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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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).

Monday, December 13, 2004

December 13 Events in Iraq

Baghdad and Washington have called upon the United Nations to increase their presence in Iraq to assist in the preparation of the country for elections.

Baghdad. Iraqi Deputy Minister for Defense, Ziyad Catan, has announced the signature of a $131 million contract with the Polish firm Bumar for the delivery of military equipment.

Baghdad. The reconstruction of Iraq has progressed at an "astounding" rate, says USAid Director Andrew Natsios. "The reconstruction of Europe after WWII took six years, and it took us [in Irak] only a year and a half." Natsios also mentioned, "The building of a civil society, non-governmental organizations (...), universities, the values necessary for a democratic government, media, and ja udicial infrastructure to encourage investment."

London. President Ghazi al-Yawar says the US and Britain erred in dissolving the Iraq military in an interview with the BBC on Sunday.

Bogota. Colombian mercenaries recruited for Iraq. A first group of 25 retired officers from the Colombian military and police were recruited at the beginning of December by an American company specializing in oilfield security, says the Bolivian newspaper, El Tiempo.

Ankara. Turkey's Gül observes "misunderstandings" in relationship with Washington. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül admitted that certain misunderstandings arose recently in Turkey's relations with the US, most notably regarding US policy in Iraq which has been critized by Ankara. Mr. Gül aslo added that the European Union's aspirations for Turkey most concerned his government, and that the relations with the United States had taken second place which might have irritated Washington. The minister's comments followed a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party during which US troops were accused of genocide in Iraq.

Damascus. Syrian President Bachir el-Assad and the leader of one of Iraq's largest Shi'ite political parties, Abdelaziz al-Hakim, met in Damascus to discuss security and the upcoming elections. 500,000 Iraqis living in Syria will vote in the elections on 30 January.

14:41 Rome. Iraqi Foreign Minister denies Saddam on hunger strike. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, in Rome for an audience with the Pope, discussed several issues with Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Sodano. Zebari denied that Saddam Hussein had started a hunger strike and promised that Saddam and Tareq Aziz would get a "fair trial according to justice, which Saddam had denied for so long to thousands of Iraqis." According to Zebari, they trial would take place as soon as possible after the elections.

18:17 Two US soldiers killed in Balad. Two US troops were killed and two others wounded in an attack on their convoy outside Balad. Meanwhile, three US soldiers and an Iraq civilian were wounded in an explosion in north Baghdad.

16:41 Tikrit, truck driver killed. An Iraqi truck driver was killed by unknown gunmen when the convoy in which he was travelling, escorted by the Iraqi National Guard, was ambushed on the highway between Mossul and Tikrit near the city of Baiji. The escort was powerless to prevent the attack.

14:19 Rome. Iraqi Foreign Minister makes papal visit. The Iraqi crisis, the responsibility of the government to defend the Iraqi Christian community and violence will be the topics of a meeting between Pope John-Paul II and Hoshyar Zebari, Iraqi Foreign Minister.

13:54 Baghdad. Ex-Saddam era ministers suspend hunger strike. Eight ex-minister's in Saddam Hussein's government suspended their hunger strike after refusing to eat breakfast. Col. Barry Johnson says all prisoner have started eating again. The Iraqi lawyer for ex-Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan confirms that all 11 members of the former régime had gone on the strike to protest poor treatment, confinement, forbidden access to newspapers and radio and the inability to receive visits from family.

13:23 Baquba, 21 dead in road accident. Twenty-one people including two women and an infant, were killed in a road accident in eastern Iraq. The collision was between a bus and a minivan. The minibus contained several containers of fuel as it was heading to Imam Weis, just inside the Iranian border. Iraqi travellers normally transport extra fuel with them because of the high price of gasoline and the long lines to refuel.

13:20 Baghdad. Group linked to al Zarqawi claims credit for Baghdad bombing. A group linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed credit for this morning's suicide bombing near the Green Zone this morning which killed 13 people.

12:59 Baghdad. Eight ex-Saddam ministers refuse food. US Col. Barry Johnson says eight ex-Saddam era ministers are refusing solid foods.

12:12 Baghdad. Sabotage responsible for yesterday's nationwide blackout. The fire which broke out yesteday in the Baija power generating station, plunging all of Iraq into darkness, was caused by sabotage, says Electricity Minister Ayham Al-Samarrai.

11:51 Baghdad. Artillery rounds fired in downtown Baghdad. Two artillery rounds landed in the Green Zone and a third in the parking lot of a hotel.

11:25 Baghdad. Saddam refusing food; Red Cross intervention requested. A lawyer for Saddam Hussein, Emmanuel Ludot, requested the intervention of the Red Cross following the report that Saddam had embarked on a hunger strike.

10:56 Baghdad. Death toll rises to 13 in Baghdad carbombing. The bombing of a checkpoint in front of a small Iraqi National Guard base killed 13.

10:04 Iskandariya. Iraqi National Guardsman killed in attack on checkpoint. An Iraqi National Guardsman was killed in Iskandariya, south of Baghdad and two others wounded in an attack on a checkpoint.

09:51 Kirkuk. Iraqi interpreter working for US military assassinated in Kirkuk. Interpreter for the US military was shot to death today in Kirkuk.

09:24 Fallujah. US airstrikes on Fallujah. US warplanes bombed the Askari district in eastern Fallujah. Meanwhile, no date has been set to permit the return of Fallujah's 300,000 resident.

08:24 Baghdad. Seven dead in Baghdad carbombing. Today's bombing of a checkpoint in downtown Baghdad killed seven civilians and wounded another 19. 90% of the wounded are in serious condition.

07:59 Baghdad. Ten wounded in carbombing. Ten people are wounded in a carbombing of a downtown Baghdad checkpoint at the entrance to a small Iraqi National Guard base.

07:40 Baghdad. Carbombing near Green Zone.

07:37 Seven US troops killed in al Anbar Province. Seven marines were killed in separate incidents in al Anbar Province. No details available.


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