The lines of hypocrisy can be traced in France’s decision to pick and choose which Islamic conflicts to engage in. While they fight terrorism in Mali, they financially support and arm rebels in Syria.
Laurent Louis, a former member of the People’s Party of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, who famously denounced the French intervention in Mali as ‘neo-colonialist’, has accused the Belgian government of directly sponsoring terrorism in Syria, sits down with RT to discuss his views on Mali, Gaddafi, Syria, and the euro crisis.
RT: You've been very vocal about your opposition/condemnation to the French intervention in Mali. You have not been the only voice in this camp. But we know that two thirds of the French people supported this move when Francois Hollande announced it. What does that say about the French and their view of interventions?
Laurent Louis: I simply think they are manipulated. They are manipulated by the power of the media that are totally in the hands of political leaders and therefore, as long as, you tell the French population that France is intervening to save humanity and to stop terrorists who are ready to commit attacks in France and Europe, of course the population follows. They think it's normal, we are in danger. But that's not true that's the problem. I don't believe that tomorrow we'll see an attack by Malian terrorist in Europe. Actually, the war in Mali is certainly not a fight against terrorism, it's not to a fight against Islamism, it's to take advantage of natural resources in Mali and the proof is [energy giant] AREVA is present in Mali and it gets the support from French military forces that protect their installations. That's the first time that a national army goes to provide services to a commercial company. I think here there is a huge problem. Today our countries go to war to make money, they don't care about international rules. At the moment, you know, there's no such thing as a preventive war. It's all aggression wars. When we see Francois Hollande arriving in Mali and being celebrated as a liberator, this is a publicity campaign. I think we, we cannot interfere in the policy of a sovereign country –
RT: But French President Francois Hollande said that France says it was merely answering the call for help of the Malian President…what's your view?
LL: It's a president [in Mali] that is not legitimate because he was not elected and I think that the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy agrees with me, who said exactly the same thing as me. We should not intervene in a country where there is no government. Therefore I think that I am not the only one to think that. And I think that international rules don't allow this kind of military action that are military aggression especially to defend financial interests.
RT: Some analysts have been pointing out how the intervention in Libya, to a certain extent, played a part in what happened in Mali, especially with the flow of weapons and heightened tensions and that it also played a part in the terror attack in Algeria. What do you think?
LL: Who provided weapons to Libya? Who helped fight Gaddafi? It's western countries at some point who have decided, to fight Libya because Colonel Gaddafi had ideas to pull Africa out of poverty. Very smart ideas, and thinking of his monetary system, and it was troubling Western and American systems so we had to get rid of it. That's what the westerners did. I believe that France and other European countries are responsible for crimes against humanity during the military intervention in Libya which I've always been opposed [to] at the Belgian Parliament. Today we see that the weapons can come from anywhere. Rebels in Syria are also using weapons and they find those weapons somewhere. And who provides those weapons? Western countries! Those are countries like the USA, England, USA Belgium, we provided. We gave a lot of money for that opposition. They are not an opposition, they are rebels. They are coup makers.
RT: You also condemned the 9 million euros in aid Belgium plans to give to the Syrian opposition. You pointed out that you're angry it will be given to the Syrian opposition (to aide one side of the conflict), but the Belgian Foreign Minister said it will be given to Syrian refugees in the region, including 1 million for Jordan's northern Zaatari refugee camp with more than 100,000 Syrians. Do you not believe the money will actually reach those suffering from the crisis?
LL: I am sure, it's always like that. We always hide that we are doing, we always hide movement by pretending to be humanitarian. We say that but what I see is that rebels have very good equipment and they manage to do equal to equal with Syrian army. So all these weapons, all this money must come from somewhere so I am convinced that a big part of this money that we give for humanitarian purposes that goes back to the hands of rebels. This is absolutely sure and we have already seen that in other countries. I think of African countries where also we give a lot of money for humanitarian purposes but that's still strange because all this money that we give them, the local life quality doesn't improve. They still live in misery. So I really wonder where that money goes. They must go somewhere.
RT: There's a change in rhetoric now from western leaders -- whereas before they were rather wary of direct involvement with Syrian rebels -- now the EU may be preparing to provide training to rebels in Syria and it may allow for the transfer of non-lethal equipment and technical assistance for civilian protection only. Do you believe it is realistic to discern between the radicals and the so-called freedom fighters in the process? How can one guarantee the equipment will not fall in the wrong hands?
LL: Anyway as long as the equipment falls into the hands of the rebels, the equipment falls into bad hands because for me those people are coup organizers. The only thing they want is to set up shariah [law system in Syria] and Syria is today a moderate country with a leader who is looking at the West, it's not someone who cares about the past. Honestly I can only condemn the way of seeing things and as far as I am concerned, democracies are not allowed to organize coup in sovereign countries. For me they are aggressors. we can make a distinction between Islamists, radical islamists to [and] the opponents to the regime, in every system there are [some], And the population that is pro-Bashar al Assad [is there as well]. The only thing is as we noticed in countries of North Africa -- Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, all these people who could be opposed to the local power, are of course, are very quickly removed and replaced by radicals. because they have the financial support, they have persuasion means. And in Syria it's going to be the same. If tomorrow Bashar al Assad is kicked out, it will not be the moderate opposition that will take the power, this is the Islamists that will be in power. They will be supported by the United States, why? Because the US has an interest in the fact that this part of the world knows chaos. The USA want to allow the Americans to justify a wide sized military operation that will have as an aim to kick out of power so-called terrorist countries. This is the problem today. This is obvious. I don't understand why we don't realize it more than it is the case today. And therefore we have to fight this situation because we risk to go toward a world war and this scares me a lot because with as much manipulation, this is very dangerous, and peace is in danger.
RT: You said that you believe one of the purposes of western intervention, aside from maintaining a presence in Africa and the Middle East, is to fight against China. What kind of a threat is China viewed as, or what kind of race is the West in with China?
LL: As far as I am concerned, China is not a threat. But China is a threat to big powers, current big powers. They see it as something bad to see China coming on their playground. China is more and more present in Africa and it's normal. They need natural resources. Obviously it's an economic threat. We see that China is seizing economic resources, it's legitimate, there's no problem about that. Recently I was in Congo RDC, and I noticed that indeed there were Chinese workers that were building highways. In Congo! I admit that countries can be generous but I don't think China does that for free. And obviously China in Congo can do whatever it wants with natural resources [in exchange for] services given to the population. What is positive is that at least there are services given to the population. This is a change from the western logic that we saw during colonization, with them taking advantage of Africa without benefiting to the locals. This is what explains that former colonial powers such as France or other countries intervene today in North Africa to take back some natural resources. This is the case of France in Mali where France is only the hands of the US in that story. This is also the case in all the northern African countries in the so-called Arab Spring. I say so-called because those are not real revolutionary movements. It was directed from abroad and it's always to put their hands on natural resources such as gas, uranium. This is a race. This is an economic war that we're seeing now. Honestly I prefer that Africa could be free of all this foreign powers that want to take advantage of their natural resources, but I mean we cannot dream. Africa today is the attic of the world. It's very difficult to imagine that Africa will one day be owned by Africans. It's sad but it's true. So at least I prefer that they are partnerships where everybody is in a win-win relationship, than a unilateral exploitation. I can't stand anymore to see Africans starving when under their ground is full of natural wealth which is crazy! All that wealth doesn't bring anything to the local population. They just benefit industrial companies, to international companies and their managers.
A member of "Damn the Troika" movement works on a mural in Lisbon February 24, 2013. (Reuters / Rafael Marchante)
A member of "Damn the Troika" movement works on a mural in Lisbon February 24, 2013. (Reuters / Rafael Marchante)
RT: What's your stand on the way the EU has been dealing with the eurozone crisis?
LL: Well, first and foremost I would like to say that this crisis doesn't really exist. This crisis was invented by our leaders. It doesn't exist really, no. It's a crisis invented by our leaders in order to impose on the population restrictions. Today, in the name of the crisis, we can do anything. We reduce social benefits, we ask workers to work more and to earn less, we reduce public services while at the end of the day, the citizens are not responsible for the crisis. This crisis was created by our leaders and financial markets. This was made on purpose I am sure of that. And who takes advantage of this? It's companies, they always end up with more dividends. That's what we notice! This is the European Union that put Greece, Spain or Portugal into trouble. We see that there's impoverishment of European populations. And this is shocking to see to which extent it's possible to reduce benefits and put a whole population into poverty. And all that because of a crisis that was created by financial interest.
RT: So in your eyes, Belgium should go it alone? Why do think that's the best solution?
More at link: http://rt.com/op-edge/laurent-louis-syria-mali-070/