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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

March 30 Events in Iraq

Found some time.

Mossul. Six civilians killed in clashes between rebels and US forces.

Baghdad. A school security guard was killed in the explosion of a car bomb in Abu Ghraib.

Baquba. Two insurgents killed by the premature explosion of a roadside bomb which they were planting.

Balad. Rebel killed in clash with Iraqi army.

Doujaïl. A truck driver was kidnapped and a cab passenger killed.

Al-Sedira. An Iraqi soldier was killed when a mortar round hit a checkpoint.

Shirgat. One rebel was killed and another wounded in a police raid north of Shirgat.

Baïji. Two brothers, one who worked as truck driver for the army and the other who enlisted in the Iraqi army, were executed by a group linked to Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.

Baghdad. US General Lance Smith of CENTCOM says US troop levels may fall at the beginning of 2006 if the insurrection weakens.

Paris and Brussels. Two demonstrations were held pleading for the release of kidnapped French reporter Florence Aubenas, and her assistant, Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi.

Washington. General Sanchez authorized brutal interrogation methods. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez permitted interrogation techniques which violated US military regulations. Sanchez ordered the use of dogs, stress positions, sensorial stress and "false flag" questioning where detainees were led to believe that they had been transferred to a third country for a torture session.

New York. Volcker Report: Paris and Washington reaffirm support for Kofi Annan

Berlin. Al-Zarqawi planned a chemical attack in Europe. The German monthy, Cicero, has printed a story saying Jordanian Abu Moussab al-Zarqawi planned to obtain chemicals from the North Causasus and Georgia for use in attacks in southern Germany and Berlin. Al-Zarqawi is said to have recruited a 150-man terrorist network inside Germany to carry out the attacks. [This is likely disinformation. The same story was about Jordan in April 2003--Nur]

Damascus. Syrian goverment protests accusations of involvement in the Iraqi insurgency. The Syrian Foreign Minister issued an official protest yesterday against Baghdad's claim that two Syrian intelligence agents, Ahmed Farra and Mahmoud al-Rammah, posing as leather merchants, delivered assistant to the insurgency. Syria has demanded the immediate release of the pair.

Basrah. British military apologizes for raid on residence of member of Parliament. The British Army apologized for a raid on the residence of Mansour al-Tamimi which was based on false information. British troops raided the home of the influential tribal leader in al-Zabair, south of Basrah, and arrested 10 family members.

Ankara. Turkey may grant permission to the US to use one of its military bases as a logistical center for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The airbase at Incirlik in Adana Province in southern Turkey may be used by Washington for civilian and military aircraft. The permission of Parliament will not be required since it had already granted the use of the base for humanitarian shipments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

23:42 Agreement on conditions for Sunni candidate for Speaker of the Assembly. Negotiations on a Sunni Speaker of the Assembly have resumed. Shi'ite demands are that the candidate 1) may not have served in Saddam's parliament, 2) may not have been a member of the Ba'ath Party and 3) is not a member of Iyad Allawi's "Iraqi List". Meanwhile Iraq's Sunnis are demanding the Defense portfolio, the Presidency and several important ministries. The Shi'ites categorically exclude the participation of any ex-member of the Ba'ath party in the new government.

23:38 Washington. Federal judge Henry Kennedy has blocked the transfer of more than 13 Yemeni prisoners out of the Guantanamo detention center without the exercise of their right to appeal their incarceration status. The decision arrives as Human Rights Watch reported the "disappearance" of a Yemani prisoner arrested in Egypt and transferred to Guantanamo 18 months ago. Kennedy noted that the USA acted unilaterally and silently to place Guantanmo prisoners out of the jurisdiction of US courts. The government is obliged to give detainees 30 days' notice before initiating their transfer to give attorneys a chance to challenge the decision.

19:53 Nassiriya. Italian troops find 1000 Kg of explosives in An Nasr, north of Nassiriya.

18:56 Mosul. Clashes between US troops and insurgents kill 6 and wound 5.

14:50 Sofia. Washington asks Bulgaria to cancel troop pullout. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick has asked Bulgaria to keep its 462-man contingent in Iraq. The Bulgarian goverment is to make a final decision today which will be submitted to Parliament in mid-April for ratification. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passi says his government prefers not to be pressured before the upcoming elections. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (communist opposition) is leading in voter opinion polls ahead of June's elections and says it will demand an immediate pullout if it wins the elections.

14:43 Bucharest. No news on the condition of kidnapped Romanian reporters Marie-Jeanne Ion and Sorin Miscoci who were on assignment in Iraq for the private network Prima TV, and Edward Ohanesian of the Romanian daily, Libera. Romanian President Traian Basescu says there have been "favorable developments" suggesting their release. Romanian Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu says no ransom request has been received, although a Romanian businessman of Syrian origin, Omar Hayssam, says he has been contacted twice by the kidnappers.

02:28 London. Labour MPs plan anti-Blair revolt. Seventeen Labour MPs plan to defy Prime Minister Tony Blair by officially opposing the war in Iraq. The May 5th elections are expected to cause Labour a loss of seats in Parliament. MP Alan Simpson will head the group, Against The War.

02:18 Bucharest. Romanian TV says a ransom request has been received from the kidnappers of three Romanian reporters.

01:43 Washington. Rumsfeld plays down difficulties in forming new Iraq goverment. Rumseld dismissed Iraq's difficulties in forming a new government, saying it took the US Founding Fathers 13 years to form a government following the Revolutionary War.

00:20 New York. Kofi Annan says he has been exonerated of wrongdoing in the Oil for Food scandal by the Volcker Report.

The Role of Islam in the New Iraq

A glimpse provided by Salwan BINNI and Ned PARKER in L'Orient-Le Jour.

The parliamentary triumph of the Shi'ite parties supported by a clergy that was once denigrated and spied upon by Saddam Hussein has provoked a political debate on the role of Islam in new Iraq. After 84 years of secular government, the likely future Premier of Iraq, Ibrahim Jaafari, has said in an interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel that he is in favor of Sharia while assuring that its application would not be as strict as in Saudi Arabia. His party, the al-Da'wa al-Islamiyya (Dawa), like its rival, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), spent years in exile in Iran and does not conceal the desire to build an Islamic state.

As a Muslim living in a Muslim state, amidst other Muslims, I would like to see Islam observed, says Jawad al-Maliki, Dawa's Number 2, who added that Islam will be imposed only if it is the will of the people.

A recent opinion poll says he's partially right. 48% believe that religion should play a role in government against 46% who favor separation of religion and state, while only 4% favor the imposition of Sharia.

For the time being the debate is focused on the Fundamental Law, which stipulates that Islam is "a source for legislation". The secular parties remain attached to the inclusion of similar wording into the Permanent Constitution, which must be drafted and adopted before the end of the year.

Outgoing Premier Allawi wrote in a letter released last weekend intended to outline his conditions for participation in the new government. In it, Allawi said that the Shi'ite clergy does has no place in government. The letter was actually a virulent attack on the Shi'ite clergy led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who played a major role in the the 30 January elections and in the victory of the United Iraqi Alliance which obtained 146 seats out of 275 in the National Assembly. Even if this religious figure, emblematic of Iraqi Shi'ites, has never explicitly demanded the imposition of Sharia, he hopes that laws will not contradict the principles of Islam.

But for the Muslim clergy and its supporters, it is a question of redressing the erosion of their power by the state beginning with the revolution led in 1958 by Abdel Karim Kassem.

In December 2003, the religious parties, led by SCIRI's Abdel Aziz Hakim of SCIRI, attempted to revoke the 1959 law concerning personal status which imposes the rules to be observed by religious courts concerning marriage, divorce and inheritance. The law granted judges little marginal discretion in interpreting Sharia, gave women equal rights in a divorce proceedings and placed religious courts under the control of civilian courts. For the clergy, such measures, beginning as early as the 1921 revolution, have sapped their influence.

In the next few months the religious parties will try once again to formalize their convictions. But it will be difficult to get it adopted. The Constitution not only has to be approved by the majority of Iraqis but can be rejected by only three provinces if the "No" vote against is 2/3.

On the eve of the formation of a new government, Saad Jawa, chairman of the political wing of SCIRI, summarized position of the Shi'ite Islamist camp: No law in violation of Islamic values can be adopted. It's not a question of the beliefs of the clergy but of values which are more than a thousand years old.

Wolfowitz at the Door of the World Bank

The best laid plans...gang aft awry...

Just because I won't be blogging daily (athough there are events which beg me to do so), it doen't mean I'm giving it up entirely.

The nominaiton of warrior and plotter Paul Wolfowitz as World Bank President has just been endorsed by European ministers. Wolfowitz predicably reacted by intoning a homily straight out of his formerly hidden "bleeding heart liberal" nature (as if...): Helping people lift themselves out of poverty is truly a noble mission. Nothing is more gratifying than helping people in need.

Earlier this morning, Christian Comeliau, Honorary Professor at Geneva's University Institute for Studies in Development, wrote an opinion piece in Le Monde, reminding us that the mission of the World Bank is not "to help the needy". Comeliau suggests that Wolfowitz had been charged with reinforcing US control over this international institution and to keep--borrowing a term from Jacques Chirac--les mauvais élèves in line with Bush's unilateral aims.

Should we be alarmed by the American nomination of Paul Wolfowitz as World Bank President? Of course we should. Because based on what we know about this candidate—his ultraconservatism, his role in the planning the crusade of Good against Evil, his influence in the decision to go to war against Iraq—his nomination is yet another provocation delivered by the most conservative elements on the Bush team and belies Bush’s timid overture which we thought we saw at the beginning of his second term in office.

We should also be alarmed because the nomination demonstrates, once again, Europe’s political insignificance. France and Germany have already let it be known that they will raise no public objection against the nomination (unless we are forced to: but you know, we have our own candidate for the WTO…). We seem to be without a pillar to ground any coherent opposition…and that’s nothing to celebrate.

Nonetheless, the murmur of protest which we are beginning to hear, particularly from certain NGOs, is of a paradoxical nature and needs to be examined. The murmur reveals a certain naïveté on the part of the NGOs about the role of the World Bank and diverges from criticism typically leveled at the bank in “progressive” circles. We must ask ourselves with grave concern if such an aggressive candidate is not going to end up transforming or even undermining the prospects for development assistance with which the bank is commonly associated and, to a greater extent, the multilateral organizations providing the funding which supports the global monetary system.

If we listen to statements often repeated by current World Bank President James Wolfensohn—in harmony with long-winded and self-righteous international rhetoric on the subject--the priority of the World Bank is nothing but the sacrosanct mission to combat poverty and should remain so. Wolfowitz himself seems to have lost no time in jumping on the bandwagon, since he has already claimed he is not as cynical as people say he is and that his heart bleeds when he considers the misery that exists in the world.

Without a doubt the time has come to revise our superficial notions concerning the role of international institutions, particularly those organizations created by the Bretton Woods Agreements--the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank--and to place them in the historical context of these institutions, not in order to demonize or to sanctify them, but to bear in mind that they are, and have always been since their inception following World War II, tools of finance (naturally) as well as organizations meant to promote a certain school of thought, to intervene in economies and finally, to establish rules of governance and management which have the aim of safeguarding and expanding the dominant world system which they represent.

It is within this context that we are obliged to interpret the official mandate handed to the World Bank in its original charter, which has remained unchanged. Contrary to what most of us believe, there is no mention of combatting poverty. The agreements mention only the investment of capital for productive purposes, the promotion of private foreign investment and the promotion of the long-range balanced growth of international trade. The monetary system governed by its provisions is not meant to be an American system, even if it closely adheres to US economic philosophy. Its charter provides for a global monetary system run by a board of directors with representation from all countries. A revision to this original mandate has never once been requested in the last sixty years.

From this historical perspective, one might cast an eye of indifference upon the nomination of Mr. Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. From all evidence his nomination is not an indication of a progressive shift. In any case, have no reason to expect a progressive turn of events in the world in which we now live. But we need to make a clarification.

Brilliant and intelligent, Mr. Wolfowitz does not appear to be a complacent individual or a demagogue. If he were to become World Bank President, we might expect to see a combination of cynicism and pragmatism in his behavior and in his decisions. The World Bank will be doubtlessly be seen as less paternalistic and less benevolent under his direction than under its current leadership but it will be more in alignment with geopolitical and geoeconomic realities.

Without denying the positive aspects of the role played by this institution, more than one circle of opinion and political milieu understand that a structure less monopolized by economic power is desirable for a global monetary system. Such a shift would at last permit pluralism among nations in their choices for development and international relations. Against Wolfowitz or without him, the time has come to start thinking about such a change.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Banksy Strikes at the Brooklyn Museum

More Banksy.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

March 24 Events in Iraq

Beirut. Hariri assassination report. Peter Fitzgerald's 3-man investigating team issued its report on the assassination of Rafik Hariri at the heavily fortified offices of the UN in Beirut. The report blamed both Lebanese and Syrian intelligence for serious shortcomings and cited Syria for creating a climate of tension. The team said a transparent, thorough investigation could not be made without a hierarchical shakeup of the Lebanese intelligence service and observed that ethnic and sectarian loyalties interfered with making headway. Meanwhile, the judge charged with following the investigation, Michel Abu Arrage, resigned.

Baghdad. Mrs. Maryam al-Rayes of the UIA says Iraqi Parliament may sit on Monday to confirm the cabinet if an agreement can be reached with the Kurds. Meanwhile Haydar al-Mussawi of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress says negotiations are likely to go on another week.

Baghdad. The 146 members of Parliament of the UIA will meet tomorrow to chose their candidates for the vice presidency. They will also make their selection for Speaker of the House.

Baghdad. Al Iraqiya TV continues its broadcasts of confessions. A man claiming to be a Syrian intelligence officer, Mohammed Abdel Rahman, aka Abou Abdo, says he is a colonel in the Syrian intelligence services. Rahman confessed that he was sent to Iraq as a leather merchant to supply money and guidance to the insurgency in Mossul. He also claims he commanded 20 insurgents. Rahman further related that he recruited insurgents to be sent to Latakia in Syria for training and that Syria collaborated with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Syrian General Ali al-Mohammed supposedly issued orders to him to "terrorize the Americans" and ensure continuing chaos in Iraq so that they would not consider invading Syrian. [Laughable]

London. BBC reports that Lord Goldsmith changed his mind several times in issuing an opinion on the legality of the war on Iraq.

New York. UN accepts accusations against Benon Sevan in Oil for Food scandal.

Baiji. Three Iraqi soldiers were kidnapped as they were riding in a taxi.

Sofia. US Ambassador James Pardew asks the Bulgarian parliament to reverse their decision to pull out their troops.

Beirut. Hundreds of pro-Syrian protesters gathered outside the fortified U.S. embassy in Beirut yesterday.

21:01 Baghdad. Explosion reported in US-Iraqi military base 40 km north of Baghdad.

20:41 Rome. Public Prosecutors Office has ordered the judicial seizure of the car in which Nicola Calipari was travelling. The car is in a military base in Iraq.

18:06 Rome. Giuliana Sgrena goes home from hospital, with her partner, Pier Scolari.

17:08 Damascus. Syria arrests 40 Kurds. A Syrian human rights lawyer, Anwar Bunni, reports that more than 40 Kurds, including women, were arrested in Aleppo after Nowruz (New Year) celebration.

16:09 Mossul. Five killed in friendly fire incident. Soldiers and police exchange fire.

10:16 Baghdad. Mortar round hits police staiton; US soldier killed. A US soldier on guard duty on the rooftop of a police station in the Doura quarter of south Baghdad was killed.

08:28 Doha. Group claims credit in kidnapping of German civilian. The "Protectors of Islam Brigades" kidnap German national and demand the release of all Muslim prisoners incarcerated in Germany.

00:49 London: British mission in Iraq to last into 2006. House of Commons Defence Commission confirms continuing deployment.

Kyrgyzstan's Semi-Violent Pink and Yellow Revolution

Pink and Yellow Revolution Posted by Hello

Update 26 March: Nope, the US doesn't like it.

Update: Statement below incorrect. US Ambassador to Bishkek Stephen Young says US played a role in in the "Tulip" revolution.

Update: W and Rummy don't seem to like it! They've called the Russians asking what they can do to restore order.

Has color-coded revolution leapfrogged from Beirut to Bishkek? One thing is for certain, the monitoring apparatus of OCSE is on-site (and rather far afield). OCSE backs up the Opposition’s claim of intimidation and ballot fraud in which it only “won” only 6 out of 75 seats in Parliament in the 13 March elections.

Shouting their slogan, Kel-kel (Out!), the people of Kyrgyzstan, not as photogenic or well dressed as the handsome youth of Beirut, have taken to the streets, sweeping up from the south and into the capital, Bishkik, putting President to flight and forcing the resignation of his Defense and National Security ministers. The pan-national alliance of veteran Communists, Islamic notables, tribal chieftains, young Muslim militants, and gangs of unemployed youth supported by dissident government figures, behind the revolution has won a ruling from the Supreme Court, nullifying the fraudulant elections.

President Askar Akayev, a liberal reformer at the outset, made Kyrgyzstan his personal fief. A secular physicist in this Sunni Muslim country, Akayev imported free-market ideology only to pounce on the country’s main economic sectors of gold mining, alcohol and tobacco sale and telecommunications to bring them under his family’s control. Establishing himself and his kin as oligarchs, he then engineered a change in the country’s constitution, throwing out term limits. During his career as Oligarch-in-Chief, Akayev invested nothing into the country, ballooned its foreign debt, provoked a severe housing and employment crisis, imprisoned vocal opposition leader Felits Kulov on a trumped up charge of embezzlement and inevitably cheated to stay in power.

[Note: Putin would not let Akayev's plane land in Russian territory--he must not have appreciated that base lease to the Americans.]

Following the 13 March elections, the Opposition found itself with just 6 seats in the national legislature. In the south and west of the country, where the opposition was strongest, Akeyev’s picks (and virtual unknowns) won in the districts where they ran. Demonstrations, spearheaded by opposition leaders Kurmanbek Bakiev and Rosa Otunbayeva, began in Osh and Jalalabad then transformed into a march on the capital, Bishkek. The moment of truth came for Akayev and his family after Minister of State Osmanakhan Ibraimov resigned in protest of Akeyev’s planned use of force resulting in police and army going over to the Opposition.

Let's take a look at the recipe for spontaneous revolution which we discussed in February to see if all the ingredients were present in Kyrgyzstan:

1. A semi-dictatorship or a country too reliant on the good graces of the West to shoot the demonstrators. Check. Akayev's government was a liberal kleptocracy. There is a US airbase in the country (this may be irrelevant, though) and the government was reliant on Western loans to stay afloat.

2. An election in which the government is forced to commit fraud to stay in power. Check. Fraud on a massive scale.

3. Cooperation with local media to ensure that the fraud is substantiated and reported. Check. Russian radio Moscow Echo and news agency Itar-Tass, both of which are followed in the country, played a major role in reporting the fraud. Futhermore, the Opposition rallyed all its forces in Osh following the election where it set up a provisional assembly, or kouroultaï, which could not escape national media attention.

4. An opposition figurehead who steps out of the targeted government as a reformer. Check. In this case more than one: Ex-Premier Ex-premier Kurmanbek Bakiyev, ex-Foreign Minister Rosa Otunbayeva and others.

5. A sincere desire for change on the part of the population which cannot be challenged. Check. The people were plunged into poverty and exploited by the Akayev family's strangehold on government and business.

***Ramifications*** Kyrgyzstan may indeed the the test case for Egypt, where the opposition is preparing to contest the Mubarek dynasty's 20-year grasp on power in upcoming elections. One extraordinary aspect of the revolution in Kyrgyzstan is the alliance of Islamic clerics and militant Muslim youth with Communists to bring down a family cabal and a sham democracy. All it takes is election fraud...and we may see Egypt's [color choice pending] revolution.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

March 22 Events in Iraq

Washington. King Abdallah II lashed out at Syria and Iran. Abdallah was in Washington to attend a meeting with leaders of the US Jewish community where he blamed Syria, Hezbollah and Iran for regional instability. The King also met with Condoleezza Rice for an hour and a half.

San Diego. Navy SEALs sue AP. Five Navy SEALs are suing Associated Press and one of its reporters for publishing 15 photos in which the SEALs are seen mistrating prisoners. The group argues that their lives were put in danger by the disclosure of their identity in the images.

Baghdad. An 11-year old Iraqi child was killed by a mortar round which fell on her school. In the Shi'ite Kazimiyah district, rebels were unable to detonate a carbomb near a marketplace. Also, a policeman was killed an another wounded as they attempted to defuse a bomb in east Baghdad.

Dhoulouiyah. Two Iraqi soliders were executed. Meanwhile, a truck was ambushed and its driver killed.

Erbil. Massoud Barzani forbids the flying of the Iraqi flag in Kurdistan, saying it recalls the crimes and collective punishment Kurds faced for decades. Barzani demands a new national flag.

21:48 Samarra. Reporters visit rebel camp. A group of journalists visited an insurgent camp which US and Iraqi forces claim to have cleaned out. Conversations with the militants holding the camp reveal that the rebels were able to repell the attack.

18:26 Sofia. The Bulgarian Defense Minister has fixed 31 December 2005 as the pullout date for the Bulgarian contingent from Iraq, says spokeman Dimitar Tsonev.

18:03 Algiers. Leaders at the Arab League Summit reacted tepidly to Iraq's call to solidarity. However, the leaders reaffirmed respect for the unity and the sovereignty of the country, as well as its independence and gave a commitment to abstain from meddling in its internal affairs. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zébari accused Iraqis neighbors of "lax control" of their borders which threatens Iraq's security.

18:02 Tikrit. US and Iraqi forces announce they have killed 85 insurgents in raids on their camp north of Baghdad. 240 commando troop in 18 vehicles took part in the raid. The joint command claims they faced mortar, machine gun, RPG and light arms fire. Routed insurgents escaped in 30 speedboats across lake Tharthar. Some of the dead insurgents are said to be Saudi, Algerian and Syrian.

17:56 Mossul. Two US soldiers and two Iraqis were wounded in a suicide carbombing in Mossul. The target was a US convoy One Iraqi and One US soldier returned to duty.

17:55 Baghdad. UIA hopes to call a session of Parliament on Saturday to approve the new government.

16:02 Baghdad. Saddam's stepbrother admits guilt in murders. Sabawi Ibrahim Al Hassan, stepbrother of Saddam Husseins and head of the intelligence services, admitted to involvement in the assassination of four Iraqi ex-ministers in the 1970s. Al Hassan is also thought to be responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Kuwaitis during the 1990 Iraqi invasion. In addition, he is charged with transferring money out of the country under an alias to various Arab financial institutions.

07:30 Moussaïeb. Gunmen fired on a group of students and teachers at an Sunni Islamic school. One teacher was killed and.the school's director and two students were wounded.

30-Year Chronology of Bombings and Assassinations in Lebanon

Sometimes you need a little historical perspective...

08 July 1972: Ghassan Kanafani of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is killed in an Israeli-planted car bomb in Beirut
10 May 1976: US Ambassador Francis Malloy is assassinated by Maronite agents.
03 Jan 1977: Carbomb kills 50 in Christian East Beirut
16 Mar 1977: Kamal Jumblatt assassinated by Syrian agents
04 Sep 1981: French Ambassador assassinated
01 Oct 1981: PLO headquarters in Beirut carbombed, killing 250.
15 Dec 1981: Iraqi Embassy carbombed, 27 dead.
14 Sep 1982: President Bashir al-Gemayel assassinated by bomb at Phalange party headquarters
11 Nov 1982: Israeli military headquarters in Tyre destroyed by bomb, killing 75 Israelis and 16 of their prisoners.
18 Apr 1983: US Embassy blown up by Fatah suicide truck bombing, killing 63, including Middle East chiefs of the CIA.
23 Oct 1983: Hezbollah suicide truck-bomb of US Marine barracks kills 241.
23 Oct 1983 Hezbollah suicide bombing of French military HQ kills 58.
04 Nov 1983. Hezbollah suicide bombing of Israeli Military HQ in Tyre kills 60.
04 Mar 1985: 12 Hezbollah leaders are killed when an Israeli bomb explodes at their office in Maarakeh, near Tyre.
08 Mar 1985: Car bomb targets Hizbullah leader Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, who is uninjured, but more than 80 are killed and 200 wounded. The operation was conducted by CIA-trained units, authorized by President Reagan and funded by the Saudis.
22 Nov 1989: President-elect Rene Mu’awwad (Maronite supported by Syria) is assassinated.
22 Oct 1990: Christian ex-militia leader Dany Shamoun assassinated.
20 Mar 1991: Lebanese Defense Minister and 8 others killed in carbomb.
30 Dec 1991: Carbomb kills 20 in Muslim quarter of Basta.
16 Feb 1992: Hezbollah leader Abbas Mussawi assassinated in Dibchitt, south Lebanon.
20 Dec 1993: Truck bomb destroys Kataëb Party (Christian) HQ, killing 3 and wounding 100.
29 Jan 1994: Naëb Maaitah, First Secretary of the Jordanian Embassy, assassinated.
07 Feb 1994: 4 Israeli soldiers in south Lebanon assassinated by Hezbollah.
27 Feb 1994: 11 Christians killed and 54 wounded in bomb attack on Beirut's Zuq Mikael church.
31 Apr 1995: Sunni radical Sheikh Nizar Halabi assassinated.
09 Apr 1996: Lebanese boy killed by bomb in Bradchitt, Southern Lebanon. Israel suspected.
03 Jan 2000: Rocket attack on Russian Embassy kills 2, wounds 7.
24 Jan 2002: Christian ex-militia leader Elie Hobeika assassinated. (Suspect in 1982 Sabra and Chatilla camp massacres)
10 May 2002: Mohammad Djihad Ahmed Djibril, son of PFLP leader Ahmed Djibril, killed by carbomb.
19 Jul 2004 Hezbollah leader Ghaleb Awali assassinated by carbomb.
01 Oct 2004 Druze MP Marwan Hamadi is wounded and chauffeur killed by carbomb.
14 Feb 2005 Ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri assassinated by carbomb.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Events in Lebanon: Update

Taken from Monday's L'Orient-Le Jour, the "blotter" of events below reveal tension and subterfuge as well as genunine efforts by some to avoid conflict. In reading it, I was not particularly heartened about the immediate future. A cast of characters from the '80s--the Jumblatts, the Gemayels and the Aouns, the Karamis--looms large over the Lebanese scene. Clans and oligarchs. Meanwhile, Mr. Jumblatt, the point man for the opposition, angles for the post of future Prime Minister.

  • On Saturday, the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, asked that Prime Minister-designate Omar Karami be decisive in supporting the upcoming legislative elections and in ensuring that they are held. Jumblatt added that following the elections, which we [the opposition] are going to win, we shall have a new mandate, a new President, and a new government all of which will work to strengthen the country and to form an objective alliance with Syria, in dignity and without blind conformity. Jumblatt did not neglect to bash Syria and the criminal security apparatus which is trying to sow terror, spread rumors, and increase car bombings to sabotage national unity. Dozens of citizens' delegations called on Mr. Jumblatt at his Moukhtara residence to demonstrate their support for the Independence Intifada, an to recall the assassinations of Kamal Jumblatt and Rafic Hariri. Jumblatt told his visitors that although the Syrians have left, there remains what he termed, "partisan residue" engaged in sowing discord. Jumblatt was quoted as saying, The world is changing. Freedom will spread throughout the Arab world, including Palestine.
  • Walid Jumblatt also addressed a crowd of veterans of Israeli prisons and their families during the day, saying that "rancor and hatred" have blinded, destroyed and falsified history and that ...our Arab dimension, the sacrifice of Syrian troops and the matter of Palestine will not be forgotten.
  • The US Ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, returned to Beirut unexpectedly yesterday. He first went Moukhtara--where he met with Walid Joumblatt for one hour--then to pay his respects at the tomb of Rafik Hariri. Jeffrey Feltman then left for a 3-week personal leave and will be replaced in the interim by David Satterfield, Deputy Secretary of State for the Middle East.
  • Egyptian President Hosni Moubarak invited Walid Jumblatt to Cairo on Sunday for talks in advance of the Arab Summit. Following the summit, Mubarek will travel to Paris for talks on Lebanon with Jacques Chirac.
  • Irish Deputy Police Commissioner Peter Fitzgerald is to submit a report to Kofi Annan this week on the Hariri assassination. Fitzgerald also met for an hour with Jeffrey Feltman over the weekend. (Washington and Paris have finally understood the delicate mix of freedom-democracy-sovereignty and Arabness).
  • The Christian Maronite Patriarch Sfeir does not want to see Emile Lahoud leave office until after the elections. Sfeir is about to return from the United States, where he met with President Bush and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Fordham University. Sfeir celebrated Palm Sunday mass in Brooklyn.
  • Damascus hopes that the Arab Summit will throw some backing their way and to the current Lebanese government. Damascus will advance claims that popular unrest in Lebanon is the result of US pressures. Secretary General Amir Mussa has offered his services in arranging talks between Beirut and Damascus. Meanwhile, the Summit itself must struggle with internal financial and structural problems.
  • Rafik Hariri's sister, MP Bahia Hariri (representing Sidon), was recently in Moscow, where she thanked President Putin for joining Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schröder and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for their recent declaration concerning Lebanon.
  • A US Congressional delegation headed by Darrel Issa arrived Sunday in Lebanon and travelled to Koraytem to present their condolences to widow of Rafik Hariri, Nazek. Bahige Tabbarah, Fouad Siniora and US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman were also present. The delegation and Mr. Feltman then went to the residence of Marwan Hamadi.
  • Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has made two gestures toward Lebanon's Sunni community in a move to avoid sectarian strife. On Saturday he made a surprise visit to Dar el-Fatwa, where he met with Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani. On Sunday he dispatched the families of Hezbollah Martyrs and the al-Mehdi Islamic Boy Scouts to pray at the tomb of Rafik Hariri.
  • Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk el-Shareh announced that Syria would do everything possible to withdraw its army from Lebanon.
  • The Free Patriotic Movement, a Aounist group, held a conference in Zahlé which General Michel Aoun addressed by telephone. Saturday the FPM commemorated teh 40th birthday of Joseph Aoun, one of the victims of the Hariri carbombing. Also present was former Prime Minister Amin Gemayel, Nadim Bashir Gemayel and a delegation of Lebanese Army officers. [Tick, tick...time bomb there I'm afraid--Nur].
  • On Sunday, there was a torchlight procession to pray for the rapid recovery of MP Bassel Fleyhane, who was seriously burned in the Hariri carbombing. Shadowed by a large police contingent, the marchers sang the Lebanese national anthem as they advanced to the site of the car bombing, which has been sealed off from the public.
    Several opposition political figures--Nassib Lahoud, Michel Pharaon, Bahige Tabbarah, Akram Chehayeb, Fouad el-Saad, Bassem es-Sabeh and Fouad Siniora joined the procession and left candles and portraits of Hariri on the ground and along the sidewalks. After prayers, the crowd chanted political slogans demanding the withdrawal of Syrian troops, freedom, sovereignty, independence and national unity as they headed for Martyrs Square.
  • Giant portraits of Emile Lahoud and Bashir al-Assad were marred with black ink on the coastal highway near Akkar.
  • Saturday's blast in New Jdeidé was caused by 55 lbs of TNT. 70 year-old Hagop Jangolian, a resident of the Horizon apartment building in New Jdeidé, parked his Datsun at around 19h30 on Friday. At 12:30 am, a blast blew his car 60 feet away from the building as the blast shattered shopwindows and dwellings. The bomb was wired to a timing device and exploded around midnight after having been placed under Jangolian's car. The explosion wounded 11 persons who were taken to hospital: Carine, Samira, Marlène and Sabrine Sleimane, Nour Médaouar, Nohad Nehmé, Élie Hassoun, Georgette Bitar, Zaher Roustom, Sarkis Ohanessian, and Élie Nehmé. Red Cross workers treated another 34 for minor injuries at the scene.
  • Suspect packages and bomb scares plagued Beirut over the weekend. Meanwhile in Haret al-Naamé, nine Muslim tombs were desecrated and some monuments were broken or covered in red paint.

March 22 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Anti-Arab sentiment prevails. Banners proclaiming Death to all Arabs, Jordan and Syria are prevalent in the capital.

Baghdad. New government nears formation. A Kurdish source says Iraq's Shia majority will have between 16 and 17 ministerial portfolios, including Interior, Finance and National Security. The Kurds will get 7 or 8 portfolios, including Foreign Affairs. The Oil Ministry is still disputed. Six ministerial portfolios will be given to the Sunnis, including Defense. Iraqi Christians and Turks will each get one portfolio. Iyad Allawi is unlikely to serve in the new government.

Baghdad. Dozens of Moustansariyah University Science Department students demonstrated against Jordan, passing out tracts showing the Jordanian flag emblazoned with the Star of David or satirical drawings of King Abdullah II.

Baghdad. Police and civilians killed three gunmen and arrested three others after they opened fire on shops and pedestrians near the Shi'ite Sadr Mosque in south Baghdad. Five people were wounded, including three children. Earlier in the day, a driver for a high-ranking Iraqi Interior Ministry official was assassinated in the same neighborhood.

Kirkuk. Wounded Iraqi general dies from wounds received on Sunday. Meanwhile, Iraqi police arrested 30 on charges of rape, theft and decapitation in Balad Rouz, north of Baghdad.

Baghdad. French journalist missing. Reporter Fred Nérac is reported missing and possibly kidnapped.

23:52 Brussels. Berlusconi "Troop withdrawal with assent of the allies." Silvio Berlusconi says Italy will withdraw its troops from Iraq only when Iraq can independently guarantee its security.

22:15 Tikrit: Seven Iraqi soldiers killed and another six are wounded in a raid on a rebel training camp on Lake Tharthar west of Tikrit. American warplanes had to be called in to dislodge the rebels.

16:28 Al Anbar Province: Six Iraqi soldiers kidnapped. A band of 10 masked insurgents kidnapped six Iraqi soldiers as they waited for a bus in civilian attire.

16:02 Baghdad. Latvian Defense Minister Einars Repse visited Camp Echo, a multinational base in Al-Qadissiyah in central Iraq.

15:14 Beirut: Hezbollah accuses the United States of creating division in Lebanon. America contradicts herself: She says that she is assisting Lebanon towards freedom, sovereignty and independence, but it's a lie, a ruse and a vilification," says Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

15:12 Kiev: Yushchenko signs order withdrawing troops. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko signed orders to pull his troops out of Iraq, reports Defence Ministry Security Advisor Petro Poroshenko.

13:56 Baghdad. Ukrainian delegation to fly to Iraq. A delegation headed by Defense Ministry Security Advisor Petro Porochenko will visit Iraq on 28 March to meet with coalition officials concerning the Ukrainian pullout.

12:32 Amman. Jordanian Ambassador to Iraq Atta Abdel Wahab has left the capital to return to Baghdad.

12:27 Kut. Six bodies found. The corpses of six Iraqi soldiers were found in Kut with their hands tied behind their backs.

11:52 Mosul. Seventeen guerrillas killed in clash with US troops. Another 14 were arrested.

11:48 Riyadh. Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah ben Abdel Aziz will not participate in the Arab Summit in Algiers.

11:25 Doha. Previously unknown group claims credit in theatre bombing. Tanzim Jound Al-Cham claims credit for bombing of British threatre in Doha.

10:33 Baghdad. Government official assassinated. A high-ranking official of the Interior MInistry was assassinated while travelling to work in his car.

Monday, March 21, 2005

March 21 Events in Iraq

Washington. Iraqi expats demonstrated in front of Georgetown University from which Jordan's Prince Abdallah received an honorary degree for his support of peace in the Middle East. Demonstrators said they held the King responsible for the release of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi in 1999 through an amnesty celebrating his ascention to the throne. [Of course, that was before Iraq was invaded illegally, giving him a raison d'être--Nur.]

Baghdad. Demonstrations hostile to Jordan continue. Demonstrations spread as the Iraqi press prints that a Jordanian suicide bomber, Raëd al-Banna, was responsible for the 28 February bombing in Hilla which killed 118 and wounded dozens more.

Najaf. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani laments the delay in forming of government. He regrets the delay in forming the new government because it affects the daily life of Iraqis and pleads a rapid resolution, says SCIRI's Abdel Aziz Hakim. According to the information in my possession, progress has been made in the negotiations and I believe that they may be finalized by Thursday or within the next few days.

Erbil. Fouad Maassoum, a PUK spokesmand and a member of the Kurdish Alliance, says that talks for forming a new government have been suspended while Kurdistan celebrates Kurdish New Year.

Baghdad. Eight bodies, including that of a Turkish truck driver, have been found. Meanwhile three Iraqis, including two women were killed in the explosion of a weapons dump north of the capital.

Baghdad. Attacks on US military personnel have been on the upswing over the last few days. Seven GIs were wounded in an ambush on Sunday. Meanwhile, the US military KIA figure rises to 1,511.

Washington. US raises military eligibility age. Military eligibility has been raised from 34 to 39 for the Reserves and the National Guard. The US Army believes that as many as 22 million Americans would be added to the pool of possible recruits. However, physical fitness requirements will not be eased. 45% of the troop total deployed to Iraq are reservists.

Mazar-i-Sharif. Afghan warlords Rashid Dostam and Mohammed Atta swear allegiance to Kabul

22:24 Algiers. King Abdullah orders return of Jordanian Ambassador to Baghdad. After a meeting with outgoing Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar in Algiers during the Arab Summit, King Abdullah ordered the return of the Jordanian envoy to Baghdad "as a gesture of goodwill."

15:30 Doha. Unknown group claims credit in theatre bombing. Jund al-Sham (Soldiers of the Rising Sun) have claimed credit for the bombing of a theater adjacent to a British school in Doha which killed one person and wounded sixteen others.

14:43 Baghdad. Bomb kills four women and one child. A roadside bomb in Azizyah, southeast of Baghdad kills five. Meanwhile three Iraqi soldiers were killed in separate attacks near the capital.

13:20 Samarra. Carbomb kills three children and four women. A carbomb detonated in downtown Samarra killing seven and wounding another ten persons.

10:45 Baghdad. Ten are arrested for Agriculture Ministry bombing. Iraqi troops arrest 10 persons suspected of the March 9 garbage truck bombing targeting the Agriculture Ministry and an adjacent hotel housing foreign contractors. 30 Americans were wounded in the attack.

09:06 New York. Oil prices ease but remain over $56 per barrel.

08:11 Jerusalem. Israel to build new settlements in the West Bank. [Well, that scotches any peace for 2005/6--Nur].

07:58 Manila. Saudi Arabia to raise production. Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi makes announcement during visit to the Philippines.

Poor Scared Alabama Kids With a Machine Gun

Army investigators in Iraq have cleared Apache Company's soldiers of any wrongdoing. See Liberal Avenger for details.

From the pavement I could see into the bullet-mottled windshield more clearly, the driver of the car, a man, was penetrated by so many bullets that his skull had collapsed, leaving his body grotesquely disfigured. A woman also lay dead in the front, still covered in her Muslim clothing and harder to see. Reporter Chris Hondros, 21 January 2005, Tal Afar.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

March 20 Events in Iraq

Anti-war protesters around the world mark second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq:
London 100,000
Rome 10,000
Athens 5,000
Stockholm 500
Ankara 700
Melbourne 1,000
Kuala-Lumpur 400
New York 5,000
Los Angeles 2,000
San Francisco 500
Chicago 500
Cairo 400

Washington. Donald Rumsfeld blames Turkey for Iraqi insurgency. Rumsfeld says Turkey's refusal to permit a northern front for the invasion of Iraq has contributed to the insurgency.

London. MI-6 warned Blair that the USA would stretch the truth to justify the war on Iraq. Richard Dearlove, head of MI-6, informed PM Tony Blair and a group of cabinet ministers nine months before the start of the war that the US was determined to declare war on Iraq. Dearlove stated that "facts and intelligence" would be manipulated for political reasons, reports the Times.

New York. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman proposes Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Kut. Thousands of demonstrators march in Kut to demand the explusion of the Jordanian Amabassador and indemnity payments to the survivors of the recent carbombing in Hilla.

Baghdad. UIA demands that Allawi make up his mind. The UIA has demanded that Premier Iyad Allawi decide if he in going to participate in the new government being negotiated by the Shi'ite alliance. Meanwhile Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani says agreement has been reached on the status of Kirkuk. According to Article 58 of the Fundamental Law, the government must support the right of return to Kurds expelled from Kurdistan by Saddam Hussein's Arabization efforts.

Baghdad. Sunni leaders meet to unite their forces for role in new government.

21:23 Baghdad. Kidnapping of minister denied. The kidnapping of Iraqi Minister for Provincial Affairs, Waeil Abdel Latif, and his bodyguards has been denied.

21:14 Baghdad. Ten bodyguards missing. Minister may be kidnapped. Mouwafak al Rubaie, the Iraqi Minister for Security Affairs says the Minister for Provincial Affairs, Waeil Abdel Latif, and his bodyguards have been kidnapped.

20:50 Baghdad. 24 guerrillas killed. 24 rebels were killed and 6 US soldiers wounded in a battle in suburbs of the capital.

17h34 Baquba. Four police killed and two others wounded in a raid on the Abbara police station in the north of the city.

17h06 Washington. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the results of an investigation into the killing of Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari would be released soon.

16:33 Doha. Egyptian responsible for suicide bombing of theater.

15:44 Mosul. Group linked to al-Zarqawi claims credit for assassination of anticorruption police official, Walid Kashmoula

15:33 Amman: Jordanian chargé d'affaires recalled to Jordan. Jordanian diplomat recalled to Amman after Abdel Aziz al Hakim of SCIRI accuses Jordan of backing terrorism. Meanwhile, Iraq has withdrawn its ambassador from Jordan.

14:07 Baghdad. US soldier killed in Kirkuk by roadside bomb

12:08 Quetta. The number of people killed in the bombing of a festival at a Shiite Muslim shrine rose to at least 30 on Sunday, and frightened pilgrims jammed onto buses trying to escape the southwestern village that was hosting the annual veneration of a Shiite saint. The bomb, which also injured 20, went off Saturday, hitting devotees as they were eating dinner at the shrine in Fatehpur village, 210 miles south of Quetta in restive Baluchistan province. No one claimed responsibility for the attack on the event attended by both Shiite and Sunni Muslims, as well as minority Hindus. The blast left a 2-foot deep crater and added to security woes in Baluchistan province, hit last week by fighting between government forces and renegade tribesmen

10:14 Amman: Al Zarqawi sentenced in abstentia to 15 years in prison. A Jordanian tribunal sentences al-Zarqawi in abstentia for the bombing of the Jordani Embassy in Baghdad which killed 18 persons in 2003. Also sentenced was a 24 year-old student, Mikdad al-Dabbas, who is in custody.

09:28 Mosul. Suicide bombing. A suicide bomber blew himself up at the headquarters of the Public Safety Commission.

09:24 Amman: King will not attend Arab League summit. Abdallah II, the Jordanian monarch, will not attend this week's Arab summit in Algiers.

08:52 Mosul. Chief of anti-corruption squad assassinated. Later in the day, gunmen fired on his funeral procession.

08:20 Ramadi. Suicide bombing. A suicide bomber attempted to drive his vehicle into a US miltiary checkpoint. The car detonated before reaching its destination.

07:38 Samarra. Policeman assassinated. The victim was walking to work when his assassins got out of a car and shot him to death.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

March 19 Events in Iraq

Balad. A soldier and a civilian were killed in a grenade attack at a highway checkpoint.

Moussaieb. The body of a policeman showing signs of torture was recovered in a town south of Baghdad.

Baiji. Oil pipeline sabotaged. Meanwhile, the body of a civilian interpreter who worked for the US military was discovered near the town; the victim had been shot in the head.

Fallujah. 250 ex-policemen demand their jobs back.

23:55 Doha. One dead and 12 wounded in theater bombing.

20:39 Doha: Explosion at British school. An explosion has rocked an auditorium of a British school in the suburbs of Doha, Qatar. The "Doha Player" Theatre is in flames. Dozens of spectators, mostly foreigners, were inside the threater at the moment of the explosion. Police have sealed off the residential area of Farek Kelab five km (three miles) north of Doha. At least 50 people, plus the cast, are believed to have been in the theatre at the time of the blast.

18:20 Baghdad. No ransom paid in release of Swedish national. The Papal Nunzio in Stockholm says the Vatican intervened in the release of Minas Al Yousifi.

17:09 Rome: Anti-war demonstration. World social Forum mobilizes hundreds in Rome to protest war.

14:19 Beirut: Lahoud will not attend Arab League summit. Lebanese President Emile Lahoud says he will not attend the Arab League summit in Algiers to be held 22-23 March due to the current situation in Lebanon.

13:52 Baghdad. Powerful blast rocks capital in broad daylight. Columns of smoke were seen rising from the western bank of the Tigris close to the green zone.

11:13 Basrah. Students attacked. A group of militants supporting Moqtada Al Sadr attacked a group of university students at a departmental picnic. A female student was beaten to death.

10:09 Kirkuk. Four police dead; 2 wounded.

9:48 Kirkuk. Three police die in rebel attack. A roadside bomb in the center of the city detonated as a funeral procession passed by.

09:24 Ramadi. Suicide carbombs target US military convoy. An explosives-laden vehicle exploded near a US military patrol on a highway 5km northwest of Ramadi. Al Qaida's wing in Iraq said its "martyrdom brigade" was behind the attack.

09:16 Kirkuk. Iraqi policeman killed by rebels. Four others are wounded.

08:58 Beirut: Eight wounded in last night's carbombing in the Maronite Christian suburb of New Jdaida northeas of Beirut. An 8-story apartment building was destroyed as a parked Datsun belonging to a resident detonated. The owner was unaware of the exploive charge hidden in his vehicle.

Friday, March 18, 2005

March 18 Events in Iraq

Beirut. A car bomb detonated around midnight in the Jdeidé residential quarter in north Beirut, wounding several people. Meanwhile UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, who is mediating the crisis between Lebanon and Syria, says another leader will likely be targeted for assassination.

Baghdad. A spokesman for Hoshyar Zebari, outgoing Foreign Minister, says Kurds and Shi'ites have finalized an agreement. All that remains the the attribution of some government posts to candidates from other parties, such as Iyad Allawi and Ghazi al-Yawar. A spokesman for Iyad Allawi says confirms talks are onging.

Kirkuk. Supporters of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr demonstrated in Kirkuk to protest the expulsion of transplanted Arabs from Kirkuk.

Baghdad. Two persons, including a truck driver, were killed. Meanwhile the bodies of an Iraqi soldier and a contractor for the Americans were discovered. An Iraqi policeman was shot dead in the capital.

Kirkuk. An Iraqi policeman was killed by a roadside bomb. Meanwhile, two Syrians were arrested for the murder of a Kirkuk police chief.

London. Defence Minister Geoffrey Hoon says there is no difference of opinion among the Coalition concerning a time for pullout from Iraq.

Rome. Berlusconi in trouble two weeks before regional elections. His recent gaffe and divisions within his governing coalition could impact Premier Berlusconi at the polls.

The Hague. Dutch national on trial for complicity in genocide. Frans Van Anraat is accused of complicity in genocide for the sale of chemicals necessary for poison gas to Saddam Hussein. Van Anraat, a 62 year-old businessman, was arrested 7 December 2004 in Holland as he attempted to leave the country. His lawyers say he worked for AIVD, Dutch Intelligence. In addition to the gassing of 5,000 Kurds in Halabja, he is held responsible for the gassing of the Iranian city of Sardasht in 1987 and 1988. Dozens of Iraqi, Turkish and Iranian Kurds were present in the courtroom. The prosecution demands $10,000 euro indemnity payable to three survivors who were also present. The trial itself will begin in November 2005. Van Anraat testified that he did not know the use for which the chemicals were destined.

Baghdad. Several Shi'ite imams attack Jordan in Friday prayers. Shi'ite imam Sheik Nasser al-Saedi of Sadr City compared the Hilla carbombing to the assassination of Rafik Hariri and repeated his call for the explusion of the Jordanian Ambassador. He accused Jordan of recruiting terrorists and planning assassinations in Iraq. After prayers, thousands of Shi'ite demonstrated in front of the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad and burned the Jordanian flag. They also shouted slogans hostile to Syria.

20:20 Baghdad. US soldier killed while on patrol in Baghdad by light arms fire.

19:17 Washington. Rumsfeld says number of US troops in Iraq may be gradually reduced, but will be again increased during the Iraqi elections in the fall.

19:05 Rome. Sgrena recovers from 1-hour surgery. The operation was to drain the left lung, wounded by a bullet.

17:49 Rome. Italian oppostion in agreement with president. Opposition leader Romano Prodi agrees with Italian President Ciampi. I am very pleased because I have been saying for days that at TV show is not the place to make declarations concerning the position of Italy concerning one of our most pressing problems facing us--peace. I continue to ask Berlusconi to brief parliament, but if he doesn't want to appear, then he doesn't want appear.

17:10 Baghdad. Christian political leader freed. The Chairman of the Iraqi Christian Democrats, Minas Ibrahim al Youssufi, kidnapped in January, has been released. Youssufi is a Swedish citizen.

15:17 Rome. Sgrena Affair: There was no fourth man. The driver for Calipari and Sgrena, Carabinieri Major A. C., told the Rome Public Prosecutor that there was no fourth person in the car. A.C. also said that he was doing approximately 20 MPH when he turned off the engine after being fired upon.

15:01 Rome. Sgrena Affair: The driver for Calipari and Sgrena, Carabinieri Major A. C., was interviewed for three hours by MP Erminio Amelio and representatives of intelligence agency DIGOS and ROS. A.C. was able to reconstruction three of four telephone calls made from Calipari's vehicle to General Mario Marioli.

14:08 Baghdad. Jalal Talabani to replace Ghazi al Yawar as Iraqi President.

14:00 Rome. Sgrena to undergo more surgery at Celio Military Hospital.

13:00 Beirut. Nasrallah Sfeir, Maronite Patriarch, says President Emil Lahud should not be forced to resign. Power vacuum worse than resignation, says prelate.

07:40 Baghdad. US military says airport explosions were "controlled"

07:24 Baghdad. Explosions near Baghdad Airport. Columns of smoke seen rising from area.

06:57 Washington. Halliburton employee accused of fraud. An ex-Hallibuton employee, Jeff Alex Mazon who worked for Kellog, Brown & Root (KBR), conspired with a Kuwaiti businessman, Ali Hijazi of New General Trading and Contracting, to defraud the US government of $3.5 million.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

March 17 Events in Iraq

Basrah. Hundreds of students poured into the streets of Basrah to protest opposition by an Islamic group to a student-sponsored event on the outskirts of town.

Baghdad. Survey shows Iraqis attached to Islam but rejecting Sharia. US-sponsored opinion survey in Iraq reveals the following: 22.3% want to preserve Iraq's Muslim identity in the Constitution; 13.8% want to see Human Rights guaranteed and 4.4% want Sharia law. 48% of Iraqis surveyed believe there is a role for religion in the state while 44.3% do not. 46.5% believe that Iraqi clerics will make an important contribution to the drafting of the Constitution while only 15.5% believe the contribution of Iraq's political parties or the Prime Minister will be important.

Baghdad. Kurdish negotiators return to Baghdad to continue talks with UIA on the formation of a new government. Fouad Kamal, a Kurdish negotiator says, Our brothers of the UIA have accepted our demands concerning Kirkuk and the non-integration of Peshmerga fighters with the Iraqi Army.

Nassiriyah. A shepherd was killed by an anti-personnel mine placed by Anglo-American forces in spring 2003.

Washington. Enlistment contracts to be extended. The US military has asked Congress to extend enlistment contracts from 6 to 8 years due to recruitment difficulties. General Franklin Hagenbeck testified before Congress that Army and National Guard recruitment targets may not be met even with the extension.

Sofia. Bulgaria to reduce contingent. Bulgarian Defense Minister Nicolas Svinarov announced a reduction of his country's 462-man contingent in Iraq by 370 without indicating a date. Yesterday Bulgaria's newspapers were unanimous in demanding a troop withdrawal before the year is out. President Bush has not yet apologized to Bulgarian Premier Siméon de Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha for a friendly fire incident on 4 March which killed a Bulgarian serviceman.

Baghdad. Five Iraqis, including two soldiers, were killed in attacks north of Baghdad as the bodies of three other persons were found.

22:53 Mosul. Car bomb kills 2, wounds 15, including six US soldiers.

20:21 New York. Light crude hits a record $57.60 per barrel.

19:30 Baghdad. Sunni Imam assassinated. Abdel Rahim Samarrai was shot to death outside the Thulal Noukatain mosque in east Baghdad's Jadida district. The assassins fled by car.

17:01 Rome. Berlusconi rejects report to parliament. There are no new elements in what I've been saying that need to be justified in front of the Chamber of Deputies. I repeated on TV that the possibility of a reduction in the multinational force and therefore of the Italian contingent must first be discussed with the allies...Our position is in perfect alignment with that of our main allies which whom we made a [military] commitment in Iraq.

15:41 Rome. Berlusconi blames leftist-inspired disinformation campaign for twisting his words on pullout. I spoke with the President of the United States and I told him: George, things are just the way they were. I haven't issued a retraction; all the confusion was created by the press, which is devoid of intellectual honesty. It is impossible to see any turnaround, any change or any lack of consistency in what I've been saying to the allies. It's a complete invention caused by a disinformation campaign from the left. We won't be there forever...We're in Iraq to bring freedom and security to the Iraqi people.

15:14 Rome. Italian Opposition Leader Prodi demands clarification from Berlusconi. Prodi calls on Berlusconi to appear before Italian parliament. The Italian people deserve to know what the government intends to do in the future. We can't continue hearing on one day that the troops will be withdrawn and a denial on the next.

14:27 Rome. Premier Berlusconi reports to the Italian President on contacts he has had with other nations following his declarations on Italy's Iraq military mission.

11:55 Colleferro. Italian pacifists hold sit-in at cluster bomb factory. Protesters blocked the access to the Simmel Difesa works in Colleferro which cluster bombs are manufactured.

11:51 Baghdad. Negroponte leaves Baghdad for new appointment. US Ambassador John Negroponte leaves Baghdad for new appoinntment in Washington. He is replaced by James F. Jeffrey.

11:48 Baghdad. Spanish hostage released. A Spanish businessman of Iraqi origin is released after his family pays a ransom.

02:53 Baghdad. Roadside bomb kills US soldier.

Neocon unchained: Wolfowitz Goes to The World Bank

Le Temps of Geneva, Swizterland, editorializes on the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. The promotion confirms Bush's intention to unfetter the United States from its international commitments and to destroy multilateral institutions from within.

Unleashing the Hawks of Washington

Paul is a good man with a heart, said George W. Bush in announcing his choice of Paul Wolfowitz as World Bank President. The US President is not mistaken in his choice. Wolfowitz has more than enough heart when it comes to managing enterprises as radically ambitious as dismembering international law by trampling its basic principles.

The brains behind the murderous Iraq operation, the Pentagon’s Number 2 has next to no experience in development. Yet that doesn’t appear to be a sufficient handicap in the eyes of the White House. The promotion of Wolfowitz follows the nomination of John Bolton as US Ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton is well known to the UN community—not for his ability as a diplomat (the man is no diplomat)—but for having repeated called for the abolishment of the institution.

Bush has thus placed two convinced unilateralists at the heart of the international multilateral system. More than a provocation, it is an act of aggression against the international community, proof that the Neocons, who lead the jig in Washington, are reawakening. They were the instigators behind the sorry Iraqi adventure. They had been very reserved recently not only because things are going poorly in Baghdad but to get Bush reelected. Now that Bush has been returned to office for another four years, Bush has unleashed the hawks and has opened the doors of the cage. As insiders, the marauders will now pursue their methodical destruction of international commitments binding the US so hated by today’s Americans.

For Europeans and all those who believed they saw the true nature of Bush revealed in recent events (the “democratic” openings in the Middle East), they will be sorely deceived. Bush has not changed. No, we weren’t mistaken about him. There has been no change of heart after listening to some of our criticism of his administration. For Bush and the Neocons, a good ally is a partner who obeys the command to sit and down. [Serge Enderlin]

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

March 16 Events in Iraq

Back in Iraq, we respected the Arabs and vice-versa. They knew that we didn't get sloppy. Lt. Punenko, repatriated Ukrainian forces.

It's their problem...we'll let them decide what to do. Since they had no problem making war in unison, let's see if they can make peace in unison. Italian opposition leader Romano Prodi, commenting on Berlusconi's verbal jousting with Britain and the US over the pullout of the Italian contingent.

Baghdad. Ibrahim Jaafari says approximately two more weeks of negotiations with the Kurds are necessary before forming a government. He denies that talks are at an impasse.

Baghdad. One person was killed and 12 wounded when a carbomb detonated as a US military convoy passed by.

Mosul. Four persons were killed in Mosul in violent incidents.

Shorgat. An Iraqi soldier was killed by a booby-trapped bicycle.

Baghdad. A civilian was killed by a mortar round which fell inside an Iraqi military camp 70 km north of the capital.

Hilla. Body recovered.

21:03 Kirkuk. Police general assassinated. A Christian police general was assassinated when a car pulled alongside the general's vehicle and opened fire.

19:37 Baghdad. US soldier killed by roadside bomb. The victim was a member of the 1st Logistical Support Corps. 1,512 US military personnel have been killed in Iraq since March 2003.

17:47 Kirkuk. Common grave found. A common grave with 81 bodies was found outside Kirkuk. The victims were Kurds; 36 have been identified.

16:32 Washington. Bush, "The Coalition is not breaking up". In a Presidential news conference following a telephone call to Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, President George W. Bush says Coalition remains solid.

13:26 London. Blair: "Berlusconi's words have been misinterpreted". Tony Blair tells Parliament that no date has been established for troop withdrawal from Iraq, including for the Italian contingent.

12:00 Rome. Italian Speaker of the House Pier Ferdinando Casini says Premier Berlusconi's decision to pull out Italian troops is a "trend line", not a final decision.

11:31 Baghdad. First sitting of Iraqi National Assembly concludes. 275 MPs met for one and a half hours and took the oath of office. No date has been set for the next sitting.

11:02 Washington: Deaths of 26 detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan are homicides. New York Times cites US military sources as saying 18 prisoners were killed while in US Army or Marine Corps custody; the other cases are under investigation.

10:37 Washington. Rice, "Withdrawal of Italian soldiers to be coordinated." Condoleezza Rice says pullout with be "totally coordinated" so as not to threaten the mission.

09:39 Baghdad. Mortar rounds fired at Green Zone as National Assembly meets.

08:27 Baquba. Car bombing kills 5, wounds 10. Rebel car bomb targets Iraqi Army checkpoint. Victims are all Iraqi soldiers.

05:50 Tokyo: Koizumi vows not to reduce Japanese contingent. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi tells reporters: Italy is Italy; Japan is Japan.

00:58 Washington. Reports of anthrax in Pentagon postal centers are false. Sensors are said to have malfunctioned.

Reverse Pizza! or, When Weasels Weep

Reverse Pizza! Posted by Hello

Update: No one can imbrogliare like Berlusconi. From today's rant:

I spoke with the President of the United States and I told him: George, things are just the way they were. I haven't issued a retraction; all the confusion was created by the press, which is devoid of intellectual honesty. It is impossible to see any turnaround, any change or any lack of consistency in what I've been saying to the allies. It's a complete invention caused by a disinformation campaign from the left. We won't be there forever...We're in Iraq to bring freedom and security to the Iraqi people.


I'm taking off the cheese and the olives and the pepperoni...gradually, so you don't notice so much. Then I'm removing the tomato, then the crust. Giorgio, wassah matter with you? You don't like a-pizza? I make a good pizza!

Silvio Berlusconi is a slippery guy. Right now the fine upstanding Northern (European) Protestants Blair and Bush are sputtering and cursing his dago garlic breath. The uppity Eyetie! In once, in for life! What is it about Mafia that he doesn't understand?

Assertion and denial. Clarity and mud. Silvio doesn't like it when the tea-drinkers give him flack so he's serving up imbroglio.

In this morning's Question Time in the House of Commons, Blair asserted that there had been a misunderstanding...the Italian Premier didn't mean to say pullout.

Shift to Rome. I had absolutely no misunderstanding with Blair, says Berlusconi. We understood each other very well.

Now Washington. The White House phones Palazzo Chigi. Bush reports the conversation, saying, I had phoned him on an entirely unrelated matter, but Berlusconi (notice--no "Mister", no "Prime Minister") brought up the question of Italian troop permanency in Iraq. First, he wanted to let me know that nothing has changed in his policy; any withdrawal would be decided with the allies and would be made in function of the capacity of the Iraqis to defend themselves unassisted.

Back to Rome. I informed Mr. Bush that I would like to begin, possibly in September, a gradual and progressive repatriation of the Italian military contingent in Iraq. I believe the Iraqi government will have the forces necessary to maintain order in September. We are currently training these same forces, who will be able to assume their duties well before that time.

For insiders only: Rumsfeld has been pressuring Italian Defense Minister Martino to participate in the operations in Ramadi and Baquba. The request for three combat helicopters, thought to be for this purpose, by the Italian contingent set off alarm bells. The request was granted but Berlusconi knows that the entry of Italian troops in combat would move parliament to recall the contingent. Then the shocker...the Italian command was possibly permitting secret combat missions which led to the death of a helicopter gunner last month and a paratrooper-artilleryman yesterday. Already on thin ice, the slaying of Nicola Calipari of Italian military intelligence turned members of Berluscomi's own governing coalition against him. On Monday, we can infer that Berlusconi had to cut a deal with the opposition to pass a 6-month financing bill for the mission which expires in September. Parliament has the goods on him. The deal was obviously a pullout in September.

Who's going and who's staying:

Staying: Great Britain (8,761 troops) - South Korea (3,600) - Romania (730) - Japan (550) - Denmark (496) - Bulgaria (485) - El Salvador (380) - Australia (400)* - Georgia (400)** - Mongolia (180) - Azerbaijian (151) - Latvia (122) - Lithuania (120; possibile pullout) - Czech Republic (110) - Slovakia (105) - Albania (71)*** - Estonia (55) - Armenia (46) - Tonga (45) - Macedonia (33) - Kazakistan (29) - Moldova (12) - Singapore (amphibious fleet in the Gulf) - Fiji (150 under UN flag).

* To be increased to 1,400
** To be increased to 898, some serving under UN command
*** To be increased to 200

Going: Poland(start: January 2005; end: circumstances permitting;) - Holland (March 2005) - Ukraine(start: 16 March; end: October 2005) - Bulgaria (by end 2005) - Italy (3,085 troops; start: September 2005, end: circumstances permitting in Dhi Qar Province)

Gone: Nicaragua (February 2004) - Spain (April 2004) - Dominican Republic (May 2004) - Honduras (May 2004) - Philippines (July 2004) - Thailand (August 2004) - New Zealand (September 2004) - Hungary (December 2004) - Portugal (February 2005).

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

March 15 Events in Iraq

Al-Anbar Province. Two US combat helicopters were fired upon by rebels near the Syrian border. One of the helicopters was disabled before destroying the rebel position.

Baïji. A Turkish truck driver was ambushed and killed by an anti-tank rocket.

Kiev. Ukraine begins troop withdrawal. An initial detachment of 137 Ukrainian soldiers arrived at a military airfield in Mykolaïv (southern Ukraine) abord two aircraft from al-Kut in Wassit Province. A second group of 590 will be repatriated in May. The rest of the contingent will return home in October.

Washington. Halliburton accused of overcharging US military after government audit. Halliburton is unable to justify $108 in charges to the US government for services rendered in Iraq.

Hilla. Demonstrations continue in protest against Jordan. Demonstrators marched through the main streets of Hilla to protest the involvement of a Jordanian man in the February 28 bombing which killed 118. The crowd condemned Jordan and King Abdullah II. The organizers made the same demands as similar demonstrations in Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala: the expulsion of the Jordanian Ambassador and economic sanctions against the country. In addition, the protesters in Hilla demanded the explusion of all Jordanian nationals in Iraq and the resignation of the Allawi government. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari summoned Jordanian chargé d’affaires Dimaï Haddad to protest the martyrdom ceremony organized by the family of alleged terrorist Raëd al-Banna, said to be responsible for the bombing. Mansour al-Banna says an anonymous source told him his son had died in Mossul and is buried there. Meanwhile, Jordanian authorities released journalist Hadi Abdellatif al-Nsour of the Amman newspaper al-Ghad who was taken into custody on charges of fabricating the story.

Najaf. Police claim they have arrested the assassin of Shi'ite leader Mohammed Bakr Hakim. A Kurd from Mosul going by the name of "Hachem" was arrested ten days ago in Najaf in the death of Ayatollah Mohammed Bakr Hakim in August 2003, which also killed 80 civilians. General Ghaleb al-Jazaïri says Hachem planned a further attack on Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

Sofia. Bulgarian government demands apology from US. Bulgarian President Georgui Parvanov has demanded an apology and an indemnity from the US for the death of a Bulgian soldier from US "friendly fire." However, Parvanov will keep his 400 troops in Iraq until the end of 2005.

22:55 Rome. Ex-commandant of Abu Ghraib Prison says Pentagon knew of abuses. Gen. Janice Laigh Karpinski went on Italian television network RAI-3 to say that Pentagon officials news of torture practices.

21:18 Baghdad. New parliament to sit tomorrow without forming new government. A month and a half has passed with no agreement on the composition of a new government. Shi'ite politician Jawad Maliky is optimistic but Kurds have thrown cold water on a rapid compromise. However, Sh'ite politician Mohammad Bahr al-Uloum says a compromise could be reached within a few days.

20:58 Washington. Anthrax at postal sorting center. A Pentagon postal center tests positive for anthrax.

20:27 Ramadi. US troops kill Iraqi army general at checkpoint. US troops opened fire and killed the Vice Commandant of al-Anbar Province as he was taking a walk after curfew.

20:06 Jerusalem. Sharon rejects idea of truce with Palestinians. In a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Pieter Balkenende, Ariel Sharon said the truce reached with Abu Mazen on 8 February in Sharm al-Sheik was worthless unless Abu Mazen disarms Palestinian radicals.

19:18 Rome. Italian lower house approves financing of Italian contingent for six months.

18:02 Isfahan. OPEC could raise production by 1 million barrels per day. Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah of Kuwait proposes a two-phase production increase.

18:01 Beiji. Oil pipeline sabotaged. A pipeline transmitting oil from the Kirkuk oil fields to a refinery at Beiji has been sabotaged.

16:44 Baghdad. Carbomb kills US soldier. A car bombing in west Baghdad killed one US soldier and wounded another six. Troops had just arrived at a gasoline service station when the explosion occurred.

15:18 Nassiriya. Wounded Italian paratrooper dies. Sgt. Salvatore Marracino of the 185th Airborne Artillery Regiment in Nassiriya died from his wounds.

15:13 Washington US House of Representatives asks EU to declare Lebanese Hezbollah a terrorist organization. [Fat chance--Nur].

14:26 Baghdad. Three car bombings wound eleven Baghdad. In the early morning hours a white Chevrolet blew up near the Iraqi Health Ministry in the Bab al-Moazam district. The car bomb detonated in the parking lot of a hospital attached to the ministry wounding four. A second car bombing took place near the Sunni mosque of Adilah Khatounin the al-Adhamiyah residential district. Later two car bombs detonated in west Baghdad, not far from the airport, wounding seven, including three police.

13:59 Nassiriya. Italian paratrooper gravely wounded in training accident and was evacuated by helicopter to Kuwait City.

13:30 Isfahan. Saudi Arabia may raise oil production. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al Naimi made the announcement at the OPEC summit in Isfahan, Iran. "We are convinced that we have to satisfy the demand that is out there. Meanwhile the Libyan Oil Minister Fathi Hamed ben Shawtwan chastised Saudi Arabia for the maverick decision.

12:59 London. North Sea Brent hits $54.00 per barrel. Light crude futures reached a high of $55.22 per barrel before closing at $55.02. Saudi hopes to raise production by 550 thouand barrels per day while Iran, Nigeria, Algeria and Libya oppose the move, hoping to keep total exports at 27 million barrels per day.

12:00 Rome. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in a prerecorded interview for the TV political talk show Porta a Porta that Italy would being to withdraw its troops in September. We shall begin to reduce our troop presence in Iraq before the end of the year. The first drawdown will be in September. The question of our withdrawal will depend on the capacity of the new Iraqi government to acquire structures for an acceptable level of security. I spoke to Tony Blair about it...public opinion in our respective countries expects us to take such a decision.

11:31 Beirut. Syrians evacuate Intelligence HQ. Syrians have evacuated their intelligence HQ in the Ramlet al-Baida district of Beirut.

10:00 Baghdad. Two Iraqi soldiers killed while defusing a homemade bomb in Doujail, 40 km north of Baghdad.

09:33 Baghdad. Sunni mosque carbombed. A carbomb targeting the Adilah Khatoun mosque in the Baghdad suburb of Bab al-Moazam wounded four.

Monday, March 14, 2005

March 14 Events in Iraq

Message from Lebanon: Goodbye liberté, égalité, fraternité. Hello, freedom, truth and sovereignty.

Baghdad. Shi'ite protesters hauled down and burned the flag which flew over the Jordanian Embassy yesterday to protest the involvement of a Jordanian in a bombing in Hilla which killed 118 on 28 February. The demonstrators, who numbered about 200, renewed their Sunday demands to expel the Jordanian Ambassador, to sue the family of the presumed suicide bomber and to demand compensation from Jordan to the surviving family members of the victims. The angry crowd, demonstrating for more than two hours, shouted slogans insulting to Jordan's King Abdullah II. Iraqi police had to fire into the air to disperse the protesters. Furthermore, the provisional Iraqi National Assembly passed a resolution condeming the celebration of the act organized by the family of the suicide bomber in his native town of Salt, near Amman. [Abu Aardvark reports that the Jordanian newspaper al Ghad had carried a false story, setting off the protests.--Nur]

Baghdad. Prisoner confessions on Iraqi TV are popular. Karim Abdel Jabbar, Director of al Iraqiya TV, presents daily broadcasts of prisoner confessions. The program, Terrorists Caught in the Talons of Justice, presents the live confessions of presumed criminals and insurgents. Most Iraqis have been clamoring for their public execution and do not view the show as propaganda, even though the prisoners are presented as foreign-trained psychopaths.

Najaf. The An-Najaf Provincial Council has requested Iraqi citizenship for Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Sistani, age 73, who wears a black turban indicating that he is descended from the Prophet Muhammad, was born in Mashhad, Iran and has lived in Najaf since 1952. The Council's Sheik al-Noamani also requested citizenship for clerics Mohammed Ishaq al-Fayad, born in Afghanistan, and Bachir al-Najafi, born in Pakistan.

Baghdad. Opening of new parliament falls on historic date. The opening of the new Iraqi national assembly falls on the 17th anniversary on the gassing of Halabja, 16 March 1988, in which five thousand people were killed.

Baghdad. Serge July, Editor in Chief of the Paris newspaper Libération, went on Iraqi TV to plead for the release of reporter Florence Aubenas. July also met with the Committee of Iraqi Ulema, newspaper editors, the family of Hussein Hanoun, Iraqi caretaker President Ghazi Al-Yawar and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

Zaafraniya. A police captain and his brother were assassinated in Zaafraniya, south of Baghdad.

Baghdad. An Iraqi Army colonel was assassinated in his car near Baghdad Airport.

Yusufiya. A car bomb detonated this morning in Yusufiya, south of Baghdad, killing two policemen and two civilians.

Shirgat. A car bomb on Saturday in this town near Mosul killed six, including three children and two policemen. Four others were wounded. The target was the base of the Sixth Battalion for the Protection of Oil Installations. The suicide bomber was a Yemani with the nom de guerre of Abu Dajana .

Rashid. A car bomb targeting a US military convoy killed two civilians in Rashid, 25 km south of Baghdad.

Mosul. A Christian cameraman for a TV network owned by the PDK was assassinated in Mosul. Husam Sarsam, the target of a prior kidnapping, was shot to death on Monday morning in north Mosul.

Baghdad. Tribal leaders meet.

Tikrit: Four persons were arrested, including two relatives of Saddam Hussein.

Baghdad. Outgoing President Ghazi al-Yawar has announced the creation of a committee to include Sunni parties and personalities who will demand up to 8 cabinet portfolios. Most members were included in al-Yawar's elections list, Iraqoun. Among the are Tarek al-Hachémi, Secretary of the Iraqi Islamic Party and Adnan Pachachi of the Independent Democrats. The Iraqi Monarchist Party, which received next to no votes in the January elections, says it is prepared to participate in the new government at the ministerial level.

16:05 Amman. Tareq Aziz asks for help from international community. Ex Vice Premier Tareq Aziz in a handwritter letter has called on the international community to guarantee him a fair trial, says son Zyad Aziz.

14.44 Erbil. Kurds formulate new demands. The Kurdish leadership has formulated new conditions for an agreement with the UIA which may compromise any agreement. The PUK, led by Jalal Talabani, and the PDK, led by Massud Barzani, insist on a revision of the draft agreement agreed last week and the inclusion of other political groupings. The Kurds demand democracy, federalism, human rights and women's rights, says acting Assembly President Roj Nouri Shawis. The Kurdish parties also insist that the government must resign should the Kurds pass a resolution of no confidence.

07:47 Baghdad. Assassination attempt on Health Ministry official. Saad al-Amili escaped an assassination attempt this morning in the Al-Ghazaliyah district of the capital that injured four of his bodyguards.

06:38 Baghdad. Ukraine begins troop withdrawal. 150 troops of the Suwayrah contingent is returning home. The withdrawal will be completed by October.

Beirut: Battle of the Crowds

Anti-Syrian demonstrations today in Beirut:

7:00 am 400,000 people
8:00 am 800,000 people
9:00 am 1,200,000 people

Slogans of the day: We want the truth. Justice for Hariri, Martyr for the Independence of Lebanon!

And a cacophony of voices:

Terje Roed Larsen: Syrian President al-Assad has confirmed to me that both the Syrian intelligent apparatus —that is to say the presence without uniform- as well as the uniformed military would be first redeployed from all parts of Lebanon to the Bekaa Valley and that second, before 1 April, a substantial portion of Syria’s troops and intelligence services would be repatriated to Syria.

Salim Aoun, National Freedom Movement and son of exiled Christian General Michel Aoun: Syrian intelligence pressured the drivers of busses and minivans [to the demonstrations]not to turn up for work.

Radwan, 50 year-old Sunni Lebanese: Today’s demonstration proves that there is a communal desire to live together. This is not an Israeli or an American or a French plot. We want to be free within our country, that’s all.

Anwar, Druze Sheik: The Syrians are our brothers. We have been linked by blood to them for centuries, but the Syrian Army and the Mukhabarat are no longer welcome in Lebanon, especially in the Bekaa Valley.

Emile Lahoud, Lebanese President: Hezbollah will not be disarmed and it is not considered a militia.

Nasrallah Sfeir, Maronite Patriarch: Shows of strength in the street have a negative impact on the stability and economy of Lebanon.

Munib Nassereddeen, Beirut city spokesman: More than 800,000 are here; demonstrators continue to pour into the city. This demonstration is two and a half times bigger that that organized by the friends of Syria in Riad Solh Square last Tuesday.

Michel Aoun, in exile: I shall return to assist in national reconciliation.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

March 13 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Vice President Rouch Chouïs says negotiations between the Kurds and the Shi'a UIA will continue beyond Wednesday, the day slated for the first sitting of the new Iraqi parliament. We will return to Baghdad to review certain issues. Discussions will carry on; details need to be hammered out, said Fouad Massoum, interim speaker of National Assembly. Other Kurdish political leaders are less optimistic. Negotiations have readed a total impasse, says an advisor to Massoud Barzani. On Saturday Ahmed Chalabi said he had returned from Kurdistan where he attempted to solidify the Kurdish-UIA alliance. Chalabi says that all negotiation has failed. A Shi'ite spokesman says the distribution of ministerial portfolios and the enlargement of the Kurdish superprovince [status of Kirkuk--Nur] are the chief stumbling blocks preventing an agreement. The inability of the Kurds and the Shi'ite to agree risks plunging Iraq into a protracted phase of uncertainty and delaying efforts in ensuring the security of the country. Voters who risked their lives on 30 January by going to the polls accuse politicians of worsening the security situation by creating a power vacuum.

Baghdad. Hundreds of Shi'ites took to the streets to protest against Jordan after having read newspaper accounts saying a Jordanian national was responsible for the 28 February bombing in Hilla which killed 118.

Baghdad. Weapons depots were systematically looted. Sami al-Aradji, Deputy Minister of Industry, says organized gangs looting weapons depots and made off with components for missiles as well as for biologcial, chemical and nuclear weapons. [Sure the installations were systematically looted, but Saddam had no WMD program in the first place. How dumb does al-Aradji think we are?--Nur]

Sofia. Marines responsible for slaying of Bulgarian soldier. Marines admitted to ignoring rules of engagement when they fired on a convoy of Bulgarians, killing one soldier. Marines fired without warning and without verifying the nationality of the convoy, says a Bulgarian Defense Ministry communiqué.

16:30 Teheran: Iran exhibits patrol boats confiscated from the British by Guardians of the Revolution. Three British patrol boats and all their equipment and material were exhibited to the public in Teheran. The boats carried a significant amount of communications equipment and weaponry. The boats were shown as part of an exhibition entitled, A Piece of Paradise, dedicated to the heros of Val-Fajr, a operation during the Iran-Iraq war. The exhibition is in celebration of Iranian New Year, Noruz, which is 21 March. Original 21 June dispatch below:
14.50 - IRAN ARRESTS 8 BRITISH IN TERRITORIAL WATERS. Three military craft were sequestered and the eight crewmembers questioned after their arrest by Iranian forces after having entered Iranian waters, reports al-Alkam radio. The incident took place in the Shatt al Arab waterway dividing Iraq and Iran.
17:16 Mosul. Previously unknown group claims credit for Shi'ite mosque bombing in communiqué. Jound al-Sahaba fi al-Irak (Soldier-Companions of Mohammed) claim credit for Thursday's bombing of a Shi'ite mosque in Mosul which killed 51 and wounded 77. Sheik Abut al-Abbas al-Omari, "emir" of the group, accuses Shi'ites of insulting the honor of Muslims, targeting dignitaries and imams, insulting Abu Bakr al-Seddiq (first caliph to succeed Mohammad after his death) and Omar ben al-Khattab (second caliph to succeed Mohammad) and cursing Aisha (one of Mohammad's wives). The group threatened to step up operations targeting Shi'ites if they don't cease their aggression against Sunnis

16:32 Baghdad. A Saudi working for Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi was arrested by the Iraqi army outside Kirkuk as he prepared outside the K-1 military base. The man is identified as Mohammad Sultan Alewi, 22, of Riyadh. Alewi said he arrived one month ago. Meanwhile Iraqi forces say they arrested four "Arab terrorists" in Chorgat, 300 km north of Baghdad.

14:57 Baghdad. 2 dead and 5 injured in bombing. A bombing in the Obeidi District in southwest Baghdad targeting a US military convoy killed two Iraqis and wounded 5.

11:31 Latifiyah. Twelve bodies discovered. Five bodies were found in an agricultural zone southeast of Baghdad, 5 km east Latifiyah. Among the victims were three soldiers. The other nine were pilgrims heading for Najaf and Kerbala.

09:19 Baghdad. Two American civilians slain. Two contractors for Blackwater Security Consulting were killed.

08:05 Baghdad. Civilian and policeman slain. An Iraq civilian and a police officer were killed in separate incidents. Meanwhile, another two people were killed in a road accident: a US military vehicle collided with a bus on a highway in southern Iraq.

March 12 Events in Iraq

23:36 Baghdad. Find of 15 decapitated corpses retracted. The Iraqi government retracted a March 8 announcement by the current Defense Minister that 15 bodies were found decapitated near Latifiyah.

22:32 Baghdad. Three marines of 155th Brigade's Assault Group operating south of Baghdad are under investigation for abusive treatment of Iraqi civilians.

17:40 Mosul. Three police slain in driveby shooting.

15:39 Rome. Sgrena pleads for release of kidnapped French reporter Florence Aubenas.

07:57 Washington. Marine to face pre-court martial hearing in Camp Lejeune for premedicated homicide in the deaths of two Iraqis whom he was searching.

07:13 Baghdad. Ultimatum ends for Philippino hostage. The ultimatum has expired for Philippino hostage Robert Tanrogoy. Philippines Foreign Ministry spokesman Gilbert Asuque says negotiations continue.

06:27 Al Anbar. US marine killed in non-hostile incident. Inquest opened into his death.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

March 11 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. The US was partially informed on release of Sgrena. The US military command was partially informed of an operation conducted by Italian intelligence to release Giuliana Sgrena according to La Repubblica. The newspaper cites General Mario Maioli, Deputy Commander of Mulitnational Forces in Iraq, as telling the Rome Public Prosecutor that he did not know the purpose of the mission led by Nicola Calipari. Maioli was reponsible for informing US military authorities at Baghdad Airport at around 8:00 pm the day of the release to "issue a temporary safe conduct to the airport" for "an Italian citizen" who was in fact Sgrena. General Maioli said he performed this task but that he was unable to refer information on the make, color or licences plate of the car to be used.

Washington. Bush to appoint ambassador to Kabul as new envoy to Baghdad. George W. Bush is to appoint Zalmay Khalilzad to replace John Negroponte.

Washington. Public health and safety experts demand inquiry into civilian deaths. Experts in Britain, the USA, Australia, Canada, Spain and Italy accuse the US goverment of hiding the number of civilians killed in Iraq. Statistics indicate that 3,274 civilians were killed in the six-month period between 1 July 2004 and 1 January 2005.

Fort Hood. Lynndie England to be court-martialed in May for her role in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. She faces 16 years in prison if found guilty.

Samarra. Body of Iraqi recovered. An Iraqi has accused a death squad run by the Interior Ministery of torturing his son after seeing him confess on television to having carried out acts of violence against goverment security forces. Khaled Jouli, a resident of Samarra, 125 km north of Baghdad, says his body of his son, Qahtane, was returned to him by Interior Ministry commandos. Jouli had seen Qahtane on TV three days earier. Iraqi Human Right Minister Bakhtiar Amine says he has no knowledge of the incident but calls the death "unacceptable"

Baghdad. Libération Editor-in-Chief Serge July travels to Iraqi capital. Serge July, Editor-in-Chief of the Paris newspaper Libération, has arrived in Baghdad for a 3-day visit to "contribute to efforts to release Florence Aubenas and Hussein Hanoun. Aubenas disappeared on 5 January.

Berlin. Supporters of Saddam Hussein hold conference in German capital. Supporters Saddam Hussein are meeting in Berlin with the German opposition to the war in Iraq. Ex-Ba'ath Party members will meet with German pacificsts. The Kurdish association, Awadani, will protest the conference.

Najaf. In response to Thursday's bombing of a Shi'ite mosque in Mosul, Ayatollah Ali Sistani has called all Iraqis to unity and solidarity. Meanwhile Mohammed Hussein Hakim, son of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Saïd Hakimans, has also issued a condemnation. Lebanese Hezbollah has warned Iraqis against a "trap" and to preserve their national unity against plotters. Most Sunni clerics have also condemned the bombing. The families of the victims will hold private funerals to avoid further attacks.

Baghdad. A overall agreement between the UIA and the Kurdsm has not yet been reached. PDK leader Massoud Barzani insists that deployments of government troops in Kurdistan must be approved by the Kurdish regional assembly and says that Peshmerga fighers will be integrated into the Iraqi Army. Barzani also reiterated Kurdish claims on the city of Kirkuk and its attachment to an Iraqi superprovince, which he insists must take place without delay. [Barzani's bargain is receiving Kirkuk in exchange for an Islamic Constitution--Nur].

Washington. US does end run around extradition procedures. Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey introduces bill to Congress rendering illegal "extraordiary transfer" of US prisoners to nations practicing torture.

Washington. Pentagon wants to get rid of half the prisoner population in Guantanamo. The Pentagon plans to release or transfer 540 Guantanamo detainees to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Afghanistan.

20:49 Baghdad. US claims it has captured a female follower of al-Zarqawi. The woman, who has not been identified by Gen. Brandenburg, is being held at Camp Cropper.

20:21 Rome. Memorial ceremony for Nicola Calipari.

20:14 Rome. Sgrena demands truth from government. Sgrena demands that Italian government determine the responsible parties for the slaying of Nicola Calipari. I don't know if it was done on purpose or by mistake. In any case, I think it was unacceptable not simply because I happened to be in the car or because Nicola was slain. We were in an American-controlled area near the airport where Iraqis are not permitted to travel. Even if Iraqis had been in the car, I cannot accept what happened. You should not be able to just open fire on a car or a person. We received no warning; no one asked us to stop. If we had been asked to stop and we kept on going, then I could understand. But we were not asked to stop and incidents like this are happening every day.

19:30. Bologna. Italian Justice Minister again blames Sgrena for death of Calipari. I think Sgrena should be more responsible. She's said a ton of stupidities, she blathers irresponsibly, she acts irresponsibly, she has created enormous difficulties for the government and has caused divisions which should have not occurred.

18:43 Dubai. Al-Zarqawi claims that "the infidels and apostates will be defeated" in response to anti-terrorism conference in Madrid.

15:33 Baghdad. US Embassy confirms rolling checkpoints set up to protect Negroponte. Negroponte was to travel to a dinner at Camp Victory when it began to hail. Normally he would have gone by helicopter but that was impossible; he travelled by automobile and arrived around 8:00 pm. Following the dinner, the Ambassador returned to his residence in the Green Zone in Baghdad and it was there he found about about the death of the Italian agent.

12:01 Samarra. Turkish truck driver killed. A Turkish truck driver was killed by a roadside bomb in Makhool, 200 km north of Baghdad. He was delivering a truckload of supplies to US forces.

11:15 Samarra. Three Iraqis killed in separate incidents in Samarra; a fourth body found in Tikrit. Meanwhile, an oil pipeline between Beiji and Dura was sabotaged.

09:09 Mosul. Sadreen mosque hit by mortar fire. The Shi'ite moques that was the scene of yesterday's bombing was hit by mortar fire.

06:45 Baghdad. US held children at Abu Ghraib prison.