Morning Report: January 3, 2006

Iraq Election Commisson: Results available January 10. Iraq the Model reports: 'today it has been announced that results will be available on January 10th. Aadil al-Lami from the election commission announced today that the international investigation team is in Baghdad now and had already participated in one of the commission’s sessions today where they observed the way the commission handles complaints as well as the way ballots are being handled. Maram’s demands for redoing the elections in several provinces are most likely to be forgotten after the UN and-repeatedly-the election commission said that violations were limited and do not require a rerun.' Full post at link. (ITM)

CTB: Algerian group want to establish al-Qaeda in Maghreb. The Counter-Terrorism Blog reports: 'Recently,four Algerians presumably close to the GSPC were placed in temporary detention in Spain. The Spanish judge, a Madrid native, Fernando Andreu suspects them of financial and logistical support to GSPC and of having tried to acquire in Grenade, dynamite Goma-2 in exchange for hashish ; interestingly this is the same dynamite that was used in the Madrid attacks of March 11, 2004. On November 24, 17 Islamists were arrested in Morocco, and according to the depositions made by one of them, they were affiliated with the Algerian group GSPC. GSPC has become probably the spearhead of the jihad in the Maghreb and in the countries of the Sahel. Their objective is to make the Maghreb a launching pad towards Europe under the auspices of the Algerian Islamist Khalid Abou Bassir ...' Full post at the link. (CTB)

The first Arab democracy.Michael J. Totten, writing in WSJ's Opinion Journal, sets the record straight: 'Iraq is not yet a model for anything. It looms, instead, as a warning. ... Lebanon, though, is an inspiration already--despite the assassinations and the car bombs that have shaken the country since February. I have an apartment in Beirut, and I recently traveled to Cairo. Arriving back here was like returning to the U.S. from Mexico. Almost everyone I met in Egypt--from taxi drivers all the way up to the elite--was profoundly envious when I said I live in Beirut. "It is a free and open city," I told them, but they knew that already. Many Americans and Europeans still think of Beirut as a hollowed-out, mortar-shattered necropolis where visitors are well-advised to bring a flak jacket. Egyptians, though--at least the ones I talked to during my stay--know the truth. Beirut is where the taboos in the region--against alcohol, dating, sex, scandalous clothing, homosexuality, body modification, free speech and dissident politics--break down. Its culture is liberal and tolerant, even anarchic and libertarian. The state barely exists. ...' Go to the link for the full piece. (Michael J. Totten via the Wall Street Journal)