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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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, July 27, 2005

27 July 2005 Events in Iraq and in the Region

Washington. Eleven American soldiers serving in Iraq have been charged with mistreating detainees while on operations in the Baghdad area. The soldiers are from a National Guard unit, the 184th Infantry. The abuses were allegedly carried out while the soldiers were on an operation, not in a detention facility. The Los Angeles Times newspaper has reported allegations that the troops used a stun gun to administer electric shocks to the suspected insurgent.

Baghdad. The two Algerian diplomats kidnapped a week ago in Baghdad by a group linked to al-Zarqawi have been executed. The news was confirmed by the President of Algeria. On Wednesday 27 July your brothers of the armed wing of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia have carried out the the verdict of the Islamic tribunal. The Algerian head of mission Ali Belaroussi and diplomat Azzedine Belkadi have therefore been executed. The two were executed at the request of the Salafist Preaching and Combat Group, the most violenct terrorist organization in Algeria. This group held Belkadi responsible for the frightening massacre of Benthat (23 September 1997) in which 250 people, mostly women and children were slain. Algerian Islamists have always claimed that the massacre was carried out by Algerian Army special forces disguised as terrorists. How things traspired were never clarified but what is certain that the soldiers at the city barracks did not intervene during the two hours of killing, despite cries for help, screams, flames and smoke from buildings set on fire by the perpetrators. According to the Salafist Preaching and Combat Group, Belkadi was also responsible for the massacre of al-Rais (28 August 1997) in which 300 were killed. At their website, the group had requested al-Zarqawi to "dispense justice" to the two diplomats, whom they said were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Algerian Muslims.

Beirut. A group calling itself el-Qaëda wal-jihad fi bilad al-Cham, katibat Omar fi wilayat Loubnan sent a fax to the Jaafari Mufti of Tyr and Jabal Amel, Ulema Ali el-Amin, saying that several cells had been created by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to assassinate 9 leading Shi'ite figures: Ulema Ali el-Amin, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berry, Vice Chairman of the Senior Shi'ite Council Abdel Amir Kabalan, spiritual guide Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, MP Mohammed Raad, Hezbollah Shura Council member Mohammed Yazbeck and the leader of the Islamist Party of south Lebanon Sheikh Nabil Kaouk. However, Hezbollah MP Mohammed Raad said the nine were "targets of Israel."

Baghdad. A US soldier was killed and five others wounded by a roadside bomb which struck their patrol.

Baghdad. At least 10 people were killed by mortar round which struck the Baghdad bus terminal.

Baghdad. The manager of telecommunications for Baghdad Airport, Maher Yassine Jassem, was kidnapped together with two other employees.

Baghdad. The commander of US forces in Iraq, George Casey, suggested a drawdown of US troops in 2006. Meanwhile Prime Minster Ibrahim Jaafari says he hopes for a rapid withdrawal of the Multinational Force. A high-ranking security official, Mouaffak al-Roubaï, said that the Multinational Force would transfer control of ten major cities to Iraqi forces in December.

Washington. Donald Rumsfeld says he hopes Iraqi leaders will adopt the new Constitution without delay, saying an 6-month extension would be very damaging.

Baghdad. President Jalal Talabani announced an end to nighttime arrests, after men dressed in police uniform killed several peopel in nocturnal raids.

Hillah. An Egyptian lieutenant to Ayman al-Zawahiri was arrested south of Bagddad. A 35 year-old Egyptian named Tantawi was arrested at a farm in Youssoufiyah near HIllah.

Washington. A poll conducted by USA Today/CNN/Gallup shows that a majority of Americans believe that the US will not achieve its aims in Iraq.

London. Bombing suspect Yasin Hassan Omar immigrated to the UK from Somalia in 1992 with his father when he was 11 years old. Two two were given refugee status in and in May 2000 were granted permanent residency. Omar received a regular poverty subsidy from the British Government: £25,000 per household and £13000 in aid per person for more than 6 years.

Grantham. Two men were arrested during the night at the Grantham railway station aboard a train from Newcastle heading for London.

London. Luton Airport closed. British police close London's Luton Airport to prevent an unnamed bombing suspect from flaying to Nimes in France.

Birmingham. A giant manhunt ordered by Scotland Yard led to the arrest in Birmingham of four people. One of the arrested is Yasin Hassan Omar, a 24 year-old Somali sought in the 21 July attempted bombings.

23:55 Washington. The Pentagon is running short on ammunition. The House Budget Office said the Pentagon's request for small-caliber munitions has risen from 730 million to 1.8 billlion and medium caliber from 11.7 to 22 million in a year's time.

23:55 London. Following a meeting with Tony Blair, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with The Times that the tolerance of Turkey had its limits concerning PKK camps in northern Iraq. There is a limit in terms of time and there is a limit to our tolerance.

23:36 Kuwait City. The US remains on high alert in Kuwait without mentioning a terrrorist threat.

22:36 Paris. Ariel Sharon called Jacques Chirac a "one of the greatest leaders in the world" and thanked him for the "precious assistance" in resolving the Israeli-Palestine crisis [What does he want??--Nur]

23:01. Tuscon. "Raging Grannies" arrested. Police arrested American peace activists aged between 57 and 92 for trying to enlist an Army recruiting center. Spokesgranny Better Schroeder, a retired nurse, said the group's action was very serious, we really wanted to enlist. We think its better if old folks get killed rather than our young people.

19:28 Cairo. Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif said he believed that the resolution of the Iraq and Palestine crisies would help the war on terror. Nazif aslo said that Egyptian police had several "serious leads" in the Sharm al-Sheikh bombings.

18:57 Paris. Ariel Sharon said he would adhere to the Road Map after the August evacuation from Gaza. As to his talks with Jacques Chirac, Sharon said, My meeting with Chirac was very cordial and friendly. We spoke about Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian question and bilateral relations....The French understand the danger posed by Syria and by Lebanese Hezbollah.

18:51 Jenin. A Palestinian teenager was killed by gunfire between Israeli and Palestinians in the northern West Bank. Youssef al-Hassis, 15, a bystander, succumbed to his wounds. Seven palestinians and two Israei soldiers were wounded as Israelis went to arrest Hamza Sami of Islamic Jihad. Soldiers arrived at his home in 30 armored carriers escorted by four bulldozers. When the convoy entered the city armed Palestinians threw bombs and opened fire.

18:44 Paris. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said in Paris that he was not worried by Jewish extremists who threaten to oppose the August pullout form Gaza. Meanwhile the "Pulsa Denura" curse layed on Sharon by extremist rabbis was denounced by several Israeli MPs on the right and left as well as by Grand Ashkenaze Rabbi Yona Metzger.

18:42 Baghdad. The committe charged with drafting the new Constitution will decide on the 1 August deadline whether or not to extend its task by six months

19:02 Jerusalem. Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz has cancelled a trip to Washington because of a dispute with the United States over Israeli arms sales to China, the Haaretz newspaper said on Wednesday. Washington, Israel's closest ally and provider of $2 billion in annual defence aid, was still restricting arms deals with Israel as a result of the disagreement. The United States demands Israel adhere to U.S. regulations. Washington torpedoed Israel's multibillion-dollar sale of Phalcon strategic airborne radar systems to China in 2000, citing fears it could upset the regional balance of power.

18:51 Washington. The State Department said Wednesday Syria could face additional U.S. penalties if refuses to transfer to Iraq $262 million in funds the US says it obtained in violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iraq. Elizabeth Dibble, a deputy assistant secretary of state, told a hearing of two House subcommittees that the United States has repeatedly pressed Syria to transfer these assets to the Development Fund for Iraq, or DFI. She said $121 million has been turned over to the fund, but $262 million remains in the Commercial Bank of Syria. The Syrian government has said repeatedly that it is committed to transfer these funds and did so again this month during a meeting between senior Iraqi and Syrian leaders, Dibble said. She added that despite Syrian efforts to improve anti-money laundering and terrorist finance controls, U.S. sanctions provided for under the USA Patriot Act «could be triggered if Syria does not follow through with the transfer of this remaining amount to the DFI.» Syria already is under a variety of trade and other sanctions imposed under the Syria Accountability Act, approved by Congress in 2003, and under legislation that targets nations on the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism. Syria is one of eight countries on the list. Dibble testified before a joint hearing of the House International Relations subcommittee on investigations and oversight and the subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the Middle East panel, said former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein found the Syrian regime «perhaps his most favored and profitable collaborator» in circumventing the 1996 U.N. Oil-for-Food program. Investigators discovered that Iraq began illegally exporting oil to Syria in the fall of 2000, generating about $1 billion in profits. Trade agreements Iraq signed with Syria and other countries enabled Iraq to buy goods, services and cash outside of the oil sales and purchases approved by the UN. Rep. Gary Ackerman, a Democrat, said the United States, as a member of the U.N. Security Council, knew about the illegal Syrian activities but apparently did nothing about it. Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., said the United States could be vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy if it goes after rival governments, such as Syria, for violations of the Oil-for-Food program while ignoring similar activities by friendly countries. In this category, he named Jordan, Egypt and Turkey.

18:41 Teheran. Iran said Wednesday that it will restart some nuclear activities perhaps as soon as August and announced that it has developed solid-fuel technology for its ballistic missiles, increasing the accuracy of missiles already able to reach Israel and U.S. forces in the Gulf. The Shahab-3 missile--able to fly up to 1,930 kilometers (1,200 miles), putting the entire Arabian Peninsula, the Levant and even parts of Greece and Egypt within its range--is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The Shahab, whose name means shooting star in Farsi, was last successfully tested in 2002 before equipping its elite Revolutionary Guards with it in July 2003. Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and a fighter plane.

18:40 Baghdad. Two suicide attackers who targeted the Iraqi military blew themselves up in quick succession on Wednesday in northern Baghdad, killing two soldiers and wounding eight. A suicide car bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into several army vehicles parked in front of Numan Hospital. Minutes later, a second suicide attacker on a motorcycle detonated himself in the same spot. The incident occurred in the northern Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah.

18:21 Baghdad. Most Iraqis want Islam to be designated as the state religion but don't want a society modeled after theocratic Iran or secular Turkey, the head of the committee drafting the constitution said Wednesday. Sheik Humam Hammoudi also said political leaders would meet soon to discuss two contentious issues standing in the way of agreement on whether Iraq will develop a federal state: distribution of wealth and authority of regional administrations. Hammoudi said there was broad agreement on the committee to designate Islam as the state religion since 95 percent of Iraq's 27 million people are Muslim.

18:02 Algiers. The Algerian president's office confirmed Wednesday that two diplomats in Iraq had been killed by their kidnappers.


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