- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2009

IRAN

Authorities open probe of Karroubi

TEHRAN | Iranian authorities have opened an investigation into former presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi, a report said Tuesday, in a possible first step toward unleashing the hard-line judiciary on the opposition’s top leaders.

No formal charges have been filed, but the probe signals that Iran’s Islamic leadership could use the courts against the most senior dissenters - whose claims include widespread vote fraud in June’s disputed presidential elections and abuses by security forces against protesters in the violent aftermath.

The powerful Revolutionary Guard and other pro-regime groups have urged for charges against the top opposition figures, including Mr. Karroubi, fellow reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and former President Mohammad Khatami. More than 100 activists and political figures have already been tried on charges that include seeking to overthrow the Islamic system.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying an investigative file has been opened on Mr. Karroubi and the case is under review by a special cleric court.

IRAQ

Lawmakers approve British troop return

BAGHDAD | Iraqi lawmakers Tuesday approved the return of a limited number of British troops to Iraq to help protect the country’s southern oil ports - an area where Iraq is lagging in its ability to provide security.

Iraq’s parliament approved the security agreement with Britain months after the military contingent was forced to pull out because a United Nations mandate allowing British troops to legally operate in the country expired.

Under the agreement in parliament Tuesday, about 100 British troops would return for about a year to provide protection to the oil sites and train Iraqi forces. Iraq’s president and two vice presidents still must sign off on the agreement.

Britain had about 40,000 troops in Iraq after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, but withdrew almost all their forces earlier this year. A contingent of about 100 to 150 troops who were training Iraq’s new navy remained, but those forces were moved to Kuwait when Iraq’s parliament went on summer break without agreeing to allow the British to stay.

BAHRAIN

Court acquits 19 in police death

MANAMA | A Bahraini court acquitted 19 Shi’ites on Tuesday charged with killing a policeman, a rights activist and prosecution official said, in a case that stirred sectarian controversy in the Gulf Arab state.

Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, is ruled by Sunni Muslim al-Khalifa family and Shi’ite Muslims complain of discrimination in jobs and services. Government officials deny this.

The 19 were charged with killing a policeman by throwing petrol bombs into his car in a Shi’ite village in April 2008.

IRAN

Ahmadinejad ally’s daughter seeks asylum

BERLIN | The daughter of a top adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has applied for asylum in Germany, organizers of a film festival that she was attending said Tuesday.

Narges Kalhor, the daughter of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s adviser on cultural and media affairs, submitted her asylum application to authorities in southern Germany, Nuremberg Human Rights Film Festival spokesman Matthias Rued said.

Her father, Mahdi Kalhor, has been seen as a close ally of Mr. Ahmadinejad since early this decade.

LEBANON

One wounded in blast in south

BEIRUT | The Lebanese army said Tuesday one person was wounded after a shell exploded in a home in the southern Lebanese village of Tayr Filsi on Monday.

Hezbollah lawmaker Hussein Haj Hassan said the explosion happened in the garage of a Hezbollah member, wounding one person.

Lebanese security sources said Monday five people had been killed in a munitions explosion in a house in Tayr Filsi, just inside U.N. peacekeepers’ area of operations. Hezbollah denied anyone had died in a blast in the area.

Israel said the blast at a Hezbollah house showed munitions were being stockpiled in violation of a truce which ended a 2006 war between the Jewish state and the Shi’ite guerrilla group.

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