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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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, June 01, 2005

1 June 2005 Events in Iraq (and elsewhere)

Baghdad. 672 Iraqis were killed in violence during the month of May. Another 1,174 were wounded.

Baghdad. Second member of the Allawi administration is accused of corruption. Former Minister of Transportation and Telecommunication Lu'ay Hatim Sultan al-'Ara, a Shi'a, was summoned before a Baghdad tribunal to answer charges of corruption. Al-'Ara has left the country and is in Jordan. Former Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Leyla Abdel Latif has also been summoned.

23:26 New York. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, himself under attack for mismanagement of the Iraq oil-for-food program, has dismissed the first U.N. official connected to the scandal-tainted humanitarian plan, the United Nations said on Wednesday. Joseph Stephanides, a veteran mid-level official who contends his actions were approved by his superiors, was accused by a U.N.-appointed inquiry of steering a lucrative contract under the oil-for-food program to a British firm. In a second case related to the Iraq program, the United Nations decided to suspend disciplinary action against Benon Sevan, the former director of the oil-for-food program, until the Volcker inquiry completed its work.

23:50 Amman. Mahmoud Abbas was briefly hospitalized in Jordan where he underwent a cardiac examination. Abbas, 70, will rest for two days before returning to the West Bank.

22:30 Washington. US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, urged Iraq's neighbors to deny medical assistance to Abu Mussab Zarkawi. Rumself threatened to take action against any state "with blood on its hands" without offering specifics. [He suggests collective punishment. No surprise from Don--Nur]

22:28. La Valette. No record of any Maltese with the name of Hagia Khalil, an alleged US spy said to have been kidnapped by Chechen rebels.

21:23. Washingon. The anti-Iraq War coalition ANSWER will surround the White House on 24 September during a protest march. 100,000 people are expected to take part.

18:22 Bucharest. Romanian journalists accuse Prima TV of exploiting the 55-day kidnapping ordeal of their colleagues in Iraq.

17:45 Jerusalem. Mahmoud Abbas and Ariel Sharon agree to meet during the third week of June, says PA spokesman Saëb Erakat.

17:45 Damascus. A well-known Kurdish cleric who disappeared last month has been found in a morgue, prompting thousands of Kurds to take to the streets in his hometown in northeast Syria. News of the death of Sheik Mohammed Mashouk al-Khaznawi caused Kurds to gather in mourning in Qamishli, a mainly Kurdish city 775 kilometers (448 miles) northeast of Damascus. Syrian security forces were deployed to prevent any trouble

17:40 Paris. 150 hot air balloons will be flown in support of the release of French reporter Florence Aubenas and her guide, Hussein Hanoun, held hostage in Iraq since January 5th. The newspaper Libération has organized the event. Outside France, similar events will be held in Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg.

17:31 Erbil. The PKK held a congress in northern Iraq near the frontier with Iran to discuss a cease-fire and dialog with Turkey.

17:29 Mosul. Several Iraqi soldiers were hospitalized in northern Iraq after eating intentionally poisoned watermelons, the U.S. military said Wednesday. The soldiers had been manning checkpoints between Sharqat, 160 miles (260 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, to Hammam al-Alil, 80 kilometers (50 miles) further north toward Mosul when a gentlemen offered the free watermelons.

17:21 Washington. At the request of the new Iraqi government, the United States and the European Union will hold a joint meeting at foreign minister level June 22 in Brussels, Belgium, the State Department announced Wednesday. The aim of the conference is to provide a forum for the new Iraqi transitional government to present its priorities, vision and strategies for the transition period leading up to the next round of elections toward the end of the year, said spokesman Richard Boucher. Boucher said more than 80 countries and international organizations have been invited.

17:20 Amman. New trial in abstentia of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. Al-Zarqawi to be put on trial by the Jordanian Security Tribunal for bombings allegedly committed in December 2004 on the border with Iraq. On 3 December 2004, two car bombs exploded at the Iraqi border crossing at Trébil, destroying a VIP waiting room used by the US military. The attack killed two soldiers of the Multinational Force. Jordanian forces neutralized a second car bomb at the border at Karameh, arresting the driver, Fahd al-Fouhayki.

17:18 Teheran. Reform candidate Mostafa Moïn says he is in favor of limiting the exorbitant powers of the Supreme Guide and forging improved ties with the United States.

17:18 Washington. President George W. Bush urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday to lead the Middle East toward democracy with free and fair presidential elections, the White House said. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the two leaders spoke by telephone for about 10 minutes and among the topics they covered was the start of the presidential election campaign in Egypt, and last week's referendum there and incidents of violence.

17:11 Teheran. A majority of Iranian MPs wrote to President Mohammad Khatami demanding the application of a law signed 15 May authorizing the government to enrich uranium.

16:54 Baghdad. For people, including three children, were killed in a mortar barrage on the Dura residential quarter. Another child was wounded.

16:26 London. An Iranian opposition group screened a gruesome video Wednesday showing two men being hanged before crowds in Iran, saying the executions were punishment for adultery. With hundreds gathered to watch, nooses hanging from lowered cranes were placed around the men's heads. The arm of each crane was then straightened, killing the men and leaving their bodies dangling. The National Council of Resistance of Iran said the video footage was shot in August 2004 in the Iranian town of Khoramabad by an opponent of the government. It was smuggled out of the country several days ago, the group said.

16:12 Riyadh. Two members of the Saudi security forces wre gunned down at a checkpoint near the city of Mujammah, north of the capital.

15:46 Sarajevo. A multi-ethnic contingent of Bosnia demining experts has been deployed to Iraq.The 36-man military unit is comprised of Muslims, Serbs and Croats and will be assigned to Fallujah.

15:23 Bucharest. Former hostages say they were turned over to Romanian authorities by their kidnappers and that there was no government raid in an attempt to release them.

15:23 Baghdad. Security forces say they neutralized four carbombs and arrested 43 persons suspecting of aiding the guerrillas. They also claim to have found Katiushka rockets, RPGs and machine guns.

15:13 Beirut. Two Shi'ite figures are expected to dominate in the second round of parliamentary elections in Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Assembly Speaker Nabih Berri of Amal are expected to win handily. Heaven help anyone who has to play poker with those two, quipped a Western diplomat. Hassan Nasrallah, a darling of the crowds, is known to lace his anti-Israel rhetoric with jokes. Nabih Berri, considered to be a "political animal" with an extraordinary knack for survival, has demonstrated an uncanny ability to bounce back from any stroke of misfortune.

15:04 Bucharest. Three former hostages held a press conference in Bucharest but did not reveal much information "in the interests of others held hostage".

14:25 Damascus. A Syrian Kurdish ulema, Mohammad Maashook Khaznawi, reported missing on May 10th in Syria, was kidnapped and executed by a criminal gang, said a Syrian Interior Ministry spokesman. SANA reports that five persons kidnapped Sheikh Khaznawi in Damascus and took him to Aleppo, where he was murdered. In Beirut, two Syrian Kurd political parties in claim the sheikh had been tortured.

13:58 Bishkek. 14 injured in occupation of Kyrgyz Supreme Court Building.

11:40 Baghdad. A suicide carbomb detonated at Checkpoint No. 1 on the airport road where 20 vehicles were lined up for inspection. The checkpoint, manned by Iraqi forces and foreign security contractors, was very close to the entrance of an large US military base. Seven people were wounded.

11:31 Canberra. Envelope containing a mystery bacillus was found in the Indonesian Embassy, which was evacuated.

10:26 New York. Light crude soars past $52.23 per barrel as Brent reaches $51.03.

10:19 Kandahar. A powerful bomb detonated amidst the crowd in a mosque in Kanadar, the ex-bastion of the Taleban. 27 are dead, including the Kabul Police Chief, and 32 wounded. The crowds were present to commemorate Taliban opponent Mawlavi Abdullah Fayaz, who was assassinated by a gunshot fired by a passing motorcycle in the heart of the city.

09:31 Bishkek. New, violent clashes between supporters of the Kyrgyz authorities and the opposition in downtown Bishkek. About 200 people, some throwing stones, broke into the Kyrgyz Supreme Court on Wednesday and evicted activists who had occupied the building for more than a month in a protest on behalf of five losing parliamentary candidates. Once inside the building, the protesters broke out the windows and started throwing out blankets and other items the occupiers had used. The protesters were from northern Kyrgyzstan, arriving in buses to restore what they called "people's power'.

09:31 Rome. The remains of three Italian airmen killed in the crash of a combat helicopter are expected to arrive in Rome tonight.

09:25 Bishkek. Populace besieges Supreme Court. The opposition clashed with the new authorities as 300 protesters took over the Kyrgyz Supreme Court building.

07:54 Jerusalem. Outgoing Israeli Chief of Staff General Moshé Yaalon warned of a possible guerrilla terrorist campaign against Israel after the August pullout in the Gaza Strip."The situation in Kfar Saba, Tel-Aviv and Jérusalem will look like that of Sdérot" after troops and settlers are evacuated, says Gen. Yaalon. There will be terrorist attacks of all kinds, shootings, bombings, suicide missions, mortars and Qassem rockets. Gen.Yaalon is being relieved by Gen. Dan Haloutz, former head of the Air Force.

04:02 Baghdad. Iraq will let an international organization monitor it oil production and revenues, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq (IAMB). The measure is meant to reassure foreign donors and creditors in showing that the oil sector is run responsibly and in the interests of the Iraqi people. A KPMG audit as of 31 December 2004 revealed several management problems in the Iraqi oil sector, among which was losing track of 618,000 tons of petroleum worth $69 million. Also, the Iraqi petroleum marketing agency, SOMA, illegally moved $97.8 million drawn from oil sales to three bank accounts in Jordan and in Iraq.

02:17 London. Two British soldiers sentenced to prison for their brutality towards Iraqi prisoners had their sentence reduced on appeal. Corporal Mark Cooley, 25 , was court-martialed in February in Osnabrueck (Germany) and sentenced to 2 years in prison. Fusilier Gary Bartlam, who photograped the abuse, had his sentence reduced from 18 to 12 months in prison

01:11 Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari will ask Condoleezze Rice for an increase and an acceleration in aid from the United States. The Iraqi Finance Minister, Ali Abdel Amir Allawi, said that the 22 June international conference on Iraq was going to appraise the economic situation of country.

01:06 New York. The UN Security Council authorize the extension of the mandate of the Multinational Force in Iraq, saying the measure was in compliance with Resolution 1546. The Security Council approved the extension unofficially, without the adoption of a new resolution. The announcement was made by Ellen Loj, the Danish delegate.


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