- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Leader fears Kurdish autonomy

A day before he meets with President Bush, Turkey’s prime minister said yesterday that Iraq could be destroyed if Kurds are given autonomy there.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to seek assurances at the White House meeting that the United States opposes Kurdish self-rule, which Turkey fears could cause Iraq to break up along ethnic lines, endangering Turkey and other neighbors.

The United States and Britain protected the Kurdish region during Saddam Hussein’s rule and it remains semiautonomous.


Rights group cites Internet jailings

BEIJING - Amnesty International is calling for the release of 54 persons jailed in China for expressing opinions on the Internet, citing a “dramatic rise” in the number detained for anything from political speech to spreading news about severe acute respiratory syndrome.

In a report released today, the London-based group said the 54 cases it had documented represented a significant increase from the 33 persons listed in its November 2002 report.

Amnesty said the 54 cases were likely just “a fraction” of the actual number of people detained for opinions expressed online.


Powell downplays new European bases

MOSCOW - Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that U.S. plans to station military facilities in Eastern Europe are not part of an anti-Russia strategy, but rather an effort to obtain easier access to potential crises in Central Asia, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.

Mr. Powell, winding up a three-day visit to Georgia and Russia, said the “temporary facilities” the United States has in mind for some former Warsaw Pact countries “would not be big bases of the kind we had during the Cold War.”


Wartime leader pleads guilty

AMSTERDAM - Wartime leader Milan Babic pleaded guilty yesterday to persecution in a plan to ethnically cleanse parts of Croatia of non-Serbs at the outset of the Balkan wars, and expressed “a deep sense of shame” for his crimes.

In exchange for Babic’s guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop four other charges of war crimes. But the three-judge tribunal hearing the case in The Hague said it would rule later on whether to accept the deal.


Bodies exhumed at drug lord’s house

CIUDAD JUAREZ - Mexican authorities have unearthed 11 bodies buried behind what appeared to be a drug trafficker’s house near the U.S. border and were continuing the search yesterday.

The property appeared to be a safe house for Humberto Santillan Tabares, identified as a chief lieutenant of Vicente Carrillo, who is accused of being one of Mexico’s major drug traffickers.


Police prepare for hajj pilgrimage

MECCA - Snipers, bomb squads and border guards marched to the clatter of helicopters in this holy city yesterday, a show of force meant to deter violence when 2 million Muslims arrive for the hajj pilgrimage.

The hajj, expected to start in two days, sometimes is accompanied by tragedy. Thousands have been killed over the years in panicked stampedes, riots and fires.

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