Middle East

Israel says Netanyahu discusses ‘normalization’ with Sudan’s leader

by Guillaume Lavallee with Michael O’Hagan in Entebbe Agence France-Presse JERUSALEM, Undefined (AFP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Sudan’s leader Monday to discuss normalizing ties, his office said, a potentially landmark step that caught Khartoum by surprise and was denounced by the Palestinians. Netanyahu’s office said he met Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, chairman of the ruling sovereign council in fast-changing Sudan, in the Ugandan city of Entebbe. Israel remains technically at war with Sudan, which […]

UAE announces case of new coronavirus; first confirmed case in Middle East

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — The United Arab Emirates announced Wednesday its first case of the new coronavirus, in a family from Wuhan, in what is thought to be the first confirmed case in the Middle East. “The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention announced a case of the new coronavirus affecting people from one family coming from the city of Wuhan in China,” the state news agency WAM reported, without saying how many […]

Qatar signs $470 million solar deal

Doha, Qatar (AFP) – Gas-rich Qatar signed a $470-million deal on Sunday to build its first solar energy plant, capable of meeting up to one-tenth of peak national power demand. The Al-Kharsaah plant, near the capital, is a 10-square-kilometre (4-sq-mile) joint venture with French and Japanese partners due for completion in 2022 ahead of the football World Cup. “Eight times the solar power pledged in the World Cup bid will be produced,” Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi […]

Iran agrees de-escalation ‘only solution’ to solve crisis with US

  by David Vujanovic Agence France-Presse TEHRAN, Iran  (AFP) — Iran has signaled it favors a de-escalation after 10 days of heightened tensions with the United States during which both sides fired missiles and Tehran accidentally shot down a passenger aircraft. Security was stepped up in Iran’s capital Sunday after a vigil the previous night for those killed in the air disaster turned into an angry protest and police temporarily arrested the British ambassador for […]

Libyan rivals to sign ceasefire deal in Moscow Monday: official

TRIPOLI, Libya (AFP) – The head of Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj and his rival, strongman Khalifa Haftar, are expected to sign a ceasefire agreement in Moscow on Monday, a senior Libyan official said. The oil-rich North African country has been wracked by bloody turmoil since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with multiple foreign powers now involved. The signing of the agreement will pave the way for […]

Trump warns Iran not to kill protesters, door still open to talks

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States (AFP) – US President Donald Trump warned Iran Sunday against killing protesters who have risen up over the regime’s downing of a civilian airliner as his defense secretary left the door open to talks with Tehran without preconditions. Trump’s salvo came as Iran’s Islamic regime faced a challenge from angry street protests, having come to the brink of war with the US after a series of tit-for-tat confrontations. “To the leaders […]

US condemns latest missile attack on Iraqi base

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he was “outraged” by another missile attack on an Iraqi airbase where US forces have been stationed, as neighboring Iran signalled a wish to de-escalate tensions. “Outraged by reports of another rocket attack on an Iraqi airbase,” Pompeo tweeted. “These continued violations of Iraq’s sovereignty by groups not loyal to the Iraqi government must end.” There was no immediate claim of responsibility […]

In the words of a general: how Iran downed airliner (excerpts of 12-minute explanation of Iran military)

  TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — The aerospace commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Saturday accepted full responsibility for the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jet. In remarks aired on state television, Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said the missile operator who fired on the plane did so independently because of communications “jamming”. It came as Iran acknowledged the Boeing 737 had been shot down, after denying for days Western claims that it was likely to […]

Cousin of late Oman sultan sworn in as new ruler

  Haitham bin Tariq, Oman’s culture minister and the 65-year-old cousin of late Sultan Qaboos, has been sworn in as the new royal ruler, the government said Saturday. “Haitham bin Tariq was sworn in as the new sultan of the country… after a meeting of the family which decided to appoint the one who was chosen by the sultan,” the government said in a tweet. Sultan Qaboos, the longest-reigning leader of the modern Arab world […]

Oman Sultan Qaboos, longest reigning leader of modern Arab world, has died: state media

  MUSCAT, Oman (AFP) — Sultan Qaboos, the longest-reigning leader of the modern Arab world, has died at the age of 79, the royal court said Saturday. “With great sorrow and deep sadness… the royal court mourns His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who passed away on Friday,” the court said in a statement. Qaboos, who has ruled since 1970 when he deposed his father in a palace coup, had been ill for some time […]

Crash of PS752 in Iran: Was the aircraft shot down?

  by Daphne BENOIT and Stuart WILLIAMS Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — A Boeing passenger jet crashed in Iran early on January 8, hours after Tehran had launched a barrage of missiles at bases housing American troops in Iraq, in retaliation for the killing of commander Qasem Soleimani in a US strike. All 176 on board the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight PS752 — mainly Iranian-Canadian dual nationals but also Ukrainians, Afghans, Britons […]

Iran supreme leader says missile attacks are a ‘slap in face’ to US

  TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran’s supreme leader said a “slap in the face” was delivered to the United States, when the Islamic republic fired missiles at US troop bases in Iraq on Wednesday. “Last night, a slap in the face was delivered,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on state television. His remarks came after he had vowed “severe revenge” for a US drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qasem […]