Middle East Government


Fall of Raqqa no end game for U.S. as Islamic State, other extremist threats persist, spread

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – The imminent fall of the Islamic State's de facto capital leaves America a multitude of tasks to restore stability in the Middle East, starting with pockets of remaining IS resistance in Syria and Iraq. Then there are the more deeply rooted problems, not fixable by guns or bombs, that allowed extremism to rise and flourish: Syria's civil war and Iraq's intractable political, religious and ethnic disputes, which turned violent again this week. The challenge is more than the U.S. can handle alone. It likely will keep some troops in Iraq for years to come to train and advise the army, police and other members of security forces that imploded when IS fighters swept across the Syrian border and captured Mosul in June 2014. The militants also have footholds in Afghanistan and beyond.


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#artificialintelligence

Dubai: The UAE Artificial Intelligence strategy was launched to boost government performance, the rate of accomplishing achievements. The strategy will create a highly productive innovative environment by investing in advanced technologies and AI tools that will be implemented in all fields of work. The strategy was launched on Monday by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The UAE AI strategy will seek to invest all capabilities in an ideal way, in addition to utilising resources, human and financial capabilities in a constructive manner that will quicken the execution of future programmes and development projects. Launching the strategy, Shaikh Mohammad said: "The UAE Centennial begins now, with the launch of massive projects such as the AI strategy to set up the basis for the coming phase.


Twin suicide bombers hit Damascus police station, killing 17

The Japan Times

BEIRUT – Two suicide bombers stormed a police station in the Syrian capital on Monday, killing at least 17 civilians and police, state TV reported, while a drone strike in eastern Syria killed 10 Hezbollah fighters who were helping Syrian troops battle the Islamic State group. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, said the Hezbollah fighters were killed Monday morning when their position came under attack from the sky. It has also been accused of striking Syrian government positions. The Observatory said two days of fighting in the desert area left 120 Syrian troops, Hezbollah fighters and other pro-government gunmen dead.


Give Saudi women a license not just to drive, but to run their own lives

Los Angeles Times

It'll be close, but it looks like women will be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia with some time to spare before the automobile industry converts entirely to self-driving cars. A royal decree announced Tuesday that women would finally be allowed behind the wheel, heralding a preposterously overdue end to the most high-profile and infamous of the repressive kingdom's restrictions on women. Even a woman in prison requires a male guardian to agree to her release, according to the monitoring group Human Rights Watch, which described the guardianship system as the most significant impediment to women's rights in Saudi Arabia -- and even a barrier to the government's own plans to improve the economy. The abolition of the male guardianship system should be the next announcement we hear from the Saudi government.


Eyes in the sky: Inside the hunt for Islamic State fighters in Syria

Los Angeles Times

Over the past 20 years, unmanned aircraft were primarily used to collect intelligence or to launch Hellfire missiles at specific terrorist targets after extensive surveillance -- enemy strongholds or targeted killings of suspects in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere. The Air Force launched its first "danger-close" drone strikes while aiding local forces fighting Islamic State in Surt, a coastal city in Libya, last year. Drones subsequently launched more than 70% of 495 airstrikes against the militants, helping local Libyan militia fighters retake Surt by December, according to the Air Force. U.S. special operations forces face growing demands and increased risks The U.S. military is targeting Islamic State's virtual caliphate by hunting & killing its online operatives one-by-one


U.S. Navy reports another close call with Iran drone

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – An unarmed Iranian drone shadowed a U.S. aircraft carrier at night and came close enough to F-18 fighter jets to put the lives of American pilots at risk, the Navy said Tuesday, reporting the second such tense encounter within a week. Iran's military and state-run media did not immediately report the incident, which came after a similar encounter Aug. 8, in which the Navy said an Iranian drone came within 100 feet (30 meters) of an F-18 preparing to land on the Nimitz. The incidents at sea almost always involved Iran's Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force that reports only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Of the incidents at sea last year, the worst involved Iranian forces capturing and holding overnight 10 U.S. sailors who strayed into the Islamic Republic's territorial waters.


Israel removing metal detectors from al-Aqsa compound

Al Jazeera

The Israeli security forces have started to remove metal detectors installed at entry points to al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied East Jerusalem. Israel installed metal detectors and security cameras after gunmen shot dead two Israeli guards near al-Aqsa compound - Islam's third holiest site - on July 14. Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said that hundreds of Palestinians protested against the security cameras with advanced face recognition software that won't be removed. OPINION: The al-Aqsa metal detectors aren't a security measure "Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades at the protesters, and more security forces were placed at the Lions' gate of the mosque," our correspondent said.


ISIS drone factory is seized by Iraqi forces in Mosul

Daily Mail

As the battle for Mosul rages on, Iraqi forces recently discovered this ISIS factory which has been making various death machines - from aerial drones to multi-wheeled robot bombs. As the battle for Mosul rages on, Iraqi forces recently discovered this ISIS factory which has been making various small-scale death machines. Hundreds of civilians fled Mosul's Old City on Friday as Iraqi forces slowly squeeze the last pockets of Islamic State resistance, and the UN warned that the'intense and concentrated' fighting put innocent lives in even greater danger. Hundreds of civilians fled Mosul's Old City on Friday as Iraqi forces slowly squeezed the last pockets of Islamic State resistance, and the UN warned that the'intense and concentrated' fighting put innocent lives in even greater danger Nadja Medley's chilling video of where she was found dead Obnoxious passenger gets very angry when she's not let off plane first The battles came a day after Iraqi forces made significant gains against the militants and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared an end to the group's self-proclaimed caliphate.


Brexit: will.i.am says artificial intelligence will be more disruptive to UK tech than EU withdrawal

The Independent

A Thai worker paints on a large statue of the Goddess of Mercy, known as Guan Yin at a Chinese temple in Ratchaburi province, Thailand. A Thai worker paints on a large statue of the Goddess of Mercy, known as Guan Yin at a Chinese temple in Ratchaburi province, Thailand. The pizza was planned to be 7000 feet (2.13 km) to break the previous record of 6082 feet (1.8 km) set in Naples, Italy in 2016 Bolt partied with his devoted fans in an emotional farewell at the National Stadium on June 10 as he ran his final race on Jamaican soil. The background of the incident was not immediately known, though police state they have'no indication whatsoever' the incident was an attack Police officers investigate at the Amsterdam Centraal station in Amsterdam, Netherlands.


US shoots down 'Iranian-made' drone in Syria

Al Jazeera

In the latest sign of increasingly frequent confrontation with Damascus and its allies, Tuesday's incident closely followed Sunday's US downing of a piloted Syrian army jet in the southern Raqqa countryside after it dropped bombs near US-backed forces. The Pentagon said a US F-15 aircraft, flying over Syrian territory, fired on the drone after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on coalition forces. The drone was shot down after it dropped bombs, aimed only at dirt, but in an area close enough to coalition forces whereby it was considered a threat. In Syria's tangled conflict, Washington backs a coalition of rebel forces fighting both President Assad and fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.