Random highlights from the Algerian media - because English speakers need to follow Algeria news too

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Lakhdar Brahimi and Yusuf Qaradawi

The Moor Next Door, who I'm fairly sure is this blog's only reader (are there any others?), has expressed interest in Lakhdar Brahimi, so here's some of what he has to say on the Lebanon crisis:

Lakdar Brahimi to El Khabar: Hezbollah has earned the honor of the resistance to the occupation.

Why, in your opinion, has the UN Security Council delayed meeting on the explosive situation in Lebanon, and remained incapable of reaching a ceasefire? I think the reason has become well-known: the active world powers - specifically, the US and, to a lesser extent, Britain - do not want an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon to be reached.

This means that Israel is waging war with US authorization... I don't think it's precisely like that, but Washington does not hide its bias towards Israel and has expressed that frankly more than once; for this reason, the Americans look at the Middle East's problems in a narrow Israeli perspective.

[...]Do they think that sending international forces into Lebanon is a guarantee for healing the crisis, given that Israel has targeted UN forces before? The US talks of the need to go to the roots of the crisis, not its results or its surface. I think this idea is very reasonable, and right on - but what are the roots of the problem? Yesterday the British PM said, in a joint conference with the American President, that the immediate cause of the current crisis might be the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers, and he also recognised that the root of the problem is Palestine. So if the point of his words was to solve the roots of the problems of the Middle East, or concern for the lost rights of the Palestinian people, then we welcome this development totally. But the international forces that they speak of, the UN secretary general already asked for them in Gaza a while ago, and his request found no echo...

There are those who observe that Israel is currently seeking the implementation of UN Resolution 1559. Israel has no right nor duty to implement resolution 1559, for it is not among the states that respect UN resolutions. Moreover, the resolution has two halves, one demanding that Syria leave Lebanon - which has happened - though I, as a person who had a small role in the Taif Agreement, express my regret that the Syrians did not implement the agreement by their own free will many years ago. But the second half relates to assisting the Lebanese state to spread its sovereignty over all Lebanese land, which plainly says that the militias and in particular Hezbollah cannot continue to bear arms and form a state within a state. This will not compromise its position and role, for it is a respected political party with wide representation, and a member of the Lebanese government. Furthermore, it must be ensured that the state be the only force with the right to use weapons. The Lebanese sides have begun engaging with the issue, and it is to be hoped that they will continue along this road.

[...]If you were the UN Secretary-General, what solutions would you suggest to the two warring sides? First thing would be a ceasefire, which is a widespread idea at the moment, then an exchange of prisoners - there are Lebanese imprisoned by Israel for 25 years, but their plight does not attract the attention of the West, which sheds tears for Israeli captives. Third, that Israel should leave the Shebaa Farms, and fourth, in my view, we must turn to the mother of all these problems, Palestine, for this issue poisons the atmosphere of the region, and if we don't find a solution for it it will lead to worse problems in the future in other countries of the region. And on the occasion of what is currently going on in Iraq, I would like to address a few words to Arabs and Muslims: Can we dream that the popular solidarity we witness in the Lebanese crisis will continue, and shut the door in the face of the sectarian division (fitna) lit between Sunni and Shia in Iraq, for it is division that has become the source of fighting and massacres more than resistance against the occupation, and it is necessary to contain the disaster that we witness in Iraq so that it does not spread beyond its borders and spread throughout areas with Sunnis and Shias.

In other news, El-Khabar noted that Qaradawi confirms that supporting Hezbollah is the duty of every Muslim", rejecting the fatwa of the Saudi shaykh Bin Jibreen who decided that it was forbidden to support Hezbollah because they were Shia (yes, precisely and only because they were Shia.)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

History repeats itself: Israel attacks UN observers in Lebanon

Nothing to do with Algeria, but, if you were surprised by Israel's recent attack on UN observers in Lebanon, it has its precedents:
The UN quickly discovered [in 1980] that the Israelis were physically present at Haddad's artillery positions during bombardments, presumably to help the militiamen with their coordinates. Cynicism replaced pride. 'I got a call from an Israeli officer over the radio,' a Dutch officer in Haris told me. 'He wanted to warn me that the Christians were likely to fire in our direction. He wanted me to know that it wouldn't be Israel's fault, because they were trying to warn us. The Israeli came on the radio, made his excuses and shouted: "The Christians are going to fire in about six seconds - five - four - three - two - one." And a couple of seconds later, shells started landing behind the United Nations lines. How was he so accurate? He wanted me to know he was next to the artillery battery. He was doing the shooting.' (Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War, Oxford University Press 1990, p. 151).

Oh, and obviously more recently the Qana Massacre.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Headlines today

To give a broad idea of what the Algerian press is saying, I decided to try and translate the headlines for all four of the newspapers I usually look at. It proved harder than I expected, and the odd error is probably still there, but one thing is obvious: Lebanon still leads, overwhelmingly, although the suspension of the education strike is a distant second.

Ech Chourouk: Israel counts its dead in the land offensive: A legendary stand by the men of the Resistance. Ech Chourouk correspondent accompanies Hezbollah fighters to the depths of the southern area.

El Watan:
  • Hezbollah opposes a fierce resistance to the Israeli army: Israel counts its dead. 13 Israeli soldiers were killed yesterday in violent conbat in Southern Lebanon, including 3 officers and a second-in-command of the 51st batallion of the elite Golani infantry regiment.
  • Two scandals at the Oran and Algiers courts: Supreme Court censured. Two scandals have just hit the Oran and Algiers courts. The former censured a Supreme Court judgement related to the BCIA affair; the latter gathered a chambre d'accusation on a Friday, in the lawyers' absence, to order a prison warrant on the very day that the accused would have left prison.
  • Summer 2006: The clubbers take back the night. In the summer heat, the night owls don't hide themselves to sleep, but to go out. These are the nightclubbers.

  • The Palestinian president visits Algeria: Mahmoud Abbas calls on Algeria. Abu Mazen received by the highest State authorities for a series of consultations on the Mideast situation.
  • Shaykh Naim Qasim, Vice-Secretary General of Hezbollah, to Liberte: "Rice makes gesticulation about Lebanon" (sorry, not sure about that idiom)
  • University: CNES suspends its strike
  • The FAF reestablishes the Algerian Super-Cup: A grand MCA-JSK match for November 1

El Khabar:
  • Following agreement on the movement of persons, new easings for visa applicants for Britain from August
  • Human Rights Watch, doctors, and experts confirm: Israel is bombarding civilians with internationally prohibited weapons. Israeli massacre in Nabatiyeh, 16 rockets on Haifa; Lakhdar Brahimi: America is not suitable to be an intermediary
  • Mohamed Alioui, El-Khabar guest: Agricultural support has become profiteering, and self-sufficiency will not be realized. The Grains Bureau is practising a policy of extortion on the farmers.
  • Solidarity with the Lebanese and Palestinian people: Belkhadem refuses assembly in People's House and moves it to Harcha Hall
  • University professors fail to set a length for the suspension of the strike: Baccalaureat and basic education correctors await raises
  • Ministry of Religious Affairs reveals: New Hajj procedures, no change to costs, and lottery [for hajj trips] at the end of the week

Thursday, July 20, 2006

God help Lebanon

(I tried to publish this last week - so some links may be outdated - but for some reason it didn't show up. An extra link confirming the obvious: RND, FLN, PT, MSP unite in expressing their solidarity with Lebanon and Palestine.)

Do I even need to provide links? Israel is bombing civilian targets all over Lebanon, and all Algeria is currently watching photos of wounded children, fleeing refugees, and nice cities looking rather like Algiers being bombed - oh, and Bush and Blair effectively encouraging all this. A particularly dumb (and Israeli-sourced) meme circulating among the wingnuts online is that the Arab world is fed up with Hizbollah. For the record, I'm just back from Algeria, and everyone I met there is rooting for them. As far as most people I met are concerned, kidnapping an Israeli soldier (quite apart from the fact that numerous Lebanese prisoners were already in Israeli jails) was entirely justified by the Israeli attacks on Gaza... and even if it weren't, it still wouldn't even begin to justify what the Israelis are doing now. The Saudis' attacks on Hezbollah were seen as reflecting very badly, not on Hezbollah, but on the Saudi monarchy, whose shameless indifference to others' suffering was revealed. Hezbollah's counter-attacks were greeted with sceptical support (as in: hope they work, but wouldn't count on it.) From rather better informed bloggers, I gather it's much the same elsewhere. I rather suspect these events will take some of the edge of the anti-Shiism that has been becoming more prominent in the Arab world lately.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Referendum on Algeria constitution change before end of year, says Bouteflika

Reuters: Algeria plans to hold a referendum by the end of 2006 on changing the constitution, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said on Tuesday. (For specifics of this change, see previous posts.)