Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, December 2013
After Fighting Muslims in Mali, Hollande Sends French Imperialist Forces to Fight Muslims in the Central African Republic
December 9, 2013
The French President, François Hollande, has launched a new war on African Muslims, this time in the Central African Republic, after his imperialist invasion of Mali, where he stopped the advance of Islamist groups to clean the country of corruption.
Now, he has sent his imperialist forces to oust Muslims out of power after the Muslim Seleka Movement took power in March 2013, leaving the door open for the Christian vigilante groups known as the “anti-balaka” to commit genocidal attacks on Muslim communities in the country.
Just few days ago, Hollande visited his Zionist masters in Israel, telling them what they wanted to hear that the Palestinian leader, Yassir Arafat, was not poisoned by them.
So, Hollande is in the forefront in the competition among the world puppets about who is faster in pleasing the rulers of the Zionist empire by killing Muslims anywhere if they attempt to free themselves of corrupt and puppet governments.
French troops to begin disarming CAR rebels
By FRANCE 24 (text), December 9, 2013
French troops are set to start disarming militias in the Central African Republic (CAR) following a wave of sectarian violence in the capital of Bangui that has left around 400 people dead.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said French soldiers would begin disarming rebels on Monday morning. “The period of impunity is over,” he said on French RTL radio on Sunday evening.
Calm has been largely restored to Bangui since French troops began patrolling its streets and neighbouring towns in the wake of a new UN Security Council-backed mission that allows the use of force to protect the lives of civilians.
Many terrified residents of the capital still refused to leave their homes after rival militia groups attacked civilians with knives and machetes last week.
“People do feel safer. This doesn’t mean that there are no militias left in Bangui or the countryside,” said FRANCE 24’s Alexander Turnbull in Bangui.
“It’s true that tensions have eased a little but people still stay at home as much as they can. The real difficulty for them at the moment is trying to find food supplies," he said.
French army spokesman Colonel Gilles Jaron said the French military mission had reached its full strength of 1,600 by Sunday.
Following the deadly violence, the African Union plans to boost the regional MISCA force on the ground to 6,000 troops from a planned 3,600.
Jaron also noted tension between the French soldiers and former Seleka rebels who have largely been in control of Bangui since a March coup.
“I think they have understood they will have to be re-grouped, disarmed, that the French force is imposing itself in the capital at their expense, which is creating tension," Jaron noted.
A French patrol came under fire near the airport on Sunday but a military source said no one was injured.
The Seleka rebels mostly come from CAR’s Muslim minority. While the transitional president, Michel Djotodia, officially disbanded the Seleka alliance, in reality, the former rebel leader lost control of rebel fighters.
Meanwhile, Christian vigilante groups known as the “anti-balaka” sprang up to defend their communities but some also have committed revenge attacks on Muslim communities.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Hollande calls for swift elections in CAR
By FRANCE 24 (text)
December 9, 2013
French President François Hollande said that the Central African Republic (CAR) should hold democratic elections by 2015, during an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Radio France Internationale and TV5MONDE on Saturday.
CAR, a former French colony, has been gripped by unrest since Seleka rebels seized control of the country in March, ousting former president François Bozizé. Although the group’s leader, Michel Djotodia, took over as interim leader, he has struggled to rein in rebel fighters, many of whom are from neighbouring Chad and Sudan.
“You can’t leave a president in office who has not done anything or who has let things go,” Hollande said. “Earlier we discussed with African leaders [and] the prime minister of the Central African Republic – who belongs to a coalition that no longer exists on the ground – and the idea, and I support that idea, is to organise elections as soon as possible.”
He said that a vote should be held by 2015.
France will not send any more troops to CAR
Hollande also reiterated during the interview that France was deploying a total of 1,600 troops to CAR, where sectarian violence has claimed the lives of at least 300 people over the past three days.
He stressed, however, that France will not send any more reinforcements to the country.
“There will not be any more [soldiers going], that will be enough,” Hollande said, explaining that the African Union also planned to boost its military presence in CAR to 6,000 men in the coming days.
Hollande went on to say that two of the goals of the military intervention in CAR was to disarm the different rebel groups and ensure the country’s security in order to pave the way for elections.
France boosts troop levels to quell violence in CAR
December 7, 2013
France on Friday launched its second military intervention on the African continent this year as troops were deployed in the Central African Republic (CAR) capital of Bangui in a bid to try to stem the inter-religious violence that has spread across the landlocked nation since rebels ousted president François Bozizé in March.
Thousands of people crowded into a field outside the main airport in Bangui in the hope that the French soldiers stationed there would protect them, a day after more than 100 people died in clashes Thursday between the mainly Muslim former rebels now in charge of the country and a mix of local Christian militiamen and other fighters loyal to Bozizé.
The Red Cross said Friday that it had collected 281 bodies from two days of fighting in Bangui but that many more had probably been killed in the clashes.
Those fleeing crowded close to the runway, laying out woven mats in front of the airport's barbed-wire fence.
“They are slaughtering us like chickens,'' Bangui resident Appolinaire Donoboy told the Associated Press. Donoboy said his Christian family remains in hiding as Muslim militias went door to door.
The former French colony has slipped into chaos since the now-disbanded mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the March coup, leading to tit-for-tat sectarian violence with militias from the Christian majority.
French operation limited
France, which halted an advance by al Qaeda-linked insurgents on the Malian capital Bamako this year, began assembling a new 1,200-strong force for CAR just hours after winning UN backing to go ahead on Thursday.
“The operation has effectively started,” Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told FRANCE 24 sister station RFI (Radio France Internationale). He said one company had already arrived in Bangui from a French base in nearby Gabon and that a helicopter group was due to be in place later in the day.
Speaking hours after securing UN backing for the mission, President François Hollande vowed that the French operation would be limited in time, with the aim of passing responsibility to African forces relatively soon.
Le Drian said it was “not impossible” that France could wind down its presence after six months, but the Central African Republic's Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye said it was likely the troops would have to remain longer.
“Six months seems a bit short to me; in my view we are looking at a year. If it (the French force) manages to sort out the problems, so much the better, but I would prefer it to stay in place for a year,” Tiangaye told RTL radio.
French troops to double
France had some 650 troops based at Bangui airport on Thursday – a number Hollande said would soon come close to doubling with reinforcements from French bases in neighbouring countries.
The UN resolution authorised the deployment of up to 3,600 African and 1,200 French troops.
French soldiers reportedly clashed with gunmen ahead of the UN vote, killing several near Bangui's airport.
The Central African Republic is rich in gold, diamonds and uranium but decades of instability and spillover from conflicts in its larger neighbours have kept it mired in crisis.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the annual Africa-France summit starting in Paris on Friday would discuss CAR operations, including the French military's handover to African- or UN-led forces in the future.
Asked about his previous warning that there was a risk of "genocide" – which critics have called alarmist– Fabius said:
“The term is debatable, I won’t employ it again as genocide is something quite specific ... (but) we have all the elements of a major crisis and powder keg,” noting that there had been what he called “the start of a religious confrontation”.
Fabius said French forces would initially focus on securing Bangui and roads leading to Chad and Cameroon. They would also deploy with African forces to other towns including Bossangoa, about 300 km north of the capital, which witnesses said had come under heavy fire from militias on Thursday.
Michel Djotodia, former leader of the now-defunct Seleka rebel alliance, is CAR’s interim president, but he has struggled to control his loose band of fighters, many of whom come from neighbouring Chad and Sudan.
Asked whether Djotodia was legitimate and should remain in power, Fabius said he had taken power “in a debatable way” but added: “I think we don’t need more difficulties by adding the departure of the president.”
He said, however, that elections should begin by early 2015 at the latest.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP and AFP)
French troops clash with Central African Republic gunmen in capital
By Emmanuel Braun
BANGUI Mon Dec 9, 2013 1:17pm EST
French troops in Central African Republic clashed with gunmen in the capital Bangui on Monday as they searched for weapons in an operation to disarm rival Muslim and Christian fighters responsible for hundreds of killings since last week.
Shooting erupted near the airport in the morning after gunmen refused to hand over their weapons, and French forces later came under attack by former rebels in the city center.
France said it was prepared to use force if fighters rejected calls to disarm or return to barracks.
France boosted its military presence in its former colony to 1,600 troops over the weekend as waves of religious violence swept across the country. At least 459 people have been killed in Bangui alone since Thursday, according to Red Cross officials.
"This is not an easy job, but our soldiers are well prepared," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France Inter radio.
The order to disarm had been broadcast on local radio in Bangui and "if that is not enough, force is going to be employed."
Central African Republic has spiraled into chaos since mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in March. Seleka's leader, Michel Djotodia, installed as the country's interim president, has lost control of his loose band of fighters.
EXCHANGES OF FIRE
Christian militias and gunmen loyal to ousted president Francois Bozize attacked Bangui on Thursday, the same day the U.N. Security Council authorized France to use lethal force to help African peacekeepers already struggling to restore order.
In an early test of France's resolve, its troops traded fire with gunmen near the airport Monday morning. A French army spokesman in Paris called the incident "insignificant".
"Many armed elements who held positions in Bangui have left their positions to go back to their barracks," Colonel Gilles Jaron said.
However, French troops again came under attack later in the day in the PK 5 neighborhood from suspected Seleka fighters.
"It was an attempt to intimidate. We responded with 20mm cannon, then sent in a platoonto carry out clean-up operations," Captain Guillaume Fresse, spokesman for the French force in Bangui, told Reuters.
It was not immediately known whether there had been casualties in the two incidents.
As French forces manned checkpoints and patrolled the streets, pockets of crowd violence erupted in several districts.
In the Castor neighborhood, a Reuters reporter watched as a crowd attacked a man they accused of being a disarmed Seleka fighter after French soldiers removed weapons from a house there, then left.
At a mosque in the PK 5 neighborhood, the resident imam showed journalists the bodies of two men who he said had been beaten to death by Christians.
The arrival of French troops has been broadly welcomed in a city still struggling to emerge from a period that saw fighters, both Christian and Muslim, go door-to-door killing civilians as they cowered inside.
As French warplanes and helicopters flew low overhead and despite the violence, Bangui residents reappeared on the streets and some shops and market stalls reopened for the first time since last week.
"Yesterday we couldn't even come here to cross this road because the Seleka came and set up a base here," said a woman who gave her name only as Armelle. "Thank God the French came. If there's peace, things will get better."
However, the United Nations said it had counted some 72,000 people displaced by the violence currently staying in various sites around the city, including at the airport, where French troops and African peacekeepers have their base.
"There are still conflicts in some neighborhoods. There's still killing," said Amy Martin, head of the U.N. aid agency OCHA in Bangui. "For now, we don't have the feeling that people are ready to go home.
Meanwhile information from elsewhere in the country, cut off from the capital since last week, began to trickle in.
A humanitarian worker in the town of Bossangoa said the number of dead there from several days of violence between Seleka and Christian "anti-balaka" militias formed in response to the violence had risen to 38.
In Bozoum, in the northwest, U.N. officials received reports of dozens of dead, and there was also violence in the nearby town of Bocaranga.
Humanitarian agencies and rights groups said the figures only reflected bodies that had been officially counted, and that the final death toll was likely to be significantly higher.
"We've spoken to a lot of people who have just buried their relatives in the back yard because they couldn't get out or didn't see the point of calling the Red Cross," said Joanna Mariner, a crisis expert with Amnesty International in Bangui.
(Additional reporting by Marine Pennetier, Joe Bavier and Bate Felix, Writing by Joe Bavier,; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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