Middle Orient

Arab reformists trapped between regimes, US

MANAMA — Arab activists meeting in Bahrain on Tuesday to press for democratic change find themselves caught between battling “dictator” regimes and US-led initiatives for reform, which are suspected of serving US interests. While some activists at a Manama conference insisted that Arab democratic movements are too weak to implement …

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Egypt poll monitors ready despite obstacles

CAIRO — Omar Abdul Moneim, an Egyptian in his early 40s, listened carefully as the instructor summarised the purpose of the crash course, aimed at teaching students how to minimise election fraud on polling day. “Our country has a history of vote-rigging. I hope our presence at the polling stations …

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‘Tel Aviv exploiting pressure on Damascus’

DAMASCUS (AP) — Syria accused Israel on Tuesday of seeking to exploit intense US-led pressure on Damascus to reject calls for peace talks over the occupied Golan Heights. “Israeli officials are trying to exploit the wave of political, media and psychological pressure on Syria in order to express in a …

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Annan seeks to allay Arab fears over Syria

CAIRO (AFP) — UN Secretary General Kofi Annan sought Tuesday in Cairo to assuage Arab fears over possible action against Syria but urged Damascus to cooperate fully with the international probe into the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri. “The message must go out that impunity will not be …

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2nd Saddam trial attorney shot dead

BAGHDAD (Reuters) — Gunmen killed a second defence lawyer acting in Saddam Hussein’s trial for crimes against humanity on Tuesday, renewing questions over whether the former president can get a fair trial amid Iraq’s daily violence. Another defence lawyer was slightly wounded in the attack on their car in Baghdad, …

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Israel to continue killing activists

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s army chief told a parliamentary committee Tuesday that the military will keep up its deadly hunt for members of Islamic Jihad, despite threats by the Palestinian group to retaliate with suicide bombings. Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz told the Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee that the …

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Refugee tragedy unfolds amid Eid celebrations

CAIRO — As Muslims held a mass prayer at Cairo’s Mustafa Mahmud Mosque, the personal tragedies of Sudanese refugees continued to unfold a few metres away, screened off from the Eid Al Fitr festival like an eyesore. For the rituals marking the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan, the …

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Parliamentary candidate accused of stealing alms

CAIRO (AP) — A member of an outlawed opposition group who is running for a seat in Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections was detained Thursday on accusations of stealing religious alms to supplement his campaign spending. Essam Mokhtar, a member of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, was later released after appearing before …

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Iran analysis may be too late for UN meeting

VIENNA (AFP) — UN nuclear inspectors will not have crucial Iranian samples analysed in time for a meeting November 24, suggesting the UN atomic agency may be unable to rule whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for violating international safeguards, diplomats said Friday. UN inspectors got access …

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War fuelled UK terrorism — former envoy

LONDON (Reuters) — London’s former ambassador to Washington says the war in Iraq fuelled homegrown terrorism in Britain, in comments likely to cause further problems for Prime Minister Tony Blair at the end of turbulent political week. Sir Christopher Meyer, who was heavily involved in the planning that led up …

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