- - Tuesday, November 1, 2011

IRAQ

Official: Iraq declines regional military training

BAGHDAD — Iraq has declined offers from Turkey and Iran to train its forces, after the failure of negotiations with the U.S. on a post-2011 training mission, a high-ranking Iraqi official said on Tuesday.

“Tehran and Ankara offered to train Iraqi forces, but we did not accept either due to the sensitivity of the situation,” the official in the prime minister’s office told Agence France-Presse on the condition of anonymity.

“We cannot accept one state without another,” said the official. “We prefer that the file of training the forces be outside the framework of neighboring countries.”

An Oct. 29 statement from the Iraqi presidency said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had offered for his country to help train Iraq’s forces, during a meeting with Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.

President Obama announced on Oct. 21 that all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by year’s end after failed negotiations with Iraq about a post-2011 U.S. military training mission in the country.

The issue of immunity from prosecution for U.S. trainers was the main sticking point, with Washington insisting its troops be given immunity, while Baghdad said that was not necessary.

The roughly 39,000 U.S. soldiers still in Iraq are drawing down, after a nearly nine-year campaign that has left thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi dead, and cost billions of dollars.

WEST BANK

Israel rearrests Hamas leader

RAMALLAH — Israeli troops rearrested a senior Hamas official overnight, along with his son, a military spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.

She said the two were detained due to their “links to Hamas.”

Hassan Yusef was released from prison in early August after serving a six-year term for “membership of a terrorist organization.” He was rearrested in early September and then released a week later.

“The occupation raided Hassan Yusef’s house in Ramallah and arrested him with his son Owais,” a Hamas official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told AFP.

Hamas condemned the move and warned it would have “consequences.”

“We strongly condemn this arrest campaign against leaders of the movement, particularly Sheik Hassan Yusef,” Hamas official Ismail Abu Radwan told AFP in Gaza.

Mr. Yusef was freed on Aug. 4 as part of a mass release of Israeli and Palestinian prisoners due to overcrowding. He had six weeks left of his sentence.

In March, Mr. Yusef disowned another son after he admitted to having spied on Hamas for Israel and played a major role in the arrest of senior militants.

IRAN

Economy minister survives impeachment vote

TEHRAN — Iran’s economy minister has survived an impeachment vote in parliament after appeals by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to keep the government intact despite anger over a major banking scandal.

Lawmakers voted 141-93 on Tuesday to keep Shamsoddin Hosseini, who has been accused of failing to take action after learning of the alleged $2.6 billion bank fraud.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said that dismissing Mr. Hosseini would be a setback for Iran’s efforts to fight international sanctions over its nuclear program.

His government still faces serious pressure over the alleged fraud, which involved a credit scam by a prominent businessman.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s opponents have enough signatures to order him into parliament for direct questioning. For months, Mr. Ahmadinejad has been locked in a bitter power struggle with Iran’s ruling clerics.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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