• The Real Reasons Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wanted Khashoggi ‘Dead or Alive’

    Christopher Dickey 10.21.18
    His death is key to understanding the political forces that helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and slaughter today.

    The mind plays strange tricks sometimes, especially after a tragedy. When I sat down to write this story about the Saudi regime’s homicidal obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood, the first person I thought I’d call was Jamal Khashoggi. For more than 20 years I phoned him or met with him, even smoked the occasional water pipe with him, as I looked for a better understanding of his country, its people, its leaders, and the Middle East. We often disagreed, but he almost always gave me fresh insights into the major figures of the region, starting with Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, and the political trends, especially the explosion of hope that was called the Arab Spring in 2011. He would be just the man to talk to about the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, because he knew both sides of that bitter relationship so well.

    And then, of course, I realized that Jamal is dead, murdered precisely because he knew too much.

    Although the stories keep changing, there is now no doubt that 33-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the power in front of his decrepit father’s throne, had put out word to his minions that he wanted Khashoggi silenced, and the hit-team allegedly understood that as “wanted dead or alive.” But the [petro]buck stops with MBS, as bin Salman’s called. He’s responsible for a gruesome murder just as Henry II was responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket when he said, “Who will rid me of that meddlesome priest?” In this case, a meddlesome journalist.

    We now know that a few minor players will pay. Some of them might even be executed by Saudi headsmen (one already was reported killed in a car crash). But experience also tells us the spotlight of world attention will shift. Arms sales will go ahead. And the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi risks becoming just one more entry in the annals of intensifying, murderous repression of journalists who are branded the “enemy of the people” by Donald Trump and various two-bit tyrants around the world.

    There is more to Khashoggi’s murder than the question of press freedom, however. His death holds the key to understanding the political forces that have helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and ongoing slaughter today. Which brings us back to the question of the Saudis’ fear and hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood, the regional rivalries of those who support it and those who oppose it, and the game of thrones in the House of Saud itself. Khashoggi was not central to any of those conflicts, but his career implicated him, fatally, in all of them.

    The Muslim Brotherhood is not a benign political organization, but neither is it Terror Incorporated. It was created in the 1920s and developed in the 1930s and ‘40s as an Islamic alternative to the secular fascist and communist ideologies that dominated revolutionary anti-colonial movements at the time. From those other political organizations the Brotherhood learned the values of a tight structure, party discipline, and secrecy, with a public face devoted to conventional political activity—when possible—and a clandestine branch that resorted to violence if that appeared useful.

    In the novel Sugar Street, Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz sketched a vivid portrait of a Brotherhood activist spouting the group’s political credo in Egypt during World War II. “Islam is a creed, a way of worship, a nation and a nationality, a religion, a state, a form of spirituality, a Holy Book, and a sword,” says the Brotherhood preacher. “Let us prepare for a prolonged struggle. Our mission is not to Egypt alone but to all Muslims worldwide. It will not be successful until Egypt and all other Islamic nations have accepted these Quranic principles in common. We shall not put our weapons away until the Quran has become a constitution for all Believers.”

    For several decades after World War II, the Brotherhood’s movement was eclipsed by Arab nationalism, which became the dominant political current in the region, and secular dictators moved to crush the organization. But the movement found support among the increasingly embattled monarchies of the Gulf, including and especially Saudi Arabia, where the rule of the king is based on his custodianship of Mecca and Medina, the two holiest sites in Islam. At the height of the Cold War, monarchies saw the Brotherhood as a helpful antidote to the threat of communist-led or Soviet-allied movements and ideologies.

    By the 1980s, several of the region’s rulers were using the Brotherhood as a tool to weaken or destroy secular opposition. Egypt’s Anwar Sadat courted them, then moved against them, and paid with his life in 1981, murdered by members of a group originally tied to the Brotherhood. Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, then spent three decades in power manipulating the Brotherhood as an opposition force, outlawing the party as such, but allowing its known members to run for office in the toothless legislature, where they formed a significant bloc and did a lot of talking.

    Jordan’s King Hussein played a similar game, but went further, giving clandestine support to members of the Brotherhood waging a covert war against Syrian tyrant Hafez al-Assad—a rebellion largely destroyed in 1982 when Assad’s brother killed tens of thousands of people in the Brotherhood stronghold of Hama.

    Even Israel got in on the action, initially giving Hamas, the Brotherhood branch among the Palestinians, tacit support as opposition to the left-leaning Palestine Liberation Organization (although PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat once identified with the Brotherhood himself).

    The Saudi royals, too, thought the Brotherhood could be bought off and manipulated for their own ends. “Over the years the relationship between the Saudis and the Brotherhood ebbed and flowed,” says Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on extremism at George Washington University and one of the foremost scholars in the U.S. studying the Brotherhood’s history and activities.

    Over the decades factions of the Brotherhood, like communists and fascists before them, “adapted to individual environments,” says Vidino. In different countries it took on different characteristics. Thus Hamas, or its military wing, is easily labeled as terrorist by most definitions, while Ennahda in Tunisia, which used to be called terrorist by the ousted Ben Ali regime, has behaved as a responsible political party in a complex democratic environment. To the extent that Jamal Khashoggi identified with the Brotherhood, that was the current he espoused. But democracy, precisely, is what Mohammed bin Salman fears.

    Vidino traces the Saudis’ intense hostility toward the Brotherhood to the uprisings that swept through much of the Arab world in 2011. “The Saudis together with the Emiratis saw it as a threat to their own power,” says Vidino.

    Other regimes in the region thought they could use the Brotherhood to extend their influence. First among these was the powerful government in Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has such longstanding ties to the Islamist movement that some scholars refer to his elected government as “Brotherhood 2.0.” Also hoping to ride the Brotherhood wave was tiny, ultra-rich Qatar, whose leaders had used their vast natural gas wealth and their popular satellite television channel, Al Jazeera, to project themselves on the world stage and, they hoped, buy some protection from their aggressive Saudi neighbors. As one senior Qatari official told me back in 2013, “The future of Qatar is soft power.” After 2011, Jazeera’s Arabic channel frequently appeared to propagandize in the Brotherhood’s favor as much as, say, Fox News does in Trump’s.

    Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, and the birthplace of the Brotherhood, became a test case. Although Jamal Khashoggi often identified the organization with the idealistic hopes of the peaceful popular uprising that brought down the Mubarak dynasty, in fact the Egyptian Brotherhood had not taken part. Its leaders had a modus vivendi they understood with Mubarak, and it was unclear what the idealists in Tahrir Square, or the military tolerating them, might do.

    After the dictator fell and elections were called, however, the Brotherhood made its move, using its party organization and discipline, as well as its perennial slogan, “Islam is the solution,” to put its man Mohamed Morsi in the presidential palace and its people in complete control of the government. Or so it thought.

    In Syria, meanwhile, the Brotherhood believed it could and should lead the popular uprising against the Assad dynasty. That had been its role 30 years earlier, and it had paid mightily.

    For more than a year, it looked like the Brotherhood’s various branches might sweep to power across the unsettled Arab world, and the Obama administration, for want of serious alternatives, was inclined to go with the flow.

    But then the Saudis struck back.

    In the summer of 2013, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the commander of the Egyptian armed forces, led a military coup with substantial popular support against the conspicuously inept Brotherhood government, which had proved quickly that Islam was not really the “solution” for much of anything.

    Al-Sissi had once been the Egyptian military attaché in Riyadh, where he had many connections, and the Saudis quickly poured money into Egypt to shore up his new regime. At the same time, he declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and launched a campaign of ruthless repression. Within weeks of the coup, the Egyptian military attacked two camps of Brotherhood protesters and slaughtered hundreds.

    In Syria, the efforts to organize a credible political opposition to President Bashar al-Assad proved virtually impossible as the Qataris and Turks backed the Brotherhood while the Saudis continued their vehement opposition. But that does not mean that Riyadh supported moderate secular forces. Far from it. The Saudis still wanted to play a major role bringing down the Syrian regime allied to another arch enemy, the government of Iran. So the Saudis put their weight behind ultra-conservative Salafis, thinking they might be easier to control than the Muslim Brothers.

    Riyadh is “okay with quietist Salafism,” says Vidino. But the Salafis’ religious extremism quickly shaded over into the thinking of groups like the al Qaeda spinoff called the Nusra Front. Amid all the infighting, little progress was made against Assad, and there to exploit the chaos was the so-called Islamic State (which Assad partially supported in its early days).

    Then, in January 2015, at the height of all this regional turmoil, the aged and infirm Salman bin Abdelaziz ascended to the throne of Saudi Arabia. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, began taking into his own hands virtually all the reins of power, making bold decisions about reforming the Saudi economy, taking small measures to give the impression he might liberalize society—and moving to intimidate or otherwise neutralize anyone who might challenge his power.

    Saudi Arabia is a country named after one family, the al Saud, and while there is nothing remotely democratic about the government, within the family itself with its thousands of princes there traditionally has been an effort to find consensus. Every king up to now has been a son of the nation’s founder, Abdelaziz ibn Saud, and thus a brother or half brother of the other kings.

    When Salman took over, he finally named successors from the next generation. His nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, then 57 and well known for his role fighting terrorism, became crown prince. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, became deputy crown prince. But bin Nayef’s position between the king and his favorite son clearly was untenable. As one Saudi close to the royals put it: “Between the onion and the skin there is only the stink.”

    Bin Nayef was pushed out in 2017. The New York Times reported that during an end-of-Ramadan gathering at the palace he “was told he was going to meet the king and was led into another room, where royal court officials took away his phones and pressured him to give up his posts as crown prince and interior minister. … At first, he refused. But as the night wore on, the prince, a diabetic who suffers from the effects of a 2009 assassination attempt by a suicide bomber, grew tired.” Royal court officials meanwhile called around to other princes saying bin Nayef had a drug problem and was unfit to be king.

    Similar pressure was brought to bear on many of the richest and most powerful princes in the kingdom, locked up in the Ritz Carlton hotel in 2017, ostensibly as part of an extra-legal fight against corruption. They were forced to give allegiance to MBS at the same time they were giving up a lot of their money.

    That pattern of coerced allegiance is what the Saudis now admit they wanted from Jamal Khashoggi. He was no prince, but he had been closely associated in the past with the sons of the late King Faisal, particularly Turki al-Faisal, who was for many years the head of the Saudi intelligence apparatus and subsequently served as ambassador to the United Kingdom, then the United States.

    Although Turki always denied he had ambitions to be king, his name often was mentioned in the past as a contender. Thus far he seems to have weathered the rule of MBS, but given the record of the crown prince anyone close to the Al Faisal branch of the family, like Khashoggi, would be in a potentially perilous position.

    Barbara Bodine is a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, which has suffered mightily since MBS launched a brutal proxy war there against Iran. Both MBS and Trump have declared the regime in Tehran enemy number one in the region. But MBS botched the Yemen operation from the start. It was dubbed “Decisive Storm” when it began in 2015, and was supposed to last only a few weeks, but the war continues to this day. Starvation and disease have spread through Yemen, creating one of the world’s greatest humanitarian disasters. And for the moment, in one of those developments that makes the Middle East so rich in ironies, in Yemen the Saudis are allied with a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    “What drives MBS is a ruthless effort toward total control domestically and regionally; he is Putin of the Desert,” says Bodine. “He has basically broken the back of the princelings, the religious establishment and the business elite, brought all ministries and agencies of power under his sole control (’I alone can fix it’), and jailed, killed or put under house arrest activists and any and all potential as well as real opposition (including his mother).”

    In 2017, MBS and his backers in the Emirates accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism,” issuing a set of demands that included shutting down Al Jazeera. The Saudis closed off the border and looked for other ways, including military options, to put pressure on the poor little rich country that plays so many angles it has managed to be supportive of the Brotherhood and cozy with Iran while hosting an enormous U.S. military base.

    “It was Qatar’s independent streak—not just who they supported but that they had a foreign policy divorced from the dictates of Riyadh,” says Bodine. “The basic problem is that both the Brotherhood and Iran offer competing Islam-based governing structures that challenge the Saudi model.”

    “Jamal’s basic sin,” says Bodine,“was he was a credible insider, not a fire-breathing radical. He wrote and spoke in English for an American audience via credible mainstream media and was well regarded and highly visible within the Washington chattering classes. He was accessible, moderate and operated within the West. He challenged not the core structure of the Kingdom but the legitimacy of the current rulers, especially MBS.”

    “I do think the game plan was to make him disappear and I suspect the end game was always to make him dead,” said Bodine in a long and thoughtful email. “If he was simply jailed within Saudi there would have been a drumbeat of pressure for his release. Dead—there is certainly a short term cost, whether more than anticipated or longer than anticipated we don’t know yet, but the world will move on. Jamal will become a footnote, a talking point perhaps, but not a crusade. The dismembered body? No funeral. Taking out Jamal also sends a powerful signal to any dissident that there is no place safe.”

    #Arabie_Saoudite #Turquie #politique #terrorisme #putsch

  • For Twenty-Eighth Friday of Great March of Return and Breaking Siege in Eastern Gaza Strip, Israeli Forces Kill 3 Civilians, Including Child, and Wound 171 Others, Including 14 Children, 3 Journalists and 3 Paramedics
    Palestinian Center for Human Rights | October 5, 2018

    On Friday afternoon, 05 October 2018, using excessive force against the peaceful protesters in the eastern Gaza Strip for the 28th Friday in a row, Israeli forces Killed 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, and wounded 171 others, including 14 children, 3 journalists ( one of them was a female journalist) and 3 paramedics with live bullets and direct tear gas canisters. Eight of those wounded sustained serious wounds.

    According to PCHR fieldworkers’ observations, the border area witnessed heavy deployment of the Israeli forces this week as the latter heavily fired live bullets, increasing the number of causalities .
    The Israeli shooting, which continued until 19:00, resulted in the killing of 3 civilians, including a child. Two of them were killed in eastern al-Shuja’iyia neighborhood and the third one was killed in eastern Khuza’a, east of Khan Yunis.

    The persons killed were identified as :

    1- Mahmoud Akram Mohamed Abu Sam’an (20), from al-Nusirat Camp, was hit with a live bullet to the chest.

    2- Fares Hafez ‘Abed al-‘Aziz al-Sersawi (12), from al-Shuja’iyia neighborhood, was hit with a live bullet to the chest.

    3- Hussain Fathi Hussain Muhsen (al-Reqib) , 18, from Bani Suhialah, east of Khan Yunis, was hit with a live bullet to the abdomen and succumbed to his wounds at approximately 20:45.

    #Palestine_assassinée #marcheduretour

    • Gaza : trois Palestiniens tués lors d’une nouvelle journée de manifestations
      Par RFI Publié le 05-10-2018
      Avec nos envoyés spéciaux à Gaza, Hassan Jaber et Guilhem Delteil

      Selon l’armée israélienne, environ 20 000 Palestiniens ont à nouveau manifesté, vendredi 5 octobre, le long de la barrière de séparation entre la bande de Gaza et le territoire israélien. La mobilisation était forte encore alors que ce mouvement de protestation pour réclamer la levée du blocus imposé à l’enclave, la Marche du retour, dure désormais depuis plus de six mois. Au moins trois Palestiniens ont été tués par des tirs israéliens et 126 autres blessés par balle.

    • Si, Maan rappelle ce lourd bilan assez souvent, par exemple le 4 octobre :

      Israeli forces kill 15-year-old Palestinian, injure dozens in Gaza
      Oct. 4, 2018 10:51 A.M. (Updated : Oct. 5, 2018 12:03 P.M.)

      Despite march organizers and Palestinian politicians maintaining that the protests be non-violent, Israeli officials have called the protests “violent riots” and according to statistics from earlier this week, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza confirmed that Israeli forces had killed 193 Palestinians and injured at least 21,000 others

    • 3 Palestinians Killed by Israeli Forces at Gaza Border; 376 Wounded
      IMEMC News - October 6, 2018 3:16 AM

      Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said the soldiers killed Mahmoud Akram Abu Sam’an , 23, with a live round in his chest, east of Gaza city. The Palestinian was from the Nusseirat refugee camp, northeast of Deir al-Balah, in Central Gaza.

      It added that the soldiers also killed a child, identified as Fares Hafeth Abdul-Aziz Sarsawi , 12, with a live round in the chest, east of Gaza city. The child was from the Sheja’eyya neighborhood in Gaza.

      The third Palestinian was identified as Mohammad Fathi Hussein al-Reqeb , 18, from Bani Suheila town, was shot with a live round in the abdomen, east of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.

      A number of the wounded protesters had to be rushed to the hospital, while the rest were treated in field clinics.

      An ambulance en route to the hospital was directly targeted by an Israeli teargas canister, which caused damage to the ambulance.

      in addition, the al-Mezan Center said the soldiers targeted journalists and medics, seriously wounding a medic identified as Mohammad Nidal Abu ‘Aassi, 27, with a live round in the chest, east of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, before he was rushed to the European Hospital.

      It added that the soldiers also shot a volunteer medic, identified as Tasneem Fathi Hammad, 20, with a gas bomb in her right leg, and volunteer medic Mohammad Samir Za’anin, 30, with a gas bomb in his head, in Jabalia, in northern Gaza.

      The army also fired gas bombs at ambulances, causing damage to at least one ambulance, east of Gaza city.

      In addition, the soldiers also shot a photojournalist, identified as Dua’ Farid Zo’rob, 20, with a live round in her leg, east of Khan Younis, journalist Khaled Ramadan al-Aswad, 21, with a live round in his left leg, photojournalist Mohammad Hazem al-Masri, 20, with a gas bomb in his head, photojournalist Mousa Soheil Oleyyan, with bullets’ fragments in his arm, east of Jabalia in northern Gaza, and journalist Mohammad Emad Za’noun, with rubber-coated steel bullets in his right leg, east of Gaza city.

      Since the weekly protests began on March 30th, 2018, Israeli forces have killed 198 Palestinians, and wounded more than 22,000 – more than 4,000 of them wounded with live ammunition fired by Israeli soldiers toward the demonstrators.

      The protests call for ending the 12-year-long Israeli blockade of Gaza and for the right of return of the refugees.

  • Palestinian protesters in Gaza: Don’t wound us – kill us -

    How many of the young people protesting at the Gaza border fence hoped the soldiers facing them would pull the trigger and end their lives? Unfortunately, many

    Amira Hass
    Aug 13, 2018

    “A person who was shot in the leg and had his leg amputated weeps. Not because his leg is gone, but because the soldier didn’t kill him.”
    How many of the young people protesting Friday at the Gaza border fence hoped the soldiers facing them would pull the trigger and end their lives?
    Many. Many more than is reported or than the Palestinians are prepared to or can admit publicly. 
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    “A person who was shot in the leg and had his leg amputated weeps. Not because his leg is gone, but because the soldier didn’t kill him,” said someone who came out of the Gaza Strip for a few days. He told of a 30-year-old man who went up to the fence a few times, was wounded a few times, until he got lucky and the soldier on the other side finally killed him. We’ll get to the women too, soon enough, but we’re treading carefully.
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    What is the ratio between the number of those seeking to continue protecting the principles of the Palestinian struggle – by protesting at  the border fence – and the number of those using the patriotic-nationalistic mantle to commit suicide, knowing that Islam prohibits “ordinary” suicide?
    >> Hamas is exploiting Netanyahu’s unwillingness to go to war | Analysis
    We don’t know. Israel doesn’t allow us to enter the Gaza Strip to ask these questions and seek answers. Phone calls are not enough, and so we depend on reports from people coming out – Palestinians and foreign journalists.
    >> No Fuel, No Gas: Israel Clamps Down on Gaza Over Airborne Firebombs
    Perhaps the protesters are motivated simultaneously by the two goals, and their distance from the fence shows the ratio between their desire to die and their fight for freedom? But many people who are very far from the fence come to see what’s going on, one foreign reporter said. That’s not a struggle, it’s a kind of pastime, because there’s nothing else to do and the sea is full of floating excrement. This journalist, who has known the Gaza Strip for more than 20 years, concludes: When everyone has to find ways to survive, there’s no room for thinking about the national struggle. 
    Many of them are young people who go to the fence to be wounded, thinking that Hamas will pay them, and then they can pay their debts at the grocery store or pay their rent for two months. It’s true: Hamas pays the injured a one-time payment of $200, I’m told. But only if the injury was serious.

    Someone who was slightly injured and went to a Hamas office to ask for money was turned away. Someone else was fortunate – his injury was worth compensation, then he went to the fence to be wounded again, and received compensation again. 
    But the wounded quickly discover what they did not take into consideration at first: Injuries have their own costs (beyond pain and disability). Surgery is covered. But medications are lacking, so their family goes deeper into debt to pay for them, or not. And then the flesh is infested with worms and it rots. And that’s not a metaphor.
    Some people deluded themselves that their family would receive large compensation if they were killed, or that payment for injury would come on a monthly basis. They still think it’s like the second intifada, when Saddam Hussein and Iran sent money for these purposes and the Palestinian Authority bore the burden. Those days are gone forever. 
    On Ramadan the young people went on the marches because a nourishing meal to break the fast was waiting for them, provided by Hamas. On other days they would receive a sandwich and a drink at the protest tents. Yet they are at risk even if they are not standing next to the fence, but rather are some distance away, near the tents, as attested to by a journalist who was standing near the tents last week when a bullet fired by one of our heroic soldiers flew right past his ear.
    Over the weekend, written proof emerged of the mixture of a death wish and commitment to the struggle. Abdallah al-Qatati, 20, was a volunteer paramedic who went every Friday to rescue unarmed people wounded by the strongest army in the region. Ten days ago he wrote a Facebook post, and people who shared it said it was his last: “As on every Friday, I go to the border, but this Friday is different. I’m going like any young revolutionary protecting his homeland and his land. We don’t care about the goals of the march or the goals of any organization in this march. What is important to us is our land and our dignity. And in short, we are fleeing unto death. In the hope that the second death will be more merciful than the first. And that’s the end of the story.” 
    In other words, life in Gaza is also death, of a different kind. On Friday, an Israeli soldier shot the medic al-Qatati and killed him.
    And now to the women protesters: Since they are few, this could seem like an accusation, or scorn, which will draw protests. But a Palestinian woman who spoke with women who go to the fence says she believes that few of them do it for national reasons, or that gradually the national reasons gave way to personal-economic reasons. Some of them went to be wounded and receive compensation. One went to be close to her son who was protesting. And many went to die – one whose husband refused to give her a divorce, another who was unmarried and felt that society considered her damaged goods, a third who was a victim of family violence and a fourth who couldn’t stand the poverty, the constant chasing after a shekel for milk and drops of water from the faucet. We are familiar with the phenomenon of women in the West Bank who committed suicide-by-soldier.  
    Poverty in Gaza has reached unimaginable, indescribable levels, even for people who are allowed to go in and see it. The despair growing there behind the iron wall that Israel has built is still seeking the lexicon with which it can be depicted.

  • How a victorious Bashar al-Assad is changing Syria

    Sunnis have been pushed out by the war. The new Syria is smaller, in ruins and more sectarian.

    A NEW Syria is emerging from the rubble of war. In Homs, which Syrians once dubbed the “capital of the revolution” against President Bashar al-Assad, the Muslim quarter and commercial district still lie in ruins, but the Christian quarter is reviving. Churches have been lavishly restored; a large crucifix hangs over the main street. “Groom of Heaven”, proclaims a billboard featuring a photo of a Christian soldier killed in the seven-year conflict. In their sermons, Orthodox patriarchs praise Mr Assad for saving one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.

    Homs, like all of the cities recaptured by the government, now belongs mostly to Syria’s victorious minorities: Christians, Shias and Alawites (an esoteric offshoot of Shia Islam from which Mr Assad hails). These groups banded together against the rebels, who are nearly all Sunni, and chased them out of the cities. Sunni civilians, once a large majority, followed. More than half of the country’s population of 22m has been displaced—6.5m inside Syria and over 6m abroad. Most are Sunnis.

    The authorities seem intent on maintaining the new demography. Four years after the government regained Homs, residents still need a security clearance to return and rebuild their homes. Few Sunnis get one. Those that do have little money to restart their lives. Some attend Christian mass, hoping for charity or a visa to the West from bishops with foreign connections. Even these Sunnis fall under suspicion. “We lived so well before,” says a Christian teacher in Homs. “But how can you live with a neighbour who overnight called you a kafir (infidel)?”

    Even in areas less touched by the war, Syria is changing. The old city of Damascus, Syria’s capital, is an architectural testament to Sunni Islam. But the Iranian-backed Shia militias that fight for Mr Assad have expanded the city’s Shia quarter into Sunni and Jewish areas. Portraits of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, a Lebanese Shia militia, hang from Sunni mosques. Advertisements for Shia pilgrimages line the walls. In the capital’s new cafés revellers barely notice the jets overhead, bombing rebel-held suburbs. “I love those sounds,” says a Christian woman who works for the UN. Like other regime loyalists, she wants to see the “terrorists” punished.

    Mr Assad’s men captured the last rebel strongholds around Damascus in May. He now controls Syria’s spine, from Aleppo in the north to Damascus in the south—what French colonisers once called la Syrie utile (useful Syria). The rebels are confined to pockets along the southern and northern borders (see map). Lately the government has attacked them in the south-western province of Deraa.

    A prize of ruins

    The regime is in a celebratory mood. Though thinly spread, it has survived the war largely intact. Government departments are functioning. In areas that remained under Mr Assad’s control, electricity and water supplies are more reliable than in much of the Middle East. Officials predict that next year’s natural-gas production will surpass pre-war levels. The National Museum in Damascus, which locked up its prized antiquities for protection, is preparing to reopen to the public. The railway from Damascus to Aleppo might resume operations this summer.

    To mark national day on April 17th, the ancient citadel of Aleppo hosted a festival for the first time since the war began. Martial bands, dancing girls, children’s choirs and a Swiss opera singer (of Syrian origin) crowded onto the stage. “God, Syria and Bashar alone,” roared the flag-waving crowd, as video screens showed the battle to retake the city. Below the citadel, the ruins stretch to the horizon.

    Mr Assad (pictured) has been winning the war by garrisoning city centres, then shooting outward into rebel-held suburbs. On the highway from Damascus to Aleppo, towns and villages lie desolate. A new stratum of dead cities has joined the ones from Roman times. The regime has neither the money nor the manpower to rebuild. Before the war Syria’s economic growth approached double digits and annual GDP was $60bn. Now the economy is shrinking; GDP was $12bn last year. Estimates of the cost of reconstruction run to $250bn.

    Syrians are experienced construction workers. When Lebanon’s civil war ended in 1990, they helped rebuild Beirut. But no such workforce is available today. In Damascus University’s civil-engineering department, two-thirds of the lecturers have fled. “The best were first to go,” says one who stayed behind. Students followed them. Those that remain have taken to speaking Araglish, a hotch-potch of Arabic and English, as many plan futures abroad.

    Traffic flows lightly along once-jammed roads in Aleppo, despite the checkpoints. Its pre-war population of 3.2m has shrunk to under 2m. Other cities have also emptied out. Men left first, many fleeing the draft and their likely dispatch to the front. As in Europe after the first world war, Syria’s workforce is now dominated by women. They account for over three-quarters of the staff in the religious-affairs ministry, a hitherto male preserve, says the minister. There are female plumbers, taxi-drivers and bartenders.

    Millions of Syrians who stayed behind have been maimed or traumatised. Almost everyone your correspondent spoke to had buried a close relative. Psychologists warn of societal breakdown. As the war separates families, divorce rates soar. More children are begging in the streets. When the jihadists retreat, liquor stores are the first to reopen.

    Mr Assad, though, seems focused less on recovery than rewarding loyalists with property left behind by Sunnis. He has distributed thousands of empty homes to Shia militiamen. “Terrorists should forfeit their assets,” says a Christian businesswoman, who was given a plush café that belonged to the family of a Sunni defector. A new decree, called Law 10, legitimises the government’s seizure of such assets. Title-holders will forfeit their property if they fail to re-register it, a tough task for the millions who have fled the country.

    A Palestinian-like problem

    The measure has yet to be implemented, but refugees compare it to Israel’s absentees’ property laws, which allow the government to take the property of Palestinian refugees. Syrian officials, of course, bridle at such comparisons. The ruling Baath party claims to represent all of Syria’s religions and sects. The country has been led by Alawites since 1966, but Sunnis held senior positions in government, the armed forces and business. Even today many Sunnis prefer Mr Assad’s secular rule to that of Islamist rebels.

    But since pro-democracy protests erupted in March 2011, Syrians detect a more sectarian approach to policymaking. The first demonstrations attracted hundreds of thousands of people of different faiths. So the regime stoked sectarian tensions to divide the opposition. Sunnis, it warned, really wanted winner-take-all majoritarianism. Jihadists were released from prison in order to taint the uprising. As the government turned violent, so did the protesters. Sunni states, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, provided them with arms, cash and preachers. Hardliners pushed aside moderates. By the end of 2011, the protests had degenerated into a sectarian civil war.

    Early on, minorities lowered their profile to avoid being targeted. Women donned headscarves. Non-Muslim businessmen bowed to demands from Sunni employees for prayer rooms. But as the war swung their way, minorities regained their confidence. Alawite soldiers now flex arms tattooed with Imam Ali, whom they consider the first imam after the Prophet Muhammad (Sunnis see things differently). Christian women in Aleppo show their cleavage. “We would never ask about someone’s religion,” says an official in Damascus. “Sorry to say, we now do.”

    The country’s chief mufti is a Sunni, but there are fewer Sunnis serving in top posts since the revolution. Last summer Mr Assad replaced the Sunni speaker of parliament with a Christian. In January he broke with tradition by appointing an Alawite, instead of a Sunni, as defence minister.

    Officially the government welcomes the return of displaced Syrians, regardless of their religion or sect. “Those whose hands are not stained with blood will be forgiven,” says a Sunni minister. Around 21,000 families have returned to Homs in the last two years, according to its governor, Talal al-Barazi. But across the country, the number of displaced Syrians is rising. Already this year 920,000 people have left their homes, says the UN. Another 45,000 have fled the recent fighting in Deraa. Millions more may follow if the regime tries to retake other rebel enclaves.

    When the regime took Ghouta, in eastern Damascus, earlier this year its 400,000 residents were given a choice between leaving for rebel-held areas in the north or accepting a government offer of shelter. The latter was a euphemism for internment. Tens of thousands remain “captured” in camps, says the UN. “We swapped a large prison for a smaller one,” says Hamdan, who lives with his family in a camp in Adra, on the edge of Ghouta. They sleep under a tarpaulin in a schoolyard with two other families. Armed guards stand at the gates, penning more than 5,000 people inside.

    The head of the camp, a Christian officer, says inmates can leave once their security clearance is processed, but he does not know how long that will take. Returning home requires a second vetting. Trapped and powerless, Hamdan worries that the regime or its supporters will steal his harvest—and then his land. Refugees fear that they will be locked out of their homeland altogether. “We’re the new Palestinians,” says Taher Qabar, one of 350,000 Syrians camped in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

    Some argue that Mr Assad, with fewer Sunnis to fear, may relax his repressive rule. Ministers in Damascus insist that change is inevitable. They point to a change in the constitution made in 2012 that nominally allows for multiparty politics. There are a few hopeful signs. Local associations, once banned, offer vocational training to the displaced. State media remain Orwellian, but the internet is unrestricted and social-media apps allow for unfettered communication. Students in cafés openly criticise the regime. Why doesn’t Mr Assad send his son, Hafez, to the front, sneers a student who has failed his university exams to prolong his studies and avoid conscription.

    A decade ago Mr Assad toyed with infitah (liberalisation), only for Sunni extremists to build huge mosques from which to spout their hate-speech, say his advisers. He is loth to repeat the mistake. Portraits of the president, appearing to listen keenly with a slightly oversized ear, now line Syria’s roads and hang in most offices and shops. Checkpoints, introduced as a counter-insurgency measure, control movement as never before. Men under the age of 42 are told to hand over cash or be sent to the front. So rife are the levies that diplomats speak of a “checkpoint economy”.

    Having resisted pressure to compromise when he was losing, Mr Assad sees no reason to make concessions now. He has torpedoed proposals for a political process, promoted by UN mediators and his Russian allies, that would include the Sunni opposition. At talks in Sochi in January he diluted plans for a constitutional committee, insisting that it be only consultative and based in Damascus. His advisers use the buzzwords of “reconciliation” and “amnesty” as euphemisms for surrender and security checks. He has yet to outline a plan for reconstruction.

    War, who is it good for?

    Mr Assad appears to be growing tired of his allies. Iran has resisted Russia’s call for foreign forces to leave Syria. It refuses to relinquish command of 80,000 foreign Shia militiamen. Skirmishes between the militias and Syrian troops have resulted in scores of deaths, according to researchers at King’s College in London. Having defeated Sunni Islamists, army officers say they have no wish to succumb to Shia ones. Alawites, in particular, flinch at Shia evangelising. “We don’t pray, don’t fast [during Ramadan] and drink alcohol,” says one.

    But Mr Assad still needs his backers. Though he rules most of the population, about 40% of Syria’s territory lies beyond his control. Foreign powers dominate the border areas, blocking trade corridors and the regime’s access to oilfields. In the north-west, Turkish forces provide some protection for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group linked to al-Qaeda, and other Sunni rebels. American and French officers oversee a Kurdish-led force east of the Euphrates river. Sunni rebels abutting the Golan Heights offer Israel and Jordan a buffer. In theory the territory is classified as a “de-escalation zone”. But violence in the zone is escalating again.

    New offensives by the regime risk pulling foreign powers deeper into the conflict. Turkey, Israel and America have drawn red lines around the rebels under their protection. Continuing Iranian operations in Syria “would be the end of [Mr Assad], his regime”, said Yuval Steinitz, a minister in Israel, which has bombed Iranian bases in the country. Israel may be giving the regime a green light in Deraa, in order to keep the Iranians out of the area.

    There could be worse options than war for Mr Assad. More fighting would create fresh opportunities to reward loyalists and tilt Syria’s demography to his liking. Neighbours, such as Jordan and Lebanon, and European countries might indulge the dictator rather than face a fresh wave of refugees. Above all, war delays the day Mr Assad has to face the question of how he plans to rebuild the country that he has so wantonly destroyed.
    #Syrie #démographie #sunnites #sciites #chrétiens #religion #minorités

    • Onze ans plus tard, on continue à tenter de donner un peu de crédibilité à la fable d’une guerre entre « sunnites » et « minoritaires » quand la moindre connaissance directe de ce pays montre qu’une grande partie des « sunnites » continue, pour de bonnes ou de mauvaises raisons, mais ce sont les leurs, à soutenir leur président. Par ailleurs, tout le monde est prié désormais par les syriologues de ne se déterminer que par rapport à son origine sectaire (au contraire de ce qu’on nous affirmait du reste au début de la « révolution »)...

  • Egypt: A season of morality and police uniforms | MadaMasr

    Days ahead of this year’s Ramadan TV season, fans of Egyptian television sensed an impending crisis, one that played out with the sudden removal of several anticipated series from the 2018 schedule. Some of the issues cited, such as shooting delays, were familiar. What was different, however, was the extent of direct state interference in both the schedule and the content of the shows that were broadcast, contributing to what many have called the weakest Ramadan season in many years.

    Though particularly insidious this year, this kind of state control did not emerge out of the blue, there have been indications of it over the past two years. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and other state bodies have issued a series of statements expressing their displeasure with the content of Egypt’s artistic works, criticizing TV series in particular. It seems these statements were initial steps toward cementing state control over Egypt’s media and culture industry, followed by the monopoly of state institutions and their business affiliates over the satellite TV channels considered to be the powerhouses of drama production. Most of these channels are now owned by state-acquired or affiliated production companies, namely Falcon, Egyptian Media Group and Eagle Capital, placing the production and broadcasting of TV series largely at their mercy.

    The state took one step further with the creation of the Supreme Media Regulatory Council (SMRC) and its associated Drama Committee in 2016. The council swiftly started to exercise its stated mission of practicing post-screening censorship, instructing TV channels to cut certain scenes or lines of dialogue, despite them having already been approved by the Censorship Board, as happened with the popular series Sabea Gar (The Seventh Neighbor), which ran on CBC channel from October 2017 to March 2018.

    It is not only through acquisitions and expanding the role of censorship authorities that the state has tried to influence Egypt’s TV landscape, it has also attempted to control the economy of drama production itself. For instance, producer Tamer Morsy of Synergy Productions had a stake in most of this past season’s TV series, while simultaneously holding the position of CEO of Egyptian Media Group, the current owner of ONtv network, and a shareholder of several other channels. In addition, the company entered into an agreement with a number of other channels not to sign any TV series with budgets exceeding LE70 million.

  • Egypte, Palestine, Gaza
    At the terminal: Stories from the Rafah Border Crossing

    | MadaMasr

    It has been one month since the Rafah Border Crossing was opened, marking the longest window in which Gazans have been permitted to leave and reenter the besieged Gaza Strip since 2013.

    What was initially purported to be a four-day opening was extended on May 17, when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that travel across the Egypt-Gaza border would be permitted throughout the month of Ramadan.

    From Gaza to the outside world
    Mada Masr spoke to several travelers waiting at the on the Palestinian side of the crossing.

    Zuheir al-Qashash, 44, was there with his family, which includes four children. “I sold my apartment, man,” he says. “I registered my entire family for crossing, and we are going to live with my mother in Egypt. To live in Gaza is to die slowly. I will not have my children [continue to] suffer through what we have been experiencing for the past 10 years.”

    Qashash tells Mada Masr that he paid nearly US$7,000 for registration and “coordination in order to cross through Rafah.”

    “It’s a big gamble,” he says. “But the biggest gamble of all is to patiently wait in Gaza, in hopes that the conditions will improve.”

    To travel across the Rafah crossing, Palestinians must board special busses and pay large sums of money to register through travel agencies in Gaza. These agencies then submit applications to officers on the Egyptian side, according to several people who attempted the trip. Once officials in Palestine receive a select list of names approved by the Egyptians, they notify those selected to prepare to cross. The list, however, is always handwritten and never bears the official mark of Egypt’s Interior Ministry or any other government agency.

    Palestinians have left the Gaza Strip in increasing numbers since the 2014 war with Israel. It is not unusual for entire families to leave at the same time, according to copies of the lists of travelers obtained by Mada Masr. Some of these families have since relocated to Europe.

    The sight of entire families waiting at the Palestinian terminal for their passage to be approved has become increasingly common, following Sisi’s Ramadan announcement.

  • Top U.S. officials to Haaretz: Peace plan will be basis for talks, not ’take it or leave it’ document

    Senior officials say the plan will be revealed soon and stress that Trump sees Palestinian President Abbas as the only ’relevant address’

    Amir Tibon
    Jun 13, 2018

    WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East won’t be a “take it or leave it” proposal, but rather a basis for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, administration officials told Haaretz this week. They said the plan will be revealed soon, and that the White House hopes to share it not only with the leaders in  the region, but also with the general public.
    The officials said previous reports that the plan would be released immediately at the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan were incorrect. “We hope to release it in the near future, but not immediately after Ramadan,” one official explained. “Our top priority is to put it out at the right moment, so that the various spoilers who don’t want us to succeed have less of a chance to cause damage.” 
    >> Palestinians to U.S.: No ’Deal of the Century’ if Jerusalem Not Addressed ■ U.S. Hopes to Unveil Breakthrough in Gaza Cease-fire Alongside Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan
    While there have been some reports asserting that the plan will be a blueprint for a final peace agreement that the two sides will have to either accept or reject, the officials who spoke with Haaretz said those reports, too, were inaccurate.
    “We have said all along that we don’t want to impose an agreement. So presenting the plan as a ‘take it or leave it’ kind of document would be inconsistent with that,” one official explained. “We are a facilitator. It would be arrogant to assume we know better than anyone else,” said a second official. “At the end of the day, the two sides need to negotiate and reach an agreement. We want to help them reach that point, but we can’t structure the agreement for them.”
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    The officials criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for refusing to engage with the administration, a position he has held to ever since Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last December. “We assume there will be fair and substantial criticism of the plan, but we are astonished that Abbas won’t even see it,” one official said. “It would be a shame for the Palestinian people if the Palestinian leadership refuses to engage with this plan.”
    At the same time, the officials stressed that the Trump administration is not looking for a way to bypass Abbas, and is not speaking to any other Palestinian political figures. “We are not trying to engage with any Palestinian politicians except President Abbas. He is the relevant address, and he is the one we hope to work with,” one official said. 
    >> Trump Mideast envoy: The Palestinians deserve so much more than Saeb Erekat ■ Erekat fires back: Trump administration is killing the peace process, not me
    Last month Haaretz reported that the only recent contact between high-ranking Palestinian and American officials was a meeting between Abbas’ security chief, Majid Faraj, and Mike Pompeo, who is now Secretary of State and headed the CIA at the time of the meeting. Palestinian officials explained that the meeting focused only on security and intelligence issues, which are not included in the Palestinian Authority’s political and diplomatic boycott of the administration.

    The administration officials emphasized that they are encouraged by signs that Arab countries are getting closer to Israel, but added that they have no illusions about the Arab world “abandoning” the Palestinians as part of an alliance with Israel. “It’s not realistic to expect that the Arabs would abandon the Palestinians. That’s not going to happen,” one of the officials stated. The Arab states, in the administration’s view, can help encourage the two sides to move forward with negotiations – but aren’t expected to force anything on either side.
    Under previous administrations, there were different approaches with regard to public exposure of detailed plans for Middle East peace. The George W. Bush administration released its “Road Map for Peace” in a speech by the president. The peace plan of former Secretary of State John Kerry, by contrast, was never made public (although drafts of it were published by Haaretz last June.)
    The current administration is considering making its peace plan available to the public, but only after its final version is shared with the leaders in the region. “We want the public to know what is in it, at the right time, because the public needs to support it, not just the leaders,” said one official. “At the end of the day, the public is part of the process. The leaders need to have public support for going forward with this.” 
    The officials who spoke with Haaretz could not share specific details about the plan, which they said is close to being finalized. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will travel to the region next week with Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East peace process, to discuss the plan with leaders in Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and possibly also other countries.
    The Trump administration’s main foreign policy focus this week, of course, was the summit in Singapore in which Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The officials who spoke with Haaretz said the summit proves that Trump’s unusual approach to foreign policy is working, adding that “this event should give hope to people in the Middle East that things can get better.”
    One official contended that “this event shows how suddenly and unexpectedly things can change, and how intractable positions can potentially be softened and modified. The members of our peace team have a lot of experience as negotiators. We know that positions can change. We know that views can be morphed.”
    The officials said a Middle East peace deal is still a top priority for Trump. “The president has the same level of dedication on this issue as he does on the Korean issue,” they maintained. 
    When asked if it is possible that following his summit with Kim, Trump will lose interest in an Israeli-Palestinian deal since he no longer needs a foreign policy achievement to present to the American public, one official used a metaphor from Trump’s real estate career to explain why he’s convinced that that’s not going to happen.
    “The president built Trump Tower, and then what did he do after that? He went and he built another five Trump Towers,” the official said.
    “He didn’t just stop with one.”

  • Journalists beaten, cameras destroyed: Palestinian police break up anti-Abbas protest in Ramallah

    Dozens beaten and arrested, including foreign journalists, in breakup of demonstration against Abbas’s economic sanctions on Gaza

    Amira Hass and Jack Khoury Jun 14, 2018

    Palestinian Authority riot police forcefully broke up a demonstration in Ramallah Wednesday evening, enforcing a ban on protests citing the Id al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the Ramadan month of fasting.
    The police arrested journalist and dozens of protesters, busted cameras and beat many of the demonstrators.
    The protesters called for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to remove sanctions he has imposed against Hamas and residents of the Gaza Strip, for Hamas’s failure to follow through on a power share deal.
    Palestinian security forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and shot bullets into the air. They confiscated cameras and smartphones, breaking a few of them and ordered journalists not to interview demonstrators. The police arrested foreign and Palestinian journalists and beat a large number of protesters. A number of Israeli citizens participated in the protest, too.
    In spite of the violent repression of the protest, a small group of demonstrators managed to evade the police and gathered on side streets, chanting slogans such as: “Woe to the disgrace and woe to the shame,” and “With spirit and blood we will redeem you, Gaza.”

  • » 109 Injured by Israeli Gunfire on Gaza Border, Palestinian Succumbs to Earlier Wounds
    IMEMC News | May 25, 2018 9:52 PM

    At least 109 Palestinians, including four children and nine women, were injured by gunfire and others suffocated from teargas, after Israeli soldiers attacked them, while partaking in the continuing Great March of Return protests along the Gaza-Israel border, WAFA medical sources said.

    Among the wounded, three were critically injured by gunshots in the head, while the remaining others sustained various bodily injuries.

    Other protesters also suffocated when Israeli soldiers fired teargas canisters at them, who, despite a hot Ramadan day, continued to protest peacefully along the eastern border of the Strip, demanding the right of return to their pre-1948 homes in historical Palestine.

    The protesters burned damaged tires near the border, to disrupt the visibility of the Israeli soldiers, who opened fire at the protesters, despite the fact that they did not pose a life threat to the soldiers.

    Over 120 Palestinians were killed and thousands have been injured since the outbreak of the Great March of Return protests, on March 30.


  • Trump ME peace plan : Half West Bank for Palestinians, Abu Dis as capital - DEBKAfile

    The president had discussed the peace plan’s content with three Arab leaders, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, UAE emir Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed, the Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi, as well as thoroughly briefing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was invited to come aboard, but he rebuffed the offer – and that was even before he generated a crisis with Israel for its deadly confrontation with Hamas in Gaza.
    A Palestinian state will be established with limited sovereignty across about half of the West Bank and all the Gaza Strip.
    Israel will retain security responsibility for most of the West Bank and the border crossings.
    The Jordan Valley will remain under Israel sovereignty and military control.
    .The Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem will pass to the Palestinian state, excepting the Old City, which will be part of Israeli Jerusalem.
    Abu Dis east of Jerusalem is the proposed capital of Palestine.
    Palestine and Jordan will share religious jurisdiction over the city’s mosques.
    Gaza will be integrated in the new Palestinian state provided Hamas agrees to disarm.
    There is no provision in the plan for the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return” – but a compensation mechanism will be established and managed by the international community.
    The Trump plan mandates Israel’s recognition as the homeland of the Jewish people, and Palestine with limited sovereignty as the Palestinian homeland.

    Debka est un site « d’intelligence » qui sert souvent aux Israéliens à faire passer des infos à confirmer par la suite... Les choses seraient décidées à la fin du mois de ramadan...


  • Malcolm X: “When you hear me say ‘by any means necessary,’ I mean exactly that. I believe in anything that is necessary to correct unjust conditions-political, economic, social, physical, anything that is necessary.”

    Photo: A Saudi woman tries on a mask at a shop during a festival to celebrate Ramadan in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah on June 25, 2015.

  • How the Tariq Ramadan Scandal Derailed the #Balancetonporc Movement in France | The New Yorker

    C’est toujours intéressant de voir comment des étrangers regardent les événements qui agitent la France. Un article du New Yorker sur l’affaire Ramadan qui permet un regard distancié, et qui pour une fois se place du côté des féministes, contre l’instrumentalisation du débat pour d’autres sujets.

    Soon after the #MeToo movement formed in the United States, in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal, #balancetonporc (“expose your pig”) erupted in France. The effect has been an unprecedented blow to what Sabrina Kassa has described, in Mediapart, as the “patriarchal belly” of a country where harassment and other sexual crimes have often been concealed, or explained away, by a Gallic rhetoric of flirtation and libertinism. In 2008, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was subjected to an internal I.M.F. inquiry over allegedly coercing a subordinate to have sex with him. Although he apologized for his “error of judgment,” he was celebrated in the French press as “the Great Seducer.” Had he not been arrested in New York, in 2011, on charges (which were eventually dropped) of assaulting Nafissatou Diallo, a maid, in the presidential suite of the Sofitel Hotel, Strauss-Kahn, a powerful figure in the Socialist Party, might have been elected President of France in 2012.

    The #balancetonporc movement has exposed prominent men in business, entertainment, and media, but the most high-profile scandal has been that surrounding Tariq Ramadan, an Islamic scholar and activist whom several women have accused of rape and sexual abuse. (Ramadan has denied all allegations.) Ramadan has been a controversial figure in France for more than two decades—a kind of projection screen, or Rorschach test, for national anxieties about the “Muslim question.” Like Strauss-Kahn, he has often been depicted as a seducer, but the description has not been meant as a compliment: he has long been accused of casting a dangerous spell on younger members of France’s Muslim population, thereby undermining their acceptance of French norms, particularly those pertaining to secularism, gender, and sexuality.

  • Verso
    The Colonial Gas Machine: Teargas Grenades, Secular Humanist Police, and the Intoxication of Racialized Lives

    For the privileged, tear gas is an event; for the colonized, it composes a fundamental aspect of life.

    Pourquoi ça gaze autant ? Chez nous y’a pas l’OTAN.

    Alors si y’a la guerre, ça va durer longtemps.

    (Why so much gas? Back home, there’s no NATO.

    So, if there’s war, it’s gonna last.)

    Lunatic, “B.O,” Mauvais Œil

    After the deaths of Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré, two young inhabitants of a Paris banlieue, during a police tracking in October 2005, revolts in Paris banlieues took place for several weeks and then rapidly spread all over France. During the fourth night of combat between the police and the inhabitants of the cité (i.e. “housing projects”) Les Bosquets, the police threw a teargas grenade in the mosque in which Muslim residents were praying during the month of Ramadan. This event defined the frame of discussion of what was happening in Les Bosquets. The combination of toxicity as such and of what was seen as the contamination of sacred space created a sense of scandal that erased all the structural reasons behind the revolts in the first place and how the population itself saw this particular aggression against the mosque. In the following days, no word was uttered in the media about the many, albeit less spectacular grenades that exploded every day in Les Bosquets, and in other cités, and only a few words were spoken about the ton of grenades that were thrown before and after this event. Nothing was said about the life of teargas grenades outside the scandal of their explosive spectacle.

    Indeed, a major contradiction lies at the core of the representation of teargas grenades. On the one hand, these grenades operate every single day in the world, and also potentially everywhere: in occupied territories when the colonized reclaim their land as in Palestine or North Dakota, in urban ghettos in the peripheries of imperial metropoles throughout the West, when inhabitants rebel against the colonial management of their life, in any country of the Global South when the postcolonial state fails to realize its old promises, in the center of imperial metropoles during class protests in times of so-called “crisis” of capitalism. Despite their pervasiveness in the everywhere-and-every-day, teargas grenades are definitely not seen as everyday objects of modern life. Teargas grenades are associated with the logic of event. A teargas grenade explodes with an aura of spectacle, appears during a clash and supposedly in response to a given event. Although the metropolitan leftist activist may occasionally experience the effects of teargas grenades, the latter do not compose an everyday aspect of their life. Toxicity, in our colonial context, is an event only for the privileged while it composes a fundamental aspect of life for the colonized.

  • Un millier de migrants nigériens rapatriés d’Algérie

    Quelque 1.029 Nigériens en situation irrégulière en Algérie, dont des femmes et des enfants, ont été reconduits vers leur pays la semaine dernière, a indiqué vendredi le gouverneur d’Agadez (nord du Niger).

    #Algérie #renvois #expulsions #migrations #réfugiés #asile #migrants_nigérians #réfugiés_nigérians #Nigeria

    • Algeria: Mass #racial_profiling used to deport more than 2,000 sub-Saharan migrants

      The Algerian authorities have launched a discriminatory crackdown against foreign nationals, rounding up and forcibly expelling more than 2,000 sub-Saharan African migrants from a range of countries to neighbouring Niger and Mali over the past three weeks, said Amnesty International. Those expelled include more than 300 minors, among them at least 25 unaccompanied children.

    • Africa, le espulsioni sotto accusa

      Delle migliaia di migranti dell’Africa sub-sahariana che cercano di raggiungere l’Europa, molti perdono la vita nel deserto e molti altri vengono respinti verso i Paesi di origine. Spesso le espulsioni forzate sono oggetto di denuncia da parte di organizzazioni umanitarie che raccolgono testimonianze di violenze e abusi. E il caso di molti respingimenti dall’Algeria verso Niger e Mali. Da Bamako, in Mali, Andrea De Georgio ci racconta la storie di chi è dovuto tornare indietro e di chi non ce l’ha fatta

    • ALERTE / Algérie : Nouvelles #arrestations et détention de personnes migrantes

      EuroMed Droits et ses membres condamnent avec fermeté les arrestations massives en cours dans #Alger et sa banlieue. Plusieurs dizaines de personnes migrantes issues de pays d’Afrique subsaharienne ont été arrêtées depuis ce samedi 10 février, y compris des personnes en situation régulière.
      #détention_administrative #rétention

    • Reçu via la mailing-list de Migreurop, le 12 mars 2018 :

      L’Algérie continue, en catimini de se débarrasser de milliers migrants sur tout son territoire.

      Pressée par les pays européens de contenir le flux migratoire et d’exporter leur frontière vers le Maghreb et l’Afrique sub-saharien, l’Algérie, l’un des meilleures élèves, multiplie les arrestations de migrants sur tout leur territoire jusqu’au niveau des frontières. Ces arrestations s’opèrent sans aucun contrôle d’identité, sous prétexte qu’on applique l’accord dit de rapatriement mais pourtant la majorité des maliens avait des documents en bon et due forme et avec des cachés d’entrée en cours de validité.
      L’on peut croire que cette situation s’est intensifiée avec le discours du Ministre de l’Intérieur nigérien, Mr Bazoum le 21 Février dernier, de cesser d’expulser des migrants non-nigériens vers son pays.
      Ainsi, les migrants sont dépossédés de leur bien et refoulés dans ce no man’s land (#Khalil, frontière malienne) où pour rallier Gao, ils sont ensuite confrontés et raquetés par les groupuscules armés du désert.
      Certains migrants, plus chanceux de garder par devers eux une petite somme, cotisent pour payer le transport jusqu’à #Gao. C’est ainsi que dans l’après-midi d’hier, Mercredi 07 mars la Maison du migrant a accueilli 110 migrants dont 77 Maliens, 12 Ivoiriens, 10 Guinéens, 05 Sénégalais, 05 Burkinabés et 01 Béninois. Entassés dans un camion, le visage empoussiéré, fatigués et affamés, on imagine à vue d’œil combien était caillouteux et ardu leur chemin de calvaire. L’un deux à peine posé les pieds au sol, s’est affaissé. Il est hospitalisé et maintenu sous perfusion.
      Un deuxième cas de paludéen est enregistré ce matin. Cependant l’effet le plus troublant est les crises d’émotion. Il va s’en dire que pour beaucoup de migrants c’est une honte pour soi et pour la famille, de rentrer bredouille (les poches vides) en communauté après plusieurs années de périple. Bien souvent, l’#orgueil leur ceint la poitrine de retrouver la chaleur familiale après tant d’efforts vains car cette #échec est synonyme de #rejet et de #mépris.
      C’est ce qui explique sans nul doute la #tentative_de_suicide d’un des maliens, hier soir, aux environs de 20hrs, au sein du centre d’accueil. Mr X, Kayesien (habitant de Kayes), a piqué une crise et s’est jeté du haut de l’estrade vers le sol, la tête en avant. Tout en pleure, il disait préférer mourir que de rentrer à la maison. Il nous a fallu plus d’une heure, avec l’aide de ses compagnons pour le conscientiser et le calmer. Toute la nuit durant, on a été sur le qui-vive pour parer à un éventuel ‘’re-tentative’’. Par la grâce de Dieu ce matin il s’est plutôt calmé et on l’a acheminé sur Bamako.
      Autant de situations dramatiques qui nous donnent la chair de poule et fait appel à notre bon sens dans l’entraide et l’assistance qu’on est censé apporter à nos chers frères migrants en situation de retour.
      Coordinateur de la
      Maison du Migrant Gao/#Mali

    • L’Algérie accélère les expulsions de migrants subsahariens dans le désert

      En quelques semaines, des centaines de personnes ont été arrêtées pour être emmenées aux frontières avec le #Niger et le #Mali.
      Depuis le début de l’année, Alger a expulsé plusieurs centaines de migrants subsahariens à ses frontières sud, confirmant le durcissement de sa politique migratoire. Entre le 3 et le 13 février, plus de 500 personnes ont ainsi été expulsées à la frontière avec le Niger. Arrêtées dans différentes villes algériennes, elles ont été emmenées à Tamanrasset, à 1 800 km au sud d’Alger, où elles ont été retenues dans un camp de préfabriqués pendant plusieurs jours avant d’être emmenées dans des camions jusqu’à la frontière.

      L’Algérie et le Niger se sont mis d’accord en 2014 pour qu’Alger organise l’arrestation et l’expulsion de migrants nigériens qui mendient dans les différentes villes du pays. Selon les autorités algériennes, ces hommes, femmes et enfants sont utilisés par un réseau bien organisé, proche des réseaux de trafic et de terrorisme.

      Pourtant, depuis décembre 2016, les arrestations concernent également les migrants de différents pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest et d’Afrique centrale, de plus en plus nombreux dans les groupes d’expulsés. A tel point que le 21 février, en visite à Agadez, le ministre nigérien de l’intérieur a dénoncé les expulsions sur son territoire de ressortissants d’autres pays que le sien.

      « Nous avons eu de longues discussions avec les autorités algériennes, à l’occasion desquelles nous leur avons demandé de ne plus nous renvoyer de migrants du Mali, de Guinée et d’autres pays », a déclaré Mohamed Bazoum aux journalistes présents. Ce jour-là, dans le centre de l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) de cette ville du nord du Niger, il y avait 770 non-Nigériens expulsés d’Algérie.

      Attaqués par des groupes armés

      Un autre élément montre qu’Alger a accéléré sa politique d’expulsion. Le 1er mars, les forces de l’ordre ont interpellé plusieurs dizaines d’hommes dans la ville de Ghardaïa, à 600 km au sud d’Alger. Selon les témoignages, la plupart étaient des ouvriers. Ces hommes ont été conduits à la frontière malienne, à proximité de la ville algérienne de Bordj Badji Mokhtar. Ils affirment avoir marché près de six heures dans le désert.

      Les 6 et 7 mars, 125 hommes sont finalement arrivés dans la ville de Gao, dans le nord-est Mali. La plupart étaient de nationalité malienne, les autres venaient de différents pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Selon un communiqué de Human Rights Watch (HRW), ils ont été attaqués à plusieurs reprises par des groupes armés sur la route. Certains d’entre eux font partie des quelques dizaines de manifestants qui, le 12 mars, ont violemment protesté devant l’ambassade d’Algérie à Bamako.

      Dans le même temps, les expulsions continuaient à la frontière nigérienne. Le 4 mars, Matias Meier, directeur du programme d’International Rescue Committee au Niger, a annoncé l’arrivée à Agadez de 1 000 migrantes expulsées d’Algérie. Et le 15 mars, le responsable de la mission de l’OIM au Niger a déclaré que 369 migrants, « principalement des Maliens et des Guinéens », ont été secourus à la frontière. Ils sont « en colère », « apeurés » et, pour certains, « traumatisés ».

      Premières arrestations à Oran

      Côté algérien, les arrestations ne faiblissent pas. Entre le 7 et le 11 mars, plusieurs dizaines de migrants ont été arrêtés sur différents chantiers de la capitale. Certains travaillaient sur des immeubles du quartier chic de Sidi Yahia et des logements sociaux construits par une entreprise turque dans la banlieue ouest. « Il faisait nuit, la police est entrée sur le chantier et a arrêté une vingtaine de personnes qui dormaient », explique un migrant employé par l’entreprise turque. « Des policiers, matraque à la main, pourchassaient des hommes en tenue de chantier dans la rue », affirme une jeune femme qui a assisté à une arrestation. Au total, dans la capitale, 280 personnes ont été arrêtées, dont des mineurs, selon les associations.

      Enfin, pour la première fois, samedi 17 mars, des interpellations ont eu lieu à Oran, la seconde ville du pays. « Vers 5 heures du matin, les forces de l’ordre ont déboulé dans nos habitations, témoigne un migrant ivoirien qui demande à rester anonyme. Ils nous ont demandé nos papiers. Ils cherchaient des Nigériens. » Le 8 mars, pourtant, à l’occasion de la Journée internationale des droits des femmes, le wali (préfet) d’Oran était apparu à la télévision d’Etat, accompagné du Croissant-Rouge algérien, distribuant des roses et des couvertures à des migrantes nigériennes.

    • Algeria: mass deportations of African migrants

      Algeria has repatriated 27,000 sub-Saharan African migrants since 2015, a rare official statistic revealed by the interior minister Nouredine Bedoui last Thursday. He added that repatriations are still ongoing. Algeria is a key destination and transit country for many African migrants, mostly from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso or Chad. People who have been deported from Algeria earlier this month, stated they were detained in makeshift camps for a few days before being taken on trucks and sent across the border at gunpoint. They then had to walk through the desert for hours to reach In Khalil, the first town in Mali. Some migrants also reported being robbed by armed groups along the way.


      Reçu via la mailing-list Migreurop, le 30 mars 2018:

      Le mois de Mars a témoigné plusieurs centaines de migrants refoulés
      d’Algérie. En dépit de la fermeture des frontières Algéro-malienne et
      malgré les cris de détresse, les plaintes et les alertes formulés
      auprès des organismes internationaux (Amnistie Internationale…) ;
      l’Algérie perpétue sans cesse les arrestations et les refoulements de
      migrants dans ces zones dépourvues de toute assistance humanitaire et
      contrôlées par des Djihadistes et des groupuscules armés.
      Les droits des migrants sont bafoués continuellement : pas de
      notification de l’ordre de quitter le territoire, pas de contrôle du
      juge de la légalité, de l’arrestation, de la privation de liberté et
      de la reconduite à la frontière, abandon en plein désert d’adultes
      sans tenir compte des personnes vulnérables mais surtout pas de
      contact direct des migrants avec leurs représentants consulaires.
      Ce phénomène de refoulement massif est ressenti à notre niveau depuis
      que le Niger a refusé d’accueillir les migrants non nigériens dans son
      terroir. Va savoir combien de maliens refoulés ont transité par le
      Niger bien avant.
      Grâce aux témoignages de certains migrants accueillis au centre le 13
      Mars dernier, on a appris que plus de 250 personnes étaient bloquées à
      In-Khalil. Cependant, une tentative d’acheminement de retours
      volontaires avait été tentée récemment. Ceux dont le chauffeur engagé
      a trouvé sur place, à l’image de leurs prédécesseurs, préféraient
      rebrousser chemin dans l’optique de récupérer leurs biens abandonnés
      à cause d’une arrestation précipitée et abusive après trois ou quatre
      ans de vie.
      En moins de quarante-huit (48) heures, la Maison du Migrant a
      accueilli des vagues successives de migrants en provenance d’Algérie,
      dont Soixante migrants, cinq mineurs et en majorité maliens. En dépit
      de la fatigue, certains souffrent de carence tandis que d’autres sont
      administrés à l’hôpital pour Paludisme aigu et crise d’ulcère.
      Cette situation criarde a interpellé sans doute les autorités
      maliennes car nous avons été surpris de recevoir, pour une première,
      la visite du Responsable de la Sécurité d’Etat et la Garde Nationale
      à Gao venir récolter des données sur la statistique du nombre de
      migrants accueillis, de leur nationalité et de leur lieu de
      Face à tout cela, nous ne pouvons-nous empêcher de spéculer sur
      certaines inquiétudes à savoir :
      1. Quelles approches diplomatiques ont été à la base prises par les
      autorités consulaires pour défendre les droits de leurs ressortissants
      en Algérie ?
      2. Les échanges ressortis lors de la visite dernière du Ministre de
      l’Intérieur Français, Mr Collomb au Niger, ne nous poussent-il pas à
      croire que nos autorités minimisent les politiques migratoires
      européennes ?

      Ainsi, la Maison du migrant prévoit le plutôt possible de faire une
      déclaration auprès des radios locales le vendredi 31 Mars prochain et
      une succession de rencontres d’échanges en vue d’interpeller les
      autorités étatiques sur le contexte d’expulsion des migrants dans
      cette no-man’s land.
      On ne saurait finir sans souligner la libération des neufs passeurs
      interpellés par la sécurité d’Etat à Bamako, en début février passé.
      L’Etat malien avait décidé de réagir contre les réseaux de passeurs
      incrédules qui profitaient de la vulnérabilité et de la naïveté des
      migrants, candidats au départ. Cette mise en disposition quoique
      salutaire ne nous éloigne pas de notre motivation première qui n’est
      autre que de défendre les intérêts et les droits des migrants.
      Salutations amicales
      Maison du Migrant Gao

    • L’Algérie continue toujours de se débarrasser de milliers de migrants sur tout son territoire vers les frontières malienne et nigérienne. Toujours et encore cette même xénophobie alimentée d’un égocentrisme sans limite, nourrit les refoulements intensifs de migrants hors du territoire algérien. Avec le mois du ramadan, une prise de conscience, un sentiment de partage et de respect de l’autre en l’occurrence du Droit du migrant, devrait enfin nourrir la Foi de ce peuple en majorité musulman. Hélas, non ! A l’instant, six (06) camions bondés de migrants sont à trois postes de l’entrée de la ville de Gao. D’après les treize migrants accueillis ce matin, toutes les nationalités et tous les genres se retrouvent dans ce convoi dont trois femmes camerounaises avec leurs enfants. Parmi les treize, l’histoire de TEHE Y.T, jeune ivoirien de 36 ans, est sans doute la plus marquante. Marié et père d’un enfant, rentrant du boulot un jour, il a constaté l’absence de sa femme, pourtant d’habitude elle était la première à la maison. Il s’est rendu à la crèche pour prendre son garçon, né en Alger un an et six mois plutôt, quand on lui raconte que celle-ci a été arrêtée par la police d’immigration sur le chemin de retour. Monsieur a vu sa vie se changer d’un jour à l’autre car contraint de prendre tout seul en charge le gamin en alternative avec son travail pendant que sa femme refoulée, elle-même ivoirienne, est sur la route de la Côte d’Ivoire. Quatre mois se sont écoulés avant qu’il ne subit le même sort que celui de sa femme. Heureusement que cette fois ci, l’enfant était en sa compagnie. Que serait devenu l’enfant, habitué à la crèche si le papa était arrêté au travail ou sur le chemin de retour ? Il y’aurait-il possibilité pour les parents de retrouver leur enfant ou simplement d’appréhender une vie sans leur petit ? Dans les préparatifs d’accueil des prochaines vagues de migrants, un problème crucial se pose à Gao. En effet, l’accès à l’eau devient un véritable talon d’Achille. Il faudrait patienter jusqu’à une heure du matin pour voir la première goutte d’eau sur le robinet. Pis l’assainissement de l’eau même reste à désirer. Dès l’ors on prévoit des Aqua-tabs, disponibles en pharmacie pour purifier et rendre consommable cette eau ou payer des pure-waters pour faire face à cette pénurie en cette période où la température monte jusqu’à 48° à l’ombre. A cela s’ajoute le manque de bus dans les agences de voyage dû à la dégradation des routes qui occasionne des retards de rentrée, l’insécurité qui oblige la fermeture des postes de contrôle dès 18hrs et le carême qui affecte forcément les chauffeurs avec cette canicule. Tous ces éléments concourent à rendre pénible le calvaire de ces migrants désespérés et pressés de rentrer en famille pour enfin retrouver la quiétude de l’esprit et un soulagement étreint par la haleur familiale.

      –-> reçu via email par la mailing-list Migreurop

    • Walk or die: Algeria strands 13,000 migrants in the Sahara

      From this isolated frontier post deep in the sands of the Sahara, the expelled migrants can be seen coming over the horizon by the hundreds. They look like specks in the distance, trudging miserably across some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain in the blistering sun.

      They are the ones who made it out alive.

      Here in the desert, Algeria has abandoned more than 13,000 people in the past 14 months, including pregnant women and children, stranding them without food or water and forcing them to walk, sometimes at gunpoint, under temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit).

      In #Niger, where the majority head, the lucky ones limp across a desolate 15-kilometer (9-mile) no man’s land to #Assamaka, less a town than a collection of unsteady buildings sinking into drifts of sand. Others, disoriented and dehydrated, wander for days before a U.N. rescue squad can find them. Untold numbers perish along the way; nearly all the more than two dozen survivors interviewed by The Associated Press told of people in their groups who simply could not go on and vanished into the Sahara.

      “Women were lying dead, men..... Other people got missing in the desert because they didn’t know the way,” said Janet Kamara, who was pregnant at the time. “Everybody was just on their own.”

      Her body still aches from the dead baby she gave birth to during the trek and left behind in the Sahara, buried in a shallow grave in the molten sand. Blood streaked her legs for days afterward, and weeks later, her ankles are still swollen. Now in #Arlit, Niger, she is reeling from the time she spent in what she calls “the wilderness,” sleeping in the sand.

      Quietly, in a voice almost devoid of feeling, she recalled at least two nights in the open before her group was finally rescued, but said she lost track of time.

      “I lost my son, my child,” said Kamara, a Liberian who ran her own home business selling drinks and food in Algeria and was expelled in May.

      Another woman in her early twenties, who was expelled at the same time, also went into labor, she said. That baby didn’t make it either.

      Algeria’s mass expulsions have picked up since October 2017, as the European Union renewed pressure on North African countries to head off migrants going north to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea or the barrier fences with Spain. These migrants from across sub-Saharan Africa — Mali, the Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Niger and more — are part of the mass migration toward Europe, some fleeing violence, others just hoping to make a living.

      A European Union spokesperson said the EU was aware of what Algeria was doing, but that “sovereign countries” can expel migrants as long as they comply with international law. Unlike Niger, Algeria takes none of the EU money intended to help with the migration crisis, although it did receive $111.3 million in aid from Europe between 2014 and 2017.

      Algeria provides no figures for the expulsions. But the number of people crossing on foot to Niger has been rising steadily since the International Organization for Migration started counting in May 2017, when 135 people were dropped at the crossing, to as high as 2,888 in April 2018. In all, according to the #IOM, a total of 11,276 men, women and children survived the march.

      At least another 2,500 were forced on a similar trek this year through the Sahara into neighboring Mali, with an unknown number succumbing along the way.

      The migrants the AP talked to described being rounded up hundreds at a time, crammed into open trucks headed southward for six to eight hours to what is known as Point Zero, then dropped in the desert and pointed in the direction of Niger. They are told to walk, sometimes at gunpoint. In early June, 217 men, women and children were dropped well before reaching Point Zero, fully 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the nearest source of water, according to the IOM.

      Within seconds of setting foot on the sand, the heat pierces even the thickest shoes. Sweat dries upon the first touch of air, providing little relief from the beating sun overhead. Each inhalation is like breathing in an oven.

      But there is no turning back.

      “There were people who couldn’t take it. They sat down and we left them. They were suffering too much,” said Aliou Kande, an 18-year-old from Senegal.

      Kande said nearly a dozen people simply gave up, collapsing in the sand. His group of 1,000 got lost and wandered from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., he said. He never saw the missing people again. The word he returned to, over and over, was “suffering.”

      Kande said the Algerian police stole everything he had earned when he was first detained — 40,000 dinars ($340) and a Samsung cellphone.

      “They tossed us into the desert, without our telephones, without money. I couldn’t even describe it to you,” he said, still livid at the memory.

      The migrants’ accounts are confirmed by multiple videos collected by the AP over months, which show hundreds of people stumbling away from lines of trucks and buses, spreading wider and wider through the desert. Two migrants told the AP gendarmes fired on the groups to force them to walk, and multiple videos seen by the AP showed armed, uniformed men standing guard near the trucks.

      “They bring you to the end of Algeria, to the end in the middle of the desert, and they show you that this is Niger,” said Tamba Dennis, another Liberian who was in Algeria on an expired work visa. “If you can’t bring water, some people die on the road.” He said not everyone in his group made it, but couldn’t say how many fell behind.

      Ju Dennis, another Liberian who is not related to Tamba, filmed his deportation with a cellphone he kept hidden on his body. It shows people crammed on the floor of an open truck, vainly trying to shade their bodies from the sun and hide from the gendarmes. He narrated every step of the way in a hushed voice.

      Even as he filmed, Ju Dennis knew what he wanted to tell the world what was happening.

      “You’re facing deportation in Algeria — there is no mercy,” he said. “I want to expose them now...We are here, and we saw what they did. And we got proof.”

      Algerian authorities refused to comment on the allegations raised by the AP. Algeria has denied criticism from the IOM and other organizations that it is committing human rights abuses by abandoning migrants in the desert, calling the allegations a “malicious campaign” intended to inflame neighboring countries.

      Along with the migrants who make their way from Algeria to Niger on foot, thousands more Nigerien migrants are expelled directly home in convoys of trucks and buses. That’s because of a 2015 agreement between Niger and Algeria to deal with Nigeriens living illegally in their neighbor to the north.

      Even then, there are reports of deaths, including one mother whose body was found inside the jammed bus at the end of the 450-kilometer (280-mile) journey from the border. Her two children, both sick with tuberculosis, were taken into custody, according to both the IOM and Ibrahim Diallo, a local journalist and activist.

      The number of migrants sent home in convoys — nearly all of them Nigerien — has also shot up, to at least 14,446 since August 2017, compared with 9,290 for all of 2016.

      The journey from Algeria to Niger is essentially the reverse of the path many in Africa took north — expecting work in Algeria or Libya or hoping to make it to Europe. They bumped across the desert in Toyota Hilux pickups, 15 to 20 in the flatbed, grasping gnarled sticks for balance and praying the jugs of water they sat upon would last the trip.

      The number of migrants going to Algeria may be increasing as an unintended side effect of Europe’s successful blocking of the Libyan crossing, said Camille Le Coz, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute in Brussels.

      But people die going both ways; the Sahara is a swift killer that leaves little evidence behind. The arid heat shrivels bodies, and blowing sand envelops the remains. The IOM has estimated that for every migrant known to have died crossing the Mediterranean, as many as two are lost in the desert — potentially upwards of 30,000 people since 2014.

      The vast flow of migrants puts an enormous strain on all the points along the route. The first stop south is Assamaka, the only official border post in the 950-kilometer (590 mile) border Algeria shares with Niger.

      Even in Assamaka, there are just two water wells — one that pumps only at night and the other, dating to French colonial times, that gives rusty water. The needs of each wave of expelled migrants overwhelm the village — food, water, medicine.

      “They come by the thousands....I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Alhoussan Adouwal, an IOM official who has taken up residence in the village to send out the alert when a new group arrives. He then tries to arrange rescue for those still in the desert. “It’s a catastrophe.”

      In Assamaka, the migrants settle into a depression in the dunes behind the border post until the IOM can get enough buses to fetch them. The IOM offers them a choice: Register with IOM to return eventually to their home countries or fend for themselves at the border.

      Some decide to take their chances on another trip north, moving to The Dune, an otherworldly open-air market a few kilometers away, where macaroni and gasoline from Algeria are sold out of the back of pickups and donkey carts. From there, they will try again to return to Algeria, in hopes of regaining the lives and jobs they left behind. Trucks are leaving all the time, and they take their fare in Algerian dinars.

      The rest will leave by bus for the town of Arlit, about 6 hours to the south through soft sand.

      In Arlit, a sweltering transit center designed for a few hundred people lately has held upwards of 1,000 at a time for weeks on end.

      “Our geographical position is such that today, we are directly in the path of all the expulsions of migrants,” said Arlit Mayor Abdourahman Mawli. Mawli said he had heard of deaths along the way from the migrants and also from the IOM. Others, he said, simply turned right round and tried to return to Algeria.

      “So it becomes an endless cycle,” he said wearily.

      One man at the center with scars on his hands and arms was so traumatized that he never spoke and didn’t leave. The other migrants assumed he had endured the unspeakable in Algeria, a place where many said they had been robbed and beaten by authorities. Despite knowing nothing about him, they washed and dressed him tenderly in clean clothes, and laid out food so he could eat. He embarked on an endless loop of the yard in the midday sun.

      With no name, no confirmed nationality and no one to claim him, the man had been in Arlit for more than a month. Nearly all of the rest would continue south mostly off-road to Agadez, the Nigerien city that has been a crossroads for African trade and migration for generations. Ultimately, they will return to their home countries on IOM-sponsored flights.

      In Agadez, the IOM camps are also filling up with those expelled from Algeria. Both they and the mayor of Agadez are growing increasingly impatient with their fate.

      “We want to keep our little bit of tranquility,” said the mayor, Rhissa Feltou. “Our hospitality is a threat to us.”

      Even as these migrants move south, they cross paths with some who are making the trip north through #Agadez.

      Every Monday evening, dozens of pickup trucks filled with the hopeful pass through a military checkpoint at the edge of the city. They are fully loaded with water and people gripping sticks, their eyes firmly fixed on the future.
      #sahara #abandon #cartographie #visualisation #OIM #décès #mort #mourir_dans_le_désert

    • Algeria dumps thousands of migrants in the Sahara amid EU-funded crackdown

      Not far from the Algerian border, the infant gave up its fight for life under the punishing Saharan sun.

      “The mother, she is a friend of mine. Her baby passed away in the desert,” said Thomas Howard, a painter and decorator from the west African state of Liberia.

      Mr Howard and his friend had migrated north to Algeria looking for work but were rounded up, beaten and robbed by Algerian security forces before being put in a truck, driven back south and dumped in the desert.

      Et sur le compte twitter de l’auteure :

      “Algerian police went to my house and told me to leave with my wife and my kid. They said they want all black people to leave their country" — my report from Agadez, Niger, on Algeria’s racist expulsions of African migrants left to die in the Sahara.

    • Algeria: growing number of migrants expelled into the Sahara desert to face death by exposure

      A report published by the Associated Press on Monday contains testimonies from individuals from sub-Saharan countries, who were expelled from Algeria to Niger. It describes how pregnant women and children were among those abandoned at the border, with others being threatened at gunpoint to walk through the desert without food or water in temperatures reaching 48 degrees Celsius.

      In the last 14 months since the International Organization for Migration (IOM) began recording the number of expulsions, over 13,000 migrants are said to have been forced into the desert after mass expulsions by the Algerian authorities, with an unknown number of these unable to survive the onward journey to safety and perishing in the desert.

      The report’s testimonies from those who survived the 15-kilometre walk from Algeria’s border zone to the closest town in Niger contain details of people collapsing in the desert, or dying of dehydration after becoming lost in the difficult terrain. A woman describes giving birth to her stillborn child during the trek, forced to bury him in the desert before continuing the journey. The migrants recount having their mobile telephones stolen by Algerian police before being deposited in the desert, making them unable to navigate.

      Camille Le Coz of the Migration Policy Institute in Brussels states that the number of migrants going to Algeria may be increasing as a side effect of Europe blocking the Libyan crossing. An IOM official working at the border town of Assamaka is quoted as saying “They come by the thousands….I’ve never seen anything like it […] It’s a catastrophe.” The IOM put out a press release this week expressing their concern at the situation.

      Human Rights Watch also reported this week that they had interviewed people who said that the Algerian authorities had raided areas where migrants are known to live, arresting them on the streets or on construction sites, and expelled them in large groups, in most instances with no food and little water. The Algerian authorities did not consider the migrants’ legal status in Algeria or their vulnerabilities, despite some of the migrants being in possession of a valid visa or a certificate from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stating that the agency is reviewing their claim for refugee status. Sarah Leah Whitson from Human Rights Watch said “Algeria has the power to control its borders, but that doesn’t mean it can round up people based on the color of their skin and dump them in the desert, regardless of their legal status and without a shred of due process.”

      On May 22, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Algerian government to “cease the collective expulsions of migrants.” Earlier in June, the president of the Algerian Red Crescent pushed back against NGO and UN critiques of the deportations, “It would make more sense to point the finger not at the Algerian government, which has the upper hand in the present case, but at the people who caused all the tragedies being unwillingly suffered by the African migrants,” said Saida Benhabiles.

  • Why Was an Italian Graduate Student Tortured and Murdered in Egypt? - The New York Times

    The target of the Egyptian police, that day in November 2015, was the street vendors selling socks, $2 sunglasses and fake jewelry, who clustered under the arcades of the elegant century-old buildings of Heliopolis, a Cairo suburb. Such raids were routine, but these vendors occupied an especially sensitive location. Just 100 yards away is the ornate palace where Egypt’s president, the military strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, welcomes foreign dignitaries. As the men hurriedly gathered their goods from mats and doorways, preparing to flee, they had an unlikely assistant: an Italian graduate student named Giulio Regeni.

    He arrived in Cairo a few months earlier to conduct research for his doctorate at Cambridge. Raised in a small village near Trieste by a sales manager father and a schoolteacher mother, Regeni, a 28-year-old leftist, was enthralled by the revolutionary spirit of the Arab Spring. In 2011, when demonstrations erupted in Tahrir Square, leading to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, he was finishing a degree in Arabic and politics at Leeds University. He was in Cairo in 2013, working as an intern at a United Nations agency, when a second wave of protests led the military to oust Egypt’s newly elected president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, and put Sisi in charge. Like many Egyptians who had grown hostile to Morsi’s overreaching government, Regeni approved of this development. ‘‘It’s part of the revolutionary process,’’ he wrote an English friend, Bernard Goyder, in early August. Then, less than two weeks later, Sisi’s security forces killed 800 Morsi supporters in a single day, the worst state-sponsored massacre in Egypt’s history. It was the beginning of a long spiral of repression. Regeni soon left for England, where he started work for Oxford Analytica, a business-research firm.

    From afar, Regeni followed Sisi’s government closely. He wrote reports on North Africa, analyzing political and economic trends, and after a year had saved enough money to start on his doctorate in development studies at Cambridge. He decided to focus on Egypt’s independent unions, whose series of unprecedented strikes, starting in 2006, had primed the public for the revolt against Mubarak; now, with the Arab Spring in tatters, Regeni saw the unions as a fragile hope for Egypt’s battered democracy. After 2011 their numbers exploded, multiplying from four to thousands. There were unions for everything: butchers and theater attendants, well diggers and miners, gas-bill collectors and extras in the trashy TV soap operas that played during the holy month of Ramadan. There was even an Independent Trade Union for Dwarfs. Guided by his supervisor, a noted Egyptian academic at Cambridge who had written critically of Sisi, Regeni chose to study the street vendors — young men from distant villages who scratched out a living on the sidewalks of Cairo. Regeni plunged into their world, hoping to assess their union’s potential to drive political and social change.

    But by 2015 that kind of cultural immersion, long favored by budding Arabists, was no longer easy. A pall of suspicion had fallen over Cairo. The press had been muzzled, lawyers and journalists were regularly harassed and informants filled Cairo’s downtown cafes. The police raided the office where Regeni conducted interviews; wild tales of foreign conspiracies regularly aired on government TV channels.

    Continue reading the main story

    Manon 31 minutes ago
    Thank you for shedding light on the horrible death of my compatriot and the responsibilities of the Egyptian authorities.
    Emanuele Cerizza 31 minutes ago
    Great reporting. Thank you Mr. Declan Walsh for this solid view on Giulio Regeni’s ill fated death. More and more we Italians have to...
    oxerio 32 minutes ago
    If a foreign person come in NY or Palermo or Shanghai or Mexico City and became to investigate about local gang, or local mafia’s...
    Regeni was undeterred. Proficient in five languages, he was insatiably curious and exuded a low-intensity charm that attracted a wide circle of friends. From 12 to 14, he served as youth mayor of his hometown, Fiumicello. He prided himself on his ability to navigate different cultures, and he relished Cairo’s unruly street life: the smoky cafes, the endless hustle, the candy-colored party boats that plied the Nile at night. He registered as a visiting scholar at American University in Cairo and found a room in Dokki, a traffic-choked neighborhood between the Pyramids and the Nile, where he shared an apartment with two young professionals: Juliane Schoki, who taught German, and Mohamed El Sayad, a lawyer at one of Cairo’s oldest law firms. Dokki was an unfashionable address, but it was just two subway stops from downtown Cairo with its maze of cheap hotels, dive bars and crumbling apartment blocks encircling Tahrir Square. Regeni soon befriended writers and artists and practiced his Arabic at Abou Tarek, a four-story neon-lit emporium that is Cairo’s most famous spot for koshary, the traditional Egyptian dish of rice, lentils and pasta.


  • Palestinian goes to the beach for the first time in decades, gets $200 fine from Israeli fashion police

    Hakam Habash, a 36-year-old man who works in a Nablus factory that manufactures jeans for companies in Israel, hadn’t seen the sea for 20 years. When he received a permit to be in Israel in the daylight hours during the month of Ramadan, which just ended this week – he decided to go to the seashore. But his foray to Herzl Beach in Netanya ended in bitter disappointment.

    While he was enjoying himself on the seashore with three friends, he says, a municipal inspector asked to see their entry permits. Even though their permits were valid, he fined each of them 730 shekels ($207). The fine was for violation of an unusual regulation: wearing underpants (albeit of a dark color) instead of bathing suits.

    According to Habash, the Israelis who were on the beach in underpants were not fined.

    Vu qu’on trouve toujours par chez nous des gens pour importer les saloperies israéliennes, cette anecdote me fait penser qu’après la mode des scandales « burqa à la plage » et « non au burkini », le prochain thème de l’été sera : « les arabes en slip à la plage qui ne respectent pas notre tradition du maillot moule-burnes ».

  • A world of walls ⁄ Open Migration

    A journey in 10 reads: The Mediterranean Sea, where migrants are still dying while the EU is busy trying to close that route at all costs. The absence of a reception system in Rome and Athens, and how volunteers are stepping in. The human costs of the Dublin Regulation in Britain and the experiment in pushback policies in Greece. A Ramadan denied for refugees in Lebanon, and how Japan is closing its doors on asylum seekers.

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés

  • Theresa May Wants To Fight Islamophobia in the U.K.? You Must Be Joking.

    Why did it require a horrific terrorist attack, resulting in the death of an unarmed Muslim man on the streets of London in the midst of Ramadan, to prompt May to decry anti-Muslim hatred as a form of “extremism”? Why did innocent blood have to be spilled in order for the prime minister to utter aloud the word “Islamophobia” for the first time?

    And where were her earlier admonitions about the threat posed to the U.K.’s Muslims by far-right extremists? May served as Home Secretary for six years, across two parliaments, in charge of both the police and the security services, yet during that period she made only the odd, passing reference to the “hundreds” of anti-Muslim attacks in the U.K. each year while obsessing over the threat from “Islamist extremism.” Why did she not take seriously the claim made by one of her own Home Office officials to the BBC in 2014 that the government’s emphasis on the “global jihadist agenda” risked ignoring the growing domestic terror threat from the far-right? That particular anonymous official even issued this stark warning: “I wouldn’t want to get to the point where something happens and we look back and think actually, we should have addressed that as well.”


  • Palestinians subjected to ’collective punishment’ in Jerusalem following attack
    June 18, 2017 11:18 A.M. (Updated: June 18, 2017 11:24 A.M.)

    JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police continued to enforce a strict crackdown on occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday following a deadly attack in front of the Old City on Friday night, with Palestinians saying they have been subjected to “collective punishment” through road closures, arbitrary searches, and mass detentions.

    The security measures are expected to remain in force until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan near the end of June, according to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri.

    Over the course of Saturday, 350 Palestinians with West Bank IDs were rounded up, detained, and sent back the occupied West Bank on buses, al-Samri said.

    • » Undercover Israeli Officers Invade Al-Aqsa Mosque, Smash Its Doors And Attack Worshipers– IMEMC News

      Undercover Israeli officers invaded, on Sunday morning, the Al-Qibli Mosque, of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, and smashed its doors, before invading it, and clashed with many local youngsters.

      The undercover officers invaded the mosque while Israeli soldiers and officers occupied its rooftop, while many Palestinians were detained and interrogated in the mosque compound, as the soldiers investigated their ID cards.

      The attack led to scuffles and clashes between the invading Israeli forces and dozens of worshipers, while the soldiers also abducted an international pilgrim in the mosque.

  • 3 Palestinians dead, 1 injured as Israeli officer killed in Jerusalem stabbing
    June 16, 2017 8:06 P.M. (Updated: June 17, 2017 11:40 A.M.)

    BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police reported on Friday evening that an attack took place outside the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, saying that one Israeli police officer was critically injured and later succumbed to her wounds, while the three attackers — who police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld referred to as “Arab terrorists” — were shot dead.

    Israeli news daily Haaretz reported all three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli police at the scene. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said that the Israeli police officer, a 23-year old woman named Hadas Malka, succumbed to her wounds after being stabbed by one of the attackers, while a number of others were injured in the attack.

    According to Rosenfeld, the attackers used knives and an automatic weapon. Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that the three Palestinians had carried out simultaneous stabbing and shooting attacks in two different areas near Damascus Gate.

    Al-Samri said two of the Palestinians, aged 18 and 19, were from the Ramallah-area villages of Deir Abu Mashal and Shuqba in the central occupied West Bank, and the third was a 30-year-old resident of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. However, reports later emerged that the three Palestinian attackers were all from the village of Deir Abu Mashal in Ramallah, while the Palestinian from Hebron was a bystander who was injured during the incident and taken to a hospital for treatment.

    Rosenfeld reported that following the attack, police units implemented heightened security measures in the area — which had already seen an increased police presence earlier in the day for the third Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, as thousands of Palestinians from across Israel and the occupied West Bank travelled to Jerusalem to perform prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque.

    • Israel rescinds permits, puts Ramallah-area village on lockdown following deadly attack
      June 17, 2017 11:36 A.M. (Updated: June 17, 2017 11:40 A.M.)

      (...) Israeli forces put Ramallah-area village under lockdown and prepare for punitive demolitions

      Shortly after the attack on Friday night, Israeli forces surrounded Deir Abu Mashal village, northwest of Ramallah city, where the three Palestinian attackers originated, according to Palestinian sources.

      The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the slain attackers as Adel Hasan Ahmad Ankoush ,18, Baraa Ibrahim Salih Taha , 18, and Osama Ahmad Dahdouh , 19.

      Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces set up military checkpoints in the village and prevented residents from leaving or entering the area.

      The mayor of Deir Abu Mashal Imad Zahran told Ma’an on Saturday that Israeli forces raided the homes of the three Palestinian youths and took measurements, while Israeli soldiers informed the families that their homes would be demolished soon — an Israeli policy used against family members of Palestinian attacks, which rights groups have deemed a form of “collective punishment.”

      Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that Israel would also revoke Israeli permits for the extended families of the Palestinian attackers.

      Zahran confirmed that “fierce clashes” broke out in the village during the raid, adding that two Palestinians were shot with live ammunition in the legs and another Palestinian was struck with a live bullet. Dozens of Palestinians, he added, suffered from tear gas inhalation during the clashes.
      Palestinians injured and detained following the attack

      As reports continue emerge regarding the deadly attack, Palestinians told Ma’an that a number of bystanders were injured and detained by Israeli forces following the attack.

      Several Palestinians were injured by shrapnel from bullets shot by Israeli forces, who witnesses said shot “haphazardly” in every direction during the attack. Among the injured was a young man from Jerusalem who was shot in the spine and kidney, according to witnesses.

      The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service told Ma’an that its teams had treated one person who was injured by shrapnel in the foot and three others who suffered from tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces fired tear gas into the crowds.

      Meanwhile, witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces and police officers had detained at least six young men following the incident and “assaulted” Palestinian bystanders.

      Israeli forces had detained three Palestinian bystanders near Herod’s Gate in the Old City after allegedly assaulting them, according to witnesses. Israeli forces also fired stun grenades to disperse bystanders and passersby who were exiting through the gate after finishing prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

      Three other Palestinian bystanders were detained in Musrara neighborhood and on Nablus street in East Jerusalem where Israeli forces had also fired stun grenades at Palestinians in the area.

      Meanwhile, all shop owners in Musrara and Sultan Solomon streets near the site of the attack were forced to close their shops following the incident.

      According to witnesses, Israeli forces also stormed the al-Maqasid hospital at the Mount of Olives reportedly in search of a young Palestinian man who was shot in the Damascus Gate area. Witnesses added that Israeli forces were deployed outside the hospital and were inspecting vehicles.