A mayor of the French town of Évreux has come up with a radical suggestion to evict all the potentially dangerous individuals tracked by police out of town. The proposal comes after the official’s request to reveal the names on the watchlist had been rejected.
Guy Lefranc, the head of the town, located in Normandy, says he initially demanded information on all the people on the “Fiche S” list living in Évreux. The “Fiche S” is an indicator used by French police to mark people considered to be a threat to national security.
Lefranc contacted the local prefect, saying that the safety of the town’s residents was at stake and having such information at his disposal would help to tighten security. The mayor’s request, however, was turned down.
Shooting down mayor’s “perfectly legitimate request” led him to making his radical suggestion on the eviction of all dangerous individuals.
“I am furious,” the mayor told AFP on Thursday.
“Given that the state does not give us the means to protect the people of Evreux, I demand the state expels all those who are “Fiche S”. I feel compelled to ask for this expulsion because I am not entitled to a perfectly legitimate request to know all those who “Fiche S” are,” mayor Lefranc said.
The mayor even said that since he was deprived of this vital intelligence he could not really trust other public servants and officials.
“I ask myself a question about some of my staff, who work with the public. I don’t know if they are “Fiche S”, I don’t know if they are dangerous,” the mayor said.
Lefranc noted that due to the current state of emergency it was the prime minister’s responsibility to issue a decree giving local mayors access to “Fiche S” files.
Following the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated that there were some 20,000 people in France flagged “Fiche S.” Roughly half of them were connected to various Islamist movements.
Many, but not all of the jihadists, who have participated in numerous attacks in France had their names on the watchlist, so their potential threat was known to the intelligence services. Arrests of a “Fiche S” flagged woman allegedly planning an attack in Paris and a man allegedly connected to Brussels attacks in Belgium appear to somehow support Lefranc’s point.
The recent murder of a French priest in Normandy by two jihadists known to authorities also fertilized growing anger, fear and frustration in the French society, with some blaming security forces not taking action. Presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy said last year he would put anyone with a “Fiche S” file under house arrest and give them an electronic tag. Since then he has gone even further and proposed to simply put all suspected terrorists behind bars. Several calls for establishing a “French Guantanamo” to house all the terror suspects, however, have been shot down by the current government, since it would violate human rights.
Review of Paolo Sensini’s book, Sowing Chaos: Libya in the Wake of Humanitarian Intervention
It is rare for a historian to write a history of a significant issue and bring it into the present time; even rarer when the work coincides with the reemergence of that issue on the world stage. Paolo Sensini has done just that with Sowing Chaos: Libya in the Wake of Humanitarian Intervention (Clarity Press, 2016). It is a revelatory historical analysis of the exploitation and invasion of Libya by colonial and imperialistic powers for more than a century.
It is also timely since the western powers, led by the United States, have once again invaded Libya (2011), overthrown its government, and are in the process (2016) of creating further chaos and destruction by bombing the country for the benefit of western elites under the pretext of humanitarian concern.
As with the history of many countries off the radar of western consciousness, Libyan history is a tragic tale of what happens when a country dares assert its right to independence – it is destroyed by violent attack, financial subterfuge, or both.
Although an Italian and Italy has a long history of exploiting Libya, a close neighbor, Sensini stands with the victims of colonial and imperial savagery. Not an armchair historian, he traveled to Libya during the 2011 war to see for himself what was true. Despite his moral stand against western aggression, his historical accuracy is unerring and his sourcing impeccable. For 234 pages of text, he provides 481 endnotes, including such fine sources as Peter Dale Scott, Patrick Cockburn, Michel Chossudovsky, Pepe Escobar, and Robert Parry, to name but a few better known names.
His account begins with Italy’s 1911 war against Libya that “Francesco Saverio Nitti charmingly described …. as the taking of a ‘sandbox’.” The war was accompanied by a popular song, “Tripoli, bel suol d’amore” (Tripoli, beauteous land of love). Even in those days war and love were synonymous in the eyes of aggressors.
This war went on until 1932 when the Sanusis’s resistance was finally crushed by Mussolini. First Italy conquered the Ottoman Turks, who controlled western Libya (Tripolitania); then the Sanusis, a Sunni Islamic mystical militant brotherhood, who controlled eastern Libya (Cyrenaica). This Italian war of imperial aggression lasted 19 years, and, as Sensini writes, “was hardly noticed in Italy.”
I cannot help but think of the U.S. wars against Afghanistan and Iraq that are in their 15th and 13th years respectively, and counting; they are not making a ripple on the placid indifference of the American people.
Sensini presents this history clearly and succinctly. Most of the book is devoted to the period following the 1968 overthrow of King Idris by the Free Unionist Officers, led by the 27 year old captain Mu’ammar Gaddafi. This bloodless coup d’état by military officers, who had all risen from the poorer classes, was called “Operation Jerusalem” to honor the Palestinian liberation movement. The new government, The Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), had “three key themes …. ‘freedom, socialism, and unity,’ to which we can add the struggle against western influences within the Arab world, and, in particular, the struggle against Israel (whose very existence was, according to Gaddafi, a confirmation of colonialization and subjugation).”
Sensini explains the Libyan government under Gaddafi, including his world theory that was encapsulated in his “Green Book” and the birth of what was called “Jamahiriyya” (State of the Masses). Gaddafi called Libya the “Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyya.”
Under Gaddafi there was dialogue between Christians and Muslims, including the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Holy See, and visits from Eastern Orthodox and Anglican religious leaders. Fundamentalist Islamic groups criticized Gaddafi as a heretic for these moves. Gaddafi described Islamists as “reactionaries in the name of Islam.” His animus toward Israel remained, however, due to the Palestinian issue. He promoted women’s rights, and in 1996 Libya “was the first country to issue an international arrest warrant with Osama bin Laden’s name on it.”
He had a lot of enemies: Israel, Islamists, al Qaeda, the western imperial countries, etc. But he had friends as well, especially among the developing countries.
A large portion of the book concerns the U.S./NATO 2011 attack on Libya and its aftermath. This attack was justified and sanctioned by UN Resolutions 1970 (2/26/11) and 1973 (3/17/11). These resolutions were prepared by the work of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) that in 2000-2001 produced a justification for powerful nations to intervene in the internal affairs of any nation they chose. Termed the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), it justified the illegal and immoral “humanitarian” attack on Libya in 2011. The ICISS, based in NYC, was founded by, among others, the Carnegie Corporation, the Simons, Rockefeller, William and Flora Hewitt, and John D. and Catherine MacArthur foundations, elite moneyed institutions devoted to American interventions throughout the world.
When the US/NATO attacked Libya, they did so despite the illegality of the intervention (an Orwellian term) under the UN Resolutions that prohibit arming of ‘rebels’ who do not represent the legal government of a country. On March 30, 2011 the Washington Post, a staunch supporter of US aggression, reported an anonymous government source as saying that “President Obama has issued a secret finding that would authorize the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and other support to Libyan opposition groups.” None of the mainstream media, including the Washington Post, noted the hypocrisy of reporting illegal activities as if they were legal. The law had become irrelevant.
The Obama administration had become the opposite of the Kennedy administration. Whereas JFK, together with Dag Hammarskjold the assassinated U.N. Secretary General, had used the UN to defend the growing third world independence movements throughout the world, Obama has chosen to use the UN to justify his wars of aggression against them. Libya is a prime example.
Sensini shows in great detail which groups were armed, where they operated, and who they represented. The US/NATO forces armed and supported all sorts of Islamist terrorists, including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), led by Abu al-Laith al Libby, a close Afghan associate of Osama bin Laden, and al Qaeda’s third in command.
“These fanatical criminals (acclaimed as liberators by the mainstream media worldwide) were to form Libya’s emerging ruling class. These were people tasked to ensure a democratic future for Libya. However, the ‘rebel’ council of Benghazi did what it does best – ensuring chaos for the country as a whole, under a phantom government and a system of local fiefdoms (each with a warlord or tribal chief). This appears to be the desired outcome all along, and not just in Libya.”
Sensini is especially strong in his critical analysis of the behavior of the corporate mass media worldwide in propagandizing public opinion for war. Outright lies – “aligning its actions with Goebbels’ famous principle of perception management” and the Big Lie (thanks to Edward Bernays, the American father of Public Relations) – were told by Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and repeated by the western media, about Gaddafi allegedly slaughtering and raping thousands of Libyans. Sensini argues persuasively that Libya was a game-changer in this regard.
Here, the mass media played the part of a military vanguard. The cart, as it were, had been put before the horse. Rather than obediently repackaging and relaying the news that had been spoon fed to them by military commanders and Secretaries of State, the media were called upon actually to provide legitimation for armed actors. The media’s function was military. The material aggression on the ground and in the sky was paralleled and anticipated by virtual and symbolic aggression. Worldwide, we have witnessed the affirmation of a Soviet approach to information, enhanced to the nth degree. It effectively produces a ‘deafening silence’ – an information deficit. The trade unions, the parties of the left and the ‘love-thy-neighbor’ pacifists did not rise to this challenge and demonstrate against the rape of Libya.
The US/NATO attack on Libya, involving tens of thousands of bombing raids and cruise missile, killed thousands of innocent civilians. This was, as usual, explained away as unfortunate “collateral damage,” when it was admitted at all. The media did their part to downplay it. Sensini rightly claims that the U.S./NATO and the UN are basically uninterested in the question of the human toll. “The most widely cited press report on the effects of the NATO sorties and missile attacks on the civilian population is most surely that of The New York Times. In ‘Strikes on Libya by NATO, an Unspoken Civilian Toll’, conveniently published after NATO’s direct intervention had ceased. The article is truly a fine example of ‘embeddedness’:”
While the overwhelming preponderance of strikes seemed to hit their targets without killing noncombatants, many factors contributed to a run of fatal mistakes. These included a technically faulty bomb, poor or dated intelligence and the near absence of experience military personnel on the ground who could direct air strikes. The alliances apparent presumption that residences thought to harbor pro Gaddafi forces were not occupied by civilians repeatedly proved mistaken, the evidence suggests, posing a reminder to advocates of air power that no war is cost or error free.
The use of words like “seemed” and “apparent,” together with the oft used technical excuse and the ex post facto reminder are classic stratagems of the New York Times’ misuse of the English language for propaganda purposes.
Justifying the killing, President Obama “explained the entire campaign away with a lie. Gaddafi, he said, was planning a massacre of his own people.”
Hillary Clinton, who was then Secretary of State, was aware from the start, as an FOIA document reveals, that the rebel militias the U.S. was arming and backing were summarily executing anyone they captured: “The State Department and Obama were fully aware that the U.S.-backed ‘rebel’ forces had no such regard for the lives of the innocent.”
Clinton also knew that France’s involvement was because of the threat Gaddafi’s single African currency plan posed to French financial interests in Francophone Africa. Her joyous ejaculation about Gaddafi’s brutal death – “We came, we saw, he died” – sick in human terms, was no doubt also an expression of relief that the interests of western elites, her backers, had been served.
It is true that Gaddafi did represent a threat to western financial interests. As Sensini writes, “Gaddafi had successfully achieved Libya’s economic independence, and was on the point of concluding agreements with the African Union that might have contributed decisively to the economic independence of the entire continent of Africa.”
Thus, following the NATO attack, Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank. Sensini references Ellen Brown, the astute founder of the Public Banking Institute in the U.S., who explains how a state owned Central Bank, as in Libya, contributes to the public’s well-being. Brown in turn refers to the comment of Erica Encina, posted on Market Oracle, which explains how Libya’s 100% state owned Central Bank allowed it to sustain its own economic destiny. Encina concludes, “Hence, taking down the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) may not appear in the speeches of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy [and Clinton] but this is certainly at the top of the globalist agenda for absorbing Libya into its hive of compliant nations.”
In five pages Sensini tells more truth about the infamous events in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three American colleagues than the MSM has done in five years. After the overthrow of Gaddafi, in 2012 Stevens was sharing the American “Consulate” quarters with the CIA. Benghazi was the center of Sanusi jihadi fundamentalism, those who the US/NATO had armed to attack Gaddafi’s government. These terrorists were allied with the US. “Stevens’s task in Benghazi,” writes Sensini, “now was to oversee shipments of Gaddafi’s arms to Turkish ports. The arms were then transferred to jihadi forces engaged in terrorist actions against the government of Syria under Bashar al-Assad.” Contrary to the Western media, Sensini says that Stevens and the others were killed, not by the jihadi extremists supported by the US, but by Gaddafi loyalists who had tried to kill Stevens previously. These loyalists disappeared from the Libyan and international press afterwards. “The reports now focused on al-Qaida, Islamists, terrorists and protesters. No one was to mention either Gaddafi … or his ghosts.”
The stage for a long-term Western intervention against terrorists, who were armed by the US/NATO, was now set. The insoluble disorder of a vicious circle game meant to perpetuate chaos was set in motion. Sensini’s disgust manifests itself when he says, “Given its record of lavish distribution of arms to all and sundry in Syria, the USA’s warning that, in Libya, arms might reach ‘armed groups outside the government’s control’ is beneath contempt.”
Sowing Chaos: Libya in the Wake of Humanitarian Intervention is a superb book. If you wish to understand the ongoing Libyan tragedy, and learn where responsibility lies, read it. If the tale it tells doesn’t disgust you, I’d be surprised.
In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, a stalwart and courageous truth teller, has written a fine forward where she puts Libya and Sensini’s analysis into a larger global perspective. As usual, she pulls no punches.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is to hold a series of high-profile meetings with Turkish, British and Saudi leaders, among others, as part of his schedule for attending a summit in China in early September.
Yury Ushakov, a Kremlin aide, told reporters on Tuesday that Putin will hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September 3, when he is in Hangzhou, China, for the summit of the group of 20 world major economies, known as G20.
Ushakov said Putin’s meeting with Erdogan will take place as the “process of normalization of relations between the two countries is under way.”
Russia downgraded ties with Turkey last November, when Ankara shot down a Russian jet near the Syrian border. Relations began to improve in July after Ankara offered an apology as demanded by Putin. The two met this month in Russia, with reports suggesting they narrowed gaps on the conflict in Syria.
Ushakov said Putin will also hold a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s powerful deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to discuss the crisis in Syria. He would not elaborate but said the meeting will come on September 4, the day when the Russian president will also hold an important meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss a need for “a new impetus in bilateral relations.”
The official said a trilateral meeting of leaders from Russia, Germany and France, which had previously been agreed to discuss the conflict in Ukraine, was called off and instead Putin would meet separately with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on September 4 and 5, respectively. He noted that the sensitive meeting on Ukraine was cancelled because of new tensions that have emerged over Crimea, a former Ukrainian territory which rejoined Russia following a referendum in 2015.
Putin will also hold a much-anticipated meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who will be in China as a guest to G20, Ushakov said.
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.