Donald Trump and Hassan Rouhani- USA, Iran News

"We agreed… that the only solution to these crises is de-escalation from everyone and dialogue," Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said on what was believed to be his first official visit to the Islamic republic.

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Donald Trump vs Qassem Soleimani, US News, Iran Story

“Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars,” leftist Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said. “Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.”

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U.S. Forces in Syria - American Troops

The United States has completed its military pullback in northeastern Syria, settling into a more stable posture of about 600 troops in the rest of the country after repositioning and reducing forces, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. Esper’s remarks in an interview with Reuters could signal the end of a period of turbulence and uncertainty surrounding the U.S. military presence in Syria after President Donald Trump’s initial withdrawal order in October. Since then, troop levels in Syria have fallen about 40 percent from around 1,000. Esper stressed he retained the ability to move in and out smaller numbers of forces as needed into Syria. But he suggested the number of troops will fluctuate around the 600-level for the foreseeable future. “It will be relatively static around that number. But if we see things happen … I can dial up a little bit,” Esper said late on Wednesday during a flight back from the NATO summit on the outskirts of London. Esper also didn’t rule out being able to reduce U.S. troop levels in Syria further if European allies contributed to the Syria mission. “The coalition is talking a lot again. We could see some allies want to volunteer troops,” Esper said, without suggesting any new contribution was imminent. “If an allied country, a NATO country, decided to give us 50 people, I might be able to turn off 50 people.” The U.S. military says it is focused on preventing a resurgence of Islamic State in Syria and carried out aContinue reading

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Hezbollah Military Against Israel

Clashes between Lebanese protesters and supporters of the Shiite militant Hezbollah group are putting Lebanon’s military and security forces in a delicate position, threatening to crack open the country’s dangerous fault lines amid a political deadlock. For weeks, the Lebanese security forces have taken pains to protect anti-government protesters, in stark contrast to Iraq, where police have killed more than 340 people over the past month in a bloody response to similar protests. The overnight violence — some of the worst since protests against the country’s ruling elite began last month — gave a preview into a worst-case scenario for Lebanon’s crisis, with the country’s U.S.-trained military increasingly in the middle between pro- and anti-Hezbollah factions. By attacking protesters Sunday night, Hezbollah sent a message that it is willing to use force to protect its political power. Confronting the powerful Iranian-backed Hezbollah, however, is out of the question for the military as doing so would wreck the neutral position it seeks to maintain and could split its ranks. “The army is in a difficult position facing multiple challenges and moving cautiously between the lines,” said Fadia Kiwan, professor of political science at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. She said the military has sought to protect the protesters and freedom of expression but is increasingly grappling with how to deal with road closures and violence. The U.N. Security Council urged all actors in Lebanon on Monday to engage in “intensive national dialogue and to maintain the peaceful character of the protests”Continue reading

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Benjamin Netanyahu - Israel Politics News Headlines

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looked to project business as usual Sunday as he returned to work following his indictment on corruption charges, but a wall of silence from his usually loyal Cabinet ministers could mean tough times ahead for the embattled Israeli leader. Netanyahu is determined to fight the charges from the prime minister’s office in what promises to be a lengthy court battle. But long before the proceedings begin, it could be his own Likud party that decides his political future as the country appears to be heading toward new elections. A show of support from his Cabinet would give Netanyahu a boost as he tries to rally the party and public behind him. Netanyahu’s efforts so far, however, appear to be falling short. One top Likud official, Gideon Saar, has already announced his intention to challenge Netanyahu in party primaries. “There isn’t a single person who thinks that after a third or fourth or fifth or sixth election, Netanyahu will succeed in forming a government,” Saar told Channel 12 TV on Saturday. “There is only one way that we can save the country, get it out of this crisis and maintain the rule of Likud, if today we go to a snap primary election.” The open call is a risky maneuver in a party that fiercely values loyalty and has had only four leaders in its 70-plus-year history. Netanyahu’s lackeys immediately attacked Saar, with the party saying he has “shown zero loyalty and maximum subversiveness.” But perhaps influencedContinue reading

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Hezbollah (Hizbullah) Military Precision Guided Missile Capability

The Trump administration is withholding more than $100 million in U.S. military assistance to Lebanon that has been approved by Congress and is favored by his national security team, an assertion of executive control of foreign aid that is similar to the delay in support for Ukraine at the center of the impeachment inquiry. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday congratulated Lebanon as the country marked its independence day but made no mention of the hold-up in aid that State Department and Pentagon officials have complained about for weeks. It came up in impeachment testimony by David Hale, the No. 3 official in the State Department, according to the transcript of the closed-door hearing released this week. He described growing consternation among diplomats as the administration would neither release the aid nor provide an explanation for the hold. “People started asking: What’s the problem?” Hale told the impeachment investigators. The White House and the Office of Management and Budget have declined to comment on the matter. The $105 million in Foreign Military Funding for the Lebanese Armed Forces has languished for months, awaiting approval from the Office of Management and Budget despite congressional approval, an early September notification to lawmakers that it would be spent and overwhelming support for it from the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council. As with the Ukraine assistance, OMB has not explained the reason for the delay. However, unlike Ukraine, there is no suggestion that President Donald Trump is seeking “a favor” fromContinue reading

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Iraqis Protest - Iraq News

Protests in which 250 people have died over the past month have accelerated dramatically in recent days, drawing huge crowds from across Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divides to reject the political parties in power since 2003. Protests in which 250 people have died over the past month have accelerated dramatically in recent days, drawing huge crowds from across Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divides to reject the political parties in power since 2003. Thousands have been camped out in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square, with many thousands more joining them by day. Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, was expected to draw the biggest crowds yet, with many taking to the streets after worship. More than 50 people were wounded overnight and early Friday morning, police and hospital sources said. By late morning hundreds were marching to the square from side streets, condemning elites they see as deeply corrupt, beholden to foreign powers and responsible for daily privations. In recent days protests have been comparatively peaceful by day, joined by elderly people and young families, becoming more violent after dark as police use tear gas and live ammunition to battle self-proclaimed “revolutionary” youths in the street. Amnesty International said on Thursday security forces were using “previously unseen” tear gas canisters modelled on military grenades that are 10 times as heavy as standard ones. In Baghdad, protesters had set up checkpoints in the streets leading into and surrounding Tahrir Square, redirecting traffic. New arrivals joined and assisted those who had camped overnight. AContinue reading

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Iraq Protests

Iraq declared a curfew in Baghdad on Monday as two people were killed and 112 injured in the fourth day of anti-government protests, and the coalition government’s most powerful erstwhile supporter called for early elections. Baghdad’s top military commander imposed the curfew from midnight (2100 GMT) until 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) effective “until further notice,” state television said, but protesters in the capital’s central Tahrir Square remained defiant. The curfew provides cover for security forces to clear the square, demonstrators said, but they intended on going nowhere. “No, we will stay. They have now declared a curfew and severe punishments for anyone not going to work, this is how they fight us. We will stay here until the last day, even if there are a thousand martyrs,” one protester said. The unrest, driven by discontent over economic hardship and deep-seated corruption, has broken nearly two years of relative stability in Iraq, which from 2003 to 2017 endured a foreign occupation, civil war and an Islamic State insurgency. Counting Monday’s deaths, which security and medical sources said resulted from security forces launching tear gas canisters directly at the heads of protesters, some 233 people have been killed overall in the disturbances this month. Security forces on Monday fired tear gas at school and university students who defied a warning from Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and joined thousands in Baghdad protesting against his government. A spokesman for the premier, whose position is increasingly precarious in the face of the stiffest challengeContinue reading

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Bashar al-Assad - Syria Politics News Headlines

Once again, Syrian President Bashar Assad has snapped up a prize from world powers that have been maneuvering in his country’s multi-front wars. Without firing a shot, his forces are returning to towns and villages in northeastern Syria where they haven’t set foot for years. Assad was handed one victory first by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from northeastern Syria, analysts said. Then he got another from a deal struck between Turkey and Russia, Damascus’ ally. Abandoned by U.S. forces and staring down the barrel of a Turkish invasion, Kurdish fighters had no option but to turn to Bashar al-Assad’s government and to Russia for protection from their No. 1 enemy. For once, the interests of Damascus, Moscow and Ankara came into alignment. Turkey decided it was better having Assad’s forces along the border, being helped by Russia, than to have the frontier populated by Kurdish-led fighters, whom it considers to be terrorists. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan struck a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin that allows Syrian troops to move back into a large part of the territory and ensure Kurdish fighters stay out. The Kurds once hoped an alliance with Washington would strengthen their ambitions for autonomy, but now they are left hoping they can extract concessions from Moscow and Damascus to keep at least some aspects of their self-rule. Turkey, which had backed rebels trying to oust Assad, has now implicitly given the Syrian leader “de facto recognition,” said LinaContinue reading

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U.S. Forces in Syria - American Troops

“It’s time to bring our soldiers back home, USA soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zones” and “Bringing soldiers home!,” Donald Trump said.

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YPG, Syrian Kurdish Military in Syria

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said there were still clashes inside Ras al-Ayn and medical personnel could not enter to help the wounded.

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Bashar al-Assad - Syrian Kurdish YPG - Syria News

Syria’s troops have entered a northeastern town, Syrian state media said on Monday, after Washington announced it was abruptly pulling out its forces, and its former Kurdish allies reached a deal with Damascus to help resist a Turkish attack. The abrupt U.S. withdrawal from the eight-year Syrian war, and the potential return of the Syrian army to the Kurdish-controlled northeast, are major victories for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Russia and Iran. The U.S. announced on Sunday it would swiftly withdraw its remaining 1,000 troops from northeast Syria, just four days after Turkey launched its cross-border offensive with a green light from President Donald Trump. The Turkish assault has prompted widespread criticism and alarm that it could allow Islamic State fighters in Syria to escape their Kurdish-run prisons and regroup. Trump decided a week ago to move U.S. troops out of the way of the Turkish assault, an act denounced as a stab in the back by the Kurds, thousands of whom died fighting against Islamic State in partnership with Washington since 2014. The Kurds announced on Sunday they were pursuing a new pact instead with Washington’s foes, Assad and his Russian backers. Meanwhile, the United States said it was pulling its troops out of Syria altogether. Ankara says its operation aims to neutralise the Kurdish YPG militia, the main element of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which was the key U.S. partner in dismantling the jihadist “caliphate” set up by Islamic State militants in Syria. Ankara viewsContinue reading

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Israeli police clash with Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque

In the week since three men were killed in a midday shootout in an Arab town in northern Israel, the country has seen mass protests, complaints of police negligence and a public debate about violence in Arab communities that has veered into racist generalizations. A recent spike in killings within Arab towns has exposed the longstanding mistrust between the marginalized community and Israeli authorities, with each side accusing the other of neglecting the problem. Arab citizens, who suffer from widespread discrimination, say Israel’s vaunted security forces are suspiciously powerless when it comes to combatting violence in their communities. Police say local leaders and residents must do more to help them impose law and order. The debate was reignited last week by the shootout in the northern town of Majd al-Krum, which killed two brothers, Ahmed and Khalil Manaa, and a third man, Mohammed Sabea. Another Manaa brother was wounded and remains in hospital, and a fifth man is said to be on the run. The police have opened an investigation but refuse to provide any details. “They loved everyone and everyone loved them,” Aisha Manaa said as she sobbed and held a picture of her two slain sons, one of whom is survived by a wife and two small children. “How can something like this happen?” Israel’s Arab citizens make up just 20% of the population but account for more than half of all murder victims nationwide. At least 71 Arabs have been killed so far this year, nearly asContinue reading

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Gideon Saar, Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud Party, Israeli, Israel News

With a simple tweet, Gideon Saar did what no Israeli politician from the ruling conservative party has done in more than a decade — openly challenge its chief, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The brazen move against the long-serving Israeli leader has solidly positioned the 52-year-old Saar as the Likud party’s leading candidate to replace Netanyahu, who is fighting for his survival amid a pending corruption indictment and post-election political paralysis. A former aide and senior Cabinet minister under Netanyahu, Saar has long been considered a rising star in Likud and one of the lone independent voices in a party that has, in general, blindly followed its leader. But that has begun to change. Netanyahu failed in two elections this year to capture a parliamentary majority, and the possibility of a criminal indictment in the coming weeks has hindered his efforts to head a coalition government. Seeking to solidify his status, the premier last week floated the prospect of a snap internal leadership primary in which he expected Likud to endorse him. But he quickly backed down after a two-word Twitter response from Saar: “I’m ready.” It was a risky maneuver in a party that fiercely values loyalty and has had only had four leaders in its 70-plus-year history. Saar followed it up with a more detailed tweet clarifying that he was not out to topple the prime minister, as Netanyahu has long claimed. Still, Saar left no doubt about his ultimate objective. “No one is denying the prime minister’s roleContinue reading

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Mohammad Baqeri - Iran News Headlines

Iran’s top military commander says the country’s military stands ready to defend its interests and protect its security in the Persian Gulf. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is fully ready under the current circumstances to defend its security and interests in the Persian Gulf,” Chairman of Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri said while addressing cadets in China’s PLA National Defense University in Beijing on Thursday. “History shows that we have never initiated [an act of] aggression or a war and will not do so, but we will firmly defend our security and sovereignty in case of any aggression or intervention by foreigners,” he added. The senior military commander further reiterated Iran’s position that security of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, through which passes a major portion of all oil globally consumed, should be provided by regional states and not the foreigners. He said the presence and deployment of forces from the US and other Western countries, and plans like the already failed US-led coalition in the Persian Gulf purportedly seeking to boost security in the region, have and will have no result but aggravated insecurity. “The Islamic Republic of Iran has done its share of ensuring security of this sensitive region through the years and would continue to do so,” said Mohammad Baqeri, adding, “However, it views the military presence of foreign powers as a major challenge to the security of the region.” He said Iran’s policy for establishing regionalContinue reading

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Avigdor Lieberman - Benjamin Netanyahu - Gadi Eisenkot - Israel News

Avigdor Lieberman entered Israeli politics as a loyal protégé of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Now, the maverick politician could be the one to topple his former mentor. Lieberman, a burly, tough-talking immigrant from the former Soviet Union, forced Israel’s unprecedented second election of the year and is poised to be the kingmaker again. Polls suggest Netanyahu won’t be able to form a coalition government without Lieberman’s support. Lieberman has played hard to get. “I don’t have to join at any cost,” he told Channel 12 news over the weekend. “The prime minister’s policy is simply submission to terrorism.” For years, Netanyahu and Lieberman have had a roller-coaster relationship. Lieberman, once Netanyahu’s chief of staff, has held a series of senior Cabinet posts and was often a staunch partner. But he’s has also been a rival, critic and thorn in Netanyahu’s side. In a high-stakes gamble, he passed up the post of defense minister in Netanyahu’s government following April’s election, leaving the prime minister without a parliamentary majority and forcing the Sept. 17 do-over vote. Their dispute, over what Lieberman says is excessive influence of ultra-Orthodox religious parties, has become a central issue in the current campaign. Lieberman says he will insist on a secular unity government between Netanyahu and his main challenger, Benny Gantz, in order to push out ultra-Orthodox parties. But Netanyahu says his former ally’s real goal is to oust him from office, and Lieberman is suddenly discovering newfound support from those who hope he does just that.Continue reading

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Emmanuel Macron - France Politics Headline Today

France has proposed offering Iran credit lines worth about $15 billion (12 billion pounds) until the end of the year in return for Tehran coming fully back into compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal, an offer that hinges on Washington not blocking it, Western and Iranian sources said. European leaders have struggled to calm confrontation between Tehran and Washington since U.S. President Donald Trump quit the deal, which guarantees Iran access to world trade in return for curbs to its nuclear programme. The United States re-imposed sanctions on Iran last year and tightened them sharply this year. Iran has responded by breaching some of the limits on nuclear material in the deal, and has set a deadline for this week to take further steps. Macron has spent the summer trying to create conditions that would bring the sides back to the negotiating table. An Iranian delegation was in Paris on Monday, including oil and finance officials, to fine tune details of credit lines that would give Iran some respite from sanctions that have crippled its economy and cut off its oil exports. “The question is to know whether we can reach this $15 billion) level, secondly who will finance it, and thirdly we need to get at the very least the tacit approval of the United States. We still don’t know what the U.S. position is,” said a source aware of the negotiations. A senior Iranian official familiar with the negotiations said: “France has offered the credit line of $15Continue reading

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