Emeutes urbaines: Répétiton générale pour le grand soir? (Looking back at the first credit crunch riots: A taste of things to come?)

When anarchists and muslims can't be told apart)Les économistes de pays ayant un chômage de jeunes aussi élevé, tels que l’Espagne et l’Italie, avertissent qu’ils doivent se préparer à des troubles. The Independent
In a few words they were trained in a fashion that distinct them from the usual « Athenian rioters ». They seemed to have international experience and plenty of hideouts within the city centre. (…) They were more interested in creating damage, rather than attacking a public building to present a political message but having also the risk of being arrested. The last two days the police took more action against them and they disappeared. This is a typical urban guerrilla way of fighting; avoid confrontation and strike when least expected, always in a very fast mode. There was looting involved but it was not done by the rioters but by other elements that exploited the situation. Therefore the rioters were not seeking immediate financial gains, nor did they want to make a political pronouncement. Their aim was to inspire fear. (…)I think in general terms that the recent riots was a « Prova generale » for what will come in the future. Ioannis Michaletos

Mobilisation des émeutiers en moins d’une demi-heure, journées entières d’émeutes, milliers de jeunes dont des groupes extérieurs et 30% d’immigrés, 2 milliards d’euros de dégâts, contagions à quelques 50 villes, présence de casseurs professionnels issus de l’étranger, manifestations de sympathie de Copenghague à Moscou, bombes incendiaires sur l’Institut français d’Athènes avec graffitis (‘Etincelle à Athènes, incendie à Paris, c’est l’insurrection qui vient’, ‘France, Grèce, soulèvement partout’), graffitis sur le consulat grec à Bordeaux reprenant le titre d’un ouvrage autonome français vantant faisant l’éloge des actes de sabotage (‘L’insurrection qui vient’) …

Après le contre-sommet de l’OTAN d’avril à Strasbourg et les émeutes de Paris du 21 juin …

Puis tout récemment le saccage du centre-ville de Poitiers par un groupe de 300 casseurs masqués et cagoulés se réclamant (avec communiqué de rigueur au Monde) d’un collectif anticarcéral prétextant leur opposition à un transfèrement de détenus) et profitant d’un festival de spectacles de rue pour contourner la loi anti-cagoules …

Retour, avec l’entretien d’un officier des services de renseignement grecs à un journal polonais, sur les émeutes grecques de décembre dernier (les pires, en plein renflouement des banques européennes et mondiales, depuis des décennies).

Qui, via l’instrumentalisation, par des groupe anarchistes, de la mort d’un adolescent de 15 ans tué lors d’une rixe entre une trentaine de jeunes et des policiers dont ils caillassaient le véhicule, avaient vu plusieurs jours d’émeutes par des milliers de jeunes et deux milliards d’euros de dégâts dans les quartiers chics d’Athènes.

Dans un pays certes considéré, du fait de sa position de point d’entrée au Moyen-Orient avec sa frontière turque mais aussi des Blakans et de leurs diverses mafias et réseaux terroristes, comme le maillon faible de l’Europe.

Mais dont l’expérience pourrait bien, comme le rappelait the Independent, sur fond de chômage massif des jeunes (la ‘génération sacrifiée des ‘600 euros’), immigration hors de contrôle, dévaluation des diplômes et longue tradition de violence urbaine, à nombre d’autres pays européens touchés par les mêmes maux comme la France, l’Italie ou l’Espagne …

Extraits:

The Greek national security is symmetrical and the rioters used asymmetrical warfare. The have done it elsewhere and the issue is that Greece doesn’t have the mentality of coping with this kind of opponents. It never had urban guerrillas or experienced the existence of powerful organized crime groups=mafias. Therefore it will take time until new agencies will be created or the old ones figure out ways to understand how their opponents think and most importantly what do they want to achieve…which is basically destroy the way of life as we know it. I would call them the extreme angle of the postmodernist movement.

The weakest side was I think the disinformation and psychological warfare one. The Greek police do not have the ability to use such techniques and deter any « Opponent ». It relies only in the traditional police operation methods and it is not capable of penetrating effectively the groups of the radicals. In a broader sense, Greece is gradually coming into terms with the changing global environment after 9/11 2001 which calls for agile and asymmetrical police forces to counteract against threats such as radical anarchism, Islamic terrorism and translational organized crime. Although a lot have been improved, the geopolitical placement of the country right beside the explosive Middle East-Turkey-North Africa and the Balkans will make the issue more and more pressing in the future.

I think in general terms that the recent riots was a « Prova generale » for what will come in the future. In the current riots the Muslim element was embedded with the rest of the protesters. But in the future they will definitely stage their own riots…once they learn the know-how of operations.

So in a few words, the religion element was not significant but it is increasing. The current riots are the turning point from an era of political demonstration to one associated with immigration issues.

Interview: Riots in Greece
Ioannis Michaletos
Polska Times
15 Dec 2008

The following interview was presented to the newspaper « Polska Times », and the deputy opinion editor Tomasz Pompowski, regarding the recent riots in Greece

The Article in Polish

Could you analyze important aspects of present street battles in Athens?

1) The street battles are the worst Athens has ever experienced, although it is a city with rather frequent clashes with the police.

Important characteristics include the rapid mobilization of the rioters. For example they were out in the streets destroying property in just 20-25 minutes after the death of the young person was announced. It happened in 21.03, it was first announced in a website around 21:30 and the riots were already swinging at 22:00. I have served in the Navy but I don’t think armed forces are that quick in mobilizing their personnel!

Over the coming days, the rioters that numbered between 1,500-2,000 people (30% of those immigrants-mostly Muslim), were able to move from one part of the city to another in a quick way using a variety of methods, such as public transportation in small groups, motorcycles or even riding taxis alone and gathering in a specific « meeting place ».

Lastly, they used extensively the internet, mobile phones and instant messaging services to alert against police and gather information of what the media were transmitting. In a few words they were trained in a fashion that distinct them from the usual « Athenian rioters ». They seemed to have international experience and plenty of hideouts within the city centre.

What is your assessment of unrest in Greece?

2) I think it was a mixture of social disappointment, aftershocks of the global economic crisis coupled with foreign involvement and Greek tradition in extrovert activities such as taking out in the streets for a number of reasons! For the moment although it is a bit early to tell, I think that foreign involvement played a big part in making these riots last long and create big damages.

How would you describe those street fighting?

3) During the first two days, the street fighting was intense, although the police had orders not to use violence in order to calm things down. The rioters had plenty of molotov bombs, heavy sticks, stones and other heavy equipment and were targeting specific items in the city: Shops and cars. Public buildings were not hurt especially due to police protection and that shows that the rioters were very much concerned of not get caught and « become heroes ». They were more interested in creating damage, rather than attacking a public building to present a political message but having also the risk of being arrested. The last two days the police took more action against them and they disappeared. This is a typical urban guerrilla way of fighting; avoid confrontation and strike when least expected, always in a very fast mode. There was looting involved but it was not done by the rioters but by other elements that exploited the situation. Therefore the rioters were not seeking immediate financial gains, nor did they want to make a political pronouncement. Their aim was to inspire fear.

Do you know how they started?

4) They started immediately after the Greek Indymedia website posted the news of the death of the young boy, with phrases such as «Revenge for the dead » « Police should pay now » « Everybody out in the streets ». As I said that happened les than 30 minutes after the incident. It is interesting to note that the national TV learned of the killing only after the first rioters took out in the streets. According to unverified information, the local media were informed of the whole incident by the rioters that called them with their mobiles as soon as they were marching out in the streets.

Do we have any reason to say about foreign involvement in sustaining those street battles?

5) The rioters were trained, disciplined and in a fighting mood for 3 days; and another 2 days with less stamina though. This is not a typical Greek group and I would say not typical of any country if one takes into account that the rioters were not replenishing their numbers but were the same people more or less for the whole period.

Secondly, after the riots broke out in Athens, almost simultaneously riots begun in all major Greek cities with the same style. Next day, almost 50 Greek cities were experiencing street battles and the following incident was reported were groups of people were moving from a city to city to start a riot for a few hours and then moving to the next one. Also in one city, named Kozani, groups of people that started the riots came from Athens, rented a hotel room and took the streets the next day. So we have people that are coordinated, able to control their « anger » and expose it with ferocity when needed. I would call them « urban guerrillas-mercenaries ». There were reliable estimations by police circles over the past few months, that something is « happening » in the Greek radical scene and there are evidence that Greek NGO’s collaborate with foreign ones by bringing volunteers in Greece from abroad, which in reality turn out to be radicals-anarchists. So a web of relations has been developed between Greek radicals and foreign ones. In that sense a provocation or the involvement of foreign intelligence apparatus it is not improbable judging by the recent European history.

Why Greece became a target of that attack?

6) My point of view is that Greece is the « weakest link » of the Eurozone, and I am not talking only from an economic point of view. It is Europe’s gateway to the Middle East; its neighbour Turkey is a large country with explosive social problems and on its Northern borders it is accustomed into coexisting with the Balkan insecurity of Albania-Kosovo and so on. Therefore should Greece is destabilized it will create problem to Brussels that will loose contact with the all important East Mediterranean region and the Balkan politics will suffer a great deal of insecurity as well.

Moreover Greece is an ideal base for anyone wishing to enter EU for ill purposes. A strong Greek security system deters the flow of drugs, illegal immigration and terrorists into Europe. A destabilized Greece along with the already dysfunctional state of affairs in the Balkans will cause a number of security issues for the whole of Europe.

Who organized that fighting?

7) The culprits in first sight are the leaders of the anarchist-radical networks in Europe. Greek radicals are an important part of the European networks along with their « comrades » in Italy, France and Spain the so-called Mediterranean networks. The other elements to be found are based in Germany and UK. The former provided human resources and the latter have already organized the so-called « Antifa » groups in Athens.

So we have a Pan-European network, which is to an extent under the surveillance of the European intelligence services. So my rough estimation is that no operation and preparation could have been implemented if some international officers were not involved.

Also if one adds the question « Cui bono? » in the long-term…the answer could perfectly be: The terrorist networks based already in the Middle East trying to find ways to establish firm roots in a Eurozone country. They have already managed to do so in Bosnia, Kosovo to an extent but Greece is a gateway to Brussels in all senses.

I have to note that many analysts here in Greece believe that the USA Intel. Services were involved due to the recent business deals the government made with Russia, China, Germany and France. I think this is not feasible, but it cannot be excluded that private intelligence firms based in USA could have offered consultation or information. Of course this is another facet of globalization and doesn’t involve Washington with which Greece cooperates strongly in many important fields.

How a country can defend itself against such destabilization?

8) The Greek national security is symmetrical and the rioters used asymmetrical warfare. The have done it elsewhere and the issue is that Greece doesn’t have the mentality of coping with this kind of opponents. It never had urban guerrillas or experienced the existence of powerful organized crime groups=mafias. Therefore it will take time until new agencies will be created or the old ones figure out ways to understand how their opponents think and most importantly what do they want to achieve…which is basically destroy the way of life as we know it. I would call them the extreme angle of the postmodernist movement.

What weak sides of national security were exploited by organizers of those attacks?

9) The weakest side was I think the disinformation and psychological warfare one. The Greek police do not have the ability to use such techniques and deter any « Opponent ». It relies only in the traditional police operation methods and it is not capable of penetrating effectively the groups of the radicals. In a broader sense, Greece is gradually coming into terms with the changing global environment after 9/11 2001 which calls for agile and asymmetrical police forces to counteract against threats such as radical anarchism, Islamic terrorism and translational organized crime. Although a lot have been improved, the geopolitical placement of the country right beside the explosive Middle East-Turkey-North Africa and the Balkans will make the issue more and more pressing in the future.

You wrote about Paris attacks pattern used in Greece riots. You also mentioned proximity of Turkey.. In Paris there was an Islamic element involved.. Do you think that we can say that such situation may take place in Greece?

10) think in general terms that the recent riots was a « Prova generale » for what will come in the future. In the current riots the Muslim element was embed with the rest of the protesters. But in the fuure they will definitely stage their own riots…once they learn the know-how of operations.

So in a few words, the religion element was not significant but it is increasing. The current riots are the turning point from an era of political demonstration to one associated with immigration issues.

Voir aussi:

Are the Greek riots a taste of things to come?
Greece’s riots are a sign of the economic times. Other countries should beware, says Peter Popham in Athens
The Independent
December 13, 2008

After firing 4,600 tear-gas canisters in the past week, the Greek police have nearly exhausted their stock. As they seek emergency supplies from Israel and Germany, still the petrol bombs and stones of the protesters rain down, with clashes again outside parliament yesterday.

Bringing together youths in their early twenties struggling to survive amid mass youth unemployment and schoolchildren swotting for highly competitive university exams that may not ultimately help them in a treacherous jobs market, the events of the past week could be called the first credit-crunch riots. There have been smaller-scale sympathy attacks from Moscow to Copenhagen, and economists say countries with similarly high youth unemployment problems such as Spain and Italy should prepare for unrest.

Ostensibly, the trigger for the Greek violence was the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, Alexis Grigoropoulos. A forensic report leaked to Greek newspapers indicated he was killed by a direct shot, not a ricochet as the policeman’s lawyer had claimed. The first protesters were on the streets of Athens within 90 minutes of Alexis’s death, the start of the most traumatic week Greece has endured for decades. The destructiveness of the daily protests, which left many stores in Athens’s smartest shopping area in ruins and caused an estimated €2bn (£1.79bn) in damage, has stunned Greece and baffled the world. And there was no let-up yesterday, as angry youths shrugged off torrential rain to pelt police with firebombs and stones, block major roads and occupy a private radio station.

Their parents grope for explanations. Tonia Katerini, whose 17-year-old son Michalis was out on the streets the day after the killing, emphasised the normality of the protesters. « It’s not just 20 or 30 people, we’re talking about 1,000 young people. These are not people who live in the dark, they are the sort you see in the cafes. The criminals and drug addicts turned up later, to loot the stores. The children were very angry that one of them had been killed; and they wanted the whole society not to sleep quietly about this, they wanted everyone to feel the same fear they felt. And they were also expressing anger towards society, towards the religion of consumerism, the polarisation of society between the few haves and the many have-nots. »

Protest has long been a rite of passage for urban Greek youth. The downfall of the military dictatorship in 1974 is popularly ascribed to a student uprising; the truth was more complicated, but that is the version that has entered student mythology, giving them an enduring sense of their potential. So no one was surprised that Alexis’s death a week ago today brought his fellow teenagers on to the streets. But why were the protests so impassioned and long-lasting? « The death of this young boy was a catalyst that brought out all the problems of society and of youth that have been piling up all these years and left to one side with no solutions, » said Nikos Mouzelis, emeritus professor of sociology at LSE. « Every day, the youth of this country experiences further marginalisation. »

Although Greece’s headline unemployment of 7.4 per cent is just below the eurozone average, the OECD estimates that unemployment among those aged 15 to 24 is 22 per cent, although some economists put the real figure at more like 30 per cent.

« Because of unemployment, a quarter of those under 25 are below the poverty line, » said Petros Linardos, an economist at the Labour Institute of the Greek trade unions. « That percentage has been increasing for the past 10 years. There is a diffused, widespread feeling that there are no prospects. This is a period when everyone is afraid of the future because of the economic crisis. There is a general feeling that things are going to get worse. And there is no real initiative from the government. »

For Greek youngsters such as Michalis Katerini, job prospects are not rosy, but without a university degree they would be far worse, so he and his mother are making serious sacrifices to get him into further education. So inadequate is the teaching in his state high school that he, like tens of thousands of others across the country, must study three hours per night, five nights a week at cramming school after regular school, to have a hope of attaining the high grades required to get the university course of his choice. His mother, whose work as an architect is down 20 per cent on last year, must pay €800 a month to the crammer for the last, crucial year of high school.

She believes the government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis faces more turbulence if it fails to grasp the reality of the past week, and pass it off as a spontaneous over-reaction. « The government has tried hard not to connect what is happening with the problems of young people. The government says one boy died, his friends are angry, they over-reacted then anarchists came to join in the game. But this is not the reality. »

Vicky Stamatiadou, a kindergarten teacher in the rich northern suburbs with two teenage sons, agrees. « Until now, our society was full of dirty but calm water; nothing was moving, nothing improving, all the problems of our society remained unsolved for years. People pretended that everything was going well. But now this false picture has been broken and we are facing reality. »

Greece’s official youth unemployment statistics are not far removed from the rates in other European countries with a history of mass protest, such as France, Italy and Spain. With the graffiti « The Coming Insurrection » plastered near the Greek consulate in Bordeaux this week, the warning signs to the rest of the continent’s leaders are clear.

Additional reporting by Nikolas Zirganos
Independent News and Media Limited

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