BEIRUT, Lebanon — Two United Nations peacekeeping soldiers were injured Tuesday by a roadside bomb on a coastal motorway south of Beirut. Company Sgt. Dave Williams and regimental Sgt. Maj. John McCormack, both from Dublin, Ireland, were traveling in a U.N. vehicle when the bomb exploded at 2:50 p.m. local time, causing them “superficial injuries,” according to Irish Lt. Col. Eamon O’SiochrĂș, head of the Irish team that is part of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The explosion occurred near the town of Rmaileh, just outside Lebanon’s third biggest city, Sidon, 35 kilometers south of Beirut. The blast […]

Some 20 years after its founding, the Palestinian organization Hamas remains little understood in the West. Although it is invoked nearly daily in the media, it has been the subject of only a very small number of serious studies. The most common error made by observers in considering contemporary Islamist movements — and notably, Hamas — is that of attempting to grasp them in terms of concepts and modes of thought that are proper to the West. Most western analyses of the phenomenon of Islamism tend to underestimate or even obscure a fundamental element that is common to all the […]

BAHRAIN PASSES LAW ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING — Bahrain’s legislature Dec. 31 signed off on a law to combat human trafficking, which has particularly victimized the country’s migrant workers. Bahrain’s king is expected to approve the law. The law provides for the establishment of a new Human Trafficking Victims Assessment commission to provide medical and psychological assistance to trafficked persons and a new Human Trafficking Authority to create strategies to combat the scourge. It also sets up financial penalties of up to $265,000 for those convicted of trafficking. Fines are subject to doubling in cases where the victims are below 15 […]

THE GENERAL IN THE WINGS — The least desirable — but certainly not unlikely — short-term outcome of Pakistan’s post-Bhutto turmoil is the emergence of another military strongman to replace President Pervez Musharraf. In which case, the name most frequently mentioned in Washington is Musharraf’s recent successor as chief of the country’s powerful army, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani. Unlike the blustering Musharraf, the general waiting in the wings is reclusive and at the same time popular with the army, but the apparent contradictions in his background make him hard to read. Before taking over as army chief from Musharraf, he was […]

BASRA, Iraq — It seemed like such a small thing. Royal Air Force security troops patrolling the outskirts of Basra air station in southern Iraq on Dec. 17 leaped out of their new Mastiff armored trucks in order to scout out a bridge before the lumbering blast-proof vehicles crossed. One of the 34 Squadron troopers noticed something he didn’t recall seeing before: a crack in the concrete near the far side of the bridge. He pointed it out to Flight Lt. Edward Cripps, who eyed the idling Mastiffs, their drivers waiting for the all clear. This is what happens, Cripps […]

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