U.S., Russia reach UN deal on Syria chemical arms that doesn’t include military force

The United States and Russia reached an agreement Thursday on a plan to seize Syria’s chemical weapons in a move the Obama administration deemed a diplomatic breakthrough, even though the resolution stops short of triggering military action should Syria fail to comply. | 09/26/13 20:11:32 By - By Hannah Allam and Jonathan S. Landay

Iran, U.S. nuclear deal could be just months away after UN talks

World powers and Iran agreed Thursday to pursue what appears to be the most promising bid in years to resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, an effort that was boosted by a brief but unprecedented face-to-face meeting between the United States and the Islamic Republic after more than three decades of hostility. | 09/26/13 20:51:49 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

US Syria plans face setback as key rebels break from coalition

Some of Syria’s most effective rebel forces, including at least three that previously were aligned with the U.S.-backed rebel command, have formed a new alliance with an al Qaida affiliate, a development that undermines Obama administration efforts to build up Syria’s moderate opposition and to plan negotiations for an end to the civil war. | 09/25/13 20:34:12 By - By Hannah Allam, Jonathan S. Landay and Mitchell Prothero

NATO head: Disarming chemical arsenal top priority in Syria

Asked whether a drawn-out chemical weapons inspections process might boost Syrian President Bashar Assad because it would require his assistance and take many months to complete, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that "the first thing is prevent chemical weapons attacks from happening again." | 09/25/13 18:57:47 By - By James Rosen

Obama, Iran’s Rouhani signal willingness to ease tensions

They may not have announced any breakthroughs, and there was no historic meeting. But the presidents of the United States and Iran made it clear on Tuesday that they’re ready for serious talks on a settlement to the feud over Iran’s nuclear program that could begin easing more than 30 years of hostility and estrangement. | 09/24/13 20:46:28 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

On Iran, Obama says he wants to see action, not just 'conciliatory words'

They may not have announced any breakthroughs, and there was no historic meeting. But the presidents of the United States and Iran made it clear on Tuesday that they’re ready for serious talks on a settlement to the feud over Iran’s nuclear program that could begin easing more than 30 years of hostility and estrangement. | 09/24/13 13:52:00 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

Obama tells U.N. U.S. committed to Middle East 'for long haul'

President Barack Obama told the United Nations on Tuesday that his priorities in the region are resolving Iran’s contested nuclear program, pursuing a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and encouraging democratic transitions in Syria and other tumultuous Arab states. | 09/24/13 12:05:29 By - By Hannah Allam

Kerry to meet Iran’s foreign minister at UN in first face-to-face talks since 1979

In a diplomatic milestone, Secretary of State of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet here Thursday for talks that analysts say could pave the way for warmer U.S.-Iranian relations after a decades-long freeze. | 09/23/13 22:05:10 By - By Hannah Allam

Lebanese army takes over for Hezbollah at checkpoints in southern Beirut

Lebanese security forces replaced Hezbollah fighters Monday at checkpoints in Beirut’s southern suburbs in response to criticism that the group’s recently enacted security measures proved that it maintains its own mini-state in southern Lebanon. | 09/23/13 18:20:16 By - By Mitchell Prothero

AP freelancer says report of rebel chemical weapons use not hers

A freelance contributor to the Associated Press whose byline appeared on a controversial story that alleged Syrian rebels had gassed themselves in an accident told McClatchy on Saturday that she did not write the article and has been seeking to have her name removed from it since it was published by a small Minnesota-based website. | 09/21/13 17:24:00 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Syria turns over list of chemical arsenal in 1st step of disarmament

Syria met the first deadline of its pledge to surrender its chemical weapons arsenal on Friday, delivering its initial disclosure to the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, Netherlands, by the time limit that Russia and the United States had set last weekend. | 09/20/13 18:23:33 By - By Matthew Schofield

Cease-fire called in Syria between Islamic group, U.S.-backed rebels

A tense cease-fire appeared Friday to have halted fighting between key factions of the rebel movement that’s battling to topple Syria’s President Bashar Assad, but questions remained over whether the arrangement could salvage the relationship between the al Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Sham and the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army, ties that have been crucial to rebel military victories. | 09/20/13 17:57:55 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Islamists’ rise in Syria undercuts Kerry’s claim they play minor role

This week’s takeover of Syrian rebel posts by al Qaida-linked fighters undercuts Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion to Congress earlier this month that moderates make up the bulk of the guerrilla movement against President Bashar Assad’s regime and are growing stronger. | 09/19/13 18:24:30 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Egyptian police raid town south of Cairo, arresting at least 70

Egyptian security forces on Thursday stormed Kerdasa – a purported stronghold for ousted President Mohammed Morsi – exchanged fire with residents in an hours-long street battle and arrested dozens of suspected militants in the latest government crackdown on cities suspected of serving as redoubts for armed Islamists. | 09/19/13 16:00:50 By - By Amina Ismail and Nancy A. Youssef

Syria chemical weapons plan renews talk of whether Israel also has them

A U.S.-Russian plan to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons has prompted Syria and Iran to point to Israel’s reputed chemical stockpile, but Israeli officials have dismissed suggestions that they give an accounting of their country’s capabilities. | 09/19/13 15:08:22 By - By Joel Greenberg

U.S.-backed Syrian rebels being shoved aside by radical Islamists

There’s hardly a more sensitive topic in Syria’s eastern provinces than the standoff between the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and the Islamist militants who run much of the region, so it was no surprise that the commander of the Free Syrian Army unit in eastern Syria’s biggest town understated the state of play when he was asked earlier this summer. | 09/19/13 15:07:59 By - By Roy Gutman

Syria’s Assad says his agreement to give up chemical arsenal is unconditional

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Wednesday that he is committed to relinquishing Syria’s chemical arsenal without conditions and as quickly as possible in a Fox News Channel interview that is the latest installment in a charm offensive intended to counter portrayals of him as a bloodthirsty dictator. | 09/18/13 21:05:38 By - By Hannah Allam

Egypt’s crackdown on Morsi supporters called worse than Mubarak era

In the two months since Egyptian authorities started rounding up supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, a repressive regime has emerged here that appears to be far worse than the one political activists thought they’d ended when they pushed Hosni Mubarak from office two and a half years ago. | 09/18/13 19:21:19 By - By Amina Ismail and Nancy A. Youssef

Lebanon charges 5 Syrians in spread of war across border

Lebanese prosecutors charged five Syrians this week in attacks earlier this year on targets related to the Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah. Although the two cases – a bombing and a rocket attack – remain legally unconnected, they suggest that Lebanese authorities are reaching conclusions about who’s responsible for violence in the country related to the civil war in Syria. | 09/18/13 16:35:22 By - By Mitch Prothero

Even before Syria deal, Egypt was renewing its relationship with Russia

Whether a proposed Russian deal to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons as an alternative to a U.S. missile strike actually works or not, Russia already has emerged as a winner among many Egyptians. | 09/18/13 16:52:17 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

U.N. calculations of poison rockets’ paths implicate Syrian guard unit

A U.N. report detailing the scientific evidence behind the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria carefully avoided laying blame for the incident. But the report’s details, particularly its calculations of the trajectories of the rockets that delivered poison gas to two Damascus suburbs, point directly at President Bashar Assad’s regime, experts concluded Tuesday after a day spent studying the U.N. findings. | 09/17/13 18:35:42 By - By Matthew Schofield

UN has allegations of 14 other gas attacks in Syria by both regime and rebels

U.N. inspectors, who Monday confirmed the use of chemical weapons against a rebel-held area in the Damascus suburbs, were in Syria by coincidence, intending to investigate other gas attacks where the national government claims the rebels are responsible. | 09/16/13 20:38:27 By - By Roy Gutman

U.N. team confirms sarin attack; Assad military implicated

A United Nations report released Monday confirmed that poison gas was used against Syrian civilians in a deadly attack last month that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the most significant use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of villagers in 1988. | 09/16/13 19:56:07 By - By Hannah Allam and Roy Gutman

U.N. provides details of Syrian chemical attack other accounts could not

Far from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim Aug. 30 that “the U.N. can’t tell us anything that we . . . don’t already know,” the report provides an intricately detailed account of what happened and how it happened, and a scientific look at why it became the tragedy it did. | 09/16/13 19:34:48 By - By Matthew Schofield

Syrian official calls U.S.-Russia chemical weapons deal a victory for Assad

A U.S.-Russian agreement for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons stockpiles and avoid American air strikes is a ‘victory’ for President Bashar Assad, the Syrian official in charge of reaching out to the government’s opponents declared Sunday. | 09/15/13 17:19:16 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Israelis cautious about U.S.-Russia deal on Syria’s chemical weapons

Israel reacted cautiously Sunday to a U.S.-Russian accord to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons by mid- 2014, with some Israeli officials questioning whether the deal could be carried out while analysts said the result was preferable to a limited military strike that would have left Syria’s chemical arsenal largely intact. | 09/15/13 17:22:16 By - By Joel Greenberg

Syrian opposition stands to lose in U.S-Russian deal to disarm Assad

The U.S.-Russian deal to seize Syria’s chemical weapons is likely to keep Bashar Assad in office for at least many months to come in a major setback for Syrian opposition figures who now face the prospect of negotiating with what they fear will be an emboldened regime with its superior military intact. | 09/14/13 18:25:53 By - By Hannah Allam and Roy Gutman

U.S., Russia give Assad till Friday to reveal details of Syria’s chemical weapons

The United States and Russia on Saturday reached agreement to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, giving President Bashar Assad one week to reveal what kind of weapons his country has and where they are being kept. | 09/14/13 15:38:47 By - By Matthew Schofield

UN report ‘soon’ on Damascus chemical attack as U.S., Russia talk in Geneva

As U.S. and Russian arms experts talked late into the night Friday on how to eliminate Syria’s chemical arsenal, the top official of the United Nations told an audience in New York that he believes Syrian President Bashar Assad is guilty of crimes against humanity and that a U.N. investigation will provide “overwhelming” evidence that chemical weapons were used Aug. 21 in Damascus’ eastern suburbs. | 09/13/13 17:57:31 By - By Matthew Schofield

Syria sends UN pledge to give up chemical weapons as U.S., Russia begin tense talks

Syrian President Bashar Assad formally agreed Thursday to surrender his chemical weapons arsenal, marking the first concrete step in a diplomatic process aimed at heading off a potential U.S. military strike against his regime. | 09/12/13 19:52:35 By - By Matthew Schofield and Hannah Allam

Egyptian Museum and its ancient artifacts feel the nation’s ills

Yasmin el Shazly last gave a VIP tour through Cairo’s Egyptian Museum two years ago, before the uprising just outside the museum doors in Tahrir Square led to the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak. Before that, el Shazly once lectured Paris Hilton and Charlize Theron about the world’s greatest collection of Egyptian artifacts. Now the museum is an empty monument to a nation shunned by tourists and unwilling, or perhaps unable, to preserve its history, both recent and ancient. | 09/12/13 16:58:23 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Egypt’s government extends state of emergency for two months

Amid increased violence in the restive Sinai, a month-long curfew and an increasingly fervent government crackdown on supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Egyptian authorities on Thursday extended a state of emergency for another two months, giving the government broad powers to arrest dissidents. | 09/12/13 16:41:15 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Syrian oil fields, now in rebel hands, still play crucial role in nation’s economy

With colorful bandannas covering their faces to protect against the noxious smoke, displaced Syrians have been flocking to the country’s oil-producing east to scratch out a living by operating primitive refineries in a setting that seems straight out of purgatory. | 09/12/13 15:57:59 By - By Roy Gutman

U.S., Russia begin talks on how to seize Syria’s chemical arsenal

The United States and Russia on Wednesday began swapping ideas on how to contain and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons in preparation for high-level talks slated to begin Thursday in Geneva, in the latest whirlwind of diplomacy to stave off U.S. missile strikes against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. | 09/11/13 18:52:14 By - By Hannah Allam and Anita Kumar

Think tank fires Syria analyst Kerry cited to support claims about moderate rebels

A Syria researcher whose work was cited last week by Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain in arguing for U.S. military strikes on that country has been fired for lying that she had a doctoral degree, the policy institute for which she worked announced Wednesday. | 09/11/13 18:13:28 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

Syria chemical weapons deal puts Russia back at center of international influence

In one day, with one simply stated proposal, Russian President Vladimir Putin turned a losing position into a winning one. | 09/11/13 15:38:48 By - By Matthew Schofield

Nusra Front militia’s control of Syrian city gives it economic clout

At the edge of a vast desert in Syria’s gas and oil production region, Ash Shaddadi, a city of 70,000, has become the nightmare that many fear if radical Islamist forces triumph in the country’s civil war. Since February, the city has been under the control of the militia known as the Nusra Front, which has pledged allegiance to al Qaida. The spoils of conquest include much of eastern Syria’s petroleum resources. | 09/11/13 15:11:40 By - By Roy Gutman

Opposition fears Russia deal means U.S. won’t ever intervene in Syria

For more than two years, Syrian opposition activists implored Western nations to help their rebellion against Bashar Assad’s regime, flying to world capitals to lobby policymakers and posting thousands of videos that offered foreigners a glimpse of their misery. | 09/10/13 20:13:08 By - By Hannah Allam

Obama puts off war vote in Congress to explore Russian-brokered deal with Syria

President Barack Obama asked Congress on Tuesday to postpone a vote on airstrikes against Syria to allow time to explore a Russian proposal to get Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to international control. | 09/10/13 22:05:39 By - By Anita Kumar, William Douglas and Matthew Schofield

Syria accepts Russia's chemical weapons plan; talks to start at U.N.

Hours after Syria announced that it had accepted a Russian plan for the destruction of its chemical weapons, the White House said President Obama had agreed Tuesday to "explore seriously" the Russian proposal and that talks with Russia and China would being Tuesday at the U.N. | 09/10/13 09:26:42 By - By Matthew Schofield and Anita Kumar

Obama endorses possible deal on Syria’s chemical weapons

With Congress on the verge of considering whether to authorize President Barack Obama to launch a retaliatory attack on Syria, the United States and Russia on Monday embraced a proposal that would allow Syria to avoid a U.S. missile strike by relinquishing control of its chemical weapons. | 09/09/13 20:33:59 By - By Hannah Allam, Matthew Schofield, and Anita Kumar

Syria appears to agree to Russian plan on chemical weapons

Russia on Monday urged Syria to put its chemical weapons stores under international control, intended for destruction, as a way to avoid a western military response to the alleged Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb. | 09/09/13 12:04:37 By - By Matthew Schofield

Al Qaida fighters among rebels who seize Christian village in Syria

A coalition of Syrian rebel groups that includes members of al Qaida took control of one of the oldest Christian villages in the world on Sunday, raising concern about the potential destruction of ancient shrines and churches. | 09/08/13 14:57:44 By - By Mitchell Prothero

EU: Syria military action must wait till U.N. probe is finished

European foreign ministers on Saturday called the alleged chemical weapons attack outside Damascus a war crime deserving of a “strong answer.” But they said any military action to retaliate for the attack must wait until after the results are known of a United Nations investigation into what took place. | 09/07/13 17:16:25 By - By Matthew Schofield

Syrians, once welcomed in Cairo, now finding Egypt is hostile

In the months that Alaa lived in Cairo after fleeing her war-torn Syrian homeland, she had grown accustomed to Egyptian men asking for her hand in marriage, believing that Syrian women are prettier, better cooks and cheaper. She could handle the lack of jobs and families sharing one-room apartments to survive on the bare minimum. But the toppling of President Mohammed Morsi July 3 – and the response that has provoked among Egyptians, civilians and soldiers alike – was just too much. | 09/07/13 12:20:52 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

U.S. pulls staff from outposts in Lebanon, Turkey

Citing increased threats to American citizens as the United States debates military action in Syria, the Obama administration on Friday ordered nonessential personnel out of its embassy in neighboring Lebanon. The State Department said it also would allow nonessential staff and their families to leave a diplomatic outpost in Turkey. | 09/06/13 18:01:24 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Yemen al Qaida group appears to think globally, act locally

In the words of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, it was a plot that aimed to change history. Intercepted communications appeared to indicate an impending terrorist operation of mammoth proportions. European nations shuttered their embassies; the U.S. and the United Kingdom airlifted staff from the Yemeni capital. The apparent plot seemed a manifestation of the U.S. government’s greatest fears regarding al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which former CIA director David Petraeus once dubbed the “most dangerous node in the global jihad.” | 09/05/13 15:19:24 By - By Adam Baron

Russia gave UN 100-page report in July blaming Syrian rebels for Aleppo sarin attack

Russia says a deadly March sarin attack in an Aleppo suburb was carried out by Syrian rebels, not forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, and it has delivered a 100-page report laying out its evidence to the United Nations. | 09/05/13 08:33:09 By - By Matthew Schofield

France won’t attack Syria if U.S. doesn’t, prime minister tells his Senate

French leaders warned Wednesday that failing to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would send a dangerous signal to the dictators of the world. | 09/04/13 13:37:40 By - By Matthew Schofield

Many in Middle East struggling to understand Obama’s Syria policy

Ahmad Nemah, a midlevel Syrian rebel commander, is certain there’s sound military logic behind President Barack Obama’s decision to delay U.S. missile strikes against the Syrian regime, but he’s having a hard time persuading his subordinates. | 09/03/13 18:29:26 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

Younger Muslim Brotherhood hoping to revive the Egyptian group

With the unprecedented arrests of the top and mid-levels of the Muslim Brotherhood, the secretive organization through which Mohammed Morsi ascended to the presidency before he was ousted this summer, the group’s younger members are forming splinter groups that they promise will revive the embattled organization. | 09/03/13 18:10:18 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

As Syrian refugees flood Lebanon, security worries grow

With more than 700,000 Syrian refugees jammed into a country of fewer than 4 million that already was hosting an estimated 500,000 Syrian guest workers, tensions are rising in Lebanon, which was deeply divided even before civil war broke out in its neighbor to the east. | 09/03/13 16:19:31 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Obama: "This is not Iraq. This is not Afghanistan."

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that any military action in Syria would be "limited" and "proportional" and doesn't involved "boots on the ground." | 09/03/13 10:26:10 By - Anita Kumar

To some, US case for Syrian gas attack, strike has too many holes

The Obama administration’s public case for attacking Syria is riddled with inconsistencies and hinges mainly on circumstantial evidence, undermining U.S. efforts this week to build support at home and abroad for a punitive strike against Bashar Assad’s regime. | 09/02/13 19:54:30 By - By Hannah Allam and Mark Seibel

Delay of airstrikes in Syria opens new push for diplomacy

As senior Obama administration officials sought support in Congress and abroad for a strike against the Syrian regime, other forces seized on the delay in a U.S. attack to make a last-ditch plea to avoid escalation. | 09/01/13 19:04:30 By - By Hannah Allam and Nancy Youssef

Obama risks embarrassing loss in Congress

President Barack Obama is taking a risk by asking Congress to approve airstrikes against Syria. | 08/31/13 18:52:03 By - By Anita Kumar and Lesley Clark

Yemeni Prime Minister escapes assassination attempt

Yemen’s Prime Minister, Mohamed Salim Basindowa, narrowly escaped an apparent assassination attempt Saturday evening, as his armored car came under gunfire en route to his home in an upscale neighborhood in the Yemeni capital. | 08/31/13 18:35:20 By - By Adam Baron

Chemical weapons experts weigh in on Syria intelligence report

International chemical weapons experts generally agree that the evidence presented Friday in an unclassified U.S. report about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria seems stronger than the faulty intelligence employed to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq. | 08/30/13 19:21:40 By - By Lindsay Wise and Anita Kumar

In Egypt, the press turns yellow as it takes on opponents of military takeover

Readers of Egypt’s main state-run newspaper this week were treated to a startling expose. Splashed atop al Ahram’s front page was trumpeted how security forces smashed a plot by the Muslim Brotherhood, the United States and Palestinian Islamists to foment the secession of northern Egypt. | 08/30/13 17:34:56 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

Even as U.S. strikes loom, Syrian refugees lament them as too little, too late

Marooned in the world’s second largest refugee settlement, Syrians uprooted by the mayhem in their homeland gathered in the thick afternoon heat Friday to speak eagerly about expected U.S. strikes against President Bashar Assad and their hope that U.S. cruise missiles will drive him from power. | 08/30/13 16:31:41 By - Jonathan S. Landay

A war-weary public leery of another Middle East entanglement

The American public doesn’t have much appetite for a military strike in Syria. | 08/30/13 15:35:11 By - By David Lightman

Citing ‘high confidence’ of chemical weapons use, U.S. makes case for attack on Syria

Pledging a stand against the “indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons,” Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday laid out the Obama administration’s case for a military intervention in Syria based on intelligence that says the Syrian regime gassed civilians multiple times in defiance of international norms. | 08/30/13 20:15:42 By - By Lesley Clark, Anita Kumar and Hannah Allam

With Britain out, U.S. ready to go it alone in Syria

U.S. intervention in Syria won’t have the support of key ally Britain after a historic vote by Parliament on Thursday to reject any military action to deter the use of chemical weapons by President Bashar Assad’s regime. | 08/29/13 21:00:25 By - By Lindsay Wise, Anita Kumar and Hannah Allam

Missing in Syria debate: Weighing the ethics of war

As the Obama administration continues to weigh its options in Syria after last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack, the conversation has stayed away from one of the murkier issues of war: its moral implications. | 08/29/13 18:35:15 By - By Ali Watkins

Scott AFB would have big role in bombing campaign against Syria

If the air strikes occur against Syria, big questions remain as to their goals and scope. No matter what, however, it's certain the Air Mobility Command, based at Scott Air Force Base, near Belleville, Ill., will play a critical role in supporting a bombing campaign against Syria, principally because of its role in coordinating air-to-air refueling for American fighters and bombers, according to John Stillion, a military analyst in Washington, D.C. | 08/29/13 15:42:38 By - Mike Fitzgerald

Obama blames Syrian regime for chemical weapons deaths; undecided on whether to attack

In his first direct comments about the Syrian crisis, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that his government has concluded Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime is responsible for a large-scale chemical weapons attack that killed civilians but that he’s not yet decided how to respond to a breach he said demands “international consequences.” | 08/28/13 20:02:38 By - By Lindsay Wise and Lesley Clark

Attacking Syria raises thorny questions as well as risks

The Obama administration’s preparations on Syria this week raise many thorny questions about the risks associated with launching a punitive strike against Bashar Assad’s regime over the alleged use of chemical weapons. | 08/28/13 19:27:25 By - By Hannah Allam

Military experts cautious about effectiveness of a U.S. attack on Syria

Now, with the United States appearing close to launching a retaliatory attack for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of nerve gas last week, defense and diplomatic analysts are cautioning that the expected “surgical” strike will likely be symbolic and fall far short of eliminating Syria’s chemical capabilities. | 08/28/13 20:18:26 By - By James Rosen

Fearing U.S. missiles, Syrians flood neighboring Lebanon

Lebanese media outlets – which tend to employ hyperbole on refugee matters – said tens of thousands of Syrians had used the Masnaa border crossing in the past 48 hours to flee the more than 2-year-old rebellion that has killed more than 100,000 people and threatens to enter a new phase of Western involvement. Lebanese security sources put the numbers substantially lower but said they were believed to be in the thousands. | 08/28/13 18:33:02 By - By Mitchell Prothero

U.S. wins Arab League backing as plans emerge for strike against Syria

The Arab League on Tuesday declared the Syrian regime “fully responsible” for an alleged chemical weapons attack, giving the Obama administration symbolic regional cover to proceed with a punitive offensive that could begin within days. | 08/27/13 18:48:21 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Hannah Allam

In foreign policy, the moral high ground is only an occasional destination

The United States helped protect the last Middle Eastern tyrant thought to use chemical weapons. | 08/27/13 17:34:03 By - By Michael Doyle

Kerry says Syrian use of chemical weapons ‘undeniable;’ U.N. investigates

A U.N. team began inspecting the site of a possible chemical weapons attack near Damascus on Monday as the United States used its strongest language yet to condemn the Syria government for purportedly using deadly nerve gas to kill hundreds of its own people in an escalating and bloody civil war. | 08/26/13 19:28:22 By - By Anita Kumar, Mitchell Prothero and Matthew Schofield

Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks on Syria

Remarks on Syria by Secretary of State John Kerry, August 26, 2013 | 08/26/13 18:24:06 By -

Why the US won't declare war on Syria

While a U.S.-led attack appears increasingly likely, the legal underpinnings for lethal action remain ambiguous. | 08/26/13 17:42:17 By - By Michael Doyle

U.S. appears to weigh military response to alleged Syrian use of chemical weapons

U.S. officials on Sunday called Syria’s decision to allow a U.N. team to investigate the site of a purported chemical attack “too late to be credible,” signaling that the Obama administration was leaning toward a military intervention in the two-year-old civil war. | 08/25/13 20:12:27 By - By Hannah Allam, James Rosen and Jonathan Landay

U.S. awaits UN inspection before responding to Syria chemical weapons claims

The Obama administration, along with key ally Britain, on Friday strongly suggested that a chemical attack was the reason for scores of civilian deaths in Syria this week but continued to push for a U.N. investigation before committing to any punishment for President Bashar Assad’s regime. | 08/23/13 20:53:43 By - By Hannah Allam, Mitchell Prothero and Lesley Clark

Muslim Brotherhood leadership fading amid government crackdown

Television preacher Saftwat Hegazy was arrested earlier this week as the military-installed government moved to crack down on its Islamist opponents. | 08/23/13 17:57:52 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Jonathan S. Landay

Robert Bales sentenced to life without parole in slaying of Afghans

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales received a life sentence without the possibility parole on Friday for his single-handed massacre of 16 Afghan civilians in March 2012. | 08/23/13 14:42:42 By - Adam Ashton

Tensions remain high in Egypt after Mubarak released from prison

As a small gaggle of supporters cheered and waved his portraits outside, former dictator Hosni Mubarak was whisked by helicopter Thursday out of one of Egypt’s most notorious prisons a day after a court ruled that he could no longer be jailed pending his trial on corruption and other charges. | 08/22/13 17:48:42 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

Egyptian turmoil continues with Mubarak’s pending release, more arrests

During the latter half of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule, those who suggested rising up against him often would be reminded of an Egyptian phrase, “The one you know is better than the one you don’t know,” referring to Mubarak’s potential replacement. | 08/21/13 19:18:38 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Jonathan S. Landay

Unconfirmed reports of chemical weapons use in Syria complicate U.S. role

Syrian government forces unleashed artillery attacks and air raids in eastern Damascus on Wednesday in a campaign that followed unverified reports of mass deaths in a chemical weapons attack. | 08/21/13 19:32:17 By - By Mitchell Prothero and Hannah Allam

Egypt quandary deepens for White House

President Barack Obama convened his National Security Council on Tuesday to weigh whether the U.S. should cut off aid to Egypt, as he struggles to respond to a continuing crisis that has led to the imprisonment of its democratically elected president and the deaths of nearly 1,000 civilians. | 08/20/13 18:38:05 By - By Anita Kumar and Hannah Allam

Muslim Brotherhood names new chief as it struggles to rally supporters

The Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that propelled Mohammed Morsi to the Egyptian presidency before his recent ouster, named an interim leader Tuesday. | 08/20/13 16:57:18 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

Once-despised Egyptian military finds favor after short-lived democracy

Soha Sayed was once an iconic face in a nation weary of an Egyptian government dominated by the military. | 08/19/13 20:59:17 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

Presence of al Qaida-linked groups in northern Syria complicates rebellion

The presence of al Qaida-linked groups fighting alongside rebels in Syria continues to grow – and reshape the conflict. | 08/19/13 15:56:51 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Egypt government paints opponents as terrorists; US journalists targeted

Egyptian presidential advisor Mustafa Hegazy described them as remnants of “religious fascism” that once governed the nation. The police called them infidels as they cleared a mosque Saturday where they were either hiding or shooting, depending on which side you listened to. Newscasters referred to them as armed gunmen. | 08/17/13 19:29:03 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

In ‘Day of Rage,’ Egyptians battle in the streets

Several cities across Egypt erupted into fierce street battles Friday between supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi outraged over the deaths of hundreds at sit-ins earlier this week, residents and security forces. Health Ministry officials said that at least 60 people died, pushing the death toll toward 700 since armed government forces swept into two camps of pro-Morsi demonstrators Wednesday. | 08/16/13 18:01:38 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

Reprisals threatened for Beirut bombing in resurgently violent Lebanon

The family of a man who was killed this week in the deadliest car bombing to hit Lebanon’s capital in decades said it would wait for orders from Hezbollah’s leadership before seeking revenge on Syrian rebels. In turn, Hezbollah’s top leader responded to the developments with an eye-for-an-eye speech that suggested more cross-border involvement in the bloodshed that’s overwhelmed Syria. It was a sign that Thursday’s attack threatens to return Lebanon to the violence that ripped it apart from the mid-1970s through the ’80s. | 08/16/13 16:19:02 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Scene at overtaxed Cairo morgue is solemn in aftermath of crackdown

On Thursday, as the repercussions of Wednesday’s clearing of sit-ins in support of ousted President Mohammed Morsi sank in for Egyptians, the unprecedented death toll overwhelmed Cairo’s Zeinhoum morgue. | 08/15/13 19:34:17 By - By Amina Ismail and Nancy A. Youssef

Blast hits Hezbollah area in Beirut, showing spread of Syria conflict

A large suspected car bomb exploded Thursday in the southern part of this city in a neighborhood controlled by the militant group Hezbollah, signaling another encroachment of the Syrian civil war into Lebanon. The blast killed more than 20 people and wounded scores of others in streets crammed with offices and military posts for the Shiite Muslim group. Several 10-story apartment buildings burned for more than an hour. | 08/15/13 18:30:24 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Back to 2011? Military is in control of Egypt again

At the site where thousands of people once lived in support of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, all that remain are ashes and military tanks stationed to control the area. Where kitchens once prepared thousands of meals to break the fast during the holy month of Ramadan, government bulldozers now sit. Where the injured from the sit-in camp once clung to life on dirty hospital floors littered with bloodied bandages are now charred hallways | 08/15/13 16:00:20 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Egypt: After ‘volatile’ and ‘saddening’ day, what happens next?

Egyptian security forces launched a bloody crackdown against the supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi early Wednesday morning, firing ammunition and razing their sit-in sites with bulldozers in an attack that killed at least 500 people. McClatchy Middle East Bureau Chief Nancy A. Youssef and special correspondent Amina Ismail answer questions about Wednesday’s events and the outlook for the coming days: | 08/14/13 18:23:31 By -

Egyptian forces storm protest camps; hundreds killed or injured

Egypt’s security forces stormed camps of protesters loyal to ousted President Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday in a wave of gunfire and tear gas that set off fighting throughout the country. At least 278 people were dead and more than 2,200 injured on the deadliest day since the 2011 uprising. | 08/14/13 18:03:31 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

U.S. journalist marks year in captivity as risks increase for war reporters

Tuesday marked a year since American journalist Austin Tice was detained while covering the civil war in Syria, one of at least 14 news media workers who’ve vanished or been seized in the past year, according to press advocacy groups. | 08/13/13 19:52:30 By - By Hannah Allam

War in Syria stokes feuds between Lebanese clans

The Syrian civil war has spawned another violent but low-grade conflict that pits village against village, clan against clan and Muslim sect against sect among Lebanese living on the country’s border. Escalating retaliations have triggered kidnapping and ambushes, and have left partisans captured, wounded and dead. | 08/13/13 18:03:22 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Kidnapping threats escalate in Lebanon, neighboring Syria

The abduction of Turkish pilots in Beirut marked a quick escalation of hostage taking among factions that have various ties to the Syrian civil war. The kidnappings threaten to complicate alliances in the Middle East and undercut tourism in Lebanon. | 08/12/13 16:51:19 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Yemenis call U.S. drone strikes an overreaction to al Qaida threat

The United States’ launching of eight drone strikes in Yemen in the span of 13 days has ignited widespread outrage in the country. The anger over the strikes, which came as an al Qaida-related threat shuttered U.S. embassies and consulates in Yemen and 15 other countries, has overwhelmed attention to the threat itself, which many here view skeptically anyway. | 08/09/13 19:07:23 By - Adam Baron

New vision of al Qaida rises from U.S. Embassy closings

The rise in prominence of Nasir al Wuhayshi, the Yemeni head of al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, underscores the transformation of al Qaida from a relatively small group led by one charismatic man into a diffuse global organization with many branches that pursue local objectives but follow a single ideology, according to counterterrorism analysts and officials. | 08/08/13 19:07:53 By - By Hannah Allam and Adam Baron

Syrian army kills dozens of al Qaida-linked rebels in ambush

The Syrian army ambushed a group of al Qaida-linked fighters Wednesday east of Damascus, killing more than 60 and handing the group a setback after a string of victories this week. Syrian state television and opponents of President Bashar Assad confirmed the ambush, which decimated a unit of about 70 members of the Nusra Front, a rebel group that’s sworn allegiance to al Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahiri and that the United States declared an international terrorist organization last year. | 08/07/13 16:47:19 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Broad U.S. terror alert mystifies experts; ‘It’s crazy pants,’ one says

U.S. officials insisted Tuesday that extraordinary security measures for nearly two dozen diplomatic posts were to thwart an “immediate, specific threat,” a claim questioned by counterterrorism experts, who note that the alert covers an incongruous set of nations from the Middle East to an island off the southern coast of Africa. | 08/06/13 19:47:17 By - By Hannah Allam

Yemen denounces U.S. evacuation of some embassy staff as aiding extremists

Yemeni officials on Tuesday sharply denounced the United States’ decision to evacuate some of its staff from its embassy in the country in the first sign of a split between allies over the Obama administration’s reaction to what U.S. officials say is one of the most specific terrorism threats in years. | 08/06/13 19:35:56 By - By Adam Baron

Al Qaida groups lead Syrian rebels’ seizure of air base in sign they continue to dominate anti-Assad forces

Syrian rebels spearheaded by al Qaida in Iraq and its local allies took control Tuesday of a crucial military airport in northern Syria, opening a vital supply line between the rebel-held north and Turkey. | 08/06/13 19:00:22 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Defense experts question Joint Chiefs chairman’s views on Syria

Several international defense experts said that a recent letter from America’s top military leader about the war in Syria revealed a “great power” weary of conflict, cautious on spending and hesitant about overseas engagements. But several experts questioned his costs and conclusions. | 08/06/13 18:20:00 By - By Matthew Schofield

Lebanon probing link between bomb factory where 2 died and Syrian war

Lebanese military intelligence is investigating what link an explosion that took the lives of two Egyptian brothers Sunday might have to the civil war in neighboring Syria, according to security officials and the country’s official National News Agency. | 08/05/13 18:08:00 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Egypt’s government won’t find it easy to clear pro-Morsi encampment

The site of a sit-in staged by supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has become a city of its own within the nation’s capital, a development that surely will complicate any effort by the militarily installed government to uproot it without the agreement of the Muslim Brotherhood members who’ve built it. | 08/05/13 17:08:33 By - By Amina Ismail and Nancy A. Youssef

Kerry sets 9-month goal for reaching accord on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

WASHINGTON Heralding what he called a “new moment of possibility” toward Middle East peace, Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday announced an ambitious schedule for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying he hopes negotiators for the two sides will have agreed to a framework for a settlement in nine months. | 07/30/13 19:16:59 By - By Hannah Allam and Lesley Clark

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resume after three-year hiatus

Hours before Israeli and Palestinian leaders met on Monday to end a three-year freeze on negotiations, Secretary of State John Kerry named veteran diplomat Martin Indyk as the Obama administration’s special envoy to shepherd talks toward a final settlement of the decades-old conflict. | 07/29/13 18:50:35 By - By Hannah Allam and Lesley Clark

Same issues, same faces, same hopes as Mideast peace talks resume

The old adage “familiarity breeds contempt” may apply nowhere better than the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that are about to be reconvened after months of shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The negotiators are nothing if not familiar with one another. | 07/29/13 16:40:25 By - By Sheera Frenkel

Dozens dead after Egypt security forces open fire on Morsi supporters

Scores of people were killed and dozens more wounded Saturday in the worst violence in recent Egyptian history as police opened fire on supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi. | 07/27/13 20:04:20 By - By Amina Ismail and Nancy A. Youssef

Morsi moved to prison as millions in Egypt take to streets to back military

Egypt’s military-imposed government announced Friday that it had launched an investigation into toppled President Mohammed Morsi that could lead to charges of murder and espionage, stemming from Morsi’s 2011 jailbreak during the final days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule. | 07/26/13 18:35:58 By - By Amina Ismail and Nancy A. Youssef

Assad opponents see U.S. distancing itself from their goals in Syria

Syrian opposition leaders say there’s just one way to interpret the U.S. stalling on promised military aid at a time when rebels are losing ground to forces loyal to President Bashar Assad: Goodbye, and good luck. | 07/26/13 17:03:20 By - By Hannah Allam

Arrests in attacks on Hezbollah suggest Lebanon closing in on Syrian rebel group

Lebanese officers arrested a Syrian man and accused him of a bombing that targeted a convoy of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah as it traveled near the Syrian border, Lebanon’s government-owned news service reported. He was the second Syrian to be charged in the assault, one of a string of attacks that many here suspect were retaliation by Syrian rebels for Hezbollah’s support for Syrian President Assad. The arrests suggest that authorities are closing in on a mysterious group that’s claimed responsibility for the attacks and may be able to link it to larger Syrian rebel organizations. | 07/25/13 17:47:39 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Despite EU terror designation, Hezbollah will be in Lebanon’s next government, Nasrallah says

In what was essentially a dare to the European Union to sanction the government of Lebanon, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday that the militant Shiite Muslim organization would demand to be included in any new Lebanese government, despite the EU’s designation earlier this week of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization. | 07/24/13 18:38:52 By - By Mitchell Prothero

U.S. delays F-16s for Egypt as el-Sissi calls for protests against ‘terrorism’

Egypt’s tense political situation appeared likely to worsen as the head of the country’s military called Wednesday for Egyptians to demonstrate Friday against terrorism, in what many feared was a green light for violence against supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi. | 07/24/13 19:53:32 By - By Amina Ismail and Nancy A. Youssef

Yemeni president pardons reporter Obama wanted kept in jail

Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye had reported that a 2009 bombing in the village of Majalla was a U.S. cruise-missile attack that killed dozens of civilians, rather than a Yemeni airstrike on an al Qaida training camp, as originally claimed. Shaye was arrested after those reports, and a Yemeni court found him guilty of assisting al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and sentenced him to five years in jail, in a trial that international human rights groups called a sham. | 07/24/13 16:35:19 By - By Adam Baron

Kurdish-Nusra battle becoming war within a war in northern Syria

Arab Islamists and Kurdish militants, two of the most controversial armed groups in Syria’s civil war, have been battling each other for control of key towns close to the Turkish border after the Kurds announced a plan to declare local autonomy. The U.S. views both sides, the Kurdish Democratic Union and the Nusra Front, as terrorist organizations, and the prospect of either prevailing is causing deep concern in Washington and Ankara, the Turkish capital. | 07/23/13 19:00:55 By - By Roy Gutman

Tales of witnesses to Cairo massacre back pro-Morsi version

Overlooking the scene where 55 supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi died during a standoff with the military two weeks ago are two apartment buildings whose residents are perhaps the only unbiased witnesses to what happened. With no videos or photos of the initial violence surfacing, Morsi supporters and the military have offered two very different versions of what set off the confrontation, the deadliest incident since the military toppled Morsi early this month. | 07/23/13 17:10:06 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Analysts: Absent strong U.S. policy on Mideast, nations compete for influence

Some of America’s closest Middle East allies, viewing U.S. policy as adrift, are competing for influence in the region’s trouble spots, producing discord that might get in the way of stable outcomes and take decades to put right, experts in the region say. Analysts blame the Obama administration, which they say still doesn’t have a strategy to deal with the aftershocks of the 2011 Arab Spring – in particular the war in Syria and Egypt’s latest political upheaval. | 07/19/13 15:30:04 By - By Roy Gutman

Syria’s Nusra Front tries to show it’s a different kind of al Qaida

Two al Qaida-linked rebel groups in Syria appear to be distancing themselves from each other in what may be an effort by the Nusra Front, which the United States has branded as an international terrorist organization, to remain relevant amid signs that major portions of the Syrian population are chafing under harsh rule by conservative religious fighters. | 07/17/13 17:22:19 By - By Mitchell Prothero

General who toppled Morsi will hold three jobs in Egypt’s new government

The Egyptian general who announced that President Mohammed Morsi had been removed from office was named the country’s first deputy prime minister on Tuesday, a sign that the military, despite asserting it had no interest in governing, intended to maintain its influence. | 07/16/13 19:24:33 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Syrian rebel leader feels betrayed by West’s failure to deliver arms

Three weeks after the United States and other powers promised “urgent, practical steps” to help Syrian rebel forces tilt the balance on the ground against the government of President Bashar Assad, the top rebel commander says there hasn’t been any progress and his fighters are in “a critical and dangerous” situation. | 07/16/13 18:14:28 By - By Roy Gutman

In Egypt, only military-imposed government will meet with U.S. envoy

The Obama administration tried Monday to step up its diplomacy in Egypt, dispatching Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to this tumultuous capital, only to discover that some of the major players won’t meet with a representative of the United States. | 07/15/13 19:58:51 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Lebanese officials say CIA warned them of imminent al Qaida attack on Hezbollah

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency warned Lebanese officials last week that al Qaida-linked groups are planning a campaign of bombings that will target Beirut’s Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs as well as other political targets associated with the group or its allies in Syria, Lebanese officials said Monday. | 07/15/13 19:18:49 By - By Mitchell Prothero

A month after U.S. pledged more help, Syrian rebels in worse shape

A month after the Obama administration pledged stepped-up support for Syria’s armed opposition, the government of President Bashar Assad’s position has improved, with U.S. assistance to the rebels apparently stalled and deadly rifts opening among the forces battling to topple the Assad regime. | 07/12/13 20:38:19 By - By Hannah Allam

Hundreds of thousands rally for Morsi in latest battle of street protests

Supporters of Mohammed Morsi rallied on behalf of the ousted president Friday in their biggest demonstrations since he was removed from office, part of a strategy to get him reinstated by using the same means that forced his removal: mass protests. | 07/12/13 19:08:29 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

Egypt’s military blames Mohammed Morsi’s supporters for violence

In a battle over the narrative of what’s happened here during the past eight dramatic days, the new Egyptian government accused former President Mohammed Morsi on Thursday of being obstinate in his final days, claimed that his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood had killed some of their own to frame the military and asserted that its decision to oust Morsi may have saved the nation from “possible civil war.” | 07/11/13 17:41:41 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Offices burned and leaders jailed, Muslim Brotherhood struggles to respond to Morsi ouster

One week after Egypt’s military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, his followers in the Muslim Brotherhood are under siege and struggling with no clear strategy to find a way back into the political arena. | 07/10/13 20:30:06 By - By Roy Gutman

New Egyptian coalition splits over granting interim president broad powers

The broad political coalition that backed last week’s military takeover in Egypt began to fracture Tuesday over a military-approved timetable for the return to democratic rule, with two factions calling the newly announced constitutional declaration “dictatorial” and demanding a more representative transitional government. | 07/09/13 20:04:43 By - By Roy Gutman

Bomb in heavily secured Beirut neighborhood may be retaliation for Hezbollah’s role in Syria

A car bomb exploded in a crowded parking lot in Beirut’s southern suburbs on Tuesday, killing no one, but wounding about 50 people in what was a rare attack inside one of Hezbollah’s most secure areas. | 07/09/13 19:13:31 By - By Mitchell Prothero

With Mohammed Morsi gone, Egypt seems to be returning to 2011

The Egypt that’s emerged in the week since President Mohammed Morsi was toppled from power looks much as it did in the period just after the uprising in 2011 that led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak. Appointees in the new government are nearly all proponents of military intervention. The new prime minister served as the minister of finance in the first military government after Mubarak’s fall. The Muslim Brotherhood, the secretive organization that helped Morsi ascend to power, is isolated from the political process, just as it was under Mubarak and in the first months after his ouster. And old problems are back. | 07/09/13 18:24:18 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Morsi’s ouster a ‘nightmare’ for Hamas rulers in Gaza Strip

For the Islamist Hamas rulers controlling the Gaza Strip, the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement is a “nightmare” situation. | 07/08/13 17:40:07 By - By Sheera Frenkel

Bashar Assad’s forces chip away at Syria rebels’ control of Homs

Syrian government forces made significant progress Monday in recapturing Homs from the rebel forces that have held the country’s third largest city for more than a year, according to rebel commanders and military officials in neighboring Lebanon. | 07/08/13 17:40:16 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Grim ritual of death unfolds in Cairo morgue filled to capacity

The grim accounting of death took on a ceremony of its own at the Cairo morgue where the victims of Monday’s clash between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood were taken for the official tally. | 07/08/13 16:42:54 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

At least 51 dead in Cairo violence; top cleric warns of civil war

Egypt’s fragile political condition sank toward critical Monday after the military opened fire and killed dozens of Islamists who were demanding the return to office of deposed President Mohammed Morsi. It was the worst political violence in the country since the demonstrations two and a half years ago that led to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. | 07/08/13 19:04:36 By - By Amina Ismail and Nancy A. Youssef

New Egypt appointments so far going to advocates of military rule

Transitional Egyptian President Adly Mansour, named by the Egyptian military to lead the country after it ousted Mohammed Morsi from office, announced several key appointments Sunday, all of whom were members of the military or supporters of a nation guided by the armed forces. | 07/07/13 17:37:28 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Election of new head of Syrian opposition seen as victory for US, Saudi Arabia

..The election of new leadership by the umbrella coalition of Syrian opposition figures reflects an internal policy shift toward the influence of the United States and Saudi Arabia, according to insiders and policy analysts. | 07/07/13 16:13:43 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Radical Islamists see Egypt as proof that violence is only way to power

Whatever signal the Egyptian military wished to send with its reboot of the 2011 revolution, the decision to remove President Mohammed Morsi from power and the subsequent arrest of many of his party officials is resounding throughout the world of political Islam. The lesson these Islamist groups appear to be drawing is that democratic engagement with opponents is pointless. And that doesn’t bode well for countries with strong Islamist movements as they push, and often fight, to end autocratic rule by elites in favor of more representative governance. | 07/05/13 19:24:03 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Morsi’s long fall began when he was sworn in as Egyptian president

How did Egypt’s first democratically elected president go from a famed beneficiary of a popular uprising to being ousted in a popularly celebrated military coup just one year later? | 07/05/13 18:21:56 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Clashes, gunfire in Cairo as Mohammed Morsi’s supporters take to streets

Armed supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi fought pitched battles Friday near Tahrir Square with crowds that had favored Morsi’s overthrow, in a worrisome sign of open conflict between the two sides. | 07/05/13 20:46:33 By - By Nancy A. Youssef, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Amina Ismail

Arab Spring leaves region unsettled, two years later

Egypt’s turmoil is a reminder that the revolution cycle in the Middle East and North Africa region is far from over and far from resolving the hopes stirred more than two years ago by the Arab Spring. | 07/05/13 15:39:24 By - Ali Watkins

Egyptians defend military as Morsi remains in custody, top Brotherhood officer seized

Egypt on Thursday had a new president, its former president sat in military custody, the top official of the Muslim Brotherhood was under arrest, and at least four television stations had been shut down – all seemingly undemocratic steps barely a year after the nation’s first free and fair presidential elections. | 07/04/13 16:44:25 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Egyptian military overthrows Morsi, targets Muslim Brotherhood

In a somber announcement on national television, the country’s defense minister, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, announced that the military had taken the action because President Mohammed Morsi had shown himself unwilling to meet the demands of a fractured opposition that had wanted him to step down. | 07/03/13 20:45:29 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

Sunni cleric warns Christians over Lebanese army’s cooperation with Hezbollah

A Sunni Muslim cleric in Lebanon’s second largest city accused the Lebanese army Tuesday of failing to maintain its neutrality in the country’s sectarian rivalries amid widespread reports that it had fought alongside Hezbollah’s military wing in a battle against a rogue Sunni cleric last week. Using language that for the first time directly criticized Lebanon’s prominent Christian minority, Sheikh Salem al Rafehi told a collection of Sunni clerics in Tripoli that the Lebanese Armed Forces are working with Hezbollah and its militia allies in Tripoli against Lebanon’s increasingly bitter Sunni population. | 07/02/13 17:08:20 By - By Mitchell Prothero

As military deadline nears in Egypt, Morsi vows fight to death

With millions of Egyptians in the streets for a third straight day demanding his resignation, a defiant President Mohammed Morsi took to Egypt’s airwaves early Wednesday morning and vowed to fight to remain in office, even if “the price is my blood.” | 07/02/13 19:37:55 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

Obama to Egypt: All sides should step back

His options limited, President Barack Obama on Monday called on Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to work with his opposition to resolve unrest in Egypt, warning that U.S. aid to the country is tied to its commitment to democracy. | 07/01/13 18:21:57 By - By Lesley Clark

Muslim Brotherhood calls supporters to streets after military sets 48-hour deadline

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces gave the government and the opposition 48 hours to resolve their differences or face intervention, but it did not say what would constitute a proper “roadmap” to reconciliation between President Mohammed Morsi and his opponents. Would talks among the president, his Muslim Brotherhood-backed supporters and the fractured opposition suffice? Or would it require a referendum or early presidential election? The Muslim Brotherhood made it clear early Tuesday that resignation was not in the offing. | 07/01/13 20:14:52 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

Huge crowds turn out in Egypt in largely peaceful protests against Morsi

CAIRO In highly anticipated protests to mark the first anniversary of President Mohammed Morsi’s inauguration, millions of Egyptians took to the streets across the country in unprecedented numbers Sunday to demand his removal from office, three years before his term expires. | 06/30/13 18:21:47 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

American reported stabbed to death in Egypt during protests

A U.S. citizen, reportedly employed by an American school in Alexandria, was fatally stabbed Friday in that city after being caught in clashes between supporters and opponents of embattled Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. | 06/28/13 19:08:19 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Mohamed Fadel Fahmy

American dies in Egypt protests as country begins days of unrest over Morsi’s rule

An American citizen and at least three other people died Friday in demonstrations in Egypt that ushered in what was expected to be days of civil conflict over the rule of President Mohammed Morsi. | 06/28/13 20:44:44 By - By Nancy A. Youssef, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Amina Ismail

Lebanese army threatens media that depict Hezbollah in Sidon battle

Amid a brewing controversy over the participation of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah in a Lebanese army operation against a radical Sunni cleric, army officials said Friday that they were considering filing judicial charges against news outlets that broadcast footage that appeared to confirm the group’s role. | 06/28/13 17:56:59 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Europe likely to stay on sidelines when U.S. ships arms to Syria rebels

When the Obama administration begins arming Syrian rebels through the CIA, something news reports say will happen within the next month, it probably it will be acting without help from its European allies. Despite the end of the European Union’s embargo on supplying weapons to the rebels, which expired May 30, experts see little will or appetite among European nations for adding more weapons to the bloody Syrian civil war. Not even the British, who were pressing just weeks ago for arming the rebels, are likely to do so. | 06/28/13 16:51:53 By - By Matthew Schofield

U.S. action on Bangladesh trade not likely to hurt that country’s apparel industry

The Obama administration announced Thursday that it will suspend Bangladesh’s preferential trade status following the devastating collapse of a clothing factory there that killed more than 1,100 workers. | 06/27/13 19:06:36 By - By Ali Watkins

Scenes of destruction: Syrian mosques leveled after months of combat

The civil war in Syria has taken its toll on mosques, with most of the damage coming from regime bombing, according to Dr. Cheikhmous Ali, the head of the Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology, who’s based in Strasbourg, France, and has advised the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights. Here are some examples. | 06/27/13 16:26:16 By - By Roy Gutman

Syria’s pro-Assad forces accused of targeting mosques in civil war

Ma’arat Hurmah is a little-known town close to a front in Syria’s civil war that reporters rarely visit, but Syrian warplanes pounded it for five days last October, according to videos posted at the time on YouTube. Townspeople say they think the town’s Hossein mosque was a major target. Rebel military forces were nowhere near when the mosque was bombed, they say, so there was no obvious military purpose. Instead, they think the mosque was targeted to prevent its use in organizing opposition to the regime. | 06/27/13 17:25:58 By - By Roy Gutman and Paul Raymond

Kerry back in Middle East amid predictions of possible concessions in Israel-Palestine talks

Secretary of State John Kerry will return to Jerusalem Thursday for his fifth visit in less than three months, amid reports of a possible breakthrough in peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. | 06/26/13 17:11:47 By - By Sheera Frenkel

Morsi pleads for more time to solve Egypt’s problems

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi pleaded Wednesday night with his countrymen to give him more time to solve his country’s many ills, arguing in what many believe was the most important speech of his political life that Egypt cannot change leaders every year. | 06/26/13 19:43:33 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Al Qaida-linked Nusra Front rebels blamed for bloody fight against Lebanese army in Sidon

The worst fighting in Lebanon in years, which wracked this coastal city one hour south of Beirut this week, was touched off by an influx of foreign fighters from Syria, Palestinian camps and other Arab countries into the compound of a radical Sunni cleric, according to knowledgeable people on both sides of the conflict. | 06/25/13 18:41:18 By - By Mitchell Prothero

Hezbollah fighters report killing Syrians in fierce battle in Lebanon’s Sidon

Fighters from the militant Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah joined forces with commandos from the Lebanese army Monday to battle followers of an extremist Sunni Muslim cleric in a day of urban warfare that offered worrisome evidence that Syria’s civil war had spilled across Lebanon’s borders. | 06/24/13 18:57:55 By - By Mitchell Prothero

In Egypt, does ‘will of the people’ mean keeping or ousting Morsi?

The demonstrations scheduled for later this week to mark the first anniversary of Mohammed Morsi’s ascension to Egypt’s presidency revolve around a single question: Which defines the will of the people, what happened at the ballot boxes a year ago or the growing anger today at what many think has been Morsi’s politically corrupt and incompetent leadership? | 06/24/13 19:37:18 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

With electricity and water in short supply, Egyptians grow tense

The towering luxury office buildings that hover over the impoverished neighborhood of Ramlet Boulak used to blatantly symbolize the divisions between Cairo’s wealthy and its poor. Now the scene captures the closing gap between rich and poor, at least as it applies to the persistent shortages of electricity, water and gas that have swept across Egypt. | 06/24/13 00:00:00 By - By Amina Ismail

Egypt’s defense chief warns of military intervention if Morsi, opponents don’t reconcile

Egypt’s top ranking defense official warned Sunday that the military was “ready to intervene to stop the violence” ahead of scheduled mass protests to mark the one-year anniversary this week of Mohammed Morsi’s inauguration as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. | 06/23/13 20:14:10 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

U.S. to leave 700 troops in Jordan in sign of deepening involvement in Syrian crisis

In a sign of deepening U.S. involvement in the Syrian crisis, the United States is leaving 700 combat-equipped American military personnel in Jordan following the end of a joint U.S.-Jordanian training exercise, President Barack Obama told Congress Friday. | 06/21/13 19:57:53 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart defends satire on Egyptian TV show whose host faces charges

Amid growing tension at the approach of the June 30 anniversary of Mohammed Morsi’s assumption of Egypt’s presidency, Jon Stewart, the host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” appeared on Egyptian TV Friday night, drawing laughs in a funny yet very serious tribute to the importance of satire in a free state. | 06/21/13 19:38:31 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Libya’s Ansar al Shariah, expelled after Ambassador Chris Stevens’ death, is back in Benghazi

The September death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans was supposed to mark the end of Ansar al Shariah, the extremist militia suspected of being behind the attack and that had controlled the streets of this city for months beforehand, demanding that an Islamist country emerge from the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. | 06/21/13 16:44:47 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Boy’s death highlights anger some Yemenis feel over U.S. drone strikes

If an apparent U.S. drone strike this month in the village of Mahashama had killed only its intended targets – an al Qaida chief and some of his men – locals might’ve grumbled about a violation of Yemen’s national sovereignty and gone on with their lives. | 06/20/13 19:36:35 By - By Adam Baron McClatchy Foreign Staff

Iran’s president-elect may shift country’s policies toward Persian Gulf, Israel

To understand the changes likely to occur under Iran’s new president, Hasan Rowhani, consider this summation of the outgoing regime by a veteran foreign policy analyst. | 06/20/13 19:38:26 By - By Roy Gutman

U.S. slow to deliver promised aid to Syrian rebels

While State Department officials are fond of saying they’re providing hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance to the Syrian opposition, only a fraction of the promised funds has arrived, and none has gone to the political body the U.S. looks to as an alternative to President Bashar Assad’s regime. | 06/19/13 17:14:10 By - By Hannah Allam

Opponents protest Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s appointments

The decision by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to name 17 new provincial governors, including several who belong to his former party, triggered another round of violence here and the reported resignation of a top minister. The events stoked fears that Egypt’s first democratically elected leader was increasing Islamists’ control over the nation. | 06/19/13 16:07:01 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Sunni-Shiite violence hits Lebanese city of Sidon

The Lebanese city of Sidon exploded into widespread street violence Tuesday afternoon as supporters and opponents of the militant group Hezbollah traded artillery and small arms fire in response to an attack on a prominent Sunni Muslim opponent of the Shiite Muslim group, according to senior security officials and witnesses. At least one person was killed and nearly a dozen wounded, according to Lebanese security officials. | 06/18/13 16:49:55 By - By Mitchell Prothero

In Libya, chaos is taking a toll on freedom of press, speech

Shortly after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was toppled in 2011, a 31-year-old activist had a tattoo put on his arm with the date marking the start of the uprising and rebranded himself a journalist. | 06/18/13 16:14:11 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Groundwork for arming Syrian rebels began before Obama’s announcement

The U.S. military began laying the groundwork to arm and support Syrian rebels more than a week ago, using a military exercise currently being held in Jordan as a cover for bringing in personnel and equipment. | 06/17/13 17:34:50 By - By Sheera Frenkel

Gunmen attack Libyan posts in Benghazi

Gunman attacked the city’s Special Forces headquarters and other security buildings in this increasingly restive city Saturday in what some residents suspected was a retaliatory response to an assault a week ago that killed 32 and shut down the nation’s largest militia. | 06/15/13 16:48:34 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Iran elects centrist to replace contentious Ahmadinejad

Centrist Hasan Rowhani won an absolute majority in Iran’s presidential elections, a surprise outcome that could help raise spirits in a population fed up by the economic distress and international isolation that marked the era of outgoing leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. | 06/15/13 17:57:18 By - By Roy Gutman

Reformist Hasan Rowhani said to win Iranian presidency in surprisingly heavy voting

Hasan Rowhani, the candidate favored by Iranian reformists, won the Iranian presidential elections in a landslide, a source with close connections to the Iranian government said Saturday. | 06/15/13 02:04:16 By - By Roy Gutman

Chemical weapons experts still skeptical about U.S. claim that Syria used sarin

Chemical weapons experts voiced skepticism Friday about U.S. claims that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad had used the nerve agent sarin against rebels on at least four occasions this spring, saying that while the use of such a weapon is always possible, they’ve yet to see the telltale signs of a sarin gas attack, despite months of scrutiny. | 06/14/13 20:00:45 By - By Matthew Schofield

Analysts: Obama is gambling on uncertain allies in new Syria push

After concluding that President Bashar Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons against rebel forces, the White House pledged Friday to send more military and financial aid to Syrian opposition groups to make them “as strong as possible.” But whether they’ll ever be strong enough to topple Assad or assert themselves to govern a post-Assad Syria are unanswered questions. | 06/14/13 18:06:23 By - By Hannah Allam

State Department foresees few refugees from Syria this year

Despite the rising violence in Syria, the United States does not expect an influx of refugees from that country, State Department officials said Thursday. | 06/13/13 19:44:45 By - By Ali Watkins

Big question as Iran picks a president: Will reformists turn out to vote?

Iranians vote Friday for a new president to succeed the controversial Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but many voters question the value of their ballot, convinced that no elected government can solve Iran’s economic woes and end its diplomatic isolation. | 06/13/13 18:39:21 By - By Roy Gutman

Without support, UN reports civilians hit hardest in Syrian rebellion

The United Nations on Thursday reported that at least 92,901 people have been killed in Syria’s civil war, according to a new study of casualty reports compiled by eight Syrian organizations. | 06/13/13 17:02:00 By - By Mark Seibel

Diplomats predict Assad will soon launch campaign to retake Aleppo

Diplomatic observers in Jordan say they believe Syria is preparing to launch a military offensive to recapture the city of Aleppo, perhaps by as soon as this weekend. | 06/12/13 17:58:38 By - By Sheera Frenkel

Israel hasn’t given up on persuading Russia not to send air defense system to Syria

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to warn that should Russia deliver the S-300 missile system to Syria, it “is likely to draw us into a response, and could send the region deteriorating into war.” But Israeli officials also say they haven’t given up hope that a diplomatic solution will persuade Russia not to go forward with a contract to provide the missiles. | 06/12/13 15:30:56 By - By Sheera Frenkel

Some in Congress question aid to Egypt over NGO prison sentences

An Egyptian court’s decision to convict 43 democracy proponents – along with a proposed Egyptian law that would restrict how nongovernmental organizations here operate – has spurred a chorus of concern from European leaders, members of the U.S. Congress and even the United Nations that Egypt’s first democratically elected government is attacking basic human rights. | 06/11/13 18:43:05 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

1 reformist bows out of Iran presidential race in hopes of helping another

The most outspoken reformist in the Iranian presidential race withdrew Tuesday in a move intended to boost the prospects of another reformist, Hasan Rowhani, an experienced government hand who once managed Iran’s nuclear negotiations and is the sole cleric in Friday’s voting. | 06/11/13 14:33:23 By - By Roy Gutman

Analysts: Foreign militant Islamists streaming into Syria to face Hezbollah

Foreign Islamist extremists are streaming into Syria, apparently in response to the Shiite militant group Hezbollah’s more visible backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad, a development that analysts say is likely to lead to a major power struggle between foreign jihadists and Syrian rebels should the Assad regime collapse. | 06/07/13 19:37:58 By - By Hannah Allam

Pentagon: Israel approved document that revealed details of missile base

U.S. officials deny that they inadvertently revealed secret details about a proposed Israeli missile base when they put the $25 million project up for bid. | 06/06/13 18:39:47 By - By Matthew Schofield and Sheera Frenkel

After Assad victory over rebels in Qusayr, what’s next for Hezbollah?

The Syrian government claimed control of the strategic city of Qusayr in central Syria on Wednesday after a nearly three-week-long fight with rebels who’d held the city for a year, a victory for President Bashar Assad that raised questions about what’s next for the Hezbollah fighters considered key to the outcome. | 06/05/13 18:21:39 By - By David Enders

Syria, like Iraq and Lebanon, is on path toward sectarian split

The men from the last Alawite family in the northern Syrian town of Darkush have been kidnapped twice. The Saleh men were fortunate both times: They were released by rebels who’d suspected them of being agents for the government of President Bashar Assad. | 06/05/13 15:41:03 By - By David Enders

Pro-Assad forces retake strategic city of Qusayr in major setback for rebels

Syrian government forces took control of the city of Qusayr early Wednesday in a major setback for rebels trying to topple President Bashar Assad. | 06/05/13 07:22:44 By - By David Enders

U.N.: Nusra Front in Syria gains recruits after announcing tie to al Qaida

The rebel Nusra Front in Syria appears to have gained recruits and equipment since pledging allegiance to al Qaida, according to a U.N. report released Tuesday that depicts a widening and increasingly sectarian conflict. | 06/04/13 18:10:03 By - By Hannah Allam

Syrian rebels still battling to hold on to Qusayr; Red Crescent denied entry

The Syrian government has told the Syrian Arab Red Crescent that it cannot yet enter the city of Qusayr, a sign that the 3-week-old government offensive to retake the city from rebels has yet to achieve its objectives. | 06/04/13 16:57:35 By - By David Enders

In Golan Heights, Druze villagers are preparing for war

For the last month, shopkeeper Salah Abu Saleh has found himself having the same conversation again and again: When the war between Israel and Syria begins, what single foodstuff would he not tire of eating? | 06/04/13 15:37:51 By - By Sheera Frenkel

Egypt court sentences NGO workers; U.S. denounces verdict

An Egyptian court on Tuesday sentenced 43 democracy promotion workers, including 16 Americans and a German, to as many as five years in prison for working for unlicensed civil-society organizations in an internationally watched case that renewed fears of a growing crackdown on democracy-promotion efforts here. | 06/04/13 15:15:39 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

U.S. publishes details of missile base Israel wanted kept secret

Israel’s military fumed Monday over the discovery that the U.S. government had revealed details of a top-secret Israeli military installation in published bid requests. | 06/03/13 18:05:30 By - By Sheera Frenkel

Assad backers reportedly make up 43 percent of dead in Syria

A new count of the dead in Syria by the group that’s considered the most authoritative tracker of violence there has concluded that more than 40 percent were government soldiers and pro-government militia members. | 06/03/13 16:08:57 By - By David Enders

In Mohammed Morsi’s Egypt, insulting president still leads to charges

Amir Salem is all too familiar with Egypt’s long-standing laws against insulting the government, blasphemy and plotting to overthrow the government. A lawyer with four decades of political activism behind him, he faced those charges under the presidencies of Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. But now, as he contemplates new charges under Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, it feels more personal, he said. | 06/03/13 15:30:45 By -

U.S. withholds millions pledged to help Syrian opposition

The United States is withholding $63 million that it had pledged to the main Syrian opposition organization because the Obama administration is frustrated with the group’s disarray and is searching for more credible partners to support in the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad, knowledgeable officials said Friday. | 05/31/13 19:32:38 By - By Hannah Allam and Roy Gutman

Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye blames Obama for his continued imprisonment

From the moment Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye was sentenced to five years in prison in 2011 for allegedly supporting al Qaida’s Yemen-based affiliate, his punishment has been controversial – and not just because it represented the jailing of a respected writer and the trial was widely condemned as a sham by groups such as Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists. What irks many Yemenis, and free press advocates around the world, is that they believe Shaye remains in jail solely because of pressure from the administration of President Barack Obama. | 05/31/13 18:42:28 By - By Adam Baron

Iraqis, Lebanese blame unrest on internal issues, not Syria’s war

Despite the presence of thousands of non-Syrians fighting on both sides of that country’s civil war – and increasing rhetoric about a regional conflagration – the now contiguous conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon each arise from specific local grievances. | 05/31/13 15:09:21 By - By David Enders

Syria’s Assad pledges to attend proposed peace talks, says his side is winning war

Syrian President Bashar Assad claimed in an interview broadcast Thursday that his government is winning the country’s civil war and pledged that he would personally attend proposed peace talks in Geneva tentatively set for later this summer. | 05/30/13 18:37:45 By - By David Enders

America’s Syria policy appears to have hit a dead end

With Russia pledging missiles to Syrian President Bashar Assad, the civilian opposition unable to agree on much of anything, and regime loyalists pushing rebels out of strategic areas, the United States finds itself with no clear policy path to its oft-stated goal of Assad’s ouster. | 05/29/13 19:04:56 By - By Hannah Allam

Hezbollah said to control most of Qusayr in major setback for Syria rebels

Hezbollah and Syrian government forces have seized most of the strategically important town of Qusayr near the Lebanese border, fighters on both sides of the conflict said Wednesday, in what would be a huge setback for the rebels fighting to topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. | 05/29/13 17:53:42 By - By David Enders

New subpoena issued for State Department documents in House probe of Benghazi attacks

The Republican lawmaker leading a congressional probe into the 2012 terrorist attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday subpoenaed documents from 10 current and former State Department officials related to the preparation of discredited talking points on the genesis of the assault. | 05/28/13 19:23:56 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

Russia pledges missiles to Assad as Britain, France threaten to send arms to Syria rebels

Russia on Tuesday confirmed that it would ship advanced anti-aircraft missiles to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, provoking Israel to threaten military action if the new weapons are delivered and drawing condemnation from the United States. | 05/28/13 19:36:43 By - By Roy Gutman and Sheera Frenkel

Proposed Egyptian law on nonprofits seen as echo of Mubarak era

A draft Egyptian law regulating so-called nongovernmental organizations would limit the private, nonprofit groups in many of the same ways that the government of President Hosni Mubarak sought to control their operations – a sign, analysts here say, that President Mohammed Morsi fears that the groups could be used to oppose his government in the same way Mubarak supporters felt they’d helped topple his. | 05/28/13 17:07:30 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Europe sets stage for possible arming of anti-Assad fighters as McCain visits Syrian rebel leader

After a contentious debate over policy towards Syria, the European Union agreed Monday to let its embargo on arms shipments to Syrian rebels – and the Syrian government – expire at the end of the month, possibly the best news that the beleaguered forces battling to topple President Bashar Assad have had since their uprising began 26 months ago.. | 05/27/13 19:48:43 By - By Roy Gutman

Syria says it will attend peace talks as anti-Assad opposition debates next steps

For a fourth day, Syria’s fractured opposition spent Sunday haggling over how to expand their coalition, even as Syrian President Bashar Assad unveiled two new initiatives – accepting an invitation to send representatives to a peace conference to end the 26-month uprising and announcing that Syria would open its borders to “tourists” from Iraq, a move analysts said was intended to allow Shiite Muslim fighters to join Assad’s military defense. | 05/26/13 19:14:54 By - By Roy Gutman

Israel, in reassessment, thinks Syria’s Bashar Assad will last awhile

Israel has reversed its assessment about the staying power of Syrian President Bashar Assad and now thinks he’ll remain in control of at least part of his country for some time to come – a conclusion that makes it likely, a growing number of officials think, that an escalation of violence between the two countries may be inevitable. | 05/24/13 14:23:05 By - By Sheera Frenkel

Despite word of split over al Qaida, Nusra Front still key in Syria fighting

Jabhat al Nusra, the al Qaida-allied Syrian rebel group that’s also known as the Nusra Front, remains integral to efforts to topple the government of President Bashar Assad despite reported rifts within the group over its terrorist ties and claims by other rebels that Nusra’s assassinated rebel leaders in eastern Syria to consolidate its hold on oil fields and other strategic infrastructure there. | 05/24/13 14:03:25 By - By David Enders

Syria’s exile opposition opens conference in Turkey amid anger, confusion

Syria’s political opposition met Thursday in Istanbul to elect new leadership, choose a government-in-exile and deliberate on a negotiating stance for peace talks, but it hit a controversy when the immediate past president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, a Muslim cleric who no longer holds any post in the group, presided over the opening session and released a surprise peace initiative without consulting the group. | 05/23/13 18:49:05 By - By Roy Gutman

Syrian refugee exodus to Jordan has slowed to trickle, U.N. says

The flow of refugees crossing from Syria into Jordan has all but stopped in the last six days amid heavy fighting in the area and claims by Syrians that Jordanian border guards are preventing them from entering. | 05/23/13 14:33:44 By - By David Enders

Egyptian soldiers kidnapped in Sinai released after talks

Seven soldiers kidnapped last week by suspected Islamist militants in the restive Sinai were freed after a six-hour negotiation between local tribesmen and the kidnappers, the Egyptian government announcement Wednesday. | 05/22/13 17:41:00 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Pickering agrees to be questioned over State Department’s Benghazi probe

The retired U.S. diplomat who co-chaired an internal State Department review of the 2012 terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on Wednesday ended his refusal to submit to a closed-door interview with a Republican-led House committee that is investigating the assault. | 05/22/13 17:10:43 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

U.S., U.N. urge Gulf states to donate more for Syrian refugees

With its neat rows of carpeted cabins, security monitors and on-site hospital and school, the Mrigb al Fuhud camp in Jordan is opulent compared with the squalid tent cities that house other Syrian refugees. | 05/22/13 17:10:49 By - By Hannah Allam

Egyptians don’t like Morsi’s presidency, but opposition flounders anyway

As Egypt’s first democratically elected president nears the completion of his first year in office, there is growing resentment among Egyptians about his tenure. The dismal economy has grown worse, sectarian tensions are greater, and government services have declined – something many people thought would have been impossible. | 05/20/13 16:28:06 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Egypt’s Morsi dispatches army to Sinai after suspected Islamists snatch soldiers

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi ordered army reinforcements to the restive Sinai on Monday amid rising tensions there over the kidnapping of seven soldiers by suspected Islamist militants. | 05/20/13 15:35:10 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Issa subpoenas Pickering over Benghazi probe, demands closed-door testimony

The congressman leading the Republican investigation into last year’s terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on Friday ordered retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering to submit to questioning behind closed doors next week over an internal State Department review Pickering helped lead into the attacks. | 05/17/13 19:29:20 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

Syrian opposition considers sacking its U.S.-backed interim leader

The fractured Syrian opposition movement is considering ditching its prime minister at a meeting next week, action that would complicate the State Department’s push for peace talks and once again leave the international community without a clear idea of who would take charge should Bashar Assad fall. | 05/17/13 18:55:21 By - By Hannah Allam

Pickering, Mullen reject request to testify on Benghazi in private

The two retired senior U.S. officials who oversaw an internal State Department review of last year’s attacks on U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday rejected as “an inappropriate precondition” a Republican request that they submit to a closed-door interview before testifying in public. | 05/16/13 17:52:34 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

Refugees fleeing besieged Qusayr say Syrian rebels dug in, preparing for government onslaught

The Syrian city of Qusayr lies just 10 miles over the border from Aarsal in northern Lebanon. But the Syrians now crowding into Aarsal said the trip to get here from Qusayr required walking for days. | 05/16/13 16:13:32 By - By David Enders

Ambassador Stevens twice said no to military offers of more security, U.S. officials say

In the month before attackers stormed U.S. facilities in Benghazi and killed four Americans, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens twice turned down offers of security assistance made by the senior U.S. military official in the region in response to concerns that Stevens had raised in a still secret memorandum, two government officials told McClatchy. | 05/14/13 19:38:33 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

In Cairo, desperate Egyptian men search in vain for Syrian brides

On the outskirts of the vast Egyptian capital, Egypt ends and the latest Syria enclave begins. Women tie their headscarves in a distinctly Syrian way. They buy Syrian spices and trinkets from vendors whose shops are now tables lined along the streets. There is a constant murmur of stories about the desperate circumstances that forced the residents to flee places such as Homs and Damascus in the past year. | 05/14/13 14:53:50 By - By Nancy A. Youssef and Amina Ismail

Obama lashes out over Benghazi ‘sideshow,’ GOP uncowed

President Barack Obama lashed out Monday at the Republican investigation of last year’s terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, denouncing questions about administration talking points as a “sideshow” and accusing Republicans of using the “political circus” to raise cash. | 05/13/13 21:12:15 By - By Jonathan S. Landay and Lesley Clark

In talking points controversy, an unanswered question: Why did CIA say a protest preceded Benghazi attack?

Lost in the controversy over who requested revisions of CIA-written talking points on September’s attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans is one key fact: In every iteration of the document, the CIA asserted that a video protest preceded the assaults, and no official reviewing the talking points suggested that that was in error. | 05/13/13 21:01:12 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Weapons, ammunition shipments slowing to Syria’s moderate rebel factions

Disagreements among the countries backing the rebels in Syria have led to a drop in weapons shipments, leaving rebels vulnerable to a government military offensive. | 05/13/13 18:40:44 By - By David Enders

Bombs in Turkish border town kill dozens, intensify Turkish-Syrian tensions

A pair of car bombs killed at least 40 people and raised tensions between Turks and Syrians in this city on the Syrian-Turkish border that is a hub for refugees fleeing the fighting and rebels who use the area to resupply fighters inside Syria. | 05/11/13 14:40:56 By - By David Enders

Yemeni minister, expecting high-level Guantanamo talks, leaves Washington in a huff

Yemen’s human rights minister breezed into Washington this week expecting the opportunity to lobby U.S. officials for the release from Guantanamo of Yemeni detainees, who make up more than half the population at the controversial U.S.-run prison that President Barack Obama has pledged to close. | 05/09/13 17:50:48 By - By Hannah Allam

In hearing on Benghazi attack, new facts are few but politics plentiful

A much anticipated congressional hearing Wednesday on the September 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic compounds in Benghazi, Libya, produced no major revelations but plenty of partisan fireworks as Republicans renewed charges that the Obama administration had covered up details of what took place while Democrats retorted that politics is driving the GOP-run investigation. | 05/08/13 19:49:29 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

An encounter shows Kurdish guerrillas in no hurry to abandon Turkey’s mountains

On the first day of what was supposed to be the pullout of Kurdish guerrilla forces from Turkey, there was no sign Wednesday that any units had crossed the international border, and insurgents told McClatchy it could take up to three months for them to withdraw to northern Iraq. | 05/08/13 18:58:29 By - By Roy Gutman

Russians, U.S. agree to Syria talks, but anti-Assad opposition may refuse to participate

The United States and Russia agreed Tuesday to try to convene an international conference on ending Syria’s brutal civil war – possibly by the end of May – but the effort appeared to run into trouble within hours of its announcement with the key U.S.-backed opposition group reiterating that it won’t attend talks involving top Assad regime officials. | 05/07/13 20:20:57 By - By Jonathan S. Landay and Hannah Allam

Mohammed Morsi reshuffles Egypt’s Cabinet; 3 posts go to Muslim Brotherhood

President Mohammed Morsi named nine new ministers to his government Tuesday, including three members of the Muslim Brotherhood, in a move that his prime minister, Hesham Kandil, said was intended to re-energize efforts to reverse Egypt’s prolonged economic spiral. | 05/07/13 19:44:17 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Syrian rebel leader Salim Idriss admits difficulty of unifying fighters

The defected Syrian general whom the United States has tapped as its conduit for aid to the rebels has acknowledged in an interview with McClatchy that his movement is badly fragmented and lacks the military skill needed to topple the government of President Bashar Assad. | 05/07/13 17:16:55 By - By David Enders

Debate over Easter greetings roil Egypt’s sensitive religious tension

As Egypt prepares to celebrate Orthodox Easter this weekend, controversial comments by a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood have sparked debate over whether supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who rose to prominence through the group, can wish their Christian countrymen “Happy Easter” without being considered un-Islamic. | 05/03/13 16:33:54 By - By Nancy A. Youssef

Rate of killings in Syria peaks in April amid government counteroffensive

The pace of killing in Syria’s civil war reached a new high in April, with one human rights group counting an average of 196 deaths daily for the month. | 05/03/13 16:22:50 By - By David Enders

Yemen human rights minister in Washington to talk about Guantanamo detainees

With a weeks-long hunger strike focusing new attention on conditions at the United States’ controversial detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the minister of human rights for Yemen is due in Washington on Friday for talks she hopes will lead to the repatriation of at least some of the scores of Yemenis held at the island prison. | 05/02/13 19:46:17 By - By Adam Baron

New accusation on chemical weapons in Syria underscores Obama’s line that we don’t know much

Even as President Barack Obama insisted Tuesday that the United States knows very little about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, dueling reports surfaced of a new chemical attack in a town near the Turkish border, demonstrating how complex the issue can be. | 04/30/13 19:23:23 By - By Matthew Schofield, Paul Raymond and Roy Gutman

Already unable to cope with refugees, Syria’s neighbors brace for more

Aarsal’s city hall now stays open seven days a week to accommodate the refugees camped in the building’s courtyard, waiting to be told where they might find shelter. | 04/30/13 17:59:25 By - By David Enders and Nabih Bulos

In Saudi Arabia, advocating peaceful change leads to lengthy prison terms for two dissidents

Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court, created five years ago to handle terrorism suspects, would seem a strange venue to try two of the country’s foremost human rights champions. The case against them reads not like a terror plot but a mission statement for a civil liberties group. | 04/30/13 17:45:31 By - By Roy Gutman

Syrian troops recapture villages near strategic city of Qusayr

A Syrian government offensive near the Lebanese border is being described as the fiercest fighting in months by villagers fleeing the violence, with troops loyal to President Bashar Assad seizing control of villages that had been rebel strongholds. | 04/29/13 18:30:41 By - By David Enders

As reports of chemical weapons abound, Obama urges caution on Syria

With lawmakers of both parties clamoring for some kind of larger U.S. role in Syria’s civil war, President Barack Obama sought Friday to slow a rush to judgment that regime forces have loosed chemical weapons on civilians, cautioning that “confirmation and strong evidence” of “this potential use” are still needed. | 04/26/13 19:29:29 By - By Jonathan S. Landay

GOP report: Emails show White House tried to shield State Department from Benghazi criticism

The State Department requested that key information be deleted from controversial talking points about the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. outposts in eastern Libya, not because of concern about revealing intelligence secrets but because the information revealed that the State Department had not responded properly to a growing extremist threat, Republican lawmakers charge in a report released Tuesday. | 04/23/13 19:37:21 By - By Hannah Allam

U.S., Israel spar over whether Syrian government has used chemical weapons

Israel’s top military intelligence analyst said Tuesday that the Syrian regime used lethal chemical weapons last month against opposition forces and criticized the international community for failing to act on evidence that “red lines” had been crossed in Syria. | 04/23/13 18:42:57 By - By Sheera Frenkel, David Enders and Hannah Allam

Assad forces retake towns near Damascus; Syria opposition group unveils new leader

Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have overrun towns southwest of Damascus that had been dominated by anti-Assad forces for most of the past year, leaving at least 100 people dead. | 04/22/13 19:12:02 By - By David Enders and Roy Gutman

U.S., allies agree on rules for sending military aid to Syrian rebels

In a move intended to trim support to Islamist extremists who now play a leading role in the Syrian uprising, the United States, Turkey and key Gulf allies this weekend agreed to funnel future military aid only through the internationally recognized Syrian rebel coalition. | 04/21/13 18:56:55 By - By Roy Gutman

Syrian opposition leader Moaz al Khatib calls on Nusra to renounce al Qaida

The leader of the primary U.S.-backed Syrian opposition group, who criticized the United States last year for designating the rebel Nusra Front a terrorist organization linked to al Qaida, now is urging Nusra’s fighters to break ties with al Qaida. | 04/18/13 18:23:29 By - By David Enders McClatchy Newspapers

Audit criticizes USAID on power project in Afghanistan

The U.S. goal of building a self-sufficient power network in Afghanistan is threatened by an expiring subsidy and poor project management by the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to a new federal audit. | 04/18/13 18:22:48 By - By Lindsay Wise

Salam Fayyad’s resignation as Palestinian premier seen as blow to peace plan

The resignation of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad over the weekend has raised doubts about the stability of the Palestinian government and cast a shadow over the new U.S.-led diplomatic push to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. | 04/15/13 16:51:55 By - By Sheera Frenkel

Yemenis hopeful about impact of new military decrees

The slew of decrees that Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi issued Wednesday evening were the most significant steps he’s taken toward reshaping the country’s military since he took office last year, and many here cast them as a historic move. | 04/11/13 14:08:47 By - By Adam Baron

Syrian rebel group swears allegiance to al Qaida, complicating Western military aid

The jihadist group at the forefront of Syrian rebel gains on Wednesday pledged allegiance to al Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahiri, underscoring the bind U.S. and Western European governments are in even as they move toward broader military support for moderate elements of the Syrian opposition. | 04/10/13 17:49:28 By - By Hannah Allam

Nusra Front members in Syria have never masked al Qaida ties

I was recently abducted by a group of rebels in northern Syria. I was strip-searched and held, handcuffed and blindfolded, for six hours along with three Syrian men before we were let go. Our captors suspected me – an American journalist – of being a spy. | 04/10/13 15:23:16 By - By David Enders

John Kerry: Israel, Palestinians to push West Bank economy as step to peace

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that Israeli and Palestinian officials had agreed on a plan to boost the dismal economy of the West Bank, the first concrete measure to emerge from an ambitious new U.S.-led push to restart peace talks after a four-year deadlock. | 04/09/13 18:58:32 By - By Hannah Allam and Sheera Frenkel

Despite U.S. concerns, little prevents Islamists from joining Syria fight

For all the Obama administration’s vocal concern about Islamist extremists fighting in Syria, neither U.S. officials nor regional allies have taken significant action to stem the flow of jihadists to rebel ranks. | 04/08/13 16:52:36 By - By Hannah Allam and David Enders

Kerry confirms start of ‘quiet strategy’ to revive Mideast peace talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the “festering absence of peace” between Israelis and Palestinians only fuels extremism and that the time is right for renewed efforts toward resolving the decades-old conflict. | 04/08/13 16:44:09 By - By Hannah Allam and Sheera Frenkel

Kerry pushes for Turkish role in peace talks, but Israelis, Palestinians say ‘no’

Amid fears that a U.S.-backed reconciliation between Israel and Turkey might unravel, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Turkish leaders Sunday that it was vital for peace in the region that the two close U.S. allies get their relations “back on track in its full measure.” | 04/07/13 18:11:35 By - By Roy Gutman and Hannah Allam

Obama, Kerry dust off old Arab peace proposal in push to resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The Obama administration is exploring whether a long-abandoned initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia 11 years ago could become the basis for a regional peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials. | 04/06/13 10:45:35 By - By Sheera Frenkel

Yemen begins push to get citizens out of Guantanamo detention

Abdulrahman al Shabati, his parents say, never had any connection to al Qaida. Instead, they insist, his decade-long detention at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is little more than a case of terrible luck. | 04/05/13 19:16:37 By - By Adam Baron

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