BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Escaping the intense bloodletting during the height of Iraq’s sectarian warfare five years ago, Iraqi athlete Adnan Taess has since returned to a much calmer homeland to train for his first Olympics in London.
At the worst of the violence in 2006-2007, athletes dodged sniper bullets at the Jadriya oval track in the heart of Baghdad. Now, groups of athletes race each other as children watch, and older men lazily walk around the track that encircles an uneven grass field.
BAGHDAD, March 1 (Reuters) – Escaping the intense
bloodletting during the height of Iraq’s sectarian warfare five
years ago, Iraqi athlete Adnan Taess has since returned to a
much calmer homeland to train for his first Olympics in London.
At the worst of the violence in 2006-2007, athletes dodged
sniper bullets at the Jadriya oval track in the heart of
Baghdad. Now, groups of athletes race each other as children
watch, and older men lazily walk around the track that encircles
an uneven grass field.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq claimed responsibility for a wave of coordinated attacks that mainly targeted police forces in Shi’ite areas and killed at least 60 people across the country on Thursday.
In a statement seen on Islamist websites on Friday, the group said it carried out the attacks in revenge for what it called a “torture and liquidation campaign that Sunni women and men are being subjected to in Baghdad’s prisons and other areas.”
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Judges ordered one of Iraq’s two vice-presidents tried for terrorism Monday in a move the accused, Tareq al-Hashemi, dismissed as part of a “black comedy” devised by sectarian adversaries in government.
In a televised address from the autonomous Kurdish region where he took refuge two months ago, Hashemi, a leader of the once-dominant Sunni minority, again dismissed charges that he and his entourage ran sectarian death squads and called the case a political “fabrication” by the Shi’ite-led authorities.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq evacuated an initial batch of 400 Iranian dissidents on Saturday from a base founded under Saddam Hussein, a first step towards expelling their entire group from Iraqi territory.
The People’s Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI), a group that calls for the overthrow of Iran’s clerical rulers, took refuge at Camp Ashraf, 65 km (40 miles) from Baghdad, during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. Ashraf now houses around 3,000 people.
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The Libyan government rejected Monday allegations it had tortured detainees who had fought for Muammar Gaddafi’s forces, saying that if there had been cases of torture it had not known about them.
The aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said last Thursday it had stopped its work in detention centers in the city of Misrata because its medical staff were being asked to patch up detainees mid-way through torture sessions so they could go back for more abuse.
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The African Union failed to elect a new head on Monday, highlighting the weakness of a group criticized for slow decision-making during political turmoil on the continent last year.
Former South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was up against incumbent commission chairman Jean Ping of Gabon, who failed to win an outright majority in four rounds of voting.
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – African Union and Kenyan troops aim to squeeze Somali rebels linked to al Qaeda by pursuing a coordinated war on two fronts, the U.N. chief’s special envoy in Somalia said Monday.
Under the plan, AU forces will push toward a Somali rebel stronghold outside the capital and Kenyan forces will focus on the Islamists’ bastions in the south.
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Iran called on staunch ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Sunday to hold free elections and allow multiple political parties to operate in the country, but said he must be given time to implement these reforms.
Iran had at first wholeheartedly supported Assad’s hardline stance against the 10 months of popular protests that have called for an end to his leadership.
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Standing on what was once Ethiopia’s oldest maximum security prison, the new African Union headquarters funded by China is a symbol of the Asian giant’s push to stay ahead in Africa and gain greater access to the continent’s resources.
Critics point to an imbalance in what they see as the new “Scramble for Africa.” But the prospect of growing Chinese economic influence is welcomed by African leaders, who see Beijing as a partner to help build their economies at a time when Europe and the United States are mired in economic turmoil.