Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Friday, December 10, 2004

December 10 Events in Iraq

Iraqi Elections
Election Commission Chairman Farid Ayar says that 55 slates for a total 1 377 candidates have been filed for the election of a 275-seat national assembly. Eleven slates were filed for the election of a Kurdish autonomous assembly and another 260 slates for a total of 6,567 candidates were filed for the election of 17 provincial councils and the city of Baghdad. Each provincial council has 41 seats except for Baghdad, which has 51.

Christian parties bank on expatriate vote. Christian political parties in Iraq are counting on a large voter turnout among the Christian expatriate community, which is larger than that within Iraq. We've been here for thousands of years. We should be considered first class citizens, not third class, says Fuad Budagh, Chairman of the National Chaldean Council. Assyrian Democratic Party Chairman Emmanuel Khorchada Yohanna believes that the expatriate vote is essential if Iraqi Christian parties are to win seats in the national asssembly. Approximately 200,000 Iraqi Christian live in Detroit. With their help, we can win 15 seats, says Mr. Yohanna. In the last democratically elected national assembly in 1950, Christians won 6 seats. Though Christians represent 3% of Iraq's population of 24 million, more than one million live abroad. The Iraqi caretaker government is doing everything possible to accomodate expatriate votes. For the eight Iraqi Christian political parties slated for the elections, the outcome of the vote offers the possibility of taking part in the drafting of a permanent Iraqi constitution which will guaranty their identity. Christians are hoping for a secular state guaranteeing freedom of religion, though they recognize the possibility of an Islamic victory at the polls. However, the Christians have not formed a united front nor do they have a common strategy. The larger parties may eclipse them entirely.

Other News
SCIRI official escapes assassination. An official of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq escaped an assassination attempt south of Baghdad.

Moscow. At the conclusion of a meeting with Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was "worried" by continuing violence in Iraq and insisted on the rapid transer of full sovereignty to the Iraqis. Mr. Putin also said that conditions were not suitable for a return of Russian companies to Iraq. This came as a surprise as Premier Iyad Allawi said on Tuesday during a visit to Moscow that Russia would play a "leading role" in reconstruction.

Kuwait. Iraqi Minister denies involvement of Iran. Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari denied that Iran was seeking to influence the outcome of the Iraqi elections in order to increase its influence in the region during a visit to Kuwait. We have has assurances from the Iranians that they will not interfere in internal Iraqi affairs, said Mr. al Jaafari, who is also chairman of the Dawa Party. In an interview published on Wednesday, The Washinton Post had reported that Abdallah II of Jordan was wary of the establishment of a pro-Iranian Iraqi government which would boost Iranian influence in the region. The Jordanian king also charged that Iran plans to send over a million Iranians to Iraq with the objective of voting on 30 January. The Washington Post also published an interview with Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar in which he made much the same arguments. The situation proves beyond a doubt that Iran is clearly interfering in our affairs, said Mr. al Yawar, affirming that Teheran continues to spend "a considerable amount of money" as the Iraqi election approach.

Baghdad. Gasoline shortage reaches critical proportions. The gasoline shortage in Iraq is worsening, according to a US report leaked to Reuters. If the current situation is not corrected rapidly, confidence of the public in the caretaker government will deteriorate significantly, says the report. The shortage has caused long lines at fuel pumps while the electric power supply remains intermittant. The report blames the insurgency and criminal gangs for the crisis.

Beirut. The difference between the Sunni and the Shia uprisings. Sheikh Hassan Zergani, personal representative of Moqtada al Sadr in Lebanon, explained the difference between the two uprisings in an interview with L'Orient-Le Jour. The Shi'a were oppressed for 35 years during Saddam Hussein's regime. The fall of Saddam Hussein has given us breathing room. For the Sunnis, the opposite has happened. But we Shi'a obey the grand ayatollahs, and none of them have called for Jihad against the Coalition. The uprising in Najaf was purely defensive in nature....And we have always harshly condemned any attack by the Coalition on an Iraqi city.

London. General's comments ignite media firestorm. Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Michael Walker, suggested that press coverage led to insurgent attacks on a British regiment deployed in Iraq. Five members of the Black Watch were killed during a recent mission in central Iraq. Their installation, Camp Dogwood, came under daily mortar, RPG or rocket attacks. General Walker said he was "certain" that media coverage on the deployment had made the job easy for the rebels on BBC's Newsnight on Thursday. The Daily Mail reacted Friday by granting editorial space to civilian organizations supporting Scottish regiments and emphasized that the British military itself had publicized troop movements. Jeff Duncan, who heads the "Campaign to Save Scottish Regiments", said the general's criticism was scandalous.

18:12 Baghdad. Elections, 198 political parties on ballot. 198 Iraqi political parties will participate in the 30 January elections. Elections Commission Chairman Farid made the announcement as the deadline for ballot registration was extended until 15 December.

17:38 Dacca. Two hostages freed. A Bengladeshi ministry has announced the release of two truck drivers, Sri Lankan Dinesh Dharmendran Rajaratnam and an unnamed Bangladeshi, kidnapped in Iraq on 28 October as they were delivering supplies to a US military base.

16:56 Geneva. Hundreds of corpses in a Fallujah warehouse. Hundreds of cadavers were stored in a Fallujah warehouse, say Red Cross officials, who were admitted yesterday into Fallujah by the US military. ICRC spokesman Florian Westhphal said US troops had placed the bodies there. The organization will attempt to identify the remains and inform the families concerned.

16:25 Cairo. OPEC cuts production. Following an emergency meeting in Cairo, OPEC has announced that it will cut oil production by 1 million barrels a day.

15:19 Mossul. Two helicopters collide, two US servicemen killed. Two US soldiers were killed and another four wounded in a collision in the area of Mossul.

13:44 USA. Marine of Lebanese origin to be court-martialed in North Carolina. Marine Corporal Hassoun must answer the charge of desertion before a military court. US military authorities allege that Hassoun faked his own kidnapping to resolve an intolerable personal issue.

13:33 Rome. Father of journalist Enzo Baldoni asks, "Why did no one try to save my son?" Antonio Baldoni, father of slain Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni wants to know why no effort was made to ransom his son from his Iraqi captors. UNESCO has just awared a journalism prize to Antonio Baldoni in memory of his son, Enzo. Baldoni now wants to know why the Italian government worked assiduouly to obtain the release of two mercenaries and two aid workers, all Italians, but did nothing for Enzo. "Someone told me that my son knew too much and was considered a threat. But now, there's the silence of a tomb."

11:31 Baghdad. Postponed elections? Three ministers threaten to resign. Three ministers in the Iraqi caretaker government threaten to resign if the elections scheduled for 30 January are not postponed. According to a story in the Saudi newspaper, Al-Medina Al-Munawara, Justice Minister Duhan Al-Hasan, Interior Minister in Charge of Security Hussein Kamal and another minister believe that the police will be unable to guarantee the security of the polling places and of the candidates themselves.

11:17 Baghdad, an Iraqi is killed. An Iraqi civilian was killed today by the detonation of a roadside bomb near the town of Dujail, 40 km north of Baghdad. Meanwhile a well-known 55 year-old Iraqi contractor working for the US Army was kidnapped in the rebel-controlled area north of the capital.

10:57 Makhul, trucker ambushed. A Turkish truck transporting supplies to a US military base was struck by an anti-tank rocket and burst into flames in Makhul, north of Baiji. No news on the condition of the driver.

10:35 Russia repeats threat to act preemptively. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov says Russia reserves the right to launch preemptive strikes on terrorist bases anywhere in the world but excludes the use of nuclear weapons.

10:13 Baquba, attack on Iraqi National Guard. Three Iraqi civilians were wounded this morning in Baquba by a bomb meant for an Iraqi National Guard patrol. The two men and a woman were passengers on a bus when the device exploded.

09:50 Marine accused of desertion. Marine Corporal Wassel Ali Hassoun, born in Lebanon, was working as an interpreter in a US military base near Fallujah when he was supposedly kidnapped on 21 June. He resurfaced 19 days later in Lebanon where he turned himself in to US diplomats. Hassoun has maintained that he was captured by Islamic extremists.

08:52 Fallujah, marine is killed. A US marine was killed in a military operation in al Anbar Province. No details were provided.

08:52 Elections, candidate registration deadline extended. The Iraqi Elections Commission has extended the filing deadline for candidate registration to 15 December. The earlier deadline was Friday 10 December.

08:51 Marine found guilty in slaying of wounded Iraqi. A verdict of guilty was pronounced in the court martial of a US marine who killed a disarmed and wounded 16 year-old Iraqi in Sadr City. Sgt. Johnny Horne shot the gravely wounded Iraqi youth during clashes in Sadr City on 18 August 2004. Horne faces a 10-year prison sentence.


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