Hamas says its security chief wounded in Gaza car bombing

GAZA – Hamas’ security chief in the Gaza Strip was wounded in a car bombing on Friday in what the Islamist group called a failed assassination attempt. The attack came as rival factions are trying to implement a new agreement meant to end a 10-year rift that has effectively split the Palestinian territories between Hamas in Gaza and the more mainstream Fatah in the occupied West Bank. Tawfeeq Abu Naeem, Hamas’ head of security in…

"Hamas says its security chief wounded in Gaza car bombing"

After Iran shock, nervous Europe girds for next Trump salvo

BERLIN – Following Donald Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal this month, shaken European capitals are asking themselves what the U.S. president will do next. Diplomats have sketched scenarios they fear could plunge transatlantic relations into crisis: a trade war, military conflict over North Korea, or the collapse of a Cold War-era arms treaty. They wonder if their post-war alliance can survive if any of them come true. Since Trump took office nine…

"After Iran shock, nervous Europe girds for next Trump salvo"

U.N. rights chief decries hunger in Syrian siege, demands aid access

GENEVA – The humanitarian situation in the besieged eastern suburbs of Damascus is “an outrage” and parties to the conflict must allow food and medicine to reach at least 350,000 trapped Syrians, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein said on Friday. “The shocking images of what appear to be severely malnourished children that have emerged in recent days are a frightening indication of the plight of people in Eastern Ghouta, who are now facing…

"U.N. rights chief decries hunger in Syrian siege, demands aid access"

Imran Khan’s PTI retains seat in by-election, but new religious parties gain

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Pakistan’s opposition Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, led by former cricket hero Imran Khan, swept to a comfortable by-election victory on the edge of the northwestern city of Peshawar, though its majority was trimmed by new hardline religious parties. PTI candidate Arbab Amir Ayub clinched 45,631 votes, about 34.8 percent of the total, on Thursday to ensure PTI kept the parliamentary seat in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) that it governs. The by-election…

"Imran Khan’s PTI retains seat in by-election, but new religious parties gain"

‘At the doors of starvation:’ siege strangles Damascus suburbs

EASTERN GHOUTA – A tightening siege has pushed people to the verge of famine in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, residents and aid workers say, bringing desperation to the only major rebel enclave near the Syrian capital. Cases of malnutrition among children have almost doubled in the last two months at one clinic in the suburbs, which have been under siege by Syrian government forces since 2013 but come under new pressure this year as…

"‘At the doors of starvation:’ siege strangles Damascus suburbs"

Turkey’s release of German citizen sign of thawing ties: Gabriel

BERLIN – Turkey’s decision to release a German human rights activist is a sign of improving relations between the two NATO allies, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday, adding that Germany wanted all its citizens detained in Turkish prisons freed. Peter Steudtner, who was released on Wednesday night, was one of about a dozen German or Turkish-German citizens arrested in Turkey in recent months, souring relations that had deteriorated over German criticism of mass…

"Turkey’s release of German citizen sign of thawing ties: Gabriel"

Egypt election in view, Sisi supporters fire up campaign for mandate

CAIRO – Six months before Egypt’s election, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s supporters are petitioning for him to run, rallying around the former military commander whose popularity critics say has been dimmed by austerity reforms, security problems and a crackdown on dissidents.     Four years ago, Sisi won a landslide victory after he led the military ouster of then president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, promising stability following Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising.     Sisi,…

"Egypt election in view, Sisi supporters fire up campaign for mandate"

Exclusive: Saudi Aramco IPO on track for 2018 – Saudi crown prince

RIYADH – Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering is on track for next year and the national oil giant could be valued at more than $2 trillion, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman told in an interview. The sale of around 5 percent of Aramco [IPO-ARMO.SE] next year is a centerpiece of Vision 2030, an ambitious reform plan to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil which is championed by Prince Mohammad. Saudi officials have said…

"Exclusive: Saudi Aramco IPO on track for 2018 – Saudi crown prince"

Iraqi PM Abadi demands Kurds cancel secession bid as price for talks

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s prime minister demanded on Thursday that Kurds declare their independence referendum void, rejecting the Kurdish autonomous region’s offer to suspend its independence push to resolve a crisis through talks. “We won’t accept anything but its cancellation and the respect of the Constitution,” Haider al-Abadi said in a statement during a visit to Tehran. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) proposed on Wednesday an immediate ceasefire, a suspension of the referendum result and “starting…

"Iraqi PM Abadi demands Kurds cancel secession bid as price for talks"

Iraqi leader visits Iran as Tehran seeks to drive wedge with Washington

ANKARA – Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Iraq’s U.S.-backed prime minister on Thursday that he should not rely on the United States in the fight against Islamic State, seeking to drive a wedge between Washington and one of its close allies. “Unity was the most important factor in your gains against terrorists and their supporters,” Khamenei told the visiting Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, according to state TV. “Don’t trust America … It will…

"Iraqi leader visits Iran as Tehran seeks to drive wedge with Washington"