Voice of America : Middle East (54)

Israel's Backing of Iraqi Kurds' Independence Vote Strains Ankara Ties

Israel’s support of next Monday’s independence referendum by Iraqi Kurds is threatening to strain recently restored diplomatic relations with Turkey. Ankara has been condemning the planned vote, warning of severe consequences for the region. Israel has a long tradition of seeing the ...

May Seeks to Unite Divided Cabinet Before Big Brexit Speech

Prime Minister Theresa May tried to unite her fractious Cabinet behind her plan to reboot faltering Brexit negotiations Thursday, as a senior European Union official suggested British hopes of moving the divorce talks on to a new phase next month might be dashed. May gathered ministers to reveal ...

Iraq Launches Offensive to Recapture Hawija

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Thursday his forces have begun an offensive to retake control of the town of Hawija, one of the last areas in Iraq held by Islamic State militants. Hawija is located 240 kilometers north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and just west of the oil city of ...

Governments Paying Terror Kidnap Ransoms Put All Citizens At Risk, Warns Report

The lack of a unified approach by world governments to paying kidnap ransoms is putting the lives of citizens of all nationalities at greater risk and is providing terror groups with a big source of finance, warns a new report by a prominent British defense policy institute. Henry Ridgwell has more ...

Trump Says He Has Made Decision on Iran Nuclear Deal: ‘I’ll Let You Know’

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he has decided whether to pull the United States out of the 2015 international pact curbing Iran’s nuclear weapons development. “I have decided,” he told reporters while on a photo call in New York with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud ...

Trump: US to Consider Resuming Halted Military Aid to Egypt

The United States will consider resuming some suspended military assistance to Egypt, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday. The U.S. government last month decided to deny Egypt $95.7 million in aid and to delay a further $195 million over human rights concerns. Asked if he would ...

Unveiling New Libya Plan, UN Sees Opportunity for Peace

The United Nations launched a road map on Wednesday for a renewed international effort to break a political stalemate in Libya and end the turmoil that followed the country's 2011 uprising. The world body's Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, set out an "action plan" on the sidelines of the U.N. General ...

Battle Against IS in Raqqa Is in 'Final Stages,' Force Says

The battle for the Islamic State group's de facto Syria capital, Raqqa, has reached its "final stages," the Syrian Democratic Forces said Wednesday, almost four months after the U.S.-backed force launched an assault on the self-proclaimed capital of the militant group. The Kurdish-led Syrian ...

Security Firm Links Iranian Hackers to Malware Attacks

A private U.S.-based security firm is linking an Iranian government-sponsored hacking group to cyber-attacks targeted at organizations across the world. The security firm FireEye said Wednesday the Iranian hackers used malware to attack aerospace and petrochemical firms in the United States, Saudi ...

Trump Says He's Decided Whether US Should Stay in Iran Nuclear Deal

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he has made a decision on whether to pull the United States out of the 2015 international pact curbing Iran's nuclear weapons development. Trump declined to say what his decision is, but the U.S. rift with Iran took center stage at the United Nations ...

Will Kurdish Vote Trigger Yet Another War in Iraq?

It is rare for the United States and Iran to agree on anything but this week both Washington and Tehran have been scrambling to try to dissuade the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, from holding a referendum on independence. Their vehement opposition to an independence vote partly stems ...

As ISIS Threat Recedes, Mental and Physical Barriers Prevent Iraqis from Returning Home

As Iraqi forces continue to push back Islamic State militants from their strongholds, many civilians who fled the violence are seeking to return home. For some ethnic and religious groups, such as the Yazidis, the trauma of their ordeal under IS continues to present barriers to their return. A ...

As ISIS Threat Recedes, Mental and Physical Barriers Keep Iraqis From Returning Home

As Iraqi forces continue to push back Islamic State militants from their strongholds, many civilians who fled the violence are seeking to return home. Close to 5 million Iraqis fled the 2014 advance by IS and the ensuing violence that engulfed parts of the country. Since Iraqi and coalition forces ...

Critics of Iran Nuclear Deal Debate the Way Forward

During his speech Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly, U.S. President Donald Trump made his disdain for the nuclear agreement with Iran absolutely clear. "The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into," Trump said. "Frankly, that deal is ...

UN Seeks to Rally Foreign Backing for New Libyan Peace Plan

The United Nations is seeking to marshal international support this week for a new push to break a political stalemate in Libya and end the turmoil that followed the country's 2011 uprising. The world body's Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, is expected to set out an "action plan" on the sidelines of the ...

US Confirms Syrian Army Crossed Deconfliction Zone in Deir el-Zour

U.S.-led coalition forces say the Russian-backed Syrian army has crossed the Euphrates River in Deir el-Zour in its bid to regain control of the Syrian city, a move that could result in a faceoff with U.S.-backed fighters in the city's east. "We confirm Russian and Syrian regime forces have moved ...

Ankara Increases Pressure on Iraqi Kurds Before Independence Vote

Around 100 Turkish tanks and armored vehicles are massed on the Iraqi-Kurdish border, ostensibly for military exercises, that coincide with a hardening of Ankara’s political rhetoric against the independence referendum by Iraqi Kurds. Government spokesman Bekir Bozdag said Tuesday the vote is ...

Hamas Invites Abbas to Resume Control of Gaza

Hamas on Tuesday invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to send officials to Gaza to resume control of the coastal enclave the Islamic militant group seized a decade ago. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said his group is serious about returning power to the Western-backed Palestinian leader and ...

Egypt Says it Will Host 'Reorganization' of Libyan Army

Egypt said Tuesday it will host the reorganization of Libya's army, currently an eastern-based force led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.   A statement signed by the Egyptian Committee on Libya said that Libyan military officers who met in Cairo recently chose Egypt as a starting point for plans to unify ...

Syian Children in Lebanon Toil to Feed Families

Child labor in Lebanon was already a deep-seated problem before an influx of Syrian refugees made it worse. Now, there are fears the practice could become even more widespread - and with families dependent on the income children generate, there are no easy solutions. NGOs are working on the ground ...

Israel Shoots Down Hezbollah Drone

Israel’s military on Tuesday shot down an Iranian-made drone being operated by members of the Hezbollah militant group as the drone approached the Golan Heights, the military said. According to the Israeli military, the drone was shot down with a Patriot interceptor missile over the Golan ...

Syian Children in Lebanon Toil to Feed Families

Child labor in Lebanon was already a deep-seated problem before an influx of Syrian refugees made it worse. Now, as humanitarian funds dry up, there are fears the practice could become even more widespread - and with families are dependent on the income children generate, there are no easy ...

Islamic State Families Moved to Site North of Mosul, Iraq Confirms

About 1,400 foreign wives and children of suspected Islamic State militants have been moved to a new site north of Mosul, Iraqi authorities confirmed on Monday, dismissing the concerns of aid organizations, who were not warned about the move. "They were transported to a safe location with better ...

Reports: Syria's Deir al-Zor Air Base Working Again

The Deir al-Zor military airport in eastern Syria, which the Syrian army recaptured this month from Islamic State, began functioning again on Monday for the first time in nearly a year, Syrian state media and a monitoring group said. The military base is seen as a valuable asset for the Syrian army ...

Trump Confident There is Chance of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he is confident "we have a chance" to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, but signaled new uncertainty about the U.S. view of the international deal curbing Iran's nuclear program. "Most people would say there's no chance whatsoever" ...

Trump: Fate of Iran Nuclear Deal Hangs on Tough UN Policing

U.S. President Donald Trump warned Monday that Washington will walk away from a nuclear deal it agreed to with Iran and five other nations if it deems that the International Atomic Energy Agency is not tough enough in monitoring it.   Iran, however, said the greatest threat to the nuclear agreement ...

UN Investigators: Perpetrators of Crimes in Syria Must Face Justice

U.N. investigators are calling for perpetrators of crimes against civilians in Syria’s long-running civil war to be prosecuted and brought to justice. The latest report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva by the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria documents multiple ...

Khamenei: Iran Won't Respond to US 'Bullying' Over Nuclear Deal

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran will not be subject to "bullying" by the United States over the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with a group of world powers, including the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump has been a frequent critic of the agreement and after taking ...

Turkey's Erdogan, Iraq's Abadi to Discuss Iraqi Kurdish Referendum

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi this week to discuss their concerns about an independence referendum in Iraq's Kurdish region. Turkey, the United States and other Western powers have advised authorities in the semi-autonomous region to cancel the vote, ...

Jerusalem Protest by Ultra-Orthodox Jews Turns Violent

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews clashed with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem Sunday when an anti-military demonstration turned violent. The protest became violent when demonstrators blocked roads and resisted efforts to disperse them by riot police, mounted officers and by water cannons. "Eight ...

Fatah Group Urges Hamas to Implement Reconciliation Accord

Following days of talks Egyptian mediators have gotten rival Palestinian factions to agree to reconcile, although Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah group is insisting rival Hamas implement the conditions it has agreed to before taking the next step. Efforts to resolve a decade-old ...

Khamenei: Iran Won't Respond to US 'Bullying' Over Nuclear Deal

Iran will not be subject to "bullying" by the United States in regards to a 2015 nuclear deal that president Trump has threatened to scrap, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday. "The Iranian nation is standing firm and any wrong move by the domineering regime regarding the will ...

Khamenei: Iran Won't Respond to US 'Bullying' Over Nuclear

Iran will not be subject to "bullying" by the United States in regards to a 2015 nuclear deal that president Trump has threatened to scrap, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday. "The Iranian nation is standing firm and any wrong move by the domineering regime regarding the will ...

Kuwait Poised to Expel North Korean Ambassador

Kuwait will expel North Korea's ambassador to the Gulf country along with four other diplomats, sources said Sunday. North Korea's diplomatic presence in the oil-rich state will be reduced to a chargé d'affaires and three diplomats, diplomatic sources told news agencies on the condition of ...

New Technology Helps Stranded Refugees in Greece

Stuck in a refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios with poor internet and little credit, Abrar Hassan, like many others, was unaware that the tech world had been falling all over itself to help him. More importantly, he was unaware of his rights and how best to prepare for the asylum interviews ...

Hamas Moves to End Dispute with Abbas's Fatah Movement

The militant group Hamas that rules Gaza moved Sunday to end its decade-long political and territorial split with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, agreeing to dissolve its administrative body and hold general elections. With the Gaza economy in shambles and electricity typically ...

Hamas Takes Steps Toward Reconciliation Government

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, said Sunday in a statement that it will dissolve its administrative body and hold general elections. The decision is seen as a way to end a political and territorial rift between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement. The move opens an ...

Hamas Agrees to Talks With Fatah

Palestine’s Hamas group has agreed to talks with rival Fatah movement, to dissolve the Gaza administrative committee, and to hold general elections as a way to implement a deal to end their long-running feud, the group said in a statement Sunday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ ...

Iraq's Abadi: Half of IS Families Detained Near Mosul Are Turkish

Turkish nationals make up half of the hundreds of families being held in a camp near Mosul for suspected links to the Islamic State group, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press Saturday. The Iraqi leader also confirmed that the German teenage ...

Jets Strike US-backed Forces in Eastern Syria

U.S.-backed militias in Syria said they came under attack Saturday from Russian jets and Syrian government forces in Deir el-Zour province, a flashpoint in an increasingly complex battlefield. The Syrian Democratic Forces , an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting with the U.S.-led ...

Transcript of Interview With Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

A transcript of an interview Saturday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi by The Associated Press. AP: Thank you mister prime minister for having The Associated Press here in Baghdad. Al-Abadi: Welcome. AP: I'm going to start off by asking you about the referendum that is upcoming in the ...

Syria's Deir el-Zour Coming Back to Life After 3-year Siege

On a scorching afternoon in the Syrian city of Deir el-Zour, two dozen people patiently line up at Rashid Izghair's shop, which only opened a few days earlier, to get the most basic of supplies: milk, pasta and canned food - items they had been deprived of for nearly three years. Government forces ...

Iraqi Kurds Prepare for Independence Vote, Despite Opposition

The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government on Friday upheld a plan to hold a referendum for independence from Iraq on Sept. 25, after calls for postponing the ballot from regional and Western powers. VOA's Heather Murdock has this report from Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region in ...

Visiting London, U.S. Secretary of State Chides Iran, Urges China to Block North Korean Oil

Visiting London Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China to cut oil exports to North Korea to force Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear weapons program. Tillerson also had strong words for Iran, which he said was clearly in default of expectations with regard to the 2015 nuclear ...

Mexico Accepts Israeli Offer to Help Develop Central America

Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Thursday that his country had accepted Israel's offer to help it and the United States develop Central America, as Israel and Mexico seek to deepen business ties. Speaking at a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pena Nieto ...

US Special Envoy: Kurdish Referendum Could Undermine Fight Against IS

The impending Kurdish referendum for independence will have significant consequences for the ongoing fight against the Islamic State, said Brett McGurk, the U.S. special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter IS. He asked Kurdish leadership to halt the vote in exchange for a plan ...

Trump Administration Seen Taking Harder Line on Iran

President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to take unspecified action against Iran next month, expressing continued dissatisfaction with the 2015 nuclear agreement signed by Iran and a group of world powers, including the United States. "We are not going to stand for what they're doing to this ...

Pentagon: American Fighting for ISIS in Syria Now in US Custody

An American citizen fighting for Islamic State in Syria is in U.S. custody after surrendering to coalition-backed Syrian fighters. “Syrian Democratic Forces turned over an American citizen who surrendered to SDF on or around Sept. 12,” Defense spokesman Marine Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway ...

Iraq Dismisses Kirkuk Governor Amid Dispute With Kurds

Iraq's parliament on Thursday voted to dismiss the Kurdish governor of the ethnically mixed Kirkuk province, in a move that could escalate tensions ahead of a planned Kurdish referendum on independence. To the south of Baghdad, meanwhile, militants attacked a checkpoint and nearby restaurant in ...

Why is the Kurdistan Referendum Controversial?

In the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region, traffic cameras nail speeders, and trash thrown on the street is whisked away by morning. High-level officials from all over the country dine in five-star hotels, and parks, malls and cafes are packed on nights and weekends. People speak Kurdish, listen to ...