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The Scoop from Key Arabic-Language Web Sites
12/10/2006 7:14 PM ET
The Association of Muslim Scholars released on its website "Statement No. 348 regarding the siege on Seiniya and the crimes of the occupation in it." It condemned the cordon that American troops have imposed on Seiniya, west of Baiji in the Salah Al-Din governorate, over the last two weeks, and called for intervention to lift the cordon that they said has caused "the murder of five children, two women and several residents with occupation sniper fire." The AMS also released a press statement today condemning the detention of "over 1,000 people in Haditha under the pretext of terrorism."

The Islam Memo website reports that sources close to Sadr's office in Basrah have offered the Basrah governor an ultimatum of six days to release several detainees from the Mahdi Army, who were arrested by British and Danish troops yesterday at the Hartha suburb, north of Basrah. One of the five detainees is the administrator of Hartha, who is accused of running death squads north of Basrah.

The Tariq-Karbala website reports that hundreds of demonstrators marched in Kadhimiya against Adnan Al-Dulaimi, head of the Iraqi Accord Front, yesterday, accusing him of involvement in the forced deportation of Shia families from the Adil district (where he resides) and Jami'a. Demonstrators shouted slogans such as, 'No, no Dulaimi. No, no Dhari."

The Haqq Agency reports that several men from the Sunni majority Adhamiya district, who were detained by American troops last Monday, were threatened during interrogation to be taken to Sadr City and left there if they did not reveal information about militants in Adhamiya. "We'll leave you there, and you know what is going to happen to you then," one interrogator reportedly told the detainees.

Several Iraqi websites reported the jailbreak of Badosh prison, west of Mosul, north of Iraq. Ayman Sab'awi, the son of Saddam's half-brother, Sab'awi Ibrahim Al-Hassan Al-Tikriti, fled the prison with the help of a local police officer, a police spokesman said, according to Reuters. Sab'awi was detained north of Tikrit in May 2005 by U.S. troops and was sentenced to life for charges of funding the Iraqi insurgency and crossing the border from Syria illegally. This is not the first incident of its kind at Badosh prison; a Saudi detainee also fled the prison several months ago, and Sab'awi also first attempted to flee last June.

Daily Column
The Scoop from Key Arabic-Language Web Sites
12/11/2006 1:05 PM ET
The Buratha News Agency reports that Shi'ite "popular committees" stormed the Muhaymin and Mashahda mosques in the Hurriya district, west of Baghdad, and killed "seven snipers camping on the mosque's minaret, in addition to eleven terrorists hiding inside the mosques." The mosques, which are located in a Sunni enclave in Hurriya, were closed and green flags were hoisted on them. Several Western news agencies had reported that Mahdi Army militiamen forcibly deported dozens of Sunni families from Hurriya Al-Thalitha over the last two days.

In the nearby Adil district, south of Hurriya, the agency reported that 60 Shi'ite families were ordered to leave the district, Sunday, by guards from Adnan Al-Dulaimi's compound in Adil. Several Sunni families deported from Hurriya have taken refuge in the residences of deported Shi'ite families in Adil, and vice versa.

The agency also reported an exchange of mortar shelling between "popular committees" of the Al-Dhahab Al-Abyadh village, northwest of Baghad, and Zoba' tribesmen at Abu Ghraib, Sunday afternoon. The Baghdad districts of Adhamiya, Tunis and Baladiyyat were also hit with mortar shells Sunday.

In regard to the Hurriya incident, the Islam Memo website reports that gunmen called on Sunni residents through loudspeakers to leave their homes within half an hour or they would be burned down on them. According to their correspondent, the gunmen used sectarian slurs, referring to the Sunni families as "the grandsons of the infidel Mu'awiya and Omar the homosexual" (both early Muslim Caliphs revered by Sunnis but despised by Shia).

The Haqq Agency adds that the Iraqi army unit in Hurriya advised Sunni residents to leave the district, since they were unable to protect them from militia attacks. Eyewitnesses said that the gunmen were chanting slogans such as "Liberate Hurriya, Mahdi Army!"

The Iraqi Rabita website has photos of a demonstration by the deported families of Hurriya. They carried banners reading, "Mahdi Army gangs deport us and burn our houses and mosques in Hurriya, while Maliki watches," and "The gangs of Muqtada, Al-Hakim, Al-A'raji and Al-Sagheir kill and deport Sunnis in Baghdad."

In an ominous development, the Iraq News Agency reports a statement by the Interior Ministry dated December 10 that prohibits real estate agents and property owners in Baghdad from selling or leasing properties without reporting to a police station and filling out an information form with details of the transaction.

The Aswat Al-Iraq News Agency (Voices of Iraq) reports on a fatwa from the office of Ayatollah Sheikh Mohammed Al-Ya'qubi, spiritual leader of the Fadhila Party, that prohibits members of Iraqi parliament from performing the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca this year. 176 out of 275 members of parliament had registered for the Hajj this year, according to Firas Al-Karbasi, media spokesman of Sheikh Ya'qubi, who stated that many of them had already gone two or three times to Mecca in the past, alluding to an abuse of their governmental position.

Daily Column
The Scoop from Key Arabic-Language Web Sites
12/12/2006 3:09 PM ET
The "Media Office of the Leadership of Fedayeen Saddam" posts a communiqué on Al-Basrah Net claiming responsibility for the jailbreak of Saddam's nephew, Ayman Sab'awi, "and a number of Iraqi and Arab Mujahideen" from the Badush prison, west of Mosul. According to the statement, this was the fifth attempt to free Sab'awi. The group also mocked the governor of Ninewa Duraid Kashmoula, his deputy Khisro Guran, and the police commander General Wathiq Al-Hamdani.

The Sadrist Nahrain Net website reports through Iraqis in Yemen that Harith Al-Dhari, secretary-general of the Association of Muslim Scholars, and his deputy Abdul Salam Al-Kubaisi are openly organizing conferences with former Iraqi Ba'athist leaders who have taken refuge in Yemen, and have "stopped just short of recruiting Yemeni suicide bombers to attack the Shia in Iraq," through their description of "massacres" against the Sunni community in Iraq by the current Iraqi government, Shi'ite political parties and security forces.

Iraq News Network reports that 20 gunmen dressed in Iraqi army uniforms stopped two vehicles belonging to the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Investment Bank at the commercial Sa'doun Street in central Baghdad and took off with a million dollars, in addition to two employees who were driving the vehicles. The employees were on their way to deposit the funds at the Iraqi Central Bank in Rashid Street, according to Iraqi police sources. Sa'doun Street is one of the heavily guarded areas of the capital since several Western news agencies have offices around the Fardous Square hotel compound, as well as Baghdad Hotel - which accommodates military contractors.

The Islam Memo website reports several attacks against what it described as "Safavid gangs and Mahdi Army militias" in Mahmoudiya, Latifiya, Jurf Al-Sakhar, Madain, Tarmiya, and Dora, Abu Dshir, Amiriya, Ghazaliya Washash and Mustansiriya in Baghdad. It claimed that up to 83 militiamen and Iraqi security troops were killed, in addition to an American soldier killed by a "resistance sniper" at Madhayif Street in Amiriya, west of Baghdad.

The Haqq Agency reports that Mahdi Army militiamen are using the Air Defense Sports Club in the Iskan district, west of Baghdad, to launch mortar shells against the Adil, Jami'a and Ghazaliya districts.

The Iraqi News Agency reports that Masoud Barazani, president of the Kurdistan region, called for an exceptional meeting of Kurdish parliament to discuss the Iraq Study Group report. According to INA, an internal memo that Barazani sent to the members of parliament said, "any member who does not reject Baker's report will be considered to have committed high treason, since the report aims to destroy all the gains that Kurds have made over the last four years."

Daily Column
The Scoop from Key Arabic-Language Web Sites
12/14/2006 10:24 AM ET
"Practical, constructive understanding and support for the new Iraq, or reward for the aggressor and a return to the methods of suppressing the Intifada?" is the title of an op-ed by Iraqi Vice President Dr. Adil Abdul Mahdi on the Iraq Study Group Report at Burathanews.org. Abdul Mahdi thoroughly discusses the report and concludes that "it lacks a deep understanding of the history of the Iraqi crisis" and that "it only offers superficial recommendations and remedies." He argues that Baker's same stand - when he was Secretary of State - during the Intifada of 1991 resulted in the brutal suppression of the uprising by the Iraqi army. He warns that the same thing could happen today if Baker is suggesting making concessions to "terrorists." Also, Abdul Mahdi tries to downplay the role of Iran in Iraq and the regional fears of an increased Shi'ite influence in the area. "Who are the enemies and who are the friends?" Abdul Mahdi asks. "Who is pushing the process forward and who is trying to obstruct it? Who is responsible for 100 dead American soldiers per month?"

Three municipal councils in the Wasit governorate have suspended their activities in protest of the detention of a Sadrist leader in the governorate, the Aswat Al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq) Agency reports. The councils of Kut, Nu'maniya and Hayy have suspended all activities, starting Wednesday, as a result of the arrest of Sheikh Yehia Al-Baghdadi, director of Sadr's Office in Wasit, by American troops last Saturday. The Wasit Governorate Council had issued an order ceasing all dealings with American troops in the governorate last Sunday, following the arrest of the Sadrist official.

Aswat Al-Iraq also reports that 13 people were wounded in mortar attacks against the Adil district, west of Baghdad, Wednesday. Eyewitnesses from the neighborhood said that the mortar rounds hit six residences in the vicinity of the Malik bin Anas mosque at Al-Qada Street in Adil. The Sunni majority district has been under continuous fire for several days from the nearby Shi'ite districts of Tobchi and Hurriya.

The Iraqi Journalistic Freedoms Observatory reports that a correspondent for Al-Hurra TV escaped an assassination attempt when gunmen in a green Opel sedan sprayed him with bullets while he left work at Bab Al-Sharji in central Baghdad. Omar Mohammed, who had survived an earlier assassination attempt with hand grenades in 2004, suffered wounds to his left leg and was taken to the hospital by bystanders at the scene. A nearby police patrol did not interfere or follow the perpetrators, according to eyewitnesses.

The Hawza of Najaf issued a statement in which it held the Saudi government responsible for the religious edict signed by 38 Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia, described by the Hawza as "inciting the murder of Shia Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere," according to the Sadrist Nahrain Net website. The Hawza statement said that the Saudi government's lack of deterrent action against the sources of such "provocative" edicts is considered as "implicit encouragement."

The Haqq Agency reports that the Palestinian apartments compound in Baladdiyat, northeast of Baghdad, was hit with several mortar rounds, killing nine people and wounding three others. Also, the Palestinian Studies Center at Baghdad University in Jadiriya was taken over by whom the agency described as angry Shi'ite students who said they were turning the center into a dormitory for students.

Haqq also reports on an exchange of sniper fire between the neighboring districts of Ghazaliya and Shu'la. A sniper from Shu'la targeted an old man near the Badr Al-Kubra High School in Ghazaliya, while a Ghazaliya sniper targeted five people from Shu'la near the Janabi market. Mahdi Army militiamen from Shu'la also attacked and burned several electrical generators at the Mushajjar Street on the edge of Ghazaliya. The clashes continued for most of Wednesday, according to the agency.

Health Ministry activities for Wednesday, according to WNA News in Iraq: 100 killed, 321 wounded between 9 a.m. 12/12 and 9 a.m. 12/13 Baghdad Medico-legal Institute (morgue): 37 unidentified corpses, 7 identified: 44 total.

Electricity Ministry activities for Wednesday: The West Baghdad-Baiji 400 KV line was disconnected at 14:00 because of a technical error at the Baiji power plant.

Daily price bulletin for Wednesday, according to WNA News in Iraq:

Currency Currency Code Selling Price In IQD Buying Price In IQD

US Dollar USD 1416.000 1415.292

European Euro EUR 1873.793 1872.856

Sterling Pound GBP 2783.148 2781.756

Canadian Dollar CAD 1226.399 1225.786

Swiss Frank CHF 1177.057 1176.469

Japanese Yen JPY 12.087 12.081

(endall)

Daily Column
The Scoop from Key Arabic-Language Web Sites
12/15/2006 6:45 PM ET
The political bureau of the Iraqi Islamic Party (Sunni) issued the following on their website: Statement No. 144 regarding the Istanbul conference, December 14. The party denounces the negative reaction of several Iraqi (Shia) politicians to the conference and to the calls for help of Iraqi Sunni leaders at the conference to the Islamic world. Conclusion of the statement: "Sectarian-minded politicians in Iraq have gone too far and have invoked history to judge their people unjustly. They have blamed the Sunni community for the injustice of former governments and have persisted in punishing them through murder, torture, deportation and alienation. The Iraqi Islamic Party has pledged to God that it will not stir up the fires of civil war, but at the same time we have not, and will not, hesitate to come to the aid of our constituency, both individuals and groups."

In an unprecedented step in Iraq, Mosul University discussed a student's Master's thesis over the Internet. The university awarded Hadeel Asim Mustafa, a Veterinarian College student in Mosul, a Masters degree after she discussed her thesis on internal and preventive medicine with her supervisor, Dr. Amir Ni'met Suleiman, who currently lives in Taiwan. An official Mosul university source told the Aswat Al-Iraq Agency that the university's chancellorship gave Hadeel Mustafa permission to discuss her thesis over the Internet because of her persistence in completing her studies after her supervisor left Iraq for Taiwan. "We have proven to all that we live in times where nothing is impossible," Mustafa stated to Aswat Al-Iraq.

Shi'ite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr declared his support for any conference that backs the Sunni community in Iraq and disavowed any Shi'ite that kills a Sunni and vice-versa, in a statement issued December 15. "I agree with any conference that supports our Sunni brothers in Iraq," the statement said, "and my interest is that these conferences succeed in saving them from the occupation and Ba'athists. I am also prepared to attend such conferences in the future, but I will continue to reject occupation and the interference of any country in Iraqi affairs." A spokesman for the Iraqi government had expressed regret for the conference in Turkey Thursday, describing it as "sending the wrong message to Iraqis, and translating into violence inside Iraq."

Eyewitnesses in Basrah told Aswat Al-Iraq that gunmen in police uniforms assassinated a tribal leader and two of his bodyguards in downtown Basrah Friday. Sheikh Muhsin Al-Kan'aan, leader of the (Shi'ite) Bani Tamim tribe in Basrah and member of Basrah Governorate Council, who maintains good relations with British forces in Basrah, was gunned down with two of his bodyguards by gunmen in police uniform as he drove through the Corniche Street in downtown Basrah. Dozens of vehicles full of armed Tamim clansmen firing into the air headed to the Basrah morgue to retrieve the leader's corpse, according to eyewitnesses in Basrah.

death threat letter
death threat letter
The Tariq Karbala website publishes a threat letter allegedly sent by "the gangs of Adnan Al-Dulaimi" in the Adil district, western Baghdad, to a Shi'ite resident of the district. The letter is signed by the Mujahideen Shura Council and it offers three days for the family to leave the district because "it has been proven that you are one of those who have betrayed the pact of Allah and his prophet, and that you are waging war against the Mujahideen through your actions and ideas."

The Haqq Agency reports that it has received tips from its sources that the mass abduction by gunmen in camouflage police uniforms and vehicles at the auto parts market in Sinak in central Baghdad Thursday morning came after a meeting of SCIRI officials at the nearby Khallani husseiniya, and that about 70 people were kidnapped, not 25 as news wires had reported earlier. The agency adds that the 25 people who were released in the Sha'ab district were all Shia, while the fate of the Sunnis who were abducted is still unknown. The official Al-Iraqiya state television channel had announced earlier that all of those who were abducted were released later without additional details.

The Iraqi Rabita website adds that a traffic policeman attempted to follow the convoy of gunmen but was stopped by a police checkpoint at the Talibiya bridge on the Army Canal, which leads to the Ur district, between Sadr City and Sha'ab.

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