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BBC Monitoring Global Newsline - Middle East Political

3 October 2007

CONTENTS

 
 
ALGERIA
02/10/2007   Algerian security forces arrest 11 suspects in bid to murder president
02/10/2007   Armed group ambush Algerian customs agents in country's south
02/10/2007   Algerian security forces reportedly kill two armed group leaders
02/10/2007   Algerian soldier, gunman killed in separate incidents in Kabylie
02/10/2007   Two Algerian armed group members killed east of Algiers
 
EGYPT
02/10/2007   Egyptian high court defers verdict on Al-Ghad party leader's appeal
02/10/2007   Egyptian court dismisses charge on unconstitutionality of polls
02/10/2007   Egyptian president rejects pressure, interference in internal affairs
02/10/2007   Egyptian-Iranian past prevents resumption of diplomatic ties - article
02/10/2007   Egyptian deputies protest over sale of natural gas to Israel
02/10/2007   Highlights from Egyptian press 2 Oct 07
02/10/2007   Highlights from Egyptian press 29 Sep 07
02/10/2007   Highlights from Egyptian press 28 Sep 07
02/10/2007   Renowned Egyptian lawyer to defend scholar assaulted in London - agency
02/10/2007   Egyptian radio stresses need for "complete cooperation" to resolve Darfur crisis
02/10/2007   UK-Arab writer talks to Egyptian foreign minister in New York
 
IRAN
02/10/2007   India remains committed to trans-nation gas pipeline - minister
02/10/2007   Quds rallies most important support to Palestinians - Rafsanjani
02/10/2007   Iran MP condemns Columbia University head's insult to president
02/10/2007   MP says Putin's visit to Iran "a turning point"
02/10/2007   Iran, Bahrain to broaden mutual ties on gas, oil sectors
02/10/2007   President confirms Iran-Ethiopia agreement
02/10/2007   Australia rules out role in any US invasion of Iran
02/10/2007   Iran deplores use of sanctions as political tool
02/10/2007   Paper says Iran should "take advantage" of current situation to talk to US
02/10/2007   Iran paper says Tehran's governor might replace mayor in cabinet meetings
02/10/2007   Iran paper says steps must be taken to fight corruption "decisively"
02/10/2007   Iran minister clarifies president's comments on nuclear case
02/10/2007   Palestinians should choose "a regime" by referendum - Iran minister
02/10/2007   Guards Corps in charge of protecting Iran against aggression - minister
02/10/2007   President's Columbia University remarks should be followed up- Iranian activist
02/10/2007   Iran Guards commander - voluntary troops a priority in new strategy
02/10/2007   US policy on Iraq not to change during Republican rule - Iran commentary
02/10/2007   Iran's former intelligence minister stresses economic growth
02/10/2007   Iran's moderate reformist leader speaks of coalition possibilities
02/10/2007   (CORR) Iran's moderate reformist leader speaks of coalition possibilities
02/10/2007   Iranian press menu 2 Oct 07
02/10/2007   Lawmaker criticizes foreign, economic policies of Iran government
02/10/2007   White House has made Iran Bush invitation conditional - Agency
02/10/2007   British leader's Iraq visit signals UK independent policy - Iran commentary
02/10/2007   Saudi remarks against Iran unexpected and astonishing - Official
 
IRAQ
02/10/2007   Turkey expects USA, Iraq to take "urgent measures" against rebel Kurds party
02/10/2007   Party leader Al-Dulaymi attacks US Senate resolution to partition Iraq
02/10/2007   Iraqi PM receives delegation of Iraq Awakening Council; update
02/10/2007   Arab League reaffirms rejection of US Senate resolution to divide Iraq
02/10/2007   British prime minister arrives in Iraq
02/10/2007   Iraqi politicians reject US Senate plan to divide Iraq
02/10/2007   Iraqi prime minister receives UK counterpart
02/10/2007   Turkey may opt not to operate under recent deal with Iraq - official
02/10/2007   Turkish army chief on Kurdish rebels, "threat" of Iraqi Kurdish state
02/10/2007   Iraqi, UK premiers discuss future of British forces in Iraq
02/10/2007   Iraqi Kurdish paper questions responsibility for entry of arrested Iranian
02/10/2007   TV reports on UK PM's statement on reducing forces in Iraq, updates security
02/10/2007   Turkish daily sees USA, EU wrangling over control of separatist Kurdish party
02/10/2007   Iraqi health directorates deny cholera outbreaks in Karbala, al-Najaf
02/10/2007   Health Ministry says to supply Iraqi refugees in region with medicine, food
02/10/2007   Iraqi Kurdish bloc supports US Congress resolution on Iraq
02/10/2007   Al-Jazeera airs interview with Iraq's Al-Sadr movement spokesman
02/10/2007   UK-based Arab paper doubts credibility of US White House stand on Iraq partition
02/10/2007   British official says UK has faith in Iraqi troops to ensure security
02/10/2007   Islamic State of Iraq claims downing US helicopter - Al-Jazeera
02/10/2007   Iraq's Sunni scholars issue statement on killing of clerics in Mosul
02/10/2007   Official says Iraqi Kurds can secede if Kirkuk issue not resolved
 
ISRAEL
02/10/2007   Arab League head denies reports on Israeli attack in Syria
02/10/2007   Israeli minister addresses UN General Assembly on Palestinian state, other issue
02/10/2007   Israel state prosecutor upholds decision to evict Hebron market settlers
02/10/2007   Israeli media say PM fully trusts army chief
02/10/2007   Two Palestinians wounded by Israeli police in Hebron
 
JORDAN
02/10/2007   Jordanian goverment fears increasing Syrian, Iranian influence in Islamist circl
02/10/2007   Jordan: US-based body to launch radio station for women, youth
02/10/2007   UK-based paper interviews Jordan's FM, Arab League chief on Mideast conference
02/10/2007   Jordan's first private satellite TV gets go ahead to start broadcasts
 
LEBANON
02/10/2007   Senior Fatah al-Islam commander arrested in Lebanon refugee camp
02/10/2007   Lebanon: Awn-led bloc vows support for Speaker's initiative
02/10/2007   Lebanese Hezbollah MP comments on Awn as presidency candidate
02/10/2007   Lebanese forces arrest 11 opposition members training with guns
02/10/2007   Lebanese presidential candidate Ghanim on elections, opposition "blackmail"
02/10/2007   Lebanese paper talks of Fatah-al-Islam's close links with Al-Qa'idah
 
LIBYA
02/10/2007   Libyan parliament condemns US Senate's resolution on Iraq
 
MIDDLE EAST
02/10/2007   Foreign ministers of Italy, France, Spain discuss Iran, Mideast, Lebanon
 
MOROCCO
02/10/2007   Egyptian writer views Moroccan election results as sign of Islamists' Setback
02/10/2007   Morocco reacts angrily to Sunday Times paedophile claim
02/10/2007   Investigations in the Moroccan army to flush out any Islamist infiltrators - pap
 
SAUDI ARABIA
02/10/2007   Saudi agency recalls report on statement by Grand Mufti
02/10/2007   (Corr)Saudi agency recalls report on statement by Grand Mufti
02/10/2007   Saudi king issues decree on two judicial, grievance laws
02/10/2007   Saudi Grand Mufti warns youths against seeking jihad abroad - full text
02/10/2007   Saudi Arabia said "prepared to face emergency" after Yemeni volcano eruption
 
SUDAN
02/10/2007   Bashir discuss peace efforts with Carter, Tutu's Wise Men Delegation
02/10/2007   Sudan: Attack on AU forces draws condemnations, missing AU soldiers return
02/10/2007   Kenyan paper urges more resources for AU mission in Darfur
02/10/2007   Sudan: Arab League condemns attack on AU forces in Darfur
02/10/2007   Sudan: Gulf states condemn AU base attack in Darfur
02/10/2007   Sudanese minister blames international community for Darfur "massacre"
02/10/2007   Sudan: Citizens demand withdrawal of police forces in Northern State
02/10/2007   Paper reports on visit by US envoy to southern Sudan state
02/10/2007   Sudanese presidential aide briefs eastern rebels on peace pact
02/10/2007   Sudanese defence minister visits site of attack on AU soldiers
02/10/2007   Sudan: President al-Bashir receives International Elders delegation
02/10/2007   AU commission chairperson condemns attack on African Mission in Sudan
02/10/2007   UK calls for cease-fire, denounces attack on AU forces in Sudan
02/10/2007   Sudan: AU-UN envoy visits site of attack on AU troops
02/10/2007   Sudan: Nuba tribe warns of escalating situation in southern Kurdufan
02/10/2007   Sudan: Presidential adviser, British envoy discuss situation in Darfur
02/10/2007   Sudan: Family of Guantanamo prisoner say their son "exchanged with dollars"
02/10/2007   Sudan: Ex-rebel leader condemns attack on AU troops in Darfur
02/10/2007   Sudan frees Darfur war crime suspect
 
SYRIA
02/10/2007   Syrian article says "cautious Arab stand" on Mideast conference "logical"
02/10/2007   Syrian foreign minister's UN speech dwells on Mideast. Iraq, Lebanon
02/10/2007   Syrian Ba'th Party denounces US resolution on division of Iraq
02/10/2007   Saudi daily on role and activities of assassinated Syrian cleric
 
WEST BANK & GAZA
02/10/2007   Fatah planning to turn Palestinian public opinion against Hamas - website
02/10/2007   Palestinian editorial praises "courageous and frank" UN official Dugard
02/10/2007   Israeli security measures in Jerusalem support Judaization - Palestinian paper
02/10/2007   Slovenia opens office in Ramallah
02/10/2007   Palestinian armed group targets Israeli town of Ashqelon
02/10/2007   Hamas-affiliated executive force integrated into police in Gaza
02/10/2007   Palestinian president said "overoptimistic" over peace prospects
02/10/2007   Two Palestinians said critically wounded in "indiscriminate" Israeli shooting
02/10/2007   Palestinian paper reports on preparations for Washington conference
02/10/2007   Palestinian group says Arab, Islamic countries contacted to end crisis
02/10/2007   Palestinian leader to hold referendum if agreement with Israel reached - adviser
02/10/2007   Hamas leader denies secret deal with Egypt
 
YEMEN
02/10/2007   Yemeni president inspects volcano-stricken island rescue effort
02/10/2007   Yemeni president praises rescue efforts in volcano-stricken island
02/10/2007   Al-Arabiyah TV reports on volcano eruption in Yemen
     
     
REPORTS

 

 
ALGERIA
02/10/2007 Algerian security forces arrest 11 suspects in bid to murder president

Text of report by A.. Ibrahim headlined "11 suspects arrested for involvement in assassination attempt against Bouteflika" published by Algerian newspaper El-Khabar website on 2 October

The Batna Investigation Magistrate ordered 11 suspects to be held in custody for their involvement in the attempt to assassinate President Bouteflika on 6 September. The 11 include six youths, aged 17 to 26 years, who were about the join the terror groups in the area.

Security sources said the arrest of the suspect took place following the investigations of the terror attack which happened in the city centre, minutes before President Bouteflika arrived in Batna.

Investigators said the group that colluded and aided the suicide bomber Haouari Belzrag, was managed and coordinated by the repentant terrorist Z. Walid.

Walid enabled the suicide bomber to sneak into the city centre from the forests near Tazoult City by means of two cars whose owners were identified and apprehended as part of the intensive security investigation following the attack.

Investigations also showed that the repentant terrorist who benefited from the provisions of the national reconciliation [charter] gave the security forces a false impression that he completely abandoned terrorism. However, it turned out, he had been assigned to recruit and tempt youths in several neighbourhoods to join the Iraqi resistance through the area's terror groups.

When security forces noted the disappearance of four youths from Kchida neighbourhood last spring, and six others from Park Afourage, they stepped up the observation of the suspects.

[Passage omitted: Repetition and known information]

The confessions of the suspects, and those accused of providing the cover the suicide bomber needed, led the investigators to arrest 11 Algerians, including the repentant terrorist and his assistants, in the mountains around the city.

The suspects were charged with attempt to commit premeditated murder while other suspects, who planned to join the terror groups, were charged of joining a terror group and not reporting a crime, as they had been aware of the attempt to assassinate the president.

One of the teenagers acted as a guide and accompanied Haouari Belzrag in the city before the operation.

The terror attack which targeted a police vehicle, in the southern detour road, several days after the suicide bombing contributed to revealing the operation and the terror group behind it.

[Passage omitted: Repetition]

Source: El-Khabar website, Algiers, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Armed group ambush Algerian customs agents in country's south

Text of report by M. Nadjah published by Algerian newspaper El Watan website on 2 October

An ambush was laid by a group armed with hunting rifles for customs agents in the spot known as Oued El Kharoua 70 kilometres northeast of Bechar [800 km to the southwest of Algiers] on Friday [28 September] night into Saturday morning.

One source indicated that some customs agents had been on patrol in that border zone when they were ambushed by an armed group made up, according to our source, of about seven elements. Having been attacked by surprise, the customs agents retreated. In their retreat, two customs agents lost their weapons, two Kalashnikovs with their cartridge clip, which were recovered by their attackers, this still according to the same source. However it is not known whether this involved a terrorist group or smugglers. When contacted, customs officials in Bechar refused to provide information on this story.

Source: El Watan website, Algiers, in French 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Algerian security forces reportedly kill two armed group leaders

Text of report by Madjid published by Algerian newspaper Liberte website on 2 October

Yesterday, fewer than four days after the elimination of "amir" "Serraka" from the El-Ansar katibat [brigade] in Sahel Bouberek, the combined security forces successfully killed "amir" Farouk, whose real name was Djamel Khaled El-Kebir, a military adviser to "Djound El-Ahoual," a native of Boudouaou [30 km to the east of Algiers], and one of his as yet unidentified lieutenants but who, according to our sources, was reputedly a native of Tlemcen [500 km to the southwest of Algiers]. The corpses of the two terrorists are still at the Thenia hospital. Two Kalashnikov-type weapons and one automatic pistol were recovered at the close of this operation, which took place just several minutes after the f'tour [breaking of Ramadan fast] in Ouled Salah, at the entrance to Thenia, not far from the National Glass and Abrasives Company [ENAVA] plant.

Two other terrorists who were members of the group who had been accompanying this "amir" were able to flee under darkness of night at the time of the ambush that was carried out by the combined security forces. Security sources are reporting that "amir" Farouk had been in Thenia to coordinate terrorist activities with other groups operating in the east of the province [of Boumerdes] with a view towards perpetrating suicide bomber attacks in Algiers during this month of Ramadan, and it was no accident that this amir was in Ouled Salah to be more precise, where several high school students were forcibly corrupted to be enlisted in the Salafi Group for Call and Combat [GSPC; the group now known as Al-Qa'idah in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb, or AQLIM] with a view towards serving in suicide bomber operations.

Source: Liberte website, Algiers, in French 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Algerian soldier, gunman killed in separate incidents in Kabylie

Text of report by Lyes Menacer published by Algerian newspaper El Watan website on 2 October

A soldier with the rank of an officer, it is being said, was killed and two others wounded yesterday at about 0830 [0730 gmt] following the explosion of a home-made bomb in La Crete, between Makouda and Tigzirt, about 20 kilometres north of Tizi Ouzou [110 km to the east of Algiers].

The explosive device had been hidden by the side of the road and triggered remotely. The attack, the work of the terrorists from the Salafi Group for Call and Combat [GSPC; the group now known as Al-Qa'idah in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, or AQLIM], was committed at the time of the changing of the guard at the permanent roadblock at La Crete, it was learned from reliable sources. Let us remind readers that this past 11 July, another bomb attack was perpetrated at the same spot at the time of the changing of the guard, causing injuries to one soldier and one municipal guard. Moreover, one terrorist, Mohamed O., called Oualid, who was born in 1983, was slain yesterday at about 0500 hours in Tizi n'Tleta, in the administrative district of Les Ouadhias, 40 kilometres south of Tizi Ouzou. The criminal had been on board a bus and had refused to get out at the military roadblock. Seeing that he was armed, the soldiers used their weapons and killed him. They recovered his weapon, an automatic pistol, and on him he had been carrying a bogus police [identity] card and a bogus identity card. A search operation was immediately begun by the elements of the People's National Army [ANP] who suspected the presence of potential terrorists in the region. The main highway axes were shut down, it was learned from local sources. However no final toll has been given regarding this operation.

Source: El Watan website, Algiers, in French 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Two Algerian armed group members killed east of Algiers

Text of report by K. O published by Algerian newspaper El Watan website on 2 October

Two terrorists were slain the day before yesterday at about 1900 [0600 gmt] on the outskirts of Thenia, 15 kilometres east of Boumerdes [65 km to the east of Algiers].

They died in an ambush that had been laid for them by the combined forces of the different security agencies on the western edge of town. It was when the two elements from the ex-Salafi Group for Call and Combat [GSPC; the group now known as Al-Qa'idah in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, or AQLIM] tried to use their weapons, following the security forces having called them over for questioning, that the ambushed elements opened fire. The skirmish only lasted several minutes, according to matching accounts. One of the eliminated terrorists had taken up arms five years previously and his henchman had been in the bush for more than seven years. Involved were two elements who were natives of the Boumerdes region, Boudouaou and Thenia to be more precise. This operation came on top of the success that was reported this weekend by the security forces when facing the Islamist terrorists at the eastern extremity of the province of Boumerdes. This brings to 12 the number of neutralized criminals, inasmuch as in Sidi Daoud, in addition to the eight terrorists killed, there were two others captured.

Source: El Watan website, Algiers, in French 2 Oct 07

 
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EGYPT
02/10/2007 Egyptian high court defers verdict on Al-Ghad party leader's appeal

Text of report in English by Egyptian news agency MENA

Cairo, 1 October: The Supreme Administrative Court decided to defer till 5 November its verdict on the jurisdiction of the Administrative Justice Court to rule on whether to release, for health reasons, Ayman Nur, the former leader of Al-Ghad party, or not.

The State Litigation Authority filed a charge with the Supreme Administrative Court in which it stressed that the Administrative Justice Court is not authorized to look into the release of Nur.

Nur is serving a five-year sentence in prison after being convicted of forging his party's registration papers.

Source: MENA news agency, Cairo, in English 2244 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Egyptian court dismisses charge on unconstitutionality of polls

Text of report in English by Egyptian news agency MENA

Cairo, 1 October: The Supreme Constitutional Court dismissed, during a session Monday [1 October], a charge by the Alexandria Administrative Court on the unconstitutionality of polls on constitutional amendments.

The amendments involve some articles of the political rights exercise law on appointing heads of the sub-committees, in referendum cases, from the public or private sectors.

Source: MENA news agency, Cairo, in English 2225 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Egyptian president rejects pressure, interference in internal affairs

Text of report in English by Egyptian news agency MENA

Alexandria, 1 October: President Husni Mubarak stressed Monday [1 October] that Egypt does not accept any pressures or interference in its internal affairs.

Egypt has a clear stance towards Mideast issues and no one can impose on it what does not tally with its original stances, Mubarak said at celebrations of the Graduates Day here.

Egypt is moving towards future with steady steps, Mubarak said, adding that "what we achieved so far gives us confidence that we are on the right direction and encourages us to realize more to face challenges and problems". Mubarak said Egypt achieved many gains, citing the unprecedented rates of investment and growth achieved by the Egyptian economy. Egypt is forging ahead in economic reform with steady steps, Mubarak said, stressing that economy is the key to the power and prosperity of all nations.

"The current stage raises many questions like how can we preserve our investment and growth rate. How can we provide perfect atmosphere for democratic reform and how can we help the poor and limited-income people as quickly as possible?" Mubarak said.

Egypt is facing numerous challenges given its limited resources compared to our ambitious aspirations, Mubarak said, holding that everyone should be aware of the dimensions of these challenges to work hand in hand with the government to face them.

About Egypt's regional role, Mubarak said Egypt is playing an effective role to bring about peace and security in the region. "We stretch our hands for friendship and cooperation with everyone but no one can impose on us what does not tally with our original stances," Mubarak said.

Addressing the graduates, Mubarak said he is keen they are capable of contributing to building the future of Egypt and materializing the aspiration of the Egyptian people. He thanked the teaching staff in all Egyptian universities, saying they play an important role in improving university education and scientific research.

Source: MENA news agency, Cairo, in English 2114 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Egyptian-Iranian past prevents resumption of diplomatic ties - article

Text of report by Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram Weekly website on 27 September

[Article by Mahmud Murad: "Back to the Street"]

Egypt and Iran are courting one another, although the past still stands in the way, writes Mahmud Murad.*

Last week, Egypt reaffirmed its opposition to the use of force against Iran. Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi was holding talks in Cairo about the resumption of diplomatic ties, severed 25 years ago.

Iran, now in a delicate international standoff with the United States, wants Egypt on its side. For a few years now, the two countries have refrained from making any hostile remarks about each other. The Iranians highly appreciate Egypt's discouragement of military strikes against their country. Officials meeting in Cairo must have also recalled the cordial atmosphere of the meeting a few years ago in Geneva between presidents Hosni Mubarak and Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

So what about the restoration of full diplomatic ties? So far any hopes in this regard have been dashed. The reason is an old one: Khaled al-Islambouli, the assassin of President Anwar al-Sadat. For years now, the two countries have been trying to get over this hurdle. The municipality of Tehran has a major street named after Al-Islambouli, and the Egyptians want it changed. Each time the Egyptians make this request, the Iranians counter that Cairo has a street named after the deposed shah. Egyptian officials explain that this is a totally different matter. Former heads of state often get streets named after them, assassins do not. The Iranians are still thinking about it.

A few years ago, the Iranians were about to find a way out of the dilemma. They came up with the suggestion that the street's name would be changed to Muhammad al-Durrah, a Palestinian boy killed by Israeli soldiers. But the municipality of Tehran, led by Mahmud Ahmadinezhad at the time, made things harder. It announced plans to dedicate a mural and statue to the memory of Al-Islambouli. The Egyptians were incensed.

According to Iranian sources, the government is still willing to show flexibility, but its hands are tied. The Revolutionary Guard, who can be considered a state within the state, is taking a hard line on the issue. So, while hopes for diplomatic rapprochement are high, Al-Islambouli is still in the way.

* The writer is deputy editor in chief of Al-Ahram.

Source: Al Ahram Weekly website, Cairo, in English 27 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Egyptian deputies protest over sale of natural gas to Israel

Excerpt from report by Muslim Brotherhood website Ikhwanonline on 1 October

[Report by Ahmad Salih: "People's Assembly expresses anger at a Zionist caricaturist contest]

Three members of the People's Assembly have tabled questions to Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Nazif, Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu-al-Ghayt, and engineer Samih Fahmi warning against the continuation of the offences made against Islam and Muslims by the European states and the Zionist entity. The questions also warned against the continuation by the Egyptian government of supporting the Zionist entity by selling Egyptian natural gas to this enemy through a secret agreement that has been concluded in violation of the constitution which stipulates that all agreements should be referred to the People's Assembly for approval before enforcement.

The questions were tabled by parliamentary deputies Muhsin Radi, Ali Laban, and Dr Farid Isma'il. In his urgent parliamentary question, Deputy Muhsin Radi pointed out that the Zionist entity held a contest for the choice of the best caricaturist offending Islam. The contest was held under the title: "watch out, you are face to face with a radical caricaturist." Moreover, the Zionist entity grants the best caricaturist insulting Islam the first prize of some 1,000 shekels, the second prize of an amount of 500 shekles. The Zionist entity is, furthermore, showing a movie film entitled: "The radical war of Islam against the West". The aim of the movie is to spread terror in the hearts of the world peoples and to convince them of the danger posed by Islam and Muslims.

The deputy asked: How long will Egypt continue to be passive towards these insults? - all the more so because Egypt is the heart of the Arab world. He said that he had earlier tabled questions on these insults and demanded the freezing of the grants and aid which Egypt gets from the states which offend Islam. The Egyptian people reject these grants and aid and view it as a bribe given to them in return for their silence towards the insults made by these states against Islam and Muslims.

In another question, Deputy Dr Farid Isma'il warned against the continued support rendered by the Egyptian government of the Zionist entity, by exporting natural gas to this entity which is committing the ugliest crimes against the Palestinian people.

Dr Isma'il said that what the government is doing is rejected by the people because it constitutes a danger to the Egyptian national security. It is regrettable that the government is selling natural gas to the Zionist entity at less than the confirmed international prices.

Deputy Isma'il said that these suspect deals are concluded through suspect Egyptian-Zionist companies. They are deals that lack honesty and transparency. According to these suspect deals, Egyptian natural gas is offered to the Zionist consumer at prices that are 15 per cent to 20 per cent less than the prices offered by the Israeli Electricity Board to the Zionist consumers.

Isma'il asked: who is responsible for this collusion and treason? Who is responsible for depriving the Egyptian people from their right to obtain their share of this depletable resource of natural gas instead of selling it at a cheap price to the enemies of Arab and Islamic nations who are killing our sons and brethren in Palestine.

Meanwhile, deputy Ali Laban detonated a heavily loaded bombshell in an urgent parliamentary question in which he revealed that the Egyptian government concluded an agreement with the Zionist entity behind the back of the People's Assembly at a time when according to the constitution, such agreements should be referred to the People's Assembly for discussion and approval.

Laban said that according to the agreement, the Zionist entity would be supplied with Egyptian natural gas at fixed prices that are much less than the prices of the international markets. He asked: how is it that the constitution is violated and infringed on, and how is it that the People's Assembly is being shelved at a time when we are a law-abiding state as the cabinet ministers and the government of the National Democratic Party NDP] reiterate. Has our government forgotten the crimes which the Zionists committed against our steadfast soldiers on the borders and the Egyptian war prisoners whose murder was still fresh in our memory and whom we still miss? Has the government forgotten the daily crimes which the Zionists are committing against our steadfast people in occupied Palestine?

The three deputies who tabled the questions said in exclusive statements to the parliamentary editor of Ikhwanonline that the government of the NDP is doing this at a time when the special committee at the People's Assembly formed to study the government statement called for the continuation of Egyptian political and humanitarian support of the Palestinian brethren through the legitimate channels. Does Egypt's support of the Palestinian brethren mean that we should sell natural gas to the Zionist entity at less than the international prices.

The three deputies also pointed out that the government has ignored the recommendations issued by the People's Assembly supporting the Palestinian issue and the need to hold a peace conference to be attended by the Arab parties, the Zionist entity and the permanent states of the Security Council to reach a just and comprehensive solution of the Arab-Zionist conflict. The People's Assembly has also called on the governments and peoples of the Arab and Islamic nations and all men of goodwill in the world to support the Palestinian people and their Palestinian [National] Authority [PNA] materially and morally and to compensate them for the encirclement and the disruption of international aid and assistance.

The three deputies said that while the Egyptian government is supporting the Zionist entity with Egyptian natural gas, the Egyptian People's Assembly would like to warn against the danger of the Zionist project of building a canal linking the two seas, namely, the Dead and Red seas with the participation of each of Jordan and Palestine. The People's Assembly would like to urge the government to prepare for coping with the Zionist infiltration of the African Horn, particularly Ethiopia because of the impact of this infiltration on the sources of the Nile River.

The three deputies also called on the government to honour the recommendations of the Religious Affairs Committee which is headed by Dr Ahmad Umar Hashim, demanding the instalment of an Islamic space channel to defend Islam and to face channels which were installed especially to slander and undercut Islam. [Passage omitted, the deputies asking the formation of an Islamic committee to reply to the fabrications made against Islam]

Source: Ikhwanonline website, Cairo, in Arabic 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Highlights from Egyptian press 2 Oct 07

Cairo Al-Ahram (Cairo Al-Ahram -- state-owned daily newspaper of

record; root URL: http://www.ahram.org.eg/[1])

1. Article by Fahmi Huwaydi wonders if Egypt, and the region, is prepared for the major "political tsunami" expected to hit in the foreseeable future. The writer cites the Israeli press on a serious document associated with the scenarios expected to follow US withdrawal from Iraq. (1,600 words)

2. Article by Mahmud Karim, former Egyptian ambassador to Palestine, examines the ambiguity of the fall conference and the problems facing it. (600 words)

3. Editorial reiterates Egypt's rejection of the US Senate's plan on partitioning Iraq. The paper highlights the foreign minister's address to the UN General Assembly and Mubarak's remarks on the Iraqi issue. (350 words)

4. Article by Salamah Ahmad Salamah says Arabs should not be deceived into believing that the senate decision on partitioning Iraq is a symbolic and unbinding decision. The writer says it is not unlikely that the decision is already being implemented. He examines the possible impact of that plan on regional countries like Turkey, Iran, and the Arab world. (550 words)

Cairo Al-Akhbar (Cairo Al-Akhbar -- state-owned daily; root URL:

http://www.elakhbar.org.eg[2])

5. Article by Jalal Duwaydar stresses the need to develop the necessary disciplines to upgrade the level of journalistic performance as we strive to arrange the press household in order to protect the profession against slipping into blackmail. The writer especially emphasizes the need to legislate a law that binds every newspaper to declare its distribution rates and funding sources. He also stresses the need to improve journalists' wages. (600 words)

6. Article by Ala Abd-al-Wahhab examines growing strategic alliance between Israel and the United States. The writer does not rule out the possibility that the Israeli raid on Syria was just a "miniature rehearsal of what is likely to happen at a wider scope in the near future." (800 words)

7. Article by Halah al-Isawi says sanctions against Iran are definitely coming and that the current detente between Russia and the United States is just a deference of confrontation between the two countries over the Iranian dossier. (800 words)

8. Dispatch from New York by Thana Yusuf on the senate decision on partitioning Iraq, which the writer views as "flagrant example of US arrogance." (1,000 words)

Cairo Al-Jumhuriyah (Cairo Al-Jumhuriyah -- state-owned daily;

root URL: http://www.gom.net.eg[3])

9. Article by Chief Editor Muhammad Ali Ibrahim defends himself against accusations by Lawyer Murtada Mansur that he treated him on equal footing with Sa'd-al-Din Ibrahim, which Ibrahim brands as a "traitor" and an "agent". The writer sums up a report which Mansur lodged against Sa'd-al-Din Ibrahim. (600 words)

10. Editorial says Israel's "goodwill initiatives" confirm its extremist and hostile policy and its attempts to abort any rapprochement between Fatah and HAMAS. (250 words)

Cairo Al-Wafd (Cairo Al-Wafd -- opposition New Wafd Party daily;

root URL: http://www.alwafd.org[4])

11. Article by Jamal Badawi resents "disgraceful and humiliating silence" on senate decision on partitioning Iraq. (450 words)

12. Article by Abd-al-Nabi Abd-al-Bari wonders where Mubarak's promise to abrogate the incarceration punishment against journalists has gone, especially as the NDP engages in "dubious maneuvers" to break patriotic pens. (500 words)

Sources as given 02 Oct 2007

 
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02/10/2007 Highlights from Egyptian press 29 Sep 07

Cairo Al-Ahram (Cairo Al-Ahram - state-owned daily newspaper of record; root URL: http://www.ahram.org.eg/[1])

1. Official source denies reports that Al-Dustur Editor Ibrahim Isa will be tried by a state security court (p 1, 150 words)

2. Egyptian and Chinese firms sign contracts worth $50 million to produce Arabic-enhanced mobile phones in Egypt for local and export markets (pp 1,8, 350 words)

3. Muhammad Isa Sharqawi sees the recent Israeli foray in Syria as a rehearsal for a US-approved Israeli strike against Iran (p4, 700 words)

4. Column by Muhammad Amin al-Masri lends tacit backing to Religious Endowments Minister's call on Muslims to perform the pilgrimage in Jerusalem (p 5, 500 words)

5. Analysis by Muhammad Uthman quotes expert as saying that absence of coordination between Egypt and Iran on the region's issues "gives foreigners the opportunity to interfere in its affairs" (p 6, 1,500 words)

6. Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu-al-Ghayt says Egypt has not decided yet to attend the projected Mideast conference, warns its failure would be more damaging than canceling the entire conference (interviewed in New York, p 6, 2,000 words)

7. Editorial comments on Secretary Rice's expected talks in the Middle East, urges trust-building measures prior to the projected Mideast conference (p 11, 400 words)

8. Article deals with bid to revive the Qattara Depression project, described by some experts as an ecological suicide for Egypt. The article asks why alternatives to the Toshke project in southern Egypt that were proposed by authoritative experts have been ignored (p 15, 2,000 words)

Cairo Akhbar al-Yawm (Cairo Akhbar al-Yawm - state-owned weekly; the Saturday edition of Al-Akhbar; root URL: http://www.akhbarelyom.org.eg/akhbarelyom/[2])

9. Two articles by Maha Abd-al-Fattah and Rida Sulayman warn about the implications of the Israeli strike on Syria (p 12, 1,500 and 800 words)

10. Iman Nur writes that everything indicates that the sole aim of the autumn mideast conference will be to "apply makeup" to President Bush's image (p 12, 650 words)

11. Muhammad Riad reviews the pros and cons of US Senator Joseph Biden's proposal for three entities in Iraq (p 25, 600 words)

12. The sons of President Mubarak, Ala and Gamal, play in the finals of the First Masters Soccer tournament at an exclusive resort near Cairo. Players from a number of European countries are expected to participate in the event in the coming years (p 16, 300 words)

13. Chief Editor Mumtaz al-Qut reviews President Mubarak's shuttle trips for consultations with Arab leaders, says an American-Western war against Iran with wide regional repercussions "has in fact become the most likely option" (p 40, 2,000 words)

Cairo Al-Jumhuriyah (Cairo Al-Jumhuriyah - state-owned daily; root URL: http://www.gom.net.eg[3])

14. Lutfi Nasif asks whether the Arab leaders should take the trouble of going to Washington for a Mideast conference "without an agenda and without any preparations to discuss anything" (p 16, 2,000 words)

15. Dr Muhammad Wahib al-Sayid says indications are mounting about an imminent US strike and that "Iran's time is near" (p 16, 650 words)

16. Samir Rajab says there is nothing strange in US Senator Joseph Biden's proposal for three entities in Iraq because this is the already existing fait accompli, says Arabs should not believe Iraqi Government's assertions it will reject the resolution adopted by the US Senate (p 20, 600 words)

Cairo Al-Wafd (Cairo Al-Wafd - opposition New Wafd Party daily; root URL; http://www.alwafd.org[4])

17. Banner headline report on security forces thwarting a demonstration in downtown Cairo in support of press freedoms p 1, 750 words)

18. Striking workers at Al-Mahalla "reject government threats and temptations", vow to continue strike until the Feast and insist on payment of 130 days' wages (p 1, 500 words)

19. Sana al-Sa'id praises the "courage" of Iran's President in the United States (p 14, 900 words)

20. Abbas al-Tarabili openly defends, hails the action of six men who "executed" the rapist of a relative, says courts and the law are not helping rape victims (p 14, 600 wrds)

21. Novelist Sana-Allah Ibrahim says in an interview that the press is being repressed in preparation for the hereditary rule scenario. Asserts that the majority in the Egyptian society is corrupt and that the people are primed for a spontaneous explosion (p 16, 2,000 words)

Cairo Al-Misri Al-Yawm (Cairo Al-Misri al-Yawm - Independent daily focusing on domestic issues)

22. Authorities release eight of 35 suspects arrested last month on charges of undertaking contacts with Al-Qa'ida and seeking to go to Iraq to fight American forces (p 1, 200 words)

23. Cairo Film Festival rejects participation by an Israeli motion picture, but the film will likely be screened at the First Abu Dhabi International Film Festival scheduled for 14 October (p 1, 550 words)

24. Dr Sa'd al-Din Ibrahim explains how American Muslims managed to prevail in an uphill public opinion battle after 09/11 (p 11, 1,500 words)

25. Islamist lawyer Muntasir al-Zayyat praises preacher Amr Khalid (p 11, 1,200 words)

26. Majdi Muhanna says Muslim Brotherhood program is acceptable except for demanding a supreme supervisory Muslim body and excluding Copts from certain positions (p 16, 650 words)

Cairo Nahdat Misr (Cairo Nahdat Misr - independent daily: root URL: http://www.gnrnahdetmisr.com[5])

27. Political opposition parties and rights groups schedule protest for 30 Sep in front of premises of General Federation of Egyptian workers in support of striking Al-Mahalla workers (banner headline report, 400 words)

28. State Minister Mufid Shihab launches contacts to end the crisis between the government and the press (p 1, 500 words)

29. Article by Ahmad al-Sawi reviews evidence that Syria is acquiring nuclear weapons technology from North Korea (p 7, 1,500 words)

Cairo Al-Ahram-al-Arabi (Al-Ahram-al-Arabi, State-Owned weekly magazine; root URL: http://www.ahram.org.eg/[6])

30. Editorial blasts Senator Joseph Biden's motion on Iraq (p 6, 500 words)

31. Saudi Prince Talal Bin Abd-al-Aziz meets Egyptian journalists at Arab League headquarters, demands revival of 1926 Constitution in Saudi Arabia (p 9, 350 words)

32. Dr Ayman al-Dusuqi, head of the National Remote Sensing Organization, denies that the Masrsat-1 satellite will be an Egyptian spy satellite (pp 10-13, 5,000 words)

33. Suzy al-Junaydi reviews Egypt's moves for "cautious rapprochement" with Iran without antagonizing the United States, asks Foreign Minister Abu-al-Ghayt whether Egypt has given Iran assurances it will not take part in any "logistical arrangements" in the event of a strike against Iran (pp 14,15, 1,500 words)

Sources as given 29 Sep 2007

 
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02/10/2007 Highlights from Egyptian press 28 Sep 07

Cairo Al-Ahram (Cairo Al-Ahram -- state-owned daily newspaper of record; root URL: http://www.ahram.org.eg/[1])

1. Article by Chief Editor Usama Saraya entitled "The Arabs between the peace conference and war on Iran" says projected Mideast conference is important to dispel clouds of war, urges Iran to revise policies in Iraq and Lebanon to avert US strike (pp 1,3, 2,000 words)

2. Report from New York on exclusive statements by Egypt's UN Ambassador on planned consultations by Egypt with the United States and the Arab countries to work out a formula for a Palestinian state during the projected Mideast conference (p 1, 100 words)

3. Report from Arish says a journalist from one Sinai tribe was fined 1.8 million Egyptian pounds to avoid having his tongue cut after accusing another Sinai tribe of being pro-Israel (p 1, 300 words)

4. Editorial says Egypt refuses partition of Iraq (p 5, 300 words, processing)

5. Cairo Airport authorities foil attempt to smuggle 180 baby crocodiles (p 12, 100 words)

6. Egypt's Minister of Endowments urges Muslims to perform pilgrimage to Al-Aqsa Mosque, says this would bolster the Palestinian case and should not be viewed as normalization with Israel (p 26, 500 words)

7. Ala and Gamal, the sons of President Mubarak, lead The Hawks soccer team at the first Masters Soccer Champion at Palm Hills, in the Sixth of October town near Cairo (page 21, 700 words)

8. Mursi Atallah writes that the United States started pursuing a plan to impose "a new fait accompli hegemony everybody must abide by and deal with" 10 years before the invasion of Iraq (p 44, 700 words)

Cairo Al-Akhbar (Cairo Al-Akhbar -- state-owned daily; root URL: http://www.elakhbar.org.eg[2])

9. Chief Editor Muhammad Barakat urges the Press Syndicate to draw a line between freedom of the press and irresponsible practices, rejects "insolent" US interference (pp 1,3, 2,500 words)

10. Columnist Mazin Mahmud al-Shawa assails US policies after vote in US Congress on Iraq (p 10, 500 words)

11. Op-Ed commentary by Khalid Gabr says that the writers who want the Press Syndicate to take to account allegedly errant writers seek to make it a censor instead of a defender of journalists (p 17, 500 words)

12. Imad Umar writes that the verbal assault on Iran's President in the United States helped him improve his popularity at home despite his domestic failures (p 24, 500 words)

13. Usama Aggag comments on George Tenet's book "At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA", says US Administration was unable to make Tenet a scapegoat for its mistakes (p 24, 800 words)

Cairo Al-Jumhuriyah (Cairo Al-Jumhuriyah -- state-owned daily; root URL: http://www.gom.net.eg[3])

14. Three theologians come out against the call by the Minister of Religious Endowments on Muslims to perform the pilgrimage at Al-Aqsa Mosque (p 1, 200 words, processing)

15. Editorial denounces UN for acting on Myanmar but not on Israeli raids in Gaza (p 8, 100 words)

16. Op-Ed commentary by Yahia Ali entitled "Egyptian Press, American Pens" raps US for posing as defender of press freedom in Egypt despite its policies in the Middle East (p 15, 600 words)

Cairo Al-Wafd (Cairo Al-Wafd -- opposition New Wafd Party daily; root URL: http://www.alwafd.org[4])

17. Report on worker strikes in Al-Mahalla, armored cars laying siege to factories (banner headline report, 750 words)

18. Independent and opposition newspapers plan one-day strike on October 7 (p 1, 400 words)

19. Dr Wahid Abd-al-Majid ridicules Iraqi Government's ban on Blackwater, says the same company provides protection for top Iraqi leaders including Prime Minister al-Maliki (p 3,. 400 words)

20. Columnist Muhammad Amin says striking workers at Al-Mahalla are still hopeful President Mubarak will hear their appeals before it is too late (p 16, 500 words)

21. Historican Dr Qasim Abdu says regime is deals with the people "with the logic of the pharaohs" (interviewed by Khairi Hasan, p 16, 2,000 words)

Cairo Al-Misri Al-Yawm (Cairo Al-Misri al-Yawm--Independent daily focusing on domestic issues: http://www.almasry-ayoum.com/[5])

22. Religious Endowments Minister urges Muslims to perform pilgrimage to Al-Aqsa, says bank interest is not sinful (p 1, 150 words)

23. Rights activist Sa'd al-Din Ibrahim says he does not rule out an attempt to assassinate him (interviewed in Qatar over the Internet, p 1, 350 words)

24. Analysis by Jihan Fawzi says US is "torn between declaring war on Iran or courting it" (p 12, 750 words)

25. Muhammad Salmawi defends Saudi religious police against attacks by critics, urges Muslim theologians everywhere "to unite so that advocates of rationalism and enlightenment do not take them on, one by one, and finish off Islam" (p 16, 300 words)

Cairo Al-Musawwar (Cairo Al-Musawwar state-owned weekly magazine)

26. Article by Chief Editor Abd-al-Qadir Shuhayb titled "Mubarak's warnings still stand: Condy's clarifications are not enough for our participation in the autumn conference" (pp 4,.5)

27. Government expected to send striking workers in Al-Mahalla on "open leave without pay" (p 7, 700 words)

28. Chairman of Egypt's Middle East News Agency says MENA refused to open an office in Israel and that normalization "is not on the books at all" (p 8, 300 words)

29. Makram Muhammad Ahmad is the only nominee so far in elections for the position of dean of the press syndicate scheduled for 17 October (p 9, 700 words)

30. Press Syndicate lawyer Sayid Abu-Zayd says 550 journalists have pending cases before courts (interview, pp 16, 17, 3,000 words)

31. Article by Iman Ragab entitled "Six years after the September events, America's Muslims are stars in politics and the media" (p 22, 1,500 words)

32. Ramadan soap operas include "Legitimate Right", a serial on the struggle of an Egyptian girl who gave up the hijab (p 50, 1,200 words)

33. Minister of Religious Endowments Dr Hamdi Zaqzuq says jihad "does not mean going to war against the others to spread Islam" (interview, pp 52-54, 5,000 words)

33. Article by Muhammad Wahba urges Syria to adopt policies serving its interests as well as Arab interests in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories (p 60, 1,500)

34. Makram Muhammad Ahmad comments on the Blackwater affair and US policies in Iraq (p 74, 2,500 words)

Cairo Al-Dustur (Cairo Al-Dustur in Arabic--Independent daily newspaper opposed to the regime)

35. Press Syndicate issues statement denouncing decision to try its Chief Editor, Ibrahim Isa, before a military court as "explicit admission by the state that it has reneged on statements by officials, including the President, on restricting resort to emergency laws to cases of terrorism" (p 1, 500 words)

36. Writers, politicians, denounce decision to refer Ibrahim Isa to military tribunal (p 3, 2,000 words)

37. Israel allows entry of Egyptian relief material to Gaza (p 4, 150 words)

38. Around 100 members of parliament expected to demand debate on freedom of the press (p 5, 900 words)

39. Workers in Kafr al-Dawar threaten to go on strike (p 5, 300 words)

40. Article by Islamist writer Fahmi Huwaydi entitled "the death of politics" accuses state of resorting to repression against journalists, workers (p 16, 1,200 words)

41. Noisy demonstration held at Press Syndicate to denounce prison sentences against journalists, police prevent a similar demonstration supposed to have started from the downtown offices of the leftist Al-Tagammu Party (p 16, 50 words)

Sources as given 28 Sep 2007

 
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02/10/2007 Renowned Egyptian lawyer to defend scholar assaulted in London - agency

Text of report in English by Egyptian news agency MENA

Cairo, 2 October: Renowned Egyptian lawyer Sharif Mahmud has taken the initiative to defend the rights of a Muslim Egyptian scholar, who was badly beaten up in London in August.

Mahmud called Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu-al-Ghayt and proposed to appear in the court for Shaykh al-Salamuni, the Imam of London Mosque, who was assaulted at Regent's Park mosque by Ryan Donegan, 40, from Hammersmith.

Source: MENA news agency, Cairo, in English 1446 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Egyptian radio stresses need for "complete cooperation" to resolve Darfur crisis

A commentary on Egyptian radio by Mahmud Izzat Musa, entitled: "In order to avoid deterioration of Darfur crisis", says that the recent terrorist attack against the African forces in Darfur "is aimed at undermining the peace efforts and perhaps preventing the deployment of the hybrid forces".

"There is a Sudanese, African and international consensus on the importance of the presence of all insurgent movements ... to find a final solution to the region's crisis," the radio points out.

"The Sudanese government and all the insurgent movements in the [Darfur] region are required to show complete cooperation with the African investigation authorities to discover the party that wanted the situation to deteriorate," the radio stresses. "Everyone is required now, more than at any time before, to cooperate to reach a final peace agreement through Tripoli direct negotiations," the radio underlines.

Source: Arab Republic of Egypt Radio, Cairo, in Arabic 1245 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 UK-Arab writer talks to Egyptian foreign minister in New York

Text of report by London-based newspaper Al-Hayat website on 2 October

[Commentary by Jihad al-Khazin from his "Eyes and ears" column: "I saw no dissimilarity or disagreement"]

I am writing in London at noon Monday, that is, 7 am New York time. When the days ends, the Arab delegates to the UN General Assembly's 62nd session will have finished delivering their official speeches that represent their countries' stands on regional and world issues.

I noticed no dissimilarity or disagreement between one speech and another. The constants remained unchanged, and if there were any changes, they were limited to the list of priorities and to the interest in events that reflect a transitional development.

I sat in the cafe of the delegates hall on Monday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu-al-Ghayt and we had heard that President Mubarak would meet with King Abdallah II in Jordan. When I asked the minister on the issues that the two leaders will discuss, he said they Arab issues.

When I asked him to mention them in the order they are listed on the two leaders' agenda, he said they deal with Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq, and I estimated that this sequence reflects the current interest in the hot issues, beginning with Lebanon.

Brother Ahmad Abu-al-Ghayt spoke frankly and rejected killing as a means to resolve the political conflict in Lebanon. He called for setting up the court that will look into the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri and other politicians as soon as possible or at least expedite Investigator Serge Brammertz's report to clear the innocent and indict the perpetrators of the crime.

Abu-al-Ghayt rejected the Israeli talk about a declaration of principles because the principles are well known and the upcoming international conference on Palestine must be held on clear bases. He said: "Otherwise, it will be best for us not to go because if we went and failed, the hard-line forces would say they triumphed."

When I asked the minister if he expects a solution or breakthrough at the international conference, he said it is necessary for the Arabs to continue pressing the United States to pressure its ally, Israel.

He added: However, the current situation in the United States does not allow great pressure because things there are tied to one-third of the Senate and all members of the House of the Representatives as US presidential elections draw closer.

Yet, Ahmad Abu-al-Ghayt said that the United States must exert pressure on Israel in conjunction with a parallel Arab and international pressure because the Palestinian problem is at the core of all other problems.

The Egyptian minister did not forget to refer to the problems between the Palestinians that cause great harm to their cause.

He said: Killing of Palestinians by their fellow Palestinians should have been prohibited. Nevertheless, this is what happened, and all Palestinian parties must bear all their responsibilities.

The minister expressed concern over the developments in Iraq. He said that it might take many years for Iraq to restore its previous status and with a heavy price.

I saw the Egyptian minister in the morning and met with Dr Muhammad Sabah al-Salim at the same table in the afternoon. However, I chose to begin with him with Iran.

The Kuwaiti deputy prime minister and foreign minister held the view that the situation is extremely serious.

He said: There are two international resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran while a third one is contemplated. On the other hand, there are unilateral US sanctions in place and a call to place the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or the Jerusalem force, which is an army, on the list of organizations that support terrorism.

Shaykh Muhammad al-Salim noted that Iran is a major state in the region and has important trade dealings with all the Gulf states. He added that the stand on Iran affects these states.

He said: There is contradiction in the dealing with Iran. On the one hand, it is asked to play a greater role in calming the situation in Iraq and, on the other, there is an intention to blockade it.

The Kuwaiti foreign minister ruled out the possibility of the United States carrying out a military action against Iran. He said political and other circumstances do not allow a US military action against Iran. However, he said that he is not sure about Israel's intentions.

The Kuwaiti foreign minister said war means that the region will suffer a crisis much more serious than the occupation of Iraq. He added that all peoples in the Middle East along with the United States and Israel will pay the price for it.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari does not rule out the possibility of a US military strike against Iran. He is concerned over the repercussions of such a strike in Iraq and then in the entire region.

Hoshyar Zebari expressed a view similar to that of Ahmad Abu-al-Ghayt. He says the United States is pressuring the Iraqi Government to make specific achievements towards national reconciliation. He linked this pressure to the US presidential elections and competition between the Republicans and Democrats.

The Iraqi foreign minister painted a positive picture of the government's performance. He asserted to me that the government made achievements in several areas, such as the oil law, justice and equality (deBa'thification), and a law on the governorates.

He said the government's position is stable and that the [Sunni] Al-Tawafuq Front ministers [who withdrew from the government] may be replaced with ministers from the governorates.

I hope that our brother Hoshyar is wrong with regard to his remarks on Iran and a military strike and that he is right with regard to the issue of national reconciliation. I will continue tomorrow.

Source: Al-Hayat website, London, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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IRAN
02/10/2007 India remains committed to trans-nation gas pipeline - minister

Excerpt from report by Indian news agency PTI

Dubai, 1 October: Iran and Pakistan's decision last week to pursue a gas pipeline project on their own notwithstanding, India on Monday [1 October] said it remains steadfastly committed to the 7.4bn dollar project.

Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed, on a visit to the region, told reporters here that India on principle has backed the project and discussions on certain aspects like pricing were on among the three countries.

He said, "too much is being read into the fact that India did not attend the meeting in Tehran last week," referring to the technical and official-level talks during which Iran and Pakistan announced that they would pursue a gas pipeline project on their own even if India does not join them.

"During my visits to Iran in August and the visit of the Iranian oil officials to New Delhi, the Indian government has expressed full support for the pipeline project," he said, adding New Delhi has a fully independent foreign policy.

"Our ties with one country is not at the expense of the other," Ahamed said when asked if India is facing pressure from the United States over the project.

New Delhi's ties with Tehran were getting stronger, he said adding, India and Iran have signed a deal on supply of five million tonnes of LNG [Liquefied Natural Gas], while a protocol agreement has been reached on an additional 2.5 million tonnes. [Passage omitted]

The minister also said India opposed any military action against Tehran by the United States and other western powers. "The Indian government has always supported Iran's quest for peaceful use of nuclear energy in consideration with international safeguards and agreements," he added.

Meanwhile, a senior Iranian official said the agreement with Pakistan on the price of the gas would not change if India rejoins the talks.

Hojjatollah Ghanimi-Fard, Iranian Oil Minister's special envoy, was quoted as saying in the Iran Oil Ministry's website Shana that the "revised prices were based on Iran's demand and was outlined according to the terms and conditions of the latest contracts of the country."

Asked whether India's rejoining would likely to lead to changes in the articles agreed to by Iran and Pakistan, he said some articles were formulated on the basis of international rules and regulations and views of purchasers and sellers were not deciding.

"Even if India attended the talks, nothing other than these articles was accepted," he underlined.

Ghanimi-Fard said Tehran and Islamabad would sign the gas contract by 31 October. He said after four days of talks between Iranian and Pakistani officials here, the two sides settled the problems and finalised the contract last Saturday.

"All issues related to gas exports to Pakistan were discussed and all differences were restudied and finalized."

"Whenever India resolves its problems and calls for joining the project, we welcome it and the contract will be trilateral," he emphasized.

Source: PTI news agency, New Delhi, in English 2004gmt 01 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Quds rallies most important support to Palestinians - Rafsanjani

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA website

Tehran, 2 Oct: Chairman of Expediency Council Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said rallies on the Quds World Day are the most important support to Palestinians.

In an iftar (evening meal for breaking fast) ceremony with orphans, Rafsanjani told reporters, "Governments help Palestinians, which has its own limitations, but people's help has special effect on Palestinian fate."

He added, "The world should understand that the Islamic world will never forget Palestine and people presence in the Quds World Day rallies has a great effect on the Palestinian spirits."

Concerning a conference on Palestine which is to be held this autumn by the USA, the EC chairman said, "There has been no benefit from such conferences so far and this would be another one like the others."

Source: IRNA website, Tehran, in English 2251 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iran MP condemns Columbia University head's insult to president

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA website

Tehran, 1 October: Majlis Deputy Qodratollah Alikhani here Monday [1 October] condemned impolite behaviour of president of Columbia University towards Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinezhad and said it is an insult to the Iranian nation.

Majlis representative from Bo'inzahra and Avaj (Qazvin Province) Alikhani said in a speech to the Majlis open session, "The un-cultural and impolite behaviour of the president of Columbia University towards the honourable president of the Islamic Republic of Iran was not only an insult to him but also to the Iranian nation and we condemn it."

Source: IRNA website, Tehran, in English 2250 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 MP says Putin's visit to Iran "a turning point"

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA website

Tehran, 1 October: Head of Majlis Commission on National Security and Foreign Policy Ala'eddin Borujerdi said on Monday [1 October] that Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Tehran will be a turning point in bilateral relations.

Putin is to visit Iran mid October to attend Summit of the Caspian Sea leaders.

Borujerdi told Russian ambassador to Tehran Alexandr Sadovnikov that promotion of the two countries' ties will serve durable peace and stability in the region.

He went on to say that there are vast grounds available for mutual cooperation.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the lawmaker pointed to Iran's full cooperation with the IAEA and to the US efforts to tarnish Iran's image and said, "The US gives false information and uses political and economic levers to strain Iranian ties with its neighbouring states." He added that timely completion of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant project would remove negative attitude.

Sodovnikov said for his part that his country is determined to accomplish Bushehr project soon.

He also urged parliamentary cooperation and said it would serve cordial ties.

Source: IRNA website, Tehran, in English 2250 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iran, Bahrain to broaden mutual ties on gas, oil sectors

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA website

Tehran, 1 October: Iran's Ambassador to Manama Hoseyn Amir Abdollahian conferred on Monday [1 October] with Bahrain's Minister of Oil and Gas Abd-al-hosayn Ali Mirza on expansion of mutual cooperation on gas and oil sectors.

In the meeting, the two sides reviewed expansion of bilateral cooperation mainly in energy fields.

Bahrain's minister, for his part, referred to the recent visit of an Iranian delegation to Bahrain and called the visit, which underlined expansion of cooperation on energy sector, as very successful.

After the holy month of Ramadan, a joint committee on oil and gas sectors is to have a meeting in Tehran, he said.

The Bahraini minister invited the Iranian ambassador to Manama to visit the country's oil and gas installations.

Source: IRNA website, Tehran, in English 2250 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 President confirms Iran-Ethiopia agreement

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA website

Tehran, 1 October: President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad on Monday [1 October] enforced Iran-Ethiopia agreement on cooperation between customs offices.

The agreement was passed by Majlis and confirmed by the Guardian Council.

The Legislature authorized the government to exchange relative documents about the agreement on customs and taxation law.

Source: IRNA website, Tehran, in English 2250 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Australia rules out role in any US invasion of Iran

Text of report by Radio Australia on 2 October

The Australian foreign affairs minister, Alexander Downer, has ruled out Australian involvement in any United States-led military action in Iran. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has been writing about the possibility of a US strike on Iran for the past 18 months, and he says the US president's new focus is getting support from its allies, including Australia.

Mr Downer says he does not believe America is planning to invade Iran, but if the US did pursue that path Australia would not follow.

[Downer] The American position is that they just don't rule in or rule out the military option. That's particularly in the context of Iran's nuclear programme - you know, the whole of the international community is very concerned about [that]. We are not planning to get involved with any military action against anybody.

Source: Radio Australia, Melbourne, in English 0800 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iran deplores use of sanctions as political tool

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA website

United Nations, New York, 2 October: Iran's nuclear issue has become a national matter now and using sanctions as a political tool would not influence the country's decision-making, Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said on Monday [1 October].

Mottaki who is currently in New York to attend the 62nd UN General Assembly, made the remarks in a meeting with US media and academics at the end of which he answered their questions.

"In a politically motivated move, Iran's peaceful nuclear issue was sent to the UN Security Council by the IAEA Board of Governors and was followed by two anti-Iran resolutions," Mottaki said.

Referring to the fact that Iran was under different sanctions during the past 28 years, the minister said that all the progress and scientific achievements and inventions of Iranians were made through their efforts to confront those sanctions.

He supported his claim by saying that the country has made remarkable progress in all its economic parameters last year including foreign economy.

Source: IRNA website, Tehran, in English 0743 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Paper says Iran should "take advantage" of current situation to talk to US

Text of report published by Iranian newspaper Aftab-e Yazd website on 1 October

Art of bad timing

Mounting political and economical competitions in the world today requires, on many occasions, an ability to make decisions with high "speed" [punctuations as published here and throughout]. Accordingly, the real winners in today's world are those who are able to make their mind up swiftly and at the right time.

However, there are quite a few signs in our country that illustrate, due to some political considerations and unhealthy political competitions, that the chance of a speedy decision and implementing the decisions made in a timely manner are minimised. There are quite a few incidents in the recent years that one can put forward as an example to prove my claim. Amongst all these incidents, two of which occurred during the past six months are specifically on top of the chart of untimely behaviour and lack of adequate speed in decision making. The first incident goes back to the timing of the announcement about the freedom of the 15 British sailors who were detained in Iran's waters. Numerous international efforts were made by various organizations and heads of states at the time to facilitate the release of these forces; however, the Iranian officials did not pay attention to any of these requests.

After all this, the news of the release of these forces was announced on a day that one of our newspapers, renowned to be an advocate of the government's policies, reported that Tony Blair [former British prime minister] has given the Iranian government 48 hours to release the sailors whilst threatening Iran in the most offensive way. The second incident of this kind can be found in the recent events regarding the news of a breakthrough in relations between Iran and America. After Ahmadinezhad's visit to America, quite a few politicians and high-ranking authorities in our country spoke of a breakthrough in the relations between the two countries. The strangest of these claims came from the Majlis Speaker Dr Haddad Adel who referred to the speeches and interviews of Ahmadinezhad in America and announced quite frankly that Ahmadinezhad managed to break the taboo of negotiating directly with America: "In my opinion the most important achievement of this visit is that we can now announce that we are ready to talk to the American people and American authorities." This announcement, confirming Iran's willingness to negotiate with America, by the Majlis Speaker came exactly at the time that the Americans have treated Iran in a most illogical way. Especially, in an unprecedented attempt, America blacklisted the [Islamic] Revolution Guards Corps as a terrorist group. In addition, the Majlis Speaker announced the news of Iran's willingness to speak to America only after the highest rank in the government, namely the president, was subject to the American plot and was insulted in a most offensive manner in an academic atmosphere. In such circumstances, our president referred to George Bush in his speech as "dear Mr George Bush." Anyhow, the very announcement of Iran's willingness to negotiate with America after all those insults seems very strange.

The reason this is strange is that during the past years we definitely were in a much better and more respectable situation to start negotiating with America to solve our problems. For example, at one time the American secretary of state offered indirect apologies to Iran and at another time Iran offered the theory of dialogue amongst the civilisations, which was ratified in most renowned international bodies. These circumstances certainly placed Iran in a unique situation to initiate negotiations with America. Nonetheless, for the same reasons that I mentioned earlier in this article including the fear that reformists had been the subject of slander and leniency meant that they did not take advantage of the situation. Unfortunately today in a situation of mounting official and unofficial insults and slander that American used against Iran, we refer to the American president as "dear Mr George Bush" and believe the greatest achievement of Ahmadinezhad's visit to America for us was to be able to express our willingness to negotiate with the American authorities! Like others, I believe that a great achievement of Ahmadinezhad's visit to America was indeed the fact that chances of direct negotiations between the two countries have emerged. Nonetheless, I found the untimely announcement of this news very strange. If avoiding negotiations now means that we will find ourselves in even a more insulting and offensive situations later, then undoubtedly, we should take advantage of the current circumstance and speak to the Americans against all odds.

Source: Aftab-e Yazd website, Tehran, in Persian 01 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iran paper says Tehran's governor might replace mayor in cabinet meetings

Text of unattributed report in Citizen Desk headlined "After the appointment of the governor of Tehran's province as the president's deputy: Tehran's governor replaces mayor in the cabinet" published by Iranian newspaper Tehran-e Emrooz on 30 September

The presence of Tehran's mayor in the cabinet meetings has been a controversial subject during the recent years and has always been one of the headlines in the press. During recent days, elevating Tehran governor's status to that of the president's deputy and his replacing the mayor in the cabinet meetings has once more renewed the debates.

Alef news website that published this news, has mentioned that according to new decisions by the ninth government, the governor of Tehran province would represent the capital in cabinet meetings. According to this site, some of the circles close to the government have prepared a scheme in which the governor of Tehran province would have more responsibilities in the management of the capital, will become the president's deputy and will attend cabinet meetings. According to this scheme, Kamran Daneshju, the present governor of Tehran will become the president's deputy and participate in government and cabinet meetings.

The precedence of Tehran mayor participating in the cabinet meetings goes back to Hashemi Rafsanjani's period. During that period, the mayor of Tehran used to attend the cabinet meetings, without having a vote, to discuss the capital's problems and issues. This continued until the second round of rural and city councils' elections. During Khatami's government, the day before Ahmadinezhad was elected as the mayor of Tehran by the city council, Ramazanzadeh, the government's spokesman announced that the presence of Tehran's mayor in the government is cancelled. He denied any relation between this decision and the political tendencies of the new mayor and the second city council.

According to the government's meeting statistics, Malek Madani and Alviri [two Tehran mayors] never attended the cabinet meetings regularly. In Bahman 1380 [2002], the governor of Tehran gave a report regarding the situation in Tehran to the president and requested to attend the cabinet meeting to discuss different issues of the capital. Seyyed Mohammad Khatami ordered experts to study this procedure. Seven or eighth months later, in Azar 1381 [Nov. 2002], Khatami wrote a letter to his first deputy saying that the presence of the governor in ministerial meetings is not suitable and stated in the same letter that this would be a discrimination against the governors of other cities. He mentioned in the letter that even the presence of the mayor is not justified and that only because of the special position of Tehran, the mayors after Mr Karbaschi were allowed to take part in the government meetings.

The president said at that period: I declare right here that there is no need for the newly elected mayor of Tehran to attend the cabinet meetings. Dr Aref, the president's deputy declared the same day that the government would not invite the newly elected mayor of Tehran to cabinet meetings. At the same period, the press demanded a revision of the government decision to let Ahmadinezhad participate in ministerial meetings. Ahmadinezhad called this decision a political one and considered the presence of the mayor in governmental meeting as a necessity to resolve the problems of the capital. When [Mohammad Baqer] Qalibaf was elected as the mayor of Tehran by the city council, once more the possibility of his presence in ministerial meetings grew because of the presence of Ahmadinezhad in the presidential position.

Unfortunately, Ahmadinezhad himself, although criticizing the non-presence of Tehran's mayor in governmental meetings and evaluating Khatami's decisions as political and unacceptable, became a defender of the non-presence of the mayor and has not until now invited Qalibaf to any ministerial meetings. The new scheme for the presence of Tehran's governor in the governmental meetings would undermine all recommendations of the president about separating service to the people from political matters.

Integrated management, most crucial need of the capital

On the other hand, Morteza Talaii, member of Tehran's Islamic City Council, in an interview with Tehran-e Emruz, insisted on the necessity of the presence of the mayor in governmental meetings and said: In previous periods, Tehran's mayor was invited to government meetings to explain and discuss issues related to the capital; therefore, this was a necessity and quite common.

He added: In the previous government, Dr Ahmadinezhad insisted upon attending the governmental meetings. If it were not necessary, he would not have requested it. Commenting on the role of the governor to present Tehran's problems, he said: There is no conflict between the presence of the governor to present the issues related to the Tehran's province and the presence of the mayor. He asserted: Dealing with difficulties and issues in Tehran is the municipality's task and until such responsibilities exist, no one else other than the municipality can take the decisions.

This member of the city council pointed to the fact that according to the law some of the powers of the government are conferred to the councils and said: The third and fourth development plans have outlined the measures to create an integrated city management. The becoming of the governor as the president's deputy does not conflict with the integrated city management. This type of management is the only solution to the capitals problems. The member of the cultural and social committee of the city council pointed out the necessity to create an integrated city management and said: It is common in all the metropolitan cities world over for the mayor to be the head of an integrated management. He continued: To move Tehran ahead, the creation of the integrated management should be accelerated.

Mayor should go to the cabinet

Hamzeh Shakib, a member of Tehran's city council supported the presence of the mayor in the cabinet meetings. Hamzeh Shakib believes that from the city council's point of view, the presence of the mayor in the cabinet is very useful and the council will back this decision.

Governor cannot replace mayor

Dr Ma'ssumeh Ebtekar, member of Tehran's city council, said the presence of a local authority figure at the national level meetings might not be suitable. She told Tehran-e Emruz: Creating a new deputy post for Tehran's governor to attend the government's meetings and to discuss the difficulties of Tehran could not be justified. She added: In the previous government, Dr Ahmadinezhad regarded the non-presence of the mayor in the cabinet as a political matter, while the presence of Tehran's mayor in the cabinet meetings is merely a presidential decision. This member of the Development Committee of the City Council pointed to the presence of previous mayors of Tehran in the governmental meetings and said: The present mayor has not attended any of the cabinet meetings but the presence of the governor to discuss Tehran's problems is not logical in any case. He insisted that the governor cannot replace the mayor and said: The mayor is elected by people and members of the city council and can describe the problems and issues, while the governor is appointed by the government and cannot be aware of the problems and details of the issues of the capital. Ebtekar asserted: The municipality, which gives direct service to the citizens, is different from the governor that is a governmental post. She considered the discussion on Tehran's problems in the cabinet as important and said: Tehran has an important portion of the country's population and any decision about Tehran will affect all other cities and therefore the presence of Tehran's mayor, depending on different issues, is necessary.

She said the mayor has no vote in the ministerial meetings but the president's deputies have votes and have an impact on governmental decisions. Thus, the new post of the governor as the president's deputy and his presence in the cabinet cannot be justified. According to Ebtekar, this decision is opposed to the recommendations to minimize the government's scale. She said the governor's entry to the cabinet is not a solution to Tehran's problems.

Source: Tehran-e Emrooz, Tehran, in Persian 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iran paper says steps must be taken to fight corruption "decisively"

Text report by Mrs Marziyyeh Mohtashami headlined "The need to deal with the fat cats" published by Iranian newspaper Mardom-Salari website on 30 September

For a number of years now the issue of economic corruption and the campaign against it have turned into one of the subjects of interest in the mass media and political circles. The ninth administration [Ahmadinezhad's government] which began work under the slogan of justice and fighting discrimination led to more serious attention being paid to the issue. All politicians try somehow to be involved in this issue, including the seventh Majlis deputies.

Ahmad Bozorgian, the Majlis deputy for Sabzevar, is one such deputy who at times raises interesting points in-line with the campaign against economic corruption. For instance, a while ago, as a member of the Majlis Communications Committee, he made important arguments with respect to the illegal import of mobiles and called on the investigating organizations and the judiciary to carry out meticulous investigation, pursue and identify the offenders who have exploited communications information and pocketed large profits and thus act towards stopping imports of contraband mobiles and breaching of the rights of the government and the public.

He also is a member of the Majlis Industries and Mines Committee from the principle-ist [Farsi: osulgara] faction of the Majlis. Commenting on the manifestations of economic corruption in the country in an interview given to our correspondent, he said: "What the supreme leader has said in his explicit circular about fighting economic corruption can be examined from several points of view. One instance concerns corruptions that have a legal context or occur because of lack of transparency of the law. Another section of acts of economic corruption relates to the unsound administrative relationships that exist in the banking sector and the state monetary system.

Exploitation of information too can pave the way for a series of misuses. This happens in public and private sectors in the form of smuggling and getting round the law such as the issues that arose in the case of mobiles and import of sugar or specific commodities. [There are] unsteady communications that lead to certain clandestine ports for import of goods that are not required or are many times greater than the requirements such as the sugar import case last year [year beginning 21 March 2006]. The imports were four to five times the requirements of the country. The question arising here is who imported the sugar and how much illegal profits were made.

Another part of corruption refers to the unsound relationships in land grabbing. Unfortunately, that leads to certain misuses. Another section of acts of economic corruptions relates to the issue of sales [of government shares, etc.], which leads to particularization rather than privatization. It has been noticed repeatedly that the sales have been carried out only on the strength of contacts. In the long run, both the government and public purse have sustained great losses and certain individuals made great profits.

Abuse of administrative position is another type of corruption. All those instances differ from one another from the point of view of their impact. The bitter saga of Shahram Jazayeri showed us that our banking system is most vulnerable. In the meantime, there is the issue of the deficiency of the laws and their circumventability. Furthermore, in sectors where there are monopolies, certain misuses take place just as the control of political parties in the production sector of the country, especially car manufacturing and the monopoly that they bring about in it, lead to certain misuses." [Punctuation as published here and throughout.]

Bozorgian was asked: "The name of corrupt individuals such as Shahram Jazayeri and Hamid Baqeri were announced. However, there is little information dissemination about them in the media. What do you think is the problem?" He replied: "Hamid Baqeri's case is under investigation. I believe that if we deal with the occurrences of economic corruption such as Jazayeri or Fazel Khodadad properly and decisively, the context will be provided for such issues and corrupt practices would not be repeated. One of Shahram Jazayeri's acts was to cover all the three branches of the state. For that reason, many were avoiding to deal with him. Of course, the directive of the supreme leader led to more robust action in this case."

We reminded Bozorgian that a while ago in an interview; he had criticized the failure of the judiciary to deal decisively with the economically corrupt and then questioned him about the way to confront the corrupt. He replied: "Dealing with the corrupt is not possible by going through formalities. The directive of the supreme leader must be implemented. He has demanded decisive action without any consideration. The officials must act in that way. The important question here is the time for revealing the name of the corrupt. It is certain that following their conviction their names should be announced. The names of all those involved in the case must be revealed. No one should be disregarded because of their celebrity [status]. If there is to be a campaign, the fat cats must be confronted, taking the directive of the leader into account. Recently, the names of a number of small exploiters were announced. The confrontation against a few people is not the right approach. Of course, even if one rial is wasted from the public purse one should react but the big defaulters should not be forgotten.

In any case, commensurate action must be taken against offences rather than adopting a certain approach when a specific individual has had words put in for them and taking a different approach in the case someone who has not. The dual and discriminatory approach towards economically corrupt acts in itself paves the way for the repetition of those acts just as the Lord of the Faithful [the Immaculate Imam Ali] (God's peace be upon him) has stressed in his letter to Malek Ashtar that one must deal with individuals according to their behaviour, otherwise the culprit will become emboldened and the altruist will become despondent.

Unfortunately, the required robustness in dealing with the corrupt still does not exist. I believe that much more could have been done since both the leader has demanded it and the public expect it. All the three branches of the state are duty bound to confront decisively and appropriately.

Another instance of corrupt practices is that of huge loans that are being readily extended to some while ordinary people have to await their turn for several months to be given small loans, for instance 100,000 tomans [each toman equals 10 rials]. Furthermore, we have witnessed many instances of that in foreign purchase or in cases of contraband imports.

In any case, the necessary action must be taken against corrupt economic practices. Just as we are serious in dealing with political corruption and acts of espionage, we must act seriously in confronting acts of economic corruption because here the ruling system and the officials stand to be accused of being involved in corruption or of being incapable of dealing with the corrupt."

Source: Mardom-Salari website, Tehran, in Persian 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iran minister clarifies president's comments on nuclear case

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA website

United Nations, New York, 2 October: Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki elaborated Monday [1 October] on what President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad meant by saying in New York last week that Iran's nuclear case has been "closed" now.

Speaking in a question and answer meeting with US media and academics, Mottaki said, "The president meant that the political atmosphere over Iran's nuclear case has ended now due to Tehran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)." "President Ahmadinezhad meant that Iran's nuclear case has currently entered a technical and expertise phase," Mottaki added.

He stressed that the case of all IAEA member states is "open" in the agency while they continue their cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Source: IRNA website, Tehran, in English 0858 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Palestinians should choose "a regime" by referendum - Iran minister

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA website

United Nations, New York, 2 October: Residents of the occupied lands should choose a regime for themselves through a democratic referendum, Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said on Monday [1 October].

He made the remarks in a question and answer meeting with US media and academics held on the margins of the 62nd UN General Assembly here.

Mottaki is in New York since September 22 to attend the UN General Assembly.

Tehran believes the only way to settle the Palestinian crisis is that "residents of the occupied lands choose their regime through a democratic process and a referendum," Mottaki stressed.

He called for thinking about the Zionist regime "without prejudice" and accepting that the regime which has been established for 60 years, "still lacks regional legitimacy."

"During the past 60 years, over 100 resolutions and plans have been adopted, either by the UN or by bodies inside and outside the region, to solve the Zionist regime's problem but the problem is still there," Mottaki argued.

He stressed that lack of regional legitimacy was the problem of the Zionist regime.

Source: IRNA website, Tehran, in English 1028 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Guards Corps in charge of protecting Iran against aggression - minister

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA website

United Nations, New York, 2 October: The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) is part of Iran's Armed Forces and was established after the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said on Monday [1 October].

"The IRGC is a constitutional body in charge of protecting the country against possible aggression," Mottaki said at a meeting with US media and academics here.

The Iranian minister is currently in New York to attend the 62nd UN General Assembly.

Stressing that the IRGC is an official body, Mottaki said, "Their assignment is domestic, however, they attend some missions abroad as military attaché along with the country's Army and military sections." Mottaki's remarks came in response to a question on the IRGC status.

Source: IRNA website, Tehran, in English 0858 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 President's Columbia University remarks should be followed up- Iranian activist

Text of report by Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) website

Tehran, 2 October: Seyyed Ali Akbar Musavi-Kho'ini has said that the president of Columbia University's conduct towards our country's president was unethical and not appropriate to an academic environment, but added: It seems that the things that the president said should be followed up by the people to whom they were addressed.

According to the political affairs reporter of the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), secretary-general of the Graduates Society of Islamic Iran (Past Members of the Office for the Consolidation of Unity; PMOCU), speaking at a [fast-breaking] dinner hosted by the Executives Party's youth branch at the University of Tehran's Lecturers Club, referred to the detention of some students, the treatment of lecturers and their expulsion and [forced] retirement, deprivation from education [for some expelled students], condemnation of students and lecturers as some of the unresolved issues at the start of the new academic year.

He said that the country's universities and centres of higher education were reopening in circumstances in which the offices of a university-related organization, by the name of PMOCU, had remained sealed since 18 Tir [9 July].

He added: A great deal of effort has been made by PMOCU, various associations and the organization itself [Office for the Consolidation of Unity; OCU] to solve this problem, but the problem still remains.

Musavi-Kho'ini added: Bearing in mind that this society, that is to say, the PMOCU, is legal, it will continue its efforts and it will not wait for others to act.

The dinner was attended by some members of the OCU (Allameh Wing) and the PMOCU, some students and activists from Islamic unions, some members of the central council of the Executives Party, political activists, cultural activists, labour activists, some members of the youth and students branches of the Participation Front, Farmers' House, the Society of Forces in the Line of the Imam, the Moderation and Development Party, and the Islamic Coalition Party.

Source: ISNA website, Tehran, in Persian 0828 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iran Guards commander - voluntary troops a priority in new strategy

Text of unattributed report headlined: Major-General Ja'fari announced: Priority is the Basij; IRGC's new strategy published by Iranian newspaper Kayhan website on 30 September

The commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps [IRGC] emphasized: The main mission of the IRGC at present is to confront internal threats and, if faced with a foreign military threat, to rush to the assistance of the army.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the departure of the former commander of the Basij resistance force [volunteer troops affiliated to the IRGC], news agencies reported Maj. Gen. Brig-Gen Mohammad Ali [Aziz] Ja'fari, the commander of the IRGC, as saying that the IRGC is the same as the Basij in that they must serve the [Islamic] Revolution all the time. He noted: The Basij is also a force which is on alert but is voluntary and can be mobilized whenever necessary to defend the Islamic Revolution alongside the IRGC.

He described the IRGC as a military, political and cultural organization which sees the Basij as its ally in its mission, adding: There is no difference between the IRGC and the Basij, and according to the words of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, half of the IRGC's mission is the responsibility of the Basij.

Noting that the general nature of the IRGC is clear and that it is not restricted to only a military dimension, he added: The IRGC's mission is to protect and preserve the achievements of the Revolution, it is to confront threats from within the country and the IRGC will resist any threat which endangers the achievements of the Islamic Republic of Iran system.

Recalling different threats the enemies have posed throughout the history of the Islamic Revolution, the IRGC commander said: Based on the words of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, the IRGC must be flexible so that it can deal with the political, social and security threats from the enemies efficiently. In order to realize this strategy, the IRGC needs to be organized in different areas, and we should be able to adapt our infrastructure to the prevailing conditions and threats so that as the Leader said, the IRGC can be flexible enough to act appropriately.

He referred to the words of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution in the year 1989 and the setting down of the IRGC's guiding strategy at that time by the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and noted: As the Leader has emphasized many times, the main responsibility of the IRGC has always been to confront all threats, including internal threats. However, in the present strategy, which has been laid down by the Leader of the Revolution, the IRGC's guiding strategy is now different to what it was at that time, and its main mission at present is to confront internal threats and to hasten to the aid of the army when faced with a foreign military threat.

Continuing, the IRGC commander-in-chief emphasized that we should adapt ourselves according to existing enemy threats so that we can be completely accurate in our confrontation with the enemy. He said: The threats against the Revolution have become more sophisticated and more widespread than before. Consequently, we do not have the right to sit quietly. An organization which does not adjust itself to the prevailing conditions and does not adapt itself to [modern] equipment should know that its position is not secure. He said that our revolution is a live and dynamic revolution which is confronted on a daily basis with different threats from enemies, and asked how, bearing this in mind, we could confront the enemies with a clichéd style of training and then claim that we are ready. He said: Fortunately, the IRGC has been successful in this field and in all of its missions after the war, but still one should never forget the threats.

Major-General Ja'fari stressed: Certainly, past strategies cannot be used today, because one strategy, in conditions which are fluid, is useful for two to five years, no more. The Supreme Leader of the Revolution has emphasized this matter also.

He stated: Today, after studies on strategies have been undertaken, the type of activities carried out in the IRGC should be scrutinized and the most important tasks should be prioritized. The mission of the Basij should be the main focus of the IRGC's mission and the appointment of Brig-Gen [Mohammad Hoseynzadeh] Hejazi as the IRGC's joint chief of staff was in line with this policy due to his familiarity with the Basij force.

The IRGC commander-in-chief noted this well-known statement by the Leader of the Revolution that the IRGC should become the Basij and stated: In order for this command to be effective, and based on the opinion and approval of the Leader of the Revolution, responsibility for commanding the Basij resistance force has been transferred to the IRGC commander-in-chief. Although due to a heavy workload I may not be able to spend all my time at the Basij headquarters, Brig-Gen Mir Ahmadi, the deputy to Brig-Gen Hejazi, will remain in his post in the Basij resistance force and will assist me.

At the end of this ceremony, Maj-Gen Ja'fari, the IRGC commander-in-chief and the representative of the Vali Faqih [the Supreme Leader] in the Basij resistance force, thanked Brig-Gen Hejazi, the former Basij commander, for all his efforts.

Joint chief of staff of IRGC:Making the Basij a more powerful force is a priority for IRGC

The IRGC joint chief of staff said: Making the Basij a more potent force has been an issue on which the Supreme Leader of the Revolution has always placed much emphasis; consequently this has now become a priority for the IRGC.

Seyyid Mohammad Hejazi, the former commander of the Basij resistance force, in a ceremony marking his departure from the post said: During the period I was responsible for this valued force, I strove to be able to comply with the opinions of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Because reinforcing the Basij has been an issue on which the Supreme Leader of the Revolution has always placed much emphasis; consequently this has now become a priority for the IRGC.

He added: Over the years, we have tried to adopt measures in line with the orders of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, and, through God's grace, we can say that today the Basij has developed well. During the period when I was responsible for this force, I tried to take every action necessary to ensure that when the Basij forces enter the arena, they do so with full force.

While stating that there have certainly been shortcomings and faults in the activities of the Basij resistance forces, the former commander said: Even though in recent years the Basij has had many experiences and has been successful in most of them, I hope that in the new path we have before us, we witness the ever-increasing improvement of the force in line with the new strategies.

At the start of this ceremony, Brig-Gen Majid Mir Ahmadi, the Basij deputy commander, in a short speech, thanked Brig-Gen Hejazi, the former commander of the Basij resistance force, for all his efforts.

Source: Kayhan website, Tehran, in Persian 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 US policy on Iraq not to change during Republican rule - Iran commentary

Text of unattributed commentary headlined: The tragedy of Iraqi occupation published by Iranian newspaper Kayhan website on 1 October

The majority of American people would like to see the Iraq war end. They do not want their country to be involved in a war with no outcome, but despite their wishes, this war continues and the number of military forces killed or wounded in Iraq, increases daily.

The greater part of the Democrats are also insisting that American forces come out of Iraq and are doing their utmost to realize this objective but George Bush the American President nevertheless persists with his wish to continue with the war in Iraq and the presence of American forces in that country and because of the authority given to the President by the Constitution of that country, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army he takes decisions, implements them straightaway and completely ignores Congress.

In other words, without taking into consideration the viewpoint of the other members of Congress, Bush continues to implement his own wishes and the Iraq war was initiated for this very reason; Bush's wish.

This is despite the fact that according to Note 1 of Article 8 of the Constitution, Congress opposed the start of a war with Iraq but Bush proceeded to occupy the country contrary to the approval of Congress, because in other parts of the Constitution, a great deal of power has been bestowed on the President, such as starting or finishing a war in other countries.

The American Congress, which has bestowed these authorities on the President since World War II has still not been successful in taking back these concessions from the president and the president of America is still single-handedly taking military decisions in the country. But what can truly be done? And how can these powers be limited?

It has to be said in this respect that Democrats can play a more effective role in Congress and by taking into account the right of veto, curb the President's powers and prevent the start of war or insist on an end to it.

Although as a result of immunity which has been given to Bush by the Constitution, he can neutralize decisions by Congress and render them ineffective.

A look at the history of judgements by American courts, especially concerning issues related to starting a war in other countries, shows that these decisions are not exclusive to the courts' verdicts but are a power struggle and a battle between the President and Congress; an issue which in itself raises questions and is surprising.

These types of questions refer back to the concept of the Constitution in America and also relate to the public opinions of this country's people; because if the people believe in the Constitution and are committed to its details, they ask themselves [:] why did we truly initiate war in other countries and why should we participate in wars which are not to our country's benefit?

The truth is that the answers to these types of questions, especially issues relating to the Constitution, must be responded to by courts, organizations and the relevant officials to enlighten the public mind and offer the necessary explanation. But the bitter truth is that the majority of officials and those in charge of the courts are among the main supporters of the President, even the conservatives [Republicans] who are at the head of the government support the conservative George Bush; so how can we [they] expect to see our [their] strategy in Iraq change and for Bush to create an upheaval in his foreign policies [?].

As long as conservatives [Republicans] have complete control over all the country's affairs and their decisions are implemented not just in America but in all other countries, how can one be optimistic towards their politics being directed to the benefit of the American people?

However, to take an extremely optimistic view it has to be said that even if it is difficult for Congress members to implement their views against those of the conservatives [Republicans], we [they] at least have to do something so that our [their] candidates for future presidential elections or new leaders of Congress do not repeat the same mistakes and blunders which America's top politicians are making now. Or at least, if America becomes involved in another war in another part of the world, it will not use these misleading experiences once again.

In fact, the next president or future leaders must clarify whether according to Note 1 of Article 8 of the Constitution, military action against a country is really necessary or not?

The fact that our [their] government, as a result of the authority provided by the Constitution gives itself the right to attack a country for more than four years and take it under occupation, is horrific.

We have to do everything we can to put an end to the Iraq war and prevent another tragedy taking place beyond our borders.

Source: Kayhan website, Tehran, in Persian 01 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iran's former intelligence minister stresses economic growth

Text of unattributed report headlined: State prosecutor-general: Iran, too, like Bolivia, has shoe-shine girls published by Iranian newspaper Aftab-e Yazd website on 1 October

Qorban'ali Dorri-Najafabadi, addressing a gathering of the Society of Islamic Guilds and Bazaar Associations, underlined the importance of economic enterprise in the country, placing emphasis on the need for implementing Article 44 of the constitution, and said: Factors which underlie the eminence of a nation consist of factors such as diplomacy, culture, velayat-e faqih [guardianship or rule of the supreme jurisconsult], the armed forces and ... [ellipses as published].

According to a report by ISNA [Iranian Students News Agency], Dorri-Najafabadi, the state prosecutor-general [and former intelligence minister], went on to say at this gathering: For instance, the fact that our honourable president expressed the stances of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the General Assembly of the United Nations and Columbia University with bold firmness has brought vigour to the Iranian nation.

Dorri-Najafabadi stressed: One of the factors that underlie the prominence of a nation, and is of the utmost importance, is the factor of a debate on the economy. It is necessary for the Society of Islamic Guilds and Bazaar Associations to create a stir [in the economy].

Pointing out that in accordance with the forecasts envisioned in the 20-year economic prospects of the country, Iran had to achieve the rank of the region's foremost economic power, the state prosecutor-general said: Currently our neighbour Turkey is ahead of us by 100b dollars [in terms of gross domestic product comparison], and we must not allow this gap to grow and become wider on a daily basis. In a country such as India, which has no oil reserves, the growth in the gross domestic product is nine per cent, and in China the growth is 10 to 13 per cent. We too must stir ourselves and increase the growth in the gross domestic product. On previous occasions, I have said that we can achieve a growth rate of seven per cent.

Pointing out that planning, enterprise, management and vigorous activity were necessary for economic regeneration, Dorri-Najafabadi said: One of the factors [essential to] combating prostitution, corruption and narcotic drugs is job creation. Selling petrol and selling cigarettes, etc. is not a job. We must seek to create jobs which are healthy, productive and durable, and we must open up the [economic] field for the creation of wealth.

Emphasizing the need to create an [appropriate] culture and strengthen willpower and resolve, the state prosecutor-general said: From the very beginning of the [Islamic] Revolution the direction in which we proceeded to move forward should have been the right one. But even now it is still not too late, and we must change course.

Dorri-Najafabadi stressed that 70 per cent of the water used for agricultural purposes yielded a productivity of only 30 per cent, and said: If we could double this yield, we would also be able to increase the gross domestic product by 200mn tonnes, and this is something which can be achieved.

The state prosecutor-general went on to say: It is not necessary to continually rely on imports and contaminate our domestic market. And, at the end of the day, the warehouses catch fire and nobody knows what happened [reference to recent fires that destroyed warehouses in Tehran]. I do not believe that the warehouses caught fire by accident. Of course, I do not want to say that I am pessimistic, but I am not very optimistic either.

The state prosecutor-general then went on to say: The banking system, insurance, the system of exports and tariffs, business and the stock exchange, the resolutions of the Majlis [parliament] and the government, and the protection of the judicial system must all be in unison and move forward in one direction.

In another part of his speech, Dorri-Najafabadi said: In our country poverty exists in various regions, and it is necessary that all the organs of state and all [branches of] government make efforts to tackle and overcome it. It is not just in Bolivia that an impoverished girl works as a shoe-shine girl, and there are such problems in our own country, too.

Pointing out that in the fourth Majlis he had raised many issues and followed them up, including issues such as the Metro [the subway in Tehran], South Pars and ... [as published], Dorri-Najafabadi said: During that period a character such as Mr Hashemi-Rafsanjani stood alongside us, and we did things in a coordinated manner. We must not easily give up the assets of the [political] establishment and of those individuals who got beaten up almost to the point of death. The Majlis of the future, because of threats [made] by America and the Security Council of the United Nations, must be a Majlis which is brave, resolute in decision-making and a supporter of the political system.

Underlining the importance of the protest marches scheduled for the Day of Qods [Jerusalem Day], Dorri-Najafabadi said: This march [held in the last week of the holy month of Ramadan] will be a symbol of our nation's solidarity. The enemy should know that, even if we have hundreds of differences within our society, we will speak with one voice in the face of hypocrites and the arrogant [powers], and that voice is the voice of his eminence the supreme leader.

Source: Aftab-e Yazd website, Tehran, in Persian 01 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iran's moderate reformist leader speaks of coalition possibilities

Text of report under "Selected News" column headlined: "Formation of coalition of moderate reformists" published by Iranian newspaper Iran on 30 September

The Secretary-General of the Mardomsalari faction said: 'In case the movements supported by [Mohammad] Khatami and Karrubi fail to form a coalition, the moderate reformists will form a separate coalition.'

According to the Young Journalist Club news agency, Mostafa Kavakebian, the Secretary-General of the Mardomsalari faction, commented about the formation of such a coalition amongst the moderate reformists and said: ' In case Khatami's election team and that of the E'temad-e Melli [National Trust] which belongs to [Mehdi] Karubi become unified and form a big coalition, we, as a branch of the reformists, are ready to join them in this coalition and will adapt our strategies accordingly.'

Source: Iran, Tehran, in Persian 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 (CORR) Iran's moderate reformist leader speaks of coalition possibilities

Text of report under "Selected News" column headlined: "Formation of coalition of moderate reformists" published by Iranian newspaper Iran on 30 September

[correcting date in sourceline]

The Secretary-General of the Mardomsalari faction said: 'In case the movements supported by [Mohammad] Khatami and Karrubi fail to form a coalition, the moderate reformists will form a separate coalition.'

According to the Young Journalist Club news agency, Mostafa Kavakebian, the Secretary-General of the Mardomsalari faction, commented about the formation of such a coalition amongst the moderate reformists and said: ' In case Khatami's election team and that of the E'temad-e Melli [National Trust] which belongs to [Mehdi] Karubi become unified and form a big coalition, we, as a branch of the reformists, are ready to join them in this coalition and will adapt our strategies accordingly.'

Source: Iran, Tehran, in Persian 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iranian press menu 2 Oct 07

AFTAB-E YAZD (website)

1. Editorial: "Following Imam Ali, from words to deeds." The columnist urges officials to carry out some good deeds, such as giving equitable access to public resources to all the people, or the judicious expenditure of those resources. (Front page; 900 words)

2. Report: "Those registered for Thunder 90 will receiver other cars!" A deputy industry minister explains how increasing French reticence and refusal to cooperate is causing shortfalls in the production or assembly of this car. People have already registered for the purchase of the car. (Front page; 250 words)

3. Report: "Secretary of the Islamic Association of Tehran University Students - When we interact with world Marxists, we should also open the atmosphere inside." Hoseyn Naqqashi challenges in a speech to a gathering of Tehran University and Tehran Medical University students the welcome given to Che Guevara's children by conservative groups and praise given to Chamran, a prominent revolutionary in Iran in 1979, when they have little regard for the democratic discourse inside Iran. (Front page; 480 words) [PROCESSING]

4. Report: "Sahabi - Insistence and defence of identity is the essence of life." Liberal politician Ezzatollah Sahabi speaks to an evening gathering of former and present Tehran University Islamic Students Association members on the history of student associations at the university and the former conflicts between Marxist, nationalist and religious students. Mohammad Reza Khatami also speaks, comparing student group activities and their environment in the late 1970s, the last years of the monarchy, and now. (Politics; 1,000 words)

5. Report: "Middle East specialist - Iraq's ethnic division is a political instrument to allow continued interference in its affairs." Specialists Sabah Zanganeh and Mohammad Sadeq al-Hoseyni criticize the proposal of some US senators for Iraq's division on confessional lines, to form a federal state. (Politics; 800 words) [PROCESSING]

6. Report: "Head of the Health Ministry contagious diseases department - Number of people with cholera in Iran is 40." A man called Zahra'i says those who have contracted the disease had all travelled to Iraq. He says all cholera cases in Iran are confined to a few districts in the Kordestan province, and those affected are being or have been treated. He comments on the epidemic in Iraq. (Social; 650 words)

E'TEMAD (hardcopy)

1. Report by Farnaz Hasan-Alizadeh of the political desk, entitled: "The cancellation of Ahmadinezhad's speech at University of Tehran". After his speech in Columbia University, president Ahmadinezhad was scheduled to appear at University of Tehran for a similar programme, but this time among Iranian students. The Office for Fostering Unity which is the leading student association critical of the government had planned to question the president at this meeting. However, the meeting was cancelled in short notice. (Pages 1 & 2; 1,100 words)

2. Editorial by Karim Arghandehpur, entitled: "the public opinion is not wax". The author says the worst thing for a country at war is that its people would not support its forces in the front line. The author points out Britain as an example where the public opinion is strongly opposed to the presence of its troops in Iraq. The author briefly looks at the British example and implicitly compares it to what Iran may be heading for, arguing that the same scenario may take place should the Iranian government be willing to engage itself in a war. (Pages 1 & 2; 1,500 words) [PROCESSING]

3. Report by the political desk, entitled: "We are stuck between the Iranian-American disputes - Iraq's Foreign Minister". Saying that his country's relations with Iran have improved, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said on the one hand the Iranian government has a clear policy for supporting the political process and the government of Iraq and on the other hand we are seeing documents that indicate the role of Iran and some others in targeting the Americans and making life more difficult in Iraq. (Page 2; 1,200 words)

4. Report by Zohreh Aqayani from the political desk entitled: "The possibility of Bush speaking at Iranian universities could be provided". In his weekly press conference, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was possible for the US president to speak at any of the Iranian universities. (Page1; 2,000 words)

5. Report by the economic desk, entitled: "The connection of Iran's electricity network to Iraq". In his press conference, the deputy-minister of Iran's Ministry of Energy discussed the current situation of Iran's electricity and gave news about the connection of Iran's electricity network to Iraq. (Pages 4; 900 words)

E'TEMAD-E MELLI (hardcopy)

1. Unattributed editorial on "Rubric" column: "Superstition, blemish of orthodox religion." The editorial provides a historical background on how superstition emerged and spread in Islam. (p 1; 550 words)

2. Commentary on "Headline" column by Sergey Barseqian: "Slowly, the apt arrive." The author reviews efforts to reopen ties with America since the Revolution up until the reforms government underlining that the question is not as much about resolving the issue as it is about who resolves the issue and points to attitude changes saying the youngsters that lit candles for 11 September victims were called wimps while the President now requests to visit Ground Zero. (p 2; 1,000 words) [PROCESSING]

3. "News" column citing ISNA: "Supreme leader: 'Comprehensive, precise and complete' scientific map must be prepared." The item reports Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene'i's annual address to a group of academics where he underlined the role of the academic community in advancing the country's national-Islamic identity and called for steps to realize the 20-Year Outlook Plan, improve religious propagation efforts in universities and draw up a master scientific plan for Iran. (p 3; 870 words)

FARHANG-E ASHTI (hardcopy)

1. News item citing Fars News Agency: "Majlis wraps up Article 44 bill debates." The item reports that the Majlis concluded debating the government's bill on Article 44 executive policies. (p 1; 240 words)

2. "Brief News" column citing Fararu: "President's Tehran University address cancelled for unknown reasons." The item reports that President Ahmadinezhad's scheduled speech at Tehran University to kick off the new academic year was cancelled allegedly following open letters by critics asking permission to speak at the event. (p 3; 250 words)

3. Brief News" column citing Mehr News Agency: "Security in southern and southeastern borders adequate." Deputy Interior Minister in Political Affairs Alireza Afshar told Mehr News Agency that the security situation in Iran's southern and southeastern borders is adequate thanks to new Iran-Pakistan cooperation. (p 3; 170 words)

4. Report citing ISNA: "Director of Economic Studies Department of the Supreme Leader's Office: Article 44 bill negligent on banks." The item reports remarks by Ali Aqamohammadi, director of Economic Studies Department of the Supreme Leader's Office and chairman of the Economic Committee of the Supreme National Security Council, where he pointed out the weaknesses of the Article 44 executive policies bill the most important of which, he said, is the operation of banks, which he said, play the central role in empowering private sector. He said the banking system must change for Article 44 to be implemented. (p 5; 950 words)

5. News item citing Fars News Agency: "Lowest petrol consumption record broken." The item reports that last Friday marked the lowest petrol consumption in the last six months with 49.4ml litres. (p 5; 180 words)

HAMSHAHRI (hardcopy)

1. Commentary by Dr Hamid Reza Asefi, Iran's envoy to the United Arab Emirates, on "Viewpoint" column: "The symbol of national solidarity". On the verge of the Day of Quds, the columnist praises Imam Khomeyni's wise measure of naming the last Friday of the month of Ramadan as the Day of Quds in order to prevent the problems in Palestine from being forgotten; he then praises Ayatollah Khamene'i for naming the current year as the year of National Unity and Islamic Solidarity. (Pages 2 & 4; 1,100 words)

2. Analytical report by Javad Hamidi: "Confusion in imposing sanctions on Iran". The columnist says that the 5+1 group deciding to postpone any decision on imposing new sanctions on Iran is a proof for Ahmadinezhad's remarks in New York, where he stressed the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear activities; he then mentions the viewpoints of a number of Western analysts in this respect. (Page 9; 550 words) [PROCESSING]

3. Report citing ISNA and Fars News Agency: "The experts' viewpoint on Palestine's developments and the Day of Quds; the need for unity"; political experts speak about the impacts of the Day of Quds on the developments in the occupied lands and criticize the Peace Conference that is going to be held in New York. (Page 9; 1,400 words)

HEMAYAT (hardcopy)

1. Unattributed report entitled: "Quds Day; An opportunity to display Zionist oppressions". According to the public relations department of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahrudi emphasized the necessity of participation by Moslems all over the world in Quds Day demonstrations, to show that Palestinians are not alone. (p1; 250 words)

2. Unattributed news report from the `short news' column: "Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani: The objective of peace in the Middle East is for the official recognition of the Zionist regime." The Secretary-General of the Militant Clerics Society said that the enemy's peace plan in the Middle East is an excuse to officially recognize Israel. (p2; 150 words)

3. Unattributed news report from the `short news' column: "Taraqqi: The best strategy is to defend democracy in Palestine". In an interview with Aftab, Taraqqi said that the best means of protecting the rights of the Palestinian people is to set up a referendum in that country and in that case Jews, Christians and Moslems will be able to determine their own destiny and Iran will not be accused of supporting terrorism. (p2; 350 words)

4. Unattributed news report from the `Iran' column: "Ayatollah Makarrem-Shirazi: Many social crimes are committed by gamblers." According to ISNA, Ayatollah Shirazi said that many crimes are committed by gamblers because they are in a constant state of tension and also said that revenue from gambling is unlawful. (p2; 200 words)

HEZBOLLAH (hardcopy)

1. Unattributed editorial, entitled: "Quds' expectation". The columnist says that this year, the Day of Quds is being held while Israel is facing different threats in the region after having been defeated in the 33-day war with Lebanon's Hezbollah. The columnist then mentions the measures taken by the US to find a way out of this situation, and argues that the threats Israel is facing are more than its opportunities; opportunities that have been created for Israel because of the lack of unity and solidarity in the world of Islam. (Page 1; 750 words)

2. Report citing "Jahan News Agency": "Wahhabis' heavy investment in southern parts of Iran". According to Jahan News Agency, the Wahhabis, who are affiliated to Saudi Arabia, try to increase the number of Wahhabis in Iran by encouraging them to have bigger families and giving them financial support. (Page 1; 350 words) [PROCESSING]

3. Report citing "Jahan News Agency": "Who is responsible for the invitation of the Zionist capitalist to Tehran?" In an interview with Jahan News Agency, an informed source in Tehran's Municipality refuted the news on having invited Luciano Benetton to Tehran and said that Tehran's Municipality has had interactions with an Iranian residing in Italy. (Page 2; 350 words)

4. Commentary by Yahya Kusha on "The note" column: "Why was America not successful in the recent meeting of the 5+1 group?" The columnist refers to the recent meeting of the 5+1 ministers of foreign affairs during which any decision on more sanctions on Iran was postponed for two months and mentions the developments in Iran's nuclear case after Sarkozy's election as president and Gordon Brown becoming the new prime minister of England and also the efforts by the US to create a consensus against Iran. (Page 3; 750 words)

IRAN (Website)

1. Report under "Selected News" column entitled: "Conviction of members of network of land speculators and administrative corruption" Intelligence Ministry's Public Relations Department announces the punishments of cash fines, lashes and prison terms for the members of a network found guilty of corruption, illegal land speculation, misuse of office and position, conspiracy to defraud public funds, and dishonesty. The network had nine members, some of whom were government employees, while others were businessmen. (Page 2; 350 words)

2. Report citing Mehr News Agency under "Selected News" column entitled: "Safavi: America not capable of starting another war" Speaking at Sharif University, Leader's senior military adviser and former IRGC commander says although the US is not capable of starting a new war at the present, Iran's statesmen should not opt for simplistic thinking, and should formulate necessary plans about the country's future and the threats facing it. He adds that Iran should not dismiss or underestimate the power of its enemies. (Page 2; 300 words) [PROCESSING]

3. Report citing Raja News under "Selected News" column entitled: "President's speech made Iranian nation proud". Member of Executives of Construction's central council Yadollah Tahernezhad praises Ahmadinezhad's self-confidence and composure during his speeches in New York. According to the report, this praise comes after remarks by another senior member of that party, Mohammad Hashemi, who denied the trip had produced any achievements for the country. (Page 3; 250 words)

4. Report entitled: "Situation at eastern borders is satisfactory". Deputy Interior Minister Alireza Afshar tells Mehr News Agency that the recent cooperation between Iranian and Pakistani security forces on their common borders has opened a new chapter in security and campaign against insurgency and criminal activities on the eastern and southeastern borders of Iran. (Page 5; 250 words)

JAVAN (hardcopy)

1. Editorial by Dr Mohsen Esma'ili: "An analysis of the Ramadan tragedy - 'What killed Ali." The author provides an analysis on the motivations behind Imam Ali's assassination. (pp 1, 2; 1,900 words)

2. Report by Iran desk: "Quds Day demonstrations, a show of Islamic solidarity." The item reports separate statements by the Ministry of Defence, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Society of Self-Sacrificers of the Islamic Revolution, Islamic Coalition Party, Society of Imam's Line Forces, and 200 Majlis deputies calling on the public to join Quds Day demonstrations on Friday in a show of Islamic solidarity. (p 2; 950 words)

3. Report by Iran desk: "Ayatollah Khamene'i: The Outlook plan is the instruction manual for Iran's real progress." The item reports Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene'i's annual address to academics where he underlined the academic community's role in promoting national-Islamic identity and advancing the 20-year Outlook plan. He also stressed the need to improve methods of promoting religion in universities. (p 2; 1,000 words)

JOMHURI-YE ESLAMI (hardcopy)

1. Unattributed editorial: "If it can crush the black chest of ignorance". By referring to the anniversary of Imam Ali's demise, the editorial speaks about his justice-seeking attitude and his endeavours to fight against tyranny and says that today the world needs Ali's justice more than any time and hopes that the Islamic establishment that has gained victory under the leadership of Imam Khomeyni, a true descendant of Imam Ali, can put an end to all the ignorance and injustice in the world. (pp 1, 2; 1,000 words)

2. Short news items on "For Your Information" column: The item contains three short reports including British government's measure not to let the Islamic Republic have any activities in Manchester Garden since three years ago; report cites Nowandish, telling that Dr Ali Reza Ashuri, lecturer in Ferdowsi university of Mashhad, has invited the American president to attend this university to speak about Holocaust, terrorism and human rights; news report about inauguration of Benetton chain stores - owned by a Zionist billionaire - in Tehran. (p 2; 350 words)

3. Daily's interview with Islamic Jihad Movement's representative in Tehran by Seyyed Mahmud Javadi: "To talk about peace with the Zionist regime is just a waste of time". The item reflects daily's interview with the representative of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement in Tehran, Mr Abdul Naser Abu Sharif, who speaks about Palestine and the most recent event about the peace plan, intended by America and the "Zionist" regime. (p 8; 2,800 words) [PROCESSING]

4. Unattributed article on "Political Analysis" column: "Betrayer faction of Palestine has no respect even among occupiers". The item refers to recent remarks of Mahmud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, about his positions against Hamas being the same as America, and speaks about Fatah movement's collaboration with America and "the Zionist regime" and its disgraceful stance against Hamas and disloyalty against Palestinian nation. (p 16; 1,200 words)

KEYHAN (website)

1. Editorial by Mehdi Mohammadi: "The origin of Principle-ism". Writer explores the roots of principle-ism in society and claims that it originated from "Shi'ism" in Islam. He says that after the death of the Prophet Mohammad, many of his followers who believed that under the pretext of `national interest' Islamic values will be sacrificed and the Prophet's teachings forgotten, formed the Shi'i sect to prevent such an event and their duty was to protect Islamic principles and when discernment of right from wrong became difficult, their turned to a jurisprudent. Writer concludes that although for many centuries the world was deprived of Shi'ism, thanks to the Islamic Revolution, another Shi'i upheaval is taking place globally. (p2; 1150 words)

2. Unattributed news report: "Three billion dollar savings, result of petrol rationing scheme". Head of international Affairs of NIOC said that petrol import requirements have been reduced from 35 million litres daily to 15. (p2; 150 words)

3. Commentary by Firuz Esma'ili: "Visit is forbidden". Writer says that a small comparison of the Middle East countries will show that only Iran has been able to put behind crises successfully whilst being able to take effective decisions on the international scene. He says that not even Americans can challenge their governments about the real reasons for their refusal to allow Ahmadinezhad to visit the 9/11 site because it raises many questions which cannot be answered truthfully; such as if Ahmadinezhad is paying his respects to those murdered by terrorists, how can Iran support terrorism? Or if Iran is not supporting terrorism, then who is? (p14; 500 words) [PROCESSING]

4. Unattributed news report: "Mohammad Abbaspur: Majlis will eliminate the objections to the bill for management of civil services in collaboration will Guardian Council." In an interview with Mehr, Abbaspur stressed that the financial objections to the bill for management of civil services were eliminated and the legal objections will also be resolved and there is no need for the involvement of the Expediency Council. (p14; 250 words)

MARDOM SALARI

1. Editorial by Hamid Labbaf:" Where are those enthusiasts willing to die? [Kafan pushan-e sineh-chak?]" Referring to the children of Che Guerra at the university he wonders how they have been invited to Iran in the first place. (Page 1, 2; 600 words)

2. News item:" Hasan Sobhani, surprised by replacing the rate of inflation in computing the rate of interest: The head of the Central Bank should talk less". The head of budget and planning committee of the Majlis says the idea offered by the head of the Central Bank has no theoretical support. (Page 15; 500 words)

3. News item:" The interpretation of the member of Ahmadinezhad entourage from the sidelines of the visit to New York: Ahmadinezhad's speech removed the fear from the superpowers". Morteza Tamaddon, MP from Shahr-e Kord Says the president's suggestion to correct the structure of the Security Council is the most important achievement of this visit. (Page 15; 500 words) [PROCESSING]

4. News item: "Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri: Some are propagating superstitions in the name of religion". He says Islam's interpretation of science is unique. (Page 16; 600 words)

5. News item: "Sahabi: Associations should keep loyal to their primary identity". Ezzatollah Sahabi says what can keep the Students Islamic Associations on feet is their identity. (Page 16; 500 words)

6. News items from `behind the window' column including: "Member of the minority faction of the Majlis complains of Rajanews Site; Worries about the entry of `Haram' money of the Iranians residing abroad; Illegal inspection of Iranian ships at European ports; Ali Abadi lobbies with Ahmadinezhad; The cooperation of a civil institution with a Zionist billionaire denied [Benetton]; Bush invited to talk at Mashhad University". (Page 16; 1000 words)

RESALAT (hardcopy)

1. Editorial by Seyyed Mas'ud Alavi, entitled: "Following the lord of the epic"; Praises Imam Ali, the first Shi'i Imam, on the anniversary of his martyrdom. (Page 1; 650 words)

2. Commentary by Ali Namazi: "Auctioning the political capitals"; mentions the pressures that are being imposed on Iran at the present time and says that under such circumstances a strong diplomacy is the only thing we have and praises Ahmadinezhad for his remarks in the University of Columbia and criticizes the reformist newspapers for criticizing the president for his presence in this university. (Pages 2 & 3; 800 words)

3. Commentary by Mohammad Pahlevani on "The point" column: "Baseless allegations"; criticizes the former deputy minister of the interior for his article in E'temad-e Melli daily, where he has criticized Hasan Bayadi, the vice-president of Tehran's City Council running for the head of the Football Federation and claiming that he was inspired by Imam Hoseyn, the third Shi'i Imam, to do so. (Pages 2 & 3; 800 words)

SIYASAT-E RUZ (hardcopy)

1. "Opening Word" by Qasem Ghafuri: "Islamic solidarity on Quds Day." The author describes Quds Day as a day to support the Palestinian nation and confront decisive Western and Zionist plots against Islam while maintaining Islamic solidarity. (pp 1, 2; 400 words)

2. "Note" column by Abolfazl Rafe'i: "The ulterior goals of dividing Iraq." The author comments that the US plan to divide Iraq intends to form a second Israel in Iraq's Kurdish region next to Iran. (p 1; 600 words)

3. Unattributed "Not Confidential" column: "Who is responsible for inviting the Zionist investor to Iran?" An "informed source" in Tehran Municipality denied reports that the municipality has invited Luciano Benetton to Iran. He said the Italian investor is tied with the Foreign Ministry. (p 2; 200 words)

TEHRAN-E EMRUZ (website)

1. Unattributed Editorial entitled: "The Benetton case!" The editorial argues that the news about the Zionist director of Benetton Company coming to Tehran by municipality's invitation was only a rumour spread by unknown websites and that everyone is expected to be more cautious about such matters. (Page 1; 350 words)

2. Unattributed report in "One question, one viewpoint" column entitled: "Using a comprehensive and effective diplomacy". Ala'eddin Borujerdi, commenting on the American media's constant propaganda supporting a war against Iran, said in an interview with Tehran-e Emruz that such propaganda does not have any effect on the Islamic Republic of Iran and that America should know that if it takes any action against Iran the whole region would be affected by Iran's reaction. (Page 2; 300 words)

3. Unattributed report in Political Desk entitled: "Who invited the Zionist capitalist to Tehran" The article cites a reliable source as denying Tehran municipality inviting Luciano Benetton to come to Tehran and claims that he has been in contact with foreign ministry economic officials from several years ago. (Page 2; 600 words)

Source: Iranian press menu, in Persian 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Lawmaker criticizes foreign, economic policies of Iran government

Text of report headlined "Spokesman for independent principle-ists current - Employees cannot take shares home instead of bread" published by Iranian newspaper Aftab-e Yazd website on 1 October

The spokesman for the independent principle-ists current [Jaryan-e osulgarayan-e mostaqel] welcomed [Iran President] Dr. [Mahmud] Ahmadinezhad's proposal to form a global front for peace.

"Of course Iran's proposals, which are made for world opinion, do not properly pass through the minds of people and governments. This proposal stops in people's minds because of negative publicity," the Shiraz representative [Mohammad Hadi Rabbani] said. He said if foreign policy officials and "specifically those negotiating with the West and the [International] Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were to speak more precisely and clearly to the people, one imagines the people will be better prepared for anything that might happen in the future. The reality, however, is that people only see half the scene on events," ISNA [Iranian Students News Agency] reported him as saying. The member of the parliamentary culture committee said "half of the scene the people cannot see is shown and conveyed to them by the international media and press, which is regrettable and most unsuitable. People on the street are aware of many confidential issues, which even we might not know about, and the reason for that [is that] they follow them up in various media. For example the trader who is to import raw material for a factory will take various issues into account in this respect."

Mohammad Hadi Rabani referred to the nuclear dossier and said "the agreement made today with the Agency [IAEA] and [its chief Muhammad] Al-Baradi'i - why was it not done two years ago? As a result of this our differences with America and Europe have intensified."

He said "when Europe made its proposal to Iran, if what is happening now had happened then; and Al-Baradi'i had stated then his recent speech, Iran's economic relations with other countries would have expanded considerably and America would have faced a tough defeat. The Americans might even have made concessions later and even gone beyond the Europeans to some extent in establishing relations, because no country can be an island in the ocean."

He said Iranians had thus "easily" lost many opportunities. He said the nuclear issue should be treated like "the holy defence" and a "national epic." The "question now is, why did we not agree to certain things a few years back to serve people's best interests, and why have we accepted this today?"

Rabbani criticized the Foreign Ministry spokesman for stating Iran's support for a gradual departure of American troops from Iraq. "This is what the Americans are saying. If we had said this a few years ago, we would not have had so many problems. In spite of the hardships and difficulties of the past 28 years, is there anyone among those charged with running parts of the country with the courage to admit they made mistakes? Or do we justify everything we do, when justifications simply undermine public confidence?"

The Shiraz representative said politicians should not take credit for the people's participation in marches, and "this does not add to anybody's credit." He said "the people have at any rate had a revolution and they like it. They believe they can attain positive goals in their lives with this system and constitution and the Velayat-e Faqih [the rule of a senior clerical jurisprudent]. So we should not take credit for the people's positive actions."

The parliamentarian said "we have to humbly accept that we have to go back half the administrative road we have taken and start again. In reality we have work to build half the present administrative and economic system, with all the money spent already and the money that has to be spent to rebuild it." He spoke to ISNA on the people's and employees' main expectations from the Coordinated Payment System bill [Layehe-ye nezam-e hamahang-e pardakht] and said it "was subject to more than 300 hours of specialist study and work, and government representatives attended most of the meetings. In spite of this and in spite of all the hard work and use of the country's specialist potential, we saw that when all the work was done, nobody found this acceptable. And yet we have always had this mistaken notion about changing realities. We show our sincerity with the things we say. Which worker or employee can take government shares home instead of bread? After 300 hours of difficult and tiring study on this issue, the output of the bill is that instead of increasing employees' monthly wages, they are to be given state shares. Which employee is going to accept that? Can this person take government shares home instead of bread and water? Is that what is being called regulating a coordinated system bill?"

He said reporters and the media had an important role in following up the country's problems and said "reporters must reveal more about Article 44 [that deals with privatization] to the people. They have to tell the people regarding talks on the transfer of government affairs that you only need two undesirable elements here to damage or collaborate in this business. One factor in the country's backwardness is that the media are not at the heart and objectivity of facts and realities, which is why so much remains hidden from people."

Source: Aftab-e Yazd website, Tehran, in Persian 01 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 White House has made Iran Bush invitation conditional - Agency

Text of report by Iranian Mehr news agency

The White House Spokesman, Donna Perrino, announced today that George Bush will probably accept the invitation by one of the Iranian universities to deliver a lecture there, only if America's demands are met.

Mehr Political Desk quotes French News Agency reporting that Donna Perrino has said that White House has not treated the invitation - from the Iranian university for George Bush to talk there - as serious.

She claimed: Had Iran been a democratic society allowing the freedom of expression to its citizens and did not pursue nuclear weapons and did not seek to destroy Israel, then it would have been possible for the president to consider this invitation.

These remarks were made in response to invitations by the Ferdowsi University to George Bush to deliver a speech there.

Source: Mehr news agency, Tehran, in Persian 1552 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 British leader's Iraq visit signals UK independent policy - Iran commentary

Text of report by Iranian TV on 2 October

[Presenter]: In the name of God, the most merciful the most compassionate. As you were made aware in the bulletin section, Mr Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of Britain, entered Baghdad unexpectedly and held a meeting with Nuri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister of that country. He announced that the British soldiers will gradually leave Iraq. Mr Brown stressed that, of the total 5,500 British troops in Iraq, 1,000 will leave Iraq by January [2008].

Mr Nuri al-Maliki stressed that should the British soldiers leave Iraq, then the security forces of Iraq will establish peace and security in those regions that have been handed over by the British.

I will inform the honourable viewers that so far 170 British troops have been killed in Iraq and hundreds have been injured. In order to know more and learn of the analytical background to this we have a meeting with Mr Hanizadeh, one of the experts on the region of the Middle East.

Mr Hanizadeh, thank you for coming and greetings to you.

[Hanizadeh]: Greetings to you and I wish you a pleasant evening.

[Presenter]: Mr Hanizadeh, the remarks by Mr Brown, has - according to some analysts - been regarded as a kind of divergence from American policies, especially on Iraq. What are the consequences of this for the Americans in Iraq?

[Hanizadeh]: In the name of God the most merciful the most compassionate. There is no doubt about the fact that Mr Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of Britain, is trying to reinstate the reputation of the British Labour Party with this move. To this end, Mr Brown is trying to adopt a new policy and distancing himself from the policies of Tony Blair - who had a strong orientation towards America, in order to attract public opinion. Given that Mr Brown has suggested [As received - uses the Persian word Peeshnahaad] that in the next two months there will be early elections, it is natural that he would be anticipating a series of new conditions in order to recover the fortunes of the Labour Party. And he would present these policies in a way that it would appear as a new independent British policy away from any White House pressure with no influence - so to speak - on the part of the White House. Especially, it has to be remembered that the Independent Newspaper published a report - quoting the King Institute - in which it has announced that 10 per cent of the existing British forces in Iraq are suffering extreme psychological disorders and they have to evacuate Iraq soon and return to their country in order to undergo medical treatment.

[Presenter]: Mr Hanizadeh, you have been witness to the fact that in conjunction with the visit of Mr Brown, demonstrations in Baghdad have taken place which protest the presence of British troops in Iraq. Some analysts believe that these sorts of demonstrations can turn into a new tool to pressure the British to leave Iraq more speedily. How compatible is this analysis with the realities?

[Hanizadeh]: In reality, the people of Iraq, especially the citizens of Basra, have - since 2003 - felt that the presence of the British in Iraq will not help the security situation there. To this end, they have held large demonstrations, whether in Baghdad or in various other cities. The people of Iraq point to the experiences they have gained from the Province of Al-Ummareh - where in the past - the British had a presence there and they evacuated it and once gone security was well-established there, this shows that the physical presence of British troops in Southern Iraq will not aid the setting up of security in the South. These demonstrations amount to a new pressure on the British government in order to pressure them to issue a time table of withdrawal from South Iraq.

[Presenter]: Mr Hanizadeh, thank you very much we bid you farewell.

Source: Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1, Tehran, in Persian 1730 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Saudi remarks against Iran unexpected and astonishing - Official

Text of report by Iranian news agency IRNA

Responding to a question put to him by the reporter of Al-Alam Television network, the Speaker of the Foreign Ministry of Iran, Seyyed Mohammad-Ali Hoseyni, expressed surprise at the remarks attributed to Sa'ud Al-Faysal, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia.

The Information and Press Bureau [Of the Foreign Ministry of Iran] has reported that Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hoseyni said: The Islamic Republic enjoys friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, any statements incompatible with this status would not be regarded as being in the mutual interests of the two.

The Speaker added: Making these tension creating remarks are unexpected and making such remarks are incompatible with the spirit of bilateral relations.

Hoseyni stressed: We believe that the stances of the friends in the region has to be such that factors such as the highest expedience of the parties and [good] relations between nations have to be at the top of their considerations and to frustrate the enemies' dark and expansionist objectives.

IRNA political desk reports that the Saudi Foreign Minister had accused Iran of interfering in Iraq and Lebanon when he was holding a press conference in New York. He presented no evidence to back his statement up and gave no further explanations.

Source: IRNA news agency, Tehran, in Persian 1851 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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IRAQ
02/10/2007 Turkey expects USA, Iraq to take "urgent measures" against rebel Kurds party

Text of report in English by Turkish news agency Anatolia

["TURKEY EXPECTS IRAQ AND US TO TAKE URGENT MEASURES ON PKK ATTACKS, BABACAN" - AA headline]

NEW YORK (A.A) -"Turkey expects Iraqi government and the United States to take urgent measures over presence of terrorist PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] organization in north of Iraq and to halt its attacks towards Turkey," Turkish Foreign Minister & Chief Negotiator for EU talks Ali Babacan said on Monday.

Speaking at a meeting held by American-Turkish Society, Babacan said Iraq's political unity and territorial integrity should be preserved, indicating that division of Iraq could not be an alternative.

"There are two topics that cause uneasiness in relations between Turkey and the United States. One of them is the Armenian problem, and the other is attacks of terrorist PKK organization from north of Iraq to Turkey," Babacan said adding that the terrorist attacks posed a very serious threat for Turkey.

Babacan emphasized that Turkey expected tangible steps both from the United States and the Iraq government on the issue, "PKK terrorists should be handed over to justice. We expected the United States to understand importance of the matter," he added.

Underscoring that Iraq's political unity and territorial integrity should be preserved, Babacan said Turkey, as a neighbouring country, exerted efforts for a national compromise in Iraq. Turkey particularly suggested inclusion of Sunnites to political process and launched Iraq's Neighbouring Countries initiative, added Babacan.

Babacan said, "with Turkey's proposal, this platform was broadened in a way covering 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council and G-8 countries."

"Within this framework, Turkey will host Conference of Countries Neighbouring Iraq at the beginning of November," Babacan said.

Responding to a question, Babacan said Iraq's future was very important both for the United States and Turkish people, indicating that rapid withdrawal of the US soldiers from Iraq may have extremely "destructive" outcomes and the problem may become more serious. "Withdrawal of the United States according to a specific timetable and securing stability after the withdrawal is very important," he said.

Reaffirming that Iraq's division could not be an alternative, Babacan said Iraq was always administered by single central authority, and international society advocated Iraq's political unity and territorial integrity.

Babacan expressed pleasure over rise of UN role in Iraq, yet noted that it would not be right to have high expectations about the UN on the matter.

Source: Anatolia news agency, Ankara, in English 1930 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Party leader Al-Dulaymi attacks US Senate resolution to partition Iraq

Text of report by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 1 November

Adnan al-Dulaymi, head of the People of Iraq Conference, has said that the US Senate's resolution proposing the partitioning of Iraq into Sunni, Shi'i and Kurdish areas is a plot against Iraq. He added that he will seek along with his political bloc to foil the attempts to divide Iraq.

[Al-Dulaymi - recording] It seems that the plot to partition Iraq, which has been planned for for a long time, has come to surface through the US bill which the Senate passed with a majority of votes.

The People of Iraq Conference denounces the US Senate's bill aimed at dividing Iraq and promises the Iraqi people to fight with all its power to maintain the unity of Iraq.

[Video: Al-Dulaymi addressing news conference]

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 2019 gmt 1 Nov 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iraqi PM receives delegation of Iraq Awakening Council; update

Al-Iraqiyah Television at 1800 gmt on 1 October carries the following political and security-related reports:

Prime Minister Receives Awakening Council Delegation; Abu-Rishah Says PM Stresses "Unlimited Support"

- "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki received a delegation of the Iraq Awakening Council, headed by Chieftain Ahmad Abu-Rishah. The prime minister stressed the government's support for the efforts exerted by the Awakening Conference in chasing terrorist groups. For his part, Chieftain Ahmad Abu-Rishah stressed the tribesmen's ongoing support of the security agencies so as to totally uproot terrorist fugitives from the governorate."

Following the announcer-read report, chieftain Ahmad Abu-Rishah is shown saying: "His excellency the prime minister expressed his condolences for the loss of chieftain Abd-al-Sattar Abu-Rishah. The tribesmen stressed their adherence to the march of martyr Abd-al-Sattar Abu-Rishah. We discussed issues related to security forces and police. The prime minister renewed his support to the police and to Al-Anbar citizens."

"For his part, Deputy Interior Minister Tariq Yusuf al-Dulaymi confirmed that the security situation has noticeably improved in Al-Anbar Governorate, which made many displaced families return to their homes in the city."

Al-Dulaymi is then shown saying: "The city is completely secured. Checkpoints are set at the entrances and exits of the city. Police patrols are present 24 hours a day. The security situation is restored in Al-Anbar and the situation is very good. The displaced families started to return to Al-Anbar. As I represent the interior minister in Al-Anbar Governorate I can tell you that I will be totally responsible for the return of dispalced families to Al-Anbar Governorate. In case the houses of the displaced families were inhabited by others, then we are ready to evacuate the residents and to compensate the displaced families."

The channel's anchorman then conducts a telephone interview with tribal chieftain Ahmad Abu-Rishah. Asked about his meeting with the prime minister, Abu-Rishah says: "The prime minister stressed his unlimited support for the police agencies and the interior security forces in Al-Anbar. He stressed his support for the tribesmen in chasing the vanquished fugitives of Al-Qa'idah. His excellency [the prime minister] stressed the need for paying the policemen's salaries on time. He said that the support will entail providing weapons, ammunition, and vehicles. The meeting was fruitful with the prime minister."

Al-Mashhadani Meets EU Parliamentarians in Brussels

- "Dr Mahmud al-Mashhadani, speaker of the Council of Representatives, and the accompanying delegation met today in Brussels the head of the European Parliamentary Association. During the meeting, the two sides discussed means to activate the role of the European Parliamentary Association in supporting the current political process, taking place in Iraq. They also discussed ways to support the Iraqi Council of Representatives so as to strengthen democracy in Iraq."

Iraqi High Tribunal Resumes Sessions

- "The Iraqi High Tribunal resumed its sessions today in Baghdad so as to review crimes committed by officials of the former regime during the Al-Sha'ban uprising in year 1991. During the session, the court staff listened to the testimonies of a number of witnesses for the prosecution. Fifteen defendants attended the court session. Judge Muhammad al-Uraybi adjourned the court's session to 4 October."

Security Developments

- "A new session for the Political Council for National Security will be held within the coming few days. The coming session will be dedicated to discussing a series of current political issues, taking place in the Iraqi arena."

- "Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih stressed that the Iraqi Government is determined to promote the level of security, to eradicate terrorism, and to make use of cooperation among security agencies. The deputy prime minister pointed out the role of tribesmen in restoring security and stability in various parts of Iraq. This came during the opening of the first forum for reconstructing Babil Governorate."

- "A citizen was martyred and six others were wounded when a booby-trapped car exploded in central Mosul. Al-Iraqiyah correspondent in Mosul said that the explosion, which occurred in Al-Jami'ah neighbourhood, caused damage to a number of nearby buildings and vehicles."

- "Al-Sulaymaniyah police arrested a terrorist group during raid and storm operations that were carried out inside villages surrounding the governorate. Police sources stressed that this group confessed that they committed murders and abductions against a big number of citizens."

- "Babil's tribes formed a salvation council so as to expel the terrorist groups and restore security and stability in the governorate."

Source: Al-Iraqiyah TV, Baghdad, in Arabic 1800 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Arab League reaffirms rejection of US Senate resolution to divide Iraq

Text of report in English by Egyptian news agency MENA

Cairo, 1 October: Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa on Monday [1 October] reiterated his rejection of the latest US Senate resolution on the division of Iraq into three separate federal regions, namely Sunni, Shi'i and Kurdish.

How could a foreign parliament decide on the form of government of another country? he questioned. The resolution represents a grave form of foreign interference in the affairs of a state, one that could spark tension in international and bilateral relations, he told the press. It is an unacceptable and inapplicable resolution, he said.

On the meeting held on the sidelines of the UNGA session in New York on Iraq, Moussa said it was attended by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon. It focused on the UN role in Iraq, he noted.

It also reached consensus on the need for national reconciliation and for an inter-Iraqi understanding that would make citizenship the basis for dealings among the people of Iraq and revoking sectarianism, he said. He warned against the dangers of sectarian conflicts on the future of Iraq.

On holding the Iraq reconciliation conference at the Arab League, Musa said it was scheduled to be held in Baghdad but there are difficulties, including security, for holding it in Baghdad or elsewhere. It also needs good preparations to achieve a decisive outcome, he said. The doors of the Arab League are always open to the Iraq reconciliation conference, he added.

Source: MENA news agency, Cairo, in English 1920 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 British prime minister arrives in Iraq

Text of report by Dubai-based Iraqi private Al-Sharqiyah TV on 2 October

A British official has said that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived in Baghdad today, Tuesday, which is his first visit to Baghdad as prime minister, to discuss the issue of the Iraqi forces' taking over responsibility for the security file in the southern Basra Governorate. Brown's visit takes place before he delivers an important statement on Iraq to the British parliament next week.

Source: Al-Sharqiyah TV, Dubai, in Arabic 0700 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iraqi politicians reject US Senate plan to divide Iraq

Al-Sharqiyah Television at 2001 gmt on 30 September carries within its "Harvest" news feature interviews with many Iraqi politicians on the US Senate nonbinding decision to partition Iraq into three separate entities.

Al-Sharqiyah begins by asking Nadim al-Jabiri, member of Al-Fadilah Party, about the US Senate decision. Al-Jabiri says: "It goes without saying that the resolution passed by the US Senate shows that the United States wants to evade the Iraqi problem after the US project in Iraq has reached a serious dead end. The US decision-maker might have failed to seek a solution to the Iraqi problem. Therefore, the US decision-maker suddenly starts to evade this problem by adopting the mechanism of partitioning. Though the US plan speaks about a federal solution, it means partitioning. This evasion will not solve the problem and is in line with the previous US policy that supported the system of sectarian power sharing quotas. Therefore, they want to partition Iraq according to these bases. I say that this is an evasion and will not solve the problem. If this plan is meant to achieve stability and security in Iraq, this course of action is wrong because it will lead the entire region into a whirlpool of sectarian and ethnic violence. We expect conflicts to erupt among the governorates that will be established on Iraqi soil because there will be conflicts on borders and resources. We also expect domestic fighting in central Iraq, southern Iraq, and in western Iraq among the many political forces" adding "I believe these conflicts will force the countries in the region to support this or that party."

The announcer then asks Baha al-A'raji, member of Al-Sadr current, about his viewpoint on the issue. Al-A'raji says: "First of all, we must distinguish between the federal plan that was adopted in the constitution and the plan proposed by Joseph Biden. Though the federal plan was adopted in the constitution and there is the fact that there is a Kurdistan region as a fait accompli, our southern and central provinces and the other political blocs rejected the federal plan. Actually, Biden's plan differs completely from the federal plan that is included in the constitution." Al-A'raji adds: "Biden's plan in reality is not a project for a federal state but it seeks to partition Iraq and establish a confederation. There is a major difference between the two from the legal point of view." Al-A'raji says: "Notwithstanding the nonbinding nature of this decision, we see that 75 senators have supported it and this forms a majority of Democrats and Republicans and this is the first time that an agreement is reached between the two sides on such a decision. This shows that there is a secret willpower that is playing its role and I expect that Israel is the one that plays this role. Therefore, we should be cautious and alert about this project." Asked about the stand of Al-Sadr current on the establishment of a federation in southern Iraq, Al-A'raji says: "The Al-Sadr bloc rejects a federal solution. As a proof of this, we did not enter the parliament building when this law was passed. How then can we support this law that actually entails more negative results than the law on a federal solution? It is true that the constitution includes federalism and this was mentioned because the Kurdistan region has a unique status but this does not mean that the principle of provinces should apply to all of Iraq."

The announcer then contacts Abd-al-Karim al-Unayzi from the Al-Da'wah Party, and asks him about his party's stand on the issue. Al-Unayzi says: "I hope we will not confuse between the issue of partitioning and federalism. Federalism has become part of the Iraqi constitution and was adopted through free elections and more than 11 million Iraqis participated in these elections." Al-Unayzi adds: "The issue of partitioning as was mentioned in the US Congress resolution is a different issue. Partitioning is rejected by all the Iraqi political parties in part and parcel, whether these parties are Kurdish or Arab or from the entire Iraqi political spectrum. When we speak about partitioning, we find that there is a broad national consensus rejecting partitioning." Al-Unayzi says that the shape of the federal system in Iraq will be "decided by the Iraqi people." Asked if Al-Da'wah Party supports establishment of a federation in southern Iraq, Al-Unayzi says: "We support what the people want and this issue is a national and popular right. The council of provinces should meet and decide what is best because these councils are elected councils. This issue will be referred to the people and if they choose a federal system for southern and central Iraq or some form of federation, this is a national and popular right that is protected under the constitution and no one can stand against the people's willpower."

After this, the announcer asks Falih al-Fayyad, another member of the Al-Da'wah Party in Baghdad, who also rejects the idea. Al-Fayyad says: "What is important nowadays is that everyone agrees that Iraq is one entity and cannot be partitioned or divided, that sectarian partitioning is rejected even by political forces that have different ideological agendas, whether these forces are Muslim, secular, Shi'i, or Sunni forces. They all agree that Iraq is the country of all and the Sunnis and Shi'is can coexist and coexistence is a historical fact in Iraq and not transient." He adds that the logic upheld in Biden's plan runs "counter the overwhelming popular mood that affirms that Iraq is one and that the Iraqis can coexist. Therefore, no substitute plan can be submitted and the time is not for submitting substitute plans. The time is for denouncing this foreign interference in mapping out Iraq's policies and the idea of partitioning on sectarian bases."

Asked if he believes the reaction of the countries in the region to the Biden plan is sufficient or suitable, A-Fayyad says: "Frankly speaking, the regional forces, the Arab countries, and the other institutions that are affiliated to the Arab League and the Islamic Conference Organization have expressed their rejection of this project. But I personally believe that this rejection and denunciation was not up to the required level to express the interests of the countries in the region and the Arab countries. If Iraq is partitioned, God forbid, this state of affairs in Iraq will spread to all the neighbour countries and the region will not rest at all if this gloomy scenario is implemented in Iraq. I believe that the duty of the Arab countries and all the neighbour countries is to become aware that if they do not deal positively with Iraq, fail to help Iraq emerge from its dilemma, and do not help the Iraqi people heal their wounds, they will be expediting the implementation of similar plans that will affect the region, the neighbour countries, and Arab security and regional security."

Nasir al-Isawi, head of Risaliyun [upholders of the message] bloc, is the last one to be interviewed by Al-Sharqiyah on the issue and on the attempts to establish federalism or a province in southern Iraq. Al-Isawi says: "I believe that though this decision is not binding, it is an attempt to prepare the international public opinion for viewing Iraq under a different light. It is just a political feeler" and the United States "only pays attention to its expansionist designs" and this plan "is a clear indication that there is a strategy the United States is implementing not only in Iraq but in the entire region. It appears that the partitioning idea is directly connected to the premeditated military attack on Iran."

Source: Al-Sharqiyah TV, Dubai, in Arabic 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iraqi prime minister receives UK counterpart

At 0800 gmt on 2 October, Al-Iraqiyah Television carried the following "breaking news" as a screen caption:

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki receives British Prime Minister Gordon Brown."

Source: Al-Iraqiyah TV, Baghdad, in Arabic 0800 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Turkey may opt not to operate under recent deal with Iraq - official

Text of report in English by Turkish news agency Anatolia

["COUNCIL OF MINISTERS MEETING -THREE MINISTERS WILL VISIT SITE OF TERRORIST ATTACK IN BEYTUSSEBAP, CICEK" - AA headline]

ANKARA (A.A) -"Turkish State Minister Mehmet Simsek, Interior Minister Besir Atalay, and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Mehmet Mehdi Eker will pay a visit to eastern province of Sirnak's Beytussebap town on Monday or Tuesday where 12 people were killed by PKK terrorists last Saturday," said Turkish Government Spokesman, State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek, on Monday.

Speaking to reporters after Monday's Council of Ministers meeting, Cicek noted that three ministers will visit Beytussebap to conduct a full scale observation, determine the needs of the locals and offer condolences to the families and friends of the 12 people massacred by PKK terrorists on Saturday.

Referring to an agreement signed by Turkey and Iraq to combat terrorism on Friday, Cicek indicated that "there are other international agreements and United Nations norms in the fight against terror. When one considers these other agreements, Turkey may opt to operate under those international agreements. The new agreement between Turkey and Iraq is an important step. We have to evaluate this recent agreement as best as we can."

Cicek noted that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan informed the Council of Ministers on his recent trip to the United States.

"We also evaluated draft laws waiting in the parliament as today marks the beginning of the new legislative year," underlined Cicek.

Asked about how he sees the agreement between Turkey and Iraq in combatting terrorism and what he thinks about the lack of the topic of "hot pursuit" in this agreement, Cicek replied that "no matter what type of precautions you take against terror, it is not enough by itself. You take the necessary precautions and measures as time goes by. We would have wanted to see the topic of 'hot pursuit' in the agreement. However, it is an issue that lives in our negotiations."

Cicek stressed that the "agreement between Turkey and Iraq to combat terrorism accepts PKK as a terrorist organization. The agreement bans the activities of PKK in Iraq, including financial activities. The agreement further accepts the returning of PKK terrorists to Turkey. The principle of 'try in a court or return' has been clearly written in the agreement."

Source: Anatolia news agency, Ankara, in English 1405 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Turkish army chief on Kurdish rebels, "threat" of Iraqi Kurdish state

Text of report in English by Turkish news agency Anatolia

["NEW ACADEMIC YEAR AT WAR ACADEMIES - NO FORCE CAN DIVIDE TURKEY, GENERAL BUYUKANIT" - AA headline]

ISTANBUL (A.A) -"We do not know the draft constitution prepared by the Turkish government. Once the draft constitution is made public, we will express the views of the Turkish Armed Forces on items related to us," said Chief of Turkish General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit on Monday.

"No force can turn Ataturk's republic into something else"

General Buyukanit delivered a keynote speech at the beginning of the new academic year 2007-2008 at the Turkish War Academies on Monday.

"There are points that the Turkish Armed Forces can not give up. These are the unitary form of the Turkish Republic, the nation-state structure in Turkey, the secular government and not hurting the Turkish Armed Forces by political, emotional and pre-conceived notions," told General Buyukanit.

General Buyukanit pointed out that in recent times Turkey has been compared to other Islamic countries, including Malaysia.

"We need not live with fears. Let us be sure of one thing. No force can divide Turkey. No one has the power to divide Turkey," noted General Buyukanit. "No force can turn Ataturk's republic into something else. No force can change the secular structure of the Turkish Republic. No one has the power to change the secular establishment in Turkey," underlined General Buyukanit.

General Buyukanit wished everyone at the war academy a successful academic term.

Internal threat

"We are faced with a mentality that does not call terrorists as terrorists, recognizes terrorists as brothers and sisters, and refer to the Turkish Armed Forces as 'separatist'," said Chief of Turkish General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit on Monday.

"While our tens of thousands of sons were fighting against terrorists on the mountains, it is very sad to hear such rhetoric in Ankara. Republic of Turkey, as a democratic state in which the rule of law prevails, must resolve this problem basing on its laws. No country has ever entered such a period of weakness after losing thousands of its soldiers and citizens as Turkey has," noted Gen. Buyukanit. "The Turkish people will never forgive those making slogans that are pleasing to ears," underlined Gen. Buyukanit.

Gen. Buyukanit indicated that the terrorist organization have attacked around 2,000 establishments including 250 schools, 110 mosques, 50 health clinics, telephone control rooms, and television transmission plants and killed about 500 public servants, including teachers and religious officials.

"With its attacks, the terrorist organization has hurt the people of the region most. We must praise the efforts made by Turkish security forces especially in the recent months against the terrorist organization. We will continue to be successful against the terrorist organization," noted Gen. Buyukanit.

"It is a known fact that it is impossible for a terrorist organization to survive without assistance from abroad. We have warned many allies and friendly countries on this topic. But, unfortunately, we have not seen any support from any of them. All countries that we have warned continued to support them (terrorist organization) directly or indirectly. Words are not important in fight against terrorism. Action is what counts. So far, there has not been a struggle against terror in essence. I have to make these comments. If there are countries getting offended by my words, it is their own problem."

"Iraq is rapidly moving towards a confederation"

Pointing out to developments in north of Iraq, Gen. Buyukanit stressed that "Iraq is rapidly moving towards a confederation. Division in Iraq is very close. An independent state in north of Iraq would not only be a political threat, but also a security threat to Turkey. Turkey must look at north of Iraq from a political, military and psychological perspective. Turkey must watch closely the formation in north of Iraq."

"Leaders who were called 'charismatic' in the 20th century have all destroyed everything. The only exception is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who is a leader indeed. Ataturk has not left behind any dogma or structural 'ism'," said Chief of Turkish General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit on Monday.

Gen. Buyunanit told that "at times, you have to question the military principles that may seem unquestionable."

Gen. Buyukanit stressed that this "honourable home (War Academy) has trained many great leaders beginning with Ataturk. It is a home in which the concept of leadership taught can be made a topic of scientific research."

The War Academies should be a place where not only leaders are raised, but also the theories on leadership are developed, added Gen. Buyukanit. "This place deserves training future leaders by bringing together the dynamics of the 21st century and leadership qualities."

Source: Anatolia news agency, Ankara, in English 1204 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iraqi, UK premiers discuss future of British forces in Iraq

Text of report by Iraqi TV station Al-Iraqiyah TV on 2 October

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki received his British counterpart Gordon Brown who arrived in Baghdad today.

During the meeting, they discussed a series of security and political issues as well as the future of the British forces in Iraq. During the meeting, the British prime minister underscored his country's readiness to support the national unity government and the Iraqi people in all fields.

Source: Al-Iraqiyah TV, Baghdad, in Arabic 0900 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iraqi Kurdish paper questions responsibility for entry of arrested Iranian

Text of report entitled: "A security researcher: `Who is responsible for Farhadi's dossier and the security crisis?'"; published by independent Iraqi Kurdish newspaper Hawlati on 30 September

In January 2007 the US president announced his new strategy for Iraq. Strategy observers said then that that strategy had principally been set out in order to face up to the Iranian influence in Iraq. Shortly after that, the five staff members of the Iranian Relations Bureau in Arbil were arrested at midnight.

Soon after that incident, in another US assault in Arbil, the Americans wanted to arrest Ja'fari, the top Ittila'at [Iranian Intelligence service] official in Arbil. He reportedly escaped from Arbil airport.

And last week in Sulaymaniyah, in a sophisticated security operation, a person whom the USA described as a senior official of [Iran's] Al-Quds [army] was arrested. The USA said he was involved in transferring explosives from Iran to Iraq and forming armed groups.

What attracts attention in the issue of Farhadi is this: The [Kurdistan] Regional Government knows well that the USA has nominated the [Iranian] Revolutionary Guards for more than a month to be labelled as a terrorist army by the [UN] Security Council. So, why the [Kurdistan] Regional Government does not steer clear of the [Iranian] Revolutionary Guards?

Another noticeable point is that special international laws dictate that when a military or intelligence personality wants to move from one country to another country, the ministry of interior and security and intelligence services of that country, and sometimes the council of ministers, must have no objection to their entrance to that country. Hence, there is a question mark over how an outstanding personality like Mahmudi Farhadi managed to come into Kurdistan without the knowledge of the government. Who gave him the visa?

The information about Farhadi's visit to Kurdistan Region says that some of the relevant officials in charge had not been informed that a military person would come into the Region. Therefore, there is a question: is it possible that the government and the political power could be so unaware of the movements of their guests? Who is responsible for blending Farhadi into a trade delegation [and allowing him] to carry out secret dealings in Kurdistan? And which is the party that allowed a Revolutionary Guard to be registered as a businessman?

Some days ago, as there were articles on the PUK's [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan] website against the Iranian interests, a supervisor was appointed for the PUK's Media Bureau so as to maintain PUK-Iran relations. But how will the people who wanted to spoil relations between the USA and Kurdistan Region, with that mistake of theirs, be treated?

The other question that [the issue] raises is that if a foreigner, guest or Kurd had been hurt at midnight when they stormed the Sulaymaniyah Palace [the hotel where Farhadi was arrested in Sulaymaniayah], who would have been ready to compensate for the victims?

Kurdistan Region is on the verge of getting involved in an imbalanced security equation. The best solution to protect the security situation of the Region and to safeguard our interests is that we should have the best and most friendly relations with Iran and the USA and not become a party in an intelligence war that we are incapable of fighting. The geo-strategic, geo-economic and geo-security position of our Region is too weak to withstand the intelligence war of two conflicting forces that are trying to find common ground to bring them into contact. The Kurdistan Region can be that common ground of rapprochement between the USA and Iran unless some irresponsible people disregard the high interests of our Region.

Source: Hawlati, Sulaymaniyah, in Sorani Kurdish 30 Sep 07 p20

 
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02/10/2007 TV reports on UK PM's statement on reducing forces in Iraq, updates security

Within its 1000 gmt newscast on 2 October, Baghdad al-Sharqiyah Television reported the following political and security developments:

-"Basra Police Chief Abd-Al-Jalil Khalaf survived an assassination attempt after his motorcade on Monday was exposed to a bomb explosion, northern Basra. "

-"Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has called on Iran to stop interfering in his country's affairs, saying that several Islamic countries are strengthening their ties with Baghdad. Zebari said that if an immediate withdrawal of the US forces from Iraq happens, then it will trigger a conflict in the region, and will offer a save haven to Al-Qa'idah Organization and other extremists. "Statements by Zebari during a speech at Harvard University are cited.

-"British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today said that it is possible to reduce the number of British Forces in Iraq to 4,500 by the end of this year. Speaking to reporters during his visit to Baghdad, Brown said that I believe that it would be possible to reduce the number of British forces to 4,500 by the end of this year, adding that this will relief 1,000 of our forces whom we hope would return to the homeland by Christmas. Brown voiced belief that Iraq can assume the security responsibility in the Basra Governorate from the British Forces within two months. "

-"British Army spokesman in Iraq today said that the Iraqi Government will assume full security responsibility in the Basra Governorate, southern Iraq, at the beginning of November."

-"Iraqi security and medical sources have said that three people, including a police officer, have been martyred and nine others wounded when an explosive charge went off in Baghdad and in Al-Mada'in sub-district, south of Baghdad. In another development, security sources said that two people were martyred and four others were wounded when an explosive charge went off on the main road near a commercial complex for selling car tires in Al-Karradah area in central Baghdad. The sources added that a police lieutenant was martyred and five others were wounded when an explosive charge went off targeting their patrol in Al-Mada'in sub-district which is 25 kilometres to the south of Baghdad. "

-" Local residents have said that several people were wounded in Al-Amil neighbourhood, southeastern Baghdad, when several mortar shells fell there."

-"A suicide-bomber today targeted a police checkpoint in Al-Khalis City in the Diyala Governorate, northeastern Baghdad. A security source has said that six people, including two policemen, were martyred and ten others were wounded in the attack which targeted the checkpoint in Al-Khuwaylis area."

-" A source in Al-Qadisiyah Governorate, southern Iraq, has said that a joint Iraqi-US forces have taken up positions at a youth centre in Al-Diwaniyah City, the centre of the governorate, as a first stage of a new security plan to pursue what the source termed as the armed men rebelling against the state."

-"A security source has said that three soldiers of the 8th Iraqi Army Battalion were wounded in a raid on armed men hideout in Al-Imam al-Sadiq neighbourhood in central Al-Diwaniyah. He added that four of the wanted people were arrested during the raid. The source said that three members of the forces were wounded during their clashes with the armed men who refused to surrender. " OSC/JN Bureau plans no further processing.

Source: Al-Sharqiyah TV, Dubai, in Arabic 1000 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Turkish daily sees USA, EU wrangling over control of separatist Kurdish party

Text of report by Turkish newspaper Sabah website on 30 September

[Column by Erdal Safak: "Ugly Game on Kandil"]

As we said yesterday, we do not believe that the counter-terrorism agreement signed yesterday is going to work at all. Look at the precedent: the tripartite coordination agreement between Turkey, the United States and Iraq last year.

Remember: Turkey appointed Gen (ret) Edip Baser as its coordinator and the United States appointed Gen (ret) Joseph Ralston.

When Baser was replaced by Amb Rafet Akguney last May Ralston telephoned to wish him good luck. Since then not a peep.

Yet almost every week US officers visit the PKK HQ on Mt Kandil. Why, I wonder? The answer is long and requires us to go back a bit.

Paris Vienna Kandil

You will recall that 15 PKK members were taken into custody in Paris last February. Among them was the PKK's representative for France, Riza Altun. One of the detainees Atilla Balikci said, "I do not understand why the police have done this because I have been acting as courier between Altun and the French secret service for the past four years now."

Afterwards, the PKK members were released on condition that they go to a police station regularly and sign in. Altun fled to Vienna at the first opportunity and flew to Mt Kandil in northern Iraq the very next day.

Turkey protested to Austria over this "lapse" and notified France of its annoyance. Last August Turkey asked Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for Altun's extradition. Altun is still on Mt Kandil and working hard. What is he doing, you ask? Let Osman Ocalan explain in his article "Independent PKK confined to the basement" published 10 days ago on an internet site:

"The EU countries have been working hard to exert influence over the PKK for ages. Kani Yilmaz was long ago accepted as Germany's man. Riza Altun became a spy through the agency of Kendal Nezan (the manager of the Kurdish Institute in Paris). And not just them; many within the leadership cadres are loyal to a power.

"Those who want to reform the PKK in accordance with the requirements of the day are made up of supporters of the United States. Both Osman Ocalan and many other cadres regarded the United States policies as being able to solve things. The solution in southern Kurdistan increased the United States standing within the PKK ranks considerably. Most of the leadership cadre believed that "friendship with the United States would bring about a solution." However, Riza Altun, Zubeyir Aydar and Remzi Kartal did not welcome the pro-US reformist move. Zybeyir and Remzi were immediately sent from Europe to the mountain. They were tasked with foiling the plans of the pro-US reformists. Despite this the PKK at its last congress decided not to follow a pro-Europe line, and so the decision was made to send Riza Altun to the mountain as well.

Ocalan's Exposes

"From what I have been able to ascertain the PKK's Europe organization has been usurped entirely. The work in Turkey is being supervised at a satisfactory level under the leadership of Osman Baydemir (Mayor of Diyarbakir), and if it is possible to straighten out Mt Kandil then a European PKK will be created."

These exposes by little brother Ocalan show us "the secret hand" that got Riza Altun so easily out of France and then from Austria to Kandil without any hindrances. They also expose the secret as to why American officers are frequently visiting Kandil. They are trying to stop the PKK from falling under European control!

Furthermore, speaking on RojTV from Kandil Riza Altun said, "The United States was behind the police operation in Paris."

Turkey for its part expects help from the EU, the United States and Iraq in fighting the PKK.

Is that possible?

Source: Sabah website, Istanbul, in Turkish 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iraqi health directorates deny cholera outbreaks in Karbala, al-Najaf

Text of report by Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada on 14 August

[Karbala and al-Najaf Health Directorate denied cholera infections in the two cities.]

Dr Abbas Mahdi, the director of the preliminary health care division at the Karbala Health Department, denied the statement by Iraqi Deputy Nawal Majid Hamid, from the Al-Tawafuq Front, about the presence of cholera infection in Karbala due to the contamination of potable water. Mahdi believed that Hamid's statements affect the citizens under these circumstances. In a statement to Al-Mada, Mahdi added that the statement by Hamid is baseless since the communicable diseases department and its units at the Karbala Health Department are observing communicable diseases around the clock and are sending daily, weekly, and monthly reports to the authorities at the Ministry of Health. Mahdi noted that no cholera infections were recorded in the governorate due to water, or any other reason. Mahdi emphasized that laboratory tests are carried out daily on the sources of potable water by the water, health and environment departments in the governorate, which are also taking samples from different places, adding that no cases of poisoning or pollution contamination were proven.

Media sources recently carried a statement by Hamid in which she warned against the spread of cholera in Al-Najaf and Karbala governorates due to polluted potable water and that the two governorates will witness an epidemic of cholera. Hamid added that the contamination of potable water led to the recording of several infections among citizens, especially children. In a related context, the Al-Najaf Governorate denied the statements by some deputies about the presence of cholera infections in the governorate. This came in a statement made by the information centre of Al-Najaf Governorate of which Al-Mada received a copy. The statement said: "The civil administration in Al-Najaf Governorate denies the reports circulated by the media and the statements of some deputies. Based on the health reports prepared after epidemic observation and the examination of suspicious cases, in addition to precautionary and informative measures towards citizens, Al-Najaf Governorate is cholera free."

The statement emphasized that "no cholera cases were recorded."

Source: Al-Mada, Baghdad, in Arabic 14 Aug 07

 
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02/10/2007 Health Ministry says to supply Iraqi refugees in region with medicine, food

Text of report by Iraqi Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq newspaper Al-Adalah on 14 August

[Minister of Health: Implementation of programmes to grant the Iraqi citizens in neighbouring countries medicines for the chronic diseases and the food ratio]

Deputy Health Minster Dr Abd-al-Samad Rahman Sultan said: "The health ministers of the neighbouring countries expressed their full readiness to cooperate with the WHO in implementing its programmes for displaced Iraqis." In a press statement, he said: "The Ministry of Health welcomes any initiative by the WHO to provide health services for displaced Iraqis." Sultan added: "The Ministry of Immigration and the Displaced will be responsible for creating an accurate database about displaced Iraqis and will send it to the WHO, which will set health programmes according to this database. The ministry will also study the possibility of continuing the supply of items on the ration card to the displaced Iraqis." Sultan called on "the WHO to expand its programmes and not limit its operations to preventive programmes, but also provide service programmes according to the health conditions of these displaced people, in addition to providing medicine to the patients among them with chronic diseases."

In another development, the Ministry of Health intends to build 15 hospitals in Baghdad and the governorates with the capacity of 400 beds per hospital. In a press statement, Sultan said: "The project aims at providing the best health services to citizens by covering the shortage in the health sector, providing it with the modern techniques, preparing the ground for receiving Iraqi professionals, employing the workforce, and addressing the unemployment issue. The project includes providing an accommodation for doctors." He added: "The ministry delegated a team to receive training in the United Kingdom and to visit modern hospitals. Modern technical requirements were imported to build the hospitals."

Sultan said: "The project is being studied from all aspects and the allocated budget for the project is being dealt with. This will be followed by selecting the appropriate design. As for the land, coordination is ongoing with the governorates' councils to allocate areas not less than 30 Dunnums [1 Dunnum = 1000 mA²]. He added: "The term of the project was set to three years starting from the date of the beginning of construction. The project will be carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Housing and Construction and with direct supervision by the cabinet."

Source: Al-Adalah, Baghdad, in Arabic 14 Aug 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iraqi Kurdish bloc supports US Congress resolution on Iraq

The deputy head of the Kurdistan Alliance bloc in Iraqi parliament, Sa'di Barzinji, has welcomed the US Congress resolution on Iraq, daily Kurdistan Democratic Party-owned Khabat newspaper reported.

Barzinji said: "The US Congress' resolution for Iraq's crises which talks about three federal entities - Kurdish, Shi'i and Sunni - is in line with the Iraqi constitution. For the fist article of the constitution says: Iraq is a federal state; unlike what some have suggested that the proposal partitions Iraq.

"In October 2006, the Iraqi parliament endorsed a special article on establishing regions - this is due for implementation in six months. The law is called the Mechanisms for Creating Federal Regions."

"We, as the Kurdistan Alliance, welcome the proposal. Because we see it as a realistic solution for Iraq, which in reality has been divided into three parts," Barzinji concluded.

Source: Khabat, Arbil, in Sorani Kurdish 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Al-Jazeera airs interview with Iraq's Al-Sadr movement spokesman

["The Iraqi Scene" political talk show presented by Abd-al-Azim Muhammad in Doha and featuring an interview with Shaykh Salah al-Ubaydi, the spokesman of the Martyr al-Sadr Office, via satellite from Damascus; date not given - recorded]

Doha Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel Television in Arabic, independent television station financed by the Qatari Government, at 1425 gmt on 30 September carries a new 28-minute episode of "The Iraqi Scene" recorded political talk show presented by Abd-al-Azim Muhammad in Doha and featuring an undated interview with Shaykh Salah al-Ubaydi, the spokesman of the Martyr al-Sadr Office, via satellite from Damascus. Al-Ubaydi discusses the withdrawal of the Al-Sadr Movement's Parliamentary bloc from the Unified Iraqi Coalition [UIC].

Abd-al-Azim Muhammad first presents a two-minute report by Mudar Jum'ah on the Al-Sadr movement, its role in Iraq, and the "problems this movement poses" to the Americans and the Al-Maliki government.

Muhammad then begins by asking Al-Ubaydi about the recent Karbala clashes and why Muqtada al-Sadr stopped the activities of the Al-Mahdi Army and later withdrew from the UIC. Al-Ubaydi says: "To say that the Karbala incidents were the primary and basic reason for the withdrawal from the UIC is inaccurate and not based on facts. True, the freezing of the Al-Imam al-Mahdi Army was because of what happened in Karbala. The primary aim of this action was to avoid the spilling of blood of millions of visitors who arrived in Karbala at that time." He says the second aim was to "give the central government and the security forces in Karbala an opportunity to begin a fair and neutral investigation to explain the facts about the situation to all concerned and uncover those who caused this crisis."

Asked if it is true that "the tense relationship between the Al-Sadr Movement and the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council [IISC] led to the withdrawal of the Al-Sadr Movement from the Coalition bloc, as a leading member of the Al-Da'wah Party said," Al-Ubaydi replies that many members of the UIC made "contradictory statements" and that various other statements were made. He adds that there were "many reasons," such as "certain sensitivities within the brothers in the IISC, but this is not the main reason." He says: "We gave two primary reasons for our withdrawal from the UIC. The first is that the UIC made the quota principle in forming the government and the UIC a basic policy and principle as though this was the aim behind joining the political process. The concerns of the ordinary citizens were left at the bottom of the UIC agenda and indeed were, sometimes, nowhere to be seen in this agenda.

"The Al-Sadr Movement's basic aim is to provide better conditions for the Iraqi citizens of all communities, religions, and ethnic groups. Therefore, we found that this quota principle was alien to the objectives and concerns for which we entered the political process.

"The second point that made us withdraw from the UIC was the double standards that are being followed in the work of the groups that are dominating the Coalition. These groups used this approach as a big slogan and a means to promote their connections with certain sides and acquire political gains and major portfolios in the Cabinet."

Asked if he means by that prime Minister al-Maliki, who, it is claimed, made the Al-Sadr Movement a stepping stone to rise to power, he says that he meant "the sides that participated in the quadrilateral coalition." He adds: "This coalition was called the coalition of moderates. It was a from of renouncing the UIC and was part of the double standards approach of those who are controlling the UIC, dragging it into numerous stands that not all the UIC groups accepted. Some such stands for instance is the federation law, which the UIC adopted. The Al-Sadr Movement and Al-Fadilah bloc did not approve of it but nevertheless the law was presented by the UIC, even though this law served another party; namely, the brothers in the Kurdistan Alliance. This has served as a green light for the US Congress to propose a law on partitioning Iraq. We have always rejected such laws and we even refused the federation law itself, even though we do not object in principle to discussing the federal issue but only after the departure of the occupation."

Asked if the Al-Sadr Movement will face further harassment from the Americans after its withdrawal from the coalition, he says: "Our political stands are not based on winning deals here or there or promoting certain deals. Our political stands are based on principles. The first objective of our Movement are the concerns of the ordinary citizens, alleviating the economic burdens of the people, raising their living standards, and improving the security conditions in general. Our stands are not based on fears of reactions by the occupation or others, like the government. The Al-Sadr Movement in general has been suffering from campaigns of attacks, raids, arrests, and harassment since the fall of the previous regime. These actions are not new, even though in the recent past the government participated in these campaigns in one form or another and even though we consider the Iraqi police and Army nationalist institutions."

Asked if they intend to bring down the Al-Maliki government or deny it a vote of confidence in Parliament, Al-Ubaydi says that Al-Sadr Movement has not caused and will not cause trouble or demand the fall of other sides. He says his Movement "never tried to confuse this government but has given it an opportunity and we helped it realize the most important demands of the prime minister; namely, his demands that he be given the opportunity of appointing independent ministers from the technocrats who do not belong to this or that side, and we gave him the chance of selecting six independent ministers."

Al-Ubaydi notes that his movement does not aim to bring down any side or direct accusations at anyone and adds: "True, if the government takes any steps that require stronger stands then we will discuss them but it is too late to discuss the issue of denying the government a vote of confidence."

Al-Ubaydi says that Al-Sadr Movement's ties with the Al-Fadilah Party are old and the two movements originally were committed to the line of Martyr al-Sadr. He adds: "Our meetings with the brothers were fruitful in bringing viewpoints closer and reaching positive results on future stands. However, if we want to form a new Parliamentary bloc, we should move with careful, firm, and well studied steps."

Asked about the idea of forming a major Parliamentary bloc that is not based on sectarian but on nationalist principles, led by Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, he says that after withdrawing from the UIC, the Al-Sadr Movement thought about "the basic mechanisms that we might adopt to form any future Parliamentary bloc." He adds: One of these mechanisms is to form a nationalist bloc. This means that those who participated in or incited terrorism will be excluded. Those who urge or participate in the partition of Iraq will be excluded. Those who try to drag Iraq into agreements and deals that are beneficial to regional or international sides will be excluded. That was what we thought about in general. However, forming a bloc led by Mr Al-Ja'fari was not discussed

"In the meeting that was held in Al-Najaf between the central bureau of the Martyr al-Sadr office and Mr al-Ja'fari and his delegation, talks centred on an attempts to rectify and restructure of the Coalition. Al-Ja'fari proposed forming a committee to revise and discuss the performance of the coalition and correct the mistakes that it made during the previous phase."

Al-Ubaydi says that those who called for forming this committee were not only the five parties that are currently forming the coalition, noting that the committee included Al-Sadr Movement and Al-Fadilah Party, "which made it a seven-sided committee," and adds: "That was what was discussed. Mr Al-Ja'fari refused to talk about a new bloc outside the coalition, saying that this would be an unlikely option and would be considered only if the discussions to restructure and rectify the Coalition failed."

He says that Al-Sadr Movement plans to open "channels of dialogue with all sides that are participating in the political process and also with those who are not participating provided there is a benefit to be gained from these channels, and we hope this will be greatly beneficial," adding: "We will not close the door in the face of any of these sides." He also says that Al-Sadr Movement also decided to play the role of a monitor to scrutinize the measures that the government will carry out as well as the measures that are taken in the Iraqi Parliament.

Asked to comment on the notion by some who say that Al-Maliki is the only figure that can end the Iraqis crisis, Al-Ubaydi says that one of the problems in the Iraqi political process is that some are trying "to draw up a plan that suits a certain figure and not a plan that suits the Iraqi conditions." He adds: "The Iraqi Parliament is not obligated to form a new government tailored on the measurements of Mr Al-Maliki, with our due respect to him, or Dr Iyad Allawi, or Adil Abd-al-Mahdi, or Dr Al-Ja'fari. The Parliament must draw up a political plan or programme that aims first and foremost at serving the Iraqi society and people." He says what is happening now is just the opposite; namely, how to "take the necessary measures to keep Al-Maliki government going."

Asked about an expected tour by an Al-Sadr Movement delegation led by him to a number of Arab states - Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Syria - and what the Al-Sadr Movement wants from these states and what message will this delegation carry with it, he says that the Al-Sadr Movement and the Office of Martyr Al-Sadr received invitations for a Movement delegation to visit the Arab states. He adds: "We are also convinced that the Arab states are important regional players and should have a role in promoting the security and political process inside Iraq." He says: "We aim to bring viewpoints closer with these states, clearing the confusion that exists in the minds of both sides on the current political and social process in Iraq. The second aim is to cooperate in order to help us take the basic steps through which the Arab states and the neighbouring states might contribute to improve the Iraqi conditions without infringing on Iraqi sovereignty and dignity, and without transforming Iraq into a back garden for this or that state."

He says that some parties in and outside Iraq "are trying to make us drop one of the basic principles that the Al-Sadr Movement and the Al-Sadr Office adopted; namely, resistance to occupation, both politically, as we have been doing for the past two years, and resistance in the field, which we practiced before that," noting that "this is our basic aim" and adding that the Al-Sadr Movement adheres to three main principles: Iraqi independence, unity, and security. He further adds: "It is ridiculous that certain sides, like the US Congress, should intervene to determine Iraq's future and to divide it into three parts."

In conclusion, Al-Ubaydi is asked about the Al-Sadr Movement's stand towards its former allies and partners from among the forces that reject the occupation and which did not participate in the political process, Al-Ubaydi says that the Al-Sadr Movement opens its doors of dialogue to all political sides in and outside Parliament. He notes that the Al-Sadr Movement was exposed to accusations and media campaigns last year but it refused to be dragged into mudslinging through the media "because we will eventually meet with these parties and sit with them at the negotiations able, and those who started the mudslinging would be the ones to blame."

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1430 gmt 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 UK-based Arab paper doubts credibility of US White House stand on Iraq partition

Text of report by London-based newspaper Al-Hayat website on 30 September

[Article by Adil Malik, a Lebanese writer: "The Iraqization and Balkanization of Iraq: The Precursors of Partition, and There is More to Come."]

When it declared its rejection of the partition of Iraq into three statelets, the White House did not succeed in warding off the ghost of this nightmare which has recently seen many cases of an acute back-and-forth, not in order to determine Iraq's present and future fate, but to save what can be saved of the US plan that had been prepared with the launching of the war on Iraq and the introduction of some amendments to it according with the requirements of each stage.

Prior to the announcement of the rejection Congress had already agreed to the partition of Iraq after studies, deliberations, and contacts held by Democratic Senator Joseph Biden. Although the resolution is not binding on the US Administration in principle, yet the support it enjoys from prominent senators such as Democratic presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama as well as prominent Republican representatives such as Richard Lugar, John Warner, and John Sununu reflects a clear shift in the US Congress and its stand on the future of the situation in Iraq.

The resolution did not provoke uproar equal to the event until after the lapse of 48 hours. The decision has a background, for the Democratic Senator Joseph Biden is considered the godfather of the resolution in conjunction with Leslie Gelb, former president [President Emeritus] of the Council on Foreign Relations, and they had proposed it together more than a year ago in the pages of The New York Times.

At the time, the following question was posed: "Have we reached that point?" And the answer then was: "No."

Since that date Senator Biden launched a wide political and media campaign in the American way (lobbying) to win support for the plan which is based on Balkanization and on the partition that took place in Bosnia in 1995, so that there will be three loosely-linked statelets: "Kurdistan", "Shi'istan", and "Sunnistan", all under the umbrella of a "big but feeble Iraq", as stated in the explanations appended to the plan.

On 1 May 2006 Biden and Gelb published a joint article in The New York Times which said: "The idea is based on what was achieved in Bosnia. Thus the Kurds, the Shi'is, the Sunnis, and the Arabs administer their affairs without the central government. We are capable of achieving that by offering the Sunnis inducements to participate in governing through a plan for withdrawal and the redeployment of our (US) forces and concluding a non-aggression pact throughout the region."

However the proposal was rejected at the time and political analysts who specialized in foreign affairs were unanimous in that the partition of Iraq could lead to a great deal of bloodshed in Iraq and neighbouring areas. That is because while Arab Sunnis lives in western Iraq, the Kurds in the north, and the Shi'is in the south, Iraqi cities are mixed and the sectarian, ethnic, and confessional communities are mixed. In Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Mosul there are no clear lines that separate each main group from the other, for in the recent period Iraqi cities have become more ethnically homogenous than in the past, while the areas surrounding Baghdad have suffered a great deal from ethnic and confessional cleansing.

Those views that were expressed a year ago were countered by the US Administration by the ideas of George W Bush, including an increase in the numbers and strength of the US units in Baghdad.

That is what was done several months ago with the dispatch of 30,000 US soldiers to Iraq. It was believed that such a measure will stop the violence and create a political climate that enables the Shi'is, Sunnis, and Kurds to reach a solution. However, the interviews held with eyewitnesses from Iraq made it clear that the general circumstances push the US Administration to move towards the partition solution.

Some experts in the area's affairs have expressed the view that a successful partition of Iraq will not be easy for it will require consultation with Iraq's neighbours including Iran and Saudi Arabia, in addition to the winds of nationalist sensitivities blowing, especially from Turkey.

Senator Biden's comment at the time was that the United States will sooner or later find itself mediating to implement the partition idea. He turned to the United Nations and discussed the idea with UNSC officials to win the UN's support and help in implementing the idea. Biden used the following logic to win support for his proposal: "Why did you need all that time? We (the United States) will reach that point either with the measures we take or without them, and what we need is the will for partition."

Senator Biden -who is a Democratic presidential candidate, and if unsuccessful in his bid for the presidency he could be appointed secretary of state - continued his efforts to wrest broad agreement to the partition of Iraq, and that is what actually happened some days ago.

The idea of partitioning Iraq has met with opposition on the part of ordinary Iraqis whose only voice is aired on some Arab satellite channels. A great many of them expressed their insistence on the unity of Iraqis. However, in the grand partitioning plans, who takes the views of ordinary Iraqis into consideration?

The reactions of some political parties and bodies include that of Abd-al-Karim al-Naqib, a leader in the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council, who says: "The Constitution governs the new Iraq, and it states that Iraq is a federal state based on provinces and governorates."

Al-Naqib says that "the plan to partition Iraq into statelets is closer to confederation than federation, and we are for a unified federal Iraq."

As usual, the Arabs move too late "to confront partition plans." Most of the reactions so far have been shy and not commensurate with the importance and gravity of an event of this kind. Only the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has expressed its rejection of Iraq's partition, a rejection expressed by Foreign Minister Prince Sa'ud al-Faysal who warned clearly of the consequences of embarking on such a step in view of the dangers it entails.

Nevertheless, others will be content to watch the logistic and practical steps that are channelled towards partitioning Iraq into three states or three regions on a federal or confederal basis, notwithstanding the voices of Iraqi citizens who continue to insist on living together in the midst of all the intermixing and intermingling, despite the long queues of emigrants from various areas in Iraq to neighbouring states out of fear of future developments.

As for the official reaction in Baghdad, so far it has been limited to Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi proposing a new political plan which he called the "Iraqi National Contract" that includes a number of principles and aims to "unify Iraqis and dispel the strong lack of trust among them." However, the feasibility of such a plan is almost nonexistent, for no measure or arrangement has succeeded in stopping the daily slaughters in the ugliest forms of killing and extermination in contemporary history.

In his speech to the UN General Assembly's current session which began on Tuesday, 25 September 2007, President George Bush stressed the need for "the United Nations to carry out a bigger role in Iraq." That confirms Washington is seeking -especially under the present administration -to internationalize the crisis of the US presence in Iraq, and to provide a kind of international umbrella to the steps that will follow the expediting of the plan to partition Iraq into three statelets.

As part of the present political and partisan back-and-forth between the Republicans and Democrats which escalates with the approach of the US presidential elections at the end of 2008, it is noted that President Bush has as of now obliged the Democratic party to adopt long-term measures connected with the future of Iraq and the US military presence, and with harmonizing the long term interests of the United States - especially oil and strategic interests - with the losses and sacrifices of the US forces stationed in Iraq, and seeking to minimize those losses. US public opinion has lost patience with those losses and is expressing such feelings by various means, including press campaigns and the organization of popular demonstrations in various parts of the United States, the biggest of which were held in Washington and particularly in front of the White House.

In the face of such a situation, many questions are asked without anyone finding any definite answers to them. Those questions include:

A· The plan to partition Iraq is no longer a rumour, a discourse, or a speech. It has become "a clear US ambition" backed by a two-third majority in Congress and the subsequent stages that will follow, despite the fact that President Bush announced his opposition - perhaps only as far as the timing is concerned, and nothing else.

That means "Iraqization" is the new trend advancing on the region. How will it be expressed in other areas adjacent to Iraq or in Iraq's near and far neighbours?

A· Will the plan be resisted effectively or will the resistance to it -if any -be ineffective in the actual progress of the partition plan?

A· When the Lebanese wars broke out in the mid-1970s, fears and the conviction that the region's partition will begin from Lebanon prevailed. Those feelings were reinforced by the great number of partitioning bodies and authorities. The question is: After the elimination of the Nahr al-Barid terrorists [in northern Lebanon] who -according to the official security authorities -used the method of "Iraqization," how can Lebanon be protected from Iraqization, or from another form of partition, if no real accord that begins with the election of a new president and endeavours to bridge the differences between the pro-government and opposition forces is reached?

Is the Iraqization of Iraq now taking place before our very eyes and ears, and there is more to come?

As for the White House's refusal to agree to the Senate vote, it does not provide sufficient assurance or basis of a credible stand but rather it reflects serious disturbances in the vision that dominates the ideas and plans of US policy, especially under the present US Administration.

Consequently, the credibility of the White House stand and of the percentage of the truth it announced remains doubtful, until the contrary is proven.

That is because there are always doubts about the feasibility and accuracy of George W Bush's policies which are always in the dock, especially in Iraq and in the entire Middle East.

Source: Al-Hayat website, London, in Arabic 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 British official says UK has faith in Iraqi troops to ensure security

Excerpt from report by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 2 October

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said that the Iraqi authorities in Basra would be fully in charge of security in the governorate within two months. During his unannounced visit to Iraq, Brown also said that the number of British troops would be cut down by 1,000 before the end of the year.

[Passage omitted: Brown's statement on cutting down number of British troops from 5,500 to 4,500].

The spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Barry Marston, joins us from London. Mr Barry! What is the significance of the timing of Brown's visit to Iraq and his announcement to cut down the number of British troops in Basra?

[Marston] First, the latest visit is one of a number of constant visits by British officials to Iraq to remind that Iraq continues to be one of our main priorities. The statement that Gordon Brown expects to cut down the number of British troops comes in parallel with the increasing capabilities of the Iraqi forces themselves in recent months, particularly in the weeks following our withdraw from the Basra Palace and the relative calm in Basra City following the pullout. The reigning security led Gordon Brown to assume that the conditions are favourable to gradually cut down the number of troops.

[Presenter] Some say the timing of this visit is purely for domestic consumption, particularly with reports on the possibility of holding early general elections in Britain next month!

[Marston] This is not true. The recent announcement [to cut down the number of UK troops] is within the context of our global strategy, which we announced months ago, to gradually cut down the number of troops and to gradually hand responsibility over to the Iraqis. However, we have always opposed a scheduled withdrawal because we wanted our decisions to be based on the conditions on the ground and not on political whims in London, in Washington or in any other place.

[Presenter] What is preventing Britain from a full pullout from Basra while British officials admit that the Iraqi forces are capable of and ready to be in charge of security in Iraq?

[Marston] As was the case with other provinces in southern Iraq, the British troops effectively handed over the responsibility [for security] and left these areas. However, they are capable of returning if needed; if there is trouble or there are challenges that the Iraqi forces are unable to face up to. But when there were problems in other provinces, the Iraqi forces were able to bear their responsibilities and to face up to these problems without intervention by the British forces. This is exactly what we hope will happen in the Basra Province. We will be ready to return in the coming months if the Iraqi forces need us. However, the pullout from Basra City reflects our confidence that the Iraqis themselves are perfectly capable of assuming these responsibilities.

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1304 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Islamic State of Iraq claims downing US helicopter - Al-Jazeera

Text of report by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 2 October

In Iraq, Salah-al-Din al-Ayyubi Brigades, affiliated with the Islamic Front for Iraqi Resistance, said that it managed to destroy a US vehicle in the Mada'in area, south of Baghdad. The group released a video showing a military vehicle being blown up with an explosive charge.

The so-called Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for downing a US helicopter south of Baghdad. It released a video showing what it said to be the moment the helicopter was downed. The authenticity of the two videos could not be verified from an independent source.

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1307 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Iraq's Sunni scholars issue statement on killing of clerics in Mosul

Text of report by Association of Muslim Scholars website on 2 October

The Association of Muslim Scholars [AMS] has issued Statement No 478 in which it condemned the crimes committed against a number of scholarly imams and mosque preachers in the city of Mosul. The AMS believes that the occupation and those that support it are totally bankrupt and incapable of achieving any victory. The desperation that is in their hearts drives them to commit such horrible crimes.

Statement No 478 on the bloody events taking place in the city of Mosul during the month of Ramadan:

Praise be to God Almighty and God's peace and prayers be upon the messenger of God, his household, his companions, and his followers: Instead of being an occasion to do good deeds and cast away abominable deeds, the month of Ramadan has been the scene of bloody events violating all principles and values in several provinces in Iraq, especially in the affectionate city of Mosul that witnessed many horrible incidents during this month that has not ended yet.

On the fourth day of Ramadan, Shaykh Yasin Sulayman Muhammad was assassinated. Shaykh Yasin is known for looking after students and for supervising courses for elementary and intermediate level students. He is also of Kurdish origin and believes in the unity of the country. On the fifth of this blessed month, Shaykh Muhannad Ghanim, the Imam of the Al-Iraqi Mosque, was assassinated in the second Al-Qadisiyah neighbourhood just before the dusk prayer. He is a young man with a master's degree in Islamic Shari'ah. On the 17th of the same month, Shaykh Ghanim Qasim al-Juburi, the imam and preacher of the Al-Huda Mosque in the Al-Sahil al-Aysar, was assassinated. He is a scholar with the rank of mufti. In the afternoon of the same day, teacher Salim Shit Muhammad Razzuqi, the principal of the Islamic Studies Preparatory School and a well-known preacher, was assassinated in front of his home as he was returning from the afternoon prayer in a mosque close to his house. On the same day, Azhar Ahmad Husayn al-Dulaymi, the muezzin of the Al-Sahabah Mosque in the 17 July neighbourhood, was also assassinated. The hands of treachery and treason have also struck down other residents of the city.

The purpose of this series of bloody acts is to destabilize the city and heat up the tension in it to pave the way for unjust measures to be added to the suffering of the people of the city so as to achieve the goals of the occupation and the forces cooperating with it. Therefore, the people of the city agree that those that are perpetrating such actions are elements from the intelligence service of the occupation (militias and death squads) and the intelligence services of some parties that are active in the region. As it condemns these bloody massacres, the Association of Muslim Scholars believes that the occupation and those that support it are totally bankrupt and incapable of scoring any victory. The desperation that is in their hearts is driving them to commit such horrible crimes. The occupation and those that are colluding with it should know that God Almighty always knows what the unjust are doing. The Iraqi people record these crimes against these forces. The right time will come to champion right and defeat falsehood.

The General Secretariat, 19 Ramadan 1428 Hegira, corresponding to 1 October 2007.

Source: Association of Muslim Scholars website, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Official says Iraqi Kurds can secede if Kirkuk issue not resolved

Excerpt from report by Diya Fazil "Qadir Aziz: the Kurds could declare independence on the basis of the constitution if [the implementation of] Article 140 is delayed", carried by Sbay media website Sulaymaniyah, run by Wisha Company of former PUK deputy leader Nawshirwan Mustafa, on 2 October

Only about three months is left for the implementation of Article 140 [of the Iraqi Constitution concerning normalization in Kirkuk] and there is a strong possibility that the deadline for the implementation of the article would be deferred until next year. The [Iraqi Kurdistan] region presidency's representative to follow up the work of the Higher Commission for the Implementation of Article 140 has urged the Kurdish leadership to exercise legal pressure, in addition to political, and demand a guarantee to ensure the rights of the Kurds in the event the provisions of the article are not implemented after the extended period.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the Kurdistan Alliance list, Firyad Rawanduzi, has told Rozhnama newspaper: The Kurds hold a very strong card and can bring down Al-Maliki's government any time.

The [Iraqi Kurdistan] region presidency's representative to follow up the work of the Higher Commission for the Implementation of Article 140, Qadir Aziz, told Rozhnama: The time has come for the [Iraqi Kurdistan] regional government and the Kurdish leadership to take a stance against Al-Maliki's government regarding the prevarications and obstructions concerning the implementation of Article 140.

The region's presidency representative added: There is a very important clause in the constitution the Kurds insisted to be included at the time which stipulates (The territorial integrity of Iraq is conditional on the implementation of the provisions of the constitution). The non-implementation of Article 140 within the period stipulated in the constitution would be in breach of the constitution. Therefore, in the event of the non-implementation of Article 140 within the deadline specified, of which about three months is left, the Kurds could chose not to remain within the framework of a united Iraq.

The spokesman of the Kurdistan Alliance list, Firyad Rawanduzi, told Rozhnama: The Kurds could exert pressure in many ways for the implementation of Article 140. The Kurds hold a very strong card and can bring down Al-Maliki's government at any time if the Kurdistan Alliance list chooses to withdraw from the government. However, we cannot always use this card against the government, but it would be possible to use it to our benefit at the appropriate time.

Qadir Aziz said: In addition to political pressure, the Kurds should resort to legal procedures by lodging a complaint at the House of Representatives against the prime minister and the ministers and government departments implicated in the non-implementation of the article and subject them to questioning about breaching the law and the constitution as regards an important issue such as Kirkuk. [Passage omitted]

Firyad Rawanduzi said: Resorting to legal procedures and lodging a complaint against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will not resolve the Kirkuk and Article 140 problem because so far the first phase of Article 140, which concerns normalization, has not been completed, and Al-Maliki is not the only obstacle to the implementation of the article.

[Passage omitted]

Source: Sbay media website, in Sorani, Kurdish 2 Oct 07

 
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ISRAEL
02/10/2007 Arab League head denies reports on Israeli attack in Syria

Text of report in English by Egyptian news agency MENA

Cairo, 1 October: Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa denied Western and Israeli media reports that the Arab Centre for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD) was attacked by Israeli aircraft during a raid on Syria last month.

Musa said he contacted the head of ACSAD, who confirmed to him that the reports were bare of truth.

ACSAD was established in Damascus, Syria in 1968. It is a specialized Arab organization working within the framework of the League of Arab States with the objective of unifying the Arab efforts which aim to develop the scientific agricultural research in the arid and semi-arid areas, help in the exchange of information and experiences and make use of the scientific progress and the modern agricultural techniques in order to increase the agricultural production.

Source: MENA news agency, Cairo, in English 2220 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Israeli minister addresses UN General Assembly on Palestinian state, other issues

Text of report in English by Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website on 1 October

[Press release: "Address by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni to the 62nd General Assembly, United Nations, New York"]

Mr President,

Families of the Israeli hostages,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Three thousand years ago, the people of Israel journeyed from slavery in Egypt to independence in the land of Israel. The Bible tells us that on their voyage to liberty they made a crucial stop: the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. As the General Assembly gathers this year, the Jewish people recall that historic journey by marking the festival of Sukkot. And every year, at this time, our people remember that the long march to freedom requires the acceptance of humanity's basic values.

For sixty years, since the rebirth of our state in our ancient homeland, with Jerusalem at its heart, we have not lost sight of this principle. The core values of tolerance, co-existence and peace that lie at the heart of every democracy must be protected within societies and promoted between them. This is the calling of our generation.

Mr President,

The conflict in our region is driven by those who reject these core values - those who seek power without responsibility; those whose aim is not to realize their own rights, but to deny those rights for others. At its heart, this is a conflict not about territory, but about values.

There is, of course, a territorial dimension to our dispute. We know this and, as we have proven in the past, we are prepared for the territorial compromise that lasting peace entails. But we also know - especially after withdrawing from Lebanon and Gaza - that territorial withdrawal by itself will not bring peace unless we address the core clash of values that lies beneath the conflict.

Israel may be on the front lines of this battle, but it is not our fight alone. This is a global battle. The notion that this battle was a local one - limited to isolated regions - collapsed in this city with the Twin Towers on a September morning six years ago.

Today it is clear that the extremists are engaged in a bloody war against civilians and communities, against hearts and minds, in every corner of the world. And it is clear too, that the Middle East conflict is not a cause of this global extremist agenda, but a consequence of it.

Yes, it is up to the parties in the Middle East to settle their political conflict - and Israel, for its part, desires to do so. But for success to be genuine and lasting, you - the nations of the world - need to be partners in a shared global struggle against the extremism and terror that feed conflict, for your sake, not just for ours.

It is in this spirit, that I would like to speak today about resolving our particular conflict, but also about the wider battle being waged today -the battle that affects us all.

This battle is global not just because it targets civilians everywhere, but also because the extremists have taken aim at the fundamental pillars of every modern society: democracy, tolerance and education. These are the new battlefields of the 21st century, and it is in these arenas, more than any other, that the future of our world will be decided.

Mr President,

I believe in democracy. I believe in its extraordinary power to produce free and peaceful societies founded on the respect for human rights. Democracy is a profound ideal, but it is also a vulnerable one.

Today, in different parts of the world, extremists - opposed to the very ideals of democracy - are entering the democratic process not to abandon their violent agenda but to advance it. As a spokesman for Al-Qa'idah recently declared, "We will use your democracy to destroy your democracy."

This should be a wake up-call for all of us. It is time to reclaim democracy, and this begins by rejecting those who abuse it.

Genuine democracy is about values before it is about voting. No true democracy on earth allows armed militia, or groups with racist or violent agendas, to participate in elections. But some demonstrate a troubling double standard. There are some who insist on high standards in their own country, but forget them when they look abroad. Violent extremists who could never run for office at home, are treated as legitimate politicians when elected elsewhere. As a result, we empower those who use democratic means to advance anti-democratic ends. And we strengthen the forces of those who not only undermine their societies but threaten our own.

Today, from this podium, I call on the international community to adopt at the global level what democracies apply at the national one - a universal set of standards for participation in genuine democratic elections. We need a universal democratic code that requires that all those seeking the legitimacy of the democratic process, earn it by respecting such principles as state monopoly over the lawful use of force, the rejection of racism and violence, and the protection of the rights of others.

The goal of such a universal code is not to dictate our values or to stifle legitimate voices with which we may disagree. Its goal is to protect core democratic values from those determined to use the democratic system against itself; and to make clear that participation in the democratic process is not just a right - it is also a responsibility.

Mr President,

I know that the temptation to engage with extremists can be strong. It may seem to promise stability and quiet. We may hope that by feeding the beast we can gradually tame it. As free societies, we pride ourselves - rightly - on our respect for difference and diversity. But we do a disservice to diversity when, in its name, we tolerate the intolerant.

Bitter experience has shown that buying off extremists is a short-term fix - for which we will pay dearly in the long run. Instead, groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah must be presented with a clear choice - between the path of violence and the path of legitimacy. They cannot have both.

And it is this same stark choice that must be presented to the radical regime in Iran. No responsible state disagrees that Iran is the most prominent sponsor of terrorism. It is a major source of instability and conflict in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and across the entire Middle East, and it is the enemy of Arab-Israeli co-existence.

None disagrees that Iran denies the Holocaust and speaks openly of its desire to wipe a member state - mine - off the map. And none disagrees that, in violation of Security Council resolutions, it is actively pursuing the means to achieve this end.

But there are still those who, in the name of consensus and engagement, continue to obstruct the urgent steps which are needed to bring Iran's sinister ambitions to a halt. Too many see the danger but walk idly by - hoping that someone else will take care of it. What is the value, we have to ask, of an organization which is unable to take effective action in the face of a direct assault on the very principles it was founded to protect?

It is time for the United Nations, and the states of the world, to live up to their promise of never again. To say enough is enough, to act now and to defend their basic values.

It is also time, Mr President, to see this same kind of moral conviction in the Human Rights Council - so that it can become a shield for the victims of human rights, not a weapon for its abusers.

Israel has never tried to avoid genuine discussion of its human rights record. But so long as the Council maintains its wildly disproportionate focus on Israel, it weakens the UN's moral voice, and the price of this blindness is paid by the victims of human rights atrocities in Darfur, in Myanmar and throughout the world.

Mr President,

There is no more accurate forecast for the future of a society than the lessons it teaches its children. Unfortunately, in our region, we see children's television programmes in which a Mickey Mouse puppet teaches the glory of being a suicide bomber and a seven year old girl sings of her dreams of blood and battle.

Religion, rather than being a source of hope and spiritual healing, is abused as a call to arms, as God is dragged once again onto the field of battle. It is time to reclaim religion from those who have made it a weapon rather than a shelter. It is time to reclaim education from those who use it as a tool of hate, rather than of opportunity.

As always, the most powerful form of education -and the hardest -is to teach by example. We cannot expect our younger generation to value what we are not prepared ourselves to protect and pay a price for. And there is a price to pay. From the leader who has to withstand public pressures. From the businessman who has to forgo economic opportunity. From the teacher and spiritual guide who must find the inner strength to teach truth and tolerance in a climate of extremism and hostility.

At all levels of society, there is a price to be paid. But if we do not pay it today, we, and those who follow us, will face a far greater bill tomorrow.

Mr President,

These thoughts are in my mind as we seek today to advance the cause of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. Reconciliation is not about deciding who was right or wrong in the past -it is about sharing a common vision and a common responsibility for the future.

In the last months, Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas have been engaged in a sincere and genuine effort to reach the widest possible common ground on political understandings. There is no substitute for the bilateral process. Failure is not an option -but it is for the parties themselves to define success.

The foundation for true peace lies in the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The world shares this vision, but it is also important that it clearly embraces the two core principles that emerge from it.

The first - two states, two homelands: just as Israel is homeland to the Jewish people, so Palestine will be established as the homeland and the national answer for the Palestinian people, including the refugees.

The second - living side by side in peace and security: just as a viable and prosperous Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza is an Israeli interest, so a secure Israel must be a Palestinian interest. The world cannot afford another terror state.

Guided by these principles, the parties can define a common border and turn the two-state vision from a dream into a reality.

To succeed, we must set our sights on a brighter future, while responding to the challenges of the present and learning the lessons of the past. As we make progress on concrete political understandings, it is just as important to change reality on the ground - to show Palestinians and Israelis that the promise of peace exists in practice, not just on paper.

In recent months, Israel has taken tangible measures to create a better environment, and we are ready to do more. We know that Palestinian life is full of day to day hardship. We know also - only too well -of the burden of terror Israelis bear, and of our primary obligation to their security. Together, we can change this reality -we do not need to submit to it.

We are not naive. We can see the difficulties ahead and the enemies of peace that stand in our way. But practical progress is possible in those areas where there is an effective Palestinian government that accepts the Quartet principles and implements, alongside Israel, existing road map obligations.

As the parties take the risks for peace, we look to the international community and the Arab and Muslim world, to offer support, not to stipulate conditions.

This support comes in many forms. It comes through economic and political assistance to the new Palestinian government, com m itted to co-existence and seeking to build the foundations of a peaceful and prosperous state. It comes through clear endorsement of any political understandings reached between the parties. It comes through enhancing and deepening regional ties and cooperation between the Arab world and Israel, while in parallel we make advancement towards Israeli-Palestinian peace. And, finally, it comes by confronting those determined to prevent us from succeeding.

We must stand up to those who have no respect for human life or human liberty -those who hold the captive soldiers Gilad Shalit, Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev -whose families are with us here today, and whose pain remains always in our hearts.

We must stand up to those who, after we withdrew from Gaza to give a chance for peace, chose not to build but to destroy, and choose -on a daily basis -to target Israeli homes and kindergartens with their missiles.

And we must stand up to those who see democracy as a tool to advance hate, who see tolerance as a one-way street, and who see education as a means to poison the minds of the next generation.

Ladies and Gentleman, I believe that, despite all the obstacles, there is a new moment of opportunity, and an alliance of interest that favours peace. Time is of the essence. We owe it to ourselves and to our children to find both the courage and the wisdom to make the right choices in the right way.

Mr President,

On this festival of Sukkot, Jews commemorate the journey from slavery to freedom by leaving their homes to live in fragile huts, like the shelters our ancestors lived in on their way to the Promised Land. For three thousand years these temporary huts -open to the elements -have been a reminder that stability and security are ensured not only by the structures that we build but also by the values that we share.

Perhaps it is for this reason that the sukkah, this fragile shelter, has become the Jewish symbol of peace.

As we turn to Jerusalem and say in our prayers every day:

Spread over us the tabernacle of your peace... May it be in our days, and for all nations... Amen.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, Jerusalem, in English 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Israel state prosecutor upholds decision to evict Hebron market settlers

Text of report in English by Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post website on 2 October

[Report by Dan Izenberg: "Hebron squatters should be evicted immediately, state agrees"]

The attorney-general sided Monday with petitioners asking the High Court of Justice to cancel the decision by a civil administration appeals court to postpone execution of eviction orders against Jews occupying four shops in Hebron's Triangle Market. The market is located near the Avraham Avinu complex in downtown Hebron.

According to Hagit Ofran, head of Peace Now's Settlement Watch, the settlers moved in to the shops about two years ago. However, they broke into the shops from behind, she said, and were not discovered for more than a year. Several months ago, when Ofran realized they were there, she lodged a complaint with the police. Eventually, in June, the police, on orders from the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, posted eviction orders and gave the occupants 45 days to appeal. That appeal was filed on July 27, and the court postponed the eviction so authorities could investigate the claims of the Committee for the Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron, which represents the settlers. Their names have not been published.

The Committee for the Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron told the appeals court that, as the representative body of the Jews currently living inside Hebron, the committee was acting in the name of the Jews who own the stores and were forced to flee the city during the 1929 massacre, or of their descendants. The committee also told the appeals court the Custodian of Jewish Properties had failed in its duty to protect the abandoned properties and to restore them to their rightful owners. It wants to cancel the authority of the custodian to administer the Jewish properties in Hebron.

The appeals court ruled that these arguments need to be examined in depth and, consequently, suspended the eviction orders.

In response, several Palestinians who had rented the stores from the custodian via the Palestinian Hebron municipality, petitioned the High Court against the ruling, charging that the appeals court had accepted the flimsiest of arguments in order to postpone the eviction. Their lawyer, Michael Sfard, said the Committee for the Renewal of the Jewish Community had not brought any proof to back its arguments.

The state prosecution agreed. The state's representative, attorney Gilad Shirman, wrote, "The petition should be accepted. The state believes the appeals court decision to postpone the eviction in the circumstances was extremely unreasonable."

Regarding the committee's arguments before the appeals court, Shirman wrote, "The Committee for the Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron does not provide a scrap of substantial evidence regarding its rights or the rights of those who are living in the stores on their behalf. The state believes the appeals court's decision even ignores the dishonesty of the squatters and the severe injury to the rule of law that would be sustained by failure to evacuate the squatters."

The Committee for the Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron said the state had completely ignored "the owners of the Jewish properties, who were dispossessed only because they were Jews and who kept their ownership deeds throughout British rule and Jordanian occupation in the hope and faith that some day Israel would return to Hebron and restore to them their plundered property."

According to the committee, the army closed down 280 shops, including the four in question, in 2001, after the Baruch Goldstein massacre. According to army documents, these structures were never again be used for commercial purposes. Why then, the settlers asked, should they not be given to Jews for homes, they were owned by Jews?

Source: The Jerusalem Post website, Jerusalem, in English 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Israeli media say PM fully trusts army chief

Israeli electronic media on 2 October report on Chief of Staff's Ashkenazi's reservations about the release of Gaza Strip prisoners and on ministers and officials' reactions, including a vote of the prime minister's confidence.

Officials: Olmert, Ashkenazi trust each other "completely"

The Jerusalem Post in English, right-of-centre, independent daily, reports at 1131 gmt: "Government officials expressed reservations on Tuesday regarding IDF Chief of General Staff Lt-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi's letter to President Shimon Peres, which urged the president not to pardon a number of Palestinian security prisoners.

"Ashkenazi said in the letter that such a move was 'unethical and immoral' while IDF soldier Cpl Gilad Schalit was still in captivity.

"However, associates of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Ashkenazi had expressed no such reservations when he was consulted about the prisoner release, and that he had even approved and signed the deal. "Lt-Gen Ashkenazi is not the morality officer of the government," Army Radio quoted the Prime Minister's Office as saying. Officials there later said, however, that Olmert and Ashkenazi trusted each other completely.

Ministers disagree on Ashkenazi's right to criticize government decision

"Meretz MK Ran Cohen, too, claimed that there was no reason for an army official to meddle in moral issues: 'The chief of staff was out of line. It's not his business to address the moral issue of freeing prisoners. He was wrong to write that letter.'

"However, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog claimed that Ashkenazi had every right to send the letter, and that he was even obligated to do so. 'He prepared and wrote a letter as part of the pardon process, and ultimately the political echelon is authorized to sign the pardon. That's who needs to decide,' he told army radio.

"MK Ephraim Sneh (Labour) also backed Ashkenazi, saying that 'it's the chief of General Staff's right to write to any state official.' He added, 'I have never seen a chief of staff who tried so hard to distance the army from politics.'

"Meanwhile, Schalit's father Noam said that he was in favour of the prisoner release even if it was not directly connected to his son. "In this case, I support the government's policy that we need to free prisoners in a controlled manner, but it's hard for me to ignore the emotional aspect and the fact that while we're freeing prisoners, we're also not doing anything,' he said."

State-funded, independent Voice of Israel Network B in Hebrew added at 0800 gmt that, referring to Ashkenazi's remarks, Public Security Minister "Dichter said the chief of staff erred in not submitting his letter to the ministerial committee that discussed the release of prisoners. Dichter added that he learned of the chief of staff's position from the media.

"A senior prime minister's bureau source said Olmert has full confidence in the chief of staff. He added that Gen Ashkenazi informed the defence minister, to whom he is subordinate, of his view. Minister Baraq presented the defence establishment's position to the government and voiced support for the release of prisoners.

"Prime minister's bureau sources further said that they had difficulty shedding the feeling that people were trying to drive a wedge between Olmert and the chief of staff, but that would not happen."

Source: As listed 02 Oct 2007

 
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02/10/2007 Two Palestinians wounded by Israeli police in Hebron

Text of report by Israel radio on 2 October

Two Palestinians were wounded by border policemen at the entrance to Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs. A Palestinian attempted to pass a security inspection holding a toy gun. After he was arrested, he dropped a detonator which exploded.

The policemen responded with gunfire, wounding two Palestinian youths. One was seriously wounded and the second Palestinian sustained moderate wounds.

Our correspondent Gal Berger reports that according to Palestinian sources, an eight-year-old boy was holding the toy gun. Our correspondent Gay Qotev reports that originally, the IDF reported that the gunfire caused no casualties. The IDF announced it would investigate the incident.

Source: Voice of Israel, Jerusalem, in Hebrew 1600 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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JORDAN
02/10/2007 Jordanian goverment fears increasing Syrian, Iranian influence in Islamist circles

Text of report by London-based newspaper Al-Hayat website on 30 September

[Report by Rana al-Sabbagh, from Amman: "A Meeting with the Prime Minister Preceded the Announcement of the Muslim Brotherhood's Participaion in the Jordanian Elections"]

The Jordanian Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood [MB], by settling the issue of its participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections has contributed to the increase in the political activities in the middle of a domestic atmosphere shackled by economic concerns and a possible regional explosion. This has kept what remained of Mu'awiyah's hair [Arabic expression that means very tenuous link] between the MB and the Jordanian authorities.

However, the political and official circles do not expect the decision that was announced last Tuesday to contribute to putting out the escalating confrontation between the Islamists and the authorities, which reached its peak following the withdrawal of the Islamic Action Front [IAF], the political wing of the MB, from the municipal elections on 30 July 2007.

After an alliance of convenience that lasted more than six decades, the conflict between these allies is escalating because of queries about the size of the public and secret participation of the Islamic tendency in the elections that is going to take place on 20 November 2007, and the nature of the coalitions that are going to be weaved by the MB with national and tribal powers to secure the "blocked one third" of the House of Representatives.

The MB participation in the elections is expected to take place through a list the number of whose candidates does not exceed 25 male and female candidates, compared to 29 candidates in the last elections in 2003. The reason for the reduction in the number of candidates is that the MB wants "to participate and not to engage in a conflict." The MB will focus on the quality and not the quantity in order to secure a definite opportunity to preserve a political participation close to the power of the IAF in the last parliament, in which the IAF occupied 17 out of 110 seats.

At the same time, the MB will support a unified list that includes between 12 and 15 candidates from outside its ranks; this is in addition to standing by candidates, who support the MB, in closed constituencies in which the MB does not have candidates because of the unity of the tribal voice.

According to information that seeps from the Jordanian decision-making circles, the MB decision to participate in the elections was contrary to the official hopes. The majority in the official and government circles has become convinced that the Islamic movement in Jordan is the subject of polarization and push-and-pull with the entry of "Hamas and Iran into the lines of influence and their public and secret infiltration of the movement." Therefore, according to the official assessment, the Islamic movement has started to compete with the state through attempts to overpower the government in preparation for ascending to the seats of power, as Hamas did in Gaza.

A Jordanian official told Al-Hayat: "The participation will be multi-facetted in order to secure a parliamentary majority. They will have declared candidates in the lists, undeclared candidates, and independent candidates with tribal weight. They will try to forge coalitions with national, leftwing, and other powers in order to secure weight in parliament by securing the blocked one third, and by copying the experiences of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon."

In its turn, the IAF has denied repeatedly the existence of a strategy to secure more effective and more organized action between the years 2006 and 2010, and stressed that the state is targeting it in order to silence the last voice of effective opposition.

On the other hand, some officials insist in closed meetings that the Islamic tendency is trying to "Islamize the society," starting from Al-Zarqa, the second largest city in population after Amman, which is the tendency's main stronghold, because the majority of its population is of Palestinian origin, and opposes the peace process.

According to this scenario, the movement pursues to reach gradually what it calls in its literature the stage of "defying the state," similar to what Hamas did in Gaza. The beginning was in the pursuit by the IAF and the MB of controlling five influential municipalities: Ma'daba, Irbid, Al-Rusayfah, Al-Kark, and Al-Zarqa. However, the Islamic movement found itself compelled to withdraw 5 hours after the beginning of the voting process. The IAF justified its decision to withdraw from the municipal elections at that time by claiming that there was rigging, and a mobilization of the armed forces members to vote against the IAF candidates. In some aspects of its criticism of the "grave violations", the IAF was supported by a report issued by the National Centre for Human Rights, whose board of trustees chairman is Ahmad Ubaydat, former prime minister and chief of Jordanian intelligence in the eighties of the last century.

However, the government accused the movement of adopting a premeditated decision "incited by Hamas abroad," after it realized that its popularity was receding, in order to consolidate its position before the parliamentary elections. After the boycott, the MB addressed an open letter that implicitly and in an unprecedented way touched upon the independence of the political decision of the head of state and sharply criticized the General Intelligence Department and held it responsible for managing the electoral process. Nevertheless, the political and partisan circles were not surprised by the decision to participate in the parliamentary elections, which came after a difficult labour, deep internal dialogue, and clear hesitation between boycott and participation that preoccupied the Islamic movement and most of its bases. These bases no longer see any benefit in participation, a fact that might lead to consequences for the future of the movement and its discipline in implementing resolutions.

Behind the political scenes, there is an argument between a minority that does not want to exclude the Islamists, and a majority that believes in the need to withdraw their official cover, and to treat them the same as the other powers because of the increasing security and political conviction -on the basis of documented information -that "newly-emerging leaders" have kidnapped the movement and have taken it into a hard-line direction so that its authority is now in "Iranian Qom and Damascus."

The measures adopted by the authorities against the MB started with the referral of the file of the Islamic Centre Society, the MB financial and investment wing, to the courts on the basis of claims of corruption, legislating for the fatwas, and making them into law. These measures also included controlling the mosque pulpits, and continuing the pressure to dissolve the link between the Jordanian Islamists and Hamas by isolating the hard-line symbols who support the Palestinian movement that was born from the "womb of the Jordanian MB" two decades ago.

Moreover, tribal campaigns and press articles attacked the IAF Secretary General Zaki Bin-Arshid, whom the official institution considers to be a radical close to Hamas despite the fact that he denies this. Bin-Arshid was accused of slandering the tribes and the Bedouins in an interview with an English language monthly magazine.

A senior leading member of the MB said that the decision to participate in the parliamentary elections "was not easy; however, a series of royal and government guarantees and assurances to conduct impartial elections following the problems that stemmed from the municipal elections have helped in taking this decision."

The decision came following a surprising meeting between the MB leaders and Jordanian Prime Minister Ma'ruf al-Bakhit, who threatened to adopt legal measures against the movement when the MB was insisting that the government should be dismissed and guarantees for free parliamentary elections should be given.

Al-Bakhit's meeting with four MB leaders, which took place in his house 10 days ago away from the media, was preceded by an emergency meeting of the MB Shura Council, the highest governing body of the movement and the maker of its policies and strategic decisions (55 members). A leading source at the MB Shura Council told Al-Hayat that the delegation received at its meeting with Al-Bakhit clear "political and technical assurances and guarantees that there would be no resorting to violations and rigging in the elections similar to those that took place in the municipal elections." The source added, "Al-Bakhit's address with the Islamists was calm and reconciliatory to a great extent." This has been denied by Al-Bakhit, and sources close to him say that he showed extreme strictness, and that the meeting took place at the invitation of Al-Bakhit and was arranged by Public Sector Reform Minister Muhammad al-Dhunaybat, who is close to the moderate tendency within the Islamic movement, but without a green light from the Palace and from the security power centres. The Shura Council leading member said that the meeting "strongly contributed to tipping the balance in favour of those calling for participation, which seems to be the aim of Al-Bakhit, whose government has been overburdened with the consecutive domestic crises, and who is trying to make the upcoming parliamentary elections succeed."

According to the participants in the meeting, among the guarantees offered to the Movement Al-Bakhit promised "to use fingerprints [for identification] in the elections, to allow domestic supervision, to announce in advance the names of the polling committees, and to sort out centrally and by computer everything related to the elections."

The Shura Council's assessment of the meeting was positive, a fact that strengthened the position of the tendency supporting the participation in the elections, "despite the state of political frustration prevailing over the grassroots of the movement because of the view that there is a continuous targeting of its social, political, charity, and Islamic call presence."

The MB leading member continued, "What made it easy for the leadership to adopt the decision to participate was the fact that it officially consulted the grassroots about the participation before the last municipal elections, which at the time was supported by the majority." He added: "Therefore, the leadership decided to bypass the problem of the MB candidates list, and to announce on Tuesday the decision to take the option of participation."

The meeting between Al-Bakhit and the MB has aroused controversy within the circles of political and security decision-making. The information stemming from the Islamists' circles claims that the doves and centrists tendency within the Islamic movement "is advancing in a noticeable way towards controlling most of the cake of the movement's candidates; this is accompanied by a clear retreat by the candidates of the hawks, and of what is known as the fourth tendency, which is accused of being close to Hamas." Most of the movement's deputies in the current House of Representatives will be dismissed from the game, because their political and legislative performance has been assessed as weak. The deputies who will be reselected include: Azzam al-Hunaydi, Muhammad Aql, Muhammad al-Bazzur, Badr al-Riyati, Ibrahim al-Mashukhi, and Hayah al-Musaymi.

Also moderate Islamist symbols will come back to be nominated, at the forefront of these are former House of Representatives Speaker Abd-al-Latif Arabiyat, and former IAF Secretary General and former Deputy Hamzah Mansur.

The participation of the Islamists in the elections this year is important for those who want to measure the popularity of the MB in the street in the light of the rise of the star of political Islam in the region, starting from Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon, to Morocco and Turkey.

In the background of the scene, there are many questions about whether the withdrawal of the MB from the municipal elections and their support for what Hamas did contributed to consolidating the popularity of the movement or to weakening it. There are more questions about the future of the promised political development process in the light of escalating economic challenges, the series of storms that prevail over the region and the increase in the existing tensions because of the conflict between the west and Iran over the nuclear dossier and the peace process.

Source: Al-Hayat website, London, in Arabic 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Jordan: US-based body to launch radio station for women, youth

Excerpt from press release published by US-based Internews website on 1 October

[California-based NGO] Internews Network is launching a new radio station in Jordan that will focus on women and youth. The station, to be operated in cooperation with the Princess Basma Youth Centre, will broadcast to all of Jordan.

To support this project and its other media development activities in Jordan, Internews opened an office in Amman this month.

"Internews Network is pleased to support Jordan's efforts in media and civil society development," said Nadia Al-Alami, Internews Network's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. "We are very excited that the new station will provide opportunities for Jordanian youth to use media as a tool for access to information and community development."

Through a grant from the US Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), Internews will train and support young people to operate a radio station to be built at the Princess Basma Youth Centre in Amman. The young journalists will learn the technical and journalistic skills needed to operate a community radio station, producing radio programming with a particular emphasis on issues of concern to youth and women.

This project builds on Internews' project establishing Autostrad, a youth radio production unit, at Princess Basma Youth Center last summer. Young trainees have gained real-life experience producing programming at the Autostrad studio, and their programmes have aired on Jordanian radio stations.

Last year Internews also launched Yarmuk FM, Jordan's first community-based radio station, in partnership with Western Kentucky University. YFM, based at Yarmuk University in Irbid, enables students to gain hands-on experience running a real radio station. YFM now broadcasts 24 hours a day to one million listeners throughout northern Jordan and the surrounding region. The Autostrad and YFM projects are also funded under the grant to Internews from DRL.

Zena Nasereddin, the former international programmes officer for the Office of Her Majesty Queen Rania al-Abdallah, will head up Internews' new Amman office as country representative. Prior to her position at Her Majesty's Office, Nasereddin worked at the Public Affairs Section of the American embassy in Jordan.

[Passage omitted: Background]

Source: Internews website, Altana, in English 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 UK-based paper interviews Jordan's FM, Arab League chief on Mideast conference

Text of report by London-based newspaper Al-Hayat website on 1 October

[Report by Raghdah Dargham in New York: "Amr Musa: Abbas is Fully Authorized to Speak on Behalf of the Palestinians"; Al-Kahtib to Al-Hayat: We have asked the United States to Invite Islamic States to the "Fall Conference"]

Jordanian Foreign Minister Abd-Ilah al-Khatib has said Jordan had asked the US Administration to invite major Islamic states to the fall conference because "they are concerned with the Palestinian issue". He said that the states are "Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia". He added that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "understood that the Arabs were not able nor did it suit them to attend just a photo opportunity and they would not be able to proceed on a mere formality, and that the majority would attend the meeting only if there is enough and real progress between the Palestinians and the Israelis that would lead to the start of negotiations within a few months. She will visit the region again to ascertain that such a progress would be achieved."

Al-Khatib regarded the establishment of Palestinian national unity between the authority led by Mahmud Abbas and Hamas as a precondition to negotiations as consent to "claims by Israeli circles of inability to achieve progress in negotiations with the Palestinian side prior to settling this issue". He said: "On the contrary, we believe that progress in negotiations between Abu-Mazin [Mahmud Abbas] and the Israelis will strengthen Palestinian unity and improve his ability to re-establish Palestinian unity."

In a statement to Al-Hayat, Al-Khatib stressed the importance of "the fundamental understandings" and specified "timetable" in the negotiations. He said: "All the Arabs agree unanimously on the need to achieve progress in bilateral negotiations before we guarantee our participation in the conference."

In a statement to Al-Hayat, Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa said: "Mahmud Abbas is fully authorized by the constitution to negotiate on behalf of every Palestinian, and he does not need further authorization to attend the conference or speak for Palestine."

He said: "I would rule out inter-Palestinian dialogue at this particular stage, but I would not rule it out at a later stage." He added: "There are ongoing Arab efforts to mend the rift and unite the Palestinians."

Musa confirmed that Condoleezza Rice would visit the region this month and that "she is determined to make an achievement and to prevent the fall conference being rendered a mere occasion for normalization."

He said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Sa'ud al-Faysal has submitted to the quadripartite committee, during a fast-breaking that included some Arab states, "a paper consisting of four to five points, the most important of which are stopping Israeli settlement, specifying a timetable, discussing fundamental issues and comprehensive negotiating processes."

He said: "The conference must decide the timetable. What is required now is that the agenda must be clear and the timetables must not be left open ended, and on the basis of that we will decided the extent of seriousness and whether we will participate in the conference."

Source: Al-Hayat website, London, in Arabic 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Jordan's first private satellite TV gets go ahead to start broadcasts

Text of report in English by Jordan Times website on 2 October

["Audio-Visual Commission Permits ATV to Start Satellite Transmission" - Petra headline]

Amman, Oct. 2 (Petra) - The Audio-Visual Commission (AVC) allowed Jordan's first privately owned terrestrial and satellite TV station, ATV to start satellite transmission as of today, Director of AVC Husayn Bani Hani said.

Director General of the Jordanian United TV Broadcasting Company, Zayd Rashdan sent a letter yesterday to the AVC requesting its permission to start satellite transmission, adding that the company was still not yet ready for this process due to financial reasons.

Rashdan said in his letter that he would inform the commission later on the new date of broadcasting, noting terrestrial broadcasting will start once the new company rectifies its financial status.

"The company, which bought the shares of the ATV's previous owner Muhammad Al-Al-Ayyan will also settle all outstanding issues with the Jordanian Radio and Television Corporation and the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission," he added.

Ownership of the ATV was transferred to a Jordanian company called "Al-Ajayib for Investments".

Source: Jordan Times website, Amman, in English 2 Oct 07

 
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LEBANON
02/10/2007 Senior Fatah al-Islam commander arrested in Lebanon refugee camp

Text of report in English by Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star website on 2 October

[Unattributed report: "Palestinians hand over Fatah al-Islam commander caught at Beddawi camp;"]

A suspected senior commander of the Fatah al-Islam militant group was captured by Palestinian refugees in the Beddawi refugee camp in North Lebanon and turned over to the Lebanese military Monday after he spent weeks in hiding, a Lebanese security official said.

Nasser Ismail was among a number of militant leaders who fled the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared near Tripoli before Lebanese troops took control of the camp in early September, ending a fierce three-month battle with Fatah al-Islam fighters holed up inside.

Daily Star Photo: Fatah al-Islam Commander Nasser Ismail

After weeks of hiding in nearby forests, Ismail appeared to have suffered from exhaustion when he was overpowered by Palestinian refugees as he tried to sneak into the Beddawi camp along with an aide, a senior military official said.

The refugees handed Ismail and the aide over to Lebanese troops, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Ismail, a Palestinian, is believed to be a top military commander of Fatah al-Islam, the official said.

"Nasser Ismail was captured by a Palestinian security force in the camp of Beddawi," Abu Ali Fares, a spokesman for Palestinian factions in the refugee camp, told reporters.

"The force raided the house of a relative of Nasser Ismail and found him hiding in the attic with another person," Fares said.

"He was taken aboard a Red Crescent ambulance on Sunday night. He was handed over to Lebanese Army intelligence services," Fars added.

The Beddawi camp is where nearly half of Nahr al-Bared's 31,000-plus residents found shelter after being driven from their homes shortly after fighting erupted between Fatah al-Islam and the army on May 20.

Ismail's wife remains in Beddawi, where, as in Lebanon's other camps, security is left to Palestinian factions according to the 1969 Cairo Agreement, Fares said.

Khalil Dib, an official of the Palestinian faction Fatah al-Intifada, said Ismail had told him while in Palestinian custody that he had been in Nahr al-Bared until Saturday before heading to Beddawi.

Since Nahr al-Bared fell on September 2 after a failed mass breakout bid by the last few dozen remaining militants, the Lebanese Army has been combing the camp and the surrounding area for fugitive militants, including Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker al-Abssi.

Ismail told Dib that Abssi "left Nahr al-Bared one month before the end of the battle" on September 2, Dib said.

The army has captured more than a dozen militants who escaped during the attempted getaway on September 2, when more than 50 fighters were killed and two dozen detained.

Fatah al-Islam spokesman Abu Salim Taha, a Palestinian born in Syria, was captured in the countryside outside Nahr al-Bared near Beddawi last month. The group's deputy commander, a Lebanese national named Shehab al-Qaddour who took the nom de guerre Abu Hureira, was killed in Tripoli in a shootout with security forces in August after he had fled the army's siege of the camp. Abssi remains at large.

Authorities have said Abssi fled the camp hours before the breakout bid.

Source: The Daily Star website, Beirut, in English 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Lebanon: Awn-led bloc vows support for Speaker's initiative

Text of report in English by Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star website on 2 October

[Unattributed report: "Change and Reform vows to make Berri plan work; Consensus is the best and only way"]

Beirut: The Change and Reform bloc said on Monday that it insisted on making Parliament Speaker Nabih Birri's initiative successful for the majority and opposition to arrive at a consensus presidential candidate. In a statement issued after its weekly meeting chaired by MP Michel Awn in Rabieh, the bloc expressed its readiness to hold what it described as "open dialogue" with all Lebanese parties and major parliamentary blocs in a bid to conduct the forthcoming presidential elections "peacefully."

"A comprehensive national consensus is the best and only way to protect and guarantee the country's unity, security and stability," the statement said.

Berri had announced about one month ago that the March 8 opposition was ready to drop its demand for a national unity government if all factions could agree on a consensus candidate for the presidency.

Outgoing President Emile Lahhud should step down on November 24, and Berri has been leading opposition efforts to agree on a consensus candidate with the ruling, Western-backed March 14 majority.

The bloc called on all Lebanese factions to stand united, welcoming any move by "brotherly or friendly Arab countries" to help the Lebanese reach consensus.

Meanwhile, the bloc warned security authorities against "falsifying facts and taking sides."

"Security forces have arrested a number of Free Patriotic Movement [FPM] partisans while taking a walk in [the Jbeil region of] Jaj over the weekend, while ignoring the fact that members of certain Lebanese parties are running military-style training camps in some well-known areas," it said.

The Internal Security Forces (ISF) arrested 11 FPM members who were allegedly training on private property in Jbeil to use weapons, security sources told The Daily Star Sunday.

The sources said the ISF had located at least 20 FPM members who were in a field in the Jbeil village of Jaj firing shots from Kalashnikovs, pistols and hunting weapons. Nine members managed to escape, while the other 11 were arrested.

Last week the Lebanese government said after a Cabinet session that both the opposition and the ruling March 14 Forces were running military-style training camps.

"Vital security information confirmed earlier reports that there are training camps in Lebanon, some of them training in the use of weapons ... run by the opposition and some forces in the majority camp," Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said following last Monday's session.

Tackling the issue of the hike in prices amid a "pressing" economic crisis plaguing the country, the bloc urged the government to take measures to ease the Lebanese people's suffering.

"We call for a quick and effective move to monitor prices, fight the increasingly high cost of living and prevent monopoly," the statement said.

It also called on schools, universities and private institutes to take into consideration the economic conditions of students and do their best to help them continue their academic year in light of their "limited financial means."

Source: The Daily Star website, Beirut, in English 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Lebanese Hezbollah MP comments on Awn as presidency candidate

Text of report in English by Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star website on 2 October

[Unattributed report: "Awn is the most prominent candidate - but not the only one -Hezbollah MP"]

BEIRUT: Hezbollah MP Husayn Hajj Hassan said in an interview published Monday that Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader MP Michel Awn was not the sole candidate for the presidency, although he is at the top of the list of presidential candidates. "Hezbollah believes Aoun is the most prominent consensus candidate - but not the only one," Hassan said in an interview with the Naharnet Web site. He said the FPM leader and retired general enjoyed the political qualifications necessary to occupy the top post, which he said were "competence, uprightness, tact and diplomacy."

Highlighting the fact that Hezbollah has not yet declared its official candidate, Hassan termed "firm and solid" the party's alliance with Aoun. Aoun's FPM and the Amal Movement are the other major members of the Hezbollah-led March 8 opposition, which is in the midst of talks with the ruling March 14 coalition to agree on a consensus candidate to succeed outgoing President Emile Lahhud, whose term ends on November 24.

"There are about 10 presidential candidates so far. We do not reject any name under the umbrella of consensus, including [March 14 Forces members] Boutros Harb and Nassib Lahoud," he said.

"Hezbollah and the opposition want a president who represents all the Lebanese and who maintains a good relationship with the Arab and international communities, as well as with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir," he added.

Meanwhile, Hassan refused to comment on a statement issued by the Maronite Bishops Council last month and tackled the contentious issue of whether Hezbollah should keep its arms.

"We are used not to responding to the council's statements as a show of respect for the bishops," he said.

Tackling the issue of Security Council Resolution 1559, Hassan said: "It is a US-Israeli resolution which constitutes an attack against the Lebanese sovereignty and interference into Lebanon's domestic affairs. International resolutions are not more important than Lebanon's interests and internal stability."

The Security Council passed Resolution 1559 late in 2004 after Lahoud's term was extended by Syrian fiat, but the resolution also demands the disarmament of all non-state militias.

Hassan voiced Hezbollah's support for an international tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, despite some legal objections to the organization of the tribunal.

UN Resolution 1757 established a special tribunal to try suspects in Hariri's February 2005 assassination, although the Syrian-backed opposition has objected to certain elements of the resolution.

Hassan also criticized the detention of four former security chiefs, who have been in custody for more than a year for their alleged involvement in Hariri's killing. Hassan suggested putting them under house arrest if authorities believed that the four might try to leave the country or if authorities were worried about the four's safety.

Asked about Hezbollah's reaction to any military attack targeting Iran and Syria, Hassan said his party would merely condemn the offensive, organize demonstrations and offer moral support.

"But if we are the ones targeted by a military attack, Hezbollah's response will be similar to that during the summer 2006 war. As for our allies, they know how to defend themselves," he added.

Asked when the Hezbollah-led opposition would dismantle its tent-city protest in Downtown Beirut, Hassan said "the protest is the response -when the crisis is over the response will be removed."

The opposition launched the sit-in on December 1 last year after six opposition ministers quit the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and protesters have demanded the resignation of the Cabinet.

Hassan accused the United States of "attempting to Iraq-ize the region," in reference to an alleged scheme by Washington to spread the violence that has plagued Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion.

He warned against the adoption of a law by the US Congress to partition Lebanon similar to the non-binding US Senate resolution from last week that promotes a federal approach to the Iraqi state.

Source: The Daily Star website, Beirut, in English 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Lebanese forces arrest 11 opposition members training with guns

Text of report in English by Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star website on 1 October

[Unattributed report: "ISF detains 11 opposition members training with guns"]

Beirut: The Internal Security Forces (ISF) arrested at least 11 members of the opposition Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) who were allegedly training on private property in Jbeil to use weapons, security sources told The Daily Star on Sunday. The sources said the ISF had located at least 20 FPM members who were in a field in the Jbeil village of Jaj firing shots from Kalashnikovs, pistols and hunting weapons. Nine members managed to escape, while the other 11 were arrested.

The FPM dismissed the report and said it was aimed at harming the image of the party.

Last week the Lebanese government said after a cabinet session that both the opposition and the ruling March 14 Forces were running military-style training camps.

"Vital security information confirmed earlier reports that there are training camps in Lebanon, some of them training in the use of weapons ... run by the opposition and some forces in the majority camp," Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said following last Monday's session, which lasted for seven hours.

Aridi said it was the first time Lebanon acknowledged the presence of this "dangerous reality" and would be undertaking the necessary measures to deal with these camps. Sunday's arrest, if confirmed, would be the first since cabinet session. Both the March 14 Forces and the March 8 opposition have denied operating military training camps.

Source: The Daily Star website, Beirut, in English 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Lebanese presidential candidate Ghanim on elections, opposition "blackmail"

Text of report by London-based newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat website on 30 September

[Interview with Lebanese presidential candidate MP Robert Ghanim by Tha'ir Abbas, in Beirut; date not given: "Robert Ghanim: I Will Not Attend a Session That Is Not Called By Birri; the Opposition Practices Unacceptable Blackmail"]

[Abbas] Where is the crisis of presidential elections in Lebanon headed?

[Ghanim] We are faced with an election whose importance has appeared through the desire of all the Lebanese to enter it from the right door and agree on a president, on whom there is accord. Most partners of the homeland should agree on the vision and personality of this president so that this election will be a prelude to starting to resolve internal problems, at least. As for any other proposal or solution, on which there is no accord, which means electing the president with the blessing of most partners of the homeland, we will face a situation that is open to all possibilities. This situation is known and unknown at the same time, since we know what we are getting into, but we will not know where we will get to, in terms of fragmentation and civil wars, the presence of two governments and two presidents, and so forth. Thus, we will have wasted the last opportunity and proved, once again, that Lebanon is the homeland of lost opportunities.

[Abbas] Do you think that there is an intention and a possibility of reaching a solution to the crisis?

[Ghanim] I do not want to get into intentions, but I think that there is no sensible person in Lebanon who can tolerate [the situation] or who wants the country to face ruin. There are tactics in politics that can be used in order to improve conditions. Making calls for taking steps by this or that team, like election by a simple majority (half plus one), is justified, if it is meant to improve conditions in order to agree on a president on whom there is accord. But if this is not what is meant by these calls, then I think that we have begun a very dangerous stage, whereby these tactics become absolutely unjustified, and even dangerous for the country.

[Abbas] What do fear if accord is not reached?

[Ghanim] If accord is not reached, all possibilities will be open. I fear that there will be reactions and that the Lebanese arena will be open to all possibilities, including, for example, turning Lebanon into a staging ground for all terrorist operations. Therefore, I say that there is no sensible person in Lebanon or outside it who wants the country to face ruin, after what we witnessed at Nahr al-Barid and what is hidden for us at other camps.

[Abbas] Are we faced with a crisis of options or a crisis of entity?

[Ghanim] The two are somewhat connected. We cannot say that we are faced with a crisis of entity, because all the disputing parties speak about the Al-Ta'if constitution. I think the final Lebanese entity, which is for all its sons, was settled in Al-Ta'if [accord], which we all accepted. There are some options, which create the impression that regional or international countries use this or that team as means for boosting their presence or for negotiating with better conditions to serve their private interests. This is correct. However, it is more correct, more sound, and logical to say that we, the Lebanese, should know where we stand when the interest of Lebanon is threatened. On the other hand, we should take into consideration that Lebanon is the opposite of the Zionist entity. Therefore, Lebanon lies at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict and it will not abandon this role. However, there is a difference between being at the heart of this conflict, as an active player and as a supporter of the [Arab] cause at all international forums, and being an arena and fuel for this conflict. In this conflict, we remain an integral part of the Arab world and of the countries that only want an honourable settlement, which restores Arab rights. Lebanon will remain, to some extent, in a cultural and scientific conflict with Israel, in view of Lebanon's formula, which we should preserve and which we should keep away from all dangers, so that we will not be an arena for the wars of others once again.

[Abbas] What are the issues that the next president will face?

[Ghanim] There is a large number of issues, including the international tribunal, relations with Syria, and the resistance.

[Abbas] What about the weapons?

[Ghanim] Once the Shab'a Farms are placed under the authority of the United Nations, the exchange of prisoners becomes automatic. Once that happens, we should find a solution to the issue of the resistance so that we will preserve it on the one hand, and integrate it into the Lebanese legitimacy through setting up a higher commission for the strategy of defending Lebanon that includes official Lebanese figures, a representative of the resistance, and another representative of the former resistance men on the other. The resistance men will be supporters of the Lebanese Army. As for the heavy weapons, they will be under the custody of the army, and the Council of Ministers will decide on them.

[Abbas] What about the tribunal?

[Ghanim] This issue is now absolutely beyond the authority of the Lebanese state. The issues that may be disputable are now under Chapter Seven [of the UN Charter]. This issue has to do with justice and is connected with the conscience of every Lebanese. Based on this, anyone who was responsible [for the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri] should be punished, without revenge or provocation. I am confident that this tribunal will achieve justice.

[Abbas] You had a special relationship with Syria, but you are with the 14 March [forces] now.

[Ghanim, interrupting] I am not with 14 March. I am allied with them. I was originally distinguished by my independence. My conviction comes before anything else. My relationship with prime minister (Rafiq) al-Hariri had been excellent and good since the 1990s. I participated with him in one of his governments. As for my relationship with the Syrians, it was always based on respect, honesty, and cooperation to serve the interest of Lebanon. I was not in agreement with them all the time, but I had my options. In 2000, I asked for the return of General Michel Awn from exile and for the release of Dr Samir Ja'ja from prison. I asked for organizing Syrian workers and other things. In 2004, I nominated myself for the presidency, although there was a decision on extension [of the term of President Emile Lahhud].

[Abbas] Are you still in contact with Syrian leaders?

[Ghanim] No.

[Abbas] It was said that some presidential candidates have received letters from Syria, in which they were asked to explain their stands on some issues. Were you among these candidates?

[Ghanim] No. I have not received any letter. They know my stands.

[Abbas] What is your position on the ongoing constitutional debate about the quorum of the session for the election of a president of the republic?

[Ghanim] I presented this issue to the Laws' Modernization Commission, which consists of 16 judges, in September 2006, when no one was speaking about this issue. Article 49 of the constitution was studied carefully and impartially by the judges. In late October, we reached a decision, after going back to scholar Edmond Rabbat and the books that deal with the constitutional issue. We reached the conviction that even if there is no mention of the quorum, then when the legislator says a two-thirds majority in the first session, he has linked the quorum of attendance to the quorum of election. The constitution requested the largest possible attendance and described the president of the republic as the symbol of unity of the homeland.

[Abbas] But 14 March proposes the half-plus-one election formula to avoid a vacuum, given that it is the lesser of the two evils.

[Ghanim] This is a political right for this team, because it is also not permissible for any minority team to practice blackmail in the issue of the presidency in this manner. The legislator asks the MPs to show up at the Chamber of Deputies. The MP has a national, ethical, and moral duty to show up at the Chamber of Deputies on the day of electing the president of the republic.

[Abbas] Is it possible to call a session for the election without the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies?

[Ghanim, interrupting] This is not possible. The constitution is clear. Article 73 stipulates that the chamber meets of its own accord if it is not summoned. However, the speaker of the chamber has called a first session and a second session. This means that he will call sessions later if the election does not take place in the next session. I hope we will reach a solution.

[Abbas] You have made up your mind that you will not be a candidate for election by a simple majority.

[Ghanim] Yes, out of my belief that Lebanon is Lebanon of accord, and not confrontation.

[Abbas] If there is a trend towards election by a simple majority, will you attend?

[Ghanim] Of course, but I will not be a candidate and I will not participate in voting.

[Abbas] You will secure the quorum, but you will not vote.

[Ghanim] I will go there because it is my duty to attend.

[Abbas] Even if the speaker of the chamber does not call a session.

[Ghanim] I do not think this will be the case. The speaker will call sessions.

[Abbas] But Speaker [Nabih] Birri says that he will not allow this to happen.

[Ghanim] This means that it will not happen. I hope we will reach a solution before that.

Source: Al-Sharq al-Awsat website, London, in Arabic 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Lebanese paper talks of Fatah-al-Islam's close links with Al-Qa'idah

Text of report by Lebanese newspaper Al-Nahar website on 27 September; subheadings inserted editorially:

[Report by Hiyam al-Qusayfi: "Confirmed security information on armament by the 8 March and 14 March Forces, money transfers for Fatah al-Islam, and allegiance to Al-Qa'idah"]

The first session to discuss the presidential election did not overshadow the importance of the security information being handled by security agencies and ministerial circles in the wake of the recent cabinet session, which lasted seven hours and focused on the subject of armament and the incidents at Nahr al-Barid. This is in view of the seriousness of the facts obtained by the security agencies and which have turned into rich material for political discussions.

The fact is that there are two imminent dangers facing the country as it prepares to elect a president for the republic. These two are armament, which is widespread all over the country, and the growing terrorism that was revealed in the interrogations with the Fatah al-Islam members. The seriousness of this information is that it puts the country between the jaws of pincers because the attempts at political wrangling, which place the country between two opposing political teams on the eve of the presidential election, could destroy all the accomplishments made so far, including the noticeable progress in fighting terrorism and controlling the domestic arena, giving way to increasing domestic tension and scoring political points for one team against another.

The army, which has just come out of a battle in which more than 160 of its troops were martyred, has, since day one, faced a series of questions against a political background and against the background of the security debate with the Internal Security Forces.

However, the security implications that we have today reflect negatively on the various security establishments that are concerned with domestic and border security in light of the possibilities of a presidential vacuum, which are gradually increasing. Therefore, the recent cabinet session raised an important issue, which had to explode inside the cabinet, and not outside it because controlling what happened inside the cabinet session and addressing the negative consequences of the information placed by the security commanders on the table and which affects, by different degrees, all the political parties without exception, and makes political leaders assume their responsibilities in full - all of this would make security officials capable of dealing objectively with all the security incidents and controlling them away from political interventions.

Fatah al-Islam

No doubt, the battle of Nahr al-Barid is still raising many questions on the part of some political forces. The cabinet session was an opportunity to open this file, in the presence of the concerned security forces, which explained, for several hours, what happened at the camp and the course of battles and their outcome, as well as the dangers that the military faced and the high number of martyrs and wounded. However, beyond the military incidents, it was disclosed that there is accurate and detailed security information about the close connection of Fatah al-Islam to Al-Qa'idah and about the jihadist state of affairs that the members of the organization, from different nationalities, had been experiencing.

This information also talks about the relationship of those members with the fundamentalist organization in Iraq and other areas of fundamentalist conflict, without denying the relationship of some parties within this organization with some sides in Syria. The army has not stopped repeating this since the outbreak of battles and until today. What is more serious than this is that the detailed and huge information that the army now has and that was seized with the fugitives by sea and land, in the form of documents, CDs, and electronic devices for storing information, not only proves that there is a close relationship between Fatah al-Islam and Al-Qa'idah, but also proves that Fatah al-Islam had pledged allegiance to Al-Qa'idah. What is even more serious is that there are documents that have to do with money transfers through local banks for Fatah al-Islam.

All of this information will be lodged with the competent judiciary once it is documented and the investigation into it is completed. We have to bear in mind here that the detained persons have been making very serious and important confessions concerning the terrorist acts that were carried out or that were being prepared. Key among those detainees is Abu-Salim Taha. Meanwhile, the security forces are still keeping tight control of the area in which Shakir al-Absi is believed to be hiding. We have to know here that Taha, according to the information that was presented to the cabinet, is not less important and dangerous than Al-Absi.

This fundamentalist file is likely to provide rich political and judicial material once it is over. However, what is more serious is that the army has obtained a huge amount of information, which will reveal many facts. Not politicizing this file would contribute to the capture and pursuit of all sleeper cells, controlling the subject of terrorism, and tightening the noose on all those who are connected to the fundamentalist organization. This danger is gradually growing. All competent international circles are looking at Lebanon to see how it handles this question without politicizing it.

Domestic armament

The threat of domestic armament, which was explained in detail at the Council of Ministers, is not less serious than the fundamentalist threat. This is especially since domestic armament has become political material that is used by the 8 March and the 14 March parties against each other. However, its danger lies in the fact that it goes beyond accusations to facts that are proved by security investigations. This is confirmed by the files that are in the possession of all security officials. The discussions of the cabinet and what was leaked by some ministers showed the importance of openness and frankness and that the danger of what is happening should not be downplayed, irrespective of the arguments and wrangling that took place at the meeting and irrespective of the partisan political trends on the part of some ministers. For, the security information spoke about the training being pursued by loyalists of the 8 March forces and about the numbers of people who are actually being trained at a camp for Hezbollah in an area located north of Ba'labakk. The security officials listed the parties that received training.

They include supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement, supporters of former Minister Wi'am Wahhab, and supporters of former MP Zahir al-Khatib. However, the list included people other than the 8 March loyalists. The security information also spoke about the 14 March forces and about exercises carried out by the supporters of the Progressive Socialist Party in Al-Jabal, which have currently stopped. The information further referred to some signs of training for the Lebanese Forces and about unarmed training for the supporters of the Future Movement in Akkar, Al-Biqa, and Jordan. These exercises were conducted under the cover of elements belonging to private security companies. However, security officials are aware of the significance of these exercises, even if they are done without weapons. They also know that many party elements received training 17 years ago. The security briefing also included a detailed explanation, with figures, of the machine guns that have been obtained recently by the Future Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement.

In this context, it was said that these weapons reach political parties and movements through official licensing, even if the number of pieces is 200 or 300 machine guns. In light of this, a serious discussion took place between the security officials and the ministers about the measures that should be adopted to suppress this emerging situation, despite the fact that the concerned ministers, most of whom are deemed pro-14 March forces, have denied any connection between their movements and the said training. The outcome of the discussion was a security proposal to stop issuing licenses [to carry weapons] to political movements and parties and to confine these to the escorts of MPs or ministers, and then to empty party centres of weapons and give the concerned people a certain deadline before carrying out raids. However, these two conditions should have a complete political cover by the political leadership and the cabinet in order not to give immunity to any violator. The importance of these two proposals is that they contribute towards reducing tension during the period of the presidential election so as to prevent any internal security upheaval. However, it is unlikely that the two proposals will be adopted, especially since some ministers did not welcome them when they were made. If this is the case, then you can imagine the reaction of the political forces that have been beating the drums of war silently so far. A simple question remains: How are weapons reaching the parties in this intensive manner? Which land crossing or seaport is being used to ship these weapons or is it the case that underground depots have reopened?

Source: Al-Nahar website, Beirut, in Arabic 27 Sep 07

 
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LIBYA
02/10/2007 Libyan parliament condemns US Senate's resolution on Iraq

Text of report by Libyan news agency Jana

Tripoli, 2 October: The Secretariat of the General People's Congress has released a statement on the non-binding resolution passed by the US Senate to divide Iraq into three entities, a Kurdish, a Shi'i and a Sunni.

Here follows the text of the statement:

The Secretariat of the General People's Congress read the text of the "non-binding" resolution passed by the US Senate on 26 September 2007 about dividing Iraq into three entities, a Kurdish, a Shi'i and a Sunni, arguing that this would provide a solution to the political, security and social situation in that country. In this respect, the Secretariat of the General People's Congress would like to highlight the following facts:

- Iraq is not an American state and therefore the US Senate cannot adopt a resolution which stipulates its partition because such a matter concerns only the Iraqi people and the constitutional institutions they have chosen with their free will.

- The adoption of a resolution by the US Congress on an internal Iraqi matter suggests that Iraq is a country under tutelage with no sovereignty because it is not appropriate for the parliament of a foreign country to decide the partition of another country.

- The real treatment of the deteriorating political, security and social situation in Iraq does not lie in the adoption of such resolutions but in the treatment of the causes which led to this by speeding up the withdrawal of the foreign troops from Iraq and leaving the Iraqi people to decide their fate with their free will and without any foreign interventions.

Source: Jana, Tripoli, in Arabic 1346 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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MIDDLE EAST
02/10/2007 Foreign ministers of Italy, France, Spain discuss Iran, Mideast, Lebanon

Text of report by Italian newspaper La Repubblica on 2 October

[Report by Vincenzo Nigro: "Iran, Lebanon, Middle East: A Tripartite Dinner in Rome"]

Rome - A tripartite dinner was held in Rome last night to discuss three issues in particular: sanctions for Iran, the Middle East, and the "Euro-Mediterranean Union," a new international entity devised by Sarkozy, which Italy is getting set to back in Europe and with the countries on the Mediterranean's southern rim. That was the menu at a dinner which Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema hosted in Rome yesterday evening for his guests, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

The most important issue addressed was the topic of sanctions for Iran: Now that the new UN sanctions have been frozen for another two months (because China and Russia are opposed to them on the Security Council), France's Kouchner confirmed to D'Alema and to Moratinos that he intends to call on all 27 EU member countries to consider the possibility of purely European sanctions. Italy, however, does not agree. D'Alema repeated to his French counterpart that it is necessary, first of all, to continue to push the issue in the United Nations, because the match with Iran is such an immensely strategic game that it cannot be played by only a part of the Western world, and in the absence of such giants as Russia and China. "And besides, sanctions allowing Russia and China to replace European businesses in Tehran would be sanctions that would split the international community and that would have no real economic impact on Iran," the Italian foreign minister stressed. But D'Alema certainly did not rule out the possibility that "Italy, too, may consider initiatives at the European level, agreeing on them with the United States; although such decisions would have to be adopted by the EU as a whole and not just by one or the other group of countries, because further rifts would undermine the effectiveness of any move we might make."

Kouchner, who has operated an almost 180-degree turnabout in French foreign policy in conjunction with his president, Nicolas Sarkozy, listened to his Italian counterpart's objections one by one last night. "I will discuss the issue again with Sarkozy who, apart from anything else, will soon be travelling to Moscow to meet with Putin, and Russia's role in the Iranian game is unquestionably important," he said.

The second issue addressed at the dinner was the Middle East, in the sense of the peace conference for Israel and Palestine, and of the situation in Lebanon. D'Alema, Kouchner, and Moratinos see very much eye-to-eye on these issues. Ms Rice gave them an update in New York last week, apprising them of recent developments in the bilateral talks between Olmert and Abu-Mazin. The United States is expected to convene the peace conference in Maryland in the second half of November: The Israelis and the Palestinians are very far ahead in their overall negotiations, which are being conducted under US supervision; thus Ms Rice said that the main European partners (including Italy) will be invited, along with such important Mideast donor countries as Japan and Sweden. Italy, France, and Spain pointed out to Ms Rice that a peace meeting between the Israelis and the Palestinians cannot be allowed to end in a stalemate this time: The US Administration is well aware of that, especially as the three foreign ministers get the very strong feeling that the situation between Abu-Mazin and Olmert, and Ms Rice, is very, very much further ahead than the picture allowed to dribble through to the general public would suggest.

Where Lebanon is concerned, Italy, France, and Spain share the burden of running the UNIFIL [UN Interim Force in Lebanon] force, to which they contribute with their troops: The postponed presidential election and the ongoing series of murders involving anti-Syrian politicians paint a grim picture of instability in Lebanon which might well deteriorate even further. The three foreign ministers consulted with each other in particular on what to do if the political murders in Lebanon continue, and if Hezbollah's challenge to the Siniora government flares up again, paving the way for the potential retaliation that the moderate Sunnite-Christian camp has refrained from enacting to date.

The last issue addressed in the course of last night's talks was the Mediterranean Union, a new political entity that President Sarkozy has dreamed up, among other reasons, to be able to bring Turkey on board (because he is determined to keep the country out of the European Union proper). Italy and Spain subscribe to France's idea, but not in an anti-Turkish vein. D'Alema said that the Mediterranean Union has intrinsic value because it fosters a debate between the Europeans and the countries on the Mediterranean's southern rim, in other words those Arab countries in the Maghreb with which proper economic integration can be associated with strengthened and peaceful political cooperation.

Source: La Repubblica, Rome, in Italian 2 Oct 07

 
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MOROCCO
02/10/2007 Egyptian writer views Moroccan election results as sign of Islamists' Setback

Text of report by Egyptian writer Khalil al-Anani published by London-based newspaper Al-Hayat website on 27 September

The "prophecy" in Morocco has not been fulfilled, and the Justice and Development Party [PJD] has not won first place in the recent parliamentary elections, as many people -including PJD leaders -had predicted. The surprise was that the PJD did not do better than the least optimistic predictions. The estimates provided by Arab and Western research centres throughout the past two years were closer to a "velvet" dream.

The event has many significant indications and needs to be pondered. First -notwithstanding arguments about the weakness of political participation, the arbitrariness of the electoral system, and the split of the votes among other similar parties (Al-Nahdah [Awakening], Al-Fadilah [Virtue], and The Civilized Alternative [Al-Badil al-Hadari]), in addition to the biggest organized religious group (Justice and Benevolence group) boycotting the elections -what happened to PJD reveals the extent of the fragility of the "traditional" theses on the possibility of the Islamists dominating the Arab street, and their ability to seize power on any electoral occasion. Those theses apparently need to be reviewed and checked, at least to expose the discourse of "alarmism" and frightening people off so as not to complete the process of a long-awaited successful democratic transformation in the Arab World, and also to minimize the propensity towards a "phobia" that is exported abroad whenever the Islamists become stronger and gain support.

Second, the Moroccan experience raises many questions regarding the extent of the "maturity" of democracy in the Arab popular imagination. That is because the decline of political participation in Morocco (this time it was 37 per cent, compared to 52 per cent in 2002, and 58 per cent in 1997) -despite the improvement in the political climate and the existence of intentions to bring about a political leap in the light of assurances of transparency and honesty -confirms the lack of a mass culture that believes in the ability of the ballot box to change conditions.

Perhaps the best thing about the Moroccan experience is that it could debunk -for decades to come -the arguments of those who maintain its is possible to compare between Morocco's PJD and its Turkish counterpart [also called Justice and Development Party], which in itself is a good lesson for those who wish to ponder the depth of the sociological and cultural differences between the two shores of the Mediterranean.

Third -and that is the subject of the article -the experience of Morocco's PJD raises a big question that compels many people to become preoccupied with it and search for satisfactory answers to it, namely: Has the spring of Arab Islamists come to an end? That is because the setback suffered by Morocco's PJD -and it is recognized that it suffered a setback, at least in the view of those who wagered on it and observers in Morocco and abroad -completes an arch whose first signs appeared in the far Arab East, when the relationship between the Jordanian government and the Muslim Brotherhood went beyond its usual pattern. Add to that the experience of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, and the turning in the situation between the Egyptian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood, to complete the other edge of the arch in the far Arab Maghreb on the shores of the Atlantic.

It is logical for some people to lean towards generalizing and "aligning" all those experiences, either with regard to the differences in circumstances and context, or to the differences in the causes of the setback and the responsibility of the parties to the setback, and whether it was a compulsory or a voluntary "setback." However, all that does not negate the glaring fact that all those experiences are now facing a real crisis, be it in their [Islamist groups'] relationship with their regimes and political partners, as in Jordan and Egypt, or in their political vision and plans, as is the case with Hamas in Palestine, or in their relationship with their society and popular environment as is the case in the Moroccan experience.

Such a crisis does not mean the end and fall of those experiences, or that they are not attractive to a large section of Arab societies, for that remains a fact as long as the "Islamic eruption" remains alive, and it also draws the citizen's attention to the flaws that characterize the performance of those movements, and emphasizes their central need to develop their political vision and renew the instruments of their action so that they acclimatize with the change in circumstances and expectations.

While acknowledging the sway of the government measures and policies over those movements -and that is an eternal fact shared by all the Arab ideological and political movements in the post-independence period -yet it is difficult to deny the responsibility of those movements for their difficult situation.

In Jordan, notwithstanding the classic relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jordanian government - which for many decades fluctuated between merging, harnessing, and admonishing -yet the Brotherhood has played a central role in bringing about the present "incoming" tension in the relationship between the two sides. That is due either to the insistence of some of its factions on dealing with the domestic and regional shifts in the same way -namely that of relishing government sympathy without developing its political discourse -or to the conviction held by some people that the Brotherhood will continue to enjoy the distinction of "the most favoured group" in the manner to which it has been accustomed for more than half a century.

The municipal elections that were held recently have revealed that the Brotherhood has perhaps lost some of its political senses and has turned against its legacy of judiciousness which characterized its moves throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It launched a sharp attack on the Jordanian government, an attack that extended to some of the influential forces in the regime and its solid bloc (the army). It was as though it was offering a gift to those who are lying in wait for it and who did not lose the opportunity to incite against it and close the door of pretexts in the face of the Brotherhood so that its relations with the regime will not go back to normal. Regionally, the Brotherhood did not keep a clear distance to distinguish itself from Hamas which is facing a confused reality whose consequences are difficult to disavow. At the same time, the Brotherhood made a costly mistake when some of its MPs failed to differentiate between their political affiliation and their tribal emotions at the eulogy ceremony for Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, when it appeared like one who is handing the "stick" to his executioners.

In Egypt -despite the repression to which the Muslim Brotherhood has been subjected and which is unprecedented since the 1960s -yet the experience of the past two years has proved that the Brotherhood's ability to renew its intellectual project and develop its organizational structure are still extremely limited, notwithstanding the historic opportunity that became available to the Brotherhood following its big victory in the 2005 elections for the People's Assembly. An organization that suffered from those who are lying in wait for it and from "deliberate" exclusion should have taken the initiative in building a political partnership with the other parties in the game, not only so as to seek protection from the "treachery" of some of those who wield influence within the regime, but also in order to draw up a "consensual" programme that can contribute to bringing about a genuine and long-awaited democratic transformation.

Certainly no one can relish the arbitrary and "outlawing" approach of the security authorities and services towards Brotherhood leaders. No one can defend the exclusion of a faction as big and influential as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. However, the Brotherhood continues to make "naive" mistakes that galvanize society and its civil forces against its political project and intellectual views, such as the Al-Azhar incident that occurred in late 2006 and is still causing wounds to the Brotherhood.

In Palestine, Hamas does not seem to be aware of the reality of its present situation in the Gaza Strip. Without disavowing the endeavours of internal and external sides to tighten the blockade of Hamas and to attempt to strangulate it inside its voluntary "prison" in the Gaza Strip, yet some Hamas leaders appear to be indulging in a kind of self-flagellation and are refusing to admit that what happened in mid-June 2007 was disastrous. At the same time the faction of "those who are impelled" -who explain their seizure of the Gaza Strip as "an undesirable situation that was forced upon us" -is heading towards a pure utopia that will ultimately turn towards the option of "suicide" and turning the situation upside down.

Hamas appears today in great need of assessing its political "awakening" objectively. It would not do it harm to review what Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi wrote 5 years ago about the 10 mistakes of the Islamic Awakening ("The Islamic Awakening: From Adolescence to Adulthood", Dar al-Shuruq, 2002). Perhaps it will find in it a way out of its serious situation.

While the aforesaid three cases may have a common factor that led to their present situation -represented in the extant authorities tending to exercise a degree of material and moral pressure on their organizational and political structure - Morocco's PJD lacks that "compulsory" denominator in explaining the retreat and setback. That leaves the door wide open to many questions on the extent of the Arab peoples being convinced of the effectiveness of the "Islamic solution" in the form proposed by our Islamists.

However, it is oversimplification to view the "setback" stage through which the movements of political Islam are passing in the Arab region at present as evidence of the failure of those movements to take root as a potential alternative to existing conditions. Rather it expresses the inability of Arab societies to produce other alternatives that can contest the power and might of both the "authoritarians" and the Islamists.

While our societies are standing at the threshold of a new era that has been described by some people as the "Salafi Age", the danger lies in the "traditional" blocs that support moderate Islamic movements coming under the "loose" umbrella of the jihadist Salafi trends, for then it will become a duty to lament the disappearance of those moderate movements.

Perhaps the "spring" of Arab Islamists did not last long, as was the case with other "spring seasons" of the democrats, liberals, and secularists. However, it is unfair to view that as evidence of the victory of the status quo, and that it bolsters its continuity. That is because the "seed" of change that was thrown into the womb of Arab societies throughout the past three years is still effective, and it will perhaps produce an Arab generation that believes in the inevitability of the democratic "solution" and is able to achieve it.

Source: Al-Hayat website, London, in Arabic 27 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Morocco reacts angrily to Sunday Times paedophile claim

In a dispatch datelined in Rabat on 2 October, Morocco's official news agency MAP released a strongly-worded rebuttal of claims published in the Sunday Times (30 September 07) that Madeline McCann's disappearance was connected to paedophile networks in Morocco.

The two-part article by Abdelkrim El Mouss described the way the Sunday Times dealt with the story as being "erroneous and full of despicable lies designed to smear a whole country and offend an entire people." El Mouss was particularly angered by the claim in the Sunday Times report that Morocco "has a reputation for child prostitution and sex tourism". He says: "A claim of this type is enough to make the writer blush with shame. It is not simply a slip of the tongue; it is an offence so base as to make it tantamount to slander."

The writer then criticises the way the hunt for missing four-year old Madeline McCann has been carried out. He said: "One would think that Portuguese and British territories have been searched metre by metre and house by house without any result, that attention is now focused on Morocco. Morocco's name has been mentioned because of the testimony of a tourist with bad memory, backed by a photo of an innocent Moroccan girl. That girl's only crime was that she had white skin and blonde hair. It turned out that the matter was an obvious mistake which cannot be forgiven."

The writer condemned what he described as the "dangerous encroachment on the family and private life of others", asking mockingly "when have tourists taken the place of police and judicial investigations?" El Mouss said that despite Portuguese police suspicions falling on the missing girl's parents, "the British newspaper clung on to the premise of the girl having been kidnapped."

The article pointed out that Madeleine's parents were received in Morocco, and were given assurances by the security authorities of cooperation in the investigation into their daughter's disappearance.

The writer concluded by saying: "The insistence on the dragging of Morocco into this case is reflective of a hidden agenda against the [Moroccan] Kingdom. In the eyes of the European media, the girl who disappeared in Portugal must be found in any way possible. In these cases, logic should replace emotion in order for investigations to be carried out in a transparent and calm manner."

Source: MAP news agency, Rabat, in Arabic 1005 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Investigations in the Moroccan army to flush out any Islamist infiltrators - paper

Text of report by Mohamed Boudali headlined: "Inquiries under way about hardliners in the army. Secret information received about Islamist hardliners within the military establishment", published by Moroccan newspaper Assabah website on 2 October

Informed sources say that the police agents working for Yassine El Mansouri, director-general of the General Directorate of Studies and Documentations, the DGED, have been engaged in intensive investigations concerning former military personnel, both retired or sacked for some reason, as well as others still active in the army who are suspected of membership of hardline Islamist cells and organizations that may have dubious links to prisoners held under the provisions of the anti-terrorism law or other movements still under the scrutiny of the various secret services of the country.

According to informed sources, investigations conducted by the Yassine El Mansouri directorate, alongside other secret services, are focussing their activities on army troops and officers who may have Islamist extremist ideological leanings and who, therefore, are considered as suspects by the Moroccan military intelligence.

The same sources do not rule out that the Hassan El Mansouri men have asked the suspected army troops and officers to give some clarifications about their respective lives to ascertain whether they have moderate or extremist leanings.

The sources say that such investigations are not new in military, police and similar services especially after the discovery that several rank and file men and officers in the police, the army and the royal gendarmerie were linked to hardline Islamist movements, such as the Ansar Al Mahdi group which was led by Hassan El Khattab. The latter is expected to be sentenced in the next few days, now that the court panel has concluded the hearings of the accused implicated in his group.

The same sources have told Assabah that the security officers in charge of the enquiries about suspected Islamists in the army may have been sent abroad to investigate troops and officers working for both secret and open services of the Moroccan military establishment abroad.

The same sources add that these secret moves and measures started immediately after extremely important information was received as a result of secret investigations, and conveyed to Hassan El Mansouri, to the effect that army troops may have joined Islamist organizations such as Ansar Al Mahdi, especially after the messages inciting sedition and destruction circulated a few weeks ago by the Al-Qa'idah Organisation in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb and urging soldiers and police and gendarmerie agents and others to "repent" and "join" the strongholds of jihad in the Algerian desert, otherwise their fate "will not be different from that of the followers of despots, the unbelievers and the renegades". These messages came in the form of video tapes containing extremely dangerous statements likely to spread an unprecedented chaos within the Moroccan security organs.

The Assabah sources do not rule out that these investigations and enquiries will be leading to harsh decisions concerning anyone found guilty of links to extremist Islamist movements or of being groomed to become a suicide bomber with the aim of undermining the security of sensitive regions and establishments in the country, and even of causing a blood bath by means of terrorist attacks.

In this connection, the same sources point out that the secret security services are still carrying out intensive investigations everywhere because they believe that the terrorist danger is still looming and that the security and safety of Moroccans are targeted openly and secretly, especially after the recent terrorist attacks in Algeria.

Source: Assabah website, Casablanca, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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SAUDI ARABIA
02/10/2007 Saudi agency recalls report on statement by Grand Mufti

The Saudi Press Agency, SPA, in English on 1 October issued a note, withdrawing the referent item on a statement issued by the Saudi Grand Mufti warning Saudi youths against travelling abroad for jihad. No reason was given for pulling the item. The note reads: "Editors note: Please ignore item no 13, slugged 'Grand Mufti warns Youths from travelling abroad for jihad', datelined Riyadh."

As of the time the note was filed, no similar note has been issued to withdraw SPA's Arabic version of the statement. Meanwhile, Saudi TV1, Al-Ikhbariyah channel, and the Saudi press have all reported the mufti's statement in similar terms to SPA.

Source: SPA news agency website, Riyadh, 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 (Corr)Saudi agency recalls report on statement by Grand Mufti
[Rewording first paragraph. A corrected version of the item follows:]

The Saudi Press Agency, SPA, in English on 1 October issued a note, withdrawing an item on a statement issued by the Saudi Grand Mufti warning Saudi youths against travelling abroad for jihad. The original item was published by BBC Monitoring under the headline: "Saudi Grand Mufti warns youths against travelling abroad for jihad". No reason was given for pulling the item. The note reads: "Editors note: Please ignore item no 13, slugged 'Grand Mufti warns youths from travelling abroad for jihad', datelined Riyadh."

As of the time the note was filed, no similar note has been issued to withdraw SPA's Arabic version of the statement. Meanwhile, Saudi TV1, Al-Ikhbariyah channel, and the Saudi press have all reported the mufti's statement in similar terms to SPA.

Source: SPA news agency website, Riyadh, 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Saudi king issues decree on two judicial, grievance laws

Text of report in English by Saudi news agency SPA website

[SPA headline: "Royal decree on Judicial and Grievances systems issued" - source time not given]

Mecca, 2 October: A Royal decree was issued here Monday that approved the two judicial and grievances systems.

The first article of the judicial system includes the independence and safeguards of the system that stated the independence of judges and their adherence to Islamic rules and they will not be dismissed except in the cases stipulated in this system and they will not be transferred to other jobs without their consent or because of their promotion.

The article stated also that judges should not be disputed because of the work of their jobs except for conditions and basis pertaining to their irregular deeds.

The royal decree for the approval of the judicial and grievances systems states also that first degree court will be established in areas, regions and centres according to the needs.

The general courts will be set up in the regions for specialized circles that include circles for implementation and approval and other similar circles.

The royal decree of the approval of Judicial and grievances systems stated that commercial and labour courts will be set up for specialized circles and each will have one Judge or more as decided by the Supreme Commission of Justice.

Courts will have judges in all cases in accordance with specializations stipulated in the Judicial system.

Source: SPA news agency website, Riyadh, 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Saudi Grand Mufti warns youths against seeking jihad abroad - full text

Text of report in Arabic by Saudi news agency SPA website

Riyadh, 1 October: SPA -His Eminence Shaykh Abd-al-Aziz Bin-Abdallah Al al-Shaykh, the Grand Mufti of the kingdom and chairman of the Council of Senior Ulema and Department of Scientific Research and Religious Edicts, has warned the youths against travelling abroad with the intention of jihad in the cause of Allah because the situations are unsettled, the conditions uncertain, and the banners not clear. He pointed out that great evils have resulted from these youths' disobedience of their rulers, ulema, and clerics and their travel for the so-called jihad.

In a message he addressed after observing for years the travel of some youths from the kingdom abroad for jihad, he said that these youths are zealous and enthusiastic about their religion but have not attained the level of knowledge by which they can distinguish between right and falsehood and this was a reason for attracting and ensnaring them by suspicious parties to achieve their ignominious aims that have harmed Islam and its people.

Following is the text of the address of his eminence the kingdom's general mufti:

From Abd-al-Aziz Bin-Abdallah Bin-Muhammad Al Al-Shaykh to all his Muslim brothers;

Peace from Allah and His Mercy and Blessings be upon you;

Praise be to Allah alone and prayers and peace be upon the one after whom there is no prophet, Muhammad:

Allah has enjoined the Muslims to seek advice from each other and joining in the mutual teaching of the truth. Allah, to whom be ascribed all perfection and majesty, says: "And (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth." The Prophet, may the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him, says: "No one of you is safe until he loves his brother as he loves himself." Out of compassion for our youths and as an advice to the Muslims' imams and general public, I thought of writing these words after I observed for years the travel of the Saudi country's youths abroad intending on jihad in the cause of Allah. These youths are zealous and enthusiastic about their religion but have not attainted the level of knowledge by which they can distinguish between right and falsehood and this was a reason for attracting and ensnaring them by suspicious parties. They became a tool in the hand of foreign apparatuses that manipulated them in the name of jihad and are using them to achieve their ignominious aims and carry out their purposes which are far removed from religion until our youths have become a commodity sold and bought to eastern and western parties for aims and purposes whose damage to Islam and its people that is known only to Allah, the Great and Almighty.

We and others had previously warned against travelling abroad on this pretext because the situations were unsettled, the conditions uncertain, and the banners not clear. Great evils have resulted from these youths' disobedience of their rulers, ulema, and clerics and from their travel for the so-called jihad abroad and these include:

1. Disobedience of their ruler and making false accusation against him, which is one of the greatest sins. The Prophet, may the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him, says: "Who obeys the amir obeys me and who disobeys the amir disobeys me." He, may the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him, also says: "The Muslim must hear and obey the ruler in what he likes and dislikes." The evidence proscribing disobedience of the ruler are many.

2. Some of the youths who travelled for what they thought was jihad disowned the correct pledge of allegiance to the ruler of this noble country as decreed by the unanimous verdict of the influential people. This is impermissible and one of the biggest sins. The Prophet, may the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him, says: "One who disavows the allegiance meets Allah on the Day of Judgment without an excuse. One who dies without an allegiance trust dies a jahiliyah death." That was reported by Musallam.

3. They fell easy prey to everyone who wanted to sow corruption on earth and their enthusiasm was exploited until they turned them into mobile traps killing themselves so as to achieve political or military gains for suspicious parties.

4. Their exploitation by foreign parties to embarrass this noble country, inflict damage and suffering on it, give the enemies free hand against it, and justify their ambitions in it.

These are the most dangerous things because the damage from this action has gone beyond to affect the Muslim umma and its evil has affected secure and safe countries. Their action brings weakness to this country and its people.

It is known that the jihad decision is up to the ruler and he has the duty of making the preparations and mobilizing the armies. He has the right to get the armies on the march, call for jihad, and determine the direction he wants and the right time for fighting and all other matters of jihad. All of them are the ruler's decision. The nation's ulema and the people of Hadith and influence included this in their creed and underlined it in their speeches. Al-Hasan al-Basri, may Allah rest his soul, says about the amirs: "They are in charge of five of our affairs: Friday, the group, the id, the cities, and the borders. By Allah, religion stands true only with them, even if they are wrong and oppress. By Allah, Allah amends more than what they spoil, though obedience to them is exasperating and disassociation from them is unbelief." Al-Tahhawi, may Allah rest his soul, says: "Pilgrimage and jihad are in the hands of the Muslims' ruler, whether pious or licentious, until the Day of Resurrection. Nothing negates them or contravenes them." Ibn-Taymiyah, may Allah rest his soul, says about the centrist creed: "They hold the pilgrimage, jihad, the group, and the ids with the amirs, whether they are pious or licentious."

This is a firm creed with the people of the Sunna and group, that is, there is no jihad except with the order of the imam and under his banner. The reason for this is the words of the Prophet, may the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him: "The imam is just a paradise to fight behind and be protected by him. If he orders to fear Allah, the Great and Almighty, he will have a reward and if orders otherwise, this will be against him." This was cited by the two shaykhs. There are other Hadiths about this subject. Thus, the companions of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them, and after them all the Muslims agreed unanimously on this. Therefore going without the permission of the ruler violates the shari'ah rules and is a commitment of the greatest sins. The instigator of these is one of two men:

- Either one who is ignorant of the true reality and he needs to fear Allah, the Great and Almighty, for his sake and that of his country and the Muslims as well as these youths and not embroil them in fields where banners are mixed up and matters are confused wherein the true banner cannot be seen properly from the others and then claim this is jihad.

- Or a man who knows the true reality and intends to inflict damage on this country and its people by his action. He, Allah forbid, is feared to be from the supporters [al-muzahirin] of the enemies of the land of monotheism and the people of monotheism. And this is a great danger.

It is everyone's duty to fear Allah, the Great and Almighty, ponder the umma's condition, act according to Allah's shari'ah, have patience on the road of knowledge, education, and the call, and not to be hasty and reckless. Let everyone know that days pass and that Allah supports who supports His religion and the reward is for the pious people. The advice is to strive to teach the people monotheism and make them follow it, and uphold the right Allah, the Great and Almighty. This is the duty of the ulema, preachers, and seekers of knowledge while preparing the force and getting ready for the enemy. This is one of the ruler's duties.

I also commend to my sons the youths to obey Allah before anything else and then their rulers and be close to their ulema. This is the shari'ah requirement. I commend those with money to be cautious in what they are spending so that their monies will not inflict damage on the Muslims. I also urge my brothers the ulema and seekers of knowledge to explain the truth to the people, take the youths by their hands, enlighten them about the reality, and warn them of the consequences of following whims and the undisciplined enthusiasm through the useful knowledge.

I pray to Allah, the Great and Almighty, to enable us to guide and be guided, to show us truth as truth and bestow on us its benefits and falsehood as falsehood and make us avoid it, and make us see our shortcomings. I also pray to Him, to whom be ascribed all perfection, to strengthen His religion, exalt His Word, grant victory to his monotheist worshippers, give our country and all the other Muslims' countries safety and faith, and save us from seditions, the apparent and hidden ones. I ask Him, to whom be ascribed all perfection and majesty, to forgive us our sins, have mercy on us, not set up as our master because of our sins one who does not fear Him or have mercy for us. He is All-hearing and Responsive. May Allah's peace and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and all his companions.

Peace be with you and God's mercy and blessings.

The general mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;

Chairman of the Council of Senior Ulema and Department of Scientific Researches Religious Edicts.

Source: SPA news agency website, Riyadh, 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Saudi Arabia said "prepared to face emergency" after Yemeni volcano eruption

Excerpt from report by Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya TV on 2 October

[Announcer-read report]

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has said that the volcano of Jabal al-Tayr, which erupted yesterday off the Yemeni coasts, does not constitute any threat to the area of Jazzan, south of the kingdom, or the island of Fursan, but the security services in the area have taken broad precautions in an anticipation of any damage.

Lieutenant General Sa'd Abdallah al-Tuayjiri, director of Civil Defence, emphasized that the Civil Defence is prepared to face any emergency.

Meanwhile, geological experts expected the area to witness a volcanic activity. [passage omitted]

Source: Al-Arabiya TV, Dubai, in Arabic 1700 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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SUDAN
02/10/2007 Bashir discuss peace efforts with Carter, Tutu's Wise Men Delegation

Text of report by Omdurman Sudan Television In Arabic 1900 Gmt 01 Oct 2007 on 1 October

[Presenter] President Umar al-Bashir has reiterated the state's desire to implement the peace agreement. He was speaking at a meeting with the delegation of wise men headed by the Reverend Desmond Tutu and comprising the wife of South African leader Nelson Mandela, Lakhdar Ibrahimi, Algeria's former foreign minister and assistant to the UN secretary-general for political affairs, and former US President Jimmy Carter. President Al-Bashir praised the steps taken to implement the peace agreement. The meeting discussed a number of issues related to Darfur peace.

The president's senior assistant, Mani Arkoi Minawi, met the delegation and stressed the importance of ensuring success for the Tripoli negotiations for the sake of peace and stability in Darfur. He briefed the delegation on the government's efforts to achieve this and to implement the Abuja Agreement and return the displaced and the refugees to their villages. He urged the delegation to contribute to efforts to incorporate the Abuja holdouts in the coming Tripoli negotiations.

The delegation also met with Presidential Assistant Dr Nafi Ali Nafi, the vice chairman of the [ruling] National Congress Party [NCP] for political and organizational affairs. Dr Nafi discussed issues related to peace, the government's efforts to establish peace in the country, and the status of the implementation of the peace agreements. He stressed the government's commitment to the signed peace agreement and its implementation, affirming keenness on political partnership with the [former rebel] Sudan People's Liberation Movement [SPLM]. Dr Nafi dealt with the Darfur issue, its dimensions, and its developments on the political arena, and the attempts at exaggeration by those who have special agendas to tear Sudan's unity apart. Dr Nafi reiterated the government's intention to conduct the elections on time. The delegation's members talked about the importance they attach to Sudan and expressed hope for attainment of peace and stability in the country.

Source: Omdurman Sudan Television in Arabic 1900 GMT 01 Oct 2007

 
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02/10/2007 Sudan: Attack on AU forces draws condemnations, missing AU soldiers return

Text of report by Omdurman Sudan Television In Arabic 1900 gmt 01 OCT 2007

[Presenter] The AU has affirmed that the attack on its forces in the Haskanita area will not deflect it from its tasks in bolstering and supporting security and stability and the peace process in Darfur.

[Begin recording by AU spokesman Nur-al-Din al-Mazni] The criminal attack in Haskanita which has inflicted the biggest losses our forces have suffered in Sudan since the beginning of the mission in 2004 will not bend us from continuing our assignments with more determination, especially in preparing for the Tripoli negotiations and the start of the hybrid operation with the UN. Delaying the political process and the deployment of the joint operation will prolong the suffering of the people of Darfur. [End recording]

[Presenter] The AU has meanwhile announced it has started conducting preliminary investigations of the criminal attack on its forces in Haskanita. It said it will announce the results of this investigation to public opinion once completed.

[Resume Al-Mazni recording] We are in the process of meticulous investigation into who was behind the criminal assault. We have indications and we have premises, but we want to investigate, and we want to declare to all when the picture becomes clear and the quarter which stood behind this attack is determined, we shall announce this to all, and the AU Command will take the necessary measures. Consequently, those who carried out this operation and aimed from it to reserve a seat for himself at the Tripoli negotiations, this will not happen and will not come about. [End recording]

[Presenter] For its part, the Government considered that the assault on the AU forces was denounced and that it finds condemnation from the National Unity Government. It said the assault will not deflect the determination to forge ahead with the peace process and coordination with the AU and the UN.

[Begin recording by Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq] It is a denounced act by all criteria and finds total condemnation from the National Unity Government. There are also many nations that have expressed their condemnation and denunciation of this aggression on forces from the African continent that came to help in solving the Darfur problem and that are in no way a party to the conflict. What happened at Haskanita and what befell the AU Mission will only make Sudan more determined to forge ahead on the political solution track and implementation of Resolution 1769 on the hybrid forces, and on tightening coordination and cooperation with the AU Mission until security and stability are established in the area. [End recording]

[Presenter] Meanwhile, the United Nations considered the Haskanita assault as a crime under international law and UN Security Council resolutions. The UN said it was important to determine the identity of the assailants and put them on an urgent trial.

[Begin recording by UN spokeswoman Radhia Achouri] We were terribly shocked by the grossness and timing of this assault on the AU that has been working and is still working for the sake of the Darfur people and the Sudan people as a whole. Helping the Darfur people is a very noble mission. We do not see any reason, whatever the reasons or justifications behind such an assault, will not be acceptable. This is a crime under international law, under Security Council resolutions and under the resolutions of the African Peace and Security Council. Of course it is very important that the identity of the assailants be determined and that they be put to accountability at the soonest possible time. [End recording]

[Presenter] The criminal assault comes at a time in which all local and international efforts were being pooled to find a comprehensive settlement to the Darfur problem, with all eyes focused on the coming Tripoli negotiations.

[Begin prepared commentary] Observers are unanimous that the attack aimed primarily at obstructing the peaceful process in Tripoli before it gets underway, in addition to weakening the role of the AU in Darfur. The attack demonstrated the lack of seriousness by some armed movements about reaching just and comprehensive peace in Darfur and that they have thrown themselves into the embrace of some foreign powers that do not want security, peace, and stability in Darfur. The Government has time and again warned against such security breaches and their reflection the efforts for peace in Darfur. The assault on the AU forces in this blessed [Ramadan] month contradicts international and humanitarian norms and laws. Observers fear it will reflect negatively on the implementation of the hybrid operation. So the international community should assume a major role in dealing decisively with these security breaches and should not limit itself to verbal denunciations and condemnation. It is required to take stern steps and sanctions to confront the quarters that have carried out this assault, and it also has to exert pressure on the armed movements that refuse to sit down to the negotiating table in Tripoli. What happened to the AU will not bend it from continuing its efforts to bolster security, peace and stability in Darfur

[Presenter] In a subsequent development, an informed source told television that all the missing soldiers have returned to the town of Al-D'in. The source said the number of those killed in the attack were 10. They were seven from Nigeria and one each from Mali, Senegal and Botswana.

For its part, the Sudan Liberation Movement, Mani Arkoi Minawi wing, said the assault on the AU forces in Haskanita will not obstruct peace efforts.

[Begin recording by Sayf-al-Din Salih Harun, spokesman for the Minawi SLM wing] Really this is an attack which is rejected, to begin with, and it is strange really, because it took place under strange circumstances, since the whole world and international community are now seeking to bring together the parties to the conflict to find solutions to this thorny issue. We have before us the Libya negotiations, as the last phase that could give us hope and lead us to a comprehensive solution. [End recording].

Source: Omdurman Sudan Television in Arabic 1900 GMT 01 Oct 2007

 
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02/10/2007 Kenyan paper urges more resources for AU mission in Darfur

Text of editorial entitled "Deadly lesson for the AU" published by Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation website on 2 October

The killing of 18 African Union [AU] peacekeepers in Darfur at the weekend is a sad reminder that the peace deal being pursued by the international community to end the four-year old insurgency in Sudan remains a distant dream.

Although the [rebel] Sudan Liberation Army has publicly condemned the attack and called a cease-fire, the danger signals are reverberating across that nation.

More unnerving is the fact that the AU peacekeepers and the international community have not found a formula for dealing decisively with the rebels.

In fact, some AU member states are beginning to question the wisdom of deploying a peacekeeping force. Others are increasingly finding it too risky to send their troops to Darfur to keep the peace. From what is going on in Darfur, the international community must think of new strategies to end the conflict. Conferences and visits by high-profile personalities have not worked.

The African Union does not look best placed to deal with the crisis. At any rate, there is a lot of cynicism from the member states, many of whom have been reluctant to lend human and logistical support.

The long and short of it is that the AU peacekeeping force requires more resources and support if it is to play its rightful role in resolving the conflict.

This is also the time to actualize the proposal for a joint UN and AU peacekeeping force and we hope that the planned meeting in Tripoli later this month will tackle the roots of the conflict, and not just become another jamboree.

Source: Daily Nation website, Nairobi, in English 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudan: Arab League condemns attack on AU forces in Darfur

Text of report by state-owned Sudanese radio on 2 October

The general secretariat of the Arab League has strongly condemned the attack on the AU forces in Darfur.

A press release issued by the league secretariat stressed the need to punish the perpetrators, who are against peace and fight the chances of achieving it. It further said the perpetrators were striving to bring the peace process back to square one and lessening chances to restore peace and stability in Darfur.

Source: Republic of Sudan Radio, Omdurman, in Arabic 0400 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudan: Gulf states condemn AU base attack in Darfur

Text of report by state-owned Sudanese radio on 2 October

The general secretariat of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf

has condemned the attack of some pro-rebel movements' militias [against AU forces in Darfur].

The secretariat described the attack as an attempt to obstruct the ongoing efforts aimed at finding a peaceful solution to restore security and peace in Darfur.

Source: Republic of Sudan Radio, Omdurman, in Arabic 0400 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudanese minister blames international community for Darfur "massacre"

Excerpt from report by state-owned Sudanese news agency Suna website

Khartoum, 1 October: Minister of Justice, Muhammad Ali al-Mardi, has said that the international community was the one that caused the Haskanitah massacre with its slackness in pressurizing the rebel movements and refusing to impose sanctions against the groups which did not sign the Abuja [agreement] of which it had warned to do so.

In a press statement today on the death and injury of members of the AU in Haskanitah following an attack by one of the rebel groups the justice minister said that the deliberate pretence to support the AU as an excuse to impose UN forces was also one of the reasons which brought about this massacre.

Al-Mardi said instead of the big countries attacking Sudan with allegations of human rights violations it would be more important for the Darfur, the AU forces and the whole world for the international community to exert more efforts in helping the Sudanese government to achieve peace in Darfur.

Meanwhile, the justice minister announced that a probe team was heading towards southern Kordufan to inspect areas suspected of groups which keep weapons that could be used for acts of vandalism. [Passage omitted]

Source: Suna news agency website, Khartoum, in Arabic 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudan: Citizens demand withdrawal of police forces in Northern State

Text of report by populist Sudanese newspaper Al-Watan on 2 October

Citizens of Al-Manasir area [in northern Sudan] have succeeded in containing tensions between a police force and a group of young men at Al-Na'ufab market in Al-Manasir area. The situation arose when the group of young men surrounded the policemen and constricted their movement. Meanwhile, representatives from Al-Manasir conducted a meeting with minister of interior to discuss the security situation in the area and ways to address it.

The deputy chairman of the executive committee of Al-Manasir people affected [by the construction of Marawi Dam] Uthman al-Magdum told Al-Watan that security tension in the area was rising. He pointed out that they had contacted the minister of interior to discuss withdrawing police forces from the area. Al-Magdum explained that negotiations and mediation efforts between the police and local citizens took place yesterday to contain the crisis in Al-Na'ufab market. He said an agreement had been reached to release the policemen in return for their withdrawal outside the villages. He further pointed out that they had asked the [police] command in Al-Damar and Abu-Hamad to give orders to the police force to withdraw. He said the police force that was stationed at Al-Athamin school had already received its withdrawal orders.

Source: Al-Watan, Khartoum, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Paper reports on visit by US envoy to southern Sudan state

Text of report by pro-government newspaper Akhir Lahzah on 2 October

The government of Unity State has complained to the US envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, who visited the state recently, about the non-implementation of the security arrangements protocol. The state's information minister, Limly Kual, told Akhir Lahzah yesterday that the state's governor, Brig-Gen Taban Deng, gave the US envoy a detailed briefing on the progress of implementation of the peace agreement and in particular the security arrangements protocol.

Kual pointed out that the state was over crowded with armies a matter which roused citizens' anger. The minister said the US envoy had promised to discuss the issue of the security arrangements protocol with concerned bodies soon. He [Natsios] pointed out that the American Self Help organization was committed to providing humanitarian aid to people affected by floods which swept through the state recently and caused the destruction of entire villages.

Source: Akhir Lahzah, Khartoum, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudanese presidential aide briefs eastern rebels on peace pact

Text of report in English by state-owned Sudanese news agency Suna website

Kassala, 1 October: Presidential assistant and chief commander of the Eastern Front's forces, Musa Muhammad Ahmad, accompanied by the minister of animal resources and the acting governor of Kassala State, Muhammad Salih Obid, and members of the state's government, visited the camps of the Eastern Front forces in Kassala State.

Ahmad said while addressing the Eastern Front's forces that he is visiting to inform them about progress of the east Sudan peace agreement.

Ahmad said that serious steps were taken for the establishment of the East's Rehabilitation and Development Fund, in compliance with the wealth sharing protocol of the peace agreement and he referred to progress in the power-sharing file.

He said that the security arrangements file was implemented by receiving the camps, carrying out disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the East Front forces.

Meanwhile, the minister of animal resources, Muhammad Salih Obid, said that the Eastern Front forces would play a major role in the development and reconstruction process in eastern Sudan.

Source: Suna news agency website, Khartoum, in English 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudanese defence minister visits site of attack on AU soldiers

Text of report by populist Sudanese newspaper Al-Watan on 2 October

Al-Watan has learnt that the minister of defence, Lt-Gen Abd-al-Rahim Muhammad Husayn, and a large military delegation has left for Haskanita in South Darfur State to become acquainted with military developments in the area. This follows the attack by one of the rebel movements against the AU camp which resulted in the death of ten African soliders.

Source: Al-Watan, Khartoum, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudan: President al-Bashir receives International Elders delegation

Text of report in English by state-owned Sudanese news agency Suna website

[Text of report by SUNA www on 1 Oct]

Sudan: President al-Bashir receives International Elders delegation

Khartoum, 1 Oct (SUNA) - President of the Republic, Field Marshal Umar al-Bashir, has affirmed the government's commitment to complete the peace process in Darfur and cooperate with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) for the implementation of the hybrid operation.

This came when the President received at the Guest House on Monday [ 1 October], the visiting International Elders delegation, led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

President al-Bashir reviewed the positive developments as witnessed by the security and humanitarian fields in Darfur and the efforts being exerted for the success of the coming negotiations in Tripoli with the movements that did not sign the Abuja agreement.

President al-Bashir also addressed the progress in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the obstacles affecting it that are related to the non-fulfilment by the donors of the pledges they made in Oslo.

Source: Suna news agency website, Khartoum, in English 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 AU commission chairperson condemns attack on African Mission in Sudan

Text of report in English by state-owned Sudanese news agency Suna website

[Text of report by SUNA www on 1 Oct]

Sudan: AU Commission Chairperson condemns Attack on AMIS camp in Haskanita

Addis Ababa, 1 Oct (SUNA) - The African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson, Alpha Oumar Konare, expressed his outrage at the unprovoked attack on the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) camp in Haskanita, South Darfur, on 29 September, which resulted in the death of ten AMIS personnel, ten wounded, while several others are reported missing.

In a press statement, Konare condemned in the strongest terms this attack, which occurred at a time, when all efforts are being made to convene the Tripoli Peace talks on 27 October.

Furthermore, he stressed that this heinous and cowardly act will not deter the determination and commitment of the AU in bringing about lasting peace and alleviating the suffering of the people in Darfur, including through the early deployment of the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) with enhanced capacity and strength, in accordance with the UNSC resolution 1769.

He expressed his condolences to the families of the gallant men and women who fell, and salutes AMIS troops and personnel who continue to carry out their mission under difficult circumstances.

AMIS is monitoring the situation while investigations are under way to identify the attackers who will bear the consequences of this heinous act.

Source: Suna news agency website, Khartoum, in English 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 UK calls for cease-fire, denounces attack on AU forces in Sudan

Text of report in English by pro-government Sudanese Media Centre website on 1 October

[Text of report by SMC www on 1 Oct]

Sudan: Britain calls for ceasefire, describes attack on AU forces as autocratic

Khartoum, 1 Oct (SMC) - The armed forces announced it is fully in control of the Haskinata area in response to an appeal from the African Union (AU) forces, following the attack against the peacekeepers in the area by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) unity wing.

SMC has learned that the attack was led by leaders from the SLM and JEM, namely, Ahmad Kibir, Muhammad Uthman Janjawid, Abdullah Abu-Digin, Salih Giro, Commander Uthman, Muhammad Shata and Siddiq Bara.

In the same development, the British foreign department secretary, David Melian, blasted the treacherous attack and called the attackers as committing atrocities and destruction against AU peacekeepers who are there for protection of the area against violence.

The British secretary has urged all parties to respond to a cessation of hostilities and join the peace process as the only option for settlement of dispute in the area.

Source: Sudanese Media Centre website, Khartoum, in English 0000 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudan: AU-UN envoy visits site of attack on AU troops

Excerpt from report by state-owned Sudanese news agency Suna website

The joint AU-UN envoy to Sudan, Rodolphe Adada, has begun visit to Al-Fashir [northern Darfur] to acquaint himself with the repercussions of the incident in which the AU troops were attacked in Haskanitah.

In a statement to Suna, AU Mission Spokesman Nur al-Din Mazin said the joint envoy will hold series of meetings with the commanders of AU troops in Darfur to ensure that they will continue carrying out their duties.

He said investigations were under way to find out who was behind that incident. [Passage omitted]

Mazin said the camp was temporarily transferred from Haskanitah to Al-Da'in city

Source: Suna news agency website, Khartoum, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudan: Nuba tribe warns of escalating situation in southern Kurdufan

Text of report by liberal Sudanese newspaper Al-Sahafah on 2 October

The Amir of the Nuba in the western mountains of Lagawa locality [in southern Kurdufan], Salih Ali Azrag, has warned that the situation could escalate following the bloody clashes between the Misayriyah [tribe] and the Nuba in Al-Sunut administrative unit in Lagawa in the last few days which resulted in the death of 30 people from the two tribes.

Azrag told Al-Sahafah that the Misayriyah continued to amass their forces in the area in preparation to attack the Nuba Abu-Jinuk and called on the locality and state authorities in south Kurdufan to intervene and impose the state's authority. He said he would be traveling to the area to attempt to calm the situation and stem the bloodshed.

Azrag pointed out that his tribe had been in a state of self defence since last March when the Misayriyah rejected the convening of a conference in Al-Sunut which was to include the Nuba and new settlers in the area. He said the Misayriyah had rejected the conference on the pretext that Al-Sunut belonged to them and further said that up to July this year, the Nuba had lost four of their men.

Source: Al-Sahafah, Khartoum, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudan: Presidential adviser, British envoy discuss situation in Darfur

Text of report by state-owned Sudanese news agency Suna website

Presidential Adviser Dr Mustafa Uthman Isma'il has today discussed current developments in Sudan especially the Darfur issue and efforts being made by the government to resolve it.

In a statement to Suna, Dr Mustafa said the meeting discussed the role that can be played by the international community to make the forthcoming Tripoli talks a success and support AU troops in Darfur.

The meeting also discussed the East Peace Agreement and the role that can be played by Britain in east reconstruction and development.

He pointed out that the meeting touched on government efforts to make the Arab Humanitarian Conference, in support of Darfur issue scheduled for October, a success.

Dr Mustafa said the British ambassador was able to understand the situation within a short period, saying that he hopes the relations between the two countries will be normalized through efforts being made by the ambassador.

He said he also hopes the participation of British will be positive one

Source: Suna news agency website, Khartoum, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudan: Family of Guantanamo prisoner say their son "exchanged with dollars"

Excerpt from report by pro-government Sudanese Media Centre website on 2 October

The family of the Guantanamo detained prisoner, since 2001, Ibrahim al-Qawsi, have appealed to the international community and human right organizations to intensify their campaign in consolidation with their son who is among the Sudanese group detained in Guantanamo.

In a statement to SMC, the father of the detained, who is also the spokesman of the family, which resides in Atbara, Ahmad Muhammad al-Qawsi said the FBI had admitted that there son was innocent from all accusations made against him.

He added that their son remained in detention all those years without being accused of anything or charged in court, which he says was a sign of double standard when it comes to justice, and unwillingness to clear the air over the campaign to trade on those that resided in Pakistan, after 11 September, in exchange of 5 thousand dollars, which involved his detained son. [Passage omitted]

Source: Sudanese Media Centre website, Khartoum, in Arabic 0000 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudan: Ex-rebel leader condemns attack on AU troops in Darfur

Text of report in English by state-owned Sudanese news agency Suna website

The Senior Assistant of the President of the Republic and Chairman of the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA), Mani Arkoi Minawi, has strongly denounced the recent attack on African Union forces in Haskanita area in Darfur.

In a press statement to SUNA Tuesday, Minawi said that the national unity government, the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA) and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) are condemning the ugly attack on the African forces.

He said that TRDA will cooperate with the African Union and the local authorities to identify the culprits.

Minawi assured TRDA full cooperation with the African Union, announcing that representatives of SLM will return to work together with the cease-fire committee of the African Union as soon as possible.

He declared a new initiative toward containing the critical security tensions through consultation with all the concerned parties, which include the Commission for Security Arrangements, Police and the Security forces.

Minawi directed a message to all the Sudanese people in general and Darfur citizens particularly that the war in Darfur should stop.

He called on the parties that refused to sign Darfur peace agreement to join the coming negotiations in Tripoli in the fixed time.

He pointed out that if there is a view of any faction then it should be exposed at the negotiation table, adding that the media rows are never for the benefit of Darfur citizen.

Minawi announced that an initiative will be launched for protection of the African Union forces and the international organizations operating in the humanitarian field through coordination in the security field between the signatory parties of Darfur peace agreements.

Source: Suna news agency website, Khartoum, in English 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Sudan frees Darfur war crime suspect

Text of report in English by Paris-based Sudanese newspaper Sudan Tribune website on 2 October

The Sudanese government disclosed for the first time that a Darfur war crimes suspect wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) was released from detention.

Sudan's foreign minister Lam Akol revealed in press statements yesterday [Monday 1 September] that Ali Mohamed Ali Abd al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb was freed due to lack of evidence against him.

The Sudanese government was believed to have been holding Kushayb in custody since November for what they described as "suspicion of violating Sudanese laws" and that he was under investigation for criminal acts in Darfur.

The judges of the ICC issued their first arrest warrants for suspects accused of war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region in early May.

The warrants were issued for Ahmed Harun, state minister for humanitarian affairs, and militia commander Ali Kushayb.

Sudan has so far rejected handing over the two suspects.

The warrant for Harun lists 42 counts including murder, torture and persecution, while the warrant for Kushayb lists 50 counts including murder and intentionally attacking civilians.

Akol reiterated that Sudan is not party to the ICC and as such has no obligation to cooperate with it.

The news of Kushayb's release is likely to anger ICC officials and human rights groups who allege that he led attacks against civilians.

Kushayb has been nicknamed as the "Butcher of Darfur" by Darfur refugees.

"We have eyewitnesses who saw Kushayb on his horse giving instructions in each of the cases. I have eyewitnesses who saw Kushayb involved in the execution of prisoners, the rape of women," the ICC Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in statements earlier this year.

Last month Sudan appointed the second war crime suspect Ahmed Harun as head of a committee investigating human rights complaints in Darfur, a move criticized by human right groups.

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statue, but the UN Security Council triggered the provisions under the Statue that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security.

Source: Sudan Tribune website, Paris in English 2 Oct 07

 
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SYRIA
02/10/2007 Syrian article says "cautious Arab stand" on Mideast conference "logical"

Text of report by Syrian newspaper Tishrin website on 2 October

[Article by Umar Jifatli: "Behind the News: Firm Facts"]

Whoever heard President George Bush before the UN General Assembly recently may have been surprised as to how this president laments human rights and the UN Charter when no one has violated them the way he and his pro-Zionist administration have.

This president is known for his slips of the tongue and ignorance of many political and legal matters. But this ignorance does not absolve him of the responsibility for violating human rights in an unprecedented manner in Iraq, for example, and also the UN Charter and also for eliminating its resolutions completely from his political agenda whenever matters concerned Israel or the entire peace process in our region, which has been disturbed by occupation and this twisted US policy.

If President Bush's errors are numerous, their worst is his blind support for Israel in everything, including the achievement of its designs, which basically conflict with the real US interests in the region and are at the expense of normal US relations with all the Arab states.

Therefore, the cautious Arab stand on the US proposal for the promised peace and the fall conference seems logical, because there is no evidence so far about a change in US policy towards the region, especially the comprehensive peace process.

Thus, Syria emphasized on more than one occasion the non-seriousness of the US stand, especially since the Bush administration is working now on borrowed time and has not exploited throughout the past seven years any of the appropriate conditions for taking action and he did not consider the results reached by US envoys to the region who concluded that the region's problems can only be resolved through a just, comprehensive peace process that ends the Israeli occupation, which is the basis of the problem.

Therefore, it can be said that he who laments the UN Charter and human rights should set the example in serving these two aims and not be the first to trample upon them with his feet.

The spirit of the UN Charter and the laws of human rights remain fully applicable to our region, which has suffered from US injustice and disappointing US policy. If President Bush is serious this time about his zeal for the charter and human rights, the possibility of launching a real peace process from a firm ground lies in the UN resolutions, the Arab peace initiative the restoration of Arab territories and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state

Syria and the Arabs are ready for that.

Source: Tishrin website, Damascus, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Syrian foreign minister's UN speech dwells on Mideast. Iraq, Lebanon

Text of report in English by Syrian News Agency SANA website

["Foreign Minister Statement at UN General Assembly stresses Syria's desire for Peace"]

New York, UN, (SANA)-Foreign Minister Walid al-Mu'allim on Monday said Syria is ready for a just and comprehensive peace in light of international relevant resolutions in order to achieve security and stability in the region.

"President Bashar al-Asad highlighted this fact in the statement he made before the people's assembly on July 17, 2007," the minister added in a speech at the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly.

"Syria repeatedly called for reviving peace process according to Madrid reference and the land-for-peace formula," al-Moallem said.

The minister stressed that the Israeli latest aggression on Syria is a proof of Israel's desire to escalate tension. "We reiterate that the failure of the international community, including the Security Council to condemn this act of aggression would encourage Israel to persist in this hostile pursuit, and lead to an exacerbation of tensions in the region. Some sources in the US have spread rumours and fabricated news in order to justify this act of aggression. By distorting the facts they have become Israel's accomplices in this act of aggression."

On Iraq, Al-Moallem said the current situation requires effective cooperation among all parties inside Iraq, in the region and the world at large.

"We have always stressed the need to preserve the unity of the Iraqi people, the territorial integrity of Iraq, the non-interference in its internal affairs, the preservation of its sovereignty, independence, its Arab and Islamic identity and the rejection of any claims to divide Iraq," the Minister went on.

"We therefore stress the need for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Iraq, subject to the agreement of the Iraqi government, because this measure will contribute to curbing the violence. We have repeatedly stressed our condemnation of all the terrorist acts committed in Iraq which claim the lives of innocent civilians," al-Moallem said.

He said that the deteriorating situation in Iraq prompted many Iraqis to flee their country. There are over 1.6 million Iraqi refugees in Syria today. Syria is bearing enormous financial burdens to satisfy their economic needs and provide them with services. It is regrettable that the international community has failed to discharge its responsibility towards the Iraqi refugees until it becomes safe for them to return to their homes and country.

As for Lebanon, the minister said "the situation in Lebanon requires the Lebanese to act together in order to emerge from the current state of affairs and arrive at solutions that will serve the interest of Lebanon and its future. Syria has persistently supported all initiatives aimed at activating inter-Lebanese dialogue with a view to arriving at a consensus. We believe that the run up to the upcoming presidential elections constitutes a good basis for consensus building among the Lebanese to elect a president in accordance with constitutional prerogatives, free from foreign intervention."

Al-Moallem reaffirmed Syria's position calling for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East region.

"Our world needs a reaffirmation of our commitment to the principles and purposes of the UN, to avoid applying double standards and free the organization from the pursuit by some to control its decisions and dedicate their policies on its organs. The conflicts and strife with which our world is plagued today must prompt us to seek solutions based on enhanced inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogues," Foreign Minister concluded.

Source: SANA news agency website, Damascus in English 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Syrian Ba'th Party denounces US resolution on division of Iraq

Text of report by Syrian News Agency SANA website

[SANA report on statement issued by the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party]

Damascus, 1 Oct (SANA) - The Arab Socialist Ba'th Party issued a statement on the dangers posed by the US Senate's resolution to divide Iraq.

The statement said: The US Senate's resolution on the 26th of September 2007 to divide Iraq caused wide condemnation in Arab popular circles and in international and regional institutions and organizations that support peace, international law, and peoples and states' right to independence, sovereignty, and freedom.

The statement added: This resolution calls for dividing Iraq into sectarian and ethnic entities on the pretext that this division will end the violence among the Iraqis and pave the way for the US Army's withdrawal, as the authors of this resolution say. However, the authors of the resolution forget that the deadlocked situation in Iraq resulted only from the presence of the occupation forces. This presence is coupled with the continuation of the conflicts, infighting, and killing of innocent people.

The statement continued: The manifestations of violence and extremism and the continuing security, political, and social deterioration in Iraq can only be addressed by removing their causes, the most important of which is the presence of the occupation forces.

The statement said: Even though the US Administration considered the Senate's resolution non-binding, this resolution is a serious development. It confirms our knowledge of plans devised by the forces of domination and neo colonialism, led by the US Administration, and their way of thinking about our Arab region. This is especially true in light of the fact that the resolution does not include a national plan of reconciliation among the Iraqi people and ignores the suffering of the people who live under the yoke of the odious occupation and the tragedies of millions of displaced Iraqis.

The statement asserted: This resolution constitutes a flagrant violation of the international law. It is more than just a flagrant interference in Iraq's internal affairs. Its aim is to cancel the whole of Iraq as a state, divide its people who have been united for thousands of years, separate them from their nation and cultural history, and destroy their future.

The statement added: The resolution is part of moves to confiscate peoples' freedom and their right to self-determination. It contravenes all international agreements that define the responsibilities of the states that occupy other states. Foremost among these responsibilities is to preserve the entity of the people and state that are under occupation and refrain from changing any of their national, cultural, social, and economic characteristics. It also contravenes the United Nations charter and principles of human rights.

The statement continued: The resolution exposes the intellectual and ideological aims of the US policies and the United States' stands. These aims are based on the neo conservatives' exclusionist and racist thought, which is by nature hostile to the Arabs and to everyone who advocates the principles of right and equality between peoples and states.

The statement said: Also, the resolution uncovers the true aims behind the occupation of Iraq and completely refutes all the pretexts that the United States used in its aggression against this Arab country, such as the claims about weapons of mass destruction or what they termed establishment of democracy in Iraq.

The statement added: On the other hand, the resolution reveals the true intention of the forces of domination and Zionism. Their intention is to divide Iraq, as a first step towards dividing the states of the region and achieve the new Middle East project, which is subject to the US interests and Zionist ambitions in the region.

The statement continued: This serious development in the United States' policies and strategies in the region confirms that the Arabs face the same destiny, because the division of Iraq is a prelude to dividing the region. Every Arab state must know that it is threatened by this resolution, just like Iraq is.

The statement said: It is only natural for us to face this hostile strategy with joint pan-Arab action. The first step in this action is to firmly insist on the unity of the Iraqi land and people and Iraq's independence and sovereignty, preserve Iraq's identity, and support national reconciliation among its people and withdrawal of the occupation forces from Iraq.

The statement added: The Arab Socialist Ba'th Party denounces this resolution and emphasizes the need for the official and popular circles in the Arab and friendly states to shoulder their responsibilities to protect Iraq and pan-Arab security. The party also asserts the importance of rebuilding and reinforcing Arab solidarity and unifying the Arabs vis-A -vis the major developments to which our region is subjected and which threaten the nation's destiny and future.

The statement continued: On the other hand, the party notes the need to develop the work of the Arab parties, popular forces, and the large masses and to step up the cooperation and coordination among them in order to confront this serious challenge.

At the end of its statement, the party called on Arab and international popular and professional organizations and institutions and the states and forces that love freedom and peace to make an effective move to promote respect for international law and the principles on which the international community and United Nations charter are based.

The party also called on them to confront this partition plan and other plans that manipulate the region's stability, security, history, and future, and the will of the region's peoples and interests.

Source: SANA news agency website, Damascus in Arabic 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Saudi daily on role and activities of assassinated Syrian cleric

Text of report by Saudi newspaper Al-Watan website on 30 September

[Unattributed report by correspondents in Damascus, Amman and Kuwait: "The killer of Syrian national Abu-al-Qa'qa described him as collaborator with the Americans; observers cast doubt on the Syrian story; Abu-al-Qa'qa, who recruited men to fight in Iraq, was recruited by the intelligence which diposed of him"]

The circumstances of the assassination of Dr Mahmud Qul Aghasi, also known as Abu-al-Qa'qa, have triggered various reactions, prompting observers to believe that it was highly likely he had links to a major intelligence agency, which chose for him the end that the masses of worshippers in Al-Iman Mosque in Aleppo witnessed following last Friday prayers.

Syrian sources have confirmed that the murderer has been arrested, though murderers are rarely seized in Syria under such circumstances. They noted that the murderer said he had killed Abu-al-Qa'qa because "he was a collaborator with the Americans." Other sources indicated that the assassinated cleric had caused constant headache for the Americans in Iraq in view of his major role in recruiting Saudi and other Arab fighters and involving them in an international intelligence game. This view is supported by Samir Muhammad Ghazal Abu-Khashabah, who was an assistant to Abu-al-Qa'qa, and who pointed out that "the assassin, who is well known to us, was jailed by the US forces in Iraq and was released not very long time ago."

All parties agree that Abu-Al-Qa'qa moved very freely in Syria, so much so that he had been provided with official guards, something that raised doubts that he had links to Syrian intelligence agencies. However, the controversy continues over the party that disposed of him. Some observers say that he had a university degree in Islamic Shari'ah from the University of Damascus and that he had the attributes to qualify him to play the role he played in Iraq. This was in line with Syria's view that it was necessary to embroil the US troops in Iraq in an endless cycle of fighting and bombings.

For this reason, Abu-Al-Qa'qa was given ample opportunities, not given to others, to deliver speeches, exercises influence, and recruit fighters. His tapes became a phenomenon and the reputation of his sermons spread far and wide. He was also allowed to deliver sermons at the al-Tawwabin Mosque in Aleppo even without the agreement of the Al-Awqaf Ministry. However, in view of the stern stand the United States adopted towards Syria, which reached the point of threatening Syria because fighters penetrated into Iraq across the Syrian border, Abu-Al-Qa'qa had to disappear and his role ended at this point.

Those who espouse this view point out that Abu-al-Qa'qa, a Kurd, had returned from Pakistan after meeting with Taleban members, and that had been recruited by the Syrian intelligence, which later felt that the time had come to publicly end the semi-confirmed suspicion of his links to Syrian intelligence agencies. They pointed to the announcement by the Syrian authorities that he was suspected of involvement in the attempt by four gunmen to storm the Radio and Television building in Damascus, who were all killed in a clash with the security forces and were found in the possession of tapes with speeches by Abu-al-Qa'qa.

In contrast, jihadist forums accused Abu-al-Qa'qa of colluding with enemies against the mujahidin, warned against any dealing with him and, and declared his blood free for all. This stand supports the view of those who maintain that the murderer "was a collaborator with the Americans." Those who oppose this view, base their stand on statements that Abu-al-Qa'qa reiterated to explain the reasons for the attacks against him by Syrian opposition parties. Among other things, Abu-al-Qa'qa said "Syria was in a very strong position, contrary to what some people believed, and that the Americans were facing a predicament by their invasion of Iraq." He also said that "Syria's stand towards other parties was based on their position on crucial issues, such as resisting the occupiers."

Abu-al-Qa'qa viewed the International Court tasked with investigating the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri as a sheer process of blackmailing aimed at "getting the maximum concessions that would infringe on Syria's sovereignty, something that must never happen."

In Damascus, Syrian security sources confirmed to Al-Watan that "the assassination of cleric Mahmud Qul Aghasi, Abu-al-Qa'qa, the preacher at the Al-Iman Mosque in Aleppo, had to do with his interests and activities, which are well known in Syrian religious circles." They told Al-Watan that "the murderer is a Syrian national, is in his 20s, and is well known to the people in Aleppo." They "denied that personal reasons were behind the assassination," which they said was most probably linked to his activities in public life and which influenced many religious people."

These sources added: "When the security authorities in Aleppo complete their investigation, the ramifications of the assassination will become clear. These sources, which insisted on anonymity, denied that Abu-al-Qa'qa had any link to Al-Qa'idah organization, giving as evidence the fact that he attacked Al-Qa'idah more than once in interviews with several media organization. However, some people continue to accuse him of belonging to Salafi groups. They rejected the view that the Syrian authorities turned a blind eye to him as he continued to carry out his activities. They pointed out that he did not create any security problems to the Syrian security authorities, that he had never been jailed or held in custody, and that he operated like a number of active mosque preachers in Syria.

The assassin was cited as saying that he opened fire at Abu-al-Qa'qa "because he was a collaborator with the Americans." Assistant to Abu-al-Qa'qa, cleric Samir Muhammad Ghazal Abu-Khashabah, noted that "the assassin was imprisoned by the US forces in Iraq, that he was released by them not a long time ago, and that he was known to us."

The Muslim public in general and Syrian public in particular have been preoccupied with the killing of Abu-al-Qa'qa the day before yesterday as he left a mosque in Aleppo. For he had raised suspicions since early June 2006, when the Syrian Television aired material that was found in the possession of the terrorist group, which tried to storm the Radio and Television building on 2 June 2006, and which the Syrian Special Security forces confronted and eliminated. The material included tapes and discs of religious sermons by Abu-al-Qa'qa. The mystery that surrounded that attempt was that the Syrian authorities did not then reveal the identity of the attackers on the Radio and Television building in Damascus or the party to which they belonged. The authorities only accused them of belonging to an extremist Islamic group, raising many questions about Abu-al-Qa'qa's role, particularly because he recently toned down his criticism of the Syrian regime. He was later appointed as head of the Shari'ah Secondary School in Aleppo. He then published his latest compact disc "Sighs to the Leader," which spread widely, addressing Syrian President Bashar al-Asad and urging him to eliminate corruption, and strongly condemning its spread in Syrian society.

Press reports on Abu-al-Qa'qa note that by 2001 he had drawn some 1,000 followers, but no one knew anything about them. The 9/11 attacks focused media attention on him, and his followers soon began to appear in interviews with media outlets and to publish their discourse on websites, warning against targeting Syria and Iraq and vowing to take up arms should either country come under attack. Two weeks after the attacks, as one press report pointed out, his group was emboldened enough to celebrate publicly in Aleppo. The group's festivities included airing a video on training in combat tactics. At the time, the Syrian authorities arrested Abu-al-Qa'qa but released him within hours.

In 2002, the festivities opposed to the United States were held twice weekly, mostly as part of wedding celebrations and social gatherings. The organizers who called themselves "the Strangers of Syria," began giving out free discs of their religious scholar's sermons, and the calls for jihad became public. One of the members of the group, who is an assistant to Abu-Al-Qa'idah, said that Syrian security officials attended one of the festivals the slogan of which was "the People of Syria Will Defeat the Israelis and Kill Them All."

After young Arab men began to flow into Syria to fight in Iraq and a fatwa was issued supporting jihad, Abu-al-Qa'qa encouraged volunteers to go to Iraq. However, after the breakout of the war and the Syrian authorities' ban on fighters to cross its borders with Iraq, Abu-al-Qa'qa and dozens of the leaders of Jihad cells were summoned to the Syrian State Security. Security officers told Abu-al-Qa'qa that he must stop smuggling fighters into Iraq. Afterwards, he reemerged as a jihad leader. However, people began to view him with suspicion, insinuating that he might have been assisting the Syrian authorities in watching the routes that the smugglers of fighters follow. A Yemeni fighter in al-Fallujah expressed the same suspicions about Abu-al-Qa'qa in the past fall. A statement was posted on the website of the so-called "the Centre of Services for the Majahidin in Iraq" warning of those it described as hypocrites and collaborators and accusing Abu-al-Qa'qa of spying for and collaborating with the US occupation authorities.

Several media organizations linked the Abu-al-Qa'qa organization to Al-Qa'idah and to Jund al-Sham in Lebanon, and to the Syrian intelligence service, particularly in the wake of the Nahr al-Barid refugee camp fighting in Lebanon. According to reports, the services of the fighters who were supposed to be dispatched to Iraq through Abu-al-Qa'qa were ended. Those fighters were used to vent their energy outside Syria. They were divided into groups according to priorities of jihad based on reports by those who recruited and trained them. According to these report, the trainers were all members of the Syrian intelligence service.

These groups had several priorities, which were handled in different ways. In a statement to Nobel's News website, Abu-al-Qa'qa said that the Syrian opposition abroad attacked him because he refused to agree to the US plan in Iraq. He said that he was also accused by the opposition as being a man of the authorities, but the real reason was because of his broad popular base, his capability of communicating with all segments of society, and his adoption of a comprehensive reformist Islamic programme, which ran counter to the conventional ideology adopted by traditional religious scholars and suspicious takfiri [those holding other Muslims as infidel] groups. He said that those takfiri groups try to sell bloody ideology and programmes, particularly among Muslim youths. He said that he was bent on spreading enlightened Islamic ideology that reaches out to all parties without exception and that absolutely does not cancel anyone. He said his ideology believed in civilized dialogue among faiths and in coexistence among all creeds, sects and ethnicities.

Source: Al-Watan website, Abha, in Arabic 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Fatah planning to turn Palestinian public opinion against Hamas - website

Text of report by pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Centre website on 1 October

["A document reveals a plan prepared by Fatah recently targeting Hamas on the religious, organizational, and media levels" - Palestinian Information Centre headline]

Gaza, 01 Oct (Palestinian Information Centre) -A secret document that the Palestinian Information Centre has obtained reveals that the Fatah movement has prepared a plan to target the Islamic Resistance Movement-Hamas on the religious, organizational, and media levels. The plan is entitled "The four-sided plan to expose what is concealed". The documents shows that this plan -whose timeframe extends over four months starting with the beginning of last September -aims at likening the religious discourse of the Hamas movement to that of the al-takfiri groups [Muslim groups holding other Muslims as infidels], portraying it to the people as being an identical discourse, and spreading rumours that claim that the Hamas movement is suffering from deep internal crises.

The document shows that the plan focuses on three axes to target the movement on the religious, organizational, and media levels. The plan has begun with the religious axis that aims at likening the religious discourse of the Hamas movement to that of the al-takfiri groups and portraying it to the people are being an identical discourse. The plan also aims at exploiting the special Palestinian situation that does not have diverse sects and schools of thought in order to portray the Hamas movement as a takfiri movement. The religious axis includes the drafting of various religious articles and studies that seek to highlight a rift between the centrist approach of the Muslim Brotherhood movement and that of the Hamas movement. These studies come under many different titles -such as "O people of Palestine, rally around your legitimate ruler (President Mahmud Abbas) and renounce the Al-Khawarij". They also seek to encourage the abandonment of mosques seen as loyal to Hamas and to use propaganda at all levels. As for the organizational axis, it focuses on showing that the ranks of the Hamas movement are threatened by many deep internal crises. It also seeks to raise the sums of money paid to people that claim that they have material "evidence" that proves their claims to what they say is the real Hamas from the inside. It also highlights the allegations that Hamas is suffering from internal differences and it circulates these claims to the media outlets in order to preoccupy the supporters of Hamas inside and outside either with denying these claims or trying to find out more about them.

On the media axis, the plan shows that the Fatah movement is preparing counter media reports that show the media contradictions of the Hamas movement and by putting media pressure on the other channels that pro0mote the Hamas movement, such as Al-Jazeera and Al-Hiwar or Al-Alam and Al-Manar. The Fatah plan includes press reports supervised by a press committee, video reports supervised by a technical committee that includes television reports, clips, and "flashes as well as press conferences dealing with the special plan of the higher committee and the office of PNA President Mahmud Abbas. The plan also prepares internal documents dealing with the Hamas movement, editing documents, and producing new forged documents. The plan includes many aspects, such as the central media in the districts, the president's office for press and information affairs, the media spokesmen, and the radio and television corporation (Palestine). It also relies on publications, electronic sites, and the women's sector. The plan lists what it calls "the positive points" that it may produce, most importantly confusing Hamas on the Palestinian, Arab, and international arenas and keeping it busy looking for outlets to various stories that influence public opinion, according to the plan. As for the "negative aspects" that the drafters of the document list, they include lack of commitment by the leaders and the cadres to implement and follow the plan to the letter, taking individual and personal initiatives, and not realizing that this plan was orchestrated by specialists in the fields of media, public relations, production, and editing. It said that private opinions "may cause the plan to fail or even be counterproductive".

At its conclusion, the plan discloses that other quarters outside the Fatah movement support it. It drew attention to the fact that the most important quarters that support the plan are the People's Party, the Democratic Grouping (FIDA), and the Democratic Front [for the Liberation of Palestine-DFLP]. As for the Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine-PFLP], "we did not broach the matter with them in view of their negative stand on the issue of Bani Awdah where they were behind the power of the counter propaganda". The document adds: "As for the Islamic Jihad, we have gained many big positive points but this requires more plans and efforts than those that have been made in the past two months".

Source: Palestinian Information Centre website in Arabic 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Palestinian editorial praises "courageous and frank" UN official Dugard

Text of report by Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds website on 1 October

[Editorial: "Where is the Arab Dugard?"]

The courageous and frank position has finally arrived and it was expressed by John Dugard, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories. He accused the United Nations and its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Quartet of ignoring his reports and recommendations and of being biased in favour of Israel by avoiding to condemn its violating human rights in the occupied territories. This position came to clear up many matters and emphasize what the Palestinian and Arab sides have repeatedly said about the bias in favour of Israel, and to reveal the extent of the dilemma facing the Palestinian issue and peace process.

The importance of the position that Dugard has expressed stems from the fact that it comes from a neutral party that is fully aware of what is happening in the Palestinian territories on a daily basis. This is contrary to the various international agencies operating in the Palestinian territories. Secondly, the importance of this position stems from the fact that it comes from a senior UN official who is fully conversant with the course of activities of this international organization and the manner with which its decisions are taken and its policies are drawn up.

If Dugard has frankly stated that the UN secretary general is biased in favour of Israel in this regard because he receives his instructions from Washington, this raises bitter questions about the role of the international organization. It raises bitter questions about the role of the United Nations not only with regard to the Palestinian issue, but also its role in various international crises. It also raises bitter questions as whether the international organization can with such policies carry out its duties and missions in preserving world peace and security, protecting human rights and upholding international legitimacy or, as Dugard has said it adopts unidirectional policies that are biased in favour of Israel and flout human rights.

In terms of timing, Dugard's position was announced two days after President Mahmud Abbas's speech at the UN General Assembly. In his speech, Abbas emphasized the Palestinian side's commitment to peace and international legitimacy and urged the United Nations and international community to shoulder their responsibilities and duties in finding a just solution to the Palestinian issue. Dugard's position was also announced at a time when the United Nations and Quartet were supposed to playing an important role in the peace process and the ongoing moves to convene the peace conference that President Bush has called for and the negotiations and contacts that might follow.

The surprising thing in this matter is for a UN official like Dugard to be so daring and courageous in expressing this position indifferent to his senior UN post, the influence of the major powers he frankly accuses or the authority of his superior the UN secretary general. This comes a time when a number of leaders in the Arab and Islamic Worlds, who are supposed to be more concerned for the Palestinian issue than Dugard, remain silent over what is happening and do not seek to tell the truth, which is the least they could do.

Finally, this courageous man John Dugard has expressed the sentiments of all the Arabs and Muslims and free people in the world and has clearly pointed out the serious flaw in the work of the international organization and has shown a clear conscience. He is therefore worthy of every support and backing from the Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic sides, especially since the biased forces will make every effort to try and obliterate the facts he has revealed and even distort his conclusions and even slander his character.

On the other hand, it is the duty of the Arab and Islamic side to demand that the United Nations play an honest role and maintain the integrity of its policies and take into account the recommendations of Dugard and other UN agencies operating in the occupied territories. This is in order to restore the credibility of the United Nations after it has become clear that it has its agenda and policies are unidirectional that serve the interests of certain forces and not the interests and rights of all the peoples of the world.

Source: Al-Quds website, Jerusalem, in Arabic 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Israeli security measures in Jerusalem support Judaization - Palestinian paper

Text of report by Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds website on 22 September

[Editorial: "Jerusalem and the Freedom of Worship Once Again"]

What happened yesterday during the second Friday of the blessed month of Ramadan, during which Israel intensified its measures in and around Jerusalem and the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque and prevented the arrival of thousands of our sons from the West Bank who tried to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform their Friday prayers, coincided with reports published by the Israeli media yesterday on proposals to find a solution to the Jerusalem issue based on the ideas former US President Bill Clinton proposed during the Camp David summit that brought together deceased President Yasir Arafat and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Baraq.

The tight measures the Israeli authorities took yesterday to tighten the isolation of the holy city on the second Friday of Ramadan and prevent worshippers from getting to it, as well as imposing various restrictions on those who were allowed to get there, affirm the need to find a solution to the Jerusalem issue when talking about efforts to realize peace. It makes no sense for Israel to take unilateral decisions on the fate of Jerusalem, as is happening today, which affect the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, and the freedom of worship, rights, and sentiments of Muslims wherever they may be, whether in Palestine or various parts of the Muslim world.

Since the Israeli media pointed out yesterday that sharp differences emerged in the ruling Kadima Party over Minister Hayim Ramon's support for the division of Jerusalem, which was proposed by Clinton at that time and rejected by the Palestinian side because they detract from the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and give legitimacy to the occupation of large parts of East Jerusalem. Today, while preparations are under way to convene an international peace conference in November, we are in greatest need of a clear Arab and Islamic stance on the Jerusalem issue to support the Palestinian stance that calls for regaining East Jerusalem, which has been occupied since 1967, and turning it into the capital of the independent much-talked about Palestinian state.

The many years of occupation since 1967 to this day, have proven that Israel has worked hard to Judaize the holy city and settle the largest number of settlers in it, while at the same time distancing the largest number of Palestinians outside the borders of the municipality that it has delineated, this apart from the various measures to isolate the holy city and prevent large numbers of believers from getting to its holy sites, whether Muslim or Christian.

This means that Israel is trying hard to determine the status of the holy city unilaterally, away from international legitimacy and away from the interests, rights, and feelings of the Palestinians and the Arab and Islamic world. This contradicts the desire to realize just and comprehensive peace.

This is why we say that the Jerusalem is a political issue of the first degree and has nothing to do with easing of restrictions or partial steps Israel may take to divert attention from the main issue. If talk revolves round real efforts to entrench just and comprehensive peace, then the international community is required to implement the resolutions of international legitimacy, including those pertaining to Jerusalem which is an indivisible part of the territories occupied since 1967. These are the territories on which the independent Palestinian state is supposed to be established.

Source: Al-Quds website, Jerusalem, in Arabic 22 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Slovenia opens office in Ramallah

Text of report in English by Slovene news agency STA

Ljubljana, 1 October (STA) - Slovenia opened on Monday [1 October] a representation office in Ramallah that will serve to build dialogue between Slovenia and the Palestinian authorities.

The representation which is situated in the office of the Hungarian representation is staffed by one Slovenian diplomat.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the central role of the diplomat will be to foster dialogue with Palestinian officials.

The ministry added that the office will help Slovenia in forming a balanced view on the Middle East issue during the country's stint as EU president.

The opening of the representation office is in line with EU policy, as most EU countries have offices or consulates in Ramallah or East Jerusalem.

As part of Slovenia's preparations for the EU presidency, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories in May.

Source: STA news agency, Ljubljana, in English 2031 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Palestinian armed group targets Israeli town of Ashqelon

Text of report in English by Palestinian Ma'an News Agency website

["An-Nasser Brigades launch projectile at Ashkelon" - Ma'an headline]

Gaza -Ma'an -The An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, the armed group affiliated to the Popular Resistance Committees on Tuesday morning claimed responsibility for launching a homemade projectile towards the Israeli town of Ashkelon near the border with the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces admitted that a projectile had landed on Ashkelon but said that no one had been injured.

Source: Ma'an News Agency website, Bethlehem, in English 0916 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Hamas-affiliated executive force integrated into police in Gaza

Text of report in English by Palestinian Ma'an News Agency website

["Assimilation of executive forces and police services complete" - Ma'an headline]

Gaza -Ma'an -The Palestinian Interior Ministry in the de facto government has completed the assimilation of the Hamas-affiliated Executive Forces into the police services, the spokesman, Iyhab al-Ghusayn, said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference he said that the assimilation was part of the de facto government's plan to restore and keep security and order in the Gaza Strip.

Al-Ghusayn explained that the Ministry of the Interior now has five security services: police, internal security, security and protection of dignitaries, civil defence, and the national security service under the command of Husayn Abu 'Athra. The national security controls the military prison, military jurisprudence and military headquarters and clinics.

Brigadier Tawfiq Jabir has been appointed as general manager of the police service in the Gaza Strip and Jamal Ubaidallah his deputy, he added.

However, Al-Ghusayn said he was concerned that "the Abbas-affiliated militias and death gangs in the West Bank may continue their destruction, arrests, torture and other terrifying acts."

Source: Ma'an News Agency website, Bethlehem, in English 1050 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Palestinian president said "overoptimistic" over peace prospects

Text of report by Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam website on 30 September

[Commentary by Hani Habib: "The illusions of a historical horizon"]

The Israeli Prime minister has donned the dress of "political pragmatism," saying that a settlement within the framework of the Palestinian-Israeli file is impossible at present, while Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has expressed "unrealistic" optimism, stressing that a peace treaty between the Palestinians and Israelis can be reached within six months.

Olmert relies on reading the reality of the situation on all levels. Intransigence has reached its peak among all quarters concerned with the Arab-Israeli conflict in general and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in particular, especially among the Israeli public. The Israeli extremist parties control the Israeli street. The Olmert government includes extremists from the Yisrael Beiteinu party and the Shas movement. There is no possibility of a rift occurring between these extremists in the foreseeable future. There is more extremism displayed by the opposition parties led by the Likud. So much so that these parties consider a mere meeting between Olmert and Abbas something that must be stopped, regardless of the content of such meetings.

Olmert realizes that the Arab sides in turn are unwilling to jump on the negotiation wagon according to Israel's conditions. The Arab system has begun to gradually abandon its plan known as the Arab initiative, which is barely being mentioned by the Arab leaders. The Arab split between "loyalists and oppositionists" and between the front that supports negotiations and the front that rejects negotiations dominates the Arab scene. The open differences between Syria and Saudi Arabia are one of the forms and images of this scene. This puts big obstacles in the way of any Arab consensus on any issue, especially that which concerns the negotiating process. The possibility of the participation of some Arab regimes in the Gulf meeting is plausible. However, most of these regimes realize that the matter concerns not a real settlement as much as it concerns finalizing normalization with Israel.

Day in, day out Israel realizes that an Arab war against it has become part of a past history. There is no chance of this occurring neither in dreams nor in nightmares. The Palestinian internal division gives these regimes, be they loyalists or oppositionists, a justification for not entering into details. They blame all the difficulties and problems on the very bad Palestinian situation. But these regimes also did not act when the Palestinian situation was better.

There is no doubt that Olmert wagers on a divided Palestinian arena. It is true that Abu-Mazin [Mahmud Abbas] is serious about his negotiating steps, but what he is demanding as a minimum is much higher than what Israel can "give," not only because of the reality of the domestic situation in Israel, but also because of the Israeli constants. These constants play an important part because the balance of power is completely tilted in favour of the Hebrew state. This does not allow any Israeli leadership to "concede" some aspects which it could have "conceded" under previous circumstances.

President Abbas is speaking about a "historical horizon that is emerging and that will enable the restoration of our people's rights." We believe that he is referring to the US effort exerted to get out of the mud of the Iraqi quagmire and to Washington's posturing for a possible military solution vis-A -vis Iran. Perhaps this dictates that the United States should exert more efforts towards preparing the Arab situation by putting pressure in the direction of reviving the negotiating process on the Palestinian-Israeli track. According to Abu-Mazin, this can open wide vistas for finding solutions to difficult issues on the Palestinian-Israeli track. The intransigence shown by Mahmud Abbas with the aim of arriving at an "agreement of principles" and not a working paper, as Olmert wants, and the Palestinian pressure on some Arab regimes to support the Palestinian demands in this regard will help the emergences of this horizon.

This is what we believe Abu-Mazin is wagering on. However we find that things are different. These regimes do not possess a decision regarding their relations with the United States. The bargaining chips they hold are useless due to a lack of political will. Some regimes have ready-made pretexts, such as the possibility of war with Iran in which the Gulf region becomes a theatre for Iranian operations and expansion. This is what Washington is trying to convince these regimes of, although these regimes are ready to accept these illusions in view of their desire to find pretexts for buying more US weapons costing billions of dollars and justify the existence of US military bases on their territories and aircraft carriers in their regional waters.

For our part, we believe that Olmert was more pragmatic in thinking that the Middle East issues, especially a settlement on the Palestinian-Israeli track, will not be solved in the short and medium run while Abu-Mazin was unjustifiably overoptimistic in conditions that do not bear more destroyed hopes!

Source: Al-Ayyam website, Ramallah, in Arabic 30 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Two Palestinians said critically wounded in "indiscriminate" Israeli shooting

Text of report by Palestinian Ma'an News Agency website

["Two Citizens Critically Wounded by Israeli Army Near Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron" - Ma'an headline]

Hebron, 2 Oct (Ma'an) - Two citizens were shot by the Israeli army this evening in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the old city of Hebron. Ma'an correspondent said that the troops observed a child carrying a toy gun and subsequently opened indiscriminate fire at the citizens, wounding Zakariya al-Ajluni and Badriyah al-Karaki. The two were taken to Al-Ahli Hospital, where doctors say that Al-Ajluni's condition is critical, and Al-Karaki sustained moderate wounds.

Source: Ma'an News Agency website, Bethlehem, in Arabic 1500 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Palestinian paper reports on preparations for Washington conference

Text of report by Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam website on 22 September

[Commentary by Hani al-Masri: "Olmert's government twists Rice's arm"]

While pessimism dominated the Palestinian atmosphere on the eve of Rice's last visit, some optimism emerged after her meeting [with PNA President Abbas]. This change was apparent in comments by President Abbas and some of his advisers which described the visit as positive and said that American promises carried hope.

The question is: What is the secret behind this optimism? Is it that Rice gave answers to the questions reiterated by Abu Mazin related to the schedule of the "International Conference" and who will participate and what Conference's agenda and powers are? Available information suggests that the schedule of the "Conference" became known and Rice promised to consider Syria's and Lebanon's participation and affirmed that the "Conference" would not be only a photo-opportunity but that it would discuss the core and the basic issues and that she would seek to reach understandings on as many details as possible. The responses given by Rice are not sufficient but she was able to change the Palestinian position towards the Conference from flirting with non-participation to eagerness to hold it. The Palestinian side deals with only one option.

Despite the fact that I did not take the Palestinian threat of non-participation seriously because it is inconsistent with the policy adopted by Abu Mazin but it was a sign and a good attempt to impact the incidents, knowing that non-participation in the Conference is an old issue, because it was possible when the idea was posed, but not after exerting all these efforts in preparation for the "Conference". The Palestinian refusal to participate in the "Conference" has consequences which the Palestinian leadership could not endure and so it is now attempting to get the maximum possible or to reduce the harm to the minimum.

For my part, I am still pessimistic about holding the "Conference" and wish it would not be held. That is because I don't believe that the talks conducted by Rice with Olmert have achieved tangible progress. Olmert and the Israeli officials believe that it is not time to discuss the thorny issues - especially the issues of Jerusalem and refugees - because Olmert's situation inside Israel does not allow him to offer what the Israelis consider as concessions on issues they earlier drew red lines on. If Olmert goes beyond these red lines or takes a brave step, he might lose the government. To promote their attitudes, Olmert and his government rely on the fact that the Palestinian President is not able to enforce any agreement due to the internal divisions.

Based on that, the maximum that the Israeli government might offer or accept is drafting general principles basically referring to the issue of borders and lands with ambiguity dominating the text of the document without going into details. Barak opposes identification of the future borders and he also demands generalizations on this subject.

For that reason, Olmert and his government staff tried to twist Rice's arm and bring her and Abu Mazin down from their tall tree, which they climbed during the past months when as he [Olmert] said to Rice that he would not go far in his "concessions" so as not to lose his position and because Abbas is incapable in the forseeable future of controlling the West Bank, which therefore requires the presence of the Israeli army in the West Bank to ensure Israel's security. But Olmert forgot that Abbas's incapability is basically caused by the occupation and its aggression, which has weakened the PNA and made it brought it to the verge of collapse

For a full picture, we have to notice that Olmert is exposed to Israeli pressure from his party, Qadima (Livni, Dichter, Mofaz), and from inside the government - Barak and his party and Israel Beitenu and Shas, and from outside the government, the Likud and the rightist and fundamentalist religious parties. As long as the US Administration does not have the will to put pressure on Israel, it will find itself paralysed and dependent, as usual, on the internal Israeli situation. The expected result is that Rice will say to Abbas: Olmert is the best available in Israel and if he leaves his position, a worse person will replace him: either Natanyahu or Baraq; both were tried earlier and have adopted more extremist stances.

Perhaps this same situation encouraged Palestinian circles to call, in the backstage, for participation in the "Fall Conference" regardless the outcome. These Palestinians' justification is that if they get an agreement to resume negotiations and revive the peace process which has been dead for years, that will be enough, and better than nothing. Another idea being discussed is simply to mitigate the consequences of a failed "Conference," considering that holding the Conference is a first phase followed by other phases through holding other conferences after four or six months to guarantee the momentum achieved during the past few months.

These ideas forget that the efforts exerted to make the Fall Conference successful are taking place amid a reality in which Israel is continuing all forms of its military aggression, intensifying settlement and completing the construction of the wall, the separation of Jerusalem, cutting the West Bank into parts, and announcing Gaza as a an entity hostile to Israel, which will deepen Palestinian divisions. All these matters make participation in a conference, without having any guarantee of its outcomes, harmful because it will provide Palestinian, Arab and international cover for Israel's acts including creation of realities on the ground. Therefore, the Palestinians must insist on ending aggression, settlement and the wall as necessary conditions for resuming negotiations and must not back down from these conditions. In exchange for ending the resistance, Israel must end aggression, settlement and the wall. Without fulfilling this condition, we remain in a vicious circle of negotiations indefinitely going around themselves and around the conditions of the negotiations.

Accordingly, what are the prospects for the Conference? There are three possibilities:

First, the Conference will not be held because no Palestinian-Israeli agreement is reached before holding the Conference. This scenario will have uncontrollable adverse implications. This is the best prospect.

Second, the Conference will be held and concluded with an agreement on a general and loose declaration of principles, repeating the Oslo Accords in a new draft, which opens the way for a new illusion of peace without peace. This is the worst prospect.

Third, the Conference will be held and will fail in reaching any agreement. This is not actually possible because the Bush Administration will not make invitations to the Conference before reaching or nearly reaching an agreement. It is ridiculous that the Conference does not have the power to participate or intervene in the negotiations. Its role is excluded to endorsing what is agreed upon. This is considered a risky path which we must not tread because it will isolate the Palestinians from the Arabs and the international community and will make them lose their point of reference, which is the weapon of the international law and the resolutions of international legitimacy.

Fourth, as Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni demanded, the Conference might shift to the discussion of economic and security issues, features of the Palestinian state institutions and structures of its security apparatuses and ways of coordination between the Palestinian state and its Israeli counterpart because there is a great difference in the Palestinian and Israeli positions and a large gap between Abu Mazin's willingness and his actual capability on ground.

We are not in need of new illusions or the expert's experience. We do urgently need to crystallize a new national strategy, learning from former experience, and able to unify the Palestinians around a national realistic platform acceptable at the local, Arab, Islamic and international levels. The beginning is to realize that a national solution will not soon be forthcoming. On the contrary, it is necessary to exert all Palestinian efforts and capacities to maintain our human resource on the land of Palestine, provide the components of steadfastness against occupation and make the occupation pay more than it takes and reduce the harms and losses to the minimum possible in preparation for other circumstances and another phase coming sooner or later.

Source: Al-Ayyam website, Ramallah, in Arabic 22 Sep 07

 
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02/10/2007 Palestinian group says Arab, Islamic countries contacted to end crisis

Text of report in English by Palestinian Ma'an News Agency website

["Arab and Islamic countries contacted to end Palestinian political crisis, Brigades spokesman claims" - Ma'an headline]

Gaza -Ma'an -The spokesperson of the Al-Nasir Salah-al-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said on Monday evening that a group of Arab and Islamic countries have been contacted to assist in ending the crippling siege on the Gaza Strip and to heal the political rift within the Palestinian territories.

"Contact with Arab and Islamic countries is ongoing in order to lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and to resume domestic dialogue and reconciliation," Abu-Abir said in a meeting between the An-Nasir Brigades leadership and Isma'il Haniyah's deposed Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip.

The Al-Nasir Salah-al-Din Brigades delegation was headed by its general commander, Shaykh Zakariya Dughmush, while the de facto government's delegation was headed by Isma'il Haniyah.

Both sides agreed that domestic Palestinian dialogue should be a top priority and any initiative to repair the gaping political wound between the rival Fatah and Hamas factions should be grasped.

However they stressed that no appeasement or cease fire with the Israelis could be discussed in light of the frequent Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, unless it was agreed on by all Palestinian factions.

Source: Ma'an News Agency website, Bethlehem, in English 0953 gmt 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Palestinian leader to hold referendum if agreement with Israel reached - adviser

Excerpt from report by London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi website on 2 October

[Report on an interview with Nabil Amr, the political and media adviser of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, by Walid Awad, in Ramallah - date not given]

Nabil Amr, the political and media adviser of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said yesterday that President Abbas would seek the Palestinian people's opinion through a referendum on any agreement he would reach with Israel.

In an interview with Al-Quds al-Arabi, Amr added that the president would go back to the people in case he reached an agreement with Israel, and that the president himself had announced that he would seek the opinion of the people through a public referendum on any agreement he would reach to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Regarding the challenge to the Palestinian president's legitimacy made by some Palestinian factions like Hamas and the claim that he did not have such legitimacy to discuss the Palestinian issue and reach an agreement on it in the fall conference, Amr said I do not think that Hamas does not recognize the president's legitimacy. It has constantly declared its recognition of the president's legitimacy.

Regarding the pro-Hamas voices that say that Abbas only represents the West Bank and does not represent the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians in the diaspora, Amr said we have not heard such a thing from the Hamas Movement.

Regarding the current Palestinian debate about Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's statement that Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had expressed to him their recognition and conviction that Israel was the national homeland of the Jews, Amr said there is mutual recognition between the PLO and Israel. No one has deviated from the mutual recognition contained in the Oslo Agreement.

Asked whether Abbas's and Fayyad's recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jews would end the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to the 1948 occupied lands and restrict their return to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Amr said, we are abiding by the Arab position on the right of return, as stated in the Arab peace initiative, which called for a just and acceptable solution to the refugee problem.

Amr stressed that the Arab states are a principal side in the solution of the Palestinian refugee problem, because most of the refugees live in these states.

Asked what Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has achieved in his recent visit to New York and in his meeting with US President George Bush during the UN General Assembly meetings, Amr said, we are practicing a studied policy to increase the pressure on Israel in the coming period to achieve progress in the peace process.

Regarding the previous meetings between Abbas and Olmert and the results they achieved, Amr said we could not say that we have reached decisive results. He said that the previous meetings involved an exchange of views that could culminate in an agreement, which the two sides would formulate after the sixth meeting Wednesday between the two men. He added, now there are two delegations to formulate the results of these meetings.

Asked about the names of the members of the Palestinian negotiating team working on a Palestinian-Israeli agreement for submission to the upcoming fall conference, Amr said he did not know the names of the Palestinian delegation members.

It is worth mentioning that Palestinian sources have recently said that Abbas had decided to appoint former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quray as head of the Palestinian negotiating delegation, besides Yasir Abd-Rabbuh, the secretary of the PLO Executive Committee, and Saeb Erekat, head of the PLO Negotiations Department as a higher committee for the Palestinian negotiating teams. President Abbas would probably announce the names of the members of these teams in the coming few days, as Erekat said yesterday. [Passage omitted]

Source: Al-Quds al-Arabi website, London, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Hamas leader denies secret deal with Egypt

Text of report "Reports on a secret deal between Egyptian intelligence and Hamas leaders to allow entry of trapped [Palestinians]. Ayman Taha to Al-Quds al-Arabi: The reports on handing over one of Al-Qa'idah leaders to Egypt are not true and this organization has no presence in Gaza", carried by London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi website on 2 October

[Report by Ashraf al-Hawr in Gaza]

The Hamas Movement yesterday denied reports about a deal it had concluded with the Egyptian Government to allow 85 Hamas activists and leaders held on the Egyptian side of the border to enter the Gaza Strip in return for Hamas surrendering to the Egyptian security services a wanted Al-Qa'idah leader.

According to some reports, the Hamas Movement and the Egyptian intelligence services had concluded a secret deal under which they agreed that Egypt would allow 85 Hamas cadres held up on the Egyptian side of the border to enter the Gaza Strip without passing through Israeli territory. In return, Hamas would surrender an Al-Qa'idah Organization leader accused of being behind attacks that took place in the Egyptian Asyut Governorate.

Reports said that the Al-Qa'idah leader had entered the Gaza Strip secretly through one of the tunnels that link the southern Gaza Strip with Egypt.

However, Ayman Taha, a leader in the Hamas Movement, said to Al-Quds al-Arabi that the reports about such a deal were untrue. There was no deal between the Egyptians and us, he said, adding that the people held up at the border were not allowed to enter the Gaza Strip based on any agreement. They entered because this was their right.

Taha did not deny that officials in his movement held contacts with the Egyptians to ensure the return of the people detained at the border, which security reports said many of them were members of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. The Palestinian Government in Ramallah, through Information Minister Dr Riyad al-Maliki, had accused these activists of receiving military training in Iran.

However, Taha said that some of the people detained at the border have been holding these contacts since the first day of the closure of the crossing. He added that Egyptian leaders made some promises in the past, and these promises have been crowned with success, but there was no deal between them and us. It should be recalled that the people who returned to the Gaza Strip the day before yesterday included Hamas Deputy Faraj al-Ghul, chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council's legal committee and the person who talked with the Egyptian leaders to allow the detainees at the border to enter the Gaza Strip.

They also included Deputy Mushir al-Masri, the secretary of the Hamas parliamentary bloc and a leader in Hamas; Abu-Khalid al-Hasanat, one of the founders of Hamas; Shaykh Muhammad al-Najjar; and former Interior Minister Hani Talab al-Qawasimi. The people held up at the border had refused to use the alternative Al-Awja Crossing, which passes through Israeli territory, to return to the Gaza Strip for fear that the occupation army would detain them on the pretext that they were wanted for security reasons.

Taha, at the same time, denied the presence of any members of the Al-Qa'idah Organization in the Gaza Strip. He said that the Al-Qa'idah Organization does not exist in the Gaza Strip. It has no Arab or Palestinian followers in it. Taha maintained that the reports about the presence of Al-Qa'idah followers in Gaza provided an excuse to the occupation to launch an aggression against the Gaza Strip. The Hamas leader stressed that the reports about the presence of the Al-Qa'idah Organization in Gaza aim at causing damage in the Palestinian arena.

Palestinian security sources had affirmed to Al-Quds al-Arabi that members of the world Al-Qa'idah Organization are present in the Gaza Strip. They noted that some members of this organization came from Arab countries. They said that some members of this organization holding European nationalities came to the Gaza Strip when the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt opened after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. However, Taha, the Hamas leader, said that these claims were false and had nothing to substantiate them on the ground.

Israel has accused the Army of Islam Organization in the Gaza Strip, which took part in the capture of the Israeli soldier Gil'ad Shalit, of being one of the arms of the Al-Qa'idah Organization.

Regarding the hardline military groups that assumed responsibility in the past for bombing stores, Taha said that these incidents had nothing to do with Al-Qa'idah. They took place during the state of chaos and confusion that certain parties had sought to spread in society.

An armed group identifying itself as the Islamic Swords of Justice had claimed responsibility for bombing several Internet cafes and shops selling music tapes on the pretext that they were spreading moral degeneration in society.

Source: Al-Quds al-Arabi website, London, in Arabic 2 Oct 07

 
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YEMEN
02/10/2007 Yemeni president inspects volcano-stricken island rescue effort

Text of report in English by Yemeni news agency Saba website

Hudaydah, 1 October: President Ali Abdallah Salih inspected on Monday [1 October], boarding a helicopter, situations in the Jabal al-Tayr Island, 70 miles into the Red Sea, which was tragically hit by strong volcano activities.

He also checked the process of evacuation and rescue for soldiers who were camped in the island.

On the other hand, President Salih paid a visit to Hudaydah Military Hospital to get acquainted with conditions of the survivors who are receiving treatment in the hospital. Four of them are seriously injured, three soldiers were died, while four others are still missing.

Salih highly appreciated efforts of the Coast Guard in evacuating the island and rescuing the soldiers.

Source: Saba news agency website, Sanaa, in English 2244 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Yemeni president praises rescue efforts in volcano-stricken island

Text of report by Yemeni news agency Saba website

The president of the republic, Ali Abdallah Salih, today toured Red Sea's Jabal al-Tayr island, which is currently witnessing strong volcanic activity. He also inspected the rescue operation and evacuation of military personnel who are garrisoned on the island.

The president of the republic and chief of general staff, President Ali Abdallah Salih, also paid a visit to the Hudaydah Military Hospital to acquaint himself on the conditions of the soldiers who survived and who were evacuated after the eruption of the volcano. Forty eight soldiers were rescued and are being treated at the hospital. Four of them are in intensive care unit and the rest sustained light injuries. Three soldiers had died and their bodies were found in a village. Four others are still missing and a search mission is still under way in the island and its surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, the president was being reassured about the state of those rescued and the level of medical attention they were receiving. He wished them a quick recovery and listened to what had happened to them after the island and the surrounding coast were covered by lava. He praised the navy and coastguards for their rescue efforts.

During his visit to the military hospital, the president urged the completion of the modern medical village in the town of Al-Hudaydah in a way to guarantee the improvement of the citizens' medical services and health care in the province and in the surrounding provinces. This is in addition to modernizing old hospitals and supplying them with the necessary modern medical equipment.

Meanwhile, in response to instructions by his excellency the president of the republic, a technical delegation visited the scene of the volcano in Jabal al-Tayr in order to inspect the nature of the activity of the volcano which started on Sunday 30 September. The delegation included Minister of Oil and Minerals Khalid Mahfuz Baha; chairman of the geological and mineral resources area body Dr Isma'il Nasir al-Jund; professor of Geology and volcanoes at Sanaa University Dr Muhammad Abd-al-Bari al-Qudsi; Secretary-general of the national committee for education, culture and science, and volcanoes and mines expert Dr Muhammad Ali Mittash; and the scientific advisor at the geological and mineral resources area body.

The field visit began at 0700 on Monday, 1 October, when an aircraft flew to Jabal al-Tayr, in the Red Sea, 100 km to the northwest of Al-Hudaydah town. The visit was made with the help of the air force and in presence of the navy command. Through the visit, the technical team reached the following conclusions:

1. Inspecting the volcanic activity of the 10-sq km Jabal al-Tayr, characterized by Basaltic Volcanic Lava flows.

2. Volcanic lava originates from the top of the mountain at 230 metres altitude and flows for one kilometre to reach the sea. The lava's discharge was as high as 10 metres.

3. Volcanic lavas flow from the northeastern part of the mountain towards east-north, east, west-southeast. The presence of pyroclastics was noticed in the northwestern and southern parts of the island's coast.

4. A number of volcanic activity focal points emitting white smoke, which may represent hot fumes (fumaroles), were observed. Next to them ash-coloured to brown colour were rising, a sign that it is rich of carbon dioxide.

5. The difference between the current volcano activity and previous activities of the geological times, is the fact that the current activity is characterized by the flow of volcanic lava which is not accompanied by huge explosions which result in the formation of the volcanic rock fragments as a result of smothered gases. The present lava is characterized by dark-coloured basalt rocks.

6. It was revealed that the last activity of this mountain was in the 19th century which coincided with the huge Krakatau volcano in Indonesia.

7. It was clear that the current Jabal al-Tayr volcano represents one of the activities in the flank of the south-central part of the Red Sea.

8. It was observed that the current Jabal al-Tayr volcanic activity originates from east-north, east and south-west oriented cracks. This roughly represents y-axis of the north-northwest direction of the diminished flank.

9. It became clear that the rock formation of the Jabal al-Tayr island and the continuing flows, the latest of which is the current activity, all indicate that this mountain is one of the most recent Holocene in Yemen.

10. It was observed that as a result of current volcanic activity, the three kilometre diameter Jabal al-Tayr island is surrounded by a six-kilometre diameter circle of changing water.

Through this examination of the beginning of the activity and the concurrent quake activity, it has become clear that:

A. Quake signs were monitored (according to reports by Dhimar quake monitoring centre) on 22 September 2007. The activity continued until the day of the beginning of this volcano activity. It was not expected that the two activities would happen at the same time, particularly as the area south of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden are within the international quake and volcanic belt.

B. Jabal al-Tayr Volcanic lava began to flow at exactly midday on Sunday 30 September 2007.

C. There are some signs that such a volcano may indicate the presence of natural resources in the island and in the surrounding waters.

Source: Saba news agency website, Sanaa, in Arabic 2257 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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02/10/2007 Al-Arabiyah TV reports on volcano eruption in Yemen

Dubai Al-Arabiya Television in Arabic at 1706 gmt on 1 October carries a report on the volcano eruption in a Yemeni island. The report says that eight Yemeni soldiers were killed and others are missing following a volcano eruption that took place at night in the island of Jabal al-Tayr, which is 80 kilometres off the Yemeni western coasts in the Red Sea. The report says that the island is uninhabited and only a contingent of the Yemeni Navy was there at the time of the incident.

The report says that the information from the three-kilometre long island says that the western part of the island has totally collapsed. The report adds that the oil exports across the southern entrance of the Red Sea, estimated at 3 million barrels a day, have not been affected by the volcano eruption. The report also says that a number of tremors have been detected in the area near Jabal al-Tayr island over the past two weeks.

The last time a volcano eruption took place in the island was more than one century a go, according to the report.

Following this report, Al-Arabiya conducts a short telephone interview with the channel's correspondent Mas'ud Munassar, from the Yemeni city of Al-Hudaydah. The correspondent says that he was unable to go to the island due to the fact that the island is the centre of volcano. He adds that the Yemeni Naval Forces managed to evacuate some of the soldiers who were on the island while other soldiers threw themselves into the sea, and some of them are still missing. He says that two bodies of the soldiers were received from a NATO-affiliated Canadian ship.

Answering a question, the correspondent says that he was on board a Yemeni Navy ship which came two miles close to the island. He says that he saw three NATO warships deployed in an area near the island to search for missing people. He also says that a soldier was rescued after swimming for 17 hours.

Source: Al-Arabiya TV, Dubai, in Arabic 1706 gmt 1 Oct 07

 
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