31 July 2005 Events in Iraq and in the Region
Beirut. Maronite leader Michel Aoun calls for the return of Lebanese who sought refuge in Israel following the civil war. Amal and Hezbollah reject any idea of amnesty, saying it is a political, not a humanitarian, matter.
Teheran. The Secretary-General of Lebanese Hezbollah, sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has begun an official visit to Iran where he hold talks with officials of the Islamic Republic.
Baghdad. If the Constitutional Drafting Committee does not request an extension for its work and if the draft text is not presented to Parliament before August 15th, Parliament will be dissolved, provoking an open crisis in the country.
Baghdad. The Sunni members of the Constitutional Drafting Committee have demanded that fired Waqf chairman Adnane Doulaïmi be restored to his position. Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Ghaffour al-Samarraï has been named to replace Doulaïmi.
Baghdad. 4,000 Iraqis have died in violence since the beginning of the year; more than half are civilians. July and May were the bloodiest months. Baghdad is the most often the city most frequently experiencing violence.
Algiers. The arrested former Number 2 of the dissolved Islamic Salute Front, Ali Belhadj, has been charged with apology for terrorist crimes, incitation to murder and the publication of writings constituting an apology for terrorism. His brother, Abdelhamid Belhadj, was also arrested for publication of writings constituting an apology for terrorism. Ali Belhadj was arrested after a statement to al-Jazeera on the kidnapping of two Algerian diplomatics in Baghdad just before their execution.
Baghdad. The Special Iraqi Tribunal has denied that Saddam Hussein was accosted by an unidentified person following a recent hearing.
Hassoua. A suicide carbomb exploded in front of a police checkpoint 50 km south of Baghdad killing 7.
23:59 New York. The Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons program, but the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers, a former C.I.A. officer has charged. In a lawsuit filed in federal court here in December, the former C.I.A. officer, whose name remains secret, said that the informant told him that Iraq's uranium enrichment program had ended years earlier and that centrifuge components from the scuttled program were available for examination and even purchase. The officer, an employee at the agency for more than 20 years, including several years in a clandestine unit assigned to gather intelligence related to illicit weapons, was fired in 2004. In his lawsuit, he says his dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency's assumptions on a series of weapons-related matters. Among other things, he charged that he had been the target of retaliation for his refusal to go along with the agency's intelligence conclusions. [Another nail in the coffin for BushCo!--Nur]
23:57 Khartoum. Mystery surrounds disappearance of Vice President Garang. Contact has been lost with Garang's helicopter which took off from Kampala. Sudanese State Television is broadcasting conflicting information, suggesting that contact has been lost with the aircraft [The old Jordanian Helicopter Trick of getting rid of inconvenient people.--Nur]
22:48 Rome. A suspect package was found in front of Italian Senate building in Piazza Navona.
22:45 Cairo. The Arab League wants Algerian Presidnet Abdelaziz Bouteflika to chair the extraordinary Arab summit called for 3 August at Sharm al-Sheikh.
21:04 Baghdad. Trial of Saddam Hussein to be televised live. Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwaffaq Rubaie says the trial of Saddam Hussein will be televised live to prove that any judgement against him is "fair" and "just. Saddam will be tried for the massacre of 143 inhabitants of the village of Dujail.
19:16 London. Scotland Yard makes seven more arrests in Sussex linked to the 21 July attempted bombings.
19:11 Washington. Newsweek writes that the Pentagon is reparing to reduce troops strength in Iraq to 80,000 in mid-2006 and to 60,000 by the end of next year.
18:49 Cairo. A 4.6 earthquake measured on the Richter Scale struck the Egyptian capital. The epicenter was in Dashour, 55 km south of the capital.
18:43 London. The female partners of Muktar Said Ibrahim and Ramzi Mohammed, arrested for the attempted 21 July bombings, have been released by Metropolitan Police. They were arrested in Liverpool Street Station. The British press reports that they had their passports and were preparing to leave the country.
18:33 Rome. Deputy Speaker of the House and Forza Italia Party Chairman Alfredo Biondi criticized opposition leader Romano Prodi, saying he is "soft" on terrorism, divides Italy and offends the Truth. [I think we know who that is and it's not Prodi.--Nur].
17:44 Ramallah. The Palestinian general elections are scheduled to take place on 20 January 2006, says Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Shaath.
17:32 Baghdad. The bodyguard of Ahmed Chalabi was killed in an attack on Chalabi's convoy south of Baghdad.
16:04 Baghdad. The team drawing up Iraq's new constitution considered giving itself more time to write the document on Sunday, but still looked set to meet its mid-August deadline under intense U.S. pressure. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, flanked by U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, told reporters it was essential that the U.S.- backed timetable for writing the constitution was met and the document presented to parliament by the deadline of Aug. 15. Many of the 71 members on the drafting committee say they need more time, while others say the priority is meeting the deadline. The debate has come to a head because any extension must be requested by Aug. 1. [Hmm...I wonder what the odds are over at Ladbrokes--Nur]
16:02 Damascus.Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora met in the Syrian capital with his counterpart Mohammed Naji Otari. Siniora hopes Damascus will drop security checks on vehicular traffic entering Syria which has nearly blocked Lebanese exports.
16:00 Baquba. The Diyala provincial chief for Ansar al-Sunna was arrested along with 14 others. Majid Mohammed Hamid, his lieutenant Hassan al-Saadi and 13 others have been arrested by police, who say the group is responsible for the murder of provincial council chairman Nawfal Abdel Hussein on 1 January 2005.
15:58 Kuwait City. The U.S. embassy in Kuwait has warned Americans of possible attacks in the the pro-Western Gulf Arab state.
15:51 London. It may not have been a policeman but a member of the British special forces, the SAS, who shot Jean Charles de Menezes in the Stockwell Tube station, writes The Sunday Times. The British Defense Minister has admitted that the Army was cooperating with the Police in the operation which led to the death of Menezes. Based on a reporter's photograph, some men involved in the operaton carried weapons authorized only to the SAS, which is trained to shoot to kill.
15:42 Baghdad. The committee charged with drafting the new Iraqi consitution will meet all night to decide if it will request a 6-month extension. President Jalal Talabani urged the committee to wrap up its work without delay. However, Shi'ite members of the committee want an extension of two weeks to a month. There is talk going around that there will be a 30-day extenison, but it has not yet been confirmed, said "Shi'ite committee member Bahaa al Aradji. [There is a deadlock caused by Kurdish demands. I don't expect them to back down.--Nur]
15:34 Sanaa. The United States has agreed to hand over to Yemen seven Yemenis detained at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay base, the Arab state's foreign minister said on Sunday. Abubakr al-Qirbi told Reuters that Yemeni authorities received official notification about the handover, but that a date had yet to be set.
15:23 London. An abandoned satchel filled with false passports, credit cards and drivers' licences was found near Heathrow.
15:17 Washington Despite pouring more than $9 billion into rebuilding Iraq over the past two years, the United States has made only limited progress in key areas such as oil and power, according to new reports on U.S.-funded projects there. Soaring security costs are a major stumbling block in what is billed as the biggest U.S. foreign aid operation since the post-World War II reconstruction of Europe. [Whew--Nur]. When it's analyzed overall, it will turn out as being an expensive program in terms of what we actually got for our money, said one senior U.S. official, who asked not to be named because such a statement might be viewed as too negative by Bush administration officials. It will be high cost but that does not mean that we should not have continued, the official said of the rebuilding plan. Meanwhile Jim Crum, a senior U.S. official involved in Iraq reconstruction, said despite security problems he believed there had been great progress in rebuilding Iraq and he pointed to the more than 600 schools rebuilt using U.S. funds. [...And spread sunshine all over the place, just put on a happy face--Nur]
15:11 Jerusalem. The Israeli military said Sunday it is changing riot control methods, replacing its sometimes lethal rubber-coated steel pellets with compressed sand bullets. An Israeli human rights groups praised the decision, but said it was surprising that the army had taken so long to find non-lethal means of dispersing Palestinian demonstrators. The new round, in which the head of the bullet is made from compressed sand and can be fired from a regular rifle, has already been used in the West Bank against Palestinians protesting against the separation barrier Israel is building, the army said. The sand bullet, said to be extremely painful but less dangerous because it does not penetrate the skin, was developed and first used by Israel's Prisons Authority, the army said. [Oh happy day--not. Nur].
15:10 Jerusalem. The evacuation of Jewish settlements in Gaza, scheduled to take place in 2 weeks, could be temporarily suspended if there is a major outbreak of violence on the part of armed Palestinian groups sayd Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boïm. In such an event, a massive deployment of Israeli troops is planned to deliver a knockout punch to the "terrorists."
15:01 Haditha. US marines killed 11 rebels who had taken refuge in a school. The rebels had fired mortar rounds at the Americans.
14:37 Teheran. Iran is able to produce enriched uranium in a very short time and sheltered from any possible military attack, said nuclear program director Hassan Rohani. As soon as we decide to proceed with enrightment, we will attain our objectives in a very short time and should our nuclear installations come under military attack, it should not impact production.
14:27 London. The UK warns Iran that its decision to start up its Ispahan uranium enrichment plant would be "uselsss and damaging" and would threaten its negotiations with the European Union.