Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

12 April 2005 Events in Iraq.

Baghdad. US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, admitted that the US does not have an exit strategy from Iraq. Any timetable would hinge on the readiness of Iraqi forces to ensure security on their own. Iraqi President Jalal Talibani and Vice President Ghazi al-Yawar have excluded asking for an end to the occupation for the time being despite insistence from radical Sunnis and Shi'ites. Meanwhile, Rumsfeld insisted that the Iraqis observe the timetable for drafting a new Constitution and warned officials against corruption and a purge of ex-Baath party members from the security services and public institutions--urged by Shi'a officials. When asked about permanent US military bases in Iraq, Rumsfeld said this would examined with the Iraqi government in December. Mr. Talabani gave assurances to Mr. Rumsfeld that a new cabinet would be chosen before the end of the week.

Update: Karzai has just asked for a permanent US military presence for Afghanistan after meeting with Rumsfeld today. I think it likely that the new Iraqi government was informed that it must ask for a permanent US presence in Iraq.

Salaheddin. Donald Rumsfeld met with Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani to discuss the integration of the Peshmerga into the Iraq Army. At the end of the meeting Rumsfeld said it would be up to the Iraqis. Mr. Barzani, leader of the PDK, reiterated that Kurds would not reconcile with former members of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Baghdad. An Interior Ministry general escaped an assassination attempt in which one of his bodyguards was slain.

Sadr City. A passport office employee was kidnapped.

Al-Qaïm. The Multinational Force conducted a raid on foreign fighters and smugglers near al-Qaïm, a town on the border with Syria.

Islamabad. Pakistan denies that a $500,000 ransom has been demanded for the release of a Pakistani consular employee kidnapped last Saturday.

New York. The Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations requested that the Security Council lift sanctions imposed on Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein. The Security Council expressed the hope that the Iraqis would soon be able to maintain security in Iraq without assistance.

23:08 Washington. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rebuffed George W. Bush's entreaties concerning West Bank settlements yet managed to get the President's stamp of approval for the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Associates close to Mr. Sharon attempted to minimize the range of disagreement which emerged during the meeting with Mr. Bush in Texas by saying only that opinion has always diverged on the subject of Israeli settlements. On a private French TV network, i-télé, Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner said there was only "a slight disagreement" between Israel and the United States over the "interpretation" on an understanding between Sharon and Bush concerning the Occupied Territories. This is only a marginal matter in the framework of a vast strategic understanding. Sharon said that the large settlements in the Occupied Territories where the majority of the 240,000 "settlers" live would remain in Israeli hands in any final agreement, with all the consequences entailed by that decision (aka the "Bantustanization of Palestine"--Nur). Sharon repeated that the settlements would be annexed by Israel. This provoked a reaction from Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qoreï: We categorically refuse to relinquish claim over the settlements surrounding Jerusalem such as Maale Adoumim and Pisgat Zeev. This is Palestinian land which came under occupation in 1967(..). We hold to the 1967 borders and we will not budge one inch from our stance on Jerusalem because there can be no Palestinian state without Jerusalem. Sharon continues to justify settlement expansion based on an April 2004 letter from President Bush in which the US President acknowledged for the first time that Israeli settlements would remain under Israeli sovereignty. Sharon interprets the letter as an implicit green light for settlement expansion, especially in Maale Adoumim.

Yet the recent announcement of a new subdivision in Maale Adoumim with 3,500 homes which would stretch from the West Bank into Jerusalem provoked criticism by the United States. The extension would cut the West Bank in two and make territorial continuity, on which the US insists, of a Palestinian state impossible. Furthermore, Mr. Sharon placed conditions on further progress on the Road Map meant to follow the Gaza Strip pullout. He refuses further negotiations until the Palestinian Authoried puts and end to terrorism and dismantles and disarms armed militias.

16:11 Baghdad. Outgoing Premier Iyad Allawi has written to George Casey, the commanding general of the Multinational Forces, with a request accelerate the release of Iraqi prisoners which are being held in large numbers. He specifically mentioned followers of Moqtada al-Sadre and "a large number of Sunni imams". Lieutenant-colonel Guy Rudisill of the American military penitentiary service says the US is holding 10,708 prisoners as of 4 April: Camp Bucca (south): 6.054; Abu Ghraib: 3.493; and Camp Cropper: 114. A commission was set up in August 2004 to examine the prisoner files composed of 3 members of the Multinational Forces, 2 Iraqi Justice Ministry officials, and 2 Human Rights Ministry officials.The files on 9,575 have been reviewed. The commission must review the file of each "security detainee" held without trial every 90 days and evauate the possibility of release.

16:10 Baghdad. Iraqi authorities have announced the arrest of Fadhil Ibrahim Mahmoud al Machadani on charges of financing the rebels. Al Machadani was former head of the Military Bureau under Saddam Hussein.

15:49 Baghdad. The leaders of four groups linked to Al-Qaeda were arrested by US and Iraqi forces in south Baghdad. We captured leaders from Ansar al-Sunna, Tawhid wal Jihad and d'Ansar al-Islam, said Iraqi military spokesman Ali al-Obeidi. The four are accused of murder, assassination, decapitation and attacks on US and Iraqi forces and were rounded up in the Doura district of Baghdad in a security sweep which netted 64 suspects. Iraqi forces say they now control Doura, supported by 50 US military "advisors".

15:21 Jerusalem. Work on the enlargement of the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maale Adoumim have started. Israeli MPs belonging to Labour and Yahad (Leftist Opposition) made a visit to the colony sponsored by Peace Now. Road work is well on its way where 3,500 discounted units will be built for "Jews who live on the edge of poverty". MP Ran Cohen of Yahad observed that the units would cut the West Bank in half. Meanwhile Labour MP Yuli Tamir stated that the expansion was "irresponsible."

15h:15 Mosul. Second suicide bombing. A suicide carbomb targeting a US military convoy detonated at 4:00 pm local time in the Sinaï district in west Mosul, two hours after a suicide bombing in downtown Mosul which killed 5 civilians and wounded 3. The suicide bomber drove a white Fiat into a US patrol composed of three Bradley vehicles. The earlier attack took place in the Mouthanna district of Mosul. A Volkeswagen pulled up alongside a US military convoy and detonated, producing a crater and demolishing parked cars in the vicinity of the blast. Five bodies were brought to the hospital; two were burned beyond recognition.

15:10 Samarra. Hundreds protest in front of City Hall. Residents, students and clergy protested to demand the pullout of US troops.

13:08 Mosul. Suicide carbombing targeting a US military convoy killed 5 and wounded three. No news on US military victims.

12:39 Karachi. US consulate shuts down for the day due to threats of terrorism.

12:08 Qaim. Nine dead in clashes. Nine people die in the village of Ish in a raid on a US position. 20 others were wounded.

12:01 Warsaw. Poland to pull out contingent in January 2006, says Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski.

11:08 Rumana. US bombs town. At least 20 people are dead in a US airstrike on the village of Rumana on the border with Syria. Among the dead are 7 children and 6 women.

10:20 Baghdad. Kidnapped Pakistani contacts embassy. Hostage informs diplomats that he is in good condition

10:11 Baghdad. Iraqi security forces shot dead a former Ba'ath party official and two of his relatives north of the capital.

04:51 Baghdad. US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrives in surprise visit to Baghdad. Rumsfeld is to meet with Premier Ibrahim Jaafari and President Jalal Talabani.


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