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Kyrgyzstan – ‘At least 142 arrested’ in Kyrgyzstan protests

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Kyrgyzstan – ‘At least 142 arrested’ in Kyrgyzstan protests

Kyrgyzstan‘s opposition said at least 142 demonstrators were arrested on Wednesday at protests in and around Bishkek, the capital of the volatile Central Asian country.

An opposition spokesman said that 80 people were arrested at a march from a Bishkek automobile market to the presidential palace, while 42 people were arrested at a separate march on the palace from a livestock market.

In addition, 20 opposition supporters were arrested in the village of Besh-Kungei outside Bishek, said the spokesman, Ulan Manayev. The protestors had organised various protests in and around the capital in a bid to thwart a police crackdown.

They had hoped to march on the presidential palace to protest alleged fraud in last week’s presidential election, which ended in a landslide victory by incumbent Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Meanwhile the opposition said other protests were taking place throughout the country: “They are also arresting our people in the regions,” Manayev said. Initial reports said that 200 people were arrested in the march from the automobile market to the presidential palace, but the opposition later said that the number was much lower.

Many people in the 200-strong crowd turned out to be plainclothes police masquerading as demonstrators, while some of the protestors there managed to flee, Manayev said.

Manayev initially said 42 people were arrested in the march leaving from the automobile market, but then clarified that 80 were arrested there and that the figure of 42 applied to the march from the livestock market.

The protestors were supporters of main opposition candidate Almazbek Atambayev, who has denounced last Thursday’s election as illegitimate.

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UK’s Brown calls on Afghan army to pull its weight

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UK’s Brown calls on Afghan army to pull its weight

LONDON – Afghanistan needs to do far more to make its troops available on the ground if a U.S.-British offensive to secure territory ahead of elections is to succeed, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Thursday.

Answering questions before a parliamentary committee, Brown repeatedly made the point that he did not think Afghanistan was pulling its weight and said he had spoken to President Hamid Karzai to try to address the situation.

Karzai told Brown this week he would increase the number, but did not say when or by how many.

“I’m very clear that the Afghan army has got to do more,” Brown said, arguing that any strategy to clear and hold large swathes of territory in the south ahead of a presidential election in August would hinge on Afghan forces.

“I’m very clear that where we are in Helmand, we need the complement of more Afghan troops and police. And I’m also clear that we have a role to play, and it will be a continuing role after the election, for some of our troops to mentor and train the Afghan security forces.”

He said Britain, which has about 9,000 troops in Helmand, having boosted the number for a pre-election offensive, would review its numbers after the poll, and possibly in October, if the vote goes to a second round.

But more immediately, he said there was not enough support from Afghanistan’s side to back up the efforts being made by Britain and the United States. If Afghan communities were to be kept safe, it meant Afghanistan stepping up to the plate.

It is a point U.S. military commanders have also made in recent weeks, but which Brown has taken up on a political level at a time when he is under pressure at home to justify why Britain is still fighting in Afghanistan after eight years.

“We have been asking the Afghan national army through President Karzai to make available more Afghan troops on the ground,” he said.

“It would be by far the best way of moving forward if once ground is taken by our troops, then local Afghan troops and police are there on the ground … There are troops available and I believe they should be in Helmand for this campaign.”

The prime minister was also dismissive of the size of the Afghan forces, saying they would have to be substantially expanded if they were ever going to be capable of keeping control in a country the size of Afghanistan.

“Our ability to defeat a terrorist threat depends not only on what we can contribute militarily, but on what we can achieve by civilian as well as military effort in training the Afghan army,” he said.

“Which will have to be higher than 130,000 (soldiers), by the way. I mean, it’s 80,000 at the moment, and the plan is 130,000, but I think everybody is in no doubt that for a territory that is as big as Afghanistan, we will have to train any army to a higher number than that.”

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Ahmadinejad: Iran will “bring down” Western foes

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Ahmadinejad: Iran will “bring down” Western foes

TEHRAN – july 17  – Iran’s re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday his next government “would bring down the global arrogance”, signalling a tougher approach towards the West after June’s disputed election.

“The Iranian nation elected somebody they (Iran’s enemies) did not want. The Iranian nation’s choice was their nightmare,” the hardline president told a big crowd at the country’s most prominent religious shrine in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

Ahmadinejad’s fierce attack on Tehran’s “enemies” is likely to further disappoint the United States and its allies, which are trying to engage the Islamic Republic in direct talks over its nuclear programme.

Western leaders have criticised a crackdown on protests that followed the June 12 presidential election, which the defeated moderate candidate Mirhossein Mousavi says was rigged.

Ahmadinejad said enemies had tried to interfere and foment aggression in Iran. He said Tehran wanted “logic and negotiations” but that Western powers had insulted the nation and should apologise.

Iranian leaders often refer to the United States and its allies as the “global arrogance”.

“As soon as the new government is established, with power and authority, ten times more than before, it will enter the global scene and will bring down the global arrogance,” he said.

“They should wait as a new wave of revolutionary thinking … from the Iranian nation is on the way and we will not allow the arrogant (powers) to even have one night of good sleep,” Ahmadinejad said, according to state broadcaster IRIB.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, an ally of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a rival of Ahmadinejad, has stepped down from the post after 12 years, Iranian media reported, without saying whether Gholamreza Aghazadeh’s resignation was linked to the election.

NO “UNDESIRABLE SCENES”

In what would be his first official public appearance since the vote, Mousavi plans to attend Friday prayers in Tehran, to be led by Rafsanjani, an influential cleric who backed him in the election, Mousavi’s website said.

Clearly reflecting concern the event may turn into a show of strength by Ahmadinejad’s pro-reform opponents, Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei told Fars News Agency:

“The vigilant Iranian nation must be aware that tomorrow’s sermon should not turn into an arena for undesirable scenes.”

A reformist newspaper, Etemad, said Mousavi had voiced continued defiance in a meeting on Tuesday with the family of 19-year-old Sohrab Aarabi, who human rights activists say was killed during last month’s demonstrations.

Mousavi has said he will join a planned group of leading figures to follow up people’s rights and “ignored” votes.

“God willing, we will all move forward in the way that we have chosen … This is an irreversible path,” he told Aarabi’s mother, Etemad reported.

At least 20 people died in post-election violence which the authorities have portrayed as the work of local subversives and foreign powers.

“In this recent election the enemy tried to bring the battlefront to the interior of this country,” said Ahmadinejad, who has earlier described the vote as the world’s “healthiest.”

He added, in comments translated by English-language Press TV: “But I have told the enemies … that this nation … will strike you in the face so hard you will lose your way home.”

He also voiced continued defiance in the row over Iran’s nuclear activities, saying major powers “will not be able to take away the smallest amount of Iran’s rights”.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful power purposes. Western countries suspect it is aimed at making bombs.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday Iran’s intentions were unclear following its election and that President Barack Obama’s offer of talks with Tehran was not open-ended.

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