- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 16, 2009

TURKEY

2 Kurdish protesters killed in clashes

DIYARBAKIR | Two Kurds protesting the closure of a pro-Kurdish party were fatally shot and seven were wounded Tuesday when shopkeepers attacked them in the southeastern Turkish town of Mus, security officials said.

One shopkeeper was detained for opening fire on the protesters, state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

The fatalities were the first after days of violence and street protests after a Constitutional Court ruling Friday to ban the only Kurdish party in parliament.

The court, using a controversial political parties act, found the Democratic Society Party, or DTP, guilty of cooperating with Kurdish separatist rebels.

KUWAIT

Gulf states closer to single currency

KUWAIT | Gulf Arab nations put into force a monetary pact Tuesday, moving a step closer toward the elusive goal of a single regional currency and greater integration between the mainly oil-rich states.

The announcement by Kuwait’s finance minister, Mustafa al-Shimali, came as leaders from the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council were wrapping up a two-day summit in which they launched a regional electricity project and discussed, among other issues, Iran’s nuclear program and the war in Yemen.

The GCC comprises Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain.

IRAQ

Explosions kill 9 in Baghdad, Mosul

BAGHDAD | A barrage of bombings killed nine people in two of Iraq’s largest cities Tuesday, stoking Iraqis’ anger that insurgents continue to slip past security forces ahead of national elections and the U.S. military’s planned exit.

The explosions in Baghdad and Mosul come on the heels of last week’s suicide bombings in the Iraqi capital that killed 127 people and wounded more than 500. Those blasts intensified pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to improve security as he heads into key elections in March.

In Baghdad, three parked cars packed with mines and other bombs exploded about 7:30 a.m. just outside different entrances to the Green Zone, killing five people.

Four hours later and 225 miles away, in the northwestern Iraqi city of Mosul, two more car bombs and a roadside mine killed four people.

IRAN

Hamas warns Israel against attack

TEHRAN | Islamist militant groups will fight alongside Iran if the country is attacked by Israel, exiled Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal said Tuesday.

Israel has not ruled out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to end a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program, which the United States and its allies suspect is aimed at building an atomic bomb. Iran denies such an ambition, saying it wants to generate electricity using nuclear power.

“All Islamist militant groups will form a united front with Iran against Israel if it attacks Iran,” Mr. Mashaal, visiting Iran, told a press conference broadcast live on state television.

Israeli officials have warned that they could try to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities in the same way that Israel bombed Iraq’s Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981.

Iran has said it will retaliate if attacked, and security analysts think it would mobilize militant allies such as Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah in its response.

Israeli and U.S. officials have accused Iran of providing weapons, cash and training to Hamas and another Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad. Iran insists it only gives them moral and political support.

A senior Israeli general said Tuesday that Hamas and Hezbollah were expanding their rocket reach as part of their alliance with Iran, which refuses to recognize Israel.

Hezbollah has surface-to-surface missiles that can hit the greater Tel Aviv area, and recently Hamas has been trying to achieve the same capabilities, said Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, chief of Israeli military intelligence.

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