- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WEST BANK

Fayyad to remain as prime minister

RAMALLAH | Western-backed technocrat Salam Fayyad will stay on as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority at the head of a new Cabinet to be announced shortly, Palestinian officials said Tuesday.

They said Mr. Fayyad, a former World Bank economist, would maintain effective control of security and finance in the new government, the key portfolios in the administration headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, although members of Mr. Abbas’ Fatah faction will replace political independents in some posts.

Members of Fatah will control nearly half of the two-dozen Cabinet seats in the new lineup, the officials said, meeting the group’s demand for a greater say in running the Palestinian territories. They had been excluded from the Cabinet since Mr. Abbas appointed Mr. Fayyad in June 2007 in the wake of civil war in Gaza.



IRAQ

Sunni U.S. allies not ‘targeted’

BAGHDAD | A senior Iraqi official says Sunni Arab militiamen allied with U.S. and Iraqi forces will face prosecution only for murder.

“The Iraqi government will not arrest any Sahwa (Awakening) forces members except for those charged with murder,” Mohammed Salman, head of the national reconciliation executive committee, said at a conference in Baghdad.

The Awakening movement began in late 2006 when local tribes and former insurgents started turning on al Qaeda and allying with the U.S. military, and today it counts about 92,000 fighters in the country.

The Sunni militiamen have long feared that the Shi’ite-led government will sideline them militarily and financially.

ISRAEL

Shin Bet warns of Facebook terror

JERUSALEM | Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service has warned that “terrorists” are using Facebook and other Internet social networking Web sites to recruit Israelis and gather secret data.

“Terrorist organizations actively scan Israeli sites, as well as social networks in which many Israelis are active … in order to gather classified information on security targets,” it warned in a statement on its own Web site.

Shin Bet said it feared not just “the leak of classified information but also the risk of Israeli citizens being lured to meetings abroad, with the promise of generous remuneration, in order to abduct them and move them to hostile Arab countries.”

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Rights group says Asian workers abused

ABU DHABI | Human Rights Watch accused the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday of exploiting thousands of Asian workers hired to build museums and art galleries on a showcase island.

Rights groups have criticized conditions in which laborers work in the UAE, a Gulf Arab country whose population has shot up to 4.5 million in recent years with rapid urban development.

Many workers are housed in shanty camps. They work long hours during intense summer heat and humidity, and employers often retain their passports.

The UAE has taken some measures in response to international criticism, and a government statement in response to the report faulted Human Rights Watch for not highlighting them.

LEBANON

Biden to visit ahead of election

BEIRUT | Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will visit Lebanon on Friday for talks with President Michel Sleiman two weeks ahead of a tightly contested parliamentary election, a government official told Agence France-Presse on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution.

Mr. Biden’s visit comes as the tiny Mediterranean country prepares for a June 7 parliamentary election in which the Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah and its allies could win a majority.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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