even though they were failing to dislodge him from power. Now an inflection point may finally be at hand, with increasingly important Turkey suggesting Assad could play a role in an unspecified transition period. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)CAIRO (AP) — For five years fighting has raged in Syria — a humanitarian disaster destabilizing the region and the world. The aim of Bashar Assad's opponents' always was to drive the Syrian leader from power, but they have lacked the means to dislodge him. Now an inflection point may be at hand, with powerful opposition backer Turkey suggesting Assad, despite his brutality in the war, could play a role in an unspecified transition period.


  • Kerry says hopes talks with Russia on Syria 'nearing the end' U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday talks between the United States and Russia on military cooperation in the fight against Islamic State in Syria were nearing an end, with technical teams meeting this week to discuss details. "We are in indeed engaged currently in ongoing conversations, and it is my hope that we are reaching the end of those discussions one way or another," Kerry told a news conference during a visit to Kenya. "But that decision has to be made on the basis of where we are in the next couple of days." Kerry said the "Syrian travesty" had gone on for too long and it was imperative that powers supporting the Syrian regime, - Russia and Iran - and those backing the opposition - the United States and its Middle East partners - came together to end the fighting.
  • German official says situation in Turkey 'complicated' BERLIN (AP) — Germany's top security official has defended his ministry's confidential assessment of Turkey as "the central platform of action for Islamist groups" in the Middle East, which was leaked last week to the public.
  • Gulf tourism frenzy in Bosnia delights business, polarizes locals 

    Tourists enjoy along the Prokosko Lake near FojnicaBy Daria Sito-Sucic SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Abdulah Al Sanousi enjoys the breeze in the lush resort outside Sarajevo where his family bought a flat to escape the summer heat at home in Kuwait, one of thousands of new Gulf buyers whose investment has polarized local opinion. Bosnia does not have a national tourism authority and data on land purchases is patchy in the Balkan country which has a fragmented government system.


  • US cuts military advisers to Saudi-led coalition in Yemen 

    Saudi Arabia has led a 17-month-long campaign against rebels in Yemen, facing fierce criticism over air strikes on civilian targetsThe US military has slashed the number of intelligence advisers directly supporting the Saudi-led coalition's air war in Yemen, the US Navy said Saturday, following concerns over civilian casualties. The reassignment of personnel, around June, came because "there was not the same sort of requests coming in for assistance", Fifth Fleet spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey told AFP from its base in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia has faced repeated criticism from rights groups over civilian casualties in its 17-month campaign against rebels in Yemen.


  • The Latest: About 40 migrants get into Spanish enclave 

    A woman from Nigeria reacts on the Astral vessel after been rescued by members of Proactiva Open Arms NGO, during a rescue operation at the Mediterranean sea, about 17 miles north of Sabratah, Libya, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. Migrants seemingly prefer to face the dangers of the journey towards Europe, rather than stay at home.(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)MILAN (AP) — The Latest on European response to the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa (all times local):


  • Syria's first responders: 'Most dangerous job in the world' 

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 file photo, comrades carry Ilias Mahmoud al-Taweel, a member of Syrian Civil Defence, or White Helmets, during his funeral in in Douma, the suburbs of Damascus. Taweel died while rescuing victims of the shelling of the city. A Syrian volunteer search-and-rescue group has launched a campaign to win its first responders the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, operate in the country's war-ravaged opposition areas, where they are exposed daily to bombs dropped by government and Russian warplanes. The group's global following say their task is "the most dangerous job on the planet." (Feras Domy via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDITBEIRUT (AP) — It took Mahmoud Fadlallah and the team of seven rescue workers 30 minutes to reach the middle-aged couple trapped beneath the rubble of their apartment building in the contested Syrian city of Aleppo. They had been notified a rocket had struck the building, and they had to wait for the debris to fall and the dust to settle.


  • British-Australian man detained in Dubai for charity work 

    In this undated photograph provided by the advocacy group Detained in Dubai, British-Australian dual national Scott Richards is seen in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Richards, who wanted to raise money for Afghans who fled their country's long war, has been detained by Dubai police for weeks over promoting a charity, his supporters say. (Detained in Dubai photo via AP)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A British-Australian dual national living in Dubai who wanted to raise money for Afghans who fled their country's long war has been detained for weeks over promoting a charity, his supporters said Friday.


  • Ahmad Al-Faqi al-Mahdi, Islamic enforcer of Timbuktu 

    Ahmad Al-Faqi Al-Mahdi is expected to become the first person to face a single war crime charge of destroying cultural heritage when his trial opens in The Hague on MondayAhmad Al-Faqi Al-Mahdi, whose war crime trial in The Hague opens on Monday, is a quiet Koranic scholar turned ruthless enforcer for jihadists when they occupied the fabled Malian city of Timbuktu. Born around 40 years ago in Agoune, 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Timbuktu, the curly-haired former teacher was steeped in Islamic learning from a young age. Mahdi was soon recruited by the Islamist group Ansar Dine as "the most competent and prominent person in Timbuktu when it came to being knowledgeable in religious matters", in the words of International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors.


  • Bird strike forces Qatar Airways jet into emergency landing 

    Qatar Airways is one of the biggest carriers in the Middle EastA Qatar Airways passenger plane made an emergency landing at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport Thursday after a bird strike on one of its engines, the Gulf carrier said. All 312 passengers and crew were evacuated safely, Qatar Airways said. "Qatar Airways can confirm that QR240 from Istanbul to Doha experienced a bird strike, which resulted in its safe return to Istanbul," the airline said in a statement.


  • Abu Dhabi's NBAD to launch MidEast's first green bond: sources DUBAI (Reuters) - National Bank of Abu Dhabi plans to start an investor roadshow next week to issue a benchmark-sized green bond, the proceeds of which would be used to invest in renewable energy, banking sources said on Thursday. The bond would be the Middle East's first such "green bond", the sources said. Benchmark-sized generally means at least $500 million. An NBAD spokesman declined to comment. (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho and David French; Writing by Tom Arnold; Editing by Andrew Torchia)
  • Sierra Leone urged to ban FGM after death of teenage girl By Kieran Guilbert DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The death of a teenage girl in Sierra Leone during a female genital mutilation (FGM) procedure performed by a women-run secret society should spur the West African nation to ban the practice, anti-FGM campaigners said on Thursday. Fatmata Turay, 19, died earlier this week after undergoing FGM as part of her initiation rites for entry to the Bondo, a powerful society that carries out the practice and wields significant political clout, according to several campaigners. Rights groups which campaign against FGM, including FORWARD and Equality Now, urged Sierra Leone to carry out a thorough investigation into Turay's death, and ban the practice.
  • Serbia intercepts over 3,000 illegal migrants in a month: spokesman 

    Migrants walk on a dirt road as they approach the Croatian border near the town of SidSerbia detained over 3,000 migrants illegally entering into the country in one month, a military spokesman said, suggesting many were still trying to make their way along a Balkan corridor to the European Union despite border closures. Balkan countries along the route processed hundreds of of thousands of migrants over their borders last year, but clamped down in February to stop the mass influx and many migrants now resort to people smugglers to try to reach the EU. With a steady trickle of migrants mainly from conflict- and poverty-wracked areas of Asia and the Middle East continuing, Serbia on July 16 decided to form joint police and army patrols to intercept them.


  • Chinese admiral visits Syria in show of support BEIJING (AP) — A top Chinese military officer visited Syria this week in a show of support for President Bashar Assad's embattled regime, official media reported Thursday, underscoring Beijing's backing of fellow authoritarian governments and concerns about the spread of religious militancy.
  • Top Asian News 3:28 a.m. GMT BEIJING (AP) — Efforts by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi this week to bolster ties with her country's dominant northern neighbor China may hinge on whether she can resolve the fate of a massive, Chinese-funded dam project blocked by overwhelming local opposition. Suu Kyi was to be greeted with a formal welcome ceremony on Thursday as part of a visit ending Sunday that will include talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. It's her first trip to China since her party won a historic majority last year. Now leading Myanmar with the title of state counselor, Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who spent 15 years in house arrest under Myanmar's former military junta, which was supported for years by the authoritarian Communist Party-led government in Beijing.
  • Amnesty denounces 'appalling abuse' in Syrian jails 

    Since the Syria war began in 2011 more than 17,000 people are estimated to have died in custodySyrian authorities are committing torture on a "massive scale" in government prisons including beatings, electric shocks, rape and psychological abuse that amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said Thursday. It said the report was based on interviews with 65 torture survivors, mostly civilians, who described "appalling abuse and inhuman conditions" in intelligence agency detention centres and the Saydnaya Military Prison near Damascus. Most described witnessing at least one, if not several, deaths in custody, Amnesty said.


  • Rights group: More than 17,000 killed in Syrian state jails 

    FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, file photo, Syrian prisoners sit in a courtroom before their release in Damascus, Syria. The Amnesty report highlights new statistics from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, or HRDAG, an organization that uses scientific approaches to analyze human rights violations, which indicate that 17,723 people died in custody across Syria between March 2011 and the end of 2015. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi, File)BEIRUT (AP) — The young Syrian activist was beaten, prevented from going to the toilet and saw her cellmates taken for rounds of whipping when she was held for more than a month in several government detention facilities.


  • Iran acknowledges Russia using its air base to strike Syria 

    In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, A Russian Tu-22M3 bomber stands on the tarmac at an air base near Hamedan, Iran. Russian warplanes took off on Tuesday Aug. 16, from Iran to target Islamic State fighters and other militants in Syria, widening Moscow's bombing campaign in Syria.(WarfareWW Photo via AP)BEIRUT (AP) — In a move that could reverberate across the Middle East, Iran confirmed Wednesday that Russia is using its territory to launch airstrikes in Syria even as a second wave of Moscow's bombers flew out of the Islamic Republic to hit targets in the war-ravaged country.


  • French president visits pope after Islamic attacks 

    Pope Francis and French President Francois Hollande, left, exchange gifts on the occasion of their private audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Hollande is visiting Pope Francis for a special audience after a spate of Islamic extremist attacks over recent months left more than 200 dead, including an elderly French priest. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)VATICAN CITY (AP) — French President Francois Hollande visited Pope Francis on Wednesday to thank him for his words of comfort after a spate of Islamic extremist attacks in recent months left more than 200 dead, including an elderly French priest.


  • Hollande meets pope, visits Rome church to honor terror victims 

    Pope Francis exchanges gifts with French President Hollande at the VaticanFrench President Francois Hollande met Pope Francis on Wednesday to thank him for his solidarity with the French people after attacks by Islamist militants, including the killing of an elderly priest in July. A professed atheist, Hollande started his brief, private trip to Rome and the Vatican with a stop in San Luigi dei Francesi, the 16th century church of the French community in the Italian capital. To the left of the altar, near bowls where visitors leave notes to honor victims of terrorism, was a photograph of Father Jacques Hamel, the French priest killed on July 25 in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.


  • Saudi facing 'long' Yemen war after talks fail 

    Yemeni security forces take part in a raid in Ja'awla a northern neighbourhood of the southern city of AdenSix months after Saudi Arabia said its war in Yemen was winding down, air strikes are again pounding rebels and rockets flying across the border, with no end to the conflict in sight. Facing criticism of its bombing campaign and a budget crunch from low oil prices, Riyadh is keen to bring an end to the intervention it launched last year against Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies, analysts say. "Both sides now are trying to prove they are better in war than peace," said Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni specialist and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Centre.


  • Duterte slams UN for 'interfering' in Philippine drug war 

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he talks during the 115th Police Service Anniversary at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Manila Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. The brash-talking Philippine president criticized the United Nations Wednesday for condemning the spate of killings of suspected drug criminals in the country, but allegedly remaining silent on bombings in the Middle East that have killed entire villages and communities. (Noel Celis/Pool Photo via AP)MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The brash-talking Philippine president criticized the United Nations on Wednesday for condemning the spate of killings of suspected drug criminals in his country while allegedly keeping silent on deadlier violence in the Middle East.


  • France's Hollande to meet pope over priest killing 

    French President Francois Hollande has not yet stated whether he will run for a second term in the 2017 electionsFrench President Francois Hollande will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, three weeks after the jihadist murder of a priest in France sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church. The two will discuss the killing of 85-year-old priest Jacques Hamel by two teenagers claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group, as well as the situation facing Christians in the Middle East, French officials said. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve will accompany Hollande on the trip.


  • Australia returns 6 rejected asylum seekers to Sri Lanka CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Six asylum seekers who attempted to reach Australia by boat have been sent back to Sri Lanka in a demonstration that tough border enforcement measures had not softened since recent Australian elections, a Cabinet minister said Wednesday.
  • In a first, Russia uses Iran base to bomb targets in Syria 

    In this frame grab provided by Russian Defence Ministry press service, Russian long range bomber Tu-22M3 flies during an air strike over Aleppo region of Syria on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Russia's Defense Ministry said on Tuesday Russian warplanes have taken off from a base in Iran to target Islamic State fighters in Syria. (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service photo via AP)BEIRUT (AP) — Iran allowed Russian warplanes to take off from its territory to bomb targets in Syria on Tuesday, an unprecedented move that underscores the deepening cooperation between two powerhouses heavily invested in the Syrian civil war.


  • Russia uses Iran as base to bomb Syrian militants for first time 

    Still image shows shows airstrikes carried out by Russian air force in SyriaBy Andrew Osborn MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia used Iran on Tuesday for the first time as a base from which to launch air strikes against Syrian militants, widening its air campaign in Syria and deepening its involvement in the Middle East. In a move underscoring Moscow's increasingly close ties with Tehran, long-range Russian Tupolev-22M3 bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers used Iran's Hamadan air base to strike a range of targets in Syria. It was the first time Russia has used the territory of another nation, apart from Syria itself, to launch such strikes since the Kremlin launched a bombing campaign to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in September last year.


  • Turkey faces 'difficult path' to EU visa-free travel: German minister 

    Germany's Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth addresses the United Nations General Assembly during a meeting about the rise of anti-Semitism, at the UN headquarters in New YorkBy Andrea Shalal and Michael Nienaber BERLIN (Reuters) - Turkey faces a long and arduous path to obtaining visa-free travel within the European Union, and immediate prospects are not bright, Germany's European affairs minister said on Tuesday. Michael Roth told Reuters that it was clear from the start that a migrant deal struck between the EU and Turkey required completion of 72 criteria before Turks could be granted visa-free travel. "Turkey faces a very long and difficult path.


  • The Latest: UN body calls for action in Syria's Aleppo 

    In this frame grab from video provided by Russian Defence Ministry press service, Russian long range bomber Tu-22M3 flies during an air strike over Aleppo region of Syria on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Russia's Defense Ministry said Tuesday Russian warplanes have taken off from a base in Iran to target Islamic State fighters in Syria. (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service photo via AP)BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the developments in Syria's civil war after Russian warplanes took off on Tuesday from Iran to bomb Islamic State militants in Syria (all times local):


  • Germany ministry calls Turkey key Islamist 'platform' BERLIN (AP) — The German government said in a confidential document obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday that Turkey has become "the central platform of action for Islamist groups" in the Middle East.
  • Iranians fight rising infertility and taboos 

    An Iranian doctor works with samples at the Avicenna embryology and infertility centre in TehranWith infertility rising in pollution-plagued Iran, a growing number of couples must navigate the country's web of social and religious taboos as they seek treatment. After years of struggling for a second child, Mohammed and his wife made the difficult decision to visit a fertility clinic in Tehran. Waiting anxiously in the corridor while his wife underwent in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), the 45-year-old said his biggest concern was that his family might find out.


  • FACT CHECK: Trump gets his Mideast history wrong 

    Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Youngstown, Ohio, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump on Monday painted the Middle East as an oasis of stability before Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, arguing that she and President Barack Obama "launched" the Islamic State group onto the world.


  • Catholic pilgrims rally behind terror-hit France in Lourdes 

    Roman Catholic Cardinal Philippe Barbarin waves an olive branch at pilgrims as he celebrates a mass in the French southwestern city of Lourdes, on August 15, 2016Thousands of Catholic pilgrims offered up prayers for terror-scarred France during Assumption celebrations on Monday in Lourdes, held under tight security after last month's massacre in Nice and murder of a priest. The gathering at the shrine in the foothills of the Pyrenees is the first major Catholic event in France since priest Jacques Hamel was killed in his church on July 26. Undeterred by the threat, an estimated 22,000 pilgrims from across Europe, the Middle East and Asia descended on the Lourdes shrine for one of the biggest dates in the Christian calendar, marking the ascent into Heaven of the Virgin Mary.


  • Austria arrests nine Iraqis over gang rape of German woman Nine Iraqi asylum seekers and refugees have been arrested over the alleged gang rape of a 28-year-old German woman in Vienna on New Year's Day, Austrian police said on Monday, a case likely to fuel public debate over immigration and crime. Austria has not seen scenes like those in the German city of Cologne on New Year's Eve, when hundreds of women told police they had been groped, attacked and robbed by mobs of men. The nine Iraqi men arrested in Vienna and two other provinces over the weekend are aged between 21 and 47 years and deny any wrongdoing, a police spokesman said.
  • Polish horse auction sales much lower after government purge 

    Mare Emira is presented at the yearly Arabian horse auction "Pride of Poland", in Janow Podlaski, Poland, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. Poland's right-wing government is facing a test of its reputation at the auction at a 199-year-old stud farm, after the state breeding program's reputation faced a setback earlier this year when the new conservative government purged the three top managers in the breeding program, considered a national treasure.(AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)JANOW PODLASKI, Poland (AP) — Sales at a famed horse auction on a remote state-run farm in eastern Poland on Sunday were much lower this year, with some potential buyers staying away after the country's right-wing government carried out a controversial political purge of managers in the respected Arabian horse breeding program.


 

 

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