Tension is escalating along the Turkish-Iraqi border after 17 Turkish soldiers were killed Sunday in an ambush carried out by fighters with the Kurdistan Workers Party. The Turkish government accused the Kurdish militants of crossing the Iraq border into Turkey to carry out the ambush. Ten Turkish troops are still missing in what was the deadliest attack by the PKK in over a decade. It came just days after the Turkish parliament overwhelmingly approved a motion to allow troops to invade northern Iraq. On Sunday, the Turkish government said it is willing to pay whatever price is necessary to protect its unity and citizens. The Iraqi government has urged Turkey to restrain from using force. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the Turkish prime minister and urged him to restrain from taking any action for at least a few days.
In a major speech in Washington, Vice President Dick Cheney issued a new series of warnings to Iran on Sunday over its alleged nuclear program and its involvement in Iraq.
Dick Cheney: “The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences. The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
Vice President Cheney also accused Iran of having a direct role in the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Cheney’s comments came just days after President Bush warned that World War III could begin if Iran obtains the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. Former U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross said Cheney and Bush’s comments mark a significant escalation of rhetoric against Iran.
On the campaign trail, Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton continues to promote a hawkish stance on Iran. In a new article in Foreign Affairs, Clinton writes, “If Iran does not comply with its own commitments and the will of the international community, all options must remain on the table.”
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times of London reports British special forces have crossed into Iran several times in recent months as part of a secret war along the Iran-Iraq border. The paper reported the British troops have targeted members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Al-Quds special forces.
In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has condemned U.S. forces for carrying out a deadly ground and air raid on the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad. According to Iraqi sources, 15 civilians were killed, including three children. Another 69 civilians were wounded. One local resident said some of the casualties were people sleeping on roofs to seek relief from the heat and lack of electricity. The U.S. military has denied any civilians were killed in the pre-dawn raid. In a statement, the Pentagon said U.S. troops had killed 49 militants.
In other news from the Middle East, the Lebanese newspaper Al Safir has revealed the U.S. wants to expand its ties to the Lebanese military by building a string of military bases inside Lebanon. According to the report, the U.S. wants to build three military bases, use two Lebanese naval bases near Tripoli and build three new radar stations. A senior Pentagon official admitted last week the U.S. wants to develop what he called a strategic partnership with the Lebanese army. Vice President Dick Cheney addressed the situation in Lebanon on Sunday.
Dick Cheney: “Through bribery and intimidation, Syria and its agents are attempting to prevent the democratic majority in Lebanon from electing a truly independent president. Lebanon has the right to conduct the upcoming elections free of any foreign interference. The United States will work with free Lebanon’s other friends and allies to preserve Lebanon’s hard-won independence and to defeat the forces of extremism and terror that threaten not only that region, but U.S. countries across the wider region.”
In North Carolina, police arrested seven protesters on Saturday during a demonstration at the headquarters of the private military company Blackwater. The protesters re-enacted the Sept. 16 shooting in Iraq when Blackwater forces opened fire and shot dead 17 Iraqis. Saturday’s demonstration marked the first protest at Blackwater’s headquarters since the company was formed.
President Bush has imposed new sanctions on the Burmese military junta after it crushed a recent series of pro-democracy protests. The sanctions target 12 Burmese businesses and individuals.
President Bush: “This executive order grants the Treasury Department expanded authority to designate for sanctions individuals responsible for human rights abuses, as well as public corruption, and those who provide material and financial backing to these individuals or to the government of Burma.”
The new sanctions do not affect the oil company Chevron or other U.S. corporations that continue to do business inside Burma.
The Bush administration has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit against a subsidiary of Boeing over the company’s role in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. The Justice Department claims state secrets are at stake if the lawsuit goes forward. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen on behalf of five men who were kidnapped by the CIA and secretly flown to secret overseas prisons or other countries to be tortured. The lawsuit accuses Jeppesen of providing direct logistical support for the CIA flights. Steven Watt of the ACLU said: “The government’s invocation of 'state secrets' in this case is just another cynical attempt by the administration to cover up an illegal and immoral program.”
In news from Capitol Hill, Wired.com reports executives from Verizon and AT&T have started pouring political contributions into the coffers of Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. Rockefeller chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Last week, he voted to support giving the telecoms retroactive immunity from lawsuits over the companies’ role in the Bush administration’s secret, warrantless surveillance programs that targeted Americans. In March, top Verizon executives, including CEO Ivan Seidenberg and President Denny Strigl, wrote personal checks to Rockefeller totaling $23,500. AT&T executives have also donated more than $19,000 to Rockefeller since April. Prior to this spring, donations from Verizon and AT&T executives to Rockefeller were almost nonexistent. Both Verizon and AT&T are being sued for allegedly turning over billions of calling records to the government.
In Pakistan, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is calling for international experts to be brought in to investigate Friday’s bombing of her convoy that killed about 140 people. Bhutto’s convoy was attacked just hours after she returned from eight years in exile. It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan’s history. On Sunday, Bhutto spoke out for the first time since the bombing.
Benazir Bhutto: “We want to avoid bloodshed. We want to avoid loss of life. But I also want to say that if it means sacrificing our lives, if it means sacrificing our liberty, to save Pakistan and to save democracy, because we believe democracy alone can save Pakistan from disintegration and a militant takeover, then we are prepared to risk our lives, and we are prepared to risk our liberty. But we are not prepared to surrender our great nation to the militants.”
Bhutto said she believes government officials may have been involved in the attack. She called for the dismissal of the head of one of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and the police chief who is heading the investigation into the bombing.
In Arizona, two newspaper executives from the Phoenix New Times were arrested and jailed Thursday night after they published an article revealing that a grand jury was seeking to subpoena a list of who visited the newspaper’s website. The grand jury was investigating whether the paper violated a state law when it published online the home address of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The subpoena sought the names and Internet addresses of all people who have viewed the paper’s website since 2004. The arrests occurred hours after the paper published an article that called the subpoena a “breathtaking abuse of the United States Constitution.” The executives, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, were arrested on a misdemeanor charge of disclosing grand jury information. If convicted, they could have faced up to six years in prison, but on Saturday the charges were dropped.
In news from Africa, the head of an independent radio station in Somalia was shot dead at his home on Friday. Bashir Nur Gedi is the eighth journalist to be killed in Somalia since the U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion last December.
And the South African reggae star Lucky Dube has been shot dead in an attempted car jacking in Johannesburg. The 43-year-old singer was South Africa’s biggest-selling reggae artist. In 1984, South Africa’s apartheid government banned his record “Rastas Never Die.” Lucky Dube said that at the time the apartheid government viewed his music as a threat.
Lucky Dube: “They didn’t like reggae, period. They just didn’t like reggae, because reggae music became a threat to them, because reggae was talking, even though, say, for instance, with Jamaican reggae, it was talking about things happening in Jamaica, but it was the same things that were happening in South Africa. So, the music became a big threat to the governments.”
On Sunday, police arrested five men in connection with the murder of Lucky Dube.