16 August 2005 Events in Iraq and in the Region
Baghdad. Iraqi newspapers complain of increasing scarcity and difficulties facing all Iraqis.
London. The Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq says women's rights in Iraq have been trampled and the new Consitution will change nothing.
20:41 Declaring writing a constitution «does take time,» the United States on Tuesday expressed confidence the drafters of a document to guide the new government of Iraq will arrive at a solution that meets the needs of the people. Sen. Joseph Biden, senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he wasn't surprised at the setback: I think it's a bump in the road in a serious process.
20:46 Three U.S. soldiers from Task Force Baghdad died when their vehicle overturned in a sinkhole during combat operations in south Baghdad.
19:49 Amman. King Abdullah told conservative tribal deputies on Tuesday to put national interests above petty squabbling, comments officials said were a warning not to block Western-style reforms. Officials said the king's rare attack on the group that has traditionally been the monarchy's staunchest supporter was meant to head off growing opposition to a programme of accelerated reforms planned by Prime Minister Adnan Badran's cabinet.
21:24 Baghdad. Kurdish leaders insisted Tuesday they have no plan to secede from Iraq even if they want the new constitution to give them the right to do so _ one of the issues that forced a delay in finishing the draft charter. Meetings were to resume Wednesday among Iraqi leaders seeking to finish the draft by the new deadline _ midnight Aug. 22. The delay was an embarrassment for the Bush administration, which insisted that the original deadline be met to maintain political momentum and blunt Iraq's deadly insurgency.
21:09 Tehran. Iran claimed on Tuesday that it had arrested anti-government separatists with links to British intelligence services, accusing them of involvement in violent protests and a recent spate of deadly bombings. A statement issued on state-run TV did not say how many people had been detained nor reveal their nationalities, but alleged they were arrested in the southwestern Khuzestan province, which borders British-controlled southern Iraq. The agents arrested have confessed to belonging to separatist opposition groups and having links with foreign especially British intelligence services, a TV announcer said, quoting a ministry statement. British Embassy officials in Tehran could not be reached immediately for comment. The statement added that Intelligence Ministry forces had identified and arrested all those involved in recent bombings and unrest in Khuzestan. It did not say when the arrests took place. In June, four bomb blasts rocked oil-rich Khuzestan's capital, Ahvaz, killing eight people and injuring many more. The bombings were the deadliest in Iran in more than a decade, and seriously damaged government buildings. Ahvaz was also the site of two days of violent protests during April, triggered by false rumors of an alleged plan to decrease the proportion of Arabs in the area. Officials at the time confirmed one death but opposition groups said more than 20 demonstrators had been killed while some 250 were arrested. Iran has also accused the United States of stoking unrelated tensions in northwestern Iran's Kurdish regions. On Sunday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi suggested that Washington and London were encouraging Arabs and Kurds who have rioted in northwestern and southwestern Iran. According to some information, the Americans intervened in northwestern Iran. This is not acceptable at all,» Asefi told a news conference. «We will voice our objection in this regard soon.» No further details were available on the claims of U.S. involvement. In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack did not address the Iranian accusations, saying instead that U.S. policy was to stand with the Iranian people in their aspirations for greater freedom and greater democracy and greater human rights in their own country. He said the problem is the behavior of the Iranian government, frankly. The unrest has also rocked several Kurdish towns in northwestern Iran including Mahabad over the past month. Clashes with police and arrests led to more protests, with shopkeepers partly shuttering their businesses and the government closing down two newspapers and detaining journalists and activists. Security forces were also said to be among an unspecified number of those hurt and killed. The Kurdish opposition group PEJAK, which stands in Kurdish for the «Party of Free Life of Kurdistan,» has called on Kurds in western Iran to begin civil disobedience. The group has clashed with Iranian security forces in recent weeks with Tehran saying it will confront the «terrorist» group.
21:19 Washington. The USA is keeping pressure up on both Israelis and Palestinians to ensure that the Gaza evacuation takes place in the best conditions possible.
20:34 New York. 100 demonstrators rallied in New York to protest the Gaza evacuation.
17:17 Beirut. In an e-mail published Tuesday in a leading Lebanese newspaper, radical Muslim cleric Omar Bakri, barred from Britain last week and briefly detained by Lebanese police, defended his actions and asked the news media to leave him alone.
17:30 Baghdad. Washington's envoy in Baghdad says Iraqi negotiators need just a few more days to "fine-tune the language" that will clinch a deal on a draft constitution. U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, ubiquitous around the negotiations, has made clear "failure is not an option".
17:39 Washington. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday, in its first economic review of Iraq in 25 years, said insurgent violence had dampened the country's growth prospects and tied up funds meant for reconstruction.
17:51 Beirut. Hizbollah, whose own guerrilla attacks helped end Israel's 22-year occupation of south Lebanon, hailed Israel's evacuation of Jewish settlements in Gaza on Tuesday as another victory for armed resistance. This is a right the Palestinians took by force of arms. We consider Israel's withdrawal from Gaza a withdrawal under the blows of resistance, not giving the Palestinians a piece of land, Hizbollah's deputy chief Naim Kassem said. The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is a defeat for Israel and a victory for the Palestinians, he told Reuters.
17:44 Washington. The International Monetary Fund published its first report on Iraq in 25 years and called on Iraq's leaders to make "colossal" efforts on the economic front.
17:34 Crawford. Dozens of crosses with the names of US fallen in Iraq were vandalized as an individual mowed them down with his 4x4. He was later arrested by police.
15:26 Baghdad. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has signed a death sentence for three Iraqis: Kurdish taxi driver Sayan Ahmad al-Jaf and two Sunnis--Udai Daud al-Dulaimi, a construction worker and Taher Jassem Abbas, a butcher. The men are members of Ansar al-Sunna and have been found guilty of murder and rape.
15:40 Beirut. Lebanon is working to obtain the release of one of its nationals kidnapped by Taliban rebels in Afghanistan. Lebanese engineer Ahmed Reza was abducted on Sunday in Qalat, capital of Zaboul Province in southern Afghanistan.
15:08 Tehran. The new government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says it excludes normalization of relations with Israel and will keep the United States at arms length.
13:56 Bedolah (Gaza). Settlers set their homes ablaze to prevent them from coming into possession of the Palestinians.
13:53 Nevè Deklim (Gaza). 50 young Jewish extremists were arrested after clashes with police.
10:39 Jerusalem. Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner told France Inter that there was a chance that new elections would be called after the Gaza evacuation.
10:15 Gaza. Two Israeli soldiers were caught in flagrante looting a settler home which had just been abandoned in Peat Sadeh.
Herat (Afghanistan). At least 13 Spanish soldiers died in a helicopter crash in a mountainous area south of Herat.
02:35 Baghdad. Iraqi leaders failed to meet a key deadline to finish a new constitution, stalling over the same fundamental issues of power-sharing -- including federalism, oil wealth and Islam's impact on women -- that have bedeviled the country since Saddam Hussein's ouster.
03:03 Baghdad. Former prisoners of the British reveal abuse and humilation by British troops in a BBC documentary. Brothers Marhab et Assad Zaaj-al-Saghir say there were beaten and deprived of water after their arrest in Basrah in March 2003.
01:18 Baghdad. Iraq's parliament, pushed to the brink of a midnight deadline, gave negotiators an extra week on Monday to complete a draft constitution after weeks of intensive talks failed to bridge sectarian and ethnic rifts. Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders now have seven more days to agree the extent regions can have autonomy from Baghdad and how they will share oil and resources. If they fail, parliament will again face a dissolution crisis and the prospect of new elections in an atmosphere poisoned by sectarian and ethnic strife.
01:08 Quito. Ecuadorean authorities are threatening to kick out an American entrepreneur who offered on an Iraq jobs Web site to supply more than 1,000 «combat experienced» former Colombian soldiers and police for counterinsurgency duty. Foreign Minister Antonio Parra told reporters Monday that if Jeffrey Shippy was using Ecuador as a base to procure mercenaries, the government should «sanction, close and remove» his business from the country. Ecuadorean Interior Minister Mauricio Gandara said over the weekend that an investigation of Shippy's business dealings was launched after an article about him was published Friday in the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo.
01:24 Baghdad. The United States is pushing Iraqi leaders hard to reach agreement on a draft constitution but U.S. experts on Iraq warned on Monday that too much pressure could backfire and undermine the leadership's credibility. Iraq's parliament agreed on Monday to allow an extra week for negotiations on the constitution after politicians asked for more time to reach a deal and postponed a Monday deadline. The delay is seen as a blow to efforts by U.S. diplomats who have been shuttling between the sides in the hope that a deal could help weaken the insurgency among the Sunni minority in Iraq.
01:42 Crawford. The husband of anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan has filed for divorce. Patrick Sheehan filed for divorce last Friday north of San Francisco citing irreconcilable differences.
00:58 Ottawa. Prime Minister Paul Martin announced that a Canadian national had been kidnapped and executed in Iraq. No reason was given for the presence of Zaïd Meerwali in Iraq.
00:23 Crawford. George W. Bush notes delay in presenting Iraqi Constitution to the National Assembly. "Their efforts are a tribute to democracy."
00:14 Washington. Condoleezza Rice says that Iraqis have "generated considerable momentum" toward the completion of a constitution despite a one-week delay and that she is confident they will meet the new deadline.