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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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 20, 2004

December 20 Events in Iraq

Washington. Syrian member of parliament Mohammed Habash was denied entry into the United States on 13 December at Dulles International Airport in Washington. Airport officials cancelled his entry visa, which was valid until 2006 and issued by the US embassy in Damascus. Mr. Habash, an MP and Islamic intellectual, said authorities told him that there was a new rule governing the entry of Syrians, who now require special permission of the US Secretary of State. Said Mr.Habash, The attitude of [Homeland Security] was inappropriate toward a legislator and representative of the Syrian people. The [US authorities] are unaware of the different currents of thought [in Islam]. We represent a current of moderate Islam; we reject violence and we do not excuse terrorist acts carried out in Iraq. Habash is the director of the Center for Islamic Studies founded in Damascus in 1986, representing moderate Islam and open to dialog with the West.

Washington. President Bush threatens Syria and Iran with reprisals. Bush threatened Syria and Iran with diplomatic sanctions and economic pressure in a news conference this morning. The President accused both countries of funding the insurgency and of infiltrating their intelligence agents into Iraq.

Washington. President Bush refuses to indicate a calendar for pullout. During today's press conference, the US president refused to give a date for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Baghdad. Iraqi officials accuse al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein loyalists of bombings. Several Iraqi officials accused al Qaeda and persons loyal to Saddam Hussein of carrying out yesterday's bombings in Najaf et Kerbala. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi blamed the alliance between Jordanian Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi et Osama Bin Laden's al Qaeda organization for the devastation and bloodshed. Both Abdel Aziz al-Hakim and Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Saïd al-Hakim concurred with this analysis. The Governor of Najaf, Adnan Zorfi, rounded up 50 suspects today in Najaf and released all but one, an Arab foreigner.

Ankara. Turkey denounces "cowardly trap." Turkish authorities denounced the "cowardly trap" laid for five Turkish police, who were murdered in Kurdish-controlled Iraq. Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the "terrorists" and "assassins" who are without religion, race or country. There are traitors in Iraq who do not respect the efforts expended by Turkey to guarantee the political and territorial integrity of Iraq., added Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül. [N.B. This means Kurdish nationalists--Nur]

Baghdad. Iraqi government announces return of residents to Fallujah. US mililtary and the Iraqi interim government will permit the return Thursday of residents of the al-Andalus district of Fallujah, located in the southwest quadrant of the city. No cars will be allowed. The city has been supplied with food staples, drinking water and fuel. Each family will receive an envelope with $500. For each destroyed home, residents will receive up to $10,000. [N.B. Surely that's paltry--Nur]

Baghdad. 28 members of the People's Mujahideen in Iran returned to Iraq. Twenty-eight Iranian members of the People's Mujahideen, the principal armed opposition to Iran's Islamic régime, were repatriated to Iraq thanks to the efforts of the Red Cross. On 19 and 20 December, the ICRC repatriated 28 Iranians to Iraq. They will be held at Camp Asraf under the authority of the US military.

Yathrib. Iraqi truck driver killed. A truck driver leaving a US base near Yathrib after delivering supplies to a US military base was killed.

Yathrib. Bodies found. The bodies of three Iraqi National Guardsmen kidnapped by rebels on Sunday were found.

Touz. Iraqi National Guardsman killed. An Iraqi national guardsman was killed by armed men.

Sulayman Beik. Interpreter killed. An Iraqi interpreter for US troops was shot dead.

Samarra. One dead, two wounded. An Iraqi woman was killed and two others wounded by a roadside bomb near Samarra.

Tikrit. Turkish truck driver killed. A truck under escort by US troops struck a roadside bomb in downtown Tikrit near the university. The driver was killed.

Samarra. Two politicians assassinated. Two members of the Higher Council for National Salvation party led by Wafiq Hamud al-Samarra'i, former head of Iraqi Military Intelligence until 1991, were assassinated.

Mossul. US and Iraqi troops raid mosque. US and Iraqi forces raided the Ahmed Ismaïl mosque and arrested its imam, Sheik Bachar Awad. Sheik Awad is a member of the Committee of Iraqi Ulema, which has boycotted the 30 January elections. Another unnamed mosque in Mosul was also raided in an attempt to seize "a cleric responsible for incitation to violence", who was not there at the time.

16:14 Teheran. US and Israel behind Shi'ite bombings. Iran has accused the US and Israel of planning the two bombings in the Shi'ite cities Karbala and Najaf in which 66 people were killed. I am certain that the American and Israeli clandestine services were behind those acts., said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme Iranian religious leader. This is a plot whose objective is to distract Iraqis from joining in the exceptional occasion of the 30 January elections. The Americans and the British wish to maintain the façade of holding real elections but their aim is to install their agents in power through superficial elections.

15:52 New York. US soldier found guilty in homicide. A US soldier killed an Iraqi boy employed by the police after having sex with him in a guardtower near Tikrit then lied about it. A US military tribunal found him guilty. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

15:46 Baghdad. Catholic churches cancel Christmas mass. Traditional midnight mass on Christmas eve will be cancelled, says Bishop Andreas Abouna. The mass will be held instead at 5:00 pm on 24 December. Mass on Christmas Day morning will be celebrated at the normal hours, said the bishop.

15:28 Achaki. Four dead. Four men, including three foreigners, were killed by automatic weapons fire in Achaki, 20 km south of Samarra after a roadside bomb struck their vehicle, which part of a civilian convoy.

11:55 Najaf. 50 arrests. Fifty people were arrested by the Iraqi police in Najaf. Provincial Governor Adnan al-Zurufi has closed off the city center after yesterday's fatal bombing.

11:09 Balad. Six bodies found. Six corpses were found near Balad and Baijia. At least two were Iraqi national guardsmen.

09:15 Tikit. Coalition employee assassinated. An Iraqi woman engineer working as a coordinator between the US military and private security contractors was assassinated.

08:30 Paris. Kidnapped French reporters alive. The French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier says he has information that kidnapped French reporters Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, "are alive and well."


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