Category Archives: Middle East

Death threats for Saudi satire star who fights Islamic State with laughs

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Handout photo of Saudi actor Al-Qasabi playing the role of an Islamic State fighter in the new Saudi TV show "Selfie"

By Taghreed Almadani DUBAI (Reuters) – A Saudi TV star has earned death threats for deploying a new weapon against Islamic State: laughter. “Selfie”, a sketch comedy show which debuted last week on Saudi-owned pan-Arab satellite channel MBC, has won praise from influential voices in the Middle East for daring to mock the hardline militant group. “Come on guys!” interjects a naive character played by the show’s Saudi star, Nasser Al Qasabi.

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Egypt names new ambassador to Israel

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An Israeli police car in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv on September 11, 2011

Egypt on Sunday appointed a new ambassador to Israel to fill a post that had been vacant since ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi recalled the previous envoy in 2012. State news agency MENA said that Hazem Khairat, a former ambassador to Chile, was appointed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Khairat’s appointment was immediately “deeply” welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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France says Iran deal ‘still not clear’ as deadline nears

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French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius speaks during a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri (not pictured) at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt

By John Irish JERUSALEM (Reuters) – France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday it was unclear whether an international deal could be reached on Iran’s nuclear program by a June 30 deadline. Fabius has said he would meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday to assess where Iran stands ahead of the final round of talks on its nuclear program, which begin later in the week. “We need to be extremely firm, at the stage where we are now, things are still not clear,” Fabius said in talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Israel PM rejects ‘dictates’ as France’s top diplomat visits

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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L) during their meeting at the prime minister office in Jerusalem on August 25, 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected “international dictates” ahead of a visit by France’s top diplomat, with Paris advocating a UN resolution laying out parameters for peace talks. “The only way to reach an agreement is through bilateral negotiations, and we will forcibly reject any attempts to force upon us international dictates,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will hold separate talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders later on Sunday during a tour of the region.

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Israeli PM takes aim at French peace initiative

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Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu attends cabinet in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prefaced talks about a French-led peace initiative on Sunday by saying foreign powers were trying to dictate to Israel a deal with the Palestinians. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, on a two-day visit to the Middle East, was due to meet Palestinian leaders in the occupied West Bank before seeing Netanyahu later in the day. Fabius is promoting a French-led initiative that would see the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which collapsed in 2014, relaunched through an international support group comprising Arab states, the European Union and U.N. Security Council members.

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Baghdadi: The enigmatic IS jihadist chief

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An al-Furqan Media image allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, at a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in July 2014

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi rose from obscurity to lead the world’s most infamous and feared jihadist group, but shuns the spotlight for an aura of mystery that adds to his appeal. The Islamic State group released a slew of photos and videos documenting its offensive that overran a third of Iraq last June, and the many atrocities it carried out. IS declared a cross-border Islamic “caliphate” a year ago this month, after which a man identified as Baghdadi appeared in a mosque in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, ordering Muslims around the world to obey him.

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South Korea reports three new MERS cases

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South Korea reports three new cases of MERS as authorities remain vigilant about the spread of the virus whose pace appear to have slowed

South Korea reported three new cases of MERS Sunday as health authorities remained vigilant about the spread of the virus, which appeared to have slowed in recent days. The two medical staff include a doctor who treated a MERS patient at Samsung Medical Centre in Seoul, seen as the epicentre of the outbreak, where more than 80 were infected. Another was a medical worker who took X-rays of a MERS patient in another hospital in Seoul.

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South Korea reports 3 new cases of MERS, taking total to 169

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A man wearing a mask to prevent contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) rides on an escalator in Seoul

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Health Ministry reported on Sunday three more cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, bringing the total to 169 in an outbreak that is the largest outside of Saudi Arabia. The ministry late on Saturday reported the 25th fatality, a patient who had suffered a heart ailment and diabetes. The outbreak which was first confirmed on May 20 seems to have leveled off, the ministry said on Friday. (Reporting by Jack Kim Editing by W Simon)

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