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A summit organized by Iraq is bringing together regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran to bridge relations and invest in Iraq.

Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi is heading the one-day summit between Iraq and its six neighbors: Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and Kuwait.

The summit underlines a shift to Iraq’s foreign policy, placing the country as a mediator between neighbors who are often at odds over weighty issues, such as the civil war in Syria, and U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Iraqi leaders have emphasized Iraq’s sovereignty since elections last year, and they say it is vital to Iraq’s security and economy to develop good relations with the neighbors.

The country is seeking billions of dollars in aid and investment to help it rebuild after 15 years of war.

Source: Fox News World

A Syria war monitoring organization says an Islamic State group attack in the country’s center has killed scores of government troops.

The Islamic State group lost its last territories in Syria in March after months of battles with U.S-backed fighters in the east. But the militants remain active in the desert area where they have increasingly targeted government troops.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday IS militants ambushed government forces in the desert of central Homs province, setting off Thursday night two days of clashes that killed at least 27 soldiers.

Liwa al-Quds, a pro-government militia, said IS militants attacked two army battalions in the area. It said its fighters liberated the battalions and pulled out the bodies but didn’t give a casualty figure.

Source: Fox News World

Pakistan’s foreign ministry says militants crossing over from Iran earlier this week carried out a deadly attack against its armed forces in the southwestern Baluchistan province.

The ministry said in a letter to the Iranian government on Saturday that the assailants came from a newly formed Baluch separatist group, Raji Aajoi Sangar, based in Iran’s adjacent Baluchistan province. It urged Iran to act against the attackers who had fled back across the border.

Groups operating both within Pakistan’s and Iran’s Baluchistan provinces, which share a long border, seek independence from both countries.

The ministry said that the “killing of 14 innocent Pakistanis by terrorist groups based in Iran is a very serious incident that Pakistan protests strongly.”

The announcement came a day before Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Iran.

Source: Fox News World

Greek police say they have stopped a truck with stolen license plates and found 59 undocumented migrants inside.

The truck was stopped Friday afternoon on the highway about 30 kilometers (20 miles) east of Thessaloniki, because it had Bulgarian license plates that had been reported stolen. Behind a few boxes of insulation materials lay the 59 migrants, about half from Somalia and the rest from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Palestine and Sudan, police announced Saturday.

The migrants told police they had paid 1,500 euros ($1,690) each to a trafficker in Turkey who helped them cross into Greece by boat, before boarding the truck.

The 61-year-old Bulgarian driver was arrested.

Source: Fox News World

Here are key events in eight years of turmoil and transition in Egypt, leading up to a national referendum on constitutional amendments that could allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to remain in power until 2030.

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Feb. 11, 2011: Autocrat Hosni Mubarak steps down after 18 days of nationwide protests against his nearly 30-year rule. The military takes over, dissolving parliament and suspending the constitution after the uprising leaves hundreds of protesters dead in clashes with security forces.

Nov. 28, 2011-Feb. 15, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood wins nearly half the seats in multi-stage elections for the first post-Mubarak parliament.

June 30, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Morsi takes office as Egypt’s first freely elected president.

Aug. 12, 2012: Morsi removes the defense minister and military chief, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and replaces him with Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Nov. 22, 2012: Morsi unilaterally decrees greater powers for himself, a move that sparks days of protests.

Dec. 15-22, 2012: Egyptians approve a constitution drafted and hastily passed by Islamists amid protests and walkouts by other groups.

June 30, 2013: On Morsi’s anniversary in office, millions of Egyptians begin days of demonstrations demanding his resignation. The military gives him 48 hours to reach an agreement with his opponents, but he vows to remain in office.

July 3, 2013: El-Sissi announces Morsi’s removal.

Aug. 14, 2013: More than 600 people, mostly Morsi supporters, are killed when police clear two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo. Islamists retaliate by torching government buildings, churches and police stations. Hundreds more die in subsequent violence.

Dec. 25, 2013: The government designates the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

May 26-28, 2014: Egyptians vote in a presidential election. El-Sissi wins with 96.9 percent of the vote.

May 16, 2015: Morsi and more than 100 others are sentenced to death over a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising.

October 2015: Egypt holds parliamentary elections, leading to an assembly packed with el-Sissi supporters.

April 2, 2018: El-Sissi wins a second, four-year term in office, with more than 97% of the vote.

February 2019: Lawmakers submit proposed amendments to the constitution that allow el-Sissi to remain in power beyond his current second four-year term.

April 10: President Donald Trump welcomes el-Sissi to the White House for a second official visit.

April 17: The Parliament, packed with el-Sissi’s supporters, overwhelmingly passes the proposed amendments.

April 18: Egypt’s National Election Authority schedules three days of voting in a nationwide referendum on the amendments. The vote takes place Saturday through Monday.

Source: Fox News World

The Latest on Egypt’s vote on a referendum potentially extending President el-Sissi’s rule to 2030 (all times local):

9 a.m.

Egyptians have begun voting on constitutional amendments aimed at keeping President el-Sissi in power until 2030.

The referendum comes amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissent in recent years. El-Sissi’s government has arrested thousands of people, most of them Islamists but also prominent secular activists, and rolled back freedoms won in a 2011 pro-democracy uprising.

The proposed changes were blasted by critics as another major step toward authoritarian rule.

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8:35 a.m.

Egyptians are being asked to vote on constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in power until 2030.

The three-day voting period for the nationwide referendum starts at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) Saturday on proposed changes that would also further enshrine the military’s role in politics. Parliament, packed with el-Sissi supporters, overwhelmingly approved the amendments on Tuesday.

Opposition parties have called on voters to reject the changes, seen by critics as a step backward to authoritarianism eight years after a pro-democracy uprising.

The vote comes amid an unprecedented crackdown by authorities on dissent since the military ouster of an elected but divisive president in 2013.

El-Sissi came to power in 2014 and was re-elected for a second four-year term last year.

Source: Fox News World

Kosovo’s justice minister says a number of Kosovars have been returned from Syria, where they were part of Islamic terror groups.

Abelard Tahiri told journalists early Saturday that “a planned operation to bring back some of our citizens from Syria ended successfully,” without giving more details on their number or how they were brought to the country.

The local media said the group, including women and children, was taken to a former military base near the capital Pristina.

A police spokesman declined to comment.

Tahiri has announced a news conference later.

More than 400 Kosovars initially joined extremist groups in Syria and Iraq but none in the past three years, according to Kosovo authorities. About 150 Kosovo citizens are still actively supporting the groups there.

Source: Fox News World

Egyptians are being asked to vote on constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in power until 2030.

The three-day voting period for the nationwide referendum starts at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) Saturday on proposed changes that would also further enshrine the military’s role in politics. Parliament, packed with el-Sissi supporters, overwhelmingly approved the amendments on Tuesday.

Opposition parties have called on voters to reject the changes, seen by critics as a step backward to authoritarianism eight years after a pro-democracy uprising.

The vote comes amid an unprecedented crackdown by authorities on dissent since the military ouster of an elected but divisive president in 2013.

El-Sissi came to power in 2014 and was re-elected for a second four-year term last year.

Source: Fox News World

The foreign ministers of Italy and France say their countries are trying to forge a common strategy on Libya.

Italy’s minster, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, told reporters Friday after the two held talks in Rome that lower-ranking ministry officials will meet next week in the Italian capital “to build the path toward a goal that remains a shared one.”

French Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says there’ll be no progress toward ending the current fighting in Libya “without a solid Franco-Italian agreement.”

Italy and France both have energy and other strategic interests in Libya.

Fighting this month by militias loyal to rival governments in Tripoli and in eastern Libya is threatening to trigger a civil war on the scale of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Source: Fox News World

President Donald Trump has spoken by phone with Libya’s Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, who is leading an offensive to take over the capital of Tripoli — the seat of the U.N.-supported government.

According to a readout released by the White House on Friday, Trump and Hifter talked about counter-terrorism and the political future of Libya. The call took place earlier in the week.

The statement says: “The President recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.”

Hifter is aligned with a rival government in the east that is supported by Trump’s allies Egypt and United Arab Emirates.

Fighting between Hifter’s army and Tripoli forces threatens to ignite a civil war.

Source: Fox News World


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