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  Monday, December 22, 2014  Home > Latest News > World > Middle East
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  • Kurdish fighters face resistance from IS in Iraq 22 Dec 2014 | 6:28 am

    Kurdistan Iraqi regional government President Massoud Barzani arrives to support Kurdish forces as they head to battle Islamic State militants, on the summit of Mount Sinjar, in the town of Sinjar, Iraq, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Iraqi Kurdish fighters pushed their way Sunday into the town of Sinjar, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against Islamic State militants who captured the town last summer. Loud explosions and intense gunbattles were heard from inside the town. Barzani vowed to crush the Islamic State group as fighting rages in Sinjar. (AP Photo/Zana Ahmed)SINJAR, Iraq (AP) — Kurdish fighters in Iraq have pushed deeper into the town of Sinjar, held by the Islamic State group, but are facing stiff resistance from the Sunni militants who captured it in August.


  • Iraq TV show makes 'terrorists' confront victims 22 Dec 2014 | 6:05 am

    Iraq TV show makes 'terrorists' confront victimsHaider Ali Motar was convicted of terrorism charges about a month ago for helping to carry out a string of Baghdad car bombings on behalf of the Islamic State extremist group. Now, the 21-year old is a ...


  • US Navy chopper crashes in Kuwait, minor injuries 22 Dec 2014 | 5:54 am

    An MH-60S helicopter assigned to the Indians of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6 prepares to land on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in this September 7, 2013 image provided by the US NavyA US Navy helicopter has crashed during a training mission in the Gulf state of Kuwait, slightly injuring three crew members, the Bahrain-based Naval Forces Central Command said on Monday. The MH-60S helicopter went down on Sunday morning during the overland training flight at Camp Buehring in Kuwait, it said in a statement. Kuwait hosts about 15,000 military personnel from the United States, which is leading the international coalition fighting the Islamic State extremist group in Syria and Iraq.


  • US Navy chopper crashes in Kuwait, minor injuries 22 Dec 2014 | 5:54 am

    An MH-60S helicopter assigned to the Indians of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6 prepares to land on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in this September 7, 2013 image provided by the US NavyA US Navy helicopter has crashed during a training mission in the Gulf state of Kuwait, slightly injuring three crew members, the Bahrain-based Naval Forces Central Command said on Monday. The MH-60S helicopter went down on Sunday morning during the overland training flight at Camp Buehring in Kuwait, it said in a statement. Kuwait hosts about 15,000 military personnel from the United States, which is leading the international coalition fighting the Islamic State extremist group in Syria and Iraq.


  • Budget pressure unlikely to deflect Iran from nuclear goals 22 Dec 2014 | 5:21 am

    Iran's President Hassan Rouhani gives a news conference on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New YorkBy Mehrdad Balali DUBAI (Reuters) - A big oil price slide will hurt Iran's attempts to rescue battered living standards, but economic pain is unlikely to soften its stance in nuclear talks or end aid to allies such as Syria, matters seen by its ruling clerics as strategic priorities. Economic misery due to sanctions and mismanagement has been a reality for years, and while social strains in the 76 million population are deep, the clerics will seek to contain them, say experts examining Iran's budget plans for 2015. ...


  • Budget pressure unlikely to deflect Iran from nuclear goals 22 Dec 2014 | 5:21 am

    Iran's President Hassan Rouhani gives a news conference on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New YorkBy Mehrdad Balali DUBAI (Reuters) - A big oil price slide will hurt Iran's attempts to rescue battered living standards, but economic pain is unlikely to soften its stance in nuclear talks or end aid to allies such as Syria, matters seen by its ruling clerics as strategic priorities. Economic misery due to sanctions and mismanagement has been a reality for years, and while social strains in the 76 million population are deep, the clerics will seek to contain them, say experts examining Iran's budget plans for 2015. ...


  • Fallout from Obama’s Russia Strategy Is Spreading through Europe 22 Dec 2014 | 5:00 am

    The Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia, reluctantly supported by the Europeans, bite more deeply every day. It’ll be the other kind if the European Union swoons into another recession as a consequence of America’s geopolitical ambitions to Europe’s east. President Putin, in his freewheeling annual encounter with journalists last week, told Russians they faced not a crisis but two years of “trying times.” Then he added offhandedly, “Call it what you want.” Taking his advice, let’s say the Russian economy is now either in crisis or at the edge of one. Those West Europeans whose economies are most extensively interdependent with Russia’s, notably but not only the Germans, are next.

  • AP poll: Police killings of blacks voted top story of 2014 22 Dec 2014 | 4:58 am

    FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 file photo, Pastor Charles Burton lies on the driveway of the Ferguson, Mo. police station as he is outlined in chalk as a memorial to Michael Brown. Some witnesses said 18-year-old Brown had his hands up in surrender, others said he was making a charge. But there was no dispute he was unarmed and shot dead by a white police officer. In New York City, another unarmed black man, Eric Garner, was killed after a white officer put him in a chokehold during an arrest for unauthorized cigarette sales. After grand juries opted not to indict the officers, protests erupted across the country, punctuated by chants of "Hands up, don't shoot" and "I can't breathe." (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)NEW YORK (AP) — The police killings of unarmed blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere — and the investigations and tumultuous protests they inspired — was the top news story of 2014, according to The Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.


  • Pope to meet Muslim, Buddhist leaders in Philippines visit 22 Dec 2014 | 4:49 am

    Pope Francis waves to the crowd during his general audience at St Peter's square on December 17, 2014 at the VaticanPope Francis will meet with leaders of various religions when he visits the Philippines next month, pushing a message of tolerance in order to combat global religious conflicts, a church official said Monday. The pontiff will hold a 10 to 15-minute dialogue with the dean of the Philippines' largest Islamic studies centre and a Taiwan-based Buddhist leader on January 18, according to Father Carlos Reyes, a member of the committee organising the Pope's visit. He will also meet with the Hong Kong-based regional head of the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as a Hindu leader, Protestant bishops, and a Manila-based rabbi, Reyes told reporters. The dialogue will be held at the 400-year-old church-run University of Santo Tomas in Manila, where the pontiff will also address a crowd of 25,000 youths.


  • Palestinian man arrested after foiled attack on soldier 22 Dec 2014 | 2:54 am

    JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israel military says a Palestinian man has been arrested after a foiled attack on a soldier in the West Bank.

  • AP PHOTOS: Editor selections from the Middle East 22 Dec 2014 | 2:25 am

    A plainclothes security officer escorts students evacuated from a school as Taliban fighters attack another school nearby, killing148 people, mostly children, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the attacks: "Mothers and fathers send their kids to school to learn and to be safe and to dream and to find opportunity. And particularly at this military school in Pakistan, they sent their kids there with the hope and dreams of serving their country. Instead, today they are gone, wiped away by Taliban assassins who serve a dark and almost medieval vision, and the opposite of everything that those mothers and fathers wanted for their children." (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)In the Middle East and the wider region this past week, Taliban gunmen attacked a school in Peshawer, Pakistan, killing 148 people —most of them children — in what was one of the country's deadliest attacks in years. In the days that followed, families buried the victims of the massacre, residents held vigils and the nation mourned its loss.


  • AP PHOTOS: Editor selections from the Middle East 22 Dec 2014 | 2:25 am

    A plainclothes security officer escorts students evacuated from a school as Taliban fighters attack another school nearby, killing148 people, mostly children, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the attacks: "Mothers and fathers send their kids to school to learn and to be safe and to dream and to find opportunity. And particularly at this military school in Pakistan, they sent their kids there with the hope and dreams of serving their country. Instead, today they are gone, wiped away by Taliban assassins who serve a dark and almost medieval vision, and the opposite of everything that those mothers and fathers wanted for their children." (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)In the Middle East and the wider region this past week, Taliban gunmen attacked a school in Peshawer, Pakistan, killing 148 people —most of them children — in what was one of the country's deadliest attacks in years. In the days that followed, families buried the victims of the massacre, residents held vigils and the nation mourned its loss.


  • Homeland Season 4 Finale Review: The Woman of No Man's Land 22 Dec 2014 | 2:12 am

    Homeland Season 4 Finale Review: The Woman of No Man's LandHomeland S04E12: "Long Time Coming" For the second year in a row, Homeland went with a more epilogue-style finale that distanced itself a little bit from the primary events of the season (in this case, the Pakistan story and setting). Although the minor jump forward in time meant that "Long Time Coming" didn't drop us right into some Carrie & Quinn versus Dar & Haqqani bloodbath that might've been extremely thrilling, the episode was ultimately a more successful example of this type of episode than the Season 3 finale. Whereas at the end of last season it felt like Homeland wanted to give Brody one last send-off above all else, "Long Time Coming" offered a really strong mix of somber reflection and intrigue for the future. All told, I can't imagine many of us expected that this would be the final installment of Homeland's fourth season, but it was a fine change of pace after the more deliberately intense and deadly back half of the season. While I certainly would have enjoyed yet another episode featuring Quinn doing his best Jack Bauer impression, perhaps joined by an impassioned Carrie, I wonder if showrunner Alex Gansa and the writer of this episode, Meredith Stiehm, were concerned about the law of diminishing returns with the action in Islamabad. By bringing Homeland's characters and story back to the United States, "Long Time Coming" put a stop to the explosions, but hustled to try to bring everyone's season-long arcs to some kind of new—or renewed—place, without stripping the espionage away completely. I'm betting that not everyone enjoyed this approach, but for the most part, it worked for me. Stiehm's script was particularly well-constructed, creating a first half that made room for Carrie to say goodbye to her father and experience what life outside of the CIA could, in theory, be like. Whether you entirely buy the show's long-term handling of Carrie as a character (and I'm skeptical), I do buy the simple idea that the death of a family member can have nearly unlimited impact on a person, especially someone in Carrie's fragile position given everything that happened in Islamabad. As a result, the Carrie we saw here was more invested in being a mother to her baby, was generally warmer to her sister, and handled the 'big' stuff associated with her father's death (packing up boxes, delivering the eulogy, maneuvering around at the wake, etc.) without any troubled Carrie 'freak outs'. Obviously, the sudden reappearance of her mother threw Carrie for a loop, but even then, she made the effort to drive across the country to Missouri to figure out the truth of why this woman did what she did. So many of those little moments just rang true for me. Carrie and Quinn share some kind of connection and she didn't know if/how he survived in Pakistan, so their reunion had the right level of surprise and relief. The brief moment with Lockhart slinking into the wake super late, armed with a crappy dish of his wife's lasagna, like the awkward dweeb he is, only to be welcomed to the Cool Kids table with Carrie, Quinn, and Saul so they could all have a "Pakistan, Am I Right?" moment, was just great. Odd, but great. Finally, the small series of scenes where the episode hit us over the head that Quinn and Carrie, those two crazy kids, might be able to make it in the real world if they just got out of the CIA worked well enough because Claire Danes and Rupert Friend sold the heck out of it, and because in that moment, the two of them have reached a point where getting out actually seems like a decent plan. It's not just like the Carrie-Brody ill-fated Romeo and Juliet nonsense; it's a slightly more rational, if still underdeveloped, connection that the show simply isn't going to let us ignore. Plus, Carrie's struggles with her mother were, in some ways, more powerful because she walked out on her kid just as her mother did so many years ago. And while Carrie's mom eventually admitted that her mistakes were due to a level of infidelity that she couldn't control, those impulses are familiar to Carrie. Like her mother, she hasn't been able to stay still; instead of sexing up the chillest bro at the bar, she simply zooms off to a war-torn country to try to bring democracy and/or imperialism to any and all nations. It's not the same, but it's not entirely different either. Thus, Carrie feels like she's been the way she is because of what's been passed down from her dad's DNA, but these moments with her mother illustrated that she is her mother's daughter as well. And so, she was finally convinced that maybe she could escape the CIA, and maybe being bipolar wasn't a life sentence of being alone. Maybe she wouldn't screw it up with Quinn, or with the baby, or even with her sister. Again, having just watched the episode, I'm not 100 percent sure I can track this throughout all 12 episodes, but as a kicker here at the end of the season, this was a darn fine place to get with Carrie. Stiehm's the best at writing for Carrie and it's no surprise she took on this episode. In a vacuum, this was the best Carrie episode in...two years? Maybe longer. While I'm less confident about the through-lines with Carrie, the show did nice work with both Quinn and Saul in this episode, pulling together tremendous moments that were basically in-line with what we've seen all season. In that regard, it wasn't surprising to see Quinn made a grand effort to support Carrie at the funeral and wake, to play with the baby, and even clean up the dishes. He was not only jonesing to have something more with Carrie, but the dude just wants to get out. We know that, we've seen it, and we've heard it. Even though he made these gestures at a wake, and even though Carrie is absolutely a mess, Quinn has been searching for someone to get him out, and keep him out. For Saul, the story was similarly simple, but effective—he wanted back in. Lockhart's politicking submarined him last season, the private sector sucked, and now that he's come out the other side of being the key hostage of one of the world's most dangerous men, he's ready to get back in the game. Unsurprisingly, Saul's desperation meant that he was willing to listen to Dar's big pitch about Haqqani—Dar agreed to take Haqqani off the kill list if he stopped harboring terrorists and was willing to get the video of Saul as a sign of good faith—and willing to undercut Carrie, and everything that happened in Islamabad just for the chance to take back the agency. Best of all, all three of those arcs came together in the episode's final 10 minutes, with Carrie deciding she wanted to try with Quinn, only to learn that he'd already given up (again) and taken a mission with no end date to Syria and Iraq, and then her trying to blackmail Dar into getting her in touch with Quinn using the info that she saw him with Haqqani, and then discovering that Saul and taken Dar's bait and ultimately had no problem cutting a deal with Haqqani (by association, at least). Carrie made a real effort to at least try to change her life. Quinn wanted to, again, but wasn't patient enough, and didn't trust himself to stick it out. And Saul got exactly what he wanted all along, while setting himself up to save face with the powers that be, Carrie be damned. That's quite the turn of events, and one that produced an emotional gut-punch I wasn't ready for, particularly when Carrie and Saul came face to face on Dar's porch. Who would have guessed that the biggest moment of the season would take place there, after everything that has happened over the previous 11 hours? Obviously, it's worth being at least somewhat skeptical regarding this turn of events. Maybe Carrie and Quinn aren't the kind of pair you can totally invest in. Maybe we've seen Saul screw Carrie over one too many times. Maybe Dar's 'plan' involving Haqqani seemed vague enough that the show can simply move on next season, not unlike how it handled the mess in Iran in Season 3. I hear that, and in some ways, I feel that way about what occurred in this finale. But I also really, really like that after a sometimes bumpy season that served as a soft reboot, this episode showed that Homeland can still deliver an emotional wallop without drones, missiles, shootouts, or manipulated prescriptions. It's not the time to say "Homeland is back!" or that's better than ever, or any of those superlatives—it's just nice to confirm that the show has something left in the tank, and that it's continued existence is beneficial for television. NOTES – Predictably, the jump back the U.S. didn't include a check-in with the Boyds. I guess Dennis is simply going to pay for his crimes and Martha will find another job? Those two were wrongfully lost in the shuffle over the past two episodes. – No Aasar or Max this week either, but Tasneem made an appearance on TV, speaking out against American involvement in Pakistan. It will be interesting to see whether Homeland continues with that story at all in Season 5. – I laughed at how quickly Saul ignored his wife now that he's back home, safe and sound. There she was, trying to make sure he was okay, and he just had to get to that meeting. He's a terrible husband. – Now that we know the details, what do you make of Dar's plan? It seems to me that he wasn't involved with Haqqani from the jump, and more likely reached out after the siege on the embassy. Like I said up above, I'm not sure how much I really buy the idea that Dar, or Saul, could trust Haqqani, but I guess I'm willing to believe they're both selfish enough to think they can trust him as a means of gaining control of the intelligence community. Regardless, if it means more Mandy Patinkin–F. Murray Abraham diner scenes next season, I can be convinced. – Amy Hargreaves did good work as Amy in this episode. She's always good, but it was nice to see the character do more than lecture Carrie. Victoria Clark was also solid as Carrie's mom; I'd love for her to stick around more next season. – That was a great little tribute to James Rebhorn at the end of the episode. Man is he missed, everywhere. – Any other lingering story bits or confusing turns that were left unaddressed? Let's talk about them in the comments. What'd you think of the finale? How did it change your view of the season as a whole?


  • Morocco's transgender dancer courts acceptance 22 Dec 2014 | 1:40 am

    FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, file photo, Moroccan transvestite, actress and dancer Noor poses for photographers as she arrives at the Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Morocco. In this conservative Muslim country where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in jail, a transgender woman like Noor is not only accepted but is a celebrity. Her ability to seemingly transcend the restrictions of her culture speaks both to her star power and to a certain kind of tolerance toward sexual minorities in this North African nation, and even in the wider Middle East. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar, File)CASABLANCA, Morocco (AP) — It was a slow night on the red carpet at the opening of the Marrakech film festival for the photographers and everyone was complaining over the lack of celebrities.


  • Morocco's transgender dancer courts acceptance 22 Dec 2014 | 1:40 am

    FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, file photo, Moroccan transvestite, actress and dancer Noor poses for photographers as she arrives at the Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Morocco. In this conservative Muslim country where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in jail, a transgender woman like Noor is not only accepted but is a celebrity. Her ability to seemingly transcend the restrictions of her culture speaks both to her star power and to a certain kind of tolerance toward sexual minorities in this North African nation, and even in the wider Middle East. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar, File)CASABLANCA, Morocco (AP) — It was a slow night on the red carpet at the opening of the Marrakech film festival for the photographers and everyone was complaining over the lack of celebrities.


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