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Middle East

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.

Updated at 9:45 p.m. ET

President Trump revealed "highly classified information" to two top Russian officials during a controversial Oval Office meeting last week, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut U.S. Marine Michael Zacchea had a job to do in 2004: train and lead the first Iraqi Army battalion after the U.S. disbanded the country’s military post invasion.

This hour, we revisit our conversation with Zacchea, and co-author Ted Kemp about their book The Ragged Edge which details the challenges Zacchea faced leading a diverse group of Iraqis. 

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim declared victory in the referendum bid to convert Turkey from a parliamentary to a strong president system of government.

The historic referendum, which passed by a narrow margin, grants more power to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who promised when he was elected in 2014 to be a "different kind of president."

The U.S. has dropped the most powerful conventional weapon ever used in combat to hit an underground ISIS complex in Afghanistan, Pentagon officials say.

The nearly 22,000-pound "MOAB" — standing for Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or as it's also known, the "Mother of All Bombs" — was designed during the Iraq War but had never before been used on the battlefield.

The U.S. has used the bomb's predecessor, a smaller but still massive weapon known as the "Daisy Cutter," in Afghanistan before.

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling the missile strike President Trump ordered against Syria on Thursday "an act of aggression against a sovereign state delivered in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext."

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want the Trump administration to outline a broader strategy in Syria following the president's decision to authorize U.S. missile strikes Thursday night in response to the apparent chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Updated at 3:03 p.m. ET

President Trump condemned the horrific chemical attack in Syria that has been blamed on its president, Bashar Assad, signaling a shift in Trump's approach toward the country's controversial leader — but didn't elaborate on how the U.S. would respond.

President Trump issued a remarkable statement following a Syrian gas attack U.S. officials say was leveled by that country's leader against his own people.

Some 40 words of the short, 78-word statement blamed former President Barack Obama for inaction.

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