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The week at a glance...International

International

Ankara, Turkey Kurdish spelling allowed: Kurds in Turkey are now allowed to use the letters Q, W, and X—not found in Turkish—to spell their names. The Turkish government this week announced a “democratization package” of reforms that give more rights to Kurds, including the right to use Kurdish spellings of their names and towns on official documents and the right to learn Kurdish in private, but not public, schools. The Islamist-leaning government also lifted the decades-long ban on women’s headscarves in public offices, in what was seen as a step away from Turkey’s rigorous separation of mosque and state. “Turkey is progressing irreversibly toward democracy,” said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “This will not be the last package of such reforms.”

Karaj, Iran Cyberwarfare chief reported killed: The head of Iran’s cyberwarfare program was shot dead last weekend in what looked like a targeted assassination, according to a report in The Telegraph (U.K.). Police said Mojtaba Ahmadi, commander of the Cyber War Headquarters, was shot at close range with a pistol by two men on a motorbike. Several of the five Iranian nuclear scientists killed since 2007 were dispatched by assassins on motorcycles, and the Iranian regime blamed those killings on Israel’s spy agency, the Mossad. Ahmadi is the first cyberintelligence official to meet such a fate. Last week, U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal that Iran had hacked into unclassified Navy computers.

Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan Generals forced out: In a rare punishment, two Marine generals were forced to retire this week for failing to properly prepare for a deadly Taliban attack last year. Maj. Gens. Charles M. Gurganus and Gregg A. Sturdevant were found to have inadequately secured the large military base in Helmand province and will take early retirement. The Taliban ambush killed two Marines—including a colonel who had raised concerns about the base’s security—and blew up six multimillion-dollar fighter jets. The Taliban said they intended to kidnap Britain’s Prince Harry, who was serving at the base during the attack. The last time a U.S. general was sacked for combat incompetence was in 1971.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Driving with ovaries: Saudi religious authorities are resorting to scare tactics to deter women from participating in a driving protest. In a campaign called October 26 Driving, feminists are calling on Saudi women to defy the country’s ban on women driving cars by getting behind the wheel on that day. The government has already shut down the campaign’s website and Facebook page, and this week a prominent cleric warned that driving hurts women’s childbearing prospects. Sheik Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan said that driving “affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upward,” resulting in “children with clinical problems of varying degrees.” Saudi women must shroud their faces and bodies entirely in public and may not travel without a male companion.

Khartoum, Sudan Another Arab Spring? Sudan is being rocked by the worst unrest in the 24-year rule of President Omar al-Bashir. Thousands of impoverished Sudanese took to the streets last week to protest an austerity plan that cut the fuel subsidy and nearly doubled the prices of gasoline and cooking oil. The demonstrators shouted, “The people want the fall of the regime!” and “Freedom! Freedom!” After security forces swept in for a bloody crackdown that killed scores of people, the opposition, long docile, called on its supporters to join the protests and topple the regime.

Nairobi, Kenya Westgate horror stories: Rumors still swirled in Kenya this week over what happened to the hostages and attackers in last month’s Westgate mall siege. A police forensics expert who found some of the bodies told the Nairobi Star that some hostages had been brutally ripped at with pliers and gouged with knives. Others were reportedly raped and beheaded during the three-day siege. Sources told Kenyan media that the military was forced to blow up part of the mall to end the hostages’ suffering. Authorities have so far confirmed 67 deaths in the siege by the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab, which said it was trying to force Kenya to withdraw troops from Somalia. Muslim and Christian clerics held a prayer vigil at the mall this week.

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