Monday, December 31, 2007

Zeroes & Heroes

Many actors played different roles in shaping the ups and downs of last year events. Some usual suspects who left already their print in previous years have proven to be resiliently present in 2007. Others have emerged as new figures. Here are the makers and breakers who caught my eye in '07.

The Zeros

The gangster administration in Washington

Responsible for the killing (in a way or another) of well over one million Iraqis (according to the most conservative estimates) and the displacement of more than four million others, the Bush administration has persevered in manipulating the facts and succeeded in stirring up factional and sectarian divisions within Iraq. Divide and rule as the old adage goes. The puppet regime in Baghdad, a rubber stamp of what ever Washington decides has shown complete incompetence and subservience and proved to be completely disconnected from the Iraqi people. Although one can only be pleased by the relative decrease in the number of terrorist attacks (from whatever source they might come) and casualties among civilians, the fact remains that Iraq is still under occupation by a colossal number of foreign troops, backed by some hundred thousands mercenaries; and that its oil resources have now been de facto mortgaged by major American oil companies through the euphemistically called Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs).

The Apartheid regime in Israel

Israel has shown, yet again, to those who had a shred of doubt about its real -barely hidden- intentions, that it is not, had not and will not be prepared to pay the price of JUSTICE, the only and genuine road-map for PEACE. Its lobby and supporting "think" tanks have shown, beyond any reasonable doubt how influential they were in shaping American foreign policy towards the question of Palestine. Scholars have yet again been silenced and the systematic accusation of anti-Semitism has been brandished to all those who dared challenging the received wisdom about Israel branded as the "only democracy in region," when it is the only remaining apartheid state in the World. The Gaza concentration camp has been squeezed into a cruel embargo which is aimed at collectively punish the Palestinians for having democratically voted in the wrong way. A stooge government has been anointed: "the legitimate government of Palestine," effectively playing the role of the I'D'F in oppressing the occupied people in Palestine. Signed agreements (remember Annapolis?) have been dishonoured and more illegal settlements have been built up on equally illegal colonies planted on the land stolen from the Palestinians.

Arab despots and potentates (without exception, from the Atlantic to the Arabian-Persian sea)
At the very root of the complete tragedy experienced by Arabs and Muslims all over the world, the Arab regimes, 22 in total, managed to stay in power in large part because (or thanks to) the Western support. These are the most incompetent, backward, inept, power-obsessed and megalomaniac heads of states on the planet. Of course, the peoples have only the kind of government they deserve." This is true to a large extent, and one should not easily put all the blame on external conspirators, although the conspiracy is not all theoretical. Taha Hussein, the dean of contemporary Arabic literature and a pioneer of enlightenment in the Arab World (according to once said:

"We want to be free people in our countrie[s], free of foreigners such that they cannot oppress us or treat us unjustly, and free with respect to ourselves, such that no one of us can oppress or treat another unjustly."

Religious fanatics of all sides
Since 9/11, religious fanaticism has been thriving. Alqaeda found in the actions of the Bush administration, which has mainly gained the white house -especially in its second term-thanks to the very "generous" support of very influential Christian fundamentalists -most of them openly Zionists-, the more powerful recruitment argument for its campaign of terror and nihilist destruction. Extremes have always campaigned for each other!

The Heroes

President Hugo Chavez
The Venezuelan president has won more democratic and transparent elections, and more popular referenda than any other living leader. He is independent and pro-people, hence the hostility of the Western establishment towards him. More power to you Chavez!

Illan Pappé

The courageous Israeli historian has published at the beginning of this year, the English version of his book ""Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine." A refreshingly honest account of how Israel seeks, as it had always sought to, to systematically and methodically kill, harass, terrorise and push the Palestinians to the edge so that they lose hope and renounce their rights and eventually leave their homeland.

Norman Finkelstein

Another victim of the Israel lobby in America, forced to resign from his position for no reason other than being forensically objective about the realities of the middle east. Fascism is still alive and kicking!

John Pilger

Award-winning independent journalist and a renowned documentary film-maker. "The War on Democracy" is his latest opus. A startling reminder of the ravages that capitalism has already caused in Latin America, considered for decades to be the American (USA) preserve. Based on an arrogant imperial vision of the world and on the so-called Washington Consensus which theorized and underpinned the neo-liberal policies for the last two or three decades, successive American administrations made sure that no genuine democracy springs in the southern half of the continent: putting absolute potentates at the head of States, overthrowing democratically elected governments and sponsoring a class of plutocrats monopolizing their country's wealth at the expense of impoverished populations.

Aboubakr Jamaï
The founder of the most popular Moroccan magazine, Le Journal Hebdo, was forced earlier this year, to leave Morocco in order to avoid paying a record breaking fine of $350,000, that would otherwise bankrupt his magazine. He is one of the most popular and charismatic young journalists that the country has ever produced, and one who marked the recent Moroccan journalistic scene by bringing a revolutionary new style of professional investigative journalism. He openly challenged the monarchy and the military and literally paid the price. In November 2005, Jamaï wrote a ground-breaking open letter to Mohamed VI in which he urged the monarch to grab the opportunity of his political virginity and his capital of popular sympathy to put the country on the tracks of reform. The letter fell on deaf ears.

Happy new year to all.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

What a Real Happy New Year Would Mean

One Answer Would Be: Getting Rid of Poverty and Child Labor

This is not meant as a miserabilist attempt to hamper the joy of those who, legitimately, want to forget about the ills and miseries of our society. But it is a reminder of the kind of obstacles still ahead.

Thanks for Amine, my indefatigable and tremendously resourceful correspondent and friend.

Short movie by a young Moroccan director (name not communicated), posted on the Internet last September

Friday, December 28, 2007

Qui Bono?

Benazir Bhutto 1953 - 2007

Multiple Choice Question:

Who benefits from the murder of Ms. Bhutto?

A. The Pakistani ruling junta ready for anything to maintain the status-quo?
B. The fundamentalist nutcases and their nihilist and cowardly vision of the world?
C. Some external forces who might find some benefit in keeping Pakistan as volatile and unstable as possible?

Ms. Bhutto has been accused of incompetence, nepotism and corruption in the past, nevertheless she has never been convicted nor has any evidence ever been brought against her. One thing is for sure: she was a hell of a courageous, beautiful and charismatic woman. A Muslim woman who undeniably loved her country and refused to hand it over to arbitrary rulers or to absolutist fanatics.

Pakistan -a nuclear power- is a bullet away from Islamic revolution which would plunge the whole country into a night, darker than the one it already struggles to override. I think that the best homage that her followers may offer to her memory is for their party to get rid of the current prevailing nepotistic system and transform it into a modern and democratic party, offering the secularist alternative that most Pakistanis are today in bad need for.

Rest in peace Ms. Bhutto.

Some Links:

> Murtaza Shibli's summing up of the life and death of Binazir Bhutto and the surrounding drama unfolding in Pakistan.

> Benazir Bhutto hosted by Aljazeera's David Frost, last november.

> The life and death of Benazir Bhutto.

> This is what the Moroccan blogosphere thinks about this tragedy (Thanks Jillian!)

Image courtesy of

Monday, December 24, 2007

Meditations on Mary, Jesus and the Wall

If Mary was to give birth to Jesus Christ today, she would have to go through Israeli checkpoints and be harassed by I'D'F soldiers, only to find herself blocked by the apartheid wall from making her journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem!

Merry Christmas to all, especially those living under occupation in the holy land of Palestine.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Keep Walking America

A Reflexion on What Comes Next

Studying the rapacious behavior of US governments one after the other and in the face of the utter helplessness of most of the ordinary people to even beginning to curb or influence any of these American policies despite the -often- detrimental effects on these same people's lives, security, sovereignty and independence, many resort to a passive and fatalistic state of mind, considering that nothing, nobody, nowhere could ever affect in any effective way, shape or form the pervasive, imperialistic attacks on their lives; thinking that maybe taming the world's only superpower is the only way out.

There is indeed no reason to believe that a violent confrontation would produce any good, but rather reinforce the more fundamentalist, imperialistic and hawkish elements of the American establishment, giving them yet another pretext for more unthinkable adventures.

Non-violent decent, engagement and active progressive political involvement is -in my humble view- the way forward. And equally important is the sens of the "middle-way" as eatbees (definitely my favourite blogger, now taking some rest) very eloquently put it in his
very moving and extraordinarily honest post when he reflected on the way and intensity with which he would try to change the world around him without having to lose his independence or his soul.

No reasonable mind can ever deny the huge benefits that America has brought to the world, but the same once-great nation is pushed by a sort of mad drive; a system that went out of control; a foreign policy led by so-called pressure groups and lobbies who only serve private rather than public interests; a consumerist model based on waste and futility that now threatens the survival of the species; a military-industrial complex always pushing for more blood and wars; powerful oil companies pressing for ever more invasions and mad military adventures; wealthy and influential religious fundamentalists who have decided that you're either with them, hence "good" or against them, hence "evil"; a political class that has sold its soul and pledged allegiance to the oligarchy, the real power holders.

Yet, the path in which America walks today has led nations before her to complete disasters and failures. Oppressive and dominating powers end-up corrupting their own people and dangerously corroding their morals.

As the new year looms at the horizon, one only hopes that the worrying dynamics now underpinning world politics will hopefully evolve to a situation where ideally the people of the world take matters into their own hands and a sort of global democracy takes place where the wealth produced is fairly distributed and where the governments are working for addressing the real needs of the people, as sustainably as they can, in full respect of the environment, rather that simply serving the wealthy influential oligarchy: the private tyrannies who are now running the world and leading us all to an inexorable disaster.

America must change course. Untill that happens, keep lying, keep manipulating, keep conspiring, keep vetoing... keep walking America untill you realize that you can no longer afford failing your own people, betraying the spirit of your own constitution, losing your soul and the World in the process.

Some are Beginning to Introspect...

Some Have Already Warned...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's the People We're Talking About!

It's always refreshing to find that someone out-there is sticking the argument right on the correct place and making the good diagnosis and proposing the right answer:

No to imperialist war!
No to the theocratic regime!
The immediate and unconditional withdrawal of US/UK troops from the Gulf region!
Opposition to Israeli expansionism and aggression!
Support to all working class and progressive struggles in Iran against poverty and repression!
Support for socialism, democracy and workers' control in Iran!
For a nuclear-free Middle East as a step towards a nuclear-free world!

These are the words of the people of Iran (look at "
Hands Off the People of Iran"), not the Mullahs, nor the puppets presenting themselves as "the Iranian opposition" and who are fuelling the rhetoric in Washington and helping the neocons campaign to go further in their path to demonise Iran and push the theocratic regime there to commit the unthinkable, offering them the cassus belli they've been waiting for for so long. The recent joint American intelligence agencies' report which confirmed a bit of what any reasonable observer knew already, doesn't seem to deter the Bushies from keeping on with their calumny business.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bang on Target

The Political Compass
  • Economic Left (-5.38)
  • Social Libertarian (-6.10)
I've been pleased to discover on Ibn Kafka's blog (Obiter Dicta) that most of the usual progressive bloggers I've been meeting there and who submitted themselves to the "Political Compass Test" proposed by the blog's author, were that close to my own results on the same test (insofar as the test is as accurate and credible as the site claims and that it draws an outline of user's political leaning.)

Anyways; I would be really pleased to know what the same test's yield would be if applied to some usual suspects of the kind of Abdelilah, eatbees, Wassim, Jillian and all the others.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Strange Encounter

There she stood in the darkest corner of the room, looking dazed, probably altered by some earlier sipped doses of heavy alcohol but still looking terribly handsome. The room was saturated by a thick fog of cigarette smoke, some rock music was beaming out of the loudspeakers connected to a laptop reading some "illegally" downloaded mp3 files and everybody was speaking and laughing out-loud. Although I'm not an alcohol drinker, I rarely object to sharing my friend's (almost all of them drinkers) party times. Indeed I enjoy it most of the time. The scene I'm describing happened last Saturday in my colleague's place when he invited us all over to celebrate his... mm... how shall I say?... "career promotion." I know... it sounds pompous, but it was more of a pretext for partying. Anyway; at one point that night, I was approached by this young lady:

"Hi! my name is Cécile. I know you're a Moroccan. My parents were Moroccans too"

At which point I woke up from the state of lethargy I was slipping into. The whole evening I was listening to stupid argumentation about football, politics and some boozed-up stories of absolute nonsense, so I was pleased to engage into what seemed to be a promising conversation with a becoming interlocutor of the sort any sober being would be pleased to chat with.

"Yes indeed I am a Moroccan. Have you ever been in Morocco yourself?"

Her eyes were looking tired but she managed to gather strength and looked as if she was struggling to focus on every word she was going to pronounce. As if her life depended on it:

"No, I've never been in Morocco and my parents left the country when they were teenagers; they fled the country with the French in the late 50's and they never wanted to go back. The country will never be as it was in the past, my father always explains."

I thought: "F-L-E-D the country? what the hell is she talking about?"

"Are you sure you're talking about Morocco? I don't understand. If your parents were Moroccans, why would they have to leave with the French, why didn't they stay and enjoy independence?"

"My parents are Jews and they were afraid of the aftermath" she answered. "They feared the reaction of Muslims after the French protectors were gone. Now; don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Muslims but you can see how Jews are treated there nowadays... I think my parents took the right decision."

I always worry when anyone starts saying: "I do like Muslims, BUT..."; "I'm not a racist, BUT..." It's often a disclaimer for an issuing covered up racist diatribe. At that point, I felt that my blood was starting to boil and that I had to hold my fire and try to dig this intriguing matter up as dispassionately as I could.

"With respect, I really don't see what you're talking about. In my whole life I've never heard of or witnessed a Moroccan being attacked or discriminated against because he was a Jew. Yes you can find some scarce instances of mean racist behavior of the kind you'd find in every western society, but nothing really malign. In fact Jewish people -with all due respect to your parents- have fled the country not because they were threatened but because they were encouraged to do so, or deliberately pushed into a state of irrational fear of the Arabs (I mean Muslims) by the so many pernicious activities of Israel's Zionist agencies."

She turned red, but I didn't quite work out whether she was hurt, upset or just going to go berserk.

"I'm a secular Jew, I don't quite care about religious matters. In fact I'm agnostic. I'm suspicious of everything religious. You can't deny mounting antisemitic feelings amongst Muslims... and you cannot just put the blame on Israel... the only democracy in the region and a secular state."

There we go. My goodness! I glanced to my watch thinking: "I don't wanna get bogged down into this... Is this really worth loosing my time?" I was really annoyed by what I've just heard 'cause I really started to like the irresistibly attractive lady standing in front of me, looking offended.

"I'm not denying mounting antisemitic feelings not only amongst Muslims," I replied " but in every corner of the planet and I'm deeply saddened and concerned by that. It's very difficult to deny the obvious and I have no reason to denying that... But I think you've missed my point. Antisemitism is a despicable phenomenon; a symptom of a much profound disease. If you think like a Doctor you would surely want to treat the symptoms but you know that as long as the deep and pernicious source is left undiagnosed, you're running the risk of relapse. And you don't have to work it out that hard. The diagnosis has got a name: it's Zionism. Now, sure Zionism cannot be blamed for all the filthy antisemitic nut cases out there but it's surely a fundamental motive for many ignorant extremists and racists who find in Israel's actions and those of her supporters, the ideal pretext for further stigmatizing and defaming Jews for no reason other than they are Jews. But I think that you should stop deluding yourself with regard to Israel: First it is not a democracy... Did you get that? IT IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. No democracy in the world would divide its citizens into two or three classes: Ashkenazi being first-class citizens, Sephardi and Falasha being arguably the second, and last & indeed least, the unwanted pesky Arabs put in some sort of non-citizenship status. As for Israel being a secular state: I agree that the founding figures of Zionism, from Herzl onward, have been for the most part secular; in fact most of them were atheists, but you have to admit that Judaism was used by those same figures to gain political and moral support for their scheme. If you mistrust anything religious as you claim, I don't see how you can miss the ludicrously obvious religious undertone of the Israeli state which claims to represent all Jews on this planet?"

Now she's seriously blushing. May be I should work out a way out of this. I don't want to be ripped apart by this young lady. Cowardice? Yea! maybe. Who wouldn't lack courage in front of such a delicate creature? She finally replied:

"I don't like Israel, nor do I like Arabs... I mean Arab countries... I mean States. I know where you're coming from but I don't like politics anyway. I don't like politics..."

Well I didn't ask her to dislike Israel or even to love Arabs... All I was asking for, is a bit more of fairness. Now I can't help defining as racist anyone proclaiming his or her dislike or even liking of one group of human beings or another because this is the typical kind of irrational mindset that brought terrible tragedies in the very near past. I mean Arabs, Jews, Blacks or Asians are not clones or a bunch of perfectly homogeneous individuals; therefore there is no reasonable basis for liking or disliking each group as a whole. There is no black and white (no pun intended) kind of answer for that.

We decided to cut short the conversation, changing the subject and trying to enjoy the rest of the evening, not without a little pinch of disappointment in my heart. "Never trust appearances" my grandmother always told me... yes! but I still wonder if I should have asked for her number... to expand on the conversation of course not for what some twisted minds would think... of course!

(picture credit: "JMC")

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sunlight at Midnight

News coming from Palestine those days are quite depressing. Nothing new one might argue, but the deepening divisions amongst the Palestinian society have made it painful for the so many supporters of the noble cause of liberation in Palestine to keep on fighting. So I was delighted to hear (a bit late I have to admit) about this play called "Sunlight at Midnight." Created by the Palestine Theatre in Motion group and supported by Amnesty International, the play commemorates the 25th anniversary of the brutal massacre of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra-Shatila camps. The cast include Najla Said, the daughter of the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said.

"A British Palestinian solicitor, Naji, lives in London doing his best to avoid involvement with the politics that affected his fellow Palestinians. He is successful, happy and assimilated into British society. On a night out celebrating his engagement to his long time girlfriend Alice, they hear a beautiful song by a young woman. Although he cannot understand much about the song, a few days later Naji comes back alone to the same restaurant to hear it again. His growing attachment to the young singer breaks the illusion of his carefully ordered life.

"Guided by the young singer's haunting voice and snippets of emails and articles, Naji follows the story of Hani, a 19 year old boy in from Shatila. It's 1982 and all Palestinian fighters have been allowed safe exit out of Beirut under a peace agreement. Hani bids his family goodbye not realizing it is not he but they who are in danger and that he will never see them again.

"Naji's interest in the past soon reveals more about his own feelings. Are his arguments with Alice over wedding arrangements merely cold feet or a deeper disquiet? Can he really escape the effects of what happened to his fellow Palestinians in Beirut 25 years ago?"

The Palestine Theatre in Motion website doesn't mention dates other than those planned in the UK. If anybody is listening and maybe aware of further presentations throughout Europe (especially in France) please let me know.

(picture credit: "FreePal")

Monday, November 5, 2007

Musharaf Mounts a Coup Against Musharaf

Gen. Pervert... Oh Sorry! Pervez Musharaf has cancelled democracy in Pakistan, put journalists, Human Rights Activists, lawyers and secular political opponents in jail, dismissed irreverent judges and imposed a de facto martial law. All this, amidst almost complete silence apart from some timidly pronounced half-condemnations from the major western capitals, most of which are heavily involved in the current volatile situation.

One thing still torments me: how many medals are they on this uniform? I counted 16... I guess most of these decorations have been won by the General while sitting on his sofa playing some odd war games... Certainly not on the battle field.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Is There Anybody Alive Out There?

Yes, the Boss is still alive and kicking. I bought Springsteen's latest album (perfectly titled): "Magic," which is only just that. Now I hate promoting anything or anyone, but that one Album is worth the publicity, I can tell you; and not just for the astounding songs quality but also for the power of the lyrics.

Wondering whether "there is still anybody alive out there" he only echoes (or at least that's the way I understood his lyrics... hope I'm not wrong!) my own concern and consternation about the lethargy that appears to have struck America, the UK and all of the Western world. People seem to have lost touch with the reality around them, blidingly trusting their leaders. Also a dreadful apathy seems to have infiltrated the so-far animated and inspired progressive blogosphere... which now sounds deafeningly silent.

The Bushies are preparing another illegal attack against Iran. The second phase of the Great Oil Robbery looks well under way and the world looks like it's sleep-walking towards, yet another disaster. This one though, may prove to be cataclysmic. More people will be sent to die for other people's interests. I hope someone is listening... if so: WAKE UP PEOPLE... I wanna hear some RHYTHM!

Here is some More... Rhythm!

Ian Brown- Illegal Attacks- Polydor Ltd. 2007

And More...

Image courtesy of

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bring Mehdi Back! (Part III)

Mehdi Ben Barka & the Tricontinental
(Final Part)

René Gallissot
October 2005
In Le Monde Diplomatique

[If you find this (paraphrasing) translation poor or inappropriate, you can read the original piece in full here (fr).]

There is little doubt that the Moroccan state (up to high ranking officers and officials) bears a heavy responsibility in the abduction and subsequent murder of Mehdi Ben Barka. The year 1965 starts with violent events that will further exacerbate the sensitivity of the state and eventually trigger a brutal repression: March 22 and 23, students demonstrate against the newly introduced schools admission quotas which they consider discriminatory. They are later joined in the streets by their parents. The demonstrations are repressed in blood by the infamous Gen. Mohamed Oufkir, the then-ministry of Interior. The state of emergency is decreed. Second phase: Hassan II (seemingly) offers an overture to Ben Barka by hinting to the possibility of accepting the idea of a national unity government. Ben Barka deplores the absence of the conditions for a genuine democratic transition and reiterates the views he previously exposed in the message-report he wrote in 1962 for his party's second congress, under the title: "Revolutionary Option in Morocco." In June the fake offer is retreated. Secret and frenzied concertations start between the palace and the secret services under the supervision (and that's an understatement) of United States officials (as it is now widely documented,) and the active "help" of the Mossad (Israel secret services.) In the meantime, Ben Barka dedicates himself to preparing the Tricontinental Conference, the preparatory committee over which he presides [...]

Ben Barka defines his objectives: helping national liberation movements notably in Palestine; intensifying the struggle against occupation -including armed struggle- on the three continents; supporting Cuba; getting rid of foreign military bases; opposition to nuclear weapons, to the Apartheid regime and to racial segregation. The end goal being "total liberation." In late September, Ben Barka visits Havana to finalize the arrangements and preparations for the upcoming Conference, scheduled in January 3th, 1966.

Eliminating Ben Barka was obviously becoming a major and pressing demand for those who wanted to put an end to mounting third-world insurrection. Already in June 1965, Ben Barka loses the Algerian support after Boumediène accessed power through a military coup. To make things even worse, President Sukarnu of Indonesia loses his power in September 30th, depriving the Tricontinental from one of its major bases.

To understand the motives behind the murder of Ben Barka, one needs only to examine the pattern of political assassinations and coup d'etat perpetrated during this sinister period: the Iranian Premier, Ali Mansour, is assassinated in January 21; Humberto Delguado, the leader of the Portuguese opposition, in February 13; Malcolm X, in February 21; the deputy defense minister of Guatemala, Ernesto Molina, in May 21, etc...

In October Mehdi is murdered; in 1967 Che Guevara is executed [in Bolivia under orders from Washington]; Martin Luther King is killed in April 1968; Amiclar Cabral (the major theorist of African liberation) in January 1973...

Thus, a kind of "world class warfare" was taking place in which those who wanted to reestablish a reactionary order used all means of violence, political assassinations, death commandos and imposed absolute dictators and awful regimes, fomenting conflicts and instigating wars of intervention.

Movements of liberation were pushed forward by their quest for a genuine emancipation and the Tricontinental tried to capture this progressive potential. Those who assassinated Ben Barka wanted to kill this perspective of world liberation.

Rest in Peace Mehdi.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bring Mehdi Back! (Part II)

Mehdi Ben Barka (1920-1965) is the charismatic leader (amongst others) of the anti-colonial movement which led Morocco to formal independence from France in 1956. He founded the National Union of Popular Forces (UNFP) in 1959. He later was accused of plotting against the regime and forced to exile. The Moroccan authorities condemned Ben Barka to death in absentia in 1964. He was kidnapped in Paris -in broad day light- in October 29, 1965. His body was never recovered.

I've read many papers and commentaries on the life and death of Mehdi Ben Barka, but the one piece, I think, that has cleverly put the circumstances of the murder of the Moroccan leader in its appropriate perspective, both local and international, was this article published exactly two years ago in Le Monde Diplomatique by Rene Gallissot, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Paris.

I apologize in advance if my (paraphrasing) translation sounds poor or inappropriate. In any case, you can find the original piece in full here (fr).

Mehdi Ben Barka & the Tricontinental
(Part I)

René Gallissot
October 2005
In Le Monde Diplomatique

1956 was a vertiginous year: turmoil within the communist bloc, a Franco-British "expedition" in Suez. July 26, president Gamal Abdel Nasser decides to nationalize the Suez Canal and everyone predicts the collapse of Egypt; the opposite happens, along with a surge in independence struggles. The Bandung conference had already predicted in April 1955, this upsurge of national emancipation movements which will indeed occur first in Asia and Africa, then in Latin America , the former Portuguese colonies in Africa and eventually in South-Africa.

Who remembers today July 14, 1958, when the Republic was proclaimed in Baghdad, radiant, with no religious veils, renewing the French Revolution's declaration of 1789, secular, federating all minorities, promising pluralism of thought and expression? The French war in Algeria continued unabated, but Algerians were standing firm. For Africa, the epicenter was then the Congo, freed at last from [the cruel] grasp of Belgium domination. [In the beginning of the 60's,] the Tricontinental was a de facto reality.

Mehdi Ben Barka, at the very moment of his assassination in October 1965, was working on making the liberation movements in the "third-world" converge, by preparing the Tricontinetal Conference which was scheduled to take place in Havana in January 1966 [...]

The institutionalisation of the regimes following independence [from western colonial powers,] raised the problematic of distinguishing State strategies for [controlling] power on the one hand from the international liberation movement on the other. In 1961, in opposition to so-called "moderate" states, the Group of Casablanca assembled representatives from states known as progressive: Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Libya and Morocco under the advocacy of Abdallah Ibrahim's left leaning government (which will soon after be revoked) [...]

Due to two condemnations to death in Morocco, Ben Barka was constantly in exile, often travelling between Cairo and Geneva. During his six months stay in Algiers, he engaged in the laborious task of bringing about an internationalist perspective for the conjunction of the national liberation movements [...]

The Algerian capital had become the intellectual home for the international revolutionary contestation [...]

Breaking up underdevelopment was not only a national project, it was also a concerted action against dependency to the Capitalistic system, the dominant poles of which are various but fundamentally linked to the economic and political hegemony of the United States. "Africa is the Latin America of Europe," repeatedly said Ben Barka. Federating the Maghreb and Africa was taking an anti-imperialistic dimension. We are here far from national-developementalism which eventually transformed the left -in the context of the emerging states- into [a lifeless] technocratic elite. The Tricontinental movement was independent from the Soviet Union and Ben Barka wanted to establish an autonomous dynamic [...]

In Algiers, Ben Barka launched a new publication for information, agitation and reflexion for the anti colonialist commission of the OPSAA (The Organization for the Solidarity of the Peoples of Africa and Asia established in Accra-Ghana in 1957), titled "la Revue Africaine." His interest turned then towards Cuba and Latin America. He was particularly impressed by the Cuban [tremendously successful] literacy campaign, dreaming of a similar experience in his own Morocco. He decided to work in establishing a documentation and studies Center on national liberation movements and -convinced as he was by the revolutionary potential amongst third-world youth- he set up the outline for a Tricontinental University [...]

American attempts to overthrow Fidel Castro, led the Cuban leader to get closer to Moscow. Followed the "Cuban Missiles" crisis and the cruel US economic blockade over the island. In 1962 Cuba was expelled from the Organization of the American States and Castro summoned "the people of the world to get moving." That was the precise objective of the Tricontinental. In October 3th, 1965, Ben Barka declared during a media conference, preliminary to the Havana Conference that "both currents of the world revolution will be represented: that stemming from the October revolution (or Bolshevik revolution) and that from the national liberation revolution."

The profound cause of the abduction and murder of Ben Barka can only be elucidated within this revolutionary and Tricontinental context.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bring Mehdi Back!

A French judge, Patrick Ramaël, launched yesterday five international arrest warrants against high-ranking Moroccan personalities, well established in the State Apparatus and the Moroccan army. They are suspected of being involved in the abduction (in October 29, 1965 in Paris) and subsequent murder, of the historic Moroccan opposition figure, Mehdi ben Barka. The suspects are namely: Gen. Hosni Benslimane (head of the gendarmerie nationale), Abdelhak Kadiri (former head of the military intelligence), Miloud Tounsi (allegedly a member of the gang who kidnapped Ben Barka in front of Brasserie Lipp), Boubker Hassouni and Abdlehak Achaachi (both members, at the time, of a Moroccan secret unit).

Judge Ramaël visited Morocco in the recent past and tried to interview the aforementioned suspects but has been repeatedly delayed and obstructed by the Moroccan authorities who used all means and the most ludicrous excuses to discourage Ramaël from doing his job.

Forty two years after the death of Ben Barka, and after many frustrations and aborted attempts, all I personally hope is that some form of justice is -at last- unfolding in front of our eyes. The body of Mehdi Ben Barka was never recovered and his family (as well as the bulk of the Moroccan civil society) has been eagerly awaiting for some due process to take place so as they (and their compatriots) can overcome their grief.

To Be Continued...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wishful Thinking

As each day goes by, I wonder if I should give it up all together. I'm beginning to have some headaches because of all this mumbo jumbo about democracy, elections and so on and so forth... I had these thoughts for a moment now and I can't help thinking and wondering: What if elections in my country were free and fair? What if the PM of Morocco and the government-elect were from a progressive, clean and people-driven party? What if the King finally conceded power to the elected institutions of the country and satisfies himself by a role of mediation and arbitration? What if a national conference was held and the country's elite was called to draw a new text for the constitution? What if the judiciary was given -at last- free rein to investigate, litigate, prosecute and judge anyone on equal basis? What if the press was given the freedom it ought to have? What if people who brandish religion as a political ideology stopped meddling into the political life? What if the corrupt thugs and kleptocrats of the Makhzen were held accountable for the theft of the country's wealth, for their hideous embezzling activities and their monopoly of the economic sector through clique and cronies? What if an enlightened educational system was proposed to all Moroccans' sons and daughters without prejudice of class or gender? What if the huge amounts of money assigned to royal palaces' maintenance and to satisfying the monarch's caprices were rather allocated to social and public projects? What if the government efforts were concentrated on bringing about a dignified health system guaranteeing that people are not going to be turned down because of their lack of resources or forced to bribe nurses and doctors to get access to basic care? What if the legislature was disconnected from the executive power and awarded autonomy to move away from its current subservient role of a complaisant rubber stamp?

... Ah... the headache again!... wait a minute I'm gonna take a paracetamol tablet... Gulp!... I'm feeling better now... So, where were we?... Yes: What If...

What if big public companies were ruled by highly monitored civil servants thoroughly accountable before people's representatives? What if Morocco lastly cut loose the leash of servility with French companies who are literally buying out the public sector in the name of an opaque process of "privatization"? What if the country stopped its vulgar worship of the US administrations, one after the other, and started engaging in a sovereign path and empathising and cooperating with fellow independent States? What if the monarch started fulfilling his (self-anointed) role of the "President of the Palestine Council"(sic)? What if al-Alaoui (you know... the two-faced marathon speaker of the RTM -Radio Television Marocaine- who often accompanies and comments on King's televisual "activities" with a ridiculous shivering voice, often on edge of tears, pledging his allegiance every second of every minute making viewers either laugh out loud or causing them to vomit out of disgust), what if he was relieved from his sycophantic "mission" alleviating millions of people? I'm sure he could be easily reassigned to a more "discreet" position (I don't want the man to end up jobless after all, despite the pain in the neck he often caused me.) What if a civil rather than a military was elected as head of the Moroccan football federation? What if sport stopped being shamefully used as an anesthetic of the masses ? What if the 2022 World Cup was held in Morocco? What if Raja Club Athletic started winning again?

And Finally, what if I stopped rambling just right here?

Wishful thinking! one might challenge; maybe so, but one thing is for sure: I don't think any Paracetamol dose will be able to calm this bloody headache... I hope a good sleep will do... good night and good luck!

(picture credit: "imaqine")

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chatting With the Prince, Final Part

He may look like Che Guevara (who, by the way, died forty years ago this week), but he obviously doesn't espouse the same revolutionary visions as those of the Argentine doctor.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Tutu Too?!

The Israel Lobby Goes Nuts on Desmond Tutu.

Supporters, within the United States, of the Apartheid regime in Israel have recently shown higher and unusual sensitivity toward academics, political commentators and world figures who dared criticizing the ongoing criminal actions of the Zionist State. The witch hunt campaign to stifle public debate and to muzzle journalists have been going on for years, but the recent and flagrant loss of subtlety shows how arduous it has become for the Lobby to keep on with the business of "intellectual terrorism."

The publication last year of the ground-breaking and courageous article "The Israel Lobby" by Mearsheimer-Walt (who since produced the book), has broken the omerta surrounding the issue of US-Israeli relationship. The authors (who are renowned and respected scholars), have been targeted by an unprecedented campaign of vilification; accused of being "anti-Semitic" and "unpatriotic." But their work had the effect of a psychotherapy on those (so many) who were spooked and terrorized by the fear of being labeled anti-Semites and subsequently running the risk of being ostracized.

Many prominent voices, including distinguished Jewish figures, in America and the wider Western world and within Israel itself, made their voices heard: people like Gilad Atzmon, Robert Trivers, Gary Leupp, Cindy Sheehan, Andrew Bacevich, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Uri Avnery, Amira Hass, Ilan Pappé, Israel Shahak, Ed Hermann, Howard Zinn, Johnathan Cook, Bill & Cathy Christison, Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, Norman Solomon, Ralph Nader, Jeffrey St. Clair, Robert Fisk, Alexander Cockburn, Gideon Levy, Scot Ritter... and so many, many others.

The most recent sortie of the Lobby deserves the Gold Prize for "Ludicrousness & Insanity." The charming, peace loving Desmond Tutu, Archbishop of Cape-Town and Nobel Prize laureate, was banned from speaking at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis because of his characterization (in a 2002 speech) of the occupation regime in the West Bank as an Apartheid-like regime. He was dismissed and "suspected" of being... guess what?... anti-Semitic!

Read this post from "Rootless Cosmopolitan" by Tony Karon.
(picture credit: "")

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Chatting With the Prince, Part II

Praising Evolution

The advent of the new Monarch in Morocco has raised a lot of hopes in the future; maybe too much. But the dreams and illusions have been terribly dashed after two electoral shams in 2002 and 2007. Many Moroccans (especially the young) may have lost hope in changing the system in an evolutionary way (from the inside, by participating in the political system and by using the institutions available.) This helpless situation may have led some to contemplate or consider a "revolutionary option"...

That was the question I e-mailed to today's Riz Khan show on Aljazeera which was hosting Prince Hicham (thanks Amine for the tip!):

An enlightened evolution toward democracy is always a safer option than a headstrong revolution stemming from despondency and which often gets out of hand and yields undesirable and unpredictable results. But the danger of not having alternatives and languishing in a continuous state of political, economic, cultural and social sclerosis is to constrain the more desperate and destitute people to extremist solutions. Some may very well consider revolutionary rather than evolutionary options taking the risk of embarking the country on the unknown.

That was in substance the answer of Prince Hicham to which I adhere.

The "Red Prince" as he's often labeled hinted at the antagonistic relationship he still has with his cousin the King, reiterated his views on the Moroccan monarchy and commented on the latest legislative elections. He answered further viewers' questions emphasising the need for a fundamental change in the way the power in wielded in Morocco (and beyond... throughout the Arab world.)


(look up for the video here)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Capitalism: the Latin American Experiment

The War on Democracy by John Pilger

John Pilger is an award-winning independent journalist and a renowned documentary film-maker. "The War on Democracy" is his latest opus. A startling reminder of the ravages that capitalism has already caused in Latin America, considered for decades to be the American (USA) preserve. Based on an arrogant imperial vision of the world and on the so-called Washington Consensus which theorized and underpinned the neo-liberal policies for the last two or three decades, successive American administrations made sure that no genuine democracy springs in the southern half of the continent: putting absolute potentates at the head of States, overthrowing democratically elected governments and sponsoring a class of plutocrats monopolizing their country's wealth at the expense of impoverished populations. Watch how America tries now to regain the political power it has lost by ways very incompatible with the portrait of an America spreading "democracy and freedom" throughout the world; an image ostentatiously exhibited to justify the unjustifiable.

Here's a link to one of the earliest Pilger's works: "The Year Zero," which reveals a facet of the Vietnam war seldom exposed in western media.
And to further understand the pernicious nature of corporate capitalism, the fundamental motor behind American imperialism, this is Mark Achbar's "The Corporation" which desecates the mechanisms of the boundless corporation greed:

(I must give credit to eatbees who inspired me on this one through his latest post)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Democracy Next Time

A New Cabinet has been Unveiled in Morocco: Cards Reshuffled, the Game is Still the Same.

After an impassioned legislative election, followed by -sometimes- frenzied wranglings about the democratic nature of the "Righteous State" in Morocco, the process yielded a dazzling arrangement of faces at unexpected positions.

It's "mission accomplished" for the Moroccan power: the elections meant primarily at embellishing the face of the regime at the world stage have succeeded in doing just that. And now that the international attention has melted away, it's back to mumbo jumbo business as usual, and we're back to square number one. All powers are now de facto within the very few hands of the Makhzen with a clear repressive pattern. If things go wrong (cause they might), would anybody dare challenging or criticizing the King Divine Right rule? You bet very few will!

(picture credit: "rhys400D")

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Great Oil Robbery: Second Phase?

There is something in the air those days, something strange, that resembles the climate of fear and agitation which was prevailing back in the beginning of the year 2003 when the American administration's propaganda reached it's climax in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. This time the smear campaign is directed against Iraq's neighbour: Iran.

In France, the foreign minister of the newly installed right-wing government, Bernard Kouchner, now a neo-con (emphasis on Con, which means Idiot in French), previously socialist, previously droit-de-l'hommiste (which can -arguably- be translated into "humanitarianist": the '-ist' here is added as a note for sarcasm), suddenly discovered last week that he, again transformed and had become, by the grace of God, a mouthpiece for the far-right American neoconservative administration in Washington. He warns "the world" to prepare for "the war" against the mullah regime. Sarkozy might be very satisfied by his recruit, now playing the role of the neocons' poodle in Europe. A job previously assigned to the not-very-regretted Tony Blair.

In Britain, Gordon Brown will most certainly call for an early general election, trying to take advantage from his current high rates of popularity. Many observers have already suspected that this move is primarily meant at getting the elections out of the way in the hypothesis of "something important" happening in the days to come. What adds to the intrigue is the decision by the British government to retreat its troops from the shiite dominated sudden Iraq and to barricade them inside the Basra airport. In the eventuality of an attack on Iran, it is very likely that this particular region of Iraq would become even more hostile to the Brits, hence the move according to some commentators.

The Arab potentates of the gulf have already (surprise, surprise!) adopted the language of the Bush administration. Amr Mussa, the head of the Arab (regime's) League doesn't miss an opportunity to point out at "the rampant influence of regional forces who want to undermine the arabhood of the Middle East."

Israel wants an attack on Iran and its lobby is fuelling the smear campaign against the Mullah regime. And "what Israel wants, Israel gets!"

In America, the war drumbeat continues to roar, the corporate media carries on "normalizing the unthinkable," acquiescing to whatever the administration and the agenda-driven Washington think tanks depict as the absolute truth.

Talking about the truth, let's put the facts on the table so one could get the propaganda and lies out of the way:
  • For over 200 years, Iran has never invaded, attacked or provoked any of its neighbours. Instead, Iran has been occupied and subjugated by the British who deposed a democratically elected prime-minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, and installed the most brutal dictator the region has probably ever seen: the Shah. After the Islamic revolution, Western powers have constantly conspired to undermine the regime in Tehran by fuelling regional tension and sponsoring a proxy war, arming and supporting Saddam Hussein, then the American ally in the region. This terrible war led to the death of millions in both sides and literally destroyed both countries.
  • The Islamic republic officially announced that it was ready to support the Arab Peace Initiative tabled at Beirut in 2002 and which offers Israel a comprehensive peace with all 22 Arab countries + total integration into the region. Tehran also promised, in the context of the same initiative, to help transforming the Lebanese Hezbollah into a political party (Alain Gresh- Le Monde Diplomatique- June 6, 2007).
  • Iran HAS THE RIGHT to unrich Uranium under the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). What's more it has always said it was ready to impose volontary restrictions on that right and to agree to an increase in IAEA's inspections as a gesture of goodwill. Tehran has also signed the Additional Protocol to the NPT straightening the supervisory powers even further. The Natanz nuclear facility, which the American administration wants to present as the epicenter of what they call "the Iran nuclear weapons program," was at the center of a controversy back in February 2003 when the IAEA found centrifuge machines and criticized Iran for not having declared the matter (concealment is a common practice, by the way, that all Western nuclear powers have been accused of in the past.) The international agency demanded that more inspections should be allowed in Iranian nuclear sites, to which Tehran acquiesced. Yes, the IAEA did find highly enriched Uranium particles at Natanz (august 2003), but it has since been established and confirmed by the agency itself that the particles were imported with the centrifuges. The inspections have never, to this day, found any evidence for a nuclear weapons program. Even CIA leaked reports, seemed to agree with the agency's conclusion. Nevertheless, the US administration still uses the centrifuge machine story as an absolute proof for an Iranian nuclear bomb project.
  • In early 2004, a new harsh tone was glaring out of Washington; the nuclear argument seemed to have been abandoned for a while and the pro-war campaigners invented a new cassus belli: Tehran should be attacked because, as the Washington Times alleged, the Iraqi resistance "is being aided directly by Iran's Revolutionary Guard and by Hezbollah." A line that has since been sang in unisson by virtually every corporate paper and media in America. Iranian diplomats were detained by American forces on the basis of false and ludicrous accusations, prompting protests from the puppet regime in Baghdad itself. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, part -in principle- of the army of a sovereign country, was declared a "terrorist organization" by an overwhelming majority of the American congress. The goal here is clear: linking Iran to anti-American insurgency and providing an extra basis for a hypothetical attack.
  • In his yesterday's visit to New York to attend the UN general assembly, the Iranian president was ridiculed, insulted by the head of Columbia University (which invited the Iranian leader in the first place.) Protests were organized by the very influential pro-Israel lobby in the city. The Iranian president was accused of being anti-Semitic, a holocaust denier and wanting to "wipe Israel off the map." The basis for the latter accusation is a speech Ahmadinejjad gave in Tehran back in October 2005. The Iranian president quoting the Ayatollah Khomeini said in substance (as translated by Farsi expert Professors): "the occupation of Jerusalem" will be "erased from the page of time" (see Gary Leupp's: "Iran, a Chronology of Disinformation"). First remark: the Iranian president didn't utter the words "Wipe off," Israel" and "Map." Ahmadinejjad was here clearly talking about a system, an Ideology (Zionism) which ought (as he sees it) to "vanish" from History as was the case for other unjust, and cruel ideologies like Nazism, Fascism and Stalinism and he was not talking about the Jewish people. The speech was of course deliberately mistranslated and misquoted and the phrase "wiping Israel off the map" was incessantly repeated in the western mainstream media, mainly owned by influential pro-Israel advocates. Retired US Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner released recently on his website what follows: "We know there is a national security council staff-led group whose mission is to create outrage in the world against Iran. This media group will begin to release stories to sell a strike against Iran. Watch for the outrage stuff." Many stories, some frankly grotesque, appeared in the media since then. The modus operandi unveiled by Gardiner is disturbingly similar to that of the Nazi propaganda machine: “If tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State” Joseph Goebbels was quoted to have said.
  • On the issue of Holocaust denial: One has to understand that Ahma<>dinejad is frankly a foolish man and I don't think he has the wisdom or stature of a statesman. Calling for a so-called "conference" to discuss the "real scale" of the holocaust is simply outrageous. Six million Jews have been literally incinerated on an industrial scale, unprecedented in human History, by the racist and fascist Nazi regime for no reason other than they were Jews. The Iranian president, thinking stupidly that he would sabotage the monopoly and political misuse of this horrific human tragedy by Israel, ended up boosting Israel's propaganda.

Finally, one needs to keep in mind that the power in Iran is collectively managed and that the president on his own has no control on matters of war and peace, something seldom explained. Iran is certainly not the most enviable of regimes. Human Rights abuses and horrific attacks on people's freedoms are legion. But thinking that the Western powers and their allies are more concerned with the democratic credentials of Iran and are seeking charitably to change the regime for the sake of freedom, amounts to total madness and shortsightedness. Next door to Iran, America supports and arms totalitarian and despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia. Countries who didn't even signe the NPT and never promised to halt nuclear proliferation, like Pakistan, India and Israel (which has been stock-piling nuclear warheads for over three decades) are promoted as gold star allies and being given protection and support.

There is a blatant fraud unfolding in front of our eyes. Will the world allow, AGAIN a new criminal war for oil?

(Latest update: no early general election will be called by G. Brown in Britain who apparently chickened out from going to the ballot noticing his popularity shrinking on Tabloids' polls -- October 10, 2007)

(picture credit: "armcurl")