Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Region Status Report

Syria - Islamic militants attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in Damascus on Tuesday using automatic rifles, hand grenades and at least one van rigged with explosives, the government said. Four people were killed in the brazen attack, including three of the assailants.

The attack came at a time of high tension between the United States and Syria over the recent Israeli-Hezbollah war in neighboring Lebanon. In Damascus the sentiment has become increasingly anti-American sentiment.

Source: AP

Iran still refuses to suspend nuclear enrichment before the start of talks on its nuclear program — a key demand by the six nations locked in a diplomatic standoff with the Islamic republic, officials said Tuesday.

Tehran has said it would not give up its right to the full range of nuclear technology and expertise, including enrichment, which it says it needs to develop to meet future nuclear power needs.

Source: AP

Iraq - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday made his first official visit to Iran since taking office and planned to ask Tehran to prevent al-Qaida members believed to be in Iran from crossing into Iraq to carry out attacks, an Iraqi official said.

"There are al-Qaida members and al-Qaida strongholds in Iran," he told The Associated Press in Cairo, speaking by telephone from Baghdad. "We ask Iran for cooperation in controlling the border to prevent any al-Qaida exploitation of the border."

Source: AP

West Bank, Palestine - An Israeli military court on Tuesday ordered the release of 18 Hamas lawmakers, including three Cabinet ministers. Also, a spokesman for the outgoing Hamas-led administration said the group is prepared to back peace efforts with Israel as part of the new coalition government being formed by the Palestinians.

Source: AP

Beirut - Hezbollah has called on Lebanon's government to resign, in its first public rally in Beirut since the war with Israel ended, and defiantly repeated a vow not to abandon its weapons as urged by the United Nations.

Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar told a rally in a Shiite southern suburb on Monday night that "the Forces of March 14 (the anti-Syrian coalition which leads the government) aligned themselves with the Israeli enemy from the start" of the conflict that ended on August 14.

Source: AFP