Posts Tagged ‘Jean-Marie Le Pen’
Am I appropriating a classic comic story for a gimmick piece? You bet.
But there’s something about these 5 people supporting a thug who’s personally crippling a country. Laurent Gbagbo’s time has come and gone. By holding on to power despite universal criticism in the international community, he’s only set the stage for massacres both by forces allied to him and by those against him. Sure, they should each be punished, but Gbagbo had to know people would die for his stubbornness, even if he couldn’t predict how many would be civilians killed by the other side or by unallied militia forces. He did have to know what the result would be of handing out weapons to street gangs, essentially, and letting them loose in Abidjan. This is not a surprise.
The international community and the U.S. government have been united against Gbagbo, who has been fighting tooth and nail to retain power, and is accused ofcommitting numerous war crimes. Gbagbo has even attacked U.N. personnel and facilities, prompting the international body to launch a rare offensive against his beleaguered forces last night. Now, Gbagbo is reportedly negotiating a surrender and the conflict, which analysts just days ago feared could spin out of control, could now come to an end within “hours.”
And yet some people still defend him, outrageously, much like a team of evil supervillains working together against superheroes (shoehorning the analogy in briefly). They deserve to be named and shamed. Here they are:
Chief among Gbagbo’s American supporters is Inhofe, who is the most influential Republican in the Senate when it comes to African affairs. Inhofe has been traveling to Africa regularly since the late 1990s and, while the trips are paid for by the taxpayer and typically involve some official business, the senator also engages in missionary work. He has been to Ivory Coast nine times and knows Gbagbo personally. That’s why, early on in the post-election crisis, when the State Department was frantically looking for intermediaries to reach out to Gbagbo to try to convince him to leave the country peacefully, the Obama administration asked Inhofe to talk to Gbagbo. But, according to a source familiar with the situation, Inhofe declined to do so.
It’s still not entirely clear why Inhofe wouldn’t help at a moment when it might have made a real difference; I’ve asked his spokesman for comment. But a letter to Hillary Clinton released by his office today offers some clues. In it, Inhofe explicitly takes Gbagbo’s side in the election dispute — even though all international observers and election monitors say that Gbagbo lost.
Inhofe writes: “From all the evidence I now have gathered, I am convinced that it is mathematically impossible for President Gbagbo to have lost the election by several hundred thousand votes.” The senator goes on to call for new elections.
The other wrinkle in all this is that Inhofe and Gbagbo share a connection to the Fellowship. Inhofe has said that he began taking his missionary trips to Africa at the request of Doug Coe, the so-called stealthy Billy Graham who leads the Fellowship. Ivory Coast has long been one of a handful of African countries that is “of special interest” to the Fellowship, according to Jeff Sharlet’s book about the group.
Next up, and closely related: Pat Robertson. Salon again:
Despite the fact that Gbagbo looks as if he will be removed from office by forces loyal to his opponent as early as today, Christian right figures in the U.S. are still standing by the isolated strongman.
On “The 700 Club” today, Pat Robertson declared that Gbagbo is “a very fine man” and insisted that the election was “crooked,” even though the U.S., the U.N. and the African Union all said that Gbagbo’s opponent, Alassane Ouattara, was the winner.
Part of the dynamic that is clearly on Robertson’s mind is that Gbagbo and his wife are evangelical Christians — who have both attended the Fellowship’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington — while Ouattara is Muslim.
Robertson was blunt today:
“This is a crooked election. But nevertheless the UN has said the other guy [Ouattara] won. Well, that may be. But the problem is that this is a country now that has been run by a Christian that’s going to be into the hands of Muslims. So it’s one more Muslim nation that’s going to be built into that ring of Sharia law around the Middle East. It’s one more country, one more danger spot, but we don’t seem to see that right now, do we?”
Next up, the Sultan of Silliness himself, Glenn Beck, who at least decided not to defend Gbagbo as much as smear Ouattara. via MMFA,in his own words:
BECK: What does democracy look like? Well, with Ouattara it’s sweet. We know our president says President Ouattara is the man. He’s a Muslim, but not officially the president yet because the current Christian president who has his own share of issues is refusing to allow a power change. Mostly because he fears that this guy [Ouattara] is going to round up all of this guy’s [Gbagbo] supporters and kill them all. Crazy talk we just heard from the president. Ouattara is the man.
Well, not quite. Even forces loyal to the Muslim president, like these guys, have slaughtered people, grabbed them out of their cars and set them on fire and now they’re beheading them too. And our president is supporting them which is great. So by the way, the death toll, about a thousand in three days over the weekend. So we got this guy [Obama] standing with this guy [Ouattara] who’s responsible for the scenes where people are [Beck makes a chopping motion].
Next, the guy who once said “Olympic games show clearly inequalities between the black and white races concerning, for example, athletes, and runners in particular. It’s a fact.” The one and only Jean-Marie Le Pen. From here:(and yea, the original is French. Sue me). Or see here.
The honorary president of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen said that “victory of Ouattara will tip the entire of Cote D’Ivoire under Muslim influence” on Friday in his “Diary”aired on the website of far-right party. “The victory of Ouattara, it will be the tipping of the entire Cote d’Ivoire under Muslim influence, while far this influence was limited to the tribes of northern Côte d’Ivoire,” said Jean-Marie Le Pen. “The troops Ouattara, I still remember that these are Muslim troops, ” he has said.
On the fourth day of a lightning offensive, the forces of Alassane Ouattara, Presidentrecognized by the international community after the November election, was poised Friday to control the entire country. The fate of the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo remained unknown. Criticizing also led intervention in Libya under UN mandate, Jean-Marie Le Pen has assured that “Mr. Sarkozy, General Pinocchio, is only the loincloth this operation globalist oil to taste” . “I consider (this) is akin to an act of international piracy because I think one day be proven premeditation in this case, which explains why it has exchanged immediately quasi-ambassadors with rebels’ he said. Brought to qualify the Libyan rebels, the honorary president of the National Front said they are “often people of modest extraction and untrained” and that “it seems that Ivory Coast it is a little same thing. “
Next, a change of course, the International Committee of the Fourth International. Or, to be short: Communists. In their own words:
After the second round of the November elections, the Western powers claimed that Ouattara had won the vote with 54 percent versus 46 percent for Gbagbo, but Gbagbo contested the results. He retained command of the bulk of the official armed forces. French and UN forces sided with Ouattara inside the country—guaranteeing his safety in the Golf Hotel in downtown Abidjan.
Ouattara’s power grab centres on a battle for influence inside the Ivory Coast’s officer corps, to convince them to desert the Gbagbo camp, together with the backing of the major imperialist powers that are citing the Libyan war as a pretext for intervention in Ivory Coast. As in Libya, the pretence of a fight to defend democracy is a thin disguise for an attempt to manipulate a bloody civil war to the advantage of the major imperialist powers.
[. . .]
Despite the Western media campaign, Ouattara does not represent a “democratic” alternative to Laurent Gbagbo. A former high-ranking official at the International Monetary Fund, he will implement pro-market policies and depend critically on the threat of Western military intervention to retain power, amid the longstanding north-south tensions in Ivory Coast.
The war will deepen the major imperialist powers’ leverage to economically loot the Ivory Coast. A country of 21 million people and a major exporter of cocoa, gold and natural gas, it is widely regarded as the single richest country among France’s former African colonies. French troops have been deployed there since independence in 1960, by virtue of military accords signed between France and Ivory Coast in 1961.
And last, an old fashioned anti-colonialist perspective from Robert Mugabe‘s government of Zimbabwe. Government media:
In other words, there is a direct link between the hard-nosed material pursuits and interests of the empire on one hand and the fight by the same empire to “open up” media space in Africa, to those media houses, publishers and journalists who will faithfully project and preserve the prestige and credibility of the white racist imperialist, especially in times of crisis.
Therefore the search for African leaders who are thoroughly impressed with illusions of white power and with faint associations with such prestige and “credibility” always accompanies the scramble for material interests.
To take the back-side of that linkage and reality: the need to attack, demonise and isolate African leaders who are not impressed with illusions of the white man’s “prestige” and “credibility” is part and parcel of the deadly scramble for strategic material gains and interests.
That is why Africa and its traditional allies are shocked by the failure of the leaders of Nigeria and South Africa to see Libya and Côte d’Ivoire beyond the Western media caricatures of Colonel Gaddafi and President Laurent Gbagbo. Africa and its usual allies are shocked by the failure of the leaders of Nigeria and South Africa to resist the white racists’ demand to use Africa for the purpose of restoring illusions of the white man’s power, prestige and moral superiority, which the white man lost (if he ever had them), in the days of slavery.
This is the second thread of the day. The earlier thread is here.
1:45 EDT: France 24 is reporting that 5 people including two French citizens were kidnapped today in the business section of Abidjan while it was under attack by Gbagbo forces.
–The #civsocial hashtag on Twitter is for “medical emergencies, health needs, medical, humanitarian emergencies. You can also findphone numbers of doctors and pharmacies in Abidjan.”
–So far, the Ouattara forces have not achieved either of their objectives of their offensive in Abidjan: the Presidential palace or the home of Laurent Gbagbo:
2:05 EDT: The French government has just released this press release (translated) that explains what the UN and French operations are doing:
“In recent weeks, the forces of Laurent Gbagbo have repeatedly used heavy weapons against civilians. In Resolution 1975, passed unanimously on March 30, the Security Council requested United Nations Operation in Côte D’Ivoire (UNOCI) to prevent such abuses. In accordance with its mandate to protect civilians, UNOCI has therefore to take action to neutralize the heavy weapons used against civilians and UN staff in Abidjan. The United Nations Secretary-General has requested the support of French forces in these operations. The President of the Republic has responded positively to this request “…
— As one would expect following that statement, French helicopters are now also firing on Gbagbo’s military camps, per AFP.
–Deep thought: what we don’t know is if this will harden the resolve of Gbagbo’s Young Patriots (fight against foreign forces) or break them (they can’t overcome this). I’m skeptical, since nativism has been at the heart of Gbagbo’s approach since the beginning. The UN and France being involved should help Ouattara though, even if they’re not legally allowed to work for regime change. Any forces engaged with France or the UN are forces that can’t engage with Ouattara’s FRCI.
2:15 EDT: More from the French Government:
According to a statement from the Elysee, “The United Nations Secretary-General has requested the support of French forces in these operations. The President of the Republic has responded positively to this request and allowed French troops, acting under the mandate given to them given by the Security Council, to participate in operations conducted by UNOCI for the protection of civilians. “
“France calls for immediate cessation of all violence against civilians. The perpetrators will be brought to justice.”
2:20 EDT: This is where the French are gathering:
The consolidation of the French was made “on a voluntary basis,” three points of Abidjan, said Monday the French Foreign Ministry, without giving figures on the number of people involved.
“The consolidation process began on a voluntary basis. Two new assembly points have been established, one at the hotel Wafou south bridge and one at the Embassy of France in North,” told a press briefing the spokesperson of the department, Bernard Valero.
The third point is the combination of French military camp of Port-Bouet, where more than 1,650 foreign nationals, including about half of French nationality, had sought refuge Sunday morning.
2:25 EDT: Pat Robertson joins James Inhofe, Jean-Marie Le Pen, Glenn Beck, and socialists from the International Committee of the Fourth International in supporting Laurent Gbagbo. And who said Communists and evangelicals could never work together?
.2:35 EDT: One report says UN forces fired on Gbagbo’s residences, which would be a drastic change. Assume that’s not the case until I confirm it; but if true everything would be changed.
Update: France 24 confirms that report. This is a stunning development – the line up until now had been that the UN had no jurisdiction to go after Gbagbo, only to protect civilians. This could change everything.
2:40 EDT: In the least surprising reaction in the history of humanity, Gbagbo’s spokesman in Paris called the strikes on the residence and palace “illegal” and “an assassination attempt.” That’s not too much of a stretch either. But since Gbagbo’s personally been arming thugs to attack civilians (not to mention using human shields, even if voluntary ones), that did make these strikes within a reasonable interpretation of the UN mandate to protect civilians.
2:50 EDT: This is a good map of Abidjan. It’s in French, but you can use Google translate for anything not clear.
2:55 EDT: Gbagbo’s spokesman in Paris Alain Toussaint blamed the US too:
“I condemn these illegal acts. They are acts of war. The purpose of this action is the assassination of President Gbagbo. (…) The international coalition led by France and the United States, under the aegis of the United Nations, plunges the country into chaos. “He accuses the former French colonial power to have “equipped, informed, and armed rebellion of Alassane Ouattara”
Any word on US involvement here?
3:00 EDT: This is the current state in Abidjan:
In Abidjan, we are holding our breath as the four-month crisis appears to enter its final days and hours. The capital city in all but name is left disfigured by war. Bodies burnt to ashes wait to be removed by absent funeral services; corpses in an advanced state of decomposition have a strong smell that even keeps stray dogs away.
That is the scene in the main streets in the Cocody district around the RTI, the premises of the state-run TV station, and several other places including the markets in Riviera 2 and the neighbourhood of the presidential palace in Plateau.
Facing starvation, we can no longer stay at home, so we have to face this macabre scene on our way to the small sub-district markets that are still open.
That’s one reason a quick end to the standoff is better than a long battle.
3:05 EDT: Report of the first UN helicopter strikes:
United Nations helicopters fired four missiles at a pro-Gbagbo military camp in Ivory Coast’s main city of Abidjan on Monday, witnesses said.
“We saw two UNOCI (U.N. mission in Ivory Coast) MI-24 helicopters fire missiles on the Akouedo military camp. There was a massive explosion and we can still see the smoke,” one of the witnesses said.
The camp is home to three battalions of the Ivorian army.
3:10 EDT: Reports now that Ouattara’s side is confident that Abidjan will fall within hours. He’s said this before, though.
—Another report of the UN helicopter firing on Gbagbo forces. This is somewhat expected; what’s shocked me are the reports of UN helicopters firing on Gbagbo’s residences – which I haven’t seen expanded upon yet beyond France 24 reporting that it happened.
3:15 EDT: A report of who exactly was kidnapped. The translation is somewhat rough:
Reportedly, among the two French kidnapped with two or three other people by pro-Gbagbo SDS in Abidjan included Novotel Yves Lambelin, chairman of the board of directors of Sifca (whose president is Jean-Louis Billon ). The MI-24 of UNOCI who opened fire against the gendarmerie camp Agban reacted visibly to recurrent attacks of Gbagbo camp against their base Sebroko.
This is Lambelin pictured here, picture from here. SIFCA is an agribusiness group.
3:30 EDT: Overcoming technical difficulties on my end. Here’s a longer report on the attacks on Gbagbo’s residences:
According to witnesses, at least four missiles were fired from UN helicopters in Abidjan, the economic capital.
Hamadou Toure, the UN’s chief spokesman in Ivory Coast, told The Daily Telegraph the UN had struck two military camps controlled by Mr Gbagbo along with the presidential palace and his residence.
He declined to say what weapons were being used, but stressed that care was being taken to ensure civilians were not being harmed. “We are engaged in neutralising the heavy weapons that Mr Gbagbo’s special forces have been using for the last few months against civilians and our forces,” he said.
“Despite all our warnings and alerts, they kept using these heavy weapons against us. What we are doing is in line with our mandate and in line with resolution 1975 adopted last week. Our mandate is protect innocent lives and that is what we are doing.”
The strikes were carried out by helicopters from the French force Licorne.
The UN representative also said that 11 of its workers had been shot in the past week, and that its remaining forces were in fact under siege..
3:35 EDT: The Financial Times reports that ECOWAS, regional countries, are now thinking of getting involved in military action in Cote D’Ivoire as well. This at least gives better legitimacy to the French action, similar to the Arab League endorsement in Libya.
3:40 EDT: One of the leaders of a coup who tried to overthrow Gbagbo a decade ago, Ibrahim Coulibaly, is now claiming to be a leader othe Invisible Commandos, a separate army supporting Ouattara. He claims to have had no contact with Ouattara himself. If nothing else, times like this bring all the shady characters out of the woodwork.
3:50 EDT: Video is starting to emerge of the UN/French strikes in Abidjan.
4:10 EDT: There are rumors that Gbagbo’s family is in Ghana.
4:15 EDT: The French army chief of staff, Thierry Burkhard, said the helicopters fired up heavy weapons and armored detachments that had been used against civilian populations.
4:25 EDT: Video of the strikes today.
4:30 EDT: Ban Ki-Moon says that the strikes were lunched to protect civilians and not to attack Gbagbo. He’s drawing a very thin line here.
4:45 EDT: Full statement of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
I am very concerned about developments in Côte d’Ivoire.
The security situation has deteriorated dramatically over the past days with fighting having escalated between forces loyal to President Ouattara and those forces remaining loyal to Mr. Gbagbo. This is a direct consequence of Mr. Gbagbo’s refusal to relinquish power and allow a peaceful transition to President Ouattara.
The country has been plunged into violence with a heavy toll on the civilian population.
In the past few days, forces loyal to Mr. Gbagbo have intensified and escalated their use of heavy weapons such as mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns against the civilian population in Abidjan.
These forces have also targeted the Headquarters of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) at Sebroko Hotel with heavy-calibre sniper fire as well as mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Four peacekeepers have been wounded in these attacks. Furthermore, forces loyal to Mr. Gbagbo have attacked UNOCI patrols dispatched to protect civilians and convoys transporting wounded in Abidjan, resulting in several more wounded peacekeepers.
Consequently, pursuant to paragraph 6 of Security Council resolution 1975 (2011) of 30 March 2011, I have instructed the Mission to take the necessary measures to prevent the use of heavy weapons against the civilian population, with the support of the French forces pursuant to paragraph 17 of Security Council resolution 1962 (2010).
In this regard, around 5pm local time today, UNOCI undertook a military operation to prevent the use of heavy weapons which threaten the civilian population of Abidjan.
I have informed the Security Council. The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations will brief the Security Council soon.
Let me emphasize that UNOCI is not a party to the conflict. In line with its Security Council mandate, the Mission has taken this action in self defence and to protect civilians. .
I again remind all those who commit serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws that they will be held accountable.
4:55 EDT: Save the Children is launching a major initiative to help victims of the violence in Cote D’Ivoire.
As the humanitarian crisis grows, Save the Children’s $40 million appeal will support its response in Ivory Coast and Liberia to meet the needs of 650,000 people affected by the crisis. The latest figures suggest around 130,000 Ivoirians have fled to Liberia. Some 60 percent of the refugees are thought to be children.
“Children are being exposed to this violence; they have been hearing gunshots for days, explosions as well,” said a Save the Children worker in Abidjan. “It’s an extremely stressful and frightening situation for them.”
The violence is preventing families across the city from buying food. “Families need food, the markets are closed, peoples’ household stocks are being used up, and nobody is leaving their houses,” said the Save the Children employee.
As tensions mount, Save the Children is concerned about children potentially being targeted because of their parents’ perceived political views or their families’ ethnicity. As reports of intercommunal violence in the town of Duékoué emerge, we are increasingly concerned about children suffering as a result of these clashes.
5:00 EDT: Doctors without Borders issued a statement today about the conditions they are working under:
How do MSF teams manage to work in Abidjan?
We have been stuck in the offices and at the hospital for the last three days. We can hear gun shots. There are blockades on the streets, and violence continues. The situation is extremely tense and we cannot get out. No cars can move. This morning five wounded arrived very near our offices; we have been able to treat four, but the fifth one died.
[. . .]
What is the situation for displaced people in Abidjan?
In Abobo and Anyama, the northern neighborhoods of Abidjan, there are 11 sites for displaced people where between 10,000 and 12,000 have sought refuge from other parts of the city. People in those sites receive practically no aid at all. Individuals have given them bags of rice. MSF donated bandage kits to private health centers and clinics in the area. We were also getting ready to provide consultation, but it is impossible at the moment. The problem in Abidjan is that we cannot move around, reach our drug stocks, or bring our orders into town.
MSF is also working in Guiglo in the West of the country. What is the situation there?
An MSF team is based in Guiglo where it provides primary health care. It also refers patients who need surgery to the town of Bangolo, where MSF is also working. Guiglo hospital was looted but considering the circumstances, we have had to treat seven patients there anyway. The situation is now calmer in Guiglo, but it is not the case in other western regions.
Truly horrific working conditions.
5:05 EDT: The Ouattara forces said a final assault on Gbagbo’s Presidential palace was imminent, and a UN/French helicopter may have fired again on targets near to it.
5:15 EDT: More information is coming out regarding the kidnapping from earlier. Two French, A Beninese citizen and a Malaysian were kidnapped, including Yves Lambelin.
5:20 EDT: Beth Dickinson reports that the price of rice has doubled with the 80,000 refugees from Cote D’Ivoire in the past 5 weeks.
–Additionally, there’s a good piece up on Foreign Policy about the democratic deficit of international bodies.
5:25 EDT: The Security Council is going to meet behind closed doors to review the strikes in Cote D’Ivoire.
–1,900 foreigners are under French protection in the country; 447 have already left.
5:35 EDT: Loud explosions were heard in the Agban camp.
5:50 EDT: Jean-Marie Le Pen is back! And he calls the French intervention in Cote D’Ivoire irresponsible:
[F]ormer president of the National Front Jean-Marie Le Pen has described Monday as “irresponsible” decision to “make intervene militarily in the French army the Ivorian civil war ” which puts him as “at risk” French nationals in the country. “Sarkozy’s decision to intervene militarily in the French army in the Ivorian civil war is an irresponsible act that threatens the French community in this country, “the founder of the party extreme right in a statement. “Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, will therefore not serve as a lesson to Will in the war who forget they left France to become a dwarf military, “he adds.
Once again, if Le Pen is against something, it’s a good rule of thumb to look at it favorably.
–The UN evacuated many staff members to Bouake in the north of the country.
6:15 EDT: Jim Inhofe takes his proselytizing on Cote D’Ivoire to the Senate Floor.
6:20 EDT: Only veterans of the Bush Administration could look at the immediate tragedy in Cote D’Ivoire and not want an immediate ceasing to the violence, but instead a permanent solution:
But as fighting continues — with reports of around 1,000 found dead over the weekend– critics say the White House is neglecting the conflict and instead has focused on the Middle East.
“Rather than merely search yet again for short-term solutions in the violent aftermath of an election, it would be more sensible to look for ways to prevent future crises rooted in Africa’s dysfunctional political systems,” Jendayi Frazer, a former Bush administration Under Secretary of State for African Affairs, wrote in the International Herald Tribune.
6:45 EDT: A spokesman for Ouattara’s government says they have taken up residence in one of Gbagbo’s residences (either the palace or the personal residence), but have not said which one; also, nothing is confirmed.
–When the palace was struck it is not clear if Young Patriots were injured.
7:00 EDT: Reuters reports that it was Gbagbo’s official residence, not the Presidential Palace.
–Adam Nossiter’s piece on Cote D’Ivoire in the New York Times.
7:15 EDT: Still no word on where Laurent Gbagbo himself is.
–Ban Ki-Moon is reiterating that the United Nations is not a party to the conflict, that they were only firing upon weapons and forces used to hurt civilians (and it just coincidentally happened during a major offensive by Ouattara.
8:00 EDT: United Nations investigators found a mass grave in Duekoue with 200 bodies in it. The situation appears complex:
Duekoue, which lies in the cocoa-growing belt of western Ivory Coast, was captured by Ouattara’s forces on March 29. The West African country is the world’s leading cocoa producer. Amos said she could not say who was responsible for the killings. People she had spoken to had variously blamed them on Ouattara’s forces, fleeing pro-Gbagbo forces and local militia, as well as conflict between natives and non-natives. A Ouattara representative who met with her said the presidential claimant was keen that there should be an independent investigation, she said.
[. . .]
Amos described a humanitarian crisis in Duekoue, with over 40,000 people who had fled from neighboring villages taking shelter at a Roman Catholic mission, and a Protestant church accommodating over 1,000 more. “You can imagine the conditions are terrible,” she said. “But people are feeling a degree of security because they have managed to get away from the violence.” “I could see for myself today the fear, the horror,” she said, adding that food and water were in short supply. Amos said there had been a lot of looting in Duekoue and some buildings had been torched, but the town, which in normal times has a population of 120,000, had not been flattened. There appeared to be no fighting there at present, she added.
There should be an independent investigation and no one should rush to judgment; on the other hand, no side seems likely to have clean hands here.
8:05 EDT: I was going to get into this deeper, but the main problem with Glenn Beck’s “analysis” here is the same as with most of the right: they look at surface facts and conscientiously refuse to see if they are truly representative. In this case, that Gbagbo is Christian and Ouattara is Muslim is utterly meaningless: religion isn’t key to either side internally. Indeed it’s only effect has been Gbagbo desperately searching for external support. In that, you could say that Beck and Pat Robertson and James Inhofe are really letting themselves be used by a tyrant for his own purposes.
8:50 EDT: It’s the middle of the night in Cote D’Ivoire but France24 (in French) is still relaying stories from people who hear bombing/shelling every 5 to 20 minutes, so there’s still fighting going on somewhere.
9:15 EDT: A point worth reiterating from this Doctors Without Borders story: because it’s impossible to get around in Abidjan, we have absolutely no idea how many people are hurt, injured, or dead. This is terrifying, mostly because of the silence.
–Along the same lines, France24’s liveblog apologized for not being able to confirm anything. And it’s true, we have claims of a lot of things, but nothing after the UN/French helicopter attacks has been confirmed, and those were hours ago.
9:40 EDT: This is a good, concise summary of the day’s dramatic events.
10:15 EDT: This is what Gbagbo has left and is still fighting for:
Explosions and gunfire rang out from the direction of the Presidential Palace, the state broadcaster RTI, and one of two bridges connecting the lagoon-side city to the airport — among the last strategic footholds held by the incumbent leader who has refused to step down since a November election.
Attack helicopters commanded by the United Nations mission in the West African country fired missiles at Gbagbo’s military bases, and near his official residence, causing huge explosions that shook nearby homes and smashed windows, witnesses said.
A spokesman for Ouattara’s government later said pro-Ouattara forces seized Gbagbo’s residence, situated in the leafy Cocody neighbourhood, but the information could not independently confirmed and a pro-Gbagbo military source who asked not to be named denied it.
I doubt there will be confirmation until the morning, still a few hours away.
–The latest report in to France24 (not confirmed by any stretch of the imagination) had Gbago holding off the French and UN forces.
11:20 EDT: Amazingly, Cote D’Ivoire did not come up in today’s State Department briefing, something it has in common with Andrew Sullivan’s debut at the Daily Beast.
11:30 EDT: A Gambonese politician concluded that the French operations in Cote D’Ivoire were illegal (English link). I don’t agree but I’ll take a closer look tomorrow about whether the actions exceed the Security Council Resolutions relevant.
12:15 EDT: Al Jazeera has video of people literally being burnt alive. Truly harrowing.
That wraps up today’s live coverage. I’m gonna sleep some and try to do better tomorrow.
James Inhofe thought he was alone in backing Laurent Gbagbo over internationally recognized free election winner (and Muslim) Alassane Ouattara in Cote D’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast). Well, Jean Marie Le Pen agrees with him. Translated from the original French:
The honorary president of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen said that “victory will Ouattara tipping the entire Côte d’Ivoire under Muslim influence” on Friday in his “Diary” aired on the website of far-right party. “The victory of Ouattara, it will be the tipping of the entire Cote d’Ivoire under Muslim influence, while far this influence was limited to the tribes of northern Côte d’Ivoire,” said Jean-Marie Le Pen. “troops Ouattara, I still remember that troops are Muslims,” he added.
The Anti-Defamation League said of Le Pen that his political party is “ultranationalist, xenophobic, [and] anti-Semitic.”
James Inhofe has famously declared that there should be a new election. The only other supporters of Gbagbo are his partisans (which is far more understandable). For Inhofe to align himself with Le Pen is disgusting.
If you want to read more, check my liveblog of the situation in Cote D’Ivoire.