- - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

IRAN

Students storm British Embassy

TEHRAN — About 300 hard-line Iranian students stormed British diplomatic sites in Tehran on Tuesday, bringing down the Union Jack, burning an embassy vehicle and throwing documents from windows in scenes reminiscent of the seizing of the U.S. compound in 1979.

The mob surged past riot police into the British Embassy complex, which they pelted with gasoline bombs and stones.

The assault occurred two days after Iran’s parliament approved a bill that reduces diplomatic relations with Britain. London has backed recently upgraded Western sanctions on Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.

Demonstrators outside the embassy also burned British flags and clashed with police at the rally, which had been organized by student groups at universities and seminaries.

Police regained control of the site less than two hours later. The British Foreign Office denounced the melee.

MOROCCO

Islamist leader becomes new prime minister

RABAT — The leader of an Islamist party that has never before participated in Morocco’s governments was chosen by the king as the country’s new head of government on Tuesday.

The Justice and Development Party (PJD) won the most votes Friday in a national election prompted by the pro-democracy demonstrations that swept this North African kingdom of 32 million this year as part of the Arab Spring.

King Mohammed VI received PJD Secretary-General Abdelilah Benkirane in the mountain town of Midelt on Tuesday and named him head of government.

IRAQ

Biden visits Iraq ahead of troop departure

BAGHDAD — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrived on a surprise visit to Iraq late Tuesday in a trip designed to chart a new relationship between the two countries after all U.S. forces have left the country in about a month.

After nearly nine years of war, the U.S. now must navigate a future without American troops in Iraq. But Iraq’s vast oil resources, the massive U.S. Embassy presence here and Iraq’s strategic location in the Middle East - next to Iran - ensure U.S. interest will remain high in Iraq even after the troops are gone.

Baghdad and Washington failed this year to agree on keeping a small U.S. military presence in Iraq next year, meaning all U.S. forces must be out of the country by Dec. 31. Some 13,000 U.S. troops remain, down from a one-time high of 170,000.

ISRAEL

3 rockets from Lebanon fired at Israel

JERUSALEM — Rockets fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel early Tuesday for the first time in more than two years, drawing a burst of Israeli artillery fire across the tense border, the Israeli military said.

No casualties or major damage were reported on either side, and no one claimed responsibility for the attack. The military said at least two of the rockets landed on Israeli soil, and that Israeli guns shelled the area where the fire had originated.

The U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, said it had deployed additional troops and stepped up patrols in the area to prevent any further violence.

UNIFIL has policed southern Lebanon to enforce a cease-fire that ended a bloody, monthlong war between Israel and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. Israeli officials said they did not believe Hezbollah was involved in Tuesday’s attack.

SAUDI ARABIA

Official urges Saudis to leave Syria

RIYADH — The Saudi Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged its citizens to leave Syria and not to travel to the Arab nation that has been hit by months of deadly anti-regime protests.

The decision comes just days after the Arab League slapped unprecedented sanctions on the Syrian regime over its heavy-handed crackdown on dissent, including a call to suspend flights between Damascus and Arab destinations.

Bahrain and Qatar on Sunday urged their citizens to leave Syria after the United Arab Emirates also advised its nationals to stay away.

LIBYA

Leaders acknowledge abuse of prisoners

TRIPOLI — Libya’s new leaders said Tuesday that some prisoners held by revolutionary forces have been abused, but insisted the mistreatment was not systematic and pledged to tackle the problem.

The acknowledgment came a day after the U.N. released a report detailing alleged torture and ill treatment in lockups controlled by the forces that overthrew dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The report says that Libyan revolutionaries still hold about 7,000 people, many of them sub-Saharan Africans who in some cases are accused or suspected of being mercenaries hired by Gadhafi.

Interior Minister Fawzy Abdul-Ali acknowledged that abuses have occurred but said the new government is trying to eliminate them.

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