Moves to suppress chess are likely to have come as a surprise to the seventh-century Muslims who conquered Persia and adopted the game before exporting it to Europe.

Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has ruled that chess is forbidden in Islam, saying it encourages gambling and is a waste of time. Sheikh Abdullah al-Sheik(...)

Iranian protesters set fire to the Saudi Arabia embassy on Saturday amid a backlash over the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Mohammad Reza Nadimi/EPA

The Saudi execution of dissident Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr has already deepened the regional rift between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran. Iran’s su(...)

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, meets with his military commanders at an Iraqi Army base near the oil refinery town of Beiji north of Baghdad, Iraq.  Photograph:  AP Photo

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday ordered security forces to ease access to Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and main streets, in an appare(...)

Demonstrators shout slogans in support of reforms introduced by Iraq’s prime minister Haider al-Abadi. Photograph: Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images

Iraq’s parliament voted unanimously yesterday for the biggest shakeup in its governing system since the US military occupation, eliminating entire la(...)

Haidar al-Abadi: won the support of his cabinet to eliminate a layer of senior government positions. Photograph: Reuters/Iraqi PM Media Office

Iraqi prime minister Haidar al-Abadi has secured the unanimous backing of his cabinet to eliminate senior government posts in a bid to end the syste(...)

A member of the Iraqi security force searches a man at a checkpoint in Ramadi. Photograph: Reuters

Iraq imposed a curfew in the western city of Ramadi amid fears the Islamic State (IS) group was looking to advance on the strategically important city(...)

A handout photo made available by the French Army  shows two ‘Rafale’ fighter jets during a mission at an unspecified location over Iraq

France yesterday became the second western country to conduct air strikes against Islamic State targets in northern Iraq. “This morning, at 9.40am, o(...)

French president Francois Hollande said  France launched its first airstrikes today against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq, a day after he said his country would join the US-led aerial campaign against the jihadists. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA

French jets struck a suspected Islamic State target in Iraq for the first time today, expanding a US-led military campaign against militants who have (...)

US president Barack Obama addresses the nation from the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington yesterday.  Photograph: Mike Theiler/EPA

The US military conducted two additional air strikes against Islamic State forces near the city of Arbil in northern Iraq this evening, the Pentagon s(...)

Ahmad Chalabi, a one-time darling of Washington neo-conservatives long since shunned by the US, is improbably being talked up as a candidate for prime minister. Photograph: Bryan Denton/The New York Times

He took millions of dollars from the CIA, founded and was accused of defrauding the second-biggest bank in Jordan and sold the Bush administration a b(...)