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Middle East Top Stories

HRW urges Kuwait to amend laws curbing free speech

Kuwaiti opposition demonstrators flee tear gas and stun grenades fired by riot police on April 17, 2013 during a protest against a five-year jail term against opposition leader and former deputy Musallam al-Barrak near Kuwait cityHuman Rights Watch urged Kuwait on Tuesday to amend laws that officials are using to crack down on free speech and send people to jail for criticising the country's ruler. HRW also called on Kuwaiti authorities to fulfil their promises to resolve the decades-old problem of over 100,000 stateless people, or bidoons, who claim the right to citizenship. During the past year, authorities in the Gulf state have brought cases against at least 29 people for expressing critical views on social media platforms and at protests, the New York-based HRW said in a statement on the occasion of releasing its 2014 report on Kuwait. "The government should let Kuwait?s people speak and write freely, and keep its promises to address Bidoon citizenship claims," said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at HRW.

Obama to face blunt talk in Saudi Arabia

US President Barack Obama smiles alongside King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia during meetings at the White House in Washington, DC, June 29, 2010Blunt talk over the US opening to Iran and reticence in Syria will be on the menu when President Barack Obama travels to Saudi Arabia next month to meet King Abdullah. Obama's White House years have caused frustration and incomprehension in Riyadh and a rocky ride for Washington's key strategic relationship with the Gulf kingdom. His nuclear diplomacy with Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia's Shiite-led foe in a swirling regional proxy war, and his last gasp reversal on striking Syria last year infuriated the Saudi court.

Syrian airstrikes kill at least 18 in Aleppo

In this Sunday Feb. 2, 2014 citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center (AMC), an anti-Bashar Assad activist group, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows buildings damaged by Syrian government forces airplanes, in Aleppo, Syria. Syrian government helicopters and warplanes unleashed a wave of airstrikes on more than a dozen opposition-held neighborhoods in the northern city of Aleppo on Sunday, firing missiles and dropping crude barrel bombs in a ferocious attack that killed dozens of people, including at least 17 children, activists said. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)BEIRUT (AP) ? The Syrian government extended its intense aerial campaign against rebel-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo on Monday, conducting a series of airstrikes that killed at least 18 people, including five children, activists said.

Al-Qaida breaks with Syria group in mounting feud

FILE - In this file image from television transmitted by the Arab news channel Al-Jazeera on Monday Jan. 30, 2006, Al-Qaida's then deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri gestures while addressing the camera. Al-Qaida's central leadership broke with one of its most powerful branch commanders, who in defiance of its orders spread his operations from Iraq to join the fighting in Syria and fueled bitter infighting among Islamic militant factions in Syria?s civil war. The break, announced in a statement Monday, appeared to be an attempt by Al-Zawahri, to establish control over the feuding militant groups in Syria and stem the increasingly bloody reprisals among them. (AP Photo/Al-Jazeera, File)CAIRO (AP) ? Al-Qaida's central leadership broke with one of its most powerful branch commanders in an apparent attempt to stem the deadly infighting that has erupted in Syria among the militant Islamic factions trying to bring down President Bashar Assad.

Saudi king orders punishing jihadi fighters

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 22, 2010 file photo released by the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, left, speaks with Prince Salman bin Abdel Aziz, the Saudi King's brother and Riyadh Governor, right, before his departures to United States in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah has ratified a new counter-terrorism law which went into effect Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. Rights activists said that the law criminalizes speech critical of the government or society. It was published in full in the government's official gazette Um Al-Qura Friday. (AP Photo, File) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALESRIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) ? Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah issued a royal decree on Monday that punishes citizens who fight in conflicts outside the kingdom, with prison sentences ranging from three to 20 years in jail.

Obama plans visit to Saudi Arabia next month

FILE - In this June 29, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama plans a trip to Middle East ally Saudi Arabia next month amid tension in the region. The White House announced Monday that Obama would meet with King Abdullah and discuss security in the region. U.S. policy toward Iran and Syria are certain to be on the list. The stop is being added on to a previously announced trip to Europe at the end of March. It will be Obama's first visit to Saudi Arabia since 2009. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds, File)WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama has planned a trip to Saudi Arabia next month amid tension with the important U.S. ally over disputes in the region, the White House announced Monday.

Obama planning trip to Saudi Arabia next month

WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama has planned a trip to Saudi Arabia next month amid tension with the important U.S. ally over disputes in the region, the White House announced Monday.

Saudi Arabia to jail citizens who fight abroad

Saudi Arabia will jail for 3-20 years any citizen who fights in conflicts abroad, according to a royal decree released on Monday, in an apparent move to deter Saudis from joining rebels in Syria and then posing a security risk once they return home. Saudi Arabia's Islamic religious authorities have previously spoken out against Saudis joining Islamist militants involved in Syria's civil war, but the Interior Ministry estimates that around 1,200 Saudis have gone there nonetheless. The decree underscored concern about young Saudis hardened by battle against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad coming home to target the ruling Al Saud royal family - as happened after earlier wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Saudi Arabia is the world's No. 1 oil exporter and a mainstay ally of the United States in the Middle East.

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