Europe, Middle East & Africa
Here are five items on the eruption of civil unrest among migrant population of France. The first three are news items that provide some sense of the scope of the problem. The last two are opinion pieces that provide some important background on its socio-economic and political dimensions. Some say it was a purely spontaneous outburst that then took on a life of its own, others say that it has been directed by criminal organizations or religious extremists. Do not fall into the trap of thinking these two possibilities are mutually exclusive. My guess is that there is both spontaneous uprising among frustrated youth and experimentation on the part of sinister forces. And even if there is no manipulation, from terrorists, drug traffickers or even geopolitical rivals simply seeking to embarrass France or change its direction, I assure you that the tactical advantage will be exploited in the future, unless the underlying socio-economic and cultural issues are addressed aggressively and creatively. And that is true in all industrialized societies.
“France will impose curfews under a state-of-emergency law and call up police reservists to stop rioting that has spread out of Paris' suburbs and into nearly 300 cities and towns across the country...The tough new measures came as France's worst civil unrest in decades entered a 12th night, with rioters in the southern city of Toulouse setting fire to a bus after sundown after ordering passengers off, and elsewhere pelting police with gasoline bombs and rocks and torching a nursery school. Outside the capital in Sevran, a junior high school was set ablaze, while in another Paris suburb, Vitry-sur-Seine, youths threw gasoline bombs at a hospital, police said. No one was injured. Earlier, a 61-year-old retired auto worker died of wounds from an attack last week, the first death in the violence.” (Associated Press, 11-8-05)
“Gangs of youths torched more than 1,000 vehicles overnight in the tenth straight night of violence in Paris’s poor suburbs, despite the deployment of thousands of extra police. In the past few days the rioting has been spreading to other French towns. On Saturday night, cars were burned out for the first time in central Paris, in the historic third district. And in the normally quiet Normandy town of Evreux, a shopping mall, 50 vehicles, a post office and two schools were gutted. The violence began after the deaths of two men apparently fleeing police, and as the expression of pent up anger by young men, many Muslims of North and black African origin, at police treatment, racism, unemployment and their marginal place in French society.” (Reuters, 11-9-05)
“Police also found a gasoline bomb-making factory in a rundown building in Evry, a southern Paris suburb that contained 150 explosives, more than 100 bottles, gallons of fuel and hoods for hiding rioters' faces, Jean-Marie Huet, a senior Justice Ministry official, said...” (Associated Press, 11-6-05)
“First limited to the Paris region's cités [French housing projects], the conflagration of violence has now reached several provincial cities. Up to now, over 1000 vehicles have been burned and close to 400 people wounded…Prior to North African immigration, the Republican model was based largely, it was understood, on three fundaments: school, for the reasons one can imagine; trade unionism, because it promoted the political socialization of individuals; and military service, which, thank goodness, has been abolished, but which has never been replaced by the civic service envisaged when Lionel Jospin was in the Matignon [French prime Minister's residence]. In short, these vectors of integration are a shadow of what they once were. When you combine that with the high level of unemployment, and especially with the social ravages unemployment provokes, you get a cocktail of anger, violence, and revolt that - as we observe today - expresses itself with all the more force because there is practically no communication between these youths and the government. More precisely, there is an absence of political representation. In a study devoted to that subject, Olivier Masclet from the University of Metz notes that ‘today, immigrants' children are largely absent from the factories, the unions, and the workers' parties that have been at the heart of the political socialization of the working class for a century.’ The consequence, in part, is a political deficit which the present riots translate.” (Serge Truffaut, Le Devoir, 11-8-05)
“Now 30, 40, and 50 years old, these high-rise human warehouses in the isolated suburbs are today run-down, dilapidated, sinister places, with broken elevators that remain unrepaired, heating systems left dysfunctional in winter, dirt and dog-shit in the hallways, broken windows, and few commercial amenities - shopping for basic necessities is often quite limited and difficult, while entertainment and recreational facilities for youth are truncated and totally inadequate when they're not non-existent. Both apartments and schools are over-crowded (birth control is a cultural taboo in the Muslim culture the immigrants brought with them and transmitted to their children, and even for their male grandchildren of today - who've adopted hip-hop culture and created their own French-language rap music of extraordinary vitality (which often embodies stinging social and political content) - condoms are a no-no because of Arab machismo, contributing to rising AIDS rates in the ghettos …The response to the last ten days of violent youth rebellion by the conservative government has been inept and tone-deaf. For the first four days of the rebellion, Chirac and his Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin decided to let the hyper-ambitious, megalomaniacal Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, lead the government's response to the youth's violence and arson. Chirac and Villepin detest Sarkozy…But Sarkozy only poured verbal kerosene on the flames, dismissing the ghetto youth in the most insulting and racist terms and calling for a policy of repression…Under the headline ‘Budget Cuts Exasperate Suburban Mayors,’ Le Monde reports today on how Chirac and his conservatives have compounded 30 years of neglect of the ghettos by slashing even deeper into social programs: 20% annual cuts in subsidies for neighborhood groups that work with youths since 2003, cuts in youth job-training programs and tax credits for hiring ghetto youth, cuts in education and programs to teach kids how to read and write, cuts in neighborhood police who get to know ghetto kids and work with them…With fewer and fewer neighborhood cops to do preventive work that defuses youth alienation and violence, the alternative is to wait for more explosions and then send in the CRS (Compagnies Republicaines de Securite, hard-line paramilitary SWAT teams). Budget cuts for social programs plus more repression, is a prescription for more violence. That's why Le Monde's editorial today warned that a continuation of this blind policy creates a big risk of provoking a repeat of 2002, when the neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen made it into the runoff.” (Doug Ireland, DIRELAND, 11-6-05)
- Organizations should have business continuity and crisis management plans, which include contingencies on how to deal with civil unrest, whether sudden and short-termed or prolonged.
- Organizations should understand the socio-economic stresses of those cities in which they have operations or interests, and monitor those stresses accordingly.
- Governments should re-affirm the creation of economic opportunity and the overcoming of alienation among migrant populations as high domestic priorities and participation in global efforts to achieve the U.N.’s “Millennium Goals” as a high international priority.
The synchronized triple bombings at international hotels in Amman, synchronized triple bombings at crowded markets in New Delhi, as well as a disturbing incident on the high seas off the coast of Somalia, underscore one of the principles tenets of GS(3) Intelligence: disaster, in general, and terrorism, in particular, can strike anyone anywhere at anytime. Several other stories that appeared during this Briefing cycle, highlighting the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, a shift in Al Qaeda’s political strategy, significant (and timely) busts in Australia and Indonesia, illustrate how profoundly wrong-headed and counter-productive the Bush administration’s botched, bungled and mislabeled “war on terrorism” has been, and how badly its disastrous detour into Iraq and its policies on the torture and abuse of captives have undermined the global effort to thwart Islamic extremists.
“Suicide bombers carried out nearly simultaneous attacks on three Western chain hotels here Wednesday night, killing at least 57 people, wounding more than 100 and emphatically ending Jordan's status as an oasis of relative calm in the Middle East. The blasts struck the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn in the Jordanian capital just before 9 p.m., sending clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky and leaving some of the bloodied victims lying on plush-carpeted floors. At the Radisson, an assailant detonated an explosives belt in the midst of a wedding party in a crowded banquet hall, resulting in extensive casualties, officials said. At the Days Inn, a car bomber was unable to breach the security perimeter outside the hotel before detonating his explosives, Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher told reporters. Emergency workers rushing to the scenes used bellman's carts to carry the wounded out of the hotels. The flood of victims overwhelmed local hospitals.” (Los Angeles Times, 11-10-05)
“Near-simultaneous explosions rocked the Indian capital…tearing through a bus and two markets crowded with people shopping for gifts for a Hindu festival. At least 58 people were killed and dozens wounded in the blasts, which the government blamed on terrorists.
Police declared a state of emergency and closed all city markets…The first explosion hit at 5:45 p.m. in New Delhi's main Paharganj market, leaving behind bloodstained streets and mangled stalls of wood and twisted metal. Within minutes came an explosion at the popular Sarojini Nagar market and the bus blast in the Govindpuri neighborhood. Police said at least 60 people were wounded in the first blast and dozens in the other two. The attacks targeted the many people shopping just days before the festival of Diwali, a major Hindu holiday during which families exchange gifts, light candles and celebrate with fireworks. The markets where the blasts occurred often sell fireworks that are elaborate and potentially dangerous…The explosions erupted just hours after India and Pakistan began talks on opening their heavily militarized border in disputed Kashmir to bring food, shelter and medical aid to victims of the Himalayan region's massive quake, which killed about 80,000 people, most in Pakistan.” (Associated Press, 10-29-05)
“One of Asia's most wanted terrorists was staying in a safe house packed with London-style backpack bombs when he was killed, police said Thursday, triggering speculation he was planning more terror strikes. Azahari bin Husin's death is another major blow to the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, but at least four other senior members of the group remain on the run, security analysts said. The Afghan-trained explosives expert was accused of making the bombs used in the 2002 Bali nightclub attacks and at least three other deadly blasts in Indonesia, and handing down his skills to young recruits, police say. Police initially said Azahari blew himself up Wednesday to avoid capture when members of an elite anti-terror unit raided his hide-out, but police chief Gen. Sutanto said Thursday he was shot as he reached to detonate his suicide belt.” (Associated Press, 11-10-05)
“Australian authorities arrested 17 terror suspects on Tuesday — including a prominent radical Muslim cleric sympathetic to Osama bin Laden — and said they had foiled a major terror attack on the country by men committed to ‘violent jihad.’ The Australian Federal Police said the men were arrested in Sydney and Melbourne in coordinated raids that also netted evidence including weapons and apparent bomb-making materials. A prosecutor said the cleric, Abdul Nacer Benbrika — also known as Abu Bakr — was the ringleader. (Associated Press, 11-08-05)
“…in the south, opponents of the Kabul regime have gone back into business. And the repentant Taliban who answered President Hamid Karzai's call and try to integrate themselves into the new political landscape can't go back to their villages under pain of being murdered. When you take the brand new highway that goes from Kabul to Kandahar, the one the Afghans call ‘the Bush highway,’ starting just south of Ghazni, it becomes more and more dangerous to stop…Forty-year-old Rahman Akhondzada is one of the commanders of the Taliban insurgency in Zabol province. He is very difficult to meet, but we were able to interview him thanks to a satellite telephone. He asserted to us that he launches at least one attack a week on the American base of Daya Choopan with his 150 men. According to him, 15 districts of the country are under "the Taliban Islamic law," while American soldiers can't move in those regions except in convoys supported by aircraft. According to Akhondzada, it's Mullah Omar who is still leading the guerrilla movement and who distributes his orders and fatwas in person or in writing…’The last time I saw Mullah Omar,’ the Commandant relates, ‘it was the beginning of the summer of 2005. My superior, Mullah Barader, led me into a house at nightfall. Mullah Omar w as there, surrounded by eight bodyguards armed with grenade launchers, grenades and AK-47 assault rifles. He was in good health, as in the Kandahar times. We talked about the Cuba and Bagram prisons. He was, as usual, not very talkative, listening attentively, then making decisions with an un-appealable yes or no. He assured us that the jihad had only just begun.’ Under the Taliban regime, the mullah Abdul Salam, nicknamed ‘General Rocket,’ was one of the five highest ranking officers in the army. Today he's the first ex-Taliban to have been elected to the Afghan Parliament…’The whole General Staff of the Taliban resistance is in Quetta,’ ‘General Rocket’ calmly explains. ‘Abdul Razak, Obeidullah, Kahar and the others, like a real shadow government. Behind them, there's the Evil Council: the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani Secret Services) colonels, who organize and finance them right under the nose of President Musharraf and the Americans ...’” (Sara Daniel and Sami Yousafzay, Terrorism: The Return of the Taliban, Le Nouvel Observateur, 11-3-05)
“The political image of al-Qaeda has come across more strongly in recent months, as Ayman al-Zawahiri, second-in-command to Osama bin Laden, has raised his profile, leading a propaganda campaign to win support from the Muslim masses. His latest move came two weeks ago when he made a televised appeal for aid for victims of the Pakistan earthquake. The videotape broadcast on the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television station was the softest intervention yet from the Egyptian doctor, who is thought to be hiding somewhere near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. But it was only the latest in a series of television addresses that have highlighted a more sophisticated political message…Mr Zawahiri's media campaign appears to be a tactical shift that recognises two key developments. The first is that the old al-Qaeda created in Afghanistan has become more diffuse, with the traditional leadership possibly out of touch with changes on the ground. The second is that it is being upstaged by a new al-Qaeda, based in Iraq and led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. ‘Qaeda is like a college: it graduated people and each has an ideology and works on his own, according to his own circumstances,’ says Yassir al-Sirri, an Egyptian Islamist dissident. ‘Zarqawi doesn't need al-Qaeda anymore; he took what he needed from it.’The Pakistan earthquake broadcast followed a September videotape in which Mr Zawahiri commented on Afghanistan parliamentary elections, dismissing them as illegitimate. The message highlighted a new pattern in which Mr Zawahiri resorts to political arguments to counter US-driven democratic progress. (Roula Khalaf , Bin Laden's deputy leads al-Qaeda into battle for Muslim hearts and minds.” Financial Times, 11-5-05)
“NINETEEN Australians were on board a $1000-a-night cruise liner attacked by pirates who peppered the ship with machinegun fire and blasted it with at least two rocket-propelled grenades off the Somali coast. Passengers told last night how the captain "rocked the ship from side to side" in an effort to swamp the two 7.5m inflatable boats that mounted the dawn raid. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer raised the possibility terrorism may have been the motivation behind the raid. The boats, packed with up to a dozen bandits between them, approached the ship Seabourn Spirit on Saturday at 5.30am local time (2.30pm AEST) about 160km off the Somali coast, the Seabourn Cruise Line said. Cruise line spokesman Bruce Good said the ship managed to escape the pirates…Along with the 19 Australians, there were 48 Americans on board, 22 Britons, 21 Canadians, 19 Germans and six South Africans. The other passengers were mostly from other European nations, Mr Good said. The Indian Ocean waters off the Somali coast are among the world's most dangerous. Typically pirates target freighters that carry only a handful of crew. The Bahamian-registered Seabourn ship was on a 16-day cruise from Egypt to Mombasa, Kenya. The 10,000-tonne vessel sailed on to the Seychelles Islands, where passengers were to disembark and fly to Mombasa, Mr Good said.” (The Australian, 11-7-05)
- Organizations should have a comprehensive travel security program, which encompasses the monitoring of threats, the tracking of the work force’s travel, awareness and education for the travelers, guidance on hotel selection and other vital aspects of travel to high risk or extreme risk destinations, input on venue selection for conferences and exhibitions, as well as special attention to the details of executive travel and the situations of ex-pats. GS(3) Intelligence can help you develop such a program.
Globalization is a difficult issue. It is far more hurtful and disruptive than its corporatist boosters care to acknowledge, and it is far more necessary and inexorable than its opponents to the right and left of center are willing to admit. I remember Bill Clinton’s speech on the Free Trade Area of the America (FTAA) toward the end of his second term in office. Of course, I also remember where we were in regard to peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East as well. There has been considerably more attention focused on the failures of the Bush administration’s foreign policy team regarding peace and security on those two regions than on its destructive influence on U.S. relationships in Latin America, but its failure in this vital area is no less dangerous or sweeping in its long-term implications. Here are three news items highlighting the deepening distance, distrust and hostility that the Bush administration has generated in the south. Clinton-Gore lead by engaging world leaders and achieving pragmatic consensus based on international principles, Bush-Cheney have mislead by beating their unilateralist chests and exhorting world leaders to get in line and follow them – or else. Increasingly, world leaders are exploring what “or else” would cost them; consequently, the U.S. is isolated and weakened. A U.S. President Gore would have spent some quality time over the last five years finding common ground with the more moderate leaders within the Mercosur bloc, and there would be much less room for hatred to fester and violence to erupt.
“A two-day summit meeting of leaders of 34 Western Hemisphere nations attended by President Bush was drawing to a close here on Saturday without a clear agreement on when and how to resume stalled negotiations aimed at achieving a hemisphere wide free trade agreement. American presidents of each party have long pushed for a hemispheric free trade zone. Ronald Reagan talked of a single market extending from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego; Bill Clinton formally broached the idea at the First Summit of the Americas in Miami in 1994. A Free Trade Area of the Americas would be a bloc even larger than the European Union, though without its free flow of labor and political integration.…On the left are those, led by Venezuela's fiery, populist president, Hugo Chávez, who oppose free trade in any form. Mr. Chávez calls the Free Trade Area of the Americas ‘an annexationist plan’ that would stifle or destroy local industry, roll back social safety nets and labor protections, and permanently extend American political domination of the region to the economic realm…In contrast, Brazil and Argentina, the leaders of the Mercosur bloc, the third-largest trading group in the world, do not oppose the concept of free trade, only Washington's version. The Mercosur group, which includes Paraguay and Uruguay, was founded in 1991 to eliminate trade barriers among its members, but also aims to achieve political integration. It covers an area with a population of nearly 250 million and produces more than $1 trillion annually in goods and services…’We are here neither to bury F.T.A.A. nor to resuscitate it,’ but to see ‘what are the advantages,’ Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim, said. ‘We have no prejudice against trade integration, but we don't want to put something on paper just because it looks nice.’ Some other countries with dynamic economies that already have free trade pacts with the United States, like Mexico and Chile, have been trying to ease their neighbors' worries, by emphasizing the favorable effects of liberalized trade on exports, investment and employment…Argentina's position is complicated by the resentment and mistrust left from the collapse of the economy four years ago next month. Argentina contends that after being the International Monetary Fund's star pupil in the 1990's, it was abandoned by the United States in its time of crisis, and that sentiment has colored Mr. Kirchner's dealings with the fund and the Bush administration. (New York Times, 11-6-05)
“…the opposition to Bush and his proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), as well as neoconservative economic policies and capitalism in general, took on a creative twist this time, with a massive march that ended in a rally at a sports stadium involving a heterogeneous group of Latin American leaders: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Bolivian socialist leader Evo Morales, Argentine leaders of the unemployed, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, singers from all over the continent, and, of course, Diego Maradona, legendary soccer hero. [NOTE: Madrone called Bush ‘human trash.’] A counter-meeting, the Summit of the People, began in the city on Monday, and concluded on Thursday with recommendations to summarily suspend FTAA talks, combat inequality in the region, and ‘energetically reject the militarization of the continent promoted by the empire of the north.’ At the culminating event of the march against Bush, Chávez called the stadium in which over 25,000 demonstrators had gathered the ‘gravesite of the FTAA.’ He also proposed a Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA, a Spanish acronym meaning ‘dawn’) to replace the controversial FTAA. Regional opponents of Bush's free trade agreement accuse it of fomenting inequality and placing poorer countries at the mercy of wealthier ones. The Bolivarian alternative proposes regional integration with the goal of fighting poverty and social exclusion. (Jordana Timerman, The Nation, 11-5-05)
“The test broadcast phase for the new Latin America-wide satellite television channel Telesur ended on October 31 with the launch of a continuous live signal from its studios in Caracas. The Telesur website
- Organizations with operations or interests in Latin America should monitor geopolitical tensions and economic conditions in the region, and prepare for trouble ahead (e.g., civil unrest, labor actions aimed at icons of U.S. business, government crack downs on U.S. interests, scandals involving U.S. businesses, kidnappings of U.S. business people, assassinations of Latin American political leaders, coups and counter-coups, etc.)
Vietnam reported its first human death, a 35-year-old man in Hanoi, in more than three months and Indonesia reported another possible human death, a 16-year old girl in Jakarta. In Vietnam,. forty-two deaths have been confirmed officially. In Indonesia, only five have been officially confirmed but at least a dozen deaths are suspected. In China, officials have acknowledged three more outbreaks of bird flu in Jinzhou, Fuxin and Liaoning. Here are three stories that highlight the potential global impact should a pandemic arise.
A deadly new global pandemic of human influenza is inevitable and suffering will be "incalculable" unless the world is ready, the chief of the United Nations health agency said on Monday. The World Bank estimated the economic cost to be $800-billion (about R5,4-trillion)…About 60 percent of countries have a pandemic preparedness plan, but in most cases it is only a piece of paper, and those plans "need to move to exercise and rehearsal", said Mike Ryan, WHO's outbreak response director. (Cape Times, 11-08-05)
International air travel would virtually stop if bird flu triggered a lethal human pandemic in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s health minister said today, as Chinese media reported plummeting poultry sales in Beijing and Shanghai…Australia’s Health Minister Tony Abbott did not directly respond to questions on whether Australia would expel foreigners, close its ports or accept “flu refugees” in the event of a pandemic breaking out in neighbouring Indonesia. ‘If there is a pandemic, international travel will almost cease I suspect for a significant period of time,’ Abbott told Ten Network television. ‘Regardless of what border controls countries might put on, there will be very few people who’ll be wanting to travel.’ (Times of India, 10-30-05)
Alarmed by the spread of bird flu from East Asian countries to Europe and considering the vulnerability of the region, authorities in [India’s] North Eastern states have stregthened preventive measures to check possible spread of the avian influenza. As the vast network of wetlands and rivers of the entire region is a suitable home for winter winged guests and the major flyways for migratory birds, the North-East is comparatively more vulnerable for possible spread of the flu. Moreover, its proximity to South-East Asian countries is a major concern because poultry birds are imported from Myanmar through Manipur and Mizoram, said a veterinary expert. Alarmed over the spread of H5n1 virus causing avian influenza to both wild water fowls and domesticated birds in 11 Asian countries and Europe, wildlife wardens and veterinary departments in NE states have already issued certain guidelines to the villagers as preventive measures. (Outlook India, 11-8-05)
- Organizations should already have a Bird Flu specific crisis response plan in place. This plan should establish protocols and processes for overcoming disruption in business travel to infected areas, and interruption of business operations in infected areas. It should also provide awareness and education resources for the work force. GS(3) Intelligence can help you develop such a plan.
The following brief story is startling. Not because it reveals some sophisticated new hacking technique or rips away the veil on information age espionage, but because it illustrates how commonplace criminality has become in regard to your privacy—at least in the U.S. But don't expect any strong, EU-style privacy-related legislation from Senators and Representatives who serve the narrow interests of the lobbies that finance their campaigns and under-write their life-styles. Do not look for regulatory protection from them. Nothing they deliver will have any teeth for the consumer until there is a change in control of the legislative branch of the federal government. Meanwhile, it is a serious reputational issue for businesses.
“Verizon Wireless said…that it had received a court injunction to stop a Florida investigative agency from fraudulently obtaining confidential information about its wireless subscribers. The No. 2 U.S. mobile service said it filed a lawsuit accusing Global Information Group of making thousands of attempts to gather confidential information without authorization and using fraudulent schemes to do so, including impersonating Verizon employees and posing as customers…Verizon Wireless said it had already asked courts for help three times this year on customer privacy concerns. It also received a court order in the summer to stop a Tennessee-based company from illegally obtaining and selling confidential customer telephone records. Also during the summer it received injunctions against telemarketing companies in Florida and California to stop them from making illegal sales calls to its customers.” (Reuters, 11-9-05)
- Organizations should establish monitoring and investigative processes, as well as awareness and education training for the work force, in order to protect the confidentiality of clients, customers, partners and employees.
Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: email@example.com. For more information, go to http://www.wordsofpower.net.