Francois

Reflections.

France on an Ivory Coaster

Just as the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire was starting, i.e when rebel forces attacked the legitimate government from the North, writer and translator Nidra Poller wrote an article treating of the Forces Nouvelles, the rebel group from Northern Cote d’Ivoire and the thin line France walks on by spporting them, which for some reasons is not available online today. Thanks to an investigative partnership organised by WikiLeaks, a copy of that is made available today. It reads:

Qu’est-ce que c’est que cette histoire ? France, the France of Jacques Chirac, chief of the peacemakers, is in a mano a mano fight with Laurent Gbagbo, democratically elected president of Côte d’Ivoire. The feud has been brewing for years. And I couldn’t help siding with Gbagbo (Yamoussoukro mon amour, http://www.menapress.com February 2003). because we hung around together in the old days when he dressed in turtle neck sweaters and hid out from the wrath of Houphoët-Boigny, l’homme providentiel, the kind of  stable leader favored by entrenched French interests.

So what’s going on now and what does it have to do with turmoil in the Middle East?

There is something more satisfying than belly laughing to see the French army firing into angry crowds. Use of excessive force, remember? There is something nobler than gloating at the gloaters. Whatever privileges they may have enjoyed in the waning years of neo-colonialism, the French people living in Côte d’Ivoire don’t deserve to be stripped clean of all their belongings, beaten up, scared to death, and chased away like rats. There is much to be learned from this upshot of a situation that curiously mirrors the issues involved in the ever widening French-American rift.

The Côte d’Ivoire fiasco is not an exotic anecdote, it is the underside of  the lofty scolding aimed at America and Israel, France’s arch enemies. We have been told that 9/11 was our fault, the Al Aqsa intifada was our fault, the suicide-homicide bombings are just what the Israelis ordered, the war in Iraq is a scandalous exploit in neo-neo-colonialism, the quagmire is our fault and well-deserved. We have been accused of not respecting international law, the Geneva Convention, the rights of man, and the rules of etiquette.

What are we really guilty of in those Gallic eyes? Manque de savoir faire? No. Something worse. We are guilty of not being French. And, not being French, of not letting the French run the show.

Now here’s a show that’s all for the show-offs and look at what they’ve done. A real brawl, mayhem, mass exodus, a nasty mess. The French base on the “zone of confidence” line that divided the country was bombed and nine soldiers killed; the French lashed out, destroying all of President Gbagbo’s planes; this riled up the population, the population turned its fury on French residents, the French sent in reinforcements, shot into crowds, killing and wounding civilians.and now they are cutting and running. Isn’t that a sorry sight?

But shame and defeat do not put an end to pontificating. The ultimate aim, we are told, is to restore order, get back to the negotiating table, and force everyone to really truly apply les Accords de Marcoussis, a model French peace agreement. When armed rebels attempted a coup d’état in 2002, France cheated on its treaty obligations to defend the democratically elected government and instead pressured Laurent Gbagbo to make concessions to the rebels. The rebels took control in the north, the country was divided, the atmosphere degenerated, the economy deteriorated and French public opinion was kept in the dark while attention was focused on the misdeeds of Bush and Sharon. From time to time a stingy piece of news, twisted to serve the interests of the Quai d’Orsay, was dropped on the wires. The rebels were called the ex-rebels, even as they threatened to march on Abidjan. Then they became les Forces nouvelles. Aint that neat? The New Forces. A breath of fresh air from the North. African journalists were reporting that Ghadafi was behind the rebellion. A bit of Islam to spice up les Forces Nouvelles. Obviously they weren’t financed by Burkina
Fasso, one of the poorest countries in Africa.

Guillaume Soro, the rebel chief, was interviewed with the same exaggerated respect French journalists extend to Hamas leaders. He spoke like an imbecile or a crackhead or both but that didn’t put a pinch in his reputation. Everything had to be symmetrical: Nobody knew how to pronounce Laurent’s name (it’s Babo, not Gebagebo), no one knew he was a historian and an author. He was the bad guy and the rebel chief had to be treated like he just stepped out of the Sorbonne.

But this was not enough to keep the peace. January 2003: enter the famous Accords de Marcoussis. That’s the French touch in diplomacy. Conflict must be solved ceremoniously in the gold encrusted salons of pompous government mansions in Paris or, in the case of Marcoussis, in magnificent châteaux. (You see why Camp David had to fail?) Photo ops from beginning to end. Smiles with clothespins at each corner. Fancy cars driving up, pulling away. A semblance of discussion and, under the table, a harsh settlement imposed by the one with the upper hand.

Les Accords de Marcoussis were a bitter pill that no self-respecting president could swallow. Whatever legitimate grievances may be stirring in the heart of Ivorian society, they could not be solved by bringing the rebels into the government. That’s not a peace agreement, it’s a coup d’état. And that’s what was pushed down Gbagbo’s throat: not only was he forced to agree to bring the rebels into his government, he had to give them the two ministries of armed force–Defense and the Interior.

Sound familiar? This is the same diplomacy that insists on including Hamas, Hizbullah and other terrorist organizations in Israel-Palestine peace talks and eventual Palestinian governments. This is the wannabe world power that wants to invite the Iraqi “résistants” to the international conference on the future of Iraq. This is the reasoning behind the peace movements that were all the rage in the spring of 2003. What do you do with bullies? Make them chief of police!

Today, when French politics is steeped in unseemly passions and truth is eaten away by the acid of hatred, government and media work hand in hand to assassinate their chosen prey. George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon can’t be
shaken by the vicious hatred poured over their heads. Even Tony Blair resists. But Laurent Gbagbo is African. When he made a last ditch effort to reunite his divided country it triggered an explosion of acting-out that reveals the hypocrisy of French peace mongering.

Under the terms of the Marcoussis Road Map, the rebels were supposed to disarm. It didn’t happen. Gbagbo’s air force attacked their stronghold. And the next day-willfully or accidentally-bombed a French airbase, killing 9 soldiers and wounding dozens. Hell hath no fury.

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin (quoted in Le Monde 10 November 2004) declared: you don’t kill French soldiers without expecting instant retaliation. Ah bon? I thought Israel was wrong and damned and doomed because its soldiers fired when fired upon. And the United States with that haw-ri-bul cowboy, thinking that a few thousand 9/11 deaths could excuse a wild adventure in Afghanistan and a sandy Vietnam in Iraq? The jihadis shouldn’t expect instant retaliation? As for the French civilians now escaping with their lives, the PM explains that they are leaving voluntarily.

Which doesn’t mean that crazed mobs wielding machetes are to be admired. Neither are murderous shebabs. Or jihadi beheaders. And, come to think of  it, comatose terrorists pompously received as heads of state.

However, this mayhem could be put to a good cause if the sight of the Ivorian population bearing down on the last remnants of French interests in Africa could break down the wall of rhetoric that imprisons French society. According to Ivorian sources 64 demonstrators were killed and over a thousand wounded in Abidjan in the past few days. How were these demonstrators killed? By whom? French media report the casualty toll with disembodied indifference. The first casualties of the so-called al Aqsa Intifada died repeatedly, grotesquely, bloodily in the French press. Their death lived and breathed for days, for months, to this day. The dead and injured Palestinian rioters of the year 2000 were brandished to justify atrocities against Israeli civilians. They justified the refusal of the late Arafat to negotiate, to clamp down on terrorists, to stop financing terrorist attacks.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier calls the destruction of the lilliputian Ivorian air force “self defense.” When the IDF destroys the home of a suicide-homicide bomber, they are accused of war crimes and worse. This is the Michel Barnier who insisted on visiting Yasser Arafat on his first visit to the Middle East as FM. He made a second trip to see Ariel Sharon and declare that Israel must negotiate with Yasser Arafat, the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people; there can be no peace without negotiation, no negotiation without Yasser Arafat.

This is the true face of a French government that was willing to play along with the half-dazed half-Islamic rebels who threatened to overthrow the Ivorian government, and now shoots at the enraged Ivorians revolting against the last remnants of what they call the French Occupation. These are the methods of a French government that has practically cut its ties with the United States–accused of pushing its weight around in the Middle East–and prefers to cut deals with knife wielders wrapped in keffieh.

As dazed French citizens fleeing the Ivory Coast landed at Roissy airport with nothing but the clothes on their backs, the terrorist Yasser Arafat was given a royal sendoff at Villacoublay. Is it any wonder that the nationalists in Abidjan waved the Star Spangled Banner? And the frenzied masses crowded into the Mouqata for the burial of the arch-terrorist brandished, side by side with the Palestinian, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad flags, the flag of la République française.

C’est la honte.

A second article in French can be read here.

DISCLAIMER: This post was written as a result of an investigative partnership organised by WikiLeaks. All the data referred to in this post have been obtained by WikiLeaks.

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US spies Africa: Stratfor emails reveal spying in Côte d’Ivoire

Emails between intelligence analysts reveal how war was predicted and atrocities covered in Cote d’Ivoire.

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant | In a civilized society, you know”

Commenting on an article published on the Daily Maverick, an enthusiastic commentator likened the job Stratfor does to investigative journalism. Another went on even saying Stratfor does not breach any moral ground or limit when it spies on individuals and their communications for large amounts of money.

Well let me state my view from the outset: corporations and other institutions of the like are the enemies of the people. Acting in the best interest of the people? Who are you kidding? Since the GI Files have surfaced, several articles pointed to Stratfor – a private intelligence agency which works for big corporations and spies on their “enemies” has worked for the US government, providing intelligence for the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Marines – spying on protesters in the USA. Stratfor said in its statement it does “global geopolitical analysis”. Well its scope is much wider than that.

Immediately after the electoral stand-off in Cote d’Ivoire, Western mainstream news outlets, both in French and in English, had little doubt about assigning responsibility for the whole crisis to Laurent Gbagbo. Their confidence bugged me to tell you the truth; as if they had exclusive access to certain information. Well maybe someone tipped them off.

The spying institution (no other terms is more simple and accurate at the same time to describe this institution) Stratfor not only closely monitored the events as they unfolded in Cote d’Ivoire but probably covered a very big lie. That mainstream media is complicit isn’t a new story; after all it depends on income sources that don’t like this type of story. Judge for yourself.

 Why is Stratfor interested in Cote d’Ivoire?

Côte d’Ivoire leads the world in production and export of the cocoa beans used in the manufacture of chocolate, as of 2009, supplying 30% of cocoa produced in the world. Large chocolate producers such as Cadbury, Hershey’s, and Nestle buy Ivorian cocoa futures and options. Stratfor too has a pretty interest in Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa.

1039966

I tracked down a certain ‘Mark Schroeder, Director of Sub Saharan Africa Analysis’ for a while and this email just confirmed my thoughts. To me he’s like the one fishing African informants out. Several emails show him continuously “keeping in touch” with them from where they are: 5048229 , 4980860 , 5083146 , 5264354 , 5114217 , 4980457 , 5138296 , 5141941 , 5150875 , 5135143 , 4984588

Another one led me to the possible conclusion of Cargill, the multinational corporation marketing agricultural products might be a client of Stratfor. Take a read:

5079189

Most reports two weeks into the conflict depicted a Gbagbo with “tight control over the army” and a Ouattara that “is widely acclaimed and received as the president of Cote d’Ivoire.” They failed however to voice out the stand of the citizens on the matter. “Official results said Alassane

Ouattara won the second round”. Yet, he tried a couple of times to gather supporters and face Gbagbo without success. In addition, Abidjan was reportedly quiet 2 weeks after the electoral stand-off; the core of Ouattara supporters being concentrated in Northern Cote d’Ivoire, where they have tried to mobilize protests over the last couple of days, but have been dispersed by government security forces. One email graciously enlightens us on some “secret” facts about the political factions in Cote d’Ivoire: 4980408

Analyzing the sources: Codename CIXXX

Most of the sources on CIV presented a story that is different from what is portrayed in the Western media. An excel spreadsheet titled “Africa Source list” I retrieved gives a large list of names and addresses of Stratfor sources in Africa. The informants include president(s), ambassadors, state ministers, UN representatives, embassy staffs, contractors, executives of large firms, a large number of reporters and journalists, activists, students and much more. Take a look for yourself: 1232132

7 people provided inside knowledge to Stratfor about what truly happened on the ground in Cote d’Ivoire. Their accounts of the situation were truly shocking and pointed far from what was displayed then by the media. Here’s an account from a “missionary in Abidjan”:  952799

Almost everything you are hearing from France and the UN is not true. Life in Abidjan is not even close to being normal. There are dead bodies at every intersection rotting in the sun for many days. Roving bands of armed criminals set free from the prisons to join his army (over 30,000 at last count) by Ouattara’s men are killing randomly all over Abidjan. They are looting, killing, raping, entering homes and taking whatever they want, stealing cars and 4 x 4s. Ouattara’s rebels going house to house taking young men from 15 years and up and killing them on the spot or taking them somewhere and they are not seen again. Food is running out, water too in some spots. Electric current is still on but not consistent. The French are still trying to kill Gbagbo. They bombed his house again today. They are not waiting to starve him out. They are attacking daily. Don’t believe the nightly news my man. The French and UN have killed thousands of young people who have given their lives to protect their President without weapons, when they surrounded his residence and the Presidential Palace. Did you know that the French and UN killed many civilians in Akouedo military base. That base was home for hundreds of families of soldiers. Over 2400 men, women and children lost their lives. Our family knows families that were killed there.

So, you asked for it. Now you have it. What will you do with this information. Is anyone listening to Senator Jim Inhofe? He has the facts and all that we have seen on the internet is accurate. Go to http://inhofe.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.JimsJournal&ContentRecord_id=3218c4e9-b19e-9f09-3866-7981e5068dbf

In another email, he points this out: 1401516

“Things are getting much worse. What I am telling you is coming from people who live in the areas or have friends and family in those areas. In Abobo [a pro-Alassane Ouattara neighborhood of Abidjan that has been the main scene of clashes] the rebel forces are not civilians as reported on the major news networks. They are trained military from Burkina Faso, Mali and other countries. The UN is the one transporting them into Abobo and other areas and arming them. Many of them are demon worshipers and they cut the throats of anyone who appears to be supporting Gbagbo and use the blood and organs for sacrificial worship many times burning the people alive. […]

The Ivorian Forces have now cleaned out much of Abobo since the government proclaimed a no fly zone. The UN tried to bring some more troops into Abobo by helicopter but the FDS fired on the helicopters purposely not hitting them, but firing around them to warn them off. They left and have not tried to come back.

The economic embargo is not working for the international community. The people are not rebelling and some of the banks are open and servicing the people. The one part of the embargo that is working is the embargo on medicines. Many people are dying because they can’t get medication. Children and old people dying of malaria without the simple cure. Still, they are not rebelling.

 Some days you wouldn’t even know there was a conflict. People working, going to school, getting married, living life. If they expect the people to rebel they are foolish. They have chosen Gbagbo as their President and they will never rebel against him. Every time he or one of his men calls for a meeting or rally hundreds of thousands come out. If Quattara calls for anything, nothing happens. This should tell everyone the truth. You know, I talk to many people and I have asked them, “What if Gbagbo was killed or decided to step down? What do they think would happen?”

 Without hesitation they all say they would fight until every last Ivorian was killed before they would allow Ouattara to take power. They say he will have to walk over their dead bodies to get into the presidential palace.

 Mark, this whole situation is ridiculous. How far will the international community go to install their man into the Presidency. How many will have to die so they can control the resources of this nation. What is really sad is that if they really wanted to help the Ivorian people, they could talk this through, allow a new election and then the people would willingly allow them to come into the country and help bring real development that would benefit everyone. Wouldn’t this achieve the same results without killing so many. Do they really want to see this much death and destruction?

 Please, as I asked before, never reveal my name or where you got this info. I am trusting you with my life. Already these terrorists have killed Ivorian journalists in their homes at night for printing these truths. Anyone who wants to know the truth can come here and find it. It is not hidden. The people are begging for the news media to report the truth. But no one is listening. If anyone here speaks the truth openly about Ouattara he sends the killers after them. Even President Zuma was attacked when leaving the Golf Hotel for appearing to support Gbagbo. All the Mauritanians are being attacked and their shops being looted and burned. They are now leaving the Ivory Coast because their President supported a peaceful solution and a new election.”

More on his accounts are available here 1116097 and here 5080310.

Another informant, an Ivorian sociology professor codenamed CI004 elaborated on the French interests in France: 1105024

France has to go so far to oust a president because it is vital for its survival..
If [incumbent President] Gbagbo resists enough and brings changes to Cote d’Ivoire (Nationalizing French companies, removing Cote d’Ivoire from the West African Central Bank (BCEAO), for example) France will lose a big deal of money. 85% of that central bank’s money is deposited in the Bank of France and Cote d’Ivoire provides 60% of such money. So imagine the disaster if Cote d’Ivoire gets out of the BCEAO. Last night I listened to one of the minister of Gbagbo and he said this: “by cutting us out of the BCEAO, the France and its African partners are helping us tremendously. We will print our own money soon and control our economy”…
So, when I say it is vital for France it is because other countries might follow Cote d’Ivoire example; a move that, in the long run, can weaken France’s economy.

Predicting a crisis?

While going analyzing the database and tracking some terms, a pattern formed itself between different emails. In a communication [1147942] dated May 1st 2010 (roughly 6 months before the beginning of conflict), a personal source of Stratfor known to be the father of Lauren Goodrich, Stratfor’s Senior Eurasia analyst, back from a trip in Abidjan and a dinner with Former Prime Minister and now Foreign Minister Daniel Duncan -who vowed to continue Ouattara’s economic policies of austerity and privatization- gives his assessment of the situation in Abidjan.

Later on, this conversation can be read between Stratfor’s Africa analyst and Marko Papic, one of Stratfor’s Eurasia political analysts: 1141240

Marko Papic:

The French are conducting two theater operations in Africa… I mean I know, it’s just 900 men in Ivory Coast preventing looting and they were already deployed in the region.
But still. Don’t compare this to the U.S. France is not U.S. Compare it to its neighbors in Europe. Hell, could Russia do something like that?

To that my Mark responds:

but France’s troops have been in Abidjan for decades. It’s like a second home to them. I guess the mutual defense treaties are not honored this time.

By the time Gbagbo made his point of not leaving office and trouble exploded, Stratfor had serious reasons against Laurent Gbagbo. In an email, Mark Schroeder discusses the need for anything else her father can have to strengthen the CI case and adds: “We’re watching to see how Gbagbo’s camp responds, whether they’ll pull a Kenya and try to impose favorable results, or if the results are not favorable, block it and manage the fallout, even if it takes months.” 5025331

The ensuing bombardments from France and the UN must be looked at from a critical point of view. Regime change is the top agenda of all Western countries in Africa and they took advantage of the so called Arab Spring to infuse ideas of dissent among Sub-Saharan Africans. Throughout the conflict, Paris and Washington have turned a blind eye to more substantial massacres of civilians by supporters of Ouattara—including one of up to 1,000 people in a single village. Let’s always remember that no UN resolution, be it in Libya or Cote d’Ivoire gave a formal authorization to attack in whatsoever way.

Quoting someone, “In this fairy world the “global intelligence” has seemingly predicted the date of the outbreak of the Iraq war, the attempted insurrection in Venezuela, the regime change in the Philippines”. Cote d’Ivoire is playground for them; supporting rebel forces attacking a legitimate government from the North.

C’est la honte.

Oh! Happy Independence Day to Cote d’Ivoire! Much love to you guys! I mean it…

DISCLAIMER: This post was written as a result of an investigative partnership organised by WikiLeaks. All the data referred to in this post have been obtained by WikiLeaks.

Is a Third Congo War looming?

A war in Africa will make Syria look like Chicago.

African foreign ministers have agreed in Addis Ababa  to create a regional force to fight rebels in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The deal was made at an African Union meeting where the ministers noted there was little trust in the 19,000-strong UN force currently in DR Congo; the BBC reports. As M23, the newly created rebel group who caused the migration of an estimated 200 000 people from the Nord and Sud Kivus, created its political wing, chances are that the situation in Congo quickly turns into a sour war engulfing much of the Great Lakes Countries and Central Africa.

Today, the diplomatic and military tension in the region depicts very well the period of 1990-1994 which preceded the Rwandan genocide which in turn triggered the Congo wars. Failed agreements (cc the Arusha Agreements), diplomatic attacks, the inactivity (or shall I say cowardice) of the international community (the West basically), the refusal of the media to give the issue some attention and such other signs surely do not lie.

In regards to that, there is little trust in the mandate of the UN troops stationed around Goma to guard the city in case of an attack. The UN has failed Congo more than once since its establishment. Since 2008, fears have grown that U.N. peacekeepers themselves contribute to the stalemate in Congo. The U.N. admitted 150 allegations of sexual abuse were reported committed by its peacekeepers from Uruguay, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Tunisia, and Morocco while stationed in Congo. The UN has been in Congo for 10 years now with more than 22 000 officers. It is worth wondering how the number of civilians dying and in extreme need is still rising; How come Congo is home to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world since the Second World War?

Conflict seems to follow AIDS and Malaria as Africa’s biggest pandemic of all time. Lets see: 1960 to 1966: close to 200 000 people died in Zaire => Congo because the Belgians manipulated the Hutu and Tutsi against each other and as a result of a proxy war between the US and the USSR; The 1994 Rwanda genocide cost the “bagatelle” of 800 000 lives; The two Congo wars that spanned from 1996 to 2003 (Officially) caused more than 5 million casualties in deaths only; From 1993 to 2005, 300 000 were killed as part of the Burundi Civil War. These are just few of past conflicts that have rocked Africa for the past 80 years, not counting the exhaustive list of the ongoing ones.

Those periods of time are always marked by a foreign presence in Africa. Don’t jump to quick conclusions though!

There is urgent need to focus on the protection of civilians by fighting Congo’s culture of impunity toward law-breaking. One thing important is to not turn the human issue into a political or economic matter which it isn’t. The issue at stake here is the lives of more than 10 million people living in the Kivu region of the DRC. This mistake is made so many times and ends up clouding debates on possible solutions.

Given the crucial role Rwanda played in the region during the two Congo wars, it is impossible not to think that it is on break. The M23 had no capacity neither strategy to beat the Congolese battalion assigned to Bunagana and suburbs; but the Rwandese Army did it at night and retreat at dawn. Rwanda abetted by some westerners have mission to channel minerals to the West. How can it be accepted that Rwanda is  a major exporter of gold, coltan, diamond obtained through the destabilization of the eastern Congo! The situation is not helped by the quasi silence of Joseph Kabila who hasn’t learned what it means to be a president of a nation for the last 10 plus years. Because it is very suitable to point the finger at Kigali when the problem is also internal. Rwandan officials certainly back-up the rebels in the Kuvi region. Now to what ends? one may wonder.

We cannot say by now what fruits the UN shells will bring in the end. They (AU foreign ministers possibly jointly with the UN) plan to establish a force to eradicate negative forces in the region; well who would that be? Plus can such a force be established? Lets see, again: (1) the UN has failed Congo in the past; (2) Most of ECOWAS will be busy with Mali and Guinea-Bissau. Nigeria can’t deploy too many forces with all the trouble in the north; Laura Seay pointed out to me; (3) Nothing can be expected from the Sudans; (4) Ethiopia, Kenya and Ugandan militaries are occupied with anti-terror efforts; (5) Rwanda is not neutral. [Comment] “Sounds like a setup to me”!

History tends to re-repeat itself… And I am not happy writing this. It is sad that war has become business where multinationals see the Third World as a playground for their toys grandeur nature. The status quo suits everyone; in Kinshasa, in North Kivu, in Kigali, in the UN, in America, Russia and China and their weapons manufacturers, in Cupertino (Apple) and its “competition” since everything is about money in this freaking world. It suits everyone except a girl born in 1990, living in Nord Kivu with her son (from a rapist probably) and has never know peace.

Ah! At least it is a quicker response to a growing conflict than 1994 both in Rwanda and Srebrenica.