- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2008

ISRAEL

Olmert sends for more Syria talks

JERUSALEM | Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dispatched two top aides to Turkey on Tuesday for a fourth round of indirect peace talks with Syria, an Israeli official said.

Israel and Syria launched Turkish-mediated talks in May, but have not yet agreed to hold face-to-face negotiations. Turkish officials have said the longtime foes will decide during the fourth round whether to move to direct talks starting in August.

The Israeli official named the aides as Yoram Turbowicz and Shalom Turjeman. They have been leading Israel’s first talks with Syria in eight years.

Negotiations center on the fate of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. Damascus demands the return of all the Golan.

Israel, in turn, wants Syria to scale back ties with the Jewish state’s main foes - Iran, Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah. Syria has so far refused.

TURKEY

Warplanes attack Kurdish rebels

ISTANBUL | Turkish warplanes attacked Kurdish rebels in Iraq’s north on Tuesday, killing a group of guerrillas gathered at a mountain cave, the military said.

The Turkish strikes came two days after bombs planted in an Istanbul neighborhood killed 17 people. The government blamed Kurdish rebels, who denied involvement in the deadliest attack on civilians in five years.

The military said Tuesday that warplanes attacked sites where the leadership of the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, is based. The military said many of a 40-strong rebel group outside a cave at Mount Qandil were killed.

Ahmed Deniz, a rebel spokesman in northern Iraq, said by telephone that the Turkish bombing lasted more than an hour, but he claimed there were no casualties or serious damage.

Firat News, a pro-Kurdish news agency, said the bombing was immediately followed by shelling by Iranian forces. Turkey’s military has said Turkey and Iran at times coordinate strikes against Kurdish rebels who use bases in northern Iraq as a springboard for attacks on their countries.

WEST BANK

Boy, 10, killed by Israeli gunfire

RAMALLAH | Israeli gunfire killed a 10-year-old Palestinian boy Tuesday during a confrontation between troops and stone-throwers in a West Bank village, medics and witnesses said.

The Israeli military said it would investigate.

The boy, Ahmed Moussa, was killed in the West Bank village of Naalin, site of frequent demonstrations against Israel’s separation barrier, which threatens to swallow up hundreds of acres of Naalin’s olive groves.

Also Tuesday, an Israeli battalion commander was placed on 10 days’ leave for his purported role in the shooting of a bound, blindfolded Naalin protester on July 7.

The incident was captured in footage taken by a Naalin resident and was distributed by the Israeli human rights group B’tselem. The footage shows an Israeli soldier slowly taking aim and firing at the feet of the protester, as an Israeli officer holds the bound man’s arm. The protester was lightly injured.

KUWAIT

Asian protests turn violent

KUWAIT | Hundreds of workers, most of them Bangladeshis, staged a three-day strike, seeking better pay and improved working conditions, with some overturning cars and ransacking offices.

The strike by Asian cleaners and workers began in the major oil-exporting Gulf Arab state on Saturday against a backdrop of soaring inflation and high prices.

Commerce and Industry Minister Ahmad Baqer said Kuwait would investigate workers’ grievances and ensure their rights were respected, the state news agency KUNA reported.

More than 500 Asian workers staged street demonstrations until police dispersed them, residents and a security source said.

A string of strikes has sparked calls by parliament deputies to improve conditions for expatriates, mainly Asians and Arabs, who make up two-thirds of Kuwait’s 3.2 million population.

A U.S. State Department report on forced labor and the sex trade placed Kuwait along with other Gulf Arab states in the lowest-ranking bracket last month.

Gulf Arab countries rely heavily on foreign workers as they use windfall oil revenues to develop at a rapid pace.

EGYPT

Ban lifted on book critical of Mubarak

CAIRO | The publisher of a book critical of Egypt’s government says a ban on the book has been lifted.

In an e-mail to the Associated Press in Cairo, New York-based publisher Palgrave Macmillan called on booksellers in Egypt to place orders for “Inside Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution” by author John Bradley.

The head of the American University in Cairo’s publishing house, Mark Linz, confirmed the ban’s lifting. He said Egyptian authorities told him the book has been “released.”

The book describes President Hosni Mubarak’s regime as a “ruthless military dictatorship.”

It is the first time in years Egypt has banned a book critical of Mr. Mubarak’s nearly 27-year rule. But books seen as blasphemous or irreverent toward Islam are often forbidden.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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