• Oman attack: Iran is the immediate, but unlikely, suspect - Iran -

    Oman attack: Iran is the immediate, but unlikely, suspect
    U.S. officials rushed to point to Tehran, but somehow the world’s leading intelligence services failed to discover who is actually behind the strike. And even if they knew, what could be done without risking all-out war?
    Zvi Bar’el | Jun. 14, 2019 | 8:36 AM | 3

    A unnamed senior U.S. Defense Department official was quick to tell CBS that Iran was “apparently” behind the Thursday attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, followed by State Secretary Mike Pompeo who later told reported that it was his government’s assessment. There’s nothing new about that, but neither is it a decisive proof.

    Who, then, struck the tankers? Whom does this strike serve and what can be done against such attacks?

    In all previous attacks in the Gulf in recent weeks Iran was naturally taken to be the immediate suspect. After all, Iran had threatened that if it could now sell its oil in the Gulf, other countries would not be able to ship oil through it; Tehran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, and in any case it’s in the sights of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel. But this explanation is too easy.

    The Iranian regime is in the thrones of a major diplomatic struggle to persuade Europe and its allies, Russia and China, not to take the path of pulling out of the 2015 nuclear agreement. At the same time, Iran is sure that the United States is only looking for an excuse to attack it. Any violent initiative on Tehran’s part could only make things worse and bring it close to a military conflict, which it must avoid.

    Iran has announced it would scale back its commitments under the nuclear deal by expanding its low-level uranium enrichment and not transferring the remainder of its enriched uranium and heavy water to another country, as the agreement requires. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s reports reveal that it has indeed stepped up enrichment, but not in a way that could support a military nuclear program.

    It seems that alongside its diplomatic efforts, Iran prefers to threaten to harm the nuclear deal itself, responding to Washington with the same token, rather than escalate the situation to a military clash.

    Other possible suspects are the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who continue to pound Saudi targets with medium-range missiles, as was the case last week with strikes on the Abha and Jizan airports, near the Yemeni border, which wounded 26 people. The Houthis have also fired missiles at Riyadh and hit targets in the Gulf. In response, Saudi Arabia launched a massive missile strike on Houthi-controlled areas in northern Yemen.

    The strike on the oil tankers may have been a response to the response, but if this is the case, it goes against Iran’s policy, which seeks to neutralize any pretexts for a military clash in the Gulf. The question, therefore, is whether Iran has full control over all the actions the Houthis take, and whether the aid it gives them commits them fully to its policies, or whether they see assaults on Saudi targets as a separate, local battle, cut off from Iran’s considerations.

    The Houthis have claimed responsibility for some of their actions in Saudi territory in the past, and at times even took the trouble of explaining the reasons behind this assault or the other. But not this time.

    Yemen also hosts large Al-Qaida cells and Islamic State outposts, with both groups having a running account with Saudi Arabia and apparently the capabilities to carry out strikes on vessels moving through the Gulf.

    In the absence of confirmed and reliable information on the source of the fire, we may meanwhile discount the possibility of a Saudi or American provocation at which Iran has hinted, but such things have happened before. However, we may also wonder why some of the most sophisticated intelligence services in the world are having so much trouble discovering who actually carried out these attacks.

    Thwarting such attacks with no precise intelligence is an almost impossible task, but even if the identity of those responsible for it is known, the question of how to respond to the threat would still arise.

    If it turns out that Iran initiated or even carried out these attacks, American and Saudi military forces could attack its Revolutionary Guards’ marine bases along the Gulf coast, block Iranian shipping in the Gulf and persuade European countries to withdraw from the nuclear deal, claiming that continuing relations with Iran would mean supporting terrorism in general, and maritime terrorism in particular.

    The concern is that such a military response would lead Iran to escalate its own and openly strike American and Saudi targets in the name of self-defense and protecting its sovereignty. In that case, a large-scale war would be inevitable. But there’s no certainty that U.S. President Donald Trump, who wants to extricate his forces from military involvement in the Middle East, truly seeks such a conflict, which could suck more and more American forces into this sensitive arena.

    An escape route from this scenario would require intensive mediation efforts between Iran and the United States, but therein lies one major difficulty – finding an authoritative mediator that could pressure both parties. Russia or China are not suitable candidates, and ties between Washington and the European Union are acrimonious.

    It seems that all sides would be satisfied if they could place responsibility for the attacks on the Houthis or other terror groups. That is not to say that the United States or Saudi Arabia have any magic solutions when it comes to the Houthis; far from it. The war in Yemen has been going on for five years now with no military resolution, and increased bombardment of concentrations of Houthi forces could only expand their efforts to show their strength. But the United States would pay none of the diplomatic or military price for assaults on the Houthis it would for a forceful violent response against Iran itself.

    If sporadic, small-scale attacks raise such complex dilemmas, one can perhaps dream of an all-out war with Iran, but it is enough to look at the chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan to grow extremely cautious of the trajectory in which such dreams become a nightmare that lasts for decades.❞
    #Oman #Iran

    • UPDATE 1-"Flying objects" damaged Japanese tanker during attack in Gulf of Oman
      Junko Fujita – June 14, 2019
      (Adds comments from company president)
      By Junko Fujita

      TOKYO, June 14 (Reuters) - Two “flying objects” damaged a Japanese tanker owned by Kokuka Sangyo Co in an attack on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, but there was no damage to the cargo of methanol, the company president said on Friday.

      The Kokuka Courageous is now sailing toward the port of Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates, with the crew having returned to the ship after evacuating because of the incident, Kokuka President Yutaka Katada told a press conference. It was being escorted by the U.S. Navy, he said.

      “The crew told us something came flying at the ship, and they found a hole,” Katada said. “Then some crew witnessed the second shot.”

      Katada said there was no possibility that the ship, carrying 25,000 tons of methanol, was hit by a torpedo.

      The United States has blamed Iran for attacking the Kokuka Courageous and another tanker, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, on Thursday, but Tehran has denied the allegations.

      The ship’s crew saw an Iranian military ship in the vicinity on Thursday night Japan time, Katada said.

      Katada said he did not believe Kokuka Courageous was targetted because it was owned by a Japanese firm. The tanker is registered in Panama and was flying a Panamanian flag, he said.

      “Unless very carefully examined, it would be hard to tell the tanker was operated or owned by Japanese,” he said. (...)

  • Pas d[e nouvelles]’ hypothèses sur l’origine des attaques (dont seule celle de l’attaque du pipeline par drones est revendiquée par les Houthis), mais l’article soulève le point commun qu’il s’agit dans les 2 cas de menaces sur une voie de contournement du détroit d’Hormuz.

    Constat qui donne implicitement une réponse unique à la question cui bono ?… Autrement dit, toujours sans répondre explicitement (!), qui a tout récemment menacé de fermer le détroit et… se porterait bien d’affaiblir les voies alternatives ?…

    Tanker attacks near UAE expose weaknesses in Gulf Arab security - Reuters

    More than three days on, little information has been provided on where the ships were when they were attacked, what sort of weapon was used, and who did it.

    Navigational data indicated at least some of the ships may have been within nine nautical miles of the shore, well within UAE territorial sea. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister has said at least one of them was further out, in the UAE’s exclusive economic zone where international law largely applies.

    Reuters and other journalists taken on a tour off the Fujairah coast saw a hole at the waterline in the hull of a Norwegian ship, with the metal torn inwards. A Saudi tanker they viewed showed no sign of major damage.

    Maritime security sources told Reuters that images suggest the damage was likely caused by limpet mines attached close to the waterline with less than 4 kg of explosives. One source said the level of coordination and use of mines were likely to rule out militant groups such as al Qaeda.

    It’s not those guys seeking publicity, it’s someone who wants to make a point without necessarily pointing in any given direction,” said Jeremy Binnie, Middle East and Africa editor for Jane’s Defence Weekly. “It’s below the threshold (for war).

    Jean-Marc Rickli, head of global risk and resilience at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, said the attacks could be a message that Iran has means to disrupt traffic.

    Saudi state oil company Aramco said output and exports were not disrupted by the attack on the pumping stations, but it temporarily shut the East-West pipeline to evaluate its condition.

    Both attacks targeted alternative routes for oil to bypass Hormuz. Fujairah port is a terminal of the crude pipeline from Abu Dhabi’s Habshan oilfields. The Saudi East-West line takes crude from eastern fields to Yanbu port, north of Bab al-Mandeb.

  • From Sri Lanka to Indonesia, more mothers are becoming suicide bombers – and killing their children too | South China Morning Post

    5 May, 2019 Amy Chew - The deadly new phenomenon sees women radicalised by IS ideology taking their children’s lives and their own in pursuit of martyrdom
    Experts say the rise in the radicalisation of married couples is endangering entire families

    IAs night fell on blood-soaked Sri Lanka following the carnage of Easter Sunday last month, police knocked on a door in an upscale neighbourhood – the home of two of the suicide bombers.
    They were greeted by Fatima Ibrahim, the pregnant wife of bomber Ilham Ibrahim
    . On seeing the police, she ran inside and detonated an explosive device, killing herself, her unborn child and her three sons aged five, four and nine months. Three police officers also died in the blast.
    In a similar case in March, anti-terror police arrested a suspected pro-Islamic State (IS)
    bomb-maker, Abu Hamzah, in Indonesia
    . When they went to his home to arrest his wife, Solimah, who had helped him make the bombs, she blew herself up, killing her two-year-old child.

    From Sri Lanka to Indonesia, a deadly new phenomenon is emerging – women, radicalised by IS ideology, are killing themselves and their children in their pursuit of martyrdom.

    Female suicide bombers have always featured in the annals of jihadism, going back to the Chechen Islamists in Russia known as Black Widows, but filicide by female radicals brings a dangerous new dimension to terrorism.

    “We did not have this in al-Qaeda,” said Sofyan Tsauri, former member of al-Qaeda Southeast Asia. “In Islam, jihad for a woman is to take care of the household, nurturing and educating the children, not taking up arms.”

    For these women, the maternal instinct to protect their children is supplanted by the quest for a “swift passage” into heaven, according to Nasir Abbas, a Malaysian former leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah (JI) and once the most-wanted jihadist in Southeast Asia.

    He later switched sides and is now involved in deradicalisation efforts and other initiatives to counter violent extremism in Indonesia.

    “These [female suicide bombers] believe protecting their children means protecting them from turning into infidels when they are gone,” he told This Week in Asia .

    “In their twisted belief, they are convinced their children will also enter into heaven if they die with them [or] carry out the same act [of suicide bombing].”

    A significant development pointing to this new phenomenon took place when a family of six bombed three churches in Surabaya in May 2018. The perpetrators were a father, mother and four children aged between nine and 18, according to Nasir and the Indonesian police.

    The father, a wealthy businessman named Dita Oepriarto, strapped bombs on his wife and two daughters, who detonated them at a church. He made his two sons ride a motorbike laden with bombs into another church, where they blew themselves up.

    Dita then drove his car, filled with explosives, into a third church. In the space of 10 minutes, the entire family was dead. Dita’s younger son, 16-year-old Firman Halim, was seen crying inconsolably during dawn prayers at a mosque some two hours before the attack.

    “It is believed that the night before the bombings, the father told the children to prepare to die,” said Rizka Nurul, a researcher with the Institute for International Peace Building (IIPB), Indonesia’s first private deradicalisation organisation.

    The rise in the radicalisation of married couples is proving to be a danger to the lives of their children.

    “Children are in grave danger if both their parents are convinced that they must wage jihad … to atone for their sins in this lifetime by carrying out terror attacks,” said Nasir, the former JI leader. “The parents believe in bringing their children with them to heaven.”

    Women are capable of being more radical and militant than men, according to researchers in the field of countering violent extremism.

    “[This is] because women use their hearts. They can be more dangerous as they are more willing to sacrifice, compared with men who tend to be more rational as they consider costs and benefits,” said the IIPB’s Rizka.

    Such was the case with Solimah, who blew herself up in her home following the arrest of her husband, Abu Hamzah. During interrogation, he told investigators his wife was much more radical than him.

    The couple are believed to have been radicalised online by reading the teachings of Indonesia’s foremost IS ideologue, Aman Abdurrahman, who is currently on death row for inciting others to commit terror attacks in Indonesia.

    Many of these women are believed to be radicalised by their husbands and accede to their teachings as a mark of obedience to their spouse.

    “I am not surprised by [the suicide of the woman in the Sri Lanka blast] as she lives in a terrorist group’s environment,” said Ani Rufaida, lecturer in social psychology at Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama Islamic University.

    “In my prior research of wives of terrorists, most express obedience to their husbands. Only a small number of wives could reject the extreme ideology of their husbands, but they face consequences, for example, being separated from their husband,” she said. “Extremist groups require total obedience from the wife.”

    In a chilling development, some radicalised Indonesian women are requesting a suicide vest as dowry from their husbands-to-be, according to former JI leader Nasir. “These women plan to carry out suicide bombings after they are married. Several of them have been arrested,” he said.

    A counterterrorism official told This Week in Asia that a woman who requested such a vest was arrested in Klaten, Central Java, last March.

    Countering this phenomenon requires both a soft and hard approach, according to Nasir. “The deviant teaching of terror networks needs to be [made] public. We need to have continuous deradicalisation and counter violent extremism programmes,” he said, adding that this would help dismantle terror networks
    and detain their members before attacks were carried out.

    Indonesia through its National Counter-Terrorism Agency (BNPT) has established a deradicalisation programme for inmates, which works to rehabilitate their ideas about Islam through counter-narratives by religious leaders and psychologists, and equips them with skills they can use when they are eventually reintegrated into society. BNPT also focus on countering violent extremism on university campuses.

    Analysts say getting former militant leaders to work with universities and the police in deradicalisation makes these programmes more effective, as they have unparalleled insight into the minds of attackers.

    Another ex-JI member, Ali Fauzi, the younger brother of two executed Bali bombers, started his own NGO called the Circle of Peace, which is deeply involved in countering violent extremism and deradicalisation.

    Women must now be a specific focus of these programmes and other community efforts to prevent radicalisation, analysts say.

    A recent Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) report called for more women to be recruited by Indonesia’s counterterrorism police squad, Detachment 88, given the increasing number of female militants.

    “The percentage of women in the police generally remains woefully low, just over 8 per cent,” it said.

    Better programmes are also needed for pro-IS female detainees. There are currently 15 such women in detention, some of whom were involved in violence. According to IPAC, understanding the backgrounds and motivations of these women is essential for a more targeted rehabilitation programme.

    “IS may have reluctantly accepted women as combatants, but they are now encouraged to take part in operations,” the report said. “It is easy to dismiss the competence of Indonesian terrorists, but as long as they continue to subscribe to IS ideology, they remain a serious threat.”

    #Sri_Lanka #Indonésie #terrorisme #religion #islam #asie #daech

  • #Niger, part 3 : Guns won’t win the war

    After an ambush killed four US special forces and five local soldiers in #Tongo_Tongo, a village in the northern part of the #Tillabéri region close to Niger’s border with Mali, Boubacar Diallo’s phone rang constantly.

    That was back in October 2017. Journalists from around the world were suddenly hunting for information on Aboubacar ‘petit’ Chapori, a lieutenant of #Islamic_State_in_the_Greater_Sahara, or #ISGS – the jihadist group that claimed the attack.

    Diallo, an activist who had been representing Fulani herders in peace negotiations with Tuareg rivals, had met Chapori years earlier. He was surprised by his rapid – and violent – ascent.

    But he was also concerned. While it was good that the brewing crisis in the remote Niger-Mali borderlands was receiving some belated attention, Diallo worried that the narrow focus on the jihadist threat – on presumed ISGS leaders Chapori, Dondou Cheffou, and Adnan Abou Walid Al Sahrawi – risked obscuring the real picture.

    Those concerns only grew later in 2017 when the G5 Sahel joint force was launched – the biggest military initiative to tackle jihadist violence in the region, building on France’s existing Operation Barkhane.

    Diallo argues that the military push by France and others is misconceived and “fanning the flames of conflict”. And he says the refusal to hold talks with powerful Tuareg militants in #Mali such as Iyad Ag Ghaly – leader of al-Qaeda-linked JNIM, or the Group for the support of Islam and Muslims – is bad news for the future of the region.

    Dialogue and development

    Niger Defence Minister Kalla Moutari dismissed criticism over the G5 Sahel joint force, speaking from his office in Niamey, in a street protected by police checkpoints and tyre killer barriers.

    More than $470 million has been pledged by global donors to the project, which was sponsored by France with the idea of coordinating the military efforts of Mauritania, Mali, #Burkina_Faso, Niger, and Chad to fight insurgencies in these countries.

    “It’s an enormous task to make armies collaborate, but we’re already conducting proximity patrols in border areas, out of the spotlight, and this works,” he said.

    According to Moutari, however, development opportunities are also paramount if a solution to the conflict is to be found.

    "Five years from now, the whole situation in the Sahel could explode.”

    He recalled a meeting in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, in early December 2018, during which donors pledged $2.7 billion for programmes in the Sahel. “We won’t win the war with guns, but by triggering dynamics of development in these areas,” the minister said.

    A European security advisor, who preferred not to be identified, was far more pessimistic as he sat in one of the many Lebanese cafés in the Plateau, the central Niamey district where Western diplomats cross paths with humanitarian workers and the city’s upper-class youth.

    The advisor, who had trained soldiers in Mali and Burkina Faso, said that too much emphasis remained on a military solution that he believed could not succeed.

    “In Niger, when new attacks happen at one border, they are suddenly labelled as jihadists and a military operation is launched; then another front opens right after… but we can’t militarise all borders,” the advisor said. If the approach doesn’t change, he warned, “in five years from now, the whole situation in the Sahel could explode.”

    Tensions over land

    In his home in east Niamey, Diallo came to a similar conclusion: labelling all these groups “jihadists” and targeting them militarily will only create further problems.

    To explain why, he related the long history of conflict between Tuaregs and Fulanis over grazing lands in north Tillabéri.

    The origins of the conflict, he said, date back to the 1970s, when Fulani cattle herders from Niger settled in the region of Gao, in Mali, in search of greener pastures. Tensions over access to land and wells escalated with the first Tuareg rebellions that hit both Mali and Niger in the early 1990s and led to an increased supply of weapons to Tuareg groups.

    While peace agreements were struck in both countries, Diallo recalled that 55 Fulani were killed by armed Tuareg men in one incident in Gao in 1997.

    After the massacre, some Fulani herders escaped back to Niger and created the North Tillabéri Self-Defence Militia, sparking a cycle of retaliation. More than 100 people were killed in fighting before reconciliation was finally agreed upon in 2011. The Nigerien Fulani militia dissolved and handed its arms to the Nigerien state.

    “But despite promises, our government abandoned these ex-fighters in the bush with nothing to do,” Diallo said. “In the meantime, a new Tuareg rebellion started in Mali in 2012.”

    The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (known as MUJAO, or MOJWA in English), created by Arab leaders in Mali in 2011, exploited the situation to recruit among Fulanis, who were afraid of violence by Tuareg militias. ISGS split from MUJAO in 2015, pledging obedience to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

    Diallo believes dialogue is the only way out of today’s situation, which is deeply rooted in these old intercommunal rivalries. “I once met those Fulani fighters who are the manpower of MUJAO and now of ISGS, and they didn’t consider themselves as jihadists,” he said. “They just want to have money and weapons to defend themselves.”

    He said the French forces use Tuareg militias, such as GATIA (the Imghad Tuareg Self-Defence Group and Allies) and the MSA (Movement for the Salvation of Azawad), to patrol borderlands between Mali and Niger. Fulani civilians were killed during some of these patrols in Niger in mid-2018, further exacerbating tensions.

    According to a UN report, these militias were excluded from an end of the year operation by French forces in Niger, following government requests.

    ‘An opportunistic terrorism’

    If some kind of reconciliation is the only way out of the conflict in Tillabéri and the neighbouring Nigerien region of Tahoua, Mahamadou Abou Tarka is likely to be at the heart of the Niger government’s efforts.

    The Tuareg general leads the High Authority for the Consolidation of Peace, a government agency launched following the successive Tuareg rebellions, to ensure peace deals are respected.

    “In north Tillabéri, jihadists hijacked Fulani’s grievances,” Abou Tarka, who reports directly to the president, said in his office in central Niamey. “It’s an opportunistic terrorism, and we need to find proper answers.”

    The Authority – whose main financial contributor is the European Union, followed by France, Switzerland, and Denmark – has launched projects to support some of the communities suffering from violence near the Malian border. “Water points, nurseries, and state services helped us establish a dialogue with local chiefs,” the general explained.

    “Fighters with jihadist groups are ready to give up their arms if incursions by Tuareg militias stop, emergency state measures are retired, and some of their colleagues released from prison.”

    Abou Tarka hailed the return to Niger from Mali of 200 Fulani fighters recruited by ISGS in autumn 2018 as the Authority’s biggest success to date. He said increased patrolling on the Malian side of the border by French forces and the Tuareg militias - Gatia and MSA - had put pressure on the Islamist fighters to return home and defect.

    The general said he doesn’t want to replicate the programme for former Boko Haram fighters from the separate insurgency that has long spread across Niger’s southern border with Nigeria – 230 of them are still in a rehabilitation centre in the Diffa region more than two years after the first defected.

    “In Tillabéri, I want things to be faster, so that ex-fighters reintegrate in the local community,” he said.

    Because these jihadist fighters didn’t attack civilians in Niger – only security forces – it makes the process easier than for ex-Boko Haram, who are often rejected by their own communities, the general said. The Fulani ex-fighters are often sent back to their villages, which are governed by local chiefs in regular contact with the Authority, he added.

    A member of the Nigerien security forces who was not authorised to speak publicly and requested anonymity said that since November 2018 some of these Fulani defectors have been assisting Nigerien security forces with border patrols.

    However, Amadou Moussa, another Fulani activist, dismissed Abou Tarka’s claims that hundreds of fighters had defected. Peace terms put forward by Fulani militants in northern Tillabéri hadn’t even been considered by the government, he said.

    “Fighters with jihadist groups are ready to give up their arms if incursions by Tuareg militias stop, emergency state measures are retired, and some of their colleagues released from prison,” Moussa said. The government, he added, has shown no real will to negotiate.

    Meanwhile, the unrest continues to spread, with the French embassy releasing new warnings for travellers in the border areas near Burkina Faso, where the first movements of Burkinabe refugees and displaced people were registered in March.
    #foulani #ISIS #Etat_islamique #EI #Tuareg #terrorisme #anti-terrorisme #terres #conflit #armes #armement #North_Tillabéri_Self-Defence_Militia #MUJAO #MOJWA #Movement_for_Oneness_and_Jihad_in_West_Africa #Mauritanie #Tchad

    @reka : pour mettre à jour la carte sur l’Etat islamique ?

  • En Grande-Bretagne, l’incroyable détournement d’argent public qui aurait financé Al Qaida

    Le leader d’Al Qaida Oussama Ben Laden, quelques mois avant les attentats du 11 septembre 2001.

    Selon une enquête du Sunday Times, des gangs étrangers auraient organisé pendant plusieurs années une gigantesque fraude sociale et fiscale dans le pays, notamment pour financer Al Qaida. Plusieurs milliards de livres auraient été détournés. Et pendant toutes ces années, le fisc britannique se serait abstenu d’informer le MI5.
    Le Sunday Times évoque un gang aux ramifications à Londres et sa périphérie, à Birmingham, et dans le nord-ouest de l’Angleterre jusqu’en Écosse. Sur au moins décennies à partir du début des années 1990, l’organisation aurait monté différents types de fraudes. Une grande partie des bénéfices viendrait de détournements d’argent public (huit milliards de livres sterling), à l’aide de faux numéros de sécurité sociale (et exploitations de travailleurs non déclarés), de fraude aux allocations mais aussi de fraudes de grande ampleur comme la fraude carrousel à la TVA. Celle-ci aurait rapporté au moins 1 milliard de livres. Concernant le secteur privé, les compétences du réseau n’étaient pas moindres : ventes de contrefaçon, arnaque à l’assurance automobile, aux prêts immobiliers, aux cartes de crédits, etc.
    Le Sunday Times avance pourtant quelques hypothèses - déconcertantes - pour expliquer ce silence. Les escrocs auraient, d’après le journal, infiltré de nombreuses agences gouvernementales, et corrompu des politiciens pour protéger et assurer les détournements. Le journal cite ainsi des « milliers de livres » donnés au Parti Travailliste, qui gouvernait alors le pays. L’enquête interne du HRMC cite « de nombreux membres du gang impliqués dans des thinks tanks, et des cercles d’affaires, qui les mettaient en contact avec d’importants politiciens britanniques ». L’enquêteur dit même avoir « vu un membre du gang aux côtés de Tony Blair à au moins deux reprises, après la guerre en Irak ».

  • #CBP terminates controversial $297 million #Accenture contract amid continued staffing struggles

    #Customs_and_Border_Protection on Thursday ended its controversial $297 million hiring contract with Accenture, according to two senior DHS officials and an Accenture representative.
    As of December, when CBP terminated part of its contract, the company had only completed processing 58 applicants and only 22 had made it onto the payroll about a year after the company was hired.
    At the time, the 3,500 applicants that remained in the Accenture hiring pipeline were transferred to CBP’s own hiring center to complete the process.

    CBP cut ties with Accenture on processing applicants a few months ago, it retained some services, including marketing, advertising and applicant support.
    This week, the entire contract was terminated for “convenience,” government speak for agreeing to part ways without placing blame on Accenture.
    While government hiring is “slow and onerous, it’s also part of being in the government” and that’s “something we have to accept and deal with as we go forward,” said one of the officials.
    For its efforts, CBP paid Accenture around $19 million in start-up costs, and around $2 million for 58 people who got job offers, according to the officials.
    Over the last couple of months, CBP explored how to modify the contract, but ultimately decided to completely stop work and return any remaining funds to taxpayers.
    But it’s unclear how much money, if any, that will be.

    In addition, to the funds already paid to Accenture, CBP has around $39 million left to “settle and close the books” with the company, an amount which has yet to be determined.
    In November 2017, CBP awarded Accenture the contract to help meet the hiring demands of an executive order on border security that President Donald Trump signed during his first week in office. The administration directed CBP to hire an additional 7,500 agents and officers on top of its current hiring goals.
    “We were in a situation where we needed to try something new” and “break the cycle of going backwards,” said a DHS official about why the agency started the contract.

    Meanwhile, hiring remains difficult for the agency amid a surge of migrants at the southern border that is stretching CBP resources thin.
    It “continues to be a very challenging environment,” said one official about hiring efforts this year.

    In fact, one of the reasons that CBP didn’t need Accenture to process applicants, is because the agency didn’t receive as many applications as it initially planned for.
    The agency has been focused on beating attrition and has been able to recently “beat it by a modest amount,” said the official. “Ultimately we would like to beat it by a heck of a lot, but we’re not there yet.”
    #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #USA #Ests-Unis #complexe_militaro-industriel #business

    • Border Profiteers

      On a recent sunny spring afternoon in Texas, a couple hundred Border Patrol agents, Homeland Security officials, and salespeople from a wide array of defense and security contractors gathered at the Bandera Gun Club about an hour northwest of San Antonio to eat barbecue and shoot each other’s guns. The techies wore flip-flops; the veterans wore combat boots. Everyone had a good time. They were letting loose, having spent the last forty-eight hours cooped up in suits and ties back at San Antonio’s Henry B. Gonzalez convention center, mingling and schmoozing, hawking their wares, and listening to immigration officials rail about how those serving in enforcement agencies are not, under any circumstances, Nazis.

      These profiteers and bureaucrats of the immigration-industrial complex were fresh from the 2019 #Border_Security_Expo —essentially a trade show for state violence, where law enforcement officers and weapons manufacturers gather, per the Expo’s marketing materials, to “identify and address new and emerging border challenges and opportunities through technology, partnership, and innovation.” The previous two days of panels, speeches, and presentations had been informative, a major in the Argentine Special Forces told me at the gun range, but boring. He was glad to be outside, where handguns popped and automatic rifles spat around us. I emptied a pistol into a target while a man in a Three Percenter militia baseball hat told me that I was a “natural-born killer.” A drone buzzed overhead until, in a demonstration of a company’s new anti-drone technology, a device that looked like a rocket launcher and fired a sort of exploding net took it down. “This is music to me,” the Argentine major said.

      Perhaps it’s not surprising the Border Security Expo attendees were so eager to blow off steam. This year’s event found many of them in a defensive posture, given the waves of bad press they’d endured since President Trump’s inauguration, and especially since the disastrous implementation of his family separation policy, officially announced by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April of 2018, before being rescinded by Trump two-and-a-half months later. Throughout the Expo, in public events and in background roundtable conversations with reporters, officials from the various component parts of the Department of Homeland Security rolled out a series of carefully rehearsed talking points: Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) need more money, personnel, and technology; taking migrants to hospitals distracts CBP officers from their real mission; and the 1997 Flores court settlement, which prohibits immigration enforcement agencies from detaining migrant families with children for more than twenty days, is undermining the very sovereignty of the United States. “We want a secure border, we want an immigration system that has integrity,” Ronald Vitiello, then–acting head of ICE, said in a keynote address to the hundreds of people gathered in San Antonio. “We have a generous immigration system in this country, but it has to have integrity in order for us to continue to be so generous.”

      More of a technocrat than his thuggish predecessor Thomas Homan, Vitiello also spoke at length about using the “dark web” to take down smugglers and the importance of having the most up-to-date data-management technology. But he spoke most adamantly about needing “a fix” for the Flores settlement. “If you prosecute crimes and you give people consequences, you get less of it,” he said. “With Flores, there’s no consequence, and everybody knows that,” a senior ICE official echoed to reporters during a background conversation immediately following Vitiello’s keynote remarks. “That’s why you’re seeing so many family units. We cannot apply a consequence to a family unit, because we have to release them.”

      Meanwhile, around 550 miles to the west, in El Paso, hundreds of migrants, including children and families, were being held by CBP under a bridge, reportedly forced to sleep on the ground, with inadequate medical attention. “They treated us like we are animals,” one Honduran man told Texas Monthly. “I felt what they were trying to do was to hurt us psychologically, so we would understand that this is a lesson we were being taught, that we shouldn’t have crossed.” Less than a week after the holding pen beneath the bridge closed, Vitiello’s nomination to run ICE would be pulled amid a spate of firings across DHS; President Trump wanted to go “in a tougher direction.”

      Family Values

      On the second day of the Border Security Expo, in a speech over catered lunch, Scott Luck, deputy chief of Customs and Border Protection and a career Border Patrol agent, lamented that the influx of children and families at the border meant that resources were being diverted from traditional enforcement practices. “Every day, about 150 agents spend their shifts at hospitals and medical facilities with illegal aliens receiving treatment,” he said. “The annual salary cost for agents on hospital watch is more than $11.5 million. Budget analysts estimate that 13 percent of our operational budget—the budget that we use to buy equipment, to buy vehicles for our men and women—is now used for transportation, medical expenses, diapers, food, and other necessities to care for illegal aliens in Border Patrol custody.”

      As far as Luck was concerned, every dollar spent on food and diapers is one not spent on drones and weapons, and every hour an agent spends guarding a migrant in a hospital is an hour they don’t spend on the border. “It’s not what they signed up for. The mission they signed up for is to protect the United States border, to protect the communities in which they live and serve,” he told reporters after his speech. “The influx, the volume, the clutter that this creates is frustrating.” Vitiello applied an Orwellian inversion: “We’re not helping them as fast as we want to,” he said of migrant families apprehended at the border.

      Even when discussing the intimate needs of detained migrant families, the language border officials used to describe their remit throughout the Expo was explicitly militaristic: achieving “operational control,” Luck said, requires “impedance and denial” and “situational awareness.” He referred to technology as a “vital force multiplier.” He at least stopped short of endorsing the president’s framing that what is happening on the border constitutes an invasion, instead describing it as a “deluge.”

      According to the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank, the U.S. immigrant population has continued to grow—although at a slower rate than it did before the 2007 recession, and undocumented people appear to make up a smaller proportion of the overall population. Regardless, in fiscal year 2018, both ICE and CBP stepped up their enforcement activities, arresting, apprehending, and deporting people at significantly higher rates than the previous year. More than three times as many family members were apprehended at the border last year than in 2017, the Pew Research Center reports, and in the first six months of FY 2019 alone there were 189,584 apprehensions of “family units”: more than half of all apprehensions at the border during that time, and more than the full-year total of apprehended families for any other year on record. While the overall numbers have not yet begun to approach those of the 1980s and 1990s, when apprehensions regularly exceeded one million per year, the demographics of who is arriving at the United States southern border are changing: fewer single men from Mexico and more children and families from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—in other words, an ever-wider range of desperate victims of drug gangs and American policies that have long supported corrupt regimes.

      This change has presented people like Luck with problems they insist are merely logistical: aging Border Patrol stations, he told us at the Expo, “are not luxurious in any way, and they were never intended to handle families and children.” The solution, according to Vitiello, is “continued capital investment” in those facilities, as well as the cars and trucks necessary to patrol the border region and transport those apprehended from CBP custody to ICE detention centers, the IT necessary to sift through vast amounts of data accumulated through untold surveillance methods, and all of “the systems by which we do our work.”

      Neither Vitiello nor Luck would consider whether those systems—wherein thousands of children, ostensibly under the federal government’s care, have been sexually abused and five, from December through May of this year, have died—ought to be questioned. Both laughed off calls from migrant justice organizers, activists, and politicians to abolish ICE. “The concept of the Department of Homeland Security—and ICE as an agency within it—was designed for us to learn the lessons from 9/11,” Vitiello said. “Those needs still exist in this society. We’re gonna do our part.” DHS officials have even considered holding migrant children at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to the New York Times, where a new $23 million “contingency mass migration complex” is being built. The complex, which is to be completed by the end of the year, will have a capacity of thirteen thousand.

      Violence is the Point

      The existence of ICE may be a consequence of 9/11, but the first sections of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border—originally to contain livestock—went up in 1909 through 1911. In 1945, in response to a shift in border crossings from Texas to California, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Immigration and Naturalization Service recycled fencing wire and posts from internment camps in Crystal City, Texas, where more than a hundred thousand Japanese Americans had been imprisoned during World War II. “Although the INS could not erect a continuous line of fence along the border, they hoped that strategic placement of the fence would ‘compel persons seeking to enter the United States illegally to attempt to go around the ends of the fence,’” historian Kelly Lytle Hernández, quoting from government documents, writes in Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol. “What lay at the end of the fences and canals were desert lands and mountains extremely dangerous to cross without guidance or sufficient water. The fences, therefore, discouraged illegal immigration by exposing undocumented border crossers to the dangers of daytime dehydration and nighttime hypothermia.”

      Apprehension and deportation tactics continued to escalate in the years following World War II—including Operation Wetback, the infamous (and heavily propagandized) mass-deportation campaign of 1954—but the modern, militarized border era was greatly boosted by Bill Clinton. It was during Clinton’s first administration that Border Patrol released its “Strategic Plan: 1994 and Beyond,” which introduced the idea of “prevention through deterrence,” a theory of border policing that built on the logic of the original wall and hinges upon increasing the “cost” of migration “to the point that many will consider it futile to continue to attempt illegal entry.” With the Strategic Plan, the agency was requesting more money, officers, and equipment in order to “enhance national security and safeguard our immigration heritage.”

      The plan also noted that “a strong interior enforcement posture works well for border control,” and in 1996, amid a flurry of legislation targeting people of color and the poor, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which empowered the federal government to deport more people more quickly and made it nearly impossible for undocumented immigrants to obtain legal status. “Before 1996, internal enforcement activities had not played a very significant role in immigration enforcement,” the sociologists Douglas Massey and Karen A. Pren wrote in 2012. “Afterward these activities rose to levels not seen since the deportation campaigns of the Great Depression.” With the passage of the Patriot Act in 2001 and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2002, immigration was further securitized and criminalized, paving the way for an explosion in border policing technology that has further aligned the state with the defense and security industry. And at least one of Border Patrol’s “key assumptions,” explicitly stated in the 1994 strategy document, has borne out: “Violence will increase as effects of strategy are felt.”

      What this phrasing obscures, however, is that violence is the border strategy. In practice, what “prevention through deterrence” has meant is forcing migrants to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in the desert, putting already vulnerable people at even greater risk. Closing urban points of entry, for example, or making asylum-seekers wait indefinitely in Mexico while their claims are processed, pushes migrants into remote areas where there is a higher likelihood they will suffer injury and death, as in the case of seven-year-old Jakil Caal Maquin, who died of dehydration and shock after being taken into CBP custody in December. (A spokesperson for CBP, in an email response, deflected questions about whether the agency considers children dying in its custody a deterrent.) Maquin is one of many thousands who have died attempting to cross into the United States: the most conservative estimate comes from CBP itself, which has recovered the remains of 7,505 people from its southwest border sectors between 1998 and 2018. This figure accounts for neither those who die on the Mexican side of the border, nor those whose bodies remain lost to the desert.

      Draconian immigration policing causes migrants to resort to smugglers and traffickers, creating the conditions for their exploitation by cartels and other violent actors and increasing the likelihood that they will be kidnapped, coerced, or extorted. As a result, some migrants have sought the safety of collective action in the form of the “caravan” or “exodus,” which has then led the U.S. media and immigration enforcement agencies to justify further militarization of the border. Indeed, in his keynote address at the Expo, Luck described “the emerging prevalence of large groups of one hundred people or more” as “troubling and especially dangerous.” Later, a sales representative for the gun manufacturer Glock very confidently explained to me that this was because agents of al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, were embedded with the caravans.

      Branding the Border

      Unsurprisingly, caravans came up frequently at the Border Security Expo. (An ICE spokesperson would later decline to explain what specific threat they pose to national security, instead citing general statistics about the terrorist watchlist, “special interest aliens,” and “suspicious travel patterns.”) During his own keynote speech, Vitiello described how ICE, and specifically its subcomponent Homeland Security Investigations, had deployed surveillance and intelligence-gathering techniques to monitor the progress of caravans toward the border. “When these caravans have come, we’ve had trained, vetted individuals on the ground in those countries reporting in real time what they were seeing: who the organizers were, how they were being funded,” he said, before going on an astonishing tangent:

      That’s the kind of capability that also does amazing things to protecting brands, property rights, economic security. Think about it. If you start a company, introduce a product that’s innovative, there are people in the world who can take that, deconstruct it, and create their own version of it and sell it as yours. All the sweat that went into whatever that product was, to build your brand, they’ll take it away and slap it on some substandard product. It’s not good for consumers, it’s not good for public safety, and it’s certainly an economic drain on the country. That’s part of the mission.

      That the then–acting director of ICE, the germ-cell of fascism in the bourgeois American state, would admit that an important part of his agency’s mission is the protection of private property is a testament to the Trump administration’s commitment to saying the quiet part out loud.

      In fact, brands and private industry had pride of place at the Border Security Expo. A memorial ceremony for men and women of Border Patrol who have been killed in the line of duty was sponsored by Sava Solutions, an IT firm that has been awarded at least $482 million in federal contracts since 2008. Sava, whose president spent twenty-four years with the DEA and whose director of business development spent twenty with the FBI, was just one of the scores of firms in attendance at the Expo, each hoping to persuade the bureaucrats in charge of acquiring new gear for border security agencies that their drones, their facial recognition technology, their “smart” fences were the best of the bunch. Corporate sponsors included familiar names like Verizon and Motorola, and other less well-known ones, like Elbit Systems of America, a subsidiary of Israel’s largest private defense contractor, as well as a handful of IT firms with aggressive slogans like “Ever Vigilant” (CACI), “Securing the Future” (ManTech), and “Securing Your Tomorrow” (Unisys).

      The presence of these firms—and indeed the very existence of the Expo—underscores an important truth that anyone attempting to understand immigration politics must reckon with: border security is big business. The “homeland security and emergency management market,” driven by “increasing terrorist threats and biohazard attacks and occurrence of unpredictable natural disasters,” is projected to grow to more than $742 billion by 2023 from $557 billion in 2018, one financial analysis has found. In the coming decades, as more people are displaced by climate catastrophe and economic crises—estimates vary between 150 million and 1 billion by 2050—the industry dedicated to policing the vulnerable stands to profit enormously. By 2013, the United States was already spending more on federal immigration enforcement than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined, including the FBI and DEA; ICE’s budget has doubled since its inception in 2003, while CBP’s has nearly tripled. Between 1993 and 2018, the number of Border Patrol agents grew from 4,139 to 19,555. And year after year, Democrats and Republicans alike have been happy to fuel an ever more high-tech deportation machine. “Congress has given us a lot of money in technology,” Luck told reporters after his keynote speech. “They’ve given us over what we’ve asked for in technology!”

      “As all of this rhetoric around security has increased, so has the impetus to give them more weapons and more tools and more gadgets,” Jacinta Gonzalez, a senior campaign organizer with Mijente, a national network of migrant justice activists, told me. “That’s also where the profiteering comes in.” She continued: “Industries understand what’s good for business and adapt themselves to what they see is happening. If they see an administration coming into power that is pro-militarization, anti-immigrant, pro-police, anti-communities of color, then that’s going to shape where they put their money.”

      By way of example, Gonzalez pointed to Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who spent $1.25 million supporting Trump’s 2016 election campaign and followed that up last year by donating $1 million to the Club for Growth—a far-right libertarian organization founded by Heritage Foundation fellow and one-time Federal Reserve Board prospect Stephen Moore—as well as about $350,000 to the Republican National Committee and other GOP groups. ICE has awarded Palantir, the $20 billion surveillance firm founded by Thiel, several contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to manage its data streams—a partnership the agency considers “mission critical,” according to documents reviewed by The Intercept. Palantir, in turn, runs on Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing service provided by the world’s most valuable public company, which is itself a key contractor in managing the Department of Homeland Security’s $6.8 billion IT portfolio.

      Meanwhile, former DHS secretary John Kelly, who was Trump’s chief of staff when the administration enacted its “zero-tolerance” border policy, has joined the board of Caliburn International—parent organization of the only for-profit company operating shelters for migrant children. “Border enforcement and immigration policy,” Caliburn reported in an SEC filing last year, “is driving significant growth.” As Harsha Walia writes in Undoing Border Imperialism, “the state and capitalism are again in mutual alliance.”

      Triumph of the Techno-Nativists

      At one point during the Expo, between speeches, I stopped by a booth for Network Integrity Systems, a security firm that had set up a demonstration of its Sentinel™ Perimeter Intrusion Detection System. A sales representative stuck out his hand and introduced himself, eager to explain how his employer’s fiber optic motion sensors could be used at the border, or—he paused to correct himself—“any kind of perimeter.” He invited me to step inside the space that his coworkers had built, starting to say “cage” but then correcting himself, again, to say “small enclosure.” (It was literally a cage.) If I could get out, climbing over the fencing, without triggering the alarm, I would win a $500 Amazon gift card. I did not succeed.

      Overwhelmingly, the vendors in attendance at the Expo were there to promote this kind of technology: not concrete and steel, but motion sensors, high-powered cameras, and drones. Customs and Border Patrol’s chief operating officer John Sanders—whose biography on the CBP website describes him as a “seasoned entrepreneur and innovator” who has “served on the Board of Directors for several leading providers of contraband detection, geospatial intelligence, and data analytics solutions”—concluded his address by bestowing on CBP the highest compliment he could muster: declaring the agency comparable “to any start-up.” Rhetoric like Sanders’s, ubiquitous at the Expo, renders the border both bureaucratic and boring: a problem to be solved with some algorithmic mixture of brutality and Big Data. The future of border security, as shaped by the material interests that benefit from border securitization, is not a wall of the sort imagined by President Trump, but a “smart” wall.

      High-ranking Democrats—leaders in the second party of capital—and Republicans from the border region have championed this compromise. During the 2018-2019 government shutdown, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson told reporters that Democrats would appropriate $5.7 billion for “border security,” so long as that did not include a wall of Trump’s description. “Walls are primitive. What we need to do is have border security,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said in January. He later expanded to CNN: “I’ve said that we ought to have a smart wall. I defined that as a wall using drones to make it too high to get over, using x-ray equipment to make it too wide to get around, and using scanners to go deep enough not to be able to tunnel under it. To me, that would be a smart thing to do.”

      Even the social democratic vision of Senator Bernie Sanders stops short at the border. “If you open the borders, my God, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world,” he told Iowa voters in early April, “and I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point.” Over a week later, during a Fox News town hall with Pennsylvania voters, he recommitted: “We need border security. Of course we do. Who argues with that? That goes without saying.”

      To the extent that Trump’s rhetoric, his administration’s immigration policies, and the enforcement agencies’ practices have made the “border crisis” more visible than ever before, they’ve done so on terms that most Democrats and liberals fundamentally agree with: immigration must be controlled and policed; the border must be enforced. One need look no further than the high priest of sensible centrism, Thomas Friedman, whose major complaint about Trump’s immigration politics is that he is “wasting” the crisis—an allusion to Rahm Emanuel’s now-clichéd remark that “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” (Frequently stripped of context, it is worth remembering that Emanuel made this comment in the throes of the 2008 financial meltdown, at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, shortly following President Obama’s election.) “Regarding the border, the right place for Democrats to be is for a high wall with a big gate,” Friedman wrote in November of 2018. A few months later, a tour led by Border Patrol agents of the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego left Friedman “more certain than ever that we have a real immigration crisis and that the solution is a high wall with a big gate—but a smart gate.”

      As reasonable as this might sound to anxious New York Times readers looking for what passes as humanitarian thinking in James Bennet’s opinion pages, the horror of Friedman’s logic eventually reveals itself when he considers who might pass through the big, smart gate in the high, high wall: “those who deserve asylum” and “a steady flow of legal, high-energy, and high-I.Q. immigrants.” Friedman’s tortured hypothetical shows us who he considers to be acceptable subjects of deportation and deprivation: the poor, the lazy, and the stupid. This is corporate-sponsored, state-sanctioned eugenics: the nativism of technocrats.

      The vision of a hermetically sealed border being sold, in different ways, by Trump and his allies, by Democrats, and by the Border Security Expo is in reality a selectively permeable one that strictly regulates the movement of migrant labor while allowing for the unimpeded flow of capital. Immigrants in the United States, regardless of their legal status, are caught between two factions of the capitalist class, each of which seek their immiseration: the citrus farmers, construction firms, and meat packing plants that benefit from an underclass of unorganized and impoverished workers, and the defense and security firms that keep them in a state of constant criminality and deportability.

      You could even argue that nobody in a position of power really wants a literal wall. Even before taking office, Trump himself knew he could only go so far. “We’re going to do a wall,” he said on the campaign trail in 2015. However: “We’re going to have a big, fat beautiful door on the wall.” In January 2019, speaking to the American Farm Bureau Association, Trump acknowledged the necessity of a mechanism allowing seasonal farmworkers from Mexico to cross the border, actually promising to loosen regulations on employers who rely on temporary migrant labor. “It’s going to be easier for them to get in than what they have to go through now,” he said, “I know a lot about the farming world.”

      At bottom, there is little material difference between this and what Friedman imagines to be the smarter, more humane approach. While establishment liberals would no doubt prefer that immigration enforcement be undertaken quietly, quickly, and efficiently, they have no categorical objection to the idea that noncitizens should enjoy fewer rights than citizens or be subject to different standards of due process (standards that are already applied in deeply inequitable fashion).

      As the smorgasbord of technologies and services so garishly on display at the Border Security Expo attests, maintaining the contradiction between citizens and noncitizens (or between the imperial core and the colonized periphery) requires an ever-expanding security apparatus, which itself becomes a source of ever-expanding profit. The border, shaped by centuries of bourgeois interests and the genocidal machinations of the settler-colonial nation-state, constantly generates fresh crises on which the immigration-industrial complex feeds. In other words, there is not a crisis at the border; the border is the crisis.

      CBP has recently allowed Anduril, a start-up founded by one of Peter Thiel’s mentees, Palmer Luckey, to begin testing its artificial intelligence-powered surveillance towers and drones in Texas and California. Sam Ecker, an Anduril engineer, expounded on the benefits of such technology at the Expo. “A tower doesn’t get tired. It doesn’t care about being in the middle of the desert or a river around the clock,” he told me. “We just let the computers do what they do best.”

  • Revue de presse normale du 31.03 au 06.04.19

    La triple malédiction du pétrole

    Immigration : l’aveuglement suédois

    Câbles sous-marins d’Internet : « Les risques de tension sont extrêmement réels »

    L’intersectionnalité : une idée à la mode ?

    Pourquoi nos enfants-rois font des étudiants si fragiles

    « Yassine Belattar mis en examen, ou la face sombre du conseil présidentiel des villes »

    « La défense de la rationalité est une des aventures majeures de notre temps »

    L’industrie alimentaire affronte le défi de la décroissance

    En Grande-Bretagne, l’incroyable détournement d’argent public qui aurait financé Al Qaida

    Attentat contre Habyarimana et génocide rwandais : déconstruction d’une conspiration

    « La non-assimilation aboutira à la mise en minorité des idéaux français sur notre propre sol »

    « Les critères de larespectabilitémédiatique mis à nu »


    ( suite...)



  • Oman’s Boiling Yemeni Border

    The Yemeni province of #Mahra, on the border with Oman, has not been reached by the war so far. However, Saudi Arabia – as Oman used to do to defend its influence – has started to support a large number of Mahari tribes. This has led to large community divisions in local tribal society, for the first time in the history of this eastern province. This support is not limited to the financial domain but also extends to the military. The spread of armed tribal groups has become a new feature in Mahra in light of the indirect Saudi-Emirati-Omani competition for regional leverage.

    In 2015, Yemen’s president, Abdurabo Mansour Hadi, fled to the Yemen-Oman border when the Houthis, along with their former ally Ali Abdullah Saleh, decided to invade Aden to arrest him. The president traveled to the remote provinces of the desert until he arrived in Mahra, through which he crossed the border into Oman. In the meantime, the Saudi-led coalition began its military operations to restore the legitimacy that the Houthis had gained.

    The border strip between Mahra and the Omani province of Dhofar is 288 kilometers long, starting from the coast of Haof district and ending in the heart of the desert at the border triangle between Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia: beyond the desert, there are few agricultural zones and the population lives along the border strip. Although the border area is divided between the two countries, the frontier communities in Mahra and Dhofar appear to be an ecosystem: tribes descend from a single tribe and share many historical, social and cultural constituents. In addition, they speak another language beside Arabic, namely “Mahriya” or “Jabali”, which is a Semitic language not spoken by the rest of Yemenis.

    This social cohesion in border areas has led Oman to deal with this ecosystem as a first line of defense to protect its security from any break-in. To this end, Oman has strengthened its relationships with Mahra society and provided Omani citizenship for many personalities in the area, especially after signing the border agreement with Yemen in 1992. It has also made it easier for those who do not have Omani citizenship to move to Oman. Despite Yemen’s upheavals since 2011, Mahra province has not been affected economically because it relied on Omani markets to obtain fuel and food, depending especially on a major shared market, the Al-Mazyounah, which is a few kilometers from Yemen’s Shihen border-crossing. This explains why Mahra province managed to remain economically autonomous from the other provinces. At the same time, this contributed to protecting the Omani border from any security breakthrough by extremist groups: most tribes are also grateful to the Omani state for this status quo. This does not mean that illegal activities are absent from this area: the smuggling of goods and vehiclesis widespread and recently many human trafficking cases in Dhofar were also recorded, but all the people involved in such activities are Mahris.

    However, the consequences of the war have extended to the border of Mahra province since mid-2015. The Houthis reduced the financial allowances of Mahra employees to a quarter of the amount required for the province, causing non-payment of salaries for many civil and military employees: many of them, especially non-Mahris, had to leave and return to their areas. This provoked a severe shortage of employees in security and service institutions: as a result, the then governor of Mahra handed out Mahra crossings to the tribes, surrounding the areas to take over the management of ports at a governorate level and transfer customs fees to the province’s account. Moreover, Oman provided the necessary fuel for the service facilities and distributed regular food aid to the population. In 2017, the tribes of Zabanout and Ra’feet began to quarrel over control of the Shihen crossing, each tribe claiming the port as part of its tribal area.

    The United Arab Emirates (UAE) began to be present in the province of Mahra a few months later at the beginning of the military intervention in Yemen. In 2015 the UAE trained about 2,500 new recruits from among Mahra inhabitants, although they reportedly did not create an elite force due to tribal refusal, while providing a lot of assistance to rebuild the local police and existing security services. It also distributed food baskets and humanitarian aid to the residents of Mahra districts through the UAE Red Crescent Society.

    In the eyes of the sultanate, the UAE presence at its Yemeni border is perceived as unjustified: the two countries have disputes on several issues, most notably the border, especially after Oman accused Abu Dhabi of planning a coup in 2011 to overthrow Sultan Qaboos, which the UAE denied.

    The collapse of Yemeni state institutions and the military intervention of the Saudi-led coalition stunned Muscat, which found itself having to cope with new dynamics and a no more effective border strategy: these concerns have turned into reality. In January 2016 the Omani authorities closed the ports in the Shihen and Surfeet areas, and a few months later al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) seized control of the city of Mukalla, the capital of Mahra’s neighboring region of Hadramout. The stated rationale for Oman’s move was to protect its border security from any breakthrough of extremist groups. It is here worth noting that AQAP has never been close to Mahra or its border areas, due to local society, strongly attached to traditional Sufism, which has never accepted al-Qaeda’s ideology. In late 2017, when a group of Saudi-backed Salafists tried to establish a religious education center in Mahra’s Qashan, protests were held against them because locals reject this type of religious belief.

    However, observers believe that the real reason for the temporary closure of the ports was the result of political choices made by president Hadi and Khaled Bah’hah, the prime minister at the time: leaders of security and military services in Mahra were replaced by new leaders and the sultanate was uncertain regarding the future political direction of these appointments. It should be noted that, over the past few years, tensions have arisen between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the one hand, and Oman on the other, because the sultanate adopted political attitudes not aligned with the Saudi-UAE politics in the region, especially in relation to Qatar and Iran.

    Oman was also accused by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi of providing access to arms and communications devices to be delivered to the Houthis. In August 2015 Marib province authorities seized a shipment of arms and ammunition for the Houthis at one of its checkpoints. In October 2015, the governor of Marib declared that military forces took possession of Iranian military equipment (including advanced communications equipment) in the province: according to their statement, this shipment was coming by land from the Sultanate of Oman. In November 2015, the Yemeni army dismantled an informal network involved in the smuggling of arms and explosives, as well as of military communications equipment, which entered through Mahra ports, said the army. In October 2016, Western and Iranian officials stated that Iran had stepped up arms transfer to the Houthis, and most of the smuggling crossed Oman and its Yemeni frontier, including by land routes. This was denied by the Sultanate of Oman in a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, arguing that “the news of arms smuggling through Oman is baseless and no arms are passing through the lands of Sultanate”.

    Despite these allegations, there are smuggling routes towards Yemen that seem easier than passing through the sultanate’s borders. The Yemeni coastal strip on the Arabian Sea extends over 1,000 kilometers: this is a security vacuum area and is closer in terms of distance to the Houthis’ strongholds. In any case, smuggled arms or goods cannot reach the Houthis in northern Yemen without the help of smuggling networks operating in areas controlled by the legitimate government forces.

    In October 2017 the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a UAE-backed faction of the Southern Movement seeking independence for southern Yemen, tried to convince the former governor, Abdullah Kedda, to join the council, but he refused, asserting that he supports the authority of the legitimate government led by president Hadi. This disappointed the Saudi-led coalition, especially the UAE, which intends to promote the STC as the only entity representing the Southern Movement: the STC embraced the UAE’s agenda in the south.

    The Omani influence on the tribes of Mahra was a major motivation for Saudi Arabia’s military reinforcement in the region. In November 2017 Saudi forces entered the province and took over its vital facilities, including al-Ghaidha airport, Nashton port and the ports of Srfeet and Shihen on the border with Oman. The Saudis also deployed their forces in more than 12 locations along the coast of Mahra, and dismissed the airport employees.

    These developments worried Mahra inhabitants,pushing thousands into the streets in April 2018: they staged an open protest in the city of Ghaidha, demanding that Saudi forces to leave the facilities and institutions, handing them over to local authorities. Even famous Mahris such as Shiekh Ali Harizi, Shikh Al Afrar and Ahmed Qahtant, described the Saudis as an "occupation power"seeking to seize the resources of the province.

    Therefore, the war in Yemen has opened a subtle but acute season of popular discontent and regional rivalry in Mahra, stuck in a three-players game among Saudis, Emiratis and Omanis.
    #Yémen #Oman #frontières #conflit #guerre

  • German journalist who was held captive and gave birth in Syria speaks of her ordeal | World news | The Guardian

    C’est une bonne chose d’apprendre qu’une jeune femme et son enfant ont survécu un enlèvement en Syrie. Cette jeune allemande a voulu faire ses armes avec un reportage dans une zone de guerre.

    Ses préparatifs font preuve d’une naïveté surprenante avec un résultat conséquent. Sachant qu’il y a d’autres reporters qui ont réuissi des reportages dans la même guerre et au même moment qui ne se sont pas faits kidnapper, je me demande pourquoi elle raconte son histoire et ce faisant expose aux monde entier son incompétence.

    Peut-être les perspective professionelles d’une jeune diplomée en éthnologie et sciences des religions comparées l’obligent à se démarquer du reste de la meute.

    Alors qu’on apprécie les actes qui font preuve d’une grande ambition, quelqu’un qui risque la vie de son enfant pour un scoop dépasse les limites du raisonnable. Qui voudrait ensuite employer et donner des responsabilité à quelqu’un qui est dépourvu de scrupules sur le plan humain et peu réfléchi dans ses démarches professionelles ?

    Derrière le scoop ce cache la triste histoire de la rencontre d’une jeune femme à caractère extrême avec le monde des science qui ne permettent plus à bien des scientifiques de vivre de leur métier.

    Janina Findeisen, who went to Syria when seven months pregnant, was released with her son in September 2016

    Philip Oltermann in Berlin, Thu 21 Mar 2019 19.01 GMT

    A German woman who was abducted in Syria and held captive for nearly a year has revealed how her kidnappers were prepared to “cut off my head in front of a live camera”, but ended up pampering her with chocolate, toys and luxury nappies after she gave birth to a baby boy while in captivity.

    The journalist Janina Findeisen, who was released with her child in September 2016, has spoken for the first time about the circumstances under which she travelled to a war zone on her own when seven months pregnant, and how she managed to survive the ordeal.

    In an interview published in Süddeutsche Zeitung, Findeisen said she travelled to Syria in October 2015 in order to make a documentary about a schoolfriend who had turned to jihad and joined a faction of al-Qaida’s former affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra.

    Her pregnancy, she said, had spurred her on rather than made her more aware of the risks. “I felt pressured – precisely because of my pregnancy. I wanted to tell this one more story before only being able to pick up work a few months after the birth. I was not aware of the fact that in that moment I was making the biggest mistake of my life.”

    Using a people smuggler in Antakya, southern Turkey, to drive her across the border into Syria, Findeisen said she had only shared her travel plans with the father of her child and not taken a mobile phone or a GPS tracker with her. While conceding that other people could have stopped her from going through with her plans, Findeisen said: “In the end it was my decision, and my mistake.”

    Even though her school friend had promised her in an email that she would not be harmed, Findeisen and her driver were ambushed as they tried to cross over back into Turkey. The then 27-year-old was blindfolded at gunpoint and taken to a house in a remote location.

    “On the first night I really believed that the security guarantee my friend had given me meant I would soon be released. But I soon realised that my hopes were in vain,” said Findeisen, whose book My Room in the House of War is being published in Germany next month. She said she does not believe that her friend was aware of the plan to kidnap her, though members of his group were.

    Asked about treatment while in captivity, Findeisen said: “There were a couple of unpleasant situations, but I fared comparatively well. But nonetheless it was clear that these weren’t nice, humane people […] They would have cut off my head in front of a live camera.”

    While she was held captive, the journalist kept a diary in tiny handwriting, using food packaging after she ran out of paper. She unsuccessfully tried to get the attention of people in neighbouring houses and secretly collected tools that could become handy to facilitate an escape.

    “Until the end I believed that I would be back in Germany for the birth of my child,” Findeisen told her interviewers. “It was unimaginable to me that I would give birth to my child in Syria. I ignored the reality of the situation. Until I could ignore it no more.”

    Her kidnappers blackmailed a doctor to deliver her child, and the birth took place without complications. “Suddenly everything was so very far away: the war, my kidnappers, it was just my son and I. He was so teeny, so fragile, but healthy.”

    After the birth, Findeisen said, her kidnappers’ treatment of her changed: “With a small child I was even more helpless than before. When my son woke at night and screamed, they asked me the next morning what was wrong.” Her abductors brought her chocolate, multivitamin juice and a teddy bear, and did not spare expenses when it came to nappies: “In Syria there are two kinds of nappies: the one kind is known as ‘Assad nappies’ and are quite flimsy. Then there are Molfix, the premium nappy brand there. They brought me those.”

    Asked if she thought that her son would one day reproach her for having him in such precarious circumstances, Findeisen said: “I have thought about that a lot. When the time comes, I will face up to it.”

    Findeisen, who studied ethnology and comparative religion before researching modern jihadism as a journalist, was eventually freed – not by German intelligence services, but another group of Islamists. After hearing shots outside her compound, the journalist found herself surrounded by a group of men in balaclavas who told her they would take her back to Germany.

    The group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham announced in an online statement that it had freed the German woman after a sharia court ruled her kidnapping un-Islamic in the light of the security guarantee given by her friend.

    Findeisen told Süddeutsche Zeitung she believed this to have been the case, and that she was not aware of the German state having paid any of the €5m (£4.3m) ransom her kidnappers had demanded.

    “I got a second chance,” Findeisen said. “Not everyone who got kidnapped [in Syria] was given one.”

    #Allemagne #Syrie #Daech #journalisme

    • The group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham announced in an online statement that it had freed the German woman after a sharia court ruled her kidnapping un-Islamic in the light of the security guarantee given by her friend.

      Vraiment ?...

  • Sahel violence displaces another million people

    Rising conflict and insecurity are accelerating forced displacement across the Sahel, and a new upsurge of violence along the Mali-Niger border has left 10,000 people in “appalling conditions” in improvised camps in Niger’s #Tillabéri region. The UN says IDP numbers in Mali have tripled to around 120,000. The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, or CERF, has allocated $4 million to assist 70,000 people who have fled their homes in just two months in Burkina Faso. Around 4.2 million people – a million more than a year ago – are currently displaced across the Sahel due to a combination of armed attacks by extremist militants, retaliation by regional militaries, and inter-communal violence.

    #IDPs #déplacés_internes #violence #conflit #Mali #Niger #frontières #camps #conflits #réfugiés #migrations

  • #Terrorisme, raison d’État (1/2) | ARTE

    Avant le 11-Septembre, quelque quatre cents personnes avaient prêté allégeance à #Al-Qaida. Seize ans plus tard, on compte des dizaines de milliers de militants djihadistes répartis sur plusieurs continents. Les attaques terroristes se sont multipliées à travers le monde, entraînant en Occident une tension des relations avec les minorités et les pays musulmans. En violant les valeurs démocratiques qu’elle prétendait défendre, la « guerre contre la terreur » lancée par l’administration Bush au lendemain du 11-Septembre a eu l’effet d’"un coup de marteau dans une fiole de mercure" : elle a fragmenté une menace autrefois circonscrite, et s’est muée en un conflit mondial et permanent, formidable terrain pour le recrutement djihadiste, mais aussi pour les groupes #xénophobes qui montent en puissance, en #Europe comme aux #États-Unis. Tel est le sombre bilan qu’établissent, face au réalisateur Ilan Ziv (#Capitalisme), des dirigeants politiques, des responsables de la sécurité et des généraux américains, britanniques, français et israéliens qui ont vécu les événements de l’intérieur et au plus haut niveau.

    Qu’ils restent fidèles à leurs actes passés, comme le #néoconservateur Richard Perle, ou qu’ils s’avouent hantés par la culpabilité, comme l’ancien bras droit de Colin Powell au secrétariat d’État, Lawrence Wilkerson, ils permettent de comprendre pourquoi cette #guerre qui a ravagé le #Moyen-Orient et causé des centaines de milliers de #morts constitue une impasse dont il est difficile de sortir. Du #mensonge délibéré qui a déclenché l’invasion de l’Irak aux « sites noirs » où les États-Unis ont pratiqué la #torture, Ilan Ziv décrypte les faits à l’aune du présent, pour montrer combien les concepts forgés par une administration pourtant discréditée restent plus que jamais agissants.

  • L’#Arabie_Saoudite aurait transféré des armes américaines à des groupes rebelles au #Yémen - Libération


    Les #Etats-Unis ont vendu des #armes à l’Arabie Saoudite et à son allié les #Emirats_arabes_unis. Une enquête de CNN révèle aujourd’hui que certaines armes auraient été transférées à des groupes combattant au Yémen, dont certains liés à #Al-Qaeda. Ceci constitue une violation des accords de vente d’armes entre l’Arabie Saoudite et les Etats-Unis, explique la chaîne américaine, qui ajoute que ces armes auraient ensuite été abandonnées, volées ou vendues lors des combats. Désormais, certaines seraient entre les mains de rebelles soutenus par l’Iran


  • Syria war: Jihadist takeover in rebel-held Idlib sparks alarm - BBC News

    In a dramatic takeover last month, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) swept through towns and villages in Idlib province, as well as adjoining parts of Aleppo and Hama.

    The group - which was known as al-Nusra Front before it broke off formal ties with #al-Qaeda three years ago - expelled some rebel factions and forced others to surrender and recognise a “civil administration” it backs.

    With almost 20,000 fighters in its ranks, HTS wants to impose strict Islamic rule in areas it controls. Civilians say the group’s practices are similar to those of IS.


  • U.S. says suspected USS Cole bombing planner killed in Yemen strike | Reuters

    Jamal al-Badawi, wanted by the United States for his suspected role in the attack on the USS Cole 18 years ago, was killed in a precision strike in Yemen on Jan. 1, U.S. Central Command said on Sunday.

    Badawi was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003 over his role in the October 2000 deadly bombing of the _USS Col_e, a Navy guided-missile destroyer. He escaped from prison in Yemen twice, once in 2003 and again in 2006.
    It is the latest blow to Yemen’s al Qaeda branch, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has lost key leaders in U.S strikes in recent years. In 2018, U.S. officials said they believed that Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, once one of the world’s most feared bombmakers, had been killed.

  • The U.S. put a Yemeni warlord on a terrorist list. One of its close allies is still arming him. - The Washington Post

    TAIZ, Yemen — In 2017, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on a powerful Yemeni Islamist warlord, accusing him of being a “prominent military instructor” and fundraiser for #al-Qaeda who had also at one point “served with” the Islamic State and financed its forces.

    But Abu al-Abbas is not on the run. He is not even in hiding.

    By his own admission, Abbas continues to receive millions of dollars in weapons and financial support for his fighters from one of Washington’s closest Middle East allies, the United Arab Emirates [..]


  • Israel uses online blackmail to recruit collaborators | The Electronic Intifada

    It was through social media that Ashraf Abu Leila, possibly the most notorious of recently convicted collaborators, is said to have first been recruited by Israeli intelligence. Accused with two other men of the assassination of Mazen al-Fuqaha, a senior Qassam Brigades leader who was killed in March last year, Abu Leila was executed on 25 May 2017 after being found guilty by a revolutionary court.

    Under questioning, Abu Leila is said to have confessed to being recruited through an online messenger app at the beginning of 2004 by a man who claimed to be a member of al-Qaida. And over time, authorities say, Abu Leila proved a deadly assassin.

    A member of Hamas since 2001, Abu Leila reportedly early became close to a Qassam commander, who would unwittingly shield him in the future. During the 2007 fighting in Gaza that led to the ouster of Fatah, Hamas authorities now say he was responsible for the murder of several members of the preventive security forces. He was also accused of another murder, but escaped punishment due to his involvement with Hamas’ military wing.

    He subsequently worked in different ministries until 2013, when he became increasingly radicalized and reportedly got close to Gaza’s Doghmush clan and its Salafi Army of Islam group. Indeed, the assassination of al-Fuqaha was initially thought to have been carried out by Salafis, with whom Hamas has been engaged in conflict on and off for more than a decade.

    Les #réseaux_sociaux comme instrument de recrutement pour des informateurs locaux par les Israéliens. #israël #palestine #tic_arabes

  • Georges Ibrahim Abdallah : “Ne quémandez pas ma liberté” - Madaniya
    By René Naba • décembre 23, 2018

    La leçon de courage et de dignité de Georges Ibrahim Abdallah
    La liste d’attente des visiteurs du doyen des prisonniers dans le Monde s’élève à 76 visiteurs.

    « Ne quémandez pas ma liberté. Ne vous placez pas en position de faiblesse. Au Liban existe désormais un leadership combatif… La France ne dispose plus d’influence au Moyen orient, sauf en Irak et au Liban ».

    Telle est la recommandation de Georges Abdallah à l’ambassadeur du Liban en France, Rami Adwane.

    Ancien condisciple du président Macron à l’E.N.A., M. Ramy Adwane est le premier officiel libanais à rendre visite à Georges Abdallah en 34 ans de captivité.

    Le doyen des prisonniers politiques dans le Monde a mis l’accent sur « la centralité de la cause palestinienne » ainsi que sur la nécessité de préserver « le rôle militant du Liban », assurant que « les forces révolutionnaires arabes triompheront des adeptes de l’enseignement d’Ibn Taymima », dans une claire allusion aux groupements terroristes néo islamistes (Daech, Al Qaida, Jabhat An Nosra, Boko Haram) qui se réclament de ce penseur musulman en tant que leur référent idéologique.

    La conversation est rapportée samedi 22 décembre 2018 par le grand quotidien libanais « Al Akhbar » au lendemain de la visite du diplomate libanais à la prison de Lannemezan (Pyrénées). Pour les locuteurs arabophones, le récit d’al Akhbar sur ce lien.

    “Je veux bien évidemment sortir, mais j‘ai parfaitement conscience des obstacles dressés par les Américains et les Israéliens » à ma libération. Je vous demande de déployer tous les efforts pour atteindre cet objectif. Faites tout ce que jugez bon de faire en ce sens. Mais ne quémandez pas ma liberté ; Ne soyez pas en position de faiblesse. Il existe aujourd’hui au Liban un leadership combatif et La France ne dispose plus d’influence au Moyen orient, sauf en Irak et au Liban ”, a poursuivi Georges Abdallah au cours de cet entretien qui a duré près de trois heures.


  • Les deux visages de Etienne Chouard, chantre du référendum d’initiative citoyenne, Adrien Sénécat, Les Déconants,de L’imMonde

    Ancienne figure du « non » au référendum de 2005 sur le traité constitutionnel européen, cet enseignant est à la fois loué pour son travail sur la démocratie citoyenne et critiqué pour certaines de ses positions.[...]

    Désormais, on trouve des élus pour soutenir sa grande idée, de la gauche radicale à l’extrême droite. Et même le gouvernement lui entrouvre la porte. « Je ne vois pas comment on peut être contre son principe », acquiesçait ainsi Edouard Philippe dans un entretien aux Echos, lundi 17 décembre. Le lendemain, le député de La France insoumise (LFI) François Ruffin lui a rendu un vibrant hommage à l’Assemblée nationale : « Le référendum d’initiative citoyenne a fleuri. Oh, il n’a pas fleuri par hasard. Il a fleuri parce que des hommes de conviction – nommons-les, Etienne Chouard et ses amis – ont semé, ont arrosé depuis des années. »

    Seulement voilà, le cas #Chouard divise. Vibrant défenseur de la démocratie citoyenne et chantre du « non » au référendum français de 2005 sur le traité établissant une Constitution pour l’Europe pour certains, l’auteur du « Blog du plan C » (pour Constitution) est décrié par d’autres, qui dénoncent sa complaisance avec des théoriciens d’#extrême_droite, voire des conspirationnistes. « Je suis évidemment en phase avec la proposition pour le RIC, mais j’avoue [que] je n’aurais pas pris en modèle Etienne Chouard, a écrit sur Twitter la députée Clémentine Autain. Mais sans doute suis-je trop sensible aux dérives rouge-brun… »

    En 2014, il qualifiait Alain Soral de « résistant »
    L’intéressé s’en souviendra peut-être. Comme il se souvient de l’auteur de ces lignes, qui l’avait déjà interrogé en 2014 pour L’Express. « J’ai plein de warnings allumés. Je ne sais pas pourquoi vous faites ça, mais vous n’êtes pas honnête », nous a-t-il lâché d’emblée lorsque nous l’avons appelé, jeudi 20 décembre. Il y a quatre ans, déjà, l’enseignant se débattait face à des accusations de proximité avec l’extrême droite. Notamment parce qu’il avait côtoyé l’idéologue d’extrême droite et judéophobe revendiqué Alain Soral, ainsi que des membres de son association, Egalité et Réconciliation.

    Etienne Chouard nous avait fait cette confidence : « Mon curseur politique est simple, c’est celui de la révolution. Celui qui soutient le peuple qui veut se soulever contre ses maîtres est à gauche. A droite, il y a la défense des privilèges. » Il poursuivait : « Pour moi, Alain Soral est à gauche parce qu’il se bat contre les privilèges. C’est un résistant. » Une déclaration parmi d’autres qui lui a valu de nombreuses critiques, l’amenant à se déjuger en partie dans un article sur son blog par la suite. Ce qu’il n’a jamais digéré depuis.

    « Vous me cognez dessus pour décrédibiliser l’initiative »

    Reconnaissons-le d’emblée : le promoteur du référendum d’initiative citoyenne est probablement sincère lorsqu’il écrit qu’il ne veut pas plus de la « dictature éclairée » prônée par #Alain_Soral que « de n’importe quelle dictature, évidemment ». Il l’est aussi sans doute lorsqu’il revendique une certaine ouverture d’esprit. En revanche, affirmer qu’il ignorait la propension du même Soral à tenir des propos homophobes, antisémites (ce pour quoi il a été condamné à plusieurs reprises) ou tout simplement injurieux peut interpeller : soit Etienne Chouard était mal renseigné, soit il a relégué ces considérations au second plan.

    Malgré des « désaccords », qu’il a détaillés sur son site, en 2013, François Ruffin estime désormais que « Chouard a mis fin à ses étranges liens » avec des personnalités d’extrême droite, écrivant sur Twitter qu’il se refuse à « traiter les hommes en pestiférés ». Etienne Chouard, quant à lui, s’estime victime d’une cabale : « On m’accuse publiquement sans me donner la parole. J’ai prononcé des millions de phrases et vous m’attaquez en boucle sur trois phrases ! » Bref, « c’est cousu de fil blanc. Vous m’associez au référendum d’initiative citoyenne et vous me cognez dessus pour décrédibiliser l’initiative », estime-t-il.

    Références conspirationnistes et théories douteuses

    A écouter l’enseignant et ses soutiens, les critiques à son égard n’émaneraient que de personnes malveillantes se focalisant sur un ou deux détails. Les références douteuses sont pourtant récurrentes sur son site et sa page Facebook.

    Parmi elles, on trouve #Thierry_Meyssan, qui défend des théories conspirationnistes sur le 11-Septembre, refusant d’en attribuer la responsabilité aux terroristes d’Al-Qaida. Etienne Chouard a, à plusieurs reprises, salué « le sérieux de son travail » et « la finesse de ses analyses ». « Je ne comprends pas pourquoi vous m’emmenez sur ce sujet-là, nous rétorque-t-il. Thierry Meyssan, je l’ai rencontré il y a longtemps, il est calme… Qu’est-ce que ça peut faire ? » Qu’il s’agisse d’un homme qui a pu diffuser des théories conspirationnistes sur la base d’éléments erronés n’est, selon lui, pas si grave : « Il se trompe ? Et alors ? C’est criminel ? »

    Dans la même veine, le « Blog du plan C » a diffusé plusieurs analyses signées par Paul Craig Roberts, un Américain qui a notamment accusé le gouvernement américain d’avoir orchestré l’attentat contre la rédaction de Charlie Hebdo en 2015.

    Sur le fond, Etienne Chouard a aussi repris à son compte plusieurs théories douteuses. Il a ainsi reproduit un appel du militant écologiste Stéphane Lhomme à résister contre les « mouchards Big Brother » des compteurs électriques Linky – sur la base d’affirmations exagérées, voire farfelues. Autre mythe qu’il a repris à son compte : le fait que la loi « Pompidou-Giscard-Rothschild » de 1973 aurait créé la dette française. L’intéressé reconnaît désormais aujourd’hui que cette présentation des faits était erronée, sans remettre en cause l’interprétation qu’il en tire.

    En cela, l’univers d’Etienne Chouard est comparable à celui de Maxime Nicolle, alias « Fly Rider ». Ce porte-parole des « #gilets_jaunes », prolixe sur Facebook, s’est autant illustré par ses revendications démocratiques, comme le référendum d’initiative citoyenne, que par des affirmations douteuses, comme lorsqu’il a repris des théories d’extrême droite sur le « pacte de Marrakech » de l’Organisation des Nations unies sur les #migrations. Les deux hommes se sont d’ailleurs rencontrés récemment.

    Les journalistes ? Des « traîtres », des « kapos »

    Toutes ces références douteuses et théories sont-elles des errements isolés ? Ou le symptôme d’une pensée qui vire au « rouge-brun », comme l’estime Clémentine Autain ? Une chose est sûre : dans l’esprit d’Etienne Chouard, « nous ne sommes pas en démocratie ». Le suffrage universel est défaillant car il « donne le pouvoir aux meilleurs menteurs, donc on a affaire à des professionnels, les meilleurs, les champions du mensonge », affirmait-il sur Russia Today, le 10 décembre. A l’arrivée, les « 1 % qui se gavent » sortiraient toujours vainqueurs de cette mascarade dont l’issue est prévue d’avance.
    « Les élus détestent ceux qui contestent l’élection. Je me trompe peut-être, mais je conteste la procédure de l’élection, nous explique-t-il. J’estime que les citoyens devraient voter eux-mêmes leurs lois, ce n’est pas fasciste de dire ça. »

    Ce sombre tableau est à l’origine de tous les combats du professeur. Le « non » au traité constitutionnel européen de 2005, le tirage au sort des élus, le référendum d’initiative citoyenne… A ses yeux, le RIC est d’autant plus nécessaire qu’il est la manière la plus sûre de pouvoir renverser la table à la faveur d’un vote sur la sortie de l’Union européenne. Fervent partisan d’un « Frexit », Etienne Chouard a de longue date affiché sa sympathie à l’égard de l’eurosceptique britannique Nigel Farage, qu’il dépeignait dès 2011 en « remarquable résistant à la tyrannie mondialiste ».

    Là encore, notre remarque l’irrite : « Vous allez me traquer jusqu’à ce que je sois mort ? Enfin, c’est fou ça, vraiment… Vous vous rendez compte, c’est incroyable. C’est du #racisme [sic,ndc] . Ça veut dire quoi ? (…). Vous me réduisez à une parole dite un jour. Tous les jours je me bagarre pour émanciper les peuples ! »

    François Asselineau, « le seul vrai résistant »

    Côté français, « j’aime bien Jean-Luc Mélenchon et François Asselineau », assurait-il en mars 2017 dans une vidéo publiée sur YouTube. Et surtout le second, car c’est « le seul qui dise que la priorité absolue c’est de sortir de ce truc-là [l’Union européenne] ». Le champion du « #Frexit » a été boudé par les médias traditionnels, sur ordre du « système », selon lui. Cela légitime, à ses yeux, une dénonciation radicale, voire outrancière, des médias :

    « C’est pas des journalistes, c’est juste des traîtres, comme les kapos au moment de la guerre. Les kapos, c’étaient des juifs qui acceptaient de maltraiter leurs frères juifs pour être moins maltraités. (…) Eh ben les journalistes qui cachent Asselineau, qui le taisent, qui ne lui donnent pas la parole, c’est comme des kapos. [Ce sont] des gens qui font le jeu du système de domination en cachant le seul vrai résistant. »

    Ne verse-t-il pas dans l’outrance quand il se livre à des comparaisons de ce type ? « Pourquoi ?, rétorque-t-il. Oui, c’est sûrement excessif de dire “kapos”, mais en même temps il y a quelque chose de désespérant dans la complicité de beaucoup de journalistes par rapport au système de domination. Excusez la victime, excusez l’opprimé de crier trop fort ou de griffer trop fort pour résister aux gens qui la violent, qui la maltraitent. Vous n’avez pas l’impression de chercher la petite bête ? »

    Tous les journaux traditionnels sont coupables à ses yeux d’appartenir aux « milliardaires ». Alors parmi les rares antennes qu’il juge audibles, on trouve la chaîne financée par le pouvoir russe RT France (ex-Russia Today) – un « service public de résistance ». Cette aversion à l’égard des médias traditionnels peut aussi expliquer la propension du nouveau parrain des « gilets jaunes » à consulter des sources « alternatives », y compris les plus douteuses.

    #conspirationisme #complotisme #confusionisme

    • Au passage, le Monde fait passer le message autour des opposant-e-s à Linky :

      Sur le fond, Etienne Chouard a aussi repris à son compte plusieurs théories douteuses. Il a ainsi reproduit un appel du militant écologiste Stéphane Lhomme à résister contre les « mouchards Big Brother » des compteurs électriques Linky – sur la base d’affirmations exagérées, voire farfelues.

  • LES GUERRES DU YEMEN-(Le Monde Arabe-Sama Mohamed (2018-12-03)

    La présente tentative de paix n’aura aucune chance de réussir si l’ONU ne renouvelle pas sa lecture du conflit yéménite.

    Porté par la vague révolutionnaire du printemps arabe de 2011, le Yémen se trouve depuis en proie à des bouleversements profonds. Bien que la révolution yéménite soit parvenue à mettre fin au régime autocratique du président Ali Abdallah Saleh, le pays n’a pas réussi sa transition politique. Cet échec s’est traduit par une guerre sanglante qui oppose des acteurs locaux, avec l’interposition d’autres acteurs régionaux et internationaux. La dynamique de ce conflit pluriel a fait émerger un véritable « système de guerres » qui rend extrêmement complexe la scène yéménite.

    Au commencement était le printemps yéménite
    Entamé en janvier 2011, un soulèvement de la jeunesse yéménite aux aspirations progressistes et démocratiques va faire tomber le régime du président Saleh, au pouvoir depuis 33 ans. Malgré une terrible répression en mars 2011, la révolution yéménite gagne en force, attirant dans ses rangs les partis politiques majoritaires et plusieurs groupes sociaux. De plus en plus isolé face aux voix qui réclament son départ, Saleh capitule et accepte un plan élaboré par les États-Unis et le Conseil de la Coopération du Golfe. En novembre 2011, il démissionne et transmet ses pouvoirs à son vice-président Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

    En février 2012, Hadi, qui vient d’être élu président à la faveur d’un scrutin à candidat unique, forme un gouvernement d’unité nationale. Entre 2013 et 2014, une Conférence de dialogue national est organisée et aboutit à la formation d’une Commission constitutionnelle. En charge d’une nouvelle organisation de la vie politique yéménite, la Commission décide d’une réduction des pouvoirs présidentiels et d’un modèle étatique basé sur une structure fédérale composée de six provinces.

    Les Houthistes à l’offensiveMais cette configuration est rejetée par les Ansar Allah (les partisans de Dieu), communément appelés « les Houthistes ». Il s’agit d’un mouvement contestataire, qui se revendique du chiisme zaydite, établi à Saada, à l’extrême nord-ouest du pays. La région de Saada a été intégrée à la province d’Azal qui s’étend de Sanaa jusqu’au nord du pays. Or, les Ansar Allah exigent que Saada soit considérée comme une province à part entière au sein de l’État fédéral et réclament, en outre, un accès à la Mer rouge. Ce désaccord marque la fin du processus pacifique de transition post-révolutionnaire et plonge le Yémen dans un conflit long et douloureux.

    Craignant que l’histoire se répète et qu’ils deviennent les perdants de la révolution yéménite, les Ansar Allah font le choix de l’affrontement. Le 21 septembre 2014, ils renversent le gouvernement de Hadi et s’emparent de la capitale yéménite, Sanaa. Après cette victoire, les milices d’Abd al-Malik al-Houthi, son dirigeant actuel et, par ailleurs, frère du fondateur du mouvement continuent leur progression vers les autres régions yéménites.

    Avant la fin de l’année 2014, les Houthistes se trouvent à la tête d’une vaste étendue de territoires situés dans le nord du pays. Cette extension territoriale leur a donné accès à des lieux stratégiques, tel le port de Hodeïda, sur la côte Est, par lequel transite la majeure partie des importations yéménites (environ 70 %).

    Face à l’ampleur que prend la rébellion houthiste, l’ancien envoyé spécial de l’ONU, Jamal Ben Omar, tente de jouer les médiateurs. Hadi et les Houthistes signent un accord appelé « Accord sur la Paix et le Partenariat » garantissant une meilleure représentation des rebelles au sein d’un nouveau gouvernement.

    Mais, le 20 janvier 2015, les Houthistes rompent cet accord sous prétexte que certaines de ses clauses n’ont pas été respectées dans le projet constitutionnel qui venait d’être publié par le gouvernement de Hadi. Ils s’emparent du palais présidentiel et poussent Hadi à démissionner. Le 21 février 2015, Hadi, assigné à résidence par les Houthistes, parvient à s’enfuir. Il quitte Sanaa pour la ville portuaire d’Aden, d’où il abroge sa démission et forme une alliance anti-Houthistes. Dès lors, deux gouvernements dirigent le Yémen – l’un établi à Sanaa et l’autre à Aden.

    Une alliance de circonstance avec l’ex-Président Saleh
    À ce stade, les Houthistes, dont le projet politico-territorial est entretenu par des alliances fragiles et incertaines, tentent de resserrer leurs rangs. Dans cette conquête du pouvoir et du territoire, ils jouissent d’un réseau de soutien basé sur les deux pôles du zaydisme au Yémen – religieux et tribal.

    Il s’agit de l’ancienne aristocratie religieuse zaydite (descendants du prophète Mohammed appelés Hachémites ou Sayyids) et des tribus des hauts plateaux yéménites. Ces tribus se situent dans les territoires des alliés historiques de l’imamat zaydite au Yémen, les Hashid et les Bakil. Cependant, il est largement admis que l’ascension rapide des Houthistes n’aurait pu se faire sans l’alliance fondée avec leur ancien ennemi, le président destitué Saleh, l’instigateur des six guerres brutales (appelées les guerres de Saada) dont ils ont été les victimes entre 2004 et 2010.

    Bien que Saleh soit d’origine zaydite, son alliance avec les Houthistes aura été purement stratégique : il s’agit pour lui de revenir sur la scène politique yéménite. De même, les Houthistes ont fait preuve de pragmatisme avec cette alliance qui leur a permis d’accéder à d’importantes ressources militaires. Malgré sa destitution, Saleh a en effet conservé une grande influence sur l’armée nationale, en particulier sur les forces de la garde républicaine et les forces de la sécurité centrale.

    Al-Qaïda, Daech et les sudistes, des obstacles sur la route des Houthistes
    Cependant, la prise de pouvoir des Houthistes n’est pas acceptée par tous au Yémen, loin de là. Des groupes sunnites situés dans la mouvance du salafisme et liés au parti politique Islah (antenne locale des Frères musulmans) forment des poches de résistance dans certains territoires (à Marib, Jawf et Taiz).

    Les Houthistes sont également confrontés aux groupes terroristes d’al-Qaeda dans la péninsule arabique (Aqpa) et de l’État islamique au Yémen (Daech). Le premier est né, courant 2009, de la fusion entre al-Qaeda au Yémen et al-Qaeda en Arabie saoudite, tandis que le second a émergé dans le pays en 2015. Ces groupes tirent profit du chaos engendré par la guerre pour étendre leur influence. Les multiples attentats commis depuis le début du conflit visent à la fois les Houthistes et les partisans de Hadi, et causent de nombreuses victimes parmi les populations, tant chiites que sunnites.

    « La régionalisation de la guerre modifie en effet considérablement les modalités et l’expression du conflit yéménite. »

    La fuite de Hadi à Aden en février 2015 a déplacé le centre de gravité du conflit vers les régions du sud, foyer d’un autre groupe qui s’oppose aux Houthistes. Il s’agit des partisans du mouvement séparatiste sudiste appelé al-Harak. Né en 2007, ce mouvement regroupe une large coalition d’acteurs qui proclament, par des manifestations pacifiques, l’indépendance du Yémen du Sud (unifié avec le Nord en 1990). L’avancée des Houthistes vers Aden est très mal perçue par les populations sudistes, largement acquises à la cause séparatiste, et qui considèrent le régime de Sanaa comme un « occupant ». Ce fort sentiment régionaliste est exploité par Hadi et ses alliés pour freiner l’expansion territoriale des Houthistes.

    Face à l’avancée de ces derniers vers Aden en février 2015, Hadi demande en urgence l’intervention militaire de l’Arabie saoudite et se réfugie à Riyad, où il forme un gouvernement en exil. Les Houthistes, de leur côté, cherchent du soutien auprès de l’Iran. Dès lors, la guerre au Yémen entre dans une nouvelle phase, encore plus violente. La régionalisation de la guerre modifie en effet considérablement les modalités et l’expression du conflit yéménite.

    L’Iran et l’Arabie saoudite entrent en scène
    Pour écarter d’emblée toute ambiguïté, il faut rappeler que le conflit irano-saoudien qui se joue au Yémen est géostratégique et en aucun cas confessionnel (chiite/sunnite). Il s’agit d’une rivalité maritime autour de l’accès aux infrastructures portuaires de la zone qui s’étend du détroit d’Ormuz, dans le Golfe arabo-persique, au détroit de Bab Al-Mandab, dans le Golfe d’Aden.

    Avec la progression des Houthistes vers la ville d’Aden, en février 2015, le détroit de Bab Al-Mandab – par lequel transite 4 % de la demande mondiale en pétrole – risque de tomber entre les mains d’un groupe pro-iranien. Le 26 mars 2015, l’Arabie saoudite lance alors l’opération militaire « Tempête décisive », en s’appuyant sur une coalition de neuf pays arabes et musulmans. Ses objectifs déclarés sont de mettre fin à l’offensive des Houthistes et de rétablir au Yémen le gouvernement de Hadi, reconnu comme légitime sur le plan international.

    Dans le but de constituer un camp anti-Houthistes et de disposer de troupes locales loyales à Hadi, la coalition arabe mise sur les affiliations tribales, religieuses et régionales, qui jouent un rôle crucial dans l’espace politique yéménite.

    « Le conflit irano-saoudien qui se joue au Yémen est géostratégique et en aucun cas confessionnel (chiite/sunnite) »

    D’une part, l’Arabie saoudite s’appuie militairement sur certaines tribus yéménites, notamment les Hashids, qui bénéficient de ses subventions depuis de nombreuses années. Après la révolution de 1962, un comité saoudien doté d’un budget de 3,5 milliards de dollars a ainsi été mis en place pour former un réseau de chefs tribaux yéménites fidèles au Royaume.

    D’autre part, les Émiratis, très investis dans la coalition arabe, instrumentalisent le sentiment régionaliste dans le sud du pays afin d’alimenter la guerre contre les Houthistes. Ils soutiennent, en mai 2017, la formation du « Conseil de transition du Sud » à Aden, qui proclame la sécession du sud du Yémen.

    Du côté de l’État iranien, si le soutien aux Houthistes est avéré, son impact sur le déroulement du conflit au Yémen reste limité. Au cours de la formation de leur mouvement, les Houthistes se sont inspirés des codes et slogans de la Révolution iranienne de 1979. Le mouvement a également connu un processus de renouveau, rapprochant le chiisme zaydite du chiisme duodécimain, doctrine de l’État iranien.

    Toutefois, l’influence la plus significative de l’Iran dans le conflit yéménite se manifeste au niveau militaire avec la fourniture aux Houthistes d’une certaine capacité balistique. Depuis 2015, en effet, ces derniers pilonnent les frontières méridionales de l’Arabie saoudite par des tirs de missiles et frappent des navires civils et militaires (saoudiens et émiratis) dans le Golfe au moyen de missiles anti-navires.

    La lutte antiterroriste, l’autre guerre du Yémen
    Mais la complexité du conflit yéménite va au-delà des clivages internes et des rivalités régionales en raison de la guerre antiterroriste qui se joue en arrière-plan. Les questions sécuritaires liées à la présence de groupes terroristes au Yémen ont donné une dimension internationale à cette guerre.

    Depuis 2011, les frappes ciblées menées par les drones américains contre les camps d’entraînement des groupes terroristes (Aqpa et Daech) au Yémen se sont intensifiées, notamment dans les régions de Marib, Shabwa, Baydha, Hadramaout et Abyan. Le rôle des Américains dans la guerre contre le terrorisme au Yémen remonte aux années 2000, à l’attaque de l’USS Cole dans le port d’Aden et aux attentats du 11 septembre 2001. Dans le conflit actuel, les États-Unis offrent également un soutien logistique aux forces émiraties, cibles de plusieurs attentats terroristes.

    Néanmoins, l’intervention de ces acteurs régionaux et internationaux dans la guerre yéménite n’aura que très peu modifié les lignes sur le champ de bataille. Certes, l’opération « Tempête décisive » a stoppé la progression des Houthistes vers les régions méridionales placées, depuis septembre 2015, sous le contrôle des forces gouvernementales. En revanche, les Houthistes maintiennent toujours leurs positions dans le nord du pays, et cela malgré la rupture de leur alliance avec Saleh, qu’ils ont fait assassiner le 4 novembre 2017.

    Face à l’apocalypse yéménite, des efforts de paix hors de propos
    Aujourd’hui, à l’heure où la guerre fait toujours rage, les appels à la paix se multiplient. Les quatre années du conflit yéménite ont entraîné une crise humanitaire sans précédent. Les chiffres sont effrayants : environ 10 000 victimes (dont 60 % de civils), 50 000 blessés, 3 millions de déplacés (sur une population estimée à 27 millions), 80 % de la population dépendant de l’aide humanitaire, 7 millions de personnes exposées au risque de famine et plusieurs milliers de morts dus au choléra. À cela s’ajoutent les crimes de guerres perpétrés par tous les acteurs du conflit, dont la destruction des infrastructures et du patrimoine matériel, l’enrôlement d’enfants dans les forces armées, etc.

    En outre, la polarisation du conflit yéménite autour des clivages tribaux, régionaux et religieux a accentué les antagonismes dans une société qui est déjà profondément divisée. Ces déchirures compliquent la mise en place du processus de pacification.

    Jusqu’à présent, aucune des parties au conflit au Yémen n’a donné la moindre indication quant à la possibilité d’une solution autre que militaire. Ainsi, aucun des pourparlers engagés par l’ONU depuis 2014 (en Suisse et au Koweït) n’ont abouti à un résultat.

    « Il ne fait aucun doute que la paix au Yémen est étroitement liée aux intérêts des pays régionaux et internationaux »

    Dernièrement, l’affaire Khashoggi a incité les hauts responsables des gouvernements américain, français et britannique à hausser le ton, appelant le Royaume saoudien à mettre un terme à la guerre au Yémen. Depuis, on assiste à certaines avancées dans le dossier yéménite. La coalition arabe vient ainsi d’accepter un cessez-le-feu en stoppant ses offensives sur le port de Hodeïda, assiégé depuis le mois de juin.

    Parallèlement, le nouvel envoyé spécial de l’ONU au Yémen, Martin Griffiths, a relancé le processus de paix en annonçant de nouveaux pourparlers en Suède dans les semaines à venir. Mais cette énième tentative de paix n’aura aucune chance de réussir si l’ONU ne renouvelle pas sa lecture du conflit yéménite.

    Il ne fait aucun doute que la paix au Yémen est étroitement liée aux intérêts des pays régionaux et internationaux. Toutefois, pour l’heure, seuls les acteurs locaux sont invités à participer aux pourparlers de l’ONU. Pire, la représentation dans ces discussions se limite aux Houthistes et au gouvernement de Hadi. Ils sont pourtant loin d’être les seuls acteurs influents au niveau local.

    Cette configuration de la paix est très réductrice et ne reflète en rien la réalité que les quatre années de conflit ont engendrée sur la scène yéménite en termes de rapports de force. Il est illusoire d’élaborer un plan de paix sans prendre en considération la pluralité des acteurs du conflit yéménite et des enjeux locaux, régionaux et internationaux qui s’y superposent.

  • Europeans Help ’Idlib Rebels’ To Equip Missiles With Chemical Warheads – Report

    French militants-experts are helping Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) [former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria] to arm newly delivered missiles with chemical warheads, local sources familiar with the situation told the Russian news agency Sputnik on November 22.

    According to the sources, the White Helmets organization transferred five containers with toxic chemicals from one of HTS’ warehouses in the town of Kafr Nabl in the southern Idlib countryside to an underground facility in Idlib city, which has recently been built near the Central Prison.

    “The five containers were handed over in the underground facility to French experts, of the black ethnicity .. they arrived recently to modify missiles of an unidentified type, which were supplied along with their launchers through the border,” Sputnik quoted the sources as saying.

    South Front, Sputnik : rien que des complotistes contre la révolution en #syrie

  • Maroc-Israël: Hassan II, la grande imposture, par René Naba – Salimsellami’s Blog

    Le Roi Hassan II du Maroc, Président du Comité Al Qods » (Jérusalem), hôte du premier sommet islamique de l’époque contemporaine (Rabat 1969), apparaît rétrospectivement comme l‘un des grands traîtres à la cause arabe et son long règne de 38 ans (Mars 1961-Juillet 1999) une vaste supercherie, si toutefois sont avérées les révélations contenues dans le livre du journaliste israélien Ronen Bergman « Rise and Kill First : The secret History of Israel’s targeted assassinations », ED. Penguin Random House.

    Réputé pour son sérieux, chroniqueur militaire de Yedioth Aharonoth et du New York Times, l’auteur soutient que les dirigeants arabes ont été placés sur écoute des services israéliens grâce à la connivence marocaine lors du Sommet arabe de Casablanca de septembre 1965. Du jamais vu même dans les fictions les plus satiriques, cette trahison dénote la désinvolture du monarque chérifien à l’égard de ses pairs et de son mépris pour la cause palestinienne.

    Version arabe de ce récit selon la recension de l’ouvrage établi par le site en ligne Ar Rai Al Yom à l’intention du locuteur arabophone.

    La date n’est pas anodine. Scellé par la signature d’un pacte de solidarité et de coexistence pacifique entre régimes arabes, ce sommet s’est tenu en septembre 1965, au terme d’un été particulièrement brûlant au Maroc, marqué par la terrible répression de la révolte étudiante de Casablanca (23 mars 1965) qui fit officiellement 7 morts et 168 blessés. En fait 400 morts selon l’ambassade de France à Rabat.

    Sentant le vent du boulet, le jeune monarque a eu la lumineuse idée de se tourner alors vers les Israéliens, comme garde fou aux débordements de son opposition interne et externe. Autrement dit, contre la volonté de son peuple, il s’allia aux ennemis du Monde arabe pour la survie de son trône, dans la pure tradition de la servitude coloniale. Un schéma identique sera observé 70 ans plus tard par le trône wahhabite, bradant la Palestine, par une alliance ouverte avec Israël.

    Dans une sorte d’échange de bons procédés, Hassan II percevra le prix de sa forfaiture au plan arabe, un mois plus tard, par l’élimination d’un des espoirs de la renaissance arabe, Mehdi Ben Barka.

    Figure mythique de l’opposition démocratique marocaine, l’ancien professeur de mathématiques d’Hassan II sera enlevé en octobre 1965 à Paris avec la complicité du Mossad, et carbonisé par des sbires marocains, un mois après la tenue du sommet de Casablanca.

    Principal opposant socialiste au roi Hassan II et leader du mouvement tiers-mondiste et panafricaniste, Mehdi Ben Barka a été enlevé le 29 octobre 1965 à Paris alors qu’il tentait, en sa qualité de « commis-voyageur de la révolution », de fédérer les mouvements révolutionnaires du tiers-monde en vue de la Conférence Tri-continentale devant se tenir en janvier 1966 à la Havane en vue de faire converger « les deux courants de la révolution mondiale : le courant surgi avec la révolution d’Octobre et celui de la révolution nationale libératrice ». Pour l’historien René Galissot, « c’est dans cet élan révolutionnaire de la Tri-continentale que se trouve la cause profonde de l’enlèvement et de l’assassinat de Ben Barka ».

    Sur ce lien, Le rôle de Mehdi Ben Barka et de la tri-continentale dans le réveil des peuples colonisés
    La mise sur écoute des dirigeants arabes a permis aux Israéliens de prendre note de la stratégie de reconquête de la Palestine, comme des divergences inter arabes. La décision marocaine aura constitué « Le plus grand trésor stratégique d’Israël ». Le journaliste israélien a estimé que cette information était « la raison principale qui a poussé Israël à prendre la décision de faire la guerre aux États arabes en Juin 1967 », deux ans après le sommet de Casablanca, et qui a infligé une terrible défaite à l’Égypte, à la Syrie et à la Jordanie.

    L’incendie de la Mosquée Al Aqsa par un illuminé israélien, en 1969, donne l’occasion au souverain chérifien de se refaire une virginité politique à l’occasion du sommet Islamique de Rabat, en 1969. Deux ans après la défaite de juin 1967, dont il en a été indirectement responsable, le « Commandeur des Croyants » va cumuler cette fonction spirituelle avec celle plus politique de président du « Comité Al Qods ».

    Le sommet islamique de Rabat a marqué, sur le plan idéologique, le début de l’instrumentalisation de l’Islam comme arme politique contre l’athéisme soviétique et le nationalisme arabe, et, sur le plan stratégique, le détournement du combat pour la libération de la Palestine, vers des contrées périphériques, à des milliers de km du champ de bataille de la Palestine, avec Al Qaida en Afghanistan et les djihadistes arabo afghans au Caucase et en Bosnie au Kosovo, avant d’être dirigé contre les pays arabes à structure républicaine (Libye, Syrie) à l’occasion du déclenchement de la séquence dite du « printemps arabe » et le surgissement de groupements terroristes islamistes Daech, Jabat An Nosra, Jaych al Islam, opérant, dans le sud de la Syrie, en coopération avec Israël.

    Le Maroc figurera lors de cette séquence comme l’un des plus gros exportateurs du terrorisme islamique vers l’Europe occidentale (Attentat de Madrid 2004 qui a fait 200 morts, l’assassinat de Théo Van Gogh, les attentats de Bruxelles en 2015 et les attentats de Barcelone en 2017).

    Pour aller plus loin sur ce thème

    Nonobstant la coopération sécuritaire entre le Maroc et Israël, Hassan II, fait rarissime dans les annales, devra faire face à deux séditions militaires, à son palais de Skhirat, le 10 juillet 1971, jour de son anniversaire, puis l’année suivante contre son propre Boeing par un groupe d’aviateurs ; indice d’un fort ressentiment à son égard, deux ans après son sacre de Rabat.

    Au delà du rôle du Mossad dans l’enlèvement de Mehdi Ben Barka, la vassalité du trône alaouite à l’égard de l’État Hébreu s’est concrétisée sous le règne de son successeur Mohammad VI avec le scandale du « Collier de la Reine » dans sa version tropicale ; un scandale qui titre son nom du bijou offert par l’épouse du Roi à Tzipi Livni, ancien ministre israélien des Affaires étrangères, dans la foulée de la destruction de la bande de Gaza (2007-2008), dont l’ancienne agent du Mossad en Europe en a été la coordonnatrice.

    Pour aller plus loin sur l’affaire du collier de la reine

    Pivot central du dispositif occidental en Afrique, le Royaume fondera, en 1976, avec la France, l’Egypte, l’Iran et l’Arabie saoudite, le « Safari Club », se donnant ainsi l’illusion de « jouer dans la cour des grands ». En pleine négociation de paix égypto-israélienne, il assumera le rôle de gendarme, non sur le champ de la confrontation israélo-arabe, mais à des milliers de kilomètres de là, non pour la récupération des Lieux Saints de l’Islam, mais pour le maintien au pouvoir d’un des dictateurs les plus corrompus de la planète le Zaïrois Mobutu, agent attitré des Américains dans la zone centrale de l’Afrique, l’assassin de Patrice Lumumba, le chef charismatique de l’Indépendance du Congo ex belge.

    En soutien à Jonas Savimbi, l’agent de la CIA en Angola ; ou encore l’ivoirien Félix Houphouet Boigny, le principal pourvoyeur des djembés et des mallettes à une caste politico médiatique française vénale.

    Le Maroc était représenté au sein de cette structure par le général Ahmad Dlimi, un des artisans de la liquidation de Mehdi Ben Barka, l’ancien lieutenant du général Mohamad Oufkir, l’homme des basses oeuvres de la dynastie alaouite, tous les deux liquidés sans autre forme de procès sur ordre du Palais royal.

    À propos du safari Club

    La dynastie chérifienne a constamment justifié sa relation privilégiée avec Israël par la spécificité du judaïsme marocain.

    Cf sur ce point, l’analyse d’Abraham Sarfati, l’un des plus célèbres opposants marocain à Hassan II.

    Il n’en demeure pas moins que le règne d’Hassan II, malgré les prosternations d’une presse française vénale, sera néanmoins qualifié de « Règne du Bagne et de la Terreur », dont le cas le plus illustre aura été le bagne de Tazmamart et l’arbitraire qui frappa notamment les Frères Bourequat.

    Pour aller plus loin sur cette affaire, cf le lien suivant

    Un des principaux pourvoyeurs de la prostitution à destination du Golfe pétro monarchique, où près de vingt mille marocaines y font l’objet d’exploitations sexuelles, le Maroc passe de surcroît pour être un refuge pour la mafia israélienne. Le royaume aurait accueilli plusieurs anciens membres de la mafia israélienne, selon le quotidien israélien Haaretz, en date du vendredi 14 septembre 2012.

    Gabriel Ben-Harush et Shalom Domrani, deux figures puissantes de la mafia israélienne, recherchées depuis des années par l’Interpol, figuraient parmi les noms cités par le journal. Cf à ce propos :

    Pour aller plus loin sur ce sujet cf :

    Ronen Bergman mentionne 2700 assassinats ciblés orchestrés par Israël ; soit en moyenne 40 opérations par an. Les Israéliens n’auront fait que reprendre les méthodes en vigueur en Palestine par les britanniques, notamment le général Orde Wingate, qui avait créé dans la décennie 1930 les « Special Night Squads », les « Escadrons Nocturnes Spéciaux » composés de combattants juifs chargés des raids contre les villages arabes en procédant à l’élimination des meneurs.

    La France en a fait usage pendant la guerre d’Algérie et François Hollande a même admis que Paris y avait eu recours dans le cadre de la lutte contre le terrorisme. Les deux derniers présidents américains ont eu également recours aux « assassinats extrajudiciaires », George W. Bush jr, après les attentats terroristes du 11 Septembre 2001, et Barack Obama a ordonné plusieurs centaines d’exécutions ciblées par drones.

    La connivence israélo-marocaine s’est poursuivie en dépit de la décapitation du leadership palestinien, par les Israéliens, et le recours aux assassinats « extra judiciaires » des deux principaux dirigeants du Hamas, Cheikh Ahmad Yassine et son successeur Abdel Aziz Rantissi. Une collision qui acte une forme de forfaiture de la part du pouvoir chérifien.

    Le livre suggère aussi clairement qu’Israël a utilisé un poison radioactif pour tuer Yasser Arafat, le chef historique palestinien, ce que les dirigeants israéliens ont toujours nié. Bergman écrit que la mort d’Arafat en 2004 correspondait à un modèle et avait des partisans. Mais il évite d’affirmer clairement ce qui s’est passé, expliquant que la censure militaire israélienne l’empêche de révéler ce qu’il pourrait savoir.

    Deux monuments ont été édifiés au Maroc pour immortaliser l’oeuvre d’Hassan II : son mausolée à Rabat et la Mosquée de Casablanca, l’une des plus grandes du monde, qui porte son nom. Mais celui que la presse occidentale, particulièrement la presse française engourdie par la diplomatie de la Mamouniya, encensait comme un « Machiavel arabe doté de la baraka », se révélera être, à la lecture des révélations du livre de Ronen Bergman, un mauvais génie, une imposture.

    Et les deux monuments édifiés à la gloire posthume du Commandeur des Croyants et Président du comité Al Qods, -mais néanmoins un des principaux artisans du bradage de la Palestine, au même titre que l’Arabie saoudite-, se perçoivent, rétrospectivement, comme les stigmates du règne hideux d’un parfait sous traitant de l’impérium israélo-occidental. D’un être maléfique. D’un souverain vil et servile.

    Source : Madaniya, René Naba, 17-11-2018                                 

  • Égypte. Obama, ce « laquais » des Frères musulmans – Salimsellami’s Blog

    L’administration de Barack Obama s’est divisée face aux bouleversements qui, de manière inattendue, ont menacé l’ordre régional ancien à partir de l’hiver 2011-2012. La secrétaire d’État Hillary Clinton souhaitait soutenir jusqu’au bout le président Hosni Moubarak, alors qu’Obama, très isolé au sein de son gouvernement, pensait le contraire. Mais, au-delà de ces différences, la défense des intérêts américains était le point qui les rassemblait, et la démocratie n’était pas une préoccupation prioritaire. Comme l’explique à l’auteur un haut fonctionnaire du département d’État, « on a penché en faveur d’une transition dirigée par Moubarak. Quand ça n’a pas marché, on s’est prononcé pour Omar Suleiman1, et quand cette idée a été abandonnée, on s’est dit, “d’accord, travaillons avec le Conseil supérieur des forces armées2 ”. » L’objectif étant de garder le contact avec les autorités et surtout avec l’armée égyptienne, garante de la paix avec Israël.

    Que pensait le gouvernement américain des Frères musulmans ? Au printemps 2011, le département d’État ne connaissait personne dans ce qui allait devenir le bloc politique égyptien le plus influent ! Comme le raconte un membre du Conseil de sécurité nationale à l’auteur : « Nous ne savions rien ! Les conseillers de Mme Clinton au département d’État et le personnel du bureau égyptien au Conseil de sécurité nationale ont rédigé un câble demandant officiellement à l’ambassade du Caire d’entrer en contact avec les Frères musulmans. »Mais il fallut encore un mois pour que les diplomates obtempèrent.

    Ces premiers contacts ne furent pas très fructueux, et nombre de responsables politiques, militaires ou du renseignement américains craignaient l’élection de Mohamed Morsi. Le deuxième tour de l’élection en juin 2012 donna lieu à de virulentes discussions internes, d’autant que le très influent réseau saoudien et émirati à Washington était favorable à son adversaire Ahmed Chafik. « De nombreux membres de l’armée et des services de renseignement américains craignaient la perspective d’un président islamiste en Égypte, relate Kirkpatrick. Mais étant donné la piètre performance des généraux [depuis février 2011], une victoire truquée de Chafik ne semblait garantir qu’un chaos continu. » Il cite Ben Rhodes, un proche conseiller d’Obama qui assistait à une réunion du Conseil de sécurité nationale : « On pouvait voir que beaucoup de gens dans la salle penchaient pour Chafik. Mais même ces gens ne pouvaient pas accepter que nous agissions contre l’autre gars (Morsi) qui avait gagné une élection libre. »

    Le double pari de Washington — en tout cas celui de la Maison Blanche — était que les Frères musulmans, le plus puissant parti et le mieux organisé d’Égypte, pourraient engager les réformes économiques nécessaires et rétablir la stabilité ; le second était que le soutien de facto de Morsi aux accords de paix israélo-égyptiens renforcerait l’influence américaine. Si le second pari a été gagné, le premier a échoué.                                                                

    Un test grandeur nature vint après l’offensive d’Israël contre Gaza et le Hamas en novembre 2012. Obama entra directement en contact avec Morsi et ce dernier lui promit d’amener le Hamas à la table des négociations. Ben Rhodes se souvient : « Les pourparlers de cessez-le-feu étaient dans l’impasse avant que Morsi n’intervienne […] Et il a tenu ses engagements […] Il a respecté sa part du marché […] Il a surpris même les sceptiques. »

    « C’était un test décisif pour Morsi, et il l’a passé avec brio, se souvient Steven Simon du Conseil de sécurité nationale. […] Il était indispensable. » La récompense ne tarda pas, Hillary Clinton en personne se rendit au Caire le 21 novembre pour annoncer le cessez-le-feu et remercier Morsi « pour avoir assumé le leadership qui a longtemps fait de ce pays une pierre angulaire de la stabilité et de la paix dans la région ». Et quand le conseiller de politique étrangère de Morsi, Essam Al-Haddad se rendit à Washington quelques semaines plus tard, il fut surpris d’obtenir une audience impromptue avec le président Obama lui-même. Ces événements eurent une double conséquence : alimenter en Égypte une campagne sur le soi-disant soutien d’Obama aux Frères musulmans ; convaincre Morsi qu’il disposait du soutien de l’administration américaine qui empêcherait toute intervention de l’armée contre lui : la suite allait lui montrer son erreur.

    Car le pouvoir de Morsi, au-delà de sa propre incompétence, de ses erreurs et de son sectarisme, faisait face à une campagne régionale bien organisée, relayée par des cercles influents au sein de l’administration américaine. « En avril 2013, note Kirkpatrick, le réseau satellitaire basé aux Émirats — Sky News Arabia, Al Arabiya en Arabie saoudite et d’autres médias égyptiens liés aux Émirats dénonçaient un prétendu complot américain pour amener les Frères au pouvoir, avec l’ambassadrice Patterson comme chef de file […] [Ils] étaient pleins d’accusations selon lesquelles elle était un “laquais” des Frères, une “vieille sorcière” ou un “ogre”[…] Ils affirmaient que l’ambassadrice avait fait pression sur le gouvernement égyptien pour truquer l’élection présidentielle. » Le tout étant le résultat d’un « grand complot », au profit… d’Israël ! Comme le rappelle Rhodes à l’auteur, « les alliés des États-Unis ont financé une campagne de dénigrement contre l’ambassadrice des États-Unis dans un pays qui est l’un des plus grands bénéficiaires de l’aide des États-Unis pour renverser le gouvernement démocratiquement élu de ce pays ».

    Mais cette campagne n’aurait pas eu un tel impact si elle n’avait pas disposé de relais influents à Washington, si elle n’avait pas été alimentée par les activités des ambassades saoudienne et émiratie. Au Pentagone, nombre de responsables ne cachaient pas leur haine de tout ce qui est musulman. Le général James Mattis, chef du Central Command, responsable de toutes les opérations au Proche-Orient, en Asie centrale et du Sud-Est (il deviendra secrétaire d’État à la défense du président Donald Trump) pensait que les Frères musulmans et Al-Qaida représentaient plus ou moins le même courant. Et Michael Flynn, directeur de l’agence du renseignement de la défense (DIA), qualifiait l’islam de « cancer » et avait développé des relations étroites avec celui qui n’était encore que le ministre de la défense, le général Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi. Flynn fut limogé par Obama en août 2014 et sera, brièvement, conseiller national à la sécurité de Trump.

    Comme le note l’auteur, « les divisions au sein du gouvernement américain devenaient évidentes pour les diplomates et les militaires de la région. Obama et une partie de la Maison-Blanche espéraient que Morsi réussirait ; beaucoup au Pentagone, comme Mattis et Flynn, étaient d’accord avec leurs homologues égyptiens et émiratis que Morsi était un danger. La schizophrénie américaine était si visible que les généraux égyptiens s’en sont plaints auprès de leurs contacts au Pentagone ». Et ils ont compris qu’ils pourraient agir contre le pouvoir élu sans représailles américaines.

    En janvier 2013, Obama nomme Chuck Hagel, un sénateur républicain, au secrétariat d’État à la défense. Celui-ci se rend en Égypte avec comme instructions de prévenir Sissi que tout coup d’État provoquerait l’arrêt de l’aide militaire américaine. Mais, à la fois du fait de ses convictions, et des pressions saoudiennes, émiraties et israéliennes, Hagel n’en fit rien, si l’on en croit Kirkpatrick.

    Dès le printemps 2013, l’ensemble des organisations de renseignement américaines informèrent Washington qu’un coup d’État était en préparation, « mais personne au Pentagone, au département d’État, à la Maison Blanche ne dit à Sissi de s’arrêter ni n’expliqua à Morsi que Sissi s’était retourné contre lui »(étonnamment, presque jusqu’au bout Morsi fit confiance à son ministre de la défense).

    Le 3 juillet 2013, l’armée égyptienne franchissait le Rubicon et Morsi était mis sous les verrous. Le lendemain, Obama convoquait une réunion du Conseil national de sécurité. À la surprise de ses conseillers, le président refusa de qualifier les événements de « coup d’État », ce qui aurait entraîné ipso facto la suspension de l’aide militaire américaine. John Kerry, secrétaire d’État depuis décembre 2012, abonda dans son sens. Il expliquera plus tard à l’auteur que « Sissi s’était incliné devant la volonté populaire et agissait pour sauver l’Égypte. Les généraux affirmaient qu’ils avaient destitué Morsi pour éviter une implosion et établir la primauté du droit, et non dans le but de gouverner. Ils prétendaient qu’ils allaient adopter une feuille de route permettant le recours aux élections ».

    Israël joua un rôle non négligeable dans ces choix, comme l’explique Hagel à Kirkpatrick : « (Les Israéliens) me disaient, c’est notre sécurité et [Sissi] garantit la meilleure relation que nous ayons jamais eue avec les Égyptiens. Et ils intervenaient auprès du Congrès ». Le sénateur Rand Paul, républicain du Kentucky, avait présenté un projet de loi visant à mettre fin à l’aide militaire à l’Égypte en raison du coup d’État. L’American Israel Public Affairs Committee — plus connu sous l’acronyme AIPAC — écrivit à tous les sénateurs en faisant valoir que toute réduction de l’aide « pourrait accroître l’instabilité en Égypte, miner d’importants intérêts américains et avoir un impact négatif sur notre allié israélien ». Le Sénat vota par 86 voix contre 13 la poursuite de l’aide.

    Cet appui d’Israël et du lobby pro-israélien au régime égyptien confirmait la fragilité et la dépendance du président Siss, malgré ses rodomontades ultra nationalistes, et diminuait le poids que pouvait avoir l’Égypte pour trouver une solution au conflit israélo-palestinien. Comme le rapporte l’auteur, « le 21 février 2016, le secrétaire d’État Kerry a convoqué un sommet secret à Aqaba, en Jordanie, avec Sissi, le roi Abdallah de Jordanie et le premier ministre israélien Benjamin Nétanyahou. Une partie de l’ordre du jour était un accord régional pour que l’Égypte garantisse la sécurité d’Israël dans le cadre de la création d’un État palestinien. Nétanyahou tourna la proposition en ridicule. Qu’est-ce que Sissi pouvait offrir à Israël ? s’interrogea-t-il, selon deux Américains impliqués dans les pourparlers. Sissi dépendait d’Israël pour contrôler son propre territoire, pour sa propre survie. Sissi avait besoin de Nétanyahou ; Nétanyahou n’avait pas besoin de Sissi. » Nétanyahou savait que, loin d’apporter une solution au « terrorisme », le coup d’État du 3 juillet 2013 avait marqué le début d’une insurrection dans le Sinaï, sous la direction d’un groupe qui rallia en 2015 l’organisation de l’État islamique (OEI) ; l’armée égyptienne était incapable de la juguler et Israël dut intervenir plusieurs fois militairement pour aider les militaires égyptiens. On était loin des rodomontades ultranationalistes du Caire.

    Il fallut le massacre de près d’un millier de civils à Rabaa au mois d’août 2013 pour que les États-Unis réagissent. D’abord en reportant les manœuvres militaires conjointes américano-égyptiennes, ensuite, au mois d’octobre, en suspendant l’aide militaire de 1,3 milliard de dollars (1,58 milliards d’euros). Mais il était trop tard, d’autant que de puissantes forces se faisaient entendre à Washington contre ces orientations : le Pentagone ne désignait plus les conseillers du président que comme « les djihadistes de la Maison Blanche » ou « le caucus des Frères musulmans ». Rapidement, Obama rétablit l’aide militaire. Washington tirait un trait sur la démocratie en Égypte.

    Du livre se dégage le portrait finalement peu flatteur d’un président Obama velléitaire, incapable d’imposer ses choix à sa propre administration, et pour qui la démocratie n’est sûrement pas une composante majeure de la politique étrangère des États-Unis. Avec des conséquences graves. Comme l’explique Mohamad Soltan, un Égypto-Américain membre des Frères emprisonné par la junte avant d’être expulsé vers les États-Unis : « La seule chose qu’ont en commun tous ceux qui sont en prison — les gars de l’État islamique, les Frères musulmans, les libéraux, les gardes, les officiers — c’est qu’ils haïssent tous l’Amérique. » On se demande pourquoi…         


  • Syrian opposition adopts new national flag

    Encore un coup de Bachar et/ou des Russes ! Les « rebelles » d’Idlib, en l’occurrence Hayat tahrir al-cham (ex al-Qaïda en Syrie) changent leur drapeau en délaissant les trois étoiles (inventées au temps du mandat français) pour la shahada. On progresse en #syrie...

  • Codename Cuckoo: Who was Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi? | Middle East Eye

    Born in Ajdabiya, Libya in 1963, Libi is believed to have been a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a militant group opposed to Libyan long-term leader Muammar Gaddafi that was once accused of links to al-Qaeda by the US and UK - allegations the group always rejected.

    The British government and its security services had a complicated and opaque relationship with the LIFG that warmed and cooled as their relationship with Gaddafi also evolved.


    The UK’s #MI6 security service was reported to have been involved in a failed LIFG attempt to assassinate Gaddafi in 1996, while many LIFG members were allowed to claim asylum and settle in the UK.


  • 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