France

'Dark forces' in assassination of Kurdish leaders

Unknown gunmen attacked an office of the Kurdistan Information Center in Paris on Jan. 9, killing three women: Sakine Cansız, a legendary founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK); Fidan Doğan, Paris representative of the Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress (KNK); and Leyla Söylemez, also of the KNK. Outraged Kurds poured into the street in Paris, blaming Turkey in the attack. Turkish officials meanwhile said the killings were probably a dispute among Kurds, perhaps intended to derail new peace talks between the government and the PKK's imprisoned leader, or to settle a score. (NYT, Hurriyet Daily News, Jan. 10)

Central African Republic rebels advance

Rebels in the Central African Republic Dec. 23 seized the key city of Bambari—the country's third largest—as part of their new offensive. The rebels—known as the Seleka coalition—have seized several towns north of the capital in recent weeks, charging that President Francois Bozize has failed to uphold a 2007 peace deal. The Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed with former rebel groups, called for the release of prisoners and compensation to ex-combatants. The renewed insurgents also oppose plans by Bozize to alter the constitution to seek a third term, according to a statement signed by Seleka secretary general Justin Mambissi Matar.

Mali: Europe prepares intervention

As Islamist miltias have established Taliban-like rule in northern Mali since taking the vast territory in March, regional powers have been muddling towards military intervention. On Nov. 21, Reuters reported that "military experts from Africa, the United Nations and Europe have drafted plans to retake control of northern Mali." We are told that "African leaders will this month seek a UN mandate to send a mainly West African force of some 4,000 to Mali to...back military operations to retake swathes of the Sahara desert from rebels." Quoted is Stephen O'Brien, the UK's first special envoy to the Sahel, speaking from Nigeria: "This deep insecurity... we have to recognize that, unless it is checked and it is not met, then it will have the potential for export." He called the Mali crisis was "a universal threat" with "the capability of threatening interests outside the...region." While no other European countries are mentioned, we may assume that France will play a leading role.

Joint strike actions across Europe

A "European Day of Action and Solidarity against Austerity" on Nov. 14 marked the first time strike action has been held simultaneously across four countries. General strikes were held in Spain and Portugal, with widespread stoppages Greece and Italy. Large solidarity demonstrations were held in several other countries, including France and Germany. In total, 40 trade union organisations from 23 countries were involved in the mobilization. In Spain, the General Workers Union (UGT) and the Union Confederation of Worker Commissions (CCOO) claimed 70% compliance with the strike. After nightfall, violence exploded in Madrid, as police fired rubber bullets to disperse protestors. Strikers erected barricades on several streets, and garbage bins were set on fire, filling the downtown area with smoke. Street clashes were also reported from Lisbo; more than 100 were injured and some 140 arrested across both cities. Brussels also saw violence, after eggs were thrown at the Geman embassy. The continent-wide day of strikes and solidarity was organised by the European Trade Unions Congress (ETUC). (Europa Press, Europa PressEuronews, Euronews, Euronews, Nov. 14)

France: Muslims under attack... and Jews

The interminable divide-and-rule game between Muslims and Jews worldwide goes on, with the latest maddening development in France. We noted last month that a bomb attack on a kosher grocery store in a Paris suburb was met with equivocation by the authorities and media, with an unseemly reluctance to acknowledge the incident as anti-Semitic—and only right-wing Zionist commentators rose to the occasion of calling it out. (Except us, of course.) Now those same right-wing Zionist commentators—namely, Jewish Policy Center on Oct. 19—weigh in on new developments in the case, as well as an anti-Semitic outburst in Malmo, Sweden. The statement ironically mimics the time-honored tactic of anti-Semites, of mixing up legitimate points with cynical shots, confusing the gullible. To wit:

New Franco-Intifada: plus ça change...

Well, if you thought that France getting a new Socialist president, François Hollande, was going to mean a retreat from the Franco-dystopia that unfolded under his reactionary predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy—time to think again. Sarkozy's election in 2007 saw the outburst of an intifada by North African immigrant youth in the Parisian suburbs, followed by the unleashing of police repression. Not much later, Sarkozy instated a harsh crackdown on the Roma, ordering police to break up their camps, sparking more protests and an official censure of France by the European Commission. So what a sense of deja vu... Hollande now says his government will use "all means" necessary to restore peace after a new uprising by immigrant youth—this time centered around the northern city of Amiens—left more than a dozen police officers injured and several buildings damaged or destroyed. (LAT, Aug. 15)

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