January 15, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5136

Editors Of London-Based Arabic Newspapers Respond To French Intervention In Mali

January 15, 2013
Africa | Special Dispatch No. 5136

In recent articles, the editors of the leading London-based Arabic dailies Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and Al-Quds Al-Arabi responded to France's military intervention in Mali, which is aimed at wresting the north of the country from the control of jihadi organizations. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor Tariq Alhomayed rebuked France and the international community for intervening in Mali while refraining from intervening in Syria. Conversely, Al-Quds Al-Arabi editor 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan wrote that Western interventions in Muslim countries are a new form of colonialism meant to plunder the Muslim's wealth. He added that these interventions usually achieve the opposite of what the West purports to aim for: They increase chaos and corruption, and strengthen the terrorists. The intervention in Mali, 'Atwan warned, is likely to strengthen the jihadists there, and may also awaken Al-Qaeda sleeper cells in France that will carry out terrorist operations on French soil.

The following are Alhomayed's article, as it appeared in the English edition of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat,[1] and excerpts from an English translation of 'Atwan's article that was posted on his website concurrently with the publication of the Arabic article in Al-Quds Al-Arab.[2]

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: Why Does The West Rush To Mali's Aid While Ignoring Syria?

Tariq Alhomayed

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor Tariq Alhomayed wrote: "We cannot blame those who are amazed at France's decision to intervene militarily in Mali after nine months of Islamist militants controlling parts of the country, whilst for the past two years the entire world has turned a blind eye to [Bashar] Al-Assad's terrorism, which has killed around 50,000 Syrians so far, not to mention the dire humanitarian situation faced by the rest of the country's citizens.

"According to its President, Francois Hollande, 'France, at the request of the President of Mali, and respecting the United Nations' charter, committed itself yesterday to support the Malian army against terrorist aggression that threatens all of West Africa'. Yet the question here is, What is this rule that applies to Mali but does not apply to Al-Assad's crimes against the Syrians? If the President of Mali requested France alone to mobilize, with Western blessing, then what is to stop someone saying that that Iran, for example, could intervene to protect Al-Assad at the request of the 'Syrian President,' who has constantly claimed that the rebels are terrorists?

"This is truly a distressing matter. My intention here is not to detract from the plight of Mali and its citizens, nor to belittle their sufferings, but the story here lies in ignoring the suffering of the Syrians, a plight that cannot be sanctioned by any logic, law, or religion. It is strange that Francois Hollande says that the intervention operation in Mali will last 'as long as necessary,' and that 'France will always be there when the rights of a people, those of Mali who want to live freely and in a democracy, are at issue.' The question here is: Is this not also the demand of the Syrians who have been confronting the worst kinds of terrorism carried out by the Al-Assad regime, amidst an international silence, for the past two years? When I talk about an international silence here, I do not mean [that] the Syrians need words, rather they need action. It is inconceivable for the Syrian rebels to be left without support in the face of a criminal regime that does not hesitate to use aircraft and missiles, with clear Iranian backing, whilst the West rushes to save Mali.

"For the sake of argument, some may point to the difficult international political scene with regards to Syria, and argue that external intervention would only complicate matters. However, the reality in front of us says that diplomatic efforts, whether at the level of talks with the Russians or through the Security Council, are not serious. We cannot say that everyone has done all they can. The world, including our region, has sat waiting in a vacuum created by the U.S. president and his electoral priorities over the past two years, and everyone is still waiting for a decisive U.S. stance. Meanwhile, Al-Assad is not waiting for anything; his crimes against the Syrians are ongoing and he is even coming out [and] proposing initiatives on his terms.

"To conclude, the justification provided by the French for their military intervention in Mali is nothing but a [black mark against] France itself, along with the international community, for failing to intervene and support the rebels in Syria, who are suffering crimes more heinous than what is happening in Mali. Al-Assad does not only represent a threat to the Syrians, but also to the region as a whole and the Mediterranean [Basin], which of course impacts upon the security of France and the West."

Al-Quds Al-Arabi Editor: "Isn't It Strange That All NATO Interventions... Target Muslim Countries And Devastate Muslim Peoples...?"

'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan

Al-Quds Al-Arabi editor 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan wrote: "Yesterday, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi revealed that France [had] dispatched planes to bomb sites in Libya even before U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 had been approved. He also claimed that France [had] provoked a local dispute to justify its intervention. Today, International news agencies tell us that French aircraft have bombed Islamist rebel positions in Mali for [three days], and [have] sent more troops to the capital, Bamako, awaiting the arrival of the West African States (ECOWAS) to expel the Al-Qaeda-linked rebels from the north of the country.

"First, the West intervened in Afghanistan tearing it up geographically and demographically and killing thousands of its people. Then they invaded Iraq, [plunging] it into sectarian conflict, dispersing millions of its people, and turning it to one of the world most corrupt countries. Then they continued this trajectory by bombing Libya and Yemen, and now they are strongly supporting the uprising in Syria.

"They told us that NATO's military intervention in Libya was [meant] to prevent a massacre, overthrow a tyrant, establish stability, build a modern state and stave off corruption. We tell them that all these pretenses are null and void. Tyranny was your friend, and corruption has been and always will be your means to plunder our natural and financial resources. It is no coincidence that all the countries in which you intervened, namely Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Libya, occupy the top positions in Transparency International's list of the most corrupt countries in the world. Your intervention in Afghanistan was [intended] to fight 'Al-Qaeda' and destroy its roots, but it [only] grew more powerful with your invasion of Iraq. Bombing Libya and overthrowing its regime opened the doors of its arsenal to jihadi movements who now control sub-Saharan Africa and North Mali with the active participation of AQIM [Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula].

"Isn't it strange that all NATO interventions and military invasions target Muslim countries and devastate Muslim peoples, who are murdered, displaced and hit by famine – starting from Somalia, through to Afghanistan, then Iraq and finally Mali? They justify this bloody military intervention in Mali by saying that it is [meant] to combat Al-Qaeda, but there was no Al-Qaeda in Libya or Iraq before their invasion. It only came after the intervention. What is happening right now is a return to old colonialism, but with different causes and names, sometimes [under the banner of] changing dictatorial regimes, and at other times under the banner ​​of justice, freedom and human rights..."

"France Will Face The Same Fate [As] America In Iraq And Afghanistan"

"Oil is the key reason behind all Western military interventions in Muslim countries, and Mali will not be an exception. It is true that Mali is not a rich oil state, but it is adjacent to the largest oil and gas fields in Africa, [namely those in] Algeria and Nigeria, plus its territory contains a large stock of uranium and other precious metals...

"America, fiercely competing with China for control over Africa, established a special military command under the name "Africom" and rushed to support the French military intervention in Mali. Soon, we will see dozens of U.S. drones hunting Islamist combatants and non-combatants, just as we see happening in Afghanistan and Yemen.

"France will face the same fate [as] America in Iraq and Afghanistan, maybe even worse, because Western military interventions in the 21st century are no longer easy and are fraught with risks. Africa's Sahel region will descend into utter chaos, because the jihadi groups that will move in the folds of its deserts are armed to the teeth, thanks to the Western military intervention in Libya, which allowed these groups to get weapons they would have never dreamed of having. France went to Mali under the pretext of eliminating Al-Qaeda and preventing it from establishing a base close to its coasts. The intervention may lead these jihadi organizations to achieve what France is trying to prevent. More dangerously, it could re-awaken some of its inactive cells within France to conduct terror-like operations like the one Mohammad Merah carried out in the French Jewish School of Toulouse.

"The question is: How much longer must wealthy Arab and Muslim territories face Western military interventions and domination under whatever pretext? Today they are waging war against jihadist organizations in Mali and the Sahara region. Will the same scenario be repeated in Syria soon, under the title of fighting the jihadist Al-Nusra Front and others? Just remember these words."





[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 15, 2013. Both articles have been lightly edited for clarity.

[2], January 14, 2013. For the article in Arabic, see Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), January 14, 2013.

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