Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Morocco

Types of prison systems in Morocco, since 1600

 Jaafar Bakli posted

يعتقد بعض أصدقائي السوريين أن معتقل تدمر الصحراوي هو أسوأ سجن عربي؛ هؤلاء المساكين لم يسمعوا عن سجن «تازمامرت» الذي بناه الحسن الثاني خصيصا للاحتفال بمن تآمروا عليه في السبعينيات!
أيها الرفاق، نحن في بلاد المغرب العربي، نتشرف بأننا بنينا ألعن تشكيلة سجون في تاريخ البشرية قاطبة. وليس صحيحا ما وشوشوه في آذانكم، بأن معتقلات «الغولاغ» في سيبيريا هي الأقسى في العالم، أو أن معسكر «أوشفيتز» في بولونيا الذي بناه النازيون هو الأسوأ، أو أن سجن «تول سلينغ» الذي خصّصه الخمير الحمر للترحيب بمعارضيهم في كمبوديا، هو الأشنع… كل تلك السجون هراء، فنحن بنينا «حبس قارة» في مكناس، وكفى به لنا شاهدا و وكيلا!

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حبس «قارة» هذا -يا إخوان- بناه السلطان إسماعيل العلوي (الجد الأعلى لملك المغرب الحالي)، قبل حوالي ثلاثة قرون. وهو سجن فريد من نوعه، فهو الوحيد في العالم الذي لا يعرف أحد -إلى حد يوم الناس هذا- أين يبتدأ، وأين ينتهي، وكيف يتشعب، ومما يتكوّن. وذلك انّ سجن «مولاي» إسماعيل يمتد على مساحة بضعة عشرات من الكيلومترات، في شكل متاهة مظلمة عملاقة تحت الارض

. كما أن ّ «سجن قارة» هو الوحيد بين كل سجون العالم الذي «يفتخر» بأنه لم يوجد سجين خرج من بين جدرانه حيا. و«حبس قارة» -يا أعزائي- هو السجن الوحيد الذي لم تجعل فيه أبواب، لا للدخول ولا للخروج [الباب والدرج الذي صار الآن يهبط منهما السياح لزيارة قاعة من قاعات السجن، بُنيا في وقت متأخر، بعد أن ألغي السجن].

«حبس قارة» هو عبارة عن مجموعة هائلة من الدهاليز المبنية تحت الأرض بطريقة عشوائية بلا معنى، ومتوالدة بلا حد. وكل سرداب من سراديبه يتكون من قاعة معتمة علوها أكثر من ثمانية أمتار، تنفتح من جدرانها ممرات متصلة نحو مجموعات أخرى من القاعات التي لا تكاد تنتهي، ويضيع السجين في طياتها السفلية، فلا يعرف مطلقا طريقا للرجعة إذا توغل قليلا في الأنفاق الموحشة المظلمة المتشابهة!

وقديما كان يتم إنزال سجناء «قارة» عبر سلالم من حبال يدليها السجانون من بعض الكوّات في سقوف السراديب. ومن تلك الكوّة في السقف يرمون للبؤساء بعض الطعام والشراب الذي يقتاتون عليه في الظلمات. ويمتد السجن على طبقات متشعبة تحت مدينة مكناس القديمة، وينسج كثير من المغاربة صورة أسطورية لقارة فيؤكدون أنه بحجم مكناس كلها، ويزايد مغاربة آخرون بالقول أن سجن «مولاي إسماعيل» أكبر من مدينته مكناس نفسها، وأنه يمتد مئات الكيلومترات ليصل إلى بلدات أخرى بعيدة مثل تازة وترهون وخنيفرة! وكثيرون يؤمنون بأن «قارة» مسكون بالأرواح الملعونة لآلاف الناس الذين قبروا فيه أحياء!

لا أحد حاول أن يستكشف لغز سجن «قارة» وأفلح! وقبل عشرين عاما حاول فريق من المغامرين الأوروبيين أن يتوغلوا في متاهة السجن العجيب، ولبلوغ هدفهم هذا استجلبوا معدات الكترونية وتجهيزات كثيرة. ولكن من سوء الحظ أن بعض أولئك المغامرين ضاعوا في السراديب، ولم يعثر لهم على أثر. وهكذا قامت السلطات المغربية بإقفال ممرات السجن بجدران من الإسمنت، ومنعت التوغل فيه، مكتفية بثلاث قاعات فقط يمكن للزائرين أن يتجولوا داخلها.

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تماما فوق تلك المقبرة العملاقة المسماة «حبسا»، والتي بناها «أمير المؤمنين» ليدفن فيها المناوئين له، والمتمردين عليه، ومن قبض عليهم من الأسرى الأجانب؛ أنشأ «المولى» (هكذا يسمى السلطان في المغرب) مدينته الملكية الفاخرة المتكوّنة من مجمعات قصور سلطانية شاسعة ورائعة، وقد حاول إسماعيل أن يضاهي بما بناه في مكناس قصر فرساي الذي أنشأه معاصره لويس الرابع عشر. وتمتد قصور «مولاي إسماعيل» على مساحة عشرات من الكيلومترات المربعة، تحيط بها الحدائق الزاهرة، والمجاري السيابة بالماء. وفي تلك القصور سكنت زوجات «المولى» ومحظياته اللاتي بلغ عددهن مئات الجواري المختارات بعناية، واللائي كنّ يتبدلن بجواري أخريات يوميا.

وحسب مقال تاريخي نشر في موقع Live science الأميركي (بتاريخ 24 شباط 2014) ، وحاول أن يتقصى تاريخ حكم «مولاي» إسماعيل جد السلالة العلوية الحاكمة حاليا في المغرب، الذي امتد عهده 55 عاما مابين 1672 و 1727: فإننا نخرج بمعطيات غريبة عن «سلفنا الصالح» وعن «أمير المؤمنين»، وعن «الشريف العلوي حفيد الرسول»:

– «أمير المؤمنين» افتتح عهده بذبح 400 معارض سياسي من وجهاءمدينة فاس، وعلق رؤوسهم جميعا على أسوار مدينتهم.

– «أمير المؤمنين» ذبح 30 ألف شخص، طيلة عهده المديد، بمعدل يناهز مذبوحا واحدا كل يوم.

– «أمير المؤمنين» (حسب ما يذكره شارل شوا الكاتب في مجلة Live science الأميركية، استنادا إلى باحثين في تاريخ «مولاي» إسماعيل) أنجب حينما بلغ من العمر 57 عاما، 1171 طفل بالتمام والكمال. بمعنى انه كان يمارس الجنس بمعدل يتراوح بين 0.83 و 1.43 مرة في اليوم الواحد على مدى 32 سنة متتالية.

– «أمير المؤمنين» كان يمقت الزنا، وكان قاسيا جدا مع الزناة، فكل من كان يشتبه فيه باقتراف الزنا كان المولى إسماعيل يعاقبه بقطع الرأس. أما الزانيات فقد اختصهن «أمير المؤمنين» بعقوبة الخنق، أو كان يأمر بتقطيع أثدائهن، أو بنزع أسنانهن. وأمّا من قبض عليه بتهمة استراق النظر لإحدى جواري السلطان، يكون مصيره النزول إلى ما تحت جنة «المولى»، حيث جحيم «قارة» جاهز لابتلاعه.

‫#‏القصر_و_القبر‬
‫#‏الدولة_الإسلامية‬
‫#‏كله_بالشريعة_كلهم_أشراف

 

The contested right to EU-Europe

Unlawful push-backs of migrants at the European border implemented by Spanish and Moroccan security forces have become highly visible throughout 2014.

These repressive practices as well as the human rights discourses justifying or condemning them tell much about today’s power relations in postcolonial Euro-African borderlands: negotiated by various local, national and European actors, yet constantly contested and transformed through transnational migrants’ mobility.

Since the beginning of this year, so-called „hot” unlawful and violent pushbacks of migrants at the border of the Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla in Northern Morocco became very publicly visible.

Disproportional abrasiveness (batons, aggressive police dogs, teargas to the point of rubber bullets) has been used by Spanish and Moroccan frontier guards in order to hinder migrants from getting over the fences or arriving by boat.

Photo by José Palazón: The Moroccan-Spanish border near Melilla (May 2014).

The push-backs, informally referred to as “expulsiones en caliente” (hot deportation), are the result of concerted actions of Spanish Gendarmerie (“Guardia Civil”), national police, and Moroccan security agents.

The Moroccan security agents enter the zone situated between the razor wire fences – two fences, and barbed wire six metres high – and return all migrants to Morocco without any written legal proceeding or the respect of internationally acknowledged guarantees, like the right to seek asylum.

For hours, as this video by the Spanish NGO Pro.De.In. shows, migrants are hold off against state frontier guards with batons and dogs at the very top of the wired fences and floodlight masts, escaping and finally reaching the temporary detention camp, CETI.

Despite brutality: imaginations and hope fuel migration projects

In 2014, last 6th of February, 15 sub-Saharan migrants drowned trying to reach Ceuta from the waterside.

After initial denials, Interior Minister Fernández confirmed that Spanish Guardia Civil agents had fired rubber projectiles and teargas into the water.

The EU home affairs commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, showed concern about the Guardia Civil’s oppressive reaction that may have contributed to the deaths. These disturbing scenes take place legally on Spanish soil.

For several years, this has been quite a hidden practice concerning only little groups of migrants, but recently violent pusbacks have been normalized on a much larger scale.

They affect migrant persons who – short of financial potential to enter Europe by legal means (via visas), and at the risk of losing their lives during a journey that in many cases take several years – refuse to give up hope and to put their imaginations into practice.

They keep on with persistent attempts to realize their diverse migration projects: in need of international protection, fleeing from wars and persecutions, or, fundamentally, in search of another life and a better future.

At the least, the above mentioned incidents brought back into the focus of media coverage the encounters of migrant mobility at the only landborders between Africa and EU-Europe. Ceuta and Melilla literally represent “Europe in Africa”, as De Haas puts it.

They are ultimately incarnating the relations of a shared history between the supposed dominant center of European modernity and its dominated, once colonised periphery.

Human rights commitment and the European border regime

Within this postcolonial setting, migrant activists point out to society’s human rights commitment, stating that the EU’s expanded border control politics violated international guarantees.

Numerous local and countrywide civil society organizations, local initiatives, lawyers and political unions (like CpM in Melilla) both at the Spanish but also at the Moroccan side of the Schengen border denounce these practices of collective and sweeping expulsions of mainly sub-Saharan persons as illegal and unconstitutional according to Spanish law.

The Melilla based NGO Pro.De.In particularly has meticulously documented the incidents via photos and videos.

These images have been widely dispersed, first in social then in mainstream media, in order to inform citizens critically about the lawless and lethal brutality happening at the southwestern external borders of Europe.

Their work uncovers the hegemonic power relations of a “New Europe” and its EU-border regime that has been expanded and transnationalised into North Africa through the help of bilateral agreements and partnership politics in return of guaranteed economic privileges and development aid.

In their report about a recently human rights observation in Melilla in July 2014, a group of lawyers, migrants’ aid and human rights activist stated that there is a real threat of establishing “Guantanamo”-like zones in Ceuta and Melilla where national law is no longer implemented in order to deport or “return” the supposed undesirable migrants without a necessary minimum of guarantees.

Although the conclusions of this mission will be submitted to the respective committees of the UN and the European Council dealing with the prevention of torture – next to a further complaint against the government representative and the chief of Guardia Civil – activists are not very optimistic about successfully addressing the European Union policies with their demands.

Nevertheless, they hope to be heard at juridical instances like the European Court of Human Rights.

From “Fortress Europe” to the logic of “migration management”

Holding a two-faced attitude in the context of managing human movement into and inside the European space by means of distinction between so called undesired “migration” and promoted “mobility”, the EU is accused of openly “waging an authentic dirty war against migrant persons”.

Permanent pushbacks of migrants at the borders of Ceuta and Melilla, assisted by lethal state repression, as happened at the beginning of February, can attest for it.

In fact, since the mid-1990s the EU established its concept of “management of migration”, underpinned by a neoliberal discourse that redefines the border itself as a humanitarian concern. This move shifted the previously national, social and conservative discourse that had problematised migration as a danger to security, national identity, and welfare.

Border politics today, gain rhetorical legitimacy from widely accepted and supported demands to take action against organised human smuggling, trafficking in women, as well as against delinquency and exploitation in migration.

As Sonja Buckel illustrates, the neoliberal model, moderated by international organisations like OECD and IOM, connects the “fight against illegal migration” with the recruitment of economically desired “positive” migration and replaces the failed, because inefficient, walls-up strategies.

Walls-up strategies are usually refered to as “Fortress Europe”. Current discussions about the creation of more legal possibilities to enter Europe in order to fight irregular migration point to this logic of “management”.

The above mentioned oppressive mechanisms of the EU are not at least echoed in the fact put forward by a recent Amnesty Internation report of July 2014: that Spain is one of the countries with most discrepancy (280 million Euro between 2007 and 2013) between the money spent in border control and the budget provided for the attendance of refugees and asylum seekers.

Morocco: “Europe’s Gendarme” or respecting migrants’ rights?

For their part, Moroccan authorities, also show little interest in clearing up, explaining or commenting officially on the new returning proceedings in which they are involved. The Moroccan Kingdom is part of the secure third-party-country belt the EU installed at its margins.

Although having announced a radically new politics of migration in line with an approach that is referred to as humanitarian in September 2013, Morocco is contributing to the well-paid control policy on its territory, currently by constructing a new razor wire fence, financed by the EU and provided by beneficial European security and technology companies.

On the Spanish side, the blades, able to cut tendons, had to be removed due to intense public protests denouncing human rights violations some years ago. Morocco, which already had been condemned for ongoing torture practices in prison, will have to take the responsibility of future human rights violation.

The Spanish-Moroccan cooperation in border issues conforms with the new “Mobility Partnership” signed between EU and Morocco in June 2013 . This agreement is not least directed to finally complete the still lacking and highly contested negotiation about the readmission of what the EU considers “illegal” migrants, not only of Moroccan nationals, but also of non-nationals having demonstrably entered undocumented from Morocco to the EU.

Claiming their right to postcolonial Europe

These incidents in the Euro-Moroccan borderlands, which have been recently highlighted via media and activists, have finally provoked discussion at national and European political and public level – and translate the daily normalized brutality of border control.

The control mechanisms, rearmed with biopolitical (information) technology, are able to detect, supervise and control moving bodies on the land and in the water.

These practices reify a pervasive European border regime, thereby embodying what Étienne Balibar in “We, the People of Europe” calls a “European apartheid”.

Despite apparent efforts to the contrary, this regime doesn’t effectively prevent migration, because migrants have always found new ways to enter into Europe.

However, by regulating and managing it, the EU creates a new subject at the borders: the disenfranchised, precarious subject of the illegal migrant that skilfully arranges and copes in various situational ways with the parlous conditions of the everyday life in the “cosmopolitanised” EU-borderlands.

The anthropologists Regina Römhild and Michael Westrich have indicated this very fact for the case of Spanish Tarifa.

Secondly, the events underline the fact that the control apparatus – externalized, meantime, into Northern Africa and the Sahel zone – is continuously challenged by the movements of migration. It is by means of their presence that migrants from the global South and East claim a right to Europe.

Pointing to the cultural theorist and sociologist Stuart Hall, Regina Römhild argues that they can derive this right from the long history of colonial expansion from the West to the “rest of the world”.

Migrants are, so to say, “Europe’s Others” “without which this Europe would not exist today, the other, that Europe tries to split off from its own history by a neocolonial gesture”.

And finally, there is no capitalism without migration/mobility of labour, as De Genova, Mezzadra, Pickles et al. show convincingly.

Considering the facts that migration itself is a field of struggle and it does play a key role in the routine operations and reproduction of capitalism, this kind of non-intentional migrants’ interventions form “counter-movements” against the neocolonial and capitalist trans-nationalisation.

Migrants’ mobility: inspiring another European future

The continued presence of so-called “irregular” migrants’ mobility as well as their struggles for fundamental rights are questioning both physical borders and socio-cultural boundaries of EU-Europe.

Migrant actors do so, often unintentionally, just simply but not only, by “attacking the fences” as they themselves name it. This challenging of European borderlands – not only between Morocco and Spain – has been creating a turbulent centre of manifold entanglements and encounters: that is, cosmopolitanised social spaces of enmeshments between the supposed migrant “other” and so-called “national local”.

Here, multilevel negotiations, pragmatic alliances and situational collaborations take place in everyday interaction, next to experiences of neo-nationalist and racist defence. In this sense, today`s encounters at, outside and behind the EU-Europe borders, are cause and constitutive part of salubrious, yet conflict-ridden societal transformations.

They might contribute essentially to juster models of political, societal and cultural formations, ultimately dealing with a very important question: how do we want to live together?

 

Moroccan Lawyer Refuses Legion of Honor

Because of France’s Continual Support of Israel apartheid system

Moroccan Lawyer Refuses Legion of Honor Because of France’s Support of Israel

Ouassima Boujrad

It’s a very rare occurrence: a Moroccan lawyer flat out refuses the Legion of Honor award!

In a letter to French Ambassador Charles Fries, Abdelaziz Nouidi justified his decision, saying it was because of France’s support of Israel.

His decision stems from the massacres that the Israeli army committed in Gaza on the 16 of July, when 4 children died after an Israeli bomb hit a fishing hut on a beach in Gaza City.

The nearby harbor was destroyed, but there was a group of children sitting in the line of fire.

What’s more, French President Francois Hollande called Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to express his support for Israel in their onslaught against Palestinians in Gaza.

According to Yabiladi, “the French President declared his solidarity with the rockets aimed at Gaza, and that it is up to the Israeli government to take all the measures necessary to protect its population against threats”.

Abdelaziz did not only decline the Legion of Honor. He also called for the Israeli military and Israeli politicians to be tried for crimes against humanity in international courts, in accordance with the principles of human rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1952 Geneva Convention, and the status of Roma, which established the International Criminal Court.

The Moroccan lawyer focused equally on how the French Republic is going against its value  and its commitments to the international community.

Abdelaziz added, “Righteous men whose principles are unalterable do not want your Legion of Honor, which has holds nothing more than the name”.

Morocco “Reef Independent State”: Abdel Karim Khotabi (1882-1963)

It is about time that historian and geopolitical researchers do their due diligence and discover the connections, causes, and catalysts that linked all the Arab uprisings from the end of WWI to the beginning of WWII.

Major Arab revolutions (sustained and protracted mass disobedience activities to military operations) were carried out against the colonial occupying forces of France, England, Spain, and Italy in Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Morocco experienced the phenomenal resistance of the Reef against both the Spanish and French troops from 1912 to 1927.

Libya started its resistance against Italy in 1911 under the leadership of Omar Al Mokhtar, and Italy had to invest plenty of resources and manpower to end the armed resistance around 1935…

Egypt experienced several mass uprising, starting with Arabi Pasha and culminating with Saad Zaghloul…

The Palestinians started their successive mass disobedience activities in 1929 and culminated from 1936 to 39. The british Empire was forced to dispatch 100,000 troops to quell this unprecedented opposition, using new torture methods and humiliation and terror tactics that Nazi Germany emulated without any improvement on them…

The Syrians started their resistance in 1918 in three provinces, engaged the French troops in Maysaloun and continued their steadfast opposition in the Huran and Golan Heights under the leadership of Sultan Atrash from 1925 to 1927

The Iraqi people started their opposition to the British occupation in 1920 and kept their resistance under the leader  Rasheed 3ali Kilani till the beginning of WWII

Turkey of Kamal Ataturk counter attacked and regained their territories, and more than it expected. For example, France ceded a vast part of Syria (Alexandretta, Adana, and Antakya…) to Ataturk in 1936 in order to get this dictator alliance against the German-Soviet treaty to splitting Polonia…

This post is a biography of the Moroccan Abdel Karim Khotabi (1882-1963) who led the armed and political resistance against the Spanish and French colonialist occupying forces.

It is reported that members of the nascent Palestinian resistance organization (Fateh) visited China and met Chairman  Mao Tse Tong in 1964. The Fateh wanted to learn the process of China popular resistance. Mao replied: “You are barking at the wrong tree. Go and learn from the master of people’s resistance Al Khotabi…” Al Khotabi was in exile in Cairo at the time and will die in the same year

Abdel Karim Al Khotabi was born in the town of Ajdir. His father was the leader of the largest tribe in the Reef of Morocco, the Bani Woryagel. The province of this tribe was never occupied by the colonial powers of spain and France.

The naval assaults of this tribe on the colonial forces were done at the request of the smaller tribes under occupations.

Abdel Karim Al Khotabi was educated in the city of Melilla (under Spanish rule), and received his university education in the oldest of Arabic universities, the Karaween University in Fas, and was appointed chairman of all the judges (kadi al  kudat) before 1915.

At the instigation of the French, the Spanish General Esporo submitted Abdel Karim to interrogations by a military tribunal. Abdel Karim admitted that his obedience is toward his caliph, the Turkish Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey had declared war on France and England in WWI, and Spain was supposedly a neutral nation, furnishing both alliances with goods and needed supplies…

Abdel Karim Al Khotabi was released and captured again and sent to prison in order to blackmail his father into softer positions toward the colonial occupiers. Instead, the father’s reaction was to declare war on spain.

The Spanish troops suffered frequent defeats that culminated in the disastrous battle of ” Anwal” in 1921.

And Abdel Karim Al Khotabi established the “Republic of the Reef“, formally called “The Federal Republic of the Reef Tribes” and dispatched diplomats to European States and the Arab States and the States Union for recognition as an independent member. Al Khotabi sent two letters to Britain MacMillan PM who refused to answer them.

The province counted barely 1 million and Abdel Karim managed to raise an army 130,000 strong. He focused on the infrastructure of roads and telephone communication lines.

This first independent State in the modern Arab time was divided into districts called Mahkamat (Court) with autonomous jurisprudence, military police and administrative responsibilities.

This federal government had four ministers: Foreign Affairs,Treasury, Commerce, and the counselor to the President a de facto Prime Minister. The president retained the defense portfolio.

The national Assembly voted on a constitutional document, stating:

1. No recognition to France mandated power over Morocco

2. Withdrawal of all Spanish troops from the Reef province

3. Recognition of the complete independence of the new State

4. Instituting a Constitutional government

5. Spain was to pay compensation for loss and harms done in the occupied land

6. Establishing formal relationship and commercial contracts with States that recognized the independence of the Reef republic

7. Ajdir is to be the Capital…

In 1925, the combined forces of France and Spain managed to annex the reef province and Abdel Karim Al Khotabi and the members of his extended families were sent to exile by France to the Island of Reunion, close to Madagascar.  Twenty years later, France decided to transfer Abdel Karim Al Khotabi in 1947 and the ship stopped in Port Said in Egypt.

Abdel Karim Al Khotabi asked political asylum and Egypt agreed.

Abdel Karim Al Khotabi was asked to chair the “Maghreb Liberation Council” at the instigation of the Moroccan  leader Alal Al Fassi.

Devastating civil war in Yemen: Is it of any concern to the UN? (Oct. 27, 2009)

The UN did it again!  Civil wars in non-oil producing Arab States are left to run its natural steam until the State is bankrupt and ready to be picked up at salvage price.

The UN tends to get busy for years in collateral world problems when civil wars strike any non oil-producing Arab States.  Occasionally, the UN demonstrates lukewarm attempts for a resolution in oil producing States as long as it is under control.

Lebanon experienced 17 years of civil war.  Morocco still has a civil war in south Sahara for three decades.  Sudan has been suffering of a rampant civil war for four decades.  Algeria is experiencing a resurgence of a devastating civil war that started in 1990 because Europe refused to accept a democratically elected Islamic majority in the parliament.  Iraq was totally neglected while Saddam Hussein was decimating the Shias and Kurds in Iraq for three decades, even after the US coalition forced the Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.  Somalia never got out of its miseries for four decades so far.  Mauritania is rope jumping from one military coup to another. The other Arab States are in constant low-level civil wars overshadowed by dictators, one party, oligarchic, and monarchic regimes.

A week ago, a few trucks were allowed to cross Saudi borders to Yemen carrying tents and necessary medicines to stem rampant diseases where hundred thousands of refugees huddle in refugee camps on the high plateau of North-West Yemen, by the borders with Saudi Arabia that closed its borders and chased out any infiltration of refugees.

The most disheartening feeling is that you don’t see field reporting of this civil war by the western media.  The written accounts are from second-hand sources and decades old. They abridge the problem by stating it is a tribal matter. They feel comfortable blaming Iran; then how this land locked region can be supplied by Iran needs to be clarified. The western media is easily convinced that Al Qaeda moved from Saudi Arabia and was ordered to infiltrate the Somali refugee camps in South Yemen; then how Al Qaeda got to be located in a region of North West Yemen with Shia Yazdi population is irrelevant.

The population of North West Yemen forms the third of the total and it is Yezdi Chiia that agrees to seven Imams and not 12 as in Iran; the Yazdi sect does not care that much about the coming of a “hidden” Mahdi to unite and save Islam.  The western media want you to believe that this war, which effectively started in 2004, is a succession problem to prevent the son of current President Abdallah Saleh from inheriting the power. Actually Saleh’s son is the head of the Presidential Guard which has been recently involved in the war after the regular army failed to bring a clear-cut victory.

Yemen was a backward States even in the 60’s.  South Yemen had a Marxist regime backed by the Egyptian troops of Jamal Abdel Nasser against North Yemen ruled by an ancient Yazdi Imam; a hereditary regime labeled the “Royalists” and backed by Saudi Arabia. After the Soviet Union disintegrated Yemen unified in 1990.  Since then, South Yemen and North West Yemen were deprived of the central State financial and economic distribution of wealth.  President Saleh could present the image of a “progressist” leader as long as Yemen was out of the screen and nobody cared about this bankrupt State.

Yemen is on the verge of being divided into three separate autonomous States, the South, North West, and Sanaa the Capital.  The problems in the Horn of Africa have migrated its endemic instability into Yemen; refugees from Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan have been flocking into the southern shores of Yemen for same climate.  Heavy influx of contraband products are keeping the people of these two regions precariously afloat. The deal between Hillary Clinton and Israel foreign affairs Levny to patrol the Indian Ocean was not just meant for Gaza but mainly to prepare President Saleh for his 2009 campaign against the rebels in North Yemen by monitoring contraband arms shipments to the “hawssy” rebel.

Saudi Arabia, during the duo power brokers of Prince Sultan and Neyef (respectively Ministers of Defense and the Interior) did their best to destabilize Yemen on account of fighting the spread of the Shia sect in the Arabic Peninsula. Yemen has no natural resources to count on and the population is addicted to “Qat” that they chew on at lunch time for hours.

Yemen was the most prosperous region in the Arabic Peninsula for millennia.  Land caravans started from Taez and then passed by Maareb from which town the caravans split to either Mecca (then to Aqaba and Syria) or took the direction to Persia and Iraq. All kinds of perfume, seasoning, and textile landed by sea from India and South East Asia; incense was produced from a special tree grown in Yemen and Hadramout. The British Empire didn’t care about this region; all that it wanted to secure were sea ports for commerce and to defend the entrances of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea to Egypt.

The UN is inheriting the same lax attitude of the British Empire; as long as the US bases are secured in this region then the hell with the people. Qatar arranged for reconciliation in 2007 and Saudi Arabia interfered to fail it. Archaic tribes fighting one another wearing daggers as symbol of manhood are all that there is in Yemen.

Sahara Lives (May 13, 2009)

The southern part of the Arabic Peninsula such as Yemen, Muscat, and Hadramout had trade routes for the incense they produced since the third millennia BC using donkeys for transport.  These urban civilizations domesticated first the camel for its milk and hair (coat) for tent making and eventually its meat. Camels were then used as beast of burden within the urban regions; an implement in the form of horse shoe (bat) surrounded the boss and when attached in the front served for stabilizing loads on both sides.

As camels were discovered not to need to drink for over two weeks while crossing long distances under extremely hot climates then, various modifications were necessary to holding loads for desert travels. Eventually, in the second millennia techniques for designing saddles for war purposes as a mounting fighting beast were introduced; there were saddles located ahead, on, or behind the boss of the camel for specific fighting advantages; the main specifications related to matters of control of the beast, stability, and range of vision.

The Bedouin caste system was thus created by the urban merchant to domesticate camels.  Camel riders were later used to support caravans as fighting guards against raiders.  Raising camels thus became a lucrative trade that specific tribes of Bedouins had the monopoly. The Romans never introduced camels in their northern African colonies because camels did not exist then in that region.  Otherwise, the Empire of Carthage would have used camels instead of elephants for their greater benefits.

Camels were introduced in the Sahara after the second century BC.  Bedouins riding domesticated camels crossed the Red Sea from Arabia and reached Mauritania on the Atlantic by taking routes in the sub Saharan regions such as Sudan, Chad, Niger, and current Mali. Then various tribes ventured north to Morocco, Algeria, and Libya.

In the seventh century AC the Moslem Arabs conquered North Africa and one of their leader Tarek bin Ziad crossed the Gibraltar strait to invade Spain. By and by, Arabic tribes settled in North Africa; the tribe of Banu Hilal settled in Morocco. More trade routes from the north to the south of the Sahara were created.  Consequently, nomadic tribes from south and north of the Sahara communicated.

There are many nomadic tribes crossing the sub Sahara desert.  One of the most known tribes is what the French called “Touareg”.  The name Touareg is an Arabic name for “tawareq” meaning “outsiders”.  The French colonial power tried hard to weave myths around the Touareg mainly to distinguish them from the “Arabs” who resisted every foreign colonial invasion from Spain, France, and Italy.  Consequently, the Touareg had to be categorized as a “white race” and very different from their Arab counterparts and the inhabitants of Algeria were divided as Arabs (coastal urbane) and Kabila (tribes or people of the interior).

Sahara is the Arabic plural for “sahrat” given to uncultivated lands but that are still inhabited by seasonal nomadic tribes around oasis close to urban centers. The desert regions that are not inhabited at all are called “khali” or “khlat”; caravans occasionally cross these desert area for seasonal trading events.

There are lopsided romanticism in favor of the lifestyle of the nomadic tribes based on myths of freedom, liberty, and level of democracy in organizing their life; I bed to differ strongly.  I recall reading an article published in 1908 in Paris by the Lebanese journalist Jubran Tueni Senior mocking a new method of teaching freedom to Bedouins.  Tueni relates that representatives from a new political party formed in Damascus visited nomadic tribes in Huron with the purpose of explaining the freedoms guaranteed by the new Constitution.  Tueni ends his articles “Wouldn’t it be wiser for the urban representatives to learn the fundamentals of freedom, liberty, and democracy from the Bedouins?” That is the kinds of romanticism that has plagued and is still plaguing our understanding of the “high” moral quality of nomads.

There are many different tribes settling and crossing the Sahara and speaking different slangs.  Almost all the nomadic tribes in the Sahara are Moslems with variations in the strictness of application of the “Sharia” or laws.  There are definite hierarchical structures within the tribes; in general, tribes specialized in raising camels are at the highest level. The Touareg tribes have a matriarchal society, the same that the Arab Peninsula tribes had before Islam; in the sense that women run the economical and daily life of the tribes and the men do the outside commerce and the raiding to bring in the spoil and loots.  The tents of the Touareg are made of leather while the Arab tents are made of camel and goat hair; the design of saddles is also different.

I recall a paragraph of one of the earliest books of George Orwell “The Cleric’s Daughter” describing the Gypsies with their stupid faces and their eyes shining with malice and mean purposes.  Many people might consider these sorts of descriptions as racist.  That authors should be judged as they change and develop and not on their early beginning is out of this subject matter. My contention is that this description could be applicable of any people who have been displaced from their familiar environment; it is true to nomads transplanted to urban environment for making a living or westerners happening to live among the nomads for making a living and not just tourists.  The factor of utter fear in new unfamiliar settings within a different society is the same no matter how advanced we think we are.  The nomads lead a harsh life and the exigencies for survival should eliminate romantic tendencies that they are saints and the ultimate in liberty to live at will.

The European nations, especially France and England, had far-fetched projects to conquer the Sahara. For example, they contemplated a TransSaharien railroad that would link the north to the south; they had projects to flood part of the Sahara by the Atlantic Ocean and form an artificial lake that might allow navigation to the Mediterranean Sea and circumventing the Gibraltar strait; they designed a string of hundreds of wells; and they wanted to divert the Nile River inland. There is a complex aquifer system deep in the Sahara large as 3 millions square kilometers.

Libya managed to construct a long and large water duct through the desert; this project is to be 3 thousands kilometers long and would extract 6 millions cubic meters per day from the underground aquifer by 2017).  Al-Khufrah, in Libya, is a town of dozens of artificial oasis.  Egypt has irrigated, since 1997, 600 thousand hectares from this underground aquifer from the oasis of Bahriya to the oasis of Kharga. Algeria mobilized 20,000 soldiers to plant 3 millions trees and restarted this project in 1998.  In 2007, Algeria has started the construction of solar energy; the Sahara is destined to produce enough solar energy to satisfy 25% of Europe demands in energy.

Currently, the Sahara is providing gas, oil, and uranium to the western countries including clandestine immigrants fleeing to better pastures.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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