Jim Wall on Ariel Sharon…
Originally posted on Wallwritings:
Ariel Sharon died January 11, 2014, eight years and one week after he suffered a stroke January 4, 2006. At the time of his stroke, Sharon was the 11th Prime Minister of Israel.
The stroke left him in a permanent, brain dead, vegetative state. It was not the final chapter of life a proud man could have wanted.
Originally posted on Wallwritings:
“No partner for peace” is one of several “shibboleths” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and his cabinet are now using to scuttle any peace agreement with President Mahmoud Abbas, no matter how often U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Tel Aviv.
As readers of Judges 12:6 are well aware, pronunciation of the word “shibboleth” is used to separate friends from enemies.
The Colorado State Veterans Home at Fitzsimons: A Ten Year, Mismanaged Administrative Disaster. Part One: The `Guv’.
Part One of a Series: Between Tragedy and Farce: Governor John Hickenlooper’s Sorry Record with Colorado State Public Employees… .
At his annual Christmas Party at the Governor’s Mansion, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was holding court – as is the tradition -when two employees from the Colorado State Veterans Home at Fitzsimons, both members of the statewide public employee’s union ColoradoWINS, approached him. Giving them his undivided attention for a full 60 seconds, the governor listened as the two did their best to inform him of the hostile work environment at the facility. They warned the governor that, if anything, the situation continues to deteriorate.
Hickenlooper was indeed concerned, not so much with the crisis itself but how such a crisis might effect his election chances. Hickenlooper, caught in the middle! – always trying to put the brakes on those left of him (labor, minorities – ie the main constituency of the Colorado Democratic Party) while fearing those on his right whose financial support he doesn’t want to alienate. Hickenlooper would like to get through the upcoming 2014 election season with his thin Democratic majority in the State legislature intact. He fears “controversy” – and will put off making commitments to constituents as long as possible. This does not bode will for Colorado’s labor movement that would like to see state laws strengthening union and employee rights in both the public and private sectors.
John Hickenlooper and I met once, a memorable experience for neither of us. Read more…
by Rob Prince
About a year ago, in Los Angeles, I asked a Tunisian-Jewish friend, Jaco, his thoughts on the post-Ben Ali Tunisian political situation. He thought about it for a second and summed up the Tunisian reality in two sentences. “Things will get worse. And then they’ll get better”. Nicely put but harder to see the bright future at the end of the rainbow at the moment!
Three years ago, on December 17, 2013, Mohammed Bouazizi immolated himself in Sidi Bouzid, an impoverished town in the Tunisian interior, setting off a social explosion that would first force Zine Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi from power before expanding to the entire Middle East.
Three years later, the prospects for “a new Tunisia” are somber enough. The talk of Tunisia being “the only successful democratic transition” in the Arab World, or the like, is, unfortunately, more wishful thinking than fact. Democracy – if that is what one can call the tumultuous process of the past three years, hangs on, but only by a thread. Read more…
Mali’s Post Independence History Differs Some From other Former French African Colonies
- 1960 – Mali achieves independence. Its first president, Modibo Keita was a fervent promoter of African unity in the early post-colonial period (1960s), but the divergent view of how African unity might proceed kept him from realizing his goal of an economically, socially and politically more unified continent.
- French military presence in Mali has a long, uneven history. After independence, under Keita’s leadership, French military bases in the country were closed.
- Economic difficulties grew over the course of the 1960s as a result of the meager resources available for development at the time. As a result he lost support
- In November, 1968 Keita was overthrown by a military coup led by General Moussa Traoré – with the support of France. Traoré instituted a harsh military dictatorship which prohibited all democratic expression and opposition.
- 1985 – Traoré signs a military cooperation agreement with Paris; but with clauses that limited both the size and scope the French military presence.
- 1991 – popular demonstrations grow – at one, the army fires on demonstrators killing 300. By the end of the year Traoré is overthrown by the military supported by many elements of the population.
- a transitional committee is created, headed by Colonel Amadou Tourmani Touré (known as ATT). Touré organized elections and in
- 1992 – a civilian, Alpha Oumar Konaré. Konaré is the only Malian president to retire (without being overthrown by a coup) after two terms in office in 2002.
- 1992 – a national pact between the Malian government in Bamako and the coordinating committee of Tuareg (Azawad) rebels is signed. France, as in Rwanda – sends a contingent of DAMI (Détachement d’assistance militaire) to Mali.
- this first detachment of DAMI is placed in Sévaré (near Mohti) – in between the conflict zone between the rebels and the national government
- 2 French military officers trained to sections of 40 Malians in counter-insurgency tactics
- late 1990s – military cooperation extended. 2 national administration schools founded (by French in Mali) – ENVER – now with increasing cooperation from the United States – now getting involved under the cover of the struggle against terrorism
- 2002 – Amadou Tourmani Touré returns on the scene and wins elections. He refuses to sign different economic and military accords pressed on him by Paris. It suggests that he never loses his contact with the popular forces in his country. He says close to the very active “Association des Maliens Expulsés.”
- November, 2002 – the US State Department announced that officials from its Office of Counterterrorism had visited Mali and other West African countries to brief governments on the Pan Sahel Initiative
- although he publicly stated that he would be willing to step down after two terms. Unfortunately, his regime was also characterized by extensive corruption with those close to power centers implicated. His rule was also characterized by a history of intimidation and repression of journalists and trade union leaders.
- his 2007 re-election campaign was marked by extensive election fraud, and the result – that he had achieved some 71.20% of the vote was viewed with no small amount of cynicism.
- finally the economic situation in the country was terrible. Mali remained one of the world’s poorest countries, eroded by endemic corruption and incapable of providing even the most basic human services in spite of mineral wealth which made Mali one of the principle gold-producers of the region.
- in the end, Touré had ruled Mali as a French puppet since 2002 and had previously been accused of drug dealing with war lords.
- 2007 – US military “assists” the Malian army in countering a Tuareg revolt led by Ag Bahanga.
- 2007 – 2008 – Annual Flintlock Exercises take place in Mali; see Wikileaks Cable of meeting between US Congressman Jim Marshall and Touré
- 2010 – French hostages seized. France forms a 250 man Malian special forces unit; France asks Mali for “temporary” base rights to fight Islamic terrorism; fearing Islamic retaliation, Amadou Tourmani Touré refuses. As a result,. French special forces are beefed up in Niamey, Niger.
- Amadou Tourmani Touré’s refusal to permit a French military presence is probably a key element in France’s lack of response to his being overthrown in a military coup. France did nothing to prevent it.
- 2012 – the MNLA (Azawad National Liberation Movement) wages war against the central government. Government engages in a half-hearted effort to stem the northern rebellion which grows in scope. It is also a failure for the U.S. military who had trained the Malian military for just such a possibility. Despite the training, Malian soldiers were poorly trained and badly equipped, with many having gone hungry.
- March, 2012 – generals of Mali’s military (green berets) overthrew Amadou Tourmani Touré, inaugurating the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State. The coup was led by Captain Amadou Aya Sanago, who had received six training military missions in the United States. The military led coup was supported by a mass, popular movement called the March 22 Movement led by left-wing deputy Dr. Oumar Mariko.- Many supporters of the coup had demonstrated in support of Muammar Khadaffi during the Libyan War of 2011; they wanted a strong Malian state to defeat what they considered to be a “French conspiracy” to destabilize and re-colonize the mineral rich country, by using jihadist terrorism as a pretext for intervention.
- reaction of the international community to the popularly supported Malian coup was swift and a la Iran – typical. The coup was condemned and sanctions were imposed on Mali; the Community of West African States – ECOWAS, threatened to invade to “restore democracy”.
- this international pressure stymied the efforts of the Malian military to gain control of the situation in the Northern territories. The sanctions halso helped precipitate a humanitarian crisis as Malian goods could not be transported from ports in the Ivory Coast and Guinea.
- all this weakened the country’s defenses enabling the terrorists to capture village after village. In spite of the fact that the international community was fully aware of the advances of the terrorists, it expressed more concern about the “restoration of democracy” than stopping the terrorist advance
- the generals finally ceded to international pressure and agreed to nominate Diocounda Traore – (who has strong ties to NATO) – as interim president. It is Traore who would provide the pretext for the French intervention in a letter sent to the United Nations.
- April 6, 2012 - Tuareg rebels in N. Mali declare independence; announce intention to form a democratic state in Azawad.
- January 2013 – French-led military intervention begins.
- July 20, 2013 – Malian presidential elections take place. – 27 candidates run for office; reports of widespread fraud and irregularities with thousands of NINA (Numero d’identité nationale) voter cards not being delivered to voters. The electoral lists were the same asin 2009, excluding some 300,000 Malians who had come of age. Only 300 vote cards had been distributed to the 730,000 refugees in camps in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Algeria and Niger. Burkina Faso’s 50,000 Malian refugees received only 30 NINA cards
(Note: This article is published at Foreign Policy In Focus)
French military in Mali: an enduring presence
December 14, 2013.
A mere nine months after a French-led military intervention supposedly stabilized the country, Mali is once again in turmoil. Despite Paris’ claims that all of its military would leave, more than likely the 1000 remaining French military personnel in Mali are there for `an enduring mission.’
At the same time, at present, momentum for another major French-led military intervention in the Central African Republic will result in more permanent French troops on the ground elsewhere on the continent, joining those already there in Chad, Ivory Coast just to name a few. On the surface, Paris insists it is drawing down its African military presence and it is true few permanent bases now exist. But that is deceptive and essentially for public consumption. Publicly financial considerations are pressuring Paris to draw down its African military presence. But what is happening is more of a re-organization rather than withdrawal. In fact the new French military face in Africa (Libya, Mali, now Central African Republic) might be smaller in size but is in many ways more aggressive and brutal than the old face.
A French re-militarization of Africa, under the well-worn pretext of humanitarian intervention, is in the making. It is of the `meaner-leaner’ variety: fewer permanent French troops on the ground, but infrastructure in place for quick deployments from S. France and off shore air craft carriers, much more extensive use of the French special forces whose activities are more difficult to trace (although not impossible). Taking advantage of hostage crises, domestic tensions in a number of African states (Mali, Central African Republic) and waiting for the moment when French public opinion can be successfully manipulated (not difficult by the way), the French are in the process of perfecting a new style “rapid deployment force” kind of military intervention in Africa: deadly for Africans but quite popular and with broad public support in France itself.
While humanitarian considerations provide the pretext, this new French military sub Saharan African surge is more accurately about protecting France’s access to raw materials and strategic resources on the continent at a time of increased resource wars than about saving African lives or promoting development and democracy. A cynical assessment perhaps, but one which will probably prove to be accurate. Read more…
My gosh, he’s gone, but then he lived – body and soul - for some 23 years after he was freed from a lifetime of incarceration. What a constitution the man must have had, given all the suffering he endured. The man, Nelson Mandela.
In the same way people pass over Martin Luther King Jr.’s criticism of the link between racism at home and U.S. Imperialism abroad, they pass over the fact that Nelson Mandela was decidedly not a pacifist (even though he had such a calm and peaceful looking face!). He was the leader of the armed wing of the African National Congress (A.N.C.)and was arrested, charged and convicted for having participated in armed struggle.
While Israel, during those apartheid days, cooperated with S. African Apartheid to produce joint nuclear explosions, many, many S. African Jews were on the `other side of the fence’ right there with Mandela, members of the A.N.C. and one of the most under-rated and effective Marxist parties of the 20th Century – the South African Communist Party. Besides its impressive political work in its homeland, the South African Communist Party was one of the few communist movements to make an honest and critical assessment of the failures of Soviet Communism; it was so much an integral part of the effort to liberate South Africa from Apartheid, that even today it remains a legal and highly respected part of the political landscape of the country. From what I know Mandela was not a member, but he worked closely with it in the coalition that finally overthrew the racist filth that was Apartheid. Read more…