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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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

Thursday, June 30, 2005

30 June 2005 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. 1,000 GI's and Iraqi forces continue search and destroy mission in al-Anbar Province. The current operation, Sword, is taking place along the Euphrates River between Hiditha and Hit. 13 suspected rebels have been arrested.

Baghdad. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari urged Iraq's neighbors to increase their cooperation in establishing stability in Iraq.

Baghdad. Two Iraqis were killed in an assassination attempt on the police chief of Baquba.

Bucharest. Ex-hostage Marie-Jeanne Ion was questioned by the Bucarest district attorney on her ordeal in Iraq.

Amman. The UN to organize a census of the Iraqi population in 2007. The UN Population Fund signed an agreement with the Iraqi Planning Ministry to conduct a census in 2007.

23:58 Washington. President George Bush demands "clarification" on the role of Iranian President-Elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the 1979 US Embassy siege in Teheran. Meanwhile, former embassy hostage Bill Daugherty, USMC-Ret., says there is "no possible doubt" that he saw Ahmadinejad among his gaolers.

23:53 Washington. US Dept of State warns US citizens against travel to Iran.

23:52 Washington. The US increases pressure on Syria by freezing all accounts held in the name of Syrian officials, including Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan. The US Departement of Treasury has frozen the funds of Syrian Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan and Roustoum Ghazali of Syrian Military Intelligence.

23:50 New York. UN Security Council calls on Lebanese government to extend its authority throughout the whole of the country.

23:31 Washington. For US Embassy hostage in Teheran, Jim Limbert, says he cannot confirm claims by five other former hostages that Iranian President-Elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was among his gaolers.

23:06 Baghdad. Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari announces that the trial of Saddam Hussein may begin within one or two months, perhaps as early as August 15th. A lawyer for Tarek Aziz, Badea Aref, says the statement is not realistic. No! A thousand times "no"! I doubt that the trial will take place in 2005. The inquest requires more time.

22:56 Baghdad. Syrian delegation received in Baghdad for the first time in 25 years. Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Hamed Al-Bayati met with a Syrian delegation headed by veteran diplomat Mohammad Saïd al-Bunni

22:33 Jerusalem. Israeli warplanes have "cleaned up" sources of automatic weapons fier in along the Lebanese border south of the UN-enforced Blue Line.

23:30 Washington. U.S. President George W. Bush said on Thursday he wanted answers on whether Iranian President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a leader in the 1979 U.S. Embassy siege as some former hostages have said but Iranians have denied. Several Americans who were held said they recognized the ultraconservative Ahmadinejad as a ringleader. But two Iranians who were leading figures in the storming of the embassy said he did not take part. Retired Navy Capt. Donald Sharer and Bill Daugherty said they were convinced Ahmadinejad was one of their Iranian captors.

23:05 Sanaa (Yemen). Representatives of more than 50 Islamic countries called Thursday for support for the transitional Iraqi government and the restoration of security and stability in the country. Foreign ministers and senior officials of the 57 states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference concluded a three-day meeting with a statement that endorsed the need to reform the group to give it more clout. The organization has demanded a seat in the U.N. Security Council to represent the world's more than 1 billion Muslims.

22:21 Baghdad. The cousin of an Iraqi MP and four other persons were shot dead in front of a store in west Baghdad by unknown gunmen. Optician Taher Kazem al-Rubaï, cousin of Mouaffak al-Rubaï, was shot outside his shop in the Amariya district. Three customers and an employer were also killed. Qussaï and Ashuak, the optician's son and daughter are wounded in the attack.

19:10 Washington. Bush responds to allegations against Iranian President-Elect Mahmud Ahmadinejad said to have been a gaoler of US Embassy hostages in 1979. [Ahem. Does the US have an "intelligence" agency which keeps tabs on important Iranian personalities?--Nur]

16:21 Nablus. Al-Aqsa Brigades phone Agence France Presse to announce the excution of two Israeli soldiers kidnapped earlier in the day.

14:55 Brussels. EU bans sale of torture instruments. Spokeswoman Emma Udwin says the ban is symbolic because the trade is minimal.

14:51 Nablus. Al Aqsa Brigades say they have abducted two Israeli soldiers in an anonymous phone call.

11:12 Diwaniah: Polish troops arrest alleged rebels for the yesterday's attack on a Polish patrol.

10:38 Nassiriya. Rebels fired on Italian paratroopers near Nassiriya.

10:27 Beirut: Hezbollah denies engagement with Israeli military along frontier. Hezbollah denies that it has engaged Israeli forces near the Shebaa Farms.

09:21 Tel Aviv. Gaza Strip to be declared military zone to prevent violence between the Israeli military and right-wing settlers.

09:09 Tel Aviv. Israeli forces and Lebanese Hezbollah trade fire along fontier.

08:23 Rome. Italian goverment to brief Parliament on "extraordinary rendition" of suspected terrorist Abu Omar by the CIA in March 2003. Meanwhile, The Washington Post writes that the Italian goverment new of planned abduction. George Tenet and head of Italian intelligenc agency Sismi, Nicolo' Pollari did not directly speak about the affair which is thought to have been confirmed at the highest levels.

07:38 Savannah. Former US hostage of the US Embassy in Teheran accuses Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being his gaoler.

06:36 Samawah. Blast thought to be mortar fire heard near Japanese base, reports Japanese news agency Kyodo News.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Ahmadinejad Islamic Revolution

Before you read on, please stop by The Arabist Network and read this article on Ahmedinejad’s victory by Simon Kitchen.

This is a dispatch from L'Orient-Le Jour:

The newly-elected President of Iran, ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, states that the sensation caused his election can be interpreted as a "new Islamic revolution" --a wave which will soon sweep over the entire world.

A new Islamic revolution is born thanks to the blood of the martyrs of 1384 (the current year in the Iranian calandar) and, God willing, will uproot injustice throughout the world, said Ajmadinejad during a meeting with the families of the victims of the 1981 bombing. The era of oppression, hegemony, tyranny and injustice is coming to an end, he continued, pointedly referring to the United States, and a wave of islamic revolution will soon sweep over the entire world. In a single night, the marytrs walked the same path that would have taken 100 years. This talk recalls the first years of the Iranian revolution of which Mr. Ahmadinejad has extoled the "purity", raising fears in the West. For the last several years, however, Teheran has ceased to export revolution, which once caused Western countries and most Arab states to back Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988).

The circumstances in which Mr. Ahmadinejad made these remarks evokes tones of revolution. Mr. Ahmadinejad was meeting with the families of the 70 victims of the bombing of the offices of the Party of the Islamic Republic on June 28, 1981, which killed the Iranian Chief Justice, Ayatollah Mohammed Hosseini Beheshti, dozens of MPs and several ministers. The bombing, attributed to the Mujahedeen-e Khalq [People's Mujahedeen--the terrorist darlings of Paul Wolfowitz--Nur] was one of the first dramas of the Islamic Republic. The following August 30th, President Mohammed Ali Rejaïe and his Prime Minister, Mohammed Javad Bahonar, were assassinated in second bombing. During his campaign, Mr. Ahmadinejad, who will be sworn in on August 3rd, began consultations in view of forming his government. I am exploring things" he said. As speculation swirls, Ahmadinejad added: No one, besides myself, knows what the new government will look like.

The Sadr Brotherhood


This story by Sam Dagher in L'Orient-Le Jour shows that militant Islamic populist Moqtada Sadr is solidifying his political and social base. Last year at this time, Sadr was preparing his symbolic stands at Karbala and Najaf, which the US would try to thwart by airstrikes and ground assault, laying near waste to both cities. According to area expert Juan Cole, today al-Sadr supporters control several southern Iraqi provinces--and the hearts and minds of Iraq's disadvantaged.

Moqtada Sadr wins support thanks to free circumcisions.

Three bearded and stocky militants hold onto a crying 9 year-old while an ex-military doctor lifts up his white abaya to circumcize him, all part of a campaign financed by Moqtada Sadr. You'll be fine, sayyed Moqtada will come and visit you, whispers Moushtaq Abdelwahid, 27, into the child's ear. A giant portrait of dark-robed Moqtada with dense eyebrows hangs on the wall next to the child.

Dr. Amer al-Ankabi 44, approaches Karrar, who is still crying, and examines him. He determines that he'll need plastic surgery to repair the damage done by a first circumcision. It was poorly performed the first time, says the child's father, Ahmed Abdelkadhim, 33. Karrar leaves the examining room as his brother Hussein, 4, enters. The doctor performs the circumcision. A few minutes later, the smiling Mr. Abdelkadhim clasps his crying son triumphantly in his arms. Hussein receives chocolate candy and a note saying: Gift from the Sadr Martyrs' Bureau, in reference to the father of Moqtada Sadr, Mohammed Sadeq Sadr, who was assassinated in 1999.

A hundred or so anxious parents, clutching an infant or holding a child by the hand, await their turn in the Sadr Cultural Center in the poverty-stricken al-Amel quarter of west Baghdad. Circumcision is an obligation for Muslims, as for Jews. Neighborhood posters and a loud speaker outside the building advertize free circumcisions. This campaign is made possible thanks to God, but please refrain from bringing musicians inside, shooting into the air or any other act which may violate the precepts of Islam, warn the posters.

This is like my wedding day, said Riah Abboud, 30, while holding his son Mustapha, who has just been circumcized. In the center courtyard, Mr. Abboud and several Shi'ite imams wave colored banners, Iraqi flags and portraits of Moqtada Sadr. We are doing this to help poor families, says Sheikh Mahmoud al-Soubaih, a Sadr supporter, who is in charge of supervising the circumcision campaign. We want to share the suffering of the people, he adds. The center teaches culture and the Koran to counter the influence of the US invasion, he emphasizes.

Collective circumcisions are nothing new in Iraq. They used to be organized between July 17 and July 30th in Baa'th party offices to celebrate the rise to power of Saddam Hussein.

The campaign run by Moqtada supporters is a calculated move to win support among the poor in preparation for the general elections in December. Even if he says he is not interested in a governmental post and continues to project an ambiguous attitude concerning Iraq's political process, Moqtada Sadr sent twenty of his supporters to Parliament as part of the Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance

There's a time to study and a time to fight. Sayyed Moqtada has asked us to study, says Ammar Sabah, 33, member of the Mahdi's Army, Sadr's militia, which fought United States troops in 2004 before agreeing to lay down their arms in September. Mr. Sabah states that he's studying art. He is surrounded by other combat veterans of Najaf and Baghdad's Sadr City who have come to help with the mass circumcisions. The center is open to non-Shi'ites. Ahmed Jamil and his wife, Sunnis from Ramadi, west of the capital, proudly exhibit ther circumcized sons.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The President's Address Tonight

President Bush will harangue us tonight on the importance of supporting the occupation of Iraq and the continuing city-destroying war against the insurgents. We can count on hearing Christian metaphors embedded in patriotism, with an exclusionary and unapologetic God Bless America at the end.

Bush's evangelical Christianity is a topic for study among America academics and experts around the world. Yesterday, Sébastien Fath of the French national thinktank, CNRS, addressed a Lebanese audience in Beirut on the slow transformation of American evangelicals in the United States towards a decidedly un-Christian Fascistic phalange under the leadership of the President.

Before getting into Fath's address, the American scholar Robert O. Paxton draws a portrait of hypothetical US fascism in his book, Anatomy of Fascism:
The language and symbols of an authentic American fascism would, of course, have little to do with the original European models….No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes and Christian Crosses….Americans might support an enterprise of forcible national regeneration, unification and purification…Would Protestant fundamentalism play this function for Americans? [Stanley G.] Payne has argued fascism requires the space created by secularization, because a religious fascism would inevitably limit its leader not only by the cultural power of the clergy but by “the precepts and values of traditional religion.”
Fath warns exactly of this: the continuing secularization of evangelical faith under the guidance of George Bush to permit his unlimited actions in the War on Terror.

From Mariam SEMAAN writing for L'Orient-Le Jour:

In a series of conferences sponsored by the USEK History Institute, Mr. Sébastien Fath, fellow of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS, Paris) gave a scholarly exposition on Religion and Politics in the United States: The New Messianism.

In an initiative promoted by Mr. Dominique Avon, Mr. Fath has analyzed the American notion of secular religion, at the heart of which lies messianism. This generic religion, which sanctifies communal identity, has evolved over time and is about to undergo another transformation with a push from George W. Bush.

In order to cement a heterogeneous melting pot around communal beliefs, the United States has developed a sort of civic religion--a mix of convictions centering on faith, idealism and extreme patriotism. This untraditional religion, whose goal is to create a communal identify has five characteristics: The white Anglo-Saxon Protestant heritage of the Founding Fathers, emphasis on faith and prayer, individualism, optimism and a necessary belief in messianism. In constant evolution, it adapts itself to changes in US society and undergoes gradual change without attachment to particular religious family. Over its history, it has exhibited certain preferential orientations, directly linked to groups in power and to powerful lobbies.

Intended to unite a multi-confessional nation in times of crisis, it was deployed in the aftermath of WWI in the presidency of President Wilson and most recently following the September 11th attacks under the presidency of George W. Bush.

Between 1919 under Wilson and 1950, America's civic religion underwent the influence of the mainstream religions, that is, long-established Protestant sects ( Presbyterianism, Episcopalianism, Methodism...)which imparted optimism, humanism and the principle of self-restraint founded on a transcendent God.

Between 1960 and the end of the 20th century, the mainstream churches became marginalized by the evangelical churches, a Protestant faith drawing its inheritance from the margins of the established churches—a Protestantism marked by religious revival or rebirth representing a radical reorientation of life following an extraordinary religious experience. The Born-Again-Christians are especially pious, which contributes a moralizing fervor to civic religion. Under George W. Bush, who since his meeting with preacher Billy Graham presents himself as an evangelical, the United States has aligned itself along the same axis. The President of the United States considers his presidential mandate a divine vocation. His election and reelection are due in large part to evangelical voters.

But for Sébastien Fath, certain indicators point to the hypothesis that civic religion is entering a new phase in the 21st century under President Bush. For Mr. Fath, the President seems to have fostered an unedited version of civic religion marked by extreme nationalism and the uni-polar superiority of the United States.

The idea of messianism, so dear to the Americans, is at the heart of this change, which can be defined as the conviction that America is the bearer of an eminent mission to the world.

In the times of President Wilson, the messianic message contained a universal idealism hostile to nationalism and which doubled as a self-restraining principle disassociating America from the Divine. Today, in the presidency of George Bush, idealism and nationalism go hand-in-hand, and is it far apart from the principle of multilateralism fostered by Wilson. Imperial United States manifests itself everywhere today: from the refusal to recognize the role of the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, to the denunciation of the Kyoto Protocol, to the cancellation of the ABM treaty… As to the idea of self-restraint, it seems to have disappeared with the recasting of the 21st century as the American Century, based primarily on US interests. What is good for the United States is good for the world.

A more secularized, third phase of civic religion in which America itself is the divinity has begun to appear on the horizon—as if America had become its own absolute, explains Mr. Fath. George Bush, as bandleader, is mobilizing this new concept to his own benefit despite the opposition of numerous religious leaders to it and to preemptive warfare as well.

The current notion of messianiasm, divorced from its judeo-christian roots, is secularizing itself and has adopted an uniquely American style. For example, the US film industry, in producing films like Deep Impact which exalt US superpower, is a formidable means of communicating Bush’s political messianism.

Fath says the transformation is not irreversible. The Christian faith of George Bush could even become a safety net, because the President firmly believes in the utopia of a transcendent God to which even America, like everyone else, must submit. His faith is after all a form of self-restraint.

Mr. Fath ended his presentation with a paradox. Never before has a president (George W. Bush) displayed so much newborn Protestant faith with such zeal for publicity. However, never has the civic religion which Bush is promoting been further from Christianity. He was elected thanks to voters of every faith. He leads a project which conflicts in many ways with churchly rhetoric.

Monday, June 27, 2005

27 June 2005 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Four civilians were killed and 33 wounded in the explosion of a booby-trapped car near a market.

Baghdad. Two Iraqis were killed in a rebel attack. A third Iraq was killed and his wife wounded in an explosion near their car.

Baghdad. Seven Iraqis were killed when mortar fire struck a restaurant.

Baïji. Three Iraqi petroleum workers were killed in a bomb blast.

Baghdad. The Committee of Iraqi Ulema announced the arrest by Iraqi forces of its Information Officer, Omar Raghab.

Erbil. Kurdistan Prime Minister Nichirvan Barzani says there has been a massive roundup of alleged "terrrorists" across Kurdistan.

Abu Ghraib. The Americans will expand the capacity of Abu Ghraib prison by 25%. Two annexes, each holding 400 prisoners, will be finished by July 2005.

Baghdad. Tarek Aziz says that Saddam Hussein alone decided to crush the Shi'a insurrection in March 1991.

22:40 Washington. Halliburton has overcharged the Defense Department by more than $1 billion.

22:29 Baghdad. The Unified Mujahedeen Leadership, with which 15 rebel groups are affiliated, said they would never negotiate with the Americans and denied having had contacts with them.

Baghdad. There is massive corruption in most Iraqi government ministries as a legacy of Saddam Hussein's era, the Iraqi anti-corruption commission has said. Arrest warrants on fraud charges have been issued for two former ministers in the Iraqi interim government. Former Labour minister, Layla Abdul Lateef, has denied wrongdoing. The former transport minister, Louay Hatem al-Eris, is out of the country.

18:36 Baghdad. Iraq's new constitution must set equality between men and women, said Iraqi MP Mariem Al-Raes on Monday, as a U.S.-based group warned that it was a «critical» time to ensure that women's rights are upheld.

18:51 Baghdad. A car bomb blew up in eastern Baghdad Monday killing at least four people people and injuring another 16, police and government officials said. The bomb exploded between the al-Bida'a cinema and the Sunni Arab al-Samarraie mosque in the eastern district of New Baghdad. The area is packed with small shops and markets The bomber was thought to have targeted a U.S. convoy.

19:29 Beirut. The new Lebanese parliament will meet for the first time tomorrow. Nabih Berri, leader of the Shi'ite Amal militia and an opponent of the disarmament of Hezbollah, is expected to be elected Speaker.

19:42 Washington. Recent US statements on Iraq are contradictory. Although insurgency is declared in the "last throes" by Vice President Dick Cheney, the United States is unwilling to specificy a schedule for troop pullout.

19:30 Washington. George W. Bush will try to convince Americans of the necessity of keeping troops in Iraq. Bush will travel to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to give a speech to the nation on Tuesday.

19:28 Golan Heights. Israeli military unit comes under mortar fire from Syrian territory in the Qouneitra sector, under UN observation.

19:26 Washington. Victory of ultraconservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raises US skepticism over negotiations between the EU and Iran on the nuclear issue. EU Foreign Minister Javier Solana says the EU has adopted a "wait and see" mode.

19:23 Washington. US keeps its distance from Iraq government. President George W. Bush tells Premier al-Jaafari that It's your country, not ours.

19:15 London. Premier al-Jaafari says two years are more than sufficient to establish security in Iraq.

15:38 Istanbul. The World Tribunal on Iraq accused the USA and Great Britain of war crimes and of reconstruction profiteering in Iraq.

15:27 Baghdad. A US Apache AH-64 combat helicopter was shot down not far from Taji, northwest of Baghdad. The two crewmembers perished.
15:16 London. Prime Minister Tony Blair says Britain supports the inclusion of the largest number of persons in the Iraqi political process.

14:22 Jerusalem. Israeli soldier found guity on manslaughter in the deat of British activist Tom Hurndall, 22. Relatives of Hurndall were forbidden entry to the court-martial, which took place in Kastina in southern Israel

12:41 New York. Oil hits $60.64 per barrel.

10:52 Baghdad. US military helicopter crashes. A Task Force Baghdad helicopter crashed in al-Mishahda, 40 km north of Baghdad.

10:48 Washington. The US has prepared a plan to freeze funds on deposit in the United States of firms and individuals connected to Iran, North Korea and Syria.

10:38 New York. Oil hits $60.50 per barrel following the election of ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.

10:13 Baghdad. Baghdad Airport reopened to traffic on Monday. Paul Simington, head of Middle Eastern operations for Global Strategies Group, says his company had suspended work due to non-payment of contractual fees for several months. Iraqi Transportation Minister Salam al-Maliki says the situation has been resolved.

09:59 Baghdad. Firemen achieve hero status. Fire Chief Col. Abdel Karim Zayer says that firemen are often caught in crossfire between rebels and Iraqi forces. Zayer says firemen have been warned by guerrillas not to intervene in attacks targeting American troops.

09:04 Gaza. Israeli settlers erect an illegal settlement overnight. Settlers erect tents and call the settlement Tal Yam.

08:25 Baghdad is like Chicago in the times of Al Capone. Rebels attacked a barber shop, killing a policeman, in the al-Jadidah quarter, a multienthnic district. The barber and an 11 year-old child were also killed. Before leaving, rebels placed an explosive charge and set it off as they left the premises.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Gaza Pullout Will Derail the Roadmap

Go read this editorial in The Guardian by the eminent Avi Shlaim of St Antony's College, Oxford.

And if you have the time, do consider visiting Joshua Landis' for a collection of articles on Torture and other Hypocrisies where Shlaim's article is also posted.

Ahmadinejad and the Shadow of Things to Come

Il Corriere della Sera's Franco Venturini has written a thoughtful editorial on the consequences of the election of hardliner Mahmud Ahmadinejad as President of Iran. Added to the risk of a military strike on Iran on the part of the US is the chance that Ahmadinejad could use Iran's historic influence in Iraq to break up that country, leading to certain civil war.

Not Only Bush But The West Has Lost

More opportunistic than moderate, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was unable to import the LePen factor, which kept Chirac in the Elysée Palace, to Iran. This time, there was no coalition of reform-minded voters able to deliver a rap on the snout and bar the way to ultraconservative Mahmud Ahmadinejad. No argument for democracy was able to overcome the alliance of clerics and the underprivileged social classes on which Mayor of Teheran was counting.

Thus was a man with admitted nostalgia for Khomeini and Khomeinism, a leading supporter of the Pasdaran, a lay purist and hard-liner who desires an exemplary, developed and powerful Islamist society elected to lead Iran. Obviously, the defeated Rafsanjani has plenty of noble company. Exiting the Iranian presidential campaign defeated is the entire West, which had hoped to open a path towards modernization, wagered on gradual secularization of Iranian society and politics, desired a liberalized economy (instead, the new President promises to favor the national oil company) and wished for the full reinstatement of Teheran into the international community. But if it is a bitter pill for everyone, some have more trouble swallowing it than others. I’m thinking here of George Bush’s America, worthily engaged in spreading democracy throughout the world as the preferred instrument in the war on terror.

To counter the stinging blow of the Iranian setback, Washington responds with well-grounded accusations of fraud, but wasn’t fraud apparent in the Iraqi and Afghani elections, which were celebrated without much attention being paid to irregularities? From the beginning there was always the risk that values would be sacrificed in the service of political aims and now it is difficult to distinguish good elections from bad. Then there’s Iraq. One year after the transfer of sovereignty the situation on the ground has worsened and the attempt to build a democratic Iraqi is now traversing a very delicate phase: the Shi’a and the Kurds are trying to involve the Sunni in the drafting of the new Constitution, but all three groups are riven by internal divisions. Contemporaneously, US public opinion shows signs of fatigue and the list of countries withdrawing their troops lengthens. And so, what role will be played by the hawk Ahmadinejad inside Iraqi Shi’ite majority, which so far has been guided to reason by Ayatollah Sistani? He certainly has the ability to throw oil on the fire. Especially if his hyper-nationalistic vision causes him support the territorial dismemberment of Iraq, leading to civil war.

So the ball is dramatically back in Bush’s court. Even the European Union has taken a beating. The Anglo-French-German (an interesting combination for these times) effort to dissuade Iran from its uranium enrichment program did not deliver any concrete results prior to the elections. And it is even less likely to do so now that Ahmadinejad has risen to power, without taking into account that all segments of Iranian society are united in the defense of the nuclear program (said to be for civilian purposes). Russia has already offered to continue its nuclear cooperation with Teheran. From European capitals calls are heard urging the finalization of nuclear negotiations with Iran but the USA, which never really had much faith in the success of the European effort, now has even more reasons to insist on the imposition of United Nations sanctions on Iran. But what if the sanctions don’t work? What if Ahmadinejad turns out to be the intransigent that he has always been held to be? What if the specter of Islamic terrorism materializes with access to the bomb? Then the military option will inevitably be returned to the table, assuming it had ever been off. With its thousands of operational unknowns coupled with the risk of setting off a firestorm throughout the Gulf or even across the entire Middle East. Human rights on the inside, Iraq and the nuclear issue on the outside--these are the tests awaiting the new Iranian president and doubtlessly the agenda of the G-8 which will meet in Scotland 10 days from now. It’s too soon to have any answers. But nervousness and fear of the worst have already gripped the West.

26 June 2005 Events in Iraq

Kabul. Afghanistan rejects Russian accusations of supporting terrorism. On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin qualified the efficiency of Afghanistan's effort in the war on terror as "extremely weak."

Amman. Jordan forbids publication of novel written by Saddam Hussein. The Official Press and Publications Department head, Ahmad al-Qodah, says the novel will not be pubished to safeguard relations between Jordan and Iraq.

Baghdad. 14th of July to be national holiday, commemorating the 14 July 1958 coup d' État overthrowing the monarchy installed by the British.

23:59 Rafah. A group of Palestininas fired at Israeli checkpoints near Rafah on the Egyptian border. No injuries reported.

Karbala. Nine Shi'ite shepherds were killed after they went into Sunni territory to sell their sheep.

23:51 Najaf. Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdel Mehdi, a Shi'a, discounted the significance of the reported US attempt to negotiate with the rebels. It is not the first time that they have met.

22:59 Washington. General John Abizaid says the US military knows the whereabouts of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.

20:01 Gaza. 20 Israeli settlers injured in clashes with Israeli Army.

20:46 Cairo. Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi says says that his group has not been contacted by the United States for talks.

21:58 Beirut. Lebanese President Emile Lahoud denies that Syria was behind the recent assassinations in Lebanon.

21:51 Gaza. Israeli settlers clashed with the Israeli military, who were to demolish structures in Shirat Ha Yam, a settlement in the Gaza Strip to be evacuated. Settlers attempted to block bulldozers and demolition equipment.

21:45 Jerusalem. The Israeli Labour Party Central Committee decided to postpone its party primary sine die because of fraud and infighting.

17:27 Teheran. Hardline president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday Iran would press ahead with its controversial nuclear programme and said the Islamic Republic had no real need for ties with arch-foe, the United States. Ahmadinejad insists the nuclear program is to meet soaring demand for electricity. We need this technology for energy and medical purposes. We shall carry on with it, Ahmadinejad said in his first news conference

16:54 Washington. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday it may take as long as 12 years to defeat Iraqi insurgents and that Iraqi security forces will finish the job because U.S. and foreign troops will have left the country. Rumsfeld, addressing a question about whether U.S. troops levels are adequate to vanquish the increasingly violent resistance, said, We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency. That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years.

17:23 Baghdad. The Special Iraqi Tribunal circulated video files showing the interrogation of six of Saddam Hussein's lieutenants, including his half-brothers Watban and Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti as well as Ayad Fouttayeh Khalifa al-Rawi, commander of the "Army of Jerusalem." Two Ba'ath Party officials, Latif Nassif Jassem and Mohammad Zoumam Abdelrazaq were also questioned on ethnic cleansing in Kirkuk. Mr. Khalifa and Mohsen Khodr Abbas were questioned on their role in the events of 1991 during the Shi'a insurrection.

17:22 Washington. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says prisoners at Guantanamo prison camp are treated humainly.

16:54 Teheran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he will allow private Iranian investors to participate in the oil sector.

16:48 Kuwait. Two weathy Gulf states known for their lukewarm relations with Iran recognize the "popular choice" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia congratulate Ahmadinejad on his victory. Syria, an Iranian ally, sends its congratulates. Meanwhile Israel sounds the alarm bell.

16:46 Baghdad. US embassy sources confirm meeting between rebels and a US delegation made up of a military presentative, a CIA representative, a member of Congress and an Embassy staff member in Balad.

16:22 Washington. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld predicts revolt by Iranian women and students. [In his dreams--Nur]

16:04 Dubai. In an Internet communiqué, Ansar Al-Sunna says it has no contacts with the US military.

15:39 Washington. Defense Department confirms contacts with rebels as reported in The Sunday Times.

14:12 Mosul. 36 are dead and 19 wounded in triple suicide bombings.

13:08 Baghdad. Bomb kills US one soldier and wounds two others.

13:03 Mosul. Third suicide bombing kills four and wounds nine. Rebels target police bureau in Mosul University Hospital annex.

12:26 Baghdad. Suicide attack at Iraqi Army base at Kasak, west of the city, kills 16.

10:06 Baghdad. A woman and two children are killed in a mortar blast in Baghdad's Baladiyat district. A third child was injured.

09:23 Kirkuk. Suicide dog attack. An Iraqi police officer was wounded by a dog wearing a suicide vest.

09:06 Tokyo. USA asks Japan to keep troops in Iraq. The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun says Japanese officials are considering a US request to extend the Japanese mission in Iraq beyond December 2005.

08:24 Teheran. Less than 24 hours after the close of the polls in Iran, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani accuses clerics in office of having illegally interfered in the national presidential election.

08:14 Baghdad. Police colonel killed. Col. Riad Abdel Karim was shot dead in front of his home in the Mashal district of Baghdad.

07:42 Mosul. Death toll rises to five in police barracks blast.

07:07 Mosul. Blast a police barracks kills three and wounds four.

05:09 Baghdad. Secret negotiations between guerrillas and US military. The British newspaper The Sunday Times reports negotiations between US forces and Iraqi insurgents held in mid-June in Balad.

00:17 Kabul. Explosion at munitions dump kills two German troops and six Afghani workers. The blast took place 300 km northeast of Kabul.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

25 June 2005 Events in Iraq

Mosul. A gunbattle between US troops and rebels is reported as lasting three hours.

Tal Afar. Three bombings reported. US tanks and helicopters are involved in the clashes following the detonations. Al-Zarqawi claims five US troops were killed.

Mosul. A suicide carbomb targeted a convoy escorting the provincial police chief. Four escorts were killed.

22:42 Ramadi. Rebels seized control of a police station in Ramadi, killing 8 police.

Kirkuk. Four police were killed by a suicide carbomb. Meanwhile, a woman and her two children died when a mortar shell landed on her house.

Ramadi. The bodies of eight police officers were found this morning. They had been abducted the day before.

Baghdad. The body of Fadel Awda al-Louaibi, a member of the Sadr City municipal council, was found dead. He was abducted yesterday.

Baghdad. Gangs of thieves and insurgents have installed a reign of terror south of the city. The bodies of five Shi'ite shop owners were found near a creek.

Baghdad. The Oil Ministry has announced the sabotage of an oil pipeline linking southern oilfields with the refinery at Doura in south Baghdad, provoking a blaze which was extinguished Saturday afternoon.

21:50 Baghdad. A group linked to Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi claims that the "muhajedeen are stronger than ever" as al-Jaafari meets Bush in Washington.

21:19 Baghdad. Five die and seven wounded in mortar attack on a marketplace in the Shola quarter of Baghdad.

21:15 Baghdad. US forces have arrested Ezzat Ibrahim, Saddam's former right-hand man.

22:21 Cairo. Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has urged Egypt to expand its role in supporting Iraq on a visit to the Egyptian capital.

20:59 Riyadh. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf met with Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah ben Abdel Aziz, before travelling to Mecca on a pilgrimage. Musharraf is proposing reforms to the Organization of Islamic Conferences.

20:28 Baquba. The governor of a Kurdish provinces has proposed deploying Peshmerga guerrilla fighters to combat Sunni extremists. The proposal was made during a governors' conference in Baquba, capital of Diyala Province.

19:56 Rafah. More than 2,500 Palestinians are blocked on the Egyptian side of the border with Israel in the Gaza Strip. Israel claims there is a threat of suicide bombings.

17:12 Samarra. At least 11 are dead and 20 wounded in two suicide carbombs. One carbomb detonated in front of the home of an officer of the Iraqi Security Forces. A second detonated in the same area.

17:21 Teheran. The Teheran stock market is hopeful that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, once in power, will adopt policies favorable to investment.

17:11 Istanbul. The World Tribunal on Iraq established by NGOs to protest the war and occupation in Iraq continued its sessions on Saturday in Istanbul with testimony from Iraqis which painted a somber portrait of the attitude of US troops. "Today Iraq is a vast prison" said Iraqi lawyer Amal Sawadi, before describing in detail the arrest procedure used by US troops. They come into your house at night when everyone is asleep, blow open the door with explosives. They point their gunbarrels in people's faces. They frisk women in front of their families and break everything inside the home. Lawyers cite difficulties in obtaining information on imprisoned women. Ms. Sawadi narrated numerous instances of rape and humiliation inside US detention camps. Ms. Sawadi says torture is systematic. The fifteen jurors heard live and recorded testimony and viewed shocking photos of pockets of resistance such as Fallujah. At night, there was so much bombardment that it could have been daylight, recounts Fadhil Al Bedrani, correspondant for al-Jazeera TV and the only journalist to have been on the scene during two US assaults on Fallujah in April and November 2004. Al-Bedrani told the story of a 70 year-old woman who died because it was impossible to find medication inside the besieged city, suffocating in the stink of abandoned corpses, half-devoured by animals. Al-Bedrani called the assault on the city of 150,000 "genocide". Participants in the World Tribunal on Iraq observed two minutes of silence for the victims of the occupation in Iraq, while militants unfurled a banner hundreds of meters long with photos of Iraqi children killed or wounded in the war. Established by 200 NGOs and intellectuals after the start of the war in 2003, the WTI has organized twenty sessions throughout the world. The session in Istanbul began on Thursday.

16:41 Baghdad. Baghdad Airport has been closed indefinitely in a dispute over payment for security. The British company that provides security to the airport, Global, has withdrawn its services in what it says is a contractual dispute. Military flights, however, are not affected.

07:01 Fallujah. A suicide car bomber and gunmen ambushed a convoy carrying female U.S. Marines in Fallujah, killing two Marines and leaving another four American troops presumed dead. At least one woman was killed and 11 of 13 wounded were female. The terror group al-Qaida in Iraq on Friday claimed it carried out the bombing, one of the single deadliest attacks against the Marines and against women in this country. The Marines were returning to their base, Camp Fallujah, when the ambush took place Thursday night near the eastern entrance to the city, 40 miles west of Baghdad. Lance Cpl. Holly A. Charette, 21, from Cranston, Rhode Island, died in the attack, the Defense Department said Friday. Cpl. Chad Powell, 22, from northern Louisiana also perished in the attack. Powell s leaves behind a wife and a 3-year-old son, Elijah.

06:30 Teheran. Ultraconservative Ahmadinejad has been elected President of Iran. He is the first non-cleric to hold the office.

06:14 Washington. President George W. Bush is camped on his positions and promises military and political support to the Iraq government. The President foresees determined combat in the months to come.

05:47 Washington. US State Department says Iran is out of step with freedom on the march across the Middle East.

05:26 Teheran. Mayor of the capital wins Iranian presidential election. 48 year-old Mahmoud Ahmadinejad beats Akbar Hashemi Rafsandjani in runoff election.

04:43 London. The Anglican Church has adopted a motion to review its investments in Israel. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, proposed the unanimous motion. The resolution requires Anglican churches to pressure firms with holdings in Israel and in the Gaza Strip to reconsider their actions.

04:36 Teheran. Ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to adopt "pure" and hardened stance concerning individual freedoms, the USA, and the nuclear question. USA: The Americans broke of diplomatic relations to pressure Iran and now want to renew them for the same reason. Nuclear question: Iran will not abandon its rights under imperialistic pressures. Women: Women have the right to veil or not. We prefer not to have a sexist attitude. Individual liberty: We didn't fight a revolution in the name of democracy. Economics: Our government will aid the disadvantaged. Institutions. A courageous government, faithful to God, is what we should have. Personal enrichment. I live on a schoolteacher's salary and that is enough for me.

Friday, June 24, 2005

24 June 2005 Events in Iraq (and Elsewhere)

Ramallah. Hundreds of supporters of Islamic Jihad carried out an illegal protest in Ramallah, hurling insults at the Palestinian Authority and burning an Israeli flag. Police broke up the demonstration.

Jerusalem. Agriculture Minister announces a plan to double the number of settlers in the Jordan Valley (currently 6,300 in 21 settlements).

Bilin (West Bank). Israeli forces shot rubber bullets at Israeli and foreign demonstrators protesting the security wall. Five were wounded.

Jenin. Palestinian security forces arrest armed activists. One police officer was killed.

Ottawa. Brawl at Israeli Embassy. Embassy workers fought for reasons related to the former and current Ambassadors to Canada, Haïm Dibon and Alen Baker.

Beirut. Funeral for slain journalist George Hawi. Thousands jam the streets of Beirut in a rose petal-strewn funeral procession for George Hawi. The entire Lebanese political community was present.

Cairo. Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni authority, has authorized the publication of a 1830 book by President Bush's great-great-grandfather, Reverend George Bush, in which he declares Mohammed an imposter and Muslims "heretics". The tiny publishing house of Book Tree reprinted the book in 2002.

Washington. The United States has stepped up its campaign to isolate Syria from the international community.

Fallujah. Tensions are high as the populace is ordered to remain indoors by US troops [however few they are--Nur]

Gaza. Israeli police and army units prepare to assault the Maoz Ha Yam hotel in the Neve Dekalim settlement where dozens of ultraconservative settlers are barricaded to protest the evacuation of the Gaza Strip.

Siniya. Two Iraqis were killed and four wounded by morter shells which fell in a US military base in the area of Siniya, near Baïji, 200 km north of Baghdad.

Mosul. Two civilians were killed and four wounded, victims of a drive-by shooting at a bus stop.

Mosul. Four armed men were killed when they attempted to place a roadside bomb between Touz and Tikrit.

Mosul. A police lieutenant and a civilian were killed east of Mosul in a drive-by shooting. However, hospital sources say five people were wounded.

Samarra. US soldiers killed an insurgent.

Kirkuk. Three police were wounded by a roadside bomb which struck their convoy.

Khan Bani Saad. Police discovered the bullet-ridden and decapitated corpses of five brothers and a cousin, all Shi'ites. A relation of the men, Mahmoud al-Tamimi, says he saw three vehicles with loudspeakers and passengers dressed in military uniform who said they were part of a police rapid reaction team dispatched to search the home of the slain civilians. Al-Tamimi says they were taken away and shot. We went to the police and they told us they hadn't sent out a patrol during the night.

Doulouhiya. Iraqi police recovered the corpses of four bound and gagged police who had be shot to death.

Karbala. Police found the bodies of a woman and her two children who had been shot to death.

Latifiyah. Two police were wounded by gunfire as they were returing to Karbala.

Baghdad. A bomb went off as a U.S. military convoy was passing on Canal highway near Baghdad's Sadr City.

Baghdad. Clashes between police and insurgents. One policeman was killed and a soldier was abducted in west Baghdad.

Washington. Iraqi Premier Ibrahim Jaafari said that the Iraqi Special Tribunal is wasting time. Jaafari tells the Senate Foreign Relations Comitee says that he has spoken with the principal judge to speed things up towards a trial of Saddam Hussein, for whom, according to Jaafari, there is no crime which Saddam Hussein hasn't committed. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Abdel Hussein al-Shandal says the trial will not start before 2006.

23:38 Teheran. After 8.6 million votes have been counted, conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is leading with 61.2% of the vote. There are 47 million Iranian voters.

21:00 Fallujah. CBS reports that five women Marines were killed in today's suicide bombing. Among the missing are 2 Marines and one US sailor.

22:46 Teheran. Both candidates declare victory. Both Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and radical conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have claimed victory in the second round of Iran's presidential elections. A source close to Rafsanjani, Mohammad Atrianfar, said that he had won the elections with 55% of the vote and that a victory by Ahmadinejad wound be synonymous with fraud. We know that there have been massive irregulariites to intimidate voters and that the Bassidj militias have played a role. Reform candidates accused the Guardians of the Revolution and the Bassidj militia of committing acts of voter fraud during the first round of the elections. A source close to the Ministry of Interior said women were kept from voting in north Teheran, a Rafsanjani bastion. Rafsanjani supporters fear that a victory by Ahmadinejad will lead to a return to the severity witnessed at the start of the Islamic Revolution.

21:49 Teheran. Five representatives of ultra-conservative presidential candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on the Ministry of the Interior to ensure that there is no fraud in vote-counting. They also objected to the extension by one hour of all polling stations. Meanwhile, the ultra-conservative newspaper Kayhan has already printed its Saturday edtiion with the news of a victory by Mr. Ahmadinejad.

21:53 New York. Oil edged up again towards $60 per barrel.

21:39 Washington. Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski criticized the tactical and strategic incompentence in the management of the war on Iraq. Brzezinski has asked Bush for a "plan setting out the principal elements of a strategy for success in Iraq." Patriotism and love of country do not demand an endless sacrifice from our troops in a war justified by slogans. The country deserves an honest explanation of how we have come to find ourselves in Iraq. And we deserve a realistic assessment of success in a war which is looking more and more like a quagmire. America is more isolated than ever, and it the object of unprecedented international defiance. [And this is from the man who suggested sending Bin Laden to Afghanistan. Like he can claim any high ground!--Nur].

18:02 Washington. Bush says there is no timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

17:24 Baghdad. A representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani was killed along with two of his bodyguards. Samir al-Baghdadi, who was in a convoy travelling from the Doura quarter to the al-Jadida district, was killed. A third bodyguard is seriously wounded. There is no comment from the offices of Ayatollah Sistani.

17:18 Teheran. Voting had ended in the second round of the Iranian presidential election. The polls were kept open an extra hour.

16:58 Fallujah. Two US marines were killed, thirteen are wounded wounded and four are missing after a suicide bombing in Fallujah. Some of the casualties are women.

16:07 Milan. Italian justice official Guido Salvini says the kidnapping of Abu Omar [off the streets of Milan by the CIA] was "not only illegal, violating Italy's sovereignty, but a nefarious act and damaging to the war on terrorism. If CIA agents hadn't acted jumped the gun, it is likely that "Abu Omar would have faced legitimate legal procedures conducted by Italian magistrates." Salvini added that in consideration of the high level of professionalism of Italian investigators and investigation agencies, important revelations concerning the recruitment of militants and Islamic fundamentalism would have been uncovered.

15:59 Teheran. The Minister of the Interior is investigating possible voting irregularities and has suspended balloting at several voting stations. A student press agency, ISNA, reported the presence of Islamist militia members inside polling stations.

15:30 London. Ahead of the G-8 meeting in Gleneagles, Condoleezza Rice said in an interview published in the London Arab daily, Asharq al-Awsat, that the United States does not intend to topple the Syrian regime. In a separate interview with al-Hayat, Rice said she hoped Egypt would not disappoint the international community and the Egyptian people in the way it will run the upcoming election.

15:50 Najaf. Students arrested in Najaf. A group of students was arrested by local police for wearing jeans and having long hair. Spokesman Mohammed Jassim said the arrests occurred two weeks ago. Najaf police contested the statement by the students. We haven't taken away anyone's liberty. We arrested them but when we realized that they were students, we let them go with a warning, said Col Nadjah Yassir, Commander of the Tho Alfakar Brigades.

15:27 Damascus. Syria had adopted a conciliatory tone towards accusations by Washington, Paris and London on its alleged role in the destabilization of Lebanon. Syria also invited credentialed diplomats in Syria to vist the border with Iraq, where monitoring has been stepped up.

15:20 Istanbul. The World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI), an organization created by NGOs and world notables to condemn the war on Iraq and the occupation, held its first session criticizing the United States. With two wars and 13 years of criminal sanctions, the United States are responsible for more deaths in Iraq than Saddam Hussein, said US reporter Larry Everest, one of the "lawyers" responsible for arguing the case against the USA. The foreman of the jury, Indian novelist Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things, declared that The proof gathered by this tribunal should be used by the International Criminal Court, whose jurisdiction is not recognized by the United States.

15:10 Ramallah. During a visit to the Palestinian territories, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon announced a million dollar grant to equip Palestinian schools with computers.

14:48 Fallujah. A convoy of marines was struck by a suicide carbomb in Fallujah. Casualties are reported.

13:58 Milan. Arrest warrant for Abu Omar. A warrant for the ex-imam of the Milan mosque, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, has been issued by Guido Salvini, the Milan Investigating Magistrate. Yesterday Magistrate Chiara Nobili issued 13 arrest warrents for 13 CIA agents in Italy. A second senior Italian investigator said it was possible that the government had approved the operation because the C.I.A. operatives had operated openly and without apparent concern about being detected. The American agents used their Italian cellphones at the precise moment Mr. Nasr was abducted; they kept the phones switched on for hours at a time, making it easier to track their movements; and they dialed many phone numbers in the United States, most of them in northern Virginia, including at least one number at agency headquarters.

13:29 Mosul. Woman is killed. A mortar attack missed a police academy and landed on a residence, killing an Iraqi woman.

06:29 Washington. Premier Ibrahim Jaafari attacked al-Jazeera TV and other Arab media, accusing them of giving a false impression of disorder in Iraq and of encouraging terrorism.

05:05 Washington. Iraqi Premier Ibrahim Jaafari estimates that significant progress has been made in reducing the number of insurgent attacks, adding that the American people should be proud of their contribution in liberating Iraq.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

23 June 2005 Events In Iraq

From L'Orient-Le Jour on some reality-revealing moments during her recent tour of the Middle East: Earlier in the week Condoleezza Rice addressed a select audience at the American University of Cairo on US foreign policy goals for the region. The audience sat in stone cold silence until applause erupted when a member of the audience shouted, Isn't it about time that someone apologize for profaning the Koran? Afterwards, during a joint press conference, Egyptian Foreign Minister criticized the United States for prisoner abuse at its detention centers inside Iraq. In a press conference following the visit of Condoleezza Rice to Saudi Arabia, Prince Saoud al-Faisal dryly told reporters that Saudi Arabia would not accept reforms imposed from abroad.

From the AFP: US lawmakers warn Iraqi officials that without progress on the political front, US troops may leave Iraq. Democratic Senator Carl Levin, Number 2 on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the schedule for drafting the Iraqi Constitution must be maintained or the US may rethink its presence. Levin made the statement in the presence of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. We must show the Iraqis that our willingness to bear the burden for security has its limits. Shouldn't we send a message that there will be consequences if progress is not made?, offered Senator Sandra Collins. [What's humorous is that the Senate doesn't want to blame itself for handing warpowers to the worst.president.ever, so it is threatening Jaafari.--Nur]

Baghdad. At least 32 are dead and 50 wounded in quadruple carbombing. The series of bombings started with a suicide carbomber who rammed a police patrol, killing 24. The second blast occurred in a busy street, crowded with shoppers. The third carbomb targeted a Turkish bath (hammam) and the fourth the Karradah Mosque, which is Shi'ite. Meanwhile, the United Nations released a report saying that 300 Iraq civilians have been killed or wounded by landmines or cluster bombs in four of Iraq's eighteen provinces.

New York. US 'stalling UN Guantanamo visit'. Investigators from the United Nations have accused the US of stalling over their repeated requests to visit detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The UN said for over a year there had been no response to its requests to check on the condition of detainees. This suggested the US was "not willing to co-operate with the United Nations human rights machinery," the team said.

London. At the G8 meeting in London, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice again criticized Syria for insufficiently monitoring its border. Meanwhile General John Abizaid said in a Senate Armed Forces Committee meeting that there are more insurgents present in Iraqi now than six months ago and that Syria was responsible. Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the US can win the war.

Damascus. Syria to demand proof from Iraq. Damascus has asked Baghdad to supply proof of the US accusations against it.

Amman. Saddam Hussein to publish swashbuckling adventure novel. The novel, Out With the Accursed Scoundrel, will be published in Jordan, reports the newspaper al-Arab. The plot: A hero, a heroine and an Arab swordsman overthrow a corrupt ruler. The Hussein family lawyer, Ziad Najdawi, says extracts from the novel have been reprinted in the Arab press. Saddam Hussein published a prior adventure novel entitled, Zabiba, the King and the Impregnable Fortress.

Damascus. Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari met with two Iraqi ministers in Damascus this month, the first such announced meeting between senior Syrian and Iraqi officials since July 2004, when former caretaker Prime Minister Iyad Allawi visited Damascus to discuss cooperation, especially on security.

23:59 Washington. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday he planned to visit Syria in a bid to ease tensions and urged Washington to keep up pressure on Damascus to stop insurgents crossing the border, officials who attended the meeting said. Jaafari said Iran should not interfere in Iraq's internal affairs, and said Baghdad's relations with the United States would remain strong even if Washington confronted Tehran militarily over its nuclear ambitions, the officials said.

23:58 New York. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants to transfer US$200 million in oil-for-food revenue to the Development Fund for Iraq and use another US$20 million to pay Iraq's past U.N. dues. This would still leave over $125 million in the account to pay for activities of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). Security Council approval of the proposal was virtually certain.

22:53 Washington. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, accused Syria of having knowledge of foreign fighters passing through its territory heading for Iraq.

23:57 Washington. The White House as closed ranks around Presidential Advisor Karl Rove against calls for his resignation. Rove blamed the Democrats of undermining the war on terror and American efforts in Iraq. Senator John Kerry is among those calling for Rove's ouster.

23:57 London. US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice obtained the support of the foreign ministers of the G8 on the Syrian question. The State Department believes Syrian intelligence agents are still inside Lebanon.

23:56 Washington. Vice President repeated his assertion that the Iraqi insurrection is in its last throes.

23:56 Washington. Defense officials have placed the draft out of consideration. The idea that we should go back to mandatory military service is a terrible mistake, said Centcom Commander General John Abizaid.

23:52 Washington. Iraqi Premier Ibrahim al-Jafari met with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and other lawmakers.

23:40 Washington. US lawmakers warn Iraqi officials that without progress on the political front, US troops may leave Iraq. Democrat Senator Carl Levin, Number 2 on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the schedule for drafting the Iraqi Constitution must be maintained or the US may "rethink its presence." Levin made the statement in the presence of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. We must show the Iraqis that our willingness to bear the burden for security has its limits. Shouldn't we send a message that there will be consequences if progress is not made?, offered Senator Sandra Collins.

22:00 Baghdad. In the day's main political development, a list of 15 Sunni Arabs was approved Thursday by a group of 50 Sunni Arab religious, tribal and political leaders who met in Iraq's old parliament building in downtown Baghdad. The 15 men and a single representative from Iraq's small Sabian community will sit on a special committee that will be formed in tandem with an existing 55-member Constitutional drafting committee exclusively made up of elected legislators. The 71-member group will take decisions through consensus and send them to the other group for ratification.

20:29 New York. Oil hits $60 per barrel.

18:40 Hillah. Slovakian troops kill Iraqi civilian. Slovakian troops fired a warning shot into a vehicle as it passed their convoy heading for Camp Charlie, killing the driver, says Slovakian Defense Minister Zenon Mikle.

18:23 Touz. Booby-trapped car kills one and wounds ten. A booby-trapped carbomb was set off remotely near a US covoy on the road to Touz, 175 km from Baghdad. One Iraq policeman was killed and 10 others wounded as they gathered around the demolished car. The blast slightly damaged US vehicles.

16:27 Rafah. Hundreds of Palestinians blocked at border. At least a thousand Palestinians attempting to cross into the Gaza Strip were blocked by Israeli forces. The Palestinians have been held up for three days and the number continues to grow. The crowd includes the elderly, the sick, pregnant women and children.

12:49 Baghdad. Abdullah Mohammad al-Rashood, a Saudi Islamic radical, was killed by a US airstrike on Qaim. The date of his death is unknown. Al-Rashood was one of 26 militants wanted by the Saudi government.

10:44 Baghdad. Seven rebels were killed this morning as they fired on a patrol during a joint US-Iraqi operation.

07:28 Baghdad. Death toll rises to 15 dead in a series of carbombings in the capital this morning. At least 50 are wounded.

06:47 Baghdad. Three carbombings take place in the Karradah business district. Three police are dead and two wounded.

06:19 Baghdad. Two blasts in the capital. Three are reported dead in blast in the Karada business district.

00:52 New York. Alexander Yakovlev, one of the heads of the UN's procurement office and involved in the Oil for Food scandal, resigned after Fox News accused him of attempting to place his son in a job with one of the suppliers with which Yakovlev dealt.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

22 June 2005 Events in Iraq

Madaïen. Two policeman killed.

Baghdad. A Sunni lawyer and his son were shot dead. The lawyer had declined an offer to participate in the drafting of the Iraqi Consitution as a representative of the Sunni community.

Kirkuk. The President of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, Saadeddin Arjej, escaped an assassination attempt.

Baghdad. US forces say they arrested 19 "suspected terrorists" north of the capital.

20:25 Tel-Aviv. Israeli and Palestinian security officials meet to discuss Gaza pullout.

20:22 Baghdad. A fourth carbomb detonates in Palestine Street in central Baghdad targeting an Interior Ministry convoy.

20:13 Brussels. The USA and Iraqi authorities pledged to investigate the disappearance of French reporter Fred Nérac in March 2003.

19:50 Baghdad. 18 persons were killed and 46 wounded in three simultaneous carbombs in northwest Baghdad. One carbomb detonated in front of the offices of Moqtada Sadr's movement. A second carbomb exploded in a parking lot while the third detonated in a street in the Shi'ite quarter of Shula.

19:34 Beirut. An FBI forensic team inspected the scene of the assassination of Georges Hawi.

19:31 Ottawa. The current Canadian Ambassador to Jordan, John Holmes, will double as non-resident Ambassador to Iraq while fulfilling his current function, said Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew.

19:00 Brussels. France insisted that it is the responsibility of the Iraqis themselves to rebuild their country and define their priorities.

18:49 Mosul. Three Iraqi civilians were killed and seven wounded in a carbombing is west Mosul. The carbomb was meant to strike a US military convoy.

18:42 New York. Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Israel of superfically investigating the deaths of Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli troops, who operate in a climate of impunity.

18:41 Paris. French MP Didier Julia in an interview on TV5 said the Iraqi insurgency is in need of cash and that it was likely that a ransom was paid for the release of French reporter Florence Aubenas.

18:35 Brussels. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called upon Damascus to assume its responsibilities in controlling the frontier with Iraq.

18:33 Brussels. Here are the main points of a declaration following the international conference on Iraq held in Brussels. 1) Support for the transitional government; 2) Support for a pluralistic, federal, unified and democratic Iraq; 3) A plea to all Iraqis to participate in the political process; 4) A plea to neighboring states to cooperate on border security; 5) Support for socio-economic progress; 6) A commitment to reduce Iraq's foreign debt and 7) The necessity of of obtaining the permission of a sovereign Iraq for a foreign military presence.

18:11 Baghdad. French correspondent Anne-Sophie Le Mauff says Iraqi officials have given her two days to leave the country. Le Mauff says the French Embassy is behind the order.

15:18 Brussels. The United States and the European Union urged Baghdad to involve the Sunni populace in reconstruction. Iraqi Premier Ibrahim al Jaafari issued a plea for international assistance to reconstruct his country and to fight the insurrection as a battle between "good and evil". Meanwhile, parliamentary Speaker Hadjem al Hassani, said Iraqis must cling to their national identity to overcome confessional strife.

15:17 Brussels. Egypt and Jordan have decided to post ambassadors in Baghdad.

14:51 Baghdad. A Sunni university professor and Islamic Party member was assassinated in front of his residence. Armed gunmen fired four shots at Abdel Sattar al-Khazraji, Professor of Engineering at the private Mesopotamia University, in a drive-by shooting.

14:49 Damascus. Syrian state radio denounces the rhetoric of Condoleezza Rice, who accused Damascus of being indirectly involved in the assassination of Lebanese communist Georges Hawi.

14h45 Brussels. Condoleezza Rice said she wants Saudia Arabia and Egypt to join the Quartet according to a report in the Saudi daily al-Watan.

14:41 Brussels. International community adopts a united front and put its support behind Iraq. The international community calls for an independent and democratic Iraq during a conference on Iraq in Brussels sponsored by the EU and the United States. Condoleezza Rice told Baghdad that it must beef up security and open its economic and political sysstem.

13:45 Ramadi. US soldier dies in combat.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

21 June 2005 Events in Iraq

New York. The entirety of Iraq included on list of endangered monuments. The World Monument Fund, based in New York, reports that hundreds of ancient monuments in Iraq are in peril. Organization President Bonnie Burnham says the entire cultural inheritance of the country is threatened.

Amman. Al-Arabiya reporter wounded in an attempted kidnapping has been transferred to a Jordanian hospital in critical condition. Jawad Kazem, 37, is partially paralyzed. Al-Arabiya had complained that US military authorities prevented an earlier evacuation of Mr. Kazem.

Brussels. Iraq pleads its case. Leaders and ministers from 85 nations and organizations converged on Brussels for an international conference on Iraq sponsored by the United States and the European Union. Meanwhile European diplomats caution that the conference is not meant to produce "grand new initiatives."

London. Latest casualty figures for Iraq. United States military: 1,722; Britain: 88; other nations 93. Iraqi military: 6,370; civilians 25,341.

Balad. A truck driver was shot dead as he exited a US military base.

Balad. Iraqi man killed as he was placing a roadside bomb.

Baïji. Clash between armed men and police kills two police and two civilians.

Shomeli. The corpse of an Iraqi civilian kidnapped three days ago was recovered.

Shorgat. Iraqi troops find the bodies of a businessman and an Iraqi soldier.

Bohruz. 40 alleged al-Qaeda members arrested. Weapons were also confiscated.

Moualha. 30 alleged al-Qaeda members arrested by Iraqi forces.

Baghdad. Security forces arrest al-Zarqawi lieutenant Hussein Alewi Khalil Ibrahim, aka Abu Ali.

Baquba. A policeman was shot dead in Baquba while going to work.

Rutbah A roadside bomb killed a U.S. soldier on patrol west of Rutbah, about 355 kilometers (220 miles) west of Baghdad and the road to neighboring Jordan, the military said. The soldier was assigned to 1st Corps Support Command.

23:58 A Turkish contractor was kidnapped and his captors demand that Ankara terminat all supply contracts with the US military.

23:04 Baghdad. Al Zarqawi has claimed credit for yesterday's suicide bombing in Arbil which killed 13.

23:03 Quito. Equatorian police claim that they dismantled a drug ring operating in Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and the United States financed by Hezbollah. [Do you think this deserves a guffaw?--Nur] Colonel Edison Ramos, chief of the anti-drug squad, insisted that Hezbollah received 70% of receipts and that most of the 19 persons arrested were Syrian or Lebanese. The police operation, dubbed Operation Damascus, was initiated in 2004, claims to have acquired "proof" of a direct link to the "criminal Hezbollah organization. The ring's kingpin, Rady Zaiter, a Lebanese living in Equator, was arrested last week in Bogota. The French government has requested his extradition.

22:55 Washington. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the assassinations of Hariri, Qassir and Hawi were targeted assassinations with the intent of intimidating the Lebanese and undermining progress towards a democratic future. McClellan repeated the charge that Syria was directly involved.

22:30 Beirut. Communist Party leader Khaled Hadad blamed Lebanese intelligence agents in the pay of Syria for the assassination of George Hawi. Meanwhile, the interim government of Najeeb Miqati resigned today to make way for the new Lebanese government.

22:21 Baghdad. Tariq Aziz testified before the Iraqi Special Tribunal today. His lawyer, Badee Izzat Aref, says Aziz rejected all charges against him.

22:19 Baghdad. The French Embassy claims to have no information on the reasons for the explusion of French reporter Anne-Sophie Le Mauff by the Iraqi authorities.

21:34 Rome. Remains of Salvatore Santoro returned to Italy. The body of British resident and Italian national Salvatore Santoro, killed in Iraqi in December, have arrived in Rome from Vienna. The body will undergo a forensic examination.

20:06 Jerusalem. Today's summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas achieved no progress in facilitating the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip or in advancing the peace process. It was a troubled meeting which did not meet our expectations, said Palestinian Premier Ahmed Qoreï, who attended the meeting at Sharon's residence. There was no positive reply to any of our proposals, said Qoreï, citing the reopenig of the Gaza airport, the release of 8,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel and the expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank. The meeting lasted an hour and a half and there was no handshake or communiqué. Impatient with Abbas' refusal to disarm Palestinian militants, Israeli troops arrested 52 Palestinians prior to the summit. Meanwhile, Sharon told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that any progress on the Road Map is conditioned upon the disarming of Palestinian radicals and "calm". However, Abbas hopes to involve the radicals in the political process and to integrate armed factions into Palestine's regular security forces.

20:16 Beirut. Thousands of people jammed the streets around the site of the assassination of George Hawi waving Communist and Lebanese banners and portraits of Hawi and Rafik Hariri. The protesters blamed Syria and Lebanese President Lahoud for the assassination.

19:51 Baghdad. French reporter expelled. The French Foreign Minister says reporter Anne-Sophie Le Mauff was expelled by the Iraqi authorities. Anne-Sophie Le Mauff reported in her 13 June dispatch to L'Humanité that the French Ambassador to Baghdad, Bernard Bajolet, asked her to leave Iraq for her own safety.

19:49 Rome. A lawyer for Saddam Hussein, Giovanni di Stefano, says that according to the current Iraqi Constitution, accepted by the United Nations, the Iraqi President enjoys judicial immunity.

19:34 Baghdad. Swedish hostage released. Ulf Hjertström, 63, a resident of Iraq for 14 years working in the petroleum sector, told a Swedish tabliod, Aftonbladet, that he was kidnapped on 25 March and held until 30 May. A ransom of 250,000 kroner was demanded by never paid. Hjertström said he was held with an Australian hostage

19:31 Brussels. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she did not expect any agreement on reducing Iraq's debt. US sources say that former dictator Saddam Hussein had accumulated a foreign debt of $110 billion.

19:22 Washington. The White House demands investigation into the death of Georges Hawi. Meanwhile Condoleezza Rice accused Damascus of indirect involvment in the assassination.

18:52 Ramallah. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qoreï stated that the result of today's summit between President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon is unsatisfactory.

18:43 Baghdad. Water purification plant sabotaged by RPG fire; Baghdad without potable water. The west bank of the capital is without water since Sunday as temperatures climb. The Taji pumping station was sabotaged by the guerrillas. Repairs are underway and the water supply is expected to resume tomorrow. Meanwhile many residents have moved in with friends and relatives on the east bank of the Tigris. Water trucks are supplying Yarmouk Hospital. Only 65% of residents are supplied with power and water on a regular basis.

18:37 Jerusalem. Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon agreed to transfer control of two West Bank towns to the Palestinian Authority if there is progress on the security front. Bethlehem and Kalkiliya are scheduled for transfer of authority within the next two weeks.

18:01 Baghdad. A French reporter says she has been threatened with explusion from Iraq, says Reporters Without Borders. Anne-Sophie Le Mauff told the organization that Iraqi authorities would not give her a reason for the expulsion, except to say it was ordered by the French government. Reporters Without Borders termed the explusion order unacceptable. Le Mauff has been working in Iraq for more than a year as a correspondent for the French newspapers L'Humanité and Sud-Ouest, as well as for Radio Monte-Carlo, Radio Vatican and Radio Canada.

17:58 Kuwait City. Kuwait granted $60 millions to Iraq for the repair of its infrastructures after a visit from Premier al-Jaafari, according to Kuweiti Foriegn Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah. In 2004 Kuwait agreed to substantially reduce the $16 billion debt owed by Iraq, however, the emirate intends to collect tens of billions of dollars in war reparations from Baghdad.

17:43 Beirut. US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman condemned the assassination of Communist leader Georges Hawi [Sheesh, how many tens of thousands of communist deaths was the US responsible for over the last 60 years? Anything for a casus belli against Syria.--Nur]

17:35 Beirut. Lebanese President Emile Lahoud denies charges that he was behind the assassination of George Hawi.

17:34 Landstuhl. A Bulgarian soldier, Marin Milev, died of his injuries in the US Military Hospital at Landstuhl. Milev's two colleagues were drowned after their armored vehicle ran off the road and sank in a canal 60 km southwest of Diwaniyah.

17:08 London. The Middle East "quartet" will meet in London on Thursday to discuss the peace process and Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza, a senior British official said on Tuesday.

17:14 Jerusalem. Around 50 people were injured when a passenger train went off the tracks after crashing into a truck in central Israel on Tuesday, police and medics said. Ambulances rushed to the scene to treat scores of casualties during the peak hour accident.

17:13 Beit Lahya. An Israeli drone fired two rockets into the northern Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported. Israeli military radio says a targeted assassination of Islamic Jihad members failed.

17:04 Brussels. Justice Minister Abdel Hussein Shandal said he was confident that Saddam's trial on war crimes charges would begin by the end of the year, underlining the Iraqi government's determination to try the ousted leader soon. This trial will be accomplished within 2005--and this will only be in Iraqi courts, he said in an interview on the sidelines of an international conference on his country's future. Shandal later acknowledged he had no say in the timing of the trial. The Americans privately have urged caution about rushing into a trial, saying the Iraqis need to develop a good court and judicial system--one of the main topics of discussion at the conference in Brussels, Belgium. But Shandal alleged that U.S. officials deliberately are trying to limit access to Saddam because they have their own secrets to protect, including funneling money and support to Iraqi leader during his rule.

17:08 Samarra. Six persons, including three police, were killed in clashes.

16:18 Cairo. Despite a stern lecture from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Egyptian and Saudi governments, Washington has too much at stake to punish them for failing to reform fast enough, analysts and politicians say. Rice has talked tough on a Middle East tour which included Cairo and Riyadh, in line with the U.S. argument that in the long term, democracy in the Arab world is in America's strategic interests. But Rice set no timetable for some U.S. demands and she would not say what the consequences would be if Egyptian presidential elections in September and parliamentary elections expected in November did not pass muster. She also promised that the United States would not open a dialogue with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group in the country and the most serious challenge to President Hosni Mubarak and his ruling National Democratic Party.

16:50 Beirut. George Hawi, 68, former Communist Party leader and bold critic of Syrian tutlage over Lebanon, was assassinated. A bomb had been placed under the front passenger seat. Under the leadership of Hawi, the Lebanese Communist Party was one of the pillars of the National Resistance Movement, which fought alongside Palestinians after the Israeli invasion of 1982.

16:41 Washington. The US military will begin a pullout from Iraq before March 2006, says General John Vines.

16:36 Brussels. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told a NATO meeting that the consequences of failure in Iraq would have wide-ranging ramifications.

16:15 Beirut. The UN Commission of Inquiry into the death of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri has summoned the chief of the Presidential Guard, General Moustapha Hamdane, for questioning. Meanwhile, two UN investigators, a Swede and a Briton, two divers and a British police officer arrived in Beirut join the UN mission in Beirut looking into the the blast, which killed Rafik Hariri and 19 others, includiing former minister Basil Fleyhan.

16:09 Baghdad. Al Qaeda recruits Iraqi suicide bomberes. In a bid to deflect criticism that most suicide bombers in Iraq are foreigners, the group al-Qaeda in Iraq has purportedly formed a unit of potential suicide attackers who are exclusively Iraqis. The terror group announced the unit Tuesday in an Internet posting signed by Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the spokesman of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

13:44 Baghdad. America's new ambassador to Iraq expressed horror Tuesday at the level of violence wracking Iraq and said Islamic extremists and former members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party were trying to start a civil war after meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

10:35 Baghdad. Rebels assault police station; two police wounded. More than a dozen gunmen launched an assault on a Baghdad police station early Tuesday. About 15 assailants in three cars opened fire at the station in Baghdad's Aamil neighborhood. The gunbattle lasted about 20 minutes, he said.

09:05 New York. Oil falls to $58.76 per barrel.

09:04 London. Alleged accomplice to Iraqi suicide bomber arrested. British police raid the residence in the Moss Side district of Manchester.

Biography of George Hawi (Georges Haoui)

George Hawi, 67, was born in 1938 in Bteghrine, in the Metn district east of Beirut. In 1964, he was sent to prison for his role as a labor organizer. A noted defender of the Palestinian cause, he was again arrested in 1969 during a pro-Palestinian protest. In 1979, Hawi was elected General Secretary of the Lebanese Communist Party, a post which he retained until 1993. A man of dialogue, he was a close friend of Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt, assasinated in 1977 near a Syrian dam, and of Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat, who died in 2004.

Hawi urged reconciliation among Lebanese factions who fought during the civil war. He was also prominent in the Lebanese National Movement, a leftist organization, during the conflict(1975-1990) and founded the National Resistance Front which fought against Israeli occupation forces. The Lebanese Communist Party, from which he resigned as chairman in 1993, has always been pro-Syrian. Hawi kept his party membership but was a member of an internal opposition faction.

Hawi was married to Sossie Madayan, a daughter of the party's founder, Artine Madayan, with who he had three daughters. He also adopted Rafi Madayan, son of his wife from a former marriage. Madayan lost in the recent legislative elections. George Hawi will be buried after a public funeral in Beirut.

:::Another leftist dies in Lebanon. How ironic that the US is outraged; only yesterday it would have applauded. Both George Hawi and Samir Qassir were outspoken, pro-Palestinian, pro-democracy leftists. This may have placed them on anyone's enemies list--Israel, United States, Hamas, Aoun, Syrian security, Lebanese right wingers...:::

Cécile Hennion, Le Monde's correspondent in Beirut, describes the incident and local reaction.

George Hawi, former Communist Party chairman and pro-Syrian pubic intellectual, was assassinated on Tuesday 21 June in Beirut by a bomb placed under his car. The incident took place around 10 am in the Wata Moussaytbeh quarter of central Beirut. Hawi had just gotten into his Mercededs Benz, parked near his residence.

This death evokes the prior assassinations of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14 and Samir Kassir, an editorialist for the newspaper An Nahar and anti-Syrian leftist, on June 2. Who will be the next to die? Why did we think that the elections would change anything? Emotion and outrage is intense in the streets of Beirut as people recall the other two assassinations, especially that of Samir Qassir. The bomb was doubtlessly placed underneath Hawi’s blue Mercedes, which literally imploded.

The explosion gravely wounded the driver and killed George Hawi on the spot. In this crowded quarter which is generally bustling, this assassination could have caused a massacre. The entire district is in a state of shock. Women are screaming. The Army has been called out.

Ghazi Aridi, former Lebanese Information Minister, after running to the scene of the assassination, said Again, this is the same plan to assassinate all the leaders of the opposition. For me the big question is why these opposition leaders are targeted one after another? The last time Mr. Aridi spoke to George Hawi was two weeks ago. We discussed the political situation in Lebanon and the elections.

George Hawi, the former Communist Party leader, was famous for his pro-Palestinian stance during the civil war and for his condemnation of Lebanese and Syrian intelligence activities in Lebanon. He was a very close fried of Nassib Lahoud.

Following the death of Rafik Hariri, Hawi announced plans to launch several initiatives with the Syrian Communist Party as well as leftist and democracy activists to scrutinize the provisions of the Taëf Accords.

The assassination of George Hawi takes place two days after the victory at the polls of the anti-Syrian coalition led by Saad Harai and Walid Jumblatt in alliance with several Christian notables. The coalition has won an absolute majority in the lower house of parliament.

This is an attempt to facture national unity and reconciliation following free and democratic elections, but we will not give in, said Justice Minister Khaled Kabbani. We accuse Israeli intelligence for the series of assassinations targeting our country, said current Communist Party Secretary General Khaled Hdeydi.

Concerning the assassination of Rafik Hariri and Samir Qassir, Syria has denied any involvement but many Lebanese suspect that Damascus is directing these assassinations. The United States claims that Damascus keeps an "enemies list" of Lebanese personalities targeted for assassination.

Monday, June 20, 2005

20 June 2005 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. The President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, says Iraq should being calling itself the Iraqi Federal Republic. Mr. Barzani also denied a rumor saying Turkmen in Kirkuk had been kidnapped by Kurds

Washingon. President George W. Bush says he has Iraq on his mind daily.

Kuwait City. Kuwait's first woman cabinet minister has been sworn-in amid noisy protests from Islamist politicians. Massouma al-Mubarak, the new Planning Minister, described her appointment as a "great victory" for Kuwaiti women. Tribal and Islamist MPs banged their desks and shouted in protest as she took her oath in parliament.

New York. Crude oil prices rose to a new high of more than $59 a barrel on Monday as the market was disturbed by threats to western consulates in Nigeria. US light crude hit $58.82 a barrel in European electronic trading, off a peak of $59.18 in earlier Asian trade while Brent crude hit a new high of $58.58.

Ramallah. Palestinians hope to recycle rubble of abandoned settler homes in the Gaza Strip for port construction. Palestinians also insist that hazardous materials (e.g. asbestos) be transported away by Israel and disposed of in that country. The cost of rubble removal is said to be between $50 and $60 million, which the Palestinians would not pay. Under international law, Israel is required to return the terrority in the condition in which it found it.

Kirkuk. Four Iraqis soldiers were killed in the explosion of a vehicle at a checkpoint.

Baghdad. Five police were killed and 20 wounded by two booby-trapped cars which detonated in front of a police station in southwest Baghdad. Insurgents then opened fire on police and soldiers rushing to the scene. The attack ended when US forces intervened. 18 guerrillas were killed and 14 captured.

Baghdad. Two carbombs detonated in the Mansour district of west Baghdad.

Touz Khourmatou. Three Iraqi soldiers were killed and two others wounded by a carbomb which targed their convoy.

Balad. An Iraqi solider was killed by a roadside bomb.

Doujail. A woman and her son were killed by Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint because their car appeared to be speeding.

Baiji. Three police were killed when armed men attacked their checkpoint. Two insurgents were also killed. In the same area, an Iraqi truck driver delivering supplies to a US base was ambushed and shot dead.

Dour. The bodies of two Iraqi truck drivers ambushed three days ago were recovered by police.

Baquba. Two members of SCIRI were killed Sunday afternoon when unknown gunmen attack their home.

Bohruz. Iraqi security forces arrested 20 suspected rebels in a nighttime raid. A large weaspons caches was also discovered.

22:35 Washington. The US administraition qualified Teheran's first round of its presidential race as "non-representative"

22:31 Washington. George W. Bush entered the polemic concerning the Marine Base in Guantamo Bay by declaring, If you have questions on Guantanamo, I seriously advise you to go and give it a look.

22:38 Beirut. The anti-Syrian opposition captured control of Lebanon's parliament Monday, breaking Syria's long domination of the country, said official results. The parliament will elect a new speaker and nominate a new prime minister. The outgoing speaker and premier are pro-Syrians. The new government will have to tackle Lebanon's heavy debt, co-operate with a U.N. investigation into the Hariri assassination, and work out how to approach the deeply divisive U.N. call for Lebanon to disarm its militias--a reference to the Hezbollah group. The all-too rare Christian-Muslim solidarity that emerged after Hariri's assassination disintegrated during the campaign.

22:29 Karabila. U.S. Marines have rolled back into the desert claiming success in their latest major military operation in Iraq, but locals in the ruined town they left behind say the insurgents will be back. After four days of bombardment and street-to-street gunbattles, the Marines cleared Karabila--a strategic waystation near the main border crossing where the Euphrates flows in from Syria--of foreign fighters who made it a base. Mohammed Solfeij, 33, whose house is on the outskirts near where the Americans first entered the town, said the insurgents would be back "as soon as the Americans leave". The people are suffering. Most of them have fled to live in the desert," he said. The chief doctor at the area's main hospital in Qaim, Hamdi al-Alusi, said he counted 17 civilian dead in recent days. Every house was searched, often only after the front gate was blown off with explosives. Weapons caches were detonated on the spot bringing houses down around them. Whole streets were obliterated. To Suleiman Salim Hussein, 39, who said his brother's nine -year-old daughter Ulla Tahir was killed on Friday when a U.S. shell crashed into the house, that day cannot come too soon. We don't want anybody. No Americans, no insurgents. What we need is a government. An army. Police stations. We need a city.

22:18 Washington The United States condemned the new wave of violence on the part of Palestinian radicals and demanded the the Palestinian Authority intervent.

21:43 Baghdad. Saddam Hussein likes Doritos, washes his hands compulsively and thinks fondly of the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan, according to American soldiers who guarded him and tell their story in the July issue of GQ magazine. The jailed former Iraqi leader described how Reagan, who was president during the time of Iraq's 1980-88 war with Iran, sold him planes and helicopters. "Reagan and me, good,'" Saddam said, according to the article by Lisa DePaulo in the July issue that goes on sale June 28.

21:24 Washington. The State Department said Monday that Lebanon's elections represent an important step in consolidating the country's freedom and democracy. Spokesman Adam Ereli welcomed the Lebanese government's open and full cooperation with European Union election observers and technical assistance teams from the United Nations.

21:14 Cairo. Condoleeza Rice tells the Egyptian authorities to "believe in their own people" and criticized "arbitrary justice", violence against democracy protesters and the state of emergency in force since 1981.

20:38 Baghdad. Two million residents without water after rebels sabotage aquaduct. Temperatures are above 40 degrees centigrade.

19:04 New York. Oil at $59.23 climbs towards $60.00 per barrel.

18:51 Washington. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld mulls promotion for General Ricardo Sanchez, implicated in the Abu Ghraib scandal. Meanwhile, General George Casey may be replaced by General Bantz Craddock, former advisor to Mr. Rumsfeld and chief of the Southern Command. General Casey is expected head the US Forces Command in Norfolk, VA. Gen. Sanchez, who now commanded the Fifth Army Corps in Germany is expected to replace General Craddock.

18:49 Teheran. Goverment denies fraud in presidential elections.

18:38 Arbil. Casualty toll mounts. 12 are dead and 100 injured in a suicide bombing amidst a crowd of police recruits.

18:32 Halabja. A carbomb detonated in Halabja targeting the convoy of Anwar Haji Othman, a local security official, killing Othman and three of his bodyguards.

09:00 Khales. An Iraqi truck driver was killed by a bomb after a US convoy passed by.

18:32 Beirut. The EU has insisted on a top to bottom reform of the Lebanese electoral system. Conservative European MP José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, who headed the EU mission of elections observers, reported rampant vote-buying in the south of the country and later in Békaa and Metn (center). Salafranca has also demanded an acceleration of the inquest into the assassination of reporter Samir Qassir of 2 June.

17:46 Brussels. Deputy Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Haj Hmoud announced the possible pullout of foreign forces from Iraq.

16:02 Kabul. Three Pakistanis armed with machine guns and grenaded were arrested in a plot to kill US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad

14:42 Ramadi. Ansar al-Sunna said it has executed six Iraqi bodyguards and one foreigner, Binkumar Gurung [probably Nepalese--Nur], working for a US security firm. Two others were kidnapped.

14:08 Baghdad. Four persons killed and two wounded in a suicide carbombing at Checkpoint No. 1 along the Baghdad Airport highway.

13:40 Cairo. US Secretary of Stae Condoleezza Rice accuses Teheran of "organized cruelty."

13:18 Rome. Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino says NATO will be involved in Afghanistan for at least 10 years.

12:35 Teheran. Defeated presidential candidate Mostafa Moin demands a recount.

11:19 London. Former US President Bill Clinton calls for closure of the Guantanamo prison camp.

09:14 New York. The Oil Market Report says average worldwide consumption of oil for 2005 is 84.3 barrels per day. Consumption is on the increase in North America.

08:50 New York. Oil hits historic high of $59.18. Unrest in Nigeria prompts closure of the US, British and German consulates in Lagos.

08:35 Tal Afar. US solider killed by bomb thrown at his vehicle.

08:17 Arbil. 20 municipal police killed and 50 wounded following suicide carbombing. Al-Jazeera reports 100 wounded.

08:03 Sharm al-Sheik. Condoleezza Rice visits Hosni Mubarak.

07:41 Teheran. Two newspapers banned for reporting election irregularity. Reformer Issa Saharkiz says two large-circulation reformist newspapers, Eghbal and Aftab, have been banned. The two dailies published a letter from defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi who complained of irregularities. It is unclear if the ban is for one day only or for a longer span of time.

07:32 Arbil. Suicide bomber targets recruits. One dead and 50 wounded. A suicide bomber rammed his red Toyota rouge into a stadium near police barracks where more than 200 police recruits were standing in formation. Security forces opened fire on the vehicle as it exploded.

07:19 Baghdad. Death toll in police station attack rise to nine.

06:47 Baghdad. Guerrilla attack on a police station in the Baya district kills four police. A carbomb, a grenade launcher and small calibre weapons were used.

05:32 New York. CIA chief says he knows where Bin Laden is. CIA Director Peter Goss tells Time magazine says Bin Laden his hiding in an unnamed sovereign state.

04:23 Singapore: Record price for oil: $59.18 per barrel