Middle Orient

Prisoner release gives momentum to peace efforts

RABAT — The release of the last Moroccan prisoners of war held by separatist rebels in southwestern Algeria reignited efforts Friday to resolve the 30-year-old conflict in the Western Sahara. The conflict began in 1975 with the annexation of the Western Sahara by Morocco. The Algerian-backed separatist Polisario Front rebels, …

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Sunni Arabs gear up for referendum despite Al Qaeda

BAGHDAD — Disenchanted Sunni Arabs, who largely boycotted Iraq’s first post-Saddam elections in January, are gearing up in force to participate in the upcoming referendum on the constitution, despite deadly threats from Al Qaeda. “The participation in this process [referendum] is a duty and a responsibility. We all should take …

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US concedes ground to Islamists on Iraqi constitution

BAGHDAD (Reuters) — US diplomats have conceded ground to Islamists on the role of religion in Iraq, negotiators said on Saturday as they raced to meet a 48-hour deadline to draft a constitution under intense US pressure. US diplomats, who have insisted the constitution must enshrine ideals of equal rights …

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Israeli troops battle settlers at Gaza synagogue

KFAR DAROM, Gaza Strip (Reuters) — Israeli troops using cranes and water cannon battled protesters on the rooftop of a Gaza settlement synagogue on Thursday as they assaulted the last bastions of resistance to evacuation of the occupied Strip. In the most violent, frenzied scenes since the start of forced …

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Iraqi Lawmakers seek constitution compromise with Sunnis

BAGHDAD (AP) — A spokesman for the biggest Shiite party Thursday predicted a breakthrough on the constitution within the next two days, as negotiators scrambled to finish the draft by next week’s deadline. A roadside bomb killed four more US soldiers in a city north of Baghdad. Four days before …

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Mauritania shows risks in US strategy

DAKAR — When it comes to fighting militants in Africa, choosing allies is a risky business. Soldiers who overthrew Mauritania’s president this month may have ended 21 years of authoritarian rule and triggered dancing in the streets, but they also deprived the United States of a key ally in its …

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Morocco to welcome home last PoWs

RABAT (Reuters) — Morocco prepared to welcome home on Thursday the last 404 prisoners of war (PoW) who were held by Western Sahara’s exiled Polisario Front independence movement, many of them for almost two decades. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the release in Tindouf, Algeria, followed …

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Nuke programme advancing despite suspensions

VIENNA — Despite suspending sensitive nuclear activities due to Western fears it is seeking to make atomic bombs, Iran has still managed to make progress on its programme but analysts differ on just how far along it has got. The question is critical, as Iran this month resumed work on …

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Government approves execution of 3 men

BAGHDAD (Reuters) — Iraq’s presidency has signed death sentences for three men convicted of murder, paving the way for the first state-endorsed executions since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The men will be hanged. President Jalal Talabani, who opposes capital punishment, did not sign the document, but his deputy signed …

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