Moroccan women protested outside parliament on Tuesday demanding the resignation of Islamist premier Abdelilah Benkirane after he urged women to stay at home and look after their families. "Benkirane get out! Morocco is not for you!" were some of the slogans chanted by the protesters, who numbered about 100, and also waved placards and frying pans. The leader of the moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) caused a stir last week when he compared women to "lanterns" and lamented that the "sacred status God gave" to mothers who stay at home was not respected. "We will continue to defend our position against this modernity that is trying to eliminate family in our lives by reversing the roles of men and women.
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Brussels Tuesday flying in from a visit to Iraq to attend NATO talks on a militant assault which has sparked global alarm. With attention already on crises in Ukraine and Syria, the Sunni jihadist offensive in northern Iraq has added to a packed NATO agenda with Afghanistan also a high priority. US President Barack Obama announced earlier this month that the US will scale back its troops in Afghanistan to 9,800 before withdrawing them completely by the end of 2016.
A massive Israeli search and arrest operation in the occupied West Bank launched after the suspected abduction of three teenagers is sapping support for the Palestinian leadership, analysts say. Israel blames Islamist movement Hamas for the kidnappings and has detained most of its West Bank leaders in its crackdown but a mounting backlash in Palestinian public opinion is undermining the authority of president Mahmud Abbas. On Sunday night, angry youths torched a police station in the city, displaying growing anger at the search operation for the missing teenagers which has seen the army round up nearly 270 members of Hamas and lock down major city Hebron and other towns. It has been Israel's largest operation in the West Bank since the end of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in 2005.
Sudan must free political detainees and guarantee press freedom to show its commitment to a national dialogue aimed at resolving the country's rebellions, a UN expert said on Tuesday. Mashood Adebayo Baderin welcomed the June 15 release of Umma Party chief Sadiq al-Mahdi but said another opposition party leader, Ibrahim al-Sheikh of Sudanese Congress, should also be freed. By releasing Sheikh and all other political detainees, the government would "further demonstrate its good faith and genuine commitment to the national dialogue it has proposed," Baderin, the United Nations independent expert on human rights in the Sudan, told reporters.
Coinciding with a visit to Vienna by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian energy giant Gazprom on Tuesday signed a deal with Austria's OMV approving the EU country's section of the controversial South Stream pipeline. The crisis in Ukraine has made the planned pipeline bringing Siberian gas to the European Union -- bypassing Ukraine -- a new focus of tensions between Moscow, Brussels and Washington.
A Ugandan minister has won a case brought by gay rights campaigners after he stormed a workshop they had been holding, in the wake of tough new anti-gay laws, activists said Tuesday. Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo was sued by the activists after he raided the meeting two years ago, arguing it had infringed their constitutional rights. "We lost on all grounds," gay activist Jacqueline Kasha, one of the team who had brought the case against the minister, told AFP. At the time, Amnesty International condemned the raid as "an outrageous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda."
The White House on Tuesday welcomed President Vladimir Putin's call to Russian lawmakers to revoke his authorization to invade Ukraine. White House spokesman Josh Earnest however said that Washington, which has threatened further sanctions on Moscow, wanted to see clear evidence of a change in Russian behavior. "We do ... welcome any Russian steps to end the crisis in Ukraine, including President Putin's request to the Duma to revoke a resolution authorizing the use of Russian military forces in Ukraine," said Earnest.
Rebel mortar fire on a government-held district of Damascus killed five people Tuesday, state media said, as a car bomb killed one person in a pro-government area of third city Homs. Five people were also wounded by the mortar fire on the south Damascus district of Kissweh, the state SANA news agency reported. The car bomb in Homs wounded 14 people in a district mainly inhabited members of the same Alawite community as President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
France's cash-strapped government on Tuesday put its 3.1-percent stake in energy giant GDF Suez up for sale, in a bid to raise funds to buy a controlling stake in Alstom. At the close, GDF Suez shares stood at 20.80 euros, valuing the sale at 1.56 billion euros. The proceeds from the sale of 75 million shares to selected investors "can be used to finance the state's purchase of a stake in Alstom," France's economy and finance ministers said in a statement. France on Sunday clinched a deal to take a 20-percent stake in Alstom, a move aimed at preserving the country's strategic interests in the face of a bidding war for the engineering giant.
Gunmen have killed 17 Muslims at a camp in the centre of the strife-torn Central African Republic in the latest sectarian violence to wrack the impoverished country, peacekeepers said on Tuesday. "Seventeen people, all of them from the (Muslim) Fulani minority, were killed on Monday by young gunmen claiming to be from the (mostly Christian) anti-balaka" militia near the town of Bambari, an officer from the African Union force told AFP on condition of anonymity. The Central African Republic has seen more than a year of unrest, with violence between ex-Seleka rebels and the largely Christian militias leaving tens of thousands dead and about a quarter of the population of some 4.5 million displaced. The central Bambari region, which lies some 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Bangui and where the ex-Seleka rebels have established their new headquarters, has seen several outbursts of violence this month.
An overnight suicide blast in Beirut's southern suburbs, Hezbollah's main bastion, killed a security officer who had tried to stop the bomber, a Lebanese security source said Tuesday. No one has claimed the attack, but an audio recording posted on YouTube by a Sunni militant group said there would be more "strikes" if the Shiite movement does not pull out of Syria. An army statement said a suicide attacker driving a white Mercedes "blew himself up at an army checkpoint at the Tayuneh roundabout (in southern Beirut), wounding several civilians." The official National News Agency reported 12 people wounded.
U.S. House of Representatives Republicans are working on how to approach reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. goods and services, House Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday, saying he would listen to all sides on the "thorny" issue. Some House Republicans, including Boehner's newly elected deputy, oppose renewing the bank's funding. "We are going to continue to work with our members" on whether the bank's role should be taken over by the private sector, said Boehner, sidestepping a question about whether he personally backed reauthorizing the bank. Boehner noted the House Financial Services Committee would have a hearing on Wednesday on the Export-Import Bank.
A second bridge investigation linked to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is underway, this one focusing on possible securities law violations involving the Pulaski Skyway bridge, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. The new inquiry was prompted by an ongoing investigation into "Bridgegate," the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal that has engulfed Christie, a potential 2016 Republican contender for the White House. Now investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission are focusing on the Christie administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In bond documents, the Port Authority said the project was part of "Lincoln Tunnel Access Infrastructure Improvements," although the Skyway is more than 9 miles (14 kilometers) south of the Lincoln Tunnel connecting Weehawken, New Jersey and midtown Manhattan in New York City.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled a fresh round of reforms Tuesday, in the latest bid to cement a fragile recovery, his second attempt to fire the "third arrow" of his economic action plan. In a package that has already been heavily trailed, he promised to slash Japan's corporate tax rate -- one of the world's highest at up to 36 percent -- and tackle sectors long sheltered by the state. "The government decided today to make our growth strategy more powerful in a bold manner. "There is neither a taboo nor a sanctuary in the Abe government's growth strategy.
Nearly 500 alleged Islamists will go on trial on July 16 over violence in which 44 people died, state media said Tuesday, the latest in a string of mass trials slammed internationally. The trial is part of a relentless crackdown targeting supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, ousted by the army in July 2013. Hundreds have already been sentenced to death in speedy mass trials condemned by the United Nations and international rights groups. Since Morsi's ouster, a government crackdown on his supporters has seen 15,000 people jailed and sparked clashes in which more than 1,400 people have died.