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Regional Briefs

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Libya

Libya’s Olympic chief was released on Sunday, less than a week before the Olympic games begin in London, United Kingdom. His abductors never made a public statement and Olympic chief Ahmed Nabil al-Taher al-Alam said he was given little information during his captivity. He told the Associated Press, “They raised no issue and they made no requests.” One possible reason is al-Alam’s ties to the ousted Qaddafi regime. He coached the national football team under the Qaddafi and was said to be close with one of his sons. Rival groups have kidnapped and fought since the downfall of Qaddafi. The regional differences were thrown into the spotlight this month as the country held elections. During this time two news cameramen were also abducted and subsequently released.

Israel

On Friday, an elderly Israeli activist named Moshe Silman succumbed to the severe burns he suffered after setting himself on fire during a protest. Silman was angry at the Israeli state for a financial dispute that left both him and his mother bankrupt. Silman’s case reflected wider calls from Israeli activists. Ha’aretz newspaper described the hundreds of protestors who attended Silman’s funeral, and spoke of how his death has fuelled a debate in the Israeli government about the availability of public housing.

Turkey

A helicopter crashed late Sunday in eastern Turkey killing four soldiers on board, reported Reuters. The site of the crash is near the Turkey-Iraq border. The Kurdistan Workers Party has fought the Turkish military in that area, and upon news of the crash there were rumours of Kurdish involvement. The event occurred as Kurds in nearby northern Syria seized many towns amid the country’s civil conflict. However, State news sources in Turkey attributed the crash to a mechanical failure with the helicopter.

Qatar

At the request of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, an international committee will be formed to look at new speculations over the death of former leader Yasser Arafat. The request comes in the wake of an investigation that found traces of radiation on the belongings of Yasser Arafat, resulting in a plea from his widow to exhume her husband’s body to re-examine him for toxicity. The proposal was presented to the Arab League at their meeting in Doha, reported AFP, where the Palestinian representative said he wanted “the commission to be of high credibility.” The same gathering of Arab Foreign Ministers also announced that it will back an application for Palestine to become a non-member state in the United Nations. Full membership is not being requested because of fears of a US veto. The Arab League will make more decisions about the Palestinian request, such as its timing, in their next meeting slated for 5 September in Cairo.


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