World Scene – 01/19/10

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on January 19, 2010

(from, from wire dispatches and Washington Times staff reports) World Scene 

IRAQ – ‘Chemical Ali’ to hang for ’88 gas attack

BAGHDAD | Saddam Hussein’s notorious cousin “Chemical Ali” was convicted Sunday and sentenced to hang for ordering the most infamous of his crimes, the 1988 attacks against the Kurdish town of Halabja that killed more than 5,000 people in clouds of poisonous gas.

This was the fourth death sentence against Ali Hassan al-Majid for crimes against humanity. His previous sentences have not been carried out in part because Halabja survivors wanted to have their case against him heard. Politics also plays a role, with a three-member presidential council representing Iraq’s leading factions of Shi’ites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds unable to agree to sign off on an earlier execution order.

Another senior figure in Saddam’s regime, former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, suffered a severe stroke over the weekend and cannot speak, his son said Sunday from neighboring Jordan. Aziz was for years the chief diplomat of Saddam’s regime. He was convicted and sentenced to prison for his involvement in the forced displacement of Kurds in northern Iraq and the deaths of Baghdad merchants in the 1990s.

AFGHANISTAN – Holbrooke: Video shows militant links

KABUL | A video of a Pakistani Taliban leader with the bomber who killed CIA agents in Afghanistan could indicate cross-border links between Afghan, Pakistani and al Qaeda militants, the U.S. regional envoy said on Sunday.

Special Representative Richard Holbrooke told Reuters news agency in an interview in Kabul that “shadowy but unmistakable” links between groups exposed by the video helped explain why the United States and its allies were fighting in Afghanistan.

The video released this month showed the Jordanian suicide bomber posing with Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, before carrying out the Dec. 30 attack which killed seven CIA employees, the deadliest strike on the agency in decades.

SOMALIA – Ransom paid for oil tanker

MOGADISHU | The largest ransom ever paid to Somali pirates was dropped Sunday onto a Greek-flagged oil tanker with 2 million barrels of oil on board, pirates and maritime officials said.

An aircraft dropped a ransom thought to be between $5.5 million and $7 million for the release of the tanker which was hijacked near the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles, the officials said.

The Maran Centaurus was seized on Nov. 29 with nine Greeks, two Ukrainians, one Romanian and 16 Filipinos on board and the ransom dwarfs amounts paid previously for vessels held captive by Somali sea gangs.

The tanker has yet to be freed as a dispute between rival pirate gangs over the spoils means the recipients are wary of returning to the coastal haven of Haradheere with their booty. A $3 million ransom was paid for the release of another oil tanker, the Sirius Star, in January 2009.

CHILE – Rightist billionaire wins presidential vote

SANTIAGO | Conservative billionaire Sebastian Pinera won Chile’s presidential election Sunday, ending two decades of center-left rule in Latin America’s most stable economy.

With ballots counted at 60.3 percent of polling stations, Mr. Pinera had 51.87 percent of the vote and his leftist rival, former President Eduardo Frei, quickly conceded defeat.

The victory by Mr. Pinera, 60, a Harvard-educated airline magnate, marks a shift to the right in South America, a region dominated by leftist rulers from Venezuela to Argentina, although no major changes to economic policy are expected.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Israel sends official to conference

DUBAI | Israel for the first time sent a Cabinet minister to the United Arab Emirates, a small Gulf country with which it doesn’t have relations, to attend a conference on alternative energy.

National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau told the Associated Press Sunday he did not meet with any Emirati officials while attending a conference of the International Renewable Energy Agency, based in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi. The agency’s activities are open to Israel because it is a member state.

Mr. Landau said the Israeli delegation entered the country after “special arrangements” were made.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports


NOTE: The World Scene above was published at on Monday, Jan. 18, 2010.

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