- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2004

KUWAIT

Sunken wrecks block Iraqi ports

KUWAIT CITY — Hundreds of vessels sunk by military action in the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war, the 1991 Gulf war and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq last year in the waters between Kuwait and Iraq are blocking access to Iraq’s main seaports and threatening marine life in the northern Gulf, the United Nations Development Program said yesterday.

UNDP specialists, who surveyed the ports of Umm Qasr and Al-Zubair for several months, identified 282 wrecks and provided details on the locations of 40 large vessels that should be removed immediately, the U.N. agency said. Hundreds more ships remain submerged in the channels and estuaries north of Umm Qasr and near Kuwait’s territorial waters, it added.

UNDP said the cost of removing the larger wrecks runs from $1 million to $8 million per vessel, but removing the ships impeding access and restoring channels to their original depth would cost $34 million.

QATAR

Some firms thrive amid insecurity

DOHA — The “fear factor” is bolstering demand for security as businesses seek protection against the threat of terrorist attacks, participants at a defense exhibit said yesterday.

The Milipol defense exhibit, which opened here this week, showcases technology ranging from armored vehicles and laser-guided weapons to satellite devices that scan tankers for bombs.

Organizers say they have had a 35 percent increase in the number of companies exhibiting at Milipol.

“Security is more important today than at any other time. Not only in the Middle East, but internationally,” said Gilles Fournier, director general of the exhibit. “I don’t think there’s any question that acts of terrorism keep us very busy,” said Marcelino Malavet, director of operations at DynCorp, a global security firm.

Weekly notes

The kidnappers of Hisham Talab al-Ezza, a Jordanian man in Iraq, are demanding a $500,000 ransom for his release or that his employer take his place, warning they otherwise will kill him, his family said yesterday. The employer, Mohammed Sameh al-Ajluni, regional director of the Iraqi transportation firm Starlite, said, “I have 51 employees. It is impossible to pay $500,000 each time one of them gets into trouble.” … The European Commission has a plan to save five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Libya, the Sofia newspaper 24 Chasa reported yesterday. The Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were sentenced in May to death by firing squad on charges of deliberately infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV. Rights groups say the trials were unfair and the nurses have said confessions were extracted under torture.

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