Syria says that French intelligence agencies orchestrated the deadly chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta to divert UN weapons inspectors from another incident carried out by militants in Aleppo.
On August 21, 2013, hundreds of people were killed in a Sarin gas attack in Ghouta, a massacre that UN inspectors call “the most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them” in Halabja in 1988.
Syrian opposition groups and their western allies claim the nerve gas attacks were launched by the Syrian government. Damascus rejects the allegation, saying the attack was carried out by militants operating inside the country to draw in foreign intervention. Subsequent investigations by the UN and Russia backed Syria’s assertions.
During a Monday UN Security Council meeting over the Syrian conflict, Damascus’s envoy to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari said, “The use of chemical weapons in the Damascus area was meant to prevent Dr. Åke Sellström [the head of the weapons inspectors] from going to Aleppo because [France] knew who had used chemical weapons in Aleppo.”
“They wanted to prevent Dr. Sellström from reaching Aleppo by any means and therefore they used chemical weapons in Damascus with the involvement of French intelligence,” he added.
French representative to the council, François Delattre, said that allegations were “absurd.”
Damascus surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons to the joint mission led by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons following the attack outside the Syrian capital two years ago.
On 28 October 2013, US company Kosmos, Scottish Cairn Energy and the
|This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the Journal of North African Studies on 22 April 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13629387.2016.1174586|
Moroccan Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) announced their joint plans to drill for oil in ‘one of the last undrilled petroleum systems along the Atlantic Margin’ (Maxted 2013 ). Simon Thomson, CEO of Cairn Energy commented that his company’s share in the farm-in Agreement would build on its existing ‘strategic presence’ in ‘Morocco’ (Thomson 2013). His key mistake was that the block to be explored – Cap Boujdour Offshore – is not in Morocco at all, but off the shores of Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa.
Rich in resources and small in population, Western Sahara, victim since 1975 of a brutal and illegal Moroccan occupation, has a history shaped to a large extent by its immense resources. Indeed, natural resources have always been at the centre of the Western Sahara conflict, and were a key demand of the anti-Spanish protestors in the early 1970s. Spain exploited Western Sahara’s rich phosphate reserves and Morocco continues to profit from the country’s natural wealth. The latter is illegal since Morocco is not recognised internationally as holding sovereignty over Western Sahara, and indeed an occupying power cannot legally exploit the natural resources of the occupied country without the consent of the indigenous people of that country. I argue in this paper that it is only recently that sovereignty over these resources has started to become a prominent demand of the Saharawi activists resisting the Moroccan occupation. As I chart below, the Occupied Territories have a long history of mostly non-violent resistance, but the focus of the latter was, since the Moroccan invasion, traditionally on human rights and independence. What, then, has prompted the recent turn towards natural resources in the demands of the protestors and what are the wider implications of this turn?
This article relies on 20 individual (recorded) interviews, several personal conversations and communications and two discussion groups (one with seven participants in Agadir on 22 April 2014, the other with six in Marrakesh on 23 April 2014) with Saharawis conducted in occupied El Aaiún, Western Sahara, in August 2014, Rabat, Marrakesh and Agadir, Morocco, in April to May 2014, Zaragoza, Spain, in November 2014, and the Saharawi refugee camps/state-in-exile in December 2015, as well as one telephone interview with a Solidarity Activist (a founding member and ex-Chair of the Europe-based solidarity group Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW)) and observation of a four-hour workshop on natural resources for 22 Saharawi activists led by the Saharawi group Saharawi Campaign against the Plunder (SCAP), in Boujdour camp, Algeria, December 2015. Since June 2015 I have been Chair of WSRW and have volunteered with the organisation since 2009. Thus, the article also draws, to some extent, on my personal experiences.
Interviewees were selected for the most part for their roles leading campaigns against natural resource exploitation. However, the discussion groups in Moroccan cities were with nationalist activists that did not necessarily have links to natural resource campaigns. Similarly, five interviews (with Nguia Haouasi, Soukaina Yaya, Hassana Aalia, Fatan Abaali and Hayat Rguibi) and one personal conversation (with Ali Salem Tamek) were conducted in order to gain the views and experiences of activists working within the wider Saharawi resistance in the Occupied Territories but not necessarily with a primary focus on resources, and one, with the Deputy Representative of the Saharawi state-in-exile to the UK, to ascertain the official perspective of the POLISARIO. The study forms part of a wider Ph.D. project on gender and resistance in Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea funded by the University of Leeds.
In the first section of the article, I chart the emergence of the Saharawi pro-independence movements in the face of Spanish colonial rule and how the issue of natural resources exploitation was framed within the nationalist struggle. Following this, I look briefly at the Saharawi non-violent resistance movement in the occupied part of Western Sahara post the Moroccan colonisation, and why its demands went ‘underground’ at first, then re-emerged to focus on human rights, socio-economic grievances and independence. Thirdly, I focus on the Gdeim Izik protest, when natural resource-related demands came explicitly back on the scene. I then explore in more depth why natural resource exploitation has only resurfaced as a demand amongst civilian activists in recent years, before finally analysing the implications of this turn.
The Spanish colonial period and the discovery of petroleum deposits
Today Western Sahara’s natural wealth is under Moroccan control, with King Mohammed VI and members of the makhzan (Morocco’s pro-monarchy elite class and state apparatus), in many cases, profiting personally from its extraction. Nevertheless, its economic exploitation can be traced back to Spanish colonial times. The colonisation of Western Sahara was carried out by a few Spanish imperialists and merchants, followed by a handful of small companies and indeed, at first, the Spanish colonial project was an exclusively commercial one (Munene 2008, 91). The objective was to create a series of small, fortified settlements along the Sahara’s coast. The first was built in what was to be the colonial capital, Villa Cisneros, modern-day Dakhla, in 1884–1885 (San Martín 2010, 26), and later buildings were erected in Tarfaya and Lagwirah in 1916 and 1920, respectively (Zunes and Mundy 2010, 100). The Spanish could benefit from Western Sahara’s rich fisheries and trade with Saharawi tribes and others travelling along the traditional caravan route from Senegal.1
Stamp from 1924
Private geological expeditions concluded in 1947 followed by government-commissioned surveys conducted between 1952 and 1962 found petroleum deposits in several locations both on land and offshore. However, due to low prices, low quality and lack of infrastructure, no companies invested (San Martín 2010, 51). The discovery of the largest phosphate reserves on earth (integral to producing agricultural fertilisers) was seen to be far more potentially lucrative and thus the colonial project expanded inland. Spain’s state mining company EMINSA (later FOSBUCRAA) built the Fos Bucraa mine in 1968, including a 60-mile-long conveyor belt (the longest of its kind in the world) to transport the riches to the Atlantic ocean for export. Forty-six years on, Morocco makes use of this mine to dominate the global phosphate market with an 85% share. In 2014 alone, Fos Bucraa yielded an estimated 2.1 million tonnes of phosphate with an estimated value of $230 million per annum (Western Sahara Resource Watch 2015).
Although by the 1960s, the UN was pressuring Spain to decolonise,2 the expansion of the colonial project brought more and more Spanish settlers to Western Sahara, which was by then recognised as a Spanish province. Much of the Saharawi population became sedentary. Many men worked at the phosphate mine and men and women in the fisheries industry, providing a cheap labour force for resource exploitation, and others had jobs with the colonial administration. However, this is not to say that the population was not segregated. Indeed it was, and, unsurprisingly, the wealth of the territory was unequally divided in favour of the Spanish. This dissatisfaction, combined with the collapse of traditional forms of social organisation based on kinship, allowed the emergence a new sense of collective identity. As a 1973 Spanish population survey found, the Saharawis no longer identified themselves along tribal lines. Instead, they joked that all Saharawis belonged to the low-caste Znaga (tributary) tribe and paid tribute to the Spanish (San Martín 2010, 55).
Meanwhile, revolutionary fervour was spreading throughout the African continent, and Western Sahara would not escape the trend. Mohammed Bassiri, a Saharawi intellectual and moderate nationalist well versed in pan-Arabism and the socialist, anti-colonial currents flowing through Africa at that time, fostered the spreading of such political discourses amongst the Saharawi population. As the sense of a collective Saharawi identity and Bassiri’s brand of nationalism diffused throughout Western Sahara, the origins of a pro-independence movement were sown. Nevertheless, following a 5000-strong Saharawi protest at Zemla Square, El Aaiún, 17 June 1970, several movement leaders were imprisoned or shot, and Bassiri was disappeared. This violent repression of a peaceful movement pushed the Saharawi nationalists towards armed struggle. Regarding these events, the Spanish leaders of Franco’s Women’s Section in the Sahara were told by Saharawi women, ‘[t]he historic moment was 17 June 1970. We can’t trust you anymore …’ (Mateo 1974, 8). Shortly after the massacre and inspired by Zemla and Bassiri’s group Harakat Tahrir, a group of young Saharawi university students who had been studying in Morocco formed the Frente Por la Liberación de Saguia el Hamra y Río de Oro (POLISARIO), led by the charismatic El Wali Mustafa Said (commonly known as ‘El Wali’).
Thus, the armed struggle began. At first, El Wali and his comrades travelled under cover around the territory to recruit supporters whilst activists such as Fatima Ghalia Leili began to train women in direct action methods (Interview with Soukaina Yaya, Activist born in the Spanish period, El Aaiún, 22 August 2014). POLISARIO and its women’s wing the National Union of Saharawi Women (UNMS) carried on the ideological work that Bassiri had begun. POLISARIO nationalist ideology drew on revolutionary, socialist discourses that emphasised the centrality of the role of the popular masses for revolutionary change and the principle that collective interests should always precede those of the individual. POLISARIO envisaged an egalitarian, communal society, in which slavery was abolished and the emancipation of women was an aim (Allan 2010, 190). Saharawi nationalist discourses launched a reading of the social that, following what Laclau and Mouffe have named ‘logic of equivalence’, attempted to divide the field of discursivity into two opposing ideological blocks able to deny each other while ‘decontesting’ and making equivalent a whole series of more particular discourses, conflicts and grievances (1987). The discrimination against Saharawi employees in the Fosbucraa mine, the lack of access to educational and job opportunities for Saharawi women, the barriers to political participation for the younger generations of Saharawis, the racial discrimination suffered by black slaves and harratin (former slaves) were all made equivalent and acquired their meaning as different expressions of a single oppression: that of the colonialist foe – first Spain then Morocco and Mauritania later (Allan 2010, 190).
Sahrawi fighter, by Christine Spengler, 1976
Under Spain, freedom from the colonial foe was expressed through POLISARIO discourse as independence for the Saharawi people and sovereignty over their natural resources. Spanish archives from the period indicate how, by 1974, such discourses were becoming hegemonic amongst the Saharawi population. A Spanish report on Saharawi women’ s political views, for example, found that women were almost without exception pro-independence and pro-self-determination, opposed to integration with any other country and supportive of the POLISARIO. Saharawi women were conscious of being ‘rich people but the Spanish [were] taking what was theirs’ (Mateo 1974 , 20) and the phrase ‘we are rich and we have phosphates’ (Mateo 1974, 3) was reportedly ‘repeatedly’ heard by the Spanish researchers. Two events help to further illustrate how sovereignty over natural resources was welded, in the emerging nationalist discourses, with the dream of independence.
In October 1974, a 15-year-old Saharawi schoolgirl gathered together all her female classmates to plan a break-time protest against the Spanish presence in the territory. The girls complained that the Spanish had done nothing in the territory apart from ‘discovering phosphates’ and ‘ taking them away’ (Mateo 1974 , 9). On the 19th night of the same month, POLISARIO guerrillas sabotaged two stations of the Fosbucraa conveyor belt, costing Spain ‘very serious’ economic losses (Mateo 1974). Through the nationalist ideologies they sowed and made hegemonic, the POLISARIO made the natural wealth of the Western Sahara a key demand for Saharawi resistance against the Spanish. We shall see later how this demand was to resurface amongst civilian-led non-violent resistance during the Moroccan occupation.
Towards the end of 1974, under increasing pressure from the UN externally and from the Saharawi movement internally, Spain announced its decision to hold a self-determination referendum for the Saharawi people and conducted a census for that purpose. Nevertheless, Morocco and Mauritania had other ideas, claiming Western Sahara as their own. The two countries took their claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1975 with the support of all Arab states, requesting an Advisory Opinion that would help consolidate their planned takeover legally. However, the ICJ did not issue the opinion that Morocco hoped for. Historical evidence did not ‘establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco and the Mauritanian entity’ but did show that, in pre-colonial times, the Moroccan Sultan had no control over Western Sahara and nor did the sultanate claim that the territory was under its control (International Court of Justice 1975 ). Thus, the ICJ urged the application of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) for ‘the decolonization of Western Sahara and, in particular, of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory’ (International Court of Justice 1975).
The day after the ICJ ruling King Hassan II announced on Moroccan television that the Court had ruled in his favour and that he would therefore lead a ‘peaceful’ Green March of over 300,000 Moroccan civilians into Western Sahara. Spain, unwilling to face an unpopular and expensive war with Morocco and Mauritania, and cowed by pressure from the US, conceded through a tripartite agreement signed on 14 November 1975 to divide Western Sahara between its two African neighbours. In exchange for selling out its colony, Spain would have the right to a 35% share of any future mineral exploitation as well as certain rights over fisheries (Zunes and Mundy 2010 , Chapter 1).
In November 1975, 350,000 Moroccan civilians marched on foot towards the cities of Western Sahara. Meanwhile, the Moroccan army entered with tanks and aeroplanes. They bombed groups of fleeing Saharawis (roughly half the population remained in the region of Western Sahara that was to become occupied) with napalm and white phosphorus (San Martín 2010 , 2). These civilians were heading on foot to Algeria, which had offered asylum in its Hamada: the driest and most inhospitable part of its desert, where the Saharawi refugees remain to this day. It was here that the POLISARIO set up its state-in-exile, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) originally proclaimed in Bir Lehlou, in the liberated part of Western Sahara, on 27 February 1976.
The Mauritanian forces were little match for the guerrilla tactics of the POLISARIO.
Mauritania retreated in 1979, signing a peace deal with the Saharawis, by which time Morocco had been all but entirely driven out of the territory (Mauritania has since recognised the SADR). However, unfortunately for the POLISARIO, over the next decade the tide was turned by Morocco’ s long term allies Saudi Arabia, France and the US, who offered financial and military backing and sponsorship for the world’ s largest active military wall (Zunes and Mundy 2010 , Chapter 1). Approximately 2700 km in length, the ‘ Wall of Shame’, as it is known by Saharawis, splits the POLISARIO-controlled and Moroccan-occupied territories into two and is heavily fortified by minefields (San Martín and Allan 2007 ). This put Morocco in a strong position for negotiating once the UN moved back on the scene in an attempt to establish a ceasefire in 1991. The latter was predicated on the promise of a self-determination referendum for the Saharawis. Yet the vote has been repeatedly blocked by Morocco, leaving the UN-sponsored solution to the conflict in a quagmire. The POLISARIO, left without a realistic military option in the face of Moroccan military superiority and its powerful western allies (this, nevertheless, has not prevented growing calls for a return to war), has since continued on the seemingly stagnant political path. Meanwhile, in the Occupied Territories, a non-violent movement of Saharawi civilians has emerged, whose resistance will be the focus of the next section of this article.
Non-violent resistance in occupied Western Sahara: human rights, socio-economic grievances and independence
During the early 1980s, acts of resistance were largely clandestine. The open calls for independence and sovereignty over natural resources that overwhelmed the Spanish during their last 18 months in the territory were simply not thinkable amidst the terror of the Moroccan occupation. Nevertheless, what James C. Scott might call a ‘ hidden transcript’, conspicuous acts of defiance against the occupation played out behind closed doors, thrived. POLISARIO radio announcements were listened to beneath blankets to muffle the sound (Interview with Sultana Khaya, Activist and President of the Saharawi League for Natural Resources and Human Rights (Saharawi League) 26 November 2014), pro-POLISARIO leaflets were distributed in secret and wanted activists were hidden in safe houses. The most daring Saharawis organised what they called ‘operations’, which involved writing Saharawi slogans and painting the SADR flag on the walls of Moroccan administrative buildings and swapping Moroccan flags for SADR ones (personal communications with ex-disappeared Malainin Lakhal, October 2013).
James C. Scott’ s argues that public, declared resistance (petitions, strikes, demonstrations and so on) are mainly the preserve of western liberal democracies, whilst communities that are unable to publically protest safely use what Scott calls infrapolitics (hidden transcripts, everyday acts of resistance and dissident subcultures, as was the case of the Saharawis in the early1980s) (1990). Declared and open rebellion will only break out amongst such an oppressed community, argues Scott, when ‘the pressure [of indignation] rises or when there are weaknesses in the “retaining wall” holding it back’ (1990, 197). Yet this explanation does not fully account for the case of Western Sahara. In 1987, when Moroccan repression was at its height and disappearances of Saharawis were menacingly common, Saharawi activists organised a major human rights protest in El Aaiún, when the UN was visiting to begin preparing the referendum on the fate of territory. Such declared resistance despite the inevitable violent repression that protesters must have expected to face illustrates that the strategic need to perform resistance to an external audience (and thereby further disseminate a counter-hegemonic discourse that challenged Moroccan hegemony) is also important in explaining why resistance becomes open and public. Whilst, between the Moroccan invasion and 1987, Saharawi civilians in the Occupied Territories relied on the covert, hidden resistance tactics that Scott would call the weapons of the weak, the UN visit presented a political opportunity that activists tried to capitalise on, launching, for the first time under Moroccan colonisation, an open and mass protest.
Dozens of organisers and participants in this 1987 protest were forcibly disappeared, including Aminatou Haidar, one of the unofficial leaders of the resistance, who was imprisoned and tortured for four years. She and 299 other formerly disappeared Saharawis, including whole families in a few cases – some of whom were detained post the 1987 protest and others during the 1970s and earlier in the 80s, but all of whom had been kept incommunicado and without trial – were released in 1991 coinciding with the ceasefire (US Department of State 2003). The release of these political prisoners helped to inspire greater resistance amongst a younger generation of Saharawis (Barca and Zunes 2009, 159). The new presence of the UN in the territory also gave many activists renewed confidence to ‘go public’ in their acts of resistance, since they felt they now had international eyes on them, in itself a form of protection (personal communication with Malainin Lakhal, 13 May 2014).
Saharawi activists have since been proved wrong. MINURSO, the UN mission to the territory is highly unusual in that it is a peacekeeping mission with no mandate to monitor human rights. Every April, the UN Security Council votes on the inclusion of human rights monitoring in the MINURSO’ s mandate, and every year France, Morocco’s most loyal ally, uses the threat of veto to block this. As such, even when Saharawis are publically beaten in the square in front of the UN building (which, incidentally sports a Moroccan but not a Saharawi flag outside), UN staff look the other way. Some Saharawi protestors even report attempting to seek refuge in the UN building only to be handed over to Moroccan police by MINURSO staff (conversations with political activist Hamza Lakhal, El Aaiún, August 2014).
The intifadas of the early 1990s (much smaller in terms of participation and shorter in time than the better researched and documented intifadas of 1999 and 2005 but known as intifadas by Saharawis nonetheless), such as the Intifada of Three Cities in Smara, Assa and El Aaiún in 1991, called for freedom for political prisons, protested against the holding of Moroccan elections in Western Sahara and even demanded independence.3 Especially for this latter demand, the uprisings were harshly oppressed, resulting in several forced disappearances and decades-long prison sentences for participants. For this reason, when the 1999 intifada burst onto thescene inspired by the releaseof several Saharawi political prisoners viewed as heroes and the perceived political opportunities following the death of Hassan II (Shelley 2004, 115), demands were to focus on human, students’ and workers’ rights, leaving the more dangerous demand of independence for the later 2005 intifada (M. Lakhal, pers. comm., 13 May 2014) The latter saw explicitly nationalist protests across Western Sahara and the Saharawi-dominated areas of southern Morocco, and incorporated all sectors of the population, from school children to old women and men (Stephan and Mundy 2006).
A dark cloud over the Saharawi struggle: commercial quantities of oil?
As illustrated throughout this article, Western Sahara’s natural resources have been exploited by its colonisers since the end of the nineteenth century. The expense of maintaining its occupation of Western Sahara has been made worthwhile by Morocco’s ability to sell the fish, agricultural produce, phosphates, salt, sand, wind and solar energy of its colony. For example, all offshore fishing is by Moroccan-owned trawlers, and of the traditional inshore fishing, very few licenses are granted to Saharawis (All-Party Parliamentary Group onWestern Sahara 2014). In Dakhla, where fishing is the major industry, only 5% of workers are Saharawi. The phosphate industry currently employs around 3000 workers, amongst which only 21% are Saharawi (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Western Sahara 2014). The latter tend to be employed in the lowest paid jobs such as cleaning (Personal interview with Sidi Breika, POLISARIO Deputy Representative to the UK, London, 31 March 2014) and indeed fewer than 4% of technicians are Saharawi. All tomato farms are owned by the Moroccan Royal Family, powerful Moroccan conglomerates or by French multinational firms. None are owned by Saharawis, or indeed by small-scale Moroccan settlers (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Western Sahara 2014). Looking East, the 165,000 Saharawi refugees living on humanitarian aid in the camps in Algeria receive no compensation from the exploitation of their natural resources (UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) 2015).
The potential exploitation of the petroleum deposits first discovered by the Spanish in the 1940s and 1950s is now looming over the desert territory. It is the economic profit on Morocco’s part that darkens the horizon for Saharawi aspirations of independence. The beginning of oil exploration contracts could be about to dramatically swell that profit. Morocco’s illegal oil and gas programmes currently consist of six blocks in the waters of Western Sahara, each issued to companies by ONHYM (Western Sahara Resource Watch 2013, 4). Two British companies, Teredo Oil Limited and Cairn Energy, hold shares in the Boujdour Offshore Shallow Block and the Cap Boujdour Offshore Block, respectively (Western Sahara Resource Watch 2013 , 4), whilst Irish/British San Leon began drilling onshore, near El Aaiún city, in March 2015. Cairn Energy, with its partner Kosmos, moved their rig to begin drilling the one billion barrel potential Gargaa Prospect in their block in December 2014. Nevertheless, the signing of the oil and gas agreements coincides with a new phase in Saharawi resistance. The demand that was so prominent under the Spanish, sovereignty over natural resources, is emerging once again, as is discussed in the next section.
The Gdeim Izik Intifada: ‘The Saharawi people suffer whilst its wealth is looted’4
The Gdeim Izik protest of 2010 has been described by Noam Chomsky as the beginning of the Arab Spring. ‘[T]he greatest demonstration carried out by Saharawis’ (Breika, pers. int., 31 March 2014) saw 15,000– 20,000 create a tent city in the desert of the outskirts of El Aaiún. As Wilson highlights (2013 , 91), if we take as a guide the latest available UN estimates for the total Saharawi adult population in the Occupied Territories in 2000, which was 41,150, the huge scale of the protest in proportional terms is better appreciated (although the UN figure is a conservative estimate). Also as Wilson points out, the Gdeim Izik protest took place in the temporal, geographical and conceptual margins of the Arab Spring (2013, 82). Its highly organised nature (the camp acted as a fully functioning society, complete with regular rubbish collections, medical surgeries, committees for negotiation with the Moroccan authorities and the distribution of food, water and other essentials) illustrates that the Saharawis are ‘able to survive and organise themselves without any need for the Moroccan colonial administration’ (Lakhal 2014, pers. comm.) As Mundy argues, its desert camp format was also meant to show solidarity with the Saharawi refugees of Algeria (2011).
Says one of the administrators of the camp, ‘the main objective was, amongst other things, to stop the massive exploitation of Western Sahara’s resources’ (Activist interviewed in Sahara Thawra 2012 ). Hassana Aalia, who has been sentenced, in absentia, to life imprisonment for allegedly organizing the camp,5 sees natural resource exploitation as a principal reason for the emergence of the latter: ‘the multinationals and the European Union are still robbing our natural resources, whilst the Saharawi population is poorer and poorer, and suffering increasing unemployment’ (Personal interview with Aalia, Zaragoza, 26 November 2014). Aalia’s colleague Nguia Elhaouasi, currently serving a suspended sentence for her alleged role in the camp, agrees:
The Gdeim Izik camp came about following so much pressure against the Saharawi population. We have no right to work. There are many graduates, some even have a doctorate, but none of them can get a job. And we don’t benefit from our natural resources: the fisheries, the phosphates…So under so much pressure, and without a right to our resources, the camp exploded. (Personal interview with Nguia Elhaouasi, Zaragoza, 26 November 2014)
Indeed, common slogans chanted at the encampment included, as quoted above, ‘the Saharawi people suffer whilst its wealth is looted’ , and ‘our resources, we don’t see them, they don’t see us’ (Breika, pers. int., 31 March 2014). Said another activist who lived at the camp, ‘Gdeim Izik was concerned with social and political issues, and the natural resources of the Sahara, because Saharawi people are not for profit’ (Personal interview with Fatan Abaali, Agadir, 22 April 2014).6 Indeed, when Saharawis comment on the activities of oil companies and others in their territory, they most often link their complaints to the socio-economic situation of their people. Explains one activist, we focus on natural resources more than anything because there are a lot of jobless Saharawis. They see their fish, their sand, going to other countries and they get nothing from it. Their territory is not poor. It is rich. But Saharawis cannot even afford a few coins for coffee or cigarettes. (Personal interview with Ahmed Baba, Rabat, 28 April 2014)
When they heard, on 8 November 2010, that Moroccan security forces had surrounded Gdeim Izik and were proceeding to raze it to the ground, Saharawi activists in El Aaiún set fire to the premises of the Moroccan Ministry of Mines and Energy, which houses ONHYM (Western Sahara Resource Watch 2013, 9). Subsequently, and to this day, Saharawi activists living across occupied Western Sahara, and Saharawi students living in Morocco proper, organise regular demonstrations against the oil companies that have signed agreements with OHNYM.
It is worth pointing out that much of these protests are dominated by women. Practising politics, in the wide sense of the word, is constructed as a feminine as much as a masculine role in Saharawi culture, whilst Saharawi women’s constructed role as mothers and homemakers allows them some flexibility with regard to the time and space to take part in demonstrations. On the other hand, men, due to their constructed masculine role as breadwinners, sometimes opt to avoid public forms of protest for fear of losing their jobs.
Returning to forms of protest against natural resource exploitation, hunger strikes against the oil industry have also been reported (Western Sahara Resource Watch 2013, 9), and YouTube video testimonies in which Saharawi women and men denounce individual oil companies in Arabic, English and Spanish are common.7
Saharawi activists have, in recent years, begun to set up organisations focused primarily on fighting the exploitation of natural resources such as oil by foreign players. The first of these was the Committee for the Protection of Natural Resources in Western Sahara (CSPRON) founded in 2006 in El Aaiún (Personal Communication with Lahcen Dalil, Vice President of CSPRON, 18 December 2014), followed by the Saharawi League for Human Rights and Natural Resources (Saharawi League) in 2011, Boujdour (S. Khaya, pers. int., 26 November 2014) and the Association for the Monitoring of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Western Sahara, El Aaiún, 2015 (personal communication with the founders, 25 April 2015). Other Saharawi organisations such as the Saharawi Centre for Media and Communications, the Collective of Saharawi Defenders of Human Rights (CODESA) and Equipe Media that have, in the past, had a wider and more general focus have recently begun to attune their attention on natural resources as the exploitation of the same heightens (Personal interview with Mohammed Brahim (pseudonym), El Aaiún, August 25, 2014; Personal interview with Mohammed Mayara, El Aaiún, August 27, 2014; Personal conversation with Ali Salem Tamek, Auserd camp, December 12, 2015). Significantly, the leaders of both CSPRON and Saharawi League have suffered serious harassment from the Moroccan authorities. Sidahmed Lemjayed, President of CSPRON, was sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the Gdeim Izik camp in a Moroccan show trial in 2013 (Human Rights Watch 2013 ). Sultana Khaya, Founder and President of Saharawi League, is, at the time of writing, visiting a specialist hospital in Spain following serious stomach injuries sustained during torture. She has previously lost an eye during police torture (S. Khaya, pers. int., 26 November 2014). Other members of Saharawi League were injured by police in March 2014 during their peaceful protest against the Kosmos-Cairn oil exploration partnership (Western Sahara Resource Watch 2014).
Outside of the Occupied Territories, Saharawi Natural Resource Watch (OSRN), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) set up in the state-in-exile in April 2013, and another NGO known as SCAP also initiated in the camps in March 2015, are able to work without the barrier of police repression. Since OSRN and SCAP have begun operating, there has been a large increase in protests, in the camps, against specific multinationals and governments involved in natural resource exploitation. Most notable was the October 2015 protest against British/Irish energy company San Leon in Auserd camp, attended by some 8000 Saharawis.8 Similarly, the POLISARIO has launched a diplomatic war against would-be oil exploiters. As well as speaking out in the media against the activities and engaging both the companies themselves and the UN Security Council (Western Sahara Resource Watch 2013 , 9), the government of the Saharawi state-in-exile has begun its own programme of issuing Assurance Agreements for oil companies to explore offshore blocks, which can be taken up when POLISARIO gains access to the territories currently occupied by Morocco9 as well as onshore blocks in the liberated territories of Western Sahara, already controlled by POLISARIO.10 Indeed, POLISARIO is well aware that oil revenue could be an important source of income for a future Saharawi state and has, in May 2014, adopted a Mining Code. Furthermore, as Stephan and Mundy (2006, 31) have pointed out, by offering the same blocks that Morocco has promised to other companies, the POLISARIO hopes to encourage an international legal battle.
Current agreements between oil multinationals and the Moroccan state-owned oil company the National Office for Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) stand to offer minimum economic benefits for Saharawis. Rather, energy companies risk adding political legitimacy and significant funding to Morocco’s occupation whilst simultaneously creating further barriers to the UN’s peace process, showing complicity in the human rights abuses against the Saharawi people and, should oil be found, depleting the natural resources of the Saharawis, meaning that the latter would not benefit upon achieving independence. The Saharawis are increasingly aware of these implications. Social movement scholars argue that the political power of resistance movements is related to the latter’s ability to take advantage of political opportunities and respond to political threats (Tilly and Tarrow 2007). Saharawis have identified the growing exploitation of natural resources as a political (and ever growing) threat to their struggle for independence, and, thus, sovereignty over natural resources has become a strategic target of their resistance. Through their protesting and campaigning, Saharawis have illustrated that any oil exploration and extraction activities will be undertaken without their consent, against their express wishes. Again, in the Occupied Territories, where, as we have seen, activists are serving life sentences and have faced torture for their open resistance to resource exploitation, Saharawis nevertheless bear the risks of declared, public resistance, since they are aware of the need for their resistance to be observed by foreign companies.
Why are natural resources coming to the fore only now?
As I have illustrated above, natural resources have been at the heart of Western Sahara’ s sufferings under both Spanish and Moroccan colonialism. Nevertheless, it is only relatively recently that natural resources have started to re-surface and once again feature as a key demand in the protests of Saharawi activists as they had in the Spanish period. As we have seen, the Saharawi resistance movement in the Moroccan-occupied Territories has evolved over time, focusing first on human rights and socio-economic complaints (although the nationalist question was always raised in clandestine actions) and, as fear eroded in the second intifada, latterly on independence. Now, the demands of activists are widening even further, and natural resources are coming to the fore. In the words of Malainin Lakhal,
The peaceful resistance has always progressed little by little in accordance with the possibilities offered, and with careful progress building on the past experience. Before, it was very dangerous to show one’s political views, so the activists used social, economic and cultural claims to create an atmosphere of resistance in the society. Now, I think that we are in a phase in which the struggle is on at all levels, and intentionally (M. Lakhal, pers. comm., 13 May 2014).
It has been argued by social movement scholars that international actors can serve as useful allies for resistance activists (McAdam 1998, 257; Ghalea 2013, 259). In the Saharawi case, a greater interest amongst international solidarity groups in natural resources has also sparked parallel raised awareness amongst Saharawi activists (M.Mayara, pers. int., 27 August 2014). As one Saharawi woman explained, ‘we just didn’t know about the plunder until very recently, so we have only just started to focus on it’ (Zahra Taleb (pseudonym), personal conversations, Boujdour camp, 9 December 2015).
When it comes to investigating the natural resource exploitation activities of foreign companies, activists based in the global North are often in a privileged position vis-à-vis Saharawis living in the Occupied Territories for several reasons. First, when companies and foreign governments publish information about their planned activities in Western Sahara they tend to do so in English, a language spoken by few Saharawi residents of the Occupied Territories. Second, reliable access to the internet is also enjoyed by Northern solidarity groups to a much greater extent than for the Saharawis. Third, lobbying against a national company or government is facilitated if one is a resident and/or citizen of the nation in question: the company and its shareholders can be visited, and one’s representative in parliament can be harnessed. Finally, international groups do not face the violent repression of the Moroccan authorities, and are more likely to have the material resources necessary for lobbying. For all these reasons, the international solidarity movement was able to play a key role in the first fight against oil company activity in Western Sahara.
In 2003, the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara launched a campaign against the involvement of Norwegian company TGS-Topec in conducting seismic surveys in the Occupied Territories. Simultaneously, a solidarity organisation in Holland began to pressure Dutch Fugro Group to halt its own surveying activities in the region. Thanks to the campaign, TGS-Topec suffered massive divestment and deserted its activities in Western Sahara. Threatened with the same, Fugro too pulled out. The Dutch and Norwegian groups then joined forces with Saharawi solidarity groups in 12 other countries, which together launched a fight against American Kerr-McGee. The US company pulled out of Western Sahara, but not before responsible investors (including the world’ s largest public investment fund the Norwegian Petroleum fund) divested some $80 million over the affair (Western Sahara Resource Watch 2013, 3).
As well as lobbying against companies and governments involved in the plunder of Western Sahara, international solidarity groups such as WSRW have held workshops with Saharawi activists from the Occupied Territories and camps focusing on advocacy and campaigning. It is also significant that Saharawis and international groups such as WSRW enjoy a symbiotic relationship. WSRW, whose International Coordinator is based in Belgium, supported by volunteer coordinators and members across Europe but also in the Americas, Australasia and Africa, can keep Saharawis in the Occupied Territories and camps up-to-date about the activities of companies and governments of the home countries of its members whilst WSRW needs the Saharawis’ videos, information and photographs, and the latter’ s expertise in non-violent direct action, to support its lobbying. Indeed, international activists are often monitored, detained and expelled when they attempt to visit the Occupied Territories, heightening the extent to which they rely on partnerships with local Saharawi civil society groups and activists.
Educational (in)opportunity is another important factor in explaining why natural resources have become foregrounded in the demands of Saharawi activists relatively recently. Saharawi students lament the lack of opportunity to study English (a language, as mentioned, important for following the activities of foreign companies via the internet) since the Moroccan education system focuses on French. Discrimination against Saharawi students is common, and, since there are no universities in Western Sahara, access to higher education is not open to the less well off. Nevertheless, those Saharawis that do manage to club together the funds to travel and live in Morocco proper often do so with the national struggle in mind. Cheikh Khaya, Activist with Saharawi League, states, ‘ I chose Law and English in order to help my people. Most students study law because it will help the cause’ (Khaya cited in Allan 2015 ). Similarly, Ahmed Baba, a Ph.D. student in International Law at the University of Marrakesh, explains,
The majority of Saharawi higher education students choose to focus on law. But there is no background of scholarship in international law amongst our people. We are the first generation to do this. The previous generations were too busy defending their land. The generation of the seventies and eighties was either involved in the war or exiled to the camps. The nineties, after the war stopped, was a time of assassinations and arrests, especially of those studying. That’s why we have a gap in the education of those in the Occupied Territories. (Baba cited in Allan 2015)
When activists such as Khaya and Baba return home, the university students engage with their compatriots, showing how key parts of international law could be used to support the arguments made in lobbying and advocacy work. Students that have studied foreign languages help activists to create banners and slogans against foreign corporations in the latter’s own tongue (Discussion groups… 2014).
The issue of hope is one more reason Saharawi activists have turned their attention back to natural resources in recent years. At the time of writing, it has been 24 years since the ceasefire. UN-brokered talks between POLISARIO and Morocco have offered no fruit. One Saharawi woman’s reason for attending a workshop focused on the natural resources dimension of the Western Sahara conflict in the refugee camps is illuminating in this regard: ‘I can see that the diplomatic path is going nowhere, and so some young people want to go back to war. I don’t want war, and I see natural resources as another possible path towards our independence’ (Taleb (pseud.), pers. conv., 2 December 2015). A development in the diplomatic route, recent at the time of writing, arguably underlines the logic and urgency of this woman’ s simultaneous rejection of war and exasperation at the UN process. In March 2016, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon visited the Saharawi camps, and in a press conference there described the Moroccan presence in Western Sahara as an ‘occupation’. This outraged Morocco, which, in protest, ordered the expulsion of 84 MINURSO civilian staff members and the closure of a military liaison office. The UN complied, raising questions as to whether or not MINURSO is now logistically capable of organising a referendum and resulting in new threats by the POLISARIO of a return to war. After all, it only agreed to the 1991 ceasefire due to the UN-promised referendum on self-determination with the option of independence.
Finally, the role of the internet is also an important one to raise when discussing the recent re-emergence of natural resources amongst Saharawi civilian non-violent activists. It was only in 2001 and 2002 that Saharawis began to have access to mobile phones and the internet in the Occupied Territories (Breika, pers. int., 31 March 2014), access in the camps is intermittent, and activists still face issues such as surveillance, blocking and hacking by Moroccan authorities (Brahim (pseud.), pers. int., August 25, 2014; Discussion groups… 2014). On the other hand, despite these barriers, from the time of Gdeim Izik onwards the sharing of information regarding natural resource exploitation by Saharawis via social media has become far more visible (Telephone interview with Erik Hagen, former Chair and founding member of WSRW, 28 February 2014). Mohammed Saleh, one of the founders of SCAP, based in the Saharawi state-in-exile, puts it well when he refers to how social media can help Saharawis overcome the Moroccan-imposed media blockade (foreign journalists have a hard time entering occupied Western Sahara): ‘Social media is an open space. Its success as a strategy depends on the Saharawis themselves. You can no longer say that we don’t have media coverage’ (pers. conv. with Mohammed Saleh, 9 December 2015).
On the one hand, social media facilitates awareness-raising amongst Saharawis themselves regarding which companies are exploiting Western Sahara’s resources and the implications of this exploitation. On the other hand, it is also a platform, as Saleh indicates, for sharing Saharawis’ indignation at the exploitation internationally. Films and photographs of Saharawis demonstrating against resource exploitation are shared publicly with the concerned companies on Twitter and open letters penned in English by Saharawis to said companies are shared on blogs and webpages. Most recently, Saharawi Activist Senia Bachir Abderahman has highlighted the issue of natural resource exploitation in a Western Sahara edition of Al Jazeera’ s social media-focused programme The Stream.11
What are the implications of the resource-turn in Saharawi resistance?
In the light of French oil giant Total’s plans to begin searching for oil off Western Sahara’ s coast in 2001, the UN issued a legal opinion on the matter. Hans Corell, who was then the UN’ s Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs, concluded that
if further exploration and exploitation activities were to proceed in disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara, they would be in violation of the international law principles applicable to mineral resource activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories (Corell 2002). The international law principles to which he refers include Article 73 of the United Nations Charter and several General Assembly resolutions relating to the questions of the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (Corell 2010, 276– 277). These resolutions are designed ‘to protect the “inalienable rights” of the peoples of [non-self-governing] territories to their natural resources, and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources’ and recognise ‘the need to protect the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories from exploitation and plundering by foreign economic interests’ (Corell 2010 , 277).
In early 2015, Corell declared that Kosmos’ activities were in no way in line with his legal opinion (Corell 2015 ). Later that year, in October 2015, the African Union (AU) published its own legal opinion, stating in no uncertain terms that any company, state or group of states exploring or exploiting natural resources do so in violation of international law, and calling for an Africa-wide boycott of such companies, states and groups of states (The Office of the Legal Counsel and Directorate for Legal Affairs of the African Union Commission 2015).
At the time of writing, none of the energy companies that have made agreements with ONHYM to access the six blocks offshore Western Sahara have published any evidence of how they have obtained the consent of the Saharawi people to carry out exploration activities. Yet Saharawis continue to take to the streets to passionately protest against such activities. In other words, since oil companies have decided not to consult them,12 Saharawis have taken the initiative and illustrated, in no uncertain terms, that foreign corporations purchasing licenses for oil exploration from the Moroccan government do so against their wishes.
Saharawis are also combining their demonstrations and lobbying with legal action. POLISARIO won a case against the European Union (EU) in December 2015 in which the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) annulled an EU-Morocco Trade Agreement insofar as it applies to the territory of Western Sahara (the EU has appealed). A week later, oil company Total gave up its block in Western Sahara. The case is a pioneering legal success for the wider Saharawi struggle, and established that the POLISARIO has legal standing in the CJEU (the EU attempted to argue that it should not). The case will be followed by two further cases in the same court, one involving POLISARIO against the EU regarding a fisheries agreement that allows European vessels to fish in Western Sahara’s waters) (Allan 2013, Sahara Press Service 2014), and another from Western Sahara Campaign (WSC), a group of British solidarity activists, against the British government regarding the misleading labelling of products from Western Sahara as Moroccan. It would be unsurprising if members of the oil industry are targeted next. Until now, foreign companies and the likes of the EU have managed to side-step international law on exploiting the resources of an occupied country. The recent Court decision, should the appeal fail, implies this could be about to change.
The second implication of the pending oil exploration activities is potentially more deadly. At the start of a documentary on Gdeim Izik by the Spanish solidarity group Sahara Thawra, a Saharawi activist can be seen spraying graffiti ‘the loss of all hope will make us free’ on to a wall (Sahara Thawra 2012). Almost 40 years after the Moroccan invasion, Saharawis have long lost hope in Spain, in the UN and in the global powers, and gradually their hope in international civil society and international law is fading too. For some, war is the only option for freedom now that the hope of all other avenues has faded. A return to armed war is gaining popularity amongst the youth of the refugee camps. ‘The pressure to return to war is becoming almost unbearable’ said Mohammed Abdelaziz, President of the SADR, in an interview (McTighe 2013).
In the Occupied Territories too, the pressure is mounting. The violent clashes between Saharawis and Moroccan authorities following the dismantling of Gdeim Izik camp, which resulted in several deaths, are indicative of this change in mentality, especially since the Saharawi resistance movement up to this point had been non-violent. The young, jobless Saharawis, without realistic aspirations and under the weight of constant repression often describe themselves as ‘ buried alive’, or, as Hamza Lakhal tells it, ‘lots of people have big dreams here. But they can’t achieve them because they are Saharawi’ (Personal conversations with Hamza Lakhal, El Aaiún, August 2014). More and more are in favour of war. Says Khawla Khaya, soon to complete her studies in Rabat and with no prospects of a job back home, ‘I’ll be the first in line to sign up to fight’ (Khaya quoted in Allan 2015).
Under Spanish rule, the emerging discourses of the POLISARIO gave rise to a Saharawi national identity, and within these discourses, natural resources, above all phosphates, become a symbol of colonised nationhood, a claim to be staked by the new and fast-growing Saharawi independence movement. Nevertheless, the Moroccan invasion in 1975 and subsequent repressive occupation of the resource-rich portion of Western Sahara pushed the resistance of the remaining Saharawi civilians underground. The activists relied on what Scott has called ‘ the weapons of the weak’, that is, covert and everyday acts of resistance, for over a decade. It was not until an important external actor, the UN, visited the territory in 1987 that activists took the strategic decision to storm the public stage with an open and mass protest. Although this demonstration was harshly repressed, over the following decades open resistance continued, and with each intifada, new claims were pursued in line with the political opportunities that activists perceived. Thus in 1999, whilst pro-independence slogans were still seen as too risky and were largely tucked away until 2005, human rights and socio-economic demands were raised. By 2010, 35 years after the POLISARIO had first made sovereignty over phosphates a key demand for the pro-independence movement, international allies had begun to work with Saharawis on the issue of natural resource exploitation with some significant successes encouraging the divestment of Big Oil. Natural resources became the key claim of the Gdeim Izik, the largest protest ever seen in Western Sahara. This outright contradicts the empty claims of oil companies that they have sought the consent of the Saharawi population to go ahead with their exploration and exploitation. The ramifications of this are not just legal (international law prohibits the exploitation of the resources of a territory under occupation unless its people consent) but deadly: whilst natural resource exploitation widens and deepens, calls amongst the Saharawi population to return to war grow. If the likes of Cairn, Kosmos and San Leon strike commercial quantities of oil in the coming months, it will have catastrophic consequences for the Saharawi independence activists. Time will tell if this will push the angry youth over the edge.
1. The first fortified settlement at Villa Cisneros intended to sell clothes, food, arms, mirrors, steel bars, donkeys and horses to the local nomads, whilst buying from them camels, gazelle furs, gold, Arabic gum and ostrich feathers, but trade never took off due to repeated Saharawi raids against the Spanish.
2. The first UN General Assembly Resolution on the matter was number 2229 (XXI) in December 1966, which called for Spain to grant self-determination to the peoples relating to the territories of Sidi Ifni and Spanish Sahara’.
3. For an analysis of the 1992 Intifada of three cities, see Barona Castañeda (2015)
4. Originally quoted as ‘Ahel essahra daau daau welkhaira ¯t illa yenba ¯‘u’ (The
Sahrawi people suffers while its wealth is looted) by Alice Wilson from a video of protests filmed by Sahara Thawra. (Wilson 2013, 88).
5. Saharawis charged with organising the camp argue that the camp arose in a largely organic and non-hierarchical fashion, although youth activists took a leading role in administering all aspects of the camp, and organised committees for this purpose, once it emerged.
6. Ali Salem Tamek, one of the unofficial leaders of the resistance in the Occupied Territories, also asserts that natural resources were at the heart of the Gdeim Izik protests, as did participants of the discussion groups in Agadir (22 April 2014) and Marrakech (23 April 2014). Personal conversation with Ali Salem Tamek, Auserd camp, Algeria, 12 December 2015.
7. See http://www.wsrw.org for a few examples.
8. Footage of the protest can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mChmF9tzHag. Last accessed 4 January 2016.
9. See the SADR’s oil and gas webpage for more information: http://www.sadroilandgas.com.
10. For more on this programme of agreements, see Kamal (2015)
11. Watch the programme here: http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201511250121-0025099. Last accessed 13 January 2015.
12. Kosmos has published a Position Paper in which it claims to have consulted with ‘the people of the territory’ through a Moroccan partner. However, according to all Saharawi grassroots organisations mentioned in this paper, only Moroccan settlers have been consulted despite the Saharawis’ restless if unsuccessful attempts to contact Kosmos and be included in the consultation process. Cairn has made no attempt to consult with Saharawis and has failed to respond to letters and requests for meetings from Saharawi civil society organisations and British Members of Parliament.
Thanks to Hamza Lakhal, Mohammed Saleh, Jalihenna Mohammed and Limam Mohammed Ali for facilitating much of the fieldwork for this article and to Wilf Wilde for inspiring it. Thanks also to all the Saharawi activists that took part in interviews, and to Wilf, Hamza, Erik Hagen, Manuel Barcía Paz, Richard Cleminson; the journal’s two anonymous peer reviewers; and the attendees of Durham University’s Carbon Democracy and Revolution workshop for their constructive comments on drafts of this article.
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.
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Courtesy of The Journal of North African Studies Volume 21, Issue 3, 2016
Publication date of original article: 22/04/2016
URL of this page : http://www.tlaxcala-int.org/article.asp?reference=17945
The Syrian government says French and German forces are present in northern Syria, condemning it as an act of “aggression.”
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday French and German forces are deployed to Ain al-Arab, also known as Kobani, and Manbij alongside US military personnel.
“Syria … considers it explicit and unjustified aggression towards its sovereignty and independence,” the official SANA news agency quoted the ministry as saying.
Foreign forces are aiding Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) near Manbij and Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, part of the SDF, in Ain al-Arab, characterizing the aid as part of an offensive against Daesh.
The ministry said any side “wishing to fight against terrorists must coordinate its moves with the legitimate Syrian government, whose army and people are fighting terrorism” across the country.
“Such presence under the pretext of fighting terrorism cannot elude any one,” it added.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said French special forces were building a base for themselves near Ain al-Arab.
France’s defense minister said last week that there were also special forces operating in Syria helping the SDF advance towards Manbij.
Berlin, however, was quick to deny the presence of German special forces in Syria.
“There are no German special forces in Syria. The accusation is false,” a spokesman at the Germany’s Defense Ministry said.
The Observatory, however, said German, French and American military advisers, and French and American special forces, were assisting the SDF.
Their presence has raised growing suspicion that the US and Europe are assisting a Kurdish campaign to establish a separate state in Syria.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey would not allow cooperation with terrorist organizations in Syria, referring to Kurdish groups which the US supports.
Ankara and Washington have long been at loggerheads over the role of the US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia.
Turkey says the fighters are a terrorist organization affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) but the US sees them as a partner in Syria operations.
In a speech to his ruling AK Party in parliament, Yildirim said Turkey won’t allow formation of new states in Syria.
Syria is currently fighting foreign-backed militants such as Daesh and al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front on several fronts, including in Aleppo which borders Turkey.
On Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fierce battles between government forces and Takfiri terrorists in Aleppo had left 70 fatalities in less than 24 hours.
The monitor said Syrian forces retook the villages of Zaytan and Khalasa to the southwest of the Aleppo city after losing control of them hours earlier.
The area overlooks the government supply road around the south of Aleppo, linking government-held Nayrab airport to the city’s southeast and areas controlled by government forces to its west.
The Syrian daily al-Watan said Russian fighter jets resumed their missions in Aleppo, targeting positions of al-Nusra Front and allied forces on Wednesday.
Moscow launched airstrikes against Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria on September 30 upon a request from the Damascus government.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner to win the US Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. However, her triumphant march to the White House might be overshadowed by her email scandal.
Here are some controversial facts we’ve learned from emails addressed to and sent by US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:
Revelation 1: Google and Al-Jazeera interfered in the Syrian events and collaborated with each other in an attempt to overthrow Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad.
According to an email from the head of “Google Ideas” Jared Cohen, received by the US State Department in 2012, the company was trying to support insurgents by urging representatives of Syrian power structures to take the side of the opposition.
“Given how hard it is to get information into Syria right now, we are partnering with Al-Jazeera who will take primary ownership over the tool we have built, track the data, verify it, and broadcast it back into Syria,” Cohen wrote in the e-mail.
Revelation 2: Following the 2011 Libyan intervention, France decided to seize the country’s oil industry and “reassert itself as a military power”.
An e-mail on the issue was written by Clinton family friend Sidney Blumenthal. He wrote that France was trying to establish control over Libyan oil immediately after the coup in 2011. Moreover, France was exerting pressure on the new Libyan government and demanding exclusive rights to 35% of the country’s oil industry in exchange for political support.
“In return for this assistance, the DGSE officers indicated that they expected the new government of Libya to favor French firms and national interests, particularly regarding the oil industry in Libya,” the email said.
Revelation 3: The US tried to conceal the fact that it helped Turkey to fight the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
An email addressed to Clinton said that the US government tried to exert pressure on the Washington Post to amend an article on cooperation between American and Turkish intelligence in the fight against Kurdish rebels.
“Despite our efforts, WaPo will proceed with its story on US-Turkey intel cooperation against PKK,” the message said, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. “They will not make redactions we requested so expect the Wikileaks cables to be published in full.”
Revelation 4: The last revelation is more of a personal nature and concerns Clinton’s poor knowledge of modern technology. Thus, her email correspondence shows that she frequently needed assistance with daily activities such as faxing, charging her iPad or searching for a Wi-Fi network.
thanks to: Sputniknews
The United Nations said in a statement on Wednesday that a UN team has received accounts that French troops, known as the Sangaris, forced girls to engage in sexual acts with animals in return for a small amount of money.
(Sanaa) – The United States, United Kingdom, France, and others should suspend all weapon sales to Saudi Arabia until it not only curtails its unlawful airstrikes in Yemen but also credibly investigates alleged violations.
Since March 26, 2015, a coalition of nine Arab countries has conducted military operations against the Houthi armed group and carried out numerous indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes. The airstrikes have continued despite a March 20 announcement of a new ceasefire. The coalition has consistently failed to investigate alleged unlawful attacks as the laws of war require. Saudi Arabia has been the leader of the coalition, with targeting decisions made in the Saudi Defense Ministry in Riyadh.
The UN Panel of Experts found that, “the coalition’s targeting of civilians through air strikes, either by bombing residential neighborhoods or by treating the entire cities of Sa‘dah and Maran in northern Yemen as military targets, is a grave violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. In certain cases, the Panel found such violations to have been conducted in a widespread and systematic manner.” Deliberate, indiscriminate, and disproportionate attacks against civilians are serious violations of the laws of war, to which all warring parties are bound.
The UN panel said that the attacks it documented included attacks on “camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and food storage warehouses; and other essential civilian infrastructure, such as the airport in Sana’a, the port in Hudaydah and domestic transit routes.”
The 36 unlawful airstrikes Human Rights Watch documented include attacks on schools, hospitals, and homes, with no evidence they were being used for military purposes. Human Rights Watch has collected the names of over 550 civilians killed in these 36 attacks. Amnesty International has documented an additional 26 strikes that appear to have violated the laws of war. Mwatana, one of Yemen’s leading human rights organizations, issued a report in December that documented an additional 29 unlawful airstrikes across Yemen, from March to October 2015.
In addition, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented civilian casualties from internationally banned cluster munitions used in or near cities and villages. Cluster munitions have been used in multiple locations in at least five of Yemen’s 21 governorates: Amran, Hajja, Hodaida, Saada, and Sanaa. The coalition has used at least six types of cluster munitions, three delivered by air-dropped bombs and three by ground-launched rockets. Human Rights Watch has said there should be an immediate halt to all use of cluster munitions and that coalition members should join the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Despite the numerous credible reports of serious laws-of-war violations, the Saudi-led coalition has taken no evident actions either to minimize harm to civilians in its air operations or to investigate past incidents and hold those responsible to account. So long as no such steps are taken, governments should not supply weapons to the leading coalition member.
The UK foreign affairs minister, Phillip Hammond, and other senior UK officials have repeatedly said that coalition forces have not committed any violations of the laws of war. On February 2, 2016, an important cross-party committee of UK members of parliament sent a letter to the international development secretary, Justine Greening, calling for immediate suspension of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia and an international independent inquiry into the coalition’s military campaign in Yemen.
On February 25, the European parliament passed a resolution calling on the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini “to launch an initiative aimed at imposing an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia.” On February 17, the Dutch parliament voted to impose the embargo and ban all arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
On January 31, the coalition announced the creation of a committee to promote the coalition’s compliance with the laws of war. However, the military spokesman for the coalition specified that the objective of the committee was not to carry out investigations into alleged violations.
Human Rights Watch has also documented serious laws of war violations by Houthi and allied forces, including indiscriminate shelling of cities, enforced disappearances, and the use of internationally banned antipersonnel landmines. Human Rights Watch supports a ban on the sale or provision of weapons to the Houthis that are likely to be used unlawfully, notably unguided “Grad-type” rockets and anti-personnel landmines.
“How many more airstrikes need to wreak havoc on civilians before countries supplying aircraft and bombs to the coalition pull the plug?” Bolopion said.
UK, US Arms Support for Saudi-led Coalition
Under international law, the US is a party to the armed conflict in Yemen. Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, commander of the US Air Force Central Command, said that the US military has deployed dedicated personnel to the Saudi joint planning and operations cell to help “coordinate activities.” US participation in specific military operations, such as providing advice on targeting decisions and aerial refueling during bombing raids, may make US forces jointly responsible for laws-of-war violations by coalition forces. As a party to the conflict, the US is itself obligated to investigate allegedly unlawful attacks in which it took part.
The UK government has said that though it has personnel in Saudi Arabia, they are not involved in carrying out strikes, or directing or conducting operations in Yemen, or selecting targets. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that UK personnel are deployed to “provide advice, help and training” to the Saudi military on the laws of war.
Largest Foreign Military Sales to Saudi Arabia
In July 2015, the US Defense Department approved a number of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, including a US$5.4 billion deal for 600 Patriot Missiles and a $500 million deal for more than a million rounds of ammunition, hand grenades, and other items, for the Saudi army. According to the US Congressional review, between May and September, the US sold $7.8 billion worth of weapons to the Saudis.
In October, the US government approved the sale to Saudi Arabia of up to four Lockheed Littoral Combat Ships for $11.25 billion. In November, the US signed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $1.29 billion for more than 10,000 advanced air-to-surface munitions including laser-guided bombs, “bunker buster” bombs, and MK84 general purpose bombs; the Saudis have used all three in Yemen.
According to the London-based Campaign Against Arms Trade, the UK government approved GB£2.8 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia between January and September 2015. The weapons include 500-pound Paveway IV bombs. The UK is negotiating a £1 billion weapons deal with the UAE.
A June 2015 Spanish government report stated that Spain had authorized eight licenses for arms exports to Saudi Arabia worth $28.9 million in the first half of the year. In February 2016, Spanish media reported that the government-owned shipbuilding company Navantia was about to sign a contract worth $3.3 billion with Saudi Arabia for the construction of five Avante 2200 type frigates for the Saudi navy.
In July 2015, Saudi Arabia reportedly signed agreements worth $12 billion with France, which included $500 million for 23 Airbus H145 helicopters. The kingdom is also expected to order 30 military patrol boats by 2016 under the agreement. Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia has also recently entered into exclusive negotiations with the French company Thales Group to buy spy satellite and telecommunications equipment worth “billions of euros.”
Human Rights Watch has documented 36 airstrikes between March 2015 and January 2016, that appear to have been unlawfully indiscriminate or disproportionate, which include a March 30, 2015 airstrike on a camp for internally displaced people that killed at least 29 civilians and a March 31, 2015 airstrike on a dairy factory outside the port city of Hodaida that killed at least 31 civilians. In Saada, a Houthi stronghold in the north, Human Rights Watch examined more than a dozen airstrikes that occurred between April and May that destroyed or damaged civilian homes, five markets, a school, and a gas station, though there was no evidence these sites were being used for military purposes. These strikes killed 59 people, mostly civilians, including at least 35 children.
On May 12, the coalition struck a civilian prison in the western town of Abs, killing 25 people. On July 24, the coalition dropped nine bombs on and around two residential compounds of the Mokha Steam Power Plant, which housed plant workers and their family members, killing at least 65 civilians. On August 30, an airstrike hit Al-Sham Water Bottling Factory in the outskirts of Abs, killing 14 workers, including three boys, who were nearing the end of their night shift.
The coalition has carried out strikes on marketplaces, leading to high civilian death tolls. On May 12, a strike on the marketplace of the eastern village of Zabid killed at least 60 civilians. On July 4, an airstrike on the marketplace of the northern village of Muthalith Ahim killed at least 65. On July 6, bombs hit two markets in the governorate of Amran, north of Sanaa, killing at least 29 civilians.
On October 26, the coalition bombed a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in the northern town of Haydan in Saada governorate six times, wounding two patients. Since then, coalition airstrikes have hit MSF facilities twice. An airstrike hit a mobile clinic on December 2, in Taizz, wounding eight, including two staff members, and killing another civilian nearby. On January 21, an airstrike hit an MSF ambulance, killing its driver and six others, and wounded dozens in Saada.
On January 10, a projectile hit an MSF-supported hospital in Saada, killing six people and wounding at least seven, most of them medical staff and patients. MSF said it could not confirm the origin of the attack, but its staff had seen planes flying over the facility at the time of the attack. MSF said on January 25, that it had yet to receive any official explanation for any of these incidents.
On May 8, 2015, Brig. Gen. Ahmad al-Assiri, the military spokesman for the coalition, declared the entire cities of Saada and Marran, another Houthi stronghold, to be military targets. In an interview with Reuters on February 1, al-Assiri spoke about Saudi civilian casualties from Houthi and pro-Saleh forces’ firing across the border. He said, “Now our rules of engagement are: you are close to the border, you are killed.” Treating an entire area as the object of military attack violates the laws-of-war prohibition on attacks that treat distinct military objectives in a city, town or area as a single military objective. Doing so unlawfully denies civilians protection from attack.
Human Rights Watch also documented the coalition’s use of at least six types of cluster munitions in at least 15 attacks in five of Yemen’s 21 governorates between March 2015 and January 2016. Cluster munitions are indiscriminate weapons and pose long-term dangers to civilians. They are prohibited by the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, adopted by 118 countries, though not Saudi Arabia or Yemen.
Failure to Investigate Alleged Violations
Countries that are party to a conflict have an obligation under international law to investigate credible allegations of war crimes and hold those responsible to account. Human Rights Watch has seen no indication that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has conducted any meaningful investigations into alleged laws-of-war violations.
On August 19, 2015, Human Rights Watch and 22 other human rights and humanitarian organizations called on the UN Human Rights Council to create an independent international commission of inquiry at its September session to investigate alleged laws-of-war violations by all parties to the conflict. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights similarly called on UN member states to encourage the establishment of an “international independent and impartial” investigative mechanism.
Instead, on September 7, President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi of Yemen established a national commission to investigate violations of human rights and the laws of war. During the ensuing UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries effectively blocked an effort led by the Netherlands to create an international investigative mechanism. The national commission has taken no tangible steps to conduct investigations, nor has it revealed any working methods or plans, three people close to the commission told Human Rights Watch.
Five days after the release of UN Panel of Experts report on Yemen, on January 31, 2016, the coalition announced a new committee to assess the coalition’s rules of engagement in the war and produce recommendations for the coalition to better respect the laws of war. “The goal of the committee is not to investigate allegations,” Al-Assiri said. “Its primary goal is to confirm the precision of the procedures followed on the level of the coalition command.” As such, this proposed body does not meet the requirements for an impartial investigative mechanism that can address accountability for unlawful attacks or compensate victims of coalition violations, Human Rights Watch said.
Al-Assiri said that the Saudi military has been conducting internal investigations into attacks in which a violation might have ensued, and pointed to a single airstrike that had led to a violation: the October 26, 2015 bombing of an MSF hospital in northern Yemen. He said the strike had been the result of “human error,” but did not outline any steps taken to hold the responsible military personnel to account, or compensate the two civilians wounded in the strike.
thanks to: Human Rights Watch
Nella commedia degli equivoci per il teatrino della politica, il primo attore Renzi ha detto che in Libia «l’Italia farà la sua parte», quindi – appena il Pentagono ha annunciato che l’Italia assumerà il «ruolo guida» – ha dichiarato: «Non è all’ordine del giorno la missione militare italiana in Libia», mentre in realtà è già iniziata con le forze speciali che il parlamento ha messo agli ordini del premier. Questi, per dare il via ufficiale, aspetta che in Libia si formi «un governo strasolido che non ci faccia rifare gli errori del passato». In attesa che nel deserto libico facciano apparire il miraggio di un «governo strasolido», diamo uno sguardo al passato.
Nel 1911 l’Italia occupò la Libia con un corpo di spedizione di 100mila uomini, Poco dopo lo sbarco, l’esercito italiano fucilò e impiccò 5mila libici e ne deportò migliaia. Nel 1930, per ordine di Mussolini, metà della popolazione cirenaica, circa 100mila persone, fu deportata in una quindicina di campi di concentramento, mentre l’aviazione, per schiacciare la resistenza, bombardava i villaggi con armi chimiche e la regione veniva recintata con 270 km di filo spinato. Il capo della resistenza, Omar al-Mukhtar, venne catturato e impiccato nel 1931. Fu iniziata la colonizzazione demografica della Libia, sequestrando le terre più fertili e relegando le popolazioni in terre aride. Nei primi anni Quaranta, all’Italia sconfitta subentrarono in Libia Gran Bretagna e Stati uniti. L’emiro Idris al-Senussi, messo sul trono dagli inglesi nel 1951, concesse a queste potenze l’uso di basi aeree, navali e terrestri. Wheelus Field, alle porte di Tripoli, divenne la principale base aerea e nucleare Usa nel Mediterraneo.
Con l’Italia re Idris concluse nel 1956 un accordo, che la scagionava dai danni arrecati alla Libia e permetteva alla comunità italiana di mantenere il suo patrimonio. I giacimenti petroliferi libici, scoperti negli anni ‘50, finirono nelle mani della britannica British Petroleum, della statunitense Esso e dell’italiana Eni. La ribellione dei nazionalisti, duramente repressa, sfociò in un colpo di stato incruento attuato nel 1969, sul modello nasseriano, dagli «ufficiali liberi» capeggiati da Muammar Gheddafi.
Abolita la monarchia, la Repubblica araba libica costrinse Usa e Gran Bretagna a evacuare le basi militari e nazionalizzò le proprietà straniere. Nei decenni successivi, la Libia raggiunse, secondo la Banca mondiale, «alti indicatori di sviluppo umano», con una crescita del pil del 7,5% annuo, un reddito pro capite medio-alto, l’accesso universale all’istruzione primaria e secondaria e del 46% alla terziaria. Vi trovavano lavoro oltre 2 milioni di immigrati africani. Questo Stato, che costituiva un fattore di stabilità e sviluppo in Nordafrica, aveva favorito con i suoi investimenti la nascita di organismi che avrebbero creato l’autonomia finanziaria e una moneta indipendente dell’Unione africana.
Usa e Francia – provano le mail di Hillary Clinton – decisero di bloccare «il piano di Gheddafi di creare una moneta africana», in alternativa al dollaro e al franco Cfa. Per questo e per impadronirsi del petrolio e del territorio libici, la Nato sotto comando Usa lanciava la campagna contro Gheddafi, a cui in Italia partecipava in prima fila l’«opposizione di sinistra». Demoliva quindi con la guerra lo Stato libico, attaccandolo anche dall’interno con forze speciali e gruppi terroristi. Il conseguente disastro sociale, che ha fatto più vittime della guerra stessa soprattutto tra i migranti, ha aperto la strada alla riconquista e spartizione della Libia. Dove rimette piede quell’Italia che, calpestando la Costituzione, ritorna al passato coloniale.
Il Manifesto (Italia)
thanks to: Voltairenet
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed frustration over a recent ultimatum by France for Palestinian statehood if efforts to renew peace efforts fail.
In public remarks to his cabinet on Sunday, Netanyahu dismissed an ultimatum by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, saying the initiative would only encourage Palestinians to shun compromise.
Netanyahu criticized the French proposal as “an incentive for the Palestinians not to make any compromises.”
His remarks come two days after the French minister said Paris would recognize a Palestinian state if initiatives to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict come to nothing.
Fabius told a gathering of foreign diplomats that Paris has a responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to keep up efforts to find a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“We cannot let the two-state solution disintegrate. It is our responsibility as a UN Security Council member and a power seeking peace,” he said.
The top French diplomat noted that France is planning to hold an international conference in the “coming weeks” to bring together the Israeli and Palestinian sides as well as the US and some European and Arab states.
Fabius pointed out that if this last attempt at finding a solution ends in a deadlock, “we need to face our responsibilities by recognizing the Palestinian state.”
Reacting to the developments, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday welcomed the French proposal, telling an African summit in Ethiopia that “the status quo cannot continue”.
The Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, with East al-Quds as the capital. They are also demanding that Israel withdraw from the Palestinian lands occupied in a 1967 war. The Tel Aviv regime, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.
In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status at the UN from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state” despite strong opposition from the Israeli regime and the US.
Palestine’s flag was hoisted for the first time at the United Nations headquarters in New York in September last year.
Several nations including Britain, France, Spain, Ireland, Belgium and Portugal have symbolically recognized Palestine as a state. Sweden, however, officially recognized Palestine two years ago.
The last round of peace talks shattered in April 2014, and a deadly wave of violence gripped the occupied territories since October last year.
At least 166 the number of Palestinians, including women and children, killed by Israeli forces since October 2015.
Meanwhile, the United States, European Union have also issued criticisms of the Israeli regime in recent days, saying Netanyahu had gone a step too far in accusing UN Secretary of State Ban Ki-moon of giving a “tailwind to terrorism.”
Ban on Wednesday repeated his harsh criticism of the Israeli regime over its failure to work toward resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.
“After nearly 50 years of occupation – after decades of waiting for the fulfillment of the Oslo promises – Palestinians are losing hope,” Ban told a UN committee on Palestinian rights on Wednesday.
Dico a Te, Henry, Jude, Hidalgo, Greta, Josè, Elena, a Te, cittadino europeo; quanto è autentica la tua commozione rispetto all’obbrobrio di Parigi? Tu che appari sgomento, impotente e frustrato al cospetto di siffatto disastro, in quale misura Ti senti coinvolto, partecipe, responsabile?
Isis, Daesh, Califfato, Stato Islamico, ecco il colpevole di tale abominio che vede noi occidentali quali vittime sacrificali di un progetto delirante, pregno di violenza, sopraffazione, ingiustizia, dove la religione, di per sé già sufficiente ad intorbidire le coscienze, funge da paravento. Questa creatura malefica che data la sua origine nel 2014, anticipata a mezzo stampa l’anno precedente, è sorta per precisa volontà di coloro i quali, da sempre, perseguono quel progetto, appunto, denso di violenza, sopraffazione, ingiustizia; Stati ed Entità che, legittimamente, possono essere definiti canaglia: U.S.A., U.E., Nato, Stati del Golfo, Entità Sionista.
Funzionale al disegno criminoso in grado di perpetuare un modello di società classista, imperialista, soggetta al volere del sedicente mondo civilizzato, ecco che, dall’implosione di Afghanistan, Iraq, Libia, Siria sorge il Mostro da incitare, finanziare ed armare e, successivamente, una volta usato, eliminare perché creatura ad agibilità limitata. Pretendere, da sempre e per sempre, di dominare esportando una democrazia fittizia, densa di assolutismo, disparità, ingiustizia, produce Guantanamo non consenso, servilismo non protagonismo, rabbia non idealità.
Probabile che la macchina sia sfuggita al controllo dello scienziato pazzo, sfuggita, non che si sia ribellata. Nelle menti distorte del Potere Assoluto si è ritenuto, con presunzione mista ad ignoranza criminale, di poter insistere nell’imposizione di un feudalesimo fuori tempo massimo, divenuto sistema intangibile, sfruttando interessate rivendicazioni islamiste, tacciate da spirito religioso e contrapponendole alla società laica. Il risultato è sotto gli occhi di coloro i quali non volgono lo sguardo per non voler capire.
Isis e fede musulmana sono agli antipodi, così come cristianesimo e crociate, ebraismo e sionismo. Quanti si servono di tale mistificata identificazione sono da additare al pubblico ludibrio, coloro i quali si confondono hanno da essere sollecitati ad un doveroso, imminente “bagno di cultura”. Devastare l’habitat preesistente, annientare la vita altrui, sottrarre risorse per usufruirne in proprio, pretendere la non messa in discussione di tale modello, utilizzando Emiri, Sovrani o Califfi rappresenta una condotta non affatto dissimile, bensì contigua a quella apparentemente vituperata.
Le bombe a grappolo, l’uranio impoverito, i droni come si distinguerebbero, quanto a livello di crudeltà, da uccidere a sangue freddo dei civili? Lanciare missili su matrimoni o cortei funebri, distruggere ospedali bruciando vivi i malati, abbattere scuole ed abitazioni con dentro i civili è meno cruento che entrare, trucidando le persone, in un giornale od in un teatro? Yarnouk sollecita indignazione in qualcuno? Eppure questo campo profughi, quindi abitato da chi fu costretto a fuggire da una realtà disumana, è stato oggetto di violenza indiscriminata, senza che si levassero gli alti lai delle coscienze occidentali, così propense, altrove, alla vicinanza umana, forse perché tale campo trovasi in Siria, terra sventurata ma lontana.
E così per il recente massacro ad opera dello stesso soggetto criminale, in Libano, sempre in un campo profughi, sempre, ma vedi la casualità, con “ospiti” palestinesi.
Intere generazioni, in Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Libia, Iraq, Libano, Kurdistan, Palestina, ignorano cosa comprenda, nei fatti, la parola pace. Da quando emette il primo vagito, il nascituro in quella parte del globo terrestre dovrà rendersi conto di essere venuto al mondo dalla parte sbagliata, dove vivere è una scommessa giocata al tavolo delle potenze occidentali.
Crescere, studiare, lavorare, formarsi una famiglia…bere una birra con gli amici ad un tavolino di un bar rappresenta un sogno, sovente inarrivabile, ciò che costituisce, invece, una normalità per i coetanei del mondo dominante.Come se quanto descritto non fosse già sufficiente a rappresentare una situazione immorale, all’interno della dinamica di questi singoli Stati agisce una (il)logica di governance classista, repressiva, feudale.
Gli effettivi “signori della guerra”, mandatari del Potere occidentale, si fanno interpreti, traendone beneficio anche personalmente, della volontà dominante, accaparratrice della vita altrui; fino a quando dura…..come sanno bene Saddam, Gheddafi, Osama e tanti altri, misconosciuti. Resistono i potentati del Golfo, con i quali permangono ed anzi si intensificano i rapporti commerciali, ci si abbraccia e si vendono armi che andranno ad arricchire la dotazione in possesso di quelli che si farà finta di voler eliminare ma che, nel frattempo, irosi per il tradimento, si vendicheranno, da par loro, a scapito di civili altrettanto inermi come quelli trucidati in Medioriente.
Diffondere terrore rappresenta, da tempo immemorabile, esercizio appannaggio delle classi dominanti, volto a distogliere le coscienze dal solo ipotizzare un mutamento dello status quo, dall’idea di emancipazione, di Rivoluzione.
La proclamata “guerra umanitaria” (inquietante ossimoro), le balle spaziali di Colin Powell, le scuse postume ed insultanti di Blaer, la forzata esportazione della “democrazia” ci hanno consegnato un territorio devastato, umiliato e offeso, dove rancore, risentimento e spirito di vendetta se non condividere, occorre comprendere ed interpretare. Diversamente, la risultante dell’analisi ed il conseguente agire non si distoglierà da quello più brutale ed inumano, proprio della destra retriva e fascista.
Occorre comprendere che allorquando quel sentire di rabbia e rivendicazione viene,maledettamente, incanalato dal fanatismo sedicente religioso il piano del discorso appare mutare inclinazione, svolgendosi, agli occhi più ignari, come contrapposizione tra fedi e mondi diversi, distinti, opposti. Ma non è così.
La logica sottostante permane immutata e perversa nella sua spietatezza: il dominio dell’uomo sull’uomo. Irrilevante che sia proposto in nome di un dio, di un califfo, di un emiro, di un presidente, sarà sempre e soltanto logica padronale. Pertanto Voi, Henry, Jude, Hidalgo,Greta, Josè, Elena, rispettivamente in quanto francese, inglese, spagnolo, tedesca, portoghese, italiana, spiegate, per primi a voi stessi, con quale spirito partecipate alle manifestazioni a seguito dell’eccidio di Charlie Hebdo senza smuovere il culo, né la mente, né la coscienza quando, in contemporanea, accade un crimine drammaticamente più grave, quanto ad entità, come l’omicidio mirato di duemila palestinesi di Gaza, dei quali più di 500 bambini.
E fatemi capire, se in grado, in base a quale variopinta analisi, a seguito del lutto di Parigi, della Francia e di noi tutti, dovremmo essere maggiormente indignati, tristi, delusi rispetto agli innumerevoli crimini eseguiti non nel nostro territorio. Ma è proprio l’ubicazione la ragione della partecipazione/indifferenza a fronte di analogo evento.
Si è così egoisti dal pretendere che il nostro diritto ad essere felici, che dovrebbe appartenere a ciascun essere umano, sia e resti intangibile, a qualunque prezzo.
Si è così ipocriti dal fingere di ignorare realtà assai diverse, maleodoranti di crimini contro l’Umanità, in luoghi distanti da noi, situazioni delle quali siamo artefici o complici. Il sangue versato è di colore rosso, a chiunque appartenga; il genere umano è indistinto, colui che ha la fortuna di possedere maggiori risorse, di abitare in zone più sviluppate, di poter fruire di una vita più agiata dovrebbe rendersi conto della sua immensa fortuna, pronto a condividerla con i più disagiati ed, ove non fosse spontaneo tale agire, sarebbe necessario renderlo indotto.
Quanto suggerito non rappresenta un auspicio francescano ma la chiave di volta di un approccio diverso, l’unico in grado di garantire un futuro. La terra sulla quale abbiamo avuto in sorte di vivere non appartiene esclusivamente a noi, le genti che cercano rifugio qui da noi, fuggono dallo stesso nemico del quale oggi temiamo l’azione. Farsi abbindolare dallo scempio verbale degli ancora, purtroppo, padroni del mondo e loro meschini servitori, secondo i quali la risposta non potrà che essere ancora più cruenta, comporta una spirale di morte che, analogamente ad ogni guerra, essenza della disumanizzazione, andrà a gravare sugliinermi, indifesi, poveri civili.
L’istigazione all’odio razziale, sinonimo di brutalità priva di speranza, rappresenta il DNA di cerebrolesi, minus habens, fanatici guerrafondai, politici corrotti.
Soltanto recuperando le ragioni dei bistrattati, degli sfruttati, degli estromessi, dei rifugiati, dei migranti, dello straniero che chiede dignità ed è pronto a contraccambiare, si riuscirà a sottrarre brodo di coltura dal fanatismo religioso ed al delirio di onnipotenza, a chiunque appartenga.
thanks to: Enzo Barone
Tony Cartalucci, LD, 14 novembre 2015 Come previsto e già riferito, i terroristi che hanno preso parte all’attacco al centro di Parigi, uccidendo oltre 100 persone e ferendone altre centinaia, erano ben noti alle agenzie di sicurezza francesi prima dell’attacco. Il Daily Mail ha riportato nel suo articolo, “La caccia agli assassini dello SIIL: Un terrorista identificato come ‘giovane francese noto alle autorità’, altri due trovati con passaporti egiziani e siriani“, che: “Uno dei terroristi coinvolti negli attacchi di ieri sera a Parigi è stato ufficialmente identificato come un parigino, secondo i media locali. L’uomo, che è stato ucciso al Bataclan, è stato identificato dalle impronte digitali e viveva nel quartiere parigino meridionale di Courcouronnes. Rapporti francesi dicono che l’uomo, di circa 30 anni, era già noto alle autorità antiterrorismo francesi prima degli attentati di ieri sera”. Allo stesso modo, nel gennaio 2015 a seguito dell’”attacco a Charlie Hebdo” che lasciò 12 morti, fu rivelato che le agenzie di sicurezza francesi seguirono gli attentatori per quasi un decennio, dopo aver arrestato almeno un terrorista per due volte, mettendolo al fresco almeno una volta, rintracciando due di loro all’estero dove erano addestrati da note organizzazioni terroristiche, infine combattendo con esse in Siria prima di ritornare in Francia. Sorprendentemente, le agenzie di sicurezza francesi non si mossero, sostenendo che dopo un decennio di monitoraggio avevano finalmente deciso di chiudere il caso, esattamente il tempo necessario per pianificare ed eseguire il gran finale.
Più guerre e più sorveglianza non aiutano
Con uno scenario simile ora emergente, in particolare dall’”attentato a Charlie Hebdo“, dove le agenzie di sicurezza francesi conoscevano gli estremisti senza riuscire a fermarli prima di effettuare l’ennesimo grande attentato, anche con poteri di sorveglianza rafforzati conferitigli dalla nuova legislazione, sembra che alcuna sorveglianza intrusiva o guerre all’estero argini il terrorismo che il governo francese sembra per nulla intenzionato a fermare. Il problema non sono le leggi sull’immigrazione in Europa. Persone pericolose vivono in Francia, ma sono monitorate dalle agenzie di sicurezza francesi. Il problema non è la Siria. I terroristi li hanno lasciati a combattervi, acquisendo competenze e legami letali prima di tornare in Francia, ma anche loro furono monitorati dalle agenzie di sicurezza francesi. Invece, il problema è che le agenzie di sicurezza francesi non fanno nulla con tali individui pericolosi che consapevolmente vivono, lavorano e chiaramente tramano nella società francese. Nelle prossime ore e giorni, il governo francese e i vari co-cospiratori nella guerra per procura contro la Siria, proporranno un piano d’azione sostenendo che arginerà la minaccia terroristica in Francia e nel resto d’Europa. Ma la realtà è che tale problema non è cosa che il governo francese può risolvere, perché il problema è chiaramente il governo francese stesso.
Lo SIIL è dietro gli attentati di Parigi, ma chi c’è dietro lo SIIL?
Con il cosiddetto “Stato islamico” (ISIS) che appare responsabile dell’attacco, la domanda che rimane è chi c’è dietro lo SIIL? Mentre l’occidente ha tentato di far mantenere all’organizzazione terroristica capacità quasi mitologiche, in grado di sostenere operazioni di combattimento contro Siria, Iraq, Hezbollah in Libano con il sostegno di Iran e ora dell’esercito russo, mentre svolge grandi e notevoli attentati terroristici nel mondo, è chiaro che lo SIIL riceva un’immensa sponsorizzazione di Stato internazionale. L’avanzata dello SIIL fu svelata già nel 2007 dalle interviste del giornalista vincitore del premio Pulitzer Seymour Hersh, nel suo saggio “The Redirection“. Le interviste rivelarono un piano per destabilizzare e rovesciare il governo della Siria attraverso l’uso di estremisti settari, in particolare al-Qaida, con armi e fondi riciclati attraverso il più vecchio e stolido alleato regionale degli Stati Uniti, l’Arabia Saudita. Un rapporto del Dipartimento dell’Agenzia d’Intelligence (DIA) del 2012 ammette: “Se la situazione si dipana vi è la possibilità di stabilire un principato salafita dichiarato o non dichiarato nella parte orientale della Siria (Hasaqa e Dair al-Zur), e questo è esattamente ciò che le potenze che sostengono l’opposizione vogliono, al fine d’isolare il regime siriano, considerato profondità strategica dell’espansione sciita (Iraq e Iran)”.
Il rapporto della DIA enumera con precisione queste “potenze che aiutano”: “Occidente, Paesi del Golfo e Turchia sostengono l’opposizione; mentre Russia, Cina e Iran sostengono il regime”. E fino ad oggi, semplicemente guardando una qualsiasi mappa che descriva il territorio occupato dalle varie fazioni nel conflitto siriano, è chiaro che lo SIIL non è uno “Stato” di alcun tipo, ma un’invasione dalla Turchia aderente alla NATO, con la via dei rifornimenti principale che attraversa il confine turco-siriano tra la città di Adana e la riva occidentale dell’Eufrate, un corridoio ormai sempre più stretto. In effetti, la disperazione mostrata dall’occidente e i suoi sforzi per cacciare il governo siriano e salvare le sue forze di ascari ora decimate dalle operazioni militari congiunte russo-siriane, è direttamente proporzionale alla diminuzione e ridotta stabilità di tale corridoio.
La settimana precedente, le forze siriane ristabilirono il fermo controllo sull’aeroporto militare di Quwayris, assediato da anni. L’aeroporto è a soli 30 km dall’Eufrate e mentre le forze siriane sostenute dalle forze aeree russe avanzano verso il confine con la Turchia, lungo la costa siriana si crea un fronte unito che essenzialmente escluderà lo SIIL dalla Siria. Le linee di rifornimento dello SIIL saranno tagliate a nord, atrofizzando la combattività altrimenti inspiegabile dell’organizzazione. La finestra di opportunità del “cambio di regime” occidentale va rapidamente chiudendosi, e forse con un ultimo disperato tentativo, la Francia s’impantana nel sangue e nei cadaveri dei propri cittadini per evitare che tale finestra si chiuda. La realtà è che la Francia conosceva gli attentatori di “Charlie Hebdo“, conosceva gli autori dell’ultimo attacco a Parigi, e probabilmente sa di più in attesa della possibilità di colpire. Così, non li ha fermati e non ha fatto nulla. Inoltre, sembra che invece di mantenere la Francia al sicuro, il governo francese abbia scelto di utilizzare tale consapevolezza come arma, in sé e per sé, contro la percezione del proprio popolo, per far avanzare l’agenda geopolitica. Se il popolo della Francia vuole punire duramente i responsabili dei ripetuti attacchi terroristici interni, può iniziare da coloro che sapevano degli attentati e non hanno fatto nulla per fermarli, casualmente gli stessi che hanno contribuito a far nascere lo SIIL e a perpetuarlo fino ad oggi.
thanks to: Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Pierre Stambul and his partner were violently awoken by police at their home in the French port city of Marseille.
“It was a bad moment because the cops came in my home very, very violently,” Stambul, co-president of the French Jewish Union for Peace (Union Juive Française pour la Paix – UFJP), told The Electronic Intifada. “They broke the doors to enter. I was handcuffed for one hour and spent seven hours in jail.”
The ordeal was the result of an anonymous, false tip-off to police that Stambul had murdered his wife.
Stambul, a strong critic of Israel, believes it was intended to stop him giving a speech in Toulouse that evening on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
Stambul says police put him in a cell for three hours before he was questioned. When he told them his suspicions of who had given the tip-off, they held him for another three hours while they checked out the story.
Due imprese francesi si ritirano dalla costruzione della funivia a Gerusalemme. In Italia, la Pizzarotti e l’Acea hanno collaborazioni in attività presenti nei Territori palestinesi occupati e il governo tace.
A fine marzo, due imprese francesi, la Safege, filiale della Suez Environnement, e la Poma, si sono ritirate dal progetto per la costruzione della funivia che, in violazione del diritto internazionale, collegherebbe a Gerusalemme insediamenti illegali di Israele. A seguito di un recente richiamo da parte dei Ministeri francesi della Finanza e degli Esteri circa i rischi a cui potrebbero essere esposte per violazione del diritto, le due imprese hanno annunciato il loro ritiro.
Nell’estate 2014, in un’azione coordinata, 19 stati membri dell’Unione europea, tra cui Francia e anche Italia, hanno pubblicamente messo in guardia le imprese sui rischi economici, legali e di credibilità in cui sarebbero incorse causa attività condotte negli insediamenti israeliani in Cisgiordania, a Gerusalemme Est e nelle alture del Golan.
L’allora Ministro degli Esteri, Federica Mogherini, attuale capo della diplomazia UE, aveva dichiarato che l’avviso pubblicato dall’Italia era “in sintonia con altri Paesi europei”. Tuttavia, a differenza di altri governi europei, il governo italiano non ha mai preso misure nei confronti delle imprese italiane che fanno affari con l’occupazione israeliana.
A dicembre 2013, durante il vertice Italia-Israele, l’Acea SpA, che per il 51% è di proprietà del Comune di Roma, ha firmato un Memorandum d’intesa con la Mekorot, società idrica nazionale di Israele. La Mekorot sottrae acqua illegalmente dalle falde palestinesi e fornisce alle colonie israeliane illegali l’acqua rubata, come documentato da organizzazioni internazionali quali Human Rights Watch e Amnesty International. Inoltre, l’organizzazione israeliana Who Profits afferma che la Mekorot “è attivamente impegnata nella conduzione e nel mantenimento” della occupazione israeliana.
Vitens, il primo fornitore di acqua in Olanda, a seguito delle indicazioni del proprio governo, ha interrotto un analogo accordo con la Mekorot, motivando la decisione con il proprio impegno a rispettare la legalità internazionale.
Anche la Pizzarotti SpA, società privata che campa con i lavori pubblici, fa affari con l’occupazione israeliana. L’impresa di Parma sta costruendo la TAV israeliana che collegherà Tel Aviv e Gerusalemme attraversando per 6,5 km la Cisgiordania occupata e confiscando terre palestinesi, per realizzare un mezzo di trasporto che sarà riservato esclusivamente ad israeliani.
La nota organizzazione palestinese per i diritti umani, Al Haq, ha affermato, in un parere legale, che ci sono “fondati motivi” per ritenere Pizzarotti responsabile di “atti che possono costituire gravi violazioni del diritto internazionale, come i crimini di guerra di saccheggio e di distruzione e appropriazione di beni”.
Già dapprima la Deutsche Bahn (ferrovie tedesche) si era ritirata dal progetto su suggerimento del Ministero tedesco dei Trasporti, perché “ha ricadute problematiche in ambito di politica estera e potenzialmente contrarie al diritto internazionale”.
La complicità con le violazioni israeliane del diritto internazionale da parte dell’Acea e della Pizzarotti vengono denunciate da tempo dalle campagne No all’Accordo Acea-Mekorot e Stop That Train, nell’ambito del movimento internazionale per il boicottaggio, disinvestimento e sanzioni contro Israele.
Il governo italiano, che ai sensi del diritto internazionale ha il dovere di intervenire, fino ad ora ha colpevolmente taciuto, implicitamente permettendo alle imprese italiane succitate di lucrare sulle violazioni dei diritti umani.
Si ricorda che la Corte Penale Internazionale ha avviato una istruttoria, tra l’altro, proprio sugli insediamenti nei territori occupati, considerati dal Diritto Internazionale crimini di guerra. Ciò significa che il nostro Governo acconsente al perpetuarsi di tali crimini.
Chiediamo quindi con forza al Governo di intervenire e porre fine a tale illegalità.
Comitato No all’Accordo Acea Mekorot
Coalizione Italiana Stop That Train
thanks to: Palestina Rossa
(ANSAmed) – PARIGI, 2 DIC – L’Assemblea nazionale francese ha approvato la mozione che chiede al governo di riconoscere lo Stato della Palestina, con 339 voti favorevoli, 151 contrari e 16 astensioni. Il testo non ha valore vincolante per l’esecutivo, a cui spetta la decisione sul riconoscimento, ma ha un forte impatto simbolico e di sfida al governo israeliano.
A favore del provvedimento si sono espressi la gran parte dei parlamentari della maggioranza socialista, i verdi e l’estrema sinistra, mentre i centristi dell’Udi e il gruppo di centrodestra hanno votato contro. Al voto non era presente il ministro degli Esteri francese, Laurent Fabius, oggi a Bruxelles per il vertice Nato. A rappresentare il Quai d’Orsay c’era il sottosegretario agli Affari europei, Harlem Desir.(ANSAmed).
thanks to: ANSAmed
“Dagli anni ’20 ai ’60
A Sèvres, nel 1921, Francia e Gran Bretagna si spartirono i possedimenti mediorientali dell’ormai decaduto Impero Ottomano.
Alla Francia andarono Libano e Siria, alla GB la Palestina, la Transgiordania e l’odierno Iraq. I confini vennero segnati utilizzando matite, righelli e, probabilmente, sotto l’influsso di qualche coppa di champagne.
Altrimenti come ci si potrebbe spiegare l’invenzione folle del Regno dell’Iraq, uno stato abitato, oltre che da decine di minoranze, da tre popolazioni profondamente diverse tra loro: i curdi, gli sciiti e i sunniti?
La drammatica storia dell’Iraq nasce tutta da qui. Colpi di stato, spinte autonomiste curde, resistenze sunnite, attentati sciiti, difesa del controllo petrolifero da parte del Regno Unito, intervento della Germania nazista. Non si sono fatti mancare nulla fuorché la pace.
La CIA e i colpi di Stato che fanno meno scalpore del terrorismo
Durante la crisi di Suez Baghdad divenne la principale base inglese, nel 1958 venne abolita la monarchia e nel 1963, anche in chiave anti-sovietica, la CIA favorì un colpo di stato per deporre Abd al-Karim Qasim, l’allora premier iracheno, colpevole di aver approvato una norma che proibiva l’assegnazione di nuove concessioni petrolifere alle multinazionali straniere. In Iraq, tra deserto, cammelli e rovine babilonesi accadde quel che già si era visto all’ombra delle piramidi maya nel 1954 quando Allen Dulles*, direttore della CIA, armò truppe mercenarie honduregne per buttare giù Jacobo Arbenz, il Presidente del Guatemala regolarmente eletto, colpevole di voler espropriare le terre inutilizzate appartenenti alla statunitense United Fruit Company e distribuirle ai contadini. Risultato? Presidenti fantoccio, guerra civile e povertà.
Mi domando per quale razza di motivo si provi orrore per il terrorismo islamico e non per i colpi di stato promossi dalla CIA. Destituire, solo per osceni interessi economici, un governo regolarmente eletto con la conseguenza di favorire una guerra civile è meno grave di far esplodere un aereo in volo?
L’Iraq, come il Guatemala o il Congo RCD hanno avuto il torto di possedere delle risorse. I poveri hanno il torto di avere ricchezza sotto ai piedi. Il petrolio iracheno è stato il peggior nemico del popolo iracheno. A Baghdad nel 1960, tre anni prima della deposizione di Qasim, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela e Arabia Saudita avevano fondato l’Organizzazione dei Paesi esportatori di petrolio (OPEC), per contrastare lo strapotere delle “7 sorelle”, le principali compagnie petrolifere mondiali così chiamate da Enrico Mattei, il Presidente dell’ENI di quegli anni.
Mattei e la sovranità nazionale in Medio Oriente
Una digressione su Mattei è d’obbligo, se non altro per capire quanto, dall’invenzione del “profitto ad ogni costo”, ogni industriale, stato sovrano o partito politico si sia messo contro il capitalismo internazionale abbia fatto una brutta fine. E’ successo a brave persone e a delinquenti, a politici democratici e a dittatori sanguinari difesi fino a che lo spargimento di sangue dei quali erano responsabili non avesse intaccato gli interessi del grande capitale. Mattei, dopo aver concluso importanti affari con l’Iran, si stata avvicinando a Qasim quest’ultimo alla ricerca di un nuovo partner commerciale che gli garantisse maggiori introiti di quelli concessi dagli inglesi. La sacrosanta ricerca di sovranità economica, politica ed energetica da parte di alcuni paesi mediorientali era ben vista da Mattei il quale, mosso da una intraprendenza tipicamente italiana e dall’ambizione di fare gli interessi dello Stato, ne scorgeva un’opportunità imperdibile.
Quando nel 1961 il Regno Unito concesse l’indipendenza al Kuwait Mattei fiutò l’affare. Baghdad ha sempre ritenuto il Kuwait parte del suo territorio e quando la GB lo proclamò stato sovrano Qasim si indignò per lo smacco subito convincendosi della necessità di trovare nuovi paesi con cui concludere affari**. Mattei e Qasim, nonostante il primo ministro Fanfani e il ministro degli esteri Segni negarono qualsiasi coinvolgimento italiano, iniziarono una serie di trattative e, sembra, che dei tecnici ENI si recarono in Iraq. Quel che è certo è che le 7 sorelle sono come i fili della luce: “se li tocchi muori”. Tre mesi e mezzo prima che Qasim, con il beneplacito della CIA, venisse trucidato a Baghdad, Mattei esplode in aria con il suo aereo privato. I mandanti e gli esecutori del suo assassinio sono ancora ignoti tuttavia è bene ricordare che Tommaso Buscetta, il pentito che descrisse per filo e per segno la struttura di “Cosa Nostra” a Giovanni Falcone, dichiarò che Mattei venne ucciso dalla mafia per fare “un favore agli stranieri” e che Mauro De Mauro, il giornalista che stava indagando sulla morte di Mattei, venne rapito e ucciso da Mimmo Teresi su ordine di Stefano Bontade***.
Il futuro è nero, come l’oro che fa scorrere il sangue
In “La verità nascosta sul petrolio” Eric Laurent scrive: “Il mondo del petrolio è dello stesso colore del liquido tanto ricercato: nero, come le tendenze più oscure della natura umana. Suscita bramosie, accende passioni, provoca tradimenti e conflitti omicidi, porta alle manipolazioni più scandalose”.
“Conflitti omicidi, manipolazioni scandalose, tradimenti”. Queste parole sembrano descrivere perfettamente la storia dell’Iraq moderno.
Saddam Hussein divenne Presidente della Repubblica irachena nel 1979 sostituendo Al-Bakr, l’ex-leader del partito Ba’th che qualche anno prima aveva nazionalizzato l’impresa britannica Iraq Petroleum Company. Saddam, con l’enorme denaro ricavato dalla vendita di petrolio, cambiò radicalmente il Paese. Sostituì la legge coranica con dei codici di stampo occidentale, portò la corrente fino ai villaggi più poveri, fece approvare leggi che garantivano maggiori diritti alle donne. L’istruzione e la salute divennero gratuite per tutti. In quegli anni di profonda instabilità regionale il regime di Saddam divenne un esempio di ordine e sicurezza. Tuttavia tutto questo ebbe un prezzo. I cristiani non erano un pericolo per il regime e vennero lasciati in pace ma i curdi, vuoi per le loro spinte autonomiste che per la loro presenza potenzialmente pericolosa in zone ricche di petrolio, vennero colpiti, discriminati e spesso trucidati. Lo stesso avvenne agli sciiti che non abbassavano la testa. Quando Saddam gli riversò contro le armi chimiche fornitegli dagli USA in chiave anti-iraniana nessuna istituzione statunitense parlò di genocidio, di diritti umani violati, di terrorismo islamico. Saddam era ancora un buon amico. L’amichevole stretta di mano tra il leader iracheno e Donald Rumsfeld, all’epoca inviato speciale di Reagan, dimostra quanto per gli USA la violenza è un problema a giorni alterni. Negli anni ’80 Washington era preoccupata dall’intraprendenza economica di Teheran e Saddam era un possibile alleato per contrastare la linea anti-occidentale nata in Iran con la rivoluzione del ’79.
Anni di guerre
Tuttavia, sebbene la Repubblica islamica iraniana fosse apertamente anti-americana gli USA fornirono armi a Teheran durante la guerra Iran-Iraq. Il denaro è sempre denaro! Con i proventi della vendita di armi all’Iran gli USA finanziarono tra l’altro i paramilitari delle Contras che avevano come obiettivo la destituzione in Nicaragua del governo sandinista regolarmente eletto.
Ovviamente gli USA (anche l’URSS – la guerra fredda diventava tiepida se si potevano fare affari assieme) finanziarono contemporaneamente Saddam. Il sogno dell’industria bellica, una guerra infinita combattuta da due forze equivalenti, era diventato realtà. Per diversi anni le potenze occidentali lasciarono Iraq e Iran a scannarsi tra loro. Un milione di morti dell’epoca non valevano, evidentemente, le migliaia di vittime provocate dall’avanzata dell’ISIS di questi giorni. Le multinazionali della morte appena finito di parlare con Saddam alzavano la cornetta e chiamavano Teheran. «Ho appena venduto all’Iraq 200 carri armati ma a te ti do a un prezzo stracciano questa batteria anticarro». Le cose cambiarono quando l’esercito iraniano prese il sopravvento. Teheran stava per espugnare Bassora quando gli USA, sedicenti cacciatori di armi chimiche in tutto il mondo, inviarono una partita di gas cianuro a Saddam il quale non perse tempo e lo utilizzò per respingere le truppe iraniane. Ma si sa, gli USA sono generosi e di gas ne inviarono parecchio. Saddam pensò bene di utilizzarne la restante parte per gassare l’intera popolazione curda del villaggio di Halabja ma in occidente nessuno si strappò le vesti, il dittatore era ancora un buon amico. Saddam divenne un acerrimo nemico quando invase il Kuwait. Anche in quel caso non furono i morti o le centinaia di migliaia di profughi a preoccupare i funzionari di Washington sempre a stretto contatto con Wall Street. La conquista irachena del Kuwait metteva in pericolo gli interessi economici statunitensi. Una cosa inaccettabile per chi da anni lavora per il controllo mondiale del petrolio. L’operazione “Desert Storm” venne lanciata, il Kuwait “liberato” ma Saddam rimase al suo posto. Un’eccessivo indebolimento dell’Iraq avrebbe favorito Teheran e questo sarebbe stato intollerabile. I bombardamenti USA causarono oltre 30.000 bambini morti ma erano “bombe a fin di bene”.
L’attentato alle Torri Gemelle fu una panacea per il grande capitale nordamericano. Forse anche a New York qualcuno “alle 3 e mezza di mattina rideva dentro il letto” come capitò a quelle merde dopo il terremoto a L’Aquila. Quei 3.000 morti americani vennero utilizzati come pretesto per attaccare l’Afghanistan, un paese con delle leggi antitetiche rispetto al nostro diritto ma che con il terrorismo internazionale non ha mai avuto a che fare, e l’Iraq. Era ormai tempo di buttare giù Saddam e prendere il pieno controllo del petrolio iracheno. La vittoria della Nato fece piombare il Paese in una guerra civile senza precedenti e le fantomatiche armi di distruzione di massa non vennero mai trovate. Ripeto, Saddam le aveva, ahimè, già utilizzate e gli USA lo sapevano benissimo. A questo punto mi domando quanto un miliziano dell’ISIS capace di decapitare con una violenza inaudita un prigioniero sia così diverso dal Segretario di Stato Colin Powell colui che, mentendo e sapendo di mentire, mostrò una provetta di antrace fornitagli da chissà chi per giustificare l’imminente attacco all’Iraq. Una guerra che ha fatto un numero di morti tra i civili migliaia di volte superiore a quelli provocati dallo Stato Islamico in queste settimane. La sconfitta del sunnita Saddam Hussein scatenò la popolazione sciita che covava da anni desideri di vendetta. Attentati alle reciproche moschee uccisero migliaia di persone. Da quel giorno in Iraq c’è l’inferno ma i responsabili fanno shopping sulla Fifth Avenue e vacanze alla Caiman. L’avanzata violenta, sanguinaria, feroce dell’ISIS è soltanto l’ultimo atto di una guerra innescata dai partiti occidentali costretti a restituire i favori ottenuti dalle multinazionali degli armamenti durante le campagne elettorali. Comprare F35 mentre l’Italia muore di fame o bombardare un villaggio iracheno mettendo in prevenivo i “danni collaterali” sono azioni criminali che hanno la stessa matrice: il primato del profitto sulla politica.
Cosa fare adesso?
L’ISIS avanza, conquista città importanti e minaccia migliaia di cristiani. In tutto ciò l’esercito iracheno, creato e addestrato anche con i soldi dei contribuenti italiani, si è liquefatto come neve al sole dimostrando, se ancora ve ne fosse bisogno, il totale fallimento del progetto made in USA che noi abbiamo sposato senza diritto di parola. E’ evidente che la comunità internazionale e l’Italia debbano prendere una posizione. Se non è semplice scegliere cosa fare, anche se delle idee logiche già esistono, è elementare capire quel che non si debba più fare.
1) Innanzitutto occorre mettere in discussione, una volta per tutte, la leadership nordamericana. Gli USA non ne hanno azzeccata una in Medio Oriente. Hanno portato morte, instabilità e povertà. Hanno dichiarato guerra al terrorismo e il risultato che hanno ottenuto è stato il moltiplicarsi del fenomeno stesso. A Roma, nel 2003, manifestammo contro l’intervento militare italiano in Iraq. Uno degli slogan era “se uccidi un terrorista ne nascono altri 100”. Siamo stati profeti anche se non ci voleva un genio per capirlo. Pensare di fermare la guerra in atto in Iraq armando i curdi è una follia che non credo che una persona intelligente come il Ministro Mogherini possa davvero pensare. Evidentemente le pressioni che ha subito in queste settimane e il desiderio che ha di occupare la poltrona di Ministro degli esteri della Commissione europea, l’hanno spinta ad avallare le posizioni di Obama e degli USA ormai autoproclamatisi, in barba al diritto internazionale, poliziotti del mondo. Loro, proprio loro, che hanno sostenuto colpi di stato in tutto il pianeta, venduto armi a dozzine di dittatori, loro che hanno impoverito mezzo mondo, loro che, da soli, utilizzano oltre il 50% delle risorse mondiali. Loro che hanno invaso Iraq e Afghanistan con il pretesto di distruggere le “cellule del terrore” ma che hanno soltanto progettato oleodotti, costruito a Baghdad la più grande ambasciata USA del mondo ed esportato, oltre alla loro democrazia, 25.000 contractors in Iraq, uomini e donne armati di 24ore che lavorano in tutti i campi, dalle armi al petrolio passando per la vendita di ambulanze. La guerra è davvero una meraviglia per le tasche di qualcuno.
2) L’Italia, ora che ne ha le possibilità, dovrebbe spingere affinché la UE promuova una conferenza di pace mondiale sul Medio Oriente alla quale partecipino i paesi dell’ALBA, della Lega araba, l’Iran, inserito stupidamente da Bush nell’asse del male e soprattutto la Russia un attore fondamentale che l’UE intende delegittimare andando contro i propri interessi per obbedire a Washington e sottoscrivere il TTIP il prima possibile. Essere alleati degli USA non significa essere sudditi, prima di applicare sanzioni economiche a Mosca, sanzioni che colpiscono più le imprese italiane che quelle russe, si dovrebbero pretendere le prove del coinvolgimento di Putin nell’abbattimento dell’aereo malese. Non dovrebbe bastare la parola di Washington, soprattuto alla luce delle menzogne dette sull’Iraq.
3) L’Italia dovrebbe promuovere una moratoria internazionale sulla vendita delle armi. Se vuoi la pace la smetti di lucrare sugli armamenti. «L’economia ne risentirebbe» sostiene qualcuno. Balle! Criminalità, povertà e immigrazione sono il frutto della guerra e la guerra si alimenta di sangue e di armi. Nel 2012 la Lockheed Martin, quella degli F35, ha incassato 44,8 miliardi di dollari, più del PIL dell’Etiopia, del Libano, del Kenya, del Ghana o della Tunisia. Chi si scandalizza dei crimini dell’ISIS è lo stesso che lo arma o, quanto meno, che lo ha armato. «Armiamo i curdi» sostiene la Mogherini. Chi ci dice che una volta vinta la guerra i curdi non utilizzeranno quelle armi sui civili sunniti? In fondo non è già successo con Saddam, con i signori della guerra in Afghanistan o in Libia dove la geniale linea franco-americana che l’Italia ha colpevolmente assecondato, ha eliminato dalla scena Gheddafi facendo cadere il Paese in un caos totale?
4) L’Italia dovrebbe trattare il terrorismo come il cancro. Il cancro si combatte eliminandone le cause non occupandosi esclusivamente degli effetti. Altrimenti se da un lato riduci la mortalità relativa da un altro la crescita del numero di malati fa aumentare ogni anno i decessi. E’ logico! Vanno affrontate le cause. Si condanna in Nigeria Boko Haram ma si tace di fronte ai fenomeni di corruzione promossi da ENI che impoveriscono i nigeriani dando benzina alle lotte violente dei fondamentalisti.
5) L’Italia dovrebbe porre all’attenzione della comunità internazionale un problema che va risolto una volta per tutte: i confini degli stati. Non sta scritto da nessuna parta che popolazioni diverse debbano vivere sotto la stessa bandiera. Occorre, finalmente, trovare il coraggio di riflettere su un nuovo principio organizzativo. Troppi confini sono stati tracciati a tavolino con il righello dalle potenze coloniali del ‘900. L’obiettivo politico (parlo dell’obiettivo politico non delle assurde violenze commesse) dell’ISIS, ovvero la messa in discussione di alcuni stati-nazione imposti dall’occidente dopo la I guerra mondiale ha una sua logica. Il processo di nascita di nuove realtà su base etnica è inarrestabile sia in Medio Oriente che in Europa. Bisogna prenderne atto e, assieme a tutti gli attori coinvolti, trovare nuove e coraggiose soluzioni.
6) Dovremmo smetterla di considerare il terrorista un soggetto disumano con il quale nemmeno intavolare una discussione. Questo è un punto complesso ma decisivo. Nell’era dei droni e del totale squilibrio degli armamenti il terrorismo, purtroppo, è la sola arma violenta rimasta a chi si ribella. E’ triste ma è una realtà. Se a bombardare il mio villaggio è un aereo telecomandato a distanza io ho una sola strada per difendermi a parte le tecniche nonviolente che sono le migliori: caricarmi di esplosivo e farmi saltare in aria in una metropolitana. Non sto ne giustificando né approvando, lungi da me. Sto provando a capire. Per la sua natura di soggetto che risponde ad un’azione violenta subita il terrorista non lo sconfiggi mandando più droni, ma elevandolo ad interlocutore. Compito difficile ma necessario, altrimenti non si farà altro che far crescere il fenomeno.
7) Occorre legare indissolubilmente il terrorismo all’ingiustizia sociale. Il fatto che in Africa nera la prima causa di morte per i bambini sotto i 5 anni sia la diarrea ha qualcosa a che fare con l’insicurezza mondiale o con il terrorismo di Boko Haram? Il fatto che Gaza sia un lager ha a che fare con la scelta della lotta armata da parte di Hamas?
8) L’Italia dovrebbe cominciare a pensare alla costruzione di una società post-petrolifera. Il petrolio è la causa della stragrande maggioranza delle morti del XX e XXI secolo. Costruire una società post-petrolifera richiederà 40 anni forse ma prima cominci prima finisci. Non devi aspettare che il petrolio finisca. Come disse Beppe Grillo in uno dei suoi spettacoli illuminanti: «L’energia è la civiltà. Lasciarla in mano ai piromani/petrolieri è criminale. Perché aspettare che finisca il petrolio? L’età della pietra non è mica finita per mancanza di pietre».” Alessadro Di Battista
*Allen Dulle, famoso per aver preso parte alla “Commissione Warren”, la commissione presidenziale sull’assassinio di JFK, fu contemporaneamente direttore della CIA e avvocato delle United Fruit Company, l’attuale Chiquita. Qualche mese prima di aver sostenuto il colpo di stato ai danni di Arbenz si era macchiato della stessa vergogna in Iran. Sotto la sua direzione, infatti, venne lanciata l’Operazione Ajax per sovvertire il governo presieduto da Mohammad Mossadeq, anch’egli colpevole di aver nazionalizzato l’industria petrolifera il che avrebbe garantito introiti per il popolo iraniano e non più per le imprese anglo-americane.
**Anche in quest’ottica va letta l’invasione del Kuwait da parte di Saddam. Non si è trattato di un capriccio di un pazzo.
***Bontade e Teresi sono i due mafiosi che stipularono il “patto di non-aggressione” con Silvio Berlusconi grazie all’intermediazione criminale di Dell’Utri.
thanks to: beppegrillo
Operazione congiunta di Francia e Onu contro i gruppi islamisti. Da marzo del 2012 la guerra civile tra governo, tuareg e islamisti lacera il Paese.