- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ISRAEL

Shots fired from Jordan

JERUSALEM | The Israeli military says one or more gunmen opened fire Tuesday on an army patrol along the Israel-Jordan border.

The military says there were no casualties in the incident, which took place along the desert frontier between the two countries in southern Israel.

The details were not clear. But tensions are high in the region because of Israel’s devastating offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994 and the border is usually quiet. There was a similar shooting incident Sunday along the Israel-Syria border.

IRAN

Dissidents tried on treason charges

TEHRAN | Four Iranians were tried on charges of seeking to topple Iran’s Islamic government with the purported support of the U.S. State Department and the CIA, a judicial official said Tuesday.

Ali Reza Jamshidi, a judiciary spokesman, said the four were detained and tried in Tehran. Mr. Jamshidi said they planned to recruit others to be trained in anti-Iranian activities abroad.

Mr. Jamshidi said a verdict and sentencing was expected within days.

In 2007, Iran released four Iranian-Americans detained on similar charges. The four - including academic Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars - were never tried.

IRAN

Adulterous men stoned to death

TEHRAN | Two men convicted of adultery were stoned to death in northeastern Iran last month but a third convicted man managed to escape, Iran’s judiciary spokesman said Tuesday.

Ali Reza Jamshidi said the stoning took place in the city of Mashhad in late December, but he did not provide the names of the convicted men.

Under Iran’s Islamic law, adultery is punishable by stoning, but such sentences are rare. International human rights groups have long criticized stoning as a cruel form of punishment.

Typically under Islamic rulings, a man is buried up to his waist, while a woman is buried up to her neck. Those carrying out the verdict then throw stones until the person dies.

IRAQ

Biden seeks responsible pullout

BAGHDAD | Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. told Iraqi leaders Tuesday that the incoming U.S. administration is committed to a responsible troop withdrawal that does not endanger improvements in security, an Iraqi spokesman said.

Mr. Biden delivered the message in talks with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the second day of his visit, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told the Associated Press.

President-elect Barack Obama pledged during his election campaign to withdraw all American combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office and shift the focus to Afghanistan to combat a resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants.

Since the November election, however, the U.S. and Iraq have signed an agreement that provides for all the more than 140,000 U.S. troops to leave by 2012, despite concerns among senior U.S. commanders that Iraqi forces might not be ready by then to ensure stability.

ISRAEL

Joe the Plumber backs Jewish state

ASHKELON | Joe the Plumber called on President-elect Barack Obama on Monday to help Israel in its campaign against Hamas.

The plumber-turned-war correspondent for the conservative PJTV.com Web site has been unabashed in his support of Israel’s two-week campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and has been touring the Gaza border region and Israeli towns hit by Palestinian rocket fire.

“President Obama has already spoken about what he would do here. That if his daughters were living here, he would take whatever means necessary to protect his daughters. So I just hope he carries through with it,” said Joe, whose real name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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