- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2006

JORDAN

Zarqawi indicted in hotel bombings

AMMAN — Jordan yesterday indicted fugitive Islamic terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi for the devastating hotel bombings last year and charged several of his aides with rocket attacks on the Red Sea port of Aqaba.

Court papers said only Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman and would-be suicide bomber, will stand trial for the Nov. 9 triple hotel attacks in Amman that killed almost 60 people. She was arrested four days after the bombings and shown confessing on television about how she failed to activate an explosives belt at the Radisson SAS hotel.

The Aqaba attacks, for which Zarqawi’s al Qaeda in Iraq took credit, was a severe blow for Jordan, a U.S. ally considered one of the most stable countries in the Middle East.

LEBANON

Leaders agree on ties with Syria

BEIRUT — Lebanese political leaders meeting to quell internal disputes reached an accord yesterday on normalizing ties with Syria, said legislative speaker Nabih Berri.

Mr. Berri said two key issues remain: the political future of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud and disarmament of the Shi’ite Hezbollah movement. Negotiations will resume next Wednesday, he said.

EGYPT

Measure would end emergency law

LONDON — Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said yesterday that his government expects to draft a counterterrorism law within a few months, clearing the way for an end to emergency law in place for a quarter-century.

President Hosni Mubarak promised during last year’s election campaign to replace emergency law with more narrowly targeted legislation, but the government has not revealed it. Mr. Mubarak decreed the emergency law after the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat.

Weekly notes …

Russia “opposes the presence of third-party military forces on the Caspian Sea,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told officials of the five littoral countries: Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. His comments apparently were directed at the United States, which has stationed military advisers in Azerbaijan and is helping upgrade its naval forces and radar stations. … Syria and Lebanon have promised to pay for the extensive fire damage to Danish missions during the Muhammad cartoon riots in Damascus and Beirut in February, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said yesterday. Mr. Moeller was responding to a question from the far-right Danish People’s Party deputy leader Peter Skaarup, a close ally of Denmark’s ruling Liberal-Conservative minority government. … Australia will reassign about 450 of its troops in southern Iraq to back up Iraqi security forces, Defense Minister Brendan Nelson said yesterday. He said the troops, which have been providing security for Japanese engineers, would not be moved to Basra when British forces leave that city.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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