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Middle East

On July 15 last year, in an attempted coup, a faction of the Turkish military bombed government buildings, blocked roads and bridges and attempted to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The coup attempt was quelled by the next day — but Turkey has been feeling the repercussions ever since.

The government has engaged in sweeping purges, arresting tens of thousands and firing more than 100,000 people from their jobs, including civil servants, university professors and soldiers.

Iraq's military said ISIS destroyed the 12th century al-Nuri mosque in Mosul's Old City, where ISIS fighters remain, on Wednesday.

The Great Mosque of al-Nuri, a medieval mosque with the tall, leaning al-Hadba minaret, was the site where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a rare public appearance and, in July 2014, declared the group's "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has changed his pick for a successor, naming his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince and deposing Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from the post. At 31, the country's new successor to the throne is 50 years younger than the current monarch.

The Russian Defense Ministry says it may have killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a late May airstrike on an ISIS meeting in Raqqa, Syria. But the development has not been confirmed, Russian officials said Friday. In recent years, previous reports of Baghdadi's death have proved inaccurate.

"So far, I have no 100 percent confirmation of this information," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, according to state-run Tass media, hours after defense officials posted a notice about the May 28 attack.

The U.S. Senate narrowly voted on Tuesday to back President Donald Trump's plan to sell more than $500 million in precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. The approval came despite a bipartisan effort by Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., to derail the deal.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote this week on a resolution introduced by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy to block a small part of the massive arms sale the Trump administration has agreed to with Saudi Arabia. 

Manal al-Sharif's path to activism began simply enough: In 2011, the Saudi woman filmed herself driving a car, then uploaded the video to YouTube. Ordinarily such a video might not get much notice, but because it's not socially acceptable for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, where there is a de facto ban, Sharif's video went viral.

Two teams of attackers used gunfire and explosives to strike Iran's parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran on Wednesday, according to state media. The twin attacks killed at least 12 people and wounded 42 others.

"Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Zolfaqari said that the terrorists had entered the parliament in [women's] dress," Iran's state news agency reports. It adds that a female assailant detonated herself outside the mausoleum.

U.S.-backed fighters have launched an operation to try to seize control of ISIS' so-called capital, the city of Raqqa in northern Syria.

Raqqa is the most important stronghold for the militant group in Syria and fell under its control in 2014. Together with the ongoing fight for Mosul in Iraq, seizing control of the city is seen as a crucial goal in the fight against ISIS.

Saudi Arabia and at least four other Arab nations are cutting all ties with Qatar, citing concerns over terrorism and regional stability and igniting debate over the rift's impacts among key U.S. allies in the Middle East.

Qatar's government "expressed deep regret over the decision" and said it was the victim of "an instigation campaign" that is meant to hurt the nation.

"Such measures are unjustified and are based on baseless and unfounded allegations," the government's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET

A huge truck bomb explosion early Wednesday killed at least 80 people and wounded more than 400 others in Kabul's diplomatic zone, Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health says. The attack struck the busy neighborhood in the capital city just before 8:30 a.m. local time, during Kabul's morning commute.

The explosion destroyed or damaged more than 50 vehicles, the Ministry of Interior Affairs said.

President Trump has landed in Israel for the second leg of his nine-day trip abroad, which started in Saudi Arabia and will end in Italy.

Trump's flight to Israel was more notable than most Air Force One landings: His trip from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Tel Aviv, Israel, is believed to be the first direct flight between the two countries, which do not have diplomatic relations.

One Israeli Airports Authority spokesman told The Associated Press that he didn't know of any previous direct flights from Saudi Arabia.

The fight against terrorism is a "battle between good and evil," not a fight between "different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations," President Trump said Sunday in a widely-anticipated speech in Saudi Arabia.

This is Trump's first foreign trip as president, and he delivered the address to leaders of dozens of Arab and Muslim-majority nations. The Saudis said at least 37 leaders are present, NPR's Jane Arraf reported from Riyadh.

What difference does it make who's president of Iran?

It's fair to ask the question on this weekend of Iran's presidential election. After all, the president's title makes him sound like the top official, but he is not. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, holds far more power.

President Trump will try to leave his troubles behind as he departs on the first foreign trip of his presidency. It's an ambitious itinerary with stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican and two meetings with European leaders.

Here are five objectives to watch for as Trump goes overseas.

1. Will the cloud of controversy follow?

There has been one "bad news" headline after another involving the Trump administration breaking every day this week. But if the president is looking for a reprieve, recent history indicates he might be disappointed.

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