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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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).

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

9 August 2005 Events in Iraq

Beirut. International investigators will be travelling to Syria, Jordan and Israel to pursue their inquiry into the assassination of Rafik Hariri.

Beirut. Lebanese Foreign Minister Faouzi Salloukh said that Condoleezza Rice raised the problem of the Shebaa farms during her recent visit to Lebanon and "let it be understood that something was going to happen very soon". Salloukh underscored that there is a Lebanese Army presence in southern Lebanon and that the area is quiet. Salloukh also reaffirmed that no date has been established for the disarming of Lebanese Hezbollah.

Amman. Al-Markaziya reports that Jordan is considering closing its frontier with Syria due to the damage to Jordanian trade caused by the zealous "security checks" by the Syrians at their border with Lebanon.

Baghdad. A drive-by shooting in the eastern Zayouna neighborhood left two police officers dead and a third wounded.

Baghdad. Insurgents conduct an ambush in al-Ghadir Street, killing two.

Baghdad. A policeman was shot dead south of the capital.

Baquba. A policeman was assassinated and another wounded by unknown assailants 65 km northeast of Baghdad.

Baghdad. A policeman was killed in an insurgent ambush in the al-Adel quarter of west Baghdad.

Baghdad. Leaders conferred Tuesday night in a bid to overcome their differences and produce a charter by next Monday's deadline. President Jalal Talabani's spokesman said no agreements were expected Tuesday, but he added that all sides agreed to «get the job done» by the deadline. At the beginning of the talks, presidential spokesman Kamran Qaradaghi told reporters that the talks would focus on federalism, distribution of wealth and the elections law. The Kurds demand that Iraq be transformed into a federal state so that they can continue to run their autonomous ministate in the north of the country. Sunni Arabs oppose federalism because they fear the Kurds want to secede and dismember Iraq. On Tuesday, a prominent Sunni Arab on the constitutional committee, Saleh al-Mutlaq, suggested that federalism be decided by the new parliament to be elected in December: We will not accept federalism in these circumstances. He warned that if the Kurdish demands are accepted, they will have grave consequences for the future of Iraq. He did not elaborate. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari hinted that political leaders may not resolve all the outstanding issues before next week's deadline but he was still hopeful the draft could be finished on time.

Baghdad. The mayor of Baghdad said on Tuesday he was ousted on Monday when 120 gunmen surrounded his office and installed the city's governor in his place. Alaa al-Tamimi told Reuters he was not at the office at the time but the gunmen installed Baghdad Governor Hussein al-Tahhan in his place. His account of events could not be immediately confirmed and was challenged by al-Tahhan.

Baghdad. Gunmen assassinated police Capt. Haidir Mizhir Salih and another policeman as they were heading to work, police said.

Baghdad. A policeman was killed and two others were wounded in a drive-by shooting in northern Shuaula.

Baghdad. Gunmen killed an employee of the Iraqi Cabinet, Abbas Ibrahim Mohammed, as he was driving home in western Baghdad.

Baghdad. Three civilians were killed and three wounded in a mortar attack in south Baghdad.

Samawah. The mayor of Samawah, gripped by riots over lack of municipal services, has resigned under pressure as demanded by the protesters. The decision was taken late Monday during a visit to the city, 370 km southeast of Baghdad, by a delegation sent by al-Jaafari to try to quell the unrest, according to Sheik Mohannad al-Gharrawi. About 750 Japanese troops are based in Samawah, considered among the calmest cities in the country.

Gaza. President Mahmoud Abbas urged the Palestinians on Tuesday to ensure calm for Israel's evacuation of its Gaza settlements, saying an orderly transfer of control would boost the Palestinian quest for statehood.

Gaza. Palestinians will hold a parliamentary election in January, President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.

Tehran. Dissident Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji has broken his eight-week-old hunger strike after calls by family and friends concerned about his deteriorating health, a judiciary spokesman said.

Khartoum. The swearing in of Salva Kiir as Sudan's first vice president has been delayed so that officials can pay their respects to the widow of his predecessor, John Garang, who died in a helicopter crash last week. Kiir, Garang's deputy and military chief, had been due to be sworn in on Tuesday.

London. An outspoken British-based Muslim cleric who left the country in the wake of a government pledge to crack down on radical Islamists said he had merely gone on holiday and planned to return. Syrian-born Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, who has lived in Britain for 20 years, left for Lebanon on Saturday.

Tel Aviv. A leading Israeli rightist said on Tuesday he would seek to topple Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as head of the ruling Likud party before the next general election, due in 2006. Uzi Landau, leader of a Likud "rebel" faction that tried in vain to scuttle Sharon's Gaza pullout plan in votes of the cabinet and parliament, told a news conference that he would run in Likud's next party primary.

Rome. Ethiopian Hamdi Aduss Issac, accused of involvement in the 21 July bombing attempt in London, was interrogated in Rome's Regina Coeli prison where he is being held. The interrogation, ordered by a Rome court, was conducted by Judge Domenico Massimo Miceli; it began at 9:30 am and lasted approximately three hours. Three Scotland Yard agents were also present. According to Isaac's defense attorney, Antonietta Sonessa, Isaac admitted his involvement in the 21 July incident but denied that he intended to kill anyone. He also stated several times that he did not want to be extradited to Great Britian. On 21 July in London, there were five of us, but one got cold feet and did not participate in the action. Issac recognized and gave the names of his four accomplices from photos shown to him. Isaac was cooperative and explained the roles and particulars of the 21 July bombers, underscoring that in the end only four agreed to desposit the bombs at precise locations in the London Underground. Hamdi explained that he was present at the assembly of the explosives and that the bombs contained small nails. Should Hamdi be extradited to Great Britain, he faces life in prison. Muktar Said Ibrahim, Ramzi Mohammed, Yassin Hassan Omar and "The Fifth Man", Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, have been formally charged in a terrorist plot targeting London.

Karachi. A presumed al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Yousaf, was arrested at his home in Faisalabad after making two calls to Italy on his cellphone. Yousaf was found in possession of maps of Germany, Italy and Great Britain. The Pakistani paper, The Daily Times, reported that Osama bin Yousaf was a close collaborator of Abu Farj al Libbi, arrested a few months ago in Pakistan. Three credit cards, a computer, dozens of CDs, three grenades, two AK-47s and hundreds of cartridges were also found.

Baghdad. Saddam Hussein's family said it has dissolved his Jordan-based legal team and appointed Iraqi lawyer Khalil Dulaimi as the «one and sole legal counsel.» The move was seen as reorganizing the defense ahead of Saddam's upcoming trial. One of the Iraqi judges who have interrogated Saddam also accused the ex-leader's lawyers of making up stories of ill-treatment in hopes the trial will be moved outside Iraq. In an interview Sunday, Judge Munir Haddad, an Iraqi Kurd, told Associated Press Television News that Saddam's first trial will begin «within 45 to 50 days.»

Baghdad. President Jalal Talabani, Premier Ibrahim Jaafari, Vice Premier Ahmed Chalabi, MPs Fouad Massoum and Adnan al-Janabi and Vice President Adel Abdel-Mahdi met today to discuss the constitutional crisis. Meanwhile US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad indicated that Massoud Barzani "has decided not to press Kurdish demands for self-determination."

Baghdad. Government spokesman Leith Koubba said the Western press is making too much of the womens' rights issue in Iraq.

Baghdad. The Iraqi government announced its intention of creating two state ministries to centralize the management of social security and to serve as a conduit for the political debate among Iraq's different ethnic groups.

Baghdad. Long lines at gas stations persist in Iraq despite an increase in supply. The Iraqi Oil Ministry said it was studying a plan to permit the import of petroleum products by the private sector.

Washington. A majority of Americans think the war in Iraq has made the United States more vulnerable to terrorist attack according to a survey conducted by USA Today/CNN/Gallup published today.The same survey gave George W. Bush an approval rating of 45 %, compared with 51% who disapprove of his policies.

21:24 Hebron. Two Israelis were wounded by gunfire in a Palestinian attack in Hebron on the southern West Bank.

21:22 Baghdad. Former Iraqi Premier Tarek Azi, wrote that he would not testify against deposed President Saddam Hussein in a letter to his attorney, Badia Aref.

21:18 Jerusalem. Likud rebel Benjamin Netanyahu would beat Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in primaries for leadership of the ruling party. A poll conducted by Haaretz showed Netanyahu winning 47.2 percent of the vote and Sharon garnering 33.2 percent in a head-to-head contest.

20:55. London. The British Foreign Office said in a communiqué that the door remained open for Teheran to return to the negotiating table.

20:52 Washington. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared that weapons of Iranian origin, "with no ambiguity whatsoever", have been found in Iraq and that the Iranian authorities permit arms smuggling across its borders. He said the arms were "clearly" Iranian but refused to describe them or say how many had been identified.

20:34 Washington. George W. Bush compared negotiations with Iran and North Korea concerning their respective nuclear programs. The Iranians have been, we hope, straightforward in their willingness to accept this kind of international cooperation, he said. North Korea is in a different situation, Bush told a nationally televised press conference at his Texas ranch when asked why Washington is willing to accept Iran's civilian nuclear program and not North Korea's. The North Koreans didn't tell the truth when it came to their enrichment program....What's different about it (with the Iran case) is that South Koreans have offered power, he said. In other words, the South Koreans have said we'll build and share power with you, which seems to me to make good sense, so long as the North Koreans give up their nuclear weapons, so long as there's full transparency, so long as there's the ability for the international community to know exactly what's going on in a potential weapons program.

20:26 Mosul. U.S. and Iraqi forces killed two insurgents and arrested 22 others in two days of operations in northern Iraq. Soldiers from the U.S. Army's 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment killed two insurgents found setting up a mortar tube Monday in Mosul, a statement from Task Force Freedom said. 22 suspected insurgents were arrested in a series of operations in the northern cities of Rawah, Tal Afar and Mosul.

20:11 Crawford. George W. Bush again warned Iran against its refusal to negotiate on its nuclear program. President Bush said that if Iran did not cooperate, United Nations sanctions were "a potential consequence."

20:10 Ramadi. U.S. troops shot dead four insurgents Tuesday as they tried to plant a roadside bomb.

18:56 Baghdad. Dozens of Iraqi women demanded their rights as well as Islam as the fundament of national law in Baghdad and Najaf. Secular demonstrators in the capital demanded that women's rights be enscribed in the Constitution: We want to see women named to at least 40% of positions of power," Meanwhile, in Najaf, religious Shi'ite women demanded that the Constitution be founded on the precepts of Islam.

16:15 Tehran. The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog will remove seals at a mothballed section of Iran's Isfahan nuclear facility before Wednesday afternoon, Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation.The seals were put on after Iran agreed to suspend all nuclear fuel work last November as part of an agreement with Britain, Germany and France.

16:13 Washington. US intelligence believes bombs used recently against US and Iraqi convoys have been smuggled into Iraq by the Iranian Guardians of the Revolution. This discovery indicates that there exists a link between the Iranians and Iraqi insurgents. Meanwhile Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi denied the involvement of Iran in the use of a new type of explosive device targeting military convoys in Iraq. [There is a link between Don Rumsfeld and the moons of Jupiter: planet Earth.-- Nur].

16:10 Ramallah. Palestinian Interior Minister Nasr Yussef expressed the fear that the Israelis intend to maintain a military presence in the northern West Bank following the evacuation of four Jewish settlements. We have noticed changes in the Israeli position and this is very worrisome, said Yussef following a meeting with US special envoy General William Ward.

16:08 Gaza. Officials representing Israeli colonies in the Gaza Strip delivered a foretaste of their intentions by refusing an instruction from the Israeli military to evacuate. Officials refused to distribute a letter drafted by the Israeli military authorities instructing residents to abandon their homes before 17 August. The letter was signed by General Dan Harel of Southern Command. Ezra Haidu, a spokesmen for the Jewish settlement at Katif justified the refusal of settlement officials to distribute the instruction. Tehila Hadju, a member of the Katif settlement council, said the following: We read the letter. It is devoid of significance to us. We don't know where we will be sent nor how the Army will take us there. Eran Sternberg, spokesperson for the Gaza settler community is reported as saying, Most members within the settlements' secretariats simply discarded the letter. Rachel Sapperstein, spokesperson for the Neve Dekalim settlement, the largest on the Gaza Strip, said, I think that the Army is terrified by the idea of coming here and confronting the anger of the people of Gush Katif.

16:05 Baghdad. A US soldier was killed this morning in a carbombing in the capital.

16:03 Baghdad. After a meeting with the outgoing Dutch Ambassador to Baghdad, Theodurus Antonious Reintjes, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari announced that Iraq would take the initiative and open embassies in Saudi Arabia and in Kuwait.

15:57 Kabul. 18 Taliban rebels and one US soldier were killed after insurgent ambush in Zabul Province in southern Afghanstan targeted a US military convoy. US warplanes were called in to bomb the area. The incident took place Monday in the Deh Chopan district.

15:48 Washington. The United States shares the "profound concern" of its European allies over Iran's uranium enrichment program, said the US Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Greg Schulte. According to diplomatic sources, the IAEA council will not ask the UN Security Council to invoke international sanctions.

15:25 Ramadi. US marine killed in combat yesterday. A U.S. Marine assigned to the 2nd Marine Division was killed Monday by small arms fire in Ramadi.

13:07 Paris. OPEC raises production by 300 thousand barrels per day. OPEC daily production is now at 30.4 million barrels per day.

12:32 Baghdad. A suicide carbomber struck a US military convoy in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, killing 7 people, including one American soldier, and wounding more than 90 others. Two US soldiers are among the wounded.

12:07. Paris. Mohammed Billal Youssaf, a 23 year-old Pakistani resident of Brescia, Italy, was arrested Sunday at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Youssaf had with him forged British documents (5 passports and 5 drivers' licenses). Youssaf, who hails from Lahore, was travelling to London.

11:36 Washington. The US Army, in a rare disciplinary act against a four-star officer, said Tuesday it relieved Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes of his command in the midst of an investigation into unspecified ''personal conduct.'' Byrnes was relieved as commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command on Monday by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, according to a brief statement issued by Army headquarters at the Pentagon. In that post, Byrnes oversaw all Army training programs and the development of war-fighting guidelines. It operates 33 training schools and centers on 16 Army installations and is headquartered at Fort Monroe, Va. Although disciplinary action against general officers is not uncommon, it is extremely rare for a four-star general to be relieved of command. Byrnes held the position as commander of Training and Doctrine Command since November 2002. Before that he was director of the Army staff at Army headquarters in the Pentagon. In April the Pentagon announced that Lt. Gen. William Wallace had been nominated for a four star and assignment as commander of Training and Doctrine Command, to succeed Byrnes, but he has not yet been confirmed by the Senate. There was no public indication at the time that Byrnes was under investigation.

09:24 Baghdad. Gunmen killed five policemen who had fallen asleep in their car. The men had spent the night on patrol and were waiting for their replacements; their weapons were all in the backseat of their four-wheel drive.

09:20 Rome. Antonietta Sonnessa, defense attorney for terrorism suspect Hamdi Issac, arrived in Rome's Regina Coeli Prison to witness an interrogation of Hamdi by Scotland Yard.

09:05 Baghdad. Three police killed. Armed men assassinated Police Captain Haidir Mizhir Salih and another officer in the Dora district as they were driving to work.

05:33 Singapore. Oil hits $64.06 per barrel on the Asian market.

04:40 Crawford. Cindy Sheehan prepared Monday to spead a third night in a tent at the entrance to George W. Bush' s ranch in Crawford. Sheehan insists on meeting Bush to tell him of her opposition to the war in Iraq. On Sunday, police forced the small group of protesters from a grassy triangle at the intersection of two roads. Sunday, when a group of fifty persons protested the war in front of the ranch, police ordered them off a deserted road and into a ditch to continue thier protests. Cindy Sheehan hopes other mothers of US soldiers killed in Iraq will join the association,"Gold Star Mothers for peace" and travel to Crawford over the next few days. In a sign that the protests are worrisome to the Administration, National Security Advisor Steve Hadley and White House advisor Joe Hagin are meeting with the President.

04:05 Washington. The United States is concerned by reports of an Iranian government crackdown on ethnic Kurds that has left several people dead and possibly led to the arrest of hundreds, the State Department said Monday night. Denial of the rights of minority groups is one aspect of the regime's «appalling human rights and democracy record,» the department said in response to a press question. «We call on the Iranian authorities to exercise restraint and to respect the peaceful exercise by the Iranian people of their democratic rights,» it said.

04:00 Vienna. The AIEA advisory council met in an emergency session in Vienna this afternoon at the request of the European Union. The EU has been assigned Mission Impossible: to force Iran to renounce its uranium enrichment activities. Convinced of its rights and ignoring international warnings, Iran restarted its plant at Isphahan. The Vice Chairman of the Iranian Atomic Energy Commission, Mohammad Saïdi, announced that his country has begun the yellowcake trasnformation process. Tehran also rejected European proposals for nuclear, trade and political cooperation.

03:04 San Francisco. The lawyer for Army reservist Lynndie England, who sparked widespread outrage by posing with naked Iraqi inmates at the U.S.-run prison at Abu Ghraib, said on Monday that she was partially mentally incapacitated when the abuses took place. Attorney Capt. Jonathan Crisp said in an interview that he would file a motion to a military judge seeking to strike two conspiracy charges against her because of her mental shortcomings. [Next they'll say it was the Twinkies. There is, obviously, no accountability with anything having to do with the Bush Crime Syndicate--Nur].

02:20 Jerusalem. Israel refused to consider relinquishing control of a key Gaza border crossing just a week before its pullout from the seaside territory is to begin, and Palestinians charged that Israel's real intention is to keep a grip on Gaza. At a meeting of Israel's Security Cabinet on Monday, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz suggested moving the only Gaza-Egypt crossing from Rafah to a point where Israel could control it--instead of letting international inspectors replace Israeli guards there. The issue is vital for the future of Gaza, and it also reflects the extent to which Israel's pullout would be considered complete. The Rafah crossing to Egypt is Gaza's only link to the outside world, as the seaside territory is surrounded on the other two sides by Israel. Israel has controlled the Rafah crossing since it captured Gaza in the 1967 war. Israel maintains that its pullout would end its occupation, but Palestinians and international agencies say if Israel continues to control Gaza's borders, air space and seacoast, it will still be considered an occupier. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was quoted as saying that Gaza must be demilitarized, and Israel must control the seacoast. Also, he said, Israel must control the flow of products into the Palestinian territories. It was Mofaz who recommended moving the Rafah crossing point about 3km to Kerem Shalom, an Israeli farming community on the corner where the borders of Egypt, Israel and Gaza converge. Israel claims it wants to get out of Gaza, but in reality it wants to continue to control Gaza, said Diana Buttu, a Palestinian spokeswoman. International envoy James Wolfensohn has urged Israel to make a decision on border arrangements before the withdrawal starts. He has said the withdrawal will be a success only if fenced-in Gazans can move freely--a prerequisite for reviving their battered economy. Also, Mofaz said Israel would pull out of the border road, called the «Philadelphi corridor,» by the end of the year if an agreement with Egypt is reached over deploying 750 Egyptian troops to patrol there.

01:25 London. Musharraf: "Britain is too indugent with the terrorists." The British government is too indulgent towards the extremists who live in Great Britain, said Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in an interview with the BBC. Musharraf also suggested greater monitoring "beginning with the loudspeakers of the mosques."

01:14 Baghdad. The US military presence in Iraq will be temporarily reinforced to provide security for the Constitutional referendum in October and the legislative elections scheduled for December. American troop presence will be raised to 160,000 men.

01:56 New York. The former head of the U.N. oil-for-food program, Benon Sevan, was accused on Monday of receiving nearly $150,000 in kickbacks, and another U.N. official was arrested on charges of pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars from U.N. contractors. The U.N.-established Independent Inquiry Committee, headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, said in its third interim report that Sevan, who ran the $67 billion humanitarian program for Iraq, and Alexander Yakovlev, a former U.N. purchasing office, should be prosecuted. The report said Sevan worked with a cousin of former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, Egyptian Fakhry Abdelnour, who owned a small oil trading firm, called African Middle East Petroleum (AMEP). This firm transferred $580,000 to the account of Fred Nadler, the brother of Boutros-Ghali's wife Leia. Of this amount, Nadler then deposited in cash $147,184 to the New York bank accounts of Sevan and his wife, the report said.

00:33 New York. Alexander Yakovlev, a former UN official implicated in the Oil for Food scandal, pleaded guilty before a US court in Manhattan for accepting bribes. Mr. Yakovlev received at least hundreds of thousands of dollars from firms hoping to win an oil contract with the UN. Yakovlev created a front company, Moxyco, to facilitate the illegal payments and was able set up bank accounts in Antingua and Switzerland in exchange for informaton and assistance provided to foreign corporations. Alexander Yakovlev faces 20 years in prison on each charge. According to the Volcker Report, Yakovlev demanded a bribe in 1996 from the Société générale de surveillance (SGS), a French corporation competing for an oil contract in the Oil for Food program with the help of French national Yves Pintore.

00:23 Salvador. El Salvador President Antonio Saca announced that the Salvadoran military contingent in Iraq will not be withdrawn. El Salvador will not pull out its troops until decided by the Anti-Terrorism Coalition [Note the new terminology--Nur]. Antonio Saca announced that a new 380-man contingent will leave for Iraq on 11 August. In the aftermath of the London bombings, the Salvadoran left and human rights associations had demanded the pullout of Salvadoran troops. The Salvadoran contingent is deployed to Babylon, south of Baghdad.


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