SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- French troops "have brought support this afternoon to Malian units to fight against terrorist elements", he said.
Armed groups, some linked to al-Qaeda, took control of northern Mali in April.
Mr Hollande said the intervention complied with international law, and had been agreed with Malian President Dioncounda Traore. A state of emergency has been declared across the country.
The militants said on Thursday that they had advanced further into government-controlled territory, taking the strategic central town of Konna.
The Islamists have sought to enforce an extreme interpretation of Islamic law.
Residents in nearby Mopti told the BBC they had seen French troops helping Malian forces prepare for a
The rhetoric out of Paris suggests that from the French point of view, the situation in Mali has taken a dramatic turn for the worse in the last few days.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said it was vital to stop this new advance by the Islamists. If not, he said, then it wasn't just the state of Mali that would fall under their sway - there was a threat to the whole of Africa, and indeed to Europe.
So it would seem that a country that has been a growing but still peripheral preoccupation for France - and for the West in general - is now at the very centre of their strategic plans. There is a real fear that if the "terrorists" - as the French government calls them - succeed in taking over Mali, then it will become a rogue state much like the old Afghanistan.
Given the ties of family and trade with France, it would be France to pay the cost if that rogue state began to export its ideology. So a line has been drawn in the Sahel sand. For good or bad, this may well turn out to have been a very momentous decision.
Mr Hollande said French military action had been decided on Friday morning and would last "as long as necessary".
"Mali is facing an assault by terrorist elements coming from the north whose brutality and fanaticism is known across the world," the French president said.
He said Mali's existence as a state was under threat, and referred to the need to protect its own population and 6,000 French citizens living there. France ruled Mali as a colony until 1960.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the aim of the operation was to stop Islamist militants advancing any further.
"We need to stop the terrorists' breakthrough, otherwise the whole of Mali will fall into their hands threatening all of Africa, and even Europe," he told reporters.
He confirmed that the French air force was involved in the operation, but gave no details.
France was previously believed to have about 100 elite troops in the region. It also has a military base in Chad.
At least seven French hostages are currently being held in the region, and Mr Fabius said France would "do everything" to save them.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Twitter that the UK supported the French decision to help Mali's government against northern rebels.
Shortly after Mr Hollande spoke, the west African bloc Ecowas said it was authorising the immediate deployment of troops to Mali "to help the Malian army defend its territorial integrity", AFP news agency reported.
The Malian army said that as well as French troops, soldiers from Nigeria and Senegal were already in Mali - though Senegal later denied that it had any combat troops in the country, according to AFP.
The UN had previously approved plans to send some 3,000 African troops to Mali to recapture the north if no political solution could be found, but that intervention was not expected to happen until September.
Late on Thursday, an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council called for the rapid deployment of an African-led force.
The EU also said it would support the rapid deployment of an African-led mission and speed up preparations for a military training mission.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - The United Nations Security Council has approved foreign military intervention in Mali to help the Malian government battle the militants controlling the northern part of the West African country.
On Thursday, the 15-member council authorized an initial one-year-long deployment of African Union forces in the country.
The resolution, drafted by France, also authorized all European Union member states to help rebuild Mali's security forces.
In November, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed to send 3,300 troops, mostly from Nigeria, Niger, and Burkina Faso, to help Mali's government regain control of the north.
On November 29, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned against a hasty military intervention in northern Mali, saying it could lead to a humanitarian crisis.
Chaos broke out in the West African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government's inability to contain the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.
However, in the wake of the coup d’état, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region, but the Ansar Dine extremists pushed them aside and wrested control of all the northern desert regions, which are larger than France or Texas.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Russia has criticized NATO for deciding to deploy Patriot missiles along the Turkish border with Syria, saying that the measure signifies the organization’s bid to intervene in the Syrian crisis.
Russia’s new ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko, made the remarks on Friday, three days after the 28-member alliance approved Turkey's request for the deployment of the surface-to-air missiles along its border with Syria.
"This is not a threat to us, but this is an indication that NATO is moving towards engagement and that's it," Grushko told reporters.
"We see a danger of further involvement of NATO into the situation in Syria as a result of provocation or some border incidents," Grushko added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had earlier warned that the deployment could spark regional conflagration and an armed conflict involving NATO.
Grushko also rejected claims that Damascus plans to use its alleged chemical weapons against insurgents fighting government forces.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad has described NATO's decision to station Patriot missiles in Turkey as "provocative."
"The Turkish move and NATO's support for it is a provocative move, part of psychological warfare against Syria," Meqdad said on Thursday.
The Syrian official also stressed that the missile deployment would not affect Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s firm determination to counter the "terrorists" fighting against his government.
Furthermore, Meqdad warned against the "catastrophic" consequences of any military intervention in Syria.
China has also stated that the deployment does not contribute to peace and stability in the region.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – An international military intervention into Mali at this time would be useless, a top advisor to Algeria's president said Saturday.
The remarks by Kamal Rezzag Bara, terrorism and security advisor to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, underline Algeria's deep-seated unease with international plans to invade northern Mali.
There have been several international efforts to persuade Algeria, which is the strongest military power bordering Mali, to support the intervention, which would be spearheaded by West African nations with French support.
Bara said internationalizing the crisis would only "aggravate the situation" and he that Mali itself should be helped to come up with a roadmap and agreement involving all the actors to resolve the crisis.
"The question in Mali is an internal matter and there is no need to further internationalize it," he said.
His remarks, however, come as the West African regional bloc ECOWAS moves forward with plans to invade.
On Thursday, Djibril Bassole, foreign minister of Burkina Faso, said military intervention is inevitable after a plan to invade has been drafted.
Bara maintained that the international community has to distinguish between groups in north Mali with political demands ready to negotiate and terrorist groups. Ansar Dine, one of the main group's controlling northern Mali, denounced extremism last week and said it was ready to negotiate. Other groups in the area include the North African branch of al-Qaida and a splinter group that are believed to be mostly made up of foreign fighters.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi says he is opposed to any military intervention in Mali and has called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in the West African country.
The Egyptian president made the remarks at a meeting with African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Cairo on Monday, Xinhua reported.
Dlamini-Zuma, who is currently in Cairo to attend the 3rd forum for the UN secretary general's representatives and international envoys to Africa, said she is making efforts to promote African unity and AU self-reliance.
On October 13, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that gave the AU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) 45 days to present the details of a plan for a military intervention in Mali.
On October 24, the member states of the AU agreed to finalize a plan for military intervention, led by African forces, by the end of October to help Bamako fight rebels.
However, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that a military intervention would affect millions of people in the region.
Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government's inability to contain the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.
However, in the wake of the coup d’état, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region, but the Ansar Dine extremists pushed them aside and wrested control of all the northern desert regions, which are larger than France or Texas. — www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Amid the increasing support provided by the West and its anti-Syria allies to the insurgents fighting the Damascus government, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman says Beirut opposes military intervention in Syria.
According to Press TV, in a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande in Beirut on Sunday, Sleiman also called for international support for the mission of UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, which is aimed at finding a diplomatic resolution to the turmoil in Syria.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 and many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the turmoil.
Damascus accuses Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and some Western governments of fanning the flames of violence in the country.
Holland’s three-hour visit to Beirut was the first by a French president since the previous head of state, Nicolas Sarkozy, visited Lebanon in June 2008.
The French president is also scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia to discuss the latest developments in Syria. — www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Islamists in northern Mali threaten to “open the doors of hell” to French citizens in the area if France keeps pushing for military intervention. A quarter of a million refugees have fled Mali's north since Sharia law was implemented there in March.
The UN Security Council called Friday for an intervention plan to be drawn up within 45 days after passing a French resolution to revive attempts to end the crisis.
The renewed threat against French expatriates and hostages came ahead of a summit of Francophone nations in Congo, where French President Francois Hollande is expected to urge the formation of an African-led force to rout the Islamists.
Oumar Ould Hamaha, a spokesman for Islamists group MUJWA told Reuters, “If he continues to throw oil on the fire, we will send him pictures of dead French hostages in coming days.” This was an apparent reference to four French nationals seized in neighboring Niger in 2010. All but four have since been released.
“He will not be able to count the bodies of French expatriates across West Africa and elsewhere,” he continued.
MUJWA is one of the Islamist groups that have controlled the northern two-thirds of Mali since the country's military took power in a March coup.
Several thousand people march on October 11, 2012 in Mali to call for armed intervention by a west African force to help wrest back the vast north from armed Islamist groups. (AFP Photo / Habibou Kouyate)
The Saharan branch of al-Qaeda was quick to move into the increasingly lawless area, seizing control of the Tuareg-majority north after the coup, effectively seceding from the rest of Mali.
Hamaha added that ransom payments from France and other Western nations are his group's primary source of funding.
“The top country who finances the jihadis is France – I wonder what the international community would say if we took the French president hostage,” he boasted.
Fundamentalist Islamic law has been implemented across northern Mali, with suspected thieves dismembered, single mothers persecuted and suspected criminals flogged.
Several thousand people march on October 11, 2012 in Mali to call for armed intervention by a west African force to help wrest back the vast north from armed Islamist groups. (AFP Photo / Habibou Kouyate)
Over the last six months, a quarter of a million people have fled Mali for refugee camps in neighboring countries.
A journalist in neighboring Senegal told Euronews that he is worried about the unrest spreading to nearby capitals. “Mali has Pakistani, Afghan and Algerian forces involved in the crisis, which is becoming international. The international community should intervene in the north in its own interest. The Islamists have imposed Sharia law, and that could seriously affect the African continent – and then the whole world.”
Journalist Gerald Horne told RT that “what is happening in Mali is a humanitarian crisis and a disaster” and “a direct outgrowth of the North Atlantic countries' intervention in Libya in 2011.”
“The North Atlantic nations turned the tables on Gaddaffi, aligned with his former antagonists and overthrew him – and now the inevitable has happened,” he continued.
Several thousand people march on October 11, 2012 in Mali to call for armed intervention by a west African force to help wrest back the vast north from armed Islamist groups. (AFP Photo / Habibou Kouyate)— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — “Stop the war! Hands off Syria”—this was the main slogan on a demonstration in Frankfurt, Germany last Saturday. The protest was the main event on the annual Anti-War Day (September 1), with about one thousand people participating in the protest in the center of the city.
Participants on the demonstration, which set off from the Old Opera house and marched to Frankfurt’s historic city centre, carried banners reading: “US hands off Syria”, “Against the destruction of international law by imperialists”, “[Turkish Prime Minister Recep] Tayyip Erdogan: US puppet”, “Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya: It’s enough”, “Make sure Syria is not a second Iraq” and “Stop the media war.”
A portion of the protesters were Syrian immigrants intent on defending their country of birth from the escalating intervention organized by the imperialist powers and supported by most of the media. They were accompanied by German participants who expressed their concern and outrage about the recent war preparations and the one-sided media campaign.
Supporters of the World Socialist Web Site distributed the article “US, UK and France threaten military intervention against Syria” in the form of a leaflet. The statement warns against military intervention by the Western powers, declaring: “The war threats against Syria represent a dramatic escalation of this campaign, with potentially devastating consequences for the peoples of the region and the entire world. The death toll in Syria of a military assault by Turkey and regional allies backed by US, French and British airpower has the potential to dwarf that in Libya.”
A number of participants pointed out in conversations that the German government was actively involved in sending arms to the region, and had recently supplied warships to Israel. The German ministry of foreign affairs is also actively involved in preparing “regime change” in Syria.
Klaus Weber from Karlsruhe took part in the Frankfurt demonstration to protest the pro-war propaganda of the media.
“It all seemed like a repeat of what we experienced during the last twenty years in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan”, Klaus said. “They always try to find a reason for ‘humanitarian intervention’. And I don’t like that at all.”
He was not here as a supporter of Syrian president Bashar Assad, Klaus continued. At the same time, he had no negative opinion about Syria. It appeared to be a secular state, although certainly there was injustice. But that by no means justified the outside interference now taking place.
The attitude of the German government was clearly directed at regime change in Syria. “They want to overthrow the government there”, Klaus commented, “but they know that an open intervention in the area is very dangerous, more dangerous than in Libya. Therefore, they are trying other methods to achieve the same goal.”
Unlike the Iraq war, it was not so obvious that the US in particular was pursuing economic interests in its involvement in Syria, Klaus noted. As was the case with the war in Yugoslavia, the Western powers were seeking to elevate the humanitarian tragedy to the foreground. And as was the case in the past, the Greens and Social Democrats (SPD) were going along with the official campaign.
Alyin from Turkey took part in the demonstration with her mother “because I am against a foreign military intervention in Syria”. The family is from Hatay, right on the Syrian border, and have Syrian roots. The situation in Turkey is very confusing, Alyin declared. “The Turkish government is naturally seeking to benefit from the situation”. That should not take place, however, at the expense of the Syrian people.
The situation in Syria was in no way comparable with the uprisings in Egypt last year, she continued: “Many of the rebels in Syria are foreign militias, and now everything is decided on the basis of religious faith. … The situation was very different in Egypt”. She went on, “As long as there is no reasonable alternative for the people, then neither war nor the overthrow of Assad’s regime will solve anything.”
Hakan described the German government and Turkish president Erdogan as “puppets” and criticized France’s Socialist Party president, François Hollande, for his role in arming the rebels in Syria. “I would have expected something like this from his predecessor [Nicolas Sarkozy], but not from him”, Hakan said. In Syria, the big powers were acting according to the motto “divide and rule”, he continued. There were popular uprisings taking place in many countries, and “if foreign forces are flown in then a civil war like the one in Syria is inevitable.”
“I am not fighting for Assad, or for anyone else, but rather for the truth”, Hakan declared. “And the truth is that those in power have not the slightest interest in democracy and human rights. They are only interested in their power and money and how to preserve their influence. If children die in the process, it leaves them completely cold.”
The demonstration was called by a “Solidarity committee with Syria”, which consists of members of the German-Syrian society, the Turkish DIDF organization and the German Freethinkers Association and is supported by various Syrian, Turkish, Russian and German groups. The common demand was “an end to the aggressive, illegal interference by NATO countries and the Arab monarchies in Syria.”
The organizers were clearly divided over the issue of support for the Assad regime. Salim Tas, chairman of the Alawite German youth, told the newspaper Junge Welt that supporters of Assad would be welcome on the demonstration. He was personally convinced “that the ideals and values of secularism and patriotism that Bashar al-Assad represents are the only basis for peace and stability,” he said.
There were a number of supporters of the Assad regime among the demonstrators. A block of Syrians chanted “We want Bashar al-Assad”. Most of the participants from the region, however, expressed their agreement with the WSWS statement which reads: “Not just Assad, but all of the region’s reactionary and despotic regimes deserve to fall. But this is a task for the working class, mobilizing behind it the rural poor and all oppressed social layers.”
In order to combat the efforts of the imperialist powers, which are fomenting religious and ethnic divisions, the WSWS statement insists on the necessity for the international unity of the working class to end imperialist domination and capitalist exploitation and establish workers’ governments throughout the Middle East.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has strongly opposed any form of foreign military intervention in Syria.
“We are against any military action on Syrian soil, in any shape or form,” Morsi said in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Monday.
He stated his country seeks a peaceful solution to the unrest in Syria to help the Syrian people reach their goals of what he described as a revolution.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are behind the unrest while the opposition accuses the security forces of killing protesters.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and that there are reports that a very large number of the armed militants are foreign nationals.
“The time has come for everyone to realize that war do[es] not achieve stability, because peace is based on justice and comprehensive peace for everyone, without any side attacking the other,” the 61-year-old Egyptian leader said.
“We will never be a party to an attack on any side and we will never accept anyone threatening our security or the security of the region for one reason or another,” he added.
“This statement is for everybody and on behalf of everybody, including the states of this region,” Morsi noted.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Morsi claimed that the Syrian people want President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power.
Morsi said he plans to form a regional contact group including Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, to find a way to end the violence in Syria and meet people’s demands.
We believe it is everyone’s duty and we see ourselves directly responsible to stop the bloodshed, he noted.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: WR NEWZ
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Hundreds of people watched but did not intervene as a gang of Israeli youths attempted to "lynch" a group of Palestinian children in the center of Jerusalem's Zion Square, police said on Sunday. Five suspects have been arrested so far.
Four Palestinian youths were badly beaten in the incident in central Jerusalem on Friday. The attack was short and the gang fled after knocking one victim to the ground and kicking him unconscious before police arrived.
There were several dozen attackers, according to witnesses, who say that the Jewish youths were shouting “death to the Arabs” and seemed to be on the hunt for Palestinian victims.
Some witnesses described the attack as a “lynch,” while Israeli authorities claimed the attack was a typical brawl between Israeli and Palestinian young people. However, on Sunday, police called the event a “lynching,” Haaretz reports.
Hundreds of people watched the assault but did not try to help the victims, a police representative said on Sunday.
“The victim lost his consciousness and was thought to be dead until [an emergency paramedic crew] arrived and resuscitated him,” Haaretz cites Sergeant First Class Shmuel Shenhav as saying. “For several days he was anesthetized and artificially ventilated in the hospital.”
“This was an extremely severe crime,” he added. “Only a miracle saved him from death.”
Jamal Julani, a 17-year old Palestinian, still remains in serious condition in the intensive care unit at the Hadassah University Hospital. He regained consciousness but does not remember details of the event.
His two cousins, who suffered medium injuries, explained that the incident was extremely brief, as police arrived quickly and the perpetrators did not have much time to beat them or the unconscious Jamal.
Four teenagers between the ages of 13 and 15 were arrested Sunday in connection with the attack. Another suspect was arrested shortly after the attack on Friday.
A special investigation team has been set up in an effort to find all the perpetrators, and police believe further arrests will follow.—www.shafaqna.com/english