NEWS OF THE DAYPope Francis on Tuesday arrived in Turkey for his first visit to the overwhelmingly Muslim but officially secular state, in a challenging trip aimed at building bridges with Islam and supporting the embattled Christian minorities of the Middle East. The pope is spending the first of three days in Turkey in the capital Ankara, notably holding a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his newly-constructed and hugely controversial presidential palace.
PARIS: France’s foreign minister Friday urged a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within two years, as French MPs debated a symbolic motion to recognise Palestine as a state. Laurent Fabius said the United Nations Security Council was working on a resolution to relaunch and conclude talks. “A deadline of two years is the one most often mentioned and the French government can agree with this figure,” he told MPs. The Palestinians are planning to formally submit to the UN Security Council a draft resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territory in 2016. Fabius also said France was prepared to host international talks to drive the peace bid forward. “An... more ›
BAGHDAD: From the Islamic State jihadist group’s black banner to colourful depictions of revered Shiite figures, the Kurds’ golden sun and the official tricolour, a “war of flags” rages in Iraq. Banners mark control of territory and identify units as they have for thousands of years, but in Iraq they also show the sharp religious and ethnic divisions among combatants, including some on the same side. “In Iraq today, you can say there is a war of bullets and... flags. These two are inseparable,” said Ahmed Ali, an expert at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. “Psychologically, planting your flag is very significant. It tells your enemy that you are in... more ›
LONDON: Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday promised tough curbs on welfare for EU migrants to counter a surge in arrivals and warned failure to get his way could be a deal-breaker for Britain staying in Europe. He said the package of reforms would require changes to European Union treaties, but said he was ï¿½confidentï¿½ that he could reach agreement with fellow EU leaders. In a long-awaited speech on the issue, Cameron stopped short of calling for a cap on new arrivals or a mooted ï¿½emergency brakeï¿½, which had caused consternation in EU capitals. But he announced... more ›
BEIRUT: More than 500 civilians have been killed in a “world record” 2,000 air strikes across Syria by regime forces over the past 40 days, a monitoring group said Friday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the regime could be “listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for... carrying out some 2,000 air strikes against its people in the past 40 days”. The group, which relies on a broad network of activists and medics on the ground for its information, said the raids have killed at least 527 civilians and wounded 2,000 others. On Wednesday alone, raids on the Islamic State jihadist group’s self-declared “capital” of Raqa killed 95 people,... more ›
JERUSALEM: A United Nations agency declared a state of “emergency” in Gaza City on Thursday, after two days of heavy rains and flooding in the war-ravaged Palestinian enclave. “Hundreds of residents in the flooded areas around Sheikh Radwan storm water lagoon have evacuated their homes,” the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said, referring to a northern district. Some 100,000 Palestinians throughout Gaza remain homeless three months after a ceasefire ended a bloody 50-day war between Israel and Hamas militants, with reconstruction yet to begin. While no casualties have been reported from the flooding, UNRWA said it was supplying “emergency fuel to municipalities, water, sanitation and health facilities”. Robert Turner, its director... more ›
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