position:secretary

  • “Israel needs him.” Netanyahu presses Trump to save Mohammed bin Salman - International News
    http://www.tellerreport.com/news/--%22israel-needs-him-%22-netanyahu-presses-trump-to-save-mohammed-bin
    http://www.aljazeera.net/file/GetImageCustom/8fdd25a0-2599-494b-b477-f18a4ce4e5f8/1200/630

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Donald Trump in a telephone conversation not to touch Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Israeli expert on Arab affairs, Jackie Khoji, said.

    “The Israeli request from Washington means that Riyadh for Tel Aviv is a strategic treasure, and that Netanyahu volunteered to save Mohammed bin Salman means that Israel needs him,” Khuji said in an article published on Saturday in Maariv newspaper. “To the Secretary General of the UAE, As well as to the Bahrainis and other leaders.”

    http://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2018/12/9/%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%81-%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%87

    #israël #mbs


  • Strong Economy Poses Recruitment Challenge for the U.S. Army – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/03/strong-economy-poses-a-recruitment-challenge-for-the-us-army

    The healthy state of the U.S. economy is posing a challenge for the U.S. Army, which is struggling to lure young people away from the hot job market and into military service.

    For the first time since the height of the Iraq War 13 years ago, the U.S. Army failed to reach it recruitment goals for the year, falling thousands of troops short of the target. The issue is especially troubling at a time when President Donald Trump is promising to expand the military.
    […]
    Foreign Policy: In September, the Army announced that it failed to meet its recruiting goal of 76,500 new recruits for fiscal year 2018 by 8.5 percent. What are you doing to beef up the Army’s recruitment numbers?

    [Army Secretary] Mark Esper ]a former defense industry executive]: We missed our numbers last year, but I was proud that we still put quality over quantity. Despite the miss, we actually had the highest retention rates in the last 10 or 11 years, and we recruited more soldiers, 70,000, than we did in that same time period.

    #moins_de_chômage_moins_de_recrues


  • Pushing for an Israeli victory is the only way to end the conflict with the Palestinians

    Il faut lire ce point de vue d’un néoconservateur américain car il reflète une partie de la pensée de la droite pro-israélienne

    Lieberman and Bennett failed to impose a new paradigm on how to deal with Hamas, but more and more people in Israel are recognizing that compromises and concessions have only led to more violence

    Daniel Pipes SendSend me email alerts
    Dec 02, 2018 4:04 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-an-israeli-victory-is-the-only-way-to-end-the-conflict-with-the-pa

    From a practical political point of view, Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, and their idea to take a tougher stand toward Hamas just went down to defeat, if not humiliation. 
    That’s because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again showed his political skills; the first is now ex-defense minister, the second failed to become defense minister.
    >> ‘Get used to the rockets’: What Netanyahu should tell Israelis living near Gaza | Opinion
    From a longer-term point of view, however, the duo raised an issue that for decades had not been part of the Israeli political discourse but, due to their efforts, promises to be an important factor in the future: that would be the concept of victory, of an Israeli victory over Hamas and, by extension, over the Palestinian Authority and Palestinians in general.
    Victory – defined as imposing one’s will on the enemy so he gives up his war goals - has been the war goal of philosophers, strategists, and generals through human history. Aristotle wrote that “Victory is the end of generalship.” Karl von Clausewitz, the Prussian theorist, concurred: “The aim of war should be the defeat of the enemy.” Gen. James Mattis, the U.S. secretary of defense, finds that “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over.” 
    Palestinians routinely speak of achieving victory over Israel, even when this is fantastical: to cite one example, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas called his Hamas counterpart, Ismail Haniyeh, after eight days of violence with Israel that left Gaza badly battered in November 2012 to “congratulate him on the victory and extend condolences to the families of martyrs.”

    Contrarily, in Israel, the notion of victory has been sidelined since at least the Oslo Accords of 1993, after which its leaders instead focused on such concepts as compromise, conciliation, confidence-building, flexibility, goodwill, mediation, and restraint. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert immemorially articulated this attitude in 2007 when he stated that "Peace is achieved through concessions.”
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    >> Israel is incomparably stronger than Hamas – but it will never win: Interview with Hamas leader in Gaza
    his perverse understanding of how wars end led Israel to make extraordinary blunders in the 15 years after Oslo, for which it was punished by unremitting campaigns of delegitimization and violence, symbolized, respectively, by the Durban conference of 2001  and the Passover Massacre of 2002. 
    Such nonsense ended during Netanyahu’s near-decade-long term as prime minister, but it has not yet been replaced by a sturdy vision of victory. Rather, Netanyahu has put out brush fires as they arose in Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Syria, and Lebanon. While agreeing with the concept of an Israeli victory when personally briefed, he has not spoken publicly about it.
    Meanwhile, other leading figures in Israel have adopted this outlook. Former deputy chief of staff Uzi Dayan called on the army “to return the path of victory.” Former education and interior minister Gideon Sa’ar has stated that “The ‘victory paradigm,’ like Jabotinsky’s ‘Iron Wall’ concept, assumes that an agreement may be possible in the future, but only after a clear and decisive Israeli victory ... The transition to the ‘victory paradigm’ is contingent upon abandoning the Oslo concept.”
    In this context, the statements by Lieberman and Bennett point to a change in thinking. Lieberman quit his position as defense minister out of frustration that a barrage by Hamas of 460 rockets and missiles against Israel was met with a ceasefire; he called instead for “a state of despair” to be imposed on the enemies of Israel. Complaining that “Israel stopped winning,” Bennett demanded that the IDF “start winning again,” and added that “When Israel wants to win, we can win.” On rescinding his demand for the defense portfolio, Bennett emphasized that he stands by Netanyahu “in the monumental task of ensuring that Israel is victorious again.”
    >> Netanyahu’s vision for the Middle East has come true | Analysis
    Opponents of this paradigm then amusingly testified to the power of this idea of victory. Ma’ariv columnist Revital Amiran wrote that the victory the Israeli public most wants lies in such arenas as larger allocations for the elderly and unbearable traffic jams. Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg, replied to Bennett that for her, a victorious Israel means winning Emmy and Oscar nominations, guaranteeing equal health services, and spending more on education.
    That victory and defeat have newly become a topic for debate in Israel constitutes a major development. Thus does the push for an Israeli victory move forward.
    Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum think tank, which promotes Israel Victory, a project to steer U.S. policy toward backing an Israeli victory to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians. Follow him on Twitter @DanielPipes


  • Not just Ireland: Chilean congress calls for boycott of Israeli settlements
    Resolution passes as Ireland advances bill banning settlement produce ■ Legislation promoted to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

    Noa Landau SendSend me email alerts
    Nov 29, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-chilean-congress-follows-ireland-and-calls-for-boycott-of-israeli-

    The Chilean congress approved this week a resolution calling for its government to boycott Israeli settlements in any future agreement with Israel and to reexaime past agreements.
    The resolution passed with 99 congressmen voting in its favor, seven voting against it and 30 abstaining.
    To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz
    The resolution approved in Chile on Tuesday includes a demand from the government to examine all agreements signed with Israel, in order to ensure they only cover territories within the Green Line. The second clause requests that the Chilean Foreign Service ensure that future agreements relate to territories within Israel proper. 
    It was also decided to give guidelines to Chilean citizens visiting or doing business in Israel, so that they understand the historical context of the place and “not support colonization or cooperate with human rights violations in the occupied territories.”
    Finally, the resolution calls for the creation of a so-called mechanism to forbid imports of products made in settlements.
    >> Meet the Chilestinians, the largest Palestinian community outside the Middle East
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    The resolution recognizes a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. Chile has in the past recognized a Palestinian state. 
    The foreign ministry in Chile will study the resolution and it may be legislated into law in the future.  
    On Wednesday, the Irish senate passed another stage of a bill calling to boycott produce originating in Israeli settlements.
    Both of these legal moves were pushed by the Palestinians ahead of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which takes place Thursday.
    The current stage of the Irish law corresponds with a first reading in the Israeli Knesset.
    In July, the Senate approved the bill in a preliminary reading with support from the opposition. Twenty-five Parliament members voted in favor, 20 opposed and 14 abstained.
    The bill prohibits the export and selling of products and services which come from “illegal settlements in occupied territories.” The vote was postponed earlier this year in an attempt to reach a compromise with the government, which sought to soften it after Israel broached the subject.

    However, mutual understandings were not achieved on the matter.
    Saeb Erekat, the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), lauded the legislative moves on Thursday by saying: “On the occasion of International Solidarity Day with Palestine, it is important to extend the Palestinian peoples’ gratitude to the courageous efforts of both the Chilean and Irish Parliaments. The efforts of both distinguished parliaments have triumphed for the justice and rights of the Palestinian people.”


  • The Kaiser goes : the generals remain - Theodor Plivier
    https://libcom.org/history/kaiser-goes-generals-remain-theodor-plivier-1932

    Text entier en anglais : https://libcom.org/files/TheKaiserGoesTheGeneralsRemain.pdf https://libcom.org/files/TheKaiserGoesTheGeneralsRemain.mobi

    Du même auteur : Stalingrad (1945), Moskau (1952), Berlin (1954), une trilogie sur la guerre contre les nazis. Je n’ai pas encore trouvé de version en ligne.

    This is an amazing novel about the German Revolution, written by a participant. Republished here in PDF and Kindle formats.

    I’m republishing a novel about the German Revolution called The Kaiser Goes: the Generals Remain, written by a participant in the naval mutinies which kicked the whole thing off. But the novel doesn’t just concern rebellion in the armed forces, there’s all kinds of other exciting events covered too!

    I first became aware of the novel when I noticed some quotations from it in Working Class Politics in the German Revolution1, Ralf Hoffrogge’s wonderful book about the revolutionary shop stewards’ movement in Germany during and just after World War I.

    I set about finding a copy of The Kaiser goes..., read it, and immediately wanted to make it more widely available by scanning it. The results are here.

    Below I’ve gathered together all the most readily accessible information about the novel’s author, Theodor Plivier, that I can find. Hopefully, the sources referenced will provide a useful basis for anybody who wants to do further research.

    Dan Radnika

    October 2015

    THEODOR Otto Richard PLIVIER – Some biographical details

    Theodor Plivier (called Plievier after 1933) was born on 12 February 1892 in Berlin and died on 12 March 1955 in Tessin, Switzerland.

    Since his death Plivier/Plievier has been mostly known in his native Germany as a novelist, particularly for his trilogy of novels about the fighting on the Eastern Front in WWII, made up of the works Moscow, Stalingrad and Berlin.

    He was the son of an artisan file-maker (Feilenhauer in German) and spent his childhood in the Gesundbrunnen district in Berlin. There is still a plaque dedicated to him on the house where he was born at 29 Wiesenstraße. He was interested in literature from an early age. He began an apprenticeship at 17 with a plasterer and left his family home shortly after. For his apprenticeship he traveled across the German Empire, in Austria-Hungary and in the Netherlands. After briefly returning to his parents, he joined up as a sailor in the merchant navy. He first visited South America in 1910, and worked in the sodium nitrate (saltpetre) mines in 1913 in Chile. This period of his life seems to have provided much of the material for the novel The World’s Last Corner (see below).

    He returned to Germany, Hamburg, in 1914, when he was still only 22. He was arrested by the police for a brawl in a sailors’ pub, and was thus “recruited” into the imperial navy just as the First World War broke out. He spent his time in service on the auxiliary cruiser SMS Wolf, commanded by the famous Commander Karl August Nerger. It was he who led a victorious war of patriotic piracy in the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, seizing enemy ships and their cargo, taking their crews prisoner, and returning in glory to Kiel in February 1918. The activities of SMS Wolf are described in fictional form in the final chapter of Plivier’s The Kaiser’s Coolies (see below). The young Plivier didn’t set foot on land for 451 days, but while at sea he became converted to revolutionary ideas, like thousands of other German sailors. Nevertheless, he never joined a political party. In November 1918, he was in Wilhelmshaven and participated in the strikes, uprisings and revolts accompanying the fall of the German Empire, including the Kiel Mutiny. He also played a small role in the November Revolution in Berlin.

    He left the navy after the armistice (11 November 1918) and, with Karl Raichle and Gregor Gog (both sailor veterans of the Wilmhelmshaven revolt), founded the “Green Way Commune”, near Bad Urach. It was a sort of commune of revolutionaries, artists, poets, proto-hippies, and whoever turned up. Two early participants were the anarchist Erich Mühsam and Johannes Becher (see below), who was a member of the German Communist Party (KPD). At this time several communes were set up around Germany, with Urach being one of three vegetarian communes set up in the Swabia region2.

    It was the beginning of the anarchist-oriented “Edition of the 12” publishing house. Plivier was certainly influenced by the ideas of Bakunin, but also Nietzsche. Later he took on some kind of “individualist anarchism”, ensuring that he didn’t join any party or formal political organisation.

    In Berlin in 1920 he married the actress Maria Stoz3. He belonged to the circle of friends of Käthe Kollwitz4, the radical painter and sculptor, who painted his portrait. On Christmas Day 1920 he showed a delegation from the American IWW to the grave of Karl Liebknecht5. In the early ‘20s he seems to have associated with the anarcho-syndicalist union, the FAUD (Free Workers’ Union of Germany), and addressed its public meetings6.

    Plivier underwent a “personal crisis” and began to follow the example of the “back to nature” poet Gusto Gräser7, another regular resident of “Green Way” and a man seen as the leading figure in the subculture of poets and wandering mystics known (disparagingly at the time) as the “Inflation Saints” (Inflationsheilige)8. In the words of the historian Ulrich Linse, “When the revolutionaries were killed, were in prison or had given up, the hour of the wandering prophets came. As the outer revolution had fizzled out, they found its continuation in the consciousness-being-revolution, in a spiritual change”9. Plivier began wearing sandals and robes…10 According to the Mountain of Truth book (see footnote), in 1922, in Weimar, Plivier was preaching a neo-Tolstoyan gospel of peace and anarchism, much influenced by Gräser. That year he published Anarchy, advocating a “masterless order, built up out of the moral power of free individuals”. Supposedly, “he was a religious anarchist, frequently quoting from the Bible”11. This was not unusual amongst the Inflationsheilige.

    His son Peter and his daughter Thora died from malnutrition during the terrible times of crisis and hyper-inflation in 1923. A year later he began to find work as a journalist and translator. He then worked for some time in South America as a cattle trader and as secretary to the German consul in Pisagua, Chile. On his return to Germany he wrote Des Kaisers Kulis (“The Kaiser’s Coolies”) in 1929, which was published the following year. It was a story based on his days in the Imperial Navy, denouncing the imperialist war in no uncertain terms. At the front of the book is a dedication to two sailors who were executed for participation in a strike and demonstration by hundreds of sailors from the Prinzregent Luitpold12. Erwin Piscator put on a play of his novel at the Lessingtheater in Berlin, with the first showing on 30 August 1930. Der Kaiser ging, die Generälen blieben (“The Kaiser Goes: The Generals Remain”) was published in 1932. In both novels Plivier did an enormous amount of research, as well as drawing on his own memories of important historical events. In the original edition of Der Kaiser ging… there is a citations section at the end with fifty book titles and a list of newspapers and magazines consulted. This attention to historical fact was to become a hallmark of Plivier’s method as a novelist. The postscript to Der Kaiser ging… clearly states what he was trying to do:

    “I have cast this history in the form of a novel, because it is my belief that events which are brought about not by any exchange of diplomatic notes, but by the sudden collision of opposed forces, do not lend themselves to a purely scientific treatment. By that method one can merely assemble a selection of facts belonging to any particular period – only artistic re-fashioning can yield a living picture of the whole. As in my former book, The Kaiser’s Coolies, so I have tried here to preserve strict historic truth, and in so far as exact material was available I have used it as the basis of my work. All the events described, all the persons introduced, are drawn to the life and their words reproduced verbatim. Occasional statements which the sources preserve only in indirect speech are here given direct form. But in no instance has the sense been altered.”

    His second marriage (which didn’t produce any children) was to the Jewish actress Hildegard Piscator in 1931. When Hitler came to power as Chancellor in 1933, his books were banned and publically burnt. He changed his name to Plievier. That year he decided to emigrate, and at the end of a long journey which led him to Prague, Zurich, Paris and Oslo, he ended up in the Soviet Union.

    He was initially not subject to much censorship in Moscow and published accounts of his adventures and political commentaries. When Operation Barbarossa was launched he was evacuated to Tashkent along with other foreigners. Here, for example, he met up (again?) with Johannes Robert Becher, the future Culture Minister of the DDR! In September 1943 he became a member of the National Committee for a Free Germany (NKFD), which gathered anti-Nazi German exiles living in the USSR – not just Communist Party members, although there were a fair number of them involved. In 1945 he wrote Stalingrad, based on testimonies which he collected, with official permission, from German prisoners of war in camps around Moscow. This novel was initially published in occupied Berlin and Mexico, but ended up being translated into 14 languages and being adapted for the theatre and TV13. It describes in unflinching and pitiless detail the German military defeat and its roots in the megalomania of Hitler and the incompetence of the High Command. It is the only novel by Plievier that was written specifically as a work of state propaganda. It is certainly “defeatist”, but only on the German side – it is certainly not “revolutionary defeatist” like Plievier’s writings about WWI. The French writer Pierre Vaydat (in the French-language magazine of German culture, Germanica14) even suggests that it was clearly aimed at “the new military class which was the officer corps of the Wehrmacht” in an effort to encourage them to rise up against Hitler and save the honour of the German military. The novel nevertheless only appeared in a censored form in the USSR.

    He returned to Weimar at the end of 1945, as an official of the Red Army! For two years he worked as a delegate of the regional assembly, as director of publications and had a leading position in the “Cultural Association [Kulturbund] for German Democratic Renewal” which was a Soviet organisation devoted to changing attitudes in Germany and preparing its inclusion into the USSR’s economic and political empire. As with so much else in Plievier’s life, this episode was partly fictionalised in a novel, in this case his last ever novel, Berlin.

    Plievier ended up breaking with the Soviet system in 1948, and made an announcement to this effect to a gathering of German writers in Frankfurt in May of that year15. However, Plievier had taken a long and tortuous political path since his days as a revolutionary sailor in 1918… He clearly ended up supporting the Cold War – seeing the struggle against “Communist” totalitarianism as a continuation of the struggle against fascism (logically enough). What’s more, his views had taken on a somewhat religious tinge, talking of a “spiritual rebirth” whose foundations “begin with the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai and end with the theses of the Atlantic Charter”! Although it can be read as a denunciation of the horrors of war in general, it’s clear that Berlin, his description of the collapse of Nazi Germany in 1945, is far more of a denunciation of Soviet Russia than anything else. The character Colonel Zecke, obviously a mouthpiece for Plievier’s views, even claims that Churchill and Roosevelt only bombed Dresden because they wanted to please Stalin. If you say so, Theo…! One virtue of Plievier’s single-minded attack on the Russian side is that he draws attention to the mass rape of German women by Russian soldiers. This was a war crime which it was not at all fashionable to mention at the time he was writing, despite the existence of perhaps as many as two million victims16.

    Berlin ends with one of the recurring characters in Plievier’s war novels being killed while participating in the East German worker’s revolt in 195317. Despite his conservative turn, Plievier obviously still has some of the spirit of Wilhelmshaven and can’t restrain himself from giving the rebellious workers some advice about how to organise a proletarian insurrection – seize the means of production! Another character says:

    “What use was it raising one’s fists against tanks, fighting with the Vopos [Volkspolizei – People’s Police], trampling down propaganda posters – one has to get into the vital works, to get busy at the waterworks, the power stations, the metropolitan railway! But the workers are without organisation, without leadership or a plan –the revolt has broken out like a steppes fire and is flickering away uncoordinated, in all directions at once.”

    He went to live in the British Zone of Occupation. He got married for a third time, in 1950, to Margarete Grote, and went to live next to Lake Constance. He published Moscow (Moskau) in 1952 and Berlin in 1954. He moved to Tessin in Switzerland in 1953, and died from a heart attack there in 1955, at the age of 63.

    His works – particularly the pro-revolutionary ones – are almost unknown in the English-speaking world (or anywhere else) today. The republication of The Kaiser Goes: The Generals Remain in electronic form is a modest attempt to remedy this!

    Finally, please read Plivier’s novels! Even the reactionary ones…

    #Allemagne #histoire #révolution #littérature


  • Pays-Bas : la loi interdit à la police d’intervenir dans un lieu de culte lorsqu’un culte est en cours. Alors depuis 1 mois des centaines de pasteurs se relaient pour empêcher l’expulsion d’une famille arménienne cachée dans leur eglise.

    « Aux Pays-Bas, une loi interdit à l’État d’intervenir dans un lieu de culte lorsqu’un culte (les offices ici par exemple, ndlr) est en cours. Alors nous avons décidé d’officier en continu, jour et nuit, nous a expliqué Derk Stegeman. Les pasteurs se relaient nuit et jour pour les offices ».

    Et ce ne sont pas seulement les pasteurs de l’église Bethel qui participent à cette initiative : « au début on était un petit cercle, mais l’Église nationale a eu vent de l’histoire et a décidé de nous soutenir. Désormais il y a plus de 400 pasteurs venus de tous les pays qui viennent nous aider pour cet office continu », assure le coordinateur.

    A Dutch church is holding non-stop services for a refugee family — Quartz
    https://qz.com/1470153/a-dutch-church-is-holding-non-stop-services-for-a-refugee-family

    For the past 27 days, a small Protestant church in The Hague has been conducting round-the-clock religious services to protect an Armenian refugee family from deportation.

    By law, police officers in The Netherlands are not allowed to enter places of worship during religious services. So, reverends from around the country have taken turns holding services at Bethel Church to prevent officials from arresting the Tamrazyan family, who have been in The Netherlands for nine years. “By giving hospitality to this family, we could give them time and place to [demonstrate] to the secretary of state the … urgency of their situation,” Theo Hettema, chairman of the General Council of Protestant Ministers says.

    Sasun and Anousche Tamrazyan and their three children, Hayarpi, Warduhi, and Seyran, fled their native Armenia and sought asylum in The Netherlands after Sasun’s political activism earned them death threats. After several years of court procedures, the family was granted asylum by a judge, but the government launched legal proceedings and succeeded in overturning that ruling. (While Hettema does not know why the government sought to reverse the Tamrazyans’ asylum status, he believes appealing asylum approvals may be part of the government’s strategy to limit immigration.)


  • Nancy Pelosi and Israel: Just how hawkish is the likely next speaker of the house? - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    Plus pro-israélien, on ne peut pas imaginer ! la probable future présidente de la chambre des représentants

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/nancy-pelosi-and-israel-why-the-house-s-pro-israel-stance-is-unlikely-to-ch

    Pelosi has also held staunchly pro-Israel views that have at times even out flanked the GOP from the right.
    In 2005, while addressing AIPAC, Pelosi had waxed poetic about her personal experiences in Israel and how they shaped her views: “This spring, I was in Israel as part of a congressional trip that also took us to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. One of the most powerful experiences was taking a helicopter toward Gaza, over the path of the security fence. We set down in a field that belonged to a local kibbutz. It was a cool but sunny day, and the field was starting to bloom with mustard. Mustard is a crop that grows in California, and it felt at that moment as if I were home.”
    Pelosi, who was the 52nd Speaker of the House, previously served from 2007 to 2011 in the position which coincided with the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza war known as Operation Cast Lead. In 2009, Pelosi sponsored a resolution that passed the House by a 390-5 majority blaming the Palestinian side for the violence and reaffirming U.S. support for Israel and a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    The resolution quoted then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said in 2008, “We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the cease-fire and for the renewal of violence there.”
    Stephen Zunes, author and professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, pointed out at the time that the language in the House decision was even to the right of the Bush administration, which supported the UN Security Council resolution condemning “all acts of violence and terror directed against civilians” - the congressional resolution only condemns the violence and terror of Hamas.
    Pelosi’s resolution also called for “the immediate release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been illegally held in Gaza since June 2006.”
    The Shalit kidnapping was a personal issue for Pelosi, who in 2008, while meeting with then Israeli Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik, held up dog tags of three Israeli soldiers kidnapped in 2006.  Two of them belonged to Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose bodies were repatriated to Israel earlier that year. The third belonged to Gilad Shalit, who at the time was still believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza. Shalit was famously freed in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal.
    Pelosi said she kept them as a “symbol of the sacrifices made, sacrifices far too great by the people of the state of Israel.”
    However, she hasn’t always been been on the right side of the pro-Israel divide. In 2014 Pelosi was criticized for suggesting Hamas is a humanitarian organization. On CNN she said, “And we have to confer with the Qataris, who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization.” The host of the segment Candy Crowley then interrupted her to ask, “The U.S. thinks they’re a terrorist organization though, correct? Do you?” Pelosi responded with, “Mmm hmm.”
    After receiving a lashing from the likes of Megyn Kelly on Fox News and The Republican Jewish Coalition Matthew Brook, Pelosi’s office released a statement, “As Leader Pelosi reiterated in her CNN interview, Hamas is a terrorist organization.”
    Pelosi was also a vocal critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress denouncing then-President Obama’s nuclear deal, which she supported.
    After the speech she released a very harshly worded condemnation saying, “That is why, as one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the prime minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.”
    Pelosi, who was endorsed this week by J Street in her bid for speaker, addressed the 2017 AIPAC Policy Conference by reading a J Street-backed letter, which was signed by 191 members of Congress, mostly Democrats, urging U.S. President Donald Trump to support a two-state solution.
    “As strong supporters of Israel, we write to urge you to reaffirm the United States’ long-standing, bipartisan commitment to supporting a just and lasting two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Pelosi said.
    “It is our belief that a one-state outcome risks destroying Israel’s Jewish and democratic character, denies the Palestinians fulfillment of their legitimate aspirations, and would leave both Israelis and Palestinians embroiled in an endless and intractable conflict for generations to come,” she continued.
    Pelosi, at 78, represents the Democratic establishment’s traditional position on Israel, coupling unwavering support for Israeli defense and the two-state solution for peace between Israel and Palestinians, a bipartisan position that courts both AIPAC and J Street and doesn’t diverge too far from that of centrist Republicans. Unlike some new members of her caucus who criticize Israel for “occupying” the West Bank or for human rights abuses, Pelosi reservers her criticism only for Israeli leaders or policies she disagrees with, most prominently Netanyahu.


  • Oltre 500 ore consecutive di culto per non far espellere una famiglia migrante

    In Olanda la legge vieta di interrompere una funziona religiosa: per questo centinaia di pastori da oltre tre settimane si alternano per evitare il rimpatrio di una famiglia ospitata in chiesa.

    In Olanda una chiesa protestante de l’Aja sta tenendo un culto da oltre tre settimane consecutive per proteggere una famiglia di migranti dall’espulsione dal Paese.

    La storia è tanto semplice quanto geniale: secondo la legge statale le forze dell’ordine non possono interrompere una funzione religiosa in corso. Centinaia di pastori si stanno dunque alternando per non far cessare mai il culto cui sta partecipando la famiglia in questione, una coppia armena con tre figli di 15, 19 e 21 anni. L’idea è venuta al presidente del consiglio generale della Chiesa protestante olandese, il pastore Theo Hettema, una volta saputo che la famiglia, da ben 8 anni nei Paesi Bassi, con un figlio iscritto all’università e gli altri alle scuole dell’obbligo, rischiava il rimpatrio perché non può più godere delle tutele internazionali in quanto l’Armenia, terra d’origine dei cinque, non è considerata nazione a rischio.

    I cinque, cristiani, frequentano la chiesa protestante della cittadina in cui risiedono, Katwijk, nei pressi proprio de L’Aja, e una delle figlie svolge volontariato in una associazione legata alla chiesa. L’ appello del pastore Hettema ha raccolto l’adesione di centinaia di colleghi e di moltissimi membri di chiesa, provenienti anche dai Comuni vicini. Tutti consapevoli che la splendida iniziativa non potrà durare in eterno, ma con la speranza di far nel mentre cambiare idea al governo, che ha però più volte affermato che la famiglia non ha i requisiti per rimanere nel Paese. Otto anni per ottenere una risposta sulla possibilità di asilo o meno in una nazione rischiano di essere un tragico record, e ignorare che la famiglia si sia oramai integrata nel nuovo contesto pare un’inutile cattiveria.

    Quando i 5 non partecipano alla funzione, si riposano nei locali sopra la cappella. Un tempo in Italia le chiese erano luoghi di asilo e rifugio in cui le forze dell’ordine non potevano entrare, ma da oltre un secolo le cose sono cambiate (secondo quanto normato prima dalle leggi Siccardi del 1850 e quindi dai Patti Lateranensi del 1929 il cui l’articolo 5 recita comunque con formula ambigua “Salvo i casi di urgente necessità, la forza pubblica non potrà entrare, per l’esercizio delle sue funzioni, negli edifici aperti al culto, senza averne dato previo avviso all’autorità ecclesiastica”). Le norme in materia cambiano molto da Stato a Stato e non sono mancate in questi anni polemiche a seguito di arresti di migranti in chiesa (in Germania, in Islanda).

    La Chiesa protestante in Olanda, nata dalla fusione di tre precedenti chiese, la riformata olandese, la riformata in Olanda e la evangelica luterana, rappresenta circa un terzo dei 6 milioni di abitanti dei Paesi Bassi.

    https://riforma.it/it/articolo/2018/11/19/oltre-500-ore-consecutive-di-culto-non-far-espellere-una-famiglia-migrante
    #messe #résistance #expulsions #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Pays-Bas #culte #religion #refuge #Eglise #église

    • To Protect Migrants From Police, a Dutch Church Service Never Ends

      Jessa van der Vaart and Rosaliene Israel, two Dutch pastors, usually get to church by cycling through the streets of Amsterdam to a Protestant parish in the city center. But last Wednesday night, they packed their robes into the trunk of a car and drove down the highway to The Hague for what was the equivalent of a priestly shift change.

      They would take over at 8 p.m. from a local minister at the modest Bethel Church. Then, at 11 p.m., they would be replaced by a group from the city of Voorburg, who were scheduled to pull an all-nighter, singing hymns and preaching until daylight, when another cleric would arrive to take the baton.

      The two pastors from Amsterdam were running slightly late. “Well,” said Ms. van der Vaart, as Ms. Israel started the engine. “They’ll have to keep going till we get there.”

      For the marathon church service, which started more than six weeks ago, and hasn’t stopped since, can never take a break.

      Under an obscure Dutch law, the police may not disrupt a church service to make an arrest. And so for the past six weeks, immigration officials have been unable to enter Bethel Church to seize the five members of the Tamrazyan family, Armenian refugees who fled to the sanctuary to escape a deportation order.

      The service, which began in late October as a little-noticed, last-gasp measure by a small group of local ministers, is now a national movement, attracting clergy members and congregants from villages and cities across the Netherlands. More than 550 pastors from about 20 denominations have rotated through Bethel Church, a nonstop service all in the name of protecting one vulnerable family.

      “It’s about practicing what we preach,” said Ms. van der Vaart, as she and Ms. Israel sped down the Netherlands’ A4 highway toward the church.

      At a moment when Christianity’s relevance in Europe is waning — and when xenophobia and nationalism are rising — the Bethel service has also been a reminder of the influence that religious institutions can still exert in a largely secular Western Europe. The pastors have given protection to the Tamrazyan family; the family has given them a cause to show the power of their faith.

      “We’re kind of struggling here as churches in the West, we’re more and more in the margins, and as church leaders we can kind of feel this,” said Ms. Israel, who is the secretary general of Protestant Church Amsterdam.

      “But with this,” she added, “we feel that what we’re doing is quite relevant.”

      In recent years, nationalists have used xenophobic messaging to win office in Italy, Hungary and Austria, and achieve prominence in Sweden, Germany, Britain, France and the Netherlands, underscoring the impression of a European continent that is turning inward. But as the two pastors reached the outskirts of The Hague, Ms. van der Vaart said the marathon at Bethel shows that another Europe still exists.

      “I often think we’re entering times with less and less solidarity,” said Ms. van der Vaart, the vicar at the Oude Kerk, the oldest church and building in Amsterdam. “But then this initiative is all about solidarity, and that gives me hope.”
      An Unassuming Hideaway

      If you weren’t looking for it, you might walk straight past Bethel Church, a red-brick building tucked away on a quiet side-street in The Hague. Inside is a wider complex, which includes accommodation for the Tamrazyan family, as well as various offices and meeting rooms. At first it seems sort of mundane.

      When Ms. van der Vaart and Ms. Israel arrived, with a few minutes to spare, there were no police officers waiting to pounce. The sheer fact of the ongoing service is enough to keep them away. The two pastors quickly donned their robes and hurried into the chapel. On the tiled wall behind the altar hung a migration-themed interpretation of the Madonna and child — a portrait of an African refugee and her baby, dressed as Mary and Jesus.

      In the pews sat roughly a dozen worshipers, some of whom had come before, some there for the first time. Most were believers, but one or two were not.

      “I’m not religious but when I heard about this, I said to my husband, ‘Don’t be shocked, but I want to go to church,’” said Florine Kuethe, a public relations consultant who later agreed to help the church deal with the heightening news media interest. “This type of thing makes the church relevant again.”

      Inside the chapel, the pastors began with a greeting, then a rousing Dutch hymn, then Psalm 82.

      “Rescue the weak and the needy,” read the translation of one line. “Deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

      The three Tamrazyan children — Haryarpi, 21, Warduhi, 19, and Seyran, 15 — came in and out, frequently playing an active part in the service. Journalists, however, were only allowed in for brief sequences, a rule the pastors said was to ensure that the service retained its spiritual value, instead of becoming a media spectacle.

      “Sometimes I look back and ask why it has been as big as it has,” said Pastor Derk Stegeman, a spokesman for the family, and the service’s main organizer. “It’s because we protected our service and did not make it into an action for other things.”

      Where It All Began

      The story of the service started not in The Hague but in Katwijk, a large seaside town southwest of Amsterdam. The Tamrazyan family ended up there after the father was forced to flee Armenia for political reasons in 2010, Mr. Stegeman said. At the family’s request, their full predicament has been kept a secret, along with the names of the parents, to prevent repercussions for relatives still in Armenia.

      In a six-year legal process, Dutch officials twice tried to deny the family asylum, and were twice defeated in court. But the government finally got its way on its third attempt, even though the three children had all been in the country for more than five years and were theoretically eligible for an amnesty under legislation enacted in 2013.

      Lennart Wegewijs, a spokesman for the Dutch ministry of justice and security, said that the government could not comment on individual cases. But speaking generally, he said that under Dutch law, families can only qualify for amnesty if they, somewhat paradoxically, are willing to cooperate with official efforts to deport them from the country.

      To avoid what they believed to be certain danger back in Armenia, the Tamrazyans did not cooperate. Instead, they took refuge in a church in Katwijk. It was when that first church ran out of resources to help them that the leadership at Bethel agreed, after some deliberation, to welcome the family instead.

      As well as maintaining round-the-clock prayers, the church has provided psychological help for the family and teaching for the children, who can no longer go to school or university classes.

      To avoid compounding their stress, the family rarely gives interviews, and they made no exception for The New York Times.

      But on a blog that Haryarpi, the eldest child, started soon after entering the church, she has written about the relief of being granted shelter.

      “I often think the only place where I am safe is the church,” she wrote in Dutch on Nov. 4. “It really feels like a refuge.”

      The pastors have promised to continue the service indefinitely — even after a Dutch minister, Mark Harbers, said on Friday that the service hadn’t changed the government’s mind.

      Initially, the nonstop services were run by a core group of around a dozen pastors. Some of them pulled all-nighters on their own, including Mr. Stegeman and his wife. But a few days into the process, the Protestant Church in the Netherlands endorsed the service and used its newsletter to encourage other congregations to participate.

      Soon it became hard to fit all the volunteers into the schedule.

      “It’s amazing,” said Mr. Stegeman. “From all over our country people are coming, from the north to the very south, west and east.”

      Some preachers simply reuse services and sermons they gave at other churches. But others have used the opportunity to try something new, turning the church into a kind of greenhouse for liturgical experiments.

      Ms. Israel read from a modern reinterpretation of the biblical story of King David and his wife Bathsheba, told from Bathsheba’s perspective. One minister incorporated meditative song into her service, and another interspersed prayers and hymns with sermons from Martin Luther King Jr. During one all-nighter, Mr. Stegeman even brought along a harpist.

      “You see preachers from every background across the country, bringing their own way of celebrating and worshiping that is different hour by hour,” said Pauline Kuipers, who chairs the fund that owns the church. “It goes on continuously but it changes all the time.”

      By 11 p.m., the two pastors from Amsterdam were relieved by the group that had just arrived from Voorburg.

      After three hours of singing, preaching and praying, Ms. van der Vaart’s voice was now slightly hoarse, and Ms. Israel admitted to being “a little bit tired.”

      But she was also moved. As Ms. Israel left the chapel, Haryarpi told her that she had been inspired to write a poem about one of the psalms they had sung.

      “For me, that’s what it’s all about,” Ms. Israel said a few minutes later, packing her robes back into her cycling bag.

      “You could read that psalm a hundred times and not get touched by it,” she said. “But here, in this night, in Bethel Church, it’s very real.”

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/world/europe/migrants-dutch-church-service.html


  • Are Jared and Ivanka Good for the Jews? - The New York Times

    Jewish communities stand more divided than ever on whether to embrace or denounce Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

    By Amy Chozick and Hannah Seligson
    Nov. 17, 2018

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/style/ivanka-trump-jared-kushner.html

    On election night in Beverly Hills, Jason Blum, the hot shot horror-movie producer, was accepting an award at the Israel Film Festival. The polls in a string of midterm contests were closing, and Mr. Blum, a vocal critic of President Trump, was talking about how much was at stake.

    “The past two years have been hard for all of us who cherish the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this country,” Mr. Blum said.

    That’s when the crowd of mostly Jewish producers and power brokers started to chant, “We like Trump!” An Israeli man stepped onto the stage to try to pull Mr. Blum away from the microphone as the crowd at the Saban Theater Steve Tisch Cinema Center cheered.

    “As you can see from this auditorium, it’s the end of civil discourse,” Mr. Blum said, as security rushed the stage to help him. “Thanks to our president, anti-Semitism is on the rise.”
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    In the weeks after a gunman killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in one of the most horrific acts of anti-Semitism in years, debates about the president’s role in stoking extremism have roiled American Jews — and forced an uncomfortable reckoning between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and his daughter and son-in-law’s Jewish faith.
    Rabbi Jeffrey Myers greets Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
    Credit
    Doug Mills/The New York Times

    Image

    Rabbi Jeffrey Myers greets Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
    Rabbis and Jewish leaders have raged on Twitter and in op-eds, in sermons and over shabbat dinners, over how to reconcile the paradox of Jared Kushner, the descendant of Holocaust survivors, and Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism to marry Mr. Kushner.

    To some Jews, the couple serves as a bulwark pushing the Trump administration toward pro-Israel policies, most notably the decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. To many others, they are the wolves in sheep’s clothing, allowing Mr. Trump to brush aside criticism that his words have fueled the uptick in violent attacks against Jews.

    “For Jews who are deeply opposed to Donald Trump and truly believe he is an anti-Semite, it’s deeply problematic that he’s got a Jewish son-in-law and daughter. How can that be?” said Dr. Jonathan D. Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University.
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    Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump serve as senior advisers in the White House. At a time when Judaism is under assault — the F.B.I. said this week that anti-Semitic attacks have increased in each of the last three years — they are unabashedly Orthodox, observing shabbat each week, walking to an Orthodox Chabad shul near their Kalorama home in Washington, D.C., dropping their children off at Jewish day school and hanging mezuzas on the doors of their West Wing offices.

    After the Pittsburgh attack, Mr. Kushner played a key role in Mr. Trump (eventually) decrying “the scourge of anti-Semitism.” And Mr. Kushner helped arrange the president’s visit to the Squirrel Hill synagogue, including inviting Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States to accompany them. There, in Pittsburgh, thousands marched to protest what one organizer described as the insult of the Mr. Trump’s visit.
    Arabella Kushner lights the menorah as her parents look on during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House in 2017.
    Credit
    Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

    Image

    Arabella Kushner lights the menorah as her parents look on during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House in 2017.CreditOlivier Douliery/Getty Images
    The White House has referenced Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump’s religion to dismiss accusations that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric has emboldened anti-Semites. “The president is the grandfather of several Jewish grandchildren,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told reporters.

    Using the couple in this way has unnerved many Jews who oppose the president and say Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump violated the sacred, if sometimes unspoken, communal code that mandates Jews take care of each other during times of struggle. “I’m more offended by Jared than I am by President Trump,” said Eric Reimer, a lawyer in New York who was on Mr. Kushner’s trivia team at The Frisch School, a modern Orthodox yeshiva in New Jersey that they both attended.

    “We, as Jews, are forced to grapple with the fact that Jared and his wife are Jewish, but Jared is participating in acts of Chillul Hashem,” said Mr. Reimer, using the Hebrew term for when a Jew behaves immorally while in the presence of others.
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    For Mr. Reimer, who hasn’t spoken to Mr. Kushner since high school, one of those incidents was the administration’s Muslim ban, which prompted members of the Frisch community to sign an open letter to Mr. Kushner imploring him “to exercise the influence and access you have to annals of power to ensure others don’t suffer the same fate as millions of our co-religionists.”

    Leah Pisar, president of the Aladdin Project, a Paris-based group that works to counter Holocaust denial, and whose late father, Samuel Pisar, escaped Auschwitz and advised John F. Kennedy, said she found it “inconceivable that Jared could stay affiliated with the administration after Pittsburgh” and called Mr. Kushner the president’s “fig leaf.”

    Those kinds of accusations are anathema to other Jews, particularly a subset of Orthodox Jews who accused liberal Jews of politicizing the Pittsburgh attack and who say that any policies that would weaken Israel are the ultimate act of anti-Semitism.
    Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May.
    Credit
    Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press

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    Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May.CreditSebastian Scheiner/Associated Press
    “Jared and Ivanka are one of us as traditional Jews who care deeply about Israel,” said Ronn Torossian, a New York publicist whose children attend the Ramaz School, the same Upper East Side yeshiva where Mr. Kushner’s eldest daughter Arabella was once enrolled. “I look at them as part of our extended family.”

    Even some Jews who dislike Mr. Trump’s policies and recoil at his political style may feel a reluctance to criticize the country’s most prominent Orthodox Jewish couple, grappling with the age-old question that has haunted the Jewish psyche for generations: Yes, but is it good for the Jews?
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    To that end, even as liberal New York Jews suggest the couple would be snubbed when they eventually return to the city, many in the Orthodox community would likely embrace them. “They certainly won’t be banned, but I don’t think most synagogues would give them an aliyah,” said Ethan Tucker, a rabbi and president of the Hadar yeshiva in New York, referring to the relatively limited honor of being called to make a blessing before and after the reading of the Torah. (Mr. Tucker is also the stepson of Joe Lieberman, the first Jewish candidate to run on a major party ticket in the U.S.) “I don’t think people generally honor people they feel were accomplices to politics and policies they abhor,” Mr. Tucker said.

    Haskel Lookstein, who serves as rabbi emeritus of the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, the modern Orthodox synagogue on the Upper East Side that Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump attended, wrote in an open letter to Mr. Trump that he was “deeply troubled” by the president saying “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides,” in response to the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va.

    When reached last week to comment about the president’s daughter and son-in-law days after the Pittsburgh attack, Mr. Lookstein said simply, “I love them and that’s one of the reasons I don’t talk about them.”

    Talk to enough Jews about Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump, and you begin to realize that the couple has become a sort of Rorschach test, with defenders and detractors seeing what they want to see as it relates to larger rifts about Jewish identity.

    “It’s not about Jared and Ivanka,” said Matthew Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “People look at them through the prism of their own worldviews.”
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    From left to right on front row, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara Netanyahu, Mr. Kushner, Ms. Trump, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
    Credit
    Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press

    Image

    From left to right on front row, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara Netanyahu, Mr. Kushner, Ms. Trump, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.CreditSebastian Scheiner/Associated Press
    Those worldviews are rapidly changing. One in five American Jews now describes themselves as having no religion and identifying as Jews based only on ancestry, ethnicity or culture, according to Pew. By contrast, in the 1950s, 93 percent of American Jews identified as Jews based on religion.
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    As Jews retreat from membership to reform synagogues, historically made up of political liberals who were at the forefront of the fight for Civil Rights and other progressive issues, Chabad-Lubavitch, the Orthodox Hasidic group with which Mr. Kushner is affiliated, has become a rapidly-growing Jewish movement. The growth of Chabad correlates with fierce divisions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a small but growing contingent of American Jews who prioritize Israel above any other political or social issue.

    Mr. Kushner, in particular, has become a sort of proxy for these larger schisms about faith and Israel, according to Jewish experts. “There is a great deal of anxiety around the coming of the Orthodox,” said Dr. Sarna, the Brandeis professor. “Jared in every way — his Orthodoxy, his Chabad ties, his views on Israel — symbolizes those changes.”

    Mr. Kushner is the scion of wealthy real-estate developers and his family has donated millions of dollars to the Jewish community, including through a foundation that gives to settlements in the West Bank. Mr. Kushner influenced the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy, to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and to shutter a Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington.

    “You’d be hard pressed to find a better supporter of Israel than Donald Trump and Jared plays a role in that,” said Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. Mr. Kushner is currently working on a Middle East peace plan expected to be rolled out in the coming months.

    Haim Saban, an entertainment magnate and pro-Israel Democrat, is optimistic about Mr. Kushner’s efforts. He said in an interview from his hotel in Israel that although he disagrees with some of Mr. Trump’s policies, “Jared and by extension the president understand the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel on multiple levels — security, intelligence, but most of all, shared values.”
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    That embrace has only exacerbated tensions with secular Jews who overwhelmingly vote Democratic and oppose Mr. Trump. According to a 2018 survey by the American Jewish Committee, 41 percent of Jews said they strongly disagree with Mr. Trump’s handling of U.S.-Israeli relations and 71 percent had an overall unfavorable opinion of Mr. Trump. (In response to questions for this story, a White House press aide referred reporters to an Ami magazine poll of 263 Orthodox Jews in the tristate area published in August. Eighty-two percent said they would vote for President Trump in 2020.)

    “To wave a flag and say ‘Oh, he’s obviously pro-Jewish because he moved the embassy’ just absolutely ignores what we know to be a deeply alarming rise of anti-Semitism and all sorts of dog-whistling and enabling of the alt-right,” said Andy Bachman, a prominent progressive rabbi in New York.
    President Trump praying at the Western Wall.
    Credit
    Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

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    President Trump praying at the Western Wall.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times
    In September, Mr. Kushner and his top advisers, Jason D. Greenblatt and Avi Berkowitz, hosted a private dinner at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side. Over a kosher meal, Mr. Kushner, aware of concerns within the Jewish community that Israel policy had become an overly partisan issue, fielded the advice of a range of Jewish leaders, including hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor Paul Singer and Mr. Saban, to craft his Middle East peace plan. “He called and said ’I’ll bring 10 Republicans and you bring 10 Democrats,’” Mr. Saban said.

    The undertaking will only bring more kvetching about Mr. Kushner. Indeed, some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent Jewish supporters have already expressed their displeasure at any deal that would require Israel to give up land.

    “I’m not happy with Jared promoting a peace deal that’s sending a message that we’re ready to ignore the horrors of the Palestinian regime,” said Morton A. Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America and a friend of Republican megadonor Sheldon G. Adelson.

    “But …” Mr. Klein added, as if self-aware of how other Jews will view his position, “I am a fanatical, pro-Israel Zionist.”
    Amy Chozick is a New York-based writer-at-large and a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine, writing about the personalities and power struggles in business, politics and media.


  • Iran Was Closer to a Nuclear Bomb Than Intelligence Agencies Thought – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/13/iran-was-closer-to-a-nuclear-bomb-than-intelligence-agencies-thought

    ecret Iranian archive seized by Israeli agents earlier this year indicates that Tehran’s nuclear program was more advanced than Western intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency had thought, according to a prominent nuclear expert who examined the documents.

    That conclusion in turn suggests that if Iran pulls out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal that U.S. President Donald Trump has already abandoned, it has the know-how to build a bomb fairly swiftly, perhaps in a matter of months, said David Albright, a physicist who runs the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C.

    Iran would still need to produce weapons-grade uranium. If it restarts its centrifuges, it could have enough in about seven to 12 months, added Albright, who is preparing reports on the archive.

    Before the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal mainly negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, that would have taken only two months, but under the accord Iran was required to ship about 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country and dismantle most its centrifuges.
    […]
    The archive, which is well over 100,000 pages long, covers the period from 1999 to 2003, a decade before negotiations on a nuclear deal began. But the trove of documents demonstrates that Washington and the IAEA were constantly underestimating how close Tehran was to a bomb.
    […]
    Mossad agents seized the archive in a daring nighttime raid on a warehouse in Tehran at the end of January. In late April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed some of the content in a speech that was panned as a melodramatic attempt to prod Trump into leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal. “These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.


  • From refugees to entrepreneurs: How one family started over

    With just 30 days notice, the Rawas family was plucked from their temporary home in Jordan, where they’d fled the Syrian civil war, and resettled in Oakland. As refugees, they knew no one, had no job prospects and didn’t speak a word of English.

    Three years later, Mohammed Aref Rawas, Rawaa Kasedah and their four children are running a budding catering business that serves authentic Syrian food such as smoked basmati rice, falafel and fattoush salad. They’ve hired their first employee. Their clients include big tech companies. And the days when starting over seemed impossible are far behind them.

    They are among a large population of refugees who, after fleeing a homeland overrun by violence and political turmoil, started a business in the U.S., integrating quickly into the economy and life of a country that gave them a second chance. The family’s entrepreneurial approach is common among immigrants, studies show.

    An estimated 11 percent of all Syrian immigrants in the labor force are business owners — nearly four times the rate of U.S.-born business owners, according to a study by the New York-based Fiscal Policy Institute and the Center for American Progress. A significant part of that success has been the ability to master the English language, the report said.

    Meanwhile, a 2016 study by the Institute that followed Bosnian, Burmese, Hmong and Somali refugees nationwide found that they too moved up the occupational ladder and started businesses after settling in the U.S. Thirty one out of every 1,000 Bosnian refugees in the labor force are business owners, compared with 26 out of every 1,000 Burmese, 22 out of 1,000 Hmong and 15 out of every 1,000 Somalis, the study found.

    “There’s a hunger for dignified work,” said Dr. Thane Kreiner, executive director of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University. Kreiner launched an accelerator program known as Social Entrepreneurship at the Margins, which helps businesses and organizations around the world run by refugees, migrants or victims of human trafficking. “There’s this element of launching businesses, but also of integrating with the new host community so the refugees become part of the community rather than the ‘other.’”

    The Rawas family started Old Damascus Fare casually, by happenstance last year though the family has entrepreneurship in their blood. Rawas owned a successful clothing factory in Syria, where he oversaw about 50 employees. The family lived comfortably in a suburb in their native Damascus. But increasing gunfire, kidnappings and the presence of military groups forced them to leave, and their temporary escape to Jordan in 2012 soon became permanent.

    More than 500,000 Syrians have died and nearly 6 million have fled during a civil war that began seven years ago with an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Since the Trump administration’s ban on travel from seven Muslim nations, including Syria, only a handful of Syrian refugees have been resettled in California in the past fiscal year.

    As the Rawas family settled into the Bay Area, new friends and acquaintances in the Arab community asked Kasedah to cater birthday parties and other events. By then, the family had noticed the absence of authentic Syrian food, even in Oakland’s diverse neighborhoods. Soon they were catering events for local tech companies such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

    “We got to the point where we realized it’s not only about food,” said Batool Rawoas, one of the couple’s daughters. “We are making new friends, we are hearing about new opportunities. It’s a way to share our culture with the people here.”

    They’re a powerful example of the American dream, said David Miliband, a former British foreign secretary and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, which resettled the Rawas family in 2015. “They show that these are people who want to work and not be reliant on welfare,” he said.

    Miliband visited the family recently at their catering kiosk on the UC Berkeley campus before he gave a speech, ordering the falafel sandwich and munching on appetizers that the family excitedly prepared for him. Because refugees like the Rawas’ often have to reinvent their lives, he said, that makes them resilient entrepreneurs.

    “In a way, being a refugee, having to flee for your life, having to figure out who to trust, having to figure out new ways of survival … there could hardly be a more effective job training program,” he said. “Those qualities of cooperation, determination, courage, trust are important for any entrepreneur. I don’t want to trivialize it, but it makes the point.”

    The family admits they’re still struggling. Their expenses regularly exceed their income, and they’re overwhelmed by the painstaking details of operating a business.

    “The main challenge for any refugee family is navigating how to survive in the Bay Area because it’s so expensive,” said Rawoas, who is attending community college and hopes to transfer to a four-year university to study psychology and public health. “We lived in Syria, we were from the middle class and we had a very comfortable life. We owned our own house, our own land.”

    “But we’re hoping, in the future, this will be a good thing to support us financially,” she added.

    Their next goal: to own a restaurant.


    https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/11/04/from-refugees-to-entrepreneurs-how-one-family-started-over
    #entrepreunariat #entreprenariat #USA #Etats-Unis #réfugiés #asile #migrations #travail #intégration_professionnelle #réfugiés_syriens #économie


  • Reporter’s Diary: Heal Somalia’s former child soldiers, heal a nation

    Even by Mogadishu standards, late September was particularly violent.

    Amino Hussein Hassan, a female law student, was shot dead on her university campus. Yahye Amir, a prominent economics professor and political analyst, escaped an assassination attempt when a bomb strapped to his car exploded, killing his brother. And Ahmed Mukhtar Salah, from the long-marginalised minority Bantu community, was beaten and burnt to death by a mob after his nephew married an ethnic Somali woman.

    Violence has been a way of life in Somalia since the outbreak of the civil war in 1991, seeping deep into the nation’s marrow as clan conflict gradually morphed into an all-out war against the al-Qaeda affiliated Islamist group #al-Shabab. “The layers of violence that people have had to digest is one of the key problems for building a peaceful and healthier society,” Laetitia Bader, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), told me recently.

    Most often, those who bear the life-long consequences are the poor, the politically marginalised, and young people. In particular, the thousands of children who must deal with the trauma of years on the front lines.

    In May, I travelled to the capital, Mogadishu – as I have done regularly since 2012 – to report on a crisis that, save for some international NGOs and human rights organisations, few seem to talk about: child soldiers.

    There, I met Abdi, 16, a former child soldier. Intelligent and eloquent, he had been a star pupil at the Koranic school in his home town, about 55 miles from the capital. In 2009, at the age of seven, his teacher took him and seven other boys to join al-Shabab.

    For two years, Abdi lived in a camp with about three dozen other young recruits. By the time he was eight, he had learned how to drive a car and shoot a gun. By nine, he took part in his first raid in the village of Darussalam Mubarak, where he witnessed an assassination: a man killed by three bullets to the back.

    As horrific as that experience was, the image that has most haunted Abdi for years is that of the severed head of a young man his al-Shabab camp commander brandished before the recruits as a warning: this is what happens to informants.

    “Even now after all these years, I have nightmares,” Abdi told me. “Sometimes I wake up screaming in the middle of the night.”
    A disposable front line

    While al-Shabab’s use of children as soldiers is nothing new, in the last several years the number of child soldiers has increased markedly.

    In al-Shabab’s heyday around 2010, when it controlled vast swaths of the country, including a sizable chunk of the capital, persuasion and indoctrination were enough to ensure a steady supply of young fighters. Since 2016, increased attacks by the Somali national army and US and African Union troops have resulted in a loss of territory for the group. Most recently, on October 16, the US military announced that it had carried out one of the deadliest airstrikes against al-Shabab, killing 60 militants in the Mudug region.

    So, desperate for more foot soldiers, al-Shabab has turned to the abduction and forced recruitment of minors. Accurate numbers are difficult to come by. Child Soldiers International calculates that there has been a 269 percent increase in the number of children within the ranks of armed groups in Somalia between 2015, when there were 903 documented cases, to 2017, with 3,335 cases. Meanwhile, according to a May report on children and armed conflict presented by the UN secretary-general to the General Assembly, 1,770 children were recruited as soldiers in 2017 alone, with al-Shabab doing the vast majority of the recruitment. The overall number is likely even higher: UNICEF Somalia estimates that as many as 6,000 children and youths are part of armed groups in the country.

    In a single military operation carried out by the Somali National Army and US troops in January on a base near the town of Baledogle, 70 miles northwest of Mogadishu, for instance, 36 child soldiers between the ages of eight and 13 were rescued.

    Often untrained and ill-equipped, these child soldiers make for a disposable front line on the battlefield, protecting older, more experienced fighters. This makes them more likely to suffer physical wounds and psychological trauma.
    Young defectors

    I first met Abdi and other boys through a man I’ll call Hussein. I am not using his real name, or identifying his location, since in addition to running an orphanage he manages a centre that works with young al-Shabab defectors. About 120 boys now live there, two hours’ drive from the capital, but at one point it housed as many 520.


    https://www.irinnews.org/opinion/2018/10/22/heal-somalia-former-child-soldiers-heal-nation-al-shabab
    #enfants-soldat #Somalie #guerre


  • Words matter. Is it @AP style to call migrants an “army”—above a photo of mothers tending to their infants and toddlers, no less? This is not only incorrect, but it enables a racist narrative sold by this @POTUS and his supporters. Armies invade. These people are running away.


    https://twitter.com/JamilSmith/status/1054163071785037824
    #armée #terminologie #préjugés #invasion #afflux #mots #vocabulaire #migrations #réfugiés #médias #journalisme #presse

    • #Polly_Pallister-Wilkins sur la marche de migrants qui a lieu en Amérique centrale...

      Dear media reporting on the Central American migrant caravan, can you please be attentive to how you talk about it? 1/n
      People are walking, walking not pouring, flowing, or streaming. Walking. They are walking along roads, they will be tired, hungry, their feet will hurt, they will have blisters and sore joints. They are not a natural liquid phenomenon governed by the force of gravity. 2/n
      Their walking is conditioned by the infrastructures they move along like roads, the physical geographies they traverse like hills and rivers and the human controls they encounter like border controls and police checkpoints. 3/n
      All of these things are risky, they make the walk, the journey more difficult and dangerous, esepcially the police checkpoints and the border controls. These risks are the reason they are travelling as a caravan, as a large group attempting to minimise the risks of controls 4/n
      And the risks from gangs and criminals that migrants on their journeys routinely face. Their journey is a deeply embodied one, and one that is deeply conditioned both by the violence they are leaving and the violence of the journey itself. 5/n
      So media please try and reflect this in your storytelling. These people are not a river obeying gravity. They have made an active yet conditioned choice to move. When they encounter a block in their path this can be deadly. It can detain, deport, injure, rape, or kill. 6/n
      And these blockages are not boulders in a riverbed around which the river flows. These blockages, these #checkpoints, border controls or police patrols are human blockages, they are not natural. So please try and reflect the political structures of this journey. Please. End/
      Addendum: there is a long history of caravans as a form political resistance in Central America.

      https://twitter.com/PollyWilkins/status/1054267257944227840
      #marche #migrations #Honduras #Amérique_centrale #mots #vocabulaire #terminologie #média #journalisme #presse #caravane #métaphores_liquides #risque #gravité #mouvement #contrôles_frontaliers #blocages #barrières #résistance #Mexique

    • Migrants travel in groups for a simple reason: safety

      A caravan of Central American migrants traveling to through Mexico to the United States to seek asylum is about halfway through its journey.

      The caravan began on Oct. 13 in Honduras with 200 people. As it has moved through Honduras, Guatemala and now Mexico, its ranks have grown to over 7,000, according to an estimate by the International Organization of Migration.

      The migrants have been joined by representatives from humanitarian organizations like the Mexican Red Cross providing medical assistance and human rights groups that monitor the situation.

      Journalists are there, too, and their reporting has caught the attention of President Donald Trump.

      He has claimed that the caravan’s ranks probably hide Middle Eastern terrorists. Trump later acknowledged there is no evidence of this, but conservative media outlets have nevertheless spread the message.

      It is reasonable for Americans to have security concerns about immigration. But as a scholar of forced migration, I believe it’s also important to consider why migrants travel in groups: their own safety.
      Safety in numbers

      The Central Americans in the caravan, like hundreds of thousands of people who flee the region each year, are escaping extreme violence, lack of economic opportunity and growing environmental problems, including drought and floods, back home.

      Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico have some of the world’s highest murder rates. According to Doctors Without Borders, which provides medical care in crisis zones, 68 percent of the migrants and refugees it surveyed in Mexico had experienced violence. Nearly one-third of women were sexually abused.

      Whether crossing Central America, the Sahara desert or the mountains of Afghanistan, migrants are regularly extorted by criminals, militias and corrupt immigration officials who know migrants make easy targets: They carry cash but not weapons.

      Large groups increase migrants’ chance of safe passage, and they provide some sense of community and solidarity on the journey, as migrants themselves report.
      Publicizing the dangers they flee

      Large groups of migrants also attract media coverage. As journalists write about why people are on the move, they shed light on Central America’s many troubles.

      Yet headlines about huge migrant caravans may misrepresent trends at the U.S.-Mexico border, where migration is actually decreasing.

      While the number of Central American families and children seeking asylum in the U.S. has increased in the past two years, Mexican economic migrants are crossing the border at historically low levels.

      And while most migrant caravan members hope to seek asylum in the U.S., recent history shows many will stay in Mexico.

      In response to Trump’s immigration crackdown, Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised to welcome Central American refugees — and try to keep them safe.


      https://theconversation.com/migrants-travel-in-groups-for-a-simple-reason-safety-105621

      #sécurité

    • Trump’s Caravan Hysteria Led to This

      The president and his supporters insisted that several thousand Honduran migrants were a looming menace—and the Pittsburgh gunman took that seriously.

      On Tuesday, October 16, President Donald Trump started tweeting.

      “The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!”

      “We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!”

      Vice President Mike Pence also tweeted:

      “Spoke to President Hernandez of Honduras about the migrant caravan heading to the U.S. Delivered strong message from @POTUS: no more aid if caravan is not stopped. Told him U.S. will not tolerate this blatant disregard for our border & sovereignty.”

      The apparent impetus for this outrage was a segment on Fox News that morning that detailed a migrant caravan thousands of miles away in Honduras. The caravan, which began sometime in mid-October, is made up of refugees fleeing violence in their home country. Over the next few weeks, Trump did his best to turn the caravan into a national emergency. Trump falsely told his supporters that there were “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” in the caravan, a claim that had no basis in fact and that was meant to imply that terrorists were hiding in the caravan—one falsehood placed on another. Defense Secretary James Mattis ordered more troops to the border. A Fox News host took it upon herself to ask Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen whether there was “any scenario under which if people force their way across the border they could be shot at,” to which Nielsen responded, “We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people.”

      Pence told Fox News on Friday, “What the president of Honduras told me is that the caravan was organized by leftist organizations, political activists within Honduras, and he said it was being funded by outside groups, and even from Venezuela … So the American people, I think, see through this—they understand this is not a spontaneous caravan of vulnerable people.”

      The Department of Homeland Security’s Twitter account “confirmed” that within the caravan are people who are “gang members or have significant criminal histories,” without offering evidence of any such ties. Trump sought to blame the opposition party for the caravan’s existence. “Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws!” Trump tweeted on October 22. “Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally.”

      In the right-wing fever swamps, where the president’s every word is worshipped, commenters began amplifying Trump’s exhortations with new details. Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida wondered whether George Soros—the wealthy Jewish philanthropist whom Trump and several members of the U.S. Senate blamed for the protests against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and who was recently targeted with a bomb—was behind the migrant caravan. NRATV, the propaganda organ of the National Rifle Association, linked two Republican obsessions, voter fraud and immigration. Chuck Holton told NRATV’s viewers that Soros was sending the caravan to the United States so the migrants could vote: “It’s telling that a bevy of left-wing groups are partnering with a Hungarian-born billionaire and the Venezuelan government to try to influence the 2018 midterms by sending Honduran migrants north in the thousands.” On CNN, the conservative commentator Matt Schlapp pointedly asked the anchor Alisyn Camerota, “Who’s paying for the caravan? Alisyn, who’s paying for the caravan?,” before later answering his own question: “Because of the liberal judges and other people that intercede, including George Soros, we have too much chaos at our southern border.” On Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, one guest said, “These individuals are not immigrants—these are people that are invading our country,” as another guest asserted they were seeking “the destruction of American society and culture.”

      Peter Beinart: Trump shut programs to counter violent extremists

      In the meantime, much of the mainstream press abetted Trump’s effort to make the midterm election a referendum on the caravan. Popular news podcasts devoted entire episodes to the caravan. It remained on the front pages of major media websites. It was an overwhelming topic of conversation on cable news, where Trumpists freely spread disinformation about the threat the migrants posed, while news anchors displayed exasperation over their false claims, only to invite them back on the next day’s newscast to do it all over again.

      In reality, the caravan was thousands of miles and weeks away from the U.S. border, shrinking in size, and unlikely to reach the U.S. before the election. If the migrants reach the U.S., they have the right under U.S. law to apply for asylum at a port of entry. If their claims are not accepted, they will be turned away. There is no national emergency; there is no ominous threat. There is only a group of desperate people looking for a better life, who have a right to request asylum in the United States and have no right to stay if their claims are rejected. Trump is reportedly aware that his claims about the caravan are false. An administration official told the Daily Beast simply, “It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 percent accurate … this is the play.” The “play” was to demonize vulnerable people with falsehoods in order to frighten Trump’s base to the polls.

      Nevertheless, some took the claims of the president and his allies seriously. On Saturday morning, Shabbat morning, a gunman walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 people. The massacre capped off a week of terrorism, in which one man mailed bombs to nearly a dozen Trump critics and another killed two black people in a grocery store after failing to force his way into a black church.

      Before committing the Tree of Life massacre, the shooter, who blamed Jews for the caravan of “invaders” and who raged about it on social media, made it clear that he was furious at HIAS, founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a Jewish group that helps resettle refugees in the United States. He shared posts on Gab, a social-media site popular with the alt-right, expressing alarm at the sight of “massive human caravans of young men from Honduras and El Salvador invading America thru our unsecured southern border.” And then he wrote, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

      The people killed on Saturday were killed for trying to make the world a better place, as their faith exhorts them to do. The history of the Jewish people is one of displacement, statelessness, and persecution. What groups like HIAS do in helping refugees, they do with the knowledge that comes from a history of being the targets of demagogues who persecute minorities in pursuit of power.

      Ordinarily, a politician cannot be held responsible for the actions of a deranged follower. But ordinarily, politicians don’t praise supporters who have mercilessly beaten a Latino man as “very passionate.” Ordinarily, they don’t offer to pay supporters’ legal bills if they assault protesters on the other side. They don’t praise acts of violence against the media. They don’t defend neo-Nazi rioters as “fine people.” They don’t justify sending bombs to their critics by blaming the media for airing criticism. Ordinarily, there is no historic surge in anti-Semitism, much of it targeted at Jewish critics, coinciding with a politician’s rise. And ordinarily, presidents do not blatantly exploit their authority in an effort to terrify white Americans into voting for their party. For the past few decades, most American politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, have been careful not to urge their supporters to take matters into their own hands. Trump did everything he could to fan the flames, and nothing to restrain those who might take him at his word.

      Many of Trump’s defenders argue that his rhetoric is mere shtick—that his attacks, however cruel, aren’t taken 100 percent seriously by his supporters. But to make this argument is to concede that following Trump’s statements to their logical conclusion could lead to violence against his targets, and it is only because most do not take it that way that the political violence committed on Trump’s behalf is as limited as it currently is.

      The Tree of Life shooter criticized Trump for not being racist or anti-Semitic enough. But with respect to the caravan, the shooter merely followed the logic of the president and his allies: He was willing to do whatever was necessary to prevent an “invasion” of Latinos planned by perfidious Jews, a treasonous attempt to seek “the destruction of American society and culture.”

      The apparent spark for the worst anti-Semitic massacre in American history was a racist hoax inflamed by a U.S. president seeking to help his party win a midterm election. There is no political gesture, no public statement, and no alteration in rhetoric or behavior that will change this fact. The shooter might have found a different reason to act on a different day. But he chose to act on Saturday, and he apparently chose to act in response to a political fiction that the president himself chose to spread and that his followers chose to amplify.

      As for those who aided the president in his propaganda campaign, who enabled him to prey on racist fears to fabricate a national emergency, who said to themselves, “This is the play”? Every single one of them bears some responsibility for what followed. Their condemnations of anti-Semitism are meaningless. Their thoughts and prayers are worthless. Their condolences are irrelevant. They can never undo what they have done, and what they have done will never be forgotten.

      https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/caravan-lie-sparked-massacre-american-jews/574213

    • Latin American asylum seekers hit US policy “wall”

      Trump’s new restrictions mean long waits simply to register claims.

      The movement of thousands of Central American asylum seekers and migrants north from Honduras towards the southern border of the United States has precipitated threats from US President Donald Trump – ahead of next week’s midterm elections – to block the group’s entry by deploying troops to the US-Mexican border.

      Under international law the United States is obligated to allow asylum seekers to enter and file claims. However, immigration officials at the country’s southern border have for months been shifting toward legally dubious practices that restrict people’s ability to file asylum claims.

      “Make no mistake, the administration is building a wall – one made of restrictionist policy rather than brick and mortar,” said Jason Boyd, policy counsel at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

      As a result, hundreds, possibly thousands, of asylum seekers have been left waiting for extended periods of time on the Mexican side of the border in need of shelter and basic services. Firm numbers for those affected are difficult to come by because no one is counting.

      Some of those turned away explore potentially dangerous alternatives. Aid and advocacy groups as well as the Department of Homeland Security say the wait has likely pushed some to attempt to enter the United States illegally, either with smugglers or on their own via perilous desert routes.

      While some of those in the so-called “migrant caravan” are searching for economic opportunity, others are fleeing gang violence, gender-based violence, political repression or unrest – all increasingly common factors in Central America and Mexico that push people to leave their homes.
      Menacing phone calls

      When people from the migrant caravan reach the southern border of the United States, they may find themselves in a similar position to Dolores Alzuri, 47, from Michoacan, a state in central Mexico.

      In late September, she was camped out with her husband, daughter, granddaughter, and aunt on the Mexican side of the DeConcini port of entry separating the twin cities of Nogales – one in the Mexican state of Sonora, the other in the US state of Arizona.

      Alzuri and her family were waiting for their turn to claim asylum in the United States, with only a police report in hand as proof of the threats they faced back home. Camping beside them on the pedestrian walkway just outside the grated metal door leading to the United States, nine other families waited to do the same.

      Over the preceding month Alzuri had received several menacing phone calls from strangers demanding money. In Michoacan, and many other parts of Mexico where criminal gangs have a strong presence, almost anybody can receive calls like these. You don’t know who’s on the other end of the line, Alzuri explained, but you do know the consequences of not following their orders.

      “If you do not give [money] to them, they kidnap you or they kidnap your family,” Alzuri said. “They destroy you. They kill you. That is why it is so scary to be in this country.”

      Other people she knew had received similar calls. She also knew that those who didn’t pay ended up dead – pictures of their bodies posted on Facebook as a macabre warning of what happens to those who resist.

      Fearing a similar fate, Alzuri packed her bags and her family and travelled north to ask for asylum in the United States. A friend had been granted asylum about nine months ago, and she had seen on television that other people were going, too. It seemed like the only way out.

      “I had a problem,” she said, referring to the phone calls. “They asked us for money, and since we did not give them money, they threatened us.”

      Before leaving her home, Alzuri said she filed a police report. But the authorities didn’t care enough to act on it, she said. “They are not going to risk their life for mine.”
      No way out

      Despite the danger at home, Alzuri and others in similar situations face an increasingly difficult time applying for asylum in the United States. At the Nogales crossing, asylum seekers must now wait up to a month simply to be allowed to set foot inside a border office where they can register their claims, aid workers there say.

      Those waiting are stuck in territory on the Mexican side that is controlled by gangs similar to the ones many are fleeing, though local aid groups have scrambled to find space in shelters, especially for women and children, so people will be safer while they wait.

      The situation hasn’t always been like this.

      In the past, asylum seekers were almost always admitted to register their claims the same day they arrived at the border. Since May, however, there has been a marked slowdown in registration.

      US Custom and Border Protection (CBP), the federal law enforcement agency responsible for screening people as they enter the country, says delays are due to a lack of capacity and space. But asylum advocates say similar numbers have arrived in previous years without causing a delay and the real reason for the slowdown is that CBP has shifted resources away from processing asylum seekers – not just in Nogales but across the southern US border – resulting in people being forced to wait for long periods or turned away altogether.

      This is happening despite the insistence of high-ranking Trump administration officials that asylum seekers present themselves at ports of entry or face criminal prosecution for crossing the border irregularly. Such contradictory policies, asylum advocates argue, are part of a broad-based effort by the Trump administration to dramatically reduce the number of people able to seek protection in the United States.

      “Our legal understanding is that they have the legal obligation to process asylum seekers as they arrive,” said Joanna Williams, director of education and advocacy at the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a Nogales-based NGO. “There’s no room in the law for what they are doing right now.”
      A system in crisis

      In the past decade, migration across the southern border of the United States has undergone a dramatic change. Every year since the late 1970s US Border Patrol agents apprehended close to a million or more undocumented migrants entering the country. In 2007, that number began to fall, and last year there were just over 310,000 apprehensions – the lowest number since 1971.

      At the same time, the proportion of people entering the United States from the southern border to claim asylum has increased. Ten years ago, one out of every 100 people crossing the border was seeking humanitarian protection, according to a recent report published by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a non-partisan think tank in Washington DC. Today that number is about one in three.

      According to Boyd of AILA, the increase is being driven by ongoing humanitarian emergencies in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, an area of Central America known as the Northern Triangle. These countries have some of the highest homicide rates in the world and are wracked by gang violence, gender-based violence, extortion, and extra-judicial killings. “Many of the individuals and families arriving at the US southern border are literally fleeing for their lives,” said Boyd.

      But the system that is supposed to provide them protection is in crisis. Beginning in 2010 the number of asylum requests lodged in the United States started to balloon, mirroring an upward trend in global displacement. Last year, 79,000 people approached the US border saying they had a credible fear of returning to their home country, compared to 9,000 at the beginning of the decade.

      The increase in credible-fear claims, as well as asylum requests made by people already in the United States, has strained the system to a “crisis point”, according to the MPI report. This has led to a backlog of around 320,000 cases in US immigration courts and people having to wait many months, if not years, to receive a hearing and a decision.
      Crackdown

      Senior officials in the Trump administration, including the president, have consistently lumped asylum seekers and economic migrants together, positing that the United States is being “invaded” by a “massive influx of illegal aliens” across the southern border, and that the asylum system is subject to “systematic abuse” by people looking to gain easy entry to the country.

      People working on the ground with asylum seekers refute this. Eduardo Garcia is a communication coordinator at SOA Watch, an organisation that monitors the humanitarian impact of US policy in Latin America. He has spent time in Nogales speaking with people waiting to claim asylum.

      “The stories of many of the people we have talked to… are stories of people fleeing gang violence, are stories of people fleeing because one of their sons was killed, because one of their sons was threatened, because one of their family members [was] raped,” he said. “They have said they cannot go back to their countries. If they are sent back they are going to be killed.”

      Still, the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy on immigration – responsible for the recent child-separation crisis – has also included measures that have restricted access to asylum in the United States.

      In May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would begin criminally prosecuting everyone who irregularly crossed the US southern border, including asylum seekers. In June, that policy was followed by a decision that the United States would no longer consider gang and sexual violence – precisely the reasons so many people flee the Northern Triangle – as legitimate grounds for asylum. Around the same time, CBP appears to have deprioritised the processing of asylum seekers at ports of entry in favour of other responsibilities, leading to the long waits and people being turned away, according to humanitarian workers and a recent report by the DHS’s Office of Inspector General.

      And even as these restrictive policies were being put in place, Trump administration officials have been encouraging asylum seekers to try. “If you’re seeking asylum, go to a port of entry,” Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in an 18 June press conference. “You do not need to break the law of the United States to seek asylum.”

      Nogales, Mexico

      “I came here with the hope that if I asked for asylum I could be in the United States,” said Modesto, a 54-year-old from Chimaltenango, Guatemala. In mid-September he was sitting in a mess hall run a couple hundred meters from the US border run by KBI, which provides humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers.

      Modesto had already been in Nogales, Sonora for several months. Like Dolores Alzuri, he fled his home because criminal gangs had tried to extort money from him. “I worked a lot and was making a living in my country,” Modesto explained. “The problem in particular with the gangs is that they don’t let you work… If you have money they extort you. If you don’t have money they want to recruit you.” And people who don’t cooperate: “They’re dead,” he added.

      The situation Modesto found when he arrived in Nogales, Sonora was far from what he expected. For starters, there was the long wait at the border. But he also discovered that – as an adult travelling with his 18-year-old son – even once he entered the United States he would likely end up in a detention centre while his case slowly made its way through the overburdened immigration courts – a practice that has also increased under the Trump administration. “I don’t want to cross… and spend a year in prison when my family needs my help,” he said.

      Modesto is in some ways an exception, according to Williams of KBI. Many of the people arriving in Nogales, Sonora are families with children. Once in the United States they will likely be released from immigration detention with ankle monitoring bracelets to track their movements. These people often choose to wait and to claim asylum at the port of entry when there is space.

      After more than 100 people piled up to wait at the border in May, local humanitarian groups set up a system to organise and keep track of whose turn it was to submit an asylum claim to US immigration officials. They also scrambled to find spaces in shelters so people were not sleeping on the walkway over the weeks they needed to wait.

      Now, only people who are likely to enter soon are camped on the walkway. When IRIN visited, about 40 asylum seekers – mostly women and children – sat on one side of the walkway as a steady stream of people heading to the United States filtered by on the other. Some of the asylum seekers were new arrivals waiting to be taken to a shelter, while others had been sleeping there for days on thin mats waiting for their turn. Volunteers handed out clean clothing and served pasta, as a CBP agent opened and closed the metal gate leading to the United States, just a few tantalisingly short feet away.

      The slowdown of processing “leaves people stranded – in really dangerous situations sometimes – on the other side of the border, and completely violates our obligations under both domestic and international law,” said Katharina Obser, a senior policy adviser at the Women’s Refugee Commission, an NGO that advocates for women, children, and youth displaced by conflict and crisis.

      As a result, some people arrive, find out about the wait, and leave. “We’re fairly certain that those are individuals who then end up crossing the border through other means,” Williams said.

      The DHS Office of the Inspector General came to a similar conclusion, finding that the contradiction between Trump administration rhetoric and policy “may have led asylum seekers at ports of entry to attempt illegal border crossings.”
      Border-wide

      The situation in Nogales, Sonora is far from isolated, according to Boyd of the AILA. “Recent turnbacks of vulnerable asylum seekers have been documented throughout the US southern border,” he said, including at many ports of entry in Texas and California. In those states, asylum seekers have reported being stopped as they approach the border and told they cannot enter because immigration officials don’t have the capacity to process their claims.

      “Turnbacks form part of a comprehensive set of practices and policies advanced under this administration that appears aimed at shutting out asylum seekers from the United States,” Boyd continued.

      Meanwhile, people like Dolores Alzuri – and most likely some of the thousands of Central Americans who are travelling north from Honduras in the hope of claiming asylum – are left with little choice but to wait. Moving somewhere else in Mexico or returning home is not an option, said Alzuri. “The violence is the same in every state,” she said. And crossing the desert, “that’s a big danger.”

      She and her family don’t have a back-up plan. “Let’s hope that I do get [asylum], because I really do need it,” she said. “You don’t live comfortably in your own country anymore. You live in fear that something will happen to you. You can’t walk around on the streets because you feel that you’re being followed.”

      https://www.irinnews.org/news-feature/2018/10/29/latin-american-asylum-seekers-hit-us-policy-wall
      #USA #Etats-Unis #fermeture_des_frontières #Mexique

      Commentaire Emmanuel Blanchar via la mailing-list Migreurop:

      Un article intéressant car il rappelle opportunément que la « caravane des migrants » en route vers les Etats-Unis est également composée de nombreuses personnes qui souhaiteraient pouvoir déposer des demandes d’asile. Or, si la frontières Mexique-USA est loin d’être encore mûrées, un mur administratif empêche déjà que les demandes d’asile puisse être déposées et traitées dans le respect des droits des requérant.e.s.

      #mur_administratif #asile

    • No es una caravana, es un dolor que camina

      La caravana de migrantes es sólo la primera manifestación pública y masiva de la crisis humanitaria en la que vive la mayoría de la población; negada por el gobierno, por la oligarquía, embajadas, organizaciones de la sociedad civil y por algunas agencias de cooperación que le hacen comparsa a la dictadura.

      Esta crisis humanitaria es provocada por el modelo económico neoliberal impuesto a sangre y fuego, que sólo pobreza y violencia ha llevado a las comunidades, que ante la ausencia de oportunidades y ante el acoso de los grupos criminales no tienen otra alternativa que la peligrosa e incierta ruta migratoria; prefieren morir en el camino que en sus barrios y colonias.

      El infierno en que se ha convertido Honduras tiene varios responsables. En primer el lugar el imperialismo, que a través de su embajada promueve la inestabilidad política en el país con el apoyo directo al dictador, que para granjearse ese apoyo les ha entregado el país, hasta el grado del despojo y de la ignominia, como puede observarse en los foros internacionales.

      Otro responsable es el dictador, que además de la incertidumbre que genera en lo económico, en lo político y en lo social, ha profundizado y llevado al extremo las políticas neoliberales, despojando de sus recursos a comunidades enteras, para dárselas a las transnacionales, principalmente norteamericanas y canadienses.

      La oligarquía corrupta, mediocre, salvaje, inepta y rapaz también es responsable de esta crisis humanitaria, quien se ha acostumbrado a vivir del presupuesto nacional a tal grado de convertir al Estado en su patrimonio, por medio de un ejército de ocupación, de diputados y presidentes serviles y títeres, que toman las decisiones no para el pueblo, sino que para sus insaciables intereses.

      Hay otro actor importante en esta crisis y es el Ejército Nacional, fiel sirviente de los intereses imperiales y de la oligarquía, que sólo sirve para consumir una gran tajada del presupuesto nacional y más que un ejército defensor y garante de la soberanía nacional es una fuerza de ocupación; listo para asesinar, torturar y matar aquellos que se oponen al dictador, al imperio y la oligarquía.

      Desgraciadamente esta caravana la conforman los miserables, los desheredados de la tierra, los parias: “los que crían querubes para el presidio y serafines para el burdel” como dijo en su poema, Los Parias, el poeta mexicano Salvador Díaz Mirón.

      Estos miserables y desheredados no huyen de la patria, la aman, la adoran y la llevan convertida en un dolor sobre sus hombros, huyen de los verdugos y carniceros que nos gobiernan y de los otros responsables de esta crisis humanitaria. Los que huyen aman a esta tierra más que los que nos quedamos.

      https://criterio.hn/2018/10/29/no-es-una-caravana-es-un-dolor-que-camina
      #douleur


  • Saudi Arabia Delivers $100 Million Pledged to U.S. as Pompeo Lands in Riyadh :: WRAL.com
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-money-syria.html

    This summer, Saudi Arabia promised the Trump administration $100 million for U.S. efforts to stabilize areas in Syria liberated from the Islamic State.

    That money landed in U.S. accounts Tuesday, the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for discussions with the kingdom’s leaders about the fate of a missing Saudi dissident.

    A mon avis, il manque un zéro...

    #kashoggi


  • U.S. eyes West Coast military bases to export coal, gas -report | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-trump-coal/update-1-us-eyes-west-coast-military-bases-to-export-coal-gas-report-idUSL2

    President Donald Trump’s administration is considering using West Coast military facilities to export coal and natural gas to Asia, according to an Associated Press report on Monday, citing U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

    The move would help fossil fuel producers ship their products to Asia and circumvent environmental concerns in Democratic-leaning states like Washington, Oregon and California that have rejected efforts to build new coal ports.

    In an interview in Montana, Zinke told AP “it’s in our interest for national security and our allies to make sure that they have access to affordable energy commodities” and proposed using naval facilities or other federal properties for exports.

    Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, said the former Naval Air Facility Adak in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands could be used to export natural gas. He did not specify any others.
    […]
    The idea drew praise from the U.S. coal industry, which is eager to overcome a dearth of export terminals on the U.S. West Coast. Currently, U.S. coal exported into the Pacific basin must go through Canada’s British Columbia.


  • C.I.A. Drone Mission, Curtailed by Obama, Is Expanded in Africa Under Trump

    The C.I.A. is poised to conduct secret drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State insurgents from a newly expanded air base deep in the Sahara, making aggressive use of powers that were scaled back during the Obama administration and restored by President Trump.

    Late in his presidency, Barack Obama sought to put the military in charge of drone attacks after a backlash arose over a series of highly visible strikes, some of which killed civilians. The move was intended, in part, to bring greater transparency to attacks that the United States often refused to acknowledge its role in.

    But now the C.I.A. is broadening its drone operations, moving aircraft to northeastern Niger to hunt Islamist militants in southern Libya. The expansion adds to the agency’s limited covert missions in eastern Afghanistan for strikes in Pakistan, and in southern Saudi Arabia for attacks in Yemen.

    Nigerien and American officials said the C.I.A. had been flying drones on surveillance missions for several months from a corner of a small commercial airport in Dirkou. Satellite imagery shows that the airport has grown significantly since February to include a new taxiway, walls and security posts.

    One American official said the drones had not yet been used in lethal missions, but would almost certainly be in the near future, given the growing threat in southern Libya. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secretive operations.

    A C.I.A. spokesman, Timothy Barrett, declined to comment. A Defense Department spokeswoman, Maj. Sheryll Klinkel, said the military had maintained a base at the Dirkou airfield for several months but did not fly drone missions from there.

    The drones take off from Dirkou at night — typically between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. — buzzing in the clear, starlit desert sky. A New York Times reporter saw the gray aircraft — about the size of Predator drones, which are 27 feet long — flying at least three times over six days in early August. Unlike small passenger planes that land occasionally at the airport, the drones have no blinking lights signaling their presence.

    “All I know is they’re American,” Niger’s interior minister, Mohamed Bazoum, said in an interview. He offered few other details about the drones.

    Dirkou’s mayor, Boubakar Jerome, said the drones had helped improve the town’s security. “It’s always good. If people see things like that, they’ll be scared,” Mr. Jerome said.

    Mr. Obama had curtailed the C.I.A.’s lethal role by limiting its drone flights, notably in Yemen. Some strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere that accidentally killed civilians, stirring outrage among foreign diplomats and military officials, were shielded because of the C.I.A.’s secrecy.

    As part of the shift, the Pentagon was given the unambiguous lead for such operations. The move sought, in part, to end an often awkward charade in which the United States would not concede its responsibility for strikes that were abundantly covered by news organizations and tallied by watchdog groups. However, the C.I.A. program was not fully shut down worldwide, as the agency and its supporters in Congress balked.

    The drone policy was changed last year, after Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director at the time, made a forceful case to President Trump that the agency’s broader counterterrorism efforts were being needlessly constrained. The Dirkou base was already up and running by the time Mr. Pompeo stepped down as head of the C.I.A. in April to become Mr. Trump’s secretary of state.

    The Pentagon’s Africa Command has carried out five drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State militants in Libya this year, including one two weeks ago. The military launches its MQ-9 Reaper drones from bases in Sicily and in Niamey, Niger’s capital, 800 miles southwest of Dirkou.

    But the C.I.A. base is hundreds of miles closer to southwestern Libya, a notorious haven for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that also operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad, Mali and Algeria. It is also closer to southern Libya than a new $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, 350 miles west of Dirkou, where the Pentagon plans to operate armed Reaper drone missions by early next year.

    Another American official said the C.I.A. began setting up the base in January to improve surveillance of the region, partly in response to an ambush last fall in another part of Niger that killed four American troops. The Dirkou airfield was labeled a United States Air Force base as a cover, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential operational matters.

    The C.I.A. operation in Dirkou is burdened by few, if any, of the political sensitivities that the United States military confronts at its locations, said one former American official involved with the project.

    Even so, security analysts said, it is not clear why the United States needs both military and C.I.A. drone operations in the same general vicinity to combat insurgents in Libya. France also flies Reaper drones from Niamey, but only on unarmed reconnaissance missions.

    “I would be surprised that the C.I.A. would open its own base,” said Bill Roggio, editor of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal, which tracks military strikes against militant groups.

    Despite American denials, a Nigerien security official said he had concluded that the C.I.A. launched an armed drone from the Dirkou base to strike a target in Ubari, in southern Libya, on July 25. The Nigerien security official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program.

    A spokesman for the Africa Command, Maj. Karl Wiest, said the military did not carry out the Ubari strike.

    #Ubari is in the same region where the American military in March launched its first-ever drone attack against Qaeda militants in southern Libya. It is at the intersection of the powerful criminal and jihadist currents that have washed across Libya in recent years. Roughly equidistant from Libya’s borders with Niger, Chad and Algeria, the area’s seminomadic residents are heavily involved in the smuggling of weapons, drugs and migrants through the lawless deserts of southern Libya.

    Some of the residents have allied with Islamist militias, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates across Algeria, Mali, Niger and Libya.

    Dirkou, in northeast Niger, is an oasis town of a few thousand people in the open desert, bordered by a small mountain range. For centuries, it has been a key transit point for travelers crossing the Sahara. It helped facilitate the rise of Islam in West Africa in the 9th century, and welcomed salt caravans from the neighboring town of Bilma.

    The town has a handful of narrow, sandy roads. Small trees dot the horizon. Date and neem trees line the streets, providing shelter for people escaping the oppressive midday heat. There is a small market, where goods for sale include spaghetti imported from Libya. Gasoline is also imported from Libya and is cheaper than elsewhere in the country.

    The drones based in Dirkou are loud, and their humming and buzzing drowns out the bleats of goats and crows of roosters.

    “It stops me from sleeping,” said Ajimi Koddo, 45, a former migrant smuggler. “They need to go. They go in our village, and it annoys us too much.”

    Satellite imagery shows that construction started in February on a new compound at the Dirkou airstrip. Since then, the facility has been extended to include a larger paved taxiway and a clamshell tent connected to the airstrip — all features that are consistent with the deployment of small aircraft, possibly drones.

    Five defensive positions were set up around the airport, and there appear to be new security gates and checkpoints both to the compound and the broader airport.

    It’s not the first time that Washington has eyed with interest Dirkou’s tiny base. In the late 1980s, the United States spent $3.2 million renovating the airstrip in an effort to bolster Niger’s government against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, then the leader of Libya.

    Compared with other parts of Africa, the C.I.A.’s presence in the continent’s northwest is relatively light, according to a former State Department official who served in the region. In this part of Niger, the C.I.A. is also providing training and sharing intelligence, according to a Nigerien military intelligence document reviewed by The Times.

    The Nigerien security official said about a dozen American Green Berets were stationed earlier this year in #Dirkou — in a base separate from the C.I.A.’s — to train a special counterterrorism battalion of local forces. Those trainers left about three months ago, the official said.

    It is unlikely that they will return anytime soon. The Pentagon is considering withdrawing nearly all American commandos from Niger in the wake of the deadly October ambush that killed four United States soldiers.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/09/world/africa/cia-drones-africa-military.html
    #CIA #drones #Niger #Sahel #USA #Etats-Unis #EI #ISIS #Etat_islamique #sécurité #terrorisme #base_militaire

    • Le Sahel est-il une zone de #non-droit ?

      La CIA a posé ses valises dans la bande sahélo-saharienne. Le New-York Times l’a annoncé, le 9 septembre dernier. Le quotidien US, a révélé l’existence d’une #base_de_drones secrète non loin de la commune de Dirkou, dans le nord-est du Niger. Cette localité, enclavée, la première grande ville la plus proche est Agadez située à 570 km, est le terrain de tir parfait. Elle est éloignée de tous les regards, y compris des autres forces armées étrangères : France, Allemagne, Italie, présentes sur le sol nigérien. Selon un responsable américain anonyme interrogé par ce journal, les drones déployés à Dirkou n’avaient « pas encore été utilisés dans des missions meurtrières, mais qu’ils le seraient certainement dans un proche avenir, compte tenu de la menace croissante qui pèse sur le sud de la Libye. » Or, d’après les renseignements recueillis par l’IVERIS, ces assertions sont fausses, la CIA a déjà mené des opérations à partir de cette base. Ces informations apportent un nouvel éclairage et expliquent le refus catégorique et systématique de l’administration américaine de placer la force conjointe du G5 Sahel (Tchad, Mauritanie, Burkina-Faso, Niger, Mali) sous le chapitre VII de la charte des Nations Unies.
      L’installation d’une base de drones n’est pas une bonne nouvelle pour les peuples du Sahel, et plus largement de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, qui pourraient connaître les mêmes malheurs que les Afghans et les Pakistanais confrontés à la guerre des drones avec sa cohorte de victimes civiles, appelées pudiquement « dégâts collatéraux ».

      D’après le journaliste du NYT, qui s’est rendu sur place, les drones présents à Dirkou ressembleraient à des Predator, des aéronefs d’ancienne génération qui ont un rayon d’action de 1250 km. Il serait assez étonnant que l’agence de Langley soit équipée de vieux modèles alors que l’US Air Force dispose à Niamey et bientôt à Agadez des derniers modèles MQ-9 Reaper, qui, eux, volent sur une distance de 1850 km. A partir de cette base, la CIA dispose donc d’un terrain de tir étendu qui va de la Libye, au sud de l’Algérie, en passant par le Tchad, jusqu’au centre du Mali, au Nord du Burkina et du Nigéria…

      Selon deux sources militaires de pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest, ces drones ont déjà réalisé des frappes à partir de la base de Dirkou. Ces bombardements ont eu lieu en Libye. Il paraît important de préciser que le chaos existant dans ce pays depuis la guerre de 2011, ne rend pas ces frappes plus légales. Par ailleurs, ces mêmes sources suspectent la CIA d’utiliser Dirkou comme une prison secrète « si des drones peuvent se poser des avions aussi. Rien ne les empêche de transporter des terroristes de Libye exfiltrés. Dirkou un Guantanamo bis ? »

      En outre, il n’est pas impossible que ces drones tueurs aient été en action dans d’autres Etats limitrophes. Qui peut le savoir ? « Cette base est irrégulière, illégale, la CIA peut faire absolument tout ce qu’elle veut là-bas » rapporte un officier. De plus, comment faire la différence entre un MQ-9 Reaper de la CIA ou encore un de l’US Air Force, qui, elle, a obtenu l’autorisation d’armer ses drones (1). Encore que…

      En novembre 2017, le président Mahamadou Issoufou a autorisé les drones de l’US Air Force basés à Niamey, à frapper leurs cibles sur le territoire nigérien (2). Mais pour que cet agrément soit légal, il aurait fallu qu’il soit présenté devant le parlement, ce qui n’a pas été le cas. Même s’il l’avait été, d’une part, il le serait seulement pour l’armée US et pas pour la CIA, d’autre part, il ne serait valable que sur le sol nigérien et pas sur les territoires des pays voisins…

      Pour rappel, cette autorisation a été accordée à peine un mois après les événements de Tongo Tongo, où neuf militaires avaient été tués, cinq soldats nigériens et quatre américains. Cette autorisation est souvent présentée comme la conséquence de cette attaque. Or, les pourparlers ont eu lieu bien avant. En effet, l’AFRICOM a planifié la construction de la base de drone d’Agadez, la seconde la plus importante de l’US Air Force en Afrique après Djibouti, dès 2016, sous le mandat de Barack Obama. Une nouvelle preuve que la politique africaine du Pentagone n’a pas changée avec l’arrivée de Donald Trump (3-4-5).

      Les USA seuls maîtres à bord dans le Sahel

      Dès lors, le véto catégorique des Etats-Unis de placer la force G5 Sahel sous chapitre VII se comprend mieux. Il s’agit de mener une guerre non-officielle sans mandat international des Nations-Unies et sans se soucier du droit international. Ce n’était donc pas utile qu’Emmanuel Macron, fer de lance du G5, force qui aurait permis à l’opération Barkhane de sortir du bourbier dans lequel elle se trouve, plaide à de nombreuses reprises cette cause auprès de Donald Trump. Tous les présidents du G5 Sahel s’y sont essayés également, en vain. Ils ont fini par comprendre, quatre chefs d’Etats ont boudé la dernière Assemblée générale des Nations Unies. Seul, le Président malien, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, est monté à la tribune pour réitérer la demande de mise sous chapitre VII, unique solution pour que cette force obtienne un financement pérenne. Alors qu’en décembre 2017, Emmanuel Macron y croyait encore dur comme fer et exigeait des victoires au premier semestre 2018, faute de budget, le G5 Sahel n’est toujours pas opérationnel ! (6-7) Néanmoins, la Chine a promis de le soutenir financièrement. Magnanime, le secrétaire d’Etat à la défense, Jim Mattis a lui assuré à son homologue, Florence Parly, que les Etats-Unis apporteraient à la force conjointe une aide très significativement augmentée. Mais toujours pas de chapitre VII en vue... Ainsi, l’administration Trump joue coup double. Non seulement elle ne s’embarrasse pas avec le Conseil de Sécurité et le droit international mais sous couvert de lutte antiterroriste, elle incruste ses bottes dans ce qui est, (ce qui fut ?), la zone d’influence française.

      Far West

      Cerise sur le gâteau, en août dernier le patron de l’AFRICOM, le général Thomas D. Waldhauser, a annoncé une réduction drastique de ses troupes en Afrique (9). Les sociétés militaires privées, dont celle d’Erik Prince, anciennement Blackwater, ont bien compris le message et sont dans les starting-blocks prêtes à s’installer au Sahel (10).


      https://www.iveris.eu/list/notes_danalyse/371-le_sahel_estil_une_zone_de_nondroit__


  • Exclusive: Mesa to include nine countries while prioritising Iran threat - The National

    https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/exclusive-mesa-to-include-nine-countries-while-prioritising-iran-threat-

    S Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Tim Lenderking has spent the last three weeks in shuttle regional diplomacy across the Gulf to lay the groundwork for a US-hosted summit in January that would launch the Middle East Strategic Alliance (Mesa), a concept similar to an Arab Nato.

    In an interview with The National on Wednesday, Mr Lenderking divulged details about the structure of Mesa and its long term prospects. He said besides the Gulf Cooperation Council members – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman – the US and both Egypt and Jordan would be members of such an alliance.

    Mr Lenderking said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be hosting a GCC + 2 meeting on the margins of United Nations General Assembly on Friday to prepare for the January summit.

    “This stems from the Riyadh summit in 2017 where everyone agreed that the US and the GCC would meet on an annual basis...we added on top of that the keen interest on both sides in building Mesa,” Mr Lenderking explained. The alliance would be based on a security, economic and political agreement that would bind together the GCC countries, along with the US, Egypt and Jordan.

    Notwithstanding the different policy priorities within the GCC itself, Mr Lenderking said the idea of Mesa is “it builds a good strong shield against threats in the Gulf,” naming Iran, cyber concerns, attacks on infrastructure, and coordinating conflict management from Syria to Yemen as part of its agenda.

    “The more we have coordinated efforts, the more effective in enhancing stability,” he said, adding that Iran was the “number one threat” on the Mesa list.

    The senior US official confirmed that the US would be part of the alliance and “we [US] would like to agree on the concept of Mesa by the January summit.”

    He cautioned, however, that these conversations are still in their early stages and “if we find we need to change dates we need to be flexible on that”.


  • As the World Abandons Refugees, UNHCR’s Constraints Are Exposed

    The U.N. refugee agency lacks the funding, political clout and independence to protect refugees in the way that it is supposed to, says former UNHCR official and refugee policy expert #Jeff_Crisp.

    Over the past three years, the world has been confronted with a number of major new refugee emergencies – in Myanmar, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen and Venezuela, as well as the Central American region. In addition, existing crises in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Syria have gone unresolved, making it impossible for large exiled populations to return to their own country. As a result, the global refugee population has soared to more than 25 million, the highest figure ever recorded.

    This means that the role of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, which is supposed to protect and find solutions for this growing population, is more important than ever. But is it up to the task? The proliferating crises have stretched it to the limit. Funding, most of which comes from a dozen key donor states, has not kept up with the rising numbers the agency is expected to support. In April, UNHCR said it had received just $2.3 billion of the $8.2 billion it needed for its annual program.

    Things look unlikely to improve. UNHCR is losing the support of the United States, traditionally the organization’s most important government partner, whether under Republican or Democrat administrations. Since Donald Trump’s election, the country has slashed the number of refugees it admits through its resettlement program. In his final years in office, Barack Obama had raised the annual quota to 110,000 refugees. That is now down to 45,000 and may yet be reduced to 25,000.

    There is also the prospect that the Trump administration will demonstrate its disdain for the U.N. and limited interest in the refugee issue by reducing its funding to the agency, as it has already done with UNRWA, a separate agency that supports Palestinian refugees. Given that the U.S. currently contributes almost 40 percent of the UNHCR budget, even a modest reduction in its support will mean serious cuts in expenditure.

    The agency therefore has little choice but to look for alternative sources of funding and diplomatic support, especially from the European Union and its member states. But that may come at a price. One of the E.U.’s top priorities is to halt the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers who have transited through nearby countries such as Libya, Morocco and Turkey. Populist political parties throughout much of the E.U. are reaping the electoral benefits of taking a hard line on the issue of refugees and migration. Several European governments have shown little hesitation in violating the international refugee laws they have signed in their desperation to seal Europe’s borders.

    The E.U. thus looks to UNHCR for two things: first, the expertise and operational capacity of an organization that has years of experience in responding to mass movements of people; and second, the legitimacy that E.U. policies can acquire by means of close association with an agency deemed by its founding statute to be “entirely non-political and humanitarian.” In this context, it should come as no surprise that E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has been at pains to point out that the E.U. and UNHCR “work together” and have a “close partnership” – and that the E.U. remains “the strongest supporter of UNHCR.”

    But this partnership (which involved $436 million in funding from Brussels alone in 2017) also involves an important element of compromise on the part of UNHCR. In the Mediterranean, for example, the E.U. is funding the Libyan coast guard to intercept and return any refugees who try to leave the country by boat. Those people are subsequently confined to detention centers where, according to Amnesty International, they are at risk of torture, forced labor, extortion and murder at the hand of smugglers, bandits or the Libyan authorities.

    The U.N. high commissioner for human rights has publicly chastised the E.U. for its failure to improve the situation of migrants in Libya. By contrast, UNHCR has kept very quiet about the E.U.’s role in the process of interception, return and detention, despite the fact that these actions violate a fundamental principle of refugee protection: that no one should be returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened.

    This reveals a fundamental tension in the organization’s character. Ostensibly, UNHCR enjoys a high degree of independence and moral authority. As part of the U.N. system, it is treated with more respect by states and other actors than NGOs doing similar work. It has regular access to heads of state, government leaders, regional organizations, the U.N. security council and the secretary-general himself (who was previously UNHCR chief).

    But in practice, the autonomy enjoyed by UNHCR is at best a relative one. Almost 90 percent of the agency’s funding is provided by states, much of it earmarked for specific programs, projects and countries. UNHCR’s governing board consists entirely of states.

    The organization can operate in a country only if it has the agreement of the government, which also has the ability to shape the scope of UNHCR’s operational activities, as well as the partners it works with. In countries such as Ethiopia, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria, for example, the organization is obliged to work with government departments whose priorities may well be different from those of UNHCR.

    Almost 90 percent of the agency’s funding is provided by states, much of it earmarked for specific programs, projects and countries. UNHCR’s governing board consists entirely of states.

    The tensions at the heart of UNHCR seem unlikely to diminish. Throughout the world, governments are closing their borders to refugees and depriving them of basic rights. Exiled populations are being induced to repatriate against their will and to countries that are not safe. As epitomized by the E.U.’s deal with Turkey, asylum seekers have become bargaining chips in interstate relations, used by political leaders to extract financial, political and even military concessions from each other.

    Given the constitutional constraints imposed on the organization, UNHCR’s options are now limited. It can try (as it has done for many years) to diversify its funding base. It could assume a more assertive stance with states that violate refugee protection principles – and in doing so risk the loss of its already diminished degree of diplomatic support. And it can hope that the recently completed Global Compact on Refugees, a nonbinding declaration of principles that most U.N. member states are expected to sign, will have some effect on the way that governments actually treat refugees.

    A final option available to UNHCR is to be more transparent about its limitations, to moderate the relentless self-promotion of its branding and marketing campaign and give greater recognition to the efforts that refugees are making to improve their own lives. In that respect, UNHCR’s favourite hashtag, “We Stand #WithRefugees,” could usefully be changed to “Refugees Are #StandingUpForThemselves.”

    #UN #ONU #HCR #UNHCR #crise #indépendance #fonds #financement #it_has_begun


  • (1) Les États-Unis cessent de contribuer à l’UNWRA au motif que l’UNRWA doit être réformé et ne soutient pas la paix. (2) Les même États-Unis considèrent que l’Iran, en ne contribuant pas assez à l’UNRWA, ne soutiennent pas la paix. « You can’t have it both ways, Brian. » « We can have it both ways. »
    https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/09/286224.htm

    MR PALLADINO: Let’s go to Washington Post.

    QUESTION: Hey, Brian. The Secretary used this talking point that he’s used before today about the Iranians being guilty of hypocrisy because they claim to support the Palestinians, but have only spent 20,000-some on UNRWA.

    MR HOOK: Correct.

    QUESTION: And obviously, he’s saying this while the U.S. announces it’s going to end funding to UNRWA. So is there just a – is he losing the irony of calling out that specific allegation right now as the U.S. is withdrawing from UNRWA?

    MR HOOK: We have given 100,000 times more money to UNRWA than Iran. And so we have a —

    QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

    MR HOOK: We have – no, I’m just saying that over – I’m saying that Iran presents itself, hypocritically, as some keeper of the flame. In fact, the money that they spend is on terrorism with Palestinian Islamic Jihad. And that terrorism then finds its way into war zones which kill Muslims. And so we have given billions – if I remember correctly the number – over many, many years through UNRWA. The Iranians, they’ve given $20,000. The money that they do spend – and I believe it’s – they give $700 million a year to Lebanese Hizballah, and I want to say they give about $5-, $600-, $700 million to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad groups.

    That’s where they spend their money. They spend it supporting terrorism. We spend it supporting the Palestinian people, and that’s just a fundamental difference in our —

    QUESTION: Wait, I —

    MR PALLADINO: Wait, wait, wait.

    QUESTION: Well, hold on a second. I thought your argument against UNRWA was that it actually supported terrorism and that the schools – the curriculum and the schools that they run fomented anti-Israel violence and that – so —

    MR HOOK: So we’re making separate points. There is – there are —

    QUESTION: Well, your argument is that they support terrorism —

    MR HOOK: UNRWA needs reform. UNRWA needs reform.

    QUESTION: — and you guys – you guys have stopped funding UNRWA because you say that they are bad, they need reform, they support terrorism, they support anti – they foment and assist anti-Israel violence. You can’t have it both ways, Brian.

    MR HOOK: We can have it both ways.


  • Venezuela : arrivée à La Guaira du navire hôpital chinois Hé Píng Fāng Zhōu (ou Arche de la Paix)

    Buque Chino llegó a Venezuela para «iniciar operación estratégica»
    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/politica/buque-chino-llego-venezuela-para-iniciar-operacion-estrategica_252868


    Foto: @ArmadaFANB

    Este sábado arribó al Puerto de La Guaira, estado Vargas, el Buque Hospital chino «Arca de la Paz».

    Bienvenidos. Sigamos estrechando nuestros lazos de amistad y cooperación, para la paz”, escribió Vladimir Padrino López, ministro de Defensa, en su Twitter.

    El ministro detalló que el “Arca de la Paz” atenderá a personas de todas las nacionalidades, incluyendo a 1.200 colombianos.

    La visita de este buque hospital también se inscribe en una operación defensiva estratégica. Va a ser muy satisfactorio tener este buque en Venezuela”, precisó.

    El Ministerio de Comunicación e Información detalló que el buque tiene 500 camas, 35 unidades de ciudados intensivos y 12 quirófanos.

    «Sus equipos permiten atender problemas cardiovasculares, ginecología, odontología, oftalmología, pediatría y medicina interna, entre otros», informó el Ministerio en su página web.

    • Pour l’opposition, ce sont les conseils communaux qui désigneraient («  choisiraient  ») les patients à traiter à bord du navire chinois.

      Le ministre de la Défense répond qu’il va (même !…) soigner 1200 Colombiens…
      Rocío San Miguel : Consejos comunales « escogerán » pacientes del buque chino
      http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/politica/rocio-san-miguel-consejos-comunales-escogeran-pacientes-del-buque-chino

      Rocío San Miguel, abogada y defensora de Derechos Humanos, denunció este sábado que los consejos comunales «escogerán» a los pacientes que recibirán atención médica por parte del buque hospital chino «Arca de la Paz».

    • Durée du séjour non précisé dans l’article. Lors de son escale à Papeete fin août, il était précisé qu’il repasserait à Tahiti le 22 décembre.

      Le He Ping Fang Zhou a accosté au port de Papeete | La Dépêche de TAHITI
      http://www.ladepeche.pf/he-ping-fang-zhou-a-accoste-port-de-papeete


      Photo : Yan Roy

      Le navire hôpital chinois, He Ping Fang Zhou, était attendu mardi dans la rade de Papeete. Il a finalement accosté ce vendredi matin dans le port de Papeete, après avoir passé près de trois jours au large de Tahiti, pour des raisons administratives. Cependant, le bâtiment militaire ne va pas s’attarder dans nos eaux. Il repartira dès 20 heures ce vendredi soir, après avoir refait le plein en carburant. À noter qu’un retour du navire est prévu le 22 décembre prochain, selon le calendrier des arrivées du Port autonome de Papeete.

      Pour rappel, cette « arche de la paix » a déjà pris en charge 90 000 patients, et intervient principalement dans les zones de guerre, peu équipées ou nécessitant une aide humanitaire. Le navire comprend à son bord une pharmacie, une salle de radiothérapie, un scanner, huit salles d’opération, un laboratoire d’analyses, une salle d’examens, une zone de stérilisation des instruments, des services gynécologiques, stomatologie, ophtalmologie, pédiatrie, médecine interne,…

    • Double nom, double lecture évidente : #soft_power ou #bâtiment_de_soutien_d'assaut_amphibie.

      Mystery Chinese Hospital Ship : What’s It For ? | WIRED
      (article de novembre 2008)
      https://www.wired.com/2008/11/mystery-chinese

      Late last month, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) accepted its first purpose-built floating hospital, the 10,000-ton “Ship 866.” While seemingly innocuous on the surface, ships like this are windows into an evolving military strategy for an emerging world power. Hospital ships can be used for a wide range of missions, from supporting full-scale amphibious assaults against heavily defended targets, to humanitarian “soft-power” expeditions winning hearts and minds.

      The question is: what is Ship 866 intended for? I asked two leading naval analysts for a new piece in World Politics Review.

      • It’s for #soft_power, contends Bob Work, from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. He says Ship 866 has its roots in the 2004 tsunami. Many world powers sent ships to help out in the aftermath of the storm, which killed more than 200,000 people in countries bordering the Indian Ocean. But not China: the PLAN didn’t have any ships capable of assisting. “The tsunami embarrassed them,” he says. “The Chinese respond to embarrassments in very focused ways.” In this case by building a hospital ship.

      • John Pike from Globalsecurity.org disagrees. He says Ship 866 is probably intended to support the growing Chinese amphibious fleet, which in turn is meant for enforcing China’s claim to South China Sea oil reserves. It’s a far cry from humanitarian soft-power missions.

      Of course, intentions are only intentions. Regardless of the original motive, the PLAN now has a ship capable of both humanitarian missions and supporting amphibious assaults. The Chinese are still decades from matching the U.S. Navy’s huge amphibious and humanitarian fleet, but it’s a start.

      Pour mémoire, la marine états-unienne dispose de 2 navires-hôpitaux (3 fois plus gros)
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USNS_Mercy_(T-AH-19)

      La France ne peut se payer ce luxe et utilise ses navires de soutien amphibie (à coque grise donc) pour ces missions humanitaires, les 3 BPC de la classe Mistral qui ont succédé aux 2 TCD de la classe Foudre.

      cf. Irma en septembre 2017
      Ouragan Irma : première mission humanitaire | colsbleus.fr : le magazine de la Marine Nationale
      http://www.colsbleus.fr/articles/10267

      A la fois bâtiment amphibie, porte-hélicoptères, bâtiment de commandement et navire hôpital, le bâtiment de projection et de commandement (BPC) présente une polyvalence exceptionnelle dont le déploiement du Tonnerre aux Antilles a montré une nouvelle fois. Mis en alerte le 8 septembre, après le passage de l’ouragan Irma, le Tonnerre a appareillé, avec un préavis très court, dès le 12 septembre, pour apporter son soutien aux populations de l’île sinistrée de Saint-Martin. Retour sur cette mission.

      Le module de rétablissement sommaire sur la plage à Saint-Martin

    • Tiens, d’ailleurs, après l’ouragan Maria à Porto-Rico en septembre-octobre 2017…

      Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort Will Deploy to Colombia to Care for Venezuelan Refugees - USNI News
      (article du 20/08/2018)
      https://news.usni.org/2018/08/20/35918


      The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrives in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 3, 2017. Comfort will help support Hurricane Maria aid and relief operations.
      US Air Force photo.

      The Navy’s hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) is being deployed to Colombia this fall to provide medical care to a growing regional humanitarian crisis, as Venezuelans steadily pour over the border to escape a deteriorating health and political climate.

      While visiting Colombia late last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced he was sending Comfort at the request of Colombia’s government. The hospital ship will assist the Colombian medical services network in providing medical care to what has been reported as an influx of more than 1 million Venezuelans into neighboring Colombia.

      The plan is for that hospital ship, USNS Comfort, to deploy this fall,” Col. Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said during a Monday media briefing. “The details are being worked out as far as a detailed timeline.

      A departure date has not been set, and medical staffing needs aboard the ship are still being determined, Manning said.


  • Contestations électorales pour l’élection du gouverneur du Primorié (région de Vladivostok) en Extrême-orient russe.

    Candidates trade rigging accusations as polls in Russia’s Far East almost end in a draw — RT Russian Politics News
    https://www.rt.com/politics/438600-communist-election-victory-russia-east

    Election officials in Primorsky Krai Region are checking complaints by candidates of violations in the run-off gubernatorial polls after a preliminary count gave victory to the incumbent governor by an extremely narrow margin.
    Preliminary results show that the Communist candidate, Andrey Ishchenko, lost to the incumbent governor Andrey Tarasenko by only around half a point – 49.55 percent against 48.06 percent.

    This tentative result was unexpected, as Tasarenko garnered almost twice as many votes as Ishchenko in the first round of elections. It was even more striking as the Communist challenger appeared to be leading the run-off race throughout the day, and only started to lose the advantage in the closing phases.

    The secretary of the regional elections commission told reporters that the final result of the run-off elections would be announced before September 22.

    The head of the federal Central Elections Commission, Ella Pamfilova, told RIA Novosti that she was not excluding the possibility that the results of Sunday’s polls could be canceled in some districts or even in the region as a whole, if complaints of violations prove to be true.

    Complaints of rigging and manipulation were made by both sides. Ishchenko accused his opponent of rewriting voting protocols in four major cities in the region: Vladivostok, Nakhodka, Ussuriysk and Artyom. A representative of Tarasenko’s election HQ retaliated with similar accusations, telling reporters that monitors had reportedly registered violations in favor of the Communist candidate in Vladivostok and Ussuriysk. The violations allegedly included attempts to bribe voters and obstruct the ballot count.

    Ishchenko went on hunger strike on Monday in protest against the alleged voter fraud.


  • Time for EU to stop being bystander in Western Sahara

    The Western Sahara conflict is at a turning point.

    UN peace talks towards a negotiated settlement are expected as early as November.

    With the recent appointment of a new UN secretary general’s special envoy, former German president Horst Koehler, and the upcoming renewal of the UN peacekeeping operation (MINURSO) in a conflict that has been frozen for nearly 40 years, there is a rare window of opportunity to change the status quo.

    It is in the interest of the EU, and the future of the Maghreb region as a whole, for decision makers in Brussels to stop being a bystander in the political process and use their effective policy options to create the conditions for meaningful negotiations.

    This is not about the EU doing the UN’s job. But instead about the EU being an active player in the security and stability of its Southern neighbourhood.

    Unfortunately, the EU’s current approach is defined by a narrow and misguided focus on trade with Morocco at the expense of the Saharawi people. This has clear negative implications for the UN political process.

    In successive judgements, the European Court of Justice ruled that EU-Morocco trade agreements could not be applied to Western Sahara – which in line with international law is deemed “separate and distinct” from Morocco.

    But the EU has continued on a course of undermining its own legal rulings and somehow finding a process that would support the illegal trading of Western Saharan resources through Morocco.

    As the prospects of renewed UN peace talks approach, the EU cannot continue to ignore the grave consequences of its actions. As the recognised representative of the Saharawi people, the Polisario is duty bound to protect the interests of our people and of our natural resources.

    We are left with no choice but to go back to the courts, which will only tie up our and the EU’s bandwidth, all at the same time when the UN and UN Security Council members are asking us to focus all our resources on the political process.

    The negative impact of the EU’s actions goes further.

    While the Polisario has stated clearly and publicly our position to negotiate with no pre-conditions, when the talks likely resume in November we will be sat opposite an empty chair.
    Happy with status quo

    Put simply, Morocco will not come to the negotiating table to agree to peacefully give up its illegal occupation of Western Sahara while the EU continues to sign trade deals which implicitly help to strengthen the status quo.

    The uncomfortable reality for the EU is that Morocco neither wants negotiations nor a genuine political process; yet it is being rewarded for the illegal occupation and exploitation of our natural resources.
    What about Saharawi?

    A key missing element in the EU’s approach has been the will of the Saharawi people.

    The EU has sadly afforded preferential treatment to Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara including by knowingly excluding from the trade talks the thousands of Saharawis forced to live in exile in refugee camps as a result of the occupation.

    To highlight this, 89 Saharawi civil society organisations wrote to EU leaders earlier this year to highlight their deep concerns over EU’s trade negotiations, the absence of consent, and to remind EU leaders of the dire human rights situation under Morocco’s brutal and illegal occupation.

    This leaves the Polisario with no other choice but to pursue all available legal avenues to ensure such agreements do not continue to violate our rights under international and European law.

    Against this backdrop, an urgent change of approach is needed, which would see the EU finally play a genuine, impartial, and constructive role in supporting peace – including by suspending all ongoing trade negotiations and agreements which concern the territory or territorial waters of Western Sahara, appointing an EU envoy to support the UN political process on Western Sahara, and using preferential trade agreements as a peace dividend to incentivise the successful conclusion of a peace agreement.

    During his recent visit to the region Koehler was clear: the ultimate goal of the political process is the self-determination of the Saharawi people.

    International law is unequivocal on this.

    It is high time for the EU to get behind this international objective for the sake of a sustainable future for the Maghreb built on democratic stability, prosperity, and the rule of law.

    https://euobserver.com/opinion/142566
    #Sahara_occidental #conflit #Sahraoui
    cc @reka


  • Study questions Iran-al Qaeda ties, despite U.S. allegations | Reuters

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-iran-alqaeda/study-questions-iran-al-qaeda-ties-despite-u-s-allegations-idUSKCN1LN2LE

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There is no evidence that Iran and al Qaeda cooperated in carrying out terrorist attacks, according to a study published on Friday that casts doubt on Trump administration statements about close ties between the two.

    FILE PHOTO: Iran’s national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl
    The conclusions of the study, by the New America think tank, were based on detailed analysis of documents seized in Osama bin Laden’s hideout after U.S. forces killed the al Qaeda leader in 2011.

    The findings clash with recent statements by U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggesting Iran has collaborated with al Qaeda, which carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

    Debate has swirled over the relationship between Iran, a majority Shi’ite Muslim state, and radical Sunni group al Qaeda since late 2001, when some al Qaeda members fled to Iran after the United States toppled the Taliban government that had sheltered them in Afghanistan.

    The bin Laden files, including a 19-page document not released until last November, show that Iran was uncomfortable with the militants’ presence on its soil, said Nelly Lahoud, the study’s author and an expert on al Qaeda.


  • Congress corners Pompeo on Saudi military actions - POLITICO

    The secretary of state faces a Sept. 12 deadline to certify whether Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are doing enough to limit civilian misery stemming from a U.S.-backed military campaign in Yemen, or face a cutback in Washington’s support.
    By NAHAL TOOSI 09/04/2018 04:

    https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/04/congress-pompeo-military-saudi-yemen-806418

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo must soon make a key decision that could sharply limit U.S. backing for Saudi Arabia’s controversial war in Yemen, where more than three years of fighting have triggered a humanitarian crisis, claims of war crimes and bipartisan anger in Congress.

    A bipartisan group of lawmakers inserted a provision in this year’s congressional defense spending bill requiring Pompeo to certify by Sept. 12 whether Saudi Arabia and its military ally, the United Arab Emirates, are taking meaningful steps to reduce civilian casualties, increase humanitarian aid and find a political solution to the Yemen conflict. If Pompeo doesn’t offer the certification, the law prohibits the U.S. from refueling Saudi aircraft.

    The pressure on Pompeo reflects growing anger among American lawmakers over the U.S. military role in Yemen, where thousands of civilians have died and millions more face starvation as a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE battles Iran-backed Houthi rebels. In addition to the refueling, the U.S. has assisted the Arab-led coalition with targeting and supplied it with munitions.

    The choice for Pompeo also comes as United Nations officials warn that the Saudis may be committing war crimes. Last month, a coalition airstrike hit a school bus, reportedly with a U.S.-made missile, killing 40 Yemeni children.

    The Trump administration has closely aligned itself with the Saudi and UAE governments, and has made combating Iran’s regional influence a top priority. But with international outrage growing — and Democrats widely expected to make gains in the November midterm elections that could lead to new legislative efforts to reduce the U.S. role in the Yemen fight as well as possibly embarrassing hearings, Pompeo faces mounting pressure to act.

    #yemen


  • Tunisian fishermen await trial after ’saving hundreds of migrants’

    Friends and colleagues have rallied to the defence of six Tunisian men awaiting trial in Italy on people smuggling charges, saying they are fishermen who have saved hundreds of migrants and refugees over the years who risked drowning in the Mediterranean.

    The men were arrested at sea at the weekend after their trawler released a small vessel it had been towing with 14 migrants onboard, 24 miles from the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

    Italian authorities said an aeroplane crew from the European border agency Frontex had first located the trawler almost 80 nautical miles from Lampedusa and decided to monitor the situation.They alerted the Italian police after the migrant vessel was released, who then arrested all crew members at sea.

    According to their lawyers, the Tunisians maintain that they saw a migrant vessel in distress and a common decision was made to tow it to safety in Italian waters. They claim they called the Italian coastguard so it could intervene and take them to shore.

    Prosecutors have accused the men of illegally escorting the boat into Italian waters and say they have no evidence of an SOS sent by either the migrant boat or by the fishermen’s vessel.

    Among those arrested were 45-year-old Chamseddine Ben Alì Bourassine, who is known in his native city, Zarzis, which lies close to the Libyan border, for saving migrants and bringing human remains caught in his nets back to shore to give the often anonymous dead a dignified burial.

    Immediately following the arrests, hundreds of Tunisians gathered in Zarzis to protest and the Tunisian Fishermen Association of Zarzis sent a letter to the Italian embassy in Tunis in support of the men.

    “Captain Bourassine and his crew are hardworking fishermen whose human values exceed the risks they face every day,” it said. “When we meet boats in distress at sea, we do not think about their colour or their religion.”

    According to his colleagues in Zarzis, Bourassine is an advocate for dissuading young Tunisians from illegal migration. In 2015 he participated in a sea rescue drill organised by Médecins Sans Frontières (Msf) in Zarzis.

    Giulia Bertoluzzi, an Italian filmmaker and journalist who directed the documentary Strange Fish, about Bourassine, said the men were well known in their home town.

    “In Zarzis, Bourassine and his crew are known as anonymous heroes”, Bertoluzzi told the Guardian. “Some time ago a petition was circulated to nominate him for the Nobel peace prize. He saved thousands of lives since.”

    The six Tunisians who are now being held in prison in the Sicilian town of Agrigento pending their trial. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.

    The Italian police said in a statement: “We acted according to our protocol. After the fishing boat released the vessel, it returned south of the Pelagie Islands where other fishing boats were active in an attempt to shield itself.”

    It is not the first time that Italian authorities have arrested fishermen and charged them with aiding illegal immigration. On 8 August 2007, police arrested two Tunisian fishermen for having guided into Italian waters 44 migrants. The trial lasted four years and both men were acquitted of all criminal charges.

    Leonardo Marino, a lawyer in Agrigento who had defended dozens of Tunisian fishermen accused of enabling smuggling, told the Guardian: “The truth is that migrants are perceived as enemies and instead of welcoming them we have decided to fight with repressive laws anyone who is trying to help them.”


    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/05/tunisian-fishermen-await-trial-after-saving-hundreds-of-migrants?CMP=sh
    #Tunisie #pêcheurs #solidarité #mourir_en_mer #sauvetage #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Méditerranée #pêcheurs_tunisiens #délit_de_solidarité
    Accusation: #smuggling #passeurs

    cc @_kg_

    • Commentaires de Charles Heller sur FB :

      Last year these Tunisian fishermen prevented the identitarian C-Star - chartered to prevent solidarity at sea - from docking in Zarzis. Now they have been arrested for exercising that solidarity.

      Back to the bad old days of criminalising Tunisian fishermen who rescue migrants at sea. Lets make some noise and express our support and solidarity in all imaginable ways!

    • Des pêcheurs tunisiens poursuivis pour avoir tracté des migrants jusqu’en Italie

      Surpris en train de tirer une embarcation de migrants vers l’Italie, des pêcheurs tunisiens -dont un militant connu localement- ont été écroués en Sicile. Une manifestation de soutien a eu lieu en Tunisie et une ONG essaie actuellement de leur venir en aide.

      Des citoyens tunisiens sont descendus dans la rue lundi 3 septembre à Zarzis, dans le sud du pays, pour protester contre l’arrestation, par les autorités italiennes, de six pêcheurs locaux. Ces derniers sont soupçonnés d’être des passeurs car ils ont été "surpris en train de tirer une barque avec 14 migrants à bord en direction de [l’île italienne de] Lampedusa", indique la police financière et douanière italienne.

      La contestation s’empare également des réseaux sociaux, notamment avec des messages publiés demandant la libération des six membres d’équipage parmi lesquels figurent Chamseddine Bourassine, président de l’association des pêcheurs de Zarzis. “Toute ma solidarité avec un militant et ami, le doyen des pêcheurs Chamseddine Bourassine. Nous appelons les autorités tunisiennes à intervenir immédiatement avec les autorités italiennes afin de le relâcher ainsi que son équipage”, a écrit lundi le jeune militant originaire de Zarzis Anis Belhiba sur Facebook. Une publication reprise et partagée par Chamesddine Marzoug, un pêcheur retraité et autre militant connu en Tunisie pour enterrer lui-même les corps des migrants rejetés par la mer.

      Sans nouvelles depuis quatre jours

      Un appel similaire a été lancé par le Forum tunisien pour les droits économiques et sociaux, par la voix de Romdhane Ben Amor, chargé de communication de cette ONG basée à Tunis. Contacté par InfoMigrants, il affirme n’avoir reçu aucune nouvelle des pêcheurs depuis près de quatre jours. “On ne sait pas comment ils vont. Tout ce que l’on sait c’est qu’ils sont encore incarcérés à Agrigente en Sicile. On essaie d’activer tous nos réseaux et de communiquer avec nos partenaires italiens pour leur fournir une assistance juridique”, explique-t-il.

      Les six pêcheurs ont été arrêtés le 29 août car leur bateau de pêche, qui tractait une embarcation de fortune avec 14 migrants à son bord, a été repéré -vidéo à l’appui- par un avion de Frontex, l’Agence européenne de garde-côtes et garde-frontières.

      Selon une source policière italienne citée par l’AFP, les pêcheurs ont été arrêtés pour “aide à l’immigration clandestine” et écroués. Le bateau a été repéré en train de tirer des migrants, puis de larguer la barque près des eaux italiennes, à moins de 24 milles de Lampedusa, indique la même source.

      Mais pour Romdhane Ben Amor, “la vidéo de Frontex ne prouve rien”. Et de poursuivre : “#Chamseddine_Bourassine, on le connaît bien. Il participe aux opérations de sauvetage en Méditerranée depuis 2008, il a aussi coordonné l’action contre le C-Star [navire anti-migrants affrété par des militant d’un groupe d’extrême droite]”. Selon Romdhane Ben Amor, il est fort probable que le pêcheur ait reçu l’appel de détresse des migrants, qu’il ait ensuite tenté de les convaincre de faire demi-tour et de regagner la Tunisie. N’y parvenant pas, le pêcheur aurait alors remorqué l’embarcation vers l’Italie, la météo se faisant de plus en plus menaçante.

      La Tunisie, pays d’origine le plus représenté en Italie

      Un nombre croissant de Tunisiens en quête d’emploi et de perspectives d’avenir tentent de se rendre illégalement en Italie via la Méditerranée. D’ailleurs, avec 3 300 migrants arrivés entre janvier et juillet 2018, la Tunisie est le pays d’origine le plus représenté en Italie, selon un rapport du Haut commissariat de l’ONU aux réfugiés (HCR) publié lundi.

      La Méditerranée a été "plus mortelle que jamais" début 2018, indique également le HCR, estimant qu’une personne sur 18 tentant la traversée meurt ou disparaît en mer.


      http://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/11752/des-pecheurs-tunisiens-poursuivis-pour-avoir-tracte-des-migrants-jusqu

    • Note de Catherine Teule :

      Cela rappelle le procès ( à Agrigente déjà) de 7 pêcheurs tunisiens en 2007.... ( voir les archives de Migreurop )

      Et aussi les procès contres les pêcheurs à #Mazara_del_vallo, en Italie, v. livre de Gabriele Del Grande

    • Lampedusa, in cella ad Agrigento il pescatore tunisino che salva i migranti

      Insieme al suo equipaggio #Chameseddine_Bourassine è accusato di favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione illegale. La Tunisia chiede il rilascio dei sei arrestati. L’appello per la liberazione del figlio di uno dei pescatori e del fratello di Bourassine

      Per la Tunisia Chameseddine Bourassine è il pescatore che salva i migranti. Protagonista anche del film documentario «Strange Fish» di Giulia Bertoluzzi. Dal 29 agosto Chameseddine e il suo equipaggio sono nel carcere di Agrigento, perchè filmati mentre trainavano un barchino con 14 migranti fino a 24 miglia da Lampedusa. Il peschereccio è stato sequestrato e rischiano molti anni di carcere per favoreggiamento aggravato dell’immigrazione illegale. Da Palermo alcuni parenti giunti da Parigi lanciano un appello per la loro liberazione.

      Ramzi Lihiba, figlio di uno dei pescatori arrestati: «Mio padre è scioccato perchè è la prima volta che ha guai con la giustizia. Mi ha detto che hanno incontrato una barca in pericolo e hanno fatto solo il loro dovere. Non è la prima volta. Chameseddine ha fatto centinaia di salvataggi, portando la gente verso la costa più vicina. Prima ha chiamato la guardia costiera di Lampedusa e di Malta senza avere risposta».

      Mohamed Bourassine, fratello di Chameseddine: «Chameseddine l’ha detto anche alla guardia costiera italiana, se trovassi altre persone in pericolo in mare, lo rifarei».
      La Tunisia ha chiesto il rilascio dei sei pescatori di Zarzis. Sit in per loro davanti alle ambasciate italiane di Tunisi e Parigi. Da anni i pescatori delle due sponde soccorrono migranti con molti rischi. Ramzi Lihiba: «Anche io ho fatto la traversata nel 2008 e sono stato salvato dai pescatori italiani, altrimenti non sarei qui oggi».

      https://www.rainews.it/tgr/sicilia/video/2018/09/sic-lampedusa-carcere-pescatore-tunisino-salva-migranti-8f4b62a7-b103-48c0-8

    • Posté par Charles Heller sur FB :

      Yesterday, people demonstrated in the streets of Zarzis in solidarity with the Tunisian fishermen arrested by Italian authorities for exercising their solidarity with migrants crossing the sea. Tomorrow, they will be heard in front of a court in Sicily. While rescue NGOs have done an extraordinary job, its important to underline that European citizens do not have the monopoly over solidarity with migrants, and neither are they the only ones being criminalised. The Tunisian fishermen deserve our full support.


      https://www.facebook.com/charles.heller.507/posts/2207659576116549

    • I pescatori, eroi di Zarzis, in galera

      Il 29 agosto 2018 sei pescatori tunisini sono stati arrestati ad Agrigento, accusati di favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione clandestina, reato punibile fino a quindici anni di carcere. Il loro racconto e quello dei migranti soccorsi parla invece di una barca in panne che prendeva acqua, del tentativo di contattare la Guardia Costiera italiana e infine - dopo una lunga attesa – del trasporto del barchino verso Lampedusa, per aiutare le autorità nelle operazioni di soccorso. Mentre le indagini preliminari sono in corso, vi raccontiamo chi sono questi pescatori. Lo facciamo con Giulia Bertoluzzi, che ha girato il film “Strange Fish” – vincitore al premio BNP e menzione speciale della giuria al festival Visioni dal Mondo - di cui Bourassine è il protagonista, e Valentina Zagaria, che ha vissuto oltre due anni a Zarzis per un dottorato in antropologia.

      Capitano, presidente, eroe. Ecco tre appellativi che potrebbero stare a pennello a Chamseddine Bourassine, presidente della Rete Nazionale della Pesca Artigianale nonché dell’associazione di Zarzis “Le Pêcheur” pour le Développement et l’Environnement, nominata al Premio Nobel per la Pace 2018 per il continuo impegno nel salvare vite nel Mediterraneo. I pescatori di Zarzis infatti, lavorando nel mare aperto tra la Libia e la Sicilia, si trovano da più di quindici anni in prima linea nei soccorsi a causa della graduale chiusura ermetica delle vie legali per l’Europa, che ha avuto come conseguenza l’inizio di traversate con mezzi sempre più di fortuna.
      I frutti della rivoluzione

      Sebbene la legge del mare abbia sempre prevalso per Chamseddine e i pescatori di Zarzis, prima della rivoluzione tunisina del 2011 i pescatori venivano continuamente minacciati dalla polizia del regime di Ben Ali, stretto collaboratore sia dell’Italia che dell’Unione europea in materia di controlli alle frontiere. “Ci dicevano di lasciarli in mare e che ci avrebbero messo tutti in prigione”, spiegava Bourassine, “ma un uomo in mare è un uomo morto, e alla polizia abbiamo sempre risposto che piuttosto saremmo andati in prigione”. In prigione finivano anche i cittadini tunisini che tentavano la traversata e che venivano duramente puniti dal loro stesso governo.

      Tutto è cambiato con la rivoluzione. Oltre 25.000 tunisini si erano imbarcati verso l’Italia, di cui tanti proprio dalle coste di Zarzis. “Non c’erano più né stato né polizia, era il caos assoluto” ricorda Anis Souei, segretario generale dell’Associazione. Alcuni pescatori non lasciavano le barche nemmeno di notte perché avevano paura che venissero rubate, i più indebitati invece tentavano di venderle, mentre alcuni abitanti di Zarzis, approfittando del vuoto di potere, si improvvisavano ‘agenti di viaggi’, cercando di fare affari sulle spalle degli harraga – parola nel dialetto arabo nord africano per le persone che ‘bruciano’ passaporti e frontiera attraversando il Mediterraneo. Chamseddine Bourassine e i suoi colleghi, invece, hanno stretto un patto morale, stabilendo di non vendere le proprie barche per la harga. Si sono rimboccati le maniche e hanno fondato un’associazione per migliorare le condizioni di lavoro del settore, per sensibilizzare sulla preservazione dell’ambiente – condizione imprescindibile per la pesca – e dare una possibilità di futuro ai giovani.

      E proprio verso i più giovani, quelli che più continuano a soffrire dell’alto tasso di disoccupazione, l’associazione ha dedicato diverse campagne di sensibilizzazione. “Andiamo nelle scuole per raccontare quello che vediamo e mostriamo ai ragazzi le foto dei corpi che troviamo in mare, perché si rendano conto del reale pericolo della traversata”, racconta Anis. Inoltre hanno organizzato formazioni di meccanica, riparazione delle reti e pesca subacquea, collaborando anche con diversi progetti internazionali, come NEMO, organizzato dal CIHEAM-Bari e finanziato dalla Cooperazione Italiana. Proprio all’interno di questo progetto è nato il museo di Zarzis della pesca artigianale, dove tra nodi e anforette per la pesca del polipo, c’è una mostra fotografica dei salvataggi in mare intitolata “Gli eroi anonimi di Zarzis”.

      La guerra civile libica

      Con l’inasprirsi della guerra civile libica e l’inizio di veri e propri traffici di esseri umani, le frontiere marittime si sono trasformate in zone al di fuori della legge.
      “I pescatori tunisini vengono regolarmente rapiti dalle milizie o dalle autorità libiche” diceva Bourassine. Queste, una volta sequestrata la barca e rubato il materiale tecnico, chiedevano alle autorità tunisine un riscatto per il rilascio, cosa peraltro successa anche a pescatori siciliani. Sebbene le acque di fronte alla Libia siano le più ricche, soprattutto per il gambero rosso, e per anni siano state zone di pesca per siciliani, tunisini, libici e anche egiziani, ad oggi i pescatori di Zarzis si sono visti obbligati a lasciare l’eldorado dei tonni rossi e dei gamberi rossi, per andare più a ovest.

      “Io pesco nelle zone della rotta delle migrazioni, quindi è possibile che veda migranti ogni volta che esco” diceva Bourassine, indicando sul monitor della sala comandi del suo peschereccio l’est di Lampedusa, durante le riprese del film.

      Con scarso sostegno delle guardie costiere tunisine, a cui non era permesso operare oltre le proprie acque territoriali, i pescatori per anni si sono barcamenati tra il lavoro e la responsabilità di soccorrere le persone in difficoltà che, con l’avanzare del conflitto in Libia, partivano su imbarcazioni sempre più pericolose.

      “Ma quando in mare vedi 100 o 120 persone cosa fai?” si chiede Slaheddine Mcharek, anche lui membro dell’Associazione, “pensi solo a salvare loro la vita, ma non è facile”. Chi ha visto un’operazione di soccorso in mare infatti può immaginare i pericoli di organizzare un trasbordo su un piccolo peschereccio che non metta a repentaglio la stabilità della barca, soprattutto quando ci sono persone che non sanno nuotare. Allo stesso tempo non pescare significa non lavorare e perdere soldi sia per il capitano che per l’equipaggio.
      ONG e salvataggio

      Quando nell’estate del 2015 le navi di ricerca e soccorso delle ONG hanno cominciato ad operare nel Mediterraneo, Chamseddine e tutti i pescatori si sono sentiti sollevati, perché le loro barche non erano attrezzate per centinaia di persone e le autorità tunisine post-rivoluzionarie non avevano i mezzi per aiutarli. Quell’estate, l’allora direttore di Medici Senza Frontiere Foued Gammoudi organizzò una formazione di primo soccorso in mare per sostenere i pescatori. Dopo questa formazione MSF fornì all’associazione kit di pronto soccorso, giubbotti e zattere di salvataggio per poter assistere meglio i rifugiati in mare. L’ONG ha anche dato ai pescatori le traduzioni in italiano e inglese dei messaggi di soccorso e di tutti i numeri collegati al Centro di coordinamento per il soccorso marittimo (MRCC) a Roma, che coordina i salvataggi tra le imbarcazioni nei paraggi pronte ad intervenire, fossero mercantili, navi delle ONG, imbarcazioni militari o della guardia costiera, e quelle dei pescatori di entrambe le sponde del mare. Da quel momento i pescatori potevano coordinarsi a livello internazionale e aspettare che le navi più grandi arrivassero, per poi riprendere il loro lavoro. Solo una settimana dopo la formazione, Gammoudi andò a congratularsi con Chamseddine al porto di Zarzis per aver collaborato con la nave Bourbon-Argos di MSF nel salvataggio di 550 persone.

      Oltre al primo soccorso, MSF ha offerto ai membri dell’associazione una formazione sulla gestione dei cadaveri, fornendo sacchi mortuari, disinfettanti e guanti. C’è stato un periodo durato vari mesi, prima dell’arrivo delle ONG, in cui i pescatori avevano quasi la certezza di vedere dei morti in mare. Nell’assenza di altre imbarcazioni in prossimità della Libia, pronte ad aiutare barche in difficoltà, i naufragi non facevano che aumentare. Proprio come sta succedendo in queste settimane, durante le quali il tasso di mortalità in proporzione agli arrivi in Italia è cresciuto del 5,6%. Dal 26 agosto, nessuna ONG ha operato in SAR libica, e questo a causa delle politiche anti-migranti di Salvini e dei suoi omologhi europei.

      Criminalizzazione della solidarietà

      La situazione però è peggiorata di nuovo nell’estate del 2017, quando l’allora ministro dell’Interno Marco Minniti stringeva accordi con le milizie e la guardia costiera libica per bloccare i rifugiati nei centri di detenzione in Libia, mentre approvava leggi che criminalizzano e limitano l’attività delle ONG in Italia.

      Le campagne di diffamazione contro atti di solidarietà e contro le ONG non hanno fatto altro che versare ancora più benzina sui sentimenti anti-immigrazione che infiammano l’Europa. Nel bel mezzo di questo clima, il 6 agosto 2017, i pescatori di Zarzis si erano trovati in un faccia a faccia con la nave noleggiata da Generazione Identitaria, la C-Star, che attraversava il Mediterraneo per ostacolare le operazioni di soccorso e riportare i migranti in Africa.

      Armati di pennarelli rossi, neri e blu, hanno appeso striscioni sulle barche in una mescolanza di arabo, italiano, francese e inglese: “No Racists!”, “Dégage!”, “C-Star: No gasolio? No acqua? No mangiaro?“.

      Chamseddine Bourassine, con pesanti occhiaie da cinque giorni di lavoro in mare, appena appresa la notizia ha organizzato un sit-in con tanto di media internazionali al porto di Zarzis. I loro sforzi erano stati incoraggiati dalle reti antirazziste in Sicilia, che a loro volta avevano impedito alla C-Star di attraccare nel porto di Catania solo un paio di giorni prima.
      La reazione tunisina dopo l’arresto di Bourassine

      Non c’è quindi da sorprendersi se dopo l’arresto di Chamseddine, Salem, Farhat, Lotfi, Ammar e Bachir l’associazione, le famiglie, gli amici e i colleghi hanno riempito tre pullman da Zarzis per protestare davanti all’ambasciata italiana di Tunisi. La Terre Pour Tous, associazione di famiglie di tunisini dispersi, e il Forum economico e sociale (FTDES) si sono uniti alla protesta per chiedere l’immediato rilascio dei pescatori. Una protesta gemella è stata organizzata anche dalla diaspora di Zarzis davanti all’ambasciata italiana a Parigi, mentre reti di pescatori provenienti dal Marocco e dalla Mauritania hanno rilasciato dichiarazioni di sostegno. Il Segretario di Stato tunisino per l’immigrazione, Adel Jarboui, ha esortato le autorità italiane a liberare i pescatori.

      Nel frattempo Bourassine racconta dalla prigione al fratello: “stavo solo aiutando delle persone in difficoltà in mare. Lo rifarei”.


      http://openmigration.org/analisi/i-pescatori-eroi-di-zarzis-in-galera

    • When rescue at sea becomes a crime: who the Tunisian fishermen arrested in Italy really are

      Fishermen networks from Morocco and Mauritania have released statements of support, and the Tunisian State Secretary for Immigration, Adel Jarboui, urged Italian authorities to release the fishermen, considered heroes in Tunisia.

      On the night of Wednesday, August 29, 2018, six Tunisian fishermen were arrested in Italy. Earlier that day, they had set off from their hometown of Zarzis, the last important Tunisian port before Libya, to cast their nets in the open sea between North Africa and Sicily. The fishermen then sighted a small vessel whose engine had broken, and that had started taking in water. After giving the fourteen passengers water, milk and bread – which the fishermen carry in abundance, knowing they might encounter refugee boats in distress – they tried making contact with the Italian coastguard.

      After hours of waiting for a response, though, the men decided to tow the smaller boat in the direction of Lampedusa – Italy’s southernmost island, to help Italian authorities in their rescue operations. At around 24 miles from Lampedusa, the Guardia di Finanza (customs police) took the fourteen people on board, and then proceeded to violently arrest the six fishermen. According to the precautionary custody order issued by the judge in Agrigento (Sicily), the men stand accused of smuggling, a crime that could get them up to fifteen years in jail if the case goes to trial. The fishermen have since been held in Agrigento prison, and their boat has been seized.

      This arrest comes after a summer of Italian politicians closing their ports to NGO rescue boats, and only a week after far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini[1] prevented for ten days the disembarkation of 177 Eritrean and Somali asylum seekers from the Italian coastguard ship Diciotti. It is yet another step towards dissuading anyone – be it Italian or Tunisian citizens, NGO or coastguard ships – from coming to the aid of refugee boats in danger at sea. Criminalising rescue, a process that has been pushed by different Italian governments since 2016, will continue to have tragic consequences for people on the move in the Mediterranean Sea.
      The fishermen of Zarzis

      Among those arrested is Chamseddine Bourassine, the president of the Association “Le Pêcheur” pour le Développement et l’Environnement, which was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year for the Zarzis fishermen’s continuous engagement in saving lives in the Mediterranean.

      Chamseddine, a fishing boat captain in his mid-40s, was one of the first people I met in Zarzis when, in the summer of 2015, I moved to this southern Tunisian town to start fieldwork for my PhD. On a sleepy late-August afternoon, my interview with Foued Gammoudi, the then Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Head of Mission for Tunisia and Libya, was interrupted by an urgent phone call. “The fishermen have just returned, they saved 550 people, let’s go to the port to thank them.” Just a week earlier, Chamseddine Bourassine had been among the 116 fishermen from Zarzis to have received rescue at sea training with MSF. Gammoudi was proud that the fishermen had already started collaborating with the MSF Bourbon Argos ship to save hundreds of people. We hurried to the port to greet Chamseddine and his crew, as they returned from a three-day fishing expedition which involved, as it so often had done lately, a lives-saving operation.

      The fishermen of Zarzis have been on the frontline of rescue in the Central Mediterranean for over fifteen years. Their fishing grounds lying between Libya – the place from which most people making their way undocumented to Europe leave – and Sicily, they were often the first to come to the aid of refugee boats in distress. “The fishermen have never really had a choice: they work here, they encounter refugee boats regularly, so over the years they learnt to do rescue at sea”, explained Gammoudi. For years, fishermen from both sides of the Mediterranean were virtually alone in this endeavour.
      Rescue before and after the revolution

      Before the Tunisian revolution of 2011, Ben Ali threatened the fishermen with imprisonment for helping migrants in danger at sea – the regime having been a close collaborator of both Italy and the European Union in border control matters. During that time, Tunisian nationals attempting to do the harga – the North African Arabic dialect term for the crossing of the Sicilian Channel by boat – were also heavily sanctioned by their own government.

      Everything changed though with the revolution. “It was chaos here in 2011. You cannot imagine what the word chaos means if you didn’t live it”, recalled Anis Souei, the secretary general of the “Le Pêcheur” association. In the months following the revolution, hundreds of boats left from Zarzis taking Tunisians from all over the country to Lampedusa. Several members of the fishermen’s association remember having to sleep on their fishing boats at night to prevent them from being stolen for the harga. Other fishermen instead, especially those who were indebted, decided to sell their boats, while some inhabitants of Zarzis took advantage of the power vacuum left by the revolution and made considerable profit by organising harga crossings. “At that time there was no police, no state, and even more misery. If you wanted Lampedusa, you could have it”, rationalised another fisherman. But Chamseddine Bourassine and his colleagues saw no future in moving to Europe, and made a moral pact not to sell their boats for migration.

      They instead remained in Zarzis, and in 2013 founded their association to create a network of support to ameliorate the working conditions of small and artisanal fisheries. The priority when they started organising was to try and secure basic social security – something they are still struggling to sustain today. With time, though, the association also got involved in alerting the youth to the dangers of boat migration, as they regularly witnessed the risks involved and felt compelled to do something for younger generations hit hard by staggering unemployment rates. In this optic, they organised training for the local youth in boat mechanics, nets mending, and diving, and collaborated in different international projects, such as NEMO, organised by the CIHEAM-Bari and funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directorate General for Cooperation Development. This project also helped the fishermen build a museum to explain traditional fishing methods, the first floor of which is dedicated to pictures and citations from the fishermen’s long-term voluntary involvement in coming to the rescue of refugees in danger at sea.

      This role was proving increasingly vital as the Libyan civil war dragged on, since refugees were being forced onto boats in Libya that were not fit for travel, making the journey even more hazardous. With little support from Tunisian coastguards, who were not allowed to operate beyond Tunisian waters, the fishermen juggled their responsibility to bring money home to their families and their commitment to rescuing people in distress at sea. Anis remembers that once in 2013, three fishermen boats were out and received an SOS from a vessel carrying roughly one hundred people. It was their first day out, and going back to Zarzis would have meant losing petrol money and precious days of work, which they simply couldn’t afford. After having ensured that nobody was ill, the three boats took twenty people on board each, and continued working for another two days, sharing food and water with their guests.

      Sometimes, though, the situation on board got tense with so many people, food wasn’t enough for everybody, and fights broke out. Some fishermen recall incidents during which they truly feared for their safety, when occasionally they came across boats with armed men from Libyan militias. It was hard for them to provide medical assistance as well. Once a woman gave birth on Chamseddine’s boat – that same boat that has now been seized in Italy – thankfully there had been no complications.
      NGO ships and the criminalisation of rescue

      During the summer of 2015, therefore, Chamseddine felt relieved that NGO search and rescue boats were starting to operate in the Mediterranean. The fishermen’s boats were not equipped to take hundreds of people on board, and the post-revolutionary Tunisian authorities didn’t have the means to support them. MSF had provided the association with first aid kits, life jackets, and rescue rafts to be able to better assist refugees at sea, and had given them a list of channels and numbers linked to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome for when they encountered boats in distress.

      They also offered training in dead body management, and provided the association with body bags, disinfectant and gloves. “When we see people at sea we rescue them. It’s not only because we follow the laws of the sea or of religion: we do it because it’s human”, said Chamseddine. But sometimes rescue came too late, and bringing the dead back to shore was all the fishermen could do.[2] During 2015 the fishermen at least felt that with more ships in the Mediterranean doing rescue, the duty dear to all seafarers of helping people in need at sea didn’t only fall on their shoulders, and they could go back to their fishing.

      The situation deteriorated again though in the summer of 2017, as Italian Interior Minister Minniti struck deals with Libyan militias and coastguards to bring back and detain refugees in detention centres in Libya, while simultaneously passing laws criminalising and restricting the activity of NGO rescue boats in Italy.

      Media smear campaigns directed against acts of solidarity with migrants and refugees and against the work of rescue vessels in the Mediterranean poured even more fuel on already inflamed anti-immigration sentiments in Europe.

      In the midst of this, on 6 August 2017, the fishermen of Zarzis came face to face with a far-right vessel rented by Generazione Identitaria, the C-Star, cruising the Mediterranean allegedly on a “Defend Europe” mission to hamper rescue operations and bring migrants back to Africa. The C-Star was hovering in front of Zarzis port, and although it had not officially asked port authorities whether it could dock to refuel – which the port authorities assured locals it would refuse – the fishermen of Zarzis took the opportunity to let these alt-right groups know how they felt about their mission.

      Armed with red, black and blue felt tip pens, they wrote in a mixture of Arabic, Italian, French and English slogans such as “No Racists!”, “Dégage!” (Get our of here!), “C-Star: No gasoil? No acqua? No mangiato?” ?” (C-Star: No fuel? No water? Not eaten?), which they proceeded to hang on their boats, ready to take to sea were the C-Star to approach. Chamseddine Bourassine, who had returned just a couple of hours prior to the impending C-Star arrival from five days of work at sea, called other members of the fishermen association to come to the port and join in the peaceful protest.[3] He told the journalists present that the fishermen opposed wholeheartedly the racism propagated by the C-Star members, and that having seen the death of fellow Africans at sea, they couldn’t but condemn these politics. Their efforts were cheered on by anti-racist networks in Sicily, who had in turn prevented the C-Star from docking in Catania port just a couple of days earlier.

      It is members from these same networks in Sicily together with friends of the fishermen in Tunisia and internationally that are now engaged in finding lawyers for Chamseddine and his five colleagues.

      Their counterparts in Tunisia joined the fishermen’s families and friends on Thursday morning to protest in front of the Italian embassy in Tunis. Three busloads arrived from Zarzis after an 8-hour night-time journey for the occasion, and many others had come from other Tunisian towns to show their solidarity. Gathered there too were members of La Terre Pour Tous, an association of families of missing Tunisian migrants, who joined in to demand the immediate release of the fishermen. A sister protest was organised by the Zarzis diaspora in front of the Italian embassy in Paris on Saturday afternoon. Fishermen networks from Morocco and Mauritania also released statements of support, and the Tunisian State Secretary for Immigration Adel Jarboui urged Italian authorities to release the fishermen, who are considered heroes in Tunisia.

      The fishermen’s arrest is the latest in a chain of actions taken by the Italian Lega and Five Star government to further criminalise rescue in the Mediterranean Sea, and to dissuade people from all acts of solidarity and basic compliance with international norms. This has alarmingly resulted in the number of deaths in 2018 increasing exponentially despite a drop in arrivals to Italy’s southern shores. While Chamseddine’s lawyer hasn’t yet been able to visit him in prison, his brother and cousin managed to go see him on Saturday. As for telling them about what happened on August 29, Chamseddine simply says that he was assisting people in distress at sea: he’d do it again.

      https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/valentina-zagaria/when-rescue-at-sea-becomes-crime-who-tunisian-fishermen-arrested-in-i

    • Les pêcheurs de Zarzis, ces héros que l’Italie préfère voir en prison

      Leurs noms ont été proposés pour le prix Nobel de la paix mais ils risquent jusqu’à quinze ans de prison : six pêcheurs tunisiens se retrouvent dans le collimateur des autorités italiennes pour avoir aidé des migrants en Méditerranée.

      https://www.middleeasteye.net/fr/reportages/les-p-cheurs-de-zarzis-ces-h-ros-que-l-italie-pr-f-re-voir-en-prison-

    • Les pêcheurs tunisiens incarcérés depuis fin août en Sicile sont libres

      Arrêtés après avoir tracté une embarcation de quatorze migrants jusqu’au large de Lampedusa, un capitaine tunisien et son équipage sont soupçonnés d’être des passeurs. Alors qu’en Tunisie, ils sont salués comme des sauveurs.

      Les six pêcheurs ont pu reprendre la mer afin de regagner Zarzis, dans le sud tunisien. Les familles n’ont pas caché leur soulagement. Un accueil triomphal, par des dizaines de bateaux au large du port, va être organisé, afin de saluer le courage de ces sauveteurs de migrants à la dérive.

      Et peu importe si l’acte est dénoncé par l’Italie. Leurs amis et collègues ne changeront pas leurs habitudes de secourir toute embarcation en danger.

      A l’image de Rya, la cinquantaine, marin pêcheur à Zarzis qui a déjà sauvé des migrants en perdition et ne s’arrêtera pas : « Il y a des immigrés, tous les jours il y en a. De Libye, de partout. Nous on est des pêcheurs, on essaie de sauver les gens. C’est tout, c’est très simple. Nous on ne va pas s’arrêter, on va sauver d’autres personnes. Ils vont nous mettre en prison, on est là, pas de problème. »

      Au-delà du soulagement de voir rentrer les marins au pays, des voix s’élèvent pour crier leur incompréhension. Pour Halima Aissa, présidente de l’Association de recherche des disparus tunisiens à l’étranger, l’action de ce capitaine de pêche ne souffre d’aucune légitimité : « C’est un pêcheur tunisien, mais en tant qu’humaniste, si on trouve des gens qui vont couler en mer, notre droit c’est de les sauver. C’est inhumain de voir des gens mourir et de ne pas les sauver, ça c’est criminel. »

      Ces arrestations, certes suivies de libérations, illustrent pourtant la politique du nouveau gouvernement italien, à en croire Romdhane Ben Amor, du Forum tunisien des droits économiques et sociaux qui s’inquiète de cette nouvelle orientation politique : « Ça a commencé par les ONG qui font des opérations de sauvetage dans la Méditerranée et maintenant ça va vers les pêcheurs. C’est un message pour tous ceux qui vont participer aux opérations de sauvetage. Donc on aura plus de danger dans la mer, plus de tragédie dans la mer. » Pendant ce temps, l’enquête devrait se poursuivre encore plusieurs semaines en Italie.

      ■ Dénoncés par Frontex

      Détenus dans une prison d’Agrigente depuis le 29 août, les six pêcheurs tunisiens qui étaient soupçonnés d’aide à l’immigration illégale ont retrouvé leur liberté grâce à la décision du tribunal de réexamen de Palerme. L’équivalent italien du juge des libertés dans le système français.

      Le commandant du bateau de pêche, Chamseddine Bourassine, président de l’association des pêcheurs de Zarzis, ville du sud de la Tunisie, avait été arrêté avec les 5 membres d’équipage pour avoir secouru au large de l’île de Lampedusa une embarcation transportant 14 migrants.

      C’est un #avion_de_reconnaissance, opérant pour l’agence européenne #Frontex, qui avait repéré leur bateau tractant une barque et averti les autorités italiennes, précise notre correspondante à Rome, Anne Le Nir.

      http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20180923-pecheurs-tunisiens-incarceres-depuis-fin-aout-sicile-sont-libres

    • A Zarzis, les pêcheurs sauveurs de migrants menacés par l’Italie

      Après l’arrestation le 29 août de six pêcheurs tunisiens à Lampedusa, accusés d’être des passeurs alors qu’ils avaient secouru des migrants, les marins de la petite ville de Zarzis au sud de la Tunisie ont peur des conséquences du sauvetage en mer.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/121118/zarzis-les-pecheurs-sauveurs-de-migrants-menaces-par-l-italie