Middle-east

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Germany aims to deport record number of rejected asylum seekers in 2017

Germany deported a record 80,000 migrants denied asylum last year and that figure will rise again in 2017, a top official said, as Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks to win back conservative voters before elections in September. Peter Altmaier, Merkel’s chief of staff, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper that nearly half of 700,000 asylum requests made in 2016 had been rejected, spelling another record high in deportations this year. To placate conservatives put off by Merkel’s decision in 2015 to open German borders to refugees, leaders of her Christian Democrat party (CDU) have been pushing to deport more migrants whose applications have failed or foreigners who have committed crimes. Altmaier said it was important to send these people home promptly in […]


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UAE expects to award $5.4 billion deals at defence fair-expo says

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) awarded 4.5 billion dirhams ($1.2 billion) in military procurement deals on Sunday, part of a total of 20 billion dirhams worth of purchases it expects to make at an arms fair this week, a spokesman for the expo said. The deals awarded to local and international companies on Sunday included a 2 billion dirham award to the UAE’s NIMR Automotive, part of Tawazun Holdings, for the supply of 400 armoured vehicles to the UAE Armed Forces, Rashid al Shamsi, a spokesman for the International Defence Exhibition (Idex), said. “We expect (to award) more than 20 billion dirhams in contracts by the end of Idex,” he said. Over 1,200 companies are participating at Idex, the region’s […]


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Turkish PM, US vice president discuss improving ties

US Vice President Mike Pence told Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim that Washington was keen for a new start in relations between the two countries, sources in Yildirim’s office said, after ties soured during the Obama administration. Pence and Yildirim met on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich, Germany, and discussed improving ties, boosting cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the need to work together to find a permanent solution in Syria. Yildirim told Pence that moves by the United States to meet Turkey’s demands over Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric blamed by Ankara for masterminding and orchestrating a failed coup last July, would pave the way for a fresh start in relations. Ties between the United […]


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Suicide bombings kill five in east Mosul, security sources say

Five people were killed, including three Iraqi soldiers, in two suicide bombings on Sunday that hit districts recently retaken from Daesh in eastern Mosul, security sources said. The first attack targeted an army checkpoint, killing three soldiers, and the second a gathering of civilians in the commercial district known as “My Fair Lady,” killing two. A dozen people were also wounded in the two attacks carried out by men wearing explosive vests, the sources said, contacted from Erbil, the Kurdish region’s capital east of Mosul. The bombers are suspected by the security sources to have crossed into eastern Mosul from the western side which is still under Daesh control. US-backed forces dislodged Daesh from the east side of Mosul in […]


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Saudi foreign minister says Iran main sponsor of global terror

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Sunday rejected Iranian calls for dialogue saying Tehran was the main sponsor of terrorism in the world, a destabilising force in the Middle East and wanted to “destroy us.” “Iran remains the single main sponsor of terrorism in the world,” Adel al-Jubeir told delegates at the Munich Security Conference. He added: It’s determined to upend the order in Middle East … (and) until and unless Iran changes its behaviour it would be very difficult to deal with a country like this. Al-Jubeir said Iran was propping up the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, funding the Houthi separatists in Yemen and violent groups across the region. He said the international community needed to set clear […]


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Iraq’s oil reserves increase to 153 billion barrels

Iraq’s oil reserves have increased to 153 billion barrels, from a previous estimate of 143 billion barrels, Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said on Sunday. Iraq will ask the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to adopt the new figure as the official estimate for its reserves, he said in a statement. The increased estimate is the result of appraisals and exploration carried out at seven oil fields in central and southern Iraq, he said. Iraq is developing its oil reserves with the help of foreign companies, to make up for three and a half decades of conflict and international sanctions, starting with the 1980-1988 war against Iran. Iraq’s new proven reserves estimate brings it closer to Iran’s 158 billion […]


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Syrian opposition says ready for Geneva talks, but Assad must go

The Syrian opposition is fully committed to peace talks in Geneva on February 23, a senior official said on Sunday, adding the talks would need to pave the way for a political transition. “We are fully committed for the Geneva talks,” Syrian National Coalition President Anas al-Abdah told delegates at the Munich Security Conference. “We cannot address the profound security threats…while Assad remains in power,” he said. Brett McGurk, the United States’ envoy to the coalition against Daesh, said the new US administration was still reviewing its Syria position, but that it was seeking a role to reinforce Russian and Turkish efforts to cement a ceasefire in the country. Read: Syria regime executes paediatrician for treating Aleppo children


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Syrian government forces continue attacks on Damascus outskirts

Syrian government forces fired rockets at a rebel-held area on Damascus’s outskirts on Sunday, pressing an attack that began the day before and has killed up to 16 people, a medical worker and war monitors said. The medical worker and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was the biggest attack on the Qaboun area, to the city’s northeast, in at least two years. At least three shells hit government-held areas closer to the centre of Damascus and near Qaboun on Sunday, but there were no reports of casualties, a Hezbollah-run military media unit and a Reuters witness said. On Saturday, a government sniper killed one person in the area and rockets hit a cemetery on Qaboun’s outskirts, the […]


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A year ago, US, Israel, Jordan and Egypt secretly met for ‘peace’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met secretly a year ago with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan in a failed attempt by the Obama administration to convene a wider regional summit on Israeli-Palestinian peace, Israel’s Haaretz said on Sunday. At the White House on Wednesday, Netanyahu again raised the possibility of what he described as a “regional approach” to Israeli-Palestinian peace at a news conference with US President Donald Trump, who appeared to embrace the idea. Citing unidentified senior officials in former US President Barack Obama’s administration, Haaretz said Netanyahu, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah and US Secretary of State John Kerry convened on February 21, 2016 in the Jordanian Red Sea resort of Aqaba. But the initiative […]


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US senators consider sanctions against Iran for missile development

US Republican senators plan to introduce legislation to impose further sanction on Iran, accusing it of violating UN Security Council resolutions by testing ballistic missiles and acting to “destabilise” the Middle East, a US senator said Sunday. “I think it is now time for the Congress to take Iran on directly in terms of what they’ve done outside the nuclear programme,” Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Munich Security Conference. Graham said he and other Republicans would introduce measures to hold Iran accountable for its actions. Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since an Iranian ballistic missile test which prompted US President Donald Trump’s administration to impose sanctions on individuals and entities […]