Jul. 27th, 2006

rfmcdonald: (Default)
Israel 9, Hezbollah 0. From The Globe and Mail:

Defence officials were still awaiting confirmation Thursday that a Canadian peacekeeper classified as missing and presumed dead was killed in fatal bombing of a UN observation post in Lebanon.

A spokeswoman for National Defence in Ottawa said there had been no further word on Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener early Thursday.

Major Hess-von Kruedener, who was serving with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, is believed to be one of four UN peacekeepers killed when a bomb hit their post in the town of Khiyam, near the eastern end of Lebanon's border with Israel.

Ottawa has only said that Major Hess-von Kruedener is considered missing and presumed dead. Officials would not say Thursday how long it would take to conclude the investigation.

The incident — which also claimed the lives of UN observers from Finland, China and Austria — sparked rage around the globe, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying he wants explanations from both the UN and the Israeli government about the circumstances surrounding the “terrible tragedy.”

Mr. Harper, who spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday afternoon, has offered no condemnation of that government but has questioned why the UN post was still being manned despite the dangerous circumstances.

The Israeli Prime Minister has offered his country's “regret” over what was called the “unintentional killing” of the UN observers.

Liberal Leader Bill Graham criticized Mr. Harper's reaction as “completely unacceptable” arguing that Canada has been part of UN missions for decades.

The question of the degree of responsibility Israel bears for this is seems to be centered on the question of whether or not Hezbollah was, in fact, operating rocket launchers near the now-demolished UN base.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
Via Islam Online:

There has been serious talk among Iraqi leaders to divide Baghdad into Shiite and Sunni zones in the east and the west to stop sectarian bloodshed and head off a bloody civil war across the country despite appearing in public committed to national unity under the coalition of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, Iraqi officials told Reuters Friday, July 21.

"Iraq as a political project is finished," one senior government official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity.

"The parties have moved to Plan B," he said, saying Sunni, ethnic Kurdish and majority Shiite blocs were looking at ways to divide power and resources and to solve the conundrum of Baghdad's mixed population of seven million.

"There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into east and west," he said. "We are extremely worried."

One highly placed source even spoke of busying himself on government projects, despite a sense of their futility, only as a way to fight his growing depression over his nation's future.

Sectarian violence has mounted to claim perhaps 100 lives a day and tens of thousands flee their homes.

[. . .]

On the eve of the first meeting of a National Reconciliation Commission and before Maliki meets President George W. Bush in Washington next week, other senior politicians also said they were close to giving up on hopes of preserving the 80-year-old, multi-ethnic, religiously mixed state in its present form.

"The situation is terrifying and black," said Rida Jawad Al -Takki, a senior member of parliament from Maliki's dominant Shiite Alliance bloc, and one of the few officials from all the main factions willing to speak publicly on the issue.

"We have received information of a plan to divide Baghdad. The government is incapable of solving the situation," he said.

A senior official from the once dominant Sunni minority concurred: "Everyone knows the situation is very bad," he said. "I'm not optimistic."

Some Western diplomats in Baghdad say there is little sign the new government is capable of halting a slide to civil war.

"Maliki and some others seem to be genuinely trying to make this work," one said. "But it doesn't look like they have real support. The factions are looking out for their own interests."

Pundits told Reuters that broadly speaking Iraq could split in three: a Shiite south, Kurdish north and Sunni Arab west. But there could be fierce fighting between Arabs and Kurds for Mosul and for Kirkuk's oil as well as urban war in Baghdad, resembling Beirut in the 1970s.

An observation: Why is it that global metropolises with names beginning with the letter "b"--Berlin, Beirut, now Baghdad--always get so thoroughly screwed over by foreign-accentuated divisions? I suppose that Indians should be pleased that their country's most populous city is now called Mumbai.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
The $7.25 all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at Natarãj Indian Cuisine, located in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood west of Spadina, is a rather good deal indeed. Nice mango lassis, too.
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