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Tag Archives: France

Islamophobia in Paris: Two attackers rip veil off teenager

Al Ahed news

A 16-year old girl was attacked in Paris’s suburb when two attackers tore off the Islamic veil she was wearing.

The teenager was leaving a friend’s house in Trappes at about 5:45 pm, when she was attacked by two “European-looking” men.

The men shouted anti-Muslim and racist phrases before tearing off her veil, pushing her to the ground and hitting her.

A third man then intervened and saved the girl while the attackers fled by car.

A source told the newspaper le Parisien that she was treated for “light scratch marks” on her face and throat.

“I severely condemn this newest demonstration of anti-Muslim hatred and intolerance. Police services have been fully mobilized so that the authors of this unacceptable attack are identified, found, arrested and handed over to the courts,” The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said.

This comes as French authorities are pushing for banning Islamic veils in universities after banning them in schools back in 2004.


French Diplomat: US surprised at events in Syria

by Nidal Hmedeh – Paris, Al Ahed news

A French diplomat working in a Middle Eastern country said that the United States “was surprised by the Syrian events”.

After the war grew broader and more intense, the US – according to the diplomat – believed “the time was right to inflame clashes between Hizbullah and al-Qaeda on Syrian territories.”

“This is what the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was implementing for more than two years in cooperation with Gulf countries and Turkey,” the diplomat argued.

Moreover, the diplomat stated, “The French Embassies in the Middle East reported around 400 elements of Taliban in Pakistan entering Syria through Turkey.”

“They arrived at a Turkish military airport on board two Saudi military planes, where they gathered at a training camp near Gaziantep under the supervision of Turkish intelligence before entering Syria,” he added.

“These fighters were assigned one goal; defending Aleppo’s neighborhoods under the opposition’s control, where Western departments believe that the Syrian Army and its allies finished their preparations for a massive attack on Aleppo and its countryside,” the French diplomat remarked.

Furthermore, the diplomat believed that the French politics’ mistake was its belief that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime will inevitably fall during 2012. In this light, some French officials released statements predicting the regime’s fall in two months or two weeks, “as if bidding in the lottery, which made these statements lose any diplomatic credibility for France abroad and among the public opinion in France.”

France continues its extreme stance from Syria despite warnings and objections issued from French political figures and French Intelligence reports on Takfiris and al-Qaeda’s increasing control among the armed groups fighting President al-Assad’s regime. To top it all, warnings from French politicians began publicizing on the danger of supporting the Syrian opposition.

Among the warnings was a statement issued by MP Jacques Myard, who is close to the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, in which he said, “The masks are beginning to fall off the Syrian opposition. In any case a democratic movement in this opposition existed, it unfortunately does not comprise the majority, and must face extremists growing more violent and dangerous.”

“This entails us not to dive into an adventurous policy of arming the Syrian opposition because of the threat of arms falling into the hands of extremists, which would ultimately lead to the region being set ablaze and the Middle East suffering chaos,” Myard further added.

On this note, Paris seeks to maintain its role in the Syrian game by rising the political and media bars with Damascus and its ally Tehran.

Since May, Paris has been receiving Saudi royal delegations in an attempt to sell them French weapons, where the Commander of the Saudi National Guards Mutaib bin Abdullah visited Paris in June and met the French President Francois Hollande and his Minister of War Jean-Yves Le Drian. During the visit, leaks reported that Mutaib was determined to buy military planes for the Saudi National Guards that primarily consists of ground forces.

It seems that this decision aimed at boosting the National Guards against the Saudi Army that reports to the Minister of Defense and crown prince Salman bin Abdel Aziz, and against the police under the control of the Minister of Interior Mohammad bin Nayef. These preparations attempt to fortify areas of power, waiting the day that authorities are divided among the sons of the second generation of Abdel Aziz al-Saud.

Also, the French President recently visited Qatar for the same goal; selling French weapons to Doha after the al-Thani family preferred to buy British tanks instead of French Leclerc tanks, which infuriated French officials from Qatar’s leaders.

Mali lifts state of emergency ahead of election

Press TV

Mali has lifted a nearly six-month-old state of emergency before the start of the campaign for the July 28 presidential election.

The central government made the announcement in a statement issued on Saturday.

The state of emergency was declared on January 12, a day after France launched a war in the West African country under the pretext of driving out militants occupying the north.

On Friday, the Malian army reestablished control over the strategic city of Kidal, which had been held by Tuareg rebels.

The Tuareg rebels had agreed to allow the army to enter the northern city in a peace deal that was signed between the government and the rebels last month.

The peace agreement — mediated by regional African powers, the United Nations, and the European Union — was signed on June 18 by Mali’s Territorial Administration Minister Colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly and representatives of two Tuareg movements in Ouagadougou, the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso.

The consensus was reached after nearly two weeks of negotiations between all sides.

“The signing of this agreement represents a significant step in the stabilization process in Mali,” said UN Special Representative to Mali Bert Koenders, who attended the signing ceremony.

On February 1, Amnesty International said “serious human rights breaches” — including the killing of children – were occurring in the French war in Mali.

Chaos broke out in Mali after President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government’s inability to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country, which had been going on for two months.

However, in the wake of the coup d’état, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region, but the Ansar Dine extremists then pushed them aside and took control of the region, which is larger than France or Texas.

After US, France has vast data surveillance

Al Ahed news

France’s foreign intelligence service intercepts computer and telephone data on a vast scale, like the controversial US Prism program, according to the French daily Le Monde.

The data is stored on a supercomputer at the headquarters of the DGSE intelligence service, the paper clarified, and noted “the operation is “outside the law, and beyond any proper supervision.”

Other French intelligence agencies access the data secretly.

It is not clear, however, whether the DGSE surveillance goes as far as Prism. So far French officials have not commented on Le Monde’s information.

The DGSE analyzed the “metadata” – not the contents of e-mails and other communications, but the data revealing who is speaking to whom, when and where.

Connections inside France and between France and other countries are all monitored, Le Monde report.

The paper the data is being stored on three basement floors of the DGSE building in Paris. The secret service is the French equivalent of Britain’s MI6.

The operation is designed, say expert to uncover terrorist cells. But the scale of it means that “anyone can be spied on, any time”, Le Monde said.

There is a continuing international furor over revelations that the US has been systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data.

The French government has sharply criticized the US spying, which allegedly included eavesdropping on official EU communications.

The scale of surveillance by America’s National Security Agency [NSA] emerged from classified intelligence documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The UK spy agency GCHQ is reported to run a similarly vast data collection operation, co-operating closely with the NSA.

Physical assaults on Muslim women in France increasing

Press TV

Physical assaults by neo-Nazi groups on Muslim women who wear hijab, headscarves or burkas are on the rise in France, Press TV reports.

In the latest incident, a young Muslim woman was attacked in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil for wearing a veil on June 13.

On June 17, her lawyer announced that the 21-year-old, who was four months pregnant, suffered a miscarriage and lost her baby.

Two men attacked the young woman in the middle of the street, trying to rip her headscarf. She is also said to have been kicked in the stomach.

Meanwhile, angry of protesters gathered in front of the town hall of Argenteuil to express their outrage at the rising attacks by neo-Nazi groups.

“The latest attack was exactly the same as mine. The guys cross your path then they turn back and walk toward you and they pull off your headscarf or in my case the hijab then they hit you, throw you on the ground…,” Rabia, a Muslim woman told Press TV.

The mayor of Argenteuil has strongly condemned the attacks, saying there is no place for Islamophobia in his town. However, the demonstrators say the groups of skinheads have been spotted in some central locations in Argenteuil.

“Stop. We want this aggression to stop. We have had enough. We are told that in France women’s rights are respected… [but] what we are seeing is that the attacks are becoming commonplace, a kind of trend,” a protester said.

Neo-Nazi groups have also attacked those French citizens who support the rights of ethnic and religious minorities in the country.

The French government says it will impose a ban on the extremist groups, but it is not clear whether a ban is enough to prevent further attacks on Muslims and other minorities.

Syria: Militants commit massacre, Lebanese consider Hezbollah involvement justifiable & Fabius- Army advance should be “stopped”

Foreign-Backed Militants Commit Massacre in Syria’s Deir Ezzor

Al Manar

Nusra Front militants, who are fighting the Syrian government, and have links to al-Qaeda group, committed massacre against Syrians as they killed 60 people in a village in eastern Deir Ezzor province.

The head of an opposition observatory based in London, Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France Presse (AFP) that militants attacked the village of Hatla killing 60 – residents.

He reported that the armed groups took control of the village, adding that the – residents were fleeing the area following the violence.

According to media reports militants even targeted women and children as they attacked the village. They also abducted several women and demolished houses of worship.


Lebanese consider Hezbollah involvement in Syria war justifiable

Press TV

An opinion poll shows that the Lebanese have considered the involvement of Hezbollah in Syria war against foreign-backed militants justifiable.

Seventy eight percent of the participants in the survey, conducted by French magazine L’Hebdo on 1200 adult Lebanese, believed that Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria war against foreign backed militants was justifiable.

Only 19 percent of the Lebanese respondents regarded the involvement unjustifiable, the survey showed.


Fabius: Syrian Army Advance Should Be “Stopped” before Aleppo

Al Manar

Frensh Foreign Minsiter Laurent Fabius said that Syrian army has gained over the past few weeks considerable ground, warning that this advance should be stopped before reaching the province of Aleppo.

“We need to re-balance things because over the past few weeks the troops of Bashar al-Assad (Syrian leader) and especially Hezbollah and the Iranians, along with Russian arms, have gained considerable ground,” Fabius said on France 2 television.

“We must stop this progression before Aleppo. It is the next target of Hezbollah and of the Iranians,” he added.

However, Fabius didn’t explain how the Syrian Army should be stopped.
On Tuesday, France’s foreign ministry warned that the nearly 27-month Syrian conflict was at a “turning point.”

“What should we do under these conditions to reinforce the opposition armed forces? We have had these discussions with our partners, with the Americans, the Saudis, the Turks, many others,” said ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot.
“We cannot leave the opposition in the current state.”

The Syrian Army recaptured the city of al-Qusayr along with its countryside last week. The area, which is near to the border with Lebanon, is considered strategic since it was a bastion for foreign-backed militants fighting the Syrian government.

Putin: West supports in Syria forces he fights in Mali

Al Manar

The Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday the Western powers are fighting in the African state of Mali the same forces they are supporting in Arab state of Syria against the President Bashar al-Assad.

“The West is supporting some forces in Syria while fighting them in Mali,” he stated in an interview with the state-run “Russia Today” channel.

Putin, moreover, stressed that the Syrian government should have recognized the need for fundamental changes in the appropriate time in order to prevent what happened in the country.

“Radical transformations have been matured in Syria, and the Syrian government had to touch it at that time and take the initiative to make the required changes.”

“If they have done so, what happened wouldn’t have been happened,” Putin said.

During the interview, the Russian leader reiterated that his country is not “a lawyer for the current Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad,” yet “any opposition is acceptable if it behaves within the framework of Law,” he stressed.

Warning of the risks waged by the so-called al-Nusra Front, which fights in Syria alongside the Syrian opposition, and does not hide its link to al-Qaeda terrorist movement, Putin pointed out that the West lacks a clear policy toward the group.

“Al-Nusra Front is a major component of the armed opposition and is blacklisted by the U.S.,” he said, while recalling the military support the group has gained from the west.

Putin also expressed hope that the international initiatives, including the Egyptian, the British and the American-Russian ones, will contribute to the creation of new opportunity for a political solution in Syria.

Touching on the US war on terrorism, the Russian President noted that there is a terrorism axis waging in the region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“This worries us. The region is close to our borders,” he stated.

However, Putin indicated that the United States “does not seek to avoid civilian casualties in its battle against terrorism,” stressing the need to impose control on drone attacks.

Regarding the world development during last week, Putin said he notices escalating tension in the Middle East, making it clear that the West criticizes Russia and the eastern countries on how they deal with their oppositions, “knowing that it (the West) deals with its opposition in the same way.”

“We don’t want to interfere in relations between Sunnis and Shiites,” he voiced.
As for the Iranian peaceful nuclear program, the Russian leader denied his country has any evidence that the Islamic Republic violates the international law in developing its nuclear program.

France investigates IMF chief over 2007 payout

Press TV

French authorities are interrogating International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde in connection with a controversial payout to a French tycoon during her term as France’s finance minister.

The 57-year-old appeared in France’s Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) on Thursday.

The court, which investigates cases of ministerial misconduct, is probing Lagarde’s handling of a dispute in 2007 that resulted in 400 million euros (USD 515 million) payment to the former politician and controversial business figure, Bernard Tapie.

The CJR prosecutors suspect that he was granted the treatment in return for backing former President Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential race.

Lagarde, who was France’s finance minister at that time, is accused of being responsible for “numerous anomalies and irregularities” which could lead her to be charged for complicity in fraud and misappropriation of public funds.

The investigation focused on Lagarde’s move in 2007, when she asked a panel of judges to arbitrate in a row between Tapie and the partly state-owned Credit Lyonnais over his sale of sports group Adidas in 1993.

Tapie had accused the bank of defrauding him by deliberately undervaluing Adidas at the time of the sale. He further said that the state – as the former principal shareholder in the bank – should compensate him.

Tapie was previously jailed on charges of match-fixing when he was the president of French football club Olympique de Marseille.

The criminal charges are regarded as the second straight scandal for an IMF chief since Lagarde succeeded Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who quitted over allegations of an assault on a hotel maid in New York.

Lagarde, however, has downplayed the investigation.

“There’s nothing new under the sun. Ever since 2011 I had known very well that I will be heard by the investigative commission of the Cour de Justice,” she said last month.

‘The caring facade of french imperialism’

by David Cronin, source

The “public relations” accompanying wars has become wearily predictable. Whenever one of its governments or allies conducts a military action, there is a near certainty that the European Union will host or participate in a “donors’ conference”.

One of these grotesque events has been dedicated to Afghanistan each year since it was invaded by the US in 2001. After Gaza was bombed for three weeks in late 2008 and early 2009, the EU rushed to foot the bill for damage caused by Israel (often to infrastructure previously built or equipped with Western aid). And now the European taxpayer is expected to pick up the tab for destruction wrought by France during its military expedition in Mali.

Let me be absolutely clear: I’m fully in favour of increasing aid to healthcare and education in Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries. Yet this Wednesday’s donors’ conference – jointly organised by France and the EU – is not really designed to reduce hardship in Africa. Rather, its purpose is to cover French imperialism with a veneer of benevolence.

At this juncture, there can be no doubt that France’s “intervention” was motivated primarily by its determination to control natural resources in Mali and Niger. An analysis published in February by in-house researchers at the defence ministry in Paris points out that these two neighbouring countries possess 60% of global uranium reserves. While exploitation of these reserves by Areva, the French nuclear firm, is “certain,” according to the researchers, “instability in the Sahel has an impact on economic projects in the whole region”.

Less than a month after he was sworn in as president last year, François Hollande hinted that he regarded this uranium as effectively Areva’s property. Following talks with Mahamadou Issoufou, his counterpart from Niger, Hollande said that Areva must be allowed to extract uranium from the giant mine of Imouraren at the earliest possible date.

As the former colonial power, it was France which set the border between Mali and Niger. The Touareg people who straddle this artificial frontier have been striving for autonomy since the 1960s. Hollande has been eager to quell the recent resurgence in the Touareg struggle and to bolster the Malian authorities.

His efforts have been sold as being part of a fight against “terrorism”. A more plausible explanation is that he wishes to make sure that the uranium in this area doesn’t fall into the “wrong” hands. It is no accident that French troops were deployed earlier this year in both Mali and around the Arlit mine – a key source of uranium for Areva – in Niger.

There is a fundamental dishonesty behind this week’s donors’ conference. Briefing material prepared by its organisers gives the impression that it is part of the EU’s overall development aid activities. The objective of development aid is defined in the EU’s Lisbon treaty as reducing and eventually eliminating poverty (indeed, the inclusion of this principle is one of the few positive things in a treaty that has a right-wing ideological orientation). Raiding the aid budget to help a resource grab in Mali runs counter to that objective. It can, therefore, be considered as illegal.

This is not the first time that the EU is violating its own law. A 2011 EU strategy paper on the Sahel blurs the distinction between military and development aid.

The pretext cited is that security is a prerequisite for progress. This ignores how it is poverty and oppression that beget conflict.

With some rare exceptions, the EU’s governments have reneged on a decades-old commitment to earmark at least 0.7 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) for tackling global poverty. Diverting some of the already inadequate development aid budgets to military training exercises is tantamount to blowing raspberries at the hungry.

Apart from tiny Luxembourg, all of the EU’s governments spend a higher proportion of GDP on the military than on international development. Not content with that manifest injustice, corporate-funded think tanks have pounced on the French intervention in Mali to advocate that Europe’s military expenditure should be even higher.

Nick Witney, the first head of the European Defence Agency – a body tasked with boosting military cooperation between both private firms and nations – has written an especially opportunistic tract for his current employer, the European Council on Foreign Relations. Witney laments that the “crisis in Mali once again exposed the hollowness of Europe’s military pretensions”. France was “left to do the job alone,” he writes, because of the lack of a “shared strategic culture in Europe”.

His proposed solution is to have a similar level of scrutiny for the military spending of EU governments as that introduced for other types of expenditure over the past few years. This is despicable: the scrutiny to which he refers enables the Brussels bureaucracy to insist that countries eviscerate their schools and hospitals in the name of deficit reduction. Witney advocates that the same bureaucracy can simultaneously demand greater expenditure on drones.

Meanwhile, a pamphlet by Notre Europe – an institute headed by one-time European Commission chief Jacques Delors – labels many of the EU states as “free-riders” because they did not deploy fighter jets in Libya during 2011 or help France in Mali this year.

These pamphlets have been produced as part of a concerted effort to step up the pace of the EU’s militarisation. You can be sure that they won’t be allowed gather dust.

France to buy US-made Reaper drones for use in Mali: Report

(File photo)

Press TV

France has plans to purchase US-made unarmed Reaper surveillance drones in a bid to back up its military operations against fighters in the crisis-hit African country, Mali, a report says.

According to the report published by Air et Cosmos specialist magazine on Friday, France will buy two American medium-altitude Reaper drones following a deal reached between Paris and Washington.

The report added that the French Air Force, which has already deployed Israeli-made armed unmanned drones to the West African nation, intends to acquire more modern drones rapidly.

In February, a report published by the World Tribune indicated that the French military has used “Harfang” medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) drones manufactured by Israel in the war-torn country.

The Air et Cosmos report also stated that the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is currently on a visit to the US, is set to make an official announcement in this regard.

France launched its war on the resource-rich West African country in January under the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda-linked extremists.

The French-led war on Mali has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in the northern areas of the country and has displaced thousands of people, who now live in deplorable conditions.

Amnesty International said on February 1 that serious human rights breaches including the killing of children were being conducted in Mali.

Some political analysts believe Mali’s abundant natural resources, including gold and uranium, are among the reasons behind the French war against the African country.

Colonial Reoccupation of West Africa?

(File photo)

Colonial Reoccupation of West Africa? French Troops Will Stay in Mali Even After United Nations Forces Arrive. Paris has been re-occupying the West African state since January

by Abayomi Azikiwe, source

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has visited the West African state of Mali where his troops have been fighting since January. France intervened in the central and northern regions of Mali in a purported campaign to remove the presence of several Islamic organizations which have been designated as terrorists by Paris and other imperialist states.

Recently the United Nations Security Council authorized the deployment of approximately 12, 500 peacekeeping troops which will establish bases at various points in these contested areas of Mali. This UN force is also structured to take the place of a 6,000-person regional African force which has been fighting alongside the French troops against three armed Islamist groups in the north.

Although Francois Hollande’s government said in January that the French operation in Mali would be short-lived, the plans have now been revised. France claims that it has drawn down some its troops leaving 4,000 in the country.

According to reports from the French defense ministry at least 1,000 troops will remain in Mali until the end of the year. 250 of these soldiers are specifically slated to be involved in a training mission with the Malian army, while the other 750 are to continue combat operations.

A major area of the fighting has been in Gao where the French Defense Minister Le Drian visited. The official announced that several hundred troops would be transferred from Timbuktu to Gao, leaving only 20 behind in the ancient city which centuries-ago was a center of Islamic scholarship and international trade.

In addition to the presence of French soldiers, a contingent of troops from neighboring Burkina Faso is operating in Timbuktu. These Burkinabe soldiers are part of the West African regional force mobilized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

According to French Colonel Cyrille Zimmer, the Burkinabe troops are taking over control of military operations in Timbuktu. He said that “We are leaving a small detachment of 20 men who are going to operate with the Burkinabe battalion. This detachment is going to stay in Timbuktu while the Burkinabes are there.” (Associated Press, April 29)

There have also been efforts to draw more western states into the war in Mali. Germany has committed to supplying military trainers through the European Union.

The United States has been involved in Mali for many years with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) supplying training, equipment and monetary resources. However, these efforts have only created instability inside the country.

When the junior military officers seized power in March 2012 from the elected President Amadou Toumani Toure, these soldiers were led by a U.S.-trained colonel, Amadou Sanogo, who had studied in several academies set up by the Pentagon. The Pentagon has been transporting French troops into the battle in Mali and has recently deployed 100 Special Forces in neighboring Niger in addition to establishing a drone station there.

There has also been a call made by Michael Byers, Chair of Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia in Canada, to have Ottawa become more involved in the Malian crisis. Byers in an editorial published in the Globe and Mail, Canada’s leading newspaper, attempted to make an argument for the deployment of troops to Mali.

Byers wrote on April 29 that “Canadian soldiers would be highly valued as ‘force-multipliers’ who maximize the impact of other, less well-trained troops. For nearly half a century, Canada filled this niche in every UN peacekeeping mission.”

He continued saying “Although Canada has disengaged from peacekeeping in recent years, that shift was a political decision. When Canada’s military leaders sought to have General Andrew Leslie appointed commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo in 2010, it was the Harper government that intervened and claimed that Canada’s commitments to the NATO mission in Afghanistan precluded his taking part.”

Therefore, the priority of the Harper government was to engage in more direct occupation efforts in Afghanistan as opposed to what would be considered a neutral stance in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nonetheless, the UN forces being placed in Mali could very well be subjected to hostile fire and other military actions by locals.

This peacekeeping mission will have three obvious challenges. It will be operating as a supposed neutral force while at the same time French and Malian troops are continuing their offensive operations against Ansar Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Also there is a growing degree of alienation on the part of the Malian people in relationship to both French troops and Malian soldiers. These soldiers have been accused of committing atrocities against the population where deaths, injuries and illegal detentions have taken place.

Humanitarian Situation Worsens in Mali

As a result of the military coup and the subsequent civil war in the north between Tuareg separatists and later Islamic rebel groups fighting against the national Malian army, large-scale displacements have taken place. The economic impact of the conflict has been devastating to those that have forced to flee as well as people remaining in their towns and villages.

Food prices have skyrocketed which has impacted working people and the poor. In a recent article published in the Guardian newspaper in London, it examines the growing food shortages in Mali where French troops have been the most active against the targeted rebel organizations.

According to the Guardian, “On Thursday (April 25) four international agencies warned that northern Mali will descend to emergency levels of food insecurity in less than two months if conditions do not improve. Recent food crises in the region have left many people weakened and still in a period of recovery.” (April 29)

Even the Guardian acknowledges that the French intervention has worsened conditions for people living in the combat areas. In addition to cutting off supply lines it has created shortages and therefore precipitated hyperinflation.

This same article goes on to point out that “Food distribution has been disrupted by the closure of the Algerian border – an important route for supplies into northern Mali – and the departure of many traders. Aid agencies say herders have been unable to use traditional pastures and water points, while the falling value of livestock has made it harder to buy cereals.”

With the intervention of UN peacekeepers there is still no guarantee that the situation will normalize. If the experiences of other states are of any indication, such as the DRC, Somalia and Sudan, the deployment of UN forces may very well exacerbate tensions as oppose to lessen them.

The situation in Mali requires a political solution that can only be reached between the varying parties, governments and interest groups involved. This issue portends much for the future of Africa and must be seriously addressed by the African Union (AU) at their upcoming summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

With the increasing intervention of U.S., French and other NATO military forces in Africa, the social, political and economic situations in various African states will inevitably worsen. African states and regional organizations must devise a strategy to deal with this escalation of imperialist militarism which has implications for the continent as a whole.

France’s media admits that the Syrian “opposition” is Al Qaida. Then justifies French government support to the terrorists

(Syria -File photo)

by Gearóid Ó Colmáin, source

In a report published on the 11th of April French daily Le Monde admits that rebels fighting the government of the Syrian Arab Republic are dominated by Japhat Al Nosra, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaida. The admission comes after two years of non-stop disinformation trumpeted from all French mainstream media outlets from the official right to the official left, disinformation that has attempted to convince the French public that democratic revolutionaries are fighting a war for human rights and freedom against a brutal, tyrannical dictator, who is ‘’ killing his own people’’.

This puerile and deeply dishonest narrative has now been utterly discredited, as the facts about the terrorist nature of the Syrian rebels have become too obvious to ignore. In an article entitled ‘The New Visage of French Jihadism’ it is reported that French jihadists are leaving France in their hundreds to join the ‘holy war’ against the Syrian Arab Republic, with many more joining jihadist groups in Mali.

On the same page in an article entitled ‘Al Qaida extends its territory and unites its forces in Iraq and Syria’, Le Monde’s Christophe Ayad reports:

‘The head of Iraq’s Islamic state, the Iraqi branch of Al Qaida, announced in a recorded message on April 9th, that his group would be fused with the Japhat AL Nosra( Support Front), the principal armed jihadist organization in Syria. The new group will be called Al-Qaida in Iraq and the Levant. This announcement comes two days after the call of Ayman Al-Zawarhiri, the successor of Osama Bin Laden in the leadership of Al-Qaida ‘headquarters,’ for the establishment of an Islamic state after the fall of the regime of Bachar-Al-Assad, afflicted since two years by an insurrection by the Sunni majority.’[1]

So, here we now have the French establishment press, who has been working overtime since two years to convince us that those fighting Assad are democrats, admitting that they are in fact Al Qaida. According to an October 2010Fox News report, the above-mentioned Al Qaida leader Al-Zawarhiri dined at the Pentagon just months after 911. Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge claimed she had documents to prove this. Of course, Fox News being a corporate propaganda agency did not pursue this story any further, nor did any other international mainstream media outlets. In the war on terror ignorance is strength and questioning is stupid.[2] The Fox News reporter earns 900,000 dollars per annum.[3]

In order to soften the blow and reassure French readers that the Quai d’Orsay’s support for the ‘rebels’ does not contradict France’s commitment to ‘human rights’, Le Monde’s Christophe Ayad tells us that:

‘Contrary to the Islamic State in Iraq the Al Nosra Front have made an effort not to systematically target civilians. It has not insisted, for the moment, on imposing an Islamic order that is too strict in the zones under its control, and has even concluded honorable agreements with the Kurdish rebellion, as in at Ras Al-Ain and more recently at Aleppo’[4]

These rebels Le Monde attempts to whitewash have been systematically targeting civilians from the start of this conflict. They have put bombs in cars in busy market squares, they have bombed universities murdering and maiming hundreds of innocent civilians. They have been torturing and beheading civilians and soldiers alike [5], even forcing children to participate in the decapitation some of their victims. Children have also been used as soldiers.[6 ]

They have forced women to wear the chador in the ‘liberated’ parts of once beautiful Aleppo.[7] They have desecrated and ruined the country’s religious and cultural heritage. They have blown up pipelines and wrecked infrastructure. They have destroyed thousands of schools, libraries and public service buildings. They have used chemical weapons. They have slit the throats of little children in order to blame the Syrian government. They terrorists are now even taking photos of themselves with the decapitated heads of their victims.[8] None of this is a secret. They have continously posted videos boasting about their crimes.

Yet Le Monde wants us to believe that Japhat Al Nosra [image above] is a good, more civilized version of Al Qaida, one perhaps worthy of Western military support! Of course, Le Monde will reply that they do not support Japhat Al Nosra, that they support the secular rebels. But where are the secular rebels?Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states very clearly that ‘any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law’. [9 ] The attempt by Western journalists to portray terrorist groups as freedom fighters and the use of information sources emanating exclusively from these groups to justify foreign aggression against a sovereign state recognized by the United Nations constitutes a war crime.

The French ‘special envoy’ seems to lament the fact that the announcement of this new fusion of terrorist groups will discredit the French government’s attempts to convince its European Union partners to officially arm the ‘rebellion’. While the French press admits that the Syrian armed opposition is predominantly Al-Qaida, it continues to insinuate and suggest that the bulk of the armed opposition is in fact secular and liberal. However, no evidence to support such insinuations has ever been forthcoming, while evidence to the contrary is overwhelming and impossible to dismiss.

In another article published on March 5th entitled ‘The Syrian Rebels take control of the Village of Raqqa in the North of the Country’, reporter Khalid Sid Mohand tells us just who these ‘rebels’ are. They are, he admits a few lines into his report:

‘A coalition of armed groups, some of whom are affiliated to the jihadists of Japhat-al-Nosra, who are behind the fall of Rakka.’[10]

How lovely! Al Qaida have captured a Syrian town and the French liberal media seems to be very excited about the prospect of armed barbarians taking over the Levantine state. From the title of the article, one is led to believe that the Syrian rebels have taken the town, the Syrian rebels being the French media’s designated ‘Arab Spring’ good guys. So, even though the news is bad, the headline suggests that it is good. Reality is turned upside down.

This technique of editorializing terrorists as rebels, while at the same time admitting that they are terrorists has the effect of confusing the public and preventing the uncritical reader from understanding the real forces at play in the Syrian conflict. The technique was repeatedly used during the Russian-Chechnian war when Islamist terrorists were repeatedly described as ‘rebels’. The double-standard, double-speak and double-think are techniques which are now part and parcel of ‘professional journalism’.

While such villainous and schizophrenic behavior may appear to some as a diabolical conspiracy, the reality is far more complex. This schizoid way of thinking and speaking is simply the psychological reflection of a global economic system that is collapsing upon its own internal contradictions. The extraction of surplus value from labour and the globalization of this capitalist mode of production have made a tiny section of the global population extremely rich and powerful.

The rich and powerful not only own the means of production, they also own the means of communication and as rule by a financial oligarchy is objectively contrary to democratic principles, a double-language and double-think is necessary in order to make people believe that 2 plus 2 equals 5. As a result, armed groups that serve the interests of the financial oligarchy will be mediatized as ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘human rights’ activists. However, as reporters cannot always control or ignore the complex realities they report on, the truth also emerges between the lines, in the margins and interstices of their own discourse. However, the job of rational analysis and interpretation of information is only being carried nowadays out by alternative media outlets whose goal is to serve the public good and tell the truth.

Thus, articles reporting the ‘good news’ that the Syrian rebels have taking another town will also have to admit that these same rebels are actually Al Qaida. But because double-think is so deeply embedded in Western culture, the contradictions of these reports are rarely noticed or analyzed The task of molding the public mind to support the ‘cruel but necessary’ geopolitical strategies of the global financial elite falls to the mass media , who orient and distort information to suit imperial designs and the corporate interests of the media’s owners.

In a Guardian article of 2002, the Western establishment’s policy of total hypocrisy was eloquently expressed by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s chief strategist Robert Cooper who wrote:

‘The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era – force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself. Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle’[11]

Since unknown snipers opened fire on protestors and police in the town of Daraa on March 15th2011, the Syrian nation has been assaulted by death squads armed and trained by the Gulf emirates and Nato intelligence. The result has been the death of thousands and the destruction of a nation. This is a repeat of the Arc of Crisis created in Afghanistan in 1979 when US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Bzrezinski organized the arming and training of Mujahedeen terrorists in order to overthrow the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. The result was the creation of Al Qaida, a data-base of military-intelligence assets, who have since the very beginning, always served Nato geopolitical interests. The same technique is now being used against Syria.

It is quite possible the French government’s admission that Al Qaida have taken over large parts of Syria could serve as an excuse in the weeks, months or years ahead for direct military intervention to ‘free’ Syria from Al-Qaida, just as French intelligence’s fomentation of jihadism in Libya and their transfer to Mali served the cause of military intervention there. Meanwhile,the media demonization of Bachar-Al Assad will continue. However, the existence of Al Qaida in Syria could eventually become the final justification for intervention if the terrorists succeed in sufficiently weakening the Syrian state and Russia can be persuaded to acquiesce in the loss of its Eastern Mediterranean client state.

The dupes of Nato’s media empire can continue to comfort themselves that their governments are fighting terrorists in some countries, while helping ‘democratic rebels’ to fight ‘brutal regimes’ in others, but as savage austerity cuts and the militarization of urban space afflicts European cities, the reality that it is the degenerate Euro-Atlantic elites who are fomenting jihadist terrorism, the nightmarish reality that this is in fact both the ‘brutal regime’, and the opaque, loose ‘terrorist network’ which wants to take away our freedoms and destroy civilization, this reality will become impossible to ignore. For in truth the war on terrorism is ultimately a war on humanity.

‘Contrairement à l’Etat islamique en Irak, Le Front Al-Nosra prend garde à ne pascibler systématiquement les civils. Il a évité, pour l’instant, d’imposer un ordre islamique trop strict dans les zones passées sous son contrôle et conclut même des accords ponctuels avec la rébellion kurde, comme à Ras Al-Aïn, et plus récemment à Alep.’

France: From Gloire to Desespoir

L’Affaire Cahuzac

by BARRY LANDO, source


President Francois Hollande’s government is reeling from the latest scandal to jolt this country-the admission by Budget Minister, Jerome Cahuzac, after months of denying the charge, that he had secret offshore accounts. This newest affaire only adds to the strange brew of outrage and despair that has enveloped the citizens of what was once Europe’s greatest power.

Nothing brings home more starkly France’s awful decline than a visit to the Basilica of Saint Denis in the northern suburbs of Paris. It is still considered one of the architectural marvels of Europe. Its vaulted domes, 13th century nave, slender towering walls and luminous stained glass windows were models for the high Gothic style that that inspired the architects of Notre Dame in Paris and other great abbeys and temples to the Christian God throughout Europe. Inside are the tombs—though not always the remains–of most of the kings and queens of France over the past 1500 years. It’s a memorable sight. But there were precious few tourists there when I visited yesterday; and non apparent on the streets outside.

Once you exit the cavernous, hushed Basilica you’re suddenly walking the main shopping streets of one of Paris’s most notorious urban slums, filled mainly with immigrants and the descendants of immigrants from the sprawling lands that France once ruled in Africa, not that many years ago.

Today, however, Saint Denis is more notorious for its crime and drug rate than its basilica. Probably 25% or more of the young people on these streets are unemployed. Saint Denis is also associated with gang violence, car burnings, housing complexes that even the police fear to enter, and a predominately Islamic population that feels increasingly estranged from the rest of France.

And Saint Denis is far from being an exception in France.

Despite President Hollande’s vow when he entered office to reduce unemployment, the number of jobless is still high—more than 10% and growing higher–throughout the country.

As is the crime rate, from petty street and auto thefts to apartment break-ins, assaults, and all-out gang warfare on the streets of Marseilles. The Interior Minister talks darkly of new violent mafia-like organizations in France, run by legal and illegal immigrants who have swarmed into the country from Eastern Europe in the past few years.

Despite President Hollande’s promise to revitalize French industry and block factory closures, factories continue to shut down. Others continue to lay off thousands of workers. The 35-hour workweek still reigns supreme.

Meanwhile, Hollande’s politically-driven drive to raise taxes on the wealthy, particularly a charge of 75% on those making more than one million Euros a year, has probably cost France far more than any such tax could ever bring in. The latest demented development is that the companies that pay those salaries will also have to pay the taxes. That includes France’s major football teams and millionaire stars.

Hundreds of thousands of French—many of the best and the brightest–have fled abroad over the past few years, more than 400,000 to London alone. But a survey taken found most of them left not to so much to avoid French taxes, but to escape stifling French bureaucracy and regulations, and do something about the huge waste.

Every French government in recent history has promised to do something about that bureaucracy. None have succeeded in tackling the entrenched labor unions and special interests.

In fact, most French long ago gave up their claim to be a major power. They would happily settle for a good, secure government job, with decent schools, housing, a comfortable retirement and continued access to one of the world’s best medical systems.  They would settle in short for security, in their own land..

But that’s exactly what’s being threatened in an atmosphere of moral decay and crisis—of underlying rot.

Francois Hollande was elected eleven months ago to deal with all this-to bring an end to the frenetic bling-bling reign of Nicolas Sarkozy, to restore order, to return to a feeling of probity; to be, as he promised, “a normal president.”

And now comes the affaire Cahuzac

Jerome Cahuzac, Francois Hollande’s Minister of the Budget, who had vowed to clean up France’s huge deficit, its finances, and go after tax dodgers. This past December a new investigative on-line journal Mediapart, reported that Cahuzac had an illegal bank account in Switzerland. Cahuzac solemnly swore to his colleagues in the National Assembly, swore to all who would listen, that the charge was false.

This week, however, he finally admitted that, yes, he had secret account in Switzerland, which he then moved to Singapore. The account totaled about 600,000 Euros.

The French media immediately compared Cahuzac with Bill Clinton and the Lewinsky affair, Richard Nixon and Watergate.

Cahuzac’s humiliating admission is like blood in the water to the France’s political and media sharks. Before this scandal broke, the level of public approval for Hollande had plummeted to less than 30%. Today, it could only be lower. Now all sides are demanding to know how, if a small muck-raking journal could discover Cahuzac’s misdeeds, how is it that President Hollande—with all the investigative tools at his disposal–couldn’t have found out earlier.

Then today came further embarrassing news for Hollande. The revelation that the treasury of his last election campaign—the one that was waged to bring honesty etc. into government—the treasurer also had a couple of off-shore companies in the Cayman Islands.

There are increasing calls—even from within his own party–for him to completely reform his government, to strike out in some heroic new direction, to revive France’s faith in its future.

There’s no indication that Francois Hollande has either the stomach or the backbone for such a challenge. Nor that the French would willingly make the sacrifices necessary to retool and rebuild their nation.

They’re reluctant to even seriously discuss what’s needed.

Perhaps that’s because the problems they confront—like unemployment, economic growth, crime, racial strife, the survival of the Euro —-perhaps because those problems are so complex, the French—like other nations—find it much easier to obsess about other simpler issues—issues someone can have a real opinion about. Like..well, should a Muslim woman working in a government office be able to wear a veil?  Or, should France’s social security system pay for a homosexual couple to have a child using artificial insemination and a surrogate mother?

Yet all the while, France’s real problems keep growing.

This week for instance, the Canard Enchaine, reports that, according to a recent government study, the time-off taken for such things as “sickness” and “accidents at work” by the 57,000 people employed by the City of Paris, came to an average of 20 days—that is about one month—per employee. That’s in addition to the five weeks of holiday they get each year.

That represents a total of more than 1.15 million days of work—a cost of 160 million Euros per year.

Meanwhile, as part of a project to refurbish the Basilica of Saint Denis, its marvelous stained glass windows, which looked over the tombs of France’s greatest monarchs, were removed from the church, replaced by artificially colored panes, and sent off to be repaired by skilled French artisans. Ten years later, those windows, according to a guide I spoke with, are still locked away in their protective cases.

The authorities can’t find the money to restore them.

French court strikes down Georges Abdallah’s release


France’s highest appeals court has struck down a decision to release Georges Abdallah, 62, jailed in French prisons for 29 years, calling the Lebanese prisoner’s request for parole “irreceivable” on legal grounds.

He was granted parole on 21 November 2012, but the prosecution appealed the decision, and France has come under mounting pressure from the US and Israel to block his release.

“We don’t think he should be released and we are continuing our consultations with the French government about it,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in January. “We have serious concerns that he could return to the battlefield.”

France’s interior minister Manuel Valls refused to sign Abdallah’s extradition order on the morning of his anticipated release in January, prompting protests and sit-ins at French centers across Lebanon.

Abdallah was sentenced to twenty years to life over his alleged involvement in the murder of two diplomats, an assistant to an American military and an Israeli in 1982. The court was not able to present concrete evidence against him, and he was imprisoned for passport fraud.

France’s court of cassation, its highest court of appeals, ruled against his release on grounds that Abdallah’s extradition would not allow for a one-year, electronically monitored parole period, compulsory for life-sentence convicts appealing for parole. His deportation from the country was ruled a necessary condition for his release.

The document detailing the court’s deliberations and ruling made no reference to the crime in question as justification for his continued imprisonment.

But Lebanese activists say there is still hope, and are holding out for an April 11 hearing at the Sentence Enforcement Tribunal (TAP), where they hope to challenge the appeal. It is unclear whether Thursday’s ruling can be contested, however.

“A case like this cannot be appealed based on the courts and France’s legal sources,” the prisoner’s brother, Joseph Abdallah, told Al-Akhbar.

Dozens of activists have gathered outside the French embassy to protest Thursday’s ruling, continuing months of regular demonstrations and sit-ins demanding Abdallah’s release.

French war creates humanitarian crisis in Mali

(File photo)

Press TV

The French-led war in Mali has caused a serious humanitarian crisis and has displaced tens of thousands of people, many of whom reside in refugee camps in neighboring countries in deplorable conditions.

Malian refugees, who have fled to their western neighbor, Mauritania, have said they have no plans to return, Press TV reported.

They said they fear insecurity and reprisals due to the ongoing French-led war on the country. Some 74,000 Malians have taken refuge in Mbera camp in Mauritania alone.

The people of northern Mali say the French war and the ruling junta are blocking the flow of humanitarian assistance to the war-affected areas.

The northern Malians say the blockade of the area by French and Malian troops has undermined the activities of healthcare workers in several refugee camps. Most of the camps have dire shortages of necessities such as food and medicine.

A UN humanitarian official said on February 27 that Mali remains in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

About “200,000 children are not getting any education and haven’t for the last year,” said John Ging, director of operations for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Approximately 170,000 Malians fled to neighboring countries since April last year. There are some 53,000 people in Niger and 74,000 in Mauritania, and another 260,000 are internally displaced in Mali.

France launched a war in Mali on January 11 under the pretext of halting the advance of rebel fighters in the country.

On February 1, Amnesty International said “serious human rights breaches” — including the killing of children – were occurring in the French war in Mali…