- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2008

LEBANON

Car bomb kills pro-Syria politician

BEIRUT | A bomb tore through a car in the hills east of Lebanon’s capital Wednesday, killing a Druse politician from a pro-Syria party, police said.

The bomb that killed Sheik Saleh Aridi, a senior member of the Lebanese Democratic Party, was planted under his car in the village of Baissou.

It was the first political assassination in about a year in Lebanon and came less than a week before planned reconciliation talks among rival Lebanese factions.

The bomb’s target was unusual - a politician in support of Syria, a nation that had long dominated its politically fractured neighbor. A string of bombs have largely targeted politicians opposed to Syria’s influence in Lebanese affairs, starting with the Beirut truck bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

Those attacks were blamed by many on Syria, though it has denied involvement.

BOLIVIA

Morales wants U.S. envoy expelled

LA PAZ | Bolivian President Evo Morales is calling for the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador for purportedly encouraging anti-government protesters.

Mr. Morales says he has asked his foreign minister to send a note to the ambassador, Philip Goldberg, asking that he leave the country.

Bolivia’s leftist president did not offer specific evidence on Wednesday in leveling the accusations. His relations with Mr. Goldberg have been chilly ever since the envoy arrived last year.

Bolivia has been rocked for two weeks by increasingly violent protests led by Morales opponents in the country’s more prosperous eastern lowlands. The fight is over natural gas revenues and Mr. Morales’ insistence that fallow farmland be given to landless Indians.

IRAN

Quake kills 7, hits oil terminal

TEHRAN | A strong earthquake rocked southern Iran on Wednesday, sending tremors across the Persian Gulf and shaking the skyscrapers of Dubai. Iranian state television reported that seven people were killed and 40 others were injured.

The country’s seismological center said the magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:30 p.m., with the epicenter about 850 miles south of the capital, Tehran, in the province of Hormozgan.

The region’s main city, Bandar Abbas, is one of Iran’s key ports and home to a large oil refinery that primarily serves the domestic market. People in the port city, reached by telephone, said panicked residents ran into parks when the tremors started.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the quake’s strength at magnitude 6.1.

IRAN

U.S. slaps sanctions on shipping firm

The Bush administration Wednesday slapped financial sanctions on a major Iranian shipping line and its affiliates for purportedly helping to transfer arms and military-related cargo.

The departments of State and Treasury announced the action against the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, also known as IRISL, and 18 related companies for providing logistical services to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, which controls Iran’s ballistic missile research, development and production activities.

The U.N. Security Council has passed three rounds of sanctions on Iran and a fourth set has been talked about - with the aim of curtailing the country’s nuclear and missile program.

VENEZUELA

Russian bombers visit for maneuvers

MOSCOW | Two Russian strategic bombers landed in Venezuela on Wednesday as part of military maneuvers, the government said, announcing an unprecedented deployment to the territory of a new ally at a time of increasingly tense relations with the U.S.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said the two Tu-160 bombers flew to Venezuela on a training mission. It said in a statement carried by the Russian news wires that the planes will conduct training flights over neutral waters during the next few days before heading back to Russia.

Also Wednesday, NATO said it ended a routine exercise by four military ships in the Black Sea. Russia had denounced the exercise as part of a Western military buildup sparked by the Georgia conflict.

In Moscow, Defense Ministry spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky refused to say how long the Venezuela deployment will last or say whether the planes carried any weapons.

SPAIN

Betancourt wins humanitarian prize

MADRID | Ingrid Betancourt, who spent six years as a hostage in Colombia’s jungles, won a prestigious humanitarian award in Spain on Wednesday in recognition of her bravery and fight for democracy.

The former Colombian presidential candidate said she was dedicating the prize to the many other Colombians who have been held captive by the country’s leftist rebels.

Mrs. Betancourt received a Prince of Asturias prize in a category that honors those who work for peace or fight poverty, injustice or disease, or otherwise endeavor to help mankind.

The dual Colombian-French citizen was freed by the Colombian military in July along with 14 other hostages in a daring, covert rescue operation.

SAUDI ARABIA

Web users held for Islamist chat

RIYADH | Saudi Arabia said Wednesday it had arrested five regular users of Islamist chatrooms who had lured young militant sympathizers to travel abroad.

A statement by the Interior Ministry carried by state media said three Saudis and two foreign residents were seized for “spreading misleading propaganda on the Internet.”

It said the men posted comments on Web sites using 28 different user names. Many of them are well-known users who often appear in Internet chatrooms used by Islamists.

Hundreds of Saudis have gone to Iraq since 2003 to fight with al Qaeda against the U.S.-backed Iraqi government and some Saudis fought with Sunni militants in north Lebanon last year.

IRAQ

Election under old law proposed

BAGHDAD | Iraq may hold provincial elections in late December using old legislation if lawmakers cannot agree on a new electoral bill, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih said Wednesday.

If the elections are not held, the country’s provincial councils will be “rendered dysfunctional,” Mr. Salih told Reuters news agency.

The elections were scheduled for Oct. 1, but the law has stalled in parliament over how to treat the disputed northern oil city of Kirkuk, home to Kurds, Arabs and ethnic Turkmen.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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