Iraq Report: January 23, 2004

�AS AL-JAZEERA CLAIMS CAMERA CREW ATTACKED IN BAGHDAD.
Al-Jazeera television reported on 19 January that irate Iraqis attacked its crew while covering the 19 January demonstration in Baghdad. The demonstrators, reportedly affiliated with Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, crashed the news channel’s vehicle that was carrying live relay to its base in Doha, and tried to set it on fire. Iraqi police had to intervene and transport the crew to safety. According to the Al-Jazeera report, the demonstrators were angry about the views expressed regarding Iraq on Al-Jazeera talk shows and “the use of the word ‘thousands’ to describe the crowds taking part in the demonstration, which they regarded as an attempt to underestimate the size of the demonstration.” The satellite news channel’s reporters and guests frequently took an antiwar stance before Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the channel continues to promote anti-coalition views in its programming and live reporting from Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

BREMER AUTHORIZES ESTABLISHMENT OF PROPERTY CLAIMS COMMISSION.
U.S. Civil Administrator L. Paul Bremer issued a regulation on 14 January authorizing the Iraqi Governing Council to establish the Iraq Property Claims Commission (IPCC), according to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) website (http://www.cpa-iraq.org). The IPCC will collect and resolve real property claims and promulgate procedures for a quick resolution of claims “in a fair and judicious manner,” the regulation notes. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

IRAQI REPRESENTATIVES SPEAK AT TOWN HALL MEETING IN MOSUL.
Some 220 people turned out for a 2 and 1/2 hour town hall meeting in Mosul on 12 January. Iraqi Governing Council Member Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir, Ninawa Governor Ghanim Sultan Abdullah al-Basso, Ninawa Deputy Governor Khasro Goran, and Ninawa Provincial Council member Shifa Hadi Husayn Ali al-Hamandi took questions from the audience on the 15 November 2003 agreement and the transitional political process, according to a press release posted on the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) website (http://www.cpa-iraq.org).

The attendees reportedly represented a cross-section of Ninawa political, civic, and social leaders. According to the press release, the attendees were “particularly concerned” with the issue of federalism and the complexities that it would bring to the future power relations between Baghdad and the governorates.

Mosul is the second of three nationally televised town hall meetings on the 15 November agreement and transitional political process. The first meeting was held in Al-Basrah on 29 December 2003. The next meeting is scheduled to take place in Baghdad on 28 January. The U.S.-led coalition is also sponsoring a number of smaller events aimed at promoting democratic values. Tribal shaykhs, clerics, and members of the community gathered in Al-Hillah on 21 January to hear Stanford University political science professor Larry Diamond speak about democratic development and elections, AP reported on the same day. The coalition has also established four “Tribal Democracy Centers” in Al-Hillah, Diwaniyah, Al-Najaf, and Karbala, according to a 7 January press release posted on the CPA website. The centers “will provide a place for shaykhs, tribal leaders, and others to discuss relevant issues and to learn about democracy.” More centers are to be established in Al-Kut, Al-Ramadi, and Al-Hillah. For more information on U.S.-sponsored democracy initiatives in Iraq, visit the CPA website or the U.S. Agency for International Development website (http://www.usaid.gov). (Kathleen Ridolfo)

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