- - Tuesday, August 2, 2011

TURKEY

Turkey sees police role in Kurdish fight

ISTANBUL — The Turkish military casts itself as a defender of the nation against internal threats as well as external ones, and describes soldiers who die in combat with Kurdish rebels as martyrs.

Now a government plan to deploy elite police squads in the fight could undercut the traditional role of the armed forces, even as civilian leaders move forcefully to reduce its political power.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chaired a military meeting in Ankara, the capital, after the nation’s top four commanders quit last week to protest the arrests of retired and active-duty officers accused of plotting a coup.

In eastern Turkey, meanwhile, security forces combed a rural area where three soldiers were killed a day earlier by suspected Kurdish militants.

SYRIA

Hama siege tightens; Italy pulls ambassador

BEIRUT — Syrian troops tightened their siege of the city of Hama Tuesday, sending residents fleeing for their lives and drawing a fresh wave of international condemnation against a regime defying the growing calls to end its crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with U.S.-based Syrian democracy activists as the Obama administration weighed new sanctions on Syria.

Congressional calls also mounted for action against President Bashar Assad’s regime, as the death toll from two days of military assaults on civilians Sunday and Monday neared 100.

Italy recalled its ambassador to Syria “in the face of the horrible repression against the civil population” by the government, which launched a new push against protesters as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began Monday.

LIBYA

Slain rebel chief’s son seeks speedy trials

BENGHAZI — The son of the Libyan rebel military chief assassinated last week accused “traitors” within the opposition of killing his father to create cracks in the rebel ranks and demanded an open investigation and speedy trial for the perpetrators.

In Tripoli, meanwhile, Moammar Gadhafi’s regime vowed to keep fighting until it has reclaimed the whole country from the rebels.

The rebel leadership has insisted the assassination of military chief Abdel-Fattah Younis, who was killed Thursday, was the work of the Gadhafi regime, but several witnesses say Gen. Younis was killed by fellow rebels.

The slaying has fueled concerns about unity within the revel movement nearly six months after the revolt began.

Gen. Younis’ son, Moatassim, told the Associated Press late Monday that his family doesn’t have “a clear idea of who killed my father, but we know that it was premeditated and we call for a speedy trial” once the perpetrators are caught. Any delay, he said, would be considered “a move to circumvent the revolution.”

EGYPT

Mubarak trial set to begin on Wednesday

CAIRO — Hosni Mubarak, 83 years old and ailing, goes on trial Wednesday on charges of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters during the 18-day uprising that toppled him, and many Egyptians are celebrating the chance at retribution against a longtime authoritarian ruler.

But they also question whether the trial will truly break with the injustices of the past.

Some worry that Egypt’s new military rulers are touting the trial as proof that democratic reform has been accomplished, even as activists argue that far deeper change is still needed.

The prosecution of the ousted president is an unprecedented moment in the Arab world, the first time a modern Mideast leader has been put on trial fully by his own people.

The closest event to it was former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s trial. But his capture came at the hands of U.S. troops in 2003, and his special tribunal was set up with extensive consultation with U.S. officials and international experts.

Tunisia’s deposed president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has been tried and convicted several times since his fall several weeks before Mr. Mubarak’s, but all in absentia and he remains in exile in Saudi Arabia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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