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American Resistance To Empire

Obama’s Sanctions Jeopardize U.S. Oil Giants’ Mega-Deals

Putin Says Sanctions Jeopardize U.S., EU Energy Deals

BLOOMBERG

 

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that further economic sanctions over the Ukraine crisis may lead Russia to reconsider participation by U.S. and European Union companies in energy and other key industries.

While his government has prepared measures to retaliate for penalties imposed by the U.S. and its allies, Putin told reporters in Minsk, Belarus, yesterday that he doesn’t consider them necessary for now, though that may change.

If sanctions continue, “then of course we will have to consider who’s working and how in the Russian Federation, in the key sectors of the Russian economy, including energy,” he said. “We really don’t want to take these reciprocal steps.”

Financial Warfare: an Alternative to Military Force

Putin’s remarks added uncertainty for companies that have stakes in Russia’s energy industry, including Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), which is planning Arctic drilling in an alliance with Russian state-controlled OAO Rosneft. (ROSN)

The Russian leader spoke hours after the EU expanded penalties against people close to Putin and companies tied to them, following similar steps a day earlier by the U.S., which yesterday called separatist violence in Ukraine’s east “terrorism, pure and simple.”

The EU and the U.S. say Russia hasn’t lived up to an accord signed April 17 in Geneva intended to defuse the confrontation between the Ukrainian government and separatists supported by the authorities in Moscow. They’ve both warned that they’ll levy penalties on entire Russian industries if Putin escalates by sending troops into Ukraine.

EU Move

The EU added Russian Deputy Premier Dmitry Kozak to a list of people facing travel bans and asset freezes along with others including pro-Russian separatist leaders, according to a statement yesterday in the EU’s Official Journal. The U.S. on April 28 targeted seven people, including Kozak and Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft, and 17 companies linked to Putin allies, such as InvestCapitalBank.

Russian markets slid today after a two-day rally in the wake of the penalties. The Micex Index (INDEXCF) fell 0.2 percent to 1,302.79 at 11:04 a.m. in Moscow today, bringing its year-to-date loss to more than 13 percent. The ruble lost 0.1 percent to 41.8383 against its basket of euros and dollars. It’s down more than 8 percent this year, the second-worst performer among 24 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

‘Territorial Integrity’

The EU said that the people on its list are “responsible for actions which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.” The latest names, which also include Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of Russia’s armed forces, and Igor Sergun, head of the main intelligence directorate, bring the number of people blacklisted to 70.

Kozak, 55, is overseeing the development of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine.

EU preparations for “stage three” measures that would affect broader sectors of the Russian economy are “very advanced,” Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for European foreign-affairs chief Catherine Ashton, said on April 28 in Brussels.

“The shift toward tier three would be in the event of a very, very serious escalation of the type that you might associate with direct military invasions,” Jean-Christophe Gray, spokesman for U.K. Premier David Cameron, said in London.

‘Steep Price’

The sanctions are “forcing Russia to pay a steep price” for its role stoking tensions in Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday in Washington.

U.S. companies are prohibited from doing business with individuals and entities on the sanctions list, and all assets of those designated that are within U.S. jurisdiction must be frozen, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

The U.S. and its allies blame Russia for instigating the conflict in Ukraine that led to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the seizure of government buildings in eastern Ukraine. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization says Putin has massed about 40,000 troops on Ukraine’s border.

Separatists continued to seize more buildings in eastern Ukraine today. Some 20 gunmen in camouflage fatigues seized the city council building and the regional police headquarters in the city of Horlivka, news service Interfax reported today. That followed the storming of the regional administration building by hundreds of activists wielding sticks and waving Russian flags yesterday in the city of Luhansk, where the police chief quit over protesters’ demands.

‘Covert Operation’

Russia is undertaking a “covert occupation” of the country’s eastern regions, Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia said in an interview with news service Interfax. He added that the Kiev-based government would handle the unrest on its own.

After international military observers were abducted by pro-Russian militants in the eastern town of Slovyansk last week, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday in a statement that it’s taking “practical steps” to secure their release.

The separatists said Ukrainian authorities hadn’t contacted them about the hostages’ release, the Donetsk militia commander, Igor Strelkov, told Russian state TV.

The U.S. condemned “the separatists’ taking of hostages, both Ukrainians and international monitors, some of whom have been brutally beaten,” the U.S. Embassy in Kiev said in a statement yesterday. “This is terrorism, pure and simple.”

Companies Sanctioned

Kerry said “we see no evidence — no evidence at all — that Russia has actually pressured” separatists to release the international observers.

Most companies on the latest U.S. list are tied to Gennady Timchenko or brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, who were placed on a sanctions list on March 20. They include the Volga Group, controlled by Timchenko, and InvestCapitalBank and SMP Bank, which are controlled by the Rotenbergs.

One of the most prominent individuals on the list is Sechin, 53, a Putin colleague at the St. Petersburg mayor’s office before rising to become head of state-run Rosneft. Over the past decade he’s built it into the world’s largest publicly traded oil company by output and reserves.

Rosneft, in which British oil company BP Plc (BP/) owns 20 percent, isn’t being sanctioned.

The EU has been reluctant to impose broader sanctions because of the potential harm to its member states, which rely on Russia for energy imports. Germany, Europe’s largest economy, had $89 billion in trade with Russia in 2012.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang urged the U.S. to stop sanctions against companies and individuals today.

To contact the reporters on this story: Olga Tanas in Moscow at otanas@bloomberg.net; Jonathan Stearns in Brussels at jstearns2@bloomberg.net; Terry Atlas in Washington at tatlas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net; John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net; Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net Michael Winfrey

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Bahrain Forced To Admit Presence of Jordanian Gendarme Force

[SEE:  Proof of Jordanian Gendarme Force In Bahrain ]

Bahrain Mirror publishes important document regarding Jordanian Police: 499 policemen are costing Bahrain 1.8 million dollar per month

 

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Bahrain Mirror reached important documents that assure the existence of about 499 Jordanian policemen in Bahrain whose financial allocation mounts to approximately 700000 Bahraini Dinar monthly (about 1.8 million dollar).

 The documents issued by the Bahraini Ministry of Interior on February 11, 2014 and fully published by “Bahrain Mirror” unveil the names, salaries and bank accounts numbers of all policemen found in Bahrain. These documents also show that these names were merged within the ministry staff.

Moreover, these critical documents signed by the finance affairs manager related to the Ministry, Khaled Abdullah Ali Almoaili, reveal that transferring the police’s salary happens via Arab Jordan Bank, where the salaries are asked to be paid to those “attributed to the Ministry” who appear to be of the blood of known Jordanian families.

The average salary for each policeman stands at 1200 Bahraini Dinar (about 31000 Dollars)

This new information refutes the announcements of the Jordanian Minister of State for Information Affairs, Official Spokesman of the Jordanian Government, Mohammed Hussain Al-Moumini, who said yesterday on Tuesday, April 1 that “the Jordanian policemen are found in Bahrain for training purposes and for qualifying the Bahraini policemen.”

A letter dated on February 11, 2014 holding the number “A-M-4-6-361” under the title of “Dues to those attributed to the ministry” states that: “enclosed, you will find payment returns of 699.604.073 Dinar (Six hundred ninety nine thousand six hundred four dinar and thirty seven fils) as salaries for February 2014 for those attributed to the ministry.”

   These documents states that “the number of accrued persons is 499 one”. All of the names are enclosed within the letter.

This number does not include all the Jordanian security members found in Bahrain, but only those who have been recently recruited.

Another letter holding the same date and the number “A-M-4-6” notices that the dues transferring is conducted through the “National Bank of Bahrain” to the “Arab Jordan Bank” which opened bank accounts to all the Jordanian policemen within “Special arrangements regarding this issue”, as stated in the letter.

Before considering that “the Jordanian policemen existence had nothing to do with the Bahraini crisis”, the Minister of State for Information Affairs, Sameera Rajab, affirmed during a lecture in Jordan on Tuesday that the Jordanian policemen are found in Bahrain pursuant to a security agreement. Ms. Rajab also underlined that “arrangement and security cooperation with an Arab state is better than that with a foreign one”.

Egyptian Authorities Putting Democracy To Death, Along With the MB Leadership

[SEE: Egyptian Court Body Count Raised To 1212 Muslim Brotherhooders]

Death sentences will bring down govt: Badie

the news pak

CAIRO: The senior leader of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood said on Tuesday that the mass death sentences against him and other members will cause the government’s downfall.

 

“This ruling is the last nail in the coffin of the ruling powers that led the coup,” said Brotherhood general guide Mohammed Badie, who was condemned to death along with 682 supporters on Monday. “The regime is on the brink of collapse.”

 

The defendants were charged with crimes including inciting violence following the army overthrow of elected leader Mohammed Mursi, a senior Brotherhood member, last July after mass protests against his rule.

 

Security forces have mounted a brutal crackdown on the Brotherhood since Mursi’s fall, killing hundreds of its supporters, arresting thousands and putting leaders on trial.

 

The Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful resistance to the army-backed government. The death sentence against Badie, 70, is likely to fuel growing concerns that young members of the movement could resort to violence against the state.

 

The mass death sentences, which right groups say are the largest worldwide in recent history, have raised new questions about Egypt’s commitment to democracy three years after a popular uprising toppled autocratic president Hosni Mubarak.

 

The United Nations’ top human rights official added to an avalanche of criticism of the sentences, which the United States has called “unconscionable”.

 

“It is outrageous that for the second time in two months, the Sixth Chamber of the Criminal Court in Al Minya has imposed the death sentence on huge groups of defendants after perfunctory trials,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement.

 

International guarantees of a fair trial “appear to be increasingly trampled upon” in Egypt, Pillay said, noting that 529 people were sentenced to death by the same court in March. She said the mass trial had clearly breached international law requiring due process.

 

Meanwhile, a wave of mass sentences in Egypt, including hundreds sentenced to death this week after a rushed mass trial, has sparked charges that military-installed authorities are using the judiciary as a blunt tool of repression.

 

The sentences handed out Monday to nearly 700 supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Mursi—after only one hearing—fed international outrage after a similar verdict last month, although most of the previous batch of sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.

 

On a near-daily basis, new trials open before being swiftly adjourned, with lawyers and human rights activists baffled by the sentencing of dozens or even hundreds of defendants based on evidence that is rarely made public.

 

Among those sentenced to death on Monday in the southern town of Minya were people who were dead or out of the country on the day of the violent riots they were accused of taking part in.

 

”If anybody had any doubts that Egypt was eradicating political opposition, those doubts should be put to rest,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch´s Middle East director, told AFP. “This is sham justice.”Since the army ousted Mursi, Egypt´s first democratically elected president, in July amid a wave of protests against him, a security crackdown targeting his supporters has left more than 1,400 killed and 15,000 jailed.

 

Hundreds of Mursi´s supporters have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment, and dozens more have gotten hefty jail terms.

 

In one case, 14 young women were given 11 years in jail for taking part in a pro-Mursi protest. The sentence was later reduced on appeal to a one-year suspended sentence, however, and seven girls, initially sentenced to juvenile detention, were ordered freed.

 

In recent months the crackdown has been extended to non-Islamist activists—including many who backed the overthrow of Mursi—following illegal protests against the military-installed authorities.

 

Even before the sentencing phase, Egyptian court proceedings are frequently marred by shouting matches involving lawyers and journalists, with police conscripts physically separating the two groups.

 

At the opening of one of Mursi´s trials, local journalists chanted “Execution!”Mursi and his co-defendants have been relegated to soundproof glass docks for recent hearings to prevent them from interrupting the proceedings.

 

”It´s as if we are judged in absentia,” a defendant shouted during one hearing, into a microphone the judge can turn on or off at will.

 

In the widely covered trial of Al-Jazeera journalists accused of supporting Mursi´s Muslim Brotherhood, prosecutors presented a bizarre array of “evidence,” including garbled audio tapes that only the judge could understand, reports on the price of meat in Egypt and clips from programmes made by other media outlets.

 

The military-installed authorities have stood by the judiciary, insisting it is independent, but top officials have privately admitted to being embarrassed by overzealous judges.

 

Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutes Press for Reporting

stl gag

Together for the sake of freedom

alakhbar

From left to right: MP Hassan Fadlallah, Assafir Editor-in-Chief Talal Salman, Al-Akhbar Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim al-Amin, and owner of Al-Jadeed TV Tahseen Khayat. They were part of the gathering at the Press Syndicate building on April 28, 2014 to denounce the STL’s charges against Al-Akhbar’s editor-in-chief, Ibrahim al-Amin, and Karma Khayat of Al-Jadeed TV. (Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

A lot of criticism can be directed at Ramzi Jreij, the current Lebanese minister of information. His short time at the ministry does not allow us yet to pass a fair judgement on how his excellency is dealing with this arduous profession that bears the sins of Lebanon’s absurd political life. But the signs so far are not encouraging.

Speaking of absurdity, Jreij – the former chairperson of the Beirut Bar Association – would have felt more comfortable at another ministry, such as the Ministry of Justice. Alas, the magical concoctions and surrealistic formulas that govern Lebanese politics willed it otherwise.

Therefore, until further notice, we can judge his performance based on his ambitious program, namely “transforming the Ministry of Information to the Ministry of Freedoms.” But, as everyone knows, it is not by wishful thinking that “freedoms” are gained.

In the meantime, we discovered that the minister has a sense of humor and excels at the art of irony. He chose a strange time to convey to the public his very own philosophy about freedoms. Jreij did not get a chance to participate personally in the solidarity conference with Al-Jadeed TV and Al-Akhbar newspaper organized by Assafir’s Editor-in-Chief Talal Salman, which was met with a wide and reassuring response on the national level. Instead, Jreij sent a statement that was read by the head of the Editors’ Syndicate, Elias Aoun.

The gist of the message, which addressed the journalists gathered yesterday at the Press Syndicate in defense of national sovereignty and public freedoms in Lebanon and against the bulldozer of international repression and intimidation of the media, was “I am with freedoms, but… not this time!” The statement was interrupted by the boos of the audience, dealing a moral blow to the minister that Lebanon will remember for a long time.

After a nice little introduction that emphasized his good intentions regarding freedoms, our minister advised the two journalists charged by the international court with contempt and obstruction of justice, Ibrahim al-Amin and Karma Khayat, to comply with the international tribunal “because it is the only way to prove their innocence.” How is that possible when he insists that they are not facing accusations? In other words, the minister told the journalists gathered at the syndicate, there is no need for you to be present here, go back to your homes, the Lebanese state has no sovereignty and no say in the presence of the international tribunal. This, however, is inaccurate considering Rule 178 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).

 

According to the minister, the only freedom available is the freedom to comply with the court. Only this tribunal knows Lebanon’s interests and decides where freedom of the press begins and where it ends. It is the only source of justice and the biggest guarantee for freedom of the press in Lebanon. This is the same court that, as attorney Rashad Salameh reminded us, amends the law every time the political winds change direction to suit a new agenda. Salameh is surprised today that this odd case would pit justice against freedom. 

Jreij prefers justice, even if it is at the expense of freedoms and constitutional sovereignty. Perhaps the minister does not know the case well enough, as he suggested to the media delegation that met him yesterday. Or perhaps he is inspired by certain experiments in contemporary art that blur the border between what is real and what is imagined.

There is one more explanation. Jreij’s position is politically motivated, in the narrow sense of the word, and he, God forbid – like the prophet of liberalism who decreed on his Facebook page what should and should not be considered “freedom,” or the perpetrators of malicious and gloating articles on some cheap sites – is settling scores with his political adversaries while he impatiently waits for the hour of revenge against them and could not care less about press freedoms. However, let us wait for his response to the demands of the body that emerged from the solidarity conference before we pass our final judgement.

No ladies and gentlemen, this is not the time for political differences or even professional competition. This is a challenge for all the Lebanese media outlets and all Lebanese people. This is the test that will truly reveal who cares about press freedoms and who does not.

We are proud, as journalists, to see among those standing in solidarity with Al-Jadeed and Al-Akhbar yesterday at the Press Syndicate media figures, civil society and human rights activists that we might differ with. Pierre al-Daher, CEO of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) TV pointed out that many in the media failed to show up as though he is calling on everyone to join in and stand together in defense of our freedom and our profession regardless of our differences.

“It is an opportunity to unite the Lebanese people by standing in solidarity with press freedom,” said head of the Press Syndicate Mohammed Baalbaki. It is a great opportunity for the Lebanese media today to prove to itself and to the public that it is worthy of these values and of the reputation that Beirut still has as the capital of Arab media and a home for freedom.

You can follow Pierre Abi Saab on Twitter: @PierreABISAAB

Former Mossad, Former “BFF” To Manuel Noriega, Signs Secret Deal Between Israel and Cyprus

Michael Harari was called the “second most important person” in Noriega’s Panama. 

What You Won’t Read About Michael Harari, Noriega’s Israeli Adviser Who Got Away

Michael Harari, Ambassador of Israel to Cyprus

Energy: Cyprus and Israel sign hydrocarbons agreement

ansa med

(ANSAmed) – NICOSIA, APRIL 28 – An Agreement on the exchange and protection of confidential information with respect to hydrocarbons discovered in Block 12 in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and in its adjacent Block Ishai in Israel’s EEZ was signed today in Nicosia by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Tasos Tzionis and the Ambassador of Israel in Cyprus Michael Harari.

Negotiations, which led to the signing of this Agreement, were held between the negotiating teams of the two sides from November 2013 until January 2014 as Cna reports. The said confidential information will be exchanged for the purpose of assisting each Government in forming an opinion on the extent of hydrocarbons discovered in each of the aforementioned specific Blocks.

This Agreement forms part of the external dimension of Cyprus’ energy policy which inter alia promotes mutually beneficial cooperation with all the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. (ANSAmed).

Libyan Terrorists Holding 3 Ambassadors Hostage

[SEE: Jordan Swapping Terrorist Leader for Ambassador To Libya]

( SAME SOURCE) Libyan sources : Al-Itan’s case ended

Libya says Jordan to handover jailed Islamist to get kidnapped ambassador

GERASA NEWS JORDAN

Jordan has agreed to handover a Libyan Islamist to Tripoli to secure the release of its ambassador kidnapped in the North African country two weeks ago, Libya’s state news agency LANA said on Monday.

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Dersi

Jordan’s ambassador to Libya, Fawaz al-Itan, was snatched by gunmen who demanded the release of Mohamed Dersi, a Libyan Islamist militant jailed for life in 2007 for plotting to blow up the main airport in Jordan.

Sohar Banun, an undersecretary in Libya’s justice ministry, said both countries had agreed that the ambassador would be released in exchange for Jordan reducing Dersi’s sentence and allowing him to complete his jail term in Libya, LANA said.

“The Jordanian authorities expressed their total readiness to solve this crisis, confirming that the ambassador will be released in exchange for reducing the term of the Libyan prisoner and sending him home to complete his sentence,” he said according to the agency.

“The crisis will be solved according to a memorandum of understanding between the two countries,” said Banun, who heads a department taking care of Libyans jailed abroad.

He gave no details or time frame, and there was no immediate comment from Jordanian or Libyan officials.

Analysts have said agreeing to the kidnappers’ demand could set a dangerous precedent for Jordan, which is an important U.S. ally in the fight against al Qaeda.

Jordanian Ambassador to Libya , Fawaz al-Atyan

Kidnappings have become commonplace in Libya, with foreign diplomats often the targets.

Libyan Islamists have also seized two Tunisian diplomats to demand the release of fellow militants jailed in Tunisia for attacking security forces there in 2011, according to the Tunisian government.

Banun hinted at movement in efforts to get the Tunisians released.

“Regarding the file of Libyans jailed in Tunisia … Tunisia confirms its wish to cooperate with the Libyan government, especially with the kidnapping of the Tunisian diplomats,” he said according to LANA.

He did not elaborate.

The weak interim government has been unable to disarm former rebels and Islamist militants who fought in the uprising that deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and who have formed increasingly powerful and violent militias.

Two weeks ago the interim prime minister resigned after just a month into the job, saying gunmen had tried to attack his family.

Tribal groups, militias and even local citizens are also resorting to road blockades as a negotiating tactic. Some rebel groups have also shut down the OPEC member’s oil facilities, raising supply concerns on global oil markets.

( Reuters , LANA )

ISIS Terror Bombings of Both Kurds and Shias Disproves Saudi Myths of Maliki/ISIS Deals

[SEE:    Suicide bombers kill 33 at Iraq campaign rally for Shiite  ]

Iraq: Suicide bomber kills 25 in Kurdish town

houston_chronicle102510

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA and SINAN SALAHEDDIN, Associated Press

Security forces and army personnel queue to vote outside a polling center in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, April 28, 2014. Amid tight security, some one million Iraqi army and police personnel have started voting for the nation's new parliament. ) Photo: Nabil Al-Jurani, AP / AP

Photo By Nabil al-Jurani/AP 
Security forces and army personnel queue to vote outside a polling center in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, April 28, 2014. Amid tight security, some one million Iraqi army and police personnel have started voting for the nation’s new parliament. )

BAGHDAD (AP) — Militants on Monday targeted polling stations across much of Iraq and a crowd of Kurds jubilantly dancing on the street as soldiers and security forces cast ballots two days ahead of parliamentary elections, officials said. The attacks, including a suicide bombing northeast of Baghdad, left at least 46 people dead.

The wave of attacks was an apparent attempt to derail the balloting process and discourage the rest of the country’s 22 million registered voters from going to the polls on Wednesday in the first nationwide elections since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. forces.

The early balloting for police and soldiers is meant to free up the 1 million-strong military and security forces so they can protect polling stations and voters on election day.

More than 9,000 candidates are vying for 328 seats in parliament, which is widely expected to be won by an alliance led by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is likely to seek a third four-year term in office.

The day’s worst attack took place in the Kurdish town of Khanaqin, 140 kilometers (87 miles) northeast of Baghdad close to the Iranian border. A suicide bomber walked toward a crowd of Kurds performing a traditional dance and blew himself up, killing at least 25 and injuring 35, many of them in critical condition.

The Kurds were celebrating the appearance on TV of Iraq’s ailing President Jalal Talabani, who is being treated in Berlin since December 2012 following a stroke. The nearly 80-year-old Talabani was seen sitting in a wheelchair smiling and waving his index finger, stained purple, flanked by clapping relatives. Few details have been released about the severity of Talabani’s illness.

Beside army troops and police, also voting on Monday were hospital patients, medical staff and detainees.

Abroad, Iraqi expatriates in more than 20 countries will also be able to cast ballots for a second day.

Authorities, meanwhile, announced the closure of Iraq’s air space, saying it will not reopen until after the polls close on Wednesday evening. Already, the government has decreed a weeklong national holiday to coincide with the elections, extending a previously announced three-day break. Such moves were common in past elections, chiefly to empty the streets and allow security forces faster access to attack sites.

A ban on vehicles will take effect on Tuesday night in Baghdad and stay in force throughout election day on Wednesday, a precautionary measure used in past voting to guard against car bombings.

Security has been tight in Baghdad and much of the rest of the country amid concerns that Sunni militants blamed for a recent resurgence of sectarian violence could target polling stations.

At one central Baghdad polling station, policemen went through four ID checks and search stations before they could enter the building on Monday. Inside, police dogs were used to search for explosives. Some policemen came to cast votes dressed in civilian clothes to attract less attention.

But despite the stepped up security, militants managed to strike polling centers in Baghdad and a string of other cities.

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