Headlines from the region

Headlines from the region

Moroccoan al-Qaeda propogandist gets life

A Moroccan man who spread al-Qaeda propaganda from his Quebec apartment and dreamed of blowing himself up in an overseas terrorist attack was sentenced to life in prison yesterday, matching the stiffest penalty yet under Canada’s anti-terrorism law.

Quebec Court Judge Claude Leblond concluded that Said Namouh, 37, had displayed no remorse for his actions and remains a danger to people in Canada and abroad. He described Namouh as a tireless propagandist for the terrorist Global Islamic Media Front and an enthusiastic participant in a suicide attack to be carried out at an undisclosed location in Europe.

Algerian pressure to hurt Orascom

Egypt’s Orascom Telecom could secure $6-7 billion if it chooses to sell its Algerian unit Djezzy, but might have to accept much less if forced out by the government, analysts say.

A senior Algerian government official on Tuesday told Reuters that Algiers wanted the regional operator to leave, further evidence of Algeria’s move to protect local industry to the detriment of international investors.

While cautious on whether the latest comments reflect concrete policy, analysts say they point up the deteriorating ties between the government and Djezzy, which has the largest share of the Algerian market and is Orascom’s single biggest revenue source.

Organic farming on the rise in Tunisia

In the 2009-2014 presidential program, organic farming received particular interest which aimed at doubling the areas dedicated to biological farming, to reach 500,000 hectares in 2014.

In 2009, the production of organic agriculture increased by 200 percent. The average crop production in 2008 reached 170, 000 tons against 30, 000 tons in 2004 and 9,000 tons in 2002. The value of exports reached 64 million dinars, against 3.3 million dinars in 2003. Since 2004, investment in organic agriculture has reached 10 million dinars per year.

Swiss deny Schengen abuse in Libya row

Switzerland’s foreign minister has denied Italian accusations that it broke Schengen zone rules by imposing visa restrictions on Libyan officials, and said Tripoli was to blame for turning the dispute into a Europe-wide problem.

In an interview with La Repubblica newspaper published on Thursday, Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said Switzerland had striven for a diplomatic solution to a long-running row with Tripoli, sparked by the brief arrest of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son in Geneva in 2008.

Peacekeepers injured in Darfur

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on Pakistani peacekeepers in Sudan’s Darfur region on Tuesday, injuring seven, two of them seriously, in the latest in a string of attacks on the force, officials said.

The ambush came just hours after the joint U.N./African Union UNAMID mission took delivery of its first five military helicopters, ending a wait of more than two years for air support in Sudan’s rebellious west.

Syria talks with US official

The highest-ranking American official to visit Syria in five years held talks Wednesday with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, part of an effort by the United States to mend ties with Syria, a country seen as vital to peace in the region. The American official, William J. Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs, said afterward in a statement, “We talked candidly about the areas in which we disagree, but also identified the areas of common ground on which we can build.”