- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 18, 2009

IRAQ

Kurds threaten election boycott

SULAIMANIYAH | Kurdish political leaders threatened Tuesday to boycott January’s national elections unless Kurdish areas receive more seats in parliament, throwing into doubt the vote that could determine how quickly U.S. troops can go home.

Just a week ago, legislators were celebrating the passage of a key election law needed to carry out the national polls. But the new Kurdish demands coupled with a veto threat earlier in the week by the country’s Sunni vice president could derail the vote.

Parliament was expanded from 275 to 323 seats to reflect population growth, but only three of the new seats were allocated to Kurdish provinces, giving them 38 total, according to the Independent High Electoral Commission’s Web site, www.ihec.iq/english.

IRAN

Five protesters sentenced to die

TEHRAN | Five people have so far been sentenced to death and 81 have received jail terms of up to 15 years in connection with unrest after Iran’s disputed June election, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting reported on Tuesday.

Citing a statement by Tehran’s provincial court, it said the five sentenced to death were affiliated to or members of “counterrevolutionary groups.”

It was not clear whether the five were the same as those reported by an Iranian rights group earlier this week to have been sentenced to death.

Thousands of people were arrested after the election. Most of them have since been freed, but more than 100 reformers and others have been put on trial accused of fomenting street protests.

IRAN

Saudis warned over Yemen offensive

TEHRAN | Iran’s chief of staff has warned Saudi Arabia over its military offensive against Shi’ite Yemeni rebels, saying it signals the start of “state terrorism” and endangers the entire region.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency on Tuesday also quoted Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi as saying the actions of Yemen and Saudi Arabia would fuel militancy and spread violence to the rest of the Muslim world.

Shi’ite Iran is alarmed by the Yemeni and Saudi offensive against the rebels, whom the two Arab nations accuse of receiving arms and money from Iran.

The Saudi offensive began earlier this month, apparently to deny Iran a foothold on its doorsteps.

Yemeni forces have been fighting the rebels in the country’s north for five years but the fighting intensified in August.

YEMEN

Tribesmen free Japanese hostage

SAN’A | Yemeni tribesmen released on Tuesday a Japanese engineer whom they had abducted in an area northeast of the capital San’a, a provincial official said.

“He is now with the mediators, he will be in the capital within two hours,” the official told Reuters news agency.

The abductors seized the engineer who works with a Yemeni government project to press officials to release jailed relatives.

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