Military affaires (14)
The French Foreign Legion has its « romantic » reputation, for it includes volunteers from almost 150 different countries. It has been engaged in all of the recent conflicts involving the French military (Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, Mali...). It is famous for being the only military corps allowing foreign citizens to change their identity and, purportedly, to obtain a French passport after the service. In reality the Légionnaires now obtain solely a residence permit after three years of service, and the naturalisation procedure is extremely facilitated (but most soldiers do not ask for it). This article develops the hypothesis that, because of its history and of the current conditions of life of its volunteers, the French Foreign Legion promotes a culture of violence, of the « spilled blood » as the Légion says itself, a culture which is associated to the French nationality. The Légion propagates the idea that France is first and foremost a nation of violence, and not a nation of justice.
The information comes from the French newspaper l'Humanité. According to the testimony of a Norwegian surgeon, Israel is using Dense Inert Metal Explosive bombs in Gaza, violating the Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, to which Israel is party. Dr. Erik Fosse, who has come for humanitarian purposes, testifies that Israel is using in Gaza these bombs, which have a shrapnel effect on civilians. He knows them because he was already intervening in Gaza in 2008 – 2009, and already had to denounce the use of this weapon, together with Palestinian doctors. The way Israel is using DIME bombs in Gaza may amount to a war crime.
Two air raids against Islamist forces have taken place in the past week in Libya. The New York Times says that four senior American officials have accused Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and that the USA were « caught by surprise » by the move. The first set of air strikes occurred at the beginning of the past week, hitting a small weapons depot and other targets, killing six people. The second set of air strikes occurred south of Tripoli early on Saturday, and would have been intended at avoiding the seizure of a Zintani-controlled airport by Islamist-allied militias of the Misrata city known as the “Libyan Shield”. And before dawn, rockets launchers, military vehicles and another depot were also bombed, killing at least a dozen people. But “Libyan Shield” forces, who affirm they are battling against “former allies of Gadhafi”, nevertheless managed to seize the airport.
On Sunday 24 August, 44 persons have been killed in Iraq. August casualties so far are 1 203 civilians, according to website Iraq Body Count. In total, between 127 822 and 143 110 civilians have died in the country since the 2003 invasion. George W. Bush, some months after the beginning of the war, said that « the world is safer now ». But numbers alone contradict blatantly this affirmation. And every country invaded by the USA, or that has been one of their allies, like Pakistan, has been the breeding ground for more terrorism than the « war on terror » has ever managed to suppress or reduce. On the post-Cold War pretext of fighting terrorism, US invasions in the Middle East have always triggered instability and insecurity.
The ceasefire has come to an end in Gaza on Tuesday 19th by midnight and even before, both sides in the conflict had started again to attack each other. Hundreds of Gazans have started to flee suburbs of Gaza under attack to take refuge into UN schools used as shelters. Hamas launched about 60 rockets, including 53 before the end of the ceasefire. One fell on Tel-Aviv, the other on Jerusalem, without making any victim. Before the end of the ceasefire, Israel organized about 30 raids on Gaza, and 30 others afterwards, killing at least 10 Palestinians. A 32 years old Palestinian man, his pregnant wife, 3 of his children and their uncle were among the victims. Among the victims are the woman and the 7-months old son of Mohamed Deif, a senior Hamas leader. It is unknown if he has been himself killed in the event. Since the beginning of the conflict, 2028 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed, and 10 302 injured. 64 Israeli soldiers and 3 civilians have been killed. According to Hazem Abu Murad, the head of Gaza's bomb squad, quoted by the Electronic Intifada (http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/how-many-bombs-has-israel-dropped-gaza), Israel has dropped eighteen to twenty thousand tons of explosives on Gaza since July 7, the equivalent to one of the atomic bombs used by the USA on Japan in August 1945.
The US Secretary of State has arrived in Vienna Sunday for talks which appear to be extremely difficult to carry out on time for the July 20 expected deadline. John Kerry was to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad JavadZarif on Sunday, as well as officials from France, Germany and the United Kingdom, taking turns to negotiate, but the first day of talks failed to reach a breakthrough. While France's Laurent Fabius and Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier left Sunday, a few hours after they arrived, John Kerry stayed together with William Hague for more talks.
John Kerry's second day of talks will continue his effort to gauge « Iran's willingness to make the critical choices it needs to make ». John Kerry said « we have some very significant gaps still », and a « potentially lengthy conversation » was expected. Mohammad JavadZarif estimated on his side that “we have made some important headway” but Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi also acknowledged on Sunday the “huge and deep differences” between the two sides.
The November interim agreement between Iran and the « P5+1 » group of powers (The USA, the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia) halted the expansion of the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for sanction relief (US$7 billion). Earlier this year, White House officials sounded hopeful about reaching a deal before July 20. But the US government now looks much more pessimistic, and many suggest it will be needed to extend the negotiation – perhaps not by 6 months, as allowed by the interim agreement, but at least some more time will be required.
The main issue is that Iran pushes for a much greater enrichment capability than the US is willing to grant. For the USA, as well as for the other partners, an excessive enrichment capability would allow the Iranians to possibly develop the bomb. A senior US administration official quoted by Time said Iran is demanding an enrichment capability « far beyond their current program », which should have been reduced through the agreement, not increased. Mohammad JavadZarif says however his country « does not see any benefit in developing a nuclear weapon » and will continue to demonstrate its commitment to not developing a nuclear weapons program. John Kerry insisted his purpose was to make sure Iran's nuclear programme is « peaceful ».
Both sides are facing political pressures from hardliners. In Iran some oppose any concession by moderate President Hassan Rouhani. In the USA Republicans and Democrats threatened to scuttle any emerging agreement that would allow Iran to maintain some enrichment capacity. Outside the negotiations, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other rivals of Iran, are extremely wary of seeing it getting closer to the nuclear club.
The Israeli government has decided to start on-ground military operations in Gaza. For days already, the Israeli government had been massing terrestrial forces, thousands of soldiers, along the border. Now Israel seems to be pounding intensely the Gaza Strip, using planes, artillery and ship altogether, in a blitz coordinated with the invasion of Merkava tanks and D9 bulldozers, alike the German “blitzkrieg” strategy during World War 2. Israeli media say one of the main objectives of the ground offensive is to destroy tunnels that could be used to infiltrate militants into Israel. The operation is taking place everywhere in the border. Infantry, artillery, intelligence, airplanes and warships are involved. New reservist troops will be mobilized, according to a Tsahal spokesperson, Moti al Moz.
According to NATO authorities, no demands were made by the Iraqi authorities to make use of the opportunities for military support offered by NATO in Iraq. Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen has confirmed no training mission in Iraq is being planned by the Atlantic coalition. But he also says that NATO is “very concerned by the situation in Iraq and in neighbouring countries”.