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Merkel Forced to Change Tack as Migrants Linked to Cologne Violence

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been forced to change tack on her liberal stance towards refugees, after a spate of assaults during New Year's Eve celebrations blamed on asylum seekers.

Turning away from her mantra of "we will manage this" over the record influx of asylum seekers that reached 1.1 million last year, Merkel has now backed changes to the law to ease the process of expulsion for those convicted of crimes.

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Migrants in Germany Fear Backlash after Sex Assaults

When asylum seeker Asim Vllaznim heard about the New Year's Eve spate of sexual attacks in Germany, blamed on a crowd of migrants, he says his heart fell.

"Our first reaction was: now the Germans will hate us," said the 32-year-old Kosovar, sitting with his family in their room at a migrant shelter in the western city of Cologne.

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Saudi Embassy Attack May Backfire on Iran Hardliners

The arson attack on Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran that prompted Riyadh to cut diplomatic ties with Iran was initially seen as a victory for hardline opponents of President Hassan Rouhani.

But analysts say the incident could ultimately backfire on his foes ahead of Iranian parliamentary elections next month, giving the moderate Rouhani ammunition as he confronts conservatives and works to restore his country's international reputation.

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No Easy Options for West to Dislodge IS from Libya

Western nations agree military action must be taken soon to combat the growing threat of the Islamic State (IS) group in conflict-wracked Libya, but analysts say there are no easy options.

Air strikes by an international coalition helped rebel forces to overthrow Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, but they have not been enough to dislodge IS from Syria and Iraq.

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Afghan Taliban Seek Leverage in 'Dangerous' Winter Surge

The Afghan Taliban have launched an unprecedented winter surge that points to a desire for an upper hand in peace talks, analysts say, while some suggest rogue Pakistani elements may be bolstering the effort to derail overtures by Islamabad to India.

Taliban fighting normally quiets down in winter months with the insurgents resting ahead of an annual spring offensive, but this year has seen a series of fierce attacks -- many focused on Kabul in recent weeks, including three in the capital since Friday.

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Iran-Saudi Crisis Punches another Hole in OPEC Unity

Escalating diplomatic tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have added fresh strains on OPEC's unity as the cartel grapples with a common response to rock-bottom oil prices, experts said.

While it produces a third of the world's oil, the group has struggled with crude values that have tumbled some 60 percent since mid-2014, falling below $40 (37 euros).

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Palestinian Authority Adrift after Three Months of Unrest

Three months into a wave of violence some have likened to a new uprising, the Palestinian Authority has found itself adrift and increasingly out of touch with frustrated youths behind the unrest, analysts say.

There is even speculation of an eventual collapse of the PA, the governing authority set up under the 1990s Oslo accords that were meant to lead to a final peace deal.

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Saudi-Iran Crisis a Rebuke for U.S. Policy

Washington's single-minded pursuit of the Iran nuclear deal damaged its alliance with Saudi Arabia, experts say, and fed the escalating crisis in the Gulf.

The United States failed to manage its traditional Sunni Arab allies in the region while it reached out to mend ties with their bitter Shiite foes in Tehran.

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Saudi Asserts Itself with Execution but Risks Escalation

Saudi Arabia's execution of a leading Shiite cleric reflects an assertive but risky new approach that threatens to escalate its proxy wars with arch-rival Iran in Syria and Yemen, experts said Sunday.

Hours after the Sunni-ruled kingdom announced Saturday's execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a driving force behind anti-government protests in 2011, angry demonstrators set fire to its embassy in Shiite-dominated Iran.

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Boko Haram Threat Hangs Heavy over Nigeria in 2016

As Nigeria rings in 2016, the ever-present threat of violence by Boko Haram hangs heavy over Africa's most populous country, despite official claims that the battle against the Islamist group has been "technically" won.

After setting a December 31 deadline to rid his country of Boko Haram, President Muhammadu Buhari told the BBC: "I think technically we have won the war because people are going back into their neighborhoods."

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