January 29, 2010 |
Iran executed two alleged government opponents Thursday, sentenced nine others to death as "enemies of God" and warned of more public trials of opposition supporters in an apparent attempt to intimidate a widespread protest movement challenging the nation's hard-line establishment. Mohammad-Reza Ali-Zamani, 37, and Arash Rahmanipour, 20, were hanged before dawn as members of an outlawed monarchist group, the Kingdom Assembly, Iranian news reports said. The government has stepped up legal pressure on the opposition movement with another round of confrontations possible Feb. 11, the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic.
January 11, 2010 |
Several victims of a 2007 shooting involving American private security guards employed by the firm formerly known as Blackwater alleged Sunday that they were coerced into reaching settlements, and they demanded that the Iraqi government intervene to have the agreements nullified. The Iraqis said they were pressured by their own attorneys into accepting what they now believe are inadequate settlements because they were told the company was about to file for bankruptcy, that its chairman was going to be arrested and that the U.S. government was about to confiscate all of the firm's assets.
January 4, 2010 |
Cruising down this disputed four-lane highway, with all its twists and turns, is like taking a road trip through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You pass the walls and barriers that keep Palestinians from accessing Highway 443 as it slices through their land. Then there are the hazardous corridors where Israeli drivers have been shot and killed. On one side is an Israeli settlement mushrooming on a hill. Turn the other way for a glimpse of an Israeli detention center for Palestinian prisoners.
January 24, 2010 |
It started in the Green Zone, with Iraqi soldiers ordering restaurants to stop serving alcohol and confiscating bottles from politicians at checkpoints. Then, mysterious signs began appearing across the rest of Baghdad declaring alcohol sinful and warning of damnation for those who drink. Finally, the crackdown came. Phalanxes of soldiers and police officers descended on the nightclubs, cabarets and bars that had proliferated across the capital in the last two years and symbolized for many a return to normality.
February 19, 2010 |
To its planners, the assassination of senior Hamas figure Mahmoud Mabhouh must have first seemed like the perfect spy operation. They slipped into Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, on fraudulent travel papers. They quietly killed the militant leader long wanted by Israel, reportedly smothering him with a pillow, and discreetly left the country. But now the entire episode appears to have gone terribly out of control, more Coen brothers than John le Carre, with police releasing images of the alleged operatives in shorts and baseball caps traipsing around the corridors of the hotel where Mabhouh stayed, fumbling with their bags and looking straight at surveillance cameras.
December 21, 2009 |
An underground barrier to prevent tunneling by smugglers along Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip has been dubbed a "wall of shame" by Arab writers and politicians who charge that Cairo is siding with Israel in isolating the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the seaside enclave. Construction on the 100-foot-deep steel wall began a few weeks ago, but the Egyptian government didn't publicly acknowledge the project until the weekend. Officials defended the effort against accusations that it was an affront to Palestinians by the government of President Hosni Mubarak, which opposes Hamas, the militant group ruling Gaza.
January 9, 2010 |
A recent spate of cross- border and mortar attacks by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip -- the worst in a year -- is testing Israel's resolve to strike back hard against such provocation. But it remains to be seen whether the get-tough approach will hinder or escalate violence, analysts and officials said Friday. Israeli military planes struck several Gaza targets early Friday, including what Israeli officials described as the first air attack on Gaza City in nearly a year.
February 24, 2010 |
After a meeting this week with opposition groups, the Egyptian who gained international renown as head of the U.N.'s nuclear agency stepped up pressure on his government by announcing the establishment of the National Front for Change. "An agreement was reached to set up the new front, which is opened to all Egyptians from different political orientations. Its main target will be pushing for constitutional reforms and social justice," Mohamed ElBaradei, the former International Atomic Energy Agency chief, was quoted as saying in the independent daily Al Dustour.
April 13, 2010 |
Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, battling for another term in office, lashed out at Iraq's neighbors Monday for meddling in its affairs as political leaders negotiate the composition of a new government. The tough comments were broadcast on state TV and came as representatives of Iraqi parties tour the region. Some Middle East countries have issued statements in recent days on Iraq's ongoing negotiations. Without naming any neighboring countries, Maliki warned them not to intervene in Iraqi affairs.
March 10, 2010 |
Although pirates last year made many more attempts to board ships in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia, the number of successful seizures was about the same as in 2008, according to the U.S.-organized multinational maritime force here. The figures suggest that new "defensive driving" tactics adopted by many commercial shipping companies are helping ward off attackers, naval officials said. There were 198 attempts at piracy in the vast region last year, a 62% increase from 2008, but only 44 attempts were successful.