World Bulletin/News Desk
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi failed to appear at a political rally on Friday, dashing expectations that he would use the occasion to announce he would run for his former post in next year's election.
On Thursday, Fabrizio Cicchitto, parliamentary leader of Berlusconi's PDL party, had said that the 75-year-old media billionaire would be the centre-right candidate for premier in the general election due in early 2013.
But reporters and television camera teams gathered at a Rome hotel in the hope of a clear statement from the man himself were disappointed.
"I bring you the greetings from President Berlusconi who was unable to attend because a commitment prevented him coming," PDL party secretary Angelino Alfano told the meeting of a small Catholic group allied to the PDL.
Despite mounting speculation of a possible comeback, Berlusconi has made no public declaration himself and his no-show at Friday's rally maintains the uncertainty over his political future.
An opinion poll by the IPR institute published in the left-leaning La Repubblica pointed to defeat for the centre-right next year, with or without Berlusconi at the helm.
It forecast a centre-left alliance led by the Democratic Party would take 42 percent of the vote, ahead of 30 percent for the centre-right, with the populist 5 Star Movement of comic Beppe Grillo taking 20 percent.
Berlusconi, forced from office last year as a financial crisis threatened to slip out of control and leave the Treasury unable to manage its 1.9 trillion euro debt pile, has given several hints that he plans to return to politics.
He still faces trial over allegations, which he denies, of paying for sex with an underaged prostitute.
He has taken an increasingly critical line against the austerity policies of Prime Minister Mario Monti and talked openly about Italy abandoning the euro, adding to the already high level of uncertainty surrounding next year's election.
On Friday, ratings agency Moody's underlined the importance of the vote for financial markets, cutting Italy's sovereign debt rating by two notches and saying that the uncertain political climate was adding to financial risks.
Abdullah Zekri, the the head of the French National Observatory against Islamophobia has said that anti-Muslim acts rose by 500 percent.
German Finance Minister said that while a gas deal with Russia will be good for Greece, it will not be sufficient to overcome their debt problems.
The Turkish Consulate General building in the Greek city of Thessaloniki has been damaged during a demonstration against high-security prisons Friday night.
Mauritanian news website Alakhbar posted an audio statement on Friday claiming the attack on peacekeepers was done on behalf of the armed group al-Mourabitoun.
Aden Haji Hussein was killed after he had taken his wife to hospital. The gunmen had blocked his path as he was returning to his car.
Iraqi armed forces have retaken the oil refinery that was seized on Friday by ISIL forces.
In December, Israel began withholding around $130 million per month of taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians after the Palestinian Authority announced it was joining the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The aim of the setting up of the graves was to draw attention to the Palestinian detainees languishing in Israeli jails.
Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger said judges must have “an understanding of different cultural and social habits,” as part of their duty to show fairness and impartiality in trials.
Libyan news website Ajwa Belad said the clashes in Fashloum started after an armed group attacked a checkpoint of an anti-drugs police force.
Barack Obama said the crisis in Libya, where ISIL has built a presence, could not be ended with "a few drone strikes or a few military operations".
Gen. Dempsey says fall of Ramadi to ISIL in Anbar province is not central to Iraq's future, with US senators slamming his comments saying that it was an insult.
A county public works equipment operator struck the natural gas line which resulted in the explosion.
Eight police officers were killed and five others were wounded Friday in a ISIL suicide car bomb attack.
Three suspected assailants were killed when gunfights broke out and vehicles set alight on US border.
A bomb laden with explosives has exploded in front of the US Consulate in Erbil, with reports saying three killed, and five wounded.