(Asharq Al-Awsat)

December 8, 2005

In a declaration issued on (December 7), the Iraqi government announced it will close its borders with Syria. Martial law was also declared in Ramadi and Nineweh provinces (which border Syria) for the next thirty days. The ministerial council issued the martial law order in accordance with defending national security. Commercial vehicles authorised by the Iraqi government to enter Iraq from Syria will be allowed to cross the border. The declaration added that those who encourage or carry out acts of violence will be sentenced under the new anti-terrorism law. The measures were taken ahead of the December 15 parliamentary elections.

(London-based Asharq al-Awsat, a pro-Saudi independent paper, is issued daily.)