Friday, December 11, 2009


Iranian dissidents exiled to desert

BAGHDAD | Iraq announced plans Thursday to move members of an Iranian opposition group to a former desert detention camp in a sharp escalation of pressure on a faction that poses complications for both Baghdad and Washington.

The group, the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, strongly denounced the plans as “unlawful and disgraceful” and said they were part of efforts to force its members to leave Iraq.

About 3,500 members of the group - which was hosted in Iraq for years by Saddam Hussein - have been under watch at a camp in northeastern Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

But Iraqi authorities have increasingly taken a hard line toward Camp Ashraf, including a raid by security forces in July that touched off a melee in which 11 people reportedly were killed.

Washington lists the People’s Mujahedeen as a terrorist organization but keeps its distance from Iraq’s efforts to break up the group, which opposes Iran’s ruling clerics. But some U.S. officials have expressed worry that Iraq’s plan to forcibly move the group from Camp Ashraf could bring violence.


U.S., China argue over emissions

COPENHAGEN | The U.S. and China exchanged barbs Wednesday at the Copenhagen climate talks, underscoring the abiding suspicion between the world’s two largest carbon polluters about the sincerity of their pledges to control emissions.

U.S. chief negotiator Todd Stern urged China to “stand behind” its promise to slow the growth of the country’s carbon output and make the declaration part of an international climate change agreement.

China rejected that demand and renewed its criticism of the U.S. for failing to meet its 17-year-old commitment to provide financial aid to developing countries and to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that some scientists say are warming the Earth.


Mugabe loyalists accused of rape

JOHANNESBURG | Supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe used rape to terrorize the political opposition during last year’s contested elections, international human rights activists said Thursday.

AIDS-Free World, led by former UNAIDS envoy Stephen Lewis, released a 64-page report that documents 380 rapes it said were committed by Mugabe loyalists.

About 70 women linked to Zimbabwe’s opposition detailed to the group how they were raped, kept as sex slaves and even forced to watch their daughters being raped.

Efforts to get comment Thursday from Mr. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party on the report were not successful.


Troops battle rebels on border

RIYADH | Saudi forces have repulsed Yemeni Shi’ite rebels trying to seize a border village inside the kingdom, Saudi state media said on Thursday, while fighting continued on both sides of the border.

Saudi troops pushed back the rebels, called “infiltrators” by state television, from the Jaberi village and killed an unspecified number of the insurgents. The report gave no further details.

Saudi Arabia launched its assault on neighboring Yemen’s Shi’ite Muslim rebels - known as the Houthis - in early November after they staged a cross-border incursion that killed two Saudi border guards.

The rebels said on their Web site that the Saudi military had maintained its offensive, launching 37 air attacks and nearly 390 missiles in border areas on Thursday. Yemeni air strikes also continued, they said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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