The United States has ordered an aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush, into the Gulf in response to the crisis in Iraq, the Pentagon said Saturday. "The order will provide the commander-in-chief additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq," Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said. US President Barack Obama said Friday the United States would not send in US ground troops but that he was weighing all other options.
The White House Saturday welcomed Afghanistan's presidential elections as a "significant step" for the country's democracy, but emphasized the need for electoral commissions to legitimize the vote. "The work of the electoral commissions in the weeks ahead will be particularly important," the White House said in a statement, commending "the voters, electoral bodies, and security forces for their commitment to the democratic process." On Saturday, millions of Afghans defied Taliban threats in a run-off vote to decide whether former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah or ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani will lead the country into a new era of declining international military and civilian assistance. "These elections are a significant step forward on Afghanistan’s democratic path, and the courage and resolve of the Afghan people to make their voices heard is a testament to the importance of these elections to securing Afghanistan’s future," the White House said.
Zanzibar (Tanzania) (AFP) - Tanzanian police on Saturday hunted for suspects amid tightened security a day after an explosion at a mosque in the busy capital of Zanzibar killed a Muslim preacher and wounded several people. The blast area in Zanzibar's Stone Town was cordoned off Saturday as police scoured the area for clues. Police named the victim as Sheikh Mohammed Abdalla Mkombalaguha, who had recently arrived from the Tanga region on the Tanzanian mainland. Senior police chief Yussuf Ilembo said several suspects had been questioned but none arrested.
Iran may consider cooperating with its arch-foe the United States to fight Sunni extremist militants in Iraq, but has not yet received a request to intervene militarily across the border. In the clearest indication so far that Iran may be pulled into the conflict, President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday admitted that turmoil caused by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's (ISIL) advance towards Baghdad could have calamitous dimensions for the whole region. Acknowledging his country's "close and intimate" relations with Iraq, Rouhani left the door open to some form of intervention when asked if mutual interest could possibly bring Iran and the US together. "If we see that the United States takes action against terrorist groups in Iraq, then one can think about it," he said.
Security forces drove back 1,000 African migrants who tried to scramble over a border fence from Morocco into the Spanish territory of Melilla on Saturday, officials said. "Anti-climbing mesh and the collaboration of the Moroccan forces with the (Spanish) civil guard managed to stop an attempt to cross by about a thousand migrants," the Spanish government delegation in Melilla said in a statement. Moroccan forces saw off many of the migrants and those who managed to get past them to the fence failed to climb into Melilla partly due to the new type of mesh, it said. Melilla is one of two Spanish-held cities on the northern coast of Africa, along with Ceuta to the east.
NIEUWKERKE, Belgium (AP) — In a neatly clipped corner of the Westhof Farm Cemetery, an Australian family huddled around Pvt. Andrew Bayne's grave. One century after the start of World War I, the family found closure in homage to a forebear who had traveled half the world to meet his death, his stomach ripped open by an exploding shell, in the horrors of Flanders Fields.
The rise of Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq can be traced to America's invasion of the country more than a decade ago, as it left a power vacuum and unleashed sectarian bloodletting, experts said Friday. With television footage of Sunni extremists sweeping across Iraq this week, critics of former president George W. Bush's decision to invade in 2003 said the onslaught offered yet more proof of the war's disastrous fallout. For University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole, events in Iraq are "an indictment of the George W. Bush administration, which falsely said it was going into Iraq because of a connection between Al-Qaeda and Baghdad." But by occupying and "weakening" Iraq, the Bush administration ironically created conditions that allowed Al-Qaeda "to take and hold territory in our own time," he wrote.
Barack Obama traveled to a Native American reservation in North Dakota, his first visit as US president to "Indian Country," where he focused Friday on education and economic development. The president, accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama, visited the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation in the central far northern state. Ahead of the visit officials announced a series of initiatives on improving education and economic development for Native American communities. When the couple arrived at Standing Rock, dancers in colorful tribal outfits greeted the Obamas, who met with senior tribal officials.
A bomb attack targeting a weapons bazaar in eastern Syria close to the Iraqi border killed 30 "terrorists" on Saturday, state television reported. Just 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the Iraqi border, the town is under the control of rebel groups, including Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate the Al-Nusra Front, that have been fighting the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ISIL is the same cross-border group which has spearheaded an offensive in neighbouring Iraq this week that has seen militants sweep down from second city Mosul towards Baghdad. "Light weapons are sold nearby, but the targeted area was a street market and those killed were civilians," spokesman Omar Abu Leyla said.