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  1. 54 Or 8 ?

    Posté 2 déc. 2003

    Samarra, Iraq -- U.S. commanders said Monday they had killed up to 54 insurgents in the fiercest battle since Saddam Hussein's government fell nearly eight months ago, but townspeople disputed that claim, saying only eight were killed in the battle Sunday, most of them noncombatants.

    Military officials said the simultaneous attacks against two convoys in this city about 70 miles north of Baghdad were a highly synchronized operation involving heavy munitions and requiring precise knowledge of the American convoys' schedules.

    "This was a coordinated effort,'' said Col. Frederick Rudesheim, commander of the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade, whose tanks drove into two ambushes as they escorted trucks carrying large amounts of the new Iraqi currency to branches of the Radifan Bank on opposite ends of town. He said 30 to 40 insurgents attacked each convoy. "There was a concerted effort by the enemy to deal a significant blow to coalition forces," Rudesheim added.

    But with Samarra's hospital still filled with casualties, residents told a starkly different story. In a mix of rage and grief, residents lashed out at the brigade's soldiers, accusing them of firing randomly into crowded market areas in the center of the city, killing civilians, including two Iranians believed to be pilgrims visiting a Shiite mosque in town.

    "All the people in town today are asking for revenge," said Majid Fadel al-Samarai, 50, an emergency-room worker at the Samarra General Hospital. "They want to kill the Americans like they killed our civilians. Give me a gun,

    and I will also fight."

    Rudesheim said Americans shot only at those who had fired on soldiers. He said the military calculated deaths "as best as we could," using reports from field commanders immediately after the firefights. Each death was cross- checked with a second soldier, said Capt. Andrew Deponai of the 3rd Brigade's Combat Team. Officials at the hospital said only eight dead had been brought in, along with 54 wounded, but conceded that some of the victims may not have been taken there.

    Residents also charged that American soldiers showed little regard for the safety of civilians during the gunbattle.

    "I saw a man running across the street to get his small son, who was stuck in the middle," said Abdul Satar, 47, who owns a bakery a block from one of the two banks to which the convoys had driven. "So the Americans shot the man," he said.

    In a house on the outskirts of Samarra, Abir Mohammed Al-Khayat, 28, said a rocket hit the minibus in which she and several others had commuted from their jobs at a local pharmaceuticals factory. "There were about 20 of us, men and women," she said, cradling her arm, injured by shrapnel, in a sling.

    At the hospital, several patients said they were injured when a shell, apparently fired from an attack helicopter, struck a mosque at about 5 p.m., when residents were converging for evening prayers.

    In the corner bed of one ward lay Ali al-Tashi, a 9-year-old boy who had gone to the mosque Sunday night to pray with his father. Heavily bandaged, the boy sobbed in pain and confusion. His older brother, Grimian, 17, clutched his hand and tried to comfort him.

    "He still does not know that our father has been killed," Grimian said. "All our brothers and sisters and our mother have gone up north, to Irbil, to bury him."

    In the hospital's morgue, two people killed by bullets lay on metal shelves: a rail-thin man who seemed to be in his 60s, and a middle-aged woman dressed in a black religious robe. Hospital staffers said they found Iranian passports on the two bodies. Though Samarra is dominated by Sunni Muslims, many Iranian Shiite pilgrims visit the shrine of Imam Al-Hadi in the city.

    On Monday, American forces leveled trees on the median of the highway in an attempt to clear hiding places from which insurgents could attack convoys. Rudesheim said two previous currency deliveries had been attacked with roadside bombs, so the soldiers were prepared for the ambush.

    Soldiers who had fought off the insurgents said the fighters lay in wait as the money shipments -- guarded by about 100 soldiers in six tanks, four Bradley fighting vehicles, and several humvees -- entered the city and rolled through the narrow streets toward the banks.

    The insurgents hid on rooftops and in alleyways, armed with rocket- propelled grenades, mortars and Kalashnikov rifles. As the convoys reached their destinations at the same moment, roadside bombs detonated, and the two battles erupted at opposite sides of the city. Rudesheim said that during the battle, which lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes, the insurgents used taxis, BMWs and pickup trucks to move their fighters around constantly.

    "There were people on the roofs, sneaking around corners with RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), mortars, firing in all directions," said Sgt. 1st Class Alvin Ware, 34, of Harker Heights, Texas. "They were coming in from the alleyways, firing AK-47s. I haven't seen anything like this since I served in the Gulf War in 1991."

    Deponai, of the brigade's Combat Team, described the fight as "touch-and- go for a while." In the end, however, he said, "We had overwhelming firepower on our tanks."

    U.S. military officers said Sunday that all those killed were members of Fedayeen Saddam, the most ruthless fighting force Hussein possessed before the war. By Monday, however, they said that was no longer clear.

    "We have not established a definitive link between these enemy and a specific organization," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told reporters in Baghdad. He said some were wearing black uniforms and had covered their faces with checkered headscarves, as members of the Fedayeen often did.

    Anti-American feeling runs strong in Samarra, a city of 200,000 in the heart of the Sunni triangle. Near the site of Sunday's battle, Salem al- Rathmani, wearing an olive-green Iraqi army uniform and officer's winter jacket, denounced the U.S. presence in terms that evoked prewar rhetoric.

    "Why are people attacking the Americans? Because of the Palestinian issue,

    the Americans' policy of supporting Israel, the sanctions," he said, referring to the U.N. economic sanctions imposed after the first Gulf War.

    The crowd around al-Rathmani, who said he was a businessman in "construction and tourism,'' listened quietly until he mentioned dragnets conducted by U.S. soldiers in Samarra. The Americans took 80 prisoners last week, members of the crowd charged, and even captured local leaders of the Islamic Labor Party, which is represented on the Iraqi Governing Council. "Why are they capturing a lot of people without real charges?" they shouted.

    Sunday's battle came at the end of the deadliest month since U.S. forces invaded Iraq on March 20. At least 104 soldiers were killed in November, including 79 Americans. Insurgents struck again Monday, killing a U.S. soldier in an attack on a convoy near Habbaniya, southwest of Samarra.

    The violence last month also took a toll on other members of the U.S.-led forces, both military and civilian, and Iraqi allies. At least 16 Italians, seven Spaniards, two Japanese and two South Koreans were killed in the past few weeks, and about 32 Iraqi police, judges and local council members were killed.
  2. S.m. Be D.

    Posté 2 déc. 2003

    PENSACOLA, Fla. -- An American soldier has been reprimanded and will be discharged for taking a break from a foot patrol in Baghdad to marry an Iraqi woman, his lawyer said Monday.

    Sgt. Sean Blackwell, 27, is being punished for divulging the time and location of the patrol to his bride and the Iraqi judge who married them, his attorney said. The Florida National Guardsman avoided a possible court-martial for dereliction of duty and disobeying orders.

    Blackwell received a written reprimand in advance of the discharge, attorney Richard Alvoid said.

    "The more they punish him, the more negative publicity the military likely will receive," he said. "He is guilty of falling in love."

    Florida Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Ron Tittle said he had no word on disciplinary action against Blackwell or a second Florida guardsman, Cpl. Brett Dagen, 37, who married another Iraqi woman in a double ceremony during a break on the same patrol Aug. 17. Both women are physicians.

    The soldiers, attached to the 1st Armored Division, have been in Iraq since April. Both were Christians who converted to Islam before they married.

    A division spokesman in Baghdad, Capt. Jason Beck, had no immediate comment on the soldiers' status. Blackwell's mother, Vickie McKee, said her son has told her he could be discharged and sent home by Christmas.

    The Army has not permitted Blackwell to see his bride since the wedding but recently allowed them to resume contact by telephone, McKee said.

    "He's a little ticked off at the government right now," she said. "I'd hate for him to get a dishonorable discharge because he fell in love."

    McKee said her son told her Dagen and his bride are divorcing under pressure from the wife's parents. Gwen Tutton, Dagen's cousin, said he has told family members to stop speaking to the media.

    Alvoid said Blackwell's bride, Ehdaa, has received anti-American threats and may leave the country by Christmas to go to western Europe, where the couple could be reunited. It would take much longer to get her into the United States, he said.

    The couple met while Blackwell was on guard duty at the Iraqi Health Ministry.

    Alvoid said he soon expects to complete a book deal for Blackwell and his wife, and that a movie may follow.

    Article from Associated press.
  3. .../\...

    Posté 15 août 2003

    Missing you a lifetime,

    It's lonely, I lost my only true love, You

    Longing for that special one to share a lifetime with, I

    Hurt when you'r away from my unconditional love enough for the both of Us

    Ache when you'r not here, still dream about you and I, together

    'Cuz, I

    Missing you like crazy, the way you laugh,the way you smile, one lifetime

    Dedicated to her...
  4. Muslims 2.0

    Posté 29 juil. 2003

    Recent Middle East press reports reveal religious leaders have encouraged Arab youth to travel to Iraq to become "martyrs" in a "holy war" against the United States, often with the aid of their governments and the enthusiastic approval of parents.

    However, one of the many news features highlighted a Palestinian jihad warrior who went to Iraq for the sake of Allah only to discover, to his shock, the Iraqi people rejected him and were intent on getting rid of Saddam Hussein.

    The press reports were translated and compiled by the Washington, D.C.-based Middle East Media Research Institute or MEMRI.

    A report in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar told of 36 Islamists from Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Syria who received visas from the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut to volunteer as martyrs.

    In Baghdad, Sheikh Ahmad al-Kubaysi praised the Arab volunteers, reported MEMRI.

    "These young men who came here from other Muslim countries to defend Iraq are very brave," he said. "They left their homes and comfortable lives to protect fellow Muslims. That is the most important form of jihad. These mujahideen (holy warriors) are guaranteed paradise."

    Parents of two Saudi jihad fighters killed in Iraq told the Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat of their pleasure in their sons' actions.

    "I thank Allah that [our son] attained what he sought," said the father of Suheil Al-Sahili, 28. "For 14 years he sought [martyrdom]. He always pointed to his head and wished that a rifle bullet would split his forehead, and we have been told that that is what happened."

    Al-Sahali also fought in Afghanistan in 1992, then Chechnya and Bosnia, according to his brother.

    "After Chechnya, he returned to Saudi Arabia … and then we didn't hear from him," his brother said. "We got a phone call from him finally, in which he said he was going to the jihad in Iraq together with volunteers at the northern front."

    The brother said his family received news about Al-Sahali from Internet forums.

    "We always felt that he was a prisoner in this world while his heart was in the next world," he said.

    In the city of Al-Quteif, the brother of Abd Al-Hadi Al-Shehri, 28, told the paper: "From a young age he wanted jihad ... after fulfilling this commandment of pilgrimage to Mecca, there was no contact with him until news of his martyrdom reached us."

    MEMRI notes some limitations have been put on the jihad warriors in certain Arab nations. In Qatar, an Islamic law court ruled the warriors must be called to jihad by a religious authority and require parental permission.

    "It is considered against Islam to travel to another country for jihad without permission from one's parents," said the Shariah court. At least one Middle East voice publicly questioned the whole enterprise.

    In articles in the Egyptian daily Al-Gumhuriya, Egyptian historian 'Abd Al-Adheem Ramadhan bemoaned the fate of thousands of young Egyptians who went to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a holy war, according to MEMRI.

    The scholar said these youth were manipulated by jihad slogans and miscalculated the realities of modern-day warfare.

    "The Islamic nation still holds the meaning of jihad as it had been in the past when the mujahid carried his sword and rode his horse into the battle field … . This interpretation persisted despite the developments that occurred in weaponry and training … and [despite] the emergence of tanks, airplanes, airplane carriers, and explosives. As soon as the Islamic nation gets involved in a war, young religious Muslims throughout the Islamic world rush to scream the jihad battle-cry and to go to war … . Obviously, the Islamic countries cannot resist these noble feelings … so they open the door to volunteerism, and open their borders to religious youngsters to head to the battle fields. And there, to their surprise, they find out that war is not what they expected, it is not [fought] with swords and spears. It is a war of tanks, planes, air strikes and the like."

    Ramadhan said when thousands of Egyptian youth "were seized with enthusiasm and demanded to go to Iraq for jihad," they went unhindered.

    "Naturally, the Egyptian government was unable to prevent them from going to Iraq, lest it would be accused of opposition to jihad and failure to fight."

    The Egyptian historian called efforts by "Islamic elements in labor unions and others" to encourage the youth were a "propaganda ploy."

    "They knew perfectly well that if those youngsters go to Iraq, they would fall into the same hell-fire that the Iraqi people faced," he said. "So, we witnessed thousands of young Egyptians who left their country and their relatives who needed them."

    In Iraq, the regime opened its doors for the volunteer youth but did not enlist them in its army and give them "necessary protection," Ramadhan said.

    They fought in remote areas, away from the Iraqi army, he noted, and "when Baghdad fell, they did not know that, and continued to fight courageously."

    "They did not even hear about the disgraceful disappearance of the Iraqi leadership, of Saddam Hussein and his men who abandoned their army and their people," Ramadhan said. "They did not know that the Iraqi regime let them down and that [the Iraqi regime] was not fighting to defend Iraq, but fighting a lost battle to defend itself."

    MEMRI said many articles in the Arab press have focused on ill treatment of the jihad fighters by Iraqis. A Lebanese volunteer who returned from Iraq said Iraqi officials isolated the volunteers and the Iraqis themselves "hunted them whenever they could, reported the Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat of London.

    One volunteer from Lebanon said he was exposed "to more Iraqi friendly fire than American fire."

    "The Iraqi people refused to accept the volunteers among them and betrayed them by leaving them exposed," he said.

    One report said 10 Arab nationals, mostly Syrians who volunteered to fight for Saddam's regime, were executed publicly in Baghdad during the war because they refused to fight in residential areas, according to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

    Another report in the London paper mentioned the "Iraqi Shi'a in the Iraqi capital considered the Arab volunteers to be supporters of Osama bin Laden who they said had nothing to do with us."

    Four Arab volunteers who returned home from Baghdad to Damascus and Cairo claimed Iraqi citizens were directing American forces to the hideouts of the Arab volunteers in exchange for large sums of money.

    They said the American forces viewed the volunteers as one of the most important targets because they could carry out suicide operations against groups of American soldiers, according to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

    Before it was shut down by coalition forces, Saddam's Iraqi TV featured interviews with jihad fighters and showed them marching in formation, chanting "Allah Akbar," or "Allah is great."

    An Egyptian fighter named Muhammad Ridha said on Iraqi TV: "Thanks to Allah, I arrived in June to volunteer in Saddam's 'Jerusalem Army.' I returned [to Egypt], but Allah decreed that I return [to Iraq], and I thank Him for that."

    Ridha said he left behind four daughters and a son.

    "I came to fight [the war of] jihad," he said, " and I take an oath in front of the leader Saddam Hussein that I will die as a martyr and that I do not want to return to Egypt. I say to all the Arabs and Muslims that jihad is our duty."

    Abd Al-Karim Abd Al-'Azzam, a fighter from Aleppo, Syria, told Iraqi TV he wanted to "send a message to our Muslim brethren throughout the world."

    "Brothers, we are not defending Iraq only, but all the Muslim countries," he said. "It started in Iraq, but Syria, Lebanon and other Muslim countries will follow. How long will we keep silent, how long will we wait? America and the Jews may decide next to bomb Mecca and Al-Madina (Medina), what are we waiting for? Are we waiting for them to enter Al-Madina?"

    Abdallah from Algeria, added: "I call upon the entire Muslim nation to stand as one and defend the Muslim nation … truth is ours."

    Abd Al-'Aziz Mahmoud Hawwash, a suicide volunteer from Syria, said in an Iraqi TV interview: "We are here, and we left our wives and children in order to defend the Arab and Muslim nation."

    "We came as [martyrs] and we pray that Allah accepts our martyrdom for His sake," he said.

    Another volunteer suicide-fighter from Syria said: "I came from Syria to fight along with our Iraqi brothers because this land is the land of the prophets and is the natural treasure of the Arabs."

    The jihad warrior asserted "the Americans, Zionists, and the British want to control the oil and the natural resources of the Arab world. They say that Iraq has arms, but it is a lie. They want the oil and they want a crusade, but we will be the drawn swords in the hand of the jihad fighter Saddam Hussein."

    Another volunteer, who did not mention his home-country, stated: "I send a message to the blood-shedding criminal Bush, and to his servant Tony Blair, and his new servant the Spanish [Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar], you want a crusade and we are ready for that, with the help of Allah."

    "Oh [Muslim] nation, [which] is a billion and four hundred million strong, don't you see what is happening in Palestine?" the jihad warrior said. "What happened to the boiling Arab blood in your veins? We hope that you will come to the training camps in Iraq."

    A fighter from Syria said: "Listen Oh Bush, and listen America, we are not the aggressors, you crossed the ocean and came here to slaughter our children and our women, and the most important thing that they came for is this religion … . We came to seek martyrdom and to raise the chant: Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar."

    In an interview with Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Islamic activist Sheikh Muhammad Shu'fat, a Palestinian from Jordan, said after arriving in Baghdad, "I felt my heart beat with the hope of achieving victory or martyrdom."

    "I did not go to defend the Ba'ath regime, but the persecuted Iraqi people who were suffering from injustice," he said. "I defended the Arab and Islamic land under occupation and aggression in advance of the takeover of the [entire Islamic] nation."

    Asked how he explained the Iraqis' joy at Saddam's fall, Sheikh Shu'fat replied: "This is a message to the Arab rulers that they must make peace with their people and give them more freedom, so the people will unite with the armies in resistance to the colonialist aggression … . I do not feel sorrow for any Arab ruler who is brought down."

    Sheikh Shu'fat said he had no explanation for the fall of Baghdad.

    "Suddenly, the Iraqi resistance disappeared," he said. "…We were confused because something we did not understand had happened. Our hope was to achieve victory or martyrdom. [The Iraqi soldiers] went back home and turned into ordinary citizens."

    He said, nevertheless, "I am happy that I waged jihad for the sake of Allah. I suggested to [the Iraqi soldiers] that they carry out martyrdom operations, but they said it was too soon."

    The sheikh said some of the Arab volunteers did not return to their countries because they had no money for the trip, and some had their passports taken by the Iraqis.

    A Palestinian fighter, interviewed by Al-Ahram, the Egyptian daily, expressed shock at the Iraqi people's rejection of the jihad warriors.

    "'I cannot believe that I am alive. I was in hell and Allah brought me back," said the fighter, who gave the pseudonym Abu Khaled.

    In early April, he joined other Arab volunteers in the battle at Baghdad's airport.

    At the beginning of the war, he says he was shocked at the sense of panic that seemed to pervade among the Iraqi troops.

    "The Iraqi soldiers were scared to death, with some even fainting," he said. "I did not understand their attitude then."

    Now, Abu Khaled believes the soldiers must have sensed there was a conspiracy.

    After fighting to defend the Baghdad airport, Abu Khaled said he walked 12 miles to reach the capital.

    "Exhausted, tense and with almost no food or drink for several days, I reached a house where I thought I could finally find shelter," he said.

    After an Iraqi man opened the door, Abu Khaled announced proudly his identity as an Arab jihad fighter.

    "The man slapped the door in my face and said, 'Go away we do not want you in our country,'" he said.

    Al-Ahram notes, "It was then that Abu Khaled realized that the Iraqi people had a different agenda."

    "To his astonishment," the paper said, "he was later told that the Iraqis wanted to get rid of the dictatorship and oppression of Saddam Hussein at any cost."

    In this context, said the paper, "the Arab volunteers were regarded by them as supporters of the regime, who are cashing dollars, only to prolong the Iraqi suffering."

    Abu Khaled said he was not a defender of the Saddam regime.

    "I joined the resistance to defend the Iraqi people," said a shocked and bewildered Abu Khaled, according to Al-Ahram. "I wanted to take part in the war against our brethren in Iraq. I came to defend the dignity of the Arab nation."

    Abu Khaled said he later joined fellow Palestinians helping resist intensive coalition strikes.

    "The Palestinians' resistance delayed the coalition forces' capture of the center of Baghdad for a whole day," he recalled. "I saw one Palestinian kill five Americans with one missile."

    But even more staggering to Abu Khaled, reported Al-Ahram, was "the realization that many Iraqi civilians did not want to see further resistance to the invasion forces struck."

    "While we were defending ourselves from the coalition strikes, I saw an Iraqi in a nearby building shooting at us," he said. "I had to protect myself and my people, so I fired an RPG missile at his house. While he was not killed, the second floor of the house was destroyed."

    After the U.S. captured the center of Baghdad on April 9, Abu Khaled decided to return to his hotel. He discovered, however, he was no longer welcome.

    "They welcomed me as a Palestinian before the war because they feared Saddam Hussein; now that he is gone they do not see any reason to give me shelter," he said. "They told me that they needed the room because they have other people who offered more for the room."

    Al-Ahram said Abu Khaled is now without shelter and is dependent on the generosity of others for food, tea or coffee.

    "I avoid being alone or recalling what happened to me," the fighter said, "because whenever I remember what happened at the airport, how I was abandoned – I feel betrayed and devastated."

    what a sad reality !
  5. Archive

    Posté 25 juil. 2003

    Bonne Lecture..

    « MAINTENANT nous allons faire la démocratie », promettait l e président djiboutien, Hassen Gouled, au début 1992. Deux ans plus tard, le pouvoir a réussi à se maintenir sans effectuer de réforme politique fondamentale ; et Paris, pour ne pas voir se répéter l'expérience somalienne, ferme les yeux et mise sur la « stabilité ». Mais les importants déficits budgétaires et l'opposition armée dans les montagnes affaiblissent le pouvoir de M. Gouled, menaçant la survie de ce « confetti d'empire » qui devra s'adapter et changer de régime s'il veut continuer d'exister.

    La visite à Djibouti, le 26 janvier dernier, de M. Rochereau de La Sablière, directeur des affaires africaines et malgaches (DAAM) du ministère des affaires étrangères, en compagnie de M. Jean-Marc Simon (directeur adjoint du cabinet du ministre de la coopération) et du colonel Michel Rigot, du cabinet du ministre de la défense, a consacré la normalisation des relations entre Paris et son ancienne colonie après une longue période de froid mutuel. Les visiteurs apportaient, en guise de cadeau de réconciliation, les 16 millions de francs d'aide budgétaire pour l'année 1993 qui n'avaient jamais été débloqués. Cette somme venait récompenser la persévérance du régime du président Hassan Gouled pour avoir su maintenir, tant contre l'opposition armée du Front pour la restauration de l'unité et de la démocratie (FRUD) que contre une opposition civile multiforme, un pouvoir personnel hérité d'une autre époque, celle où des « hommes forts » (baptisés « sages de l'Afrique » au-delà d'un certain âge) géraient avec un paternalisme un peu rude des populations obéissantes et « amies de la France ».

    Et pourtant, au-delà de cette obstination presque admirable dans son refus assumé de l'Histoire et du temps, il s'est installé à Djibouti une secrète érosion, une inquiétude persistante que masquent mal le ravalement de la façade politique ou les succès militaires de la fin de l'année dernière. C'est à l'aspect politique, le plus visiblement controversé, que s'est d'abord attaqué le président Hassan Gouled. Depuis le décret de réforme constitutionnelle du 21 janvier 1992, le multipartisme était à l'ordre du jour. Ce décret avait été pris à chaud, deux mois après le début de la rébellion armée du FRUD et, au moment où il avait été promulgué, beaucoup d'observateurs ne donnaient pas cher de la survie du régime.

    On se battait autour de Tadjourah, les ministres démissionnaient les uns après les autres et M. Alain Vivien, secrétaire d'Etat aux affaires étrangères, arrivait de Paris le 22 janvier en estimant « un rééquilibrage souhaitable dans la haute administration ». Le président et son entourage, après avoir cédé sur le principe du multipartisme, refusèrent ensuite de l'appliquer en position de faiblesse, tant que le FRUD remportait des victoires sur le terrain et que Paris poussait (mollement) au changement. Il fallait en effet attendre un moment favorable pour « jouer » un multipartisme qui, dans l'esprit du président, ne rimait guère avec démocratie. M.Gouled déclarait en effet, peu après la visite de M. Alain Vivien : « Maintenant nous allons faire la démocratie (...). Il y aura dix ou vingt partis, plus s'il le faut. C'est la mode actuelle. Comme d'autres pays africains, nous suivrons la mode (1). » Et il laissait planer un doute sur la possibilité de briguer un troisième mandat présidentiel en 1993, bien que cela lui fût constitutionnellement impossible. Il s'ensuivit une année confuse où le pouvoir attendait le moment propice pour « faire la démocratie ».

    M. Paul Dijoud, alors haut fonctionnaire du Quai d'Orsay, faisait la navette entre Paris et Djibouti avec, dans sa serviette des plans de normalisation de la situation qui se perdaient dans les sables, les combats avec le FRUD se poursuivaient sporadiquement, entrecoupés de nombreux cessez-le feu qui n'aboutissaient pas non plus, et l'opposition civile créait sinon les vingt partis prévus par le président Gouled, du moins de très nombreuses organisations : le Mouvement pour la paix et la réconciliation (MPR) de l'ancien ministre, M. Djama Elabe, qui deviendra en septembre 1992 le Parti du renouveau démocratique (PRD) ; le Parti national djiboutien (PND) de l'opposant, Aden Robleh ; le Mouvement national djiboutien (MND), exp​ression politique de la communauté des Somali Issaq ; l'Union démocratique djiboutienne (UDD), exp​ression politique de la communauté des Somali Gadaboursi ; le Front des forces démocratiques (FFD), constitué par des opposants issa ; le Mouvement pour le salut et la reconstruction (MSR), lié à la communauté yéménite, etc. Une « oasis de paix » DÉBUT juin 1993, la plupart de ces groupes se rencontrèrent à Paris pour former le Front uni de l'opposition. Le 27 du même mois, le président Gouled annonçait la tenue d'un référendum constitutionnel pour septembre et des élections législatives pour novembre.

    Le 5 septembre, la nouvelle Constitution, qui donnait au président la possibilité de se représenter, était approuvée par 96,84 % des votants (2). Paris déclara sèchement « prendre note » de ce résultat exceptionnel. Quatre jours plus tard, rompant la discipline « abstentionniste » du Front uni de l'opposition, M. Mohamed Djama Elabe annonçait sa décision de faire enregistrer officiellement son mouvement comme parti d'opposition (3). Aden Robleh et son PND allaient bientôt suivre la même voie. De fait, l'opposition était piégée dans ses propres contradictions ; sa composante radicale était divisée en plusieurs petits mouvements ethniques inefficaces et ses deux composantes modérées à vocation « nationale », le PRD de M. Djama Elabe et le PND de M. Aden Robleh, étaient divisées par le combat des chefs. Le 18 décembre, pour les élections législatives, seul le PRD osa descendre dans l'arène et affronter l'ancien parti unique, le vieux Rassemblement pour le progrès (RPP) du président Gouled. L'absence de véritable choix et les consignes d'abstention du FRUD et de certains petits groupes découragèrent 60% des électeurs, qui ne se dérangèrent pas. Avec 73,69 % des voix exprimées (soit 29,75 % des inscrits), le RPP remporta la totalité des 65 sièges du Parlement.

    Le 7 mai suivant, le président Gouled transformait l'essai : avec 60,7 % des votants (soit 30,7 % des inscrits), il était réélu pour un troisième mandat présidentiel. Là encore, les consignes d'abstention du FRUD, qui mirent hors jeu l'électorat afar, et la division de l'opposition légale (MM. Djama Elabe et Aden Robleh s'étaient présentés tous les deux) se conjuguèrent pour permettre au vieux leader djiboutien une victoire par défaut. Désormais le plus dur était fait. M. François Léotard, ministre de la défense, en prenait note lorsqu'il déclarait le 5 juin 1993 à Djibouti : « Dans cette région de l'Afrique, on assiste à la désagrégation de certains Etats et à l'apparition de zones grises auxquelles personne ne semble plus s'intéresser et qui sombrent dans le chaos (...). Djibouti doit et peut être une véritable oasis de paix et une source de stabilité. » Le message et son arrière-plan « somalien » étaient clairs. Depuis plusieurs mois, le gouvernement djiboutien se préparait à reprendre sérieusement la guerre. Des armes avaient été acquises de provenances diverses (4) et de nombreux mercenaires avaient été recrutés : Issa du Somaliland, rescapés de l'équipée du Front uni somalien en 1991, Issa ethiopiens de la région de Dire-Dawa, Hawiyé Abgal « fournis » par le « président » Ali Mahdi, qui appréciait le soutien apporté par le gouvernement djiboutien à sa cause, et même aventuriers digil ou wagosha, un moment prisonniers de guerre au Somaliland et qui, démunis de tout moyen et face à l'anarchie du sud somalien, ne pouvaient guère regagner leur pays ravagé par la guerre.

    Les effectifs de l'armée nationale djiboutienne (AND) avaient été portés, entre 1992 et 1993, de 3 000 à 15 000 hommes, creusant un massif déficit budgétaire. Le 5 juillet, les troupes gouvernementales passaient à l'offensive, prenant de vitesse le ministre de la coopération, M. André Roussin, qui avait annoncé son arrivée pour le 9 avec, en poche, un plan de démobilisation destiné à réduire les 9 millions de francs de déficit mensuel du poste « mobilisation générale » du budget. Le ministre annula son voyage, l'armée prit Randa et Assa- Gueyla et remonta vers le nord. Le FRUD, mal équipé pour une guerre conventionnelle, perdit pied. Fin août, tandis que le président Gouled rencontrait finalement, dans sa villa de Divonne-les-Bains, le ministre de la coopération et lui réclamait la bagatelle de 483 millions de francs pour solde de tous comptes, le général Fathi Ahmed Hussein, chef d'état-major de l'AND, déclarait que l'armée procédait au « nettoyage » des monts Mabla et des alentours. L'armée avait du mal à distinguer les guérilleros du FRUD des civils afar et le « nettoyage » fut violent. A l'automne, le FRUD était repoussé dans les montagnes frontalières de l'Erythrée et de l'Ethiopie, mais sans pourtant être détruit, et continuait à mener de temps à autre des actions de harcèlement contre les gouvernementaux.

    Après la normalisation politique et la semi-normalisation militaire restait le problème financier, qui allait se révéler nettement plus intraitable que les deux autres. A la fin de 1993, le déficit budgétaire officiel était de 11 milliards de francs djiboutiens, soit environ 344 millions de francs français. Par ailleurs, toutes les caisses noires avaient été ponctionnées et les organismes para-étatiques (surtout Electricité de Djibouti) avaient été dépouillés de leurs liquidités. En septembre, Paris avait répondu à la demande djiboutienne de 483 millions de francs français en offrant 16 millions - et encore avec un versement conditionné par la réintégration des dépenses militaires dans le budget ordinaire. Suivait la suggestion d'avoir à s'adresser au Fonds monétaire international (FMI) pour toute aide exceptionnelle, avec comme carotte la promesse française de financer une aide complémentaire au cas où l'exécution du plan d'ajustement structurel recevrait un satisfecit de l'organisation internationale. La potion était amère, et elle n'a pu être avalée. A l'heure actuelle, le gouvernement djiboutien se débat toujours dans une situation financière calamiteuse, que les 16 millions apportés par M. de La Sablière ne modifient guère. Les caisses sont vides, les impayés s'accumulent et les fournisseurs refusent désormais les chèques du Trésor.

    Pour parer au plus pressé, le gouvernement a emprunté 1 milliard de francs djiboutiens (environ 34 millions de francs français) à la banque islamique Baraka et 1,5 milliard à la Banque commerciale et industrielle de la mer Rouge (BCIMR), filiale locale de la BNP. Il reste cependant un trou non financé d'environ 13 millions de francs français, et la situation militaire, mal stabilisée, ne permet pas la démobilisation qui, seule, arrêterait l'hémorragie budgétaire. En dépit de tout, le gouvernement affiche une superbe assurance. Pour M. Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, neveu et chef de cabinet du président Gouled, patron des services de sécurité et « homme fort » de Djibouti, la rébellion du FRUD n'a été qu'« un complot fomenté par les socialistes français en octobre 1991 » (5). « Cheiko », le vieil opposant de toujours, appelle à soutenir la lutte armée, ce qui lui a valu d'être incarcéré avec trois compagnons à la fin de janvier 1994. L'ordre règne et la France paye, mais plus beaucoup. Le tout est terriblement fragile et sans perspectives institutionnelles claires pour un régime autoritaire dont le patriarche a dépassé de loin les quatre-vingts ans. Les prétendants s'agitent, mais leurs petites querelles n'ont plus le parfum de byzantinisme inoffensif qu'elles avaient avant novembre 1991.

    Dans le Nord, l'armée peu ou pas payée (les fonctionnaires ne le sont pas non plus) s'agite, se mutine et fait durement payer aux civils la frustration d'une guérrilla qui s'éternise. Les hommes du FRUD sont toujours dans la montagne, ceux du FMI sont installés au ministère des finances et la combinaison paradoxale de ces deux facteurs pose désormais la question fondamentale de l'existence de ce « confetti d'empire » qui devra fatalement changer un jour de système politique s'il veut survivre dans un monde en pleine mutation.


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