- - Sunday, July 15, 2012

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia has hit out at a Russian official for his remarks on unrest in the kingdom’s east, saying his comments were a “blatant interference” in its internal affairs, a report said.

It accused Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, of diverting attention from the “massacres” that were being committed by Moscow’s ally, Damascus, in Syria.

Saudi Arabia “noted with strong disapproval” remarks by Mr. Dolgov, the kingdom's foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the official news agency SPA.

Mr. Dolgov, in a statement published last week on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website, had expressed “great concerns” over clashes between Saudi police and Shiite protesters in the kingdom’s Qatif district that left two demonstrators dead.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

New pipeline avoids Iranian threats

DUBAI — The United Arab Emirates on Sunday inaugurated a much-anticipated overland oil pipeline that bypasses the Strait of Hormuz, giving the OPEC member insurance against Iranian threats to block the strategic waterway.

The 236-mile Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline snakes across western desert dunes and over the craggy Hajar mountains to the city of Fujairah on the UAE’s Indian Ocean coast, south of the strait.

Until now, all Emirati exports were loaded in the Gulf and then sailed out through Hormuz. Once it is running at full capacity, the pipeline could allow the country, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ third-biggest exporter, to ship as much as two-thirds of its peak production through the eastern port city.

It is designed to carry at least 1.5 million barrels a day of crude, though capacity is expected to rise eventually to 1.8 million barrels daily.

Efforts to bring the long-awaited export route online have gained increased urgency in recent months because of repeated threats by Iranian officials to close Hormuz if the country’s own exports are blocked.

CUBA

Cuba gets first cargo from Miami in 50 years

HAVANA — A cargo vessel carrying humanitarian aid docked Friday at Havana Bay with the first maritime shipment from Miami to Cuba in half a century.

The Ana Cecilia sailed in shortly after 7 a.m. carrying family goods, food, medicine and clothing as well as medical equipment such as orthopedic mattresses and electric wheelchairs.

International Port Corp. hopes to make this a weekly service between the U.S. and Cuba, with a ship leaving Miami every Wednesday for the 16-hour trip to Havana.

The shipping company was granted a special permit from the U.S., which has imposed a trade embargo on the communist-run island since 1962.

President Obama has eased the embargo, lifting some travel restrictions and allowing Cuban Americans to send unlimited remittances back home.

YEMEN

Suicide bomber kills himself by accident

SANAA — A Yemeni security official says a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist accidentally set off a bomb he was preparing in a metal workshop in the capital, killing himself and injuring one other person.

The official said the explosion happened early Sunday in Sanaa’s southern Hizzayz district.

At least 10 police cadets were killed last week when a suspected al-Qaeda bomber detonated his explosives among the cadets as they were leaving the police academy in Sanaa for the weekend.

In the southern port city of Aden, meanwhile, security forces arrested two people Sunday who were driving a car rigged with explosives, but a third person managed to flee, another official said.

NIGERIA

Army warns of raids on terrorist hideouts

LAGOS — The Nigerian army said Sunday it plans to raid suspected militant hideouts in several central villages after attacks last weekend claimed by the Islamist Boko Haram sect killed more than 100 people.

“We will conduct Operation Sweep-and-Search this week in some villages in Plateau state we suspect are hideouts of miscreants and assailants,” said Army spokesman Capt. Salihu Mustapha, adding that residents were warned to leave to avoid getting caught up in any violence.

Boko Haram claimed attacks in central Plateau state last weekend that killed more than 100 people. Troops from the military’s special task force already have been deployed to several villages in Plateau state, Capt. Mustapha said.

IRAQ

Baghdad warns Turkey on deal with Kurds

BAGHDAD — Baghdad warned Turkey on Sunday that its separate oil deal with Iraq’s northern self-ruled Kurdish region could damage trade relations, the latest sign of tension between the two neighbors.

This month, Iraq’s Kurds announced that they have started exporting crude oil and gas to Turkey. The goal is to barter it for refined petroleum products to meet domestic demand. The deal is part of a bigger agreement the Kurdish government negotiated and signed with Turkey in May without going through Baghdad.

From wire dispatches and staff reports