- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008

IRAN

Parliament impeaches Ahmadinejad ally

TEHRAN | Iran’s parliament impeached a Cabinet minister Tuesday after he admitted having a fake degree from Oxford University - a vote widely seen as a defeat for hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The dismissal of Interior Minister Ali Kordan was the first high-profile confrontation between the new parliament and Mr. Ahmadinejad. It was seen a vote of no confidence in the president and a sign that the leader’s popularity is ebbing, even with his conservative allies.

The powerful Interior minister is in charge of holding elections and local administrations throughout the country.

During Mr. Kordan’s confirmation debate, numerous lawmakers argued he was unqualified, some claiming that his Oxford degree was a fake. Mr. Kordan was approved Aug. 5 by a relatively slim margin of 160 of the 269 lawmakers present.

Mr. Kordan initially argued that his degree was real. The Interior Ministry put out a certificate, with an Oxford seal and dated June 2000, meant to prove the degree’s authenticity, but the certificate was riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes.

Oxford denied it had ever awarded an honorary doctorate of law to the minister, who then admitted the degree was a fake.

Mr. Ahmadinejad defended Mr. Kordan, dismissing degrees in general as “torn paper” and not necessary for serving the people.

The president was already under attack from both reformers and conservatives, who brought him to power but now complain the he spends too much time on fiery anti-U.S. rhetoric rather than managing the country.

IRAN

U.S. student faces security charges

TEHRAN | A female student from the United States who was arrested in Tehran last month while visiting the Islamic Republic has been accused of acting against national security, the judiciary said Tuesday.

Women’s rights activists say Esha Momeni lives in the United States and was in Iran for research on the women’s movement in the Islamic Republic as part of her university studies when she was detained in the capital on Oct. 15.

In the first comment by judicial authorities on the case, judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said Ms. Momeni was being held in Tehran’s Evin prison.

“The charge against her is crime against national security and her case is currently under preliminary investigation,” Mr. Jamshidi told reporters, referring to a common charge against dissenting voices in Iran.

Iranian women’s rights campaigners said Ms. Momeni was working on a film and had interviewed activists in Tehran as part of her studies in California. She came to Iran about two months ago. Activist Sussan Tahmasebi said Ms. Momeni was born in the United States and held both Iranian and U.S. citizenship.

IRAQ

Blasts in Baghdad kill 15, wound 29

BAGHDAD | Bombs exploded at a bus station and a small market in Baghdad, killing 15 people and wounding 29 others Tuesday, police and hospital officials said.

A bomb hidden under a car exploded at a bus depot in the predominantly Shi’ite neighborhood of Mashtal on the capital’s east side, killing 11 people. Twenty-one others were wounded in the attack, authorities said.

In the northern Shi’ite-dominated district of Qahira, four people were killed and eight others injured when a roadside bomb exploded near a market, police said.

Also Tuesday, one person died when a roadside bomb targeted a convoy in central Baghdad of a Shi’ite government official and former member of the Iraqi Governing Council.

Ahmed Shiyaa al-Barak, head of a government real estate commission, escaped the attack without injury. Five of his guards and four bystanders were injured in the bombing, police said.

TURKEY

Lebanon signs deal on terror, crime

ANKARA | Turkey and Lebanon on Monday signed an accord on cooperation against terrorism, drug-trafficking and organized crime, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The deal, details of which were not disclosed, was inked after talks between prime ministers Fuad Siniora of Lebanon and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Mr. Siniora thanked Ankara for its recently intensified efforts to resolve long-standing conflicts in the Middle East, especially hosting informal talks between Israel and Syria. Mr. Erdogan hailed reconciliation efforts between Lebanon and Syria.

Last month, Syria and Lebanon announced the establishment of diplomatic ties for the first time since they became independent 60 years ago. The two neighbors are expected to open embassies in each other’s capitals before the end of the year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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