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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Jan 21st
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Latest Intel Lebanon - Region - May 1, 2008
Latest Intel Lebanon - Region - May 1, 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by STRATFOR, DebkaFILE, Geostrategy-Direct   
Thursday, 01 May 2008

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Latest intelligence from Lebanon and the Region

Lebanon: Arab League Head To Meet With Lebanese Leaders
April 29, 2008 1604 GMT-Stratfor

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mussa will go to Beirut on May 1 to meet with Lebanon's key opposition leaders and members of the majority party in an attempt to find a solution the political crisis there, Agence France-Presse reported April 29. Lebanon has been without a president since November 2007. Mussa, who will speak at the Arab Economic Forum, but will remain in Beirut for three days to meet with opposition leader Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun and the head of the parliamentary majority coalition, Saad Hariri.

Lebanon: Israeli Warplanes Spotted In Lebanese Airspace
April 28, 2008 2023 GMT-Stratfor

Lebanon said 12 Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace April 28, Haaretz reported. The Lebanese military issued a statement claiming that four Israeli fighter jets flew over the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Byblos and then went toward the eastern province of Hermel. The military said eight other Israeli aircraft flew over Rmeish and then headed north to Beirut, the Chouf mountains and on to Hermel before leaving. The Israeli flights reportedly lasted for about one hour. The Israel Defense Forces had no comment.

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Israeli intelligence reports extensive military activities in Lebanon Geostrategy-Direct

JERUSALEM — Israel's intelligence community has detected Hizbullah military preparations throughout southern and central Lebanon in recent weeks.

The preparations included the deployment of fighters and missiles south of the Litani River near the Israeli border.
 
"We clearly identify a great deal of activity among Hizbullah," a senior military intelligence officer said. "It is growing stronger on all levels, improving its systems, its units and is receiving a great deal of weapons and missiles with medium and long ranges."

The intelligence community has also reported that Iran established listening stations in southern and central Syria to intercept Israeli civilian and military communications. The community has issued a warning that translated into a military order for senior officers to leave their cellular phones outside rooms where classified information would be discussed.

In a briefing on April 1 to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, military intelligence officers warned of Hizbullah contacts with other Iranian-sponsored organizations in preparation of a strike against Israel. The officers said Hizbullah, seeking to avenge the assassination of operational chief Imad Mughniyeh in February 2008, was believed to have been working with such groups as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah Al Islam.

"Hizbullah is preparing for an escalation that may break out in the north as a result of an operation against Israel," the officer told the Knesset committee. "We are not discounting any possibility. There are assessments that they may carry out an operation in the north through another organization."

Military intelligence has determined that Hizbullah has been restrained by Iran and Syria from attacking Israel immediately after the Mughniyeh assassination. Officers said the Iranian-sponsored organization, using plainclothes fighters who operate in Shi'ite villages, has instead been urged to draft plans for a major strike that could be denied or attributed to another group.

"Hizbullah is wary of firing at Israel at the moment because of the blows it sustained during the Second Lebanon War," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. "But we also have many lessons to learn from that war, which we will hopefully implement in IDF training."

On April 1, Barak toured the Israel-Lebanon border with military commanders. The defense minister acknowledged Hizbullah preparations for renewed conflict.

"We are looking at this calm and quiet view, but we know that underground there is a great deal of activity," Barak said. "Hizbullah is getting stronger, but so is Israel, which is the strongest nation in the region."

Since the 2006 war, Hizbullah was said to have increased its arsenal to nearly 40,000 missiles and rockets, some of them capable of traveling up to 300 kilometers. Military intelligence officers said Iran and Syria have trained, equipped and helped build new Hizbullah fortifications in southern Lebanon during 2007.

"Hizbullah is continuing its military escalation in Lebanon, and is supplied with ample arms from Syria and Iran," another military intelligence officer said. "It is improving and streamlining all of its military units, and thus we still cannot rule out an attack in retaliation for Mugniyeh's assassination. Hizbullah is also likely to send other groups to do their dirty work for them, and not claim credit for such attacks."

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U.S. warns Syria upgrading its missile capability Geostrategy-Direct

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department has reported a Syrian effort to improve its ballistic missile capability. Officials said Syrian missiles could strike Israel as well as at least one NATO ally.

"Syria is working to improve its ballistic missile capabilities and production infrastructure," Missile Defense Agency director Henry Obering said. "Today Syria is capable of striking targets in Israel and Turkey, our southern NATO partner, using rockets and ballistic missiles."

In testimony to the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, Obering said Syria and Iran have linked their missile development programs. He said Syria has been extending the range of its Scud-class missile arsenal to the point where U.S. interests could be threatened.

"Syria can produce longer-range Scud variant missiles using considerable foreign assistance from countries such as North Korea and Iran," Obering said on April 1. "So our vigilance must extend well out into the future, when the threats we face today have grown and new threats may have emerged."

Officials said Syria has enhanced the Scud D ballistic missile, designed by North Korea. The Scud D, with a separating warhead, was said to have been extended to a range of 800 kilometers.

Iran and North Korea have been deemed the leading missile threats to the United States. Officials said both Pyongyang and Teheran were capable of multiple and simultaneous missile launches.

Officials said Teheran has extended its Shihab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missile. The U.S. intelligence community believes Iran could produce an intercontinental ballistic missile able to strike the United States by 2015.

"Iran has the largest force of ballistic missiles in the Middle East — several hundred short- and medium-range ballistic missiles — and its highly publicized missile exercise training has enabled Iranian ballistic missile forces to hone wartime skills and new tactics," Obering said.

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Iran claims major gains in strategic development Geostrategy-Direct

Iran insists it has installed thousands of advanced gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment and is developing major new weapons systems.

As always, the claims cannot not be independently verified.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said 6,000 new centrifuges were being installed for the enrichment program. Ahmadinejad also said Iran was testing a centrifuge that was five times as fast as Iran's P-1 centrifuge, designed by Pakistan.

"Today, the phase for installing 6,000 new centrifuges at the facility in Natanz has started," Ahmadinejad said on April 8.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has reported that Iran was operating 3,000 centrifuges — in cascades of 164 machines each — at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant. Agency staffers said this could enable Iran to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear bomb by 2009.

In his statement, the president, who also visited Natanz, said Iran was testing a new centrifuge that was smaller than P-1. He did not say how many of the advanced centrifuges were being tested.

"We have attained remarkable achievements and success in the production of magnetic alloy with new devices," Ahmadinejad said. "Our new technological achievements will make a breakthrough in the country's industrial sector in the near future."

IAEA has reported the Iranian acquisition of the IR-2 centrifuge, said to be a variant of Pakistan's P-2 centrifuge. In February 2008, Teheran told the agency that IR-2, said to be twice as fast as P-1, has begun operations.

The United States, which in December 2007 asserted that Teheran abandoned its nuclear weapons program, was quick to play down Ahmadinejad's announcement. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the claim of the Iranian president could not be substantiated.

"There are always multiple claims coming out of Iran about progress on this or progress on that," Ms. Rice said. "I don't think that the underlining situation has changed, which is that Iran faces three separate Security Council resolutions."

Meanwhile, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has reported that several major weapons projects were approaching maturity. Officials said some of these programs were expected to be ready for production in 2008.

"Iranians will witness remarkable changes in utilization of new and modern weapons to preserve its security and defend its territory," IRGC commander Gen. Mohammed Ali Jaafari said.

Jaafari said Iran was developing systems in the missile, aerospace and navy sectors. He said he expected "great achievements" in Iran's defense industry, but did not elaborate.

"Although the enemies attempt to threaten the Islamic system of Iran, we witness satisfactory development in the country as a result of its appropriate security," Jaafari said.

Over the last two years, Iran unveiled a series of platforms deemed indigenous. They included surface-to-air and ship-to-ship missiles, fighter-jets and mini-submarines.

Jaafari, who became IRGC commander in September 2007, has been regarded as a leading proponent of Iran's defense industry and military reform. He said Iran's military and security forces have increased coordination to enhance internal and border security.

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Mofaz: Israel will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran. All means of prevention legitimate
May 1, 2008, 1:06 PM (GMT+02:00) - Debkafile

The Israeli transport minister Shaul Mofaz, speaking at Yale University Tuesday night, April 30, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, warned Iran may attain command of enrichment technology before the end of this year. He said: “Israel will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. This time, the Jewish people won’t let it happen. I would like to believe the world will not let it happen. To prevent this, all means are legitimate.”

Israel’s annual Holocaust remembrance ceremonies focused this year on the theme of courage displayed by Warsaw Ghetto Uprising leaders 65 years ago, knowing they were doomed. Israeli’s president and prime minister laid wreaths in their honor at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Institute in Jerusalem.

Israelis stood in silence as sirens wailed for two minutes in remembrance of the victims of Nazi World War II genocide, two-thirds of Europe’s nine million Jews. Cafes and places of entertainment were closed and TV and radio broadcast special programs.

In Sderot, memorial ceremonies took place in a new, fortified social center under relentless Palestinian missile fire from Gaza - nine by midday Thursday.

And in Poland, Israel’s chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi led the March of Life from the gates of the former Auschwitz concentration camp to Birkenau. He was joined by 12,000 people from 52 countries. In a short speech, the general noted that the world had stood aside when the Nazis murdered the Jews of Europe.

Avram Grant, the British Chelsea football team’s Israeli coach, whose mother was a Holocaust survivor, joined the procession.

http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=5232

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Exclusive: Damascus co-opted to Hamas-Cairo talks on Gaza truce
April 30, 2008, 4:22 PM (GMT+02:00) - Debkafile

 DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report a new bump on the road to a truce in Gaza: The various Palestinian radical factions, led by Hamas, which are negotiating terms in Cairo, want to bring Syria into any ceasefire deal as co-sponsor with Egypt.

Damascus however has laid down its own conditions and thrown a spanner in the works. Our sources report that the Palestinian Jihad Islami representatives were flown from Damascus to Cairo last week aboard a special Syrian military intelligence flight authorized by Syrian president Bashar Assad. The dickering begun in Cairo last week therefore continued Wednesday, April 30 on a new basis.

The Syrian complication has drawn even more vehement denials of direct talks with Hamas from prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak. They are walking on thin ice. It might crack if even an informal ceasefire was seen to be sponsored by Damascus, host of the Palestinian terrorist organizations’ high commands.

To sidestep this difficulty, the Israeli side has suggested that Egypt arrange for Israel and Hamas to coordinate reciprocal pauses in hostilities on a pre-agreed date and time without any formal announcement.

DEBKAfile’s sources add this plan faces three further pitfalls:

1. Israel cannot meet Hamas demands for a full re-opening of all the Gaza crossings and an end of its blockade, but is willing to let the present transit of food and fuel convoys carry on.

2. Neither Israel nor Egypt is willing to have the Rafah crossing to Sinai fully operational - only partially.

3. Hamas’ radical allies, the Jihad Islami and the Fronts, will not join a ceasefire unless Syria is a party to it.

In the last 24 hours, Egyptian officials were told Syria’s support had a high price: Cairo must bring Riyadh round to patching up its quarrel with Damascus over Lebanon. But Egypt’s initial feeler elicited a sharp Saudi rebuff.

Despite all these setbacks, Cairo and Jerusalem believe a truce will eventually come about because Hamas is eager for a short pause in the fighting and a partial easing of the blockade against Gaza.

Hamas leaders have said bluntly that any pause would be “tactical” to permit its “fighters to recuperate” for the next round of war against Israel. This is the most Israel can expect.

http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=5228

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Rice calls Hamas “proxy warriors” for Iran
April 30, 2008, 10:36 AM (GMT+02:00) - Debkafile

In a speech April 29 to the American Jewish Committee in Washington, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said threat was not just bent on destroying Israel, but also seeking a nuclear capability and a destabilizing factor in Lebanon, Iraq and even Afghanistan. US President George W. Bush said earlier that he was still hopeful of a Middle East peace before he left office in January but warned that Hams could undermine the effort.

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Gates: Second US carrier deployed to Gulf is “reminder” to Tehran
April 30, 2008, 9:36 PM (GMT+02:00) - Debkafile

During a visit to Mexico City, US defense secretary Robert Gates said April 29 that the arrival of the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf should be seen as a reminder of US military power in the region. He flatly denied the US was preparing the ground for military strikes against Iran. But as DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly have reported in the last ten days, the carrier’s arrival and additional US military steps have underscored the hardening of US rhetoric against Iran.

DEBKAfile: So far, the Tehran government is not backing off and does not appear deterred by Washington’s warnings or its military movements.

Friday, April 25, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Washington that the Pentagon is planning for “potential military courses of action” against Iran. He spoke of rising concern about the Tehran government’s “increasingly lethal and malign influence” in Iraq.

A conflict with Iran would be “extremely stressing” he said, but not impossible and “it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability.” The admiral stressed the reserve capabilities of the Navy and Air Force.

CBS News also reported that the Pentagon has ordered new options be drawn up for attacking Iran and that the State Department has begun drafting an ultimatum that would tell Iran to stop meddling or else.

Gates added that the rising number of US casualties in Iraq – 47 military deaths in April – was partly accountable to the rocketing of the Green Zone from Sadr City by Shiite “special groups” which are backed by Iran.

The defense secretary also pointed out that Iran continues to back the Taliban in Afghanistan.

http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=5229

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Analysis: CIA chief confirms Syrian reactor could produce fuel for 1-2 weapons – not bombs
April 29, 2008, 10:12 AM (GMT+02:00) - Debkafile

DEBKAfile’s military sources note that the CIA director Michael Hayden said: “In the course of a year after they got full up they would have produced enough plutonium for one or two weapons.” Speaking to reporters after a speech at Georgetown University, Hayden did not say “bombs” - but “weapons.”

This would appear to confirm the conclusion of US and Israel that Syria was on the way to producing radioactive “dirty bombs” – not a nuclear bomb - at the facility which Israel destroyed last September. Its product, radiological dispersal devices (RDD) - which cause more disruption than destruction - would have been made available to terrorist groups for use against Israel, used by Syria itself or if Iran so decided, against American or other targets.

Israeli air force commander Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkedy warned in a CBS interview Sunday, April 27, that Iran’s schemes are a danger not only to Israel, but to the world.

Last week, US officials disclosed that the covert nuclear reactor Syria had been building with North Korean assistance was modeled on the shuttered North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, which produced a small amount of plutonium. This disclosure turned the heat not only on Damascus but also on Pyongyang to make good on its denuclearization pledge and come clean on its nuclear ties with Syria. Washington wants North Korea on record as promising to refrain from similar acts of proliferation in the future.

Monday also, the US opened a new front against Iran and Syria when its UN ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad accused them at the Security Council of destabilizing Iraq. He urged them to stop the flow of weapons and foreign fighters to their embattled neighbor. The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps known as the al Qods Brigade continues to arm, train and fund illegal armed groups in Iraq, the US ambassador charged. “This lethal aid poses a significant threat to Iraqi and multinational forces and the stability and sovereignty of Iraq.”

Khalilzad pointed out that Syria is the only entry point for “90 percent of all known foreign terrorists in Iraq,” adding “we know that al Qaeda terrorist facilitators continue to operate inside Syria.”

DEBKAfile’s sources at UN headquarters stress the exceptional severity of the US ambassador’s charges against Syria, with the potential of laying the ground for US military or other reprisal.

http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=5226

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Ten North Koreans possibly killed in Syria air strike - Tokyo
April 28, 2008, 11:21 AM (GMT+02:00) - Debkafile

Ten North Koreans may have been killed in an Israeli air strike on Syria in September, NHK-the Japanese Broadcasting Corp. reported on its Web site, citing unidentified South Korean intelligence officials.

The 10 people, whose remains were cremated and returned to North Korea in October, had been helping with the construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria, the Japanese broadcaster said. Some North Koreans probably survived the air attack.

The US last week released undated photos showing the head of the North Korean reactor fuel plant with the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission in Syria and the same official attending the Six-Party Talks.

Thursday night, the White House in Washington broke its silence on Israel’s Sept. 6, 2007 attack on a nuclear site in northern Syria. Spokeswoman Dana Perino stated its conviction that North Korea helped Syria build a secret nuclear reactor. She spoke after intelligence officials briefed US lawmakers about the Syrian nuclear facility that was destroyed by Israel last year

Perino's statement did not mention Israel. It said Syria was building a "covert nuclear reactor" in its eastern desert that was capable of producing plutonium.

That development underscored the international community was right to be concerned about the nuclear activities of Iran and "must take further steps" to confront that challenge, she said.

http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=5210

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Analysis: Assad’s one half-truth and three lies to al Watan
April 27, 2008, 3:30 PM (GMT+02:00) - Debkafile

In an interview Sunday, April 27 with the Qatari daily al Watan , Syrian president Bashar Assad said: "We don’t want a nuclear bomb, even if Iran acquires one.” DEBKAfile’s military sources say that was only half true.

What he omitted to mention was the division of labor agreed between Damascus and Tehran in a potential war against Israel: The Syrian reactor Israel destroyed last September would produce “dirty weapons,” while Iran would go for a nuclear bomb. Tehran therefore funded the North Korean reactor in Syria. The radiological weapons made there were to be distributed to the terrorist organizations fighting Israel and used as leverage to control them.

“How would we use it? And where? No nuclear bomb has been used since World War II,” the Syrian ruler protested in the interview - three days after intelligence of his plutonium reactor weeks away from operation was presented to US congressmen in Washington.

Our military sources stress that a single radiological bomb released by just one terrorist group against a major Israeli city would have been an existential threat to the Jewish state.

Assad’s first outright lie was his insistence that future Middle East wars would be conventional. DEBKAfile’s sources point out that Syria and Iran have recently supplied the Lebanese Hizballah with surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads. And Syria’s own air defenses are composed of Scud C and D missiles able to deliver chemical and biological weapons.

His second lie was that the site Israel raided last year was no nuclear site but a military facility under construction. To prove his point, he asked: “Does it make sense that we would build a nuclear facility in the desert and not protect it with anti-aircraft defenses?”

Our sources note that the deployment of air defenses batteries, especially in a desolate corner of the Syrian Desert would have attracted immediate attention and betrayed its presence - even before the top-secret facility was functioning.

Assad’s third lie was the real point of the al Watan interview, although the least obvious: The Syrian ruler, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources, decided last week to bury the results of the inquiry into the death of Hizballah commander Imad Mughniyeh in February. That report accused Saudi undercover agencies of involvement in the murder together with the Israeli Mossad.

Saudi ire forced Assad to back away from this allegation. This he did in the interview when he declared that “no Arab hand” was found to have taken part in the Mughniyeh slaying.

The interview was therefore aimed more at placating Riyadh than highlighting the Syrian ruler’s issues with Israel.

http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=5222

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Iran: IAEA Deputy Chief To Visit Again
May 1, 2008 1157 GMT

International Atomic Energy Agency Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen will visit Iran within 10 days to discuss the country's controversial nuclear program, Iranian state radio reported May 1. In the past two weeks, Heinonen reportedly has visited Tehran twice.

Iraq: Car Bomb Detonates In Central Baghdad
May 1, 2008 1142 GMT
A car bomb detonated in central Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood at about 9:30 a.m. local time as a U.S. military patrol passed nearby, Al Jazeera reported May 1. The blast reportedly killed eight people and wounded more than 20, but it was reportedly unclear whether or not the patrol was hit.

Turkey: May Day Marchers Dispersed By Police
May 1, 2008 1138 GMT
Riot police armed with clubs, tear gas and water cannons dispersed labor activists attempting to march May 1 in Istanbul, Turkey, Al Jazeera reported. Some 500,000 workers were expected to march in the city to celebrate May Day.

Gaza: PIJ Will Honor Truce But Will Not Sign
May 1, 2008 1134 GMT

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militant group will "give a chance" to an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire with Israel and will not be the first to violate it, but also will not formally sign it, PIJ deputy chief Zeyad al-Nakhala said May 1. Al-Nakhala said PIJ could not accept a peace deal that covers only Gaza and not the West Bank.

Iran: Building Pipeline To Transit Caspian Oil
May 1, 2008 1104 GMT

Iran plans to expand the capacity of its port at Neka and build a pipeline from there to the southern port of Jask in order to transit Caspian Sea Oil to countries in the Persian Gulf, semi-official Iranian news agency Fars reported April 30, citing remarks by National Iranian Oil Co. Refining Director Aminollah Eskandari at the Oil Trade and Transport Conference in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Iran: Complains To U.N. About Clinton Statement
May 1, 2008 0004 GMT

Iran made a complaint to the United Nations about U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's comment that the United States could "totally obliterate" Iran in retaliation for an Iranian nuclear strike against Israel, Reuters reported April 30. The Iranian deputy ambassador to the United Nations sent a letter to U.N. Secretary Ban Ki Moon and the president of the U.N. Security Council condemning the "provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible statement." Clinton's remark came the week of April 20 during her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Russia: Lavrov Says Palestinian Unity Is Key To Resolving Conflict
April 30, 2008 2158 GMT

Palestinian unity is crucial to a final resolution of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said April 30, according to a RIA Novosti report. After a meeting with the Yemeni foreign minister, Lavrov said that without the restoration of Palestinian unity, all other steps to resolve the conflict would be ineffective.

Egypt: Imam Issues Fatwa Against Protest
April 30, 2008 2137 GMT

Sheikh Yusuf al-Badr, a prominent Egyptian imam, has issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims from taking part in a general strike protesting rising food prices, Adnkronos International reported April 30. The strike, organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, is slated for May 4 to coincide with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's 80th birthday. Al-Badr told Arab television network Al Arabiya that he opposes the protest and that anyone who stops work is not thinking of the country's best interests. He added that striking "is a perversion imported from abroad."

Syria: Al-Moallem Discusses Israeli-Syrian Talks With Hamas Leader
April 30, 2008 2001 GMT

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem met with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Damascus and appraised him of the developments regarding the Israeli-Syrian negotiations being mediated by Turkey, Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat reported April 30.

Syria: Israeli-Syrian Talks Will Not Affect Hamas-Syrian Relations -- Marzouk
April 30, 2008 1941 GMT

Hamas' deputy leader, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said the talks between Syria and Israel should not negatively affect Hamas's relations with Syria, Asharq Alawat reported April 30. Marzouk, who is living in Damascus, said he does not believe that any results will come from the Syrian-Israeli negotiations.

Turkey: Air Defense System Planned
April 30, 2008 1859 GMT

Turkey has plans to build a long-range missile defense system network by 2010, which would include the U.S. Patriot PAC-3, Israeli Arrow, Russian S-300 or Chinese FT-2000 air defense systems capable of destroying tactical ballistic missiles, RIA Novosti reported April 30. Turkey has not announced which system it will use. The network reportedly will be made up of at least eight batteries to protect strategic targets.

Iraq: Awakening Councils Tell Iranian Ambassador To Stop Interfering
April 30, 2008 1840 GMT
The head of the Iraqi Awakening Councils, Sheikh Ali Hatem, has told Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazzim Qami to stop interfering in Iraq's affairs and to stop attacking Iraqis, "especially the Arab tribes," Asharq Alawsa reported April 30. Hatem said the Awakening Council would use force if necessary to push Qami out of Iraq. Qami was recently quoted by the media as saying that the tribal Awakening Councils "are similar to armed militias and must be dismantled."

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Changes Its Political Program
April 30, 2008 1821 GMT

Egypt's main opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood has decided to eliminate from its political program the stipulation that Egypt's legislative and executive branches be supervised by an elected religious committee, Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq Alawsat reported April 30.

Kuwait: OPEC Might Call Early Meeting To Address Oil Prices
April 30, 2008 1701 GMT
Kuwaiti Oil Minister Mohammad al-Olaim said that OPEC might call a special meeting before a scheduled meeting in September to address the issue of skyrocketing oil prices, Agence France-Presse reported April 30. The price of oil recently rose to almost $120 a barrel.

Israel, Jordan: Olmert, Abdullah Discuss Annapolis
April 30, 2008 1416 GMT

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Jordanian King Abdullah in Jordan on April 30 to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Olmert's office said in a statement without offering further details. The statement said the meeting addressed "the objectives set at the Annapolis conference."

Russia, Iran: Putin Assures Iran That Relations Will Continue
April 30, 2008 1414 GMT

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a meeting in Tehran that relations between the countries will continue, RIA news agency reported April 30 quoting Valentin Sobolev, acting secretary of Russia's National Security Council.

Egypt: 30 Percent Raise For Public Sector
April 30, 2008 1330 GMT
Egyptian public-sector employees could get a pay increase of about 30 percent to help defray rising prices on food and other goods, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said April 30, according to media reports. Mubarak proposed that the raise take effect immediately rather than at the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1, and also recommended that overall government subsidies be reviewed and overhauled.

Iraq: Mehdi Army Must Disarm Or Face Military Action
April 30, 2008 1309 GMT

Iraq's government will use force to disarm the Mehdi Army if the militia does not give up its weapons on its own, Reuters reported April 30, citing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Maliki said the Mehdi Army must disarm, stop interfering in state affairs, shut down its courts and turn over wanted fugitives, or else risk military assault. The government's goal is to disarm and dissolve the Mehdi Army, the Islamic Army and al Qaeda, al-Maliki added.

Turkey: Sedition Law Revised
April 30, 2008 1246 GMT

Turkey's Parliament voted 250-65 late April 29 to revise Article 301, a sedition law criticized by the European Union as limiting free speech, media reports said. Under the old law, insulting "Turkishness" was a crime punishable by three years in prison, but the revised law instead makes insulting "the Turkish nation" a crime with a maximum sentence of two years.

Turkey: AKP Won't Seek Extension In Court Case
April 30, 2008 1240 GMT

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on April 30 said his Justice and Development Party (AKP) will not ask for more time to prepare its defense for a court case that seeks to shut down the party for Islamist activities, Reuters reported, citing Turkey's Anatolian news agency. The AKP could have asked for up to three months in additional time, but Erdogan said work on the party's defense is completed and that it is ready to give its initial response.

PNA: Militant Factions Agree To Truce Proposal
April 30, 2008 1230 GMT

Palestinian militant factions have agreed to Egypt's proposal for a cease-fire to begin in the Gaza Strip and eventually extend to the West Bank, Haaretz reported April 30, citing an unnamed Egyptian official quoted by Egypt's Middle East News Agency. The official said the proposal outlined a "comprehensive, reciprocal and simultaneous truce" that will be implemented gradually. The news comes as the militant factions -- including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and others -- are in Cairo for talks mediated by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

Syria: Will Maintain Hezbollah, Iran Ties
April 30, 2008 1223 GMT

Syria will not give up its ties to Hezbollah and Iran as part of a peace deal with Israel, chief Syrian negotiator Samir Taqi said April 30, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. Taqi said Syria released information about Israeli-Syrian peace talks to the media to "solidify" Damascus' "right" to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Taqi reportedly delivered Israel's message on peace talks to the Syrian government after receiving it from Turkish foreign policy adviser Ahmet Davutoglu.

Iran: No More Dollar Oil Transactions
April 30, 2008 1211 GMT

Iran has stopped carrying out oil transactions in U.S. dollars and has shifted completely to euros and Japanese Yen, the Iranian Oil Ministry said April 30.

Yemen: 2 Shells Fired Near Italian Embassy
April 30, 2008 1158 GMT

Two shells landed April 30 near a building adjacent to the Italian Embassy in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed security source. The shells reportedly landed in the parking lot of the customs authority without causing any casualties.

Iraq: Tariq Aziz Goes On Trial
April 30, 2008 1120 GMT

The trial of Tariq Aziz, former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister under former President Saddam Hussein, began April 29 in Baghdad, Voice of America news reported. The chief judge in the case postponed the trial until May 20, however, because one of the defendants, Ali Hassan al-Majid, was too sick to come to the court. Aziz is accused of approving dozens of executions of merchants.

U.S.: 2 Carriers In Gulf A 'Reminder' For Iran
April 30, 2008 1105 GMT

The temporary presence of two U.S. aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf is a "reminder" to Iran but not an escalation, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters April 29. Gates said the deployment of a second carrier had been planned for a long time, while a pentagon spokesman said the second carrier had come to the Gulf to replace the first.

Iran, India, Pakistan: Ministers To Discuss Pipeline
April 29, 2008 2018 GMT

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said April 29 that ministers from Iran, Pakistan and India will meet within 45 days to discuss an agreement on a gas pipeline and will present their conclusions to the leaders of the three countries, Bloomberg reported. Ahmadinejad made his statements in New Delhi after meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

PNA: Hamas Expresses Opinion On Syrian-Israeli Talks
April 29, 2008 1926 GMT

The Palestinian Hamas movement considers talks between Syria and Israel an internal Syrian affair, and believes the talks will lead nowhere, Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported April 29. The group announced that while it does not interfere in Arab affairs, it opposes normalization with Israel. Hamas added that "liberating" the Golan Heights is Syria's right and duty, but the group doubts Israel's intentions in the talks.

Israel: To Press Syria On Hamas, Hezbollah Issues
April 29, 2008 1922 GMT
Israel will ask Syria for guarantees that it will no longer host officials from Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported April 29, citing Israeli sources. Israeli will also ask Syria to no longer allow its territory to be used for transporting weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iran: Does Not Object To Syrian-Israeli Talks On Golan Heights
April 29, 2008 1919 GMT

Iran has announced that it does not object to Syria holding talks with Israel as long as the goal of the talks is to "liberate" the Golan Heights, Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported April 29. Tehran added that it is opposed to any prior conditions on the talks or on the turnover of the Golan Heights to Damascus. Citing an Iranian source, Asharq al-Awsat said the Syrians have said repeatedly that they will use negotiations to get Israel to hand over the Golan Heights to Syria. The source added that ties between Tehran and Damascus is "close and stable," and that previous talks between the Syrians and Israelis have not harmed Damascus' relationship with Tehran. Washington has not commented on the issue, saying the Syrian-Israeli talks are complex and the United States must study the different aspects of the situation before commenting on it.

Iran, Iraq: Iran Not Backing Al Qaeda In Iraq -- Boroujerdi
April 29, 2008 1848 GMT
The head of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said April 29 that Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie's statement that Iran was backing al Qaeda in Iraq is a negative result of the U.S. occupation in Iraq, Press TV reported. Boroujerdi added that he was surprised to hear "U.S. false allegations" from a prominent figure such as al-Rubaie.

U.S.: Bush Revelation Of Israeli Raid On Suspected Syrian Nuke A 'Message'
April 29, 2008 1652 GMT
U.S. President George W. Bush said April 29 that by revealing what he knew about the Israeli attack on a suspected nuclear facility, he was sending a "message" to Iran and North Korea, Agence France-Presse reported. Bush reportedly said he wanted the North Koreans to be aware that the United States knows "more about them than they think." He also wanted Iran to know "just how destablilizing nuclear proliferation would be in the Middle East."

Lebanon: Arab League Head To Meet With Lebanese Leaders
April 29, 2008 1604 GMT
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mussa will go to Beirut on May 1 to meet with Lebanon's key opposition leaders and members of the majority party in an attempt to find a solution the political crisis there, Agence France-Presse reported April 29. Lebanon has been without a president since November 2007. Mussa, who will speak at the Arab Economic Forum, but will remain in Beirut for three days to meet with opposition leader Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun and the head of the parliamentary majority coalition, Saad Hariri.

Israel: Iran Would Gain From Israeli Withdrawal From Golan
April 29, 2008 1553 GMT

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said April 29 that an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights would allow Iran access to a strategic position overlooking northern Israel, Agence France-Presse reported.

Iran, Saudi Arabia: Security Meetings Held
April 29, 2008 1514 GMT

A joint Iran-Saudi security committee meeting was under way April 29 in Tehran to study how to implement agreements from an October 2001 meeting between the two countries, media reported. The current round of talks is headed by Iranian Deputy Interior Minister for Security and Political Affairs Abbas Mohtaj and his Saudi counterpart, Ahmed bin Mohamed al-Salem. The discussions reportedly will focus on military training, border security and curbing drug trafficking.

Yemen: 8 Killed In Clashes
April 29, 2008 1500 GMT
Six militants loyal to Yemeni Shiite rebel leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi and two pro-government tribe members were killed in clashes in Yemen's Saada province, Reuters reported April 29, citing a government official. Four Yemeni soldiers were wounded. The clashes between Yemeni troops and al-Houthi's militants reportedly were ongoing.

Iraq: Al-Sadr's Group Different From Iran-Backed Rogue Militants -- Salih
April 29, 2008 1354 GMT

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih said April 29 the government needed to distinguish between Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's movement and other groups the U.S. military calls rogue Mehdi Army militants backed by Iran, Reuters reported.



Saudi Arabia: Palestinian President To Visit
April 29, 2008 1339 GMT
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is slated to visit Saudi Arabia on April 30, Xinhua reported April 29. Abbas will talk with Saudi King Abdullah about his recent visits to Russia and the United States, sources at Abbas' office told Xinhua.

Israel: Expecting Palestinian Attack Before 60th Anniversary
April 29, 2008 1311 GMT
Palestinian militants are preparing a major attack ahead of planned celebrations of Israel's 60th anniversary on May 8, Israeli head of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin said April 29, Haaretz reported. Yadlin said the attack could be at the Gaza border, and might involve sniper fire, explosives, or kidnapping of Israelis. He also said Hamas is attempting to breach the Gaza border again to break an Israeli blockade.

Saudi Arabia: Denies That Syrian President Will Visit
April 29, 2008 1249 GMT
Saudi Arabia denied reports that Syrian President Bashar al Assad is planning to visit the kingdom, the Jerusalem Post reported April 29. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said the kingdom has not received a request from al Assad to visit. Relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia have grown tense over the past couple of years, primarily because of the crisis in Lebanon.

Iraq: Official Killed By Roadside Bomb In Baghdad
April 29, 2008 1247 GMT

A senior Iraqi government official was killed in a roadside bombing in northern Baghdad, The Associated Press reported April 29, citing an Iraqi official. Dhia Jodi Jaber, director-general of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs' projects and reconstruction department, was killed by a roadside bomb as he left his home in his car at 7:30 a.m. local time. Jaber's son was lightly wounded in the explosion.

Israel, Egypt: Foreign Ministers To Meet
April 29, 2008 1241 GMT

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Abdul Gheit, are slated to meet in London on May 2 in a bid to mend relations, Haaretz reported April 29, citing a source in Jerusalem. Egypt was angered when Livni criticized Cairo for not acting decisively on arms smuggling into Gaza earlier this year.

Israel: Checkpoint Removed After Request From Blair
April 29, 2008 1115 GMT
Israel agreed to remove a checkpoint near Nablus in the West Bank on April 28 after talks between British Middle East envoy Tony Blair and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, media reports said. Israel Defense Forces said it will replace the roadblock in the future if Palestinian militants use the route.

Syria: Former Hafez Al Assad Adviser Leading Peace Talks
April 29, 2008 1105 GMT
The chief Syrian mediator in peace talks with Israel is Samir Taqi, who has close ties to Syrian intelligence and was an adviser to former Syrian president Hafez Assad, Israeli daily Haaretz reported April 29. Taqi, a Christian, is reportedly also a cardiac surgeon who studied medicine in London and heads a think-tank in Damascus.

Syria: Reactor Could Have Fueled Two Bombs?
April 28, 2008 2303 GMT

CIA Director Michael Hayden said April 28 that a Syrian nuclear reactor allegedly targeted in a September 2007 Israeli airstrike would have produced sufficient plutonium for one or two bombs within one year of becoming operational. U.S. officials have said the alleged reactor was within weeks or months of becoming operational.

U.S.: Bush To Travel To Middle East
April 28, 2008 2143 GMT
U.S. President George W. Bush on May 13-18 will go to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt, a White House spokeswoman said April 28. In Saudi Arabia, Bush will meet with King Abdullah. In Israel, he will meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres, and he is expected to address the Knesset. In Egypt, he has meetings scheduled with President Hosni Mubarak, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and he will speak at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East.

Yemen: 6 Injured In Shoot-Out
April 28, 2008 2119 GMT

Six people, including four military police officers and two civilians, were injured April 28 in a shoot-out between security forces and armed assailants in the southern Yemeni city of Jaar, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported, citing police sources. The clash reportedly began when police attempted to disarm several men armed with AK-47 rifles in a marketplace. Yemen has a ban on carrying weapons in cities. The armed men, thought to be tribesmen, escaped unharmed.

United Nations: U.S. Ambassador Blames Iran For Iraqi Clashes
April 28, 2008 2053 GMT
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad said on April 28 that Iran was responsible for recent clashes in Baghdad and in the southern Iraqi city of Basra because it has been training militants and supplying them with weapons, Reuters reported. Khalilzad made his statements at a U.N. Security Council meeting. He added that Syria was also to blame because it has been allowing weapons and foreign militants to cross through its territory and into Iraq. Iran reportedly has denied supplying weapons to Iraqi militants.

Lebanon: Israeli Warplanes Spotted In Lebanese Airspace
April 28, 2008 2023 GMT

Lebanon said 12 Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace April 28, Haaretz reported. The Lebanese military issued a statement claiming that four Israeli fighter jets flew over the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Byblos and then went toward the eastern province of Hermel. The military said eight other Israeli aircraft flew over Rmeish and then headed north to Beirut, the Chouf mountains and on to Hermel before leaving. The Israeli flights reportedly lasted for about one hour. The Israel Defense Forces had no comment.

Iraq: U.S. Troops Kill 45 Militants In Baghdad Clashes
April 28, 2008 2008 GMT

U.S. troops have killed 45 Shiite militants who were attacking a checkpoint and other areas in and around Baghdad's Sadr City in 24 hours of clashes, which military officials have called the biggest battle since March, Reuters reported April 28.

Belarus: Radio Free Europe Claims Cyber Attack
April 28, 2008 1819 GMT
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a broadcaster funded by the United States, said April 28 in a statement that several of its Web sites have been cyber attacked. The interruption primarily effected Radio Free Europe’s Belarus service but Web sites serving Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia and Croatia have also been affected. The interruption reportedly began April 26 in the form of a denial of service that flooded servers with fake traffic so legitimate visitors could not get through to the broadcaster. Radio Free/Radio Liberty reportedly has suggested that the Belarus government could be responsible for the attack. The broadcaster is attempting to restore service to its Web sites.

PNA, Egypt: Three Militant Groups Meet In Cairo For Truce Talks
April 28, 2008 1638 GMT

Leaders of Palestinian militant groups the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Resistance Committees on April 28 went from the Gaza Strip to Cairo for meetings with Egyptian intelligence officials to discuss Hamas' proposed six-month truce with Israel, Reuters reported.

North Korea: North Koreans Killed In Israel's Syria Airstrike?
April 28, 2008 1325 GMT

North Korean officials might have been killed during Israel's September 2007 airstrike in Syria, Japanese news agency NHK reported April 28, citing unnamed South Korean officials. The victims reportedly were from two military units, one of which builds nuclear facilities in North Korea. Some North Koreans likely survived the airstrike, NHK reported, but the dead were cremated and returned to North Korea in October 2007.

Israel: F-16I Planes Back In Service After Formaldehyde Check
April 28, 2008 1311 GMT
Israeli air force commander Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shedi has ordered most of the force's F-16I warplanes to return to service, after the planes were grounded due to formaldehyde leaks, Haaretz reported April 28, citing Israel's military. Israel grounded all its F-16I planes in March after the discovery that formaldehyde, a probable carcinogen, had leaked into the oxygen supply on some planes. Tests showed that only seven planes had formaldehyde levels higher than the international standard, the military said, and those planes will remain grounded.

Egypt: Prime Minister Asks For Inflation Solutions
April 28, 2008 1304 GMT
Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif has asked anyone with an idea on how to solve nationwide price increases to come forward, Agence France-Presse reported April 28, citing the official Middle East News Agency (MENA). In an interview with the ruling Egyptian party's mouthpiece Al-Watani al-Youm, Nazif expressed concerns about rising prices for food and building materials and an inflation rate that reached 15.8 percent in March. The prime minister said, "Anyone who has a solution in this area is urged to come forward."

Turkey: Relations With Iraqi KRG To Improve
April 28, 2008 1302 GMT
Turkey will ramp up its interaction with the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said April 28, CNN Turk reported. Babacan said increased contacts would focus on containing the militant Kurdistan Workers Party and on "our economic relations and energy cooperation with Iraq as a whole."

Turkey: More Work To Do On Israel-Syria Talks
April 28, 2008 1256 GMT

Much work needs to be done before Israel and Syria can reach a peace agreement, Haaretz reported April 28, citing Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan. Turkey is trying to restart low-level talks between the two nations, but Babacan said they are only at the beginning of the process. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will send an emissary to brief Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Erdogan's talks with Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The emissary reportedly will be Erdogan's foreign policy adviser, who oversees talks with Syria and has previously met with Olmert's adviser Yoram Turbowicz in Turkey.

Saudi Arabia: Crown Prince In Switzerland For Medical Tests
April 28, 2008 1253 GMT

Saudi Crown Prince Sultan is in Geneva, Switzerland, for unspecified medical tests, Reuters reported April 28, citing a report from the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA). The SPA report said the crown prince will undergo a routine checkup and that he was accompanied by Prince Khalid bin Fahd bin Khalid, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz and other princes.

Iran: Saudi Official Arrives For Talks
April 28, 2008 1250 GMT

Saudi Arabian Undersecretary of the Interior Ministry Dr. Ahmad al-Salim, leading a delegation from Saudi Arabia, arrived in Tehran on April 28. Al-Salim is expected to hold three days of talks with Iranian officials within the framework of the second meeting of a Joint Security Committee established under a Security Cooperation Agreement signed by Saudi Arabia and Iran. The talks are expected to focus on implementation of that agreement.

Iran: Proposals Devised On Nuclear Issue
April 28, 2008 1228 GMT

Iran has devised a package of proposals on security and political issues to help defuse tension with world powers over its nuclear program, Reuters reported April 28, citing Iranian nuclear envoy Saeed Jalili. Jalili said Iran wants to sit down and talk with world powers that want to "establish peace and stability in the world and respect the integrity of countries." Iran discussed the proposals with Valentin Sobolev, acting secretary of Russia's National Security Council. Sobolev said he discussed technical and military cooperation and the nuclear issue, and that Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful and not a threat. Talks with Sobolev will continue on April 29, an unnamed Iranian official told Reuters.

Iraq: Four Car Bombs Kill 9 In Mosul
April 28, 2008 1114 GMT

Four car bombs -- three of them suicide attacks -- struck the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on April 28, leaving nine people dead and 31 wounded, media reports said. The suicide bombers struck the city's Tal al-Ruman area, an Iraqi police patrol in the Al-Mustashfa district and an army checkpoint in the Al-Tahreer area. A parked car bomb exploded in the Al-Tayran area.

Iraq: Militants Strike Green Zone
April 27, 2008 1929 GMT
Militants launched one of the heaviest strikes in weeks on Baghdad's Green Zone on April 27, using a dust storm as cover, Reuters reported. The strikes appeared to defy Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's renewed call for a truce. Iraqi police said two people died and 20 were injured in a series of attacks; eight missiles or mortars hit the Green Zone, and another 14 fell in other parts of Baghdad in several swift bursts before nightfall.

Israel: Ambassador To Turkey Considers Talks With Syria
April 27, 2008 1523 GMT
Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Gaby Levy on April 27 raised the possibility of renewing long-stalled peace talks with Syria, with Turkey as a mediator, Agence France-Presse reported. Speaking from Ankara, Levy told public radio that low-level officials could handle the first step and, if there are results, the talks could continue at "a much higher level." Levy said he could not reveal any details of the process.

Syria: Turkish Prime Minister Visits In Mediation Effort
April 26, 2008 2317 GMT
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Damascus April 26 to mediate talks between Syria and Israel, Xinhua reported. Before ending his one-day trip to the Syrian capital, Erdogan told reporters that Syria and Israel had asked Turkey to mediate. He said such efforts would start at a low level but that Turkey will make whatever efforts it can, including sending an envoy to Israel. Earlier in the day, Erdogan met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and talked about the Middle East peace process and bilateral ties, Syria's official SANA news agency reported.

Iran: Conservatives Increase Their Parliament Majority
April 26, 2008 1446 GMT

Conservative lawmakers have strengthened their hold in Iran's parliament after winning more seats in a second-round run-off, media reported April 26. After winning a majority in the March first-round vote, the conservatives won more seats in an April 25 vote for 82 undecided seats. The conservatives, many of whom are critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, now hold 69 percent of the parliament's 290 seats, Iran's Interior Ministry said. Reformists hold 16 percent of seats, and independents 14 percent. The reformists, Ahmadinejad's biggest critics, complained of bias because Iran's Guardian Council barred many of them from running.

Turkey: Operations On PKK Targets Carried Out
April 26, 2008 1436 GMT

Turkish warplanes and with ground weapon support on April 25-26 struck Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq, Reuters reported April 26, citing a Turkish military statement. Army sources told Reuters an air operation was carried out April 25, while Turkish troops and PKK fighters clashed April 26 in the Turkish province of Sirnak, near the Iraqi border. Three Turkish soldiers reportedly were killed April 25. A PKK spokesman said the Turkish operation caused no casualties.

Iraq, U.S.: Iranian-Made Weapons Found
April 25, 2008 1643 GMT

The U.S. military has discovered caches of Iranian weapons in Iraq manufactured in the last two months, The Wall Street Journal reported April 25, citing unnamed officials in Washington and Baghdad, Iraq. Two unnamed senior commanders said a U.S. presentation on the weapons was tentatively set for April 28.

Iran, U.S: Iran Denies Ship/Boats Confrontation
April 25, 2008 1611 GMT
Iran has denied that there was a confrontation April 25 between a U.S.-contracted ship and Iranian boats, Reuters reported.

Iran: IAEA Official To Return For Talks
April 25, 2008 1610 GMT

Olli Heinonen, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is set to return to Iran the week of April 27 to discuss claims that Iran's declared nuclear activities are different from its real nuclear plans, Iran's ISNA news agency reported, citing an unnamed Iranian official.

Iraq: U.S., Iraqi Troops Fight Militants In Sadr City
April 25, 2008 1557 GMT

U.S. and Iraqi forces fought Shiite militants in Baghdad's Sadr City area overnight April 25, leaving 11 people dead and 32 wounded, including women and children, Agence France-Presse reported.

U.S., Iran: U.S.-Contracted Ship Fired Warning Shots At Iranian Boats
April 25, 2008 1538 GMT

A ship contracted by the U.S. Military Sealift Command fired at Iranian fast boats April 25 after attempts to warn the boats that they were too close failed, FOX News reported, citing unnamed officials. The ship, the Westward Venture, was contracted to transport military cargo to Kuwait. The Westward Venture was about 50 miles off Iran's coast when Iranian fast boats approached. The ship tried to make bridge-to-bridge contact, then blew its whistle and fired flares before firing warning shots with a machine gun. A Navy security team with M-16 rifles and .50-caliber machine guns was on board at the time. Bridge-to-bridge contact was made after the shots were fired, and someone claiming to be the Iranian coast guard contacted the Westward Venture. Officials reportedly told FOX News that Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps is suspected to be involved in the incident.

Algeria: 2 Alleged Al Qaeda Members Detained
April 25, 2008 1536 GMT
Algeria has arrested two men accused of being al Qaeda militants, Italian news agency Adnkronos reported April 25, citing Algerian newspaper Ech-Chourouk. The two men reportedly were detained between April 23 and April 24.

U.S., Iran: U.S.-Contracted Ship Fires On An Iranian Vessel
April 25, 2008 1511 GMT
At least one shot has been fired at an Iranian vessel from a ship contracted by the U.S Military Sealift Command, Reuters reported April 25, citing a U.S. military official. No other details were immediately available.

Egypt: Hundreds Of Police Sent To Rafah Crossing
April 25, 2008 1327 GMT

Egypt on April 25 sent 300 to 400 police to the closed Gaza border crossing at Rafah to prevent Palestinians from breaching the barrier, Reuters reported, citing unnamed security sources. Egypt reportedly made the move in response to reports that thousands of Palestinians planned to mass at the Rafah crossing to protest an Israeli-led blockade of Gaza. The police deployed to the crossing had already been in Rafah on standby, the sources said, adding that there is no specific threat to the border.

Iraq: Al-Sadr Asks Mehdi Army, Iraqi Troops Not To Fight
April 25, 2008 1320 GMT

Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has called on his followers to maintain a cease-fire and avoid fighting Iraqi government troops, Reuters reported, citing a statement from al-Sadr read April 25 at a mosque in Baghdad's Sadr City district. In the statement, al-Sadr said a threat he previously made of "open war" meant war against U.S. forces, not Iraqi troops. He urged members of his Mehdi Army militia and the Iraqi government forces to stop fighting each other, and to "support all types of restistance" to make Iraq safe.

Syria: U.S. Complicit In Airstrike
April 25, 2008 1308 GMT

Syria's government accused the United States on April 25 of assisting Israel with a September 2007 airstrike in eastern Syria, media reports said. The United States alleged April 24 that the airstrike hit a secret Syrian nuclear facility built with North Korean help.

Israel: Hamas 'Biding Time' With Truce Offer
April 25, 2008 1205 GMT

Israel rebuffed a conditional cease-fire proposal from Palestinian group Hamas on April 25, Haaretz reported. A spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said Hamas is simply "biding time in order to rearm," adding that Israel will continue its operations in Gaza.

Iran: 'High-Speed Cruise Vessel' Launched
April 25, 2008 1158 GMT

Iran launched an indigenously produced "highly advanced, high-speed cruise vessel," semi-official Iranian news agency Fars reported April 25 on its Web site, in an article that was subsequently removed from the site.

Syria: Claims Of Nuclear Program False
April 25, 2008 1145 GMT

Syrian Ambassador to the United States Imad Moustapha on April 25 dismissed U.S. accusations that Syria had a secret nuclear program assisted by North Korea, Al Jazeera reported. Moustapha said there is no evidence of such a program. He called U.S. statements that a Syrian nuclear reactor was destroyed in a September 2007 Israeli airstrike "ridiculous," saying that if there had been such a facility, it would have had anti-aircraft weapons and security guards.

West Bank: 2 Israeli Security Guards Shot Dead
April 25, 2008 1139 GMT

Unknown attackers shot and killed two Israeli security guards overnight April 25 at a factory in the Nitzanei Shalom industrial zone, on the boundary between the West Bank city of Tul Karm and Israeli territory, Haaretz reported. Security officials reportedly suspect the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militant group, though no group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

----------------------------------------------------------

Sources in this report:

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of CRNews.

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Geostrategy Direct. The Reports Expresses the views of Geostrategy Direct

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of CRNews.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 May 2008 )
 
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