Terça-feira, 27 de Julho de 2010

AQIM strikes again

By Diogo Noivo

 

Since 2007, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has made the kidnapping of European citizens a recurrent event. Abducted in the Maghreb and in the Sahel, Europeans have become an important source of revenues for the terrorist organization. In fact, AQIM's habit of releasing the hostages after the payment of a ransom made the organization look more like an criminal enterprise (that aims for profit) than a terrorist group (that sees financial resources as a mean, not as an end). This idea was strengthened by the fact that AQIM is deeply involved in trafficking tobacco, drugs and other goods throughout the region. However, if doubts existed about AQIM true nature, the execution of Michel Germaneau (a 78-year-old French aid worker who was kidnapped in Niger in April) certainly re-centered attentions.

Among other aspects, Germaneau's assassination is another strong evidence that AQIM – which, for the most part, is still the old Algerian Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et Combat (GSPC) – is definitely moving south and already established a strong foothold in the Sahel region. The visit started today by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to Mauritania, Mali and Niger demonstrates that France is well aware of this geostrategic shift. Kouchner's international road tour was accompanied by strong statements at home. Prime Minister François Fillon said that the fight against terrorism is going to strengthen, particularly against AQIM, and President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the crime will not go unpunished.

France's commitment in the region may force the European Union to rethink the way it approaches the Maghreb, especially with regard to EU's Neighborhood Policy. When dealing with North African countries, the EU tends to limit its contacts and negotiations to local political officials, disregarding social groups and their grievances. Despite the specificities of jihadist terrorism, it can not survive without a constituency. Therefore, gaining the genuine support of local citizens is a key element in fighting AQIM. With regard to the Sahel, perhaps highlighting the ethno-racial divide within AQIM (African recruits are kept outside leadership roles, which are held by Arabs) may help to debunk the organization's southern venture.

 

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publicado por IPRIS às 13:27
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Quinta-feira, 22 de Julho de 2010

Where did the Aid Flotilla go?

By Diogo Noivo

 

In the Gaza strip, Hamas is once again showing its true colors. The journalist Henrique Cymerman did a very interesting report for the Portuguese television SIC where he shows Hamas’s most recent policies. The Islamist movement has imposed a number of laws that restrict individual freedom, especially of women.

The Palestinian women living in Gaza have been forbidden to smoke narguiles (water pipes) due to an alleged sexual connotation in the act of smoking. On an equally ridiculous approach, Hamas has forbidden women from having their hair cut in the presence of men. Furthermore, women from Gaza are also forced to cover from head to toe which, among other measures, reflects a clear purpose of imposing a strict Islamist life-style in the territory.

One must wonder where are the freedom fighters that struggle for the end of oppression in Gaza, namely those who were aboard the famous Aid Flotilla...

The same must be asked to innumerous movements and political parties that, in Europe, have taken the Palestinian cause as their own. The duality (if not the complete absence of intellectual honesty) that characterizes the European left-wing movements is simply outrageous. For them, it is a moral imperative to censure Israel’s Gaza blockade. However, they become mute each and every time that Hamas enforces clear violations of individual freedoms. What is more curious is that the majority of these left-wing European movements and parties also claim to stand for women’s rights...

 

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publicado por IPRIS às 22:39
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