British Prime Minister David Cameron named arch-eurosceptic Philip Hammond as his new foreign secretary on Tuesday in a major cabinet reshuffle ahead of next year's general election. Former defence secretary Hammond, who replaces William Hague, supports Britain leaving the European Union unless significant powers are returned to London before a referendum promised for 2017. Tuesday's reshuffle is the biggest since Cameron's Conservative-led coalition government took office in 2010 and marks a bid to broaden his party's appeal at the election in May 2015.
Hundreds of Kurdish fighters have entered northern Syria to help battle jihadists besieging the Kurdish city of Ain al-Arab, a monitor said Tuesday. "At least 800 Kurdish fighters crossed the Turkish-Syrian border to help their comrades in Ain al-Arab (Kobane in Kurdish), which is under total siege by Islamic State jihadists," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. A Kurdish Syrian activist said the flow of fighters came as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), blacklisted in Turkey as a terrorist organisation, gave orders for Kurdish fighters to move to protect Kobane.
Libya's government said on Tuesday it was considering calling for international forces to help re-establish security after deadly clashes closed Tripoli airport, severing air links with the outside world. On Monday, the United Nations announced it was evacuating its remaining staff from Libya because of the deteriorating security situation. With liberal and Islamist militias locked in a brutal power struggle, the country's main international airport came under renewed attack late on Monday, for the second straight day. Al-Jilani al-Dahech, a security official at Tripoli airport, told AFP that the control tower was hit, along with an aircraft belonging to private Libyan carrier Buraq Airlines.
Iraq's fractious parliament elected a speaker Tuesday after two failed sittings, with Salim al-Juburi winning comfortably according to a tally announced live on state television. Juburi won 194 out of the 273 votes cast, with most of the rest deemed invalid and only 19 going to his only rival, an obscure candidate elected to parliament on a secular list. The speaker presides over an institution that has consistently failed to fulfil its duties and whose powers are dwarfed by those of the prime minister.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday stepped up his rhetoric against Israel over its deadly air offensive on Gaza, accusing the Jewish state of committing "state terrorism" against the Palestinians. Presenting himself as the sole world leader speaking up for the Palestinians, Erdogan said that any normalisation in the troubled ties between Israel and Ankara was currently out of the question. "Israel is continuing to carry out state terrorism in the region. Nobody, except us, tells it to stop," Erdogan told members of his ruling party in parliament, accusing Israel of perpetrating a "massacre" of Palestinians.
The chief of the US Navy met his Chinese counterpart on Tuesday for talks aimed at improving cooperation between their fleets amid concerns over regional territorial disputes and potential armed conflict. Admiral Wu Shengli, commander in chief of China's navy, welcomed Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the US chief of naval operations, with a red carpet ceremony and an honour guard at his headquarters in Beijing. Greenert's trip is set to last until Friday and will include a visit to China's sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. The talks come as tensions mount over maritime disputes in the East China Sea between Beijing and Tokyo, as well as between Beijing and Hanoi, Manila and others in the South China Sea.
Malaysian authorities on Tuesday were searching for nine people missing at sea after an overloaded fishing boat carrying illegal Indonesian migrants capsized off southern Malaysia, killing at least two. The fibreglass boat overturned and sank late Monday with around 70 people onboard as a patrol vessel was pursuing it off the state of Johor, said Aminuddin Abdul Rashid, an official with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. Those aboard wanted to sneak out of Malaysia to return to their homes in Indonesia to celebrate the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, he said. Boat accidents are common in Malaysia which draws hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from poorer regional countries who fill factory, plantation, construction and other mostly low-paid jobs shunned by locals.
Amnesty International on Tuesday condemned what it said was the Kenyan government's continued failure to properly investigate and deliver justice and compensation to victims of the 2007-2008 post-election violence. "Six years after post-election violence rocked Kenya, the victims are still awaiting justice. It is vital that their voices are heard and urgent action is taken," said Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and radio boss Joshua Arap Sang are facing crimes against humanity charges at The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), although no alleged ringleaders have been pursued in Kenya.
Israeli warplanes struck three administrative and military targets in Syria's Golan at dawn on Tuesday, killing two security guards and two women, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "Israeli planes flying over the occupied Golan Heights launched rockets into southern Syria's Quneitra province at around 1:15 am (2215 GMT). Rockets hit Base 90 -- a Syrian military airbase -- and regime bastion Baath City. The air raids came after the Israeli army said a rocket fired from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights, falling on open ground and causing no casualties.
Philip Hammond, named Britain's new foreign secretary on Tuesday, is an arch-eurosceptic who wants to leave the European Union unless London retakes significant powers from Brussels. The former defence secretary, who replaces William Hague, is an unshowy performer dubbed the "grey man" who steered Britain through deep military cuts and a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan with little drama.
Early this year Sunni Arab worshippers in the Iraqi city of Fallujah were surprised to see an armed man in sunglasses instead of the regular sheikh ascend the mosque pulpit. The visibly agitated moderate cleric stood aside, silenced by an Islamist militant preaching violence against Iraq's security forces. The stifling of conciliatory voices among Iraq's Sunni Arab religious leaders bodes ill for prospects of quelling a Sunni Islamist insurgency that has taken hold of swathes of the country. The armed man preached that it was halal, or permitted by religious law, to rob or kill members of Iraq's security forces, in a sermon meant as a slap in the face to the regular sheikh's edict a week earlier forbidding such acts.
A delegation from the troika of international lenders Tuesday began its fifth assessment of Cyprus's economy and troubled banking system, focusing on the threat of bad loans. Some 45 percent of all loans at Cypriot banks are classified as non-performing -- 27.1 billion euros from total lending of 60 billion euros, according to Cyprus Central Bank figures. The International Monetary Fund said earlier this month that the level of NPLs in Cyprus is the highest in Europe at almost 140 percent of GDP, curbing credit to the economy and stunting growth. Cyprus has successfully completed four similar reviews from the troika -- the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
FARNBOROUGH England (Reuters) - U.S. military officials have approved a limited flight clearance for the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets that mandates engine inspections and certain flight restrictions, while an investigation continues into a massive engine failure that grounded the entire fleet, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said U.S. officials remained hopeful that the F-35 could make its international debut at the Farnborough air show, but no decision had been made. ...
Hamas said Tuesday it has closed the Erez border crossing due to Israeli shelling, in a move that stranded a group of Palestinians planning to cross for medical treatment. A group of about 20 Palestinians, some of whom were scheduled to enter Israel for cancer treatment, had arrived at the crossing early on Tuesday, an AFP correspondent said. There was no immediate confirmation of the closure from COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry unit responsible for the crossing. A second official said the crossing would remain closed until they received international assurances that the terminal would be protected from Israeli air strikes.