Musharraf could face execution under treason charge
Newly elected Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif announced on Monday that his government intends to prosecute General Pervez Musharraf, the country’s military leader in power from 1999 until 2008, with treason. Musharraf had returned from exile in March in an apparent bid to enter the May general elections that carried the Muslim League-Nawaz party to power. The country’s supreme court had sought to prosecute Musharraf since his return, despite protests lodged by the army’s chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who indicated in April that the former leader’s prosecution would be bad for morale. Historically, Pakistan’s military dictators, who have exercised control over a weak judiciary, have not been held responsible for actions while in office. Musharraf led an October 1999 coup that saw Sharif’s administration ousted. If convicted, the former general would face execution likely only to be avoided by a presidential pardon. "He suspended the constitution and is punishable for that act," Sharif said.
Sweeping immigration reform survives Senate vote
Legislation representing the most important reform to US immigration since 1986 survived a procedural vote in the Senate by surpassing the needed 60 votes. The bill, which would grant legal status to some 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US and place them on a 13-year track to citizenship, now appears to face dwindling opposition. Republican Senators Hoeven and Corker brokered an agreement on Friday with the bill’s supporters, known as the Gang of Eight, with an amendment to include 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents to the Southwestern border and additional changes to attract additional Republican votes. That amendment's passage will now allow Congress to move to a vote to include it in the larger immigration bill, paving the way for a final vote. The additional 119 pages comprising the new amendment include construction of a security fence stretching "no less than" 700 miles along the US border with Mexico, and also provides funding for aerial surveillance.
FAA to end unpopular electronics ban
The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to relax the ban on electronic devices during flight takeoffs and landings, meaning US travelers will no longer be forced to turn off their cell phone when flying. The power-down policy has long been questioned by the public, especially as pilots and flight attendants frequently use their devices in full view of passengers. An internal review from the FAA admitted the change, which will not come until September at the earliest, is happening because of the “sheer number of passengers flouting today’s rules.”
Lebanese troops take rebel cleric's mosque after clashes
The Lebanese army has taken over the complex that was controlled by gunmen loyal to Sheikh Ahmad Assir in the southern city of Sidon, local media reports. The preacher reportedly fled the complex after the army started a military operation in the morning. The fighting started on Sunday after security forces detained a follower of the hardline Sunni Muslim cleric Assir which was accused of trying to plunge the country into a repeat of its civil war. His followers retaliated by opening fire on an army check point.
39 killed in ten bomb explosions in Baghdad
At least 39 people were killed in bomb attacks targeting mainly Shiite Muslim areas of the Iraqi capital, police and medical officials said according to Reuters. Al-Jazeera reports, 79 others were wounded. No group has immediately taken the responsibility for the attacks, though security forces and Shiite residents are frequently targeted by Al-Qaeda militants. This comes as tens of thousands of Shiites are heading to the holy city of Karbala, 80 kilometers south of Baghdad, for the annual festival of Shabaniyah, marking the anniversary of the birth of the ninth-century Shiite leader known as the Hidden Imam.
4 killed, 6 wounded in a militant attack in Kashmir
Four soldiers have been killed and six wounded on the outskirts of Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir, army spokesman Colonel Brijesh Pandey, AFP reports. "We have received 10 casualties from the attack site at the military hospital, four of them were fatal," he said, adding that one of the wounded is in serious condition. The attack came a day before a visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the territory, his first since June 2010. Police forces were being deployed across the region while the territory has imposed a state of high alert. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan by a UN monitored de facto border, but the territory is claimed by both states. Rebel groups have been fighting for its independence or merger with Pakistan since 1989.
Emir of Qatar decides to step down in favor of his son – state media
The Emir of Qatar has told the ruling family he is handing over power to his 33 year-old son Sheikh Tamim, sources told Al-Jazeera news channel. Qatar's Interior Ministry on its Twitter account said "Spreading rumors that lack credibility will hurt the community. Be supportive of the country," while it is not clear whether it was related to the issue. According to Reuters diplomats said earlier this month the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, was considering a transfer of power. It would supposedly begin with the departure of the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani. Qatar is an absolute monarchy that has been ruled by one family for more than 130 years.
Peaceful settlement of Syria depends on US, Russia – Syrian Foreign Minister
The outcome of the Geneva-2 conference on a peaceful outcome to the Syrian conflict depends on the United States and Russia, Syrian Foreign Minister Wallid Muallem said on Monday. Muallem also rejected the West’s argument that supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition would help restore the balance of power in the country and force the Syrian regime to take part in the Geneva negotiations. He said that the West’s decision to supply weapons to the so-called Free Syrian Army “extends bloodshed in which Israel, first of all, is interested”.
Legendary arms designer Kalashnikov feeling better in hospital
The creator of the famous AK-47 assault rifle, Mikhail Kalashnikov who is undergoing medical treatment in a Moscow hospital, is feeling better and is talking with his relatives, reports RIA Novosti. On Sunday, the 93-year-old gun designer was flown to Moscow on Emergencies Ministry plane after being taken ill in his home city of Izhevsk in the Urals. Kalashnikov suffered pulmonary thrombosis. Doctors say his current condition is serious, but stable and for now, no surgical treatment is required.
Man arrested in UK over French Alps slayings
British police have arrested a 54-year-old man outside of London in connection with the murder of three members of an Iraqi-British family and a French cyclist in the French Alps last year. The man was detained on suspicion to commit murder in a “pre-planned arrest” in Surrey, where the victims resided. A French source told AFP the suspect is Zaid al-Hilli, the brother of Saad al-Hilli, who was shot dead along with his wife and mother. Al-Hilli has previously been questioned by police in the course of the investigation.
Arms to Syrian rebels would lead to military solution – Russian FM
The decision to supply weapons to the Syrian opposition flies in the face of a political settlement in the country, commented the Russian Foreign Ministry on the ‘Friends of Syria’ group meeting on June 21 in Qatar. “Such reports raise serious concerns,” the Ministry said, specifying that “evidently, the additional arms supplies might ultimately end up in terrorists’ hands, whipping up opposition to transfer to a destructive military solution for Syria”. The gathering in Doha was attended by 11 members of the group, including the US, UK, France and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.
17 Lebanese soldiers killed in clashes with Islamist gunmen as Syria crisis spreads
For a second day the Lebanese army has been fighting Sunni Islamist gunmen holed up in a mosque in one of the deadliest outbreaks of violence fuelled by sectarian rifts from the civil war in neighboring Syria. A Lebanese security source said a ceasefire had been agreed on Monday afternoon and soldiers remained in their positions outside the mosque complex. The clashes broke out on Sunday after security forces detained a follower of the hardline Sunni Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir; his followers retaliated by opening fire on an army check point. Security forces have put the army death toll at 17, with 65 wounded. They estimate that 20 militants were also killed. The army has accused Assir of trying to plunge Lebanon into a repeat of its 1975-1990 civil war. Spillover from the Syrian conflict has resulted in rocket attacks in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley and street fighting in Tripoli.