Naming Israelis: The Turkish government has identified more than 140 Israeli soldiers it says took part in the deadly raid on a Turkish aid flotilla to Gaza last year. The newspaper Sabah, which published the names and photos of the Israelis this week, said the government had analyzed all available photographs and films from the raid to identify the soldiers so it can take legal action against them in the International Court of Justice. Israel has refused to apologize for the raid, which killed nine people. The Israeli government did not comment on the list, but Israeli TV reports said it was inaccurate, as it included several people who had left the military long before the May 2010 raid.
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Civil war threatens: The uprising in Syria took an even more violent turn this week when clashes broke out between regime troops and army deserters. U.S. officials estimate that thousands of soldiers have defected or deserted in the face of orders to fire on peaceful protesters. Government forces are believed to have killed more than 2,600 people and arrested tens of thousands since the uprising began, in March. Many of the defectors have joined one of two rival movements, the Free Syrian Army and the Free Officers Movement. Iraqi officials say some militants who came from Syria to fight with Sunni insurgents in Iraq are now returning home to fight against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. “Either the regime will survive with enormous brutality or it will fall to chaos and violence,” said Middle East expert Vali Nasr. “Either way, people are taking to arms.”
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Votes for women: Saudi women have been granted the right to vote, King Abdullah announced this week. Starting in 2015, women will be allowed to vote in municipal elections as well as run for local office. “It is a very, very positive step,” said Samar Fatany, a columnist for Arab News. “It gives us hope, really encourages us to work harder for women.” Women still can’t choose their own clothes, and must be covered head to toe in black and accompanied by a man everywhere they go. They also are barred from driving cars: This week a woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for daring to do so.
President returns: Hopes that President Ali Abdullah Saleh might finally step down sank last week when he returned to Yemen from Saudi Arabia, where he had been recovering from burns he sustained in a bomb attack. In recent months, as an uprising against his rule dragged on, Saleh has repeatedly agreed to leave office, only to renege each time at the last minute. In an address to the nation, Saleh blamed the fighting across the land on “terrorists” and said the tens of thousands of youth activists protesting in the streets for months were being duped by his political rivals. Meanwhile his forces, led by his son, have shot at and bombed peaceful protesters daily, killing more than 150 just this week. Clashes continued between forces loyal to Saleh and several other armed groups, including tribal militias and followers of a general who defected in May.
CIA attacked: In the latest example of tension between U.S. forces and their Afghan allies, an Afghan employee of the U.S. Embassy opened fire at the CIA office in Kabul this week, killing one American and wounding another. Guards at the CIA building mistakenly thought the attack had come from an Afghan army vehicle nearby and fired on it; in the ensuing exchange, one CIA guard and two Afghan soldiers were wounded. The motive for the attack is unknown. No militant group claimed responsibility, and the gunman, who was known to U.S. employees in the compound, was killed. Over the past year, more than 20 coalition troops have been killed by Afghan soldiers or Afghan police. An internal coalition report, leaked to The Wall Street Journal, called such attacks a “rapidly growing systemic threat.”
Subway collision: Some 300 people were hurt this week in a train crash in the Shanghai subway, renewing questions about the quality of China’s rapid transit systems. Officials said a power failure on the brand-new line caused one train to slam into the back of another, crumpling cars in an underground station. The accident came just two months after a deadly collision on a high-speed rail line near Wenzhou killed 40 people and injured hundreds. China has spent billions of dollars over the last decade installing subway systems in dozens of cities and building a national high-speed rail network, but as accidents mount, public anger is growing. “China should be more cautious and concentrated in avoiding risks,” the Communist Party newspaper Global Times said in an editorial.
Women in combat: Female Australian soldiers will be allowed to serve in frontline combat roles, the government said this week. Some 10 percent of Australian troops deployed overseas are women, but they have been restricted from certain combat positions. “In the future, your role in the defense force will be determined on your ability, not on the basis of your sex,” said Defense Minister Stephen Smith. The change comes under the tenure of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the country’s first female leader, and makes Australia the fourth country—after Israel, Canada, and New Zealand—to lift combat restrictions on women in the military.
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