Veteran Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who faces his first contested election on Wednesday after a quarter of a century in power, is a longtime Western ally who crushed Islamic violence and saw through peace with Israel before coming under pressure for reform.
Egypt's presidential electoral commission has banned leading opposition candidate Ayman Nur's campaign television spot on the grounds the theme song had been plagiarised. A spokesperson branded the move ''one of the dirtiest tricks of the campaign'' for the September 7 presidential poll and blamed President Hosni Mubarak's camp.
A string of coordinated bomb attacks killed at least 10 Iraqis and wounded 30 on Friday in Baghdad, as insurgents showed no sign of letting up after an agreement was reached on a partial Cabinet line-up. At least four of the blasts that rocked the capital at around 8am were car bombs aimed at Iraqi security forces.
Iraq's long-oppressed Shi'ites were basking on Monday in their electoral triumph but pledged to reach out to rival Sunnis whose political isolation could further threaten the country's stability. The Kurds were also celebrating their strong performance in the landmark January 30 election.
The gates of Najaf's Imam Ali Shrine were forced open on Thursday by a sea of weeping and chanting Shi'ite Muslims, ending a siege of the shrine that had lasted for days and weeks of fighting with United States forces. Yet as the camp of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr went into talks, the military stand-off appeared far from over.
<li><a class='standardtextsmall' href="http://www.mg.co.za/Content/l3.asp?ao=121182">Kufa attacks kill 74, injures hundreds</a>
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast that killed at least 11 people in west Jerusalem on Thursday morning, but a Gaza-based leader of the radical Islamic group Hamas said the grisly attacks would go on.