- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Top general questions memo

RAMADI | The top U.S. general in Iraq said Tuesday that he disagrees with a colonel’s memo urging an early troop withdrawal, although the security situation is better than expected since American forces turned over security in urban centers to the Iraqis more than a month ago.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the first senior American official to comment on the memo, told the Associated Press the Americans need to stay the course in Iraq.

The Iraqi security forces face corruption and other problems but “overall it’s gone very, very well,” he said. But, he added, the Americans are still needed to protect security gains.

Col. Timothy R. Reese, a U.S. Army adviser to the Iraqi military in Baghdad, wrote in his memo that the years-long American effort to train, equip and advise Iraqi security forces has reached a point of rapidly diminishing returns and the U.S. should go home next year, 16 months ahead of schedule.


Jumblatt bolts from coalition

BEIRUT | A key Lebanese politician who bolted out of the Western-backed parliament majority sought Tuesday to allay concerns that he could join the rival Hezbollah bloc - a move that could lead to new political turmoil in the country.

Druse leader Walid Jumblatt said he would not ally himself with Hezbollah’s pro-Syrian camp but would adopt an independent stance.

But Mr. Jumblatt’s political realignment almost certainly will delay prime minister-designate Saad Hariri’s efforts to form a national unity Cabinet, which has been in the works for more than a month.

Mr. Jumblatt has been a leading member of the parliament majority, which is backed by the U.S. and Arab allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and is opposed to Syria.


Iran: West using hikers for propaganda

TEHRAN | Iranian state television says the issue of the Americans who strayed into Iran is being used as propaganda against the Islamic republic.

According to the Arabic language Al-Alam, the deputy governor of Iranian Kurdistan province said the three American hikers are being held on the outskirts of Marivan district and an investigation is under way.

A breaking-news announcement on the English language Iranian Press TV also said Tuesday that the Americans had been arrested for illegal entry at the Malakh-Khor on the border.

The three Americans were thought to have been hiking along the mountainous border area between Iraqi and Iranian Kurdish areas.


Police beat female protesters

KHARTOUM | Sudanese police fired tear gas and beat women protesting outside a Sudanese court Tuesday during the trial of a female journalist accused of violating the Islamic dress code by wearing trousers in public.

Police moved in swiftly and dispersed about 50 protesters, mostly women, who were supporting Lubna Hussein, a former U.N. worker facing 40 lashes on the charge of “indecent dressing.” Some of the women demonstrators wore trousers in solidarity with Ms. Hussein while others wore more traditional dress.

Trousers are considered indecent under the strict interpretation of Islamic law, adopted by Sudan’s Islamic regime, which came to power after a coup led by President Omar Bashir in 1989. But activists and lawyers say the implementation of the law is arbitrary.

Ms. Hussein was among 13 women arrested July 3 in a raid by the public-order police on a popular cafe in Khartoum. Ten of the women were flogged at a police station two days later and fined 250 Sudanese pounds, or about $120. But Ms. Hussein and two others decided to go on trial.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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