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Islamic World News ( 20 Oct 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Aligarh Muslim University commemorates Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Breaking barriers: multi-religious amity in Assam

Somali Women Whipped for Wearing Bras

‘Islamist’ terrorists Strike at Islamic University in Pakistan

Al-Qaeda in Pakistan's Gun Sights

Pakistan targets key Taliban town

Pakistan Claims Gain in Offensive on Taliban

Army seeks Mehsud tribes’ support

Pak Army inches closer to Mehsud heartland in Waziristan

US trusts Pakistan government on terror war

Al Qaeda drawing more Western recruits to Pak training camps

A sharia tribunal is contradiction of Islam

Painful Mideast Truth: Force Trumps Diplomacy

Iran Talks Stalled Over French Role, Diplomats Say

Karzai Agrees to Nov. 7 Runoff in Afghanistan

UK: Afghan war continues despite unpopularity

Iran says evidence of Pak, US, Britain link with Sunni terrorists of Baluchistan

Iran puts relations with Pakistan to test

Obama Abandons Abused Women in Afghanistan

Islam 'Sweden's biggest threat': far-right leader

Rifqa investigation ignored facts

Talking to Sudan: Obama is offering an opportunity they do not deserve but is necessary

Iran to join in more talks on nuclear program

Iran MPs demand action on Mousavi

Reason for Turkey-Israel cool-down

Somalia’s Hizbul Islam: 'More TFG Soldiers Joined Us'

Islam channel automates with Vectorbox

Baroness Warsi to speak at ladies event

Maldives Prez to head delegation to India

Thousands of unemployed Iraqis queue up for oil jobs

Iran: More N-enrichment if talks fail

Qatar Takes Profit on Stake in Barclays

Iraq's al-Maliki heads to White House

Compiled by Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/aligarh-muslim-university-commemorates-sir-syed-ahmad-khan/d/1956

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AMU commemorates University Founder Sir Sayyad Ah Khan

Aligarh:  17th October was quite a different day at Aligarh Muslim University when hundreds of its alumni and prominent personalities from within the country as well as abroad gathered to celebrate the   192nd birth anniversary of its founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

Paying tribute to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the Union Energy Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah said: “Sir Syed was fully committed to the well-being of his countrymen and for him, caste, creed and religion had no meaning. If Sir Syed’s ideals of large hearted tolerance and peaceful co-existence are adopted, regional differences will disappear.”

Dr. Farooq Abdullah who was invited as chief guest asked AMU students to concentrate on achieving excellence in every walk of life and they should work towards shaping the destiny of India. On the occasion, AMU Chancellor and former Chief Justice of Supreme Court Justice A. M. Ahmadi awarded the Sir Syed Ahmad Khan International Award-2009 to eminent scientists and researchers and AMU alumni, Prof. Syed Zahoor Qasim and Prof. Obaid Siddiqi for their remarkable contributions in Marine Biology and Molecular Biology respectively.

 The winners of the All India Essay Writing Competition on Sir Syed Ahmad Khan were also given prizes by the AMU Pro-chancellor Nawab Rahmatullah Khan Sherwani.

Speaking on the event, the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Prof. P. K. Abdul Azis said that the University is on resurgent track. He said that the University has been given Rs. 185 crore for various development initiatives during the 11th Plan.

He also announced that AMU is soon to start a residential Civil Services coaching centre at a cost of Rs. 14 crore.

He informed that the Aligarh Muslim University has the 8th Rank among the Indian universities in terms of research publications. The Government of India has sanctioned an amount of Rs. 9 crore for the promotion of advanced research in the University.

He said that the AMU Controller of Examination is working on the possibility of making online submission of admission forms, online counseling, online admissions, online internal assessment and online University examinations.

The whole day was scheduled to organize different kinds of programs at several halls of the AMU. Apart from the alumni from all over the world the programs were attended by the diplomats of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Libya.

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Breaking barriers: multi-religious amity in Assam

Samudra Gupta Kashyap Posted online: Monday, Oct 19, 2009 at 0355 hrs

Hajo (Assam): Every year, when the idols of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara are taken out in a procession from the Hayagriva-Madhava temple to the banks of the Brahmaputra, Md Tamij Ali and 20 other Muslim inhabitants of Sualkuchi in Hajo, Assam, and nearby villages prepare for a very special role: they have to turn up in their finest silk kurta-pyjamas and lead the 15-km long procession.

“My father, my grandfather, and probably his grandfather too had taken great pride in performing this sacred responsibility for the Hayagriva-Madhava temple,” says 65-year-old Ali, a resident of Faqirtola, a village on the foothills of the Garudachal hill in Hajo.

But the Hayagriva-Madhava temple is just one instance of religious amity in Hajo, a multi-religious centre in Assam’s Kamrup district that’s about 28 km across the Brahmaputra from Guwahati.

On the Garudachal hill is Poa-Mecca, the oldest Muslim shrine in Assam. The shrine is revered by people of all faiths. Poa-Mecca has a 16th century mosque as well as the mazaar of Giasuddin Auilya, a Sufi preacher who is believed to have come all the way from Persia to set up the mosque.

And as some believe, one visit to Poa-Mecca is equal to one-fourth of a trip to Mecca, with poa in Assamese meaning one-fourth of a kg. There are also people who say that the preacher had brought along with him one poa of soil from Mecca to lay the foundation of this mosque.

“These could be myths woven over the centuries. But the fact is that for the Hindus here, Poa-Mecca is as important and sacred as Hayagriva-Madhava and the four other temples in Hajo. And it’s the same for the Muslims,” says Syed Mahtab Ali, an elderly Muslim who is also a member of the Pancha-Tirtha Parichalana Samiti that looks after the five Hindu shrines here.

“The Muslim families of Hajo also vote to elect members of the Samiti, just like the Hindu families,” says Sambhu Dutta Sarmah, secretary of the Samiti. There are about 300 Muslim families who are attached to the Hindu temples and they are called sevaits, says Sarmah.

“On the day of Bhogali Bihu, the Assamese harvest festival in January, the khadim of Poa-Mecca has to formally hand over the dharma-dhwaja to the temple priest to flag off a colourful procession through the town,” says Sarmah.

The procession ends on the foothills of Poa-Mecca and is followed by a public meeting where the two religious heads pray for a better harvest the next year.

“We have a large number of Hindu visitors from outside, apart from the people of Hajo, who come to offer prayers in Poa-Mecca,” says Syed Musha Haque, the khadim of Poa-Mecca.

Muslims too visit the temples here. “The Muslims offer their prayers from the western gate of the temple,” says Sarmah, recalling that one of the most distinguished devotee at the Hayagriva-Madhava temple was former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.

So inseparable are Muslims and Hindus here that a village called Bamun-bori (bamun meaning Brahmin) has only Muslim inhabitants.

But even as Hindus and Muslims share and take pride in the heritage that is Hajo, the Buddhists too form an important part of Hajo. “Buddhists believe that it was here, in the Hayagriva-Madhava temple campus, that Lord Buddha attained his maha-prayana,” says Sarmah.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/breaking-barriers/530407/

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Somali Women Whipped for Wearing Bras

Monday, October 19, 2009

Somalia’s hardline Islamist group al Shabaab is cracking down on residents who do not follow a strict form of Sharia Islamic law, now publicly whipping women who wear bras, the Times of India reported.

Residents tell the paper that gunmen have been gathering women in Mogadishu who are perceived to have firm busts. These women are then publicly whipped by masked men as punishment for what Islamist leaders call deception.

After the public whippings, the women are forced to remove their bras and shake their breasts, the Times reported.

“Al Shabaab forced us to wear their type of veil and now they order us to shake our breasts,” a resident, Halima, told the Times of India. Her daughters were whipped for wearing bras.

“They first banned the former veil and introduced a hard fabric which stands stiffly on women’s chests. They are now saying that breasts should be firm naturally, or just flat,” she said.

The insurgent group recently amputated a foot and a hand from two young men accused of robbery. Al Shabaab has also banned movies, musical ringtones, dancing at wedding ceremonies and playing or watching soccer.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,568524,00.html?test=latestnews

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Attackers Strike at University in Pakistan

By SALMAN MASOOD

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Two explosions, apparently triggered by suicide bombers, ripped through student areas of an Islamic university in Islamabad on Tuesday, killing at least five people, including two female students in the school’s gender-segregated cafeteria, police officials said.

Security measures in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, had been reinforced in the wake of a wave of deadly suicide bombings that swept the country in recent weeks, and the start of a Pakistani Army offensive in the northwestern tribal region of South Waziristan, a Taliban stronghold. Schools connected to the military were closed for a week on Monday after they received threats.

But the targeting of an institution that imparts Islamic education to thousands of local and foreign students came as surprise to residents of the city.

University officials at the International Islamic University, where the attacks took place, said they had not received any threats.

Full Report at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/world/asia/21pstan.html?ref=global-home

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Al-Qaeda in Pakistan's Gun Sights

By Stephen Brown,

After weeks of increasingly brazen attacks on Pakistani cities and military installations, al-Qaeda is under siege.

The Pakistani army this weekend launched a major offensive into South Waziristan, the tribal area in the north-western frontier that serves as a base of operations for the jihadist group as well as its confederates in the Pakistani Taliban.

Two army divisions -- around 20,000-30,000 troops -- began their long-awaited ground advance against the estimated 10,000 Islamist fighters in the rugged, mountainous terrain bordering Afghanistan after Pakistan's top political and military officials made the formal decision for the offensive at a conference last Friday. Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Gillani chaired the meeting that was also attended by Army Chief of Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. "There was consensus that all efforts to eradicate extremism and terrorism will be taken forward," said Senator Reza Rabbani who attended the meeting.

The Pakistani government had announced last March that it would eradicate militant Islamic extremism from the country. The attack was delayed until now, according to one military analyst, in order to coordinate operations with Afghan and American/NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan.

The operation's aim is simple but ambitious: Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban are to be decisively defeated. Unlike after previous offensives into South Waziristan, however, Pakistani troops will not withdraw when the fighting is over. Instead, they will remain and occupy the territory. Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban will not be allowed to return, as was previously the case.

Several months of reconnaissance and air strike missions against the Islamists preceded the ground forces' weekend advance. These operations, numbering in the hundreds and involving American-built F-16 warplanes, were meant to soften up the targets. The Pakistani army had also cut off all routes into South Waziristan and seized the roads. In the weeks leading up to the attack, thousands of people had fled the area.

The offensive is expected to last six to eight weeks, after which heavy snows will close the mountain passes the Islamists use. Islamist forces, chased out of the settled areas, are expected to spend a tough, debilitating winter in the mountains under arduous conditions.

While the offensive is unpopular with some Taliban and al Qaeda sympathizers within the Pakistani military and intelligence services, the Pakistani army's morale is reported as good. Successful campaigns against Islamic radicals in the Bajaur tribal agency and the Swat Valley were confidence boosters for the troops who are tasked to clear South Waziristan.

The Pakistani ground forces are expected to advance behind a curtain of air strikes, artillery and tank fire -- heavy weapons the Islamists do not possess. But the campaign may not be an easy one. Although initial resistance was reported as light, by Sunday, five soldiers were reported killed, along with 11 Islamists.

Full Report at: http://www.aina.org/news/20091019150214.htm

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Pakistan targets key Taliban town

Fierce fighting is continuing for a fourth day in South Waziristan as Pakistani troops battle to gain control of the key Taliban-held town of Kotkai.

The army said it had secured the heights around Kotkai, the home to top Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.

Up to 100,000 civilians have fled the conflict zone, according to the army.

The army says it has killed nearly 80 militants so far. The Taliban deny the claim. Journalists are denied access to the area and cannot verify the reports.

“It seems that they [militants] want to defend this stronghold at all costs” Pakistani military official

Pakistani troops - backed by artillery, gunship helicopters and fighter jets - were reported to have briefly taken control of Kotkai in the course of fighting overnight.

But on Tuesday morning the Taliban hit back, destroying army checkpoints and killing seven soldiers, local officials said.

The officials said four Taliban militants were also killed - a claim the Taliban deny. The militants say they have yet to lose a single fighter.

"It seems that they [militants] want to defend this stronghold at all costs," a Pakistani military official was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

The Pakistani army said on Monday that 78 militants and nine government soldiers had been killed.

Kotkai is also the home town of senior militant commander Qari Hussain, the man reportedly responsible for training Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers who have killed hundreds of people.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said he was "encouraged" by the Pakistani offensive.

"I think that the terrorist attacks that have been launched inside Pakistan in recent days made clear the need to begin [to] deal with this problem.

"And so we obviously are very supporting of what the Pakistanis are doing. But it's very early yet," Mr Gates said.

Full Report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8315653.stm

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Pakistan Claims Gain in Offensive on Taliban

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG in New Delhi and REHMAT MEHSUD in Peshawar, Pakistan

OCTOBER 19, 200

Pakistan soldiers moved to try to encircle Taliban and al Qaeda militants in the South Waziristan mountains near the Afghan border, in a high-stakes offensive aimed at crushing the insurgency in its toughest stronghold.

Military reports Sunday indicated soldiers, whose offensive began before dawn Saturday, were making advances amid stout resistance. Some 30,000 Pakistani soldiers were moving into the area from three directions to face as many as 10,000 Pakistani and foreign militants, many of them veterans of battles in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians were said to be fleeing South Waziristan to neighboring areas. "There is a full-fledged war-like situation here, and we are packing to flee however we can find a way, but there is no safe passage," said Muhammad Nawaz, 29 years old, in a telephone interview from the Taliban-controlled town of Makeen. The area is closed to reporters.

The army has failed in previous attempts to reassert its control over the area. Instead, the government made peace deals with the Taliban faction that controls the region. But officials say a wave of terror attacks that left more than 160 people dead in the past two weeks has stiffened their resolve, and there will be no deals in South Waziristan this time.

Battles and skirmishes were reported around a handful of towns Sunday. "I heard intense shelling with artillery pounding the mountain behind our village. I saw the big trees in the forest caught fire and flames were rising high," said Muhammad Alam Mehsud, 47, who fled with his 12-member family during a lull in the fighting.

The army said in a statement that it had lost five soldiers and killed 60 militants, adding that Taliban fighters were "vacating their posts ...leaving behind arms and ammunition." The Taliban, however, promised Sunday to fight to "the last drop of blood." Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq, speaking from an undisclosed location, told the Associated Press, "We know how to fight this war and defeat the enemy with the minimum loss of our men."

The offensive is Pakistan's most ambitious attempt to strike at the heart of what officials and analysts describe as a militant nexus of two disparate forces: ethnic Pashtun Taliban fighters, from the poverty-stricken mountains of the northwest, and educated jihadis from the prosperous eastern plains of Punjab province.

Full Report at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125586211470592517.html

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Army seeks Mehsud tribes’ support

Nirupama Subramanian, 20 Oct, 2009

As troops advance further into South Waziristan

Re-assurance?: General David Petraeus (left), commander of the U.S. Central Command with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Islamabad on Monday.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan braced for terror attacks in the wake of a troops advance into the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan, which the Army described on Monday as the “centre” of all terrorist activities in the country.

On the third day of the offensive, Army Chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani made the extraordinary move of writing an open letter to the Mehsud tribes of South Waziristan, from whom most of the militants in the area are drawn, reassuring them that the operation was not aimed at them, but only against terrorists. He requested their support for the offensive.

Military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas told journalists that 18 militants were killed in the last 24 hours, and two soldiers also lost their lives, while 12 soldiers were wounded as troops advanced further into South Waziristan and consolidated positions.

Upto 1,00,000 people have fled the fighting in the tribal region and taken refuge in Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and Bannu in the North-West Frontier Province.

A report said several schools run by the armed forces across the country have shut down for a week fearing reprisal terror attacks. Some private schools in the capital and in Rawalpindi have also shut down for the same reason.

Security across Islamabad is tighter than ever. Armed police and paramilitaries are carrying out stringent checks at checkpoints around the capital’s “red zone”, which covers all the important government buildings.

Late on Sunday, the government also cracked down on several madrassas in the capital, detaining dozens of suspects. On Monday, Karachi police announced the arrest of a Taliban leader identified as Akhtar Zaman and three suspected militants, and said they had averted a major attack in the city.

Police chief Waseem Ahmed said suicide jackets, explosives and an anti-aircraft launcher and rocket were among the weapons seized from Zaman and the others. The arrests came as the military announced that it had made good progress in the operation despite stiff resistance in some places, taking control of three areas, including Kotkai, an area to which the Taliban suicide bombing trainer Qari Hussain belongs.

Full Report at: http://www.hindu.com/2009/10/20/stories/2009102060271500.htm

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Pak Army inches closer to Mehsud heartland in Waziristan

Oct 20, 2009

Islamabad: Advancing Pakistani troops, on the third day of their offensive on Monday, surrounded the hometown of Tehreek-i-Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud in the country’s lawless tribal region. The security forces attacks came as 18 terrorists and two soldiers were reported killed in the last 24 hours, raising the Taliban toll to 78.

“Troops have encircled Kotkai, the home village of Hakimullah and his suicide attack trainer Qari Hussain, capturing key heights around it and the area is expected to fall anytime,” an Army official said. The Army pincers have also closed upon two other major towns, including Wana in the Taliban heartland.

Chief military spokesperson Athar Abbas told a news conference that the Army was aiming to “target and neutralise Taliban leadership in the ground and air offensive.” The Army’s advance has been slowed down by Taliban heavily mining the roads and strewing the entire area with roadside bombs.

Having code-named the campaign as ‘Rah-e-Nijat’ or ‘Path to Salvation,’ Abbas said Pakistan military was advancing on two axes from the southeast and southwest on the Taliban. “We are also blocking (routes) in the north so that they do not escape towards either North Waziristan or the border area (with Afghanistan).”

Full Report at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pak-army-inches-closer-to-mehsud-heartland-in-waziristan/530757/

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US trusts Pakistan government on terror war

October 20, 2009

WASHINGTON: US has said combating war on terrorism is in interest of both Pakistan and United States and it has full trust on Pakistani government and will continue extending support to Pakistan in this connection, Geo news reported Monday.

Briefing media here, the spokesman to US state department Ian Kelley said he was unaware of an agreement to keep some militant factions out of the fight for now, but other U.S. officials said the strategy is not surprising or necessarily worrisome.

Because the faction loyal to Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud poses the most direct threat to the Pakistani government and army, it is the logical first target, U.S. officials briefed on the offensive said.

He said conducting operation in tribal mountainous areas is an uneasy job but Pakistan army successfully carried out military offensive against Taliban in Swat and now is engaged in South Waziristan Agency (SWA), which reflects its determination to toot out terrorism.

The United States, while criticizing the suicide bombing on Iran, mentioned that it is not involved in the attack.

Spokesman Kelly said, “We condemn this act of terrorism and mourn the loss of innocent lives”. "Reports of alleged US involvement are completely false," he added.

Source: http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=89489

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A sharia tribunal is contradiction of Islam

JOUMANAH EL MATRAH

October 20, 2009

Let me be clear, neither the Victorian Government nor the Islamic Council of Victorian will be pursuing the establishment of a sharia tribunal.

Despite this, the recent call for the establishment of a sharia tribunal in Victoria (The Age, 19/10) reflects the increasingly common advocacy by Muslims for sharia tribunals across Western societies to settle disputes within the Muslim community, in particular as they relate to Muslim personal legal code issues such as marriage, divorce, child custody, and financial settlement upon dissolution of marriage.

The increasing urgency by which such calls are being made reflect a complex set of issues: growing uncertainty among some Muslims about how to maintain their identity in a highly globalised, diverse Muslim world; uncertainty about what constitutes appropriate recognition of Muslim rights as a minority community in Western societies; and concerns about what it means to be a person of faith in a modern liberal nation such as Australia.

More than anything, however, the call for sharia tribunals represents two fundamental questions for Muslims everywhere: what is it to be Muslim in the 21st century beyond replicating the traditions of our ancestors? And: how to be Muslim in a way that recognises Muslim women's exclusion and marginalisation from the interpretation of Islam for the past 1000 years?

There are many issues at stake but let me begin by addressing the issues as they relate to women, as they, beyond anyone else, risk having their rights and status compromised. Many Muslims have come to conflate reducing the status of women with what it means to be authentically Muslim. The reason for this conflation is that many Muslim-majority countries have dropped sharia from the legal system except in matters related to what is known as the Muslim personal code on marriage, divorce, and child custody, what is loosely defined as sexual morality. Many Muslims believe that current laws as they apply to these matters reflect sharia as the Prophet might have envisaged it but in fact significant reform has been undertaken, almost always against the interests and well being of women and children and against the egalitarian spirit of Islam.

It is difficult to make generalisations across the Islamic world and the various schools of Islamic thought that have existed historically. A literal application of sharia would see women loose their right to divorce except in a few and extreme set of circumstances. A non-fault divorce would only be available to women who forfeited their maintenance and any other financial gain made as a result of the marriage. Women would no longer be entitled to maintenance upon divorce as the Muslim system favours a one-off payment. There is also an automatic loss of custody of children above the age of seven for boys and nine for girls — unless the husband has no interest in acquiring custody. There are exceptions where a more humane and egalitarian interpretation of Islam exists but today an intensely orthodox interpretation of Islam dominates the interpretation and implementation of sharia, which is deeply antagonistic to women. The problem is not Islam but the way that it has been interpreted by an elite, deeply conservative group of Muslims.

Full Report at: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/a-sharia-tribunal-is-contradiction-of-islam-20091020-h59c.html

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October 20, 2009

Iran Talks Stalled Over French Role, Diplomats Say

VIENNA (AP) -- Talks meant to persuade Iran to send most of its enriched uranium abroad -- and thus delay its potential to make a nuclear weapon -- bogged down Tuesday over fierce Iranian resistance to French participation, diplomats said.

Tuesday was the second day of talks in the Austrian capital between Iran and the United States, Russia and France over Iran's nuclear program. But discussions were delayed at least two hours in an attempt to resolve the impasse over the French.

Tehran says it needs enriched uranium for nuclear fuel but the U.S. and other nations fear that could be used to make weapons. The U.S. says Iran is one to six years away from being able to do so.

Iran had signaled earlier that it might not meet Western demands for a deal under which it would ship most of its enriched material out of the country.

But a more immediate problem Tuesday appeared to be Iranian insistence that France be excluded from any participation in plans to turn the enriched material into fuel for Tehran's research reactor, the diplomats told The Associated Press.

One diplomat -- who like the others inside the closed meeting demanded anonymity for discussing confidential information -- suggested that the talks could fail unless the problem was resolved.

Iran, which holds a 10 percent share in a Eurodif nuclear plant in France, came to the talks vociferously critical of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's government for withholding enriched uranium from that facility. Areva, the state-run French nuclear company, has described Iran as a ''sleeping partner'' in Eurodif, which Tehran bought into more than three decades ago.

Iran is under three sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions for defying demands that it freeze uranium enrichment. The sanctions include embargoes on all shipments of sensitive nuclear materials or technology.

In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki downplayed the problem.

''There are side issues ... with France,'' he told reporters. ''We will talk about it when time is right.''

Full Report at: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/10/20/world/AP-EU-UN-Nuclear-Iran.html?ref=global-home

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October 21, 2009

Karzai Agrees to Nov. 7 Runoff in Afghanistan

By SABRINA TAVERNISE and SHARON OTTERMAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Under heavy international pressure, President Hamid Karzai conceded Tuesday that he fell short of a first-round victory in the nation’s disputed presidential election, and agreed to hold a runoff election with his top challenger on Nov. 7.

Flanked at a news conference in Kabul by Senator John Kerry, the head of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Kai Eide, the top United Nations official in Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai said he would accept the findings of an international audit that stripped him of nearly one-third of his votes in the first round, leaving him below the 50 percent threshold that would have allowed him to avoid a runoff and declare victory over his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah.

“I call upon this country to take this as an opportunity to move this country forward and participate in this new round of elections,” Mr. Karzai said, according to the English translation of his remarks, adding that he was grateful to the international community for its help.

Mr. Karzai called for continued international assistance in securing the country for the next round of voting. He did not express regret about the widespread fraud that a joint Afghan-international audit committee ruled Monday had occurred among the ballots marked in his name, but said the fraud would be investigated.

“Unfortunately, the election of Afghanistan was defamed,” Mr. Karzai said. “Any result that we were getting out of it was not able to bring legitimacy.”

In Washington, President Obama welcomed Mr. Karzai’s decision, calling it “an important step forward.”

“While this election could have remained unresolved to the detriment of the country, President Karzai’s constructive actions established an important precedent for Afghanistan’s new democracy,” he said in a statement. “The Afghan Constitution and laws are strengthened by President Karzai’s decision, which is in the best interests of the Afghan people.”

Full Report at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/world/asia/21afghan.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

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UK: Afghan war continues despite unpopularity

Mon, 19 Oct 2009 06:57:39 GMT

UK's army chief says the Afghan mission will continue despite its unpopularity at home, following a dramatic rise in British troops' death toll in recent months.

General David Richards wrote in a letter to The Daily Telegraph on Monday that the British government must disregard negative opinion polls about the war and press ahead with its own security policies.

The top General's remarks about British security policies in Afghanistan comes as diplomats have revealed that the British army has been involved in fueling insurgency in the country by transporting the militants from the south to the north of Afghanistan.

The revelations comes days after Afghan President Hamid Karzai was quoted by the BBC Persian as having ordered an investigation into reports of 'unknown' army helicopters carrying gunmen to the relatively calm north.

Richards also believes that the Afghan war is winnable even though it may seem far off.

The top general was referring to a recent opinion poll, carried out for The Times newspaper on Wednesday, which showed that an increasing number of Britons are now opposed to the UK's involvement in Afghanistan.

The survey also revealed that 36 percent of the voters were now in favor of withdrawing all British forces from the volatile south Asian nation.

Anyone who suggests "the sooner we get out the better... is wrong", Richards wrote, while stressing that the government's security policy should not be "driven by opinion polls".

"It has been a struggle to persuade the British public about this and we need to do better," he added.

The mounting British death toll in the war-torn country has also been putting Prime Minister Gordon Brown under heavy pressure.

Full Report at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=109042&sectionid=351020403

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Killing of commanders: Iran says evidence of Pak, US, Britain link

Oct 20, 2009

Tehran: The chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Monday accused the US, Britain and Pakistan of having links with the Sunni militants responsible for a suicide bombing that killed five senior Guard commanders and 37 others. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said those behind Sunday’s bombing are hiding across the border in Pakistan, and in a phone call with his Pakistani counterpart on Monday he demanded their arrest.

A Sunni rebel group that has waged a low-level insurgency in southeastern Iran to protest what it says is government persecution of an ethnic minority in the region claimed responsibility for the attack. Jundallah, or Soldiers of God, has carried out sporadic kidnappings and attacks in recent years — including targeting the Revolutionary Guard and Shiite civilians.

Revolutionary Guard chief Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Monday that Jundallah is at work to disrupt security in Iran and he vowed to deliver a “crushing” response. “New evidence has been obtained proving the link between yesterday’s terrorist attack and the US, British and Pakistani intelligence services,” state TV quoted Jafari as saying. “Evidence shows that US, British and Pakistani intelligence supported the group.” He said the attack was “undoubtedly” planned and ordered by the three nation’s intelligence services and that a delegation would soon travel to Pakistan to present evidence.

Iran has also claimed that Jundallah receives support from al-Qaida and Taliban militants that operate across the border in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province.

Full Report at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/killing-of-commanders-iran-says-evidence-of-pak-us-britain-link/530756/

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Iran puts relations with Pakistan to test

Atul Aneja, 20 Oct, 2009

Extradite perpetrators, Tehran tells Islamabad

DUBAI: Iran has put its ties with Pakistan to test by demanding from Islamabad the extradition of those individuals who had masterminded Sunday’s suicide bombing which killed some of the top commanders of its elite force.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused “certain officials” in Pakistan for the blast which killed 42 persons, including two top ranking officers of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

The explosion took place during the course of a reconciliation meeting between tribal elders of Sunni and Shia communities, which the slain IRGC commanders had organised. The Jundallah group has claimed responsibility for the strike which took place in the Sistan-Baluchistan province, bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“We have heard that certain officials in Pakistan cooperate with main agents of these terrorist attacks in eastern parts of the country. It is our right to ask [for extradition] of criminals,” said Mr. Ahmadinejad after a Cabinet session on Sunday night.

Strong language

Full Report at: http://www.hindu.com/2009/10/20/stories/2009102060251500.htm

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Obama Abandons Abused Women in Afghanistan

October 19 2009

President Barack Obama is putting the finishing touches on making a mockery out of the unsupportable claim that Democrats care about women’s rights by his signal to the Afghan Taliban, warlords, strongmen, militias, and tribal leaders that he’s ready to negotiate with anyone there in order to smooth his efforts in that troubled region.

President Obama is letting it be known that he’s prepared to cut deals with the Taliban in order for Afghan warlords to cut ties with al Qaeda. Obama thinks he can work with the supposedly “moderate” Taliban groups in Afghanistan in a bid to oust al Qaeda. A Taliban moderate. What sort of mythical creature is this?

One thing is sure, however, if Obama turns Afghanistan back over to the Taliban and other Islamic warlords in an effort to make it appear as if he’s had success there, women will be the hardest hit. The possibility that Obama will abandon Afghanistan’s women frightens Wazhma Frogh, an Afghan women’s advocate who received the U.S. State Department’s 2009 International Woman of Courage Award.

As an Afghan woman who for many years lived a life deprived of the most basic human rights, I find unbearable the thought of what will happen to the women of my country if it once again falls under the control of the insurgents and militants who now threaten it.

Since the American efforts in Afghanistan began women have been most favorably affected. Human rights for women have advanced immeasurably there since 2001 but much, much more needs to be done. After all, centuries of abuse and entrenched attitudes that women are barely even human have to be overcome. That doesn’t happen in so short a time unless support for change is upheld and if the U.S. leaves Afghanistan all support for change will go with it.

Full Report at: http://www.therealitycheck.org/?p=7801

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Islam 'Sweden's biggest threat': far-right leader

19 Oct 09

An article by the leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats claiming that Islam is the biggest threat to Sweden since World War II is tantamount to hate speech, according to legal experts.

A number of jurists believe the text, published in the opinion section of the Aftonbladet newspaper, qualifies as agitation against an ethnic group (hets mot folkgrupp).

The Sweden Democrats concluded their annual congress on Sunday in the town of Ljungbyhed in Skåne in southern Sweden.

On Monday, Aftonbladet published an opinion piece by party leader Jimmie Åkesson in which the prominent far-right politician slams Islam.

According to Åkesson, “today’s multicultural Swedish power-elite are totally blind to the dangers of Islam.”

He goes on to claim that more than ten Muslim terrorist organizations have established themselves in Sweden, that Sweden has the most rapes in Europe, and that Muslim men are highly overrepresented among the perpetrators.

 “As a Sweden Democrat, I see this as our greatest external threat since World War II and I promise to use all my power to change the trend during next year's election,” writes Akesson.

Åkesson’s claims prompted academics and legal experts to draw parallels between the Sweden Democrats and the Nazis.

 “This is the same sort of propaganda as the Nazis' anti-Semitism,” said Jan Hjärpe, an emeritus professor of Islamic Studies at Lund University, to Aftonbladet.

“This also has racist undertones, because the rhetoric assumes that religious affiliation determines how a person acts.”

Several leading lawyers who spoke with Aftonbladet believe the article borders on qualifying as agitation against an ethnic group.

“I think that the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern - JK) should prosecute it. The article is uniformly directed against and is hateful toward Muslims as a group,” said attorney and media expert Peter Danowsky.

Full Report at: http://www.thelocal.se/22738/20091019/

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Rifqa investigation ignored facts

Chad Groening, 10/19/2009

An author and terrorism expert says it's a travesty of justice that a 17-year-old Christian covert from Islam has been ordered by a judge to return to Ohio where her Islamic family resides.

Last week Orlando judge Daniel Dawson stated that he will sign the order to send 17-year-old Rifqa Bary back to Ohio once he obtains the proper documents on her immigration status. Bary has been in foster care in Orlando while her case is being reviewed.

The teen ran away from her parents' Columbus-area home in July, saying she feared being killed for converting to Christianity. But a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found no credible threats to Bary.

Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch thinks it is an absolute travesty of justice that the judge intends to send her back to Ohio.

Full Report at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/Legal/Default.aspx?id=725518

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Talking to Sudan: Obama is offering an opportunity they do not deserve but is necessary

President Obama is offering Sudan’s leaders an opportunity that they do not deserve but is necessary. The administration will replace a punishment-heavy approach with one that is more balanced. Khartoum, he said, can look forward to rewards if it brings stability to Darfur and South Sudan and to tougher sanctions if it does not.

We have difficulty accepting the idea of any outreach to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for directing the genocide in Darfur. Washington officials insist that they will not work directly with Mr. Bashir but will try to negotiate with other Sudanese officials.

We are sceptical that any of Mr. Bashir’s henchmen can be trusted to keep their word. But complete isolation wasn’t working, not least because other countries — most notably China, which buys oil from Sudan — were never willing to cut their ties.

The violence in Darfur — where some 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million driven from their homes — has lessened. But the situation remains dire. Refugees in camps must be protected and a way must be found for them to return home and rebuild their lives. Sudan must declare a cease-fire and engage rebel groups in serious negotiations.

It must also implement a fragile north-south peace agreement that ended a devastating war in 2005 by preparing for national elections next year and passing a law governing a 2011 referendum on self-determination in South Sudan.

In announcing the new policy, Mr. Obama also cited the need to ensure that Sudan does not provide a safe haven for terrorists — that important goal cannot absolve Khartoum of the horrors it has committed.

Full Report at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/opinion/20tue2.html?ref=global-home

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Iran to join in more talks on nuclear program

VIENNA, Austria (CNN) -- Iranian officials are expected to huddle again with their Western counterparts Wednesday to hammer out a deal about the future of Tehran's nuclear program.

A day earlier, talks between the two sides ended on an optimistic note, with the director-general of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency calling them constructive.

The meetings are taking place at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. The participants include Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh, and officials from France, Russia and the United States.

At issue are Iran's uranium enrichment plans.

Tehran says its nuclear program is intended solely for peaceful purposes. But many in the international community have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons capability.

In early October, Iran and the West agreed in principle that low-enriched uranium produced in Iran would be sent abroad for further enrichment and then returned for use in medical research and treatment.

The two sides now need to work out the details of the tentative deal.

Low-enriched fuel has the potential of being further enriched into weapons-grade material.

According to the plan:

Full Report at: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/10/20/iran.nuclear.talks/index.html

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Iran MPs demand action on Mousavi

One-third of Iran's members of parliament have demanded that legal action be taken against opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Mr Mousavi has said the June election that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power was fraudulent.

MP Hamid Rasaie, an Ahmadinejad ally, said Mr Mousavi's claims had damaged the "reputation of the Islamic system".

State news agency Irna said 100 of the 290 members of the conservative-dominated parliament backed the call.

They made the complaint in a letter to Iran's chief prosecutor, Gholam Hossein Mohsen Ejeie, state media reported.

'National crime'

"The crime committed by Mousavi is a national crime and he has violated the rights of the Iranian people," Irna quoted Mr Rasaie as saying.

The demand for Mr Mousavi's prosecution comes a week after lawmakers launched a similar bid for legal action against Mr Ahmadinejad's other moderate challenger, former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi.

Both men allege that the presidential election was rigged, a charge denied by the Iranian authorities.

They have criticised the crackdown on protesters in the weeks of mass demonstrations that followed the disputed 12 June presidential poll.

At least 30 protesters were killed in clashes and thousands were arrested. Some 200 opposition activists remain behind bars. Three have been sentenced to death.

Also on Tuesday, an Iranian court sentenced an Iranian-American academic to 12 years in

Full Report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8316487.stm

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Richard Giragosian: Turkey’s pro-Islamic regime reason for Turkey-Israel cool-down

18:42 / 10/19/2009

A pro-Islamic regime in power in Turkey is the reason for he rapid cool-down in the Turkish-Israeli relations, Richard Giragosian, Head of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS), told NEWS.am.

According to him, the pro-Islamic regime’s efforts to enhance Ankara’s role in the Middle East and in the Islamic World makes cooperation with Israel unnecessary for Turkey. “The latest developments are striking evidence of problems in the Turkish-Israeli relations, which is not at all a new tendency. The situation has reached its climax now, Ankara does not even want to allow Israel to take part in the NATO maneuvers in Turkey,” Giragosian said. He stressed Turkey is not seeking a leading role in the Islamic World, nor will it get it even “with the best will in the world” – at least because of internal conflicts. “Turkey is not an Islamist state, but pro-Islamic forces came to power there, which is the cause of internal conflicts. On the other hand, Turkey can serve as a bridge between parts of the Islamic World, between Iran and Syria,” the expert said. Giragosian pointed out that the intensifying cooperation between Ankara, Teheran and Damascus is making Israel “jealous and suspicious.”

Full Report at: http://news.am/en/news/6840.html

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Somalia: Hizbul Islam Officials Say 'More TFG Soldiers Joined in Gedo Region Joined Us'

18 October 2009

The Islamic organization officials of Hizbul Islam in Gedo region in southern Somali have Sunday said that more of TFG soldiers joined their fighters.

Sheik Hassan Al-iraqi, the security secretary of Hizbul Islam in Luq district in Gedo region has told Shabelle radio that more government troops who were in Dolow town recently had joined the Islamist fighters of Hizbul Islam in the region

The official said the Transitional Federal Government troops' officials had contacted with them before uniting saying that they talked each other for the joining process adding that they lastly accepted their suggestions and let them to be part of the Islamist fighters of Hizbul Islam.

The security secretary of Hizbul Islam sheik Hassan Al-iraqi also said that they achieved mediating conflicts between two clans who recently fought in around Luq district in the region pointing out that they will solve the other matters remaining with the Sharia law.

The reports saying that some of the transitional government troops united to the Islamic organization of Hizbul Islam comes there had been more fighters from Hizbul Islam led by their commander in Lower Shabelle region joined to the transitional government soldiers in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Copyright © 2009 Shabelle Media Network. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/200910190518.html

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Islam channel automates with Vectorbox

Oct 19, 2009 11:42 AM

The Islam Channel has installed two Vectorbox 8000 HD systems and a Vector configured NAS system from Vector 3, a provider of graphics and playout solutions, to manage the automated, multichannel playout and production storage of three channels: Islam Channel, Islam Channel Urdu and Noor TV.

Islam Channel has two locations in London — a production center where all programming is created, and a broadcast center for continuity and live program playout and transmission. The broadcast center houses the two new Vectorbox 8000 HD automated playout systems and a custom Vector 3 NAS system to facilitate continuity playout of prerecorded programs and live playout of thematic magazine format shows with fully integrated production storage.

Full Report at: http://broadcastengineering.com/products/islam-channel-automates-vectorbox-1019/

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Baroness Warsi to speak at ladies event

October 19, 2009

‘Britain’s most powerful Muslim woman’, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi will be encouraging more Muslim women to achieve business success at an event next month.

Baroness Warsi, the shadow minister for community cohesion and a former lawyer, became the first Muslim woman to sit on the front bench of a British political party in 2007, aged 36. Earlier this year she was named the most powerful Muslim woman by a panel led by Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

She will speak about her own achievements and her future role if the Conservative party wins the next general election during the Forward Ladies women’s networking event at Mumtaz Restauramt, Leeds on the 6 November.

Baroness Warsi has campaigned for women’s rights in the UK and abroad and has had a successful career in business as a solicitor, having set up her own specialist law firm, George Warsi Solicitors, in Dewsbury.

"I come from a family of all girls and was brought up to believe that anything was possible and being a Muslim woman should in no way be seen as a barrier, but as an asset to achievement," she says.

Full Report at: http://www.theasiannews.co.uk/news/s/1177891_baroness_warsi_to_speak_at_ladies_event

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Maldives Prez to head delegation to India

October 20, 2009

After highlighting the threat to his nation from the rising sea waters by holding an underwater Cabinet meet, Maldives President Mohammad Nasheed is to visit India from Wednesday to attend a conference on climate change and review the bilateral ties.

Nasheed would be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising Ministers, MPs, businessmen and media persons, official sources said from capital Male.

He is visiting India on the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and would be the guest of honour at ‘Delhi High Level Conference on Climate Change and Technology Transfer’, the sources said.

During his five-day visit from October 21-25, Nasheed will meet the Indian Prime Minister, reiterating commitment to strong bilateral relations. Both sides will review ongoing cooperation in the field of health, education, economic projects and developmental assistance.

“India is likely to provide further assistance to renovate and strengthen the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Malé”, the sources said.

Both the countries are expected to agree to work together on climate change issues and have a regular dialogue on the subject. Maldives, which is eyeing a carbon-neutral economy by 2020, may seek assistance from India for establishing a renewable energy projects.

Full Report at: http://www.dailypioneer.com/209877/Maldives-Prez-to-head-delegation-to-India.html

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Thousands of unemployed Iraqis queue up for oil jobs

MOHAMMED ATI

BASRA (Iraq)

Oct. 19: With a clutch of deals between Iraq and global oil majors in the pipeline, unemployed Iraqis hope to finally benefit from their country’s oil wealth.

Thousands have been queuing in October to apply for 1,670 new jobs at Iraq’s South Oil Company (SOC), which oversees most of Iraqi oil exports and is gearing up to work with some of the world’s biggest oil firms.

Overnight lines, angry crowds and scufffles with the police are a taster of what Britain’s BP, China’s CNPC, Italy’s ENI and others may face when they start work in Iraq, which has seen little foreign investment since the 2003 US invasion.

As part of contracts to rehabilitate Iraq’s crumbling oil sector, foreign oil majors must employ Iraqis wherever possible, and set aside $5 million for training. At one job application centre in Basra, a decrepit city of sewage puddles and slums but also the oil exporting hub for the world’s third-largest crude reserves, men huddle in a vast queue at night, waiting to apply.

"I’m just one of the thousands of young men here. I graduated six years ago and I still have no job. I’ve been here since yesterday morning," said Majid Ziad, in a queue some had joined days earlier.

Full Report at: http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/international/thousands-of-unemployed-iraqis-queue-up-for-oil-jobs.aspx

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Iran: More N-enrichment if talks fail

GEORGE JAHN

VIENNA: Oct. 19: Iran signalled ahead of international talks on Monday that it will not meet Western demands for a deal that would move most of its enriched uranium out of the country and delay its gaining the ability to make a nuclear bomb.

Tehran says it needs enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, but the West fears it could be used for weapons. The US says Iran is now one to six years away from being able to make such arms, should it choose to. Tehran’s refusal to give up most of its enriched stock could doom both Monday’s talks and chances of a second round of broader negotiations between Tehran and six world powers on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme.

Monday’s Vienna talks between Tehran and the US, Russia and France, focus on a technical issue with huge strategic ramifications, whe-ther Iran is ready to farm out some of its uranium enrichment programme to a foreign country.

Progress would strengthen confidence on the part of the US and five other big powers trying to persuade Iran to dispel fears about its nuclear programme that this time Tehran is serious about reducing tensions and ready to build on Geneva talks. Bey-ond that, it could give the international community more negotiating space by delaying Tehran’s ability to turn what is now a civilian uranium enrichment programme into an assembly line producing fissile warhead material.

Full Report at: http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/international/iran-more-n-enrichment-if-talks-fail.aspx

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October 21, 2009

Qatar Takes Profit on Stake in Barclays

By JULIA WERDIGIER

LONDON — Qatar announced Tuesday that it would sell a part of its stake in the British bank Barclays after the value of its investment almost doubled.

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund said it would sell 379 million shares in the bank, exercising warrants that it agreed to buy a year ago when the bank was suffering at the height of the financial crisis.

The fund will retain a 7 percent stake in Barclays and will remain the bank’s largest shareholder.

Barclays’ shares rose five-fold over the last eight months after the bank avoided the government’s cash injection, it acquired Lehman Brothers’ assets in the United States and benefited from strong earnings at its securities unit.

Qatar would make a profit of about £634 million, or $1 billion, on the investment based on Monday’s share price as it pays 198 pence a share to exercise the warrants.

Barclays is set to get £750 million as a result of the sale to strengthen its capital base, Qatar said.

Shares in Barclays were quoted at 363 pence in early afternoon trading in London Tuesday, down 5 percent.

“The decision to exercise the warrants and dispose of the resultant shares forms part of Qatar Holding’s portfolio management program and does not impact on our current intention to remain a long-term strategic shareholder in Barclays,” Ahmad Al-Sayed, the investment group’s chief executive, said in a statement.

The sale renewed speculation among some investors that Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund could be raising cash for another acquisition.

Full Report at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/business/global/21barclays.html?ref=global-home

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Iraq's al-Maliki heads to White House

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki heads to the White House on Tuesday to meet President Barack Obama with the need for a timely election in Iraq dogging him.

Waves of destabilizing violence across the country are feared if the January 16 parliamentary election is delayed.

"Any attempt to postpone the coming election will lead to a constitutional vacuum that this country will face, because the current Iraqi parliament will lose its legitimacy after January 16, 2010, which will cause a wave of chaos in this country that could ruin all that we've achieved," al-Maliki has said.

But Iraq has yet to sort out key election details, which could postpone the voting.

Iraqi lawmakers have been debating a revised election law, but the northern city of Kirkuk has been a stumbling block.

Kurds displaced under Saddam Hussein's rule have settled on land and in homes they say are rightfully theirs. However, Arab and Turkomen residents say many more Kurds have moved into Kirkuk than were displaced, and that allowing them to vote would create an unfair advantage.

The other dispute centers on open or closed electoral lists. Open lists would name candidates and their parties; closed lists would name only parties.

Existing law, used in the 2005 election, mandates a closed list. Al-Maliki supports an open list.

The United States and the United Nations worry that, if a new law isn't adopted, the government might have to delay the election or rely on the old law.

The election is a vital step in the Iraqi government's efforts to solidify a democratic system in the post-Saddam era and is being closely watched by American officials.

Full Report at: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/10/20/iraq.us.politics/index.html

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