- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 2, 2009

LIBYA

40th anniversary of coup celebrated

TRIPOLI | Libya celebrated the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought Col. Moammar Gadhafi to power with a parade, lavish dance spectacles and fighter jets streaking overhead Tuesday.

The festivities were designed to show off the former pariah state’s acceptance on the world stage after renouncing nuclear weapons and terrorism. But new controversies over the return of the Lockerbie bomber, the detentions of two Swiss businessmen and even the color of smoke emitted by planes at the ceremonies revealed the tenuous nature of Col. Gadhafi’s relations with the West.

Col. Gadhafi kicked off the celebrations early Tuesday, timed to coincide with the coup’s start, with a feast at a former U.S. air base that was turned into a Libyan military camp. The celebrations are slated to last four days.

Col. Gadhafi came to power in a military coup in 1969, and was ostracized for decades over accusations of supporting international terrorism.

YEMEN

Government rejects rebels’ truce offer

SAN’A | The Yemeni government rejected a truce offer by Shi’ite rebels in the north of the Arabian Peninsula country late Monday, after accusing Iranian media of stoking the conflict.

A statement issued by rebel leader Abdel-Malik al-Houthi’s media office announced the initiative “to stop the war so that roads are opened, the presence of armed mobilization ends and the situation returns to how it was before.”

The government rejected the offer, which follows a government cease-fire offered last month. A statement issued on the state news agency by a military official called on the rebels to reopen roads, remove mines, withdraw from administrative buildings, come down from mountain hide-outs, hand over stolen equipment, release hostages and “stop all forms of interference in local government.”

Yemen is battling the rebellion in the mountainous north bordering Saudi Arabia, as well as violence by al Qaeda militants and secessionist discontent in the south.

EGYPT

Explosives seized near Gaza border

EL-ARISH | Egyptian police Tuesday seized roughly two tons of explosives near the border with the Gaza Strip that were destined to be smuggled to Palestinian militants, a security official said.

Police discovered the TNT, packed in 25 plastic bags, in an underground cache near the Sarsuria border region in the Sinai Peninsula. Police also uncovered 1,540 pounds of TNT near the border Sunday.

Palestinians use a network of tunnels linking Egypt with the Islamist Hamas-ruled enclave to smuggle food and other essential goods, as well as weapons, to evade the crippling blockade imposed by Israel after Hamas took over the territory in June 2007.

IRAQ

Son replaces Shi’ite leader

BAGHDAD | The son of the late leader of Iraq’s largest Shi’ite political party acknowledged setbacks and reached out to political rivals Tuesday as he formally replaced his father at the party’s helm.

Ammar al-Hakim, 38, takes the reins of the Iranian-backed Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council amid skepticism about whether he can hold the organization together as the group struggles to regain its footing ahead of January’s parliamentary elections.

His father Abdul Aziz al-Hakim - who died last week of lung cancer in Tehran at age 59 - was a symbol to the Shi’ite political majority of the victory over Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-led regime, but the party did poorly in many parts of the south in local elections earlier this year because of a backlash against religious parties and anger over poor services.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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