NEWS ROUNDUP: January 20

Israel test-fires ballistic missile after Iran warning
Israel successfully test-fired a long-range ballistic missile on Thursday, a senior official told AFP, days after warning “all options” were open to prevent archfoe Iran from obtaining atomic weapons.

U.S. plays down chance of Iran resolution soon
The United States on Friday played down the chance of major powers agreeing on new U.N. sanctions against Iran when ministers meet in Berlin next week, underlining discord over how to proceed with Tehran.

Discontent Surges in Iraq
In the depths of a strangely cold winter in the Middle East, Iraqis complain that the lights are not on, the kerosene heaters are without fuel and the water doesn’t flow — and they blame the government.

Violence increases and tensions rise among Iraqi Shiites
A police raid Saturday on an extremist Shiite Muslim mosque thought to be the headquarters of an extremist cult capped a weekend of violence in southern Iraq, while elsewhere tensions between Iraq’s Shiite-led government and renegade Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr continued to escalate.

Hamas police force recruits women in Gaza
The policemen of Hamas now have company: since the Islamic group took over here last June it has been recruiting policewomen as well.

Hezbollah taunts Israel with claims of soldiers’ remains
Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, on Saturday made his first public appearance here since the 2006 war with Israel, restating his claim that the militant group possessed the remains of several Israeli soldiers left on the battlefields of southern Lebanon.

Israel closes all Gaza border crossings, citing Palestinian rocket attacks
Israel closed all border crossings with the Gaza Strip on Friday, cutting off at least one aid shipment, and bombed the empty Interior Ministry building of the Palestinian Authority, which was already a ruin after a previous Israeli bombing.

Right-wing party quits Israeli coalition
A right-wing party quit Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s governing coalition Wednesday in protest of the revived peace talks with the Palestinians, but the move poses no immediate threat to his rule.

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