2A - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 7, 2005
U.S. hands Najaf base to Iraq NEws IN BRIEF
NAJAF, Iraq (AP)--The U.S. Army
handed over its base in Najaf yesterday,
giving Iraqis full control of the city as a
first step in transferring security across
the country so multinational forces can
begin to go home someday.
Lt. Col. James Oliver, the U.S. com-
mander of Forward Operating Base
Hotel, handed the ceremonial keys to the
installation to the new Iraqi commander,
Col. Saadi Salih al-Maliky. About 1,500
Iraqi soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 1st
Brigade, 8th Division marched by.
Before the ceremony, the Iraqi sol-
diers, all Shiites, chanted "long live
Sistani," referring to top cleric Grand
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and "Saddam is
U.S. forces have relocated to another
base farther outside the city so they
would be available to assist in a major
A U.S. soldier looks at Iraqi troops marching during the handover ceremony in
Najaf yesterday, which marked the transfer of the Najaf base to Iraqi control.
ing last year between the U.S. Army
and the militia of radical Shiite cleric
The fighting ended following a truce
mediated by the city's Shiite clerical
hierarchy, which wields considerable
power behind the scenes in the current
Shiite-dominated national government.
The U.S.-led coalition plans to hand
over control of other cities to the Iraqis,
gradually reducing its security profile.
If all goes according to plan, this would
enable the United States and its interna-
tional partners to begin drawing down
their troops next year and focusing on
the insurgency-ridden Sunni Arab areas
to the north.
"This is indeed a very important day
for the province of Najaf,"csaid Brig.
Gen. Augustus L. Collins, commander
of the 155th Brigade Combat Team.
Israel approves construction in West Bank
Israel has approved construction of 117 houses in the Ariel settlement in the heart
of the West Bank, the government said yesterday, signaling it will not relinquish the
sprawling community that Palestinians complain would cut up their future state.
The announcement came despite the risk of a U.S. reprimand, just as Israel was
reaping the diplomatic benefits of its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
In Gaza, the first clash between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators
since Israel emptied its settlements there resulted in the death of a Palestinian.
Witnesses said about 200 young Palestinians marched on an empty settlement,
and Palestinian police tried to stop them. An Israeli tank approached, and some
youths threw rocks at it while others stormed into the settlement, Neve Dekalim.
Soldiers opened fire, killing one and wounding three others, doctors said.
The Israeli military said soldiers opened fire after 40 to 50 youths ran into the
settlement and others climbed on the tank.
MANILA, Philippines '
Philippines legislators vote to keep Arroyo
Philippine legislators threw out all three impeachment charges against Presi-
dent Gloria Macapagal Arroyo yesterday despite warnings that the.move could
worsen her political crisis and spark a new "people power" revolt.
The 236-seat House of Representatives - overwhelmingly dominated by
pro-Arroyo legislators - voted to uphold last week's decision by the House
justice committee to reject the complaints alleging that Arroyo rigged last year's
election, was involved in corruption and condoned human rights violations.
The nationally televised session dragged on for about 23 hours -,one of the
longest ever - and was marked by intense debate and impassioned pleas from
opposition lawmakers for justice and fairness.
Arroyo was ecstatic after the vote and thanked Filipinos for not supporting
calls to oust her by force.
Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad,
is the holiest city in Iraq for Shiite Mus-
lims and was the scene of heavy fight-
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IUI.1. Li .1. CAIRO, Egypt
Ei t'ln ani~r d d r~f-nli . b dnr
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - A
yearlong probe of the Iraq oil-for-food
program has concluded that the United
Nations allowed "illicit, unethical, and
corrupt behavior" to overwhelm the
$64 billion operation.
The Independent Inquiry Commit-
tee's final report, to be released tomor-
row, says the U.N. must adopt sweeping
reforms before taking on such tasks
again, according to a draft forward
obtained by The Associated Press.
Yet the committee, which is U.N.-
appointed and supported, also found
that the program succeeded in provid-
ing minimal standards of nutrition and
health care for millions of Iraqis trying to
cope with tough U.N. sanctions imposed
after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of
Kuwait. It also helped in the international
effort to deprive Saddam of weapons of
mass destruction, it said.
While the forward doesn't go into
detail about U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, an official familiar with
the committee's final conclusions said
it will criticize him, his predecessor
Boutros Boutros-Ghali and the U.N.
Security Council, especially Russia
Annan's apparent failure to prop-
erly manage the $64 billion program
will be strongly criticized, but there
is no new "smoking gun" linking him
to an oil-for-food contract awarded
to the Swiss company Cotecna that
employed his son Kojo, the official
said yesterday, speaking on condition
of anonymity because the report had
not been released.
The new report will criticize Kojo
Annan for trading on his father's
name in the purchase of a Mercedes,
for which he borrowed money from
Michael Wilson, a Cotecna execu-
tive who is a friend of Kofi and Kojo
Annan, the official said.
F_ YP CCU1U1-UtYefMonStrtonUIS Dalne
The government warned yesterday that it would not tolerate election-day pro-
tests, and the opposition fretted about possible ruling party dirty tricks in Egypt's
first contested presidential vote.
President Hosni Mubarak, who has led Egypt for 24 years and is certain to win
Wednesday's balloting, calls the election a major step toward greater democracy
in a country that has seen only authoritarian rule for more than a half century.
But many Egyptians are skeptical, and the opposition says the vote will do noth-
ing to diminish Mubarak's power.
Hours before voting started, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif took a tough line,
warning that demonstrations were banned for election day.
The reformist group Kifaya had called for a rally Wednesday in one of Cai-
ro's main squares to protest "corruption and oppression" and the continuation of
DAMMAM, Saudi Arabia
Saudi forces attack Islamic militant group
In a barrage of gunfire and explosions, Saudi special forces overran a seaside villa
yesterday where Islamic militants had been holed up, ending three days of heavy fight-
ing that killed at least nine people.
Security forces that swept into the building in the eastern city of Dammam found
several charred bodies, apparently those of militants killed in explosions - suggesting
the death toll from the fighting would rise. It was the fiercest clash in months in the
kingdom's two-year crackdown on al-Qaida-linked militants.
Officials in the conservative, oil-rich nation - a key U.S. ally - say they have been
winning that fight. In October, Saudi forces claimed to have killed the leader of al-
Qaida in the kingdom in a series of raids in the capital and the holy city of Mecca.
King Abdullah, who took over the throne last month after the death of his half broth-
er, Fahd, has vowed to push ahead with the crackdown, and some have suggested he
may intensify it.
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