Egypt’s budget deficit hits $1bn

Egypt’s budget deficit has registered EGP 174.6 billion ($ 11.12 billion) in the first half of the current financial year (2016-17), about 5.4 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Egyptian finance ministry announced in a report on Tuesday . During the first half of the last financial year (2015-16), the deficit amounted to EGP 172.5 billion ($ 10.9 billion), amounting to 6.4 per cent of Egypt’s GDP. Egypt’s financial year starts in July and lasts until June of the following year. The government recently predicted the deficit to reach 10.2 per cent of GDP by the end of the current financial year. According to the ministry report, the total GDP for the current financial year amounted […]

US commander downplays chance of big Iraq, Syria troop hike

The top US commander in Iraq on Wednesday downplayed the chances that the United States would deploy a large number of additional coalition forces to battle Daesh, even as President Donald Trump weighs options to speed the campaign. Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend also delivered a robust defense of Kurdish fighters that have been America’s strongest allies on the ground in Syria, despite concerns from Turkey that they pose a threat. He even signaled some role for Kurdish forces in an upcoming offensive for the city of Raqqa. Townsend declined to openly discuss his recommendations for accelerating the fight against Daesh but his comments represent one of the strongest signals yet that the US military will not advocate any fundamental […]

Jordanian immigrant in Michigan elated over release from ICE detention

A Jordanian immigrant who resided legally in the United States for 18 years rejoiced on Wednesday at being able to return home after a month in detention that might have ended in his deportation. “I’m happy to be back with my family,” said Yousef Ajin, a 48-year-old Uber driver who was released on Tuesday from a detention center in Battle Creek, Michigan, after a federal judge ruled he could remain in the country despite a criminal record because his wife and four children – all US citizens – face hardship without him. Speaking outside his home in Ann Arbor and flanked by his family, Ajin – a Muslim who was born in Kuwait and immigrated legally to the United States […]

Senior al Qaeda leader killed by CIA drone strike -US official

A Hellfire missile fired by a CIA drone killed al-Qaeda leader Abu al-Khayr al-Masri late on Sunday while he was riding in a car near the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, a US intelligence official said on Wednesday. The 59-year-old al-Masri, whose real name was Abdullah Muhammed Rajab Abdulrahman, was second-in-command to the group’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a member of its shura council, said the official, who was briefed on the attack and spoke on condition of anonymity. He also was married to one of Osama bin Laden’s daughters, the official added. CNN first reported the strike. The official said Masri, as he was widely known, had sought refuge in Iran after the 11 September, 2001, attacks on the […]

Saudi signs trade deals with Indonesia

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman held talks with Indonesia’s president today and signed a range of cooperation agreements at the beginning of a 12-day visit to the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. The royal visit is the first by a Saudi monarch in nearly five decades. Travelling light 1,500 people have accompanied the Saudi king 459 tonnes of luggage 2 luxury cars The leaders oversaw, among 11 pacts, the signing of agreements to take down trade barriers and a new agreement between state energy companies Saudi Aramco and Pertamina, building on an existing $6 billion plan to expand Indonesia’s biggest refinery. The king arrived at a military air base in the capital, Jakarta, earlier today before being met by President Joko Widodo […]

Egypt, Russia discuss boosting military ties

Egypt must work hard towards “stabilising” relations with Russia, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stressed today. Speaking during a meeting with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitryi Rogozin, and a number of Russian officials in Cairo to discuss bilateral relations. The visit coincides with European efforts to enhance ties with Egypt. According to a statement by Egypt’s presidential office, Al-Sisi pointed to “the strategic nature of the Egyptian-Russian relations” stressing the importance of “developing them across various levels.” On the regional and international issues, the Egyptian president expressed hope of strengthening military and technical cooperation between both countries, especially in the field of military production. Al-Sisi also called for bolstering the two countries’ economic and industrial relations, noting to an agreed […]

Israel leaves 30 Palestinians homeless

Israeli forces demolished a building in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya this morning without giving prior warning, leaving 30 Palestinians homeless, under the pretext that the building lacked the nearly impossible to obtain construction permits required. It was the third time the building – a two-level apartment comprised of four units – was destroyed over the course of a 15-year administrative battle to legalise the structure. Dozens of Israeli Special Forces, bulldozers and crews from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality raided Issawiya at around 04:30 and surrounded the building, owned by Khalid Nimr Mahmoud. Witnesses said residents of the building were forced outside before they had time to remove their belongings. Municipality crews had evacuated some of the building’s contents […]

UNICEF, UNRWA condemn violence in Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp

The Lebanon representative of UNICEF and the director of UNRWA in the country today released a joint statement condemning the recent armed violence in the Ain Al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. Two Palestinian youths were killed in clashes in the camp yesterday while at least eight others were injured – including a pregnant woman. The statement said that the two groups were “deeply concerned” that ongoing violence would result in further civilian casualties, including children, noting that an UNRWA employee was injured in the violence. Clashes began on Monday evening when a bomb detonated in front of a call centre inside the camp, breaking a “cautious calm” that had prevailed after Palestinian factions reached a ceasefire agreement on Sunday […]

Syrian government forces enter Palmyra

Russian-backed Syrian government forces and their allies fought their way into Palmyra today, driving back Daesh militants who have held the historic city since December, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported. Daesh captured Palmyra, whose ancient ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, twice during Syria’s six-year conflict. The army recaptured the city from the ultra-hardline group in March last year, but Daesh seized it again in December. The group has razed ancient monuments during both of its spells in control of Palmyra – destruction the United Nations has condemned as a war crime. A Syrian military source told Reuters earlier today: “The army’s entry to the city will begin very soon.” The army said it had […]