News in Brief
- Iraqi weapons 'expert' unmasked as a fraud
By Sadie Gray
Published: 03 November 2007
The Iraqi defector whose claims regarding Saddam
Hussein's biological warfare capabilities were central
to the US government's case for the 2003 invasion,
despite repeated warnings that they were dubious, has
been unmasked by a television documentary.
The informer, codenamed Curveball was Rafid Ahmed
Alwan who, in 1999, turned up at a refugee centre in
Germany seeking political asylum. He went on to
convince the Pentagon he was a brilliant chemist who
had helped develop mobile biological warfare
His role in the build-up to war was exposed in a
detailed investigation by the Los Angeles Times, in
which he was dismissed as an "out-and-out" fabricator
who should have aroused scepticism in the CIA. The LA
Times said Curveball was the brother of a senior aide
to Ahmed Chalabi, then leader of the Iraqi National
Congress, and reported that neither the Pentagon nor
the CIA knew exactly who he was.
But he is named for the first time in an edition of
the US network CBS's documentary 60 Minutes to be
broadcast tomorrow. The report is already on the
programme's web pages. The documentary assumes he is
still living in Germany, under a false name.
Mr Alwan claimed to have been a highly-regarded
chemical engineer working on the production of mobile
biological weapons at a plant in Djerf al-Nadaf.
Curveball's claims were discredited in 2002 by senior
officials in the German intelligence service, the BND,
who wrote to the CIA warning his account was vague,
second-hand and impossible to check. They also thought
he was psychologically unstable.
Gaddafi turns screenwriter for $40m epic about Italian
By Peter Popham in Rome
Published: 03 November 2007
The mercurial dictator of Libya has reinvented himself
yet again. He has been a pariah of the West; a sponsor
of terrorism; the maverick autocrat with his corps of
female bodyguards; the man who comes to Brussels for a
summit, erects his tent and puts his camels out to
graze in the local park.
Thirty years ago with his little Green Book and his
"Third Universal Theory", he proposed himself as the
Mao Zedong of the Middle East, fashioning what he
claimed to be a new ideology from the patriarchal
customs of his clan.
But today Libya is in a different place. The worst of
its diplomatic headaches are behind it Lockerbie
dealt with, the nuclear plants dismantled, the
Bulgarian nurses ransomed and the world is keen to
do business. And now the ruler is trying on a new hat.
Meet Muammar al-Gaddafi: screenwriter.
A series of impressionistic sketches he has written
evoking his country as it was on the eve of invasion
by Italy in September 1911 placid, rustic,
traditional and then as it roused itself to fight to
expel the foreigners, is to become the basis for a
film costing at least $40m (£19.1m) which begins
shooting in Libya next year.
Aimed principally at a non-Arab audience, and entitled
Dhulm Years of Torment, it will tell the story of
Libya's traumatic experience at the hands of Europe's
To the other European powers, it was hard to take
Italy seriously as a colonial force. Its first
adventure, against the supposedly easy target of
Ethiopia, ended in the worst defeat ever suffered by a
European army in Africa. Libya, just across the pond
from Sicily, was thinly defended by a small Turkish
garrison, at a time when the Ottoman Empire was on its
knees. It was expected to be a pushover.
Instead, after quick early success, Italy found itself
embroiled in an insurgency that dragged on for the
next 20 years. The Libyans became the first people in
the world to know the terror of air bombing, among the
first to be gassed from the skies, and were early
guinea pigs for the concentration-camp concept. Unable
to break their spirit, Italy resorted to driving them
across the border into Egypt and Chad. Ramzi Rassi,
the Lebanese producer of the new film, says that by
the time the Italians fled home in 1943, one-third of
the Libyan population had been killed and one-third
forced into exile.
In his treatment for the film, Gaddafi describes the
beauty of his land before the coming of the new
Romans. "Tripoli ... a string of white buildings
painted with the local lime ... Behind it stretches
the deep blue sea, its light waves shimmering, and
much clearer in the distance the wide open horizon..."
Seen from the other side of the Mediterranean it all
looked so different. For Italy, unified for a bare
half century, the invasion of the Ottoman province of
Tripolitana e Cirenaica was a chance to prove its
worth as a martial country. "The great proletarian
nation has stirred!" declared Giovanni Pascoli, the
Italian poet, as the invasion got under way.
Dhulm ("injustice" in Arabic), will tell the story of
the invasion and the long Libyan resistance through
the eyes of those who experienced it, based on real
people. One of the main characters is an extraordinary
journalist called Francis McCullagh from Dungannon in
Co Tyrone, who really deserves a biopic all to
himself. In October 1911, his zest for action unsated,
he crossed the Mediterranean with the invading
Italians. "He came over with the invasion force," says
Mr Rassi, "and later wrote a book about the invasion
almost in the form of a script. He is one of the
characters in the film, as an eye-witness of what
Ethnic divisions threaten Bosnia again as Prime
Minister quits over 'interference'
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic in Belgrade
Published: 02 November 2007
The Prime Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina resigned
yesterday, claiming that interference from the
international community had made his job impossible.
The exit of Nikola Spiric, a Bosnian Serb, plunged the
ethnically divided state into its worst crisis since
the war ended in 1995. "For 12 years, foreigners have
run this country and this is not good," Mr Spiric
said. "I resign and this is the only right decision."
Mr Spiric's departure comes after Miroslav Lajcak, the
High Representative to Bosnia appointed by the United
Nations and the European Union, introduced measures
aimed at improving the efficiency of Bosnia's
government. Mr Lajcak, a Slovak diplomat, reduced the
number of ministers needed to be present to pass laws,
preventing any one ethnic group from creating a
deadlock by walking out. He called Mr Spiric's
resignation "too emotional" and "completely
The arrival of Mr Lajcak was intended to help Bosnia
achieve its long-term goal of joining the EU by
speeding up the decision-making process in the
country's often fractious central government. Instead
of consensus, Mr Lajcak introduced the simple majority
principle, which was fiercely opposed by Bosnian
Serbs. They fear they will lose influence to the
country's other ethnic groups and their
semi-autonomous mini-state within Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The crippling legislative system was established in
1995 by the Dayton Peace accord, which ended three
years of war between the Bosnian Muslims, Croats and
Serbs in Bosnia. The agreement divided the country
into two mini-states a Bosnian-Croat Federation and
a Serb Republic each with their own police,
judiciary, parliaments and governments. In an attempt
to unite the two factions into one state, centralised
institutions and a rotating, three-person presidency
were grafted on top. However, deep ethnic rivalries
have impeded the work of central government ever since
and no international effort has been able to glue the
Indian Islamic group attacks BBC film for Bin Laden
A BBC documentary shown last night came under attack
from one of India's largest Islamic groups for linking
their movement to Osama bin Laden and "extremist"
Muslim groups around the world.
The Deoband school, whose main madrassa Darul Uloom
(House of Knowledge) lies 90 miles north-east of
Delhi, said it had allowed a television crew making a
three-part documentary called Clash of Worlds into its
grounds to explain its "message of peace and historic
role in Indian affairs".
The seminary is a global centre of Muslim learning
with 15,000 schools worldwide adopting its sparse and
dogmatic version of Islam. One report last month said
almost 600 of Britain's nearly 1,400 mosques are run
by Deobandi-affiliated clerics.
However, Muslim scholars in Delhi became alarmed to
hear the programme's presenters talk of their part in
the anti-British uprising in the nineteenth century
being similar to "the role played by Osama bin Laden
today". Mohammad Anwer, a spokesman for the Deoband
school, said he had protested to the film's producers
about the link with Bin Laden and "many other
mistakes". "We protested at the time but it made no
difference. We do not advocate violence nor are we
asking others to do violence," said Mr Anwer.
Suicide or murder? Iran blames US after 152 dolphins
When 152 dolphins were washed up on Iran's southern
coast mass suicide was blamed. Then suspicion was
shifted to fishermen, who were said to have beaten the
dolphins with grappling irons after they became
entangled in fishing nets.
But now a more familiar target has been accused: the
US military and its hi-tech hardware and spying
equipment. Rejecting suggestions that his employees
may have committed a mass cull, the head of Iran's
state-run fisheries organisation, Sha'aban-Ali Nezami,
has alleged that the dolphins were victims of
experimental US surveillance techniques. He has also
said they could have been killed by electro-magnetic
waves from military vessels in the Gulf and Oman Sea,
where the US and British navies conduct regular
Some 73 dolphins were found washed up on the beach
near the southern port of Jask last week. A month
earlier 79 striped dolphins were discovered in the
same area, which is rich in tuna and a site of
Distressing pictures of rows of dead dolphins have
appeared in the Iranian media, alongside reports that
they had "committed suicide".
Only Christian TV station in Holy Land closes
The only Christian television station in the Holy Land
has closed after 11 years because of a lack of
Nativity television, or al-Mahed as it was known in
Arabic, broadcast a mix of church services, films and
discussion programmes 24 hours a day from a small
studio in Bethlehem, not far from the Church of the
Samir Qumsieh, the Greek Orthodox owner and director
of the channel, said it had lost around $800,000, half
of which were his own personal debts. "I have hundreds
of letters thanking me and gratitude shields thanking
us from all the churches but nobody translated this
into financial support," he said. The station closed
"I reached the point where I couldn't continue any
more," he said.
The channel broadcast mostly in Arabic, and Mr Qumsieh
said he sometimes had Muslims and Jews phoning in to
talk on discussion programmes.
- Allah's name in Kashmir Sky
West Embraces "Sham" Democracies
CAIRO Europe and the United States increasingly
tolerate autocrats posing as democrats in countries
such as Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria and Russia out of
pure self-interest, Human Rights Watch said on
Thursday, January 31.
"It's now too easy for autocrats to get away with
mounting a sham democracy," Kenneth Roth, the HRW
executive director, said in a press release.
"By allowing autocrats to pose as democrats, without
demanding they uphold the civil and political rights
that make democracy meaningful, the US, the EU and
other influential democracies risk undermining human
The watchdog's World Report 2008 said the US and
Europe do not press governments on the key human
rights issues that make democracy function such as a
free press, peaceful assembly and a functioning civil
It separately reviewed rights situations in more than
75 countries, identifying many troubling cases such as
atrocities in Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic
of Congo, Ethiopia's Ogaden region, Iraq, Somalia, Sri
Lanka, and Sudan's Darfur region.
The report voiced concern at closed societies or
severe repression in Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea,
Libya, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.
It accused the Bush administration of failing to push
for all governments to respect human rights.
"The Bush administration has spoken of its commitment
to democracy abroad but often kept silent about the
need for all governments to respect human rights."
In 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, Bush
advocated democracy in the Middle East in a series of
bold statements and speeches.
But the reform tone died down as Washington was
getting deeper and deeper into the Iraq quagmire,
needing the help of repressive regimes in the region.
In 2005, Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
again played the democracy tune, vowing support for
"the democratic aspirations of all people."
Little has changed since then.
Israeli Embassy in Mauritania Attacked
NOUAKCHOTT Gunmen opened fire on the Israeli embassy
in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott early Friday,
February 1, wounding five people, amid growing public
anger at the stifling Israeli blockade of the Gaza
"At 2:20 this morning, there was shooting at the
Israeli embassy in Nouakchott," Israeli ambassador
Boaz Bismuth told Reuters.
"It only happened a few hours ago, but a shooting on a
foreign embassy is a very serious incident."
Bismuth said all the embassy staff, Israeli and
Mauritanian, are safe.
Witnesses said six men wearing boubous long flowing
African gowns and turbans got out of a vehicle and
walked towards a restaurant near the embassy.
After a few minutes "they said loudly in Arabic 'let's
go' then shouted 'Allah Akbar' (God is Greatest) and
opened fire" at the embassy, said one witness, who was
at the restaurant when the attack took place.
Footage showed the embassy undamaged, but there were
three bullet holes in the windscreen of a vehicle
The gunmen also sprayed bullets at a nightclub about
50 meters (yards) from the embassy on the same street.
Five people, including a French woman, were injured in
the two attacks.
Friday's attack also came just weeks after the 2008
Lisbon-Dakar rally, which was due to have passed
through Mauritania, was cancelled due to a security
alarm caused by two December attacks claimed by
Al-Qaeda's North African branch claimed responsibility
for the killings last month of a number of Mauritanian
soldiers and four French tourists.
The attack comes as pressure increases within
Mauritania against the presence of an Israeli embassy
The president of the national assembly, Messaoud Ould
Boulkheir, called Sunday for the country to
"reconsider" its "shameful" relations with Tel Aviv
following its blockade of the Gaza Strip.
It was up to parliamentary "deputies and the
Mauritanian people to urge the government to
reconsider the shameful ties with an entity that kills
our brothers, occupies their land and keeps them under
the blockade," Ould Boulkheir told the National
Assembly earlier this week.
"Gaza is aching at the massacres of its sons and at
the blockade," he told the opening of a special
parliamentary session, referring to Israel's total
lockdown since January 17 of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Ould Boulkheir, who is constitutionally the most
powerful man in the west African country after the
head of state and Senate president, became the first
senior politician publicly and officially to question
relations established with Israel in 1999, under the
regime of Maaouiya Ould Taya.
The speaker is the leader of the Progressive Popular
Alliance, now in power, which has always called for
Mauritania to break off those ties sealed with the
Hebrew state, in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Domestically, the government of President Sidi Ould
Cheikh Abdallahi has pursued a policy of freeing up
the press and working for reconcilation among the
traditional rulers and the black African population.
Last week, leaders of parties in an increasingly
active opposition and some allied with the government
sent a letter to Abdallahi calling on him to sever
relations with Israel.
US Army Suicides Spike
WASHINGTON The number of US army soldiers committing
suicides after deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan
continued to spike in 2007, hitting levels not seen in
more than a quarter century, army data has shown.
"We are perturbed by the rise despite all of our
efforts," Colonel Elsbeth Ritchie, psychiatric
consultant to the army's surgeon general, told Agence
Ritchie was part of a team that reviewed suicide
prevention efforts in Iraq in October after Lieutenant
General Raymond Odierno raised concerned about
suicides among deployed soldiers.
Data released by the army Thursday, January 31, show
the numbers of suicides and attempted suicides spiked
in 2007 with 89 confirmed suicides and another 32
deaths awaiting confirmation as suicides.
In 2006, 102 active duty soldiers committed suicide,
almost double the number in 2001.
According to the figures, more than 2,000 soldiers
tried to take their own lives or injure themselves in
2006, compared to about 375 in 2002.
Most suicides are young males between the ages of 18
and 24, but the army experts are also starting to see
higher numbers of suicides among older soldiers and
Ritchie said 11 female soldiers killed themselves in
2006. "That's the highest number of females we've ever
seen," she said.
Conflict spells disaster for whole of East Africa
Kenya's political meltdown is threatening its economic
lifeline to Somalia and other neighbouring countries
and disrupting the supply of desperately needed relief
The economies of landlocked states such as Uganda,
Rwanda and Burundi, which rely on Kenya's trade links
via its Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, are already
being hit by the effects of the unrest.
Goods are piling up in Mombasa amid fears of blockages
along the main road to Nairobi. Other arteries
including the roads from the capital to the western
city of Kisumu and the highway between Nakuru and
Eldoret have also been blocked. Guillermo Bettocci,
the Somalia representative of the UN High Commissioner
for Refugees, expressed concern about the cancellation
of flights at Nairobi airport, which is used to fly
out supplies to Somalia.
He described the situation in Somalia, where fierce
fighting has resumed between Islamic fighters and
Ethiopian forces sent to prop up a transitional
government, as "the world's worst humanitarian
disaster" which he said had now overtaken Darfur in
terms of a humanitarian emergency. A total of one
million people have been displaced inside Somalia by
the conflict, including 250,000 in Mogadishu alone.
One of Bin Laden's top six aides is killed in
suspected US strike
· Abu al-Libi dies in attack on Pakistan compound
· Leader of Afghan militants targeted Cheney last year
senior al-Qaida figure in Afghanistan, described by
Western officials as one of Osama bin Laden's top six
lieutenants, has been killed, it was reported
Abu Laith al-Libi was "martyred along with a group of
his brothers on the territory of Islamic Pakistan"
according to a statement on Ikhlaas.org, a website
that often posts communiques from Islamists in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
Libi's death may be linked to what is suspected to be
a US missile strike in Pakistan's North Waziristan
region earlier this week, in which 12 people - several
Arabs and central Asians, as well as local Taliban
members - are believed to have died. Locals told
reporters that they heard US Predator drones flying in
the area shortly before the explosion at a compound,
and a Pakistani daily newspaper, The News, reported
that the attack was targeted at Libi and another
senior figure, Obaidah al Masri.
Pakistani officials said they had "no information"
indicating that Libi was dead, but the Associated
Press quoted a "knowledgeable western official"
confirming the death: "It appears that Al-Libi has met
Letters: British Muslims
Muslims should not be surprised at backlash against
Robert Fisk: The curious case of the forged biography
When Robert Fisk heard that his life of Saddam Hussein
was selling well, one thing bothered him: he had never
written one. His investigation took him to the
murkiest corners of Cairo
It arrived for me in Beirut under plain cover, a brown
envelope containing a small, glossy paperback in
Arabic, accompanied by a note from an Egyptian friend.
"Robert!" it began. "Did you really write this?"
The front cover bore a photograph of Saddam Hussein in
the dock in Baghdad, the left side of his head in
colour, the right side bleached out, wearing a black
sports jacket but with no tie, holding a Koran in his
right hand. "Saddam Hussein," the cover said in huge
letters. "From Birth to Martyrdom." And then there was
the author's name in beautiful, calligraphic
typeface and in gold in the top, right-hand corner.
"By Robert Fisk."
So there it was, 272 paperback pages on the life and
times of the Hitler of Baghdad and selling very well
in the Egyptian capital. "We all suspect a well-known
man here," she added. "His name is Magdi Chukri."
Needless to say, I noticed one or two problems with
this book. It took a very lenient view of the
brutality of Saddam, it didn't seem to care much about
the gassed civilians of Halabja and it was full of
the kind of purple passages which I loathe. "After the
American rejection of the Iraqi weapons report to the
UN," 'Robert Fisk' wrote, "the beating of war drums
turned into a cacophony..."
Danish library plans to house cartoons of prophet
· Controversial works will be secure, says spokeswoman
· Muslim society vows to ignore 'provocation'
Wednesday January 30, 2008
Denmark's national library is to risk re-opening an
international political storm by housing the cartoon
images of the prophet Muhammad that provoked violent
convulsions throughout the Islamic world two years
The royal library in Copenhagen - founded in the 17th
century by King Frederik III and home to many historic
treasures - has declared the drawings to be of
historic value and is trying to acquire them for
The library, widely acknowledged as the most
significant in Scandinavia, has agreed to take
possession of the caricatures on behalf of the museum
of Danish cartoon art, a spokesman told the Art
UK lacks counter-terror policy, says Musharraf
· Pakistani president hits back at British critics
· Your Islamist militants are home-grown, Brown told
Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, claimed
yesterday that Britain lacked a long-term
counter-terrorist strategy and argued that Islamist
extremism was a home-grown problem for Britain rather
than his country's responsibility.
Speaking before meeting Gordon Brown in Downing
Street, and in response to persistent British
criticism of his record on counter-terrorism,
Musharraf set out the shortcomings he sees in the UK's
efforts to deal with militant young Muslims, pointing
out that all the July 7 2005 bombers were born in the
"We have adopted a five-point strategy. You need to
adopt a similar strategy to curb this kind of tendency
in youngsters, who tend to become terrorists, because
merely getting hold of them and punishing them legally
does not solve the problem or get to the root of the
problem," he said.
He listed the five elements of Pakistan's
counter-terrorist strategy: curbing the propagation of
extremism in mosques; restricting the publication of
extremist literature; banning extremist organisations;
stopping the teaching of militant Islam in schools;
and bringing madrasas (religious schools) into the
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Why is racial abuse now
On the day my beloved son was born at the John
Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, Margaret Thatcher gave a
speech on how her kith and kin felt rather "swamped"
by alien cultures and peoples. My child was branded
rejected, I felt as he took his first breath. I
never forgave the Iron Lady for inciting animosity
This Wednesday the boy, now a barrister, turns 30. His
Britain is dynamic, diverse and in spite of old and
new fissures remarkably at ease with itself, as is
he. Though discrimination blocks talent and top jobs
still go to white, clubbable chaps, opportunities have
been prised open and a meritocracy operates in many
professions. There is nowhere else I would choose to
And yet, and yet, I see a return to some of the
attitudes personified by Thatcher and Enoch Powell,
cultural protectionists who wanted England to be their
England and only theirs once again. There are also
ominous signs that racial intolerance is breaking out,
even among the usually civil middle classes. It is
hugely upsetting that we blacks and Asians
increasingly experience spit-in-your-face racism, even
in London, the city made by strangers.
Last Monday, I was speaking at an Evening
Standard/YouGovStone public debate on what we wanted
from the London Mayor. We were at Cadogan Hall in
smart Sloane Square. The audience many well-heeled
was lively and keen, a good sign of political
engagement. Such debates can get fiery and that makes
them real and exciting. Other panellists were Michael
Eboda, the ex-editor of The Voice newspaper, the
prolific and weighty columnist Simon Jenkins, and
Boris Johnson. All went spiffingly well until I said
we needed time-limited, affirmative action in
recruitment and promotion for key institutions such as
the police forces.
In Northern Ireland, affirmative action has
transformed the police force so it reflects the
Catholic/Protestant population. Mr Eboda then directly
interrogated Mr Johnson on some of his insulting
assertions about black people. The Tory MP first
huffed and puffed and then blew out a timid apology.
Neither Mr Eboda nor I were rude or aggressive, yet we
seemed to stir some pretty revolting feelings in a
number of ladies and gents attending. There was much
unruly shouting. I was called a "cunt" and told to go
back to Uganda. Mr Eboda was also racially abused, as
was anybody else, black and white, who stood up to the
posh hooligans. Members of the Black Police Federation
later told me they were actually afraid of the mob
malevolence. Five years ago, few readers resorted to
ugly, racist abuse. Now hundreds mug me via email.
Talk to Al-Qaeda: French Expert
PARIS A French expert in terrorism and Islamic
militancy is calling for a dialogue with Osama bin
Laden's Al-Qaeda organization to refute its
"unrealistic" ideologies as the security option has
proved a "fiasco."
"In talking to Al-Qaeda and its leaders, I'm sure we
are able to counter their ideology with facts on the
ground," Anne Giudicelli told IslamOnline.net in an
"This will be the first step to face Al-Qaeda."
Giudicelli, a former anti-terror adviser to the French
Foreign Ministry, said a quite dialogue with Al-Qaeda
leaders could help convince them that their ideas,
like enforcing Shari`ah in European societies, simply
do not work.
"An in-depth dialogue will enable us convince Al-Qaeda
leaders that their ideology is inapplicable and
Giudicelli regretted European rejection of bin Laden's
truce offer in 2004 in the aftermath of the deadly
Madrid bombings claimed by his network.
Artificial Life Under Fire
WASHINGTON An announcement by controversial US
scientist Craig Venter of taking a major step toward
creating the first ever artificial life form by
synthetically reproducing the DNA of a bacteria has
aroused heated scientific debate over the ethics of
the lab trial and its success rates.
"Venter is not God," Helen Wallace, a biologist and
spokeswoman for GeneWatch UK, told Agence
Hamilton Smith, from the J.Craig Venter Institute, in
the study published Thursday in Science magazine, that
through a five-year research effort showed that
building large genomes is now feasible so that
important applications such as biofuels can be
The move is seen as the penultimate stage in the
endeavor to create an artificial life in the form of a
bacteria based entirely on a man-made DNA genome.
The research has been carried out at the laboratories
of Venter, who has hailed artificial life forms as a
potential remedy to illness and global warming.
The chromosome which Venter and his team has created
is known as Mycoplasma laboratorium and, in the final
step of the process, will be transplanted into a
living cell where it should "take control,"
effectively becoming a new life form.
The bacteria, which causes certain sexually
transmitted diseases, has one of the least complex DNA
structures of any life form, composed of just 580
genes. In contrast, the human genome has some 30,000.
Beirut Blast Kills Senior Officer
BEIRUT A senior intelligence officer was killed with
three other people in a car bombing in the Lebanese
capital, Beirut, on Friday, January 25, in the second
bombing targeting an official at the security and
military establishments in as many as days.
"Captain Wissam Eid, a member of the Internal Security
Forces, and his bodyguard were killed in the blast," a
security official told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Desert state channels oil wealth into world's first
Lord Foster designs car-free, solar-powered project
for 50,000 people
In an expanse of grey rock and dust in one of the
harshest environments on earth, the United Arab
Emirates is about to build what is being described as
the world's first sustainable city, designed by
British architect Lord Foster.
The site is far from promising. Miles from a polluted
sea, a fierce sun raises temperatures to 50C (120F) in
the summer, and there is no fresh water, no soil and
no animals. But tens of billions of petro-dollars will
be poured into these seven square kilometres of desert
on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.
Called Masdar - "the source" in Arabic - the walled
city is intended to house 50,000 people and 1,500
businesses. It will have no cars and be
self-sufficient in renewable energy, the majority of
which will be solar energy.
The formal unveiling of the desert eco-city will be
made today at a summit on future energy sources in Abu
Dhabi, attended by the UK business secretary, John
Hutton, and Prince Andrew.
"It's extremely ambitious," said Gerard Evenden,
senior partner in Lord Foster's architecture practice
in London, which has had a team working on the design
for nine months. "We were invited to design a
zero-carbon city. In this harsh place we needed to
look back at history and see how ancient settlements
had adapted to their environments." The buildings will
huddle together as in a casbah, and will be cooled by
wind towers which will collect the desert's breezes
and flush out hot air. No building will be more than
five storeys high; the city is to be oriented
north-east to south-west to give the optimum balance
of sunlight and shade.
'To impose democracy from outside is inherently
Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, tells Simon
Tisdall in a rare interview that western policy in the
region is ill-informed and at times arrogant
Western countries should stop trying to browbeat
Kenya's warring political leaders into submission and
do more in practical terms to prevent poverty, lack of
opportunity, and Islamist terrorism from further
destabilising the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia's prime
minister, Meles Zenawi, has told the Guardian.
"The threat of western sanctions as a response to the
current crisis in Kenya is very, very misguided,"
Meles said. "If it is presumed that the Kenyans will
democratise in order to eat the peanuts of development
assistance from the European Union, for example, it
would be a big mistake."
Placing pressure on resources to influence the
post-election process, which has degenerated into
violence amid claims of government-engineered fraud,
would not work and could be counter-productive, he
"What it does do is give the impression that Africans
democratise in response to development assistance and
all you have to do is close the taps and they will sit
up and behave like proper schoolchildren. That is very
unfortunate and quite demeaning."