Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Tuareg

Cash rolls?
PATRICK COCKBURN. Tuesday 15 January 2013

As long as the cash rolls in, the West appears untroubled by Gulf monarchies’ ideology

Note: Remember this article was published in 2013. The world parties engaged in the war in Syria all knew the financial resources of the funding for terrors. The Western nations just delivered the purchased weapons and training and logistical support.

The West has portrayed Gulf leaders as natural allies in promoting democratic revolutions.

France is expecting the “Arab” monarchies of the Gulf to help the campaign against jihadi Islamist rebels in Mali, its Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (a Zionist) said today.

On a visit to the UAE, Mr Fabius outlined different ways of helping; through materials, or through financing – an ironic request given that private donors from these countries are believed to be the main supporters of  al-Qa’ida in Iraq and Syria.

The US and Western states have long looked to the Gulf monarchies to fund their actions in the Muslim world and beyond. Sometimes the funding has been direct, such as the financial and material aid Qatar gave the Libyan rebels in 2011.

At others, it has been indirect subsidies to groups, such as the Afghan mujahideen who were fighting the Soviets, with whom the West did not want to be quite so publicly associated.

Mr Fabius said that donors would meet towards the end of January in Addis Ababa, to finance an African push against al-Qa’ida. He said: “Everybody has to commit to fighting against terrorism. We are pretty confident that the Emirates will go in that direction as well.”

Relations between the US and its West European allies on the one side and the absolute monarchies of the Gulf on the other have been highly contradictory since the “Arab” Spring began two years ago. The West has portrayed the kings and emirs of the Gulf, ruling some of the most undemocratic states in the world, as natural allies in promoting and financing democratic revolutions in Libya and Syria.

A further contradiction is that Saudi Kingdom and the Sunni rulers have encouraged the salafis across the Muslim world – fundamentalist militants advocating a literal interpretation of the Koran – through paying for schools and mosques. While most of the salafi are non-violent, their ideology is similar to that of al-Qa’ida. (From where did Cockburn get this statement?)

Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya was an important donor and investor in sub-Saharan Africa and it is unlikely that the Gulf Arabs will be prepared to spend as much money.

Even Syrian rebels say the funds they receive come episodically and are inadequate, leading to widespread looting by rebel commanders.

While France is justifying its intervention in Mali by claiming it is all part of the “war on terror” its action may stir up further turmoil in the region. Interestingly, one rebel group in the north, the separatist MNLA that wants a homeland for Tuareg in northern Mali, is reported to have backed the French intervention

Note: As the Syrian army has practically re-conquered most of Syria and reached the Golan Heights and all the southern border with Jordan, Qatar, The Emirates and even Saudi Kingdom are conducting secret negotiations to re-open their embassies in Damascus.

Mauritania?  An “Arab” State in West Africa? Where a Third of population are slaves?

Mauritania is a vast desert State in West Africa, bordering Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Senegal…and the Atlantic Ocean. Apparently, its population is barely 3 million, a third of them are slaves and mostly women.

Mauritania is a member of the “Arab League“, but the US State Department opted to group Mauritania smack in Africa, and this State is “administered” as such by the US Secretary of State…

Lucky Mauritania?  That the US has decided to forget this country as part of the “Arab”World”: It must have been saved plenty of humiliation and indignities heaved on the remaining “Arab States” by the US foreign policies…

 posted on May 23, 2012, under: “The Arab Spring you haven’t heard about — in Mauritania”:

“You may not have heard of it, but the West African country of Mauritania has what is probably one of the most vibrant and active protest movements in the world today.

Protests drawing tens of thousands of people take place almost weekly in the capital Nouakchott, with many smaller protests happening on a daily basis around the vast country.

Photo by Magharebia, via Wikimedia Commons

The protests are overwhelmingly nonviolent, even in the face of frequent violent suppression, and have been going on since February 2011.

It would be comfortable to file these protests as another part of the Arab Spring: Mauritania is on the southern reaches of the Saharan Arab belt, and large-scale protests here started with the self-immolation and subsequent death of Yacoub Ould Dahoud, an action mirroring the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, which set off the revolt in Tunisia.

As in other Arab countries that experienced large-scale protests, Mauritania is governed by an autocratic regime whose leader, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, originally came to power through a coup d’état.

But while these similarities exist and the pro-democracy protests in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world surely have been a source of great inspiration for local activists, Mauritania merits a second look.

First, the range of participating actors in Mauritania are as diverse as their agendas. While a common concern of all protest movements is the end of the rule of Abdel Aziz, there are host of other issues that various groups want to have addressed, not all directly related to the country’s ruler.

(Saidou Wane, a Movement for Justice and Equality in Mauritania activist speaks during a protest against the government at Fountain Square in April. Photo via Cincinnati.com)

Chief among the issues is of slavery.

Some estimates say that up to a third of Mauritania’s population is enslaved (even though the practice has been formally abolished many times). Victims are overwhelmingly ethnic black Africans.

This creates racial tensions in Mauritania’s multi-ethnic society, but also religious ones, as certain interpretations of Islam are used to legitimize slavery.

These tensions have forced their way into the open in the context of current protests, with anti-slavery activist Biram Ould Abeid publicly burning Islamic legal manuals discussing the issue. Abeid was subsequently arrested by the authorities, and his case is controversially debated among other activists.

Another very active group, traditionally eyed suspiciously in Western societies, are the Islamists. Organizations like Tawassoul demand a State and society based on principles of Islamic law.

While not cooperating a lot with other protest movements, they have been incredibly persistent in their activities against the regime, including protests of Salafist women against democracy (which is seen as not compatible with Islam) and for the release of imprisoned husbands.

More familiar political standpoints are expressed by the traditional political opposition and various youth movements, the biggest of which has followed the modern tradition of naming itself after the date of the first big protest, 25F (February 25, 2011). These groups focus on democratic reform and an end of the reign of President Aziz.

With all these different actors and goals competing for internal support and attention, it is remarkable that protests have almost completely stayed peaceful for well over a year. While protesters frequently face violence from police (including kittling, arbitrary arrests, beatings, water cannons, tear gas and attack dogs), the protesters have employed a wide range of nonviolent tactics.

In addition to traditional rallies, marches, speeches and sitins, protesters have occupied public squares with tents and use social media and video live streaming to coordinate protests, document violence and communicate with the outside world.

As the growing momentum of the protests show, these nonviolent tactics have so far fulfilled their goal of mobilizing the general population against the regime. But President Aziz should not be counted out just yet.

While the diversity of the protesters and their goals shows that a vibrant civil society and widespread discontent exists in Mauritania, their disunity may still allow Aziz to carry the day.

Already, the affair around the Islamic book burning by anti-slavery activist Abeid has allowed President Aziz to portray himself as a defender of Islam.

Given the incompatibility of demands by pro-democracy activists and Islamists, it is easy to imagine President Aziz discovering his inner zealot to rally support from this part of society (a strategy tried and tested on the other side of continent in Sudan).

Another possible development could see Aziz taking advantage of the regional situation.

There are large parts of neighboring Rep. of Mali controlled by Islamist groups who proclaimed the Independence of Azawat in the northern region (see link in note). And the fear of an “African Afghanistan” is running high in European, U.S. and African capitals.

President Aziz could implement some feigned democratic reforms and present himself as a beacon of stability in the region, hoping for (and probably getting) Western military support and closed eyes, ears and mouths in the U.N. Security Council and the African Union.

Given the level of mobilization in Mauritania so far, the pro-democracy movements in Mauritania have a good chance of succeeding against such moves. Looking at successful nonviolent struggles elsewhere, activists in Mauritania could enhance the likelihood of success by working to undermine the foundations of the regime.

Actions like strikes and boycotts can be incredibly effective, if well employed. Additionally, the protest movements could reach out to security forces, trying to convince at least elements of them to turn over to their side.

After all, police and soldiers need to feel that they will be part of a better future as well, otherwise many of them will go with the devil they know instead of with the change they mistrust.

Note 1: Since, France has engaged troops to stop the Islamist forces marching toward south Mali, and so far, a few African contingents are participating, lukewarmly.

Note 2: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/western-africa-rep-of-mali-azawat-tuareg-south-sahara-al-qaeda-sahel-whats-going-on/


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