Civilians flee fighting in Syrian southwest

MOSCOW, BEIRUT: Thousands of people have fled opposition-held areas of southwestern Syria being targeted by regime bombardment, a war monitor said on Thursday, as Damascus steps up attacks on an area near the border with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some 12,500 people had fled opposition-held areas of northeastern Daraa province in the past 48 hours.The war has pivoted toward the southwest since the Syrian regime and its allies crushed the last remaining pockets of opposition-held territory near Damascus and the city…

Iraqi Court Backs Manual Recount of All Ballots Cast in Last Month’s Elections

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Supreme Court on Thursday endorsed a manual recount of all ballots from last month’s national elections, but it rejected the invalidation of ballots from abroad and from voters displaced by recent conflict. The authorities have been struggling to address allegations raised by some parties that the May vote was marred by fraud. The court ruling concerned a law passed by Parliament that mandated a full, manual recount of the vote, and ordered other measures that President Fuad Masum and the national elections commission described as political interference.…

Turkey Election Will Test Love for Erdogan’s Megaprojects

From soaring bridges to a giant mosque to plans for the world’s biggest airport, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has used gargantuan building projects as an engine of growth and a signature way of leaving an indelible stamp on his nation. As he campaigns for re-election on Sunday, Mr. Erdogan has promised his most ambitious project yet: a canal that would bisect the country and create a Turkish-owned trade route, which he says would make Turkey a great power and leave a legacy for the history books. “What makes…

Bahrain court acquits opposition leaders in Qatar spy case

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s supreme court on Thursday ordered a manual recount of May 12 legislative elections, a process expected to take weeks although parliament’s mandate runs out at the end of this month.The recount due to suspicions of electoral fraud, however, would not significantly affect the overall outcome, according to experts on Iraqi politics.The court ruled that parliament’s decision on June 6 to order a manual recount in response to allegations of irregularities did not violate the constitution, its president Medhat Al-Mahmud told a news conference.All of the roughly 11 million…

Top Iraq court orders manual vote recount after latest elections

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s supreme court on Thursday ordered a manual recount of May 12 legislative elections, a process expected to take weeks although parliament’s mandate runs out at the end of this month.The recount due to suspicions of electoral fraud, however, would not significantly affect the overall outcome, according to experts on Iraqi politics.The court ruled that parliament’s decision on June 6 to order a manual recount in response to allegations of irregularities did not violate the constitution, its president Medhat Al-Mahmud told a news conference.All of the roughly 11 million…

‘Full, peaceful, and unconditional withdrawal’ could spare Houthis in Hodeidah: UAE’s Gargash

Author:  Zaynab Khojji Thu, 2018-06-21 18:03 ID:  1529593550612579900 LONDON: UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said Thursday that the “full, peaceful, and unconditional withdrawal” of Houthi militia from the city of Hodeidah and its port is the only way to ensure that the situation in the city and its surroundings does not deteriorate. Gargash added that Houthi militias are “blocking off-loading of aid at Hodeida port,” destroying water and sewage systems, and indiscriminately placing mines, IEDs, snipers and heavy weaponry in residential areas. Most humanitarian aid to…

Merkel pledges $100 million loan for troubled Jordanian economy

AMMAN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday promised a $100 million loan to troubled Jordan, where mass protests over austerity measures forced the prime minister to resign earlier this month.Merkel visited the kingdom amid an escalating domestic row over migration. Standing next to Jordan’s King Abdullah II, she made no reference to the crisis that’s straining her ruling coalition.The chancellor said Germany will provide the $100 million loan in addition to bilateral aid which amounts to about 384 million euros ($442 million) this year. She said she hopes the additional…

Sara Netanyahu Indicted on Fraud Charges in Israel

JERUSALEM — Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, was indicted Thursday on charges that she defrauded the Israeli government of close to $100,000 in personal expenses, largely by hiring some of Jerusalem’s best-known chefs to cater hundreds of private meals while covering up the fact that the prime minister’s residence already employed a full-time cook. This is not the first time that the expensive tastes of Mrs. Netanyahu, 59, have come back to haunt her husband, who also faces indictment in a web of corruption…

Russia ‘skeptical’ over UN Syrian crimes against humanity report

MOSCOW: Russia’s foreign minister on Thursday said he was “skeptical” about a UN report accusing the Syrian regime of committing crimes against humanity during the siege of Eastern Ghouta.The report published Wednesday said forces loyal to the government had deliberately starved civilians during the siege between February and April, among other crimes.“We are in principle very skeptical toward the methods of this sort of work, whether it comes to war crimes or the use of chemical weapons,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow with UN…

East Libyan forces advance rapidly to retake key oil ports

BENGHAZI, Libya/VIENNA: East Libyan forces said on Thursday they had rapidly retaken the shuttered oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, where the head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said he hoped operations would resume in a “couple of days.” Staff were evacuated from the key terminals in Libya’s eastern oil crescent and exports were suspended last Thursday when armed opponents of eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar attacked the ports and occupied them. The closure has led to daily production losses of up to 450,000 barrels per day…