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Legal Middle East

American student freed from prison in Iran after three years

An American graduate student was released from prison in Iran after nearly three years as part of a prisoner exchange this weekend.

Xiyue Wang, a Ph.D. student of history at Princeton University, was released and flown from Tehran to Switzerland, where he was met by U.S. Special Representative Brian Hook. Wang, a Chinese national and naturalized American citizen, was in Iran studying the Qajar dynasty when he was arrested in August 2016. Wang, 38, was accused of attempting to smuggle documents and was convicted on two counts of espionage in April 2017.

Jason Poblete, Wang’s lawyer, bemoaned the political nature of his client’s imprisonment. “Hua & Shaofan are a remarkable young family on a new journey,” he said on Twitter. “Innocent, unjustly detained & for political reasons, suffered for over three years in Evin. This could’ve been avoided. Stakeholders on all sides should help secure the release of others and keep open a pathway.”View image on Twitter

Source: American student freed from prison in Iran after three years

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Legal Middle East News

American student freed from Iranian prison after three years

An American graduate student was released from prison in Iran after nearly three years as part of a prisoner exchange this weekend.

Source: American student freed from Iranian prison after three years

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Middle East Military

U.S. may deploy 14,000 more troops to Middle East – MarketWatch

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is considering a significant expansion of the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East, including dozens more ships, other military hardware and as many as 14,000 additional troops to counter Iran, U.S. officials said.

The deployment could double the number of U.S. military personnel who have been sent to the region since the start of a troop buildup in May. President Donald Trump is expected to make a decision on the new deployments as soon as this month, those officials said.

Trump, facing an election next year, has long sought to exit foreign entanglements and avoid new conflicts. But on Iran — and partly at the behest of Israel — he is convinced of the need to counter the threat his aides say Tehran poses, the officials said. He also could approve a smaller U.S. deployment, the officials said.

Source: U.S. may deploy 14,000 more troops to Middle East – MarketWatch

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Middle East Military News Opinion Politics

Trump says peace talks with Taliban have resumed during surprise visit to Afghanistan | Fox News

On a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Thursday, President Trump said that the United States has reopened peace talks with the Taliban – just three months after the president scuttled negotiations between Washington and the Afghan insurgents following a terror attack that killed 11 people, including one U.S. soldier.

Trump, who made his first trip to Afghanistan under a veil of secrecy for security reasons, told troops gathered at the Air Force base for Thanksgiving dinner that the Taliban “wants to make a deal very badly.”

“We’re going to stay until such time as we have a deal, or we have total victory, and they want to make a deal very badly,” Trump said. “The Taliban wants to make a deal — we’ll see if they make a deal. If they do, they do, and if they don’t they don’t. That’s fine.”

Source: Trump says peace talks with Taliban have resumed during surprise visit to Afghanistan | Fox News

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Middle East Military News Opinion

Turkish airstrikes in Syria reportedly target journalist convoy, civilians; at least 9 dead | Fox News

Fresh airstrikes from Turkey reportedly targeted civilians and a group of foreign reporters in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn, according to monitoring groups and Syrian Kurdish officials.

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said the airstrike killed at least nine people – including five civilians on Sunday, while other reports claimed that the convoy included foreign journalists, according to Haaretz.

A spokesman for the Kurdish forces put the death toll at 11 killed and more than 74 injured, but it was not immediately clear how many were civilians.

Source: Turkish airstrikes in Syria reportedly target journalist convoy, civilians; at least 9 dead | Fox News

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Middle East Military News Opinion Politics

Defense secretary Mark Esper says Trump ordered near total withdrawal of troops from Syria – CNNPolitics

(CNN)President Donald Trump is ordering the remaining US forces out of northern Syria, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday,

The withdrawal order comes as Turkish forces are pushing further south into Syria.

Source: Defense secretary Mark Esper says Trump ordered near total withdrawal of troops from Syria – CNNPolitics

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Middle East Oil And Gas Opinion Violence

Iranian oil tanker near Saudi Arabia coast hit by missiles, officials say | Fox News

An Iranian oil tanker cruising 60 miles off the coast of Saudi Arabia was rocked by a pair of missiles Friday, causing an oil leak and more broadly threatening to further inflame fraught regional tensions between the two heavyweight Muslim nations.

Source: Iranian oil tanker near Saudi Arabia coast hit by missiles, officials say | Fox News

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Middle East Military

U.S. withdrawing troops from northern Syria – YouTube

In a major U.S. policy shift, American troops are pulling back to make way for Turkey’s planned invasion of part of northern Syria. Turkey is targeting U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters that have been key American allies in the fight against ISIS. The abrupt change follows a phone call Sunday night between President Trump and Turkey’s president. Holly Williams reports.

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Middle East

At least 31 dead in Iraq as anti-government protests grip country | Fox News

At least 31 people in Iraq have been killed and hundreds more wounded after three days of clashes between anti-government demonstrators demanding more opportunities and Iraqi security forces trying to quell the violence.

The spontaneous rallies began in Baghdad Tuesday by disenfranchised youths wanting jobs, improved services such as electricity and water, and an end to endemic corruption in the oil-rich country. By Thursday, the protests had spread to other regions of Iraq.

Source: At least 31 dead in Iraq as anti-government protests grip country | Fox News

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Middle East News Opinion Politics

Mike Pompeo on “Face the Nation”: Secretary of state says attack on Saudi oil plant was “act of war” by Iran – CBS News

“The United States will respond in a way that reflects that act of war by this Iranian revolutionary regime,” Pompeo told “Face the Nation

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued on Sunday to accuse Iran of committing a “state-on-state act of war,” saying the Trump administration has irrefutable evidence that shows an attack last week on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia was organized and directed by the government in Tehran.

“This was Iran true and true, and the United States will respond in a way that reflects that act of war by this Iranian revolutionary regime,” Pompeo said on “Face the Nation” from New York, where he’s attending this week’s United Nations General Assembly. “The U.N.’s primary charter is to protect peace around the world. This was a state on state act of war.”

Source: Mike Pompeo on “Face the Nation”: Secretary of state says attack on Saudi oil plant was “act of war” by Iran – CBS News

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Middle East Opinion

Trump Sends More US Troops To Middle East After Saudi Oil Attack : NPR

The Pentagon provided few details on the deployment. The announcement appears to indicate that the president has not made a decision whether to take military action against Iran

President Trump has authorized the deployment of additional U.S. forces to the Middle East to strengthen air and missile defenses around Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Pentagon announced late Friday.

Workers fix the damage in the Aramco’s Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia, Sept. 20, 2019, after it was hit during Sept. 14 attack the U.S. alleges Iran carried out. Amr Nabil/AP

Defense Secretary Mark Esper called the move a first step and said that the deployment would be defensive in nature. He said the deployment comes in response to requests for help from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Source: Trump Sends More US Troops To Middle East After Saudi Oil Attack : NPR

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israel Middle East News Opinion Politics

Israel’s Netanyahu appears to suffer election setback – POLITICO

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fell short of securing a parliamentary majority with his religious and nationalist allies in national elections Tuesday, initial exit polls showed, setting the stage for a period of coalition negotiations that could threaten his political future and clear the way for him to be tried on corruption charges.

Initial results posted by Israel’s three major television stations showed challenger Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party tied or with a slight lead over Netanyahu’s Likud. While the results do not guarantee that Gantz will be the next prime minister, they signaled that Netanyahu, who has led the country for over 10 years, could have trouble holding on to the job.

Source: Israel’s Netanyahu appears to suffer election setback – POLITICO

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israel Middle East Opinion Politics

Trump says he discussed a mutual defense treaty with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Trump’s call comes only three days before Israel’s election. Netanyahu faces a tough re-election bid after a more than 13-year tenure as Israel’s prime minister.

KEY POINTS
  • President Trump’s call comes just three days before Israel’s election. Netanyahu faces a tough re-election bid after a more than 13-year tenure as Israel’s prime minister.
  • The right-wing leader has promised that if re-elected, he would extend Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements and up to a third of the occupied West Bank.
  • The controversial move would encircle the 2.5 million Palestinians living there and make a two-state solution more difficult.

Source: Trump says he discussed a mutual defense treaty with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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Fires Middle East Oil And Gas

Saudi Arabia: major fire at world’s largest oil refinery after drone attack – YouTube

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Middle East Military News Opinion Politics

Taliban says near agreement on U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan – Reuters

Negotiations over how to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan have been held in Doha, capital of Qatar, since late last year. The ninth round of talks began last week.

“We hope to have good news soon for our Muslim, independence-seeking nation,” said Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha.

Source: Taliban says near agreement on U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan – Reuters

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Airplanes Middle East Military Opinion

US military drone shot down over Yemen, official confirms | Fox News

A U.S. military MQ-9 drone was shot down in Yemen, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News.

The drone was shot down late on Tuesday in Yemen’s Dhamar governate, southeast of the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa, officials told Reuters, which first reported the news.

A Houthi military spokesman was quoted earlier by the group’s Al-Masirah TV as saying that air defenses had brought down a U.S. drone.

Source: US military drone shot down over Yemen, official confirms | Fox News

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Disasters Middle East

Bomb kills 63 at wedding in Kabul

More than 180 others were wounded when a suicide bomber struck in the west of the Afghan capital.

Source: Bomb kills 63 at wedding in Kabul

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Middle East Military Opinion

A car bomb exploded outside a police station in Kabul on Wednesday morning, killing at least 14 people: NPR

A car bomb exploded outside a police station in Kabul on Wednesday morning, killing at least 14 people and wounding more than 140. Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack.

The explosion occurred after the U.S. and Taliban reported progress in peace talks in Qatar earlier this week, and was the latest in a series of explosions and suicide attacks in Afghanistan.

Source: : NPR

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Africa Education History Middle East News Opinion

Tutankhamun’s gilded coffin leaves its tomb for the first time since 1922 | Somerset County Gazette

The gilded outer coffin has been removed from the king’s tomb for the first time since it was discovered in 1922 and it will take eight months to restore weaknesses in the plaster.

Tutankhamun, known as the “Golden Pharaoh”, was an 18th dynasty king who ruled from the age of eight to 19. He died in 1324BC and is best known for being the first royal tomb to be discovered almost entirely intact.

Source: Tutankhamun’s gilded coffin leaves its tomb for the first time since 1922 | Somerset County Gazette

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Middle East Military News Oil And Gas Opinion

Iran seizes oil tanker near Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf – YouTube

Tehran claims Iraqi tanker was smuggling fuel; Lucas Tomlinson reports from the Pentagon. #FoxNews

Categories
Middle East Oil And Gas

Iran says it seized third oil tanker in Persian Gulf

Iran seized a vessel it accused of smuggling fuel in the Persian Gulf, the third time the Iranian Revolutionary Guards detained a ship in the waterway in recent weeks as the stalemate between the Islamic Republic and the US continues.

The Iranian forces intercepted the ship Wednesday near Farsi Island, which is used by the Revolutionary Guards as a navy base, state media reported on Sunday.

“The IRGC’s naval forces have seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf that was smuggling fuel for some Arab countries,” the paramilitary’s forces commander Ramezan Zirahi said, according to state-run media.

Source: Iran says it seized third oil tanker in Persian Gulf

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Middle East Military

US preparing to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan as part of proposed Taliban deal | Fox News

The Pentagon is preparing to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan as part of a proposed peace deal with the Taliban, U.S. officials told Fox News Thursday.

Source: US preparing to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan as part of proposed Taliban deal | Fox News

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Middle East News Opinion

Son Of Osama Bin Laden Is Dead, Media Reports Say : NPR

Several media organizations quote anonymous U.S. officials as saying they believe the purported heir to the leader of al-Qaida died but they don’t offer details about how or when.

Source: Son Of Osama Bin Laden Is Dead, Media Reports Say : NPR

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Middle East Military

U.S. Warship ‘May Have’ Brought Down A 2nd Iranian Drone, General Says : NPR

The U.S. Navy warship that the Pentagon says brought down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz last week may also have brought down a second drone, according to CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie.

“We’re confident we brought down one drone; we may have brought down a second,” McKenzie said in an interview with CBS News on Tuesday, referring to the USS Boxer’s encounter with an unmanned aircraft.

Source: U.S. Warship ‘May Have’ Brought Down A 2nd Iranian Drone, General Says : NPR

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Middle East News Opinion

Iran says it dismantled CIA spy ring, arrests 17, sentences some to death: report | Fox News

President Trump on Monday dismissed as “more lies and propaganda” claims out of Iran alleging authorities there had disrupted a CIA spy ring and sentenced several of the plotters to death — a development that threatened to further inflame an already precarious staredown between the Islamic Republic and the United States.

Source: Iran says it dismantled CIA spy ring, arrests 17, sentences some to death: report | Fox News

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Middle East Military News Opinion

The Latest: Germany calls for diplomacy in US-Iran tensions

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has asked the international community to use diplomatic tools to avoid a dangerous escalation in Iran. U.S.-Iran tensions are on the rise again as U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday an American warship shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz.

Source: The Latest: Germany calls for diplomacy in US-Iran tensions

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Middle East Military Opinion

Trump: US warship destroyed Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz | Fox News

President Donald Trump says a U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman confirmed to Fox News in a statement: “At approximately 10 a.m. local time, the amphibious ship USS Boxer was in international waters conducting a planned inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz. A fixed wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range. The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.”

Source: Trump: US warship destroyed Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz | Fox News

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Middle East Military

Iranian IRGC boats tried, failed to seize British oil tanker in Persian Gulf, senior US defense official says | Fox News

Five Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday but backed off after a British warship approached, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News.

The British warship was said to have been less than 5 miles behind the tanker but soon intercepted the Iranian boats and threatened to open fire. A manned U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was above as well, the official said, adding that Iranian forces left without opening fire.

Source: Iranian IRGC boats tried, failed to seize British oil tanker in Persian Gulf, senior US defense official says | Fox News

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History Middle East

Secret chamber in King Tut’s tomb could hide Queen Nefertiti | Fox News

One of Egypt’s greatest mysteries could be solved as scientists think they have located the final resting place of the ancient Egyptian queen, Nefertiti.

A team of Egyptologists thinks that the famously beautiful and powerful female monarch could be buried inside a secret chamber within King Tutankhamun’s legendary tomb.

Source: Secret chamber in King Tut’s tomb could hide Queen Nefertiti | Fox News

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Middle East Military

US airstrike kills Al Qaeda fighters ‘plotting external attacks’ against American citizens: military | Fox News

A U.S. military airstrike Sunday struck an Al Qaeda leadership and training facility in northern Syria where militants were “plotting external attacks” against American citizens, officials said.

Source: US airstrike kills Al Qaeda fighters ‘plotting external attacks’ against American citizens: military | Fox News