In a video posted online by AQAP, four suspects described as "spies" say they placed tracking devices on the vehicles of jihadists killed in drone attacks two years ago in the southern Shabwa province. An AQAP security official named Abu Islam al-Muhajer said in the video that US and Yemeni authorities were behind the drone attacks. The United States is the only country operating drones over Yemen, but US officials rarely acknowledge the covert operations. The drone programme has been defended by both the White House and Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, in the face of protests by human rights groups over civilian casualties.
Syria entered its final day of campaigning on Sunday for the June 3 presidential election expected to return Bashar al-Assad to power, a vote the opposition brands a "parody of democracy". With swathes of the country out of government control, voting will only take place in regime-held territory, far from where Assad's forces are battling the rebels who seek to topple him. The fragmented opposition, and their Western and Arab allies, are set to watch powerlessly as the ballot returns Assad to power for a third, seven-year term at a time when the army is making advances on the battlefield. The rebels have urged Syrians to boycott the vote in which Assad's sole competitors, MP Maher al-Hajjar, and businessman Hassan al-Nouri -- are little known and seen as token rivals.
Ukraine's new pro-Western leader enters a defining week Sunday seeking to head off a Russian gas cut and secure US President Barack Obama's backing with his country threatened by civil war. Confectionery tycoon Petro Poroshenko will also attempt to arrange the first meeting by a Ukrainian leader with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the February ouster of a pro-Kremlin regime in Kiev sparked the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War. The 48-year-old will cap off the pivotal week with his inauguration Saturday as the fifth president of Ukraine after a convincing May 25 election win handed him a mandate to resolve a separatist insurgency threatening the very survival of the ex-Soviet state. "These meetings will be crucial," said Kiev-based political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko.
Iran on Sunday executed a political prisoner because authorities thought he was behind recent unrest in a Tehran prison, an exiled opposition group said. Gholamreza Khosravi Savadjani was convicted of "waging war against God" (moharebeh) by helping the People's Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) and then hanged, state media reported. The PMOI said Khosravi Savadjani had been executed on suspicion of being the alleged mastermind of an April 17 prisoners' revolt at an infamous Tehran prison. "Khosravi Savadjani's execution is a reprisal targeting prisoners of Section 350 of Evin jail where he was placed and aimed at those who continue to resist the fascist religious regime from inside the prison walls," it said in a statement in French.
Top Congressional Republicans have raised sharp questions about President Barack Obama's deal to swap five Taliban members for a captured US solder, with some even accusing him of breaking the law. Several opposition Republicans issued statements welcoming Saturday's release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. But several Republicans also claimed that his exchange for "terrorists" held in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre would just encourage more kidnappings of US soldiers. Lawmakers were not told of the Guantanamo prisoner transfer until after the swap, the Washington Post reported.