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Le Figaro, France, 12/05/2007
US using new methods to spy on Iran?

I- Methods to collect intelligence:

The US stated that they use new methods to collect intelligence in Iran:
What are they?

1- Satellites:

a) Most of the American intelligence about Iran is collected with electronic imaging, thanks to satellites located above Iran:
- modifications in the security of nuclear sites
- pinpointing subterranean construction

b) A French Defense ministry official:
“Part of this information is shared with the Israelis, who do not have enough satellite coverage, theirs being focused right now on Lebanon and Syria ”


2- Human intelligence:

a) Indirect:

A CIA official said last week-end [December 1 and 2]:
“We have been doing more analysis and more collections, from information that was public and relevant”:
Is this the result of:
this new policy?
OR of an Israeli commando’s action?

- On January 18, 2007:
Ardeshir Hassanpour, a physician, one of the brains behind the Iranian nuclear program, died of poisoning in Iran

- On February 7, 2007:
Ali Reza Asgari, ex leader of the Revolutionary Guards who participate in the protection of the nuclear sites, defected to the USA, via Turkey

- On April 30, 2007:
Hossein Moussavian, negotiator with the Europeans about the nuclear issue, was arrested in Tehran, which accuses him of having given sensitive intelligence to the British

- Many “accidents” happened to helicopters transporting Revolutionary Guards;
the latter have just been added to the US terrorist organizations list

b) In the field: the Kurds:

In the North of Iraq, there are the Kurds, Washington allies:
One of their officials told Le Figaro: “The Americans are putting pressure on us to lead destabilization operations in Iran, but we are standing firm”

In this spy nest, the Mossad, which has been cooperating for a long time with Massoud Barzani’s PDK’ services, can recruit for:
- operations of target spotting on the other side of the border
- commando operations against the “architects” of the nuclear program, such as Hassanpour

c) In the field: the British:
- “As for the British, they are well established in Northern Iran, which is predominantly Kurd” says an ex leader of a European counter-espionage service
- Deployment of British troops in the South of Iraq also enables the infiltration of  the Khuzistan province, where the Busher plant is, and where the “Arab” minority lives, and which has been witnessing on and off unrest for the past few years



II- Iran’s counter-measures:

1- Tehran assigned the bassijis and the pasdarans some population control missions, which is not part of their regular duties


2- But this is not enough. So since 2005, Tehran allegedly has a new intelligence service, Oghab 2:

a) It is exclusively dedicated to the protection of its nuclear program from external operations

b) Its creation allegedly was decided upon the arrest of several agents, sent to get information about 2 nuclear sites that had not been found by the International Atomic Energy Agency:
- Parshin (South East of Tehran)
- Lavizan (North East)

c) It is very hard to find out:
- How many men there are in Oghab 2
- If they have received some training in countries that are allies of Iran

d) But according to intelligence experts, one thing is for sure:
It is very difficult to infiltrate Iran:
- An ex counter espionage professional says: “Foreign services traditionally have very little high level contacts in Iran”
- Which would explain the difficulties encountered by the US to establish the surprising [NIE] report on Iran’s nuclear program






Translation and summary provided by The Croissant. All Rights Reserved.

Le Temps, Switzerland, 11/30/2007
Pro-Putin youth movements: reminder of the 1920’s soviet propaganda

Live from Moscow:
- It is pre-election time in Russia: legislatives on December 2 and presidential in March 2008
- 4 pro-Putin “patriotic” youth movements are getting very active:
Nashi, Mestnye, Molodaia Gvardia, Rossiia Molodaia
Speeches and methods are not without reminding the soviet propaganda of the 1920’s
One of their main theme is: mobilization against the internal and external enemies of Russia



I- The “Nashi” (“Ours!”), pro-Putin youth movement:

1- Headquarters:
At the entrance, very strict codes: a sign posted on the door reads:
“forbidden to come in without the proper badges”


2- Two objectives:

a) support the president

b) more importantly: prevent the triggering in Russia of a “color revolution” like the one in Georgia in 2003 and in Ukraine in 2004, when these 2 states declared their independence:
- this is why the movement was created in 2005
- it is funded by the Kremlin


3- Support of the Kremlin:

a) Putin himself told them of the full support of the Kremlin when he welcomed them in his summer residence in Zavidovo on July 24:
Out of the 58 young guests, 42 were Nashi “commissars”
Putin invited them to take a more active part on the political scene

b) Summer camp:
- In November, the Nashi received 10 million rubles [about $409,000] to finance its future summer camp:
in 2007, 10,000 youngsters participated in the training camp
in 2008, the Nashi is aiming for 50,000 participants
- This year, the central theme was demography: in Russia, it is declining (142.4 millions inhabitants vs. 150 in 1991);
and there were prestigious guests: vice-prime ministers Dmitri Medvedev and Serguei Ivanov stopped by, wearing undershirts with a slogan calling for women to procreate:
the leaders of the movement exposed to public condemnation the symbol of the counter-revolution: the thong:
an emblem of the Western perversion, the thong threatens the fertility of Russian women because they claim that it is a source of disease


4- Public gatherings:
The Nashi organizes public gatherings only for special occasions:

a) For instance, on October 7, 10,000 of them, all wearing the same clothes, gathered at the Kremlin to wish President Putin a happy birthday

b) Since it is pre-election time, they flood into:
- the streets
- the schools
- the universities
-> to remind voters to vote for United Russia, the political party that backs Putin


5- Tasks:

a) Miscellaneous:
- Organize blood collections
- Pay homage to the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War veterans
- Prevent meetings from the opposition
- Post observers in each polling station

b) Fight the enemies of Russia:
- For example, in 2006, when London refused for the umpteenth time to extradite the disgraced oligarch Boris Berezovski, the Nashi harassed British ambassador Tony Brenton for months, following him wherever he went
- Also, last spring, at the height of the Russian-Estonian dispute about the moving of a statue praising the Soviet army, the Nashi laid siege to the Estonian embassy in Moscow: they verbally aggressed the ambassador and broke the flag of her official vehicle  


6- Police:
The Nashi have their own security force, the DMD (Voluntary Youth Militia), which helps the police patrol certain areas with a high crime rate


7- Members:

a) The “patriotic” and anti-western rhetoric allegedly attracted 100,000 members:
that is 10 times more than when the movement was founded

b) Testimony: Roman, a 25-year-old:

Roman calls himself a “patriot”: the concept, hammered in the 89-page movement’s book, is very much in fashion in Russia these days:
- All the members must know this book backwards in order to pass the entrance exam
- The book, which has a red cover, says:
“Russian youth has become very patriotic”
“More young Russians than young Europeans are ready to take up arms to fight for their homeland”

Roman thinks that the number one public enemy is Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion who was sentenced to 5 days in jail [on November 24, 2007] for participating in an illegal march in Moscow, and who is the head of “The Other Russia”, the main opposing party to Putin:
“The fascists Kasparov and Limonov (the other main figure of “The Other Russia”) want to overthrow the existing government to establish something more American”

c) Testimony: Galia, a 23-year-old:

“This Kasparov! How can he call himself a patriot when he has an American passport? Organizations like his are financed by the United States. But Russia is a competitor of that country”

Galia, who has been a Nashi activist for the past 2 years, is a “commissar”:
- in the Nashi hierarchy, this is the 2nd rank (there are 4 of them)
- to become a “commissar”, you must:
participate in 2 “Seliger”, the education/training camp organized each summer by the Seliger lake in the Tver region, 400 kilometers [about 249 miles] northeast of Moscow
get the 8 certificates granted by the Nashi’s school of management, which includes classes of geopolitics, history of Russia and “psychology of mass manipulations”

3 months ago, Galia quit her job in a tourist company to dedicate herself “100% to the movement”
She hopes that she will have career opportunities:
She reminds us that some NOMs (Nationally Oriented Manager, the ultimate Nashi rank), found jobs at Gazprom or in the government



II- The “Mestnye” (“Locals”), another pro-Putin youth movement:

They recently helped the police find illegal immigrants on the Iaroslavski market in Moscow



III- The “Molodaia Gvardia” (“Young Guard”), another pro-Putin youth movement:

1- It is the youth movement of the United Russia party

2- It allegedly has 70,000 members

3- It recently opened dart or paint shooting centers in Vladimir, Briansk, Ulianovsk and Vladivostok:
- The targets are portraits of Garry Kasparov, Osama Bin Laden and Andrus Ansip (Estonian prime Minister, called a “fascist”)
- The action is called “Vote with your rifle!”
- The purpose: enable the youngsters to “get rid of their hatred of the enemies of Russia”
- Kirill, a 20-year-old activist: He does not see “what is wrong with that, as long as we do not shoot with real bullets”

4- These days, Kirill and his friend Dmitri are practicing to occupy the public places of downtown Moscow, in order to prevent the opposition to do the same on December 2:
According to them, it is all about manipulation: “You think that people choose! But it’s definitely possible to control its opinions”



IV- Hatred of the West:

In all these youth movements, the hatred of the West, suspected of wanting to weaken Russia in order to rob it of its wealth, is vivid

Their geopolitical vision is that Russia, located at the strategic heart of the continent, must prevail:
“He who controls this strong geographical location will control the world”, says the small Nashi red book





Translation and summary provided by The Croissant. All Rights Reserved.

Le Temps, Switzerland, 11/30/2007
Increased nuclear proliferation makes a dirty bomb attack more likely

William Nye, the top counter terrorism official at the British Interior Ministry:
“Al Qaeda is actively looking for highly enriched uranium and for plutonium, in order to trigger a dirty bomb in a big city, such as London or Washington”


I- Acquiring nuclear material:

1- Theft and loss:

a) Example:
3 men were arrested [on 11/28/07] in Slovakia and in Hungary:
they were carrying 1 kilo [about 2.2 pounds] of enriched uranium valued at 1.2 million [Swiss] francs [about $1.06 million]

b) This is not a first:
- The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) counted 250 thefts or loss of nuclear material in the world in 2006: that is an increase of 200% since 2002
-  Also, for the past 10 years, the IAEA counted 1,250 cases of traffic of atomic material
- These statistics show that the increased use of nuclear energy, even for civil purposes, can be dangerous


2- Proliferation:
 
A confidential Russian-Swedish report, leaked to The New Scientist, is alarming:
The 35 high-risk sites in the Kola peninsula in North-West Russia lack security and could “proliferate”



II- In light of the traffic of fissile material, the comeback of nuclear energy is worrying:

1- All the more worrying that the figures are disturbing:
- Today, there are 439 reactors spread out in 31 countries
- In the next 50 years, there could be twice as many


2- Amongst the countries, which want to acquire nuclear energy:
- Of course: Iran
- But also: Egypt, Jordan, Gulf countries, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco
-> Countries with no nuclear experience and with fragile political stability
-> In the case of Iran: this is all the more worrying that Iran supports Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad


3- A study published some time ago by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (The Future of Nuclear Power) listed the main risks of civil nuclear energy:
One of them is that international controls are not strict enough to prevent a transition from civil to military nuclear energy:
Indeed, nuclear waste, which represent worldwide more than 1,000 [metric] tons of plutonium, constitute a very acute problem:
- you only need 8 kilos [about 17.6 pounds] of this material to build a nuclear weapon;
this nuclear waste can be used to make dirty bombs
- industrialized countries, in particular the ones with nuclear energy, are relatively well armed against thefts of nuclear waste
- but in countries with economic difficulties, security measures are insufficient
- the fast growth of industrial capacities and of new technologies may make proliferation easier for developing countries wishing to acquire nuclear weapons


4- Francois Heisbourg, chairman of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy:
- He does not share this pessimistic view
- To him, this shows the difference of sensibility between France (where nuclear energy accounts for 78% of the production of electricity), and the USA along with Scandinavia:
“The technology is not the issue. (…) Nowadays, if you want to build a [nuclear] bomb, you must either build research reactors as in Zaire or Bielorussia, or install centrifuges as in Iran”





Translation and summary provided by The Croissant. All Rights Reserved.

Libération, France, 11/30/2007
“America plays a devilish part [in Lebanon]”

Excerpts from an interview with Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah:

Who is he?
- 71 years old
- Born in Najaf, Iraq
- He is the spiritual leader most respected by Lebanese Shiites
- He is Hezbollah’s spiritual leader
- [He is based in Lebanon]

Libération: “Lebanon has been in a deadlock for a few months. What should be done in order to avoid unrest?”
Fadlallah: “ It will be very difficult to find a solution to this crisis as long as America has many devilish plans for the region. Look at what is happening in Iraq. Today, all the ingredients for a war are present in Lebanon(…)”

L: “Are we heading towards a confrontation between Shiites and Sunnis in Lebanon?”
F: “(…) Our problem is that America plays a devilish part. After causing dissension between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites, the Americans would like to do the same in our country [Lebanon] “

L: ”In your preaches, you have criticized the Western media. Why?”
F: ”America puts pressure on the European press. During the conflict in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah, there was also a world war against our movement. Westerners always support our enemies. This injustice hurt us a lot. We thought that Europe was different form America, that it could distance itself from the American policy. But we noticed that the Old continent is under the influence of Washington, which wants to lay its hand on the Arab-Muslim world, its natural resources, its consumer markets and its political and cultural bases. All the European heads of state are working for Bush.“






Translation and summary provided by The Croissant. All Rights Reserved.

Liberation, France, 12/06/2007
After many electoral promises: does president Sarkozy walk the walk?...

Main points of 2 articles about president Sarkozy’s electoral campaign vs. actual foreign policy

I- Electoral campaign…

1- The night of his election, Sarkozy said:
Paris “will always be standing by oppressed people all around the world, because it’s its tradition”

2- In his electoral speeches, he said that if he was elected, France would no longer compromise on “the issues of democracy, respect of human rights and fair governance”

3- To those who reproached him to have met with president Bush, he replied that it was less shameful “than shaking hands with Putin”,
and he evoked the tens of thousands of casualties in the Chechen war:
“Our silence on the 200,000 deaths and 400,000 refugees of the war in Chechnya is unbearable”

4- Isabelle Lasserre, in conclusion of her book “L’impuissance francaise” [“French powerlessness”], a damning assessment of 10 years of catastrophic Chirac diplomacy, was full of hope:
“The new president promised a new French vision of the world”



II- …vs. reality:

After more than 6 months in power, Sarkozy seems to go back to his 2 predecessors’ realism on foreign policy matters

He does not hesitate to befriend less than recommendable regimes in the name of pragmatism and PR stunts

He is an opportunist, changing his foreign policy according to the current geopolitical situation

1- Libya: Kadhafi:

Case in point, the release of the Bulgarian nurses who had been jailed by Kadhafi’s regime:

a) Nonetheless, according to Francois Heisbourg, chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London [and chairman of the Geneva Center for Security Policy]:
“Lots of European countries, first and foremost Great Britain, normalized their relations with Kadhafi when he renounced his weapons of mass destruction program. These relations with the Libyan dictator were the price to pay for the release of the Bulgarian nurses.”

b) Except for the European Commission, which had welcomed him in Brussels in April of 2004, Paris is the only Western capital that invited Kadhafi [who was indeed received at the Elysée palace [equivalent of the White House] on December 10]:
- Jean-David Levitte, diplomacy advisor to Sarkozy, assured the investigative parliamentary commission on the release of the Bulgarian nurses that the invitation to Kadhafi by France was not a compensation
- Philippe Douste-Blazy, ex-Foreign Affairs minister, does not agree:
he maintained that this visit was a key element in the agreement with the Libyan leader

On top of the Bulgarian nurses case, Paris has many reasons to be nice to Kadhafi;
Indeed, he allegedly intends to buy a dozen Rafales [fighter jets]


2- Russia: Putin:

a) Francois Heisbourg was nonetheless troubled by Sarkozy’s phone call to Putin after the victory of Putin’s party at the legislative elections on 12/02/07:
- The ballot has been denounced as “unfair” by Western governments
- “Such a phone call was unnecessary since Vladimir Putin was not even a candidate, and I am all the more surprised that, during their trip to Moscow [on october 9], Nicolas Sarkozy and Bernard Kouchner [Foreign Affairs minister] were not shy about addressing human rights”:
indeed, they met the leaders of the Memorial NGO;
and Sarkozy mentioned human rights in his speech

b) During that same trip, Sarkozy told journalists about his very positive views of Putin, “a very intelligent person, extremely well informed on current worldwide issues”;
such an enthusiasm might explain his aforementioned phone call to Putin


3- China: Hu Jintao:
- Embraces and toasts to a Franco-Chinese friendship with Hu Jintao were numerous during Sarkozy’s trip to China at the beginning of this month
- Sarkozy even introduced his mother and his son to the Chinese president
- In order to sign quietly huge economic contracts with Beijing, Sarkozy was all of a sudden very flexible regarding human rights; he thus decided that neither Rama Yade, the State Secretary for Human Rights, nor Bernard Kouchner, would come with him
- Sarkozy just merely warned the Chinese president that there was a lot of progress to be done in order to establish a “rule of law state”


4- Syria: Bashar al-Assad:
- On his father’s grave, Chirac had offered Bashar al-Assad his friendship, before declaring himself betrayed, especially after the murder of Rafik Hariri
- This did not prevent Sarkozy to engage Assad, at the time of the highest repression of dissidents, and when no less than 6 Lebanese anti-Syrian MPs have been murdered in Beirut
- Bashar approved of Sarkozy’s initiative: it enabled him to break out of his isolation;
but he gave nothing in return;
which constitutes a complete failure of French diplomacy regarding the Lebanese presidential elections: according to a diplomat “France was had”
- But what horrifies most the opponents [to Syria] is the relations between Claude Guéant [general secretary of the Elysée] and Assef Chawkat, Bashar’s brother-in-law, head of the Syrian secret service;
a relationship that allegedly started when Sarkozy was Interior Minister.


5- Venezuela: Hugo Chavez:
He was warmly received at the Elysée in November, when he was invested with a mediation mission in order to obtain the release of Franco-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt
[for more on this matter, go to the 6/22/07 issue of the Croissant:
“Hostages in Colombia and the FARC”]





Translation and summary provided by The Croissant. All Rights Reserved.

Liberation, France, 11/29/2007
Sarkozy’s major faux pas with Syria: serious consequences for Lebanon

I- Overview:
- “We are not Bulgarian nurses”, said Walid Jumblatt [the most prominent leader of the Druze community] in front of a small group of close people, to summarize French policy during the Lebanese presidential election
- what Jumblatt meant was that Sarkozy tried to score points on Lebanon’s back in the name of a diplomacy coup, such as the one that enabled the release of the Bulgarian nurses jailed in Libya by Kadhafi


II- Lebanese presidential election: French diplomacy coup:

1- While Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Kouchner was in Beirut from November 18 to 22 to find a solution to the crisis that leaves today Lebanon with no president:
- President Sarkozy sent twice to Damascus his close advisors, Jean-David Levitte [diplomatic advisor to Sarkozy] and Claude Guéant [general secretary of the Elysée]
- Their mission: ask President Bashar al-Assad to encourage his Lebanese loyal supporters, including Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, the Parliament president Nabih Berri, and the Christian general Michel Aoun, not to jeopardize the Lebanese presidential ballot
- But such a strategy just does not work with Syria

2- Consequence: an even tougher stance from Syria

3- Hence: the feeling in Beirut, in the anti-Syrian March 14 Alliance [majority parliamentary group], that Paris acted as a complete amateur and that Sarkozy “was had” by the Syrian regime

4- The Syrian regime can be satisfied:
It did not concede anything, and it publicly humiliated France in Lebanon, showing at the same time that it was a key partner

5- The French maneuver was harshly criticized, all the more that neither Beirut nor apparently Bernard Kouchner had been informed of the trips to Damascus:
MP and political expert Samir Frangie, one of the brains of the Lebanese majority:
“Not only did France gain nothing from Damascus, no guarantee on the elections, but in Lebanon it [France] clouded the issue. At the beginning, the French initiative was totally different from what it has become.”

6- For Lebanese observers, today’s scenario looks like the one of the 1988 presidential elections, when Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State, also had fallen into Damascus’ trap:
- which resulted in several years of chaos
- It is in that same chaos that Lebanon could fall into again
- If this were to happen, there would be a small consolation: this time around [vs. in 1988 when Syria took over Lebanon], Bernard Kouchner promised to designate the culprits


III- There is another dimension to the French approach: from now on, choosing Damascus over its ally, Tehran:

1- That is the opposite of what Chirac did

2- “This is Europe’s choice: gain back Syria in order to counter Iran” says Frangie:
In other words: try to break the Tehran-Damascus axis, in order to isolate the Islamic regime and put back Syria with the other so-called moderate Arab countries;
the latter worry about the increase in power of Iran, particularly via its nuclear program

3- This is also George W. Bush’s stance, and Syria finally went to the Annapolis peace conference on November 27

4- [Lebanese] MP Elias Atallah, expert on Syria:
“There is a change in French, and even American, policy, which [both] have established a new set of priorities. But our long experience shows that, each time friendly countries try to open up to Damascus, this ends up having a negative impact on Lebanon.
In reality, the relations between the Syrian and Iranian regimes are very deep. They have been allied since 1982. Whoever thinks that he can change Syria’s role is simplistic. Iran and Syria can totally live with their differences. They are minimal. Even about Annapolis, even about the Palestinians“
“You cannot ask Syria to change. You must force them to. Talk to them in a different way. Either this regime is so strong that the pressures are just no use, or the pressures are not strong enough. But the European and Arab countries, and the USA gave carte blanche to France on the Lebanese file, but I just can’t see the increased power that it [France] has acquired”






Translation and summary provided by The Croissant. All Rights Reserved.

L’Orient Le Jour, Lebanon, 12/03/2007
Gulf monarchies: Shiites are in conflict with the regimes, not with the Sunnis

I- Overview:

- Middle East countries fear the increasing Iran threat
- These fears impact the Shiite population of the countries located on the western bank of the Gulf (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrein), creating some tensions inside these countries:

1- Kuwait, where a third of the population is Shiite:
For instance, a Shiite minister recently made Islamist (Sunni) MPs angry, thus triggering a political crisis in the emirate

2- Saudi Arabia, where an important minority is concentrated in the eastern part of the country, an oil rich region:
For instance, recent local elections revealed the socio-economic discriminations towards Shiites, and brought back memories of the 1979-1980 Shiite riots and uprising

3- Bahrein, where about 70% of the population is Shiite:
It is in Bahrein, which is regularly claimed for by Iran, that the Shiite question is the most obvious since, on many occasions, the current Sunni regime severely repressed rebellions from the predominantly Shiite population


II- How to explain these tensions?

1- These tensions are often read in a regional geopolitical context, especially after the advent of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Sunnis accusing Shiites to be working for the Tehran regime

2- But according to Laurence Louër, research fellow at CERI (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales [France’s foremost center for research on the international political system]), and an expert on Gulf monarchies:
- “It is local causes” that provoke conflicts between the Shiite populations and the current Sunni regimes
- These conflicts are not new and are not the result of an Iranian manipulation
- The source of the problem lies in “the conflictual relationship of the Shiites with the regimes, not with the Sunnis”

3- Also, contrary to some alarmist opinions, the situation of the Shiites in these monarchies is actually better than in the past, because some old demands were finally satisfied:
“The fact that some regimes got concerned triggered a positive reaction on their part”


III- Detailed analysis by Laurence Louër of the Sunni-Shiite-regime relations in the Gulf monarchies:

1- Old vs. present conflicts:
“In Bahrein and Saudi Arabia, the old conflicts, that are not particularly stronger than in the past, between Shiites an the regime, are still present.
In Bahrein for instance, there has been tensions that were much stronger than the present ones, since there was a quite serious uprising between 1994 and 1998”


2- Inter-community conflict…
-“Except for Iraq, there is no resurgence of the community conflict between Sunnis and Shiites in the Gulf monarchies”;
“An inter-community conflict, where the civilian population is directly implicated, is perceived only in Iraq”
- “There might be an uprising in Bahrein. Many people say so. With the current political crisis and the socio-economic issues, the situation leads to social unrest. This is possible, keeping in mind that, in this country, there often are population uprisings which do not turn into civil war”
- “In any case, inter-community conflicts only break out in situations where the regime is not strong. This is what happened in Iraq after the collapse of the baathist regime, and also in Lebanon. This is absolutely not the case in Gulf countries where there are strong regimes upon which communities are very dependent. A situation caused by the oil income, which gave ruling families means to build State apparatuses which run very deep into society ”

3-…vs. political conflict:
- “There is, on the other hand, a political conflict between Shiites and the regime in some Gulf monarchies”
- The solution: integrate in the State:
But this does not depend only on Shiites, it also depends on the regimes, since Shiites have long been marginalized or looked down on, pushed aside of power in some countries;
Exception: Kuwait, where Shiites, who are an integral part of the regime, do not have the vengeful views that can be found in the other monarchies

4- Kuwait: Shiites participate in the creation of the State:
Even if Shiites only have 5 MPs out of a total of 50, and about 40 mosques vs. more than a thousand Sunni ones:
They are well integrated in this tiny emirate stuck between Iraq and Saudi Arabia:
- Louër explains that some Arabic tribes, who fled the drought, settled in this region and invested in trade;
also, some families from Chiraz (Iran) settled in Kuwait for economic reasons;
these 2 communities worked together to get the State institutions that they built to function
- “According to common views, it is thanks to Shiites that the Al-Sabah ruling family was able to build a State”
- “There are converging founding myths” between Sunnis and Shiites:
for instance, the Jahran fight in 1920, where all the Kuwaitis gathered to build a wall around [Kuwait city] in order to defend it against a Wahhabi attack;
Shiite participation was key since they were skilled in construction;
Moreover, they resupplied fighters on the front, and helped them win the war
- However, some Sunni historians contest these myths, stating that the Shiites cowardly avoided combat

5- Bahrein: conquerors vs. conquered:
- Historically speaking, Shiism is a very old fact in this small monarchy headed by the al-Khalifa family, a Sunni tribe who conquered the island for economic reasons
- Arabic tribes are considered as foreigners by the local population,
whereas Shiites are considered as Iranians by the Sunnis ;
the difference can be felt in the dialects used by Sunnis and Shiites;
moreover, each community has a specific name: “Bahreinis” vs. “Baharna”
- The religious split fits into this social and political difference
- However, on a religious level, the Shiite community can freely practice its customs, contrary to Saudi Arabia where there are many constraints towards Shiites
- The Shiite community is today substantially represented in the Parliament, whereas it had been for a long time relegated to only opposition after the creation of the Parliament in 1973

6- To summarize:
- “The religious difference plays a part in the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites in the Gulf monarchies, but it is only one element amongst many others”
- The community disputes include other conflicts:
conquerors vs. conquered in Bahrein
Bedouin population vs. rural population in Saudi Arabia
local vs. foreign…
- “The religious conflict is more a way to express things nowadays, in a precise historical period marked by a tendency to view everything in religious terms. A tendency, which is the result of the presence of Islamist movements, Sunni and Shiite.”

7- Iran’s role?
Louër is positive: Iran does not manipulate Shiites:
“It is very clear that in Gulf countries, the conflict between Shiites and the State has nothing to do with Iran’s influence”
[The Croissant’s note: facts seem to counter this statement especially in Bahrein where Iranian influence is quite present]

8- A positive impact for the Shiites:
- “We notice that the regimes, worried about possible maneuvers by Iran through the Shiite population, give them guarantees, trying to satisfy their demands and to better integrate them.
This strategy is the opposite of the one used in the 80s, when the regimes use repression to shut off Shiite claims”
- “So paradoxically, the situation goes in the right direction”





Translation and summary provided by The Croissant. All Rights Reserved.


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Translation and summary provided by The Croissant. © The Croissant 2007. All rights reserved.