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THE INDEX — August 12, 2009

Iraq's water minister, Latif Rashid, has accused Turkey of limiting water flow from the Euphrates river into Iraq. In a statement given yesterday, Rashid said that Ankara had cut the flow of water into Baghdad in half, instead of increasing the amount as Turkish officials had promised. Rashid said that Turkey had promised to raise water flow to 715 cubic meters per second from the normal flow of 500 cubic meters per second but claimed that Ankara had actually cut back water to 250 cubic meters per second, a quarter of Iraq's minimum requirement for agricultural irrigation. But Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday that Ankara had "fulfilled a pledge" to Iraq by allowing a 500 cubic meters per second flow. Drought-ridden Baghdad has repeatedly asked Ankara to increase water through the heavily dammed Euphrates, which flows from Turkey through Syria into Iraq, and has offered in return to combat Kurdish rebels operating along the Iraqi-Turkish border. The statements from both the Iraqi water and Turkish foreign ministers came hours after Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, announced plans for a joint intelligence center in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Arbil. The center would share U.S., Turkish, and Iraqi intelligence and combat Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) attacks within Turkey. The head of the children's rights non-governmental organization "Let's Save the Generation" has been killed in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Yesterday, Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband were found shot dead in the trunk of a car in the Chechen capital of Grozny. Hours later, a journalist was found murdered in the city of Makhachkala, the capital of the neighboring Russian republic of Daghestan. International leaders have condemned the recent deaths, which have risen in frequency since the unsolved murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has identified the murders as a "systematic" persecution of rights defenders in the Caucasus. Pro-Kremlin Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has been accused by "Let's Save the Generation" of being responsible for the murder of the organization's leader and husband. Kadyrov has denied the allegations, calling the murders "cynical and inhuman." While the Kremlin has praised Kadyrov for restoring stability to Chechnya, human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have claimed that he has allowed his militia to carry out kidnappings and torture. A reformed family law code set to take effect in Mali this month has drawn significant criticism from the country's Muslim population for its strong Western influences. The code, which received parliamentary approval on August 3 (though still must be signed by the president), aims to ensure greater security for women, by establishing 18 years as the minimum age of marriage and protecting female inheritance rights. It also stipulates that the state will only recognize secular marriages. Mohammed Kimbiri, chief secretary of Mali's Islamic ruling council, called the law treasonous and accused the government of "importing" specific statutes from EU law as a condition of continued aid from Europe. "The assembly adopted it under pressure, but we will not be pressured [into accepting] a code that is not ours," Kimbiri told the media. In recent days, Muslim groups have threatened violence in protesting the code. But Minister of Justice Maharafa Traore remained unfazed. "We cannot create change without triggering some noise," said Traore, noting that continued education on the code would weaken the resistance. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev sent a letter to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Tuesday noting that relations between the two countries were at "unprecedently low" levels, and criticizing Yushchenko's administration for its anti-Russia policies. Medvedev, who made the letter public through the Kremlin's website, informed the Ukrainian leader that a new Russian ambassador would not be sent to the former Soviet republic until tensions are reduced, something he indicated might only occur with a new Ukranian administration. Yushchenko has yet to publicly comment on the letter. He took over the country's presidency in the peaceful "Orange Revolution" of 2005, which displaced a notably corrupt, pro-Russian political elite that had ruled Ukraine since its independence from the Soviet Union. Yushchenko has sparred with his Russian counterparts over many issues, ranging from Ukraine's accession to NATO to its support of Georgia during last summer's Russia-Georgia war. Most recently, tensions have flared over Ukraine's inability to pay for Russian gas supplies, which flow through the country en route to Europe. Medvedev referenced the point in his letter, saying that until relations improve, the "unified gas transportation system that guarantees the energy security of Russia, Ukraine, and many European states is placed under threat."

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