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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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

Saturday, December 24, 2005

24 December 2005 Events in Iraq and in the Region

Fallujah. In a visit to this Iraqi rebel bastion, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that the USA will withdraw two combat brigades (7,500 troops) between now and spring 2006.

Baghdad. Thousands of Sunnis protested the electoral win of the conservative Shi'ite alliance in Baghdad, Mosul, Tikrit and Samarra at the request of the Iraqi Front for National Accord. The protesters loudly declared their hostility to Premier Jaafari and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Najaf. Shi'ite Imam Sadreddin Koubanji, a member of SCIRI, dismissed the idea of fresh elections following Sunni protests.

Baghdad. Speaking in the presence of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Jalal Talabani proposed a government of national unity.

Baghdad. A suicide bomber detonated his payload at at Shi'a shrine north of Baghdad, killing ten.

Baghdad. Eight Iraqi soliders were killed in a rebel attack north of Baghdad.

Baghdad. An Iraqi civilian was shot dead in the capital.

Baghdad. Two US soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in the capital, bringing the total number of US KIA in the last two days to 4.

Baghdad. Al-Jazeera reports that six Sudanese, including a diplomat, were kidnapped.

Baghdad. The families of four kidnapped Western Christian activists issued a series plea for their release.

Baghdad. President Talabani met with leaders of the Sunni community, calling on them to temper their language.

Baghdad. Seven bodies found in south Baghdad

Baghdad. A US solider was killed by RPG fire while on patrol in northern Iraq.

23:59 Bethlehem. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, issued a message of peace and hope, while demanding justice for the Palestinians in his Christmas sermon.

23:57 Tehran. Russia formally proposed to Iran that it move its uranium enrichment facilities to Russian territory, raising pressure on the Tehran regime to accept the Western-backed plan for restraining its nuclear program. Iran insists the program has the sole aim of making fuel for atomic reactors that would generate electricity and denies U.S. charges it is trying to develop nuclear weapons in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Washington is pushing for Tehran to be brought before the United Nations Security Council, where it could face economic sanctions over the dispute. But Russia and China, which have vetoes on the council, oppose referral and the West has stopped short of forcing the matter. In a diplomatic note sent to Iran's government on Saturday, Russia's Foreign Ministry said that «an earlier Russian offer to Iran to establish a joint Russian-Iranian enrichment venture in Russia remains valid,» the ministry said. The note was delivered by the Russian Embassy in Tehran.

23:46 Washington. The U.S. Army, fresh off missing its latest annual recruiting goal, has launched an unprecedented effort to coax former troops to sign up again for active-duty military service, officials said on Tuesday. The Army fell about 7,000 short of its goal of sending 80,000 recruits into basic training in fiscal 2005, which ended Sept. 30. Officials attributed the shortfall to the Iraq war and other factors. The fiscal 2006 recruiting goal again is set at 80,000. Bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $19,000 are being offered and the Army also dropped a rule that had blocked former soldiers from getting training in a different career field than they previously had worked. Former Coast Guard personnel also can take part in the program.

22:32 Baghdad. Monsignor Emmanuel Delly, Patriarch of Babylon, led a procession of 400 Iraqi Christians through the Christian quarter of Karrada prior to midnight mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church. The mass, celebrated by candlelight due to lack of power, was broadcast by public TV. However, no celebration was held in Kirkuk, home on numerous Iraqi Christians.

22:54 Najaf. Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al Roubaïé has demanded that two ex-weaponry specialists under Saddam Hussein, released by the United States, be re-arrested. Houda Ammash, dubbed "Mrs. Anthrax" by the press and Rihab Taha, known as "Dr. Germ", are among twenty-two former high-ranking officials released on 17 December by the United States. Both will remain under guard inside a US military installation pending their departure from the country. Al-Roubaïé, in Najaf for talks with Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, warned they would be arrested if they set foot outside the base.

19:01 Amman. Jordan will not give in to terrorists, said Government Spokeman Nasser Jawdeh, reacting to a three-day ultimatum issued by the kidnappers of a Jordanian national, abducted on 20 December. Mahmood Salman Saïdat, married to an Iraqi spouse, worked as a chauffeur for the Jordanian Embassy. The victim was shown in a video broadcast by al-Arabiya. Meanwhile, Sajida al-Rishawi was arrested for the 9 November bombing in Amman which killed 60.


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