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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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

Friday, May 13, 2005

13 May Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Casualty count of Americans increases. One American soldier was killed and four wounded in a bombing north of the capital.

Baghdad. Protests spread over Koran desecration. Two thousand Muslims demonstrated in the Gaza strip in protest of the profanation of the Koran. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood expressed their indignation and demanded a public apology by Washington. In Hebron, the US flag was burned after Friday prayers. In Iraq, imams across the country condemned the US.

Washington. In an attempt to mollify the rebellion, the US is applying pressure on the new Iraqi administration to admit more Sunnis into the new government.

Baghdad. The Red Crescent says it is distributing aid to families in western Iraq along the Syrian border where US forces are fighting the insurgency. The organization says hundreds of families have fled the fighting.

Doha. Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura pleads on al-Jazeera for the life of Japanese Hostage.

Baghdad. Government launches anti-corruption campaign. Judge Radhi Hamzah al-Radhi asked that officials being investigated remain within the country. Several members of Iyad Allawi's adminstration have fled the country.

23:58 Baghdad. Saddam Hussein has decided to write his memoires in the US prison where he is awaiting trial for 20 years of crimes, says attorney Giovanni di Stefano.

23:57. New York. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is concerned by the escalation of tensions along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

23:56 Washington. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit the George Bush at his ranch in Crawford on May 26.

23:55 Washington. Presidential Press Secretary Scott Mc Clellan says an investigation has been opened into the desecration of the Koran during interrogations in Guantanamo.

23:54 Mosul. US troops open fire on alleged "terrorists" and kill five civilians by mistage. A US military convoy came under light arms fire and US troops returned fire, killing three terrorists and destroying the car they were travelling in. As other motorists happened upon the scene, US troops opened fire on them, killing five innocent people and destroying two passenger cars.

22:44 Baghdad. Al Iraqiya TV reports that five men were arrested in connection with yesterday's marketplace bombing in Baghdad whick killed 17 people.

21:23 New York. Price of petroleum climbs. Oil closed at $48.65, up 11 cents.

21:2 Rabat. Forty-six Moroccan radical Islamists appeared in the Rabat Criminal Court in advance of their trial scheduled of r17 June.

17:58 Beirut. The Christian oppositon objects to the the legislatives elections scheduled for 29 May because the elections districts were drawn under "Syrian tutelage". The Christians claim the districts marginalize them.

17:40 Washington. US objects to Italian pullout. The US has requested its ally, Italy, to keep its troops in Iraq. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns says that Washington has "no better ally on the European continent than Italy." [Too little, too late, dumb-ass.--Nur]

16:26 Baghdad. State of Emergency declared for 30 days. The northern Kurdish provinces are excluded.

13:11 Basrah. An Iraqi border guard has been kidnapped near Basrah.

13:08 Hilla. Three soliders killed. Three Iraqi soldiers were killed by mortar fire directed at a checkpoint in Hilla, 95 km north of Baghdad. Three others were wounded.

12:14 Baghdad. Police officer killed in Baghdad. A police officer was killed and five others, including three police and two civilians, were wounded. Meanwhile, two mortar rounds hit the Ministry of Technology in Jadria district in the center of the capital.

08h00 Baquba. Three Iraqis, two soldiers and a civilian, were killed and six wounded in a carbombing of an troop transport truck in Baquba. The truck was carring 47 soldiers.

06:14 Washington The former commander of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq blamed a ranking officer for introducing the use of human pyramids and dog leashes in the abuse of detainees and said in an interview on Thursday that abuse may be continuing there. Col. Janis Karpinski, a former one-star Army Reserve general who was punished in the scandal, blamed Gen. Geoffrey Miller for the methods that were used to humiliate detainees. Miller headed the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and was sent to Iraq to recommend improvements in intelligence gathering and detention operations there. "I believe that Gen. Miller gave them the ideas, gave them the instruction on what techniques to use," she said in an interview on the ABC News "Nightline" program. Asked if she was referring to the positioning of prisoners in human pyramids and putting dog leashes on detainees, Karpinski said, "I can tell you with certainty that the MPs (military police) certainly did not design those techniques, they certainly did not come to Abu Ghraib or to Iraq with dog collars and dog leashes." Karpinski, who has made similar allegations in the past, was the the first high-level military officer to be punished in the abuse scandal. She was demoted from brigadier general to colonel on May 5. Army Col. Thomas Pappas, the former U.S. military intelligence chief at Abu Ghraib prison, was reprimanded and removed from his command as part of a punishment over the physical abuse and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners, the Army said on Wednesday. The publication a year ago of photographs depicting U.S. forces abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib triggered international criticism of the United States. Numerous additional cases of detainee abuse have since surfaced. In the ABC interview, Karpinski suggested that abuse might still be occurring at the prison. "For several months after I first became aware of the pictures, I said, 'well at least the photographs will stop this.' I'm not convinced," she said. The Army said Karpinski was demoted due to dereliction of duty and concealing a past shoplifting arrest. But she said she was being punished for what happened at Abu Ghraib after the prison was no longer under her command. She said her lawyers believed there were grounds for legal action over the way she had been treated. "I think there's definitely grounds for discrimination," she said. "Why was I the only general officer that was singled out to be suspended from command when all the of the information clearly shows that other people had knowledge and were involved?".

07:19 Reports of an extension in the 72-hour deadline for an Australian being held hostage in Iraq was the result of misplaced optimism and a communication mix-up, a spokesman for Australia's top Muslim cleric said Friday. Douglas Wood, a 63-year-old engineer who lives in California, was abducted more than a week ago by Iraqi militants who set the 72-hour deadline calling for Australia to withdraw its troops from Iraq. There has been no news of Wood's fate since his captors released footage of him a week ago, his head shaved, one eye blackened possibly from a beating, and automatic weapons pointing at him. The militants did not specify what would happen if their demands were not met. Australia has refused to withdraw its forces. Earlier this week, Australia's senior Muslim cleric, Sheik Taj El Din Al Hilaly, traveled to Baghdad to lobby for Wood's release. In interviews Thursday, Hilaly suggested he had learned through various channels that Wood's captors had agreed to extend their deadline. A spokesman for Hilaly, Keysar Trad, said the sheik made the optimistic forecast after speaking to local officials who said it was not unusual for kidnappers in Iraq to extend their deadlines. «The confusion was because a lot of people wanted to transform that speculation into a firm belief,» Trad told The Associated Press. «We are all clutching on hope.» The Sydney Morning Herald reported Friday that Hilaly had met with an unidentified colonel in the United Arab Emirates Army during a brief stopover in Dubai. An informal discussion with the colonel had given Hilaly hope that Wood's captors had extended the deadline, the newspaper said. After his arrival in Iraq, Trad said Hilaly had also met with a number of local officials who painted a positive portrait of Wood's predicament. «They all seemed so optimistic,» Trad said. «Which led him to strongly endorse speculation that the deadline would be extended.» Meanwhile, Hilaly held talks with Sunni Muslim scholars in Baghdad to try and secure Wood's freedom, Trad said, and was also planning to make appeals to the kidnappers through local media. «That's what he was hoping to do: To make appeals through television, radio, newspapers, media conferences that sort of thing,» Trad said. He said Hilaly had also offered to go blindfolded to meet the kidnappers directly, but had not made direct contact with them.

04:37 A federal judge presiding over a lawsuit by two whistleblowers must decide whether the Coalition Provisional Authority that ruled over postwar Iraq was an extension of the U.S. government or independent of it. The whistleblowers are suing their former employer, Fairfax-based contractor Custer Battles LLC, accusing them of defrauding the U.S. government of about $50 million (ñ39.2 million) while doing security work in postwar Iraq. During a pretrial hearing Thursday, Custer Battles' lawyer John Boese argued that even if the allegations are true, it was the CPA that was defrauded and not the U.S. government because his client was paid from funds seized from Saddam Hussein's regime and not from taxpayers. «If the government didn't have any gain from the seized funds, it couldn't have suffered a loss by losing the funds,» Boese argued. But Alan Grayson, a lawyer for the two whistleblowers, Robert Isakson and William Baldwin, argued that under the laws of war and international conventions, an occupying force automatically gains title to any funds seized from the deposed government. Furthermore, Grayson argued that the CPA was clearly an instrument of the U.S. government, especially since its administrator, Paul Bremer, was appointed by the Bush administration. Grayson also said the allegedly fraudulent invoices submitted by Custer Battles were sent to Army contracting officers and that numerous federal statutes refer to the CPA as a U.S. entity. «If the CPA was a government entity, it means that the U.S. government directly provided the money involved here to the contractor,» Grayson said. Boese countered that the deputy administrator of the CPA is a British official. «Does this become a U.K. entity when he takes over in Bremer's absence?» Boese asked. The Justice Department, which initially declined an invitation from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III to weigh in on the CPA's status, agreed Thursday with the whistleblowers. Justice Department attorney Michael Hertz argued that Congress would clearly have been concerned about actions like those allegedly taken by Custer Battles when it created the whistleblower law. The False Claims Act, as it is called, allows individuals to sue on behalf of the government when they have knowledge that the government is being defrauded. The law allows the government to collect triple the amount of the alleged fraud, and the whistleblowers are allowed to receive up to 30 percent of the money. Baldwin and Isakson allege they were threatened and fired when they objected to Custer Battles' business practices. Specifically, Isakson says that when he was fired, Custer Battles employees held him at gun point, took his weapon and security pass and left him to fend for himself outside the secure Green Zone in Baghdad. Isakson said he drove 120 mph (193 kph) across northern Iraq to Jordan to get out of danger as soon as possible. The lawsuit says Custer Battles billed the CPA for work that was never done, employees who were never hired and equipment that never arrived. Custer Battles has denied any wrongdoing and denied Isakson's account of his firing. Ellis said after Thursday's ruling that he would issue a ruling soon.


Anonymous Mark from Ireland said...

And in what we laughingly refer to as your spare time (weird concept isn't it?) have you got anything on this report they're quoting RAI:

Italy sent troops to Iraq to secure oil deal: report

13 May 2005

ROME - Italian troops were sent to Iraq to secure oil deals worth 300 billion dollars, and not just for post-war humanitarian purposes, an Italian television report by RAI claimed on Friday.

The 20-minute report, broadcast by RAI News 24, the all-news channel of the Italian state-owned network, is based on interviews and official government documents.

In it, the Silvio Berlusconi administration is accused of picking the Nasiriyah area to safeguard a 1997 deal signed by Italy’s largest energy producer, ENI, and former dictator Saddam Hussein.

A government report compiled months before the war broke out recommends that Italy, in case of conflict, should secure the region of Nasiriyah and the nearby area of Halfaya, south of Baghdad, so as to secure “a deal worth 300 billion dollars”.

Both areas are known for its vast oil fields.

According to Benito Livigni, a former manager of ENI and the United States’ Gulf Oil Company, Iraqi’s oil reserves are estimated at 400 billion barrels, far more than the known figure of 116 billion.

If true, this would make Iraq the largest oil producer in the world, ahead of Saudi Arabia, the report says.

Images shown on the report by Sigfrido Ranucci and called “In the name of oil”, show previously unreleased footage of Italian soldiers busy protecting a refinery and a local pipeline in Nasiriyah.

The Italian government has always insisted that it chose to send 3,000 troops to Iraq for purely humanitarian reasons.

A total of 19 Italians, most of them soldiers, died in November 2003 in a suicide bombing against Italy’s base in Nasiriyah.

URL is:§ion=focusoniraq

7:15 AM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

I saw this but didn't have time to translate it. so the war is about 'big oil' AND 'little oil.'

8:12 AM  

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