- The Washington Times - Friday, February 16, 2007

RUSSIA

Moscow rethinks arms-control pact

MOSCOW — A top Russian general said yesterday that Moscow may unilaterally drop out of a key Soviet-era arms reduction treaty with the United States that banned medium-range nuclear missiles, Russian news agencies reported.

Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the military’s general staff, said Russia could pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, negotiated between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Reagan in 1987.

The decision would depend, he said, on whether the United States follows through on plans to deploy components of a missile-defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic — plans that have drawn sharp criticism from President Vladimir Putin.

EGYPT

Police target Islamic group

CAIRO — Police arrested 75 members of the Muslim Brotherhood yesterday in what appeared to be a pre-emptive strike against Egypt’s strongest opposition group ahead of parliamentary elections and a key debate.

A Brotherhood official said the detentions risked provoking violence — not from the group itself, but from those who fear the state was leaving no room for peaceful Islamic political activity.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamic political group, has been banned since 1954. It is tolerated, within strict limits, but suffers regular police crackdowns.

ISRAEL

Web cameras set up at holy site dig

JERUSALEM — Israel began operating live Internet cameras yesterday at a construction project next to a hotly disputed Jerusalem holy site and agreed to a Turkish request to inspect the work, responding to intense criticism from the Muslim world.

The Israeli government hoped the live pictures would demonstrate that the excavations are well outside the wall in front of the Al Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest site. Muslims have charged that Israel is plotting to undermine the foundations of the mosque in order to rebuild the Jewish temples that stood there in biblical times.

SOMALIA

Rebel shelling ends capital’s calm

MOGADISHU — Insurgents fired mortars yesterday into three Mogadishu neighborhoods where Ethiopian troops hold strategic positions, killing at least four civilians, witnesses said.

One mortar shell fell near Mogadishu’s Bakara market, killing three civilians and wounding five others, said Abdi Haji Nuur, who owns a shop in the area. Nearby Ethiopian troops returned fire with artillery, witnesses said.

The shelling follows two days of calm in Mogadishu, where Ethiopian troops are helping the weak transitional government try to assert its authority.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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