World Wrap

Israel announces Palestinian prisoners to be freed, new settlement plans

August 12, 2013

Israel announces plans ahead of peace talks, violence roils Iraq, and desperation grows among Myanmar’s Muslims. Today is Monday, August 12, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @clarerrrr.

Construction controversy.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat gestures during his interview with Reuters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 11, 2013. Erekat said on Sunday Israel’s plans for new homes in Jewish settlements on occupied land were aimed to scupper peace talks that resume on Wednesday. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Plans portend peace talk problems. Palestinians’ enthusiasm over Israel’s decision to release 26 Palestinian prisoners was tempered by new plans to expand Israeli settlements:

The 26 prisoners are the first of a total of 104 Israel has decided in principle to free as part of an agreement reached after intensive shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to renew talks for Palestinian statehood. Israel sweetened the deal for far-right members of its governing coalition on Sunday by announcing plans to build 1,187 new dwellings for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and parts of the territory it annexed to Jerusalem after the 1967 Middle East war.

Disagreement over settlement construction brought peace talks to a halt three years ago, and few have hopes that this year’s talks will resolve long-standing tensions. However, the U.S. is pushing for a deal within nine months.

One of the deadliest Ramadan holidays in years.

A man sits on a chair in front of his shop, damaged by the impact of a car bomb attack on Saturday, in the Shaab neighborhood of northern Baghdad, August 11, 2013. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

No break from violence during holiday in Iraq. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for yet another series of bombings across the country on Saturday.

Bombs ripped through markets, shopping streets and parks late on Saturday as Iraqi families were out celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Nearly 80 people were killed and scores wounded, police and medical sources said. On Monday, there was no respite from the violence. A roadside bomb close to a school killed two people and wounded 11, including children, in the town of Muqdadiya, 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad, police said. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

Iraq saw its deadliest month from attacks since 2008.

Efforts at stability unravel.

Rohingya men carry a patient to a hospital outside Sittwe, August 12, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Desperation grows for Myanmar minority. Myanmar police opened fire on Rohingya Muslims, rekindling tensions between the minority group and government after a year plagued by religious violence:

The renewed tensions come despite government efforts to bring calm to Rakhine State, after two eruptions of communal violence with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists last year killed at least 192 people and left 140,000 homeless, mostly Rohingya. The battered corpse of [a] fisherman washed ashore at Ohntawgyi village after Friday morning prayers, triggering a day of clashes in which police raked crowds of Rohingya with gunfire.

The U.S. has rewarded Myanmar’s positive steps toward reform since the military government stepped down in 2011 by gradually lifting sanctions. However, human rights groups remain concerned over President Thein Sein’s government. See Reuters photography of Myanmar’s Rohingya people here.

Nota Bene: An American citizen alleges he was tortured in Bahrain, underscoring the country’s complex relationship with the U.S.

Standouts:

Al Qaeda PR -  For fearful Yemenis, the U.S. and al Qaeda look very similar. (The Independent)

Russia repression - Gay “propaganda” laws seen as effort to suppress homosexuality. (New York Times)

Cool in Colombia - Kerry could receive a chilly welcome when he visits U.S. allies in Latin America. (Associated Press)

The real deal - Norway’s PM goes undercover as a taxi driver to hear voters’ concerns. (BBC)

Lighting, Bolt strike - An incredible photo captures Usain Bolt’s 100-meter victory. (AFP)

 From the File:

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