World Bulletin/News Desk
President Barack Obama appeared poised on Friday to pick former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as the next U.S. defense secretary and the announcement may come early next week.
Sources on Capitol Hill and in the national security community said all signs were pointing to Hagel as Obama's choice to replace current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
The choice would likely set up a confirmation battle in the Senate over whether Hagel strongly supports key U.S. ally Israel. Gay rights groups have also complained about some of Hagel's past remarks, which were seen as disparaging to them.
However, if Obama were to back down from picking Hagel, it would be the second embarrassment for him, after his preferred candidate for secretary of state, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, withdrew from consideration in the face of determined opposition.
The White House insisted Obama had not yet made a final decision on Hagel, but a source close to the situation said the White House had signaled to Hagel's camp that he remained Obama's leading candidate for the post.
The source said the process was on track for likely nomination announcement on Monday or Tuesday.
It was not known whether Obama had finalized his decision or if Hagel had been directly informed. The source said Hagel's closest advisers had received "messages of reassurance" in recent days in the face of a campaign by Hagel's critics aimed at derailing his nomination.
Hagel has already faced an onslaught over his record on Israel and Iran led by some pro-Israel groups and neo-conservatives.
A Republican operative involved in the opposition to Hagel's nomination predicted he would have trouble getting confirmed by the Senate. "It's going to be a vicious fight," the operative said.
ISIS was pushed out of the Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi by the Iraqi army, aided by U.S. airstrikes, according to reports on Friday.
The U.N. Security Council on Friday approved a United States-drafted resolution that condemns the use of toxic chemicals such as chlorine in Syria without assigning blame, while threatening militarily enforced action in the case of further violations.
Moroccan King has refused to accept phone call as it appeared to be an effort to woo voters.
The group now has legalised status in Jordan and have appointed Abdel-Maguid Zunaibat as the groups new leader
Talks between the government and opposition broke down last May, but recent events have fueled tensions.
Under current Swiss laws, an applicant has to be on Swiss territory to lodge an asylum request.
Iraqi security forces backed by Shiite militia defeat Daesh in al-Dour town.
Floods – said to be the worst in 90 years – affected Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe
The streets of Mogadishu saw heavy deployments of security personnel, who set up checkpoints in order to search cars and check passengers' IDs
Several Israelis were killed or wounded amid a rise in Palestinian attacks on Israelis as tension in the region mounts.
An Iraqi antiquities official confirmed the news, saying the destruction began after noon prayers on Thursday and that trucks that may have been used to haul away artefacts had also been spotted at the site.
Mogherini told a foreign policy conference in the Latvian capital that she was committed to bringing the Iranian nuclear talks to a positive end.
The postponement of the local elections is the second time they have been pushed back.
Navalny strikes defiant tone after murder of ally Nemtsov with plans to go to Nemtsov's grave later on Friday