VOA News (Middle East News)

• Saudi Arabia Donates Millions to Fight Cholera in Yemen
Saudi Arabia has donated $66.7 million to UNICEF and the World Health Organization to combat cholera in Yemen. Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said Saturday the number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen surpassed 200,000 this week.  UNICEF Director Anthony Lake and WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement Saturday, "we are now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world,” with an average of 5,000 new cases every...

• Will Downing of Tehran Drone Hurt Pakistan-Iran Relations Further?
Pakistan's claim this week that it shot down an Iranian drone that had crossed into its airspace is heating up tensions already on the rise over cross-border skirmishes and diplomatic rifts over alleged militancy, analysts say. "This is an unfortunate situation as it will only increase the mistrust which already exists between Pakistan and Iran," Zubair Iqbal, an analyst at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, told VOA. Both sides of the porous 900-kilometer...

• Looking to Mosul's Future Amid Extreme Violence
Outside a salon in East Mosul last week, while her daughter beautified the clients, Umm Safaa explained why she wouldn't allow anyone to photograph her shop. “When Islamic State militants see something on TV that is good, they bomb it,” she said. “Look at My Beautiful Lady restaurant. Look at the perfume shop.”   A few months ago, militants attacked both businesses when they were featured on the news as signs that “Mosul is coming back” after nearly three years under IS rule....

• Looking to Mosul's Future Amid Extreme Violence
As Iraqi forces push into Old Mosul, Islamic State militants' last stronghold in the city, VOA's Heather Murdock tours the outskirts with Iraqi military personnel. These once-vibrant ancient neighborhoods are now an abandoned wasteland.

• Israeli Air Strike Hits Syria After Bombing
The Israeli Air Force launched a strike in Syria after several projectiles were fired out of the war-torn country into the Golan Heights region Saturday, Israeli officials said. The air raid targeted two “Syrian regime” tanks in the northern part of Golan Heights, an Israeli army spokesman said. The spokesman also said Israel protested to the U.N. agency that oversees a 1974 cease-fire between the two countries because the projectiles were an “unacceptable violation of Israeli...

• Terror Plot in Mecca Targeted Grand Mosque
Authorities in Saudi Arabia said they averted a plot targeting the Grand Mosque in Mecca during the final hours of Ramadan. A man accused of planning the attack on Islam's holiest places blew himself up in Mecca during a gunfight with police, Saudi Interior Ministry officials said Saturday. Five people, including one woman, were arrested in a series of police raids in Mecca and in the kingdom's Red Sea port of Jeddah, police said. The five people arrested were thought to be...

• Belgium Fines UAE Princesses for Mistreating Servants 
A court in Belgium has convicted eight princesses from the United Arab Emirates of mistreating their servants during a stay at a luxury Brussels hotel. The women, members of Abu Dhabi's ruling al-Nahyan family, each received suspended 15-month sentences for human trafficking and degrading treatment. Princess Sheikha Hamda Al-Nahyan and her seven daughters were fined $184,000 each. The defendants, who did not appear in court but were represented by lawyers, were acquitted of an...

• US Senators Demand Investigation of Reports of Torture in Yemen
Two senior U.S. senators are asking Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to investigate reports that U.S. military interrogators worked with forces from the United Arab Emirates accused of torturing detainees in Yemen. Arizona Senator John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the ranking Democrat, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, called the reports "deeply disturbing." The reports were revealed in an investigation by The Associated Press published...

• US Would Welcome Effective Syrian Effort to Defeat IS, Military Says
The U.S. military coalition fighting the Islamic State group would welcome a concerted effort by the Syrian government or its Iranian-backed partner forces to defeat IS in its remaining strongholds in eastern Syria, a U.S. spokesman said Friday. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the coalition, told reporters at the Pentagon that the U.S. goal is to defeat IS wherever it exists. If others, including the Syrian government and its Iranian and Russian allies, want to fight the...

• Turkey to Stop Teaching Evolution Theory in High Schools, Education Official Says
Turkey is to stop teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in high schools, deeming it controversial and difficult to understand, a senior education official said, a move likely to alarm secular Turks. Critics say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Islamist-rooted AK Party are undermining modern Turkey's secular foundations by pushing a conservative agenda, including tighter regulation of alcohol and other restrictions, since coming to power in 2002. A chapter titled...

• 4 Arab Nations Demand Qatar Shut Down Al Jazeera
Four Arab countries are demanding Qatar take its government-supported Al Jazeera news channel off the air in the latest development in a dispute stemming from allegations Qatar is funding terrorist organizations.   The demand is on a 13-point list issued by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain — the four Arab states that cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar three weeks ago. The four countries say Qatar has 10 days to comply but do not say what will happen...

• UN Commission Condemns Destruction of Mosul Mosque
The U.N.'s office of the high commissioner for human rights has condemned the destruction of the historic al-Nuri mosque by Islamic State militants in the battle-scarred Iraqi city of Mosul, calling it a war crime. The U.N. human rights office says the destruction of the ancient monument on Wednesday is just the latest in a long list of atrocities perpetrated by Islamic State militants. The group has been responsible for the widespread destruction of religious sites, including...

• UN: Cholera Cases in Yemen Could Top 300,000 by End of August
The U.N. Children's Fund warns cholera cases and deaths in war-torn Yemen continue to mount and could reach 300,000 by the end of August. UNICEF puts the current number of suspected cases at nearly 200,000, including more than 1,200 deaths — with a quarter of those being children. UNICEF says containing the cholera outbreak in Yemen is extremely difficult. It says the health system is near total collapse, water and sanitation systems are in disrepair and the people who are meant to...

• Turkey Stands by Qatar in Ongoing Crisis
Turkey is continuing to be drawn into the crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States over Doha's alleged support of radical Islamic groups in the region. Ankara is strongly backing Qatar and has ruled out ending it's recently established military ties. On Thursday, five Turkish armored vehicles and 23 military personnel arrived in Doha as part of an agreement to establish a military base with more than 5,000 soldiers. But the base's closure is one of the 13...

• Turkey: Israel Paid Compensation to Families of 2010 Flotilla Raid Victims
Israel has paid total compensation of $20 million to the families of the victims of an Israeli raid on a Turkish aid flotilla that killed 10 people in 2010, Turkish media quoted Turkey's Finance Minister Naci Agbal as saying on Friday. The payment, which will be divided among the 10 families, comes some nine months after Israel, which had already offered apologies for the raid — one of Ankara's conditions for rapprochement — agreed to pay the families of those...


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