As recently acknowledged by The Washington Post, US Special Forces are directly involved in military operations in Libya, «coordinating American airstrikes and providing intelligence information» to local forces battling the Islamic State (IS) for Sirte, 450 kilometres to the east of Tripoli.
British special forces have also been active in Libya for several months, providing direct military support to brigades from Misurata (Libya’s third largest city situated in the northwest of the country), which are also attacking Sirte. Paradoxically, the British and Americans are supporting irreconcilable enemies in the Libyan conflict as allies.
France is also involved in the intervention in Libya. On 26 July, in Libya a helicopter containing three French soldiers was shot down. French special forces are supporting the forces of General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the armed forces of the Libyan Parliament (the House of Representatives) located in Tobruk in the west of the country. The French soldiers were killed by militants from the Benghazi Defence Brigades – an armed group formed by radicals from Misurata. The group is led by Ismail al-Sallabi, the brother of Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leader Ali al-Sallabi. Its aim is to prevent General Khalifa Haftar gaining control of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, and the oil fields in Cyrenaica.
It has to be said that the battle between the militants from Misurata and the Islamic State is rather conditional in nature. The Islamic State in Libya is an experiment by the Qatari intelligence agencies, and an unsuccessful one at that. Unlike Syria and Iraq, there are no prerequisites for the expansion of the Islamic State in Libya. In Iraq, the emergence of the IS was largely due to the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict, which does not exist in Libya. In addition, the ideology of the Islamic State involves the unification of Islamists regardless of tribal affiliation. This is possible in Syria and Iraq, but is out of the question in Libya, where the tribal factor determines the structure of society. Realising that its experiment had failed, Qatar began strengthening the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood with the Misurata tribe and the fighting in Sirte is an attempt to use one group of Islamists to remove another.
After learning of the downed French helicopter, Fayez al-Sarraj, the prime minister of Libya’s national unity government, which has little real power over the country, condemned the actions of Paris, calling them an intervention. It is interesting, however, that al-Sarraj’s government is taking a completely different line with regard to America’s intervention in Libya, which does not just consist of special forces operations, but also the bombing of IS positions by US F-16 fighter jets. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on 9 August, the Libyan prime minister said that there are no US ground troops in Libya, only the US Air Force, which is carrying out surgical strikes on terrorist targets. In doing so, Fayez al-Sarraj deliberately misled the reading public just as Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council that overthrew the Gaddafi government, misled the public in the summer of 2011. Nobody mentions Abdul Jalil today, he has disappeared from the radar screens. Will the political biography of al-Sarraj, whose government has become a fig leaf covering up Western intervention, turn out to be just as short? Especially as his government is not the only one in Libya. Besides the National Unity Government, there is also the previously-mentioned House of Representatives in Tobruk, which is based on an elected parliament, and a government in Tripoli. However, these two governments together control only a small part of the country. As well as these, there are hundreds of armed groups that, strictly speaking, are the real masters of the situation.
The National Unity Government (a name that actually sounds comical given the current situation in Libya) was formed under the mediation of the UN and the West and from April to July this year was even too afraid to appear in Tripoli, its headquarters located at the Bu Sitta naval base on an island not far from the Libyan capital (similar to the ‘Green Zone’ in Baghdad set up by US occupying forces). One of the first steps taken by the new government was to begin talks on the merger of two oil companies operating independently of each other in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. Upon hearing this, the ears of al-Sarraj’s Western sponsors pricked up, since their first and primary interest is Libyan oil. As a consequence, fighting for the control of territory is mostly taking place in Sirte and Ajdabiya, where Libya’s main oil terminals are located. The second interest of those involved in NATO’s Libyan intervention is to safeguard Europe’s southern flank from Libya’s coastline, which stretches for 1800 kilometres.
NATO justified its first Libyan intervention in 2011 with concerns for the establishment of democracy in the country following the overthrow of Gaddafi’s «tyrannical regime». This time, the intervention is being justified by the need to combat Islamic extremism. Something has changed in the five years between 2011 and 2016, however: while the anti-Gaddafi opposition held meeting after meeting in Benghazi in 2011 calling for NATO troops to be deployed in the country, now, after the French helicopter was shot down, meetings are being held in Libya against Western intervention.
Over the past five years, Libyans have learned a lot from their bitter experience: they have realised that ‘help’ from the West in establishing ‘democracy’ and in the ‘fight against extremism’ brings nothing but destruction, death and the displacement of those still alive. Today, three million Libyans, which is half of the country’s population, are forced to live outside of their homeland.
Woman on Nice beach being forced to remove her burkini by armed police, Aug. 23, 2016. | Photo: AFP
Armed French police ordered a Muslim woman to remove her burkini swimsuit on a Nice beach Tuesday, adding further controversy to a ban on the garment amid growing Islamophobia in France.
Photographs show the woman removing her burkini—a full-body swim piece, while four armed police surround her on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The woman was issued a ticket by police for not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism,” according to AFP.
“I was sitting on a beach with my family … I was wearing a classic headscarf. I had no intention of swimming,” said the 34-year-old mother, who only gave her first name, Siam.
“Today we are not allowed on the beach. Tomorrow, the street? Tomorrow, we’ll be forbidden from practicing our religion at all?” Siam asked.
Mathilde Cousin, witnessed the incident and told the Guardian, “The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home,’ some were applauding the police. Her daughter was crying.”
Nice is the latest of 15 towns to ban the burkini. The mayor of nearby Villeneuve-Loubet said that the ban was important to “protect the population.”
Last week three Muslim women were fined $US43 for wearing burkinis in Cannes. On Tuesday, a mother of two reported she had been fined on the Cannes beach for wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls defended the ban, saying that “Beaches, like all public areas, must be protected from religious claims. The burkini is not a new range of swimwear, a fashion. It is the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women.”
The niqab and burqa veils were banned by France in 2010. Critics say the burkini ban is steeped in Islamophobia and secular extremism. Some advocacy groups have filed legal action against the ban that “pits citizens against one another,” said Marwan Muhammad from the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.
The burkini was originally designed in 2004 by Australian-Lebanese fashion designer, Aheda Zanetti, who also created the “hijood,” a head covering that can be used by Muslim women to play sports.
“This has given women freedom, and they want to take that freedom away? So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians? They are as bad as each other,” Zanetti said to the Guardian.
Since the crackdown on burkinis, its sales have seen a dramatic increase of 200 percent, with many non-Muslims buying the swimsuit to protest its ban.
A group that campaigns for stricter arms sales controls said on Monday that Western powers were breaking international law by selling vast amounts of weapons to Saudi Arabia that are being used to hit civilians in Yemen.
The Control Arms Coalition said Britain, France and the United States were flouting the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which bans exports of conventional weapons that fuel human rights violations or war crimes.
“It is extremely concerning that many transfers are still continuing, in particular the governments of the United States, the UK and France have authorized and are continuing to export very large quantities of weapons, including explosive weapons, bombs which are being used daily against civilians in Yemen,” said Anna MacDonald, director of the Control Arms Coalition.
She was speaking to a news briefing as week-long U.N. negotiations began in Geneva aimed at putting teeth into the ATT which lacks a mandatory public reporting system for the $100 billion global arms trade.
France authorized arms licenses worth $18 billion to Saudi Arabia last year, followed by the United States at $5.9 billion and Britain’s $4 billion, the group said in its latest study.
Nigeria’s ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, who chairs the conference, said: “The allegation is quite grave and it should be of concern to everyone including the ATT secretariat itself.”
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said last week it was evacuating its staff from six hospitals in northern Yemen after a Saudi-led coalition air strike hit one of its hospitals, killing 18 people.
Outcry over civilian casualties has led some members of the US Congress to push for restrictions on arms transfers. The Obama administration this month approved a potential $1.15 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia.
Last week, US Senator Chris Murphy slammed his country’s administration over bombing civilians in Yemen, saying “there is an American Imprint on Every Civilian Life Lost in Yemen.”
In a statement on Friday, the Pentagon cautioned that its support for Saudi Arabia in its campaign was not “a blank check,” however, and said it has pressed the coalition on the “need to minimize civilian casualties.”
Campaigners said arms exports also drove fighting in South Sudan last month that killed hundreds, prompting fears of a return to civil war.
“We think that governments of other countries have fueled this violence by repeatedly authorizing arms transfers to South Sudan,” said Geoffrey Duke, head of South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms. He named China, Ukraine and South Africa as the main suppliers to the Juba government.
To date, 87 countries have ratified the ATT, while another 46 – including the United States – have signed it, leaving important gaps, Imohe said.
“For example, in the Arab world only Mauritania is listed amongst states parties, while Asia Pacific has only three states parties,” he said, referring to Japan, Samoa and Tuvalu.
Casuistry, which one dictionary defines as “specious, deceptive, or oversubtle reasoning, especially in questions of morality” is, rightly or wrongly, inextricably linked to the history of Jesuit order of the Catholic Church. And the rise of the Jesuit order is deeply enmeshed with the Counter-Reformation, a set of measures designed to roll back the spread of Protestantism in Europe during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The control center of the movement was Spain, the world-striding superpower of that historical moment.
Rightfully fearful that Protestantism’s rejection of long-standing modes of clerical privilege and the Church’s “right” to collect vast sums of money from parishioners would undermine their ability to bully and bribe Italian, French, Dutch and German potentates into compliance with their political demands, the Spanish Monarchy undertook an endless series of military adventures against “heretics” across the Continent in the years between 1530 and 1648. This military thrust was accompanied by a well-organized propaganda campaign in which the highly educated Jesuits priests played a crucial role.
Appearing morally and intellectually reasonable while serving as a convinced advocate for the systematic subjugation of other people and their animating ideals is not a simple task. In the long run it is, in fact, an impossible one. No amount of argument can convince a person or group of persons who see them selves as suffering under the boot of another that their bondage is a good and necessary thing. What such a rhetorical posture can do, for a time at least, is convince the subjects of the hegemonic country of, if not the inherent nobility of their bloody mission, its generally benign nature.
A key, if generally unstated, goal of the 16th and 17th century Jesuits was to insure that the highly problematic matter of Rome’s corruption, and the brutal Imperial designs of the Spanish monarchy that lay behind it, never be allowed to occupy the center zone of what then passed for “public” discourse.
When confronted by the emergent Protestant movements about the clear violations of Christian morality practiced by the Church of Rome, they responded with complex disquisitions on the largely circumstantial nature of all moral reasoning. By constantly parsing the intricacies of how overarching moral rules should, or should not, be applied in each particular circumstance (and teaching others to do the same), they very effectively prevented the emergence within the Church, and by extension in the leadership class of the Spanish Empire, of a frank discussion of the quite real and deeply-felt grievances of their many enemies.
I am reminded of all this when I read or watch the news after every so-called “terrorist” attack against a US or European target. Within minutes of the violence, mainstream journalists, begin intense speculation about what particular ethnic group the assailant came from, how he or she became “radicalized” (as if the desire to kill was akin to some sort of contagious moral flu) and whether the “West’s” latest stand-in for PURE EVIL™ (e.g. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL) was behind the act.
What will almost never be talked about are the many very good reasons a person from the vast region stretching from Morrocco in the west, to Pakistan in the east, have to be very angry at, and to feel highly vengeful toward, the US, its strategic puppeteer Israel, and their slavishly loyal European compadres like France, Germany and Great Britain.
There is never any talk of that group of august “democracies” long-standing penchant for implanting, then staunchly supporting, ruthless and deeply corrupt regimes in that region.
No talk of the very long Algerian experience of French colonialism, nor the US and French- backed coup of that country’s government in 1992 which led to a civil war that left 200,000 people dead.
No talk of the coup against the legally elected president of Egypt in 2013, nor the cold-blooded massacres carried out by his US-backed successor upon hundreds of that same president’s followers.
No talk of the decision of the US to back elements of ISIS in order to cynically extend a Syrian Civil War that was on its way to peace—albeit an imperfect one—by means of a Syrian government victory by late 2013.
No talk of the planned destruction of Libya in 2011 and its enormous effects on the stability of life in that once wealthy country as well as all of northern Africa.
No talk of the US-Israeli nullification of the results of the Palestinian elections of 2006, Israel’s coldly planned siege of Gaza nor the “shoot-fish-in-a barrel” assaults on that benighted enclave by Israel in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014.
No talk of the ongoing Saudi—and therefore US-approved—war on Yemen, nor the ruthless Saudi march on Bahrain in 2011 in which several dozen people died and thousands of democracy activists were tortured and/or carted off to prison.
No talk of the 18-year Israeli—and therefore, US-backed—occupation of Southern Lebanon nor Israel’s 1993, 1996 and 2006 assaults upon that same country.
Oops, I almost forgot. There is no talk of the small matter the calculated US destruction of Iraq, pre-invasion Libya’s rival as the Arab world’s most wealthy and socially progressive state.
But hey, why talk about all that off-putting stuff when you can boil it all down to neat tales of personal ideological contamination, Svengali-like recruiters lurking in mosques, and that old standby, the development of an urgent need to bang virgins in the hereafter.
It seems the media believes that the delicate imperial mind must be left free from understanding the effects of the actions for which it regularly cheers and prays.
The best way to insure this? Casuistry, as the old saying goes, “Pure casuistry”.
Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.
The imam of Florence has posted a picture of habit-wearing nuns splashing along the seashore on Facebook, calling for dialogue about burqini bans… but got his account blocked instead.
The post by Izzedin Elzir got some 2,700 shares, and came in response to the French southern cities – like Cannes and Nice – prohibiting the wearing of burqinis on the beach.
The day after the imam published his post, he awoke to find his account blocked.
“It’s incomprehensible. I have to send them an ID document to reactivate it. They wanted to make sure it’s my account – it’s a very strange procedure,” the indignant imam told La Repubblica.
On Friday, his account was back in, and the imam said he hopes it wasn’t blocked because of the picture, as it urges dialogue, and “we live in a society of law and freedom.”
He also noted that the burqini had only come into fashion among Muslim women over the past few years, and he expressed regret that “some politicians in France, instead of responding to the political and economic needs of their citizens, are focusing on how Muslims dress.”
Many online commenters tended to agree with the imam, saying that “The sea is for everyone,” and describing the ban as “a psychological tool against Muslims.”
However, others disagreed, “Don’t confuse the two different situations: these are women who have CHOSEN to religious life with the rules that it imposes, the ‘others’ are FORCED to dress even on the beach,” a comment read.
It’s not the first burqini-linked scandal this week. On Thursday, Austrian politician Ahmet Demir caused uproar after publishing a photo of two nuns and joking that they were “oppressed women” in burqas. Later, he took the post down and apologized, but defended his post saying that he was attempting to convey the message that “every woman should be able to wear what they want as long as they chose the clothes themselves.”
On Tuesday, Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told Corriere Della Serra that Italy wouldn’t follow France’s suit and ban the burqini, but will step up regulations of imams and mosques.
Two days later, Italian authorities expelled the Tunisian imam Khairredine Romdhane Ben Chedli. The 35-year-old imam was lately absolved of terrorism-related charges, but still deemed unfit to remain in his post, the ANSA news agency said.
© assila_france / Instagram
The French women’s rights minister has defended the ‘burqini’ bans introduced in three French towns, saying the swimwear is “hostile to diversity.” She has previously been criticized for comparing veil-wearing Muslims to “American negroes” who supported slavery.
“The burqini is not some new line of swimwear, it is the beach version of the burqa and it has the same logic: hide women’s bodies in order to control them better,” French Minister for Women’s Rights Laurence Rossignol told French Le Parisien newspaper.
She added that burqinis represent a “deeply archaic vision of the place of women in society and, thus, the relationship between men and women.”
“There is an idea that women are … immoral and should hide their body… A hundred years passed, but [according to burqini inventors] a woman who reveals her ankles or hair is not a woman of virtue.”
According to Rossignol, the burqini topic sparked tensions because of its political dimension.
“It is not just the business of those women who wear it, because it is the symbol of a political project that is hostile to diversity and women’s emancipation,” she said.
Burqinis have recently been a hot topic in France after several towns banned the controversial swimwear worn by some Muslim women.
The first city to ban burqinis was Cannes, with Mayor David Lisnard ruling that: “Access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have [bathing apparel] that respects good customs and secularism.”
His moved was followed by the mayor of another French Riviera town, Villeneuve-Loubet. This time the Muslim swimwear was banned for “hygiene reasons,” according to the town’s mayor, Lionnel Luca.
A village on the French island of Corsica became the third place in France to ban burqinis after the female Muslim swimwear reportedly caused a violent brawl between locals and migrants of North African origin there.
Earlier in August, the Pennes-Mirabeau commune near Marseille canceled a controversial pool party that had been planned by a Muslim group. The organizers, the Smile 13 group, which describes itself on Facebook as a sports and social event group for women and children, said they had received death threats, with one person even claiming they received bullets in the mail.
© assila_france / Instagram
RT | August 16, 2016
The Corsican village of Sisco is the third French locality to announce a burkini ban on beaches, in the name of “gender equality,” but Muslim women who oppose such “misogynistic” measures are targeting “western feminists” for a lack of public support.
Following bans by the French Riviera towns of Cannes and Villeneuve-Loubet citing “hygienic reasons” and linking it to terrorism, Sisco’s mayor enacted the restriction after a major brawl this past weekend in his village over the controversial swimsuit.
The debate has gripped France with Islamophobes, socialists, and feminists, among others, seemingly placed on the same side on the issue.
“Since when did wearing a burkini, in most cases a loose fitting nylon version of a wetsuit, become an act of allegiance to terrorist movements?” Huda Jawad of the Independent asked.
“Do Marks & Spencer or House of Fraser know that their attempt to raise profits and exploit a gap in the over-saturated clothing market is selling and promoting allegiance to ISIS?” she added, referring to recent clothing brands selling the swimwear.
“These daily micro, and at times macro, aggressions indicate the extent to which misogynistic Islamophobia has become normalized in Western discourse and public debate,” Jawad noted. “What hurts the most is the silence of fellow mainstream and ‘western’ feminists whose voices would have a significant impact on how these issues are framed and articulated.”
In an interview with Le Parisien, Socialist Party Minister for Family, Children and Women’s Rights Laurence Rossignol, defended the ban and said the burkini’s purpose is “to hide women’s bodies in order to better control them.”
The same minister in April compared Muslim women who choose to wear the veil to “American negroes” who supported slavery.
While many white, Western feminists defend the rights of women to be free for what they wear or do to their bodies, there has been silence concerning Muslim women who are often marginalized.
On August 9, a ‘Burkini Day’ for women at a waterpark beside Marseilles was called off after organizers received death threats.
There were no protests from white feminists, nor did they don the burkini in solidarity with Muslim women who choose to wear the outfit. … Full article
No war in recent memory can compare to the meat grinder of World War I. Europe still bears the scars of the war, even almost a century later. The gruesome and terrifying type of warfare typical of the Great War had a lasting impact on those who witnessed and experienced it. It also created such carnage on the land where it was fought that some of those areas are still uninhabitable to this day.
The Battlefield at The Somme (Imperial War Museum photo)
The uninhabitable areas are known as the Zone Rouge (French for “Red Zone”). They remain pock-marked and scarred by the intense fighting at places like Verdun and the Somme, the two bloodiest battles of the conflict.
During the Battle of Verdun, which lasted over 300 days in 1916, more than 60 million artillery shells were fired by both sides – many containing poisonous gases. These massive bombardments and the brutal fighting inflicted horrifying casualties, over 600,000 at Verdun and over 1 million at the Somme. But the most dangerous remnants of these battles are the unexploded ordnance littering the battlefield.
The Battlefield of Verdun in 2016 (French Government photo)
Immediately after the war, the French government quarantined much of the land subjected to the worst of the battles. Those areas that were completely devastated and destroyed, unsafe to farm, and impossible for human habitation became the Zone Rouge. The people of this area were forced to relocate elsewhere while entire villages were wiped off the map.
Nine villages deemed unfit to be rebuilt are known today as the “villages that died for France.” Inside the Zone Rouge signs marking the locations of streets and important buildings are the only reminders those villages ever existed.
Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire
Areas not completely devastated but heavily impacted by the war fell into other zones, Yellow and Blue. In these areas, people were allowed to return and rebuild their lives. This does not mean that the areas are completely safe, however. Every year, all along the old Western Front in France and Belgium, the population endures the “Iron Harvest” – the yearly collection of hundreds of tons of unexploded ordnance and other war materiel still buried in the ground.
Occasionally, the Iron Harvest claims casualties of its own, usually in the form of a dazed farmer and a destroyed tractor. Not all are so lucky to escape unscathed and so the French and Belgian governments still pay reparations to the “mutilée dans la guerre“– the victims of the war nearly 100 years after it ended.
Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire
To deal with the massive cleanup and unexploded ordnance issues, the French government created the Département du Déminage (Department of Demining) after World War II. To date, 630 minesweepers died while demining the zones.
An estimated 720 million shells were fired during the Great War, with approximately 12 million failing to detonate. At places like Verdun, the artillery barrages were so overwhelming, 150 shells hit every square meter of the battlefield. Concentrated barrages and driving rains turned the battlefield into a quagmire that swallowed soldiers and shells alike.
Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire
Further complicating the cleanup is the soil contamination caused by the remains of humans and animals. The grounds are also saturated with lead, mercury, and zinc from millions of rounds of ammunition from small arms and artillery fired in combat. In some places, the soil contains such high levels of arsenic that nothing can grow there, leaving haunting, desolate spaces.
Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire
Though the Zone Rouge started at some 460 square miles in size, cleanup efforts reduced it to around 65 square miles. With such massive amounts of explosives left in the ground, the French government estimates the current rate of removal will clear the battlefields between 300 and 900 years from now.
The US military plans to increase the presence in Yemen. «As we continue on the mission, I think there will be some additional troops that we will ask to bring in», US Army General Joseph Votel, who heads the US Central Command, said in an interview in Baghdad on July 14, without disclosing the number.
According to him, a variety of locations could be suitable for American forces. He did not disclose potential sites.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab states, supported by the US and the UK, has been involved in the Yemeni conflict since March 2015. So far, it has not gained much ground. The Yemeni capital Sana’a is still in the hands of the Houthis group (Ansar Allah – «Supporters of God»).
The fighting has resulted in more than 3,200 civilian deaths, over 60 percent of them from coalition airstrikes, according to the United Nations.
Around 6,000 civilians have been wounded in the conflict. Airstrikes have damaged or destroyed numerous civilian objects including homes, markets, hospitals, and schools, as well as commercial enterprises.
On 30 June an HRW report stated that US-made bombs were being used in attacks indiscriminately targeting civilians and violating the laws of war.
The report photographed «the remnants of an MK-83 air-dropped 1,000-pound bomb made in the US».
On 1 July, the UN announced that Yemen was at the highest level of humanitarian disaster with over 80% of the population needing help.
United Nations agencies agreed to classify Yemen as a level 3 emergency as the UN envoy for Yemen stated that the country is one step away from famine.
The announcement of the US plans to bring in more forces came amid the reports that the Saudi-led coalition may be preparing to attack Sana’a, the Houthi-held Yemen’s capital, following the breakdown of the UN-led peace process in Kuwait. The UN-led peace process in Kuwait was suspended after 77 days of negotiations that achieved no significant progress.
The US mission in Yemen is just the latest in a growing number of small US deployments across the world. US special operations forces (SOF) have been deployed to 135 nations – around 70% of the countries in the world.
Every day, they carry out missions in 80 to 90 nations. Approximately 11,000 special operators are deployed or stationed outside the United States with many more on standby, ready to respond in the event of an overseas crisis.
The US military is also looking to further beef up its presence in Iraq. The administration has recently announced that additional 560 troops will be sent to Iraq to strengthen the Iraqi offensive to retake Mosul, the Iraqi second biggest city, that is now an Islamic State (IS) stronghold.
General Votel said, the request for more troops will be on top of the 560 already announced. His remarks came just three days after Obama’s administration announced a 560 troop increase as part of an effort to facilitate an Iraqi offensive to retake Mosul. The General cautioned that Americans should not expect a rapid, wholesale withdrawal from the country. He emphasized that the forces will stay even after the US military accomplishes the mission of driving out IS forces from Mosul in Iraq and from the Syrian city of al-Raqqa. According to Votel, once their objectives are met in the areas, it will be imperative that they ensure the militants do not shift base and begin operating from other locations outside those cities. He said the goal was to achieve a «lasting defeat».
It’s not the US only. French President Francois Hollande has said that France will send heavy artillery to Iraq to support the fight against the Islamic State. Hollande announced the plan on July 22, saying the artillery equipment «will be in place next month». The president also reiterated that the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle will be deployed in the region in late September to help in ongoing operations against the IS. Elsewhere, protests erupted in Libya on July 21 after the president confirmed for the first time that French special forces were operating in the country. Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli also condemned France’s military action.
It starts with clandestine operations of limited scale conducted by special operations forces to be followed by reinforcements sent to beef up the presence, and then artillery units deployed to support them on the ground. Step by step the West is expanding its military intervention on the ground in Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. There deployments are described as ‘small-scale’ operations conducted without putting troops on the frontlines fighting firefights. This way the leading Western nations may be trending towards another war in the Middle East without the public realizing it. In Yemen, Iraq and other places, the deployments will gradually lead to full commitment to a ground war and it will be too late to turn back the clock.
“Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him?” – St. Stephen.
The terrorist attack today on a church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray where a Catholic priest was murdered and several hostages taken and killed, is part of the ‘Islamic State’s (Da’esh) attempt to spread their war on ‘Western civilisation’ from the metropolis to the provincial town. This now generalises the heightened fear experienced by the French public in the wake of the Nice attack.
Reports indicate that the attackers have been ‘neutralised’. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has taken the opportunity to show his political prowess. “Legal quibbles and precautions and pretexts for incomplete actions are now not admissible”, he said. French President Francois Hollande said, “Da’esh has declared war on us”. The rule of law will soon be suspended and people will be imprisoned or worse without trial, this is what the statements of Sarkozy and Hollande mean. Once again, we see that the terrorists have been shot dead before they could be interrogated. It seems taser-guns and highly sophisticated non-lethal weapons are of no use when it comes to Da’esh. Adel Kermiche, one of the terrorists shot dead, was known to police and he had reportedly attempted to join Da’esh in Syria twice. He had been released from prison in March 2016 and wore an electronic surveillance bracelet. Father Jacques Hamel, was known among the local community for his efforts at inter-religious dialogue.
Da’esh is an army of mercenaries which was formed in US prison Camp Bucca in 2006 under the supervision of the US military. The group has been used as a proxy force against the reconstituted Iraqi state allied to Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic, also a close ally of Russia. Troops for the Islamic State are recruited in Europe with the approval of Brussels, according to Israeli intelligence sources. The public are being told that the Islamic State is the enemy of the West. The facts show, however, that the Islamic State is a fake enemy created to destroy countries resisting subservience to global financial, corporate and military agencies of imperial power or, in short, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
As terrorist attacks now become a daily occurrence in Europe with the Nice and Munich atrocities followed by minor assaults such as the machete attack in Germany a few days ago, the descent into civilisational suicide is accelerating. The attack on a Catholic church may be significant. The attack occurred in the church of Saint Stephen. One of the proto-martyrs of the church, Saint Stephen, is famous for his damning critique of the Jews in the Acts of the Apostles. The Jewish Sanhedrin court sentenced him to death by lapidation (stoning). St. Stephen is considered ‘anti-Semitic’ by some scholars. The Sanhedrin Courts were re-established in Israel. In 2015, the Sandedrin Court in Jerusalem declared it would put Pope Francis on trial for the Vatican’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state. He has also been criticised by the self-declared Jewish court of being too friendly with the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammed Hussein.
Although the Catholic church is currently more subordinate to Judaism than at any point in its history, the Vatican’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state is a thorn in the side of hard-line Zionists. We have shown before that the Islamic State is a proxy army of Israel, which is being used to pave the way for a Greater Middle East or, in other words, a Greater Israel. Tel Aviv has not disguised its support for the Islamic State in Syria. Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren has said that he would prefer Da’esh in Syria, to Assad.
The same terrorists who attacked today have been beheading and torturing priests and nuns in Syria for years, yet the Vatican has been obmutescent. The Vatican is a key actor in the Western/Zionist empire but it has not yet been completely taken over. Christendom, or what is left of it, is another target of the Zionist New World Order. The creation of a right-wing Christian Zionist movement in France would drive religious and ethnic divisions further, thus sabotaging efforts to awaken working-class consciousness and solidarity – the only hope we have of winning the war on terror, which is, and always has been, both a class war and a spiritual war.
France would never deny Israel’s right to Jerusalem, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in a letter sent to Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel on Monday.
In April, UNESCO’s executive board released and then adopted a resolution, calling Israel “the Occupying Power” and urging it to “stop all violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif [the Arabic name of a holy site in East Jerusalem].”
At the same time the resolution did not include the Israeli name of the site, known as Temple Mount, nor did it reference its role in Jewish culture. France is among the 33 countries that voted for the resolution. Jerusalem protested the resolution and the French vote on it.
France will never deny the “existing, true” Jewish historical right to Jerusalem, Valls was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post. “Unfortunate and clumsy formulations befell the language of UNESCO’s decision to the point of insult. I believe that this should have been avoided and that the vote should not have happened.”
On May 11, Valls condemned the UNESCO resolution.
In the letter to Rabinovitch, he added that Jerusalem “symbolizes the unification of the three major monotheistic religions.”
Palestinians have been vying for the recognition of their independent state, proclaimed in 1988, in the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government refuses to recognize Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity, and continues to build settlements on the occupied land, despite objections from the United Nations.
A senior Iranian commander strongly criticizes France and Saudi Arabia over their cooperation with the anti-Iran terrorists, including the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), saying any act of terror in the Islamic Republic would be blamed on Riyadh and Paris.
“Incriminating finger would be pointed at Riyadh and Paris over potential acts of terror in Iran,” Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, said on Sunday.
Paris on July 9 hosted an annual meeting organized by the MKO terrorist group which was attended by former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal. The former Saudi spy chief gave a 30-minute-long address to the gathering.
The MKO is the most hated terrorist group among the Iranians because of its dark history of assassinations and bombings and for siding with Saddam Hussein in his eight-year war against Iran in the 1980s.
Jazayeri said the Paris meeting in the presence of some Western political officials and the former Saudi intelligence chief further cast light on the link between Wahhabism and the MKO terrorists and marked a stain on the French government’s record and constituted a blatant act of intervention in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic.
“Hosting the MKO terrorist group as one of the most dangerous and criminal terrorist groups in the world and the presence of Arab and Western political figures show these countries’ support for terrorism,” he said.
“Although the evil hands of the MKO traitors have been cut off thanks to the resolve of the Iranian nation as well as the vigilance and readiness of the Armed Forces and security and intelligence organizations, the network of founders and promoters of global terrorism jumps at every opportunity to revive this deceased and hated current and present it as an active and influential element against [Iran’s] Islamic revolution and establishment,” the Iranian commander added.
Jazayeri said terrorism is an ominous phenomenon that takes many forms and shapes, including Takfiri-Salafi groups like Daesh, counter-revolutionary groups supported by Zionists, the US and their allies, atrocities committed in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, Saudi war crimes against Yemen and MKO terrorism in the past but they all share a “single evil spirit.”
He added that hegemonic powers “see terrorism as a tool for achieving their ominous objectives” and devise their policies accordingly.
Jazayeri expressed regret that the Saudi regime and other “reactionary regimes in the region” are conspiring with the US and the Zionists in spreading acts of terror in Muslim states, saying, “The Muslim world is today the main target of the international terrorism.”
He said France’s double-standard polices regarding terrorism and its classification of terrorist groups into good and bad as well as its blatant discriminatory policies have contributed to the rise of international terrorism.
“The role of the French in supporting and directing the phenomenon of terrorism is undeniable,” the commander said, adding, “The advocates of combating terrorism, especially Western governments, better set aside their dual policies and genuinely step into the arena of fighting the ominous phenomenon of terrorism.”
A report in 21st of July edition of Le Figaro newspaper states that France’s anti-terrorist executive (sous-direction anti-terroriste- SDAT) has ordered Nice’s urban surveillance authorities to destroy all CCTV footage of the Nice Attacks on Bastille Day that rocked the city on the 14th of July 2016.
Although SDAT have cited articles 53 and L706-24 of the prosecution procedure and article R642-1 of the penal code, authorities in Nice interviewed by Le Figaro say that it is the first time they have ever been asked to destroy evidence at a crime scene – something they point out is illegal.
The explanation given by the French Ministry of Justice is that they don’t want ‘uncontrolled’ and ‘non-authorised (non maîtrisée) diffusion of the images of the terrorist attacks. The Judicial Police have noted that 140 videos of the attacks in their possession show ‘important pieces of the inquiry’ (éléments d’enquête intéressants). The French government claims it wants to prevent ISIS from gaining access to videos of the attacks for the purposes of propaganda. They also claim that the destruction of evidence is intended to protect the families of the victims. The comments section of the Le Figaro article is replete with outrage and disgust by the fact that the French government, instead of preserving evidence for the purposes of a thorough, independent investigation, is in fact behaving rather more like the chief suspect in the attack – ordering the destruction of vital evidence.
There is something rotten in France’s Judicial Police. Shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attacks on the 7th of January 2015, the judicial police behaved suspiciously before and as they did after the ‘suicide’ of Limoge’s deputy Police Commissioner Helric Fredou. Fredou was found dead shortly after the arrival of the French Judicial Police to his office in Limoges shortly after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. His family were not allowed see his body for 24 hours after his death; they suspect foul play. The Judicial Police claimed he had shot himself in the head, though his mother said she did not see evidence of this. The police commissioner was said to be suffering from depression, a claim denied by the family doctor. Fredou was found dead in his office before the publication of a report on the relationship between Jeanette Bougrab, a former press secretary of Nicolas Sarkozy, and one of the deceased in the attack, Stéphane Charbonnier
He was found dead in his office before the publication of a report on the relationship between Jeanette Bougrab, a former press secretary of Nicolas Sarkozy, and one of the deceased in the attack, Stéphane Charbonnier known as ‘Charb’. The relationship between Bougrab, who is close to all the leaders of the French Zionist movement, and Charb, was one of the most controversial aspects of the Charlie Hebdo massacre story. Fredou was also investigating the background of the Kouachi brothers who were accused of the massacre. They had lived in the town of Limoges.
An article in France’s l’Est Républicain newspaper attempts to reassure the public of the French government’s bona fides with the title ‘No, the footage of the attack has not been deleted’. The report asserts that the Ministry of Justice have not ordered the destruction of evidence but just the deletion of the images from the cameras in Nice. This reassurance might be enough to placate those who are loathe to question the narrative of the war on terror. But, as the recent booing of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls in Nice showed, the French people are waking up.
Now France’s Judicial Police and anti-terrorist authorities want to destroy evidence of the attacks. In most crime cases, those who destroy or seek to destroy evidence are usually trying to cover something up. I have already pointed out some of the inconsistencies in the story we have been told about the Nice massacre. I have not claimed nothing happened or no one was killed but rather that the video evidence so far presented does not match the story. Perhaps new video evidence proving the government’s story will emerge. Let’s hope so! If researchers and journalists with a proven record of peace advocacy and a passion for truth and honesty in reporting were to gain access to those videos, ISIS would be weakened not strengthened.
But we would be naive to believe the French government intends to weaken ISIS, given the incontrovertibly proven fact that they support the child-murdering head choppers in Syria. While some will find their comfort zones and systems justification syndrome perturbed by this information, many more will simply fall back to sleep. Falling asleep is easier in the short term but in time people will realise that the mattress is being pulled from under them, so that when they wake up in terrible discomfort, it will be too late. It’s time to wake up!