In the last several weeks, Romer Labs, an international diagnostic testing lab for the agricultural, food, and feed industries, discovered 30 samples of animal feed to be contaminated with melamine, sourced from China. Melamine is a toxic chemical that is found in plastics, adhesives, and pesticides. Since melamine contains high levels of nitrogen, it is added to food products to make it appear as though those products have higher levels of protein than they actually contain. Adding melamine to food ingredients and products allows China to misrepresent the protein content of food while lowering their production costs.
The United States closed its embassy in Damascus to the public on October 30 because of security concerns stemming from anti-U.S. demonstrations in the Syrian capital following a U.S. raid on Syria on October 26. A statement on the embassy website said the decision to close was made “due to past demonstrations which resulted in violence and significant damage to US facilities and other embassies.”
A Pakistani government spokesman announced on October 29 that the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, had been summoned to receive a formal protest concerning American missile attacks on the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the nation’s tribal areas along its border with Afghanistan. Pakistan’s foreign ministry issued a statement that “a strong protest was lodged on the continued missile attacks by U.S. drones inside Pakistani territory.”
According to a New York Times report of October 28, the U.S.-backed, Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has been forcing Kurdish units of the Iraqi army out of the northern city of Mosul. The Baghdad government dispatched 1,000 additional police to the troubled city several weeks ago in response to attacks against the city’s Christian population by terrorists groups linked to al-Qaeda. The attacks had prompted about 4,000 Christians to flee the city.
The Syrian government has condemned what it said was a U.S. helicopter raid inside its territory on October 26, resulting in eight civilian deaths. The statement said: “Syria condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible for this aggression and all its repercussions.” Syrian sources said the U.S. helicopters attacked the Sukkariyeh farm near Abu Kamal, five miles from the Iraqi border.
Pakistani officials in Washington announced on October 23 that their government will supply arms to tribal militia in its northwestern tribal region, which lies along the border with Afghanistan. The region, known officially as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, has seen much violence in recent years as terrorist units affiliated with the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda have crossed the mountainous border fleeing from U.S. forces operating in Afghanistan.
The U.S. military aind Iraqi authorites held a ceremony on October 23 marking the transfer of security responsibility for the province of Babil from the U.S. military to the Iraqi government. Babil is the 12th of 18 Iraqi provinces to be transferred to Iraqi control. The transfer-of-power ceremony was held in the provincial capital, Hilla, located near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon.
Iraq's cabinet said on October 21 it would demand changes in the proposed security agreement between the United States and Iraq, raising doubts that the document would quickly be approved. The United Nations Security Council resolution that authorizes American troop operations in Iraq expires on December 31, and unless an agreement can be reached by then, or the Security Council votes to extend the existing resolution, American troops would be required to cease operations in Iraq on that date.
In recent days, as many as 15 Christians have been slain in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, prompting the Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to dispatch 1,000 police to the violence-plagued city. The prime minister’s office said in a statement that units of the Iraqi army and police were being sent to the Mosul area “to provide protection for members of this community” and that the forces would “target the terrorist groups” responsible for the attacks. Police reported that two car bombs blew up in Mosul on October 12, killing seven Iraqis.
One day after the United States announced on October 11 that it was removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, the North Koreans announced that they would resume disabling the communist nation’s principal plutonium processing plant at its Yongbyon compound and allow international monitors back to the site.
According to a confidential statement made by diplomats associated with the International Atomic Energy Agency on October 9, the North Korean government has barred UN monitoring of its Yongbyon nuclear complex. The diplomats made anonymous statements to both Reuters news service and the Associated Press, citing confidentiality.