Morning Report: May 15, 2005

Rice visits Iraq. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice paid a surprise visit to Iraq. An AP story at Fox News reports: ' Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a surprise and heavily guarded visit to Iraq, thanked U.S. troops and diplomats Sunday for taking risks to help Iraqis build a new nation. Rice flew to Baghdad to meet with the senior leadership of Iraq's newly elected government to offer support and ask how the United States can be most useful, she said. Before those sessions, however, Rice addressed a gathering of uniformed troops and U.S. embassy employees in the fortified Green Zone.' Debka adds: 'US Secretary Rice on unannounced one-day visit to Kurdistan was flown under heavy security to Barzani’s Saladhin mountain stronghold. Later Sunday she sees PM Jaafari. She will tell him his government must try harder to include all population segments. No word on where meeting will take place. Official in Rice party says she also brings strong demand for constitution timeline to be met.' (Fox, Debka)

Operation Matador concluded. US officials declared the offensive against insurgents in Iraq, known as Operation Matador, a success. AP via Fox: 'The U.S. military wrapped up a major offensive in a remote desert region near the Syrian border Saturday, saying it had cleaned out the terrorist haven and killed more than 125 militants during the weeklong campaign against followers of Iraq's most wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Nine U.S. Marines were killed and 40 injured during Operation Matador — one of the largest American campaigns since militants were driven from Fallujah six months ago. The number of civilian casualties was not immediately known. ... The U.S. offensive began May 7 in Qaim, a town 200 miles northwest of Baghdad on the southern bank of the Euphrates River. American intelligence indicated terrorists had massed north of the waterway, according to reporters embedded with the assault. But as soldiers built a pontoon bridge, they started taking mortar fire from nearby Obeidi.' Debka: 'More that 125 insurgents killed, 39 held for questioning. US forces lost 9 men, 40 injured. DEBKAfile adds: US commanders reported hundreds of foreign fighters escaped ahead of US week-long village-to-village push along Euphrates northern bank. They slipped into Syria or the Iraqi border town of Husaybah facing Abu Kamal, Syrian logistic smuggling center. US forces will not challenge Husaybah for now.' (Fox, Debka)

Iranian thunder. A resistance campaign codenamed "Tondar-1" (Thunder 1) is set to begin in Iran and in Europe's Iranian diaspora, according to a new thread at Free Iran: 'Loose translation: after 26 years of Islam's brutal rule and opposition groups just bickering at each other, etc. anjomane padeshahi took a referandum on Your TV and came to the conclusion that the only way the regime can be brought down is through "fists and bullets". They will start 'Operation: Thunder One' soon (in the month of Ordibehesht) which will take place inside iran and also in europe and they want all Iranians to pay close attention, etc. ... Note: this part isn't in the announcement but was said on TV: The european part is non-violent but very poweful. The Iranian part may involve violence against regime forces and those who won't listen to the message. It will take a week. During this week, they have warned that no buses, taxis, trains, trucks, tankers, and other methods of transportations are allowed to move on the roads (either between cities or within cities). If they don't listen, there may be consequences for them. No one knows exactly what Tondar invovles until it starts.' (Free Iran)