1. Mass Sunni protests in Iraq over Shia PM
    RAMADI, Iraq, Dec 28 – Tens of thousands of protesters from Iraq’s Sunni Muslim minority poured on to the streets after Friday prayers in a show of force against Shia prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, keeping up a week-old blockade of a highway.
  2. Police shoot dead Shia protester in eastern Saudi province
    RIYADH: Saudi Arabian police shot dead a Shia protester in the country’s oil-producing east late on Thursday, local activists said yesterday, bringing the death toll from clashes in the restive area to 12 this year.
  3. Turkish UNIFIL contingent beefs up security
    BEIRUT: Turkey’s contingent of UNIFIL peacekeepers has upgraded security measures, security sources told The Daily Star Friday, after threats made by families of nine Lebanese pilgrims in Syria against Turkish interests in Lebanon if their relatives are not released.
  4. Syria opposition leader rejects Moscow invitation for peace talks
    Moaz Alkhatib, whose National Coalition opposition group has been recognized by most Western and Arab states, demands Moscow apologize for supporting Assad’s regime.
  5. Iran may be reconsidering position on Syria
    As President Bashar Assad’s regime becomes increasingly isolated, Iranian officials and clerics appear divided on how to respond to their longtime ally.
  6. Iran: Navy Begins War Games Near Vital Waterway
    Iran’s naval forces began six days of war games on Friday in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway considered vital to international oil tanker traffic. Accounts in the state-run news media said the war games, covering a 400,000-square-mile area, were devised to test combat ships, submarines, reconnaissance methods and a new version of the Thunder surface-to-air midrange missile.
  7. Obama’s challenge, Iran’s nuclear plans
    As Barack Obama prepares to start his second presidential term next month, one foreign policy issue looms larger than most. His challenge is to craft a deal with Iran that can finally lay to rest the world’s fears that Tehran is driving forward with its nuclear programme in order to build a bomb.
  8. Iran’s Ahmadinejad sacks only female government minister
    DUBAI: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday dismissed his only female cabinet minister, health minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, after she criticised her colleagues for failing to provide funds to import vital medicines.
  9. Khamenei Page Prompts Calls For Iran To Unblock Facebook
    Thanks to a Facebook page in the name of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supporters and opponents of Iran’s supreme leader now agree on one thing: Iran should free up access to the social-networking site.
  10. Russia steps up diplomacy in Syrian conflict
    Russia has shown a burst of diplomatic energy before talks in Moscow today with the U.N. envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, on the Syrian conflict. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday made his first overtures toward the largest exile Syrian opposition coalition, saying that he had requested a meeting with its leader.