- - Tuesday, November 27, 2012

BEIRUT — Syrian warplanes bombed an olive press factory in the country’s north on Tuesday, killing and wounding dozens of people, including farmers who were waiting to convert their olives to oil, activists said.

Two activist groups — the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees — said the targeted factory is west of the city of Idlib.

The Local Coordination Committees said at least 20 people were killed and many others wounded in the raid, while the Observatory said “tens were killed or wounded.”

Both groups depend on a network of activists on the ground around the country.

President Bashar Assad’s regime has been launching intense air raids on rebels in recent months, mostly in Idlib, the nearby province of Aleppo, Deir el-Zour to the east and suburbs of the capital Damascus.

The most recent air raids have killed hundreds of people, including eight children Sunday in the village of Deir al-Asafir near the capital, Damascus.


Tzipi Livni announces return to politics

JERUSALEM — Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced her return to politics Tuesday, telling supporters that she is forming a new party to run in January parliamentary elections on a platform promising an aggressive push for peace with the Palestinians.

Mrs. Livni, who served as Israel’s foreign minister and chief peace negotiator from 2006 to 2009, bitterly attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as she announced the formation of her new party, called “the Movement.”

“I came to fight for peace and I won’t allow anyone to turn peace into a bad word,” she said.

Her announcement brought a new, high-profile voice to the campaign to oust Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-line government. But with his Likud Party leading in opinion polls and the dovish opposition divided between several parties, her candidacy did not immediately appear to pose a threat to the prime minister.


Divided Kuwait limps toward boycotted elections

KUWAIT CITY — The message from Kuwait’s emir is blunt heading into this week’s parliamentary elections: Opposition factions should express dissent in the legislature, not in the streets.

The response from the opposition is equally uncompromising: We’re not satisfied with what we can accomplish through parliament, so we’re boycotting the vote.

There is little middle ground as Kuwait stumbles toward its second election this year for the most politically empowered parliament in the Gulf Arab states, which serves as a check on the emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah.

Violent protests and crackdowns on activists — until recently rare in Kuwait — have contributed to the high-stakes tension.

The outcome Saturday is certain to hand the ruling family and its allies a near-sweep of friendly lawmakers.

Yet that is not necessarily good news for the stability of a country that has ricocheted from one political crisis to the next for nearly a year, including street clashes between security forces and an opposition coalition that ranges from hard-line Islamists to youth activists.

For years, that legislature has served as a forum for the opposition to press their demands.

But with the opposition’s boycott likely to take them into self-exile from the political system, the worry is their new soapbox will be the street demonstrations like those that have engulfed many other Arab states in the past two years.

The potential fallout goes well beyond its borders. Any major upheavals in Kuwait, an OPEC member, have potential repercussions on oil prices and the Pentagon’s plans to use the nation as its hub for ground forces in efforts to counter the growth of Iran’s military.


21 killed, dozens wounded in insurgent attacks

BAGHDAD — Insurgents attacked security forces and civilians in two parts of Iraq on Tuesday, including the oil-rich, disputed north, killing at least 21 people and wounding dozens, officials said.

A main target was Kirkuk, the largest city in the area claimed by several ethnic groups in a dispute with the central government in Baghdad. The conflict is one of several that threaten the stability of Iraq following the pullout of U.S. troops nearly a year ago.

Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, who all have competing claims to the oil-rich area.

The Kurds want to incorporate it into their self-ruled region in Iraq’s north, but Arabs and Turkomen are opposed.

Violence has ebbed since the peak of insurgency several years ago, but lethal attacks still occur frequently.

No one claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks, but car bombs, shootings and roadside devices are the hallmark of al Qaeda in Iraq.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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