- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 21, 2004

IRAQ

1990 invasion claims worry Baghdad

GENEVA — Iraq accused Kuwait and other neighbors yesterday of inflating their already massive claims for environmental damage resulting from its 1990 invasion and the Persian Gulf war that ensued.

In a speech to the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), Iraq’s delegation called for the rejection of at least $49 billion of the $82 billion in purported environmental losses.

The three-day session, which began yesterday, was the first time the Iraqi interim government, which took over in June from the U.S.-led coalition, addressed the UNCC’s Governing Council.

The UNCC has received claims totaling $350 billion from individuals, companies and governments for damages due to Iraq’s August 1990 invasion and seven-month occupation of Kuwait.

KUWAIT

Peninsula force may boost strength

KUWAIT CITY — Chiefs of staff from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states opened a two-day meeting here yesterday to discuss ways of boosting their 5,000-strong Peninsula Shield force and other aspects of military cooperation.

Kuwait’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Fahd al-Amir, opened the meeting. He said talks would focus on improving joint military exercises and the bloc’s military telecommunications system. The officials will issue recommendations to the defense ministers of the six-nation alliance, who are scheduled to meet here early next month.

Member states of the oil-rich GCC have been discussing plans to bolster the number of men to about 22,000. The force was ineffectual during Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, but part of it was moved to Kuwait last year during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

ISRAEL

Soldier gets jail time for abuse

JERUSALEM — An Israeli soldier in charge of a checkpoint was sentenced yesterday to six months in jail and demoted to private for abusing Palestinians near the northern West Bank town of Nablus, the army said.

The unidentified soldier “was sentenced to an active prison term of six months and a suspended sentence of one year for violent behavior at the Huwwara checkpoint at the entrance to Nablus [after being convicted of] assault, damage to property and unbecoming conduct, following numerous instances of violent behavior towards Palestinians crossing at the checkpoint, and for breaking the windows of Palestinian taxis at the checkpoint.”

He was arrested at the end of June after his beating of a Palestinian was caught on camera by an army education unit filming an instructional video on how soldiers should behave at checkpoints. The private has 15 days to appeal.

Weekly notes

Jordan said yesterday that it plans to build a fifth minaret at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and the move appears to have the approval of Israeli authorities. “I picked the location of the minaret to be near the eastern wall of Al Aqsa Mosque, because there is no minaret there and the area overlooks agricultural land,” said Raef Nijem, vice president of the state body overseeing the renovation. Raanan Gissin, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told the Associated Press in Jerusalem that Jordan traditionally oversees maintenance of the mosques at the complex. “We do not get involved as long as … it doesn’t hurt Jewish sites,” he said. … Israel turned its clocks back one hour to winter time early today, putting it only two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time rather than three after the switch at 1:00 a.m. The Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will remain on daylight-saving time until sometime next week before clocks there are turned back.

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