Middle East
Latest stories
Court Convicts Israel ex-President Moshe Katsav of Rape

Israeli former president Moshe Katsav faces at least eight years in prison after he was convicted Thursday of two counts of rape for assaulting a former employee, a Tel Aviv court said.

The verdict, which also found Katsav guilty of sexually harassing a second employee, caps a four-year process that saw the former president resign his post and spurn a plea deal that would have cleared him of the rape charges.

Full Story
Obama Names Ford Envoy to Syria, Bypassing Congress

President Barack Obama on Wednesday bypassed Congress to name the first U.S. ambassador to Syria in nearly six years, part of his Middle East engagement drive criticized by Republican opponents.

Obama took the controversial step of forcing through the appointments of Ambassador Robert Ford and five other officials while the Senate -- which normally needs to confirm nominations -- was out of session.

Full Story
Bombers Kill Colonel Commanding Anti-Qaida Operation in Mosul

Two suicide bombers killed a police lieutenant colonel Wednesday when they blew themselves up inside a police station in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, police said.

"Two suicide bombers attacked the police station in the Qabr al-Binat area in (western) Mosul about 7:00 am (0400 GMT). They targeted and killed Lieutenant Colonel Shamil Ahmed Oglaq," police said.

Full Story
Iraqi General Gunned Down in Baghdad

Gunmen with silenced weapons raked an army brigadier general's car with gunfire in a Baghdad street, killing him and wounding his daughter, defense and interior ministry officials said Thursday.

The attack took place Wednesday night in the Mansour district of the capital, the officials said.

Full Story
Saudi King Abdullah Leaves NY Hospital

Saudi King Abdullah has left a New York hospital to convalesce, one month after he checked in for back surgery, the royal court announced on Wednesday.

King Abdullah left the hospital on Tuesday evening "for his New York residence for a period of convalescence and physiotherapy," the court said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Full Story
Assad Says EU Must Accept Turkey as Member

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the European Union must accept Turkey as a member if it wants to avoid being a "Christian club," in an interview with a German newspaper.

Asked whether Turkey should join the E.U., Assad told Germany's top-selling Bild newspaper: "They simply must ask Turkey to become a member because they need it as an Islamic country so the E.U. does not become a Christian club."

Full Story
Qatar, Shell Mull Six Billion Dollar Chemical Project

Qatar Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell agreed on Tuesday to study building a petrochemical project worth six billion dollars in Ras Laffan by 2016.

The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in the Qatari capital Doha under which they will jointly study development of the project, a statement said.

Full Story
Seven Dead, Hundreds Injured in Iran Quake

At least seven people have died and hundreds more were injured in a 6.5-magnitude earthquake which struck southeastern Iran, Mehr news agency reported on Tuesday.

The late Monday quake, with epicenter near the town of Hosseinabad in Kerman province, was followed by 22 tremors, including one of 5.0 magnitude, the agency said quoting the geophysics department of Tehran university.

Full Story
Jundallah Suicide Bomber Kills 39 at Iran Ashoura Procession

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shiite religious procession in the Iranian city of Chabahar on Wednesday killing at least 39 people in an attack claimed by Sunni rebel group Jundallah.

A pathologist cited by the official IRNA news agency said 38 bodies had been brought to the town's mortuary, among them women and children. A 39th casualty later succumbed to his wounds, the pathologist said.

Full Story
Kuwait Court Cuts Prominent Writer's Jail Term to 3 Months

Kuwait's appeals court on Wednesday reduced to three months a one-year jail term given to a prominent writer and journalist for allegedly slandering the prime minister, his lawyer said.

The ruling means that Mohammad Abdulqader al-Jassem, who was arrested on November 22, will remain in jail at least for the time being, Abdullah al-Ahmad told AFP.

Full Story