Vandalisme: It’s again the media, stupid! (NYT 43 spawns vandals)

28 juin, 2007
https://i0.wp.com/theworldsbestever.s3.amazonaws.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/taki-183-ny-times.jpgWhen you think back, and saw what eventually happened to the trains, you feel bad about it, said Taki, who asked that his last name not be used. « I never thought it would be such a big thing. » (…) Now, in an irony that would please city officials, Taki has his own graffiti problem, on his shopfront. « I am a victim, » he said, smiling. « I painted it over and two weeks later it was all written up again. But I guess what goes around, comes around. It’s justice. When TAKI Ruled Magik Kingdom, By Joel Siegel, Daily News, April 9, 1989)

« Deux légendes du graffiti arrêtées par la police » …

Enième illustration de l’irresponsabilité de nos médias que ce titre du Monde annonçant l’arrestation de deux vandales qui ont coûté, sans parler de leurs émules et des nouvelles formes comme le gravage au diamant de vitrier ou à l’acide, plus de 600 000 euros à la seule RATP.

Pourquoi parler en effet d’artistes et de légendes, alors qu’on a affaire à des vandales qui, avec leurs milliers d’imitateurs inspirés par les prétendus exploits qu’orchestrent pour eux des médias irresponsables, coûtent des millions à l’ensemble des contribuables que nous sommes?

Et ainsi reproduire et amplifier un phénomène qui, comme par hasard, trouva sa source dans le même genre de journalisme irresponsable de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique dans les années 70.

Comme ce Charles Don Hogan du NYT qui, dans un tristement célèbre article de juillet 1971 (‘Taki 183 Spawns Pen Pals’ – « Taki 183 pond les correspondants » – le 21 juillet 1971) où il interviewait un jeune coursier new-yorkais d’origine grecque (un certain Demetrios, dit Demetraki, du quartier hispanique de Washington Heights, domicilié dans la 183e rue, d’où son graffiti: « Taki 183 »), entraina (avec alors de simples feutres), dans les semaines, années et décennies qui suivirent la catastrophe de vandalisme que l’on sait.

Mais aussi ce monde artistique qui, encensant et récupérant le phénomène, en fit de soi-disant œuvres d’art (rebelote il y a quelques années avec cette voiture brûlée exposée au Musée d’art contemporain du Palais de Tokyo!) jusqu’à ce que la chose soit reprise, dix ans plus tard en France, par les médias et d’innombrables émissions de télé et bien sûr, dans la rue,… les premiers imbéciles venus et leurs milliers d’imitateurs.

« Azyle » et « Vices », deux légendes du graffiti arrêtées par la police
Luc Bronner
Le Monde
28.06.07

Dans l’univers du graffiti, « Azyle » et « Vices » sont de véritables légendes vivantes. Leurs signatures ont fleuri un peu partout en Ile-de-France, au point que la police les considèrent comme « les deux plus gros tagueurs de ces dernières années », avec quelque 250 tags, parfois gigantesques, identifiés un peu partout, sur des wagons, dans des tunnels ou des murs de la RATP.

Dans la nuit de dimanche 24 à lundi 25 juin, les policiers du service régional des transports les ont interpellés à proximité du dépôt RATP de la porte de La Chapelle, à Paris. Repérés grâce à un long travail de recoupement, notamment des analyses graphologiques, les deux hommes ont fait l’objet de filatures, jusqu’au moment où la police a pu les arrêter en flagrant délit. Lors de perquisitions, la police a ensuite saisi des documents de la RATP, notamment des plans confidentiels des réseaux et voies d’accès.

OBJECTIF PRIORITAIRE

En garde à vue, les deux hommes, âgés de 32 ans et 28 ans, ont nié être les auteurs de graffitis. Ils risquent jusqu’à cinq ans de prison pour dégradations volontaires, commises en réunion. Selon la police, les deux graffeurs ont occasionné 600 000 euros de dégâts, principalement à la RATP, obligée d’interrompre la circulation des wagons touchés et de procéder à leur nettoyage. Une information judiciaire devrait être ouverte par le parquet de Paris.

Depuis plusieurs années, les deux individus constituaient un des objectifs prioritaires de la cellule antigraffitis au sein de la police des transports. « Ils opèrent en toute connaissance de cause avec un but : obtenir la plus grande notoriété possible en multipliant les signatures, si possible dans des sites difficiles d’accès », explique le commandant Jean-Christophe Merle. Le policier parle de « drogués du tag », capables de passer leurs nuits dans les dépôts ou dans les tunnels du métro. « Azyle », en particulier, s’était fait connaître par un immense tag réalisé sur un Concorde quelques années en arrière – performance toujours saluée dans les forums de discussion spécialisés.

L’artiste avait fait l’objet d’un documentaire diffusé en 2006 sur Canal+. En action depuis le début des années 1990, il expliquait, le visage masqué par une cagoule, son plaisir à « peindre sous adrénaline ». Il regrettait que le tag ne « soit pas considéré à sa juste valeur, comme quelque chose de beau ». Sa carrière vient de subir un brutal coup d’arrêt.

Graffiti in Its Own Words
Old-timers remember the golden age of the art movement that actually moved.
Dimitri Ehrlich & Gregor Ehrlich
NY magazine
July 3, 2007

Graffiti today is such an accepted part of youth culture that it’s hard to imagine what New Yorkers experienced in the early seventies, as they watched their city become steadily tattooed with hieroglyphics. Some saw it as vandalism and a symbol of urban decay. But for the writers who risked life, limb, and arrest, and the teenagers, filmmakers, and, eventually, curators who admired them, graffiti was an art form. Galleries and museums caught up to this view in the early eighties, when graffiti was briefly part of the era’s art boom. Now it’s finally ripe for retrospection: On June 30, the Brooklyn Museum features works by many of the artists interviewed here, while from June 29 at the Brecht Forum, the Martinez Gallery mounts a smaller show of movement veterans.

Modern graffiti actually began in Philadelphia in the early sixties, when Cornbread and Cool Earl scrawled their names all over the city. By the late sixties, it was flourishing in Washington Heights, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. The New York Times took notice in July 1971, with a small profile of a graffiti artist named TAKI 183. But Julio 204 was using a Magic Marker and spray paint on city walls as early as 1968, and in 1971, writers like JOE 182 began “bombing”—marking as many surfaces as possible.

By the mid-seventies, many subway cars were so completely covered in top-to-bottom paintings (known as “masterpieces”) that it was impossible to see out the window. For writers, this was a golden age, when the most prolific could become known as “kings” by going “all-city”—writing their names in all five boroughs. Mayor Lindsay declared the first war on graffiti in 1972, beginning a long, slow battle that seemed to culminate in May 1989, when the last graffitied train was finally removed from service.

Yet today, graffiti etched with acid can be seen on subway windows, and it’s alive and well on buildings around the city. And thanks in part to the Internet, which teems with graffiti Websites, it is a worldwide phenomenon in every language. What follows is the story of the people who invented graffiti, and those who watched them do it. Names of writers are rendered in the style in which they appeared on the city’s walls and subways (all caps usually indicates an artist from the seventies).

A Graffiti Timeline

1969
The Beginning

Ivor L. Miller, author of Aerosol Kingdom: Subway Painters of New York City
Humans have been writing symbols on walls since time immemorial. But it’s safe to place the origins of a New York style in the late sixties, as a younger generation’s artistic response to the public protests of the Black Power and civil-rights movements. Clearly something new happened with the invention of the spray can, the influence of psychedelic posters, and color TV. The Manhattanville projects just north of 125th Street in West Harlem were the residence of an important writer named TOPCAT 126.

Sharp
TOPCAT 126 came from Philadelphia in the late sixties, maybe ’68, and he started tagging the streets. [Tagging is writing your name.] And he hooked up with Julio 204 and TAKI 183, and they grabbed the torch.

C.A.T. 87
In the late sixties, I saw the name TAKI 183 in little letters everywhere, and JOE 182 and Julio 204. One day I was playing stickball on 182nd Street and JOE 182 came out. He was one of the hottest graffiti writers then. He said, “Look what came out in the papers!” There was a cartoon of a guy catching someone writing graffiti, and saying, “Are you JOE 182?” And the writer said, “No, I’m his ghost.” Because nobody could catch them. They were just like these mysterious figures.

MICO
It began in different neighborhoods. But we all had one thing in common: We wanted to be famous. I started writing in East Flatbush in 1970. Then slowly I met people from the four other boroughs. Everybody went to the writers’ bench at 149th Street and Grand Concourse in the Bronx. There was one for Brooklyn writers on Atlantic Avenue. In Washington Heights, it was on 188th Street and Audubon Avenue. We would hang out, see our work, and everyone could get autographs. C.A.T. 87 was from Washington Heights. TRACY 168 was in the first generation. COCO 144 used to live on 144th Street and Broadway, which is what the number 144 meant.

LEE
I met so many characters on the 149 bench. It was like a speakeasy, everyone came and traded stories.

TRACY 168
I grew up in the Bronx. Me and my friend FJC4 were dropping off some legal papers in Queens—his father was a lawyer—and we just took a marker out. We never thought we’d see the tag again, but on the way back, we caught the same train and it already had some other writing next to it. It was like a communication. At the time, New York was all dark. We had the Vietnam vets coming back, all pumped up. We had the war protesters. And we had the street gangs.

C.A.T. 87
I was in the Savage Nomads. You had the Saints at 137th Street and Broadway, and in the 170s you had the Young Galaxies. But if I was C.A.T. 87 and the guys from other neighborhoods saw my name, instead of trying to beat me up they would ask for autographs.

Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
There were graffiti writers in many gangs, especially the larger ones like the Black Spades, the Savage Skulls, and the Ghetto Brothers. The writers would mark the gangs’ clubhouses and often their turf. At the same time, you had graffiti crews that moved separately from the gangs and could slip in between their territorial restrictions. Eventually, as the gang structures died off, the graffiti writers could be seen as the heralds of a new era.

MICO
We didn’t call it graffiti in the early seventies. We would say, “Let’s go writing tonight.” Graffiti is a term that the New York Times coined, and it denigrates the art because it was invented by youth of color. Had it been invented by the children of the rich or the influential, it would have been branded avant-garde Pop Art.

Hugo Martinez, founder of United Graffiti Artists
In 1971, when CAY 161 and JUNIOR 161 painted the 116th Street station, they painted a top-to-bottom wall there. That’s considered a milestone. And Norman Mailer wrote about it in The Faith of Graffiti—that was the first book ever about graffiti. Around 1971, CAY 161 also painted the wing on the angel in Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. Everybody talked about that. That was when the Puerto Ricans took over Bethesda Fountain.

CAY 161
The biggest and most dangerous place was where your piece was recognized the most. I wrote my name with white spray paint on the wing of the angel in Bethesda Fountain and a lot of people said, “Wow, how did he get up there and do that?” I grabbed one of the wings and climbed up.

Richard Goldstein, author of “The Graffiti ‘Hit’ Parade” feature for New York in March 1973
I loved the idea that graffiti defaced surfaces and re-created them in a different image. It was immensely creative in the way it re-created decrepit space, derelict buildings, and crumbling subways into real centers of energy. It seemed to be immediately something that Latins would do, because the color scheming was very tropical and the surfaces that were being defaced were very Northern European and dark and dour. I found Hugo Martinez, who was a student at that time, and he introduced me to a couple of these kids. They were all from Washington Heights. And I began to look at the social meaning of this. It allowed groups to cohere, forming teams. There was a lot of jargon and rivalry between boroughs.

Graffiti in Its Own Words

1971
Style Wars

Jeff Chang
Your name is your brand, and writing your name is like printing money. Quality (aesthetic style) and quantity (the number of trains and walls you’ve hit) are the primary ways that the brand gains market share. If you’re the biggest name on a line or in an area, then you’re the king. After the New York Times wrote about TAKI 183 in 1971, there was more competition, which means style changed much more rapidly.

LEE
It was a reflection of the great side of capitalism, where everyone wants to have the biggest stock or bond portfolio, or the fastest or most expensive car.

MICO
In 1971, I was in the Sheepshead Bay layups one night—that’s the tunnel where trains rest in between rush hours. And we found the names of PAN 144, COCO 144, and ACE 137 on some of the cars. The paint was still wet. That opened our eyes to going all-city.

COCO 144
I lived close to the IRT, and there was a layup between 137th and 145th Street between the stops. We were there every Saturday and Sunday morning, destroying the trains inside and out. My style back then was what we called a hit: just a signature, a single line.

MICO
“Hitting” was just about getting up, getting around. The more hits you had, the more famous you became. “Killing” or “bombing” was a little more intense. It means carpeting an area—just hit hundreds of MICO, MICO, MICO, and kill that subway car. Or you could do a masterpiece, a really big piece that was generally planned out in a sketch.

COCO 144
I was the first to use a stencil. It said COCO 144 with a crown on it (page 50). I was trying to develop speed, and I was able to put my name around at a faster pace that way.

MICO
The letters got more refined and larger and larger. We were each trying to outdo the other. I was doing social-political work, and unfortunately, I had no competition there. One of the most important moments in my career was when I was voted into United Graffiti Artists.

Hugo Martinez
I started United Graffiti Artists in 1972 as a collective that provided an alternative to the art world. I saw this as the beginning of American painting—everything else before this came from Europe. These kids were rechanneling all of those hippie ideas about freedom, peace, love, and the democratization of culture by redefining the purpose of art. They represented a celebration of the rights of the salt of the earth over private property.

MICO
It was the top writers from the different boroughs. You had to be nominated by a member, and if you were good enough, you would be called in for an interview. I had my first art-gallery show in Soho in 1973, at the Razor Gallery. The first canvas that was purchased by a collector was my Puerto Rico flag canvas, for $400. It was an effort to bring the art form from the tunnels into the galleries.

LEE
Most writers were more concerned about going out into the elements, not being put together on gallery walls. Young people were interested in making a mark, literally, in their territory. It was seen as heroic.

1972
The Crackdown

Jeff Chang
After Lindsay declared war on graffiti in 1972, it became the focus of political campaigns, and in this sense, its effects lasted much longer than the subway-graffiti era. Since then, every New York City mayor has at some point reaffirmed his commitment to fighting “the war.” You can locate the roots of the “broken windows” campaign in Lindsay’s war on graffiti.

LEE
It wasn’t so much that the city did a single crackdown. It came in increments, from the time of Lindsay through Beame to Koch. At one point, Richard Ravitch, the MTA chairman, was in talks with a group of graffiti artists. The offer was that if these guys were given the green light to decorate, could they get the 30,000 other kids to stop? Of course, it went south. But they had a bargaining table and everything.

MICO
Especially in the beginning, it was a guerrilla war. We had strategic maps of the subway system, of which yard or layup was hot or cooled off. We gathered intelligence info at the writers’ bench. And if you got chased out at Coney Island that morning, you came to the bench and told everyone it was hot.

C.A.T. 87
I got caught with a friend hitting the buses on 125th Street. As soon as we got there, guards came with weapons. I hid under the bus and my friend jumped into the Hudson. I crawled under the buses to 133rd Street and came out covered in mud and ice. I got home, and my friend showed up all frozen. He swam downtown.


Cinéma: Comment « croquer l’Iran des mollahs avec drôlerie » (« Persepolis »)

28 juin, 2007
Iran todayTourner en images réelles aurait perdu l’universalité du propos et conduit à donner des Iraniens l’image de gens loin de nous. Il n’avance aucune revendication, aucune provocation, aucun parti pris. J’ai évité la caricature: il n’y a pas les méchants barbus d’un côté et les gentils de l’autre. Le témoignage laisse une distance suffisante pour se faire une opinion. Et éviter qu’une fois de plus, on réduise les Iraniens à des concepts tels que « terroristes », « islamistes » ou « intégristes ». Cela les déshumanise. On n’a aucun scrupule à leur envoyer ensuite des bombes sur la tête. Ce régime a beaucoup de défauts, mais ce n’est quand même pas celui des talibans. Satrapi (JDD, 24/6/07)
Marjane Satrapi et Vincent Paronnaud ont décidé d’associer la sortie du film Persepolis à la FIDH. Intolérance, restriction des libertés, exil : c’est parce que les thèmes évoqués par Marjane Satrapi dans son œuvre rejoignent très souvent les préoccupations de la FIDH qu’elle est devenue tout naturellement ambassadrice de la FIDH en 2001. Site FIDH
« Persépolis »: l’Iran des mollahs croqué avec drôlerie par Marjane Satrapi (Dépêche AFP)

Comment peut-on… « croquer l’Iran des mollahs avec drôlerie »?

Pas encore vu le film (coproduit par la FIDH et dûment primé à Cannes), mais ai déjà du mal à imaginer une telle incongruité …

Et si j’en crois le site de dissidents iraniens Iran-Resist, quelle peut être la finalité d’un film (au titre d’ailleurs bien en phase avec la récente récupération, par le régime, d’un site archéologique longtemps méprisé, sous Khomeyni, pour sa trop grande association aux fastes des Pahlavi) ou d’une prétendue opposante au régime qui pour parler de l’Iran d’aujourdhui, ne mentionne ni les pendaisons publiques des mineurs et des homosexuels et les cadavres qui restent exposés pour l’exemple, les cérémonies publiques d’amputations ou de flagellations?

Ni les lapidations, les vitriolisations, le viol dépénalisé, les mariages forcés, les mariages temporaires ou la dépénalisation de la pédophilie (le mariage pour les filles à 9 ans, comme pour le Prophète) qui sont partie intégrante dudit régime des mollahs?

Mais aussi diabolise le régime précédent du Shah (la seule mention de la torture lui étant dûment attribuée, via bien entendu – on n’a pas oublié son catéchisme marxiste – les habituels méchants formateurs de la CIA) tout en passant sous silence l’effroyable coût humain de la Révolution islamique.

Pour présenter (surtout dans les BD) une image rigolote (et largement fictive) des jeunes Iraniennes d’aujourd’hui, Bridget Jones voilées (ski, mode parisienne, séries américaines, sorties, drague, alcool, tabac, études, sport, petites voitures rapides, critique des mollahs), évacuant dans des notes en bas de page les quelque 85% des gens vivant sous le seuil de pauvreté, comme ceux, non mentionnés, qui vendent leurs organes pour survivre ou qui se défoncent.

Donnant ainsi comme parole de résistance ou opposition un individualisme très tendance qui finalement sert bien le régime …

Iran : Persépolis, Satrapi, France Inter, un partenariat payant
Iran-Resist

28.06.2007

Le site Iran-resist existe depuis deux ans et notre objectif était de révéler ce que les iraniens ne disent pas aux français car ils pensent que ces derniers sont un peu racistes et ne s’intéressent pas aux malheurs de l’Iran. Nous pensons le contraire et le nombre de nos visiteurs quotidiens nous le confirme. C’est pourquoi nous décortiquons l’info et décodons ce que les autres disent ou publient afin que personne ne puisse dire « nous ne le savions pas ». Mais nous sommes tombés sur un os avec le partenariat : Persépolis, Satrapi, France Inter.

Dans un premier temps nous nous sommes attachés à expliquer les défauts historiques de la BD, les contrevérités qu’elle véhicule, les faux historiques qui sont l’exacte version officielle des mollahs qu’elle propose : pas de réaction chez le partenaire officiel du film ni chez ses nombreux employés.

Dans un deuxième temps nous nous sommes attardés sur les propos de l’auteur qui continuellement affirme vouloir casser les clichés qui courent sur l’Iran : des barbus, des intégristes, des Talibans. Elle cherche à embrouiller le lecteur en créant une confusion entre le peuple iranien et les barbus qui les molestent quotidiennement. Là aussi, France Inter et ses employés journalistes ne se sont pas désolidarisés du projet.

Finalement nous avons parlé de ce que ne dit pas Satrapi : le viol dépénalisé, les mariages forcés, les mariages temporaires et surtout la dépénalisation de la pédophilie.

Ce ne sont pas des éléments cachés du régime, ces choses ne se passent pas sous le manteau –pour reprendre une expression chère à notre Satrapi-. Le viol dépénalisé, les mariages forcés, les mariages temporaires et surtout la dépénalisation de la pédophilie sont l’expression des lois qui sont écrites en toutes lettres sur les sites français qui parlent des lois en vigueur en Iran. La seule réaction qu’a générée nos textes : désormais Satrapi et ses partenaires ne parlent que de l’esthétique du film.

Incroyable, c’est bien la première fois que les journalistes de France Inter aiment un film pour son esthétique et son absence de contenu !!!

Nous sommes arrivés naïvement en disant : « regardez selon les lois islamiques en vigueur en Iran depuis l’avènement de la république islamique, on a dépénalisé le viol et la pédophilie », et en réponse on nous dit : « je veux lire ma BD tranquillement, je veux regarder un film qui est beau, ce n’est pas un film politique ! »

Eh bien non : c’est un film politique. Satrapi est depuis 2001, ambassadrice de la FIDH ! La Fédération Internationale des droits de l’Homme et son vice-président iranien ont décidé de nommer ambassadrice une femme qui n’a jamais parlé des pendaisons des mineurs en Iran, des pendaisons des homosexuels, de la dépénalisation des relations sexuelles entre un vieux pervers et un enfant de 9 ans !

La FIDH et Lahidji, son vice-président iranien, ont décidé de nommer ambassadrice une femme qui n’a jamais parlé des lapidations ni dans sa BD ni dans ses interviews. C’est grave. On meurt psychiquement d’un abus sexuel quand on n’a que 9 ans.

C’est grave.

Mais Satrapi a le profil idéal pour la FIDH (autre partenaire du film) car son vice-président préfère axer la communication sur les mollahs réformateurs plutôt que sur la pédophilie dépénalisée ! Aucun des dissidents iraniens n’a jamais condamné la charia et ce qu’elle permet comme abus. C’est grave.

Le vice-président Lahidji a même été impliqué dans l’étouffement d’une bavure du régime des mollahs, bavure médiatisée car la victime était naturalisée canadienne : la journaliste Zahra Kazemi, arrêtée, violée par 4 hommes et achevée à coup de pieds dans la tête et dans le visage.

L’affaire a été « défendue » par Shirin Ebadi qui a refusé de prendre en compte la déposition d’un témoin clé. Cette affaire a été étouffée par Shirin Ebadi, et ensuite par Lahidji et aucun artiste iranien vivant en exil (Marjane Satrapi, Ali Mahdavi, India Mahdavi et tant d’autres) n’a cru bon d’utiliser cette affaire pour attirer l’attention du monde sur la situation en Iran. En sa qualité d’ambassadrice des droits de l’homme Satrapi n’a jamais évoqué ce cas ou même les lois en vigueur en Iran. Elle assure même que les choses vont mieux.

Ce sont des faits graves. Quel type de partenariat payant peut lier France Inter à Satrapi et à Persépolis pour nier des faits graves ?

Nous avons écrit tout ceci et adressé des messages aux journalistes de France Inter, du Figaro, de Libé, aux amis personnels de Satrapi (Ali Mahdavi et Joann Sfar). Tous ont préféré continuer leur partenariat avec Satrapi plutôt que risquer de perdre un job ou des contrats en défendant les enfants iraniens victimes d’abus sexuels et sans recours légal. Selon les statistiques iraniennes datant de 2004 (en hausse aujourd’hui), au moins 500 enfants fuient leur domicile chaque jour pour échapper à ces abus.

Et demain, que se passera-t-il ? Rien… Isabelle Giordano, employée de France Inter, diffusera le film dans la salle Médicis du Sénat. Jack Lang ami de Satrapi, et ami de Mottaki le ministre iranien des affaires étrangères à qui il avait proposé d’ouvrir un boulevard devant les mollahs en France, proposera que l’on enseigne la BD Persépolis -ce tissu de mensonges- aux écoliers français pour que personne jamais ne puisse s’intéresser à ce qui se passe en Iran.

Merci donc à Jack Lang, Merci à France Inter, merci à Rebecca Manzoni, merci à Eva Bettan, à Vincent Josse et Cyril Sauvageot (ces trois compères qui persistent joyeusement et signent malgré les nombreux efforts que nous avons faits pour les informer).

Merci à Frédéric Bonnaud, merci aux Inrockuptibles et merci à Vincent Paronnaud qui a rendu « esthétique » le dessin de Satrapi. Egalement merci à France3 qui a produit le film et merci à son énigmatique distributeur iranien : Celluloïd Dreams.

Merci à l’AFP qui a abreuvé le net avec son titre : « l’Iran des mollahs croqué avec drôlerie ». Merci à tous les sites qui ont repris ce titre sans rappeler les lois ignobles en vigueur en Iran. Merci à Constance Chaillet du Figaro et merci à tous ceux qui vont en Iran et reviennent en nous parlant de la beauté des Iraniennes.


Désinformation: Pourquoi Guy Môquet n’a pu être le « résistant » qu’on célèbre

26 juin, 2007
La rose et le réséda Celui qui croyait au ciel
Celui qui n’y croyait pas…
Aragon (La rose et le réséda)
Fais de cela un monument. Jacques Duclos
« Jamais un grand peuple comme le nôtre ne sera un peuple d’esclaves et si, malgré la terreur ce peuple a su, sous les formes les plus diverses, montrer sa réprobation de voir la France enchaînée au char de l’impérialisme britannique, il saura signifier aussi à la bande actuellement au pouvoir, SA VOLONTÉ D’ÊTRE LIBRE. » (Appel dit « du 10 juillet »)

« Petit retour sur le mythe Guy Môquet (qui n’obtiendra d’ailleurs pas le statut d’ « interné résistant » mais d’ « interné politique » lorsque son dossier sera examiné par le ministère des Anciens combattants en février 56), concocté (via Aragon) par le Parti des 75 000 fusillés qui en étaient 4 000.

Comment, derrière l’ostensible différence de foi (entre le rouge de la « rose » des communistes Môquet et Péri et le blanc du « réséda » des catholiques Dru et d’Estienne d’Orves), un parti, alors plus préoccupé du sabotage de l’effort de guerre et de la dénonciation des Juifs « ploutocrates » et de « l’impérialisme britannique »(pendant que  pendant près de deux ans le Grand frère de Moscou approvisionnait la machine de guerre nazie), fait passer la prétendue réalité d’une lutte commune contre l’occupant qui ne commença, pacte germano-soviétique oblige, que… neuf mois plus tard!

Jeune lycéen exalté, il a dès son plus jeune âge baigné dans une culture politique bolchevique, porteur de la tradition familiale stalinienne, par ses parents, par ses oncles et tantes qui travaillent pour l’appareil clandestin du Parti. Les tracts qu’il distribue en cet été-automne 1940 s’inscrivent totalement dans la ligne du Parti et n’appellent donc pas à la résistance.

Avec le sang des otages, le Parti communiste lavait une des périodes les plus troubles et ambiguës de son histoire en même temps qu’il dressait un obstacle moral à toute critique de son attitude.

Guy Môquet : le mythe et l’histoire
Le Monde

Le 23.06.07

De Jeanne d’Arc à Bara, les usages politiques de figures héroïsées sont classiques. Tous les régimes, tous les partis, tous les pays usent d’un procédé qui n’est pas avare d’arrangements avec la réalité historique. Pour exalter des vertus nationales, morales, patriotiques ou donner en modèle l’exemplarité de leurs destins, on accapare des figures symboliques qu’on n’hésite pas à parer de valeurs contradictoires.

Le destin du jeune Guy Môquet, fusillé par les Allemands à l’âge de 17 ans, le 22 octobre 1941, n’échappe pas à cette règle. « Je laisserai mon souvenir dans l’histoire car je suis le plus jeune des condamnés », aurait confié Guy Môquet à l’abbé Moyon, qui assista les otages de Châteaubriant. De fait, dès l’Occupation, il a été célébré comme un martyr et nombre de groupes de partisans se sont réclamés de lui.

Dans l’immédiat après-guerre, avec les « 27 de Châteaubriant », il a incarné les valeurs résistantes et le sacrifice du « Parti des fusillés ». Et puis le temps a passé, la Résistance a perdu la place prééminente qui était la sienne dans la mémoire nationale. Le nom de Guy Môquet, comme ceux de Jacques Bonsergent ou d’Estienne d’Orves, a perdu son sens pour la plupart des gens.

De façon inattendue, la dernière campagne électorale a ramené Guy Môquet sur le devant de la scène médiatique par les citations d’un candidat qui, élu président, a tenu à faire lire le jour de sa prise de fonction la dernière lettre du jeune homme près d’un autre lieu symbolique : la cascade du bois de Boulogne où une cinquantaine de jeunes gens désireux de participer aux combats de la capitale furent fusillés en août 1944.

L’initiative a suscité des réactions variées – indignation, satisfaction ou curiosité -, sans que la réalité historique soit pour autant interrogée. Au contraire, on a vu ressurgir à cette occasion les stéréotypes et clichés d’une « histoire » de la Résistance et du PCF qu’on croyait définitivement rangée au magasin des mythes et légendes.

Faire de Guy Môquet et de ses vingt-six camarades des « résistants de la première heure » relève de la téléologie, puisque la plupart d’entre eux ont été arrêtés en un temps où le PCF, pris dans la logique du pacte germano-soviétique, était tout sauf résistant. Après avoir mis au rayon des accessoires son antifascisme, condamné une guerre devenue « impérialiste » et appelé plus ou moins ouvertement au sabotage de l’effort de guerre au printemps 1940, le Parti a profité de l’effondrement militaire de la France et de la chute de la République bourgeoise pour prendre à l’été 1940 une série d’initiatives qu’aucun martyre ultérieur ne saurait effacer : tractations avec les autorités d’occupation pour la reparution de la presse communiste dont les arguments désormais connus donnent une idée du « patriotisme » du Parti.

Guy Môquet, arrêté le dimanche 13 octobre 1940 à la gare de l’Est par trois policiers de la préfecture de police, agissant « sur indication », revendique dans sa déposition avoir voulu remplacer son père, le député communiste Prosper Môquet, militant depuis 1925, élu lors des élections de 1936, invalidé et condamné par la IIIe République pour son refus de désavouer le pacte germano-soviétique.

Jeune lycéen exalté, il a dès son plus jeune âge baigné dans une culture politique bolchevique, porteur de la tradition familiale stalinienne, par ses parents, par ses oncles et tantes qui travaillent pour l’appareil clandestin du Parti. Les tracts qu’il distribue en cet été-automne 1940 s’inscrivent totalement dans la ligne du Parti et n’appellent donc pas à la résistance.

Prisonnier de la logique d’un parti enfermé dans les compromissions de l’alliance Staline-Hitler, Guy Môquet n’a pas pu être le « résistant » qu’on célèbre à tort. Ses camarades des Jeunesses communistes ont en revanche constitué, à l’été 1941, après l’offensive de la Wehrmacht contre l’Union soviétique, le fer de lance de la lutte armée initiée dans la plus totale improvisation par le Parti.

Les premières agressions contre des soldats allemands par les jeunes militants des Bataillons de la jeunesse vont provoquer des représailles sanglantes codifiées en septembre 1941 par le décret Keitel. C’est l’attentat du 20 octobre 1941 contre le Feldkommandant de Nantes, abattu par un commando de trois jeunes communistes venus de Paris, qui est la cause directe de la fusillade des 27 de Châteaubriant et de 21 autres otages originaires de la région, à Nantes et au Mont-Valérien, le 22 octobre.

En dépit de la tentative du ministre de l’intérieur Pucheu pour orienter le choix des Allemands vers des communistes, c’est bien l’occupant qui désigna en dernier ressort les fusillés – Hitler dans un premier temps exigeait 150 exécutions – parmi les emprisonnés et internés à disposition dans les camps et prisons. Pour ce choix, il appliqua le décret Keitel en respectant une vague proportionnalité dans l’ordre des responsabilités : des jeunes, des communistes, des gens originaires de Nantes.

Accaparer cette tragédie à son seul profit et pour sa seule gloire, comme l’a fait le PCF depuis 1942, relève de la récupération politique. Les otages fusillés n’étaient pas tous communistes, Guy Môquet n’était pas le seul jeune… On chercherait en vain dans les discours prononcés à Châteaubriant, sur les plaques et dans les écrits dressés à la gloire de la résistance communiste, les noms de Christian Rizzo, Marcel Bourdarias, Fernand Zalkinov et leurs camarades, arrêtés, jugés, condamnés et exécutés au printemps 1942 pour avoir fait ce que Guy Môquet, en communiste discipliné, n’avait pas fait.

Ces jeunes militants commirent les premiers attentats sur ordre d’un parti qui mit des années à en assumer la paternité après avoir calomnié leurs auteurs (« ceux qui ont tué le Feldkommandant Hotz sont ceux qui ont incendié le Reichstag »), avant de les effacer purement et simplement de la mémoire. Si la dernière lettre de Guy Môquet est émouvante, les leurs ne le sont pas moins, mais personne ne rappelle leur mémoire…

Jacques Duclos, qui transmit à Aragon les lettres des 27 avec cette injonction : « Fais de cela un monument », fut à l’origine d’un petit arrangement avec l’histoire qui consista à mettre en pleine lumière des militants arrêtés avant la rupture du pacte germano-soviétique et à rejeter dans l’ombre mémorielle ceux dont l’attitude soulignait trop crûment les aspects les moins avouables d’un passé que le PCF devenu patriote, républicain et résistant voulait faire oublier.

Avec le sang des otages, le Parti communiste lavait une des périodes les plus troubles et ambiguës de son histoire en même temps qu’il dressait un obstacle moral à toute critique de son attitude. Si les mythes sont aussi importants que la réalité, l’histoire existe pour rappeler cette réalité, aussi tragique ou décevante soit-elle…

Jean-Marc Berlière est professeur d’histoire contemporaine à l’université de Bourgogne, chercheur au Cesdip (CNRS/ministère de la justice).

Sylvain Boulouque est doctorant en histoire à l’université de Reims.
Jean-Marc Berlière et Sylvain Boulouque


Terrorisme: Attention, un Ben Laden peut en cacher un autre (Meet Imad Moughnieh, the world’s terrorists’ terrorist and bin Laden’s very own mentor)

25 juin, 2007
https://i2.wp.com/static.guim.co.uk/Guardian/world/gallery/2008/feb/13/terrorism/Mughniyeh630-8138.jpgBin Laden is a schoolboy in comparison with Mughniyeh. The guy is a genius, someone who refined the art of terrorism to its utmost level. We studied him and reached the conclusion that he is a clinical psychopath motivated by uncontrollable psychological reasons, which we have given up trying to understand. The killing of his two brothers by the Americans only inflamed his strong motivation. Israeli agent (Jane’s, Sep. 2001)
Hezbollah may be the A team of terrorists and maybe al-Qaeda is actually the B team. Richard Armitage (Former Deputy Secretary of State, September 2002)
He is the most dangerous terrorist we’ve ever faced. He’s a pathological murderer. Mugniyah is probably the most intelligent, most capable operative we’ve ever run across, including the KGB or anybody else. He enters by one door, exits by another, changes his cars daily, never makes appointments on a telephone, never is predictable. He only uses people that are related to him that he can trust. He doesn’t just recruit people. He is the master terrorist, the grail that we have been after since 1983. Former CIA agent Robert Baer, See no evil, 2002)
Osama is a Hollywood terrorist. He’s got the memorably euphonious name, the looks of the classic bearded/turbaned Muslim crazy, and staged the most horrifically Hollywood disaster movie attack imaginable. He makes the perfect Hollywood arch-villain. But he too has become a sideshow, a distraction. The most important and dangerous terrorist in the world is a man most everybody has never heard of. His name is Imad Mugniyeh. He is the true King of Terror. Jack Wheeler (geopolitical expert, 2005)
It should not have surprised anyone that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew to Damascus last Thursday to meet with Bashar Assad, nor was it surprising that among his entourage were key Iranian officials in charge of Hezbollah, probably including the operational leader, Imad Mughniyah. Michael Ledeen (NRO, January 23, 2006)
We cannot just stand idly by while we see all these shells fall on our brothers in Gaza and Lebanon. Ayman al-Zawahiri (July 27 video)
Mughniye, a confidant of Iran’s Ali Khamenei and Osama bin Laden, is constantly at Nasrallah’s side. He is believed by Israeli intelligence to have engineered the kidnap of the two Israeli soldiers which sparked the hostilities July 12. Debka file (July 29, 2006)
Imad Mughniyeh is the overall commander of the Islamic Resistance [Hizbullah’s armed wing] in southern Lebanon. He’s nicknamed tha’lab [the fox], and today he’s considered the second important figure in Hizbullah after Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. We’re very proud to have a Palestinians holding such a high position in Hizbullah. Lebanese Fatah official, July 29, 2006)
Nasrallah dit avoir été conseillé par le très secret Imad Mughniyeh (recherché par les USA pour terrorisme) qui a développé la sécurité du Hezbollah en limitant ses communications. Steven Erlanger et Richard A. Oppel Jr. (NYT, 7 août 2006)
Imad Moughnieh hante les nuits des soldats francais au Liban. Il est l’incarnation du mal. Son palmares est inscrit en lettres de sang au registre du terrorisme international. Il est le cerveau de l’attentat contre l’association mutuelle israélite argentine à Buenos Aires, le 18 juillet 1994. Bilan : 86 morts. Mais surtout la double attaque du 23 octobre 1983 (qui a fait 299 morts Americains et Français) à Beyrouth, c’est lui. Antoine Sfeir (Al-Qaïda menace la France, 2007)

Qui, en dehors des services spécialisés, a déjà entendu parler du numéro 29 de la liste européenne des terroristes les plus recherchés (et accessoirement membre aussi du club très fermé de la liste des 22 du FBI )?

Pendant que le monde entier n’en a que pour Ben Laden …

Et que la gent journalistique a passé une bonne partie des quatre dernières années à nous bassiner avec les « mensonges » de Bush ou Blair sur les « prétendus » liens entre Saddam (et bien sûr l’Iran, y compris pour le 11/9!) et le terrorisme …

« Le plus grand tueur d’Américains [et de Français!] avant le 11/9 » se trouve être un (presque) parfait inconnu qui continue à couler des jours (presque) paisibles quelque part entre le Liban du Hezbollah et l’Iran de ses maitres.

Libanais chiite d’origine (mais, selon le principe vieux comme le monde des « ennemis de mes ennemis sont mes amis », peu regardant apparemment sur ses fréquentations, sunnites compris).

Vétéran de la première organisation terroriste d’Arafat (la « Force 17 » du Fatah).

Puis membre fondateur et actuel responsable des actions extérieures du groupe terroriste le plus dangereux de la planète (Hezbollah).

Vieux « renard » qui se montre peu (on ne dispose que d’une ou deux photos de lui et il serait, parait-il, passé sous le bisouri de la chirurgie esthétique), ayant surtout profité du manque de coordination des différents services de renseignements occidentaux quand ce n’est pas de la complaisance des autorités – surprise! – françaises (86) puis saoudiennes (95), sans compter le manque de résolution du président Clinton (96).

L’illustre inconnu (Imad Moughnieh, Moughannieh, Moghnieh, Mughniyah) a en fait derrière lui une invraisemblable liste de forfaits qui lui vaudra un temps (avec son disciple le plus appliqué, un certain Ben Laden) l’offre d’asile de Saddam et aurait inspiré, dit-on,… Ossama lui-même!

Du Liban, à l’Afghanistan en passant par l’Iran, l’Irak, la Palestine ou Israël, ou de la France à l’Argentine, il n’y a guère d’attentats ou mauvais coups d’envergure qu’il n’ait pas organisés ou dans lesquels il n’ait pas trempé, de près ou de loin, ces trente dernières années.

Piratages et détournements d’avions, enlèvements d’Occidentaux au Liban, attaque à la roquette contre les paras français, camions piégés contre ambassade et baraquements américains et français de Beyrouth (241 Marines, 58 soldats français), mais probablement aussi en Arabie saoudite (Tours Khobar), au Yemen (USS Cole) ou en Afrique de l’est (ambassades américaines de Nairobi et Dar es Salaam).

Campagne de terreur en France (TGV Marseille, FNAC, BHV, Pub Renault Paris: 17 morts, centaines de blessés), prise d’otage de 16 Français (journalistes ou diplomates jusqu’à trois ans, dont un assassiné), assassinats en France même (patron de Renault Georges Besse).

Première tentative d’explosion d’un avion de ligne au-dessus d’Israël (1996), intifada palestinienne, transports d’armes clandestins pour Arafat (Karine A, 2002), enlèvements d’Israéliens à l’origine de la guerre du Liban (juillet 2006).

Attentats antijuifs en Argentine (ambassade et centre culturel, 92 et 94, 86 morts, commande directe de l’ancien président et patron occulte du régime iranien Rafsandjani, avec quatre autres responsables iraniens dont l’ancien chef du renseignement Ali Fallahian, l’attaché culturel à l’ambassade iranienne à Buenos Aires Mohsen Rabbani, le récent transfuge Ahmad Reza Asghari, l’ex-commandant de la Force Qods Ahmad Vahidi et l’ancien commandant des Gardiens de la Révolution Mohsen Rezaï, sans parler de l’ex-ambassadeur en Argentine Hadi Soleimanpour et de l’ancien ministre des Affaires étrangères Ali Ar Velayati).

Rencontre de Ben Laden au Soudan, entraînement des hommes d’Al Qaeda au Liban (mi-90) comme récemment d’Al-Sadr dans le sud de l’Irak (ou en Côte d’Ivoire ?), recyclage africain des fonds d’Al-Qaeda en diamants et or juste après le 11/9.

Voire… attentats du 7/7 de Londres?

Imad Moughnieh, qui fut responsable de certains enlèvements d’Occidentaux dans les années 80 au Liban, joue également un rôle très important. Il fait la navette entre Téhéran et Beyrouth, via l’aéroport de Damas, avant d’emprunter les routes militaires de la plaine de la Bekaa. Moughnieh, toujours traqué par les Américains, ne passe jamais par l’aéroport de Beyrouth. Il est lié directement à Nasrallah, qui a lui-même des liens personnels anciens avec les dirigeants iraniens. À travers Moughnieh, le Hezbollah et l’Iran se sont impliqués dans l’intifada palestinienne depuis 2000. Moughnieh est notamment chargé du recrutement d’étrangers pour des opérations de reconnaissance en Israël ou ailleurs.

Magnus Ranstorp: « L’escalade a été décidée par le Parti de Dieu et l’Iran »
Propos recueillis par Georges Malbrunot.
Le Figaro
le 22 juillet 2006

Universitaire suédois, membre du Defense National College de Stockholm, Ranstorp est un éminent spécialiste du Hezbollah, qu’il suit depuis vingt ans.

LE FIGARO. – Comment le Hezbollah a-t-il décidé d’enlever les deux soldats israéliens ?

Magnus RANSTORP. – Une telle décision est prise par son chef, Hassan Nasrallah, au sein de la choura karar, la plus haute instance de décision du mouvement. Celle-ci compte sept membres, dont deux Iraniens attachés à l’ambassade d’Iran à Beyrouth, qui sont liés aux services de renseignements de Téhéran. À travers eux, l’Iran sait exactement ce que fait le Hezbollah, surtout quand une décision à prendre dépasse les lignes rouges habituelles, comme d’attaquer Israël hors des fermes de Chebaa (NDLR : occupées par l’État hébreu). Dans ce cas, le Hezbollah consulte également les Syriens, car un enlèvement de soldats israéliens a des implications pour la sécurité de la Syrie. Avec Damas, les consultations se font souvent via l’agent de liaison Hassan Khalil, qui est en liaison avec les services de renseignements militaires à Damas.

Quels sont les autres liens entre le Hezbollah et l’Iran ?

Ils passent par l’ambassade d’Iran à Beyrouth, la plus importante hors d’Iran, et par le représentant personnel du guide Ali Khameneï au Liban, cheikh Mohamed Yazbek. Mais ce n’est pas tout. Imad Moughnieh, qui fut responsable de certains enlèvements d’Occidentaux dans les années 80 au Liban, joue également un rôle très important. Il fait la navette entre Téhéran et Beyrouth, via l’aéroport de Damas, avant d’emprunter les routes militaires de la plaine de la Bekaa. Moughnieh, toujours traqué par les Américains, ne passe jamais par l’aéroport de Beyrouth. Il est lié directement à Nasrallah, qui a lui-même des liens personnels anciens avec les dirigeants iraniens. À travers Moughnieh, le Hezbollah et l’Iran se sont impliqués dans l’intifada palestinienne depuis 2000. Moughnieh est notamment chargé du recrutement d’étrangers pour des opérations de reconnaissance en Israël ou ailleurs. Et à Beyrouth, le représentant du Hamas, Oussama Hamdane, est aussi un pion essentiel dans l’implication iranienne en Palestine ; il était auparavant le représentant du Hamas à Téhéran.

Comment fonctionne le Hezbollah ?

Soixante-dix personnes comptent au sein de la direction des dignitaires religieux, des « militaires » et des technocrates. Et vous avez aussi 80 Iraniens environ, des conseillers militaires pour la plupart, très discrets. Sur le terrain, le Hezbollah compte 75 zones militaires dirigées par des commandants locaux. Les plus importantes sont au sud face à Israël, sous la responsabilité de Cheikh Nabil Kaouk. Elles recrutent des jeunes chiites qui connaissent le terrain. Le Hezbollah a pris soin d’atomiser ses bases pour échapper aux attaques israéliennes. Il ne dispose plus de camps d’entraînements fixes et ses unités sont devenues très mobiles. Dans son fief de la Bekaa, la plupart de ses responsables militaires ont une couverture officielle, des commerçants par exemple. Ils peuvent ainsi se noyer parmi la population.

Sont-ils obnubilés par leur sécurité ?

Ils ne font confiance à personne. Comme les Israéliens, le Hezbollah dispose de fiches sur beaucoup d’individus, afin de lutter contre les infiltrations. Son service de renseignement infiltre les autres mouvements libanais. Il est dirigé par Wafic Safa, l’homme des négociations avec le BND, le service de renseignement allemand, à propos des otages israéliens détenus par le Hezbollah, une affaire qui va prendre du temps, je le crains. Israël et le Hezbollah sont des ennemis, mais ils se respectent. Les Israéliens n’ont pas tué un seul membre des 75 plus hauts responsables du Parti de Dieu depuis dix ans. Ils connaissent le prix d’un tel crime. De son côté, le Hezbollah connaît parfaitement la vie politique israélienne. Comme Israël, le Hezbollah est attaché à la guerre psychologique. En 2001, il a construit des studios souterrains, d’où sa chaîne de télévision al-Manar diffuse, alors que le Liban est sous les bombes. Influencer les masses arabes a toujours revêtu une grande importance pour le Hezbollah.

Israël peut-il briser l’appareil militaire du Hezbollah ?

Cela dépend du nombre de missiles qu’il leur reste. Les Israéliens ont tiré sur des camions qui transportaient des missiles longue portée. Ils ont cherché à les exposer pour les neutraliser rapidement. Mais le Hezbollah est expert en matière de guérilla. Le briser me semble très très difficile.

Quel est le but ultime du Hezbollah au Liban ?

Se doter d’une plate-forme qui lui permette de continuer la lutte armée contre Israël. Son agenda dépasse le cadre libanais, il est dicté par l’Iran. N’oubliez pas qu’il garde aussi une capacité terroriste à l’étranger. Nasrallah appelle à la fin du confessionnalisme politique au Liban. Étant les plus nombreux, s’il y a des élections démocratiques, leurs partisans chiites les remporteront, et il y aura un mini-Iran aux portes d’Israël.

Voir aussi:
Mugniyah met with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the mid-1990s, according to the court testimony of Ali Abdelsoud Mohammed, a naturalized U.S. citizen and former U.S. army sergeant who later became a senior aide to bin Laden. After his arrest in 1998 in connection with the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Mohammed testified that he arranged several meetings between bin Laden and Mugniyah in Sudan. Bin Laden reportedly admired Mugniyah’s tactics, particularly his use of truck bombs, which precipitated the United States’ withdrawal from Lebanon. According to Mohammed, bin Laden and Mugniyah agreed Hezbollah would provide training, military expertise, and explosives in exchange for money and man power.
Mugniyah appears to operate as a bridge between Iran and Hezbollah, working for both and calibrating their agendas, experts say. « Imad Mugniyah embodies the complexity of where to tackle this terrorism because he stands with one foot in Hezbollah, reporting directly to Nasrallah, but he also has one foot in Iran, with the Iranian MOIS [the Iranian intelligence service] and the al-Qods, or the Jerusalem Force, of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, » says Ranstorp. Mugniyah is thought to live under the protection of Iranian security forces, and terror experts say he travels between Tehran and Damascus, often using Iranian diplomatic papers.

Imad Mugniyah, Hezbollah’s Elusive Mastermind
Elisabeth Smick
Council on Foreign Relations
August 17, 2006

Introduction

Relatively little is known about Imad Fayez Mugniyah, considered one of the most influential members of Hezbollah’s inner circle. He is thought to be the organization’s chief international operator, a shadowy figure behind its leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and he has been linked to nearly every major terrorist operation executed by Hezbollah over the last twenty-five years. Mugniyah was the most wanted terrorist in the world before Osama bin Laden came onto intelligence radar screens, and he remains a prime target of U.S. counterterrorism forces.

Who is Imad Fayez Mugniyah?

Experts say Mugniyah was born in southern Lebanon in 1962. He is believed to be the son of a prominent Shiite cleric, but few traces of his early life remain. « He erased himself, » Robert Baer, an ex-CIA officer told the New Yorker in 2002. « There are no civil records in Lebanon with his name in them. » Mugniyah is thought to have begun his career as a teenager during the Lebanese civil war. He was trained by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, and became a member of Arafat’s personal security detail, Force 17. When the Palestinian Liberation Organization left Lebanon in 1982, Mugniyah joined Hezbollah, serving as a bodyguard for its spiritual adviser, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, and rising quickly through the ranks.

Mugniyah keeps an extremely low profile. He does not make appearances on Arabic-language television, and the only known photographs of him are ten to twenty years old. Some believe Mugniyah, whose nickname is « the Fox, » has undergone plastic surgery to alter his appearance. Thought to live in Iran with his family, Mugniyah has evaded the U.S. military’s efforts to capture him on at least two occasions.

What is his role in Hezbollah?

Mugniyah is variously reported to be Hezbollah’s chief of operations, security chief, director of intelligence, chief of international operations, and even the overall commander of Islamic Resistance, Hezbollah’s armed wing, in southern Lebanon. Terrorism experts credit Mugniyah with making Hezbollah an international terrorist force. « He’s the one who built a very successful terrorist organization, » says Christopher Hamilton, senior fellow for counterterrorism studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. « He runs their terrorist side—not the guerilla arm, the terrorist arm. » Because of his ability to plan sophisticated, professional operations, some experts describe Mugniyah as Hezbollah’s secret weapon. « He gets involved on special missions, planning and putting things in motion, » says Magnus Ranstorp, a Hezbollah specialist at the Swedish National Defense College who has followed Mugniyah for over a decade. « He is an architect who unleashes violence on special occasions. » Mugniyah is also known for coordinating operations that extend beyond the Middle East, such as a pair of bombings in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the 1990s. He is said to work closely on international fundraising and recruitment efforts, organizing terrorist cells around the world, and managing surveillance missions.

Is Mugniyah behind the operation that sparked fighting in Lebanon?

Israel claims that Mugniyah is behind the recent kidnappings of Israeli soldiers that led to its invasion of Lebanon. A similar operation carried out in 2005 was attributed to him as well, and there is speculation that he is currently in Lebanon. « Mughniyah, who is believed to have been behind the abduction of the two IDF soldiers on July 12, is also reported to be in charge of Hezbullah’s rocket unit in south Lebanon, » said a recent article in the Jerusalem Post. However, no sources for this information were named.

Some experts say Mugniyah, with his strong roots in Fatah, is particularly committed to the Palestinian cause. « Mugniyah’s focus is Israel and to achieve that he joined forces with Hezbollah, » says Abdul Hameed Bakier, an analyst for the Jamestown Foundation. « Any affiliation Mugniyah has would be to serve the Palestinian cause. » Recently, Mugniyah has reportedly focused on providing direct assistance to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, particularly through efforts to recruit foreign nationals capable of infiltrating Israel. However, there is no specific evidence that Mugniyah himself engineered the recent kidnappings. Magnus Ranstorp says it is more likely that Mugniyah was aware of the planned kidnappings but did not mastermind them. « He is only involved in what the Americans would call ‘black’ or top secret operations, » says Ranstorp. « Hezbollah does not need Mugniyah to carry out this type of operation. »

What major terror attacks has Mugniyah been linked to?

Experts believe he is the main architect of nearly all of the major operations conducted by Hezbollah. They include:

The 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Lebanon that killed sixty-three people. Some say Mugniyah was also involved in the attack a few months later on U.S. Marine and French paratrooper barracks in Beirut that left 141 people dead.
A spate of kidnappings of Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s, including that of William Buckley, a CIA station chief, in 1984. Buckley was interrogated and tortured, and ultimately died of pneumonia, probably as a result of his harsh treatment. His death sparked particular ire in the U.S. intelligence community.

The 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847, in which a U.S. Navy diver was brutally beaten, then shot. Mugniyah was indicted in the United States for his alleged role as mastermind of the hijacking.

The 1992 Israeli embassy bombing and a 1994 suicide bomb attack on a Jewish community center, both in Buenos Aires.

Has Mugniyah ever tried to attack the United States?

In the late 1990s, a Hezbollah cell was found in Charlotte, North Carolina. The group was indicted for illegally selling cigarettes. Some of the proceeds of the operation were allegedly sent to Hezbollah. The indictment also suggested Hezbollah had asked the group to purchase hi-tech items such as aircraft-analysis software and night-vision equipment. There was speculation the group had ties to Mugniyah. In 2003, the leader of the cell, Mohammed Hammoud, was convicted of racketeering and providing « material support » to Hezbollah. He received a 155-year prison term. Five other defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from twelve to fifty-one months.

The case spurred a number of investigations of suspected Hezbollah cells in the United States. According to ABC News, last year the FBI had more than 200 active cases involving suspected Hezbollah members. « There are many, many investigations ongoing, » says Christopher Hamilton. « It runs the gamut from guys who have contacts with people overseas, and guys who are preaching in the mosques and recruiting. » According to Hamilton, these cells are capable of conducting operations within the United States. However, he points out that so far none of these operations have been carried out. « I think it would take an overt act by the United States against Hezbollah or Iran to trigger this, » he says.

Is there a link between Mugniyah and al-Qaeda?

Mugniyah met with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the mid-1990s, according to the court testimony of Ali Abdelsoud Mohammed, a naturalized U.S. citizen and former U.S. army sergeant who later became a senior aide to bin Laden. After his arrest in 1998 in connection with the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Mohammed testified that he arranged several meetings between bin Laden and Mugniyah in Sudan.

Bin Laden reportedly admired Mugniyah’s tactics, particularly his use of truck bombs, which precipitated the United States’ withdrawal from Lebanon. According to Mohammed, bin Laden and Mugniyah agreed Hezbollah would provide training, military expertise, and explosives in exchange for money and man power. It is not known, however, whether this agreement was carried out. The relationship between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda is not entirely friendly, as explained in this Backgrounder.

What is Mugniyah’s connection to Iran?

Mugniyah appears to operate as a bridge between Iran and Hezbollah, working for both and calibrating their agendas, experts say. « Imad Mugniyah embodies the complexity of where to tackle this terrorism because he stands with one foot in Hezbollah, reporting directly to Nasrallah, but he also has one foot in Iran, with the Iranian MOIS [the Iranian intelligence service] and the al-Qods, or the Jerusalem Force, of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, » says Ranstorp. Mugniyah is thought to live under the protection of Iranian security forces, and terror experts say he travels between Tehran and Damascus, often using Iranian diplomatic papers.

In January 2006, Mugniyah reportedly accompanied Iranian President Ahmadinejad to a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He allegedly works within the highest levels of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iranian intelligence and is said to take orders directly from Ayatollah Khamenei. « Hezbollah is the main weapon outside of Iran for Iran, » says Hamilton. « They are very capable and very good militarily, and Imad Mugniyah is responsible for that. The Iranians like him because he’s good, and he’s loyal, and he’s a known quantity. » However, his exact role in Iran remains unclear. This may be, in part, because both the Iranian government and Hezbollah prefer to conceal the nature of their involvement in terrorist activities. « It’s a question of preserving plausible deniability, » says Ranstorp. « Iran wishes to conceal how deeply it is embedded with Hezbollah, and Hezbollah wants to break from its darker past to show that they are a mature and responsible party. However, there is a dark duality in that they [Iran and Hezbollah] keep Mugniyah reserved for special occasions. »

Voir également:

Arafat’s ‘fox’ running rocket unit
Khaled Abu Toameh
THE JERUSALEM POST
Jul. 29, 2006

Hizbullah’s top commander in southern Lebanon is a veteran Fatah operative who was very close to former Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat when the PLO was based in Beirut, Fatah officials said over the weekend.

They identified the man as Imad Mughniyeh, a former officer in Arafat’s Force 17 presidential guard who has been in charge of Hizbullah’s military operations in south Lebanon for the past decade.

« Imad Mughniyeh is the overall commander of the Islamic Resistance [Hizbullah’s armed wing] in southern Lebanon, » said a Fatah official who said he knew Mughniyeh well during the ’70s and ’80s.

« He’s nicknamed tha’lab [the fox], and today he’s considered the second important figure in Hizbullah after Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. We’re very proud to have a Palestinians holding such a high position in Hizbullah, » the Fatah official said.

Mughniyeh, who is believed to have been behind the abduction of the two IDF soldiers on July 12, is also reported to be in charge of Hizbullah’s rocket unit in south Lebanon. The unit has fired more than 1,600 rockets at Israel during the current violence.

When the IDF forced the PLO to leave Lebanon in 1982, Arafat entrusted Mughniyeh with transferring the organization’s weapons to Lebanese militias allied with the Palestinians.

Mughniyeh, who refused to leave Beirut with the PLO leadership, joined the the Shi’ite Amal militia headed by Nabih Berri. He and Nasrallah, who was then a member of Amal, later left the movement to form Hizbullah.

Born in the Lebanese city of Tyre in 1952, Mughniyeh did not attract attention until 1976, when he joined Force 17 as a sniper targeting Christians on the Green Line dividing West and East Beirut.

Mugniyah has since been implicated in numerous terrorist attacks against the US, France and Israel, in which hundreds of people have been killed. These include three in 1983: the bombings of the US Embassy in Beirut and barracks housing US Marines and French paratroopers who were part of the Multinational Force in Lebanon.

He has also been linked to the Karine A weapons ship that Arafat tried to use to smuggle arms into the Gaza Strip in 2001.

On October 10, 2001 Mughniyeh appeared on the FBI’s first « Top 22 Most Wanted Terrorists » list. A reward of $25 million was offered for information leading to his capture.

Voir enfin:

A Glimpse at the Alliances of Terror
By Milt Bearden and Larry Johnson
The NYT
November 7, 2000

As the destroyer Cole was being hauled around the Cape of Good Hope to its home port of Norfolk, Va., and amid the ruckus of the elections, a remarkable piece of intelligence dropped into the public’s knowledge about international terrorism. It has drawn little notice yet, but it will likely cause the new administration to reassess American policy and search for a better formula for combating terrorism than launching a few cruise missiles at camps in Afghanistan or pharmaceutical plants in Sudan.

On Oct. 20, the Federal District Court in Manhattan accepted a guilty plea from Ali A. Mohamed, a former Green Beret sergeant and one of six men indicted for the bombings of American embassies in Africa in 1998. Mr. Mohamed not only confessed that he had taken part in a conspiracy to murder American citizens in Saudi Arabia and East Africa, but tied the assaults directly to the Saudi exile Osama bin Laden. Significantly, his confession also linked Mr. bin Laden with another terrorist at large — the mysterious Hezbollah security chief, Imad Mughniyah.

Half of all Americans killed by international terrorists since 1980 have been murdered by groups associated with Mr. Mughniyah and Mr. bin Laden. Mr. Mughniyah, who is credibly implicated in the lion’s share of the killings, is believed to have carried out the bombings of the United States Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the hijacking of a TWA plane to Beirut in 1985. He is also believed to have masterminded the kidnapping of more than 50 hostages there. And he has been implicated in the bombings of Israeli installations in Argentina and a rocket attack on the Russian Embassy in Beirut.

Ali Mohamed’s confession represents the first credible, public evidence not only that Mr. Mughniyah and Mr. bin Laden have been collaborating, but that Iran has been backing them. He said that between 1991 and 1993, he handled security arrangements for a meeting between the two men where they established their common goal of forcing the United States to withdraw from the Middle East. And his testimony adds authority to earlier reports that Iran’s Ministry of Information and Security had called a terrorist conclave in Tehran in 1996 that included Mr. Mughniyah and a senior aide to Mr. bin Laden. Whether the connection of the two will be found to have played into the attack on the Cole is unclear, but preliminary evidence suggests it might.

The experience of the last two decades has shown that putting terrorists in American prisons is the most effective policy. Ramzi Yousef and Sheik Omar Abdel Rahma, convicted in the World Trade Center bombing, and Mir Amal Kansi, a convicted murderer of C.I.A. employees in Virginia, have stood in shackles before American justice and are fading memories in the world of militant Islam. By contrast, American attempts to blast Osama Bin Laden out of his Afghan redoubt have elevated him to levels of mystical power in the Islamic world. Yes, there is something between indictments and cruise missiles — a middle ground of covert action and clandestine operations — and these options should be kept on the table. But the new administration, no matter who wins today’s presidential election, will have to concentrate on consistently applying diplomatic and legal pressures to the states implicated, even passively, in acts of terror.

The United States has isolated Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban diplomatically as part of its demand that they hand over Mr. bin Laden for trial, but the Taliban claim that the United States has not made a convincing case against him. The testimony of Ali Mohamed might provide them with what they need to move him out of Afghanistan and into an Islamic court in a third country acceptable to the United States. At the very least, it should bring new seriousness to the dialogue now under way between Taliban leaders and American Ambassador William Milam in Pakistan.

Then there is Iran, whose leaders will have to understand that their support for Mr. Mughniyah could put an end to efforts to normalize American relations with Tehran.

The Clinton administration has shot its bolt on the terrorist problem with small effect, and a flashy show of force during the next few months will not change the record. The new administration can start afresh with a more sharply defined set of goals — for starters, bringing Mr. Mughniyah and Mr. bin Laden and their protectors to justice — and bring the full, coordinated force of American legal, diplomatic, military, and intelligence capabilities to bear on the problem.

Milt Bearden in an author and former C.I.A. official. Larry Johnson is a former State Department counterterrorism specialist.

Sans oublier pour le lien Saddam-Ben Laden (dans le on ne peut plus gauchiste Guardian! Et en 99, soit avant même l’arrivée au pouvoir du « menteur » notoire GW Bush!):

Saddam link to Bin Laden
Terror chief ‘offered asylum’ in Iraq? US says dealings step up danger of chemical weapons attacks
By Julian Borger in Washington
The Guardian
February 6, 1999

Saddam Hussein’s regime has opened talks with Osama bin Laden, bringing closer the threat of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to US intelligence sources and Iraqi opposition officials.

The key meeting took place in the Afghan mountains near Kandahar in late December. The Iraqi delegation was led by Farouk Hijazi, Baghdad’s ambassador in Turkey and one of Saddam’s most powerful secret policemen, who is thought to have offered Bin Laden asylum in Iraq.

The Saudi-born fundamentalist’s response is unknown. He is thought to have rejected earlier Iraqi advances, disapproving of the Saddam Hussein’s secular Baathist regime. But analysts believe that Bin Laden’s bolthole in Afghanistan, where he has lived for the past three years, is now in doubt as a result of increasing US and Saudi government pressure.

News of the negotiations emerged in a week when the US attorney general, Janet Reno, warned the Senate that a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction was a growing concern. « There’s a threat, and it’s real, » Ms Reno said, adding that such weapons « are being considered for use. »

US embassies around the world are on heightened alert as a result of threats believed to emanate from followers of Bin Laden, who has been indicted by a US court for orchestrating the bombing last August of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which 259 people died. US delegations in Africa and the Gulf have been shut down in recent weeks after credible threats were received.

In this year’s budget, President Clinton called for an additional $2 billion to spend on counter-terrorist measures, including extra guards for US embassies around the world and funds for executive jets to fly rapid response investigative teams to terrorist incidents around the world.

Since RAF bombers took part in air raids on Iraq in December, Bin Laden declared that he considered British citizens to be justifiable targets. Vincent Cannistraro, former chief of CIA counter-terrorist operations, said: « Hijazi went to Afghanistan in December and met with Osama, with the knowledge of the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar. We are sure about that. What is the source of some speculation is what transpired. »

An acting US counter-intelligence official confirmed the report. « Our understanding over what happened matches your account, but there’s no one here who is going to comment on it. »

Ahmed Allawi, a senior member of the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC), based in London, said he had heard reports of the December meeting which he believed to be accurate. « There is a long history of contacts between Mukhabarat [Iraqi secret service] and Osama bin Laden, » he said. Mr Hijazi, formerly director of external operations for Iraqi intelligence, was « the perfect man to send to Afghanistan ».

Analysts believe that Mr Hijazi offered Mr bin Laden asylum in Iraq, most likely in return for co-operation in launching attacks on US and Saudi targets. Iraqi agents are believed to have made a similar offer to the Saudi maverick leader in the early 1990s when he was based in Sudan.

Although he rejected the offer then, Mamoun Fandy, a professor of Middle East politics at Georgetown University, said Bin Laden’s position in Afghanistan is no longer secure after the Saudi monarchy cut off diplomatic relations with, and funding for, the Taleban militia movement, which controls most of the country.

Mr Fandy said senior members of the Saudi royal family told him in recent weeks that they had received assurances from the Taleban leader, Mullah Mohamed Omar, that once the radical Islamist movement secured control over Afghan territory, Bin Laden would be forced to leave. « It’s a matter of time now for Osama. » He said Bin Laden would have a strong ideological aversion to accepting Iraqi hospitality, but might have little choice.

Mais aussi:

GLOBAL JIHAD
The unknown king of terror
Hezbollah military chief has longer resume than bin Laden
Jack Wheeler
World net Daily
March 12, 2005

Though his name is unknown to most, a Middle East terrorists boasting a long resume of attacks and who takes orders from Tehran will prevent any sort of peaceful freedom from breaking out in Lebanon, reports geopolitical expert Jack Wheeler.

In a column on his intelligence website, To the Point, Wheeler notes that the Hezbollah’s chief of military operations, who has over 20 years in the terror business, is set to start a civil war in Lebanon.

Wheeler ties the situation directly to Iran, Hezbollah’s chief sponsor.

« I have a very bad feeling about Lebanon, » he writes, « this could turn out really ugly. Dispatch after dispatch, story after story, and all you read about is Syria’s getting its troops and spies out of its colony. Congressmen like Darryl Issa, R-Calif., write newspaper op-eds entitled ‘Lebanon: Democracy’s Next Stop.’ All without a word about Hezbollah. All without a word about Iran. »

Wheeler goes on to describe the challenge of de-fanging Hezbollah.

« Hezbollah – the Party of God – is a group of 25,000 Shiite terrorists armed to the teeth, and nobody is asking the most important question of all regarding Lebanon’s fate: Who gets to take away Hezbollah’s guns? You simply cannot have a private terrorist army running around Lebanon and expect to create a peaceful democracy, even if every Syrian soldier and secret policeman leaves for Damascus. »

Syria, Wheeler states, is not the chief problem for Lebanon – it’s Iran.

Writes the analyst: « Bashar al-Assad is a puppet of the Mullacracy in Tehran. The people who give the orders to the Syrian troops in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley are Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Pasdaran. Hezbollah was founded in 1982 among Lebanon’s Shia Muslims with money and weapons from Iran. It is run by the world’s worst terrorist, who is most decidedly not Osama bin Laden.

« Osama is a Hollywood terrorist, » Wheeler continues. « He’s got the memorably euphonious name, the looks of the classic bearded/turbaned Muslim crazy, and staged the most horrifically Hollywood disaster movie attack imaginable. He makes the perfect Hollywood arch-villain. But he too has become a sideshow, a distraction. The most important and dangerous terrorist in the world is a man most everybody has never heard of. His name is Imad Mugniyeh. He is the true King of Terror. »

Wheeler then lists Mugniyeh’s terror rap sheet, everything from organizing the 1983 killing of 242 U.S. Marines in Lebanon to involvement in the 2000 USS Cole attack. Besides countless acts of terror, Mugniyeh, Wheeler says, was involved in shuttling Saddam’s WMDs into Hezbollah’s care before the Iraq war.

Predicts Wheeler: « Imad Mugniyeh and the Hezbollah, at the direction of Iran, will ignite another civil war in Lebanon, destroying that country’s chances for democracy and freedom from Syrian colonial control – and halting thereby George Bush’s Middle East Freedom March right in its tracks. »

Wheeler’s solution for Bush? « Regime change in Iran. »
Et aussi:
The Iraqis, who for several years paid smaller groups to do their dirty work, were quick to discover the advantages of Al-Qaeda. The Israeli sources claim that for the past two years Iraqi intelligence officers were shuttling between Baghdad and Afghanistan, meeting with Ayman Al Zawahiri. According to the sources, one of the Iraqi intelligence officers, Salah Suleiman, was captured last October by the Pakistanis near the border with Afghanistan. The Iraqis are also reported to have established strong ties with Imad Mughniyeh.
Mughniyeh is probably the world’s most wanted outlaw. Unconfirmed reports in Beirut say he has undergone plastic surgery and is unrecognisable. (..)
Bin Laden is a schoolboy in comparison with Mughniyeh. The guy is a genius, someone who refined the art of terrorism to its utmost level. We studied him and reached the conclusion that he is a clinical psychopath motivated by uncontrollable psychological reasons, which we have given up trying to understand. The killing of his two brothers by the Americans only inflamed his strong motivation.
On April 12th 1997, he was reported to be only two hours away from achieving the highest goal of any terrorist organisation (until last week): blowing up an Israeli El-Al airliner above Tel Aviv. A man carrying a forged British passport with the name Andrew Jonathan Neumann was in a Jerusalem hotel preparing a bomb he was supposed to take on board an El-Al flight leaving Israel, when it accidentally went off. Andrew Jonathan Neumann was very badly injured but strong enough to reveal later to the Israelis that he was not British but Lebanese, and that his operation was supposed to be a special « gift » to Israel from Imad Mughniyeh.

Who did it? Foreign Report presents an alternative view
Jane’s Foreign report
September 19, 2001

Israel’s military intelligence service, Aman, suspects that Iraq is the state that sponsored the suicide attacks on the New York Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington. Directing the mission, Aman officers believe, were two of the world’s foremost terrorist masterminds: the Lebanese Imad Mughniyeh, head of the special overseas operations for Hizbullah, and the Egyptian Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri, senior member of Al-Qaeda and possible successor of the ailing Osama Bin Laden.
The two men have not been seen for some time. Mughniyeh is probably the world’s most wanted outlaw. Unconfirmed reports in Beirut say he has undergone plastic surgery and is unrecognisable. Zawahiri is thought to be based in Egypt. He could be Bin Laden’s chief representative outside Afghanistan.

The Iraqis, who for several years paid smaller groups to do their dirty work, were quick to discover the advantages of Al-Qaeda. The Israeli sources claim that for the past two years Iraqi intelligence officers were shuttling between Baghdad and Afghanistan, meeting with Ayman Al Zawahiri. According to the sources, one of the Iraqi intelligence officers, Salah Suleiman, was captured last October by the Pakistanis near the border with Afghanistan. The Iraqis are also reported to have established strong ties with Imad Mughniyeh.

« We’ve only got scraps of information, not the full picture, » admits one intelligence source, « but it was good enough for us to send a warning six weeks ago to our allies that an unprecedented massive terror attack was expected. One of our indications suggested that Imad Mughniyeh met with some of his dormant agents on secret trips to Germany. We believe that the operational brains behind the New-York attack were Mughniyeh and Zawahiri, who were probably financed and got some logistical support from the Iraqi Intelligence Service (SSO). »

Mughniyeh was the only one believed to have tried it before. On April 12th 1997, he was reported to be only two hours away from achieving the highest goal of any terrorist organisation (until last week): blowing up an Israeli El-Al airliner above Tel Aviv. A man carrying a forged British passport with the name Andrew Jonathan Neumann was in a Jerusalem hotel preparing a bomb he was supposed to take on board an El-Al flight leaving Israel, when it accidentally went off. Andrew Jonathan Neumann was very badly injured but strong enough to reveal later to the Israelis that he was not British but Lebanese, and that his operation was supposed to be a special « gift » to Israel from Imad Mughniyeh.

‘A psychopath’

« Bin Laden is a schoolboy in comparison with Mughniyeh, » says an Israeli who knows Mughniyeh . « The guy is a genius, someone who refined the art of terrorism to its utmost level. We studied him and reached the conclusion that he is a clinical psychopath motivated by uncontrollable psychological reasons, which we have given up trying to understand. The killing of his two brothers by the Americans only inflamed his strong motivation. »

Experts on Iraq and Saddam Hussein also believe that Iraq was the state behind the two terror masterminds. « In recent months, there was a change, and Iraq decided to get into the terror business. On July 7th, they tried for the first time to send a suicide bomber, trained in Baghdad, to blow up Tel Aviv airport (Foreign Report No. 2651). »

Our sources believe that it will be very difficult to get to the bottom of this unprecedented terror operation. However, they believe the chief of the Iraqi SSO is Qusai Hussein, the dictator’s son, and his organisation is the most likely to have been involved.

Mughniyeh, 48, is a « sick man », says an intelligence officer who was in charge of his file. He is considered by Western intelligence agencies as the most dangerous active terrorist today. He is wanted by several governments and the Americans have put a $2m reward on his head.

[Detailed list of Mughniyeh operations removed for Non-Subscriber Extract]

It was the assassination of one man in March 1984 that is said to have made Mughniyeh the CIA’s most wanted terrorist. Mughniyeh allegedly kidnapped the head of the CIA station in Beirut, William Buckley. The kidnapping triggered what later became known as ‘Irangate’, when the Americans tried to exchange Buckley (and others) with arms for Iran. However, the attempt ended in a fiasco. By one unconfirmed account, Mughniyeh tortured and killed Buckley with his own hands.

A year later, in a combined CIA/Mossad operation, a powerful car bomb went off at the entrance to the house of Hizbullah’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah. Seventy-five people were killed. One of them was his brother. Hunted by the CIA and the Mossad, Mughniyeh hid in Iran.

In February 1992, Israeli helicopter gunships attacked the convoy of the then head of Hizbullah, Sheikh Abas Musawi, in South Lebanon. Musawi, his wife and children were killed and the revenge attack followed a month later. According to press reports, Mughniyeh was called back into action and, in a well-planned and devastating attack, his people blew up the Israeli embassy in Argentina. The building was demolished and 92 were killed. Only last year, after a long investigation, did Argentina issue a warrant for Mughniyeh’s arrest.

The reprisal for the attack in Argentina came in December 1994, when a car bomb went off in a southern Shi’ite suburb of Beirut. Four people were killed. One of them was called Mughniyeh, but to the deep disappointment of those Israelis who planted the bomb it was the wrong one. Mughniyeh’s life was saved, but his other brother Fuad was killed. Mughniyeh waited for his opportunity for revenge.

Our Israeli sources claim to see Mughniyeh’s signature on the wreckage in New York and Washington. How to counter this kind of terrorism? « To fight these bastards you don’t need a military attack, » said an experienced Israeli commando officer. « You only need to adopt Israel’s assassination policy. »

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Et enfin:

Comment la Syrie et l’Iran ont préparé la guerre du Liban
Iran-Resist
10.08.2006
New York Times | par Steven Erlanger et Richard A. Oppel Jr. | 7 Août 2006

Un Hezbollah discipliné qui a étonné Israël avec sa formation, sa tactique et ses armes…

Le 26 Décembre 2003 un très violent tremblement de terre en Iran rayait pratiquement Bam de la carte et faisant plus de 35 000 morts. Les avions acheminant l’aide du monde entier affluèrent sur les lieux y compris depuis la Syrie. Selon les services de renseignements israéliens, les avions repartaient vers la Syrie avec des armes sophistiquées à bord, y compris les fameux missiles à longue portée Zelzal. Des armes que les Syriens ont fait passé au Hezbollah, la milice chiite au Liban.

Alors que l’armée israélienne est dans sa quatrième semaine de lutte pour se défaire du Hezbollah avant un cessez-le-feu, les expéditions donnent une indication sur l’état du Hezbollah. Depuis le retrait unilatéral d’Israël du Sud Liban en 2000, le Hezbollah a amélioré son arsenal et ses stratégies avec l’aide de ses principaux commanditaires, la Syrie et l’Iran.

« Le Hezbollah est une milice entraînée comme une armée et équipée comme une état. Ses combattants n’ont rien à voir avec ceux du Hamas ou les palestiniens » explique un soldat de retour du Liban. « Ils sont formés et entraînés ». Ce soldat affirme avoir vu des combattants munis avec de gilets pare-balles, de lunettes de visée nocturne, de moyens de communication, de munitions et parfois même des uniformes israéliens : « nous avons vraiment été surpris ».

On a beaucoup insisté sur les stocks de missiles iraniens et syriens dont disposait le Hezbollah et dont quelques 3000 ont déjà été lancés sur Israël. Mais l’Iran et la Syrie ont aussi profité de ses six années (l’ère des réfromateurs [1] – ndlr) pour fournir des moyens de communication par satellite et les meilleures armes pour l’infanterie, dont les derniers modèles de missiles anti-chars (russes) et des explosifs comme le Semtex. Les combattants ont aussi reçu la formation adéquate pour manier ses armes.

C’est le bon usage par le Hezbollah de ces armes, en particulier les missiles antichars à guidage laser ou filoguidés avec des ogives à double déclanchement qui ont causé la plupart des dommages aux forces israéliennes. Dans 20% des cas selon un commandant israélien, les missiles antichars russes du Hezbollah conçus pour pénétrer les blindages ont même percés des Merkava, le char israélien le plus moderne.

Le Hezbollah a aussi utilisé les antichars Sagger moins récents pour faire exploser une habitation où étaient abrités des soldats israéliens, la première explosion perçant le mur en béton et la seconde explosant à l’intérieur. « Ils s’en servent comme de l’artillerie pour frapper les maisons », dit le général Yossi Kuperwasser, « ils peuvent s’en servir jusqu’à trois kilomètres, ils passent les murs comme ils passeraient le blindage d’un tank ».

Le Hezbollah utilise également des tunnels pour sortir rapidement du sol, mettre à feu un missile antichar sur l’épaule et disparaître, comme le faisaient les tchétchènes dans Groznyï à partir des égouts pour attaquer les colonnes blindées russes. « Nous savons ce qu’ils possèdent et comment ils travaillent », dit encore Kuperwasser, « mais nous ne savons pas où sont les tunnels et par conséquent, ils peuvent user de la tactique de la surprise ».

Les missiles anti-chars sont la principale crainte des troupes israéliennes (idem une stratégie anti-chars en Irak), raconte David Ben Nun de retour d’une semaine au Liban. Les troupes ne traînent pas longtemps devant les maisons à cause des lanceurs de missiles dissimulés : vous ne pouvez même pas les apercevoir, ajoute-t-il. La réussite du Hezbollah s’explique par une bonne stratégie, de l’entraînement, des armements de pointes et des moyens sophistiqués de communication mais aussi par des réseaux de tunnels, de salles de stockage, de casernes ou de pièges tendus dans un terrain accidenté. Ceci aussi explique la prudence des Israéliens.

Les Israéliens expliquent qu’ils combattent une petite armée, de 2 à 4000 membres, soutenue par un plus grand nombre de travailleurs à temps partiel qui stockent et apportent la logistique et les armes dans des bâtiments civils.

Le Hezbollah fonctionne comme une force révolutionnaire au milieu d’un océan de civils : il est difficile de les combattre sans occuper ou bombarder des secteurs civils. Sur ordre, des combattants sortent de la foule, arment un missile, font feu et se fondent à nouveau dans la masse.

Comparé à l’armée israélienne, leur nombre est petit, mais ressemble étrangement à la taille d’une division syrienne. Les instructeurs des Gardiens de la révolution (Pasdaran – ndlr) ont appris au Hezbollah l’organisation militaire. Le Hezbollah agit comme une armée avec ses unités spéciales pour le renseignement, la guerre antichar, les explosifs, la technologie, les communications ou la mise à feu des fusées.

Ils ont aussi enseigné au Hezbollah comment viser avec les fusées, user de dispositifs explosifs improvisés avec les effets que connaissent les troupes américaines en Irak. Ils leur ont même appris à se servir des C-802, sol-mer, dont Israël ignorait que le Hezbollah en possédait.

Selon un officier des renseignements de Washington, les officiers iraniens de l’armée de l’air se sont rendus à maintes reprises au Liban pour former le Hezbollah à la mise à feu des missiles de moyenne portée comme les Fajr 3 et Fajr 5. Selon la même source, il reste encore un certain nombre de ces « iraniens » à Beyrouth mais les services américains n’ont pas les preuves que ce sont eux qui dirigent les opérations.

Toutefois les Israéliens disent que pour l’instant les Iraniens n’ont pas permis au Hezbollah de tirer les fusées Zelzal. L’ancien président syrien Hafez El Assad faisait bien attention à limiter l’approvisionnement en armes du Hezbollah mais son fils Bachar qui lui a succéder en 2000, l’année où Israël quittait le Liban, leur a ouvert ses entrepôts. La Syrie a fourni le Hezbollah en missiles de 220 et 302 mm, tous deux équipés de charges antipersonnelles.

La Syrie a également fourni le Hezbollah en armes antichars les plus sophistiquées, des armes vendues par la Russie à la Syrie. Cela comprend aussi des Metis et des RPG 29, précise le général Kuperwasser. Le RPG 29 possède à la fois une charge antichar pour pénétrer le blindage et une charge antipersonnelle. Le Metis, plus moderne, est filoguidé avec une vitesse élevée.

Certains israéliens pensent que la Syrie a fourni le Hezbollah en missiles Kornet (russe), à guidage laser d’un rayon de trois miles et que le Hezbollah peut l’utiliser contre leurs lignes d’approvisionnement israéliennes si le Tsahal s’engageait plus profondément au Liban. Malgré les plaintes israéliennes envers Moscou, la Russie a décidé de fermer les yeux selon un haut responsable israélien.

A ses débuts, le Hezbollah s’était spécialisé dans le kidnapping et les commandos-suicide. Les USA les condamnèrent après les attaques contre l’ambassade américaine et le camp des marines en 1983. La popularité du groupe se fit parmi les chiites du sud Liban où il installa son petit état tout en se réservant un quartier sud de Beyrouth connu sous le nom de Security Square.

Jusqu’en 2003 Timur Goksel était conseiller de la FINUL, il dit bien connaître le Hezbollah et parle avec admiration de son organisation. Après 18 ans de combat avec les israéliens, « ils n’ont plus peur de l’armée israélienne », dit-il dans une interview téléphonique depuis Beyrouth. La capacité du Hezbollah à harceler les israéliens et étudier leurs failles comme les patrouilles régulières et les convois de troupes à la veille du Shabbat a donné confiance au Hezbollah que l’armée israélienne était une « armée normale avec des vulnérabilités et des errements », ajoute-t-il.

Le Hezbollah a des armes biens plus efficaces qu’avant. Goskel décrit le Hezbollah comme le font beaucoup d’Israéliens : soigneux, patient, adapté à recueillir des renseignements, disciple de la guérilla révolutionnaire Maoïste ou Vietcong, conscient de la puissance de feu israélienne et de sa mobilité. Le Hezbollah a étudié la « guerre asymétrique » et ils ont l’avantage de combattre sur leur terrain, parmi les leurs où ils se sont préparés pour ce que fait justement l’armée israélienne.

Ils font un travail personnel et de la planification à long terme, ce que ne font pas les palestiniens. Ils observent pendant deux mois s’il le faut pour noter tous les détails sur leur ennemi. Ils font un débriefing de leurs propres opérations, « ce qu’ils ont mal exécuté », comment l’armée Israélienne a répliqué. Ils ont une tactique très souple sans une grande chaîne de commandement. Cela les rend très différents des armées arabes entraînées par les soviétiques que les israéliens ont battu en 1967 et 1973 qui avaient une structure de commandement rigide et très hiérarchisée.

Lorsqu’en 1992 le cheikh Nasrallah [2] a pris les commandes du Hezbollah, il l’a réorganisé en trois commandement régionaux avec l’autonomie militaire. Beyrouth et le conseil du Hezbollah font la politique sans essayer de faire la guerre. Nasrallah dit avoir été conseillé par le très secret Imad Mughniyeh (recherché par les USA pour terrorisme) qui a développé la sécurité du Hezbollah en limitant ses communications.

Le Hezbollah a installé des unités séparées et très largement autonomes au milieu des civils avec des forces de réserve qui fournissent appui logistique et approvisionnement. Les commandements du Hezbollah voyage dans de vielles voitures sans escorte et sans signe pour maintenir leurs identités secrètes, dit encore Goskel.

Le Hezbollah a commencé par installer des explosifs reliés par câble au système de mise à feu aux bord des routes. Toutes les routes sont piégées et finalement les israéliens apprirent à démanteler ces systèmes avec des arrache-câbles à leurs véhicules. Alors le Hezbollah a usé de détonateurs radio commandés que les israéliens ont su détruire, puis les détonateurs furent reliés à des téléphones mobiles, puis à un double système de téléphone etc. Aujourd’hui le Hezbollah utilise des détonateurs à pression cachés sous la route alors que les israéliens soudent des plaques métalliques sous leurs tanks.

Goskel explique que la tactique du Hezbollah est claire, ils veulent que les israéliens s’enfoncent plus en avant au Liban car ils ne peuvent combattre les israéliens lors de batailles ouvertes alors ils veulent les attirer sur des terrains préparés pour cela comme à Aita Al Shaab. Selon lui, les hezbollahistes savent que les israéliens sont trop dépendant des blindés. Ces derniers sont devenus leur cible principale, ils veulent que les lignes d’approvisionnement des israéliens soient rallongées pour mieux les couper.

Des chars israéliens ont heurté de très grosses bombes plantées sur les routes à leur attention sur la ligne frontalière raconta Ahod qui ne donnera que son prénom. Au moins deux soldats de son unité ont été blessés par des snipers. Pour lui les combattants du Hezbollah ne sont pas de simples fermiers à qui l’on a donné des armes mais des personnes entraînées et endurantes.

Un autre commandant d’une compagnie de chars, Edan explique que 20% des missiles qui ont frappé les chars israéliens ont pénétré le blindage des Merkava ou causé d’autres dommages. Le colonel Mordechai Kahane, commandant la brigade Egoz du Golan en première ligne pour combattre le Hezbollah, a parlé au journal Yediot Aharonot de l’une de ses pires journées quand son unité est entré dans Marun Al Ras et a perdu un de ses officiers supérieurs.

Le Hezbollah nous a endormi, multipliant les fortifications, raconte t-il, nous n’avions aucune certitude de ce que nous allions trouver. Nous pensions à une cave ici, une caserne là-bas, mais la sophistication nous a étonné. Une cache du Hezbollah n’est pas une simple grotte, mais aussi un puits en bétons avec des échelles, des issues de secours… nous ne les savions pas si bien organisés.

Le général Kuperwasser aussi admire les capacités du Hezbollah à bien préparer les champs de bataille, mais il rajoute que eux aussi accomplissent des progrès et en tuent de plus en plus, car de plus en plus de combattant du Hezbollah montent au front et sont fait prisonniers.

Les techniques mises en oeuvre par le Hezbollah au Liban ressemblent trait pour trait à celles mises en applications par les forces de la république islamique lors de la guerre Iran-Irak. Les forces iraniennes ont tiré les leçons de cette guerre de tranchées semblable à la première guerre mondiale dans ses méthodes. Partant de là, l’ingéniosité iranienne a conceptualisé les expériences et amélioré les batailles de positions, les caches etc… L’Iran n’a fait que transposer sur le sol libanais ce qu’elle avait expérimenté quelques années auparavant (quand les pays démocratiques s’enrichissaient en l’encourageant de continuer la très lucrative guerre Iran-Irak). Qui sème le vent…

NB. Les 15000 soldats libanais que prévoit d’envoyer Fouad Siniora au Sud Liban en cas de cessez-le-feu pour désarmer le Hezbollah ne pourront rien y faire : les soldats libanais sont eux-mêmes en partie en issus des rangs des milices chiites. En supposant, qu’ils outrepassent les liens de cet ordre, ils n’ont ni les capacités militaires et encore moins les moyens des troupes israéliennes. Le désarmement du Hezbollah sera un obstacle insurmontable, à moins que la force internationale dont on parle ne prenne la suite de l’offensive israélienne. Sinon le Hezbollah continuera à protéger ces réseaux de tunnels et fera simplement semblant de rendre les armes.

Source : A Disciplined Hezbollah Surprises Israel With Its Training, Tactics and Weapons

[1] Khatami et le Hezbollah | 2 | Hezbollah est un Soleil éclairant la vie de l’ensemble des musulmans ! |

[2] Hassan Nasrallah, le secrétaire général du Hezbollah est un ami du nouveau président de la République Islamique, Ahmadinejad. Ils se connaissent depuis 1987. Ils se sont rencontrés pour la première fois en Corée du Nord, alors qu’ils suivaient tous les deux une formation auprès des Services de Renseignement de KIM IL SUNG. Dix ans plus tard, alors que Hassan Nasrallah était à la tête du Hezbollah depuis 1992, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a été le représentant au Liban de la Fondation des Martyrs, l’un des principaux bailleurs de fonds du mouvement chiite.


Conflit israélo-palestinien: L’ONU est-elle en train de transformer Gaza en pondeuse à terroristes? (Is the UN turning Gaza into a baby factory for terrorists?)

22 juin, 2007

UNRWA Gaza war baby factories

En vertu du droit international, l’UNRWA considère en effet tout résident de Gaza comme un réfugié. L’organisme fournit donc un logement et assure les frais de scolarité et de santé à tout nouveau-né – que celui-ci soit le premier ou le dixième enfant d’une famille. (…) Cette démographie galopante continuera de produire en grand nombre des jeunes hommes sans perspective d’emploi ni aucune place dans la société, et dont l’unique espoir sera de se battre pour s’assurer l’une et l’autre. Gunnar Heinsohn

L’ONU est-elle en train de transformer Gaza en pondeuse à terroristes?

Et si les vrais suppôts du terrorisme palestinien, ce n’était pas tant les pays arabes qui, crise du pétrole oblige, ont dû réduire leur aide aux « réfugiés », mais…

nos propres programmes d’aide, tant européens qu’américains ou onusiens?

Retour sur nos récentes mises en ligne sur les rapports terrorisme/démographie et terrorisme/Etat-providence avec à nouveau le chercheur allemand Gunnar Heinsohn, dont le Monde vient de publier un point de vue …

Et qui rappelle la part du programme d’aide aux réfugiés de l’ONU dans le retard pris par Gaza par rapport à la « transition démographique » qui touche tous les autres pays (y compris, plus récemment, l’ensemble du Monde arabe suite à l’effondrement du prix des hydrocarbures), transformant ainsi Gaza …

A l’instar de ces deux travailleuses sociales tout récemment arrêtées par les renseignements israéliens, en une véritable pondeuse à terroristes …

Gaza, les raisons de la violence
Gunnar Heinsohn
Le Monde
Le 19.06.07

Le 11 septembre 2005, Israël évacuait la bande de Gaza. Le lendemain, quatre synagogues y étaient incendiées. Une foule enthousiaste de jeunes du Hamas et du Fatah applaudirent à ces profanations, qu’ils célébrèrent comme des feux de joie annonçant l’avenir d’une Palestine indépendante.

Dix-huit mois plus tard, les combattants des deux organisations mènent toujours des attaques conjointes contre leur voisin détesté. De septembre 2005 à juin 2007, leurs fusées Kassam ont tué 11 Israéliens. Mais, durant la même période, quelque 600 Palestiniens sont morts dans les affrontements entre factions rivales. Des milliers d’autres ont été blessés et la moitié de la population traumatisée par une spirale sans fin de meurtres et de représailles. On voit même des frères, le visage dissimulé sous des cagoules, qui cherchent à s’égorger entre eux.

Qui est responsable de cette violence et de ces conflits ? Il y a beaucoup de réponses à cette question, mais il est intéressant de noter qu’Ahmed Youssef, haut responsable du Hamas et conseiller politique d’Ismaïl Haniyeh, le premier ministre palestinien (limogé le 14 juin), ne met pas les troubles en cours à Gaza sur le dos des « Juifs » ni sur le manque de dévotion religieuse de ses adversaires du Fatah. En mai, il a déclaré au journal cairote Al-Ahram que le principal problème résidait dans l’incapacité du Fatah comme du Hamas à « contrôler leurs hommes dans les rues ». Mais pourquoi donc la violence a-t-elle pu échapper à tout contrôle dans une culture où l’obéissance est une vertu cardinale ? La réponse est à chercher du côté d’une explosion d’une autre nature.

Gaza est submergée par un boom démographique, qui ne montre pas le moindre signe de ralentissement. Entre 1950 et 2007, sa population est passée de 240 000 à près de 1,5 million d’habitants. Comment une croissance aussi rapide a-t-elle été possible dans un territoire d’une telle exiguïté et privé d’une économie digne de ce nom ? Cet exploit insigne a été réalisé par l’United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (Office de secours et de travaux des Nations unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient). En vertu du droit international, l’UNRWA considère en effet tout résident de Gaza comme un réfugié. L’organisme fournit donc un logement et assure les frais de scolarité et de santé à tout nouveau-né – que celui-ci soit le premier ou le dixième enfant d’une famille.

Résultat de la politique et des programmes de l’UNRWA, la majorité juive qui prévalait en Israël et dans les territoires occupés est devenue minoritaire. Dans la tranche d’âge des plus de 60 ans, les Juifs sont trois fois plus nombreux que les Palestiniens. Mais ils sont minoritaires dans les générations plus jeunes, où se recruteront les combattants des guerres des décennies à venir. En 2005, on comptait 640 000 garçons juifs de moins de 15 ans, contre 1,1 million d’enfants mâles du même âge dans la partie arabe. Beaucoup de jeunes Juifs sont des fils uniques qui se consacrent avant tout à leur future carrière professionnelle. En face, plus des deux tiers des garçons arabes ont deux, trois ou quatre frères. Ni leurs pères ni l’UNRWA ne leur laisseront le moindre bien ni ne leur prépareront une place décente dans la vie.

M. Haniyeh, par exemple, est né en 1962 et a été élevé grâce à l’argent de l’aide occidentale. Il est le père de 13 enfants. En cette année, Gaza compte 46 000 hommes dans la tranche d’âge des 45-59 ans, à laquelle appartient M. Haniyeh. Dans la tranche des 0-14 ans, on dénombre 343 000 garçons. Aux Etats-Unis, pour 1 000 hommes âgés de 45 à 49 ans, on ne compte que 945 garçons âgés de 0 à 4 ans. Chez les Juifs israéliens, le rapport est d’environ 1 500 pour 1 000. A Gaza, en revanche, pour 1 000 hommes de 45 à 49 ans, on compte près de 6 200 garçons entre 0 et 4 ans.

JEUNES GENS EN COLÈRE

Si la population américaine avait suivi le même taux de croissance que celle de Gaza, les Etats-Unis seraient passés d’une population de 152 millions en 1950 à 945 millions en 2007, soit près du triple de son chiffre actuel, de 301 millions. Les hommes de 15 à 29 ans, qui sont ceux traditionnellement en âge de combattre, seraient non pas 31 millions comme c’est le cas, mais 130 millions. Confrontés à une telle explosion démographique, les institutions culturelles et les politiciens américains seraient-ils en mesure de « contrôler leurs hommes dans les rues » ?

Au cours des quinze prochaines années, un nombre toujours croissant de jeunes gens en colère vont écumer les rues de la Palestine en raison d’une faille originelle dans le processus de paix Arafat-Rabin. Une promesse occidentale d’aider tous les enfants déjà nés mais de supprimer les aides internationales à ceux venus au monde après 1992 et, en même temps, de stopper toute nouvelle installation de colonie israélienne, aurait dû être le premier pas du processus d’Oslo. Comme en Algérie ou en Tunisie, où le taux de fécondité est tombé de 7 à moins de 2 et où le terrorisme a cessé, Gaza, en 2007, aurait vu la quasi-totalité de ses garçons atteindre l’âge de 15 ans en tant que fils uniques. Ils n’auraient dès lors guère eu de raisons de tuer leurs concitoyens ou des Israéliens. Aujourd’hui, pourtant, le taux de fécondité à Gaza est toujours proche de 6. Cette démographie galopante continuera de produire en grand nombre des jeunes hommes sans perspective d’emploi ni aucune place dans la société, et dont l’unique espoir sera de se battre pour s’assurer l’une et l’autre.

Traduit de l’anglais par Gilles Berton.
Gunnar Heinsohn est directeur du Raphael-Lemkin-Institut de l’université de Brême (premier institut européen consacré à l’étude comparative des génocides)


Rwanda: Quand les tueurs deviennent les victimes (When the killers become the victims)

21 juin, 2007
Blame the victim Mahmood MamdaniLe révisionniste n’est pas celui qui ne croit pas à la Shoah, il ne croit pas aux Juifs (…) et voudrait y mettre d’autres groupes plus « méritants » (…). C’est une interversion des morts, pas de l’évènement. Pascal Bruckner (La Tyrannie de la pénitence, 2006)
Au fond ce qu’il ne pardonne pas à Hitler, ce n’est pas le crime en soi (…), c’est le crime contre l’homme blanc (…) et d’avoir appliqué à l’Europe des procédés colonialistes dont ne relevaient jusqu’ici que les Arabes d’Algérie, les coolies de l’Inde et les nègres d’Afrique. Aimé Césaire (Discours sur le colonialisme, 1950-1955)

Ultime illustration du révisionnisme radical et du magistral art d’inversion des valeurs et des places du politologue et anthropologue de Columbia Mahmood Mamadani, sa fameuse analyse (au moins pour les lecteurs du Nation et du Monde diplodocus) du génocide rwandais …

Où, dans la désormais si classique perspective de la concurrence généralisée des victimes (du moins si l’on s’en tient à cette présentation de son éditeur, Princeton university press), on commence par l’opposer au génocide juif et évoquer les silences supposés des analyses précédentes sur son contexte (l’histoire, les acteurs et la géographie) pour arriver, via quelques citations bibliques et la référence obligée au génocide des Herreros, à la thèse habituelle des mutlticulturalistes depuis Rousseau et Lévi-Strauss : tout est en fait la faute à la prétendue civilisation, c’est-à-dire au colonialisme (naturellement occidental) et donc… que les tueurs sont en fait les victimes!

When Victims Become Killers:
Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda

Mahmood Mamdani
Book Description |
Princeton university press

Introduction

THINKING ABOUT GENOCIDE
(…)

NO ONE can say with certainty how many Tutsi were killed between March and July of 1994 in Rwanda. In the fateful one hundred days that followed the downing of the presidential plane–and the coup d’état thereafter–a section of the army and civilian leadership organized the Hutu majority to kill all Tutsi, even babies. In the process, they also killed not only the Hutu political opposition, but also many nonpolitical Hutu who showed reluctance to perform what was touted as a « national » duty. The estimates of those killed vary: between ten and fifty thousand Hutu, and between 500,000 and a million Tutsi.1 Whereas the Hutu were killed as individuals, the Tutsi were killed as a group, recalling German designs to extinguish the country’s Jewish population. This explicit goal is why the killings of Tutsi between March and July of 1994 must be termed « genocide. » This single fact underlines a crucial similarity between the Rwandan genocide and the Nazi Holocaust.2

In the history of genocide, however, the Rwandan genocide raises a difficult political question. Unlike the Nazi Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide was not carried out from a distance, in remote concentration camps beyond national borders, in industrial killing camps operated by agents who often did no more than drop Zyklon B crystals into gas chambers from above. The Rwandan genocide was executed with the slash of machetes rather than the drop of crystals, with all the gruesome detail of a street murder rather than the bureaucratic efficiency of a mass extermination. The difference in technology is indicative of a more significant social difference. The technology of the holocaust allowed a few to kill many, but the machete had to be wielded by a single pair of hands. It required not one but many hacks of a machete to kill even one person. With a machete, killing was hard work, that is why there were often several killers for every single victim. Whereas Nazis made every attempt to separate victims from perpetrators, the Rwandan genocide was very much an intimate affair. It was carried out by hundreds of thousands, perhaps even more, and witnessed by millions. In a private conversation in 1997, a minister in the Rwanda Patriotic Front-led government contrasted the two horrors: « In Germany, the Jews were taken out of their residences, moved to distant far away locations, and killed there, almost anonymously. In Rwanda, the government did not kill. It prepared the population, enraged it and enticed it. Your neighbors killed you. » And then he added, « In Germany, if the population participated in the killing, it was not directly but indirectly. If the neighbor’s son killed, it is because he joined the army. »3

The Rwandan genocide unfolded in just a hundred days. « It was not just a small group that killed and moved, » a political commissar in the police explained to me in Kigali in July 1995. « Because genocide was so extensive, there were killers in every locality–from ministers to peasants–for it to happen in so short a time and on such a large scale. » Opening the international conference on Genocide, Impunity and Accountability in Kigali in late 1995, the country’s president, Pasteur Bizimungu, spoke of « hundreds of thousands of criminals » evenly spread across the land:
Each village of this country has been affected by the tragedy, either because the whole population was mobilized to go and kill elsewhere, or because one section undertook or was pushed to hunt and kill their fellow villagers. The survey conducted in Kigali, Kibungo, Byumba, Gitarama and Butare Préfectures showed that genocide had been characterized by torture and utmost cruelty. About forty-eight methods of torture were used countrywide. They ranged from burying people alive in graves they had dug up themselves, to cutting and opening wombs of pregnant mothers. People were quartered, impaled or roasted to death.
On many occasions, death was the consequence of ablation of organs, such as the heart, from alive people. In some cases, victims had to pay fabulous amounts of money to the killers for a quick death. The brutality that characterised the genocide has been unprecedented.4

A political commissar in the army with whom I talked in July 1995 was one of the few willing to reflect over the moral dilemma involved in this situation. Puzzling over the difference between crimes committed by a minority of state functionaries and political violence by civilians, he recalled: « When we captured Kigali, we thought we would face criminals in the state; instead, we faced a criminal population. » And then, as if reflecting on the other side of the dilemma, he added, « Kigali was half empty when we arrived. It was as if the RPF was an army of occupation. » His sense of ambiguity was born of the true moral and political dilemma of the genocide. Just pointing at the leadership of the genocide left the truly troubling question unanswered: How could this tiny group convince the majority to kill, or to acquiesce in the killing of, the minority?

The violence of the genocide was the result of both planning and participation. The agenda imposed from above became a gruesome reality to the extent it resonated with perspectives from below. Rather than accent one or the other side of this relationship and thereby arrive at either a state-centered or a society-centered explanation, a complete picture of the genocide needs to take both sides into account. For this was neither just a conspiracy from above that only needed enough time and suitable circumstance to mature, nor was it a popular jacquerie gone berserk. If the violence from below could not have spread without cultivation and direction from above, it is equally true that the conspiracy of the tiny fragment of génocidaires could not have succeeded had it not found resonance from below. The design from above involved a tiny minority and is easier to understand. The response and initiative from below involved multitudes and presents the true moral dilemma of the Rwandan genocide.

In sum, the Rwandan genocide poses a set of deeply troubling questions. Why did hundreds of thousands, those who had never before killed, take part in mass slaughter? Why did such a disproportionate number of the educated–not just members of the political elite but, as we shall see, civic leaders such as doctors, nurses, judges, human rights activists, and so on–play a leading role in the genocide? Similarly, why did places of shelter where victims expected sanctuary–churches, hospitals, and schools–turn into slaughterhouses where innocents were murdered in the tens and hundreds, and sometimes even thousands?

THREE SILENCES: A STARTING POINT

Accounts of the genocide, whether academic or popular, suffer from three silences. The first concerns the history of genocide: many write as if genocide has no history and as if the Rwandan genocide had no precedent, even in this century replete with political violence. The Rwandan genocide thus appears as an anthropological oddity. For Africans, it turns into a Rwandan oddity; and for non-Africans, the aberration is Africa. For both, the temptation is to dismiss Rwanda as exceptional. The second silence concerns the agency of the genocide: academic writings, in particular, have highlighted the design from above in a one-sided manner. They hesitate to acknowledge, much less explain, the participation–even initiative–from below.5 When political analysis presents the genocide as exclusively a state project and ignores its subaltern and « popular » character, it tends to reduce the violence to a set of meaningless outbursts, ritualistic and bizarre, like some ancient primordial twitch come to life. The third silence concerns the geography of the genocide. Since the genocide happened within the boundaries of Rwanda, there is a widespread tendency to assume that it must also be an outcome of processes that unfolded within the same boundaries. A focus confined to Rwandan state boundaries inevitably translates into a silence about regional processes that fed the dynamic leading to the genocide.

We may agree that genocidal violence cannot be understood as rational; yet, we need to understand it as thinkable. Rather than run away from it, we need to realize that it is the « popularity » of the genocide that is its uniquely troubling aspect. In its social aspect, Hutu/Tutsi violence in the Rwandan genocide invites comparison with Hindu/Muslim violence at the time of the partition of colonial India. Neither can be explained as simply a state project. One shudders to put the words « popular » and « genocide » together, therefore I put « popularity » in quotation marks. And yet, one needs to explain the large-scale civilian involvement in the genocide. To do so is to contextualize it, to understand the logic of its development. My main objective in writing this book is to make the popular agency in the Rwandan genocide thinkable. To do so, I try to create a synthesis between history, geography, and politics. Instead of taking geography as a constant, as when one writes the history of a given geography, I let the thematic inquiry define its geographical scope at every step, even if this means shifting the geographical context from one historical period to another. By taking seriously the historical backdrop to political events, I hope to historicize both political choices and those who made these choices. If it is true that the choices were made from a historically limited menu, it is also the case that the identity of agents who made these choices was also forged within historically specific institutions. To benefit from a historically informed insight is not the same as to lapse into a politically irresponsible historicism. To explore the relationship between history and politics is to problematize the relationship between the historical legacy of colonialism and postcolonial politics. To those who think that I am thereby trying to have my cake while eating it too, I can only point out that it is not possible to define the scope–and not just the limits–of action without taking into account historical legacies.

COLONIALISM AND GENOCIDE

The genocidal impulse to eliminate an enemy may indeed be as old as organized power. Thus, God instructed his Old Testament disciples through Moses, saying:
Avenge the children of Israel of the Medianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. And Moses spake unto the people saying, Arm ye men from among you for the war, that they may go against Median, to execute the LORD’s vengeance on Median And they warred against Median, as the LORD commanded Moses, and they slew every male . . . And the children of Israel took captive the women of Median and their little ones; and all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods, they took for a prey. And all their cities in the places wherein they dwelt, and all their encampments, they burnt with fire. And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of man and of beast . . . And Moses said unto them, Have you saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children that have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.6

If the genocidal impulse is as old as the organization of power, one may be tempted to think that all that has changed through history is the technology of genocide. Yet, it is not simply the technology of genocide that has changed through history, but surely also how that impulse is organized and its target defined. Before you can try and eliminate an enemy, you must first define that enemy. The definition of the political self and the political other has varied through history. The history of that variation is the history of political identities, be these religious, national, racial, or otherwise.

I argue that the Rwandan genocide needs to be thought through within the logic of colonialism. The horror of colonialism led to two types of genocidal impulses. The first was the genocide of the native by the settler. It became a reality where the violence of colonial pacification took on extreme proportions. The second was the native impulse to eliminate the settler. Whereas the former was obviously despicable, the latter was not. The very political character of native violence made it difficult to think of it as an impulse to genocide. Because it was derivative of settler violence, the natives’ violence appeared less of an outright aggression and more a self-defense in the face of continuing aggression. Faced with the violent denial of his humanity by the settler, the native’s violence began as a counter to violence. It even seemed more like the affirmation of the native’s humanity than the brutal extinction of life that it came to be. When the native killed the settler, it was violence by yesterday’s victims. More of a culmination of anticolonial resistance than a direct assault on life and freedom, this violence of victims-turned-perpetrators always provoked a greater moral ambiguity than did the settlers’ violence.

More than any other, two political theorists, Hannah Arendt and Frantz Fanon, have tried to think through these twin horrors of colonialism. We shall later see that when Hannah Arendt set out to understand the Nazi Holocaust, she put it in the context of a history of one kind of genocide: the settlers’ genocide of the native. When Frantz Fanon came face-to-face with native violence, he understood its logic as that of an eye for an eye, a response to a prior violence, and not an invitation to fresh violence. It was for Fanon the violence to end violence, more like a utopian wish to close the chapter on colonial violence in the hope of heralding a new humanism.

Settlers’ Genocide

It is more or less a rule of thumb that the more Western settlement a colony experienced, the greater was the violence unleashed against the native population. The reason was simple: settler colonization led to land deprivation. Whereas the prototype of settler violence in the history of modern colonialism is the near-extermination of Amerindians in the New World, the prototype of settler violence in the African colonies was the German annihilation of over 80 percent of the Herero population in the colony of German South West Africa in a single year, 1904.7 Its context was Herero resistance to land and cattle appropriation by German settlers and their Schutztruppe allies. Faced with continuing armed resistance by the Herero, German opinion divided between two points of views, one championed by General Theodor Leutwein, who commanded the army in the colony, and the other by General Lothar von Trotha, who took over the military command when General Leutwein failed to put down native resistance. The difference between them illuminates the range of political choice in a colonial context.

General Trotha explained the difference in a letter:
Now I have to ask myself how to end the war with the Hereros. The views of the Governor and also a few old Africa hands [alte Afrikaner] on the one hand, and my views on the other, differ completely. The first wanted to negotiate for some time already and regard the Herero nation as necessary labour material for the future development of the country. I believe that the nation as such should be annihilated, or, if this was not possible by tactical measures, have to be expelled from the country by operative means and further detailed treatment. This will be possible if the water-holes from Grootfontein to Gobabis are occupied. The constant movement of our troops will enable us to find the small groups of the nation who have moved back westwards and destroy them gradually.

Equally illuminating is General Trotha’s rationale for the annihilation policy: « My intimate knowledge of many central African tribes (Bantu and others) has everywhere convinced me of the necessity that the Negro does not respect treaties but only brute force. »8

The plan Trotha laid out in the letter is more or less the fate he meted to the Herero on the ground. To begin with, the army exterminated as many Herero as possible.9 For those who fled, all escape routes except the one southeast to the Omeheke, a waterless sandveld in the Kalahari Desert, were blocked. The fleeing Herero were forcibly separated from their cattle and denied access to water holes, leaving them with but one option: to cross the desert into Botswana, in reality a march to death. This, indeed, is how the majority of the Herero perished. It was a fate of which the German general staff was well aware, as is clear from the following gleeful entry in its official publication, Der Kampf: « No efforts, no hardships were spared in order to deprive the enemy of his last reserves of resistance; like a half-dead animal he was hunted from water-hole to water-hole until he became a lethargic victim of the nature of his own country. The waterless Omaheke was to complete the work of the German arms: the annihilation of the Herero people. »10

Lest the reader be tempted to dismiss General Lothar von Trotha as an improbable character come to life from the lunatic fringe of the German officer corps, one given a free hand in a distant and unimportant colony, I hasten to point out that the general had a distinguished record in the annals of colonial conquest, indeed the most likely reason he was chosen to squash a protracted rebellion. Renowned for his brutal involvement in the suppression of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion in 1900, and a veteran of bloody suppression of African resistance to German occupation in Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, General Trotha often enthused about his own methods of colonial warfare: « The exercise of violence with crass terrorism and even with gruesomeness was and is my policy. I destroy the African tribes with streams of blood and streams of money. Only following this cleansing can something new emerge, which will remain. »11

Opposition to Trotha’s annihilation policy had come from two sources: colonial officials who looked at the Herero as potential labor, and church officials who saw them as potential converts.12 Eventually, the Herero who survived were gathered by the German army with the help of missionary societies and were put in concentration camps, also run by missionaries along with the German army. By 1908, inmates of these concentration camps were estimated at 15,000. Put to slave labor, overworked, hungry, and exposed to diseases such as typhoid and smallpox, more Herero men perished in these camps. Herero women, meanwhile, were turned into sex slaves. At the same time, those who survived were converted en masse to Christianity. When the camps were closed in 1908, the Herero were distributed as laborers among the settlers. Henceforth, all Herero over the age of seven were expected to carry around their necks a metal disk bearing their labor registration number.

The genocide of the Herero was the first genocide of the twentieth century. The links between it and the Holocaust go beyond the building of concentration camps and the execution of an annihilation policy and are worth exploring. It is surely of significance that when General Trotha wrote, as above, of destroying « African tribes with streams of blood, » he saw this as some kind of a Social Darwinist « cleansing » after which « something new » would « emerge. » It is also relevant that, when the general sought to distribute responsibility for the genocide, he accused the missions of inciting the Herero with images « of the bloodcurdling Jewish history of the Old Testament. »13 It was also among the Herero in the concentration camps that the German geneticist, Eugen Fischer, first came to do his medical experiments on race, for which he used both Herero and mulatto offspring of Herero women and German men. Fischer later became chancellor of the University of Berlin, where he taught medicine to Nazi physicians. One of his prominent students was Josef Mengele, the notorious doctor who did unsavory genetic experiments on Jewish children at Auschwitz.14 It seems to me that Hannah Arendt erred when she presumed a relatively uncomplicated relationship between settlers’ genocide in the colonies and the Nazi Holocaust at home: When Nazis set out to annihilate Jews, it is far more likely that they thought of themselves as natives, and Jews as settlers. Yet, there is a link that connects the genocide of the Herero and the Nazi Holocaust to the Rwandan genocide. That link is race branding, whereby it became possible not only to set a group apart as an enemy, but also to exterminate it with an easy conscience.

Natives’ Genocide

In the annals of colonial history, the natives’ genocide never became a historical reality. Yet, it always hovered on the horizon as a historical possibility. None sensed it better than Frantz Fanon, whose writings now read like a foreboding. For Fanon, the native’s violence was not life denying, but life affirming: « For he knows that he is not an animal; and it is precisely when he realizes his humanity that he begins to sharpen the weapons with which he will secure its victory. »15 What distinguished native violence from the violence of the settler, its saving grace, was that it was the violence of yesterday’s victims who have turned around and decided to cast aside their victimhood and become masters of their own lives. « He of whom they have never stopped saying that the only language he understands is that of force, decides to give utterance by force. » Indeed, « the argument the native chooses has been furnished by the settler, and by an ironic turning of the tables it is the native who now affirms that the colonialist understands nothing but force. »16 What affirmed the natives’ humanity for Fanon was not that they were willing to take the settler’s life, but that they were willing to risk their own: « The colonized man finds his freedom in and through violence. »17 If its outcome would be death, of settlers by natives, it would need to be understood as a derivative outcome, a result of a prior logic, the genocidal logic of colonial pacification and occupation infecting anticolonial resistance. « The settler’s work is to make even dreams of liberty impossible for the native. The native’s work is to imagine all possible methods for destroying the settler . . . For the native, life can only spring up again out of the rotting corpse of the settler . . . for the colonized people, this violence, because it constitutes their only work, invests their character with positive and creative qualities. The practice of violence binds them together as a whole, since each individual forms a violent link in the great chain, a part of the great organism of violence which has surged upwards in reaction to the settler’s violence in the beginning. »18

The great crime of colonialism went beyond expropriating the native, the name it gave to the indigenous population. The greater crime was to politicize indigeneity in the first place: first negatively, as a settler libel of the native; but then positively, as a native response, as a self-assertion. The dialectic of the settler and the native did not end with colonialism and political independence. To understand the logic of genocide, I argue, it is necessary to think through the political world that colonialism set into motion. This was the world of the settler and the native, a world organized around a binary preoccupation that was as compelling as it was confining. It is in this context that Tutsi, a group with a privileged relationship to power before colonialism, got constructed as a privileged alien settler presence, first by the great nativist revolution of 1959, and then by Hutu Power propaganda after 1990.

In its motivation and construction, I argue that the Rwandan genocide needs to be understood as a natives’ genocide. It was a genocide by those who saw themselves as sons–and daughters–of the soil, and their mission as one of clearing the soil of a threatening alien presence. This was not an « ethnic » but a « racial » cleansing, not a violence against one who is seen as a neighbor but against one who is seen as a foreigner; not a violence that targets a transgression across a boundary into home but one that seeks to eliminate a foreign presence from home soil, literally and physically. From this point of view, we need to distinguish between racial and ethnic violence: ethnic violence can result in massacres, but not genocide. Massacres are about transgressions, excess; genocide questions the very legitimacy of a presence as alien. For the Hutu who killed, the Tutsi was a settler, not a neighbor. Rather than take these identities as a given, as a starting point of analysis, I seek to ask: When and how was Hutu made into a native identity and Tutsi into a settler identity? The analytical challenge is to understand the historical dynamic through which Hutu and Tutsi came to be synonyms for native and settler. Before undertaking this analysis, however, I propose to discuss both how native and settler originated as political identities in the context of modern colonialism, and how the failure to transcend these identities is at the heart of the crisis of citizenship in postcolonial Africa.

ORGANIZATION AND SCOPE

Chapter One elaborates the theoretical perspective that guided my research, at the same time as it got modified as I learned of new facts and relationships. I begin with the need to differentiate political identities from cultural and market-based identities, so as to understand them as a direct consequence of the process of state formation. I focus on two forms of the colonial state in Africa. Characterized by direct and indirect rule, these state forms legally enforced race and ethnicity as two salient political identities. I also contrast the experience of Uganda and Congo, both the sites of indirect rule colonialism, with that of Rwanda, which Belgian rule turned into more of a halfway house between direct and indirect rule. Unlike in Uganda and Congo, colonial law in Rwanda recognized only race, and not ethnicity, as a political identity.

Studies on African politics have been relatively silent on the question of race, whereas a vigorous discussion has developed on that of ethnicity.19 This discussion has swung from one extreme to another; the colonial presupposition that ethnicity was a primordial identity has given way to an instrumentalist notion that it is manipulated by special interests. The claim that political ethnicity is an outcome of elite manipulation resembles the nationalist conviction that ethnicity (« tribalism ») was no more than a colonial prejudice. I disagree with both the primordial and the instrumentalist notions. By understanding political identities as embedded in particular institutions, I conceptualize them as historical and not primordial, and institutionally durable as opposed to being available for instant manipulation by those in power or seeking power. By treating race and ethnicity as identities that are legally enforced and institutionally reproduced, I analyze both as political identities.

Chapter Two begins by tracing the long debate in Rwandan studies on the origins of Hutu and Tutsi. Why is it that contending positions in this debate–whether between colonial officials and nationalist intellectuals, or among church officials, or between different categories of « disinterested » scholars–have come to be identified with a Hutu versus a Tutsi position? Besides acknowledging important differences that mark the stakes in this contest, I argue that both share a common concern with facts of conquest and migration as central to understanding Rwandan history. More than anything else, this preoccupation with origins reflects how colonial power sketched the boundaries of colonial and postcolonial scholarship.

In contrast to this mainstream preoccupation in Rwandan studies, I discuss Hutu and Tutsi as political identities that have changed from one historical period to another, each period indicating a different phase in the institutional development of the Rwanda state. There can, thus, be no single answer to the question posed so often: Who is a Hutu and who is a Tutsi? True, the association of Tutsi with power, and with privilege underwritten by power, can be traced to the period before colonialism; yet, this fact should not detract us from the critical change that takes place with the colonial period. It is Belgian reform of the colonial state in the decade from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s that constructed Hutu as indigenous Bantu and Tutsi as alien Hamites. It is also Belgian colonialism that made for a political history in Rwanda different from that in standard indirect rule colonies, like Uganda and Congo, in tropical Africa.

Chapter Three traces the history that racialized the Hutu/Tutsi difference in Rwanda. It does this in two ways, first, as an ideological discourse, by tracing the notion of race to the grand colonial discourse–called the Hamitic hypothesis–which explained away every sign of civilization in tropical Africa as a foreign import, no doubt an appealing claim at a time when humanity in the black skin was being devalued through capture and exchange for commercial gain. And it does this, secondly, by showing how notions of racial difference got embedded in and reproduced through durable institutions, why it would take more than just an intellectual challenge to cast this legacy aside. What did it mean for the difference between Hutu and Tutsi to be racialized rather than to be ethnicized? What did it mean for Tutsi to be constructed as nonnatives, even if colonized, and thus occupy a contradictory middle ground between settler citizens and nativized subjects?

Chapter Four focuses on the revolution of 1959 and on the intellectuals who tended to eulogize it. Unlike some who write after the genocide of 1994 and caricature the Revolution, I take its social claims seriously. But unlike those who turn the social and economic record of the revolution as reason enough to embrace it, I turn to its political record to problematize the revolution. The single most important failure of the revolution was its inability to transform Hutu and Tutsi as political identities generated by the colonial power. If anything, the revolution built on and reinforced these identities in the name of justice. The underside of the Rwandan revolution, its political tragedy, was that this relentless pursuit of justice turned into a quest for revenge. That quest was the hallmark of the First Republic.

Chapter Five is concerned with the political record of the Second Republic, ushered into power in 1973 with the Habyarimana coup. I take a fresh look at the Second Republic through a single fact whose significance has gone unnoticed by most: the Second Republic redefined the Tutsi from a race to an ethnicity. The Habyarimana regime tried to join the First Republic’s discussion of justice in the aftermath of the « Hutu Revolution » to the need for reconciliation to give the revolution a truly national character. In this context, it began a discussion of the Tutsi as an indigenous ethnic group as opposed to a nonindigenous race, and of Tutsi rights as minority rights. But the more it tried to carve a niche for the « internal » Tutsi in the civil and political life of Rwanda, the more precarious became the situation of the « external » Tutsi–exiles from 1959, 1963, and 1973. The failure to address the citizenship demands of the « external » Tutsi marked the single most important failure of the Habyarimana regime. While the reconciliation pursued by the Second Republic softened the critique from the « internal » Tutsi, it tended, if anything, to exacerbate the critique from the « external » Tutsi.

Chapter Six focuses on postcolonial Uganda, the location from which the « external » Tutsi launched their critique in 1990. It is in Uganda, more than anywhere else, that the 1959 Tutsi exiles cast their lot with indigenous citizens who sought to reform the state inherited from colonialism, in the hope that the reformed state will give them political room to make a new home. As they reformed local power in « liberated » areas, the guerrillas of the National Resistance Army redefined the basis of citizenship from indigeneity to residence. In line with this revolutionary heritage, the victorious leadership of the post-1986 government redefined the requirement of citizenship from ancestry to a ten-year residence, thus extending citizenship to 1959 Tutsi exiles. The chapter explains how this remarkable innovation was jettisoned when the National Resistance Movement (NRM) faced its first political crisis in power. The decision to return to ancestry as the basis of citizenship was taken in August 1990 in the face of the Mawogola uprising; a month later, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) crossed the border into Rwanda. I argue that the crossing needs to be understood as both an invasion of Rwanda and an armed repatriation from Uganda. With the repatriation, the NRM government exported its first political crisis to Rwanda, why the invasion needs to be understood as a confluence of a dual crisis of postcolonial citizenship, in both Rwanda and Uganda.

Chapter Seven is concerned with a single aspect of the political violence that developed in the aftermath of the civil war and grew into massacres that took on the proportions of genocide. My central concern is with mass participation in the Rwanda genocide. Defeat in the civil war provided the context for at least three different types of killings in Rwanda in the hundred days between January and April 1994: first, the killing of combatants (and civilians) on both sides, killings that were directly an outcome of the civil war; second the killing of Hutu by Hutu, whether for political reasons (as when Hutu nationalists killed « moderate » Hutu as RPF collaborators) or for social reasons (as when poor Hutu killed rich ones and appropriated or redistributed their property); and third, the killing of Tutsi civilians by civilian Hutu mobs, whether or not organized by state authorities. The Rwanda genocide refers to the third type of killing, that of Tutsi by Hutu. It is this killing alone that is the focus of my concern. I begin with the understanding that the genocide was not a local but a Rwanda-wide affair. To be sure, there was a difference between localities, as there was between killers–those enthusiastic, those reluctant, and those coerced–but the killing was not a local affair. Too many experts on Rwanda have shied away from this troubling fact, the « popular » agency in the genocide, by casting the genocide as a state project and not also as a social project. To show how the unthinkable becomes thinkable is my central objective. It is this fact that needs confronting, not because of what it can tell us of Rwanda and Rwandans, but because of what it can tell us about ourselves as political beings–as agents with a capacity to tap both the destructive and the creative potential in politics.

Chapter Eight turns from Rwanda to Congo. The genocide gave birth to Tutsi Power in Rwanda, a power shaped by a diasporic sense of obligation for the welfare of all Tutsi globally. As with the crisis that engulfed Rwanda from 1990, it is the confluence of this external factor with the internal crisis of citizenship in postcolonial Congo that explains the growing crisis in eastern Congo after 1994. In tracing the historical thread to this crisis, and documenting its dimensions through interviews, I seek to press home a conclusion both intellectual and political. Just as when it first crossed the border from Uganda into Rwanda in 1990, the RPF’s second crossing, that from Rwanda into Congo in 1997, calls for a regional analysis to be understood.

The Conclusion returns to Rwanda as the epicenter of a regional crisis and argues that the political nature of the crisis demands a political solution, just as its regional manifestation calls for a regional approach. If the postcolonial pursuit of justice turned into revenge and built on the colonial legacy, one needs to be aware lest postgenocidal reconciliation also turns into an embrace of the colonial legacy. To steer clear of both horns of the dilemma, I argue for the need to rethink different forms of justice–victors’ justice and survivors’ justice–this time in the context of democracy, so as to recognize that each would build on and reinforce different political identities, and a different political future.

File created: 4/12/01


Darfour: Touche pas à mon génocide! (Rationalizing genocide)

20 juin, 2007
Mamood MamdaniIl semble que le génocide est devenu une étiquette pour coincer son pire ennemi, une version perverse du prix Nobel, une arme rhétorique qui aide à diffamer ses adversaires tout en assurant l’impunité à ses alliés. Mahmood Mamdani
S’inquiètent-ils [les responsables musulmans] des musulmans morts seulement quand les tueurs sont israéliens ou américains? (…) Et où est la presse arabe? Le meurtre de 300.000 musulmans ou plus n’est-il pas aussi grave qu’une caricature danoise (…) On commence même à entendre des voix dans le monde musulman. . . dire qu’il est scandaleux qu’il y ait des chrétiens évangéliques et des juifs américains à la tête des efforts pour protéger des musulmans au Soudan et au Tchad. Nicholas Kristof
Le génocide s’entend de l’un quelconque des actes ci-après, commis dans l’intention de détruire, en tout ou en partie, un groupe national, ethnique, racial ou religieux, comme tel: a) Meurtre de membres du groupe; b) Atteinte grave à l’intégrité physique ou mentale de membres du groupe; c) Soumission intentionnelle du groupe à des conditions d’existence devant entraîner sa destruction physique totale ou partielle; d) Mesures visant à entraver des naissances au sein du groupe; e) Transfert forcé d’enfants du groupe à un autre groupe. (article II de la Convention sur la prévention et répression du crime de génocide du 9 décembre 1948)

Suite à notre précédent billet sur la googlisation du « génocide » du Darfour …

Petit retour sur une illustration exemplaire de ce que peuvent écrire, au-delà certes d’une situation sur le terrain particulièrement compliquée (tout le monde, tueurs et victimes, arabes et africains, y étant musulman et noir ! – les conflits se jouant apparemment entre des tribus plus ou moins arabisées ou sédentarisées) les plus lettrés des idiots utiles de l’islamisme et de l’antisémitisme (pardon: antisionisme !), comme ce professeur d’anthropologie (d’origine pakistano-ougandaise) de l’université Columbia, Mahmood Mamdani.

Pour qui, en gros, tout est de la faute de la guerre contre le terrorisme et donc des Américains (et de leurs juifs ou alliés juifs – pardon: « sionistes ») en particulier (et des Occidentaux en général – pardon ; des « puissances coloniales »).

Car, même s’il apporte un éclairage intéressant sur les origines ethniques des parties en présence et s’il n’a pas tort de pointer tant le trop grand simplisme de nombre d’analyses médiatiques ou humanitaires de la question que la non-réaction de l’Occident face à la bien plus grave violence (en termes de temps et de victimes) du Congo, il se contente, pour l’essentiel et évidemment pour imposer sa critique de l’Occident et sa grille de lecture de l’intervention « américaine » en Irak réécrivant au passage l’histoire du génocide rwandais, où il y avait bien, contrairement à ce qu’il laisse entendre et depuis des mois, planification administrative et militaire de « solution finale »), de reprendre la position des autorités de Khartoum, réduisant la situation à une explosion de conflits tribaux causés par la sécheresse entre nomades et sédentaires ou à une campagne contre-insurrectionnelle qui aurait dégénéré.

Et ce alors que les « Arabes » nomades en cause sont loin des « nomades traditionnels » (ressemblant plus, comme le précise Gérard Prunier, à des bandes de marginaux sociaux) et sont clairement manipulés (bombardiers et hélicoptères de combat compris) par des autorités centrales (bourgeoisie minoritaire plus anciennement arabisée de la capitale) qui, dans une intention claire, certes non d’annihilation totale, mais de nettoyage ethnique (on en extermine – au départ pour l’eau et le sol, aujourd’hui clairement pour le pétrole – une partie pour faire partir les autres, ce qui revient, en plus du nombre massif de victimes, à la clause C de la définition de 1948: « Soumission intentionnelle du groupe à des conditions d’existence devant entraîner sa destruction physique totale ou partielle »), alternent massacres à grande échelle et famine plus ou moins programmée.

Extraits (traduits au babelfish):

Le nombre de civils tués au cours des trois dernières années est à peu près semblable. Les tueurs sont la plupart du temps des paramilitaires, étroitement liés aux militaires officiels, qui serait leur source principale de bras. Les victimes aussi généralement sont identifiées comme membres des groupes, plutôt que visées comme individus. Mais la violence dans les deux endroits est désignée différemment. En Irak, elle serait un cycle d’insurrection et de contre-insurrection; auDarfur, ça s’appelle un génocide. Pourquoi la différence ? Qui décide des désignations ? Qui subit ces désignations ? Quelle différence cela fait-il? »

It seems that genocide has become a label to be stuck on your worst enemy, a perverse version of the Nobel Prize, part of a rhetorical arsenal that helps you vilify your adversaries while ensuring impunity for your allies. In Kristof’s words, the point is not so much ‘human suffering’ as ‘human evil’. Unlike Kivu, Darfur can be neatly integrated into the War on Terror, for Darfur gives the Warriors on Terror a valuable asset with which to demonise an enemy: a genocide perpetrated by Arabs.

peace cannot be built on humanitarian intervention, which is the language of big powers. The history of colonialism should teach us that every major intervention has been justified as humanitarian, a ‘civilising mission’. Nor was it mere idiosyncrasy that inspired the devotion with which many colonial officers and archivists recorded the details of barbarity among the colonised – sati, the ban on widow marriage or the practice of child marriage in India, or slavery and female genital mutilation in Africa. I am not suggesting that this was all invention. I mean only to point out that the chronicling of atrocities had a practical purpose: it provided the moral pretext for intervention. Now, as then, imperial interventions claim to have a dual purpose: on the one hand, to rescue minority victims of ongoing barbarities and, on the other, to quarantine majority perpetrators with the stated aim of civilising them.

On the one hand, there was a struggle for power within the political class in Sudan, with more marginal interests in the west (following those in the south and in the east) calling for reform at the centre. On the other, there was a community-level split inside Darfur, between nomads and settled farmers, who had earlier forged a way of sharing the use of semi-arid land in the dry season. With the drought that set in towards the late 1970s, co-operation turned into an intense struggle over diminishing resources.

As the insurgency took root among the prospering peasant tribes of Darfur, the government trained and armed the poorer nomads and formed a militia – the Janjawiid – that became the vanguard of the unfolding counter-insurgency.

Its less grave findings of ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘war crimes’ are not unique to Darfur, but fit several other situations of extreme violence: in particular, the US occupation of Iraq, the Hema-Lendu violence in eastern Congo and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Among those in the counter-insurgency accused of war crimes were the ‘foreign army officers acting in their personal capacity’, i.e. mercenaries, presumably recruited from armed forces outside Sudan. The involvement of mercenaries in perpetrating gross violence also fits the occupation in Iraq, where some of them go by the name of ‘contractors’.

The Rwandan genocide was born of a civil war which intensified when the settlement to contain it broke down. The settlement, reached at the Arusha Conference, broke down because neither the Hutu Power tendency nor the Tutsi-dominated Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) had any interest in observing the power-sharing arrangement at the core of the settlement: the former because it was excluded from the settlement and the latter because it was unwilling to share power in any meaningful way.

What the humanitarian intervention lobby fails to see is that the US did intervene in Rwanda, through a proxy. That proxy was the RPF, backed up by entire units from the Uganda Army. The green light was given to the RPF, whose commanding officer, Paul Kagame, had recently returned from training in the US, just as it was lately given to the Ethiopian army in Somalia. Instead of using its resources and influence to bring about a political solution to the civil war, and then strengthen it, the US signalled to one of the parties that it could pursue victory with impunity. This unilateralism was part of what led to the disaster, and that is the real lesson of Rwanda.

both ‘Arab’ and ‘African’ have several meanings in Sudan. There have been at least three meanings of ‘Arab’. Locally, ‘Arab’ was a pejorative reference to the lifestyle of the nomad as uncouth; regionally, it referred to someone whose primary language was Arabic. In this sense, a group could become ‘Arab’ over time. This process, known as Arabisation, was not an anomaly in the region: there was Amharisation in Ethiopia and Swahilisation on the East African coast. The third meaning of ‘Arab’ was ‘privileged and exclusive’; it was the claim of the riverine political aristocracy who had ruled Sudan since independence, and who equated Arabisation with the spread of civilisation and being Arab with descent.

‘African’, in this context, was a subaltern identity that also had the potential of being either exclusive or inclusive. The two meanings were not only contradictory but came from the experience of two different insurgencies. The inclusive meaning was more political than racial or even cultural (linguistic), in the sense that an ‘African’ was anyone determined to make a future within Africa. It was pioneered by John Garang, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the south, as a way of holding together the New Sudan he hoped to see. In contrast, its exclusive meaning came in two versions, one hard (racial) and the other soft (linguistic) – ‘African’ as Bantu and ‘African’ as the identity of anyone who spoke a language indigenous to Africa. The racial meaning came to take a strong hold in both the counter-insurgency and the insurgency in Darfur. The Save Darfur campaign’s characterisation of the violence as ‘Arab’ against ‘African’ obscured both the fact that the violence was not one-sided and the contest over the meaning of ‘Arab’ and ‘African’: a contest that was critical precisely because it was ultimately about who belonged and who did not in the political community called Sudan.

if one compares the American response to Darfur to its non-response to Congo, even though the dimensions of the conflict in Congo seem to give it a mega-Darfur quality: the numbers killed are estimated in the millions rather than the hundreds of thousands; the bulk of the killing, particularly in Kivu, is done by paramilitaries trained, organised and armed by neighbouring governments; and the victims on both sides – Hema and Lendu – are framed in collective rather than individual terms, to the point that one influential version defines both as racial identities and the conflict between the two as a replay of the Rwandan genocide.

The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency
Mahmood Mamdani
London Review of Books
8 March 2007

The similarities between Iraq and Darfur are remarkable. The estimate of the number of civilians killed over the past three years is roughly similar. The killers are mostly paramilitaries, closely linked to the official military, which is said to be their main source of arms. The victims too are by and large identified as members of groups, rather than targeted as individuals. But the violence in the two places is named differently. In Iraq, it is said to be a cycle of insurgency and counter-insurgency; in Darfur, it is called genocide. Why the difference? Who does the naming? Who is being named? What difference does it make?

The most powerful mobilisation in New York City is in relation to Darfur, not Iraq. One would expect the reverse, for no other reason than that most New Yorkers are American citizens and so should feel directly responsible for the violence in occupied Iraq. But Iraq is a messy place in the American imagination, a place with messy politics. Americans worry about what their government should do in Iraq. Should it withdraw? What would happen if it did? In contrast, there is nothing messy about Darfur. It is a place without history and without politics; simply a site where perpetrators clearly identifiable as ‘Arabs’ confront victims clearly identifiable as ‘Africans’.

A full-page advertisement has appeared several times a week in the New York Times calling for intervention in Darfur now. It wants the intervening forces to be placed under ‘a chain of command allowing necessary and timely military action without approval from distant political or civilian personnel’. That intervention in Darfur should not be subject to ‘political or civilian’ considerations and that the intervening forces should have the right to shoot – to kill – without permission from distant places: these are said to be ‘humanitarian’ demands. In the same vein, a New Republic editorial on Darfur has called for ‘force as a first-resort response’. What makes the situation even more puzzling is that some of those who are calling for an end to intervention in Iraq are demanding an intervention in Darfur; as the slogan goes, ‘Out of Iraq and into Darfur.’

What would happen if we thought of Darfur as we do of Iraq, as a place with a history and politics – a messy politics of insurgency and counter-insurgency? Why should an intervention in Darfur not turn out to be a trigger that escalates rather than reduces the level of violence as intervention in Iraq has done? Why might it not create the actual possibility of genocide, not just rhetorically but in reality? Morally, there is no doubt about the horrific nature of the violence against civilians in Darfur. The ambiguity lies in the politics of the violence, whose sources include both a state-connected counter-insurgency and an organised insurgency, very much like the violence in Iraq.

The insurgency and counter-insurgency in Darfur began in 2003. Both were driven by an intermeshing of domestic tensions in the context of a peace-averse international environment defined by the War on Terror. On the one hand, there was a struggle for power within the political class in Sudan, with more marginal interests in the west (following those in the south and in the east) calling for reform at the centre. On the other, there was a community-level split inside Darfur, between nomads and settled farmers, who had earlier forged a way of sharing the use of semi-arid land in the dry season. With the drought that set in towards the late 1970s, co-operation turned into an intense struggle over diminishing resources.

As the insurgency took root among the prospering peasant tribes of Darfur, the government trained and armed the poorer nomads and formed a militia – the Janjawiid – that became the vanguard of the unfolding counter-insurgency. The worst violence came from the Janjawiid, but the insurgent movements were also accused of gross violations. Anyone wanting to end the spiralling violence would have to bring about power-sharing at the state level and resource-sharing at the community level, land being the key resource.

Since its onset, two official verdicts have been delivered on the violence, the first from the US, the second from the UN. The American verdict was unambiguous: Darfur was the site of an ongoing genocide. The chain of events leading to Washington’s proclamation began with ‘a genocide alert’ from the Management Committee of the Washington Holocaust Memorial Museum; according to the Jerusalem Post, the alert was ‘the first ever of its kind, issued by the US Holocaust Museum’. The House of Representatives followed unanimously on 24 June 2004. The last to join the chorus was Colin Powell.

The UN Commission on Darfur was created in the aftermath of the American verdict and in response to American pressure. It was more ambiguous. In September 2004, the Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, then the chair of the African Union, visited UN headquarters in New York. Darfur had been the focal point of discussion in the African Union. All concerned were alert to the extreme political sensitivity of the issue. At a press conference at the UN on 23 September Obasanjo was asked to pronounce on the violence in Darfur: was it genocide or not? His response was very clear:

Before you can say that this is genocide or ethnic cleansing, we will have to have a definite decision and plan and programme of a government to wipe out a particular group of people, then we will be talking about genocide, ethnic cleansing. What we know is not that. What we know is that there was an uprising, rebellion, and the government armed another group of people to stop that rebellion. That’s what we know. That does not amount to genocide from our own reckoning. It amounts to of course conflict. It amounts to violence.

By October, the Security Council had established a five-person commission of inquiry on Darfur and asked it to report within three months on ‘violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur by all parties’, and specifically to determine ‘whether or not acts of genocide have occurred’. Among the members of the commission was the chief prosecutor of South Africa’s TRC, Dumisa Ntsebeza. In its report, submitted on 25 January 2005, the commission concluded that ‘the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide . . . directly or through the militias under its control.’ But the commission did find that the government’s violence was ‘deliberately and indiscriminately directed against civilians’. Indeed, ‘even where rebels may have been present in villages, the impact of attacks on civilians shows that the use of military force was manifestly disproportionate to any threat posed by the rebels.’ These acts, the commission concluded, ‘were conducted on a widespread and systematic basis, and therefore may amount to crimes against humanity’ (my emphasis). Yet, the commission insisted, they did not amount to acts of genocide: ‘The crucial element of genocidal intent appears to be missing . . . it would seem that those who planned and organised attacks on villages pursued the intent to drive the victims from their homes, primarily for purposes of counter-insurgency warfare.’

At the same time, the commission assigned secondary responsibility to rebel forces – namely, members of the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement – which it held ‘responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law which may amount to war crimes’ (my emphasis). If the government stood accused of ‘crimes against humanity’, rebel movements were accused of ‘war crimes’. Finally, the commission identified individual perpetrators and presented the UN secretary-general with a sealed list that included ‘officials of the government of Sudan, members of militia forces, members of rebel groups and certain foreign army officers acting in their personal capacity’. The list named 51 individuals.

The commission’s findings highlighted three violations of international law: disproportionate response, conducted on a widespread and systematic basis, targeting entire groups (as opposed to identifiable individuals) but without the intention to eliminate them as groups. It is for this last reason that the commission ruled out the finding of genocide. Its less grave findings of ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘war crimes’ are not unique to Darfur, but fit several other situations of extreme violence: in particular, the US occupation of Iraq, the Hema-Lendu violence in eastern Congo and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Among those in the counter-insurgency accused of war crimes were the ‘foreign army officers acting in their personal capacity’, i.e. mercenaries, presumably recruited from armed forces outside Sudan. The involvement of mercenaries in perpetrating gross violence also fits the occupation in Iraq, where some of them go by the name of ‘contractors’.

The journalist in the US most closely identified with consciousness-raising on Darfur is the New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, often identified as a lone crusader on the issue. To peruse Kristof’s Darfur columns over the past three years is to see the reduction of a complex political context to a morality tale unfolding in a world populated by villains and victims who never trade places and so can always and easily be told apart. It is a world where atrocities mount geometrically, the perpetrators so evil and the victims so helpless that the only possibility of relief is a rescue mission from the outside, preferably in the form of a military intervention.

Kristof made six highly publicised trips to Darfur, the first in March 2004 and the sixth two years later. He began by writing of it as a case of ‘ethnic cleansing’: ‘Sudan’s Arab rulers’ had ‘forced 700,000 black African Sudanese to flee their villages’ (24 March 2004). Only three days later, he upped the ante: this was no longer ethnic cleansing, but genocide. ‘Right now,’ he wrote on 27 March, ‘the government of Sudan is engaged in genocide against three large African tribes in its Darfur region.’ He continued: ‘The killings are being orchestrated by the Arab-dominated Sudanese government’ and ‘the victims are non-Arabs: blacks in the Zaghawa, Massalliet and Fur tribes.’ He estimated the death toll at a thousand a week. Two months later, on 29 May, he revised the estimates dramatically upwards, citing predictions from the US Agency for International Development to the effect that ‘at best, “only” 100,000 people will die in Darfur this year of malnutrition and disease’ but ‘if things go badly, half a million will die.’

The UN commission’s report was released on 25 February 2005. It confirmed ‘massive displacement’ of persons (‘more than a million’ internally displaced and ‘more than 200,000’ refugees in Chad) and the destruction of ‘several hundred’ villages and hamlets as ‘irrefutable facts’; but it gave no confirmed numbers for those killed. Instead, it noted rebel claims that government-allied forces had ‘allegedly killed over 70,000 persons’. Following the publication of the report, Kristof began to scale down his estimates. For the first time, on 23 February 2005, he admitted that ‘the numbers are fuzzy.’ Rather than the usual single total, he went on to give a range of figures, from a low of 70,000, which he dismissed as ‘a UN estimate’, to ‘independent estimates [that] exceed 220,000’. A warning followed: ‘and the number is rising by about ten thousand a month.’

The publication of the commission’s report had considerable effect. Internationally, it raised doubts about whether what was going on in Darfur could be termed genocide. Even US officials were unwilling to go along with the high estimates propagated by the broad alliance of organisations that subscribe to the Save Darfur campaign. The effect on American diplomacy was discernible. Three months later, on 3 May, Kristof noted with dismay that not only had ‘Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick pointedly refused to repeat the administration’s past judgment that the killings amount to genocide’: he had ‘also cited an absurdly low estimate of Darfur’s total death toll: 60,000 to 160,000’. As an alternative, Kristof cited the latest estimate of deaths from the Coalition for International Justice as ‘nearly 400,000, and rising by 500 a day’. In three months, Kristof’s estimates had gone up from 10,000 to 15,000 a month. Six months later, on 27 November, Kristof warned that ‘if aid groups pull out . . . the death toll could then rise to 100,000 a month.’ Anyone keeping a tally of the death toll in Darfur as reported in the Kristof columns would find the rise, fall and rise again very bewildering. First he projected the number of dead at 320,000 for 2004 (16 June 2004) but then gave a scaled down estimate of between 70,000 and 220,000 (23 February 2005). The number began once more to climb to ‘nearly 400,000’ (3 May 2005), only to come down yet again to 300,000 (23 April 2006). Each time figures were given with equal confidence but with no attempt to explain their basis. Did the numbers reflect an actual decline in the scale of killing in Darfur or was Kristof simply making an adjustment to the changing mood internationally?

In the 23 April column, Kristof expanded the list of perpetrators to include an external power: ‘China is now underwriting its second genocide in three decades. The first was in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and the second is in Darfur, Sudan. Chinese oil purchases have financed Sudan’s pillage of Darfur, Chinese-made AK-47s have been the main weapons used to slaughter several hundred thousand people in Darfur so far and China has protected Sudan in the UN Security Council.’ In the Kristof columns, there is one area of deafening silence, to do with the fact that what is happening in Darfur is a civil war. Hardly a word is said about the insurgency, about the civilian deaths insurgents mete out, about acts that the commission characterised as ‘war crimes’. Would the logic of his 23 April column not lead one to think that those with connections to the insurgency, some of them active in the international campaign to declare Darfur the site of genocide, were also guilty of ‘underwriting’ war crimes in Darfur?

Newspaper writing on Darfur has sketched a pornography of violence. It seems fascinated by and fixated on the gory details, describing the worst of the atrocities in gruesome detail and chronicling the rise in the number of them. The implication is that the motivation of the perpetrators lies in biology (‘race’) and, if not that, certainly in ‘culture’. This voyeuristic approach accompanies a moralistic discourse whose effect is both to obscure the politics of the violence and position the reader as a virtuous, not just a concerned observer.

Journalism gives us a simple moral world, where a group of perpetrators face a group of victims, but where neither history nor motivation is thinkable because both are outside history and context. Even when newspapers highlight violence as a social phenomenon, they fail to understand the forces that shape the agency of the perpetrator. Instead, they look for a clear and uncomplicated moral that describes the victim as untainted and the perpetrator as simply evil. Where yesterday’s victims are today’s perpetrators, where victims have turned perpetrators, this attempt to find an African replay of the Holocaust not only does not work but also has perverse consequences. Whatever its analytical weaknesses, the depoliticisation of violence has given its proponents distinct political advantages.

The conflict in Darfur is highly politicised, and so is the international campaign. One of the campaign’s constant refrains has been that the ongoing genocide is racial: ‘Arabs’ are trying to eliminate ‘Africans’. But both ‘Arab’ and ‘African’ have several meanings in Sudan. There have been at least three meanings of ‘Arab’. Locally, ‘Arab’ was a pejorative reference to the lifestyle of the nomad as uncouth; regionally, it referred to someone whose primary language was Arabic. In this sense, a group could become ‘Arab’ over time. This process, known as Arabisation, was not an anomaly in the region: there was Amharisation in Ethiopia and Swahilisation on the East African coast. The third meaning of ‘Arab’ was ‘privileged and exclusive’; it was the claim of the riverine political aristocracy who had ruled Sudan since independence, and who equated Arabisation with the spread of civilisation and being Arab with descent.

‘African’, in this context, was a subaltern identity that also had the potential of being either exclusive or inclusive. The two meanings were not only contradictory but came from the experience of two different insurgencies. The inclusive meaning was more political than racial or even cultural (linguistic), in the sense that an ‘African’ was anyone determined to make a future within Africa. It was pioneered by John Garang, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the south, as a way of holding together the New Sudan he hoped to see. In contrast, its exclusive meaning came in two versions, one hard (racial) and the other soft (linguistic) – ‘African’ as Bantu and ‘African’ as the identity of anyone who spoke a language indigenous to Africa. The racial meaning came to take a strong hold in both the counter-insurgency and the insurgency in Darfur. The Save Darfur campaign’s characterisation of the violence as ‘Arab’ against ‘African’ obscured both the fact that the violence was not one-sided and the contest over the meaning of ‘Arab’ and ‘African’: a contest that was critical precisely because it was ultimately about who belonged and who did not in the political community called Sudan. The depoliticisation, naturalisation and, ultimately, demonisation of the notion ‘Arab’, as against ‘African’, has been the deadliest effect, whether intended or not, of the Save Darfur campaign.

The depoliticisation of the conflict gave campaigners three advantages. First, they were able to occupy the moral high ground. The campaign presented itself as apolitical but moral, its concern limited only to saving lives. Second, only a single-issue campaign could bring together in a unified chorus forces that are otherwise ranged as adversaries on most important issues of the day: at one end, the Christian right and the Zionist lobby; at the other, a mainly school and university-based peace movement. Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice wrote of the Save Darfur Coalition as ‘an alliance of more than 515 faith-based, humanitarian and human rights organisations’; among the organisers of their Rally to Stop the Genocide in Washington last year were groups as diverse as the American Jewish World Service, the American Society for Muslim Advancement, the National Association of Evangelicals, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Anti-Slavery Group, Amnesty International, Christian Solidarity International, Physicians for Human Rights and the National Black Church Initiative. Surely, such a wide coalition would cease to hold together if the issue shifted to, say, Iraq.

To understand the third advantage, we have to return to the question I asked earlier: how could it be that many of those calling for an end to the American and British intervention in Iraq are demanding an intervention in Darfur? It’s tempting to think that the advantage of Darfur lies in its being a small, faraway place where those who drive the War on Terror do not have a vested interest. That this is hardly the case is evident if one compares the American response to Darfur to its non-response to Congo, even though the dimensions of the conflict in Congo seem to give it a mega-Darfur quality: the numbers killed are estimated in the millions rather than the hundreds of thousands; the bulk of the killing, particularly in Kivu, is done by paramilitaries trained, organised and armed by neighbouring governments; and the victims on both sides – Hema and Lendu – are framed in collective rather than individual terms, to the point that one influential version defines both as racial identities and the conflict between the two as a replay of the Rwandan genocide. Given all this, how does one explain the fact that the focus of the most widespread and ambitious humanitarian movement in the US is on Darfur and not on Kivu?

Nicholas Kristof was asked this very question by a university audience: ‘When I spoke at Cornell University recently, a woman asked why I always harp on Darfur. It’s a fair question. The number of people killed in Darfur so far is modest in global terms: estimates range from 200,000 to more than 500,000. In contrast, four million people have died since 1998 as a result of the fighting in Congo, the most lethal conflict since World War Two.’ But instead of answering the question, Kristof – now writing his column rather than facing the questioner at Cornell – moved on: ‘And malaria annually kills one million to three million people – meaning that three years’ deaths in Darfur are within the margin of error of the annual global toll from malaria.’ And from there he went on to compare the deaths in Darfur to the deaths from malaria, rather than from the conflict in Congo: ‘We have a moral compass within us and its needle is moved not only by human suffering but also by human evil. That’s what makes genocide special – not just the number of deaths but the government policy behind them. And that in turn is why stopping genocide should be an even higher priority than saving lives from Aids or malaria.’ That did not explain the relative silence on Congo. Could the reason be that in the case of Congo, Hema and Lendu militias – many of them no more than child soldiers – were trained by America’s allies in the region, Rwanda and Uganda? Is that why the violence in Darfur – but not the violence in Kivu – is named as a genocide?

It seems that genocide has become a label to be stuck on your worst enemy, a perverse version of the Nobel Prize, part of a rhetorical arsenal that helps you vilify your adversaries while ensuring impunity for your allies. In Kristof’s words, the point is not so much ‘human suffering’ as ‘human evil’. Unlike Kivu, Darfur can be neatly integrated into the War on Terror, for Darfur gives the Warriors on Terror a valuable asset with which to demonise an enemy: a genocide perpetrated by Arabs. This was the third and most valuable advantage that Save Darfur gained from depoliticising the conflict. The more thoroughly Darfur was integrated into the War on Terror, the more the depoliticised violence in Darfur acquired a racial description, as a genocide of ‘Arabs’ killing ‘Africans’. Racial difference purportedly constituted the motive force behind the mass killings. The irony of Kristof’s columns is that they mirror the ideology of Arab supremacism in Sudan by demonising entire communities.[*]

Kristof chides Arab peoples and the Arab press for not having the moral fibre to respond to this Muslim-on-Muslim violence, presumably because it is a violence inflicted by Arab Muslims on African Muslims. In one of his early columns in 2004, he was outraged by the silence of Muslim leaders: ‘Do they care about dead Muslims only when the killers are Israelis or Americans?’ Two years later he asked: ‘And where is the Arab press? Isn’t the murder of 300,000 or more Muslims almost as offensive as a Danish cartoon?’ Six months later, Kristof pursued this line on NBC’s Today Show. Elaborating on the ‘real blind spot’ in the Muslim world, he said: ‘You are beginning to get some voices in the Muslim world . . . saying it’s appalling that you have evangelical Christians and American Jews leading an effort to protect Muslims in Sudan and in Chad.’

If many of the leading lights in the Darfur campaign are fired by moral indignation, this derives from two events: the Nazi Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. After all, the seeds of the Save Darfur campaign lie in the tenth-anniversary commemoration of what happened in Rwanda. Darfur is today a metaphor for senseless violence in politics, as indeed Rwanda was a decade before. Most writing on the Rwandan genocide in the US was also done by journalists. In We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, the most widely read book on the genocide, Philip Gourevitch envisaged Rwanda as a replay of the Holocaust, with Hutu cast as perpetrators and Tutsi as victims. Again, the encounter between the two seemed to take place outside any context, as part of an eternal encounter between evil and innocence. Many of the journalists who write about Darfur have Rwanda very much in the back of their minds. In December 2004, Kristof recalled the lessons of Rwanda: ‘Early in his presidency, Mr Bush read a report about Bill Clinton’s paralysis during the Rwandan genocide and scrawled in the margin: “Not on my watch.” But in fact the same thing is happening on his watch, and I find that heartbreaking and baffling.’

With very few exceptions, the Save Darfur campaign has drawn a single lesson from Rwanda: the problem was the US failure to intervene to stop the genocide. Rwanda is the guilt that America must expiate, and to do so it must be ready to intervene, for good and against evil, even globally. That lesson is inscribed at the heart of Samantha Power’s book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. But it is the wrong lesson. The Rwandan genocide was born of a civil war which intensified when the settlement to contain it broke down. The settlement, reached at the Arusha Conference, broke down because neither the Hutu Power tendency nor the Tutsi-dominated Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) had any interest in observing the power-sharing arrangement at the core of the settlement: the former because it was excluded from the settlement and the latter because it was unwilling to share power in any meaningful way.

What the humanitarian intervention lobby fails to see is that the US did intervene in Rwanda, through a proxy. That proxy was the RPF, backed up by entire units from the Uganda Army. The green light was given to the RPF, whose commanding officer, Paul Kagame, had recently returned from training in the US, just as it was lately given to the Ethiopian army in Somalia. Instead of using its resources and influence to bring about a political solution to the civil war, and then strengthen it, the US signalled to one of the parties that it could pursue victory with impunity. This unilateralism was part of what led to the disaster, and that is the real lesson of Rwanda. Applied to Darfur and Sudan, it is sobering. It means recognising that Darfur is not yet another Rwanda. Nurturing hopes of an external military intervention among those in the insurgency who aspire to victory and reinforcing the fears of those in the counter-insurgency who see it as a prelude to defeat are precisely the ways to ensure that it becomes a Rwanda. Strengthening those on both sides who stand for a political settlement to the civil war is the only realistic approach. Solidarity, not intervention, is what will bring peace to Darfur.

The dynamic of civil war in Sudan has fed on multiple sources: first, the post-independence monopoly of power enjoyed by a tiny ‘Arabised’ elite from the riverine north of Khartoum, a monopoly that has bred growing resistance among the majority, marginalised populations in the south, east and west of the country; second, the rebel movements which have in their turn bred ambitious leaders unwilling to enter into power-sharing arrangements as a prelude to peace; and, finally, external forces that continue to encourage those who are interested in retaining or obtaining a monopoly of power.

The dynamic of peace, by contrast, has fed on a series of power-sharing arrangements, first in the south and then in the east. This process has been intermittent in Darfur. African Union-organised negotiations have been successful in forging a power-sharing arrangement, but only for that arrangement to fall apart time and again. A large part of the explanation, as I suggested earlier, lies in the international context of the War on Terror, which favours parties who are averse to taking risks for peace. To reinforce the peace process must be the first commitment of all those interested in Darfur.

The camp of peace needs to come to a second realisation: that peace cannot be built on humanitarian intervention, which is the language of big powers. The history of colonialism should teach us that every major intervention has been justified as humanitarian, a ‘civilising mission’. Nor was it mere idiosyncrasy that inspired the devotion with which many colonial officers and archivists recorded the details of barbarity among the colonised – sati, the ban on widow marriage or the practice of child marriage in India, or slavery and female genital mutilation in Africa. I am not suggesting that this was all invention. I mean only to point out that the chronicling of atrocities had a practical purpose: it provided the moral pretext for intervention. Now, as then, imperial interventions claim to have a dual purpose: on the one hand, to rescue minority victims of ongoing barbarities and, on the other, to quarantine majority perpetrators with the stated aim of civilising them. Iraq should act as a warning on this score. The worst thing in Darfur would be an Iraq-style intervention. That would almost certainly spread the civil war to other parts of Sudan, unravelling the peace process in the east and south and dragging the whole country into the global War on Terror.

Footnotes

* Contrast this with the UN commission’s painstaking effort to make sense of the identities ‘Arab’ and ‘African’. The commission’s report concentrated on three related points. First, the claim that the Darfur conflict pitted ‘Arab’ against ‘African’ was facile. ‘In fact, the commission found that many Arabs in Darfur are opposed to the Janjawiid, and some Arabs are fighting with the rebels, such as certain Arab commanders and their men from the Misseriya and Rizeigat tribes. At the same time, many non-Arabs are supporting the government and serving in its army.’ Second, it has never been easy to sort different tribes into the categories ‘Arab’ and ‘African’: ‘The various tribes that have been the object of attacks and killings (chiefly the Fur, Massalit and Zeghawa tribes) do not appear to make up ethnic groups distinct from the ethnic groups to which persons or militias that attack them belong. They speak the same language (Arabic) and embrace the same religion (Muslim). In addition, also due to the high measure of intermarriage, they can hardly be distinguished in their outward physical appearance from the members of tribes that allegedly attacked them. Apparently, the sedentary and nomadic character of the groups constitutes one of the main distinctions between them’ (emphasis mine). Finally, the commission put forward the view that political developments are driving the rapidly growing distinction between ‘Arab’ and ‘African’. On the one hand, ‘Arab’ and ‘African’ seem to have become political identities: ‘Those tribes in Darfur who support rebels have increasingly come to be identified as “African” and those supporting the government as the “Arabs”. A good example to illustrate this is that of the Gimmer, a pro-government African tribe that is seen by the African tribes opposed to the government as having been “Arabised”.’ On the other hand, this development was being promoted from the outside: ‘The Arab-African divide has also been fanned by the growing insistence on such divide in some circles and in the media.’

Mahmood Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and a professor of anthropology at Columbia University. His most recent book is Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terror.

Voir aussi les excellentes explications du chercheur Marc Lavergne :

Cette notion d’« Arabe » est culturelle, elle n’a rien de raciale. Les milices peuvent être qualifiées d’arabes parce qu’elles ont été arabisées. Elles l’ont été depuis plus longtemps que les tribus Massalits, Arawas… que l’on dit « africaines », mais ces dernières l’ont également été. Même si certaines continuent à pratiquer des parlers africains, elles utilisent toutes l’arabe. Quand à la religion, toutes sont musulmanes. Le problème est plutôt celui du mode de vie. Avec des nomades, pasteurs, et des sédentaires, agriculteurs. Une distinction qui est réelle, mais qui n’est pas « étanche ». Des tribus pastorales peuvent ainsi avoir été sédentaires par le passé. De la même façon, des nomades ont pu se sédentariser et redevenir nomades… Les tribus qui dominent la rébellion, les Arawas, les Massalits… sont ainsi d’anciens nomades. Et ils sont aujourd’hui très bien implantés dans le commerce soudanais.

Les miliciens sont tout simplement des gens prolétarisés. Ils se retrouvent sans travail, le gouvernement les arme et leur dit « vous pouvez faire ce que vous voulez, voler, piller… » Un problème important que personne n’évoque est qu’ils ne sont plus soumis au contrôle des Anciens. Les nomades et les sédentaires se sont toujours battus, notamment lors de périodes de famines… Ils se battaient à coups de lances et d’épées, il y avait des morts… mais les tribus finissaient pas se réunir, par discuter et sceller des mariages, par exemple, afin d’établir des lignages entre elles et faire la paix pour une dizaine d’années. Aujourd’hui, ce mode de régulation ne fonctionne plus du tout. En réalité, c’est un phénomène que l’on retrouve dans de nombreux pays en Afrique. Les nouvelles générations ont des armes automatiques et n’estiment plus avoir de comptes à rendre. C’est le choix du gouvernement de Khartoum, depuis 1985, d’armer ces nomades pour s’en servir comme d’une force partisane. Car l’armée coûte cher.

la guerre au Soudan est une guerre coloniale menée par Khartoum. Une guerre d’exploitation économique. Le Sud est riche de pétrole et les richesses agricoles sont nombreuses dans le pays, longtemps considéré comme le grenier du monde arabe.

Les Janjawid attaquent les tribus sédentarisées pour les faire fuir de leurs terres, afin que les barons du régime ou les nomades, eux-mêmes, viennent y cultiver. S’il est question de chiffres, alors oui, on peut parler de génocide. Je pense qu’environ 30 000 personnes sont mortes à ce jour. Mais un million de personnes se retrouvent sans foyer, avec la saison des pluies qui va commencer et donc une grande difficulté pour leur venir en aide. Par contre, s’il est question d’une sorte de racisme, d’une volonté d’éliminer un peuple, je ne crois pas que les janjawid désirent éliminer les tribus sédentaires, leurs voisins, leurs cousins.

la France, dont les gouvernements successifs ont toujours soutenu Khartoum. En sachant pertinemment que c’est un régime dictatorial. Mais ils estiment qu’il est stabilisateur pour la région. L’ambassadeur de France lui-même expliquait récemment qu’il n’y avait pas de problème au Darfour. (…) Et parce que cela risque de déstabiliser le Tchad voisin et, du coup, toute la sous-région.

« Le conflit du Darfour n’est pas racial »
propos recueillis par Saïd Aït-Hatrit
Afrik
Le 16 juillet 2004

Marc Lavergne, spécialiste du Soudan au CNRS, revient sur les origines du conflit

Le conflit dans le Darfour n’est pas un conflit racial entre milices « arabes » et tribus « africaines ». Mais un conflit entre des tribus arabisées, que le mode de vie a toujours tantôt rapprochées, tantôt opposées, et dont certaines sont aujourd’hui instrumentalisées par Khartoum. Marc Lavergne, chercheur au CNRS et spécialiste du Soudan, l’affirme. L’ancien directeur du Centre d’études et de documentation de l’université de Khartoum revient pour Afrik sur la crise qui secoue le Darfour.
Que se passe-t-il au Darfour ? Assiste-t-on à un conflit entre tribus arabes et noires africaines ? Fait-on face à un génocide, comme l’ont laissé entendre des diplomates onusiens, ou à un nettoyage ethnique, comme l’affirme le Congrès américain ? Qui sont ces milices Janjawid ? Celles qui ont poussé à l’exil plus d’un million d’habitants de la province du Darfour, avec le soutien du gouvernement de Khartoum, en y kidnappant, violant et tuant en toute impunité. Marc Lavergne, chercheur au CNRS, spécialiste du Soudan, a également été directeur de 1982 à 1988 du Centre d’Etudes et de Documentation Universitaire, Scientifique et Technique (Cedust) de l’Université de Khartoum. De ses nombreux aller-retours et de ses années passées au Soudan, il a acquis la certitude que le problème majeur de ce pays vient des gouvernements médiocres qui se sont succédés depuis l’indépendance. Ceux là même qui ont ignoré les provinces périphériques de la capitale, dont le Darfour, et qui instrumentalisent aujourd’hui des miliciens à des fins économiques. Il livre ici ses convictions sur les causes et la nature de la guerre dans le Darfour, ainsi que sur l’attitude de la communauté internationale.

Afrik : Est-il juste de parler d’« Arabes » et d’ « Africains » dans le conflit du Darfour ?
Marc Lavergne : Cette notion d’« Arabe » est culturelle, elle n’a rien de raciale. Les milices peuvent être qualifiées d’arabes parce qu’elles ont été arabisées. Elles l’ont été depuis plus longtemps que les tribus Massalits, Arawas… que l’on dit « africaines », mais ces dernières l’ont également été. Même si certaines continuent à pratiquer des parlers africains, elles utilisent toutes l’arabe. Quand à la religion, toutes sont musulmanes. Le problème est plutôt celui du mode de vie. Avec des nomades, pasteurs, et des sédentaires, agriculteurs. Une distinction qui est réelle, mais qui n’est pas « étanche ». Des tribus pastorales peuvent ainsi avoir été sédentaires par le passé. De la même façon, des nomades ont pu se sédentariser et redevenir nomades… Les tribus qui dominent la rébellion, les Arawas, les Massalits… sont ainsi d’anciens nomades. Et ils sont aujourd’hui très bien implantés dans le commerce soudanais.

Afrik : Qui sont alors ces milices Janjawid et que désigne ce terme ?
Marc Lavergne : Ce terme est purement fonctionnel. Janjawid signifie quelque chose comme « les cavaliers du diable, armés de kalachnikovs ». Pour moi, tout le monde est noir dans cette histoire. La notion de racisme n’a pas sa place. Les milices tribales Janjawid sont des mercenaires qui ne se revendiquent pas du tout « arabes ». Ils ne sont pas le vrai problème. En exagérant, on pourrait dire que ce sont là des pauvres qui se battent contre des pauvres.

Afrik : Depuis quand parle-t-on d’elles ?
Marc Lavergne : Elles se sont formées il y a une quinzaine d’années, mais elles n’intéressaient pas du tout la communauté internationale. Car les gens opprimés ne se révoltaient pas. Des massacres se déroulaient pourtant déjà. Mais les victimes n’avaient que leurs yeux pour pleurer. J’étais au Darfour, lors de la famine de 1985. C’était quelque chose d’absolument effrayant. Mais ce n’est que lorsque ces populations opprimées se sont défendues et ont formé une rébellion que l’Onu et la communauté internationale ont commencé à ouvrir les yeux.

Afrik : Comment les deux groupes ont coexisté, traditionnellement ?
Marc Lavergne : Le dominante est la cohabitation. C’est le mode de vie de base. Car il y a un lien de complémentarité entre les deux communautés. Les uns ont besoin des autres. Lors d’attaques menées par les forces gouvernementales contre les Noubas, le gouvernement a déjà empêché les nomades, par le passé, d’apporter des biens de consommation, tel le sel ou le savon, aux populations retranchées… Les nomades ont pourtant pris des risques pour les rejoindre et leur amener de quoi manger.

Afrik : Qu’est ce qui a changé aujourd’hui ?
Marc Lavergne : Les miliciens sont tout simplement des gens prolétarisés. Ils se retrouvent sans travail, le gouvernement les arme et leur dit « vous pouvez faire ce que vous voulez, voler, piller… » Un problème important que personne n’évoque est qu’ils ne sont plus soumis au contrôle des Anciens. Les nomades et les sédentaires se sont toujours battus, notamment lors de périodes de famines… Ils se battaient à coups de lances et d’épées, il y avait des morts… mais les tribus finissaient pas se réunir, par discuter et sceller des mariages, par exemple, afin d’établir des lignages entre elles et faire la paix pour une dizaine d’années. Aujourd’hui, ce mode de régulation ne fonctionne plus du tout. En réalité, c’est un phénomène que l’on retrouve dans de nombreux pays en Afrique. Les nouvelles générations ont des armes automatiques et n’estiment plus avoir de comptes à rendre. C’est le choix du gouvernement de Khartoum, depuis 1985, d’armer ces nomades pour s’en servir comme d’une force partisane. Car l’armée coûte cher. Etre militaire est un métier, il ne s’agit pas de tuer tout le monde… Alors, le gouvernement se repose sur ces milices tribales. Depuis une dizaine d’années, après chaque famine, on assiste à une exacerbation des tensions entre nomades et sédentaires et, à chaque fois, le gouvernement prend parti pour les nomades. De plus, on assiste à la désertification, au Nord du Darfour, qui pousse les nomades à rechercher des terres plus au sud.

Afrik : Comment se déroulent les attaques ?
Marc Lavergne : Ce sont surtout des villages qui sont attaqués. En général, les milices attaquent la nuit, mettent le feu aux cases, faites de paille. Les gens sortent alors en catastrophe, à moitié dévêtus et sont tués, violés, kidnappés… Ce qui m’inquiète le plus, c’est que ces attaques n’ont plus rien à voir avec les razzias traditionnelles, car les Janjawid mettent le feu aux champs et tuent le cheptel. Ce qui signifient qu’ils ne sont absolument pas là pour les vivres.

Afrik : Pourquoi cherche-t-on à déplacer les agriculteurs sédentaires ?
Marc Lavergne : Pour moi, la guerre au Soudan est une guerre coloniale menée par Khartoum. Une guerre d’exploitation économique. Le Sud est riche de pétrole et les richesses agricoles sont nombreuses dans le pays, longtemps considéré comme le grenier du monde arabe. Les grandes compagnies agro-industrielles du Golfe, saoudiennes, émiraties… pourraient être tentées d’investir dans ces terres, que l’on trouve également dans la province du Darfour. Depuis les années 1940-50, l’agriculture s’est développée au Soudan sur le mode capitaliste. Des dizaines de milliers d’hectares peuvent ainsi être possédées d’un seul tenant. Le général Nemeiri a octroyé nombre de ces surfaces agricoles aux compagnies arabes du Golfe, dans les années 1960. Cette dimension économique est très importante dans le conflit du Darfour, et au Soudan en général.

Afrik : Le motif principal de la rébellion du Mouvement pour la justice et l’égalité (MJE) et du Mouvement pour la liberté du Soudan (MLS) est que la région du Darfour a de tout temps été négligée…
Marc Lavergne : Les gouvernements qui se sont succédés au Soudan n’ont jamais cherché à développer le Darfour, à y créer des emplois, construire des routes. Pas plus que les empires coloniaux. C’est à peine si l’Allemagne y a posé 40 km de bitume. La province du Darfour est négligée, comme toutes les provinces périphériques de Khartoum. Les gouvernants se sont ainsi aliénés une population qui n’était pas contre eux à l’origine. Il leur aurait pourtant été facile de développer le pays, s’ils l’avaient voulu.

Afrik : La communauté internationale hésite à nommer ce qui se passe dans le Darfour… génocide, nettoyage ethnique, massacres…
Marc Lavergne : Il n’y a aucun sentiment humain dans tout cela. Les Janjawid attaquent les tribus sédentarisées pour les faire fuir de leurs terres, afin que les barrons du régime ou les nomades, eux-mêmes, viennent y cultiver. S’il est question de chiffres, alors oui, on peut parler de génocide. Je pense qu’environ 30 000 personnes sont mortes à ce jour. Mais un million de personnes se retrouvent sans foyer, avec la saison des pluies qui va commencer et donc une grande difficulté pour leur venir en aide. Par contre, s’il est question d’une sorte de racisme, d’une volonté d’éliminer un peuple, je ne crois pas que les janjawid désirent éliminer les tribus sédentaires, leurs voisins, leurs cousins.

Afrik : Que pensez vous du rôle joué par la communauté internationale ?
Marc Lavergne : C’est tout à fait insuffisant et hypocrite. Notamment de la part de la France, dont les gouvernements successifs ont toujours soutenu Khartoum. En sachant pertinemment que c’est un régime dictatorial. Mais ils estiment qu’il est stabilisateur pour la région. L’ambassadeur de France lui-même expliquait récemment qu’il n’y avait pas de problème au Darfour. D’autre part, je trouve à la limite scandaleux que les diplomates internationaux se succèdent à Khartoum pour demander au Président de venir au secours des déplacés et réfugiés. Comme si le problème était humanitaire. C’est choquant de les voir serrer la main de Omar el Béchir, alors qu’il faudrait qu’il quitte le pouvoir avec son régime. Car le pays n’a aucun problème de richesses, le problème vient de ses dirigeants. La communauté internationale, dans son ensemble, est aussi désintéressée. Parce qu’il n’y a pas d’intérêt stratégique au Darfour. Et parce que cela risque de déstabiliser le Tchad voisin et, du coup, toute la sous-région. Ils n’ont pas besoin de cela, ils ont d’autres soucis. On pourrait dire que le conflit du Darfour embête tout le monde et qu’ils attendent que les gens meurent, le plus vite possible.


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