1. Iranian Ayatollah: Emancipate Islam’s Holy Sites From Saudi Control, Hand Mecca To ‘Men Of Piety’
    Saudi Arabia and Iran’s increasingly bitter dispute about Islamic pilgrimages to Mecca escalated after a senior Iranian cleric publicly called Saudi custodianship of Islam’s two holiest sites as “servitude” and called for their “emancipation.”
  2. Iraq PM downplays criticism of Saudi airstrikes on Yemen
    Washington (AFP) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sought Thursday to walk back sharp criticism of the Saudi air campaign against Shiite militias in Yemen and welcomed news that the Saudi embassy in Baghdad will reopen soon.
  3. Saudi Claims on Iran’s Role in Yemen Face Skepticism in West
    The Saudi-led military campaign to roll back Houthi fighters in Yemen has received public backing from the kingdom’s traditional allies, including the U.S. and France.
  4. Iraq’s largest refinery not at risk from IS group: US
    Washington (AFP) – Iraq’s largest refinery in Baiji is not “at risk” despite an offensive by the Islamic State group that has breached parts of the facility, the US military’s top general said Thursday.
  5. Saudi-led Yemen air war’s high civilian toll unsettles U.S. officials
    Concerned about reports of hundreds of civilian casualties, Obama administration officials are increasingly uneasy about the U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led air war against rebel militias in Yemen, opening a potential rift between Washington and its ally in Riyadh.
  6. Iraq PM vows to end sectarian divisions at end of US visit
    Washington (AFP) – Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wrapped up his inaugural visit to the US on Thursday, winning pledges that long-delayed F-16 fighter jets will soon be delivered and vowing to calm the sectarian tensions dividing his country.
  7. Saudi strikes on Iran-backed rebels in Yemen stoke sectarianism across Mideast
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s government insists it is not at war with Iran despite its three-week air campaign against Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen, but the kingdom’s powerful clerics, and its regional rival’s theocratic government, are increasingly presenting the conflict as part of a region-wide battle for the soul of Islam.
  8. UN Urges Ceasefire In Yemen By ‘All Parties’
    UNITED NATIONS, April 16 (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for an immediate halt to the fighting in Yemen, the first time he has made such an appeal since Saudi-led air strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels began three weeks ago.
  9. Yemen vice president calls for an end to support of Shiite rebels
    Yemen’s newly appointed Vice President Khaled Bahah has urged renegade army units to end their support for Shiite rebels. The call comes after his government was exiled more than two weeks ago.
  10. Amid chaos, Al-Qaida consolidates hold of Yemen province
    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen consolidated control over much of the country’s largest province on Thursday, capturing a major airport, an oil terminal and the area’s main military base, and striking an alliance with local tribal leaders to administer the region.