DOHA (Reuters) – Western and Arab opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed on Saturday to give urgent military support to Western-backed rebels, aiming to stem a counter-offensive by Assad’s forces and offset the growing power of jihadist fighters.
Assad’s recapture of the strategic border town of Qusair, spearheaded by Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, and an expected assault on the divided northern city of Aleppo have alarmed supporters of the Syrian opposition.
DOHA (Reuters) – Washington wants Western and Arab allies to commit to directing all aid to Syrian rebels through the Western-backed Supreme Military Council, a senior U.S. official said before talks in Qatar on Saturday, to try to reduce the power of jihadi groups.
Speaking before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Doha for the meeting with European and Arab foreign ministers, the official said the United States was also seeking to ensure that aid promises for the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict are honored.
DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday it would put on trial 30 Emiratis and Egyptians accused of setting up an illegal branch of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, part of a crackdown on the Islamist organization that has soured relations with Cairo.
Ties between Egypt and the UAE have been strained since the revolution that toppled veteran Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak, a long-time Gulf ally, in 2011, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s subsequent rise to power.
DUBAI (Reuters) – Qatar’s hosting of a Taliban office for peace talks with the United States is the latest in a series of foreign policy gambits stretching over a decade – some peace-broking efforts, but others, notably in Libya and Syria, involving armed support.
U.S. officials are expected to meet delegates from the Afghan Islamist insurgency in the Qatari capital Doha on Thursday to try to advance peace efforts in Afghanistan, where the United States has battled the insurgents for 12 years.
DUBAI (Reuters) – Islamists charged with a coup plot in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have said they were abused in custody and, in a statement on social media, demanded an independent inquiry.
The trial of 94 Emiratis, which began in March, is seen as an attempt by the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab state to address what it says is a security threat from the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahraini lawmakers have urged the government to stop the U.S. ambassador in Bahrain from “interfering in domestic affairs” and meeting government opponents, newspaper reports and a lawmaker in the U.S.-allied Gulf state said on Monday.
The reports said the government had agreed to the proposal and would take diplomatic measures, but it was not immediately clear what those steps would entail.
DUBAI (Reuters) – The U.N. torture investigator said Bahrain had effectively cancelled a trip he had planned to the Gulf Arab state, where unrest led by majority Shi’ites against the Sunni ruling family has simmered for over two years.
Juan Mendez, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, said in a statement it was the second time a scheduled visit had been postponed at short notice. His trip had been set for May 8-15.
DUBAI, April 18 (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates said on
Thursday it had arrested a seven-member group linked to al Qaeda
which was planning actions against the Gulf Arab oil exporting
State news agency WAM said the members were of various Arab
nationalities and had been recruiting, financing and providing
logistical support to al Qaeda. They had also sought to expand
their activities to other countries in the region, WAM said.
MANAMA, April 17 (Reuters) – Bahrain’s main opposition bloc called on Wednesday for stepped up peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations before Sunday’s Formula One race, saying the global spotlight shone on the kingdom by the Grand Prix would help showcase its message of reform.
Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the Shi’ite Muslim-led group al-Wefaq, added in remarks to Reuters that he would be prepared to meet Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone in order to advance his demands for political reform in the island kingdom.
MANAMA, April 14 (Reuters) – On the wall of a home in the
Bahraini village of al-Aali, 20-year-old Hassan peered through a
black balaclava to admire his latest artwork: a circle around
the phrase F1 crossed out in red spray paint.
The sentiment is shared by many Bahraini Shi’ites – the
majority in this Sunni-ruled kingdom – who say the Formula One
Grand Prix race Bahrain will host April 19-21 should be
cancelled, as it was in 2011 when authorities crushed
pro-democracy protests inspired by the ‘Arab Spring’. Two years
on daily clashes still erupt, largely unnoticed outside the