Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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

Monday, May 30, 2005

May 30 2005 Events in Iraq

Beirut. MP Bassem Sabeh has called on international observers working in Lebanon's legislative election balloting to forbid the entry of US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman into polling places as he did on Sunday. In a firey statement, the MP denounced Mr. Feltman's visits as "diplomatic heavy-handedness" and "a form of interference in the elections."

Cairo. Egyptian women have launched two initiatives, one calling on citizens to dress in black and the other to wear a white ribbon in protest of the beating of several women on May 25th by supporters of the regime.

Demonstrators protesting the referendum and several female journalists covering the event were sexually harassed. Several members of the opposition were beaten by security agents in plainclothes and supporters of the ruling National Democratic Party. Images of women dragged along by their hair, their clothing in shreds, and beaten by their aggressors have been pubished around the world resulting in an international outcry and raising doubts over the political reforms put forward by Hosni Moubarak. The Union of Egyptian Journalists has called for the resignation of the Interior Minister, Habib al-Adli.

A group of women with no political affiliation has launched The White Ribbon Campaign demanding an official apology. We will wear and distribute white ribbons to demand an apology from government officials, the leadership of the NDP and the Interior Ministry. The White Ribbon initiative was launched by Ghada Shahbender, an academic and member of Kefaya, together with two other women, a television presenter and a housewife. Since starting this campaign using email and text messaging, we have had enormous support. At first, it was a personal initiative but now we are putting together an organized program and are gathering momentum. 4,000 white ribbons have already been produced in preparation for a June 1 rally in front of the Union of Journalists in downtown Cairo, where the aggression took place last week.

A reknown feminist, Heba Raouf Ezzat, professor of Political Science at Cairo University urged Egyptians to dress in black on Tuesday as protest against police brutality and sexual harassment.

Meanwhile the Nasserist weekly, al-Arabi, demanded an apology by Mubarek to the Egyptian people. The government continues to minimize the incident, calling press reports "exaggerated" and the aggression "an emotional tiff" between between opponents and supporters of the regime.

Mosul. Eight people wre killed north of Baghdad in separate incidents in northern Iraq, including one soldier, several civilians and a Kurdish tribal chieftain.

Baghdad. Iraq's freshly minted legislators pounded out their first agreement on the 15 basic articles to guide their new constitution, including democracy, federalism, separation of powers and making Islam the state religion.

Haditha. The U.S. military announced the end of a four-day offensive centered on Haditha, 140 miles (225 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, aimed at disrupting insurgent activities. At least 14 insurgents were killed and more than 30 suspects detained in the operation, which also left two U.S. Marines dead.

Baghdad. The Iraqi Waqf condemned violent targeting civilians and governmental institutions and complained of raids on moques.

Grozny. An Chechen Islamist group says it has kidnapped a Maltese who worked as a spy for the United States and carried a suitcase containing information on Jihadists in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In a communiqué, The Badr Islamic Squads said it captured in Europe Hagia Khalil, an American spy of Maltese nationalty in possession of a suitcase containing document concerning the movements of Mujahedeen in Haramaïn (Saudi Arabia) and Rafidaïn (Iraq). Photos were attached to the communiqué showing the hostage surrounded by gunmen.

Cairo. The Egyptian Public Prosecutor Maher Abdel Wahed released 52 student members of the Muslim Brotherhood so that they can take their year-end examinaitons. Yesterday 77 students were released for the same reasons.

23:57 Mosul. US soldier killed.

22:58 Baghdad. Voice attributed to Abu Moussab al-Zarkawi says he is only slightly wounded. Thanks be to God, I am in good health among by brothers and Iraq.

22:34 Damascus. Syrian authorities have released 8 members of the only political forum in Syria, the Salon Atassi Salon for National Dialog.

21:55 Washington. Security Advisor Frances Fragos Townsend discussed bilateral cooperation to combat terrorism with the Egyptian Interior Minister Habib al-Adli.

20:31 Teheran. Government news agency IRNA reports that two Iranian women have scaled Mt. Everest.

20:47 Baghdad. An Iraqi military aircraft crashed with four US soldiers aboard in Diyala Province.

18:47 Baghdad. The brief arrest on Monday in unexplained circumstances of a moderate Sunni politician by the US Army has embarrassed the Iraqi authorities as it seeks to involve the Sunni community in the political process with the support of Washington. A cloud envelops the reasons why leader of the Islamic Party, Mohsen Abdel Hamid, was pulled from his bed at dawn together with his sons by US soldiers, who ransacked his home. The Islamic Party, in a communiqué, demanded an explanation for the raid on the Baghdad residence of its leader as well as an official apology. "They must also release two of this three sons, Mokdad and Assayed, who are still beikng held along with several houseguests and bodyguards, said the party without indicating their numbers. President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari condemned the arrest of the Sunni leader with whom they served in the Intermim Governming Council put in place by the Americans after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi government in a communiqué praised his release and condemned "any attempt aiming to sow discord among Iraqi communities and to split its unity". The communiqué said that it was "hoped that the party spreading false information" providing the basis for the arrest of Mr. Abdel Hamid would be arrested. In condemning the arrest, Mr. Talabani underscored that he was not informed prior to the arrest while the Islamic Party denounced a "conspiracy" and demanded an accounting on the matter from the government. In its communique, the government stated that it was "worried that this type of raid conducted against prominent Iraqis participating in the political process and who are working to enlarge participation by Sunnis. The government compared the incident to one of three days ago without naming the individual targeted except to say that he was working towards "the inclusion of Sunnis in the political process." Although critical of the current Shi'a-dominated government, the Islamic Party has not excluded its participation in the drafting of the permanent Constitution. The party boycotted the January 30th general elections after having unsuccessfully demanded delay saying it believed that the elections could not be held in a climate of violence. But recently the party has taken a position against the blind violence targeting the populace and the security forces while criticizing the arrest of Sunni clerics, the warhorses of the powerful Committee of Iraqi Ulema, which refuses to participate in negotiations surrounding the drafting of the Constitution. More recenlty, without rejecting the security measures put in place in and around Baghdad, the Islamic Party has warned against excesses which could lead to "collective punishement and revenge". But it has never joined with Committee of Iraqi Ulema in openly accusing the Badr Organization, the former armed wing of SCIRI, of violence and revenge on Sunnis. Following his release, Mr. Abdeh Hamid underscored the humiliation to which he was subjected by US soldiers, saying that they handcuffed him and interrogated him for hours

18:34 Hilla. Two suicide bombings. 25 are dead and over 100 wounded after two suicide carbombings. The first occured amidst a crowd waiting outside a medical clinic, including civilians, police and soldiers. A second bomb blast went off outside government building where 500 unemployed police commandos had assembled to protest forced leave and to demand back pay. Two police were killed. Both bombers work suicide vests.

18:04 Husabayah. US combat helicopters and warplanes attack village on the border with Syria.

17:50 Samarra. Four Iraqis were killed in separate attacks in Samarra. At midday, a civilian was shot to death by the Rapid Reaction Force which was responding to an attack. A second civilian was shot dead later by armed gunmen. The third was killed by a stray bullet fired by US troops against rebels. The fourth was shot dead in the south of the city.

15:12 US Army says arrest of Islamic Party leader Mohsen Abdel Hamid, his sons and houseguests was a "mistake."

13:08 Hillah. Al Qaede claims credit for bombing in Hillah.

10:36 Hillah. Bombings claim 25, wound 100

07:11 Baghdad. US and Iraqi forces arrest a former Iraqi army intelligence officer suspected of supporting the guerrillas in the Ghazaliyah district of Baghdad.

06:56 Baghdad. The leader of the Islamic Party, Mohsen Abdel Hamid was arrested at down along with his three sons Yasser, Mokdad et Assyad.

02:57 Baghdad. Iraqi police fought pitched battles with insurgents as thousands of security forces backed by American troops swept through Baghdad's streets to flush out militants.


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