- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Prime minister of Syria visits

BAGHDAD | The prime ministers of Syria and Iraq discussed ways to prevent militants from crossing the porous border between the two countries Tuesday during the highest-level Syrian visit to Iraq in almost three decades, an Iraqi government spokesman said.

Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari’s two-day visit to Baghdad is aimed at easing long-standing tensions between the two neighbors that flared last year when U.S. forces raided a Syrian village over the border from Iraq in an operation that targeted militants.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Mr. al-Otari’s discussions with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki showed “great optimism” and focused on preventing militants from operating in either country.

Syria has been accused of allowing Sunni insurgents who often target U.S. and Iraqi forces to use its territory to move in and out of Iraq and use Syria as a safe haven. Damascus denies the accusation.


Al Qaeda suspects held in crackdown

ANKARA | Turkish police on Tuesday detained dozens of suspects accused of links to the al Qaeda terror network.

Anti-terrorism police wearing black ski masks and brandishing automatic assault rifles detained a suspect who officials said had been to Afghanistan recently, along with his wife.

Officials said the suspect took over leadership of a group suspected of an affiliation with al Qaeda in the southern city of Gaziantep after the group’s leader was killed in a clash with police there last year. Three other suspects and one policeman were also killed.

Thirty-five other suspects were detained in raids in the cities of Sanliurfa, Kahramanmaras, Adana and Konya.


Group demands apology from pope

AMMAN | Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday demanded that Pope Benedict XVI apologize ahead of next month’s Mideast tour for remarks about the prophet Muhammad that many Muslims interpreted as insulting their faith.

In a September 2006 speech about Islam and violence, in which he quoted a medieval text that characterized some teachings of Muhammad as “evil and inhuman,” particularly “his command to spread by the sword the faith.”

The pope said in 2006 that he was “deeply sorry” about the reaction to his speech, and that the passage he quoted did not reflect his own opinion. But Brotherhood spokesman Jamil Abu-Bakr said the pope’s previous remarks were “insufficient,” and a “clear public apology is required.”


4 ancient temples discovered in Sinai

CAIRO | Archaeologists exploring an old military road in the Sinai have unearthed four new temples amid the 3,000-year-old remains of an ancient fortified city that could have been used to impress foreign delegations visiting Egypt, antiquities authorities announced Tuesday.

Among the discoveries is the largest mud-brick temple ever found in the Sinai, with an area of 77 yards by 87 yards and fortified with mud walls 10 feet thick, said Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The find was made in Qantara, 2 1/2 miles east of the Suez Canal. These temples mark the latest discovery by archaeologists digging up the remains of the city on the military road known as “Way of Horus.” Horus is a falcon-headed god, who represented the greatest cosmic powers for ancient Egyptians. The path once connected Egypt to Palestine.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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