- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 2004

IRAQ

Jailed Saddam aides refusing some food

BAGHDAD — Some of Saddam Hussein’s jailed lieutenants have been refusing food, the U.S. military said yesterday, but the officer in charge of detainees in Baghdad denied that Saddam himself was on any form of hunger strike.

“It appears that some of the other 11 high-value detainees have been rejecting food, although they continue to snack and to take on liquids,” Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said. “We’re trying to ascertain who is turning their food back and why.”

IRAN

Al Qaeda supporters have been convicted

TEHRAN — Iran acknowledged for the first time yesterday that it has convicted some Iranian nationals of supporting al Qaeda, saying the number was fewer than five.

The United States has accused Iran of harboring al Qaeda operatives, suggesting some may have fled to Iran after the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. Iran has rejected the accusations.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters that “a few pro-al Qaeda Iranian nationals have been tried and convicted.”

RUSSIA

Putin signs bill limiting elections

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin signed a bill yesterday to end the election of governors by popular vote, while more than 1,000 opposition activists converged to denounce what they called his increasingly authoritarian rule.

Mr. Putin notably chose Russia’s Constitution Day to sign one of two measures that critics say could violate the constitution adopted in 1993.

Mr. Putin denied he seeks to change the document — a concern raised by critics who fear his administration might seek amendments to keep him in power past 2008.

AFGHANISTAN

Bin Laden in region, Karzai insists

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai said yesterday that Osama bin Laden is “definitely” in the region and eventually will be caught, even though American and Pakistani generals acknowledge the trail is cold.

“It’s very difficult to say where he is hiding. He cannot be away from this region. He’s definitely in this region,” Mr. Karzai told CNN’s “Late Edition.” “We will get him sooner or later, trust me on that.”

Pakistan’s army has mounted a series of offensives against foreign fighters near the border, and American forces began a winter-long operation last week against Taliban rebels on the Afghan side.

SAUDI ARABIA

Activist is detained before street protest

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi authorities detained a member of the Movement of Islamic Reform in Arabia who was helping to organize a rare street protest, a Saudi dissident said yesterday.

“Saud al-Dughaither was arrested at home on Saturday evening because he was one of the main people liaising for Thursday’s demonstrations,” said opposition figure Saad al-Fagih, whose group is organizing a series of marches.

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