Aletho News


Why did Saban and other Jewish donors give a man charged with espionage $670,000?

By Philip Weiss on November 20, 2010

Wow I missed this angle on the AIPAC scandal. Jeff Stein at the Washington Post didn’t. Neither did Justin Elliott who picked it up, calling it “a story that shows just how committed the nationwide network of pro-Israel donors are to their cause”. Myself I am not sure of the motivation for this largesse to Rosen. My wife, who witnessed the kind treatment by his friends of the late-troubled-neocon Eric Breindel through numerous ordeals, used to say that neoconservatives are more loyal than lefties; but I wonder whether these givers weren’t trying to buy something from Rosen? Stein:

largely buried beneath such tawdry details was an admission arguably far more damaging to Rosen’s drive to prove the organization ruined his professional life: that major Jewish donors supported him with hundreds of thousands of dollars during the four years after his dismissal in May 2005.

Lawyers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, argue that such financial support, as well as continuing references to Rosen as an influential figure in Middle East policy circles, shows that his firing hasn’t materially affected his life.

Indeed, many of the dozen benefactors Rosen named, including entertainment mogul Haim Saban and Slim-Fast billionaire Daniel Abraham, are also major donors to AIPAC, which fired him after the Justice Department charged him with illegally giving classified information to Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler and an Israeli Embassy official.

During his Sept. 22 deposition, AIPAC’s lawyer alleged that Rosen had received “over $1 million in gifts or severance or payments of benefits between ’05 and ’09.” Rosen detailed gifts that amounted to $670,000.

…The payments stopped in 2009, Rosen says, when the government dropped its case against him and another AIPAC official, saying it couldn’t make an espionage case against them.

During its deposition of Rosen, AIPAC’s lawyer Thomas L. McCally clearly tried to make his confessions of pornography and philandering the central issues in his dismissal. Rosen shot back that he had “witnessed” AIPAC’s executive director Howard Kohr “view… pornographic images on AIPAC computers,” as well as “his secretary do it repeatedly, and call people over to see it, including Howard Kohr.” He said he “witnessed other members of staff do it,” too.

Kohr did not respond to a request for comment on Rosen’s pornography allegation. AIPAC spokesman Patrick Dorton declined to comment on that allegation but said his suit had no merit.

Rosen.. [contends] that government attorneys stampeded the organization into firing him by playing its officials a selectively edited portion of a wiretapped conversation that made him look like he knew he was illegally trafficking in classified Pentagon documents.

Within hours, the organization announced it was firing Rosen because such alleged behavior “did not comport with standards that AIPAC expects of its employees.”

Rosen says his actions were common practice at the organization. He said his next move is to show that AIPAC, Washington’s major pro-Israeli lobbying group by far, regularly traffics in sensitive U.S. government information, especially material related to the Middle East.

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News | Comments Off on Why did Saban and other Jewish donors give a man charged with espionage $670,000?

LAOS: For Cluster Bomb Survivors, War Far From Over

By Irwin Loy | November 10, 2010 | IPS

VIENTIANE – Eighteen-year-old Phongsavath Manithong rubbed his eyes with the back of his arms as he described how his life changed forever.

He was not even born yet when U.S. military pilots dropped millions of tiny explosives onto Laos. But almost four decades after war ended for this South-east Asian nation, it is people like him who still suffer.

Three years ago, Phongsavath stumbled onto a small, metallic sphere buried in the ground near his school.

He had heard stories about the planes that rumbled overhead decades before, dropping fire from the sky. But he had never before seen a bomb, or held one in his hands. “I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t think it would be dangerous. So I tried to open it,” Phongsavath recalled.

That decision changed his life forever. Phongsavath remembers only seeing a flash of light before his world fell dark. When he awoke in a hospital, he was blind. The bomb had robbed him of his eyesight and ripped away both his hands.

The weapon was part of a decades-old cluster bomb that had been dropped on Laos during the U.S. military’s secretive operations in Indochina between 1964 and 1973. The goal of the air strikes had been to destroy the crucial North Vietnamese Army supply line that snaked its way through Laos and Cambodia on its way to the south. By the time the war was over, those aerial campaigns entrenched Laos as the most heavily bombed country in history.

But today, it is people like Phongsavath who are paying the price for that conflict. Since the war ended, more than 20,000 people in this country have been killed or injured by leftover explosives.

Critics take particular aim at so-called cluster bombs – large explosives dropped from the sky, which contain hundreds of smaller submunitions, or ‘bombies’, as they are referred to in Laos – because they are especially deadly to civilians long after military hostilities have ended.

Estimates suggest more than 270 million individual bombies were scattered over Laos. With a failure rate estimated at around 30 percent, these deadly weapons litter the Lao countryside.

But advocates hope that 2010 represents a turning point in a long-running campaign to eradicate cluster bombs. In August, a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs came into effect. Starting Nov. 9 here in Vientiane, delegates from more than 100 countries are taking part in the first high- level meeting of signatory nations since then, aiming to hammer out a plan to implement the landmark accord.

“The horrifying thing is there may be up to 80 million of these bombs scattered around the countryside, in farmers’ fields, next to schools, beside roads,” said Thomas Nash, coordinator for the Cluster Munition Coalition, a broad group of civil society organisations who have pushed for the wide-reaching ban. “So there’s a huge amount of work to be done to clear this country of the deadly legacy from a war that ended over 35 years ago.”

Laos is seen, per capita, as the most heavily affected country by such munitions. But cluster bombs have riddled conflict-ridden countries around the globe, from Angola to Zambia and Lebanon to Libya.

The 108 nations that have signed on to the Convention on Cluster Munitions have committed to banning the use of the weapons and the eventual destruction of existing stockpiles. They have also made broad pledges to clear contaminated land and provide adequate aid to victims of cluster bombs.

But while heavily affected countries like Laos have ratified the treaty, major military players that still stockpile the weapons – the United States, China and Russia, for example – have not.

Advocates like Nash, however, are hoping the convention will serve to stigmatise the weapons enough so that their use is considered untenable – something he believes has already been accomplished with landmines.

The United States, for example, has not signed on to the Ottawa Treaty, which banned the use of landmines and came into effect more than a decade ago. But it is believed that the U.S. military has not deployed the weapons since the first Gulf War.

“Anti-personnel mines have been eradicated from most military arsenals and we believe the same will happen with cluster munitions,” Nash said.

“You cannot win a political war if you kill civilians, and that’s what cluster bombs do. So I think the message to countries … that haven’t signed is that we believe we have established a standard by which all countries are judged, whether they sign the treaty or not,” he added.

For many who are already scarred by cluster bombs, however, life remains a daily struggle.

Thirty-nine-year-old Ta Doangchom lost both his arms and the sight in his right eye when he triggered a bombie while foraging for food nine years ago. “I can’t support my family,” he said. “All of my children had to leave school because we were so poor. I feel like a burden on my wife and on my family.”

Like Ta, Phongsavath now advocates on behalf of other survivors, urging an end to the use of the weapons that devastated their lives. But he is also still learning to cope with what happened to him.

“I never saw the war with my own eyes,” Phongsavath said. “But I now know that the bombs were dropped on my country. And they didn’t just kill soldiers. They killed men, women and children.”

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | Comments Off on LAOS: For Cluster Bomb Survivors, War Far From Over


November 19, 2010

Jonathan Jay Pollard, the former civilian Naval intelligence analyst who pleaded guilty to spying for Israel, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987. According to Ian Williams’ article in the July/Aug. 1993 Washington Report (see link below): “although Pollard insists he was motivated by concern for Israeli security, he was paid (and is still being paid) a handsome salary by the Israeli government. His Israeli handlers also provided gifts and trips to Europe for Pollard and his wife, Anne. The severity of Pollard’s sentence was based on secret testimony by [then-Defense Secretary] Caspar Weinberger, who is on record as saying that Pollard was lucky–he should have received three life sentences. Pollard provided Israeli intelligence with more than 1,000 classified U.S. documents, some consisting of hundreds of pages, comprising overall some 360 cubic feet of paper.

“According to American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, Pollard sold information on nuclear targets in the Soviet Union to Israel. U.S. defense sources suggest that what caused the most bitter anger against Pollard in the Pentagon and throughout the American intelligence community was the fact that the information compromised human agents in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. U.S. intelligence sources have concluded that the Israeli government bartered this information to the Soviet Union.”

Until 1998 Israel publicly denied that Pollard was an Israeli spy–even though it granted him citizenship in 1995.

The most recent salvo in the relentless campaign to release Pollard is a letter circulated by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and signed by more than 30 Democratic members of the (U.S) House of Representatives calling on President Barack Obama to grant clemency to the confessed spy. Please contact the members of Congress who signed the letter reprinted below to express your opinion on their advocacy for someone who has done incalculable damage to this country. Express your appreciation to members of Congress who did not sign, and urge them to resist pressure from their Israel-first colleagues. And write President Obama to register your disapproval of this letter, which was written in coordination with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, National Council of Young Israel, B’nai B””rith International, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Zionist Organization of America, Agudath Israel, and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, a Christian Zionist whose non-profit organization “American Values” seems to be more concerned with Israel than the United States.

November 18, 2010

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We write to urge you to use your constitutional power to extend clemency to Jonathan Pollard, thereby releasing him from prison after the time he has already served. Mr. Pollard committed serious crimes and he has expressed remorse. Such an exercise of the clemency power would not in any way imply doubt about his guilt, nor cast any aspersions on the process by which he was convicted. Those who have such views are of course entitled to continue to have them, but the clemency grant has nothing to do with that.

We believe that there has been a great disparity from the standpoint of justice between the amount of time Mr. Pollard has served and the time that has been served — or not served at all — by many others who were found guilty of similar activity on behalf of nations that, like Israel, are not adversarial to us. It is indisputable in our view that the nearly twenty-five years that Mr. Pollard has served stands as a sufficient time from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence.

In summary, we see clemency for Mr. Pollard as an act of compassion justified by the way others have been treated by our justice system. We urge you to use the clemency power in this case.


Barney Frank (D-MA)

Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY)

Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ)

Shelley Berkley (D-NV)

Robert A. Brady (D-PA)

Danny Davis (D-IL)

Theodore E. Deutsch (D-FL)

Eliot L. Engel (D-NY)

John J. Hall (D-NY)

James A. Himes (D-CT)

Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY)

Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)

Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI)

John Lewis (D-GA)

Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY)

Michael E. McMahon (D-NY)

Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY)

Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)

Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)

John W. Olver (D-MA)

Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ)

Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ)

Donald M. Payne (D-NJ)

Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)

Laura Richardson (D-CA)

Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL)

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA)

Brad Sherman (D-CA)

Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS)

Edolphus Towns (D-NY)

Niki Tsongas (D-MA)

Henry A. Waxman (D-CA)

Anthony Weiner (D-NY)


Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2010:>;

Ian Williams, “A Tale of Two Spies,” July/August 1993 Washington Report, p. 13:

Paul Findley, “Clinton Under Pressure to Grant Clemency to Pollard,” June 1993 Washington Report, p. 15:

Source : Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | 4 Comments

Who paid for a right-wing campaign to stoke Islamophobia Video?

By Justin Elliott | Salon | November 16, 2010

In the heat of the 2008 presidential election, an obscure nonprofit group called the Clarion Fund made national news by distributing millions of DVDs about radical Islam in newspaper inserts in swing states.

The DVDs, 28 million in all, were a boost to Republican candidates who were trying to paint Democrats as weak on terrorism — and they arguably helped fuel the anti-Muslim sentiment that boiled over in the “ground zero mosque” fight last summer. The film, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West,” was widely criticized for its cartoonish portrayal of Muslims as modern-day Nazis.

But who put up the money to send out all those millions of DVDs?

Clarion, which has strong links to the right-wing Israeli group Aish HaTorah and is listed in government records as a foreign nonprofit, would never say. … Justin Elliot has the answer at Salon

Here is the trailer for Clarion’s new film, “Iranium.” It will be interesting to see if any donor steps forward to pay for wider distribution.

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

The 19 Senators Who Voted To Censor The Internet

TechDirt | November 18, 2010

This is hardly a surprise but, this morning (as previously announced), the lame duck Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to move forward with censoring the internet via the COICA bill — despite a bunch of law professors explaining to them how this law is a clear violation of the First Amendment. What’s really amazing is that many of the same Senators have been speaking out against internet censorship in other countries, yet they happily vote to approve it here because it’s seen as a way to make many of their largest campaign contributors happy. There’s very little chance that the bill will actually get passed by the end of the term but, in the meantime, we figured it might be useful to highlight the 19 Senators who voted to censor the internet this morning:

  • Patrick J. Leahy — Vermont
  • Herb Kohl — Wisconsin
  • Jeff Sessions — Alabama
  • Dianne Feinstein — California
  • Orrin G. Hatch — Utah
  • Russ Feingold — Wisconsin
  • Chuck Grassley — Iowa
  • Arlen Specter — Pennsylvania
  • Jon Kyl — Arizona
  • Chuck Schumer — New York
  • Lindsey Graham — South Carolina
  • Dick Durbin — Illinois
  • John Cornyn — Texas
  • Benjamin L. Cardin — Maryland
  • Tom Coburn — Oklahoma
  • Sheldon Whitehouse — Rhode Island
  • Amy Klobuchar — Minnesota
  • Al Franken — Minnesota
  • Chris Coons — Delaware

This should be a list of shame. You would think that our own elected officials would understand the First Amendment but, apparently, they have no problem turning the US into one of the small list of authoritarian countries that censors internet content it does not like (in this case, content some of its largest campaign contributors do not like). We already have laws in place to deal with infringing content, so don’t buy the excuse that this law is about stopping infringement. This law takes down entire websites based on the government’s say-so. First Amendment protections make clear that if you are going to stop any specific speech, it has to be extremely specific speech. This law has no such restrictions. It’s really quite unfortunate that these 19 US Senators are the first American politicians to publicly vote in favor of censoring speech in America.

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | 36 Comments

The tribulations of the Tuareg

Disenfranchised and impoverished, the Tuareg now stand accused of being allied to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

Jeremy Keenan | Al-Jazeera | November 20, 2010

Many media reports are linking the Tuareg tribesman of the Sahara to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [EPA]

Are the Tuareg tribesmen of the Sahara, as many media reports are now intimating, allied to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)?

This question has become especially pertinent since the abduction of seven employees of two French companies from their living quarters in Arlit, northern Niger, in September.

The immediate reports on the hostage taking, for which AQIM has claimed responsibility, said that the kidnappers were heard to speak Arabic and Tamashek, the language of the Tuareg. This information subsequently appeared to be contradicted by a Tuareg guard who, having himself been attacked by the assailants, said that he heard them speaking Arabic and Hausa. He made no mention of Tamashek, but his evidence seems to have been ignored on the presumption that he would be unlikely to incriminate his own people.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of media articles and broadcasts have followed the leads given by the Niger government, Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT), the president of Mali, Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, and Brice Hortefeux, the French interior minister, whose statements suggested that AQIM ‘subcontracted’ the abduction to the Tuareg.

Media hot seat

The Tuareg are the indigenous population of much of the Central Sahara and Sahel.

Today, their largest concentrations are in northern Niger and northern Mali where they comprise approximately 10 per cent of the national populations, numbering around 1 million in Niger and perhaps a fraction less in Mali.

Other Tuareg populations are in southern Algeria and south west Libya, where they comprise small minorities of around 50,000 or less in each country, with perhaps 25,000 to 50,000 in Burkina Faso and a small scattering in Mauritania.

It is among these larger communities, notably northern Mali and to a lesser extent Niger, that AQIM has embedded itself.

The following points go some way to answering this question:

• Although AQIM has claimed responsibility for the Arlit abduction, we do not yet know for certain the individuals involved in the raid. Individual Tuareg may or may not have been involved.

• Although the Tuareg ‘communities’ have always denied taking part in such criminal activities, most of their leaders and spokespersons recognise that ‘black sheep’ are to be found among all peoples. Among the Tuareg, especially in Niger and Mali where the recent (2007-2009) Tuareg rebellions have stuttered to unsatisfactory and perhaps only temporary states of ‘peace’, a not inconsiderable number of young ‘ex-rebel’ fighters have turned to banditry and ‘criminality’ as a means of economic survival. Some of this ‘opportunism’ is undoubtedly associated with AQIM’s activities. Indeed, many of the young, former rebels of Niger who have taken to banditry now live in and around Tamanrasset, the capital of Algeria’s extreme south, and might therefore well presume that their banditry in northern Niger is being sanctioned by the Algerian state.

• As Nicolas Roux remarked recently in addressing this subject in People with Voices: “If a French national were involved in a terrorist organisation, no one would declare ‘The French’ to be part of such activities.”

• In a similar vein, Boutali Tchewiren, the president of the Alhak-Nakal (Right to Land) Association and former spokesman of the Niger Tuaregs’ rebel MNJ (Mouvement des Nigériens pour la justice Mouvement), responded immediately to the accusatory comments from Niamey and Paris. “Just because some of the kidnappers spoke Tamashek, the whole Tuareg community should not be accused,” he told AFP. Tchewiren also rebuked Kouchner, who said that: “Those who took these men and women could be Tuaregs working to order. They will sell them to the terrorists, who are not themselves very numerous.” “That,” Tchewiren said, “is a serious accusation. It’s too gross and ridiculous to accuse the Tuareg people in this way. The Tuareg community is not responsible for the actions of a few individuals, even if they’re members of this community.”

• Similar objections came from Mali’s Tuaregs. On September 20, two Mali MPs, Alghabasse Ag Intalla and Bajan Ag Hamatou, who are both representatives of the Tuareg community, sent a strongly written protest to the French ambassador to Mali about the way in which the Tuareg were being stigmatised. They wrote: “You know, Excellency, that there has not been a single day, since a certain time, when ‘The Tuaregs’ have not been put in the hot seat by a press article, radio or other form of communication in regard to their supposed involvement in this or that infamy perpetrated in their region.”

‘Putative terrorists’

The point of what I have to say goes far beyond the mere question of whether some Tuareg may have been implicated in the Arlit heist. It is directed to the overall situation of the Tuareg since 2003, when the Americans launched the new Saharan-Sahelian front in the so-called ‘global war on terror’ (GWOT).

It is often argued that extreme Islamist movements find their support not only among ideologues but also – through their promise of a better ‘social alternative’ – from among the socially deprived, repressed and marginalised. In the Sahara-Sahel, especially since 2003, that has been the Tuareg. Indeed, the impact of the GWOT on the Tuareg peoples has been nothing short of catastrophic.

On the above premise, and when we consider what the Tuareg have endured at the hands of Washington and their own governments during the GWOT, not to mention the exploitation of their lands by foreign mining and oil companies, we might well ask why the Tuareg, instead of condemning AQIM, are not queuing up to join it ranks.

In fact, the reality of the GWOT in the Sahara-Sahel has not been about fighting ‘terrorists’, but about how the local governments, linked into the GWOT through Washington’s Pan Sahel (PSI) and Trans-Sahara Counter-terrorism initiatives of 2004 and 2005 respectively, have been provoking the Tuareg into taking up arms so that they might be categorised as ‘terrorists’ or, as one US state department analyst argued rather quaintly in the context of the assumed link between terrorism and trafficking, ‘putative terrorists’.

What the Tuareg have had to endure in the so-called GWOT is both shocking and shameful. Let me summarise:

The kidnapping of 32 European hostages in the Algerian Sahara in 2003, under the direction of Algeria’s intelligence and security services, the DRS, brought the immediate collapse of one of the main pillars of the Tuareg economy in southern Algeria. The loss of some 10,000 tourists in southern Algeria alone, spending an estimated $750 each, meant an annual loss of approximately $7.5mn, most of which found its way into the local Tuareg community.

Many of these Tuareg, faced with penury, were forced into shadowy and sometimes even ‘criminal’ activities, such as working for the various trans-Saharan trafficking businesses, either as fuel suppliers, drivers or guides.

From 2004 onwards, the governments of Algeria, Niger, Mali and Mauritania all used the pretext of the GWOT to crack down on legitimate opposition, civil society and ‘troublesome’ ethnic minorities such as the Tuareg. Tuareg communities throughout the region were constantly being provoked by their governments into rebellious behaviour, with the purpose of demonstrating to Washington the potential threat of terrorism within the Sahara-Sahel region. The pay-off for local governments was the financial and military largesse that comes with the blessing of Washington.

‘Explosion of anger’

The US-Algerian plan to create ‘false-flag’ terrorism incidents in the Sahara-Sahel was formulated in September 2002, with the first (botched) effort at kidnapping European tourists taking place in October that year. Tuareg in the region were aware of this incident and the following month wrote to the Algerian prime minister accusing the government of ‘sabotage’. The same Tuareg, in the name of the ‘citizens of Tamanrasset’, had already written to Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the Algerian president, warning him that unless the government ceased its harassment of local people “there was likely to be an explosion of local anger, the outcome of which could not be predicted”.

In July 2005, that anger exploded into two days of rioting during which some 40 of Tamanrasset’s commercial and government buildings were set on fire. Some 150 Tuareg youths were detained, with 64 jailed and the remainder fined. When their cases eventually came to court, it was revealed that the riots had been led by the secret police, acting as agents provocateurs. One prominent local citizen expressed the views of many when he said: “Now that they [the Algerian authorities] have the Americans behind them, they have become even bigger bullies.”

In 2004, four weeks after the arrival of US PSI special forces in the Sahel, Niger’s government provoked the Tuareg into taking up arms by imprisoning a leading Tuareg politician on trumped up accusations of murder. He was released after 13 months without any charges brought against him.

In May 2006, Algeria’s DRS, accompanied by some 100 US special forces, supported and orchestrated a Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali. Four months later, the DRS, with the complicity of the US, paid the same Tuareg substantial sums of money to attack the renowned Algerian ‘outlaw’ Mokhtar ben Mokhtar in northern Mali in order to give the impression to the outside world that there really was ‘terrorism’ in the Sahara. At least five Tuareg were killed.

In early 2007, a major Tuareg uprising, again provoked by the Niger government, but with Algeria’s DRS believed to have been involved, broke out in northern Niger and lasted for almost three years. As in Mali, where an equally protracted rebellion began a few months later, a conclusive peace agreement is still awaited.


The main cause of the Niger rebellion was the Tuaregs’ demand for a share in the benefits of the exploitation and development of their region’s natural resources, notably the massive uranium mining operations being undertaken by international companies.

In Mali, the underlying cause of the rebellion was the perceived disenfranchisement and marginalisation of the Tuareg and the failure of the government to fulfill the commitments of a peace agreement ensuing from an earlier rebellion during the 1990s.

In both countries, fighting became gruesome, especially in Niger where the regime of the now deposed President Mamadou Tandja adopted the genocidal strategy of attacking and killing Tuareg civilians, especially old men, women and children. The UN failed to acknowledge written notification of Niger’s genocide, let alone act on it, while the UN secretary general’s special envoy subsequently failed abjectly to even make meaningful contact with the rebels before himself being taken hostage by AQIM.

In February 2008, Malian forces swept through Mali’s north east region, ransacking and looting the border garrison town of Tin Zaouatene and driving the entire civilian population into the desert. Although no one was reported killed, the action provoked revenge attacks against the Malian army by Tuareg rebels and an escalation of the overall conflict.

The number of Tuareg killed in these and related incidents is not known precisely, but can be estimated at around 500.

As for their economy and livelihoods, tourism, reduced to near zero in southern Algeria after the 2003 hostage-takings, has gone the same way, but in bigger numbers, in Niger and Mali. Recently, Point Afrique, the main charter flight operator into the region, curtailed flights to Tamanrasset, Djanet and Timimoun in southern Algeria; Agades in Niger; Atar in Mauritania and Gao in Mali. Estimated tourist numbers across the region have fallen from close to 100,000 a year to almost zero, an estimated loss of perhaps $50mn to $75mn.

With the Niger army killing Tuareg livestock and AQIM’s circumscription of nomadic movement in Mali, pastoralism, along with most other commercial activities (other than banditry and drug trafficking), has also been decimated. Not surprisingly, most NGOs have also left the region.

‘Terror zone’

Two new sets of maps of the Sahara-Sahel epitomise the anger of the Tuareg towards their own governments, Washington and foreign mining and oil companies.

One, produced by the Pentagon in 2003, just after it fabricated its new Sahara-Sahelian front in the GWOT, portrays the Tuareg domain as a ‘Terror Zone’.

The second, produced by the regions’ governments, shows the same Tuareg domain as a chequer-board of mining and oil prospecting concessions licensed to hundreds of foreign oil and mining companies.

The first map reflects Washington’s self-fulfilling prophecy. The US’ original act of ‘state terrorism’ in the Sahara-Sahel, implemented by Algeria’s DRS, is finally taking on a life and momentum of its own and threatening to change the face of north west Africa for good.

The second reflects how the Tuareg are being dispossessed of their lands without a word of consultation and in contravention of a raft of international conventions and protocols relating to the rights of indigenous peoples.

Marginalised by their governments; ignored by the international community and deprived by the GWOT of their livelihoods, but still skilled fighters, the question now being asked is whether the Tuareg, especially in Mali, where the AQIM presence is greatest, will attempt to take matters into their own hands.

Jeremy Keenan is a professorial research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, and author of The Dark Sahara: America’s War on Terror in Africa.

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on The tribulations of the Tuareg