Sweden announces recognition of Palestinian statehood

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Sweden has announced that it will officially recognize the state of Palestine on Thursday. It will become the first EU member in western Europe to do so, in a move strongly condemned by Israel.

« Today the government takes the decision to recognize the state of Palestine, » Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said on Thursday in a statement published in the Dagens Nyheter daily.

« It is an important step that confirms the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, » she said, adding that the government considered that criteria in international law for recognizing a Palestinian state had been met.

The Swedish government announced its plans to acknowledge Palestinian statehood on October 3 – a declaration that met with condemnation from Israel and criticism from the United States, which said the move was « premature. »

Wallstrom, however, countered the US rebuke, saying: « There are those who will claim that today’s decision comes too soon. I fear it is rather too late. »

‘Brave and historic’

Israel has summoned Sweden’s ambassador to protest at the move. The Jewish state has long insisted that direct negotiations, and not other diplomatic channels, were the only path to Palestinian statehood.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on the other hand, has hailed the decision.

The Palestinian leader had described the move as « brave and historic, » his spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, told AFP news agency.

Seven European Union members in eastern Europe and the Mediterranean have already recognized Palestine as a state: Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania. Iceland, which does not belong to the EU, is the only other western European nation to have done so.

Two weeks ago, the British House of Commons passed a non-binding motion in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state, but the vote was without legislative force.

Source:http://www.foreignpolicy.com

France et Islam : le rendez-vous manqué de la Grande Guerre

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Gauthier Kerros / Président du cercle de réflexion Entreprendre Ensemble | Le

En cette période de commémoration, d’interrogation identitaire et de menace islamiste, il serait salutaire de se souvenir d’évènements trop souvent oubliés, au cœur du premier conflit mondial.

Notre vision de la relation entre la France et le monde arabo-musulman est largement déformée par le spectre de la guerre d’Algérie. Guerre de décolonisation, certes, mais aussi une interrogation profonde de la France sur elle-même, sur son histoire. Des liens étroits unissent la France, l’Algérie, le Maroc et la Tunisie. Il ne faut pas oublier que la Première Guerre mondiale a été le point d’orgue quasi fusionnel entre les deux rives de la Méditerranée.

En cette période de commémoration, la Fondation pour la mémoire de la guerre d’Algérie, des combats du Maroc et de Tunisie organisait le 15 octobre dernier une journée d’étude consacrée à l’ »l’Afrique du Nord dans la Première Guerre mondiale », une occasion de porter un éclairage sur ces relations complexes.

En août 1914, l’Afrique du Nord n’est pas un enjeu du premier conflit mondial. Tout a été verrouillé par les Puissances au bénéfice de la France. Mais Paris n’est pas aux commandes d’un ensemble totalement apaisé. Pendant ce conflit, révoltes et rébellions surgissent en permanence. Mouvements limités et marginaux cependant, qui ne remettent en cause ni l’effort de guerre ni la stabilité politique de l’ensemble français. Il manque encore à ces mouvements l’articulation d’une pensée structurée et de chefs charismatiques qui surgiront plus tard. En d’autres termes, l’Afrique du Nord tient.

L’appel au Djihad du Sultan de Constantinople

Pourtant tout aurait pu basculer à l’automne 1914. Le 1er novembre 1914, l’Empire ottoman entre en guerre aux côtés des puissances centrales et le Sultan de Constantinople, Mahomet V, commandeur des Croyants, proclame le Djihad, la Guerre sainte contre les Infidèles, la France et la Grande-Bretagne. Cet appel, relayé le 23 novembre par une fatwa du Grand Mufti de Constantinople, inquiète Paris et Londres.

Les données stratégiques de la guerre sont bouleversées. On craint le soulèvement des populations musulmanes en Afrique du Nord, en Égypte et aux Indes… La Triple Entente décide immédiatement de mettre en place un blocus des côtes ottomanes, entrainant aussitôt la suspension du pèlerinage de la Mecque et fragilisant par là même l’autorité du Chérif Hussein, opposant à l’Empire ottoman.

La réouverture du pèlerinage de la Mecque

Les gouvernements français et britanniques s’inquiètent des conséquences de ces évènements. Lorsque le Chérif Hussein décide de mener la Grande révolte arabe en juin 1916, la France et la Grande-Bretagne y voient une opportunité pour conforter leur position impériale. Une mission politique et militaire est mise sur pied pour envisager la réouverture du pèlerinage de La Mecque.

Elle a pour avantage de décrédibiliser l’appel au Djihad du sultan de Constantinople et de faire des pèlerins transportés des relais favorables auprès de la population d’Afrique du Nord. À l’hiver 1916-1917, un paquebot est affrété pour acheminer, aux frais de la République, plus de 700 pèlerins triés sur le volet et encadrés par des religieux favorables à la cause française. Tout est fait pour que le séjour au Hedjaz se fasse dans les meilleures conditions. La réouverture du pèlerinage de la Mecque rencontre un certain succès médiatique. Si cette initiative a permis de désamorcer toute possibilité d’implosion religieuse en Afrique du Nord, elle n’aura pas ou peu de conséquences politiques.

La politique des « égards »

À une autre échelle et face au déploiement en métropole des Nord-Africains, militaires et travailleurs, l’institution militaire s’est préoccupée très tôt du respect des rites religieux de l’Islam dans ses rangs. Le nombre de combattants concernés, blessés et morts au front, la concurrence germano-turque et surtout la perspective du retour en Afrique du Nord ont justifié cette « politique des égards ».

L’ »indigènophilie » et la guerre précipitent la mise en place d’une politique « musulmane ». L’oratoire du jardin colonial, la kouba de Nogent-sur-Marne et la participation de la République au financement de l’institut musulman de la Mosquée de Paris sont autant de symboles de la gratitude des autorités françaises et d’une politique active vis-à-vis du monde arabe.

Il peut paraitre exagéré, voire même provocateur, aujourd’hui, de dire que les Français ont eu une passion pour le monde arabe. Mais il est historiquement vrai que les élites françaises qui vivaient dans le monde arabe, notamment celles qui étaient aux affaires, n’ont pas manqué de se soucier de l’Islam. Et ce message du lien entre les élites françaises et les administrateurs français présents dans le monde arabe et le monde musulman est assez oublié aujourd’hui.

En fait, c’est sans doute à Paris que se trouve le point faible de la relation entre le monde musulman et la France, car c’est là que se trouve le point de blocage. Dès 1920, dans sa « note du coup de barre », Lyautey fait la critique, prémonitoire, de la tutelle de Paris. Si l’on ne tisse pas un rapport étroit avec les populations arabes, on ira droit au divorce, écrivait-il. De fait, les tensions et les ruptures se matérialisent sitôt la guerre terminée, parachevant de faire de ce moment un rendez-vous manqué entre le monde arabo-musulman et l’Occident.

Source: lesechos.fr

La militante anti-genre Farida Belghoul sanctionnée par l’Education nationale

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 L'enseignante Farida Belghoul (d) participe à une manifestation le 11 mai 2014 organisée par le m...

AFP/Archives

L’enseignante Farida Belghoul (d) participe à une manifestation le 11 mai 2014 organisée par le mouvement catholique intégriste Civitas, représenté par son leader Alain Escada (c)

L’enseignante Farida Belghoul, fer de lance des appels au boycott de l’école contre la supposée « théorie du genre », a été sanctionnée d’un blâme pour avoir notamment critiqué la ministre de l’Education, a annoncé jeudi le rectorat de Versailles.

« Un blâme, cela revient à lui dire que ce n’est pas bien, mais cela n’a pas de conséquences », a indiqué à l’AFP le rectorat, qui avait engagé une procédure disciplinaire contre l’enseignante en septembre pour « manquements aux devoirs de réserve et de loyauté incombant aux fonctionnaires ».

Dans un courrier adressé à Mme Belghoul le 19 septembre, le recteur lui reprochait des « propos déplacés » à l’encontre de la ministre de l’Education nationale, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, et « l’incitation des parents à retirer leur enfant de l’école (…) en méconnaissance de l’obligation d’assiduité ».

En cause, un article du 26 août publié sur le site jre2014.fr sous le titre « Belkacem versus Belghoul », dans lequel Mme Belghoul avait comparé la nomination de la ministre « chouchoute du lobby trans, bi et cie » à « une déclaration de guerre aux familles de France ».

Contactée par l’AFP, l’enseignante d’histoire et de français n’était pas joignable dans l’immédiat. Elle peut contester cette sanction devant le tribunal administratif.

Farida Belghoul a fait parler d’elle en lançant en début d’année le mouvement « Journées de retrait de l’école » (JRE) pour protester contre un prétendu enseignement de « la théorie du genre ».

En ligne de mire: les ABCD de l’égalité, un programme d’éducation à l’égalité filles-garçons expérimenté à l’automne 2013 et depuis remplacé par « un plan d’action ».

Ce dispositif avait été attaqué par des mouvements d’extrême droite emmenés par Farida Belghoul qui ont répandu des rumeurs infondées: garçons obligés de porter des robes ou cours de masturbation en maternelle. Il a été aussi pris pour cible par les anti-mariage gay, qui dénonçaient un prétendu enseignement à l’école d’une théorie du genre niant, selon eux, la différence sexuelle.

Agée de 56 ans, d’origine algérienne, née en France, Farida Belghoul, auteur de livres et de documentaires autour des thèmes de l’immigration, est proche de l’essayiste d’extrême droite Alain Soral.

Après avoir été en disponibilité, elle a repris les cours à la rentrée au lycée professionnel Gustave-Eiffel d’Ermont (Val-d’Oise), puis a été en congé maladie jusqu’aux vacances de la Toussaint.

Le rectorat de Versailles lui a par ailleurs demandé de « s’expliquer » sur un déplacement en Russie pendant ce congé maladie, sans obtenir de réponse jusqu’ici.

AFP

La Suède reconnaît officiellement l’Etat de Palestine

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Le premier ministre suédois Stefan Loefven.

Par un décret publié jeudi 30 octobre, la Suède reconnaît l’Etat de Palestine, comme annoncé au début d’octobre par le premier ministre lors de son discours de politique générale. « C’est un pas important qui confirme le droit des Palestiniens à l’autodétermination », assure la ministre des affaires étrangères, Margot Wallström, dans une tribune publiée dans le quotidien Dagens Nyheter.

Une reconnaissance immédiatement saluée par le président palestinien Mahmoud Abbas, qui a qualifié la décision de « courageuse et historique », encourageant les autres pays à la suivre.

La Suède devient le premier pays occidental de l’Union européenne à reconnaître officiellement la Palestine comme un Etat indépendant. «C’est un pas important qui confirme le droit des Palestiniens à l’auto-détermination», a indiqué la ministre des Affaires étrangères Mme Margot Wallström dans une tribune publiée dans le quotidien Dagens Nyheter. «Le gouvernement considère que les critères de droit international pour une reconnaissance de l’État de Palestine sont remplis»: un territoire, «bien que sans frontières fixes», une population et un gouvernement, a-t-elle ajouté.

La Palestine a déclaré unilatéralement son indépendance le 15 novembre 1988. Dans les jours qui ont suivi, 75 pays ont reconnu cette indépendance, pour la plupart des Etats appartenant au Pacte de Varsovie ou issus des pays du monde arabo-musulman, le bloc occidental se refusant à cette reconnaissance, à l’exception notable du Vatican. Aujourd’hui, selon l’Autorité palestinienne, 134 pays ont reconnu officiellement l’Etat palestinien, dont sept membres de l’Union européenne, pour la plupart issus de l’ex-bloc soviétique- qu’ils l’ont reconnu avant leur rentrée dans l’UE: la République tchèque, la Hongrie, la Pologne, la Bulgarie, la Roumanie, Malte et Chypre. C’est donc la première fois qu’un pays reconnaît l’Etat palestinien, tout en étant membre de l’Union européenne.

Le nouveau premier ministre de centre gauche Stefan Löfven avait annoncé sa décision dès sa déclaration de politique générale en octobre dernier. Cette déclaration, de la part d’un pays réputé pour son pacifisme et sa qualité d’intermédiaire dans les relations internationales avait été perçue comme un signe déterminant dans l’officialisation de l’Etat palestinien sur la scène internationale, ce qui avait fait grincer les dents d’Israël et des États-Unis.

Le président de l’Autorité palestinienne Mamhoud Abbas a salué ce geste, compris comme un soutien du gouvernement suédois au peuple palestinien face aux difficultés qu’il rencontre actuellement dans le processus de paix. «Cette décision est une réponse aux mesures prises par Israël à Jérusalem», a-déclaré son porte-parole, faisant sans doute référence à la montée des tensions autour de Jérusalem-Est ces derniers jours.

Quid de la France?

L’Autorité palestinienne «demande à tous les Etats dans le monde qui hésitent encore à reconnaître notre droit à un Etat palestinien indépendant sur les frontières de 1967 et ayant Jérusalem-Est comme capitale à suivre l’exemple de la Suède» a encore déclaré le porte-parole de Mamhoud Abbas. «Nous espérons que cela montre la voie à d’autres», a affirmé pour sa part la chef de la diplomatie suédoise Mme Wallström.

Si la France avait fait partie des 138 pays à voter pour l’acceptation de l’entrée de l’Etat palestinien comme Etat observateur à l’ONU en novembre 2012, celle-ci n’a toujours pas reconnu officiellement le pays. Des démarches sont en cours, après que la reconnaissance fut demandée officiellement à la France par l’Autorité palestinienne. La décision de reconnaître formellement l’Etat de Palestine appartient au président de la République. Laurent Fabius, le ministre des Affaires étrangères, s’était déclaré fin aout favorable à une telle hypothèse. «Il faudra bien, à un moment, reconnaître l’Etat palestinien», avait-il déclaré à la Conférence des ambassadeurs, estimant que la solution des deux Etats pouvait seule assurer une paix durable.

Lundi dernier, les sénateurs écologistes et les députés Front de gauche ont manifesté leur volonté de voir se réaliser sans tarder cette reconnaissance officielle, par un vote au Parlement. La sénatrice écologiste Esther Benbassa a déposé en ce sens une résolution demandant que «la France reconnaisse sans délai l’État palestinien souverain et démocratique sur la base des lignes de 1967, avec Jérusalem comme capitale des deux États» qui sera présentée aujourd’hui au Sénat.

 

135 PAYS RECONNAISSENT L’ÉTAT DE PALESTINE

La décision du premier ministre de se passer de l’aval du Parlement pour cette reconnaissance avait suscité la réticence des Etats-Unis, qui avaient jugé la démarche « prématurée », et les critiques d’Israël. Dans la foulée, au Royaume-Uni, la Chambre des communes avait adopté un texte enjoignant au gouvernement de faire de même.

L’Autorité palestinienne se prévaut actuellement de la reconnaissance de la Palestine comme Etat indépendant par 135 pays, soit près de 70 % des 193 Etats membres de l’ONU. Mais pour le moment, aucune des puissances occidentales n’a encore franchi le pas. Les rares pays de l’Union européenne a avoir pris cette décision l’ont fait avant leur adhésion.

 

Comment Sarkozy projette d’enterrer l’UMP au printemps prochain

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Alexandre Lemarié

Meeting de Nicolas Sarkozy, à Marseille, le 28 octobre.

Suite à sa probable élection à la présidence de l’UMP, lors du scrutin prévu le 29 novembre, Nicolas Sarkozy promet de changer le parti « du sol au plafond » en le refondant dans « un grand rassemblement ». La date de ce changement est désormais programmée. La formation de « la droite et du centre », fondée en 2002 par Jacques Chirac et Alain Juppé, n’a plus que cinq mois d’espérance de vie.

Selon nos informations, M. Sarkozy projette d’enterrer l’UMP après les élections départementales, prévues fin mars 2015. En remplacement, un nouveau mouvement verra le jour avec un nouveau nom. Objectif de l’opération : donner une virginité à un appareil politique discrédité par la guerre Copé-Fillon et englué dans l’affaire Bygmalion. M. Sarkozy rêve de transformer le parti en miettes de Jean-François Copé en une machine de guerre électorale lui permettant de reprendre l’Elysée en 2017.

L’organisation de cette UMP relookée sera profondément modifiée. Principal changement : un fonctionnement décentralisé. L’ex-président de la République ne veut plus que le siège parisien impose des décisions aux fédérations, de manière verticale, sans discussion. Pour donner plus de poids aux 268 341 adhérents, il promet de les laisser trancher des investitures disputées, à chaque élection locale ou nationale, en généralisant le principe de primaires dans le territoire concerné. Par exemple, si deux candidats se disputent une tête de liste pour les élections régionales, ce seront les adhérents de ladite région qui seront amenés à voter pour les départager.

Méthode participative

L’autre grande nouveauté, c’est la volonté d’associer la base du parti à la construction du projet présidentiel. M. Sarkozy a l’intention d’organiser des conventions portant sur un thème précis pour faire émerger des pistes de réforme, qui seront ensuite soumises à l’approbation des militants. Lesquels devraient pouvoir voter par Internet, avant que l’ancien chef de l’Etat arbitre. Ce processus doit permettre de trancher des questions sensibles, comme le sort à donner à la loi Taubira, autorisant le mariage et l’adoption pour les couples homosexuels. Si cette méthode participative – chère à Ségolène Royal – était effectivement appliquée, ce serait une petite révolution pour le parti de droite, où la culture du chef a toujours dominé.

Autre conséquence de l’opération rénovation : les courants vont disparaître. Nicolas Sarkozy ne veut plus des mouvements, qui ont vu le jour en novembre 2012. Que ce soit la Droite populaire de Thierry Mariani, la Droite sociale de Laurent Wauquiez ou la Droite forte des jeunes sarkozystes Guillaume Peltier et Geoffroy Didier. Lorsqu’il s’imagine à la tête de son « grand rassemblement », l’ancien président de la République ne se voit pas cohabiter avec les chefs de file des différentes sensibilités internes (libéraux, centristes, gaullistes).

« Il n’y aura pas de clan, pas de tendance, ni de chapelle dans la cathédrale », assure-t-il, cherchant par ailleurs un moyen d’associer les sympathisants de droite à sa future nouvelle formation. Plus compliqué : M. Sarkozy espère aussi en finir avec les écuries présidentielles. Il ne veut plus entendre parler de « sarkozystes », de « fillonistes » ou de « juppéistes », dans l’espoir d’apparaître comme le rassembleur en chef de la droite et le seul capitaine à la tête du bateau.

Deux équipes

La direction de cette UMP nouvelle version va également être profondément modifiée. Elle sera scindée en deux équipes distinctes. La première sera chargée de mener la bataille médiatique et programmatique contre le gouvernement. Une dizaine de personnalités – tels Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet et Laurent Wauquiez – se verront attribuer un pôle thématique, en fonction de leur spécialité. La seconde équipe jouera un rôle plus administratif. Ses membres s’occuperont de faire tourner le parti, en assurant la formation des cadres, la logistique…

En revanche, l’ancien chef de l’Etat ne songe plus à un déménagement du siège du parti, comme il a pu l’envisager pour tourner la page des années noires. Pour réduire la dette abyssale de l’UMP, évaluée à 74 millions d’euros, il n’entend pas non plus mener un plan de rigueur drastique. Pas question, dans son esprit, de supprimer des postes parmi les 85 permanents de l’UMP. Un peu présomptueux, il mise sur une hausse des recettes grâce à une vague de nouvelles adhésions suite à son élection. D’après son entourage, M. Sarkozy a enfin l’intention de faire « toute la transparence » quant à la gestion des finances du parti. Pendant ce temps, l’enquête judiciaire sur le scandale Bygmalion se poursuit.

Source: lemonde.fr

 

Why Is Bahrain Outsourcing Extremism?

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The Bahraini government has been working overtime to crush pro-democracy activists. But what about followers of the Islamic State?

Against the backdrop of a beautiful green landscape along the Euphrates River, four young men carrying assault rifles walk up a hill in slow motion, carrying the distinctive flag of the Islamic State (IS). A voice informs us that these « warriors of the doctrine » are carrying out the « noble mission » of « purifying » Iraq. Speaking to the camera, the four deliver messages to their « Sunni family » in Bahrain. Aside from the expected pleas to join their jihad, the key purpose of the film is to encourage members of their home country’s security forces to join IS. They also urge fellow Bahrainis to boycott November’s parliamentary elections.

The video is graphic evidence that Bahrain has a burgeoning problem with Salafi radicalization.

Support for extremist groups has flourished even as the state has been cracking down on the non-violent, pro-democracy opposition.

Support for extremist groups has flourished even as the state has been cracking down on the non-violent, pro-democracy opposition. The regime’s response to the film, which has been viewed around 100,000 times seems it was uploaded in September, has been muted, though officials admit that at least 100 Bahrainis have joined IS and several have been killed. That number is small but significant. Not only is there a direct link between IS and Bahrain’s security services (as the video suggests), but the Bahraini cohort in the Islamic State includes Turki al-Binali, one of the movement’s most influential radical preachers.Bahrain’s public stance on the war against IS contrasts sharply with its lack of action at home. The kingdom has attempted to present itself as the leader of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) anti-IS efforts. At the start of the air campaign launched against IS by the United States and a select group of allies in September, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, made prominent appearances in the Western media, including the BBC and CNN, to announce Bahrain’s membership in the U.S. military coalition. Khalifa even spoke of the need to rid the region of the « deviated cult. »

Some Bahrainis may have been wondering, however, at what point this cult was viewed to have « deviated. » In June, Information Minister Sameera Rajab appeared to tweet sympathetically about the advances IS was then making, suggesting that they might represent « a revolution against the injustice and oppression that has reigned over Iraq for more than 10 years » — a view echoed by many prominent figures in Bahrain.

Nor have the authorities given the impression that they are treating the threat of internal IS recruitment with anything like the seriousness they apply to « rooting out traitors » — a reference to the pro-democracy activists that have been taking to the streets to demand reform since 2011. So far, only one of those in the IS video has been identified — a former lieutenant in the Bahraini police force, Mohammed Isa al-Binali — although it is hard to believe that discovering the identities of the other three would be too difficult in a country with a native population of under 600,000.

In contrast to the grand rhetoric employed against political dissenters, the authorities tend to dismiss radicalization as the result of « misguided » youth who have been « led astray. » There is no acknowledgement that books printed and distributed by the Bahraini Army itself have promoted the takfiri thought that underpins IS and other extremist groups. Adel Jassim Flaifel, a former colonel in the state security service who has been accused of torture and openly preaches sectarian hate speech, was only recently arrested — though he was convicted only on lesser charges of financial irregularities. Before he was detained this summer he had spent three years openly preaching extremist views in Muharraq, Bahrain’s third largest city.

So far there doesn’t appear to have been any documented trial of any person on charges of IS-related terrorist activity despite government vows to pursue and monitor their activities.

So far there doesn’t appear to have been any documented trial of any person on charges of IS-related terrorist activity despite government vows to pursue and monitor their activities. The government offered a two-week amnesty for former jihadists in March of this year. (A Bahraini IS fighter responded by ripping up his Bahraini passport on YouTube.) Commenters on Bahraini websites supporting IS brag about the freedom they enjoy in the kingdom, compared with other Gulf states such as the United Arab Emirates.By contrast, the government has violently repressed the largely peaceful, non-sectarian movement — led by activists like Nabeel Rajab, the president of the banned Bahrain Center for Human Rights — that continues to fight for equality, freedom, and human rights. Rajab was arrested on Oct. 1 for tweeting that « Many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator. » He was charged with « offending national institutions, » a crime punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment. (He’s supposed to receive his sentence today, Oct. 29.) He has already served two years on charges that included criticizing the prime minister, and was only released in May.

For three years, the regime has destroyed Shiite mosques, carried out sectarian profiling, and « cleansed » state institutions in a crackdown during which up to 15,000 people have been arrested; around 3,000 remain in prison. The government’s sectarian narrative — that the Sunni regime and its loyalists are threatened by the Shiites, who make up two-thirds of the Muslim population — is the paradigm that has been used to frame the Bahraini pro-democracy uprising right from the start. The opposition does include Shiites, who are justly aggrieved by decades of exclusion, but also many others whose longstanding demand has been for a constitutional monarchy and human and civil rights.

Last month, the NGO I cofounded, Bahrain Watch, uncovered a list of 77 people targeted by Bahraini intelligence agencies using British surveillance technology. Those named consisted almost entirely of lawyers, activists, and journalists who support political reform. This interpretation of what constitutes a « threat to national security » exemplifies the Bahraini regime’s warped worldview — that peaceful dissent is more of a threat than crime and terrorism.

The greatest Bahraini contribution to IS has not, however, been only in the form of fighters and funding. It has been through ideological and moral support, in particular from the radical Bahraini cleric Turki al-Binali, the now Mosul-based spiritual ideologue of IS whose writings have set out the case for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s credentials as the righteous caliph to whom all Muslims owe allegiance. His sermons in Bahrain, Libya, and Tunisia can all be found on YouTube, and he was freely traveling and preaching up until at least the end of 2013, if not later. (In the photo above, Binali leads a terrorism class in Mosul.) Last year, he led a protest outside the American embassy in Manama, the Bahraini capital, with no sign of the tear gas and crowd control usually employed during pro-democracy gatherings, despite the fact that the demonstrators were waving al Qaeda flags and pictures of Osama Bin Laden.

For years, Turki al-Binali has been expanding his influence in Bahrain and recruiting for his cause with little or no interference from the authorities. Bahrain’s society is small and interconnected, and this may explain why he’s enjoyed impunity for so long. The Binalis are an important family in the country due to their close historical and tribal ties to the ruling al-Khalifas. (Turki al-Binali is also related to Mohamed al-Binali, the renegade police official.)

Of course, some IS support was initially motivated as much by genuine feelings of solidarity with fellow Arabs suffering the oppression of the Syrian regime as by ideological Salafism. But the Bahraini government had also been nurturing and nourishing extremist groups and their sectarian ideology to counter the so-called « Shiite threat » posed by the pro-democracy uprising. For decades, the government has excluding Shiites from sensitive positions, a policy of exclusion that has included filling the security forces with mercenaries from Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and Baluchistan. Many of these « New Bahrainis » have been fast-tracked into citizenship. The popularity of IS ideology within the Bahraini security services shows just how clearly this policy has backfired.

Far from showing gratitude for this support, however, IS has been denouncing the ruling Khalifas as « heretics » for allowing the Americans to launch airstrikes against the jihadists in Syria and Iraq from the U.S. Navy base in Bahrain. IS is also attacking the royal family for allowing the sale of alcohol and for « placing themselves as gods next to Allah. »

Meanwhile, negotiations between the regime and Al Wefaq, the main opposition party, have broken down, and Al Wefaq has decided to boycott the parliamentary elections scheduled for November. The king has offered concessions, but they have been minimal, abstract, and insufficient to persuade Al Wefaq to participate. (Among the party’s demands: an equal voting system, an elected government, and a fair and independent judiciary.) Impartial polling data in Bahrain is virtually impossible to obtain, but social media sentiment suggests that the boycott enjoys wide support. In response, a judge has now banned the party for three months. This dangerous move to completely outlaw all political activity will push the democracy movement underground, and will push it toward the use of violence.

Now that Bahrain is « at war, » however, talk of reform and elections has been relegated to the back seat.

Now that Bahrain is « at war, » however, talk of reform and elections has been relegated to the back seat. The monarchy’s Western allies are also more concerned about the monstrosity growing in the bosom of the Arab world rather than the environment that bred and nourished it.But that is a mistake. The bigger question that needs to be addressed in the Gulf region is how to fight the extremist radicalization that has served as the material and « ideological incubator » of IS. It is not enough to tackle the enemy by military means without tackling the root causes of sectarianism and the specific environments and cultures in which it arises. The Bahraini regime needs first to dismantle a system that encourages extremism, promotes sectarianism, enforces exclusionary policies, and survives on repression.

Bahrain’s rulers may regard the country’s role in the coalition as necessary for their own self-preservation. If they lose their Western allies, and if their already small base of Sunni loyalists defects to the extremists, the already bare threads of sovereign legitimacy may not be strong enough to keep the dynasty in power. The regime hopes is that it can reduce the external pressure for democratic change by strengthening its alliance with the West. But its allies, above all the United States and the United Kingdom, must not let the regime’s participation in the military offensive serve as a quid pro quo for avoiding genuine democratization.

The reality is that Bahrain, like many other Arab states, is in urgent need of a national unity that can only be achieved by forging a new social contract around democratic constitutions that represent the will of the people. Democracy is the only beacon of hope for a region that is drowning in a cesspool of extremism and authoritarianism.

So far, however, the ruling elites across the region only know how to respond by force, with the help of economic fuel provided by the richer Gulf states. Many believe the future lies in a regional bargain between the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Iran but it is not clear to anyone if democracy is a stake in this bargain at all.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com

Le Rafale va-t-il enfin se poser au Qatar ?

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  Le Qatar semble proche d'un achat de 36 Rafale à la France
Le Qatar semble proche d’un achat de 36 Rafale à la France (Crédits : reuters.com)
Michel Cabirol 
Une délégation qatarie est actuellement en France pour négocier l’achat de 36 Rafale.

Selon plusieurs sources concordantes, une délégation qatarie de très haut niveau est actuellement en France pour négocier un contrat Rafale avec Dassault Aviation. Elle devrait rester trois semaines à Paris pour tenter de conclure un contrat portant sur l’achat de 36 Rafale. Si les négociateurs parviennent à s’entendre, une visite présidentielle de François Hollande au Qatar d’ici à la fin de l’année serait prévue pour officialiser cette commande, la première du Rafale à l’exportation.

Toute la filière aéronautique française retient son souffle sur la réussite de ces négociations, mais reste à la fois prudente et confiante. Car le Qatar souhaite acquérir le Rafale, mais à son rythme. Les observateurs les plus avertis savent depuis des semaines que les Qataris vont « prochainement » annoncer leur choix en faveur de l’avion de combat français mais « le terme prochainement est toujours relatif » avec eux, rappelle l’un d’entre eux. La patience et la ténacité sont donc nécessaires pour négocier avec les Qataris. Au final, explique-t-on à La Tribune, « nous sommes raisonnablement optimistes ».

Le Qatar et la technologie française

Lors d’un toast prononcé en juin dernier à l’Elysée à l’occasion du diner officiel offert en l’honneur de l’émir, cheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al-Thani, en visite en France, François Hollande avait fait allusion aux négociations sur la vente du Rafale, relevant que « le Qatar a toujours fait les choix pour son armée de la technologie française ». « Je sais que vous avez la plus grande attention et la plus grande bienveillance par rapport aux matériels que nous vous proposons dans tous les domaines et notamment aéronautique », avait-il enchaîné. Un an plus tôt, jour pour jour, le 23 juin 2013, le président François Hollande avait déjà évoqué le dossier du Rafale avec les dirigeants qataris, lors d’une visite à Doha.

En mars, les Qataris avaient repris langue avec le Team Rafale (Dassault Aviation, Thales et Safran) en posant de nouvelles questions sur l’avion de combat. après une interruption des discussions de plus de trois mois. Des questions qui portaient sur le prix de l’appareil selon le volume d’une éventuelle commande (12, 24, 36, 72 Rafale) afin de mieux cerner la structure de coûts de l’avion de combat. Pays proche de la France, le Qatar veut équiper sa force aérienne de 72 appareils, dont au moins 36 Rafale. L’armée de l’air qatarie est actuellement équipée de 12 Mirage 2000-5.

Source: http://www.latribune.fr

L’épineux dossier de l’achat numérique dans les lycées

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L'épineux dossier l'achat numérique lycées

Les environnements numériques de travail (ENT), surtout portés par les collectivités, sont l’objet de vives tensions en Ile-de-France. Un exemple qui pourrait entraîner une vague d’appels d’offres partout en France.

Ce fut une rentrée sans incident majeur pour l’ENT « Lilie », l’environnement numérique de travail de la région Ile-de-France, après plusieurs années d’échecs et de tâtonnements. Le développement de cette plate-forme open source pour tous les lycées d’Ile-de-France a été confié en 2009 à la société Logica, rachetée en 2011 par le canadien CGI, dans le cadre du plus important marché public jamais réalisé dans ce secteur : 17,7 millions d’euros sur six ans, pour 475 lycées. « Quatre fois le prix du marché de 2009 », s’étonne un concurrent. Cinq ans plus tard, moins de 20 % des lycées franciliens bénéficient de ce service. Une situation préoccupante, dénoncée par le syndicat des chefs d’établissement, le SNPDEN.

Le temps de l’enquête

Au printemps 2013, le syndicat publie une enquête faisant état de 90 % d’insatisfaction chez les lycées utilisateurs de l’ENT. « Les usagers se sont retrouvés confrontés à des problèmes de lenteur, ou à des difficultés pour accéder à certaines applications. Il était par exemple impossible de joindre un document dans les mails… Les choix techniques opérés ne correspondaient pas toujours aux besoins des utilisateurs. Toutes ces difficultés ont fini par décourager les établissements de se lancer dans le projet », détaille Bruno Bobkiewicz, proviseur du lycée Paul-Eluard de Saint-Denis, chargé de l’enquête.

Contactée, la société CGI, signataire du marché public, reconnaît des « problèmes liés à la montée en charge du service et au nombre de lycées concernés ». « Le moment de la rentrée est souvent source d’insatisfaction et d’instabilités ponctuelles. Nous nous adaptons progressivement aux demandes des utilisateurs », justifie Pierre-Dominique Martin, vice-président secteur public et transport au sein de CGI. Il met en avant la  « co-construction » de la solution technique avec le donneur d’ordre, la région Ile-de-France, une démarche originale affichant l’ambition d’être au plus près des besoins des usagers. La société a néanmoins versé 250.000 euros de pénalités à la région pour les ratés de la rentrée 2013…

Changement de méthode

Les déboires de Lilie ont poussé la région à changer de méthode : une convention est signée avec les trois académies d’Ile-de-France pour faciliter les échanges avec l’Education nationale, et un groupe de travail associant les chefs d’établissement mis sur pied. « Nous avons obtenu que l’investissement en suivi technique de la société CGI soit suffisant, avec un nouveau chef de projet. Nous avons de notre côté nommé un responsable transversal pour que CGI ait aussi un interlocuteur de terrain », détaille Henriette Zoughebi, vice-présidente de la région chargée des lycées.

Mais comment justifier auprès des utilisateurs, enseignants et chefs d’établissement un tel investissement pour des résultats plus qu’incertains ? « Nous avons opté en 2009 pour une solution chère parce que nous avions le souci d’anticiper l’évolution des usages, d’offrir un service complet et libre, que d’autres collectivités pourraient ensuite s’approprier, au-delà de l’Ile-de-France », justifie aujourd’hui Henriette Zoughebi.

Nouvelle série d’appels d’offres

Séduites par la solution open source, d’autres collectivités se sont en effet engagées dans le projet. Le Conseil général de Seine-Saint-Denis a ainsi souhaité faire bénéficier ses collèges de l’ENT Lilie. En 2010, un marché est donc signé avec la société CGI. Un an plus tard, confronté à des problèmes de lenteur et des difficultés techniques, le déploiement de l’ENT est stoppé, et le projet abandonné. Même scénario en Rhône-Alpes, qui a conclut un marché avec CGI puis l’a dénoncé au vu des difficultés techniques rencontrées.

Rhône-Alpes a depuis lancé un nouvel appel d’offres, remporté par Kosmos, société nantaise spécialisée dans les applications éducatives. La région n’est pas la seule, puisque la Seine-Saint-Denis a lancé un nouvel appel à projets auprès de ses collèges : 25 établissements y ont répondu. Ils bénéficient cette année d’une subvention de 3.048 euros du département pour s’offrir, en direct, l’ENT de leur choix. Lionel Wolman, chef de projet, évoque une  « phase transitoire » avant le lancement d’un nouvel appel d’offres en janvier. « La Région Rhône-Alpes ou la Seine-Saint-Denis se sont heurtées aux mêmes difficultés que nous. Mais elles ont choisi d’y répondre différemment. Nous voulions comprendre d’où venaient les dysfonctionnements et les résoudre. Aujourd’hui, notre outil est fiable et nous permet d’envisager les usages de l’école du XXIe siècle », assure Henriette Zoughebi. Au total, la vingtaine de millions d’euros – 17,7 millions d’investissement et 5 millions de fonctionnement – investis depuis 2009 dans Lilie représente le prix d’un lycée neuf.

Marie-Caroline Missir

Source: lesechos.fr

The Secret Life of an ISIS Warlord

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Abu Omar al-Shishani has a fierce, gorgeous Chechen bride. He learned intelligence operations from the U.S. And his older brother may be the real genius of ISIS.
PANKISI GORGE, Georgia—The mother of martyrs, a woman in her fifties, is delicately beautiful and visibly in pain. She covers her hazel eyes and sobs over a photo album as the call to prayer echoes throughout the Georgian village of Jokolo, just south of the Chechen border.

The mother’s story involves one of the most notorious jihadists in the world, a man who served in intelligence units trained by Americans and the British, a man who is the face of the ISIS conquests, and a man who took her late son’s wife for his own bride.

The mother, Leila Achishvili, tries hard to maintain her poise, even as she discusses the death of both of her boys, Hamzat and Khalid Borchashvili. She is halfway through a box of tissues. Her story has just begun.

The eight-mile-long Pankisi Valley is notorious even in the infamous Caucasus as a lawless corridor for smuggling weapons, drugs, and jihadists into Chechnya, just a few miles to the north and the east. It is also one of the few places in Georgia where the sorrowful beauty of the call to prayer still can be heard. These days Pankisi feels closer to Syria than to the nation of Georgia, to which it belongs.

Among the younger generations, radical versions of Sunni Wahhabism have replaced the traditional moderate Sufi Islam of Pankisi’s Kist majority. There is rampant unemployment, and many of these disillusioned young Georgian jihadists now make their way west to Syria via neighboring Turkey. They are inspired by local legend and ISIS commander Abu Omar al-Shishani, who made the same journey only a few years before.

Stories and rumors circulate—whispers of his massive villa, his fiefdom and private harem, his 40 personal guards, his armored cavalcade of SUVs, and now his stunning and fierce Chechen warrior wife. For these young men, their Pankisi native son has already become part Josef Stalin (another native son of Georgia) and part rock star of the media-savvy Islamic caliphate. But according to his father, Abu Omar al-Shishani is a mirage: It’s his older brother who is running the ISIS show.

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The name that Abu Omar al-Shishani grew up with was Tarkhan. And because we are here in his hometown talking to the people who once loved him, and perhaps still do, we’ll use that name, too.  Tarkhan’s father, Temur, a grizzled, eccentric, well-read old Christian with a bitter sense of self-irony, tells his sons’ story in an extensive—almost bizarre—interview with The Daily Beast at his small gray house in the village of Birkiani, where his boys grew up.

“I am like a hobo,” the old man declares. “My son is one of the founders of Islamic caliphate and I’m here, dying in poverty! Look! Look where I live!” According to Temur, his son even invited him to Syria. “He told me, ‘Dad, come with me. You’ll live like you are in paradise.’ I told him, ‘Save your paradise for yourself, I prefer my home here.’”

Despite Tarkhan’s fame as a holy warrior, the father doesn’t see him as particularly pious, his mother came from a Muslim family, but he didn’t show much interest. The old man claims that, in fact, before Tarkhan went to prison, he wasn’t religious at all. He supposedly warned his older brothers about the dangers of fanatical Islam, especially his brother Tamaz, who was fighting in Chechnya: “‘Be citizens of Georgia,’ Tarkhan would say to Tamaz, ‘You are in a war, you may fight there, but do not pick up their beliefs.’ And now look what happened! Do you see how a man can change?”

Like so many of the world’s most brutal dictators, military leaders, tyrants, and jihadists, it appears Tarkhan was trained by the very best: the United States government. According to his father and former colleagues, Tarkhan worked for an elite “Spetsnaz” Georgian military-intelligence unit—at least until he caught tuberculosis, lost his job in the intelligence unit, was then framed by that same intelligence unit, and went to jail in 2010 for weapons possession.

Tarkhan’s father claims that his son worked, specifically, for the ministry of interior’s KUD or “Kudi,” basically the domestic-intelligence and special-operations service in Georgia, officially called the Constitutional Security Department. The agency was notoriously brutal. When asked if it was true that his son Tarkhan was trained by the United States, Temur says, “Of course they did. They trained all of the Georgian army back then… My boy was just 19 when he went to the army… This KUDI, where he was working, it was an intelligence and reconnaissance unit.”

The United States government has been overtly training and funding Georgian troops for more than a decade. This is no secret. Last month, when U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Georgia, he also visited U.S. Marines at the Krtsanisi National Training Center outside Tbilisi, where the leathernecks continue to train Georgian troops as they have for more than a dozen years.

The Daily Beast has learned that a young clean-shaven Tarkhan joined the U.S-funded Georgian army in 2006. He rose quickly. He was recruited into a newly created “Spetsnaz” intelligence unit and he carried out reconnaissance on Russian tank brigades during the 2008 Georgia/Russia War. Levan Amiridze, Tarkhan’s friend and military colleague, with whom he would later spend time in prison, confirmed that officers in the “secret services” of the ministry of defense were routinely trained by both U.S. and British instructors. So there is little doubt that the ISIS commander from Pankisi was either trained by the Americans or by the officers whom they had trained.

Yet despite Tarkhan’s American guidance and combat experience, Tarkhan’s father doesn’t see his son as any kind of military mastermind. Temur views his youngest boy as a kind of victim. Over the course of the interview, the father sketches a relationship that his two sons have gone to great lengths to create and to conceal in their command of ISIS troops in Syria.

“Tarkhan is 27, not more—a child! Tamaz is his teacher. Tamaz ruined everything I had,” says the father of these holy warriors. “Tamaz is everything, the main actor; Tarkhan is nothing.” It was Tamaz who went off to fight in Grozny during the gruesome Chechen rebellion against Russia in the 1990s and early in the last decade. It was Tamaz who took his whole family to Syria. “They are together. Tamaz is his mentor. He survived that huge Grozny war and came back alive. [But] in Syria, Tamaz doesn’t show himself.”

And there we have it. The conspicuous, red-bearded jihadist Tarkhan, a.k.a. Abu Omar, one of the most wanted terrorists on the planet, may well be a figurehead for his older brother, the mastermind behind the Chechen operatives running ISIS offensives in Syria and Iraq.

If this is true, it explains why, unlike the rest of the top ISIS commanders, Tarkhan allows himself to be photographed extensively. They are creating the illusion that he is the “head of snake”—while the real architect of ISIS’s Syria operation, Tamaz Batirashvili, remains in the shadows.

The two brothers have similar features, the same nose, same red beards, yet we are told that Tamaz doesn’t typically wear military fatigues. He dresses simply, in a gown with a scarf on his head. They play two very different roles, but according to a local in Pankisi, “It’s instantly recognizable that they are brothers.” The tactic is quite clever in the terrifying game of illusion and terror that is so essential to the mystique and the conquests of the self-declared caliphate.

The importance of Tamaz is not just a figment of the old man’s imagination. The elder brother’s military prowess and importance to Georgian intelligence was also confirmed by a former Georgian military official, who spoke on condition that he not be identified by name.

There were much more professional and experienced men in the group from the Pankisi who worked with the Georgian spy agency. “Tarkhan was the only newbie,” says this source. “We only recruited him because we were interested in his brother—Tamaz and his friends, who were ‘real wolves,’ experienced soldiers, and veterans of the Chechen wars. We had certain interests toward them.” Georgia’s Anti-Terrorism Center, or ATC, allegedly ran some jihadists out of Pankisi to fight against Moscow’s troops in Grozny, a charge the Georgian government has always denied.

But when Tarkhan got sick with tuberculosis and was ushered out, the government gave him no pension or medical assistance. He grew increasingly angry, and then the government went after him, charging him with arms possession—just as it had done with his older brother years before—and throwing him in jail.

“I don’t know whether he really was involved in weapon smuggling, but most of his friends, including those who were arrested with him, presumably really were doing this,” said the same former official. “Some even were drug addicts. And Tarkhan was thought to act as a fixer, getting them in touch with people from Pankisi who wanted to buy weapons.”

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The home of Leila, the soft-spoken mother of martyrs, is warm and elegant, a far cry from the tiny cottage of the boisterous Temur, Tarkhan’s father. Yet Leila’s hearth is also the childhood home of two Wahhabi jihadists who left Pankisi to join Tarkhan’s fight in Syria. Leila’s sons, Hamzat and Khalid Borchashvili, also have not returned. And there is this curious connection as well: Leila and Temur have the same daughter-in-law.

Her name is Seda Dudurkaeva, although now she goes by the name Aisha. With big brown eyes, long lashes, and voluptuous features, she was once one of Chechnya’s most desired brides. Seda is the daughter of Asu Dudurkaev, who was a minister in the government of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov—who fired him because he could not “control” his fanatical daughter.

Kadyrov, who is very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a strong supporter of the Assad regime in Syria, announced the dismissal of the minister on his absurdly active Instagram page in late November last year: “Dudurkaev, as the leader of one of the most important structures, has no moral right to speak with subordinates about morality and patriotism and religion. His own daughter is in the ranks of the Wahhabis and bandits, who are shedding the blood of civilians, and blowing up Islamic shrines in Syria.”

The conspicuous red-bearded jihadist Abu Omar, one of the most wanted terrorists on the planet, may well be a figurehead for his older brother, the mastermind behind the offensives in Syria and Iraq.

Seda, the Chechen beauty, first went to Syria to marry Leila’s son Hamzat, and Leila’s sobs grow deeper as her story progresses. She says that when her two sons were just boys she sent them to live with her former husband in Austria. She thought he could provide better for them, and she wanted to get them away from the increasingly radical atmosphere in Pankisi. She remembers Hamzat coming home one day when he was only 12 years old wearing the kind of robes affected by the Wahhabi extremist. “I thought in Europe they would abandon Wahhabi teachings,” she say. “I was wrong.”

Fifteen years later, when Hamzat returned from Austria to Pankisi, he was well-educated, with an engineer’s diploma from a university in Vienna, and he could speak five languages. But he took all these skills to Syria, to fight alongside Tarkhan, now known as Abu Omar al-Shishani.

“Hamzat became his interpreter and he would travel everywhere with Abu Omar, never leaving his side and respecting him enormously,” Leila says. But she heard from him only rarely. “I begged him to call me via Skype,” she said. “It’s shameful for a mujahedin to disobey his mother’s wish.”

“I used to not sleep at night, waiting for Hamzat’s Skype call. One night he finally did. Suddenly there on the screen was my son wearing a black scarf on his head with ‘Allah u Akbar’ written in Arabic. When I saw him, I cannot express the feeling I had,” she said. “I asked him: ‘For God’s sake… For Allah’s sake, take me there with you to Syria, I just want to hug you, nothing more.’”

Hamzat agreed to let her visit. “I asked him what to bring with me,” she said. “He told me to bring natural Georgian honey and churchkhela [a traditional Georgian candy made with dried grape must and nuts] for Abu Omar al-Shishani, which he loves very much. I knew Abu Omar,” said Leila. “He grew up here in Pankisi and for some time he worked in Georgia. I took everything that my son liked and missed. And I went to Turkey by bus.”

Leila is reluctant to talk about her son’s wife—the girl who fled from her wealthy father, a life of luxury, and traveled to Syria to marry a mujahedin. She says Seda and Hamzat met online, and that the girl left her guarded house to visit Hamzat, who had been wounded and was in hospital being treated. She acknowledges that someone helped Seda get to Hamzat in Syria, although Leila declines to say if it was friend or a relative.

President Kadyrov, who famously persecutes Wahhabis in Chechnya (along with many others), declared it “a matter of honor” and “a priority” that Seda, who now calls herself Aisha, return to the land of her birth. And the Chechen government’s search for the ex-minister’s daughter eventually led to Leila. “They contacted me and told me to bring that girl back—saying ‘She doesn’t belong with the likes of you,’” Leila recalls.

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Youtube

The mother of martyrs went to Syria with two objectives: to see her son and to convince the girl to return to her family. She was a worried mother navigating safehouses and borders, clandestinely making her way to a rebel stronghold in Syrian territory to retrieve a Chechen princess.

“One man was supposed to meet me in Turkey and see me off to Syria,” she remembers. “Without talking, he took me to the car, gave me a cellphone, and someone spoke to me in poor Russian, asking, ‘Are you Abu Abdula’s mother?’ I said that I was. He asked again, whether I really was the mother of the man who recently married a woman from Chechnya. Again I confirmed. We went to a big building, full of wounded people, refugees from Syria.

“I went downstairs and entered a large room,” she continued, “where I saw about 10 tables with computers and men with long beards. What can I say—they looked very frightening! A group of young boys from Chechnya again asked me: ‘Are you Abu Abdula’s mother?’ Even they knew him.” She had no idea at the time how famous her own son had become in jihadist circles after appearing on YouTube calling on the whole Muslim world, especially athletes, to take part in jihad.

“Then a man came and took us to a bus station,” Leila recalled. “They paid for our tickets. I did not spend a single coin. From there they took us to the Syrian border.” And finally she saw her son, who was no longer the boy she knew: “He was gaunt and armed with all kinds of weapons. He was not the boy I raised. Then they took me to the car surrounded by armed men with cars, who seemed to protect them. They had cars full of guns, in case something happened. When I climbed in, the girl [Seda] was there too.” According to Hamzat, the car belonged to Tarkhan. “He said that these and some other cars were brought from Iran and that he was the only person who had access to this car.”

Apart from his wheels, Hamzat was living with few comforts and little cash. “He did not even have $100 to give me,” said Leila. “He told me: ‘Mom, sorry, I’m dedicating my life to Allah and I am extremely sad that I cannot give you money because I don’t have any.’ He had just one gown that his wife would wash. He used to wear that all the time.”

Leila said her daughter-in-law did not seem to mind. “They were a loving couple,” she said. Seda told her that she was in Syria by her own free will. “She did not complain about anything. I was astonished. She was such a beautiful girl, like an angel. She said that she was freer and felt a spiritual freedom there. As it befits a Muslim woman, in front of me she was shy. I would speak to my son. I told him that her people were calling me and saying that his wife should return home and that they would take care of her. But she said that she was going to stay and die there.”

At night, Leila was awakened frequently by airstrikes. She begged her son on her knees to leave Syria with her. “I asked him why he needed to die, here in a foreign country. He told me that he was strongly following Allah’s path and he was going to sacrifice himself to the God.”

Leila also met with Tarkhan, who came to visit her:  “I was taken to a room full of men where I was told that Omar al-Shishani would come the next day and we would meet separately. I needed to give him the churchkhela that he loved very much. So the next day he came and we sat and spoke for an hour. We did not speak about anything special. He just wondered how the neighbors were and about Pankisi. He told me that he loved and respected my son, Hamzat, very much—how he was a ‘devout and exemplary Muslim.’”

Leila marvels at the reverence with which Tarkhan was treated. In her eyes he was just a boy from Pankisi: “I asked what kind of a position he held and why he was so heavily protected—why people were visiting him to get his advice and consultations or telling him their plans. I was told that he was like a second Bin Laden. He was seen this way.”

Four days after Leila returned home from Syria, she received a call from her younger son, Khalid. He informed her that Hamzat had “become a shahid,” a martyr, and he was dead. Leila desperately begged and pleaded with her youngest son not repeat the mistake of his brother, but Khalid replied: “I have been dreaming about this since my childhood.”

“When I heard these words, my heart froze,” the mother of martyrs told us there at her house in Pankisi. “After four or five weeks, I noticed that people were trying to hide something from me. My worst fear had come true: My Khalid was now dead too. They say he was shot by a sniper. But no one saw him dead or alive. Only his wallet was found. Seda, the widow of Hamzat, sent me the money she found in Khalid’s wallet. She said that it belonged to me.”

***********

Leila Achishvili says she believes that after Hamzat was killed, Seda was ready to leave Syria and return home, but “Abu Omar did not let her go and today she is his wife.” Partly this is tradition as old as the history of warrior Islam. “If a shahid’s wife loses her husband, she should not stay alone without care. This is their rule and according to it now someone else had to marry her. Suddenly Seda found herself with Tarkhan, whom my son trusted and at whose side he used to stand!”

Inevitably there have been rumors and suspicions that Tarkhan might have arranged Hamzat’s death, much as King David in the Bible arranged the death of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah. But there is nothing to substantiate those stories. There is simply too little information.

When asked how exactly Hamzat died, Leila seems uncertain: “As I was told, my son died together with a man from Chechnya. Probably they were returning from the battle together. His car was blown up. He was alive when he was sent to Turkey, but he died there in the hospital.”

Later Leila tried to return to Syria again, to find her sons’ graves, but she was told that she had “no business left” there. The message came from Tarkhan himself.

Now the battlefield is changing. Tarkhan boldly claims that next he will bring the fight to Putin. ISIS has its sights set on the North Caucasus. After years of President Kadyrov’s reign in the Chechen Republic, ISIS may indeed find a niche as it did in Syria. But the Georgians who trained the red-bearded ISIS commander will not welcome his return at this point, no matter how the jihadists might hurt Putin’s cronies. Indeed, some in Tbilisi fear that the Kremlin will act first and use the radicalization in the Pankisi Gorge as a reason to carry out an anti-terrorist operation there—simply put, another Russian invasion of Georgia.

The tiny valley is becoming a big problem. There is a feeling in the air that Pankisi is about to reach its tipping point. Unemployment and the lack of opportunities for young men are taking their toll. The Gorge has always been a hotbed of radicalism and arms smuggling, but now it is fast becoming a shahid factory. The red-bearded jihadist posing frequently for the camera gives the ruthless campaigs of ISIS a glamorous allure, and so far the tactic seems to be working. This “holy war” expends young men faster than mortar rounds. And the brothers Tarkhan and Tamaz know that the ones who survive will return to their homeland soon enough as ruthless battle-hardened jihadists—as “real wolves.”

Yet for the mothers and fathers of this radicalized generation, there is only loss and uncertainty. In this valley so far away from Syria, questions loom like mist drifting off the Caucasus. Leila has lost both of her sons. In a different way, Temur, the father of Tarkhan and Tamaz, also has lost his. With grave sincerity Leila asks, “What is the purpose of this war? With whom are they fighting and for what or why are they killing each other?  Still today I cannot find an explanation for why these little children are dying.”

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com

Cameron uses Downing Street talks to challenge Emir of Qatar to stop the flow of cash to ISIS

Mots-clés

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  • Cameron today challenged the Emir of Qatar to stop the flow of cash to ISIS
  • Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Than is in Britain for three day state visit  
  • Qatar has denied supporting ISIS militant extremists in Iraq and Syria
  • Critics want them to do more to stop the flow of money to terrorists 
  • Labour MP Steve Rotheram raised allegations over World Cup funding
  • He called on Foreign Office to investigate claims cash is being ‘syphoned off’

David Cameron today challenged the Emir of Qatar to stop the flow of cash to ISIS – following bombshell allegations in Parliament that the country is ‘siphoning off’ funds meant for the World Cup to fund Islamic terror.

The Prime Minister held talks with the Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Than amid increasing concerns over the wealthy Arab state’s links to Islamic extremism and the deadly conditions migrant labourers are forced to live in.

Qatar is part of the military coalition against the militants, but elements within the wealthy state have been accused of bankrolling the militants.

David Cameron greeted the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at Downing Street today amid growing concerns over the wealthy country's links to extremism

David Cameron greeted the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at Downing Street today amid growing concerns over the wealthy country’s links to extremism

Mr Cameron was challenged in the House of Commons today to raise the issue of ISIS funding with Qatar's leader

Mr Cameron was challenged in the House of Commons today to raise the issue of ISIS funding with Qatar’s leader

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron was asked whether he agreed with the US assessment that Qatar was ‘a permissive jurisdiction for terrorist finance’.

Mr Cameron said: ‘I will be talking to the Emir very shortly, and of course we will discuss all these issues, particularly how we can work together to combat extremism.’

He added: ‘It really does matter that we work with all our allies to ensure that extremist and terrorist groups do not get the support that they seem to be.

The exchange came after ministers were called on to investigate reports that British companies were being short-changed on World Cup construction contracts – with funds being siphoned off to Syria for ISIS.

Downing Street insisted ‘no issues’ would be ‘off the table’ during the meeting with the Qatari leader at Number 10 this afternoon

Asked earlier this week whether Mr Cameron would challenge the Emir on reports that elements in his country have channelled funds ISIS, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘I’m sure the PM will talk about the work being done by both countries in terms of tackling terrorism.

‘Qatar is part of the coalition of countries participating in airstrikes against Isil in Syria. All countries are taking forward anti-terror financing work consistent with the UN Security Council Resolution in August.

‘I’m sure they will discuss a range of issues to do with combating terror in that region.’

The Emir is in London for a three-day state visit to Britain, beginning today. The country has rejected accusations that it is funnelling cash to ISIS

The Emir is in London for a three-day state visit to Britain, beginning today. The country has rejected accusations that it is funnelling cash to ISIS

Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani were welcomed to the UK by the Queen at Buckingham Palace 

Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani were welcomed to the UK by the Queen at Buckingham Palace

The spokesman added that Mr Cameron would also raise concerns about conditions for stadium construction workers.

The spokesman said: ‘He will be discussing that with the Emir. The Qatari authorities themselves have in recent months announced a series of changes and reforms.

‘I’m sure there will be an opportunity for the Prime Minister to ask how that is going and to continue to make the offer of UK expertise and learning from our experience of construction of the various pieces of infrastructure associated with the London 2012 Olympics.’

Allegations of corruption during the bidding process for the 2022 tournament have also dogged Qatar and the high death rate on match sites has sparked international condemnation.

 The spokesman said the question of whether Qatar should host the World Cup was ‘a matter for Fifa’, adding: ‘The right thing to do is, where and if we can be of assistance to Qatar as it develops its infrastructure ahead of that tournament, to offer it.’

Owned by Qatar: The Shard, Britain's tallest building, is just one of several London landmarks owned by the rulers of the oil-rich gulf state

Owned by Qatar: The Shard, Britain’s tallest building, is just one of several London landmarks owned by the rulers of the oil-rich gulf state

During the talks in Downing Street, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond signed a cultural agreement with his counterpart Khalid Mohammed al-Attiyah, which officials said was in ‘recognition of our long-standing friendship’ with Qatar.

Qatar last night refuted was claims that money for UK firms working on World Cup 2022 venues is being siphoned off to ISIS extremists.

The country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani told MailOnline it is a ‘serious allegation’ which the government ‘refutes completely’.

Labour MP Steve Rotheram raised the cases in Parliament ahead of David Cameron holding talks with the Emir of Qatar tomorrow.

Qatar controversially won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup, despite widespread concern that soaring temperatures will make games impossible to play.

Several British construction firms have won contracts to work for big Qatari firms on building venues in the country.

However, Mr Rotherham claimed that companies have had money withheld which has been redirected to Islamic extremists in Syria.

In a statement, the Qatari Prime Minister said: ‘It is a serious allegation and it is one we refute completely.

‘Let me be clear, for the avoidance of doubt, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies in the Middle East and around the world to face down the terrorist threat.’

Earlier in the Commons, Mr Rotherham, the MP for Liverpool Walton, called on ministers to examine the allegations.

Speaking during Foreign Office question time, Mr Rotheram said: ‘There are accusations that some UK companies are being short-changed on contracts associated with the construction of World Cup venues in Qatar and even claims that some monies unpaid are being siphoned off to Syria and into the hands of Isil.’

He told Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood: ‘Can you look urgently to these allegations and can you offer support to UK firms regarding their reimbursement by the Qatari royalty, government or businesses?’

Mr Ellwood replied: ‘I was in Doha last week and I raised this very issue. They do what is called a kafala system which has now been upgraded, which you may be aware of.

‘It is being replaced to give greater rights to migrant workers – there’s 1.3 million in Qatar – but also giving responsibilities to the employers as well to make sure they look after these.’

In August Qatar denied supporting ISIS militants, insisting that ‘determined, collective action’ was needed to end sectarian violence in Iraq and Syria.

And officials including Qatar’s director of intelligence told the BBC that the country only supported moderate rebel groups in Syria and ‘had nothing to hide’.

It is claimed British firms working on Qatar World Cup venues have been denied money which has been redirected to ISIS extremists

It is claimed British firms working on Qatar World Cup venues have been denied money which has been redirected to ISIS extremists

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, is  visiting London this week to promote economic investment in Britain

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, is visiting London this week to promote economic investment in Britain

Qatar unveil 60,000-seater Al Bayt stadium for World Cup 2022

But this week a US government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington believes Turkey is partnering with Qatar in providing support to Islamist factions and militias in Libya.

At the weekend Tory MP Stephen Barclay told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘It remains unclear whether money is still flowing from Qatari nationals.

‘There is clear evidence that Qatari nationals have been instrumental in the financing of Sunni terror groups and the Prime Minister should not avoid tackling this issue head on with the Emir.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

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