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Israel seeking Africa foothold with renewed Chad ties

Press TV – January 21, 2019

Israel has for some time been trying to expand its influence across the African continent. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Chad is being viewed as a step in this direction. The two sides have now announced the normalization of their diplomatic ties amid reports of Israel supplying the Central African state with weapons.

Netanyahu, and Chadian President Idriss Deby have “announced the renewal of diplomatic relations between Chad and Israel,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said Sunday.

Relations between Tel Aviv and the Muslim-majority country were cut in 1972.

Speaking at a joint press conference in N’Djamena on Sunday, Deby told Netanyahu that the purpose of the visit was to bring the two sides closer and to cooperate.

For his part, Netanyahu said that Israel was announcing “a renewal of diplomatic ties with Chad and making a breakthrough for the Arab and Muslim world.”

He said the restoration of diplomatic ties was “a result of strenuous work of recent years.”

Deby, who won a disputed fifth term in April 2016, visited the occupied Palestinian territories and met with Netanyahu in November, becoming the first Chadian leader to visit Israel, 47 years after the two sides severed ties.

Back then, Israeli media cited sources in N’Djamena as saying that Deby’s visit was focused on “security” and that Tel Aviv had already been supplying weapons and other military equipment to Chad.

Over the past two years, Netanyahu has been seeking to secure a foothold in Africa. He has traveled to several African states in a bid to convince them to stop voting against the Israeli regime at the United Nations in favor of Palestinians.

Amid warming relations with Chad, Israel is seeking to normalize relations with Sudan, among other African states.

Israel is also said to be seeking to take advantage of insurgency and Takfiri militancy gripping parts of Africa to sell advanced military equipment to conflict-ridden states in the continent.

Tel Aviv and the Persian Gulf Arab governments have also taken further steps towards normalization.

Only two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, have open diplomatic relations with Israel. Tel Aviv has recently stepped up its push to make clandestine ties with other Arab governments public and establish formal relations with them.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli PM visits Chad ‘to restore relations’

MEMO | January 20, 2019

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed to Chad on Sunday for talks aimed at restoring diplomatic relations between Tel Aviv and N’Djamena.

“I am now leaving on another historic and important breakthrough, to Chad, a huge Muslim country bordering Libya and Sudan,” The Times of Israel newspaper quoted Netanyahu as saying in statements ahead of travelling to Chad.

“There will be big news,” Netanyahu said, hinting at the formal resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Chad severed diplomatic relations with Israel in 1972.

Netanyahu described his visit to Chad as “part of the revolution we are doing in the Arab and Muslim world”.

The Israeli premier claimed that Iran and the Palestinians have attempted to “prevent Israel’s diplomatic push”.

“It greatly worries, even greatly angers [them],” he said.

The resumption of bilateral ties between Chad and Israel is expected to be announced in a joint press conference between Netanyahu and Chadian President Idriss Deby.

Israeli Channel 10 reported Saturday night that Netanyahu is expected to offer his government’s support for Deby to prevent militants’ infiltration to Chad coming from Libya.

Netanyahu’s delegation to Chad includes senior officials from the defense and finance ministries, in an indication of his target to boost military and trade ties with Chad.

The Chadian President had made a rare visit to Israel in November.

January 20, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sudan Debunks Netanyahu Boasts of ‘Normalization,’ Denies Airspace Access

Sputnik – 07.01.2019

In December 2018, the Israeli Prime Minister boasted that Israeli planes can freely fly through Sudan airspace thanks to a “normalization” of bilateral relations.

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir announced Saturday that his administration has denied the use of country’s airspace for flights toward Israel, denouncing an earlier statement by Netanyahu that Israeli planes could fly over Sudan to South America.

A request to use Sudanese airspace did not come from Tel Aviv directly, however, coming instead from Kenya.

“We received a request to use our airspace on the route to Tel Aviv. The request did not come from El Al, but from Kenya Airways — we refused,” al-Bashir said in an interview with a local Sudanese television network. El Al is Israel’s largest airline and the flag carrier of the self-described Jewish state.

In December 2018, Netanyahu made a statement about Sudanese airspace, boasting how Israel has improved international ties with predominantly-Muslim countries. The statement was made after Netanyahu renewed diplomatic relations with Chad, which had been severed in 1972.

“At this time, we can overfly Egypt. We can overfly Chad, that has already been set. And to all appearances, we can also overfly this corner of Sudan,” he said, pointing to a map.

Neither Netanyahu nor a spokesman elaborated on when exactly Israeli planes would start using Sudanese airspace.

Speaking on Sudanese television, Omar al-Bashir said that Sudan “will not be the first nor the last to normalize relations with Israel.” Earlier on Thursday, al-Bashir said that he “has been advised” to normalize relation with the Jewish state.

The Sudanese president blamed the “Zionist lobby that controls Western countries,” for sanctions imposed on his nation, alleging that Tel Aviv has a plan to destroy its Arab neighbors, while pointing out that Israel has supported rebels fighting against the Sudanese government and is behind what the African described as an economic and diplomatic siege.

Al-Bashir also noted that the Israeli Air Force has bombed Khartoum, the nation’s capital, on two occasions in 2012 and 2014. Media outlets reported the attacks by Tel Aviv on military facilities in Khartoum, and Sudan has held Israel responsible for the attacks.

Israel, with diplomatic incentive from Washington DC, has recently been working on improving ties with Sunni Muslim countries, a bloc led by Saudi Arabia, over fears of a threat from Shiite-Muslim Iran.

Netanyahu personally visited Oman to promote an international railway project. In November 2018, the president of Chad visited Israel, for the first time in 46 years, after diplomatic ties were reestablished.

January 6, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

What stopped Chad’s Idriss Déby from visiting Israel before now?

Dr Mustafa Fetouri | MEMO | December 20, 2018

If you did not know much about Chad, a country in the middle of Africa, it most likely it caught your eye on 26 November when its President, Idriss Déby, landed in Israel for an unannounced visit to the Zionist state. The visit was shrouded in secrecy until Déby’s plane touched down at Ben Gurion Airport. His closest aides had no idea that he was heading to Tel Aviv until the last minute. It reminds me of November 1977, when Egypt’s then President Anwar Sadat made his surprise trip to Israel.

Sadat justified his move by the fact that Egypt and Israel were at war with each other and such a visit, he believed, helped to make peace. Déby, on the other hand, has been in power since December 1990, Chad is not at war with Israel and the two countries are thousands of miles apart; so what motivated him to embark on such an endeavour at this time? Or, indeed, what stopped him from making such a visit before now?

Israeli journalist Herb Keinon answered this question by explaining that, “Chad severed ties with Israel in 1972 after coming under pressure from Libya.” Reuters reported that Dore Gold, the Director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry in 2016, explained after his own visit to Chad why the government in N’Djamena cut ties with Israel over four decades earlier: “[his Chadian hosts] told him that they cut off ties 44 years prior under Libyan pressure, a factor removed with the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi [in 2011].”

Indeed Libya under Gaddafi was the fiercest opponent of Israeli expansion in Africa. As early as 1972, just three years after taking power, Gaddafi forced the then Chadian President, François Tombalbaye, to sever ties with Tel Aviv. Gaddafi believed strongly that any Israeli diplomatic expansion into Africa undermined the continent’s pro-Palestinian position. The late Libyan leader considered Israel to be an enemy best kept as far away as possible from Libya and Africa.

Libya has a history of ties with Chad going back to Italy’s invasion and occupation of Libya in 1911, which saw hundreds of Libyans seeking safety in Chad; their descendants still live in Libya’s southern neighbour. Gaddafi capitalised on this to strengthen ties between this community of exiles and their home country. He also sought to prevent Chad from becoming a threat to Libya’s security, which is why Tripoli was involved in toppling Chadian regimes considered unfriendly, particularly between 1972 and 1990.

Idriss Déby himself became President of Chad in December 1990, with Libyan political and military support. Gaddafi invested Libya’s oil money in Chad; the North African state owns two banks there and some luxury hotels, and built dozens of schools, mosques and medical facilities, as well as communication and agriculture infrastructure.

The late Libyan leader also used his political clout in Africa to keep African countries away from western influence, knowing too well that it would only benefit Israel as many western capitals would encourage them to embrace and help Tel Aviv to infiltrate the continent even more. In this context, Libya founded the African Union in 1999, for Pan-African cooperation. Tripoli also founded the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), bringing 24 Sub-Saharan African counties closer to neighbouring North African Arab states to share investment, free trade, security and foreign policy coordination.

This put Libya, before 2011, in direct competition with western powers in Africa. One of Tripoli’s long term objectives was to launch a golden dinar, backed by its own huge financial reserves, as a currency for African states to replace the CFA franc which is backed by the French treasury. This was one of the reasons behind French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s attack on Libya to topple the Gaddafi regime in 2011.

After Gaddafi was killed in 2011, many of his long term African initiatives were, under French pressure, abandoned. CEN-SAD, for example, is being replaced by the smaller Group of 5 Sahel (G5S) made up of Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. Ironically, though, the members of G5S are the weakest in Africa and are focusing on security by allowing France and the United States to establish military bases in Mali and Niger. This would have been unthinkable if Gaddafi was still around.

Having the best military among the G5S countries, Chad’s Idriss Déby has become even more influential in Africa. This makes his link with Israel even more dangerous.

As the leading armed forces within G5S, Chad’s army is responsible for fighting terrorism in the Sahel region. Déby and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania are seeking to promote G5S as a trusted partner in Africa. In this context, visiting Israel is an important step to unlock further diplomatic and military support.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it his objective since 2016 to visit as many Muslim majority countries as possible. It would not be surprising to see some sort of rapprochement between Israel and Mali, Mauritania or Niger, or all three. Déby’s ice breaking visit to Tel Aviv has helped open the door for such rapprochement in Africa which, once upon a time, was a no-go area for Israel.

Apart from diplomatic gains, Israel is also interested in using Chad and its neighbours as stopovers for flights to South America, saving time and cost. A flight from Tel Aviv to Brazil, for example, will be around four hours shorter if central African airspace can be used. At the moment, such flights take around 17 hours, with at least one stopover in Europe or North America for refuelling.

Déby is facing more security challenges from his own people as armed rebel groups become more organised and stronger thanks to the safe bases they have in southern Libya. Young people in Chad’s Sahel region of Bahr El-Ghazal and Kanem in particular are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the authority in N’Djamena. The President’s security apparatus has been using discriminatory and heavy-handed tactics in the region under the pretext of fighting Boko Haram and other terror groups which infiltrated this vital area after Libya was destroyed by NATO in 2011.

The Chadian President is likely to seek Israeli help to keep himself in power. France, his main backer, “encouraged him to visit Israel,” according to Aqreen Saleh, the former Libyan ambassador to Chad who knows Déby personally. Saleh insists that “security for [Déby’s] regime is the main driver behind the visit to Israel,” not least because, over the past five years, the government in N’Djamena has been challenged by the rebel groups operating from southern Libya.

However, going to Israel is likely to backfire, particularly among Chad’s Muslim majority population. Historically, and especially since Chad gained independence, it has been Muslims who have risen against and toppled the central government.

Before 2011, thousands of Chadians depended on Libya for employment opportunities. Now they are heading to Libya to join rebel groups or work as mercenaries fighting for different Libyan factions, compounding Déby’s problems.

Idriss Déby needs arms and military equipment to fight the threat from the rebels operating out of Libya and Israel is only too happy to supply them to him. In the absence of any strong Arab leadership in Africa post-Gaddafi and the destruction of Libya, more African leaders are likely to embrace apartheid Israel at the expense of African support for the Palestinians and links with the Arab world.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

UAE recruiting Africans for Saudi-led war: Report

Press TV – October 3, 2018

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia’s key partner in the ongoing Riyadh-led invasion of Yemen, has reportedly been recruiting tribesmen from northern and central parts of Africa to fight in the war.

The campaign features Emirati envoys “seducing” the tribesmen across a vast area spanning southern Libya as well as entire Chad and Niger, who earn a living by herding as well as human and material smuggling, the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) press monitoring organization reported on Wednesday.

“This campaign is supervised by Emirati officials who gained material profits in collaboration with human traffickers,” the report added.

An awareness campaign has been launched by Chadian activists, led by campaigner Mohamed Zain Ibrahim, to warn the tribesmen against joining the Saudi-led war.

“The Arabs of the [Persian] Gulf region, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have never bothered to get to know the Arabs of the desert, and today they are asking for their support and seducing them to fight by their side in Yemen!” MEMO cited Ibrahim as telling pan-Arab Arabi21 electronic newspaper.

The envoys offer potential mercenaries such incentives as sums ranging from $900 to $3,000, in addition to acquiring UAE citizenship in return for their applying for jobs in Emirati security companies.

Ibrahim said the job opportunities were “an actual military recruitment campaign to gather mercenaries for the Yemeni war and use them to fight the people of Yemen, who are Arabs and Muslims as well, and all that for a bunch of dollars.”

“A delegation of Emirati people in business visited Niger in January 2018, where they met Arab tribal leaders and recruited 10,000 tribesmen living between Libya, Chad, and Niger,” MEMO said.

The Emirates has been contributing heavily to the 2015-present war, which seeks to reinstall Yemen’s former Saudi-allied officials.

In addition to their own forces, both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have deployed thousands of militants across the violence-scarred country to intensify the invasion.

The Emirati side began beefing up its contribution in June, when the coalition launched a much-criticized offensive against al-Hudaydah, Yemen’s key port city, which receives the bulk of its imports.

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How The Press Hides The Global Crimes Of The West

By Richard Lance Keeble – Media Lens – June 9, 2016

One of the essential functions of the corporate media is to marginalise or silence acknowledgement of the history – and continuation – of Western imperial aggression. The coverage of the recent sentencing in Senegal of Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad, for crimes against humanity, provides a useful case study.

The verdict could well have presented the opportunity for the media to examine in detail the complicity of the US, UK, France and their major allies in the Middle East and North Africa in the appalling genocide Habré inflicted on Chad during his rule – from 1982 to 1990. After all, Habré had seized power via a CIA-backed coup. As William Blum commented in Rogue State (2002: 152):

With US support, Habré went on to rule for eight years during which his secret police reportedly killed tens of thousands, tortured as many of 200,000 and disappeared an undetermined number.

Indeed, while coverage of Chad has been largely missing from the British corporate media, so too was the massive, secret war waged over these eight years by the United States, France and Britain from bases in Chad against Libyan leader Colonel Mu’ammar Gaddafi. (See Targeting Gaddafi: Secret Warfare and the Media, by Richard Lance Keeble, in Mirage in the Desert? Reporting the ‘Arab Spring’, edited by John Mair and Richard Lance Keeble, Abramis, Bury St Edmunds, 2011, pp 281-296.)

By 1990, with the crisis in the Persian Gulf developing, the French government had tired of Habré’s genocidal policies while George Bush senior’s administration decided not to frustrate France in exchange for co-operation in its attack on Iraq. And so Habré was secretly toppled and in his place Idriss Déby was installed as the new President of Chad.

Yet the secret Chad coups can only be understood as part of the United States’ global imperial strategy. For since 1945, the US has intervened in more than 70 countries – in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia. Britain, too, has engaged militarily across the globe in virtually every year since 1914. Most of these conflicts are conducted far away from the gaze of the corporate media.

Reporting of the Habré sentencing has been predictably consistent across all the leading newspapers in the UK and US. Thus the focus has been on the jubilant reactions of a few of the victims of Habré’s torture and rape, on the comments from some of the human rights organisations involved for many years in the campaign to bring the Chad dictator to justice – and on the fact that it was the first time an African country had prosecuted the former head of another African country for massive human rights abuses. Only a tiny part of the reporting has mentioned the West’s role in the genocide. None of the reporting has placed the Chad events in the broader context of US/Western imperial aggression.

The story in the Guardian, by Ruth Maclean, was typical. Some 21 paragraphs were devoted to the report. But only in the last one (appearing almost as an after-thought) was there any mention of US complicity:

The US State department and the CIA propped up Habré, sending him weapons and money in return for fighting their enemy, Muammar Gaddafi.

In a follow-up editorial on 1 June 2016, the Guardian again left mentioning the West’s role until the last paragraph:

Many questions still remain unanswered, including several concerning the responsibility or complicity of Western countries, such as France and the US, which actively supported Habré during the cold war years, turning a blind eye to his methods.

The Telegraph adopted a similar approach. Aislinn Laing, based in Johannesburg, reported briefly:

Mr Habré, 73, is a former rebel leader who took power by force in Chad in 1982 and was then supported by the US and France to remain at the helm as a bulwark to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

Adam Lusher, in the Independent, devoted just eight words to contextualising the trial:

Hissène Habré was once backed by America’s Cold War-era CIA.

In the New York Times, buried in paragraph 24 of a 27-paragraph report by Dionne Searcey are these words:

Mr. Habré took power during a coup that was covertly aided by the United States, and he received weapons and assistance from France, Israel and the United States to keep Libya, to the north of Chad, and Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, then the Libyan leader, at bay.

Similarly, in Paul Schemm’s 23-paragraph report in the Washington Post, his paragraph 15 reads:

Supported by the United States and France in his wars against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, Habré was accused of killing up to 40,000 people and torturing hundreds of thousands.

Neither the Los Angeles Times nor the Belfast Telegraph could find any space to mention the West’s complicity.

Intriguingly, the final paragraph in the Guardian‘s report also included a statement by John Kerry, the US secretary of state, which ‘acknowledged his country’s complicity’:

As a country committed to the respect for human rights and the pursuit of justice, this is also an opportunity for the United States to reflect on, and learn from, our own connections with past events in Chad.

But how hypocritical is this rhetoric given the fact that the US today is still supporting human rights offenders across the globe – including the current dictator of Chad, Idriss Déby. Moreover, the Western powers, the US and France in particular, are using Chad as a major base for their covert military operations in Africa.

A number of newspapers have commented on how the case set an important precedent for holding high-profile human rights abusers to account in Africa. Yet there has been little mention of the extraordinary background. For in June 2003, the US actually warned Belgium that it could lose its status as host to Nato’s headquarters if the Habré case went ahead on the basis of a 1993 law, which allowed victims to file complaints in Belgium for atrocities committed abroad. Campaigners determined to bring Habré to justice only then shifted their attention to Africa.

William Blum comments in the introduction to Killing Hope (p. 13) on the US’s secret wars:

With a few exceptions, the interventions never made the headlines or the evening TV news. With some, bits and pieces of the stories have popped up here and there, but rarely brought together to form a cohesive and enlightening whole; the fragments usually appear long after the fact, quietly buried within other stories, just as quietly forgotten…

How perfectly this both predicts and explains the corporate media’s coverage of the Chad dictator, Hissène Habré!

• Richard Lance Keeble, Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln since 2003, has written and edited 36 books. In 2014, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for Journalism Education.

June 10, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nigeria Announces Truce With Boko Haram

teleSUR | October 17, 2014

The Nigerian military announced on Friday that it reached a ceasefire agreement with the Islamist militant movement, Boko Haram, and that the Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram will be returned to their families.

Air Chief Marshal Badeh first spoke about the truce after a three day meeting between Nigeria and Cameroon. The BBC is reporting that the negotiations were mediated by Chad.

An official with Nigeria’s security forces told Reuters “Commitment among parts of Boko Haram and the military does appear to be genuine … It is worth taking seriously.”

Boko Haram has not made any statement about a truce.

The school girls were abducted from Chibok, a town in the northeastern state of Borno state, six months ago. Through the efforts of Nigerian women activists, the kidnapping of the girls became an international cause and brought Boko Haram onto the world stage. The Nigerian government has been strongly criticized by local as well as international human rights groups for its “lackluster” efforts to retrieve the girls. The release of the girls will be finalized next week in Ndjamena, Chad’s capital.

The Nigerian government spokesperson said that Boko Haram will not be given any land, but that the national government will not say what compromises it has made toward the militant group.

Boko Haram was founded in 2002 and has been fighting with the Nigerians military since 2009. More than 2,000 civilians have been killed this year in this conflict.

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Covert US Military Training Goes to Africa

By William R. Polk | Consortium News | May 30, 2014

With everyone’s attention focused on the European elections or President Barack Obama’s speech at West Point or the Ukraine, a story by Eric Schmitt in The New York Times on Tuesday may not have caught your attention. I believe, however, that it provides an insight into some of the major problems of American foreign policy.

What Mr. Schmitt reports is that the U.S. has set up covert programs to train and equip native teams patterned on their instructors, the U.S. Army Delta Force, in several African countries.  The program was advocated by Michael A. Sheehan who formerly was in charge of special operations planning in the Department of Defense and is now, according to Mr. Schmitt, holder of the “distinguished chair at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.”

Mr. Schmitt quotes him as saying, “Training indigenous forces to go after threats in their own country is what we need to be doing.” So far allocated to this effort, Mr. Schmitt writes, is $70 million, and the initial efforts will be in Libya, Niger, Mali and Mauritania.

How to do this, according to the senior U.S. officer in Africa, Major General Patrick J. Donahue II, is complex: “You have to make sure of who you’re training. It can’t be the standard, ‘Has the guy been a terrorist or some sort of criminal?’ but also, what are his allegiances? Is he true to the country or is he still bound to his militia?”

So let me comment on these remarks, on the ideas behind the program, its justification and the history of such efforts. I begin with a few bits of history. (Disclosure: I am in the final stages of a book that aims to tell the whole history,  but the whole history is of course much too long for this note.)

Without much of the rhetoric of Mr. Sheehan and General Donahue and on a broader scale, we have undertaken similar programs in a number of countries over the last half century.  Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, Guatemala, Egypt, Iraq, Thailand, Chad, Angola to name just a few. The results do not add up to a success almost anywhere.

Perhaps the worst (at least for America’s reputation) were Chad where the man we trained, equipped and supported, Hissène Habré, is reported to have killed about 40,000 of his fellow citizens. In Indonesia, General Suharto, with our blessing and with the special forces we also had trained and equipped, initially killed about 60,000 and ultimately caused the deaths of perhaps 200,000. In Mexico, the casualties have been smaller, but the graduates of our Special Forces program have become the most powerful drug cartel. They virtually hold the country at ransom.

Even when casualties were not the result, the military forces we helped to create and usually paid for carried out the more subtle mission of destroying public institutions. If our intention is to create stability, the promotion of a powerful military force is often not the way to do it. This is because the result of such emphasis on the military often renders it the only mobile, coherent and centrally directed organization in societies lacking in the balancing forces of an independent judiciary, reasonably open elections, a tradition of civil government and a more or less free press.

Our program in pre-1958 Iraq and in pre-1979 Iran certainly played a crucial role in the extension of authoritarian rule in those countries  and in their violent reactions against us.

General Donahue suggests that we need to distinguish among the native soldiers we train and empower those who are “true to the country.” But how? We supported Hissène Habré so long that we must have known every detail of his life. He is now on trial as war criminal. General Suharto has never been charged (nor have those Americans who gave him a “green light”) for his brutal invasion of East Timor. Both probably believed that they met General Donahue’s definition of patriotism.

And in Mali, our carefully trained officers of the Special Forces answered what they thought was both patriotic and religious duty by joining the insurgency against the government we (and we thought they) supported. We have a poor record of defining other peoples’ patriotism.

And, in the interest of more urgent objectives, we have been willing to support and fund almost anyone as long as we think he might be of value. General Manuel Noriega, our man in Panama, went on to spend 22 years in an American prison after we invaded his country and fought the soldiers we had trained.

Indeed, we have a poor record of even knowing who the people we train are. After the Turkish army carried out one of its coups in the 1960s, when I was the member of the Policy Planning Council responsible for the Middle East, I asked the appropriate branch of the Defense Department who were the new leaders, all of whom had been trained in America, often several times during the years. The answer was that no one knew. Even in army records, they were just Americanized nicknames.

And, more generally, our sensitivity to the aspirations, hopes and fears of other people is notoriously crude or totally lacking. Growing out of the Cold War, we thought of many of them as simply our proxies or our enemies.

Thus, we found Chad not as a place with a certain population but just as a piece of the Libyan puzzle, and today we think of Mali in the same way. Now we are talking of training “carefully selected” Syrian insurgents to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Do we have any sense of what they will overthrow him for?

Beyond these, what might be considered “tactical” issues are “strategic,” legal and even  moral considerations. I leave aside the legal and moral issues — such as what justification we have to determine the fate of other peoples — as they do not seem very persuasive among our leaders.

But just focus on the long-term or even middle-term results of the new policy:  the most obvious is that we meddle in and take some responsibility for the politics of an array of countries in which we have little direct interest. And often with the obvious danger of a deeper, more expensive and more painful result. We are close to this commitment in Syria.

Less obvious is that our activities, no matter how carefully differentiated, will be seen to add up to an overall policy of militarism, support of oppressive dictatorships, and opposition to popular forces. They also meld into a policy of opposition to the religion of over a billion people, Islam. And they do so at great expense to our expressed desires to enable people everywhere, including at home, to live healthier, safer and decent lives.

I end with a prediction: in practically every country where Mr. Sheehan’s and General Donahue’s program is employed, it will later be seen to have led to a military coup d’etat.

~

William R. Polk is a veteran foreign policy consultant, author and professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council where he served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His books include: Violent Politics: Insurgency and Terrorism; Understanding Iraq; Understanding Iran; Personal History: Living in Interesting Times; Distant Thunder: Reflections on the Dangers of Our Times; and Humpty Dumpty: The Fate of Regime Change.

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

French fox in African hen house

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Press TV – January 11, 2014

The French finally got what they wanted in the restive Central African Republic – regime change.

Interim President Michel Djotodia and his Prime Minister Nicolas Tiengaye have resigned and the former French colony is now set to form a new government under the watchful eye of Paris.

Western media portray French conduct in the Central African Republic (CAR) as a benevolent force. “We are there to save lives,” said French President Francois Hollande recently.

This is like lauding a fox in a hen house. The reality is that violence and suffering have largely stemmed as a direct result of illegal French interference in that African country.

What’s more, we also can say that the violence has been deliberately provoked by the French as a cover for their real objective – regime change.

Djotodia was forced to step down after he was politically ambushed by other Francophile African leaders at a special conference convened at the end of the week in neighboring Chad.

Before the summit, French diplomats had been briefing the media and other African states that Djotodia “had to go”. The French tried to cover their tracks by saying “we are not here to give our thumbs up or down” but that is exactly what they were doing – giving the thumbs down.

French President Francois Hollande and his Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius have been carping about the CAR leader for weeks and undermining his authority. Obviously, the French wanted rid of Djotodia and his administration – and now they have gotten their illicit way. Lest we forget such interference in the sovereign affairs of another state is illegal.

Notably, just before the conference opened on Thursday in Chad, Djotodia rejected rumors of his impending resignation. In less than 24 hours, he then quit, evidently under duress.

Within minutes of Djotodia’s sacking on Friday, and even before he had returned from Chad, French military tanks had surrounded the presidential palace in the CAR capital Bangui. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also issued a call for Djotodia to be “replaced as soon as possible”.

Chadian President Idriss Déby had been one of the most vocal African leaders calling for Djotodia to quit. Déby, who is described as “a strong French ally” (in other words, “puppet”), was doing France’s bidding and giving an African voice to a directive from Paris, a directive which amounts to a coup d’état.

The Western media narrative, led by France, is that Djotodia “had not done enough to curb the violence” gripping the CAR. More than 1,000 people have been killed in recent weeks in sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians. Roughly a quarter of the country’s five million population have been displaced in the fighting.

Djotodia came to power last year after Muslim rebels known as Seleka deposed the Christian president Francois Bozizé in March. Bozizé was notorious for corruption and had come to power through a French-backed military coup 11 years ago.

With major French commercial interests in the resource-rich country, in particular uranium mining, it seems that France was vexed about the new transitional government led by Michel Djotodia – the first Muslim leader of the mainly Christian country.
Djotodia’s interim administration was legally constituted last April and it was overseeing a transition with elections scheduled at the end of this year.

However, that did not seem good enough to allay the French, who wanted to exert tighter control over the political process within the CAR in order to secure favorable conditions for its commercial interests.

This is the real basis for the French military invasion, not the humanitarian pretext that the Hollande government has been trumpeting.

Last month, chaos and violence in the African country surged after France sent in its troops – allegedly to provide “humanitarian protection” in a situation where there had been no serious violence, apart from French government scaremongering of “imminent genocide”.

French military were dispatched to the CAR on December 2, three days before a French-drafted resolution was passed at the United Nations Security Council authorizing the intervention.

More French troops arrived on December 5, 2013, and only since then have the sectarian clashes in Bangui city and across the country escalated.

The conclusion is inescapable. The humanitarian crisis in the CAR was precipitated by French involvement, not prevented. A major factor for the violence is that the French military moved to unilaterally disarm the Seleka rebels while ignoring Christian vigilante groups known as Anti-Balaka.

The latter were, in effect, given a free hand to maraud Muslim communities and businesses with deadly consequences.

It is therefore obtuse and mendacious for the French government and its African clients to blame Michel Djotodia for not controlling security in his country.

The real culprit for the bloodshed and pandemonium that jolted the CAR is French interference in that country– interference that was illegal and was cynically disguised as “humanitarian.”

There are deep fears that violence against Muslim communities will increase further now that Michel Djotodia has been forced from office.

The Christian Anti-Balaka militias will feel emboldened by the French political interference. Many believe that the Anti-Balaka is being orchestrated by the former French puppet Bozizé from his exile in France.

Tragically, this is just the latest episode of misery for the Central African Republic caused by French neo-imperialist predation.

Since gaining so-called independence from France in 1960, the French have launched more covert coups and countercoups in that country than in any other former African colony.

The CAR remains politically and economically underdeveloped – despite its teeming natural wealth – precisely because of systematic French predatory exploitation.

Poverty in the Central African Republic, as in many other African countries, is a direct result of French policy, primarily due to the “franc afrique” monetary system set up at the time of independence.

This systematic poverty enables France to exploit raw materials and the people mercilessly. And when the racket comes a bit unstuck, the French send in their troops to “restore order”.

What the international community, such as the Non-Aligned Movement of over 100 nations, should be doing is to call for the prosecution of France, not applauding this fox in a hen house.

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , | 1 Comment