- - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

SYRIA

EU expands sanctions to target Iranians

BEIRUT — The European Union imposed sanctions Wednesday against the elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, saying the Quds Force is providing equipment and other support to help Syrian President Bashar Assad crush the 5-month-old uprising against him.

The sanctions broadened the international pressure against Syria by directly targeting key ally Iran, which the U.S. and other nations have accused of aiding the crackdown.

The EU’s official journal, which published the statement, said the Quds Force “has provided technical assistance, equipment and support to the Syrian security services to repress civilian protest movements.”

Other new targets include several Syrian generals and close associates of Mr. Assad’s younger brother, Maher, who is thought to be in command of much of the crackdown. Hassan Turkmani, a former defense minister and special envoy for the Syrian president, also was named.

UKRAINE

Protests for ex-leader on Independence Day

KIEV — More than 5,000 opposition activists rallied Wednesday on the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, protesting the arrest of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and demanding early elections.

Demonstrators, many of them clad in traditional Ukrainian white embroidered shirts, attempted to march on the president’s office but were held back by police in riot gear who flooded the city’s center.

Mrs. Tymoshenko’s abuse-of-office trial and arrest this month on charges of contempt of court have galvanized Ukraine’s notoriously fragmented opposition.

Wednesday’s rally attracted a broad spectrum of government critics opposed to pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych’s government and a trial they see as selective prosecution meant to bar Mrs. Tymoshenko from upcoming elections.

INDIA

Government to discuss activist’s proposed law

NEW DELHI — Indian lawmakers agreed after frantic talks Wednesday to discuss a stringent anti-corruption law proposed by a reform activist whose eight-day fast demanding the legislation has drawn burgeoning support and tested the scandal-tainted government.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met with all parties in Parliament, which called on Anna Hazare to end his hunger strike and recommended that lawmakers debate his draft of an anti-corruption bill.

Mr. Singh told lawmakers that the protesters were demanding that the government withdraw its version of the bill, table their version within four days and pass it this session with only minor amendments.

Critics have accused the protesters of blackmailing the government and subverting Parliament.

BOLIVIA

Official calls for ouster of U.S. aid agency

LA PAZ — A member of Bolivia’s government on Wednesday called for the expulsion of the U.S. Agency for International Development, saying the agency meddles in Bolivia’s internal affairs by supporting a protest against the government.

“The expulsion of USAID should be not only an act of sovereignty but an uncompromising defense of the process of change,” said Juan Ramon Quintana, head of Bolivia’s Agency for Development of Regions and Frontiers, who is considered close to President Evo Morales.

Mr. Quintana said the move would show “the same courage” as the 2008 expulsion of the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia and would highlight the “self-defense mechanism of our territory.”

The comments are the latest in a row between La Paz in Washington that began when Mr. Morales charged that U.S. diplomats had contacts with leaders of an indigenous-led protest against a road project through a nature preserve.

Mr. Morales, a leftist who is a harsh critic of the United States, said Sunday that the U.S. Embassy’s indigenous affairs adviser, Eliseo Abelo, was in constant phone contact with three local leaders of the demonstration.

The U.S. Embassy denied Mr. Morales’ accusation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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