Causing anti-globalization activists to cry foul, the World Trade Organization decided yesterday that it will hold its first top-level meetings since the infamous 1999 Battle in Seattle in Qatar, a Persian Gulf nation with a questionable human rights record and little history of public protest. In the past, the U.S. State Department has said that the Qatar government as a matter of practice “severely limits freedom of assembly.” Qatar officials say they will permit demonstrations during the WTO meeting, but activists are dubious. The Qatari capital, Doha, where the meeting will occur, currently doesn’t have enough hotel beds to accommodate the thousands of delegates, journalists, and WTO officials expected to attend, let alone protesters.

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