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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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

Saturday, April 30, 2005

30 April 2005 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. The U.S. military announced Saturday that four U.S. soldiers were killed and two wounded Thursday when a Task Force Freedom convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in Tal Afar.

Baghdad. Four U.S. soldiers in a convoy were wounded when their Humvee rolled into a ditch late Friday night near Abu Ghraib prison.

23:52 London. OT: 23:52 London. British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed in July 2002 to the participation of the UK in the invasion of Iraq led by the United States, according to a Foreign Office memorandum leaked to the Sunday Times. The publication of the secret document will provide more ammunition to Mr. Blair's enemies just before the legislative elections next week. The Prime Minister and his advisors discussed the question of the invasion of Iraq on 23 July 2002 during a foreign intelligence meeting presided by Sir Richard Dearlove. Military action was now seen as inevitable...We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action...The CDS (Admiral Michael Boyce) should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.... Admiral Boyce should prepare all the details necessary concerning the British military contribution...We should not ignore legal questions. We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers

Read the memo as published in The Sunday Times - Britain.

23:46 Washington. The US miltiary has published a report confirming that it will not sanction the patrol responsible for the shooting of Major-General Nicola Calipari. Meanwhile, Italian Minister for Reforms Roberto Calderoli saidthe time has come to talk about accelerating Italy's timetable for pullout from Iraq. If the US patrol really observed the rules of engagement, given what happened it means that committing such "mistakes" is part of those rules. In any case, with the divergences surfacing in the report of the Joint Commission of Inquiry, the time has come for the majority government for careful and deep reflexion on the timetable for the withdrawal of our troops deployed to Iraq in a peacekeeping mission. In my house we say, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander."

23:34 Istanbul. Iraq has asked its neighbors to support the new government in Baghdad and to increase border security.

22:18 Mosul. Six carbombings in Mosul. Five are dead and twelve wounded, including two US soldiers.

19:46 Khalidiyah: Marine killed.

18:58 Rome. Unable to find consensus on the conclusions of a joint US-Italian commission, the Italian authorities have asked the Rome prosecutor to accelerate its own investigation on the shooting of Nicola Calipari.

18:50 Washington. The US general staff confirmed that the troops responsible for the shooting of Nicola Calipari will not be disciplined.

17:42. Teheran. Iran opens new international airport. Imam Khomeini airport has been opened and welcomed its first flight from Dubai. Meanwhile, the British Foreign Offices says the runways are unsafe.

17:38 Baghdad. 30 people are wounded, including soldiers and police commandos, in car bombings around Baghdad.

17:26 Baghdad. Three booby-trapped cars targeting military convoys killed four and wounded 16 in Baghdad. Insurgents blew up a car when a joint Iraqi-US convoy passsed by near a police station in the Zayouna district in east Baghdad. Two passers-by, including a child, were kiled and ten others wounded. A second car exploded in west Baghdad, near a US military convoy. A third vehicle killed two civilians and wounded six others near a US patrol in east Baghdad.

17:05 Baghdad. Carbomb explodes near the headquarters of a Sunni group, the Council for National Dialog, killing 5 civilians and wounding 26 in the Khadra district of west Baghdad. Near Chaab Stadium a carbomb killed two civilians and wounded six others. It also destroyed several automobiles.

17:02 Baghdad. The Committee of Iraqi Ulema says police commandos raided several mosques, residences and Islamic institutions and arrested 30 clerics and worshipers.

16:53 Beirut. Hundreds of supporters of General Michel Aoun, a Lebaneses opposition figure in exile, gather to celebrate his return planned for 7 May. The celebration caused a monstrous traffic jam on the Beirut-Damascus highway.

16:50 Cairo. Tourists killed and injured attacks. Iab Yassin, 47, jumped off the Sixth of October bridge holding a bomb into Abdel Muneim Riad square, near the Ramses Hilton and the Egyptian Museum at 3:00 pm. The bomb decapitated Yassin and wounded a Swedish physician returning from Darfur and his Italian fiancee, two Israelis and four Egyptians. One of the victims is dead. Two hours later, his sister and his wife, dressed in niqabs, opened fire on a tour bus in the Sayeda Aisha quarter near the Saladin District at the entrance into Cairo's Old City, wounding three persons. One woman shot her companion then shot herself after being surrounded by police.

16:29 Baghdad. Two soliders of Task Force Baghdad were killed by a bomb.

The censored pictures of US military dead

The Madrid newspaper El Mundo has the photos the US military did not want you to see.

Italians angered by Pentagon leak re: Calipari

Update III. La Repubblica has a .pdf file of US version of the report. Calipari, btw, had the rank of Major-General.

Update II. A question...I thought satellite cameras could not "see" through cloud cover so who is doing the bad job of lying at the Pentagon? It's so dumb, it could only have come from Rummy.

Update: The Casa delle Libertà, the coalition lead by Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, is now talking about a pullout:

ROME - Italian Minister for Reforms Roberto Calderoli says the time has come to talk about accelerating Italy's timetable for pullout from Iraq. If the US patrol really observed the rules of engagement, given what happened it means that committing such "mistakes" is part of those rules. In any case, with the divergences surfacing in the report of the Joint Commission of Inquiry, the time has come for the majority government for careful and deep reflexion on the timetable for the withdrawal of our troops deployed to Iraq in a peacekeeping mission. In my house we say, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander."

Got to run...this translation from Il Corriere della Sera is on the fly.

ROME – Frustration, shock and rage. An explosive news report by the US TV network, CBS, citing anonymous sources at the Pentagon revealing the existence of a military satellite which is said to have captured and stored images of the incident in which Nicola Calipari was killed has stuck in the craw of officials in Italian government and intelligence. If these sources are genuine, then the information should be shared with Italian intelligence. They are fundamental pieces of evidence for the joint US-Italian commission of inquest. In the leak of secret intelligence passed to CBS, there was the claim that Calipari’s car was traveling at nearly 60 MPH. [Swift car liars for truth.] The Italian intelligence service SISMI rejects the claim.

Italian government officials, intelligence agents and diplomats says they are “in shock” by the “surprising coincidence” of the leak of secret information to the network by anonymous Pentagon sources with the precision of a chronometer ahead of the release of the official report of the joint commission, which had been working in harmony and “on the same page.”

What particularly surprised us is the scant attention paid to the fact that the source was anonymous. If the information is true, then it delegitimizes the purpose of the Joint Commission of Inquiry. Italians remain extremely perplexed by what represents a personal attack on Italian government and its intelligence officers.

Friday, April 29, 2005

29 April 2005 Events in Iraq

Baquba. Suicide carbomb kills one policeman and wounds eleven others, including four civilians

Baghdad. Seven soldiers, two police and four civilians were killed and 35 civlians, 13 soldiers and 2 police were wounded in separate bombings in the Adhamia and Saligh districts in the capital. In the Adhamia district at least once suicide bombing shattered windows and destroyed several cars.

Baghdad. Two booby-trapped cars exploded in succession. The first detonated targeting an Iraqi army convoy and the second went off when police rushed to the scene. The two bombings resulted in one killed and eight wounded, including two police.

Madaïen. Three carbombings. At least one carbomb targeted a police patrol, killing nine persons including one police and two Interior Ministry commandos. Thirty-five were wounded.

Baghdad. A carbomb detonated in the suburbs of the capital during prayers at a Shi'ite mosque, wounding one.

Erbil. Two people were killed, a bomb defuser and a civilian, in a bomb blast.

Basrah. A border guard was killed and two others wounded when a bomb targeted their patrol.

Baquba. An Imam committed suicide by falling on a grenade when US and Iraqi troops surrounded his mosque.

Baghdad. US troops arrested seven suspected rebels.

Baghdad. Mouaffak al-Roubaïe, an Iraqi security advisor, sees another attempt to set off sectarian war.

Baghdad. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has claimed the credit for most of today's carbombings in Baghdad and Madaïen.

Brussels. Belgian physicians send medical bill to Washington. Belgian doctors saved the leg of Hiba Kassim, a 15 year-old Iraqi girl whose leg was injured by a US bomb. The doctors sent a 52,570 euro medical bill to the US Embassy in Brussels. We haven't received an acknowledgement, says Dr. Bert de Belder, coordinator for the NGO Medical Aid. International law requires occupying forces to look after the well-being of the population.

Istanbul. The foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbors prepare to meet to urge the new Iraqi government to include the country's Sunnis. Turkey, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, as well as Egypt and Bahrain, worked behind closed doors.

Kirkuk. A founder of the dissident Islamist group Ansar al-Islam was cheered by thousands of people in a town north of Kirkuk after he was freed by the US military because of insufficient evidence. Ali Babir addressed the crowd in the town of Bab Al-Maqam after two years in detention. I am free today and I am going to work to bring Islam to triumph and to unite all Muslims and Iraqis. Ali Babir says he was mistreated during his emprisonment by US prison guards. Sources say Iraqi President Jalal Talabani arranged the release. Ali Babir founded Ansar al-Islam in 2001 together with Mullah Krekar.

Washington. US Department of State says Calipari investigation closed.

Cairo. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit welcomes new Iraqi government.

Tamiyah. Two army recruits and an interpreter were killed and seven other recruits wounded when a mortar was fired at a military camp.

Doujail. A soldier was killed and three others wounded by a roadside bomb which targeted their convoy. Meanwhile two civilians were killed in a separate bombing and soldier was killed and another kidnapped in a rebel ambush.

Chorgat. One soldier and one rebel was killed while a truck driver was slain.

20:36 Baghdad. Three US troops were killed and two wounded by two booby-trapped cars, one in western Iraq and the other north of Baghdad.

18:20 Rome. Italian intelligence community insists Calipari's car was was travelling between 25 and 30 MPH when it was fired upon by US troops.

13:00 Baghdad. Mass grave uncovered. A mass grave was discovered in Kurdistan containing the remains of women and children.

12:42 Ramallah. Putin cheered by Palestinian crowds before placing flowers on Yassir Arafat's tomb.

11:27 Dubai. Al Zarqawi promises no let-up to the Bush administration during an internet chat session.

10:30 Baghdad. Nine carbombs detonate in the capital.

09:06 Erbil. Two civilians killed by bomb.

08:31 Seven carbombs detonate in capital and in Madaïen, 30 km to the south. 18 are dead and 64 are wounded.

07:44 Baghdad. Carbombing kill 10 and wound 30.

07:15 Baghdad. Four carbombings claim 10 lives. Ten police and national guard are dead.

05:45 Ft. Bragg. Sgt. Hasan Akbar received the death penalty in a court-martial for having tossed grenades into three tents in Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait. Akbar is the first US soldier to get the death penalty since Viet-Nam. Two were killed and 14 wounded by the grenades.

02:03 Hawija. One US soldier is dead and four wounded in when their vehicle was struck by a bomb.

The Lying Game

It's clear to me that a maverick interdiction operation was launched by the US military against Italian intelligence on the night of 4 March 2005. To punish its ally, Italy, for ransoming its kidnapped nationals, the US military was prepared to shoot dead everyone in the rented Toyota Corolla.

We know that Silvio Berluconi is a disgrace and that he betrayed the Italian people in taking them to war with George W. Bush based on evidence he knew to be false. Not only that, but he ordered his intelligence operatives to plant false evidence inside the safe of the Niger Embassy in Rome that would show that Saddam Hussein had purchased yellowcake from the African country. In the Sgrena affair, Berlusconi ordered the ransom of a Rome reporter because her execution would hurt him at the polls. But now his has lowered himself further to permit the US military to get away with the murder of one of Italy's most experienced, competent and valuable Middle East intelligence agents. In a masculine culture like Italy this should hurt him irreversibly, even among the fascists whom he has ressurected and brought to power.

La Repubblica reports that the investigation into Calipari's death will be concluded without a consensus of its findings, because the US Military is willing to prevaricate and to issue disinformation to the US press to distort the facts further.
ROME. The Italian and US versions of the Calipari investigation vary on several different points as to what took place on the highway to Baghdad airport where Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari was killed and Guiliana Sgrena, a reporter freed after one month after being kidnapped by rebels, was wounded. Below are the major divergences:

Coordination: The Italians say that the US military in Baghdad was informed of Calipari’s imminent arrival at Baghdad airport. Not only that, a CIA agent was waiting at the airport with safe conducts for the party. US General George Casey, commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, has always maintained that he had no information of communications between the Italians and the US military. Casey also says he knew nothing about Sgrena’s release. The checkpoint was a “rolling” checkpoint which according to US press accounts [not the Military’s!—Nur] had been deployed to defend Ambassador John Negroponte, who was expected to be on the road at about the same time. The US patrol was not informed of the passage of the Italians.

Warnings. The Carabinieri major affirmed that halfway through a dangerous curve, a light, probably a spotlight, lit up unexpectedly in front of the car and he stopped. The car then came under automatic weapons fire immediately which lasted from 10 to 15 seconds. The USA claims that the patrol obeyed the rules of engagement with lights, handsignals and warning shots fired into the air, then at the ground.

Speed of the automobile. Both the Carabiniere assigned to SISMI and Mrs. Sgrena affirm that the Toyoto Corolla in which they were riding was going slowly--at about 40 km/hour(25 MPH), given the hazardous road conditions: a wet and uneven road and a dangerous curve. The interior passenger light was kept on because Calipari was making phone calls and because the group wanted to identify themselves at any possible checkpoint. The United States continues to claim that the headlights were turned off and that the vehicle was speeding. US press accounts say that the Toyota was doing between 90 km/hour (50 MPH) and 160 km/hour(100 MPH) and that the driver was out of control of his vehicle several times along the highway.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Interview with a Muslim Brother

Founded in 1928 by Hassan Al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood was officially banned by the Egyptian government in 1954 and continued to be repressed more or less ferociously by successive régimes. Today the organization is tolerated. The Muslim Brotherhood runs a vast network of social services and schools, and is very active within professional organizations. In 2000, 17 Muslim Brothers won parliamentary seats running as independents. Despite the expulsion of two MPs in 2004, the Brotherhood represents Egypt's largest opposition block. It is expected that they could win between 30% and 50% of the vote in the next legislative election.

Le Monde's reporter Cécile Hennion interviews Mohammed Mahdi Al-Akef, Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood.

1. You are the Supreme Guide of the Brotherhood. What are your political plans? Our plans extend to all parts of life: politics, the economy, culture, education and even sports. We also respect the Constitution and Egyptian law. Together with other opposition groups, we represent a mouthpiece for the Egyptian people and their desire for free and fair presidential and legislative elections, democracy, multi-partisanship, lifting of the state of emergency, the release of all political prisoners and respect for human rights.

2. For once, is the Muslim Brotherhood on the same page as the United States? Rumors which suggest that I have been in negotiations with the Americans are lies. When I’m told that the US Ambassador wants to meet with me, I always reply that I am happy to do so on the condition that they respect protocol. That is, that a member of the Egyptian Foreign Minstry is present during any conversation. We reject all pressure or interference from abroad. The intervention of the United States in Afghanistan and in Iraq and their policies toward the Palestinians serve either their own interests or those of Israelis. The Egyptian people are perfectly capable of changing their government on their own.

3. Is the establishment of an Islamic republic one of your long-term goals? I’ve never discriminated between Muslims and Copts. Today the Copts have joined the fight for reforms alongside us. Of all religions, no one respects women more than Islam as sisters, mothers and daughters. We consider them as independent persons who can dispose of their property as they like, just as men. There is no country which applies the laws of the Sunna and of the Koran, the only sources of law recognized by the Muslim Brotherhood, as it should. Islam in the political sphere should not be judged according to the current circumstances in which most Muslims today live—under dictatorships sponsored by the West. The Islam which we practice is modern and civilized.

28 April 2005 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. 17 Iraqis, including an Interior Ministry general, were slain in or near Baghdad. Four civilians were killed in a rocket attack on the capital. A police commander was killed as well as several soldiers and civilians killed in attacks north of the capital.

Fallujah. US forces claim they killed two insurgents in the city.

Baghdad. Islamic Party demands release of Romanian hostages.

Paris. Five alleged radical Islamists who had been sought for several years were arrested in Paris and Marseille. One of the arrested is Moroccan Saïd al-Maghrebi, 39. The quintet are thought to have been recruiting young Muslim men for battle in Iraq.

Paris. French ex-minister to be investigated. Former Internior Minister Charles Pasqua and his right arm Bernard Guillet are being investigated for receiving kickback coupons for up to 10.8 million barrels of oil in the Oil for Food scandal.

Nassiriyah. Mortar fire targets Italian patrol 50 km north of Nassiriya. The rounds exploded in front of their convoy. Some vehicles were slightly damaged.

22:54 Dubai. Ansar al-Sunna claims it executed nine Sudanese working for the US military.

21:57 Paris. Former advisor to French ex-Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, Bernard Guillet, has been released on bail in the Oil for Food investigation. Guillet was previously investigated for arm sales to Angola in 2001 and in the Sofremi Affair in 2002.

21:30 Paris. Former Interior Minister Charles Pasqua is under investigation for have received and cashed in on suspect "commissions" in Oil for Food scandal.

20:40 Baghdad. Two police wounded by a blast in the Zayouna district in Baghdad.

15:18 Najaf. Body of police chief found in Tigris. The body of nMajor Bassim Mohammed, a Najaf police chief, was found floating in the Tigris according to Radio Sawa. Three other obdies showing signs of torture and gunshot wounds were also recovered.

11:46 Baghdad. New cabinet approved by assent of 180 MPS out of 275, says Assembly Speaker Hajem al-Hassani, a Sunni. Only 185 MPs were present during the vote. However the portfolios for Defense, Oil, Indusry, Power and Human Rights was not been attributed. Vice President Ghazi al-Yawar demands that the cabinet be complete within two days. Meanwhile Sunni MPs Mishaan Juburi and Modhar Shawkat says the Sunnis are under-represented. Meanwhile, the interim Minister of Defense is Premier Jafaari and the interim Minister for Oil is Ahmed Chalabi. The block led by ex-Premier Iyad Allawii, which has 40 MPs, will not be represented in the new cabinet. However, MP Hussein Sadr wished the new government well.

09:50 Washington. Anniverary of the breaking of the Abu Ghraib scandal by CBS. The US military has issued new guidelines on prisoner treatment.

08:18 Baghdad. Iraqi General assassinated. An Iraqi general serving as advisor to the Ministry of Interior, Mohsen Abdel Sada, has been shot dead behind the wheel of his car by three unknown gunmen in the Dura district of the capital. Sada was on his way to work.

08:00 Tikrit. Two Iraqi soldiers killed.

Sgrena VI: Italy Contests the Pentagon

There is a failure to agree on the findings of the Report of the Joint Italian-American Commission investigating the shooting of Italian intelligence officer Nicola Calipari. The Pentagon has been proven to be stonewalling. This is today's account on the latest by reporter Fiorenza Sarzanini of Milan's Corriere della Sera:

ROME: According to the SISMI officer at the wheel of the Toyota Corolla when struck by “friendly fire”, the US patrol admitted their mistake just after the fusillade. Nicola Calipari was dead, Guiliana Sgrena was wounded and the driver was being patted down by US troops. In his deposition to Rome magistrates investigating the charge of voluntary homicide, the officer states: I knew some Spanish so I asked if someone spoke the language. A Hispanic soldier walked over and asked me why we were not traveling in a military convoy. He told me that’s why they fired on us. The magistrates asked him if he believed that the Americans were recognizant of their mistake, and the agent responded, Yes, I believe they were.

Today, it remains the admission of error which continues to divide the USA and the Italy--and it is this division which prevents the work of the joint commission investigating the March 4th incident from reaching its conclusion. Meetings and contacts continued yesterday to establish a finding which is acceptable to both sides. But the statements made to Roman magistrates by the SISMI agent who survived the incident continue to raise questions and doubts on the modus operandi chosen by Italian intelligence after Sgrena’s release. The decision to head for the airport without escort and without intermediate stops meant to ensure a low profile was taken in the field and approved by Italian officials, the Berlusconi administration included. The Hispanic US soldier told the SISMI major that the lack of an escort instigated the shooting. And just afterwards, the patrol admitted that it had made a mistake. And it wasn’t the only mistake, the SISMI officer recalls. The two young soldiers approached without pointing their weapons at me; they seemed sheepish and repeatedly asked my forgiveness for what happened. But their commanding officer ordered them away.

Based on the testimony they’ve heard, the Rome investigating magistrates are convinced that there was no shoddiness in Nicola Calipari’s work. For the last two days, the Toyota Corolla has been inside a hangar at the Pratica di Mare military airbase, where the remains of the civilian airliner shot down over Ustica 25 year ago are kept [The airliner was shot down by a US Sparrow missile in an attempt to assassinate Ghedaffi. The incident (definitely state-sponsored terrorism on the part of the USA) was covered up—Nur]. The magistrates were given photographs taken in Baghdad after the handover of the crime scene investigation report by the Carabinieri of the ROS the day after the incident to the chairman of the joint commission. The results of the investigation are considered “technical evidence” which Italy is attempting to get the US to accept in negotiations. In the report, there is evidence that the presence of three barriers in the road meant to narrow the passage certainly caused the car to slow down. The Italians underscore that along the road at the bend there is thick vegetation, restricting visibility. It was there at the US patrol was placed. It was 8:55 PM and raining—it was dark in Baghdad. The Italian investigators went to the scene at lunchtime the next day and returned in the evening. It has been established, they write, that the highway illumination system was not functioning. The hypothesis is clear: the decision to place the patrol at the end of the curve and hidden in the vegetation was a violation of the rules of engagement, according to which checkpoints must be visible.


ROME: If there are differing opinions, we will never put our signature on things which are not factual, answered Premier Silvio Berlusconi to questions from the press on the the joint Italian-American commission investigating the death of Nicola Calipari. We are working with the US Ambassador, who has to take it up with the Pentagon, added Berlusconi. He added:
"If the versions dissimilar, then we are heading for dissimilar conclusions. The US Administration has internal problems at the Pentagon. The Pentagon has taken a position and the Bush Administration wants this position to be less inflexible.", Berlusconi explains. "We are in negotiations with [US Ambassador] Sembler, who represents the US Administration which has to take it up with the Pentagon. It’s not an easy thing to do. We’re working on it, we hope to get to the end of it and we understand the difficulties on both sides.
Berlusconi's firm statement immediately undercut by his lamentable poodle-style real-time apologetics. Do you agree, readers?

Abu Ghraib Scandal Anniversary

Shalal Posted by Hello

One year a go today, CBS broke the Abu Ghraib story, now an indelible stain upon our military and on our country. Agence France Press reporter Samy Ketz interviews the ex-detainee who has become an icon of the shameful saga--the hooded man standing on a carton whose fingers are attached to electrodes: Ali Shalal.

Ali Shalal, 42, remains haunted by the memory of abuse and torture to which he was subjected from October 2003 to January 2004 in Abu Ghraib prison, the images of which scandalized the world one year ago. I was happy to see the photos published—they convinced the skeptics. Before, most people didn’t believe me, especially Iraqi officials, who accused me of lying, Shalal explains. It was the American network CBS which broadcast the first photos of GI’s mistreating detainees inside the notorious prison west of Baghdad.

Arrested on 13 October 2003 in the capital, Mr. Shalal was brought the next day to Abu Ghraib. He was placed in a tent before being transferred nine days later to a place which he describes as hell on earth.

They accused me of attacking Coalition forces but I told them to look at me, Shalal explains while showing me his left land, mutilated in a hunting accident in January 2003. Well then, they said, you encouraged people to attack us. You know lots of people and you can help us, relates Shalal, saying that he inherited the post of Mukhtar (Chieftain) of his district from his father. At the start of interrogation, they asked him to strip. They put a pistol to my temple and to my penis, shouting "Edaam" (Execute him!). They had an Egyptian translator-interrogator, Adel Nahla Abu Hamad, who put his foot on Shalal’s handcuffed hands behind his back and shouted at him: Give us names, or I’ll make sure your hands go gangrene! So that was the welcoming ceremony, during which he fell down a staircase with shackled feet before being beaten and placed in a cell.

His hands bound, he was forced to listen to a loudspeaker blaring [Boney M’s] Rivers of Bablyon. It was inhuman, it was intolerable. They took photos of me naked and covered in urine. I recited verses of the Koran to myself and I hoped they’d kill me instead of leaving me there, Shalal recalls in tears.

The soldiers gave everyone a nickname from films or TV series they’d watched back home except for one prisoner, whom they called Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State. To this fellow, Corp. Charles Graner, 36, sentenced to 10 years in prison in January 2005 following a court-martial in Texas, was pitiless. In the morning a black soldier named Junior was on duty. He was nicer than Graner but I even saw him beat prisoners one day.

Ali Shalal was in Cell 49. Across the hallway was a prisoner named Jalil, whom the guards called Wolfman. They'd made him howl all day long. Next door was an imam from Mahmoudiyah, Sheik Abu Abdallah. I was so ashamed of being naked but the Sheik told me, "Don’t be ashamed...I’ve been naked for three months. Believe in God and pray.". We had the impression that the guards were less interested in extracting information from us than the were in humiliating us. They had cameras and they told us they were going to blow up the prints and send them to our friends and family.

According to Shalal, not only did the doctors refuse to treat his injured hand, but during an interrogation session, if a prisoner fainted, they’d stand at his feet, throw water on his face and tell the torturers, "Go ahead, boys.". A month later, joy! They gave Shalal a blanket. But three days later they subjected him to electric torture. "You’d better tell us everything, or else.", Abu Hamad growled at me. They sent current down my fingers and it felt like my eyes were going to pop out of their sockets. I fell down. They laughed at me and took some photos. They started again and I fainted. The worst was when a father and son were obliged to strip while hooded. They ordered the son to piss on his father then took off his hood to let him see what he’d done. The solders then took photos and laughed uncontrolably.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

27 April 2005 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Rebels attempt assassination of Interior Ministry general. Gen. Jihad Làeebee was mortally wounded and two assistants killed in an attack on ministerial convoy.

Baghdad. Two Iraqi soldiers and one civilian were killed in separate attacks. One attack targeted a power station south of Baghdad.

Copenhagen. Denmark to up reconstruction aid to Iraq by 13.44 million euros, bringing its total to 80.6 million euros for the period 2003-2008.

Baghdad. Iraqi government offers $1 million bounty for ex-Ba'ath party official Abdel Baqi Abdel Karim Saadoon. Saadoon is accused of a massacre in Basrah on 1991 and of recruiting terrorist for Iraq in 2004.

23:25 Washington. US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld again claims US troop levels in Iraq are sufficient to stabilize the country. The Soviets had 300,000 troops in Afghanistan and they lost. We had 20 to 30 thousand troops in the country and we won [against the Taliban] --[Could that be because the Northern Alliance was on "our" side?]

23: 23 Abu Dhabi. The UAE and Morocco have announced their support of new Iraqi as King Mohammed VI visits Abu Dhabi. The UAE President, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and the Moroccoan sovereign also back the Road Map for Palestine. King Mohammed VI is also to visit Singapore President Sellapan Rama Nathan soon.

22:09 Kirkuk. Oilfield security guard shot in head.

21:32 Washington. Terrorist attacks in Iraq on the increase. 625 died in 2003 in terrorist attacks in Iraq. In 2004, the figure was 1,907.

21:06 Baghdad. On the eve of his 68th birthday, Saddam Hussein met with his lawyer, whom he hasn't seen for four months. The spokesman for Saddam's legal team, Ziad Khasawneh, says Saddam met for six hours with one of his attorneys, Khalil Duleimi.

20:58 Washington. The US Adminstration rejects the Middle East conference proposed by Russian President Vladimir Poutin.

18:50 Rome. Italy to perform ballistics test on Toyota Corolla which transported Giuliana Sgrena to the proximity of Baghdad airport.

17:32 Teheran. Iran awaits unequivocal reply from the European Union concerning its uranimum enrichment program. EU to meet 29 April to decide stance. According to diplomatic sources, Iran has proposed a reduced enrichment program requiring the assembly, installation and operation of 3,000 centrifuges in the Natanz plant in central Iran.

17:23 Premier-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari announces formation of new government. The new goverment will be composed of 32 ministerial portfolios, including seven reserved for women.

16:32 Jerusalem. Israel cautiously reacts to Putin's proposal for Middle East conference.

14:50 Baghdad. Bucharest asked for an extension of ultimatum for kidnapped journalists. The Romanian government has asked the Committee of Iraqi Ulema to assist in release of reporters.

14:14 Baghad. Member of Parliament assassinated in front of resident. Mrs. Lamiya Abed Khadduri, an Iraqi MP and a member of Iyad Allawi's political party, was assassinated by unknown gunman as she answered the door of her residence.

14:12 Baghdad. Another 24 hours required before new government can be named.

13:34 Rome. Calipari's Toyota Corolla has six or seven bullet holes in rear of car. Italian Carabinieri inspect car, now in Italy, and make discovery.

13:17 Rome. Rumor alleges Calipari assassinated by private contractors. A website named Polizia e Democrazia ( claims Negroponte's March 4 escort was comprised of foreign contractors, who shot dead Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari on the Baghdad airport road.

12:38 Cairo. Putin calls for conference in Moscow. Visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin calls for an autumn peace conference in Moscow involving Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the Quartet.

12:21 Istanbul: Two terrorist attacks foiled. Two bombs defused in Instanbul parking lot in the suburban Kucukcekmece district and under a bridge over the Golden Horn. Horn.

10:44 Basrah. Five Australian cargo ships anchored offshore. Five Australian container ships have been refused entry due to alleged iron contamination. Australian exporters accuse US of pressuring Iraq into favoring US grain imports.

10:15 Teheran. Activist student faces flogging an imprisonment. Farab Samini, a student in Teheran, faces stiff sentence to be handed out by the Revolutionary Court.

09:29 Tel Aviv. Powerful blast. Israeli military sources report a powerful blast targeting an Israeli military vehicle near the settlement of Morag in the southern Gaza Strip.

09:38 Beirut. National legislative elections scheduled for 29 May, says Assenbly Speaker Nabih Berri. The legislative races in Lebanon occur over several weeks because each district votes on an independent schedule.

07:24 Washington. Bush wants to transform old US military bases into oil refineries. [The NIMBY effect! Bush is a loser--Nur]

02:14 Cairo. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak plays coy; says he may bow out of president race. However, since 1953 Egyptian parliament has confirmed only a single candidate to run for president and it has taken no action to set up the prerequisites for a race involving several candidates.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

26 April 2005 Events in Iraq.

Baghdad. Formation of a new government is near after three months of haggling among ethnic groups under US pressure. Prime Minister designate handed his list of ministers to President Jalal Talabani, reports Iraqia TV. However there is no indication that the list has been approved and appointments for the Oil and Interior ministries remain to be decided. The network also reports that Rouj Shaouiss, a Kurd, Ahmed Chalabi, a Shi'a and Saad al-Luhaïbi, a Sunni, will be Deputy Prime Ministers.

Baghdad. Three members of parliament defect from the Shia-dominated UIA, reducing its total to 143 out of 275 seats in the national assembly.

Baghdad. One Iraqi policeman was shot dead as four others are wounded by a roadside bomb.

New York. Paul Volcker, chairman of the independent committee investigating the Oil for Food scandal, says Kofi Annan has not been exonerated of wrongdoing.

Berlin. Richard Jones, the US State Department Coordinator for Iraq Policy, says the German Constitution would be a good model for Iraq. [Yeah, and they can download the pret-a-porter Swiss Constitution, in Arabic, available online now, too--Nur]

Dujail. Seven members of the same family, including three women and two children, were wounded by a roadside bomb.

Balad. Two Iraqi soldiers were wounded by a morning mortar attack near Balad and Dhoulouiyah, north of Baghdad

Balad. A truck driver was ambushed and shot dead.

Zouiyah. One Iraqi dies in a bombing targeting a US convoy.

24:00 Wahington. US State Dept. Spokesman Adam Ereli says that talk concerning the conclusion of the final report in the Calipari affair is premature.

23:58 Copenhagen. Denmark to extend deployment. Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller says parliament has approved mission through February 2006 with the help of the far-right parties.

23:48 Washington. Donald Rumsfeld admits insurgency cannot be defeated by either US or Iraqi forces. Rumsfeld also admits that the insurgency is just as strong as it was last year.

22:28 Jerusalem. Home-made Qassam rockets exploded near Sdérot in southern Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The rockets were said to be fabricated by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed branch of Hamas. They can carry of 12-lb charge for a distance of 7 miles.

22:18 Beirut. Last remaining Syrian soldiers and intelligence officers leave Lebanon.

21:54 Moscow. Russian President to visit Egypt for the first time in 40 years.

21:16 Washington. Rumsfeld says work of commission of inquest not concluded. Meanwhile, Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers confirms the same.

20:28 Rome. As soon as it arrives in Italy, the Toyota Corolla in which Nicola Calipari was slain will be subject to forensic examination ordered by Rome prosecutors Franco Ionta, Pietro Saviotti and Erminio Amelio. The ROS and DIGOS agencies will conduct the examination.

19:56 Rome. Berlusconi summons US Ambassador Mel Sembler for a second time today.

19:38 Rome. Sgrena's lawyer says forensic examination of Toyota will lead to important findings. Lawyer Alessandro Gamberini says the velocity and direction of the shots fired at Sgrena's car can be determined during forensic examination.

19:32 Rome. Berlusconi says commission has not concluded its work. The Italian-American commission of inquest has not yet concluded its work, says the Italian Premier before parliament.

19:00 Rome. Guiliana Sgrena says attack on Calipari was an ambush and that the details leaked by the Pentagon of the report by the commission of inquest "have nothing to do with the truth".

18:32 Berlusconi says Calipari dossier is not closed. Berlusconi tells the Italian lower house that the commission of inquest on the Calipari slaying has not concluded its work and deplores leaks by the Pentagon.

18:12. Rome. Berlusconi refuses to discuss Calipari affair with press.

17:17 Rome. Calipari affair: Italian politician demands briefing by Silvio Berlusconi. Luciano Violante demands a briefing to the lower house of parliament.

16:40 Amman. Jordanian government confirms the Sunday kidnapping of businessman Samir Rajab al-Suqi.

17:02 Washington. CIA warns against chemical weapons. After admitting that Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction when Iraq was invated, the CIA now claims that there is a risk of chemical attack by the insurgents. The agency claims that there is a series of secret chemical laboratories run by Sunni extremists known as the Al Abud network. Saddam's chemical plants were looted and missing equipment, says the agency, may contribute to the manufacture of chemical or biological weaspons. Of 1,000 Iraqi scientists working of WMDs before 1991, 105 are now in the custody of US forces.

17:09 Baghdad. New government to be announced. The announcement of the formation of a new Iraqi government is expected by the end of the day, says Haytham Husseini of SCIRI. The new goverment is comprised of 33 ministerial slots to be filled by 17 Shi'ites, 8 Kurds, 6 Sunnis, one Turkman and one Christian, says Jawad Maliki of the Dawa Party.

14:55 Rome. Ministerial Council avoids discussion of Calipari slaying. Minister for Reform Roberto Calderoli says the topic of the report on the Calipari slaying was not addressed.

14:36 New York. Italian politician condemns Sgrena report details leaked by Pentagon. Italian politician Marco Minniti says the Pentagon's leak is a sign of split with Italy. It is urgent that the government appear immediately before Parliament to brief the body on what it intends to do in response to, if confirmed, an unprecedented gesture of breakoff of ties with our country.

13:12 Rome. Toyota used in slaying of Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari to arrive tonight by C-130 cargo plane at Pratica di Mare airport.

11:09 Bucharest. Soccer player offers to exchange self for Romanian hostages. An Iraqi soccer player playing for the Gloria Buzau team in Romania offers himself in exchange for Romanian hostages, says sports daily, Pro Sport.

10:19 Kut. Iraqi security forces arrest 305 terrorism suspects in Madaïen and Al Wahda in Wāsit Province, including 11 foreigners: Egyptians, Palestinians and Sudanese. The are accused of membership in in Ansar al Sunna. Wāsit Provincial Police Chief says that 85 of the suspects were known terrorists.

09:28 Baghdad. Ansar Al-Sunna takes six Sudanese truck drivers hostage. The Sudanese worked as drivers for the US military delivering food, supplies and arms.

09:28 Baghdad. Al Zarqawi escapes US arrest. US troops conducted a February 20th raid in Ramadi but failed to capture al-Zarqawi. Soldiers found his laptop computer and cash. [Somehow, I don't think Zarqawi possess a laptop--Nur]

Monday, April 25, 2005

Giuliana Sgrena V: The Commissioners' Report

Update II: Just revealed by Il Corriere della Sera that when the Italian members of the investigating committee, diplomat Cesare Ragaglini and SISMI General Pierluigi Campregher, went to view the scene of the shooting of Mr. Calipari, someone tossed a hand grenade in their direction. It missed.

Update: Liberal Avenger is dialoging with a military blogger in Iraq, Dadmanly. In today's post, Dadmanly implies that the US military has taken on the mission of interdicting Italian ransom payments to the insurgents. Do you think he has just let the cat out of the bag? The statement, assuming Dadmanly is not a fraud or a Little Green Quarterback, seems rather damning to me.

If we can continue to be successful [at] both financial and supply interdiction (think Italian ransom payments...
The joint commission investigating the Sgrena affair could not agree on a conclusion. The US wants a whitewash and Italians get a political football. Fiorenza Sarzanini of Corriere della Sera reports on the details:

Rome. The ball is now in Italy’s court. Palazzo Chigi will have to establish what stance to take after the joint commission charged with investigating the death of Nicola Calipari was unable to reach a shared consensus on its conclusions. The two Italian delegates, Ambassador Ragaglini and General Campregher, returned to Rome yesterday night and may file their final conclusions today. In the report itself, contrasts and discrepancies are underscored between the versions of the two survivors of the incident – the SISMI major and reporter Giuliana Sgrena—and the US patrol which opened fire on the vehicle leased by the two intelligence officers, killing Nicola Calipari.

Tomorrow Presidential Undersecretary Gianni Letta is to meet US Ambassador Mel Sembler and deliver Italy’s decision on its course of action. The appraisals and investigations carried out during two months of work did not succeed in clearing the air over the major point of contention: the warnings issed by the US troops before opening fire. The SISMI major has always said that he saw a bright light “as I was in the middle of the curve” and that “at the same time, heard several gunshots”. Mrs. Sgrena backs up his version of events. The US soldiers claim that they first aimed the spotlight, then issued the order to halt and finally opened fire. For US Command, this would mean that the rules of engagement were implemented which can only lead to a single conclusion: “No responsibility can be placed on the members of the patrol”.

This is a finding which the two Italian delegates find unacceptable and will lead to the likelihood that the investigation will be concluded with the issue of two separate reports. The willingness on the part of the US Department of State and the CIA to lend assistance ran into pressure from top officials at the Pentagon, who were worried that a guilty verdict would have a negative impact on US troops deployed to Iraq. It stands to reason, experts underscore, that with morale in mind, the US Command will be absolved of all responsibility as it was in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. Because all technical evaluations are in, the question is now keenly political. The Italian government must decide if it will accept the American version, thus setting aside the testimony of the SISMI major which served as the basis of the briefing to Parliament by Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini.

The alternative is to stick with the Italian version of events and to conclude the investigation with a report issued by the two Italian delegates. Several times this week, the pair met with representatives and diplomats from both countries in an attempt to reach an agreement which would not negate the work of the commission in ascertaining what transpired that night on the road between downtown Baghdad and the airport. On March 9, five days after the incident, Undersecretary Letta forwarded a request to the Rome Public Prosecutor, who is managing an investigation into dual charges of voluntary homicide and attempted homicide, “to proceed with the request of the automobile involved in the incident pending the start of the joint commission’s work.” This issue must be dealt with. And it is not the only one. In addition to the requested transfer of custody of the Toyota Corolla, Italian ministry officials requested the name of the twelve members of the US patrol which opened fire. Meanwhile, the automobile could be in Italian hands by next week.

It is even a more complicated matter to obtain the identity of the soldiers. In a letter sent last week to Rome Prosecutor Giovanni Ferrara, the US Department of Justice informed the Italians that “the request will be taken into consideration when the work of the commission has concluded.” But Italian magistrates entertain little hope that the request will be honored. It is likely that in the final report the United States will decide to omit the names, claiming military secrecy. To access the information, it would be necessary to question Ambassador Ragaglini and General Campregher as witnesses. But even in this case, it is impossible to know what the two delegates will decide: to violate military secrecy or accept the US imposition.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

24 April Events in Iraq

Prime Minister Designate Ibrahim Jaafari is expected to present his list of ministers to Parliament tomorrow. The list will not include any member of Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's political party after the Shi'a-dominiate UIA rejected Alawi's demands. Hussain al-Shahristani, a high-ranking UIA official, says that 75% of the ministry posts will go to Shi'ites. The nominations may be approved by a simple majority. Meanwhile, a group linked to al-Zarqawi has threatened death to anyone participating in the new government.

Baghdad. A US solider was killed by a roadside bomb which struck its convoy in the east of the capital. A second soldier was killed yesterday in west Baghdad.

Baghdad. Two Iraqis were killed in a carbombing 20 km south of the capital which targeted a US miiltary convoy.

Baghdad. Sunni MP Mishaan Juburi escaped assassination in a suicide bombing of his convoy in north Baghdad which wounded eight persons.

Washington. The US Army has cleared Gen. Ricardo Sanchez of any responsibility in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal after an investigation by a commission of 10 military officers. Three other high-ranking offers were cleared of dereliction of duty. However, Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th MP Brigade, has received a letter of reprimand and relieved of duty.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has requested the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the role of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, ex-CIA director George Tenet, Gen. Riccardo Sanchez and Gen. Geoffrey Miller in war crimes and the torture of detainees.

Mosul. An Associated Press, Saleh Ibrahim, was killed during clashes in Mosul. Meanwhile, a Reuters cameraman, Nabil Hussein, and his father were arrested by Iraqi police. Twenty police [probably Kurds--Nur] searched Hussein's home on Saturay morning, battering the cameraman's chauffeur and a fellow journalist. Police have denied the report as well as the arrest.

London. Tony Blair under attack. Conservative Michael Howard accused Blair of lying. Meanwhile The Mail on Sunday printed portions of report saying Blair was informed by Attorney General Lord Goldsmith that the war was illegal and that a second UN resolution was required. Liberal Democrat party leader Charles Kennedy has demanded the publication of the entire text.

Damascus. Syria dispatches humanitarian assisstance convoy to Iraq. Syria has sent 80 tons of food to Iraq toward the crossing at al-Tanaf for distribution in Iraq.

Lakeport. Funeral in California for slain NGO worker Marla Ruzicka, 28, director of Campaign for the Victims of Combat (CIVIC). Actor Sean Penn and Senator Barbara Boxer were among the mourners. Ruzicka sought to collect $10 million in damages from the US government for victims of the conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bucharest. Demonstrations of solidarity and prayers for the Romanian hostages. Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist lead prayers for Marie-Jeanne Ion, Sorin Miscoci and Edward during Eastern Right Palm Sunday services. Other groups met at Bucharest University to show their solidarity.

Zafaranya. Roadside bomb strikes US military convoy west of Baghdad, wounding three Iraqis.

Baghdad. A bomb detonated in the Sunni Adhamiyah district in north Baghdad. No casualties.

Baghdad. An Iraqi was shot dead by unknown gunmen in the Doura district of the capital.

Baïji. Two Iraqi entrepreneurs working for the US Army were slain.

Chorgat. An Iraqi truckdriver and his rig were ambushed. The driver was killed in the attack.

23:21 Ramallah. Israel extends lockdown the entirety of the West Bank for six days surrounding the celebration of Passover.

22:13 Karachi. Pakistani Embassy employee released by his captors after being held hostage in Iraq for two weeks.

22:00 Baghdad. Sixteen people were killed and 57 wounded, including 8 police, in two explosions which rocked the Shoola sector of north Baghdad in the second attack on the Shi'ite community within three days. A bomb exploded in a b busy stret near the Husseiniya al-Albeit mosque; a second blast occurred as onlookers gathered to the scene. Two police cars and several other vehicles were demolished as well as storefrontsin this busy commercial and residential area. Residents report a dual blast went off near an ice cream stand at around 8:00 pm. Meanwhile, Sunnis claim that they are being driven out of the quarter. A funeral for Sheik Saddam al-Oukaïli, a muezzin shot dead by unknown gunmen, was held nearby. There are approximately 50,000 residents in the Shoola quarter, adjacent to Sadr City.

21:54 Dallas. Vice President Cheney meets Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. The prince is enroute for the Presidential Ranch in Crawford.

20:26 Bucharest. Romanian Senator Dan Voiculescu of the Secular Humanism Party, included in the governing coalition, offered himself as hostage in exchange for the kidnapped Romanian reporters.

18:18 Algiers. Five killed in two attacks by radical Islamists in Algeria near Ain Defla (170 km west of Algiers) and Tebessa (at the frontier with Tunisia).

16:38 Teheran. Iranian Foreign Minister Hamid Reza Asefi has said his country will restart uranium enrichment for non-military purposes.

13:35 Kuwait City. Embassy of Bangladesh looted by Bangladeshi workers in Kuwaiti capital.

12:26 Fallujah. US sailor killed. A US sailor was killed as the convoy he was travelling with was struck by a roadside bomb.

12:08 Amarah. Roadside bomb strikes British military convoy. The driver of another car was wounded together with a woman and a child.

11:48 Dubai. Al Arabiya broadcasts plea for release of a dual US-Iraqi national by family members. The man was kidnapped together with three Romanian hostages.

08:01 Hillah. Four rebels were killed and a fifth wounded as they were placing charges along a highway.

07:51 Tikrit. Dual blasts kill 7 and wound 37. Two blasts were heard near a police academy. The second detonation was said to have occurred as rescuers were rushing to the scene. The attacks were launched 20 minutes apart and targeted a group of police departing for training in Jordan. At least a ton of explosive was used in both vehicles. The front of the academy and a liaison office were damaged.

07:09 Kabul. Afghan woman stoned to death for adultery. The stoning occurred in the northeast province of Badakhshan.

06:28 Bucharest. Romanian Presidential Advisor Saftoiu says contact has been made with the kidnappers of three Romanian journalists.

01:06 Beirut. Syria to complete its withdrawal from Lebanon by the end of the day.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

23 April Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Nine members of the National Guards were killed and 20 others wounded by a suicide car bomb in the west of the capital near Abu Ghraib Prison.

Baghdad. Suicide carbomb targets US convoy. The explosion killed one US soldier and wounded 10, including three US troops. The blast demolished one US military vehicle and two civilian Iraqi cars. Responsibility was claimed by al-Zarqawi. Today, Saturday, a lion of the martyrs brigade carried out an heroic attack on a convoy of Jews and crusaders on the airport highway. He blew himself up and will merit Paradise.

Basrah. Two persons were killed when the car they were travelling in exploded. Two children playing nearby were killed by the blast in a village close to the southern city.

Baquba. A 10 year-old girl and a teacher were killed and four others wounded by bombs. A 10 year-old girl was killed by a bomb planted near the residence of the ex-Chairman of the city council who was assassinated at the end of January along with his brother. A second bomb detonated 100 yards away and killed a university sports coach.

Mouradia. Three soldiers and an assailant were wounded in an attack on an army checkpoint.

Dhoulouiyah. Two Iraqi soldiers were killed and four wounded when mortar fire was directed at their positions.

Samara. An Iraqi civilian killed by a roadside bome

Mosul. Three US troops were wounded by a a roadside bomb.

Baghdad. US troops arrest six persons suspected of downing a Bulgarian helicopter north of the city.

22:37 Mosul. A cameraman for the Associated Press, Saleh Ibrahim, was shot to death while covering combat in Mosul between US troops and insurgents.

21:22 Beirut. Saadeddin Hariri, son of assassinated ex-Premier Rafik Hariri, will run as a candidate for parliament in the legislative elections at the end of May.

19:40 Haswa. A US soldier is killed by a roadside bomb.

17:07 Bucharest. FIfty Romanian journalists rally to demand release of three colleagues held hostage in Iraq.

16:54 Najaf. The governor of the city of Najaf and a member of SCIRI, Assad Abu Qalal, warned that Shi'ite community might retaliate for Sunni-led attacks.

16:15 Beirut. Incoming Internior Minister Hassan Sabeh delivered a reprimand to General Jamil Sayyed, a powerful figure in charge of intelligence.

16:06 George W. Bush praises progress in building Iraq's security forces.

15:59 Baghdad. One woman was killed and seven Iraqi men wounded by an blast of unknown origin under a bridge in the Shoula district in west Baghdad. The wounded included two women and five men.

Friday, April 22, 2005

22 April 2005 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Friday prayers were marred by the bombing of a Shi'ite mosque in the north of the capital and an accusation by Sheikh Hareth al-Obeidi, the imam of the Umm al-Qura mosque--the headquarters of the Committee of Iraqi Ulema--that the Sunni community is the victim of an eradication campaign. Meanwhile, in the Shaab district of north Baghdad, the imam of the Our mosque said that Iraq's Sunnis were the victims of an assassination campaign. 46 Sunni notables have been assassinated in the last few months.

Karbalā’. Sheikh Mohammed Hussein al-Omeidi, a cleric close to Ayatollah Ali Sistani, rebuffed accusations that the UIA was the responsible party for the delay in forming a goverment. Other parties are placing obstacles in the way as soon as discussions begin to make progress.

Washington. US doubts exoneration of Annan by Paul Volcker. Mark Lagon, a US State Dept. Undersecretary, says that Annan has exaggerated his innocence in the Oil for Food scandal.

Baghdad. Foreign security firms in Iraq employ close to 50,000 foreigners and Iraqis, attracted by extremely high-paying salaries. There are approximately 60 foreign security firms in Iraq. Meanwhile, six American security contractors and two Fijian security guards died in yesterday's downing of a Bulgarian helicopter.

Paris. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier says the French goverment is still working for the release of French reporter Florence Aubenas and her guide, Hussein Hanoun, kidnapped 5 January. France also seeks information on the disappearance of French camerman Nérac.

Paris. The newspaper Libération, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee of Support plan a campaign every 10 days in support of the release of Aubenas and Hanoun. TF1, LCI and Radio-France have agreed air celebrity spots pleading for their release. Folamour [Heh, this means, "Strangelove"--Nur] Production Company and the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. allied to air publicity spots featuring Arab artists and sports stars on behalf of hostages Aubenas and Hanoun eight times a day at prime time for two weeks, from April 5th to the 21st.

An Najaf. A Shi'ite dignitary congratulates Pope Benedict XVI on his election. During Friday prayers, Sheikh Sadreddin al-Kubbanji made three requests of the new pontiff: 1) To open up to the people and not to close himself in behind the walls of the Vatican; 2) to open up to other religions and to acknowledge their rightful existence and 3) to use his influence on the international political scene. The Shi'ite community was the first Muslim community to congratulate the Pope.

Baghdad. Two Iraqi soldiers killed by bomb.

Baghdad. An advisor to the Defense Ministry, General Sami Anbaki, escaped an assassination attempt. Armed gunmen opened fire on his vehicle as it came to a stop in the Doura district of west Baghdad. Retired General Tarek Abed Lifta, travelling with Anbaki, was wounded in the foot and stomach. A bystander and two bodyguards were also wounded

Baghdad. Iraqi President Talabani says he is frustrated by the inability to form a new government due to disputes over the distribution of ministerial portfolios. Talabani will meet with the New National Front, a Sunni movement, in an attempt to break the Sunni boycott of the government. Meanwhile, outgoing Premier Iyad Allawi added to the confusion by insisting that his party, The Iraqi List, will not join the goverment unless it receives the Vice Premiership and four out of the following ministerial portfolios: Defense, Interior, Trade, Oil, Transporation, Agriculture, Labor, Social Affairs or Urban Affairs.

Şadr al Yūsufīyah. Two Iraqi soldiers were killed and four others wounded by a roadside bomb.

Al Başrah. Four border patrolmen, including an officer, were wounded by a roadside bomb.

Baghdad. Iraqi security forces say a Saudi national and al Qaeda suspect was killed and a weapons cache uncovered.

Baghdad. One Saudi national was sentenced to 10 years in prison for illegal entry into Iraq and an Iranian national to six years for his links to the insurgency.

Sarajevo. Bosnia to deploy an ethnically mixed (Muslims, Serbs and Croats) demining squad to Iraq in June.

23:59 Washington. US killed in action reaches 1,564.

22:46 Doha. A video showing three kidnapped Romanian journalists was aired by al-Jazeera, as "proof that they are alive and well." A 4-day ultimatum by the kidnappers was issued to the Romanian government.

19:49 Strasbourg. The EU is expected to finalize its proposal for an international conference on Iraq at a meeting on Monday in Luxemburg. Luxemburg's Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn, hopes the conference will take place in early June.

19:47 Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin confirms the sale of short-range missiles to Syria on eve of his visit to Israel.

19:41 Mosul. A prison warden was shot dead by armed gunmen. Colonel Khaled Najm Allah, warden of the Bidouch Prison housing common criminals, was shot in the head and chest behind the wheel of his vehicle in theYarmuk District of west Mosul. His wife and children were wounded in the attack. Meanwhile, five Iraqi soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb near the city.

16:21 Washington Bush nominates Peter Pace, Marine Commandant-General, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

19:01 New York. The AIEA says Iran is in complaince with international safety standards in the Russian-assisted construction of a nuclear power station in Bouchehr in the south of the country.

15:51 Ar Ramādi. US forces shot dead a women in an explosive-laden car. Her vehicle had been stopped following a prior bombing, which wounded a US soldier.

15:39 Baghdad. 11 are dead in an explosion inside the Shi'ite al-Subeih Mosque in east Baghdad. The attack took place during a prayer period in the New Baghdad district in the east of the capital, killing eleven worshipers and wounding 26. The mosque and two adjacent residences were damaged. A suicide bomber driving a white BMW rammed the structure. No organization has taken credit for the bombing.

08:15 Tall Afar. Two US soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb targeting their convoy.

07:41 Bayjī. Police say they have discovered the bodies of 19 Iraqi soldiers abandoned in the desert between Asainiya and Bayjī. All had been shot in the head and stomach. Their mini-bus had been hijacked three or four days ago. [What is up with the number 19? On 17 April, the bodies of 19 unidentified men were found floating in the Tigris near Al ‘Azīzīyah. Then on 20 April, the corpses of 19 soldiers were found outside a soccer stadum in Hadīthah. Now this? This is hard to believe--a moveable mass slaying of exactly 19 men? Are the same 19 bodies recycled? And consider this. What's 19+19+19? 57. This is the number of bodies that are said to be found in the Tigris after the alleged Al Madā’’in hostage massacre. Something is very fishy here.--Nur]

07:08 Ar Ramādi. Two marines killed by a roadside bomb.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

21 April 2005 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Seven Iraqis died in separate attacks today across the country. Meanwhile, an interpreter working in the Green Zone was kidnapped.

Ar Ramādi. US marines say they shot dead a woman who was planting a bomb near the town.

Baghdad. A roadside bomb on the airport highway killed an employee of the British firm Aegis and wounded another. An Iraqi civilian was also wounded.

An Najaf. The holy city is preparing the funeral for 17 of the victims found in the Tigris River. Crowds have been shouting slogans hostile to the Iraqi Interior Minister Falah Nakib. SCIRI say that some 70 bodies have been pulled out of the river.

Baghdad. Jalal Talibani did not announce the formation of a new goverment, which had been promised for Thursday as certain.

Paris. France is concerned by escalating violence in Iraq and calls for calm.

London. Blair to lose Muslim vote. British Muslims will likely not turn out for Blair in the May elections.

Washington. John Negroponte was confirmed as Director of National Intelligence by a Senate vote of 98 to 2.

21:14 Washington. The private security concer Blackwater confirmed that seven of its employee were killed in Iraq, six in the shoot-down of a helicopter north of the capital. A seventh was killed near Ar Ramādi by a roadside bomb

20:26 Mecca. Saudi security forces exchanged fire with radical Islamists in the mountains near Mecca. Inhabitants of the Oum al-Djoud sector southest of the holy city said rebels fired at low-flying helicopters and Red Cross ambulances headed to the scene. Armed gunmen attempted to cross through a checkpoint disguised as women. They have been surrounded in the mountains outside Mecca, says a source in the security forces.

19:57 Lannemezan. Lebanese terrorist Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, serving a life sentence for the assassination of two diplomats, has been hospitalized for a head wound. Abdallah was sentenced in 1987 for the murder of US diplomat Charles Robert Ray and Israeli diplomat Yacov Barsimantov in 1982 and for complicity in the 1984 assassination of the US Consul in Strasbourg, Robert Onan Homme.

19:36 New York. Oil for Food, two commission members quit. Two members of a panel investigating the Oil for Food program, Robert Patton and Miranda Duncan, are stepping down in protest of accusations that they were "two soft" on Kofi Annan.

18:31 Baghdad. Bulgarian helicopter shot down with 11 persons on board, including 6 Americans. Besides the Americans, the 3-man Bulgarian crew and two Philippino bodyguards were killed in the crash of a helicopter owned by the Bulgarian firm, Heliair. The Bulgarian Defense Minister stated that the helicopter had been brought down by a rocket near Tikrit, 180 km north of Baghdad.

18:26 Jerusalem. Gaza setters to resist evacuation, Israeli military officials predict.

18:17 Baghdad. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says he will strive to improve relations between Baghdad and Ankara. Talabani also promised to remove Kurdish separatists from Turkey installed in northern Iraq.

18:16 Baghdad. Bombing kills a foreign security worker on the airport highway. The man worked for Aegis Defense services Ltd, a British company, says spokesperson Sarah Pearson in London. The blast destroyed the all-terrain vehicle in which he was riding.

18:46 London. Charges lodged against a British soldier for forgery of prison torture photos have been dropped. Stuart McKenzie, 25, of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment was accused of forging the photos which he turned over for publication in the Mirror. Piers Morgan, a Mirror editor, resigned after the publication.

15:02 Baghdad. Downed helicopter was Bulgarian.

13:47 Baghdad. US sources say no Americans were aboard the downed helicopter.

13:09 Baghdad. Helicopter is shot down north of the capital. Sources say the victims of the crash were all civilians.

10:40 Baghdad. One arrest in yesterday's attempted assassination of Premier.

09:17 Doha. Al Jazeera reports that a carbomb killed two American civilians in downtown Baghdad.

08:28 Baghdad. Bomb target security worker convoy.

08:01 Baghdad. Two blasts were heard coming from Baghdad airport.

02:30 The US senate approves the construction of a $592 million embassy in Baghdad. The vote passed 54 to 45. Earlier, the House had removed it from the budget as being too expensive.

Condi Dons Star Fleet Uniform

Star Fleet Academy Graduate Posted by Hello

Here it is, fresh from Vilnius, Lithuania. The Vulcan Princess, Federation Ambassador and Star Fleet Commander herself.

The Coming Egyptian Revolution

The Beirut newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour is a member of Project Syndicate, an international association of newspapers aiming to bring distinguished voices from across the world to local audiences everywhere” (with the possible exception of the USA—Nur). The paper has picked up this opinion piece by Egyptian MP Mona Makra-Ebeid on the impact of the United States on political reform in Egypt.

Mrs. Makra-Ebeid is a colleague of Egyptian politician Ayman Nour, who was recently arrested on charges of forging documents filed with the Egyptian Political Parties Commission to officially register his politicay party, Hizb al-Ghad.

Update 04/22:. Cairo Magazine reports an uproar within Hizb al-Ghad concerning foreign money. To tell the truth after sniffing the air, both Project Syndicate and the party seem to be liberal (economic sense) undertakings and suggest inspiration from The Economist.
"Al Ghad is founded on the margin of the liberal attitude in Egypt. It has no history or real liberal figures. Rather, it gathers underneath a big tent people from different attitudes. They unite around Ayman Nour's personality, not a central idea," said Dia Rashwan, a researcher at Al Ahram Center For Strategic Studies. He expects that there will be additional resignations in the future.
Before or after reading the article, be sure to visit Baheyya (on the left sidebar) and read her scathing article on the Egyptian régime and its attempts to maintain supremacy and control in Egyptian political life.

The article, printed in French, seems to have been originally in English but I am unable to find the source on Project Syndicate’s homepage, so I offer my own translation:

Will The Coming Revolution Be Egyptian?

The American President’s Greater Middle East Initiative was welcomed with little enthusiasm. Arab governments do not appreciate it when President Bush acted without consulting them. For this reason, Egypt supported an alternative proposal, The Alexandria Declaration, during the Arab Summit in May last year. President Mubarek has recently announced that the opposition would be permitted to run candidates against him in the upcoming presidential race. But we ask ourselves, is this as merely a cosmetic political maneuver or genuine reform?

It is clear that the recent elections in Iraq and in Palestine, as well as street demonstrations protesting Syrian influence in Lebanon, have regenerated the debate on political reform in Egypt. Some members of the opposition believe that the country must implement reforms on its own before change is imposed from the outside.

A certain newspaper editor has gone even further in pointing out that political and constitutional reforms are being held out as to the citizenry as if they were some kind of reward and not a right. According to this editor, Arab democracy is now a major priority of the United States and American presidents will ignore no longer ignore the abuses of friendly Arab régimes as they have done in the past.

In the Arab world, authoritarian governments have been depriving the population of political, social and intellectual freedoms for decades. For young citizens, especially the Islamists, ordinary means of political expression have been closed off to them; they are increasingly turning towards extremist clandestine movements. Poverty, favoritism and official corruption are reinforcing public resentment.

Against this backdrop, the reformist movement in Egypt is gaining momentum. We nostalgically recall our first experiences with liberation (from 1920 to the 1952 Revolution) which were a model for other Arab nations. During this period, the dynamism of political life, the press and our culture were supported by ideals of secular nationalism and religious harmony. Egypt was a multiparty parliamentary democracy with an independent judiciary and one of the world’s first women’s liberation movements.

Today, the accomplishments and the hopes of this period serve to unite reform-minded Egyptians. They have inspired the formation of a new political party, the Hizb al-Ghad (Party of Tomorrow), founded by a young parliamentarian, which rejects the argument that democracy has encouraged extremism. The party believes that lack of reform is our country’s greatest danger.

Hizb al-Ghad has recently prepared a 48-page Draft Constitution which aims to reinvigorate Egyptian political life. Its preamble, which begins with the words, We, the Egyptian people is an unbridled attack on the current régime and calls for the end to fear and despotism.

The document proposes to put an end to the ongoing state of emergency imposed in the aftermath of the assassination of President Sadat in 1981 which has become an emergency without end. It has led to the restriction, if not outright suspension, of individual and political freedoms. The Draft Constitution proposes to limit the extraordinary powers granted the president by the Constitution of 1971 and to introduce direct presidential elections with competing candidates. It will make Egypt a parliamentary republic.

The dominant National Democratic Party, NDP, does not see eye-to-eye with this opinion and maintains that political reform is possible without constitutional reform. The NDP seems convinced that democratization begins with a change in the political climate and the spread of democratic values. But these transformations must be preceded by concrete judicial and constitutional reforms like those proposed by Hizb al-Ghad.

Until now, NPD has never bothered with an attempt to garner popular support by offering an agenda of reforms designed to increase citizen participation. This is why statements by Mubarak in favor of multiparty participation in the presidential elections have made no impression whatsoever on the Egyptian electorate. In fact, the government prefers empty initiatives focusing on the economy.

The contrast in these opposing views must not rule out room for consensus. Wide-ranging reforms are necessary and have been delayed for too long. Moreover, the liberal voices being heard throughout Egypt are not in response to the democratizing initiatives of the United States. They represent a national protest against foot-dragging and will be recorded as an important chapter in our history.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

20 April 2005 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Five car bombings strike capital within 24 hours.

Baghdad. A chauffeur employed by the Health Ministry was shot dead by unknown gunmen in east Baghdad. Meanwhile, three Iraqis, including a woman and a Shi'ite dignitary were killed and a fourth person wounded in an attack in the south of the capital.

Baghdad. Three Iraqi soldiers and one Turkish truck driver were killed in separate attacks across Iraq.

23:20 Washington. The United States expressed its disappointment following a decision by Kofi Annan to delay the publication of a report on Syrian troop withdrawal from Lebanon by one week. State Dept. Spokesman Adam Ereli said that Condoleezza Rice had phoned the Secretary General saying immediate publication was "desireable and important".

22:33 Baghdad. Failed assassination attempt targets Allawi. Outgoing Premier Iyad Allawi narrowly escaped assassination when a suicide bomber driving a truck bomb attempted to ram his convoy as he returned home, says government spokesman Thaër al-Naqib. Allawi's residence is near his party headquarters. He had just attended a meeting concerning the alleged hostage execution in Al Madā’’in. Only President Talibani has linked the corpses found floating today in the Tigris River to events in Al Madā’’in.

22:18 Baghdad. Two police killed in truck bombing targeting Allawi. A suicide bomber rammed a truck into a checkpoint outside the headquarters of Iyad Allawi.

21:31 Baghdad. Truck bomb targets Allawi party headquarters. A suicide truck bomb exploded outside the offices of Premier Iyad Allawi's political party. The bomb struck a checkpoint protecting the entrance to party headquarters which is located a previously bombed building.

20:30 Tallinn. The Estonian parliament has decided to extend the stay of its 32-man peacekeeping contingent in Iraq until the end of 2005 with an option for renewal through 2006.

19:56 New York. An advisor on North Korean Affairs to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Canadian Maurice Strong, has been named in the Oil for Food scandal. Strong is connected to Tongsun Park, also named in the scandal for his connection to BayOil USA. Mr. Strong has stepped aside pending investigation by NY Prosecutor David Kelly.

16:41 Ar Ramādi. Two carbombs detonate in front of National Guard barracks. Gunfire was heard following the blasts.

15:33 Baghdad. Talabani, "Bodies of 50 hostages found". Al Iraqia TV reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim Jaafari in a private meeting that 57 lifeless corpses of men, women and children were pulled out of the Tigris River near As Suwayra, 50 km south of Baghdad and 30 km downstream from Al Madā’’in. The statement of the president reopened the polemic concerning Al Madā’’in. Outgoing Interior Minister Falah Nakib had denied that Sunni insurgents took 80 residents hostage over the weekend. Meanwhile, Mr. Talabani says that It's not true that there were not any hostages. There were indeed hostages and they were executed and thrown into the Tigris River and the bodies of more than fifty have been recovered. [Something is very odd about this story, which has not been confirmed.--Nur].

15:18 Baghdad. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Wednesday that there was a good chance a new government would be in place by tomorrow, Thursday, after a meeting with PM-designate Ibrahim Djaafari, outgoing Premier Iyad Allawi and other officials.

15:14 Hadīthah. Insurgents shot dead 19 Iraqi National Guards whom they had kidnapped and conducted to a soccer stadium in Hadīthah 200 km northwest of Baghdad. The 19 guards had just participated in anti-insurgent action alongside US troops and were returning to their base by bus, which was hijacked. [What military manual is this pulled from? Bus-in/bus-out needed brigades without escort in hostile territory? WTF? --Nur]

15:14 Ankara. Military chief of staff lashes out at the United States. General Hilmi Ozkok lashed out at the United States for its ineffectualness in controlling Kurdish separatists in Turkey. Ozkok complained of the growing influence of the PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party) in Turkey and in Northern Iraq. Ozkok claims the PKK is encouraged by US inaction and has intensified its actions in Turkey from the safety of sanctuaries within Iraq. According to Ankara, the PKK is on the list of terrorist organizations maintained by the United States.

15:11 Al Başrah A tribal chieftain known for his links to the ancien régime of Saddam Hussein but allied to the British following their entry into southern Iraq was assasinated on his farm in southern Iraq. Unknown gunmen dressed as Iraqi security forces entered the farmhouse of Sheikh Abdel Al al-Batat in Az Zubayr, 20 km south of Al Başrah and machine gunned him, killing him outright, says Police Lt. Col. Haidar Abdel Mehdi. This chieftain had escaped an assassination attempt not long ago. After having business connections to a general in Saddam Hussein's intelligence services, the sheik did not hesitate to ally himself with the British when their forces entered southern Iraq. He became a member of the Regional Executive Council established by the British but was subsequently arrested by them for links to Saddam Hussein. He was freed after a few months in detention.

14:41 Baghdad. The Islamic Army of Iraq claimed credit for today's car bombing on the airport highway which killed two American soldiers. An Islamic Army squad attacked two civilian vehicles (..) carrying American VIP's in the Amiriyah district on the highway leading to Baghdad Airport, killing all the occupants. According to a source in the Iraqi Interior Ministry, the bombing occurred at 6:00 am and killed two Iraqi civilians and wounded five others.

11:11 Baghdad. Fourth car bombing. A fourth car bombing takes place in south Baghdad, wounding three civilians. The bomb targeted an Iraqi police convoy in the Dura district of the capital.

10:36 Baghdad. Third Car bomb kills two civilians. A child and one adult were killed by a roadside bomb which targeted a US military convoy. The bombing follows yesterday's bombing of a recruiting station which killed six and wounded 44.

10:02 Baghdad. Second carbombing strikes the Dura district of Baghdad, wounding eight civilians.

09:08 Dubai. A group calling itself The Abu Bakr al Seddiq al Salafiya Brigades claims credit for the assassination of General Adnan Midhish Kharagoli,

08:51 Baghdad. Bomb kills two US soldiers. Two US soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb targeting their convoy detonated in west Baghdad. The incident took place on the airport highway. US KIA total reaches 1,182. Update: The bomb also killed a Candian, an American and an Australian working for foreign security firms.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

19 April 2005 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Negotiations on forming a new government are at a standstill due to outgoing Premier Allawi's insistance on retaining an important ministerial portfolio. Allawi's movement demands four ministerial portfolios, one of which must be important, such as the Interior Ministry. UIA MP Mrs. Maryam al-Rayès relates, But we are trying to convince him that he cannot have the Interior is going to the UIA. Defense is going to a Sunni. The Foreign Ministry will continue to be retained by Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd.

Baghdad. Three Iraqi soldiers were killed in a rebel attack west of Baghdad.

Baghdad. A Baghdad University administrator and faculty member, Fouad Ibrahim al-Bayati, was shot dead behind the wheel of his car.

Tikrik. A civlian was killed by a roadside bomb, which destroyed his vehicle.

Dhoulouiyah. An Iraqi solider is killed.

Hilla. An insurgent was killed and another wounded by the premature detonation of a roadside bomb, which they were planting.

Baghdad. MPs complain of behavior of American GIs. MPs angrily denounced the rude treatment of one of its Assembly members by US forces and demand the explusion of the guilty troops in the incident. Debate was suspended for one hour in protest after a Shi'a MP, Fateh al-Sheikh was pulled over en route to the Green Zone. Al-Sheikh angrily declared that he was an MP and a US soldier grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and shook him. A resolution was passed demanding an apology from the US Embassy.

15:04 Teheran. Iranian authorities have decided to "temporarily close" the Teheran offices of al-Jazeera after its broadcasts on riots in the province of Khuzistan in southern Iran. We maintain an open-door policy and are ready to dialog with anyone, said al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout. Meanwhile, al-Jazeera's News and Content Editor Ahmed al-Sheikh expressed surprise at the decision. I don't know what crime we have committed: we repeatedly televised the Iranian government's reaction to the crisis. Since it's creation in 1996, al-Jazeera has been the CNN of the Middle East and is watched by tens of millions of Arabs. The Qatari network is despised by the régimes in Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait and Sudan, and has be unable to open bureaus in Saudi Arabia and in Tunisia. Al Jazeera is regularly denounced by Washington, which accuses the network of being a spokesman for radical Islamist groups. Its bureaus in Baghdad were closed down by the Iraqi authorities in August 2004.

14:49 Ramadi. Authorities claim they captured two members of a group linked to Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. Hamza Ali Ahmed Alwadmiziar, alias Abu Majed, and Salam Aref Abdelkader Khwamrad Zardawi, alias Agha bou Sharif, were taken into custody.

14:25 Camp Bucca. A 51 year-old Iraqi prisoner has died in US custody, supposedly of "natural causes". The man was in convulsions and was brought to the prison infirmary, where he died. He had been held as a security prisoner since May 2004. A Red Cross delegation reported complaints of harsh conditions after an inspection of the desert camp in March.

10:49 Khaldiya. Rebels attack National Guard post, killing five persons.

10:24 Riyadh. OPEC raises production. Production will be upped by 500,000 per day, most of it to be pumped by Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is currently producing 9.5 million barrels per day.

09:55 New York. Price of oil climbs again. Light Crude climbs 23 cents to $50.60, 13% lower than its April 4 maximum of $58.28. June Brent futures are up 22 cents to $51.22.

09:47 Baghdad. An explosion in the Adhamiyah district in east Baghdad targeting an army recruitment center in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces killed 6 and wounded 44, mostly soldiers and recruits. A suicide bomber drove a green minibus into the building. A group linked to Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi has taken credit for the bombing.

09:14 Baghdad. Two generals assassinated. General Adnan Faush Farawni, an advisor to the Defense Ministry and his son, Alladin, a captain in the intelligence services were assassinated at their home in southern Baghdad by gunmen wearing army uniforms. Another family member was wounded. In Amara, General Hussein Hato al-Jabeeri and his driver were shot to death. Jabeeri was the Interior Ministry Inspector-General for three provinces in southern Iraq.

A Generally Dangerous Profession

The last 60 days in Iraq have been dangerous for Iraqi generals, who despite armed escorts are dropping like flies. I don't know how many generals a country the size of Iraq should have...but this seems like a lengthy death roster for two months:

Unidentified Iraqi general in Kirkuk

Iraqi Christian police general in Kirkuk

General Deputy Commandant of al-Anbar Province (killed by US troops at rolling checkpoint).

Defense Ministry Advisor General Adnan Faush Farawni

Interior Ministry General Hussein Hato al-Jabeeri

Police General Galeb al-Jazeri (killed by US troops at rolling checkpoint per one AFP report, no confirmation).

Interior Ministry General Bassem Mohammed Kazem

Defense Ministry Advisor General Adnan Midhish Kharagoli

Commandant of the Taji Military Base General Jadaan Malih

Interior Ministry General Jalal Mohammad Salah

Highway Police General Karim Silawi

Police General Yunès Mohammed Sulaiman

Monday, April 18, 2005

18 April 2005 Events in Iraq

Ahvaz. Three people are dead and 200 arrested after clashes between the Arab majority in Iran's Khuzistan Province which authorities have blamed on subterfuge by al-Jazeeza rather than an ethnic dispute in this petroleum-rich province bordering on the Iraqi frontier. Information Minister Ali Yunessi says there were several "agitators" among the persons arrested, "linked to subversive groups and television networks." Riots broke out Friday night between security forces and the Arab residents of Ahvaz, the provincial seat. Yesterday minor disturbances were reported in Mah-Shahr. Demonstrators attacked and burned down public buildings during the riots; the story was broken by Qatari satellite TV al-Jazeera. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Jahanbakhsh Khanjani directly accused al-Jazeera of inciting the riots. Provincial MPs have demanded the expulsion of the network. State Iranian TV says al-Jazeera quoted the Arab Popular and Democratic Front of Ahvaz headquartered in London in its reporting. A Front representative said a purportedly official communication signed by ex-Vice President Mohammad-Ali Abtahi was in circulation in the province calling for the ethnic cleansing of Arabs. The Front says Arabs were demonstrating peacefully when authorities decided to use force against them. During the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein vowed to "liberate" Khuzistan Province, which he referred to as "Arabstan."

Manila. The government of the Philippines has instructed its nationals to leave Iraq following the death of a Philippino who worked at a US military base in Baghdad.

Basrah. Two police killed and eleven wounded when a roadside bomb struck their bus.

Baghdad. The manager of a travel agency was shot dead as he was driving through the Ghazaliyah district in west Baghdad.

Baïji. A policeman was killed by a homemade bomb

Chorgat. An Iraqi interpreter for the US military and a member of the Iraqi security forces were killed by a mortar round which fell on an Iraqi army position.

Dhoulouiyah. Two Iraqi soldiers were killed and four wounded by a mortar round which fell on their position.

Tuz. An Iraqi soldier was killed and another wounded by light arms fire.

Kirkūk. The body of a young Iraqi man was found riddled with bullets.

Kuwait City. A US soldier dies in a training exercise.

Mosul. General Yunès Mohammed Sulaiman, the spokesman for the Mosul police, was assassinated on Sunday.

Baghdad. The Iraqi Interior Minister says he mistook the identity of a recently assassinated security official. General Adnan Midhish Kharagoli, a Defense Ministry advisor, was the victim, not General Adnan Thabet as previously announced.

21:04 Al Madā’’in. The report of Shi'ite hostages held by rebel Sunnis in the town of al-Madā’’in south of Baghdad illustrated the climate of growing mistrust between Iraq's two main religious communities. Iraqi forces took control of al-Madā’’in without finding any trace of hostages. Residents blamed "foreign elements" of having fomented trouble in the town. An hooded Iraqi commando team of 1,500 entered the town on Monday backed up by US Apache combat helicopters which prompted terrified residents to lock themselves indoors. The ruins of the Mesopotamian city of Ctesiphon (est. 144 BC) are within al-Madā’’in.

21:01 Paris. France extends condolences to the family of Lebanese MP Bassel Fleyhan, who died due to complications from severe burns suffered in the carbomb which killed former PM Rafik Hariri in Beirut on February 14. Fleyhan died in the Percy Military Hospital outside Paris.

20:40 Paris. Reporters Without Frontiers expresses indignation at the assassination of Kurdish television journalist Shamal Abdallah Assad in Kirkuk. According to RWF, Assad, assassinated at an auto dealership, was the third Kurdish journalist killed in two days.

20:49 Jerusalem. Israel has issued a call for bids for the construction of 50 units in the West Bank settlement of Elkana to the irritation of Washington. Meanwhile, Ariel Sharon has postponed the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip by three weeks saying the original date of 20 July was the commemoration of the destruction of the first and second Jewish temples in Jerusalem. [Oh? So why did he pick 20 July in the first place? Fraud!--Nur]

Sunday, April 17, 2005

17 April 2005 Events in Iraq

London. Foreign Minister Jack Straw says British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq in two years.

Damascus. Syrian intellectuals plead for release of French reporter Florence Aubenas and guide Hussein Hanoun. Syrian intellectuals reaffirm their commitment to freedom of expression and condemn any controls on the freedom of information, especially violence against journalists, says Political Scientist Salam Kawakibi.

Baghdad. Meeting of Iraq's neighbors postponed to 25 and 26 April. A meeting of states bordering on Iraq was postponed one week due to a request from Iraqi President Ibrahim Jaafari. The meeting with be the 8th in a series.

Brussels. Possible international conference in June. European Council President Jean-Claude Juncker says a meeting may be organized on Brussels in early June. However, Iraq has been hesitant to issue the request. The meeting would concentrate on the coordination of assitance to the country, says the European Commissioner for Foreign Relations, Benita Ferrero Waldner.

Baghdad. Shi'ite and Kurdish MPs are concerned by the delay in forming a new government. Outgoing Foreign Minister and MP Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, and MP Houmam Hamoudi, a Shi'a, say they believe the delay has fueled the resistance.

Mosul. Four police and five civilians were killed in separate incidents across northern Iraq.

Baghdad. Iraqi security sources say they arrested Izzat Ibrahim in March. The US had placed a bounty of $10 million on Ibrahim, a nephew of Saddam Hussein. Also announced was the arrest of Hashem Hussein Raduana al-Juburi

22:00 Al Madā’in. The kidnapping of a group of traveling Shiites last week near the town, 10 miles south of Baghdad, generated a retaliatory kidnapping of a group of Sunnis by Shi'ites a few days later. Friday night's exaggerated reports of a takeover of Al Madā’in by Sunnis and a mass exodus of Shi'ite residents to Al Kūt was played down by residents Saturday, despite a bomb blast which demolished a Shi'ite mosque. The situation in the town topped the agenda of Sunday's session of the National Assembly. Meanwhile, other reports say that when US and Ukrainian troops arrived in Al Madā’in, they saw streets full of people calmly sipping tea in cafés and going about their business. There were no armed Sunni mobs, no cowering Shiite victims. After hours of careful searches, the soldiers assisted by air surveillance found no evidence of any kidnappings or refugees at all.

22:00 The US Embassy said Marla Ruzicka, 27, the director of CIVIC, an international NGO, a Czech-born French national and an unidentified third person were killed by a suicide carbomb on the highway leading to Baghdad Airport.

21:22 Ba’qūbah. Seven Iraqis taken hostage. Seven workers at a US military base at Al Al Mansūrīyah were kidnapped by rebels as they left their jobs for the day.

20:21 An Najaf. Officials of the holy Shi'ite city said Highway Police General Karim Silawi died after being shot by fellow police loyal to his predecessor, General Hilal Abdallah. General Abdallah had been fired by the Provincial Council for his links to the former Ba'ath regime and replaced by General Silawi. When Gen. Silawi reported for work, he was shot dead by fellow police officers. Gen. Abdallah has been arrested. In March another incident involving Najaf police took place when Gen. Ghaleb al-Jazaïri refused to be transfered to Baghdad. A city judge then wrote out an arrest warrant which was served and ignored. Gen. al-Jazaïri kept his job.

13:17 Baghdad. High-ranking police officials assassinated in Baghdad and in Mosul. In Baghdad, Amazr Hassan, leader of the anti-terrorist Wolf Brigades was shot dead. In Mosul, Col. Yunes Mohammed al-Jawadi, was shot dead as he returned home. A group linked to Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi claimed credit for al-Jawadi's assassination.

11:02 Al ‘Azīzīyah. The bodies of 19 unidentified men were found floating in the Tigris.

10:28 Ar Ramādi. Mortars fired at US base kill three Americans. At least three US soldiers were killed and seven wounded by mortar fire directed at a US base near Ramadi. [I am doubtful that it was "mortar" was likely another suicide bombing inside the camp--Nur].