Richard Melson

June 2006

IPS Middle East

Jun 28, 2006

US-Oman Trade Pact Nixes Israel Boycott

Developments in Iraq, Iran, the Middle East and the rest of the region affect politics and policies the world over.

IPS tracks these events through its network of correspondents, providing independent accounts rather than those that suit governments.

Following are the latest IPS reports from and about the region.

U.S.-Oman Trade Pact Nixes Israel Boycott
Emad Mekay
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Congress is likely to approve a free trade agreement that includes strong foreign policy components with Oman, despite protests over the Arab country's record on labour standards, human rights and the environment.
The move is viewed as heavily political after the Oman government committed to dropping an Arab League boycott of Israeli products, which came into force after Israel occupied Arab land in 1967.

IRAN: Predicted Rights Rollback Hasn't Yet Happened, Say Women Activists
Majid Darinoush
TEHRAN - Some women's rights activists in Iran say they are not optimistic that women's rights will make much progress under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But they also say they have not seen the deterioration of women's status they expected when the conservative politician took office last August.

Pentagon Resists Ban on "Degrading Treatment"
William Fisher
NEW YORK - As new reports detail further abuse by the U.S. military of its prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, a behind-the-scenes battle is being fought between the U.S. departments of state and defence about whether a key section of the Geneva Conventions should be included in new rules governing Army interrogation techniques.

Family, MPs and Lawyers Refute Gitmo Suicide Story
Nabil Sultan

Defying U.S. Deadline, Iran Recalls 2005 Stall
Analysis by Gareth Porter
WASHINGTON - Iran's announcement that it will not respond to the formal negotiating offer from the six powers until late August was both an expression of confidence and a bit of payback for European stalling in responding to Iran in 2005.

Rebuilding Not Yet Reality for Fallujah
Dahr Jamail and Ali Fadhil
FALLUJAH - One and a half years after the November 2004 U.S. military assault on this Iraqi city, residents tell of ongoing suffering, lack of jobs, little reconstruction and continuing violence.

IRAQ: Still Seeking Answers in U.S. Checkpoint Shooting
Fritzroy Sterling

MIDEAST: Barrier May Separate A Little Less
Peter Hirschberg
JERUSALEM - A decision by Israel's new defence minister to review the route of the West Bank separation barrier, in order to limit settlement expansion and ease the daily lives of Palestinians, is likely to impact on the delineation of the border that ultimately separates Israelis and Palestinians.

"Great Divide" Seen in Muslim and Western Opinions
Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON - A "great divide" separates the worldviews of Muslims and Westerners, according to the results of a major new survey which suggests that European Muslims, who held the most tolerant views, could be a bridge between the two groups..

A Thaw in Egypt-Iran Relations?
Adam Morrow
CAIRO - The recent visit to the Egyptian capital by a high-level Iranian official has reignited speculation about the state of Egyptian-Iranian diplomatic relations, officially frozen since 1979. Ali Larijani, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, is the highest ranking Iranian official to visit Egypt in the last 27 years.

Hamas' Suitcase Economy
Peter Hirschberg
JERUSALEM - Mahmoud Zahar says he will not be deterred in bringing suitcases stuffed with millions of dollars in cash into the Gaza Strip when he returns from his travels abroad. "We are going to continue to bring money in through Rafah crossing," he said recently, referring to the Gaza-Egypt border terminal.

MOROCCO: Active Civil Society Vital for Ambitious National Development Plan
Abderrahim El Ouali
CASABLANCA - A robust civil society in Morocco could have speeded up efforts launched a year ago to improve people's lives, development planners believe.

For more IPS reporting on the Middle East -

Iraq -

Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), the world's leading provider of information on global issues, is backed by a network of journalists in more than 100 countries. Its clients include more than 3,000 media organizations and tens of thousands of civil society groups, academics, and other users.

IPS focuses its news coverage on the events and global processes affecting the economic, social and political development of peoples and nations.
Visit Inter Press Service at

Update Your Profile:
Confirm Your Subscription:
Delivered by Topica:

US-Oman Trade Pact Nixes Israel Boycott

IPS News - Iraq & Mideast

Jun 28, 2006