Middle East Updates / United Arab Emirates Designates Muslim Brotherhood as a Terrorist Organization

Iraqi troops close to retaking Iraq's biggest refinery besieged by ISIS; Russia sees chance of deal at nuclear talks with Iran; Egypt group claims responsibility for attack.

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U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey (R) and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testify before the House Armed Services Committee about the fight against ISIS, November 13, 2014.
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey (R) and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testify before the House Armed Services Committee about the fight against ISIS, November 13, 2014.Credit: AFP
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Haaretz

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8:43 P.M. United Arab Emirates designates Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization

The United Arab Emirates has issued a list designating the Muslim Brotherhood and dozens of other Islamist groups as terrorist organizations, ratcheting up the pressure on the group by lumping it together with extremists such as the Islamic State group and the Nusra Front, Al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria.

The official state news agency WAM published the list of 83 organizations Saturday evening, saying the designations were adopted by the council of ministers, the federation's cabinet.

The move follows a similar decision by Saudi Arabia in March to designate the Brotherhood a terrorist group along with Al-Qaida and others.

Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have taken a firm stance against the Brotherhood since its ascendance in Egypt in the wake of the Arab Spring. (AP)

6:44 P.M. Rare internal fighting between rebels, residents of suburb of Damascus, Syria

Activists are reporting rare internal fighting in a rebel stronghold east of the capital Damascus.

The activists say the fighting broke out Friday and continued Saturday between residents and members of the Islamic Army in the suburb of Douma.

A Syria-based activist who goes by the name of Mohammed Orabi said the clashes began when residents attacked the storage units of influential merchants who dominate the local food distribution business to protest high prices.

Orabai and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said guards at the units opened fire, seriously wounding several residents.

The Islamic Army, a powerful rebel faction which tightly controls Douma, receives funding from some of these merchants, activists say, and is clashing with angry local residents in their defense. (AP)

4:21 P.M. Iraqi troops close to retaking Iraq's biggest refinery, besieged by ISIS

Iraqi security forces appeared close on Saturday to retaking the country's biggest refinery which was besieged by Islamic State militants hours after the top U.S. military officer arrived ahead of an expanded American mission.

Islamic State fighters seized the city of Baiji and surrounded Iraq's biggest refinery nearby in June during a lightning campaign through northern Iraq.

An army colonel predicted government forces were within hours reasserting control after months of battles involving snipers, suicide bombers, trucks packed with explosives and helicopter gunships.

He said roadside bombs and booby-trapped houses stood in the way of troops pressing for control of the refinery. (Reuters)

10:55 A.M. Top U.S. general in Iraq amid ISIS air strike campaign

America's top military leader arrived Saturday to Iraq, state television reported, his first visit to the country since a U.S.-led coalition began a campaign of air strikes targeting the extremist Islamic State group.

The visit by Army Gen. Marin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was not previously announced. It came just two days after he told Congress that the United States would consider dispatching a modest number of American forces to fight with Iraqi troops as they engage in more complex missions in the campaign against the Islamic State group, which controls about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria. (AP)

7:00 A.M. Russia sees chance of deal at nuclear talks with Iran

A senior Russian diplomat said a deal could be reached this month between world powers and Tehran on curbing Iran's nuclear program if there is the will in Washington and Tehran.

In Australia for a meeting of the G20 major and developing economies, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters six world powers and Iran had never been so close to an agreement and it could be reached by a Nov. 24 deadline.

"Therefore, from (Nov.) 18 to 24 there is enough time for such decisions to be taken," he said.

"But there is no guarantee that these decisions will be taken in those capitals where there are the biggest problems with current solutions, I mean, - Washington and Tehran." (Reuters)

1:31 A.M. Egypt group claims responsibility for attack

Egypt's main terror group on Friday claimed responsibility under the name of the Islamic State for an assault against the army last month which killed 31 in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

In a lengthy video message posted on Islamic Jihadi forums, Egypt's Ansar Beit al-Maqdis or Champions of Jerusalem made its first claim of responsibility after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The video showed an elaborate attack in which a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into an army post, before trucks loaded with armed and masked men rained bullets and killed fleeing soldiers. The group vowed, "this is just the beginning" while describing Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as "tyrant, and servant of the Jews." (AP) Read full article

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