Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Today's News Briefs

Blair Announces Iraq Withdrawal Plan
Britain will withdraw around 1,600 troops from Iraq in the "coming months," aiming to cut its force to below 5,000 by late summer if Iraqi forces can secure the southern part of the country, Prime Minister Tony Blair said today. British troops will stay in Iraq until at least 2008 and work to secure the Iran-Iraq border and maintain supply routes to U.S. and coalition troops in central Iraq, Blair told the House of Commons.

Top Sunni Official Fired Over Rape Case
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fired a top Sunni official Wednesday after he called for an international investigation into the rape allegations leveled by a Sunni Arab woman against three members of the Shiite-dominated security forces. A statement by al-Maliki's office gave no reason in announcing the dismissal of Ahmed Abdul-Ghafour al-Samaraie, head of the Sunni Endowments. Al-Samaraie, whose organization cares for Sunni mosques and shrines in Iraq, had joined other prominent Sunnis in criticizing the government's handling of the case. Al-Samaraie, speaking from Amman in neighboring Jordan, disputed al-Maliki's right to fire him, arguing that only Iraq's Presidential Council -- which comprises President Jalal Talabani and his two deputies -- has that authority.

Jury to Deliberate in CIA Leak Case
Five weeks and 19 witnesses into the CIA leak trial, jurors are set to begin deciding the fate of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Jurors heard a full day of closing arguments in Libby's perjury and obstruction trial Tuesday and are scheduled to begin deliberating today.

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