Headlines from the region

Headlines from the region

Children of Moroccan Olympian not abducted

The children of a Moroccan Olympic champion say they fled from his house and were smuggled out of the country with the help of Norwegian diplomats.

The case has sparked an international row, with Morocco demanding that Norway put its diplomats on trial.

The children of Khalid Skah, who won the 10,000m gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, have gone on Norwegian TV to say they left of their own free will.

Algeria threatens Washington

After a determined battle to free itself of over a decade of terrorist violence that rocked the northern African nation, Algeria has re-emerged on the state sponsors of terrorism list established by the United States and France.

For the Algerian government the application of the diplomatic “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” retaliatory principles cannot be ruled out. Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, Algerian Minister of Interior and Local Government, Tuesday expressed his assent for reciprocity in the columns of the Algerian French-language journal, L’Expression. “Yes, if really necessary, we will apply these measures.”

Tunisia considers alternative to mandatory military

A draft bill that would allow university graduates to perform their mandatory military service in public administration offices is earning mixed reviews from ordinary Tunisians and some legislators.

Under the proposed measure, young graduates would be paid to work for a minimum of one year in offices linked to their specializations, ANSA reported on January 25th. Tunisian authorities are preparing to present the legislation, which aims to cut the unemployment rate and make national service more palatable, to the Chamber of Deputies and Chamber of Councillors.

Somali pirates take Libya ship

Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden have hijacked a Libyan-owned cargo ship thought to be carrying 17 seafarers from Romania and Libya, a European Union anti-piracy force and a maritime group said on Thursday.

The number of piracy attacks worldwide leapt almost 40 percent last year, with gunmen from the failed Horn of Africa state accounting for more than half the 406 reported incidents, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Groups welcome genocide appeal for Sudan’s Bashir

Reactions to Wednesday’s International Criminal Court (ICC) appeal of genocide charges against Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir range from a broadside against the U.S. government by Sudan’s foreign ministry, to measured comments from members of the American anti-genocide community.

In Khartoum, foreign ministry spokesman Ambassador Mu’awiya Uthman Khalid blamed Washington for slowing the peace process by sending “negative signals at all times.” He singled out the Save Darfur alliance of American anti-genocide organizations, which he accused of directly hampering the peace process.

Syria to get first US envoy since 2005

The United States has submitted to Damascus the name of its proposed new ambassador to Syria, the first in since 2005, the country’s foreign minister said. Washington withdrew its last ambassador in 2005 after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon, for which many blamed Syria. Syria has denied involvement. Arabic news media have reported that Robert Ford, who is serving his second term in the American Embassy in Iraq, has been nominated for the job.

French want strong Iran sanctions

France will press for “strong sanctions” against Iran at the United Nations with time running out for a political solution to the standoff over its nuclear ambitions, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Wednesday.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Tehran is ready to send its enriched uranium abroad in exchange for more highly enriched fuel to produce medical isotopes.