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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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, July 25, 2005

25 July 2005 Events in Iraq and in the Region

Tel Aviv. Cabalistic curse placed on Ariel Sharon. Yossef Dayan, an extremist Israeli rabbi, layed a Cabalistic curse of pulsa de-nura ("whip of fire") on Ariel Sharon to prevent the evacuation of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. Dayan had been threatening to invoke the curse for more than a year. The ceremony was conducted in the cemetery of Rosh Pinna, in Upper Galilee, in the presence of 10 rabbis. It was a poignant ceremony, said Dayan. We had moments of apprehension when one of the participants raised doubts on the Jewishness of Sharon." (The curse only works on Jews). We have only to wait and see if our prayers will be answered. A similar ceremony was organized against Labour Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin a few weeks before his assassination. Already on Sunday Sharon was forced to publically deny reports that he had had a heart attack.

London. Friends and family of slain Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes want to know how exactly police ordered him to halt and why he wasn't arrested during the 15-minute bus ride to Stockwell Station. An independent commission has already questioned a hundred witnesses.

Jerusalem. Israel is putting the final touches on planned evacuation from the Gaza Strip. The evacuation will not be phased and a massive troop deployment of 60,000 is envisioned beginning 17 August. A portion of the troops will be involved in evacuation operations while others will be charged with maintaining order. The evacuation is to last three weeks. 5,000 Palestinian police will also be deployed to prevent militants from attacking the evacuees and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will move his residence to the Gaza Strip.

Ramallah. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirms that Israeli still has not furnished a reply on several key questions concerning the Gaza Strip evacuation, notably the reopening of Gaza Airport and unfettered passage between the West Bank and Gaza.

Gaza. Israeli Army arrests 10 Palestinian militants, including nine members of Islamic Jihad.

Paris. Sharon favorable to a role for France in the settlement of the Palestinian crisis. Sharon is in France until Friday. Meanwhile spokesman Michael Jankelowitz of the Jewish Agency announced that several hundred French Jews would resettle in Israel this summer.

Cairo. Arab League to call an extraordinary summit on the Palestinian question. Secretary-General Amr Moussa announces a plan to discuss the Israeli evacuation from Gaza and its follow-up. The summit will be held within the next two weeks.

Milan. Preliminary Investigating Magistrate Chiara Nobili of Milan has issued arrest warrants for US CIA agents responsible for the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric, Abu Omar. Eliana Castaldo, Victor Castellano, John Thomas Gurley, James Robert Kirkland, Anne Lidia Jenkins and Brenda Liliana Ibanez were named in the warrants. A total of 19 warrants have been issued.

Baghdad. Sunni members of the constitutional drafting commission are expected to return to the body after a meeting held by all Sunni factions, said Salim Abdallah of the Islamic Party. Sunni members have several demands following the assassination of two of their colleagues last Tuesday.

Baghdad. Australian Premier John Howard made a surprise visit to Baghdad to meet with Premier Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Algiers. Algeria has evacuated its diplomatic staff from Baghdad. Meanwhile the Interior Ministry announced that two suspects arrested in the kidnapping of two Algerians diplomats are being questioned.

Baghdad. The draft Iraqi Constitution will make it impossible for Iraqi Jews to recover their nationality, said Monzer al-Fazel, a Kurdish member of the drafting committee. Jews in Iraq numbere, 134 000 in 1948 but most (more than 123,000) left in 1952. Twenty years later their numbers had dwindles to 500. However, the Constitution will permit Iraqis to hold dual nationalty, forbidden by Saddam Hussein.

Baghdad. The Iraqi Special Tribunal questioned six lieutenants of Saddam Hussein: The dictator's half-brothers Watban and Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, ex-Vice President Taha Yassine Ramadan, his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, Ahmad Hussein Khodeir al-Samarraï and Samir al-Aziz al-Najm, Chairman of the Baath Party.

Stockholm. Sweden has refused to serve as venue for the trial of Saddam Hussein or to hold the Iraqi ex-President in its jails.

23:56 Baghdad. Al-Qaeda condemns Iraqi Constitution: Drafting the constitution is the worst of the initiatives against Islam....It is a baseless lie to affirm that elections constitute the best solution to save the Sunnis from the crisis.

23:56 Sharm al-Sheikh. Armed clashes took place between Egyptian police and Bedouin tribesmen. 25 Bedouins were arrested in the el-Rouwaisat hills. The authorities were attempting to retrace the itinerary of two vehicles used in the resort bombings and suspect that the bombers came from Ras Sidr on the western side of the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian Interior Minister denied an earlier report by sources close to Israeli security that six Pakistanis were sought in the bombings. Arab television was also reporting that nine Pakistanis had stayed in local hotels after entering Egypt with false Jordanian passports. A spokesman for the Pakistani embassy in Cairo told Reuters that his government has requested more information. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry in Islamabad had expressed doubt on the involvement of Pakistani nationals in the bombings, for which reponsibility was claimed by two Islamist movements: the Mujahedeen of Egypt and the Abdullah al-Azzam Brigades.

22:44 Sharm al-Sheikh. Egyptian police are looking for six Pakistani's suspected in the bombings at the Red Sea resort. [Yeah right. They're probably minimum wage housekeeping staff. The Bedouins wouldn't give them the time of day.--Nur]. Security forces conducted a raid in a mountainous area near the Bedouin communities of Khouroum and el-Ruwaisat, 30 km from Sharm al-Sheikh, where authorities claimed the Pakistanis were hiding. The suspects are Rashid Ali, 26, Mohammed Anwar, 30, Mohammed Ikhtar, 30, Tasadaq Hussein, 18, and Mohammed Aref, 36. A sixth man may have been killed in the bomb blasts. The bombers used more than 600 kg of explosives and used an Isuzu pickup truck.

22:43 Washington. Iraq's police service has accepted recruits with criminal backgrounds and even insurgents planning terrorist attacks because of poor vetting procedures, according to a U.S. government report released on Monday. The 96-page report, based on a study by the Pentagon and State Department Inspector Generals' offices, said that too many recruits were "marginally literate" and some had reported for training with criminal records and physical handicaps. The formation of an effective police force is a mainstay of the U.S. strategy for making Iraq increasingly self-reliant in combating the insurgency. As of 18 July, 65.000 police have been trained by the Coalition. The training budget is thought to be $510 million in 2005 and $566 million in 2006.

23:37 Washington. U.S. President George W. Bush has chosen two key Iraq policy advisers to serve as America's envoys to Israel and Egypt. Richard Jones, who currently serves as the Secretary of State's senior advisor and policy coordinator on Iraq, will be nominated as ambassador to Israel, the White House said. Jones previously served as deputy administrator for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. The White House said Bush also intended to nominate Francis Ricciardone, who helped set up the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and served as special coordinator for the transition, as the U.S. ambassador to Egypt.

23:03 London. UK will pay an indemnity to the family of Jean Charles de Menezes. During a press conference with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, Jack Straw also announced that the remains will soon be transferred to the de Menezes family.

22:49 Stockholm. Saddam wants a change of venue for trial. Lawyer Giovanni di Stefano, a member of of Saddam's legal team, says he has forwarded a request to the Iraqi government and the United Nations. However, Premier Jaafari has excluded moving the trial outside the country.

22:32 London. Eight out of ten British Muslims believe that the decision by Tony Blair to participate in military operations in Iraq is one of the reasons behind the London terrorist attacks. However, the vast majority believe that the wave of suicide attacks in unjustified.

22:17 Hollywood. A TV series on the War on Iraq will premier on the FX Channel. The series is produced by Steve Bochco who financed "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue". FX is part of the Fox News Corporation. This is the first time a serialized dramatization of an ongoing conflict will be aired on US television.

22:04 Umm Qasr. Hundreds of Iraqis destroyed a metal and concrete barrier installed by Kuwaiti authorities inside Iraqi territory. Hundreds of Iraqis rallied at city hall in Umm Qasr before leaving to dismantle the barrier installed 100 meters north of the official border. Kuwaiti border guards deployed along the frontier pointed their weapons at the demonstrators but did not open fire. Kuwait has started construction of a metal barrier to replace a 3-meter high wall of sand marking the 200 km frontier. Kuwaiti Interior Minister Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah ordered authorities to accelerate the construction of a high-tech security system to monitor the frontier with Iraq.

21:29 Neve Dekalim (Israel). Jewish settlers threw scrunched-up garbage bags in the face of Israel's top army rabbi on Monday in protest at his visit to discuss removing graves during the planned Gaza Strip pullout.

21:09 Baghdad. A group linked to al-Qaeda has published the photo and ID of the kidnapped Algerian charge d'affaires

19:10 Rome. Italian Senate approves 350 million euro measure extending Italian military mission in Iraq until 31 December 2005

18:48 London. Investigation by Independent commission reveals that the Brazilian executed in Stockwell Station was shot 8 times. 7 bullets in the head and 1 to the shoulder.

18:46 London. Jack Straw cautiously backpedals from Tony Blair's position on no link between terrorism in London to the war in Iraq: "It is not possible to affirm" that there is no link between the London terrorist attacks and the British presence in Iraq.

18:31 Rome. Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the deaths, destruction and suffering in Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and the UK during yesterday's Angelus. The Israeli Embassy protested because there was no mention of Israel.

16:08 London. Scotland Yard says 5 bombs were prepared on 21 July.

13:46 Samarra. US soldier killed by roadside bomb.

10:44 Fort Knox. An Indiana national guardsman charged with murder in the death of an Iraqi police officer pleaded guilty at his court-martial Monday to a lesser charge of negligent homicide. Cpl. Dustin Berg, 22, testified that he felt he did not properly assess the threat that he faced and acted rashly. Berg, who changed his story multiple times for investigators, initially said the Iraqi police officer had pointed an AK-47 at him to prevent Berg from reporting insurgent activity. On Monday, however, Berg said that Iraqi police officers as a matter of habit carried their guns with the barrels pointed slightly upward.

08:30 Suicide carbomb rams a patrol of Iraqi police special forces in south Baghdad, killing two and wounding eleven.

06:16 Suicide minibus rams the hotel al-Sadeer, killing 12 and wounding 16. The hotel is commonly used by American and foreign security contractors.


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