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Critics of Kuwait’s ruling family claim it turns a blind eye to allegations of widespread corruption and uses security forces to crush dissenting voices.

Kuwait’s parliament has the most powers of any elected body in the Gulf, and opposition lawmakers openly criticize the ruling family.

Last month, protest mobs stormed into parliament after debate over allegations that government officials funneled payoffs to bank accounts outside the country. Authorities quickly imposed stricter security measures.


Hezbollah chief makes rare public address

BEIRUT — The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement made a rare public appearance at a Beirut rally on Tuesday to mark the Shiite holy day of Ashoura, saying his militant group is acquiring more weapons and members every day.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said Hezbollah is “here to stay” and would never compromise on its weapons.

The group’s weapons are a contentious issue in Lebanon. Hezbollah insists it needs to maintain its powerful arsenal to ward off any threat from Israel, but the weapons also make it the most potent military force in Lebanon - far stronger even than the national army.

“We are growing in numbers, our training is getting better, and our weapons are increasing,” Mr. Nasrallah said. “And for those who are betting that our weapons are rusting, we say that our weapons are being renewed.”

Mr. Nasrallah has rarely been seen in public since his Shiite Muslim group battled Israel in a monthlong war in 2006, fearing Israeli assassination. Since then, he has communicated with his followers and given news conference mostly via satellite link.


Pilgrims mark holy day despite deadly attacks

BAGHDAD — Iraqi police boosted security as hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims converged Tuesday on the holy city of Karbala for a 10-day religious ritual that regularly draws deadly attacks by Sunni extremists.

On Monday, five bomb attacks against the Shiite pilgrims killed 21 people, revealing the troubling gaps that remain in Iraq’s security just weeks before all U.S. forces must be out of the country under a Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline.

The violence continued for a second day Tuesday as a mortar shell struck near a Shiite mosque in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing one person and wounding four others.

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