middle east

Iraq
6:32 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Militants Attack Iraq's Largest Oil Refinery As Sectarian Clashes Spread

An Iraqi boy and other civilians look at the aftermath of a car bomb in Baghdad's Sadr City on Wednesday. The violence in the Shiite district comes as Sunni militants advance in northern Iraq.
Karim Kadim AP

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 10:06 am

The Sunni militant group that has stormed across Iraq invaded the country's largest oil refinery today, hitting it with mortars. The government is using limited air attacks to strike back at ISIS, which now controls large areas of Iraq's north.

"The oil refinery in Beiji has been under siege since the militant fighters of ISIS seized the town of Beiji in their sweep through northern Iraq," NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Irbil, Iraq. "In an offensive at dawn, ISIS fighters attacked the refinery with machine-gun fire and mortars, according to Iraqi security forces."

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Middle East
10:00 am
Sun October 20, 2013

Syrian Peace Talks To Start In November

Arab League Secretary General Nabill el-Araby says negotiations to broker a political solution to Syria's bloody civil war will begin in November.
Amr Nabil AP

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 12:50 pm

Negotiations to try to broker a political solution to Syria's bloody civil war will begin in Geneva on Nov. 23.

That's according to Arab League chief Nabil el-Araby, who spoke to reporters after meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria.

These meetings have been a long time coming, but until now have not materialized because at different points, the Syrian regime and the Syrian rebels have refused to come to the table.

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Syria
12:15 pm
Sun June 16, 2013

Syrian Strife Draws In Neighbors, Global Players

A Syrian rebel aims his sniper rifle at Syrian government forces in the Sheikh Maqsud district of Aleppo, in April.
Dimitar Dilkoff AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 9:49 am

The conflict in Syria may be first and foremost a civil war, pitting the Shiite-dominated regime of President Bashar Assad against mostly Sunni insurgents. But the region's turbulent geopolitics have turned it into a proxy fight that has drawn in the rest of the region as well as the U.S and other global powers.

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Turkey
3:37 pm
Sat June 1, 2013

On Second Day, Anti-Government Protests Swell in Turkey

Turkish protestors and riot policemen clash on Saturday, during a protest against the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park, in Taksim Square in Istanbul.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 1, 2013 12:04 pm

What started as a small protest against the redevelopment of a park in Istanbul, Turkey, has spread to other cities and turned into one of the largest government protests in recent memory. While numbers are hard to come by, Al Jazeera reports that about 10,000 people gathered in Ankara chanting "government resign" and "unite against fascism."

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Middle East
1:03 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Bomber Attacks International Red Cross's Afghan Compound

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 3:27 pm

A coordinated attack has struck the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Gunmen reportedly assaulted the compound after a suicide bomber detonated a device at the entrance, where a guard was killed.

Update at 3:58 p.m. ET. Reaction From Red Cross:

"We condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms," ICRC's head of operations for South Asia, Jacques de Maio, says. "Right now, our thoughts go out to the family of our dead colleague."

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Middle East
12:13 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Benghazi Talking Points Debate is a 'Sideshow,' Obama Says

Originally published on Mon May 13, 2013 12:13 pm

Republican questions about how and when changes were made to his administration's "talking points" about last September's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, are a "sideshow," President Obama told reporters at the White House on Monday.

"There's no there, there," the president declared.

"What we have been clear about throughout," Obama insisted, is that "we were not clear who exactly had carried this out."

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Syria
10:38 am
Sun May 5, 2013

Israel Reportedly Attacks Syrian Facility, in an Escalation

An image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows an airstrike hitting the area around Damascus, Syria, early Sunday.
AP

Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 7:25 am

Israeli warplanes attacked a military research center near Damascus early Sunday, according to intelligence reports and Syrian state media. The attack prompted Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad to deem it a "declaration of war" by Israel, CNN reports.

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Israel
1:56 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Arriving in Israel, Obama Reaffirms an 'Unbreakable Bond'

President Barack Obama is greeted by Israeli President Shimon Peres, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon his arrival ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Wednesday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 8:20 am

President Obama landed in Israel this morning, marking the first time he visits the country as president.

"I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors," Obama said during a welcoming ceremony at the Tel Aviv airport.

NPR's Larry Abramson, who's at the airport, just spoke to our Newscast unit. He said Obama was welcomed by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Afghanistan
11:52 am
Mon March 11, 2013

With Withdrawal Looming, U.S. Troops Shift Their Aim

An Afghan policeman stands guard near the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 27
Musadeq Sadeq AP

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 4:36 pm

The NATO campaign is now in a new phase. After years of fighting the Taliban and bolstering anemic local governance, NATO troops are handing those responsibilities over to the Afghans. NPR's Sean Carberry recently embedded with U.S. troops in the southern province of Kandahar as they worked on this new mission.

The fertile Arghandab Valley in Kandahar province is considered one of Afghanistan's breadbaskets. For years it was also a valley of death for NATO troops.

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Texas
4:24 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Funeral Tomorrow for Algerian Hostage Standoff Victim

The hostage crisis unfolded in In Amenas, Algeria, near the Libyan border.
cia.gov

A visitation will be held tomorrow in Katy for Frederick Buttaccio, one of two Texans killed in the recent hostage standoff at a natural gas complex in Algeria.

The University of Texas at Austin has one of the largest petroleum engineering programs in the country, and the hostage crisis is on the minds of some of those students, who may one day find themselves working in unstable parts of the world.

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Politics
8:14 am
Wed January 23, 2013

As Hillary Clinton Testifies, How Will Libya Shape Her Legacy?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 2:34 pm

  • On 'Morning Edition': Michele Kelemen reports

Update at 3:30 p.m. ET. Clinton Testifies Before House Committee:

One of the defining moments of Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state was her strong advocacy for U.S. military intervention that helped oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

But as she prepared to step down from the post, she faced a grilling from Republicans in both the House and the Senate over what went wrong in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, when four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

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Middle East
1:06 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Obama: U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Will Transition to 'Support' This Spring

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Obama during Friday's news conference at the White House.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 5:18 pm

American and coalition forces will move into a "support" role in Afghanistan starting this spring, President Obama announced Friday afternoon at the White House during a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Obama said Afghan soldiers "are stepping up" and U.S. forces can now step back.

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Politics
7:25 am
Thu December 13, 2012

Report On CIA Interrogation Tactics Revives Torture Debate

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., have opposing views about a report detailing CIA detention and interrogation practices.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 8:03 am

In a closed-door meeting Thursday, lawmakers will consider whether to approve a secret report that chronicles CIA detention and interrogation practices — including methods that critics have compared to torture.

That report — along with the release of a new movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden — is rekindling an old debate about whether those methods worked.

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middle east
8:05 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Obama Recognizes Rebels as 'Legitimate Representative' of Syrian People

Rebel fighters take part in a demonstration against the Syrian regime after Friday prayers in Aleppo on Friday.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 7:58 am

President Obama said Tuesday that his administration now formally recognizes the Syrian rebels who are fighting President Bashar Assad.

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middle east
10:41 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Young Gazans Brave Fear To Welcome Hamas Leader

Exiled Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal (left) and Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh wave during a news conference upon Meshaal's arrival at Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday.
Suhaib Salem AP

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 8:14 am

Tens of thousands of people turned out for a mass rally in the Gaza Strip on Friday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hamas, which governs Gaza. The guest of honor was the leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal.

This is Meshaal's first-ever trip to Gaza, and it's been seen as a political milestone in Hamas' attempt to gain wider acceptance in the region.

Gaza is a small, very crowded strip of land that is full of young people. Roughly 1.7 million people live here, and about half are under the age of 18.

Young People, Politically Minded

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syria
6:19 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

U.S., Russia Try To Find Common Ground On Syria

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a speech at Dublin City University in Ireland on Thursday. She also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss Syria.
Kevin Lamarque AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 5:40 pm

As Syrian fighting intensifies in Syria, diplomatic efforts are also heating up.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the main international envoy to Syria were all in Dublin for an international gathering Thursday. The meeting came as Syria's opposition tries to get better organized to offer a real alternative to President Bashar Assad's regime.

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Syria
10:55 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Panetta Warns Syria: 'Whole World Is Watching'

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 5:27 pm

In one of the sharpest warnings so far to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said today "the whole world is watching" and that if Assad uses chemical weapons against his people, "there will be consequences."

Without saying specifically that the U.S. and its allies would take military action, Panetta said it is "fair enough to say that their use of those weapons would cross a red line."

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Middle East
1:00 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Europeans Summon Israeli Diplomats on Settlement Plan

Construction workers are seen at the E1 construction site near the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem in 2007.
Sebastian Scheiner AP

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 8:11 am

The U.S. has called the latest Israeli settlement plan "counterproductive," and now the Europeans have weighed in, with even more pointed criticism.

Israeli ambassadors to Britain, France, Denmark, Spain and Sweden were summoned Monday to hear opposition to the settlement plan.

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Syria
1:20 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

U.S. Has Growing Concerns About Syria's Chemical Weapon Stockpile

A man is seen in the al-Amirya neighborhood of the city of Aleppo on Sunday. Syrian artillery and aircraft also battered rebel positions in and around Damascus in an operation to secure the capital.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 1:07 pm

The United States is increasingly concerned that Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons might be used by the regime of Bashar Assad or that it could fall in the hands of terrorists, as the country's civil war continues.

NPR's Tom Bowman tells our Newscast unit that Syria has one of the largest stockpiles of deadly nerve agents in the Middle East. Tom filed this report:

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Middle East
1:56 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Spain Will Back Palestinian U.N. Bid, Britain Wants Assurances

The United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York.
Stan Honda AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 7:37 am

Following the French, Spain announced it would back the Palestinian bid to attain non-member observer state status at the United Nations.

Bloomberg reports that Spanish Foreign Minister Jose-Manuel Garcia-Margallo made announcement in a speech to the country's national parliament in Madrid.

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