Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, February 2013
French Imperialist Invaders Use Divide and Rule, Ethnic Cleansing in Mali
Al-Qaeda threat propaganda is being used to justify the French imperialist invasion of Mali and to numb French and Western public opinion, as it is clear from the news stories of France 24 below.
Again, Islam and Muslims are being described as extremes and terrorists, the preferred tactic of the global Zionist propaganda machine, in its continuous effort to justify the subjugation of Muslims to the Zionist-controlled governments.
The French imperialist invaders are using the "divide and rule" as well as ethnic cleansing as tactics to achieve their imperialist goals, to re-subjugate the Malian people.
In fact, it is a French imperialist invasion to restore the status-quo after the Arabs and Tawaregs of northern Mali seceded, establishing the country of Azawad.
For the French imperialists, this was perceived as a threat to their supplies of uranium in the region and a clean up of the area from the corrupt politicians who rule it for the benefit of French imperialist interests.
Mali's army may be behind abuses, France says
By FRANCE 24 (text), Jan 29, 2013
FRANCE 24 Matthieu Mabin reports from Sévaré.
Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told FRANCE 24 on Wednesday that Mali's army may be committing human rights abuses as it seeks to oust the Islamists controlling the country's north, calling for "vigilance" in avoiding any misconduct.
The Malian army may have committed human rights abuses as it continues its campaign against the Islamist militants that are in control of the country’s north, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told FRANCE 24 on Wednesday.
Drian said “there was a risk” that Mali’s troops were engaged in misconduct.
“We must be extremely vigilant, and the president of the republic (François Hollande) is counting on the Malian army’s leaders to hold themselves responsible for avoiding any abuses,” Drian told FRANCE 24.
“It is their honour that is at stake,” he said.
A French human rights group warned on Wednesday that summary executions and other abuses have allegedly been committed by Malian troops as they seek to oust the militants who control the West African country’s north. The International Federation for Human Rights, or FIDH, has called for an independent commission to investigate the allegations and that those responsible be punished.
The group said that Malian forces were responsible for some 33 killings, including the deaths of some ethnic Tuaregs, since January 10 along the narrow area that lies between the government-controlled south and the Islamist-held north.
Journalists trying to cover the French military intervention, which was launched on January 11 to support Malian forces, have mostly been refused access to the area.
Refugee stories ‘horrific’, UN says
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also told FRANCE 24 this week that both sides are suspected of committing human rights abuses.
“The stories from refugees are horrific,” said William Spindler, a UNHCR spokesman. “Some were whipped by Islamists, others saw rebels cut off hands. Children under 12 are being recruited by the rebels.”
But Spindler told FRANCE 24 that some refugees have been terrorised by Mali’s army as well. “The refugees also speak of abuses by the Malian army against people they suspect of being Islamists,” he said. “The situation is very worrying.”
Spindler said the number of internally displaced people was currently estimated at 229,000 but is expected to rise significantly.
Drian said that 1,000 African troops are already on the ground in Mali, of an expected deployment of up to 6,000 UN-backed, African-led soldiers.
France originally stated that its mission was to pave the way for the African forces with air strikes, but on Sunday Drian appeared to redefine the French mission by saying it was committed to "the total reconquest of Mali" from Islamist forces.
As French-led forces retake cities in northern Mali from Islamist rebels, some residents have allegedly faced reprisals by Malian soldiers. FRANCE 24 reports on the fate of one man who was beaten publicly in Diabaly for having a beard.
His white beard turned red as the soldier’s belt repeatedly lashed his head. Dressed in a long khaki-coloured tunic, traditional among the shepherds of northern Mali, the barefoot and terrified man tried to run away from his persecutor, but to no avail. Finally, other soldiers stepped in and convinced him to stop beating the elderly man.
Foreign reporters covering the Mali operation watched the violent scene play out in shock and horror. “No photos! Get away!” an army captain shouted, forcing the journalists to back away.
The scene unfolded last week in Diabaly, a city in central Mali that was reclaimed by French and Malian troops on January 21. The war against Islamist rebels has since moved north. A few days after the incident, FRANCE 24 returned to Diabaly to find the elderly victim.
His story belongs to an apparently growing list of ethnic reprisals on those suspected of having collaborated with the Salafist fighters that overran northern Mali last year, a situation that has cast a shadow over the much-hailed joint French-African effort to rout al Qaeda in the troubled country.
Guilty of having a beard Sitting on his porch, Aldjoumati Traoré appeared to take quiet pride in surviving the soldier’s attack. A dozen pink bandages concealed the wounds around his head, but Traoré displayed them as if they were badges of honour. “It is God who saved me,” he said recalling the incident.
“I had just left a friend’s house and was walking on the main road when a soldier asked me for identification. But when I showed my papers he lunged at me. He said that I was a terrorist and he was going to kill me,” he added.
After snatching the 70-year-old cattle herder’s walking stick, the soldier began the brutal assault.
“He thought I was a rebel Islamist because my skin is a little lighter than average and because of my beard,” Traoré explained while running his fingers through his goatee – the modest facial hair he decided to keep after the assault. “The soldier was clearly not from around here. I have been living in Diabaly for 40 years, everyone knows me.”
While Traoré thanked heaven for surviving the beating, his family said he owed his life to his courageous son-in-law, Salifou Bouare. In Diabaly, Bouare is known as the local wedding photographer. He happened to be nearby that day, camera in hand, when he heard his father-in-law’s cries for help.
“When I got there the situation was very tense. The soldier was yelling and threatening a white journalist that had told him to stop. I approached the soldier and said, ‘boss, please, he’s my father-in-law’,” Bouare remembered.
The soldier noticed his camera and moved quickly to confiscate it. “That’s when my father-in-law made a run for the barracks, where other soldiers calmed him down,” Bouare said. “I am sure that if he had a gun he would have used it on my stepfather. [The soldier] reeked of alcohol.”
A worrying reality An angry crowd quickly surrounded the military barracks. Realising the potential danger of the situation, the soldiers released the wounded man.
Traoré was rushed to a nearby mud-hut clinic, where male nurse Mady Dembele, attended to his cuts and bruises. “Despite his condition, he quickly regained his senses. It was the old man himself who begged the crowd to remain calm when some people began calling for vengeance,” Dembele recalled.
Anger was finally abated when a ranking military official and the mayor of Diabaly visited Traoré at the clinic to apologise. The elderly herdsman accepted their apologies, conceding that the attacker was not from the region and acted independently.
As the French-led military campaign blazes north across the vast territory and toward areas where the Malian army suffered humiliating defeats last year, the threat of ethnic reprisals, like the one in Diabaly and elsewhere, worries many observers.
Euphoria as French, Malian troops take historic Timbuktu
Ground troops from the French and Malian armies took control of Timbuktu on Monday just hours after seizing the airport, FRANCE 24’s Matthieu Mabin reports from the desert city. Mabin said the advance met little resistance from Islamist fighters.
French and Malian troops met no resistance as they seized the fabled northern Malian city of Timbuktu Monday just hours after taking the city’s airport, FRANCE 24 has learned.
Reporting from Timbuktu, FRANCE 24 correspondent Matthieu Mabin said Malian soldiers, followed by French troops, entered the old centre of the city on Monday afternoon.
“We can now say that the city of Timbuktu is free from the Islamist groups who were controlling the city for the past 10 months,” said Mabin, who has been embedded with the French military.
There were scenes of jubilation as the troops rolled into the city centre, according to Mabin. “Everybody is outside – men, women and children – they’re on the streets proclaiming their joy, shouting, ‘God save Mali, God save France, God save [French President] François Hollande’. We can hear this even from the roof where I’m standing now,” said Mabin.
Paratroopers from the Second Foreign Parachute Regiment are dropped into Timbuktu in this photograph captured by a French Harfang drone. (Photo: EMA / armée de l'Air – French Air Force)
The fall of Timbuktu came more than two weeks after Hollande responded to a call for urgent military assistance by the Malian government after militants seized a strategic central Malian town earlier this month.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday afternoon, Hollande said, “We are winning this battle” in Mali. But he warned that there was still a threat of terrorist attacks by Islamist militants who have fled the major cities, and that the task of maintaining order rested with African troops. “It's up to the Africans to permit Mali to restore its territorial integrity," said Hollande.
Malian and French troops entered central Timbuktu Monday after taking the airport, situated on the northern outskirts of the city, where they encountered no resistance. “Not one shot had been fired,” said Mabin. During the operation, five planes had also dropped 250 French parachutists into Timbuktu to secure the north of the city in France’s first operational paratroop drop in 35 years.
Historic library ‘torched’
Aerial view of Timbuktu (photo courtesy RFI).
But while French and Malian troops met with no resistance, there were reports of Islamists torching the Ahmad Baba Institute, a state library partly financed by the South African government, which houses tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts.
“The rebels set fire to the newly-constructed Ahmed Baba Institute built by the South Africans ... this happened four days ago,” Timbuktu mayor Halle Ousmane told Reuters by telephone from the Malian capital of Bamako.
In an interview with FRANCE 24, Shamil Jeppie, director of the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project at Cape Town University, said he had read the reports, but he could not confirm them since he was unable to get through to his colleagues in Timbuktu on the phone.
“The Ahmed Baba library now has two locations,” said Jeppie, including a new building with state-of-the art digitizing equipment, and the old building situated next to the famous Sankore Mosque.
“I’m a bit confused when they say the building – or part of the building - was destroyed because I don’t know which of the two locations they’re talking about,” said Jeppie.
An oasis city on the ancient desert caravan routes, Timbuktu was an important centre of learning in the medieval ages and is home to tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts as well as UNESCO world heritage sites.
Former al Qaeda bastion Gao falls over the weekend Monday’s advance toward Timbuktu came a day after troops seized Gao, northern Mali’s biggest city, after Islamists militants fled the city.
France launched its campaign on January 11 after Islamists captured the central Malian town of Konna and threatened to advance on the capital, Bamako, sparking fears that the whole country could become a haven for terror groups.
After successfully beating the rebels back from central Mali, French special forces led the assault on Gao, a former bastion of the Al-Qaeda-linked Movement for Unification and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), which fell on January 26.
MUJAO is one of the Islamist groups that seized control of northern Mali in April last year in the chaotic aftermath of a military coup.
The Islamists had last year joined forces with an alliance of ethnic-Tuareg rebels seeking an independent homeland in the north, first taking Kidal, then Gao and Timbuktu.
They quickly sidelined the Tuaregs, imposing a harsh version of Islamic sharia law which saw offenders flogged, stoned or executed.
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