How Macron is waging his secret wars

INVESTIGATION – Since his election, the President has launched increasingly offensive military operations and authorizes serial “neutralizations”. Our collaborator Vincent Nouzille investigated this top secret facet of presidential action.

By Vincent Nouzille

Emmanuel Macron, May 14, 2019, during the tribute ceremony to the two special forces soldiers who died on May 10 during an operation in Burkina Faso.
Emmanuel Macron, May 14, 2019, during the tribute ceremony to the two special forces soldiers who died on May 10 during an operation in Burkina Faso. Jacques Witt / SIPA

It was a summery, but chilling defense council. On August 11, 2020, from Fort Brégançon, President Emmanuel Macron meets by videoconference with his Prime Minister Jean Castex, the royal ministers, the chief of staff of the armed forces and the bosses of the intelligence services. The agenda is serious, mourning the murder, on August 9, of eight people, two Nigerians and six French members of the NGO Acted, in the Kouré reserve, near Niamey, in Niger. A real massacre committed by men arriving on motorcycles.

Until now, this area still seemed protected from repeated attacks by jihadist groups who have spread their guerrillas in several countries of the Sahel. The 5,100 French soldiers of Operation Barkhane have increased for six months the lightning operations aimed at weakening the two main rival nebulae, the GSIM (Support Group for Islam and Muslims), linked to al-Qaida, and the EIGS (Islamic State in the Great Sahara), affiliated with Daesh, in particular

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Belgium relaxes the rules and bets on the support of the population

While national figures show an acceleration in contamination since the start of the school year, the Belgian authorities are adopting a strategy that goes against the French turn of the screw.

From October 1, wearing a mask outside in the Brussels region will only be compulsory in high-traffic areas.
From October 1, wearing a mask outside in the Brussels region will only be compulsory in high-traffic areas. YVES HERMAN/REUTERS

Correspondent in Brussels

In Belgium too, the authorities have often groped about the virus. But, at 1is October, it is a turn of one hundred and eighty degrees which awaits the population. Against the grain of the French turn of the screw.

While national figures show an acceleration of contaminations since the start of the school year and even more in recent days, while the country has since Wednesday been classified “red” by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, against “dark orange »Previously, Belgium will considerably relax anti-coronavirus measures. Including in Brussels and Antwerp, particularly affected. The Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmès, moreover set the tone, Wednesday, during her press conference: “The virus is still there, but life must go on!”

The objective of the Belgian authorities is to increase adherence to the rules and to make the population more responsible. “The current measures are so strict that less and less

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dissidents start a party abroad

Opposition figures, based in North America and Europe, want to “establish democracy” in Riyadh.

“We are launching this party at a critical time to save our country, establish a democratic future and meet the aspirations of our people”, Explique Yahya Assiri (
here in 2019 in Istanbul), defender of human rights and secretary general of the National Assembly Party.
Serhat Cagdas / Anadolu Agency via AFP

It is a challenge to the authority of the young Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman. While the latter, de facto ruler of the Saudi kingdom due to the great age of his father, King Salman, strives to silence any dissonant voice inside Arabia, a group of dissidents in exile have created the first opposition party. The announcement on Wednesday coincided with the celebration of the 90e anniversary of the founding of the kingdom, an absolute monarchy that tolerates no political opposition. “The National Assembly Party aims to establish democracy as a form of government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, said the dissidents in a statement.

The new formation is led by London-based human rights defender Yahya Assiri, and includes academic Madawi al-Rashid, researcher Saïd Ben Nasser al-Ghmadi, activist Ahmed al-Mshikhs, Abdallah al-Awda, son of an imprisoned preacher, living in the United States, and Oman Abdel Aziz,

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the life of an Afghan refugee family in Lesbos fits in a cart

SEEN FROM ELSEWHERE – The middle-class Yussefi family ended up taking refuge on the Greek island after risking everything during a trip to Iran.

By LENA

A woman observes a new temporary camp for migrants and refugees on the island of Lesvos, Greece, September 22, 2020.
A woman observes a new temporary camp for migrants and refugees on the island of Lesvos, Greece, September 22, 2020. YARA NARDI / REUTERS

Par Cristian Segura (El País)

Afghan hospitality is not lost, even when the hosts are a homeless family. On the Greek island of Lesbos, Masomeh Etemadi and Ismaël Yussefi ask their guests to sit with them on a tarp which they use as a meeting space; they also offer them water and food distributed to them by NGOs active in the region. They strive to maintain their dignity and good manners although they only have one room in a hut built with a few reeds and cloth tied to two olive trees, on a rubbish-covered embankment.

The country followed Etemadi and Yussefi for four days the week after the fire that destroyed Moria refugee camp. They had planted their meager things on the side of the road to the burned-out camp and, waiting to see what the future held in store for them, whether it was another calamity or a sign of hope, they chatted with their visitors and compatriots, always

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massive destruction of mosques in Xinjiang

China has destroyed or damaged thousands of mosques in the sensitive region of Xinjiang (northwest), according to a report released Friday, September 25 by an Australian research institute and funded by the US State Department.

About 16,000 mosques have been destroyed or damaged in recent years in the predominantly Muslim region, says the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy (ASPI), a research firm created by the Australian government, in a detailed report. The researchers say they relied on satellite photos and important “extrapolations»: After analyzing 533 mosques (out of 24,000 officially in Xinjiang according to the Chinese authorities), they made calculations according to statistical models.

Most of the destruction has taken place in the past three years and 8,500 mosques have been completely destroyed, the report says. Some others have seen their domes and minarets removed, according to researchers, who estimate the number of mosques still standing in Xinjiang at 15,500. The study was funded by the US State Department, ASPI said. Washington is strongly opposed to Beijing on many issues and has been at the forefront in recent months in denouncing Chinese policy in Xinjiang.

SEE ALSO – Why the World Lets China Persecute Uyghurs

Long hit by bloody attacks attributed to members of the Muslim Uyghur ethnic group, this immense semi-desert territory is the subject of a firm security takeover in the name of the fight against terrorism. Over a million people, mainly Muslims, were interned there in “camps», Accuse human rights organizations. China says it is “vocational training centers», Intended to help the population to find a job and thus move away from religious extremism.

The Chinese authorities regularly claim to want “siniser” religions. This campaign, carried out in the name of greater control of cults, also aims to fight Islamist movements catalyzing separatist sentiment in Xinjiang.

«This report is all rumor and slanderWang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, responded at a regular press briefing, denouncing “lack of credibility“From the research firm and”its funding from abroad». «Total number of mosques per Muslim capita in Xinjiang is higher than in many Muslim countries”He said.

ASPI released another report on Thursday accusing China of strengthening its network of “detention centers” In the region.

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The pressure falls around Greece in the Macron-Erdogan face-to-face

DECRYPTION – The appeasement in the Eastern Mediterranean does not resolve the other disputes between France and Turkey.

Emmanuel Macron and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2018, in Istanbul.  During their telephone interview concerning the tensions in the Mediterranean, the two heads of state put forward “their arguments” and “their willingness to exchange regularly and open other subjects in common”.
Emmanuel Macron and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2018, in Istanbul. During their telephone interview concerning the tensions in the Mediterranean, the two heads of state argued “Their arguments” and “Their willingness to exchange regularly and open up other subjects in common”. MURAD SEZER / REUTERS

This is the first sign of de-escalation since the summer. After weeks of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, Greece and Turkey have opted for appeasement and say they are ready for negotiations, which should take place soon in Istanbul. This de-escalation measure came on the eve of a European Council, finally postponed because of Covid, which was to put the issue of sanctions against Turkey on the table. It was facilitated by the mediation of Angela Merkel, who spoke on the phone with the Turkish president on Tuesday evening. And by Emmanuel Macron, who also spoke at length, over an hour, to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Between Paris and Ankara, relations were at their lowest since France showed its support for Greece by deploying warships in the eastern Mediterranean. But the interview, they say at the Élysée, was “constructive”, «without tensions». «Everyone has made their own arguments” but with “the desire to exchange regularly and open

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The Figaro Letter of September 23, 2020

This morning: the EU wants new rules to manage the flow of migrants, Édouard Philippe is thinking of a return, should Verlaine and Rimbaud enter the Pantheon together?

La Lettre du Figaro, your information meeting every morning.
Letter from Figaro, your information meeting every morning. Le Figaro

Hello dear readers,

We knew about “European solidarity” (well, we have vaguely heard of it but we have seen it little). We have learned to discover “compulsory solidarity”. This is “à la carte solidarity”! This invented expression designates the new rule regarding the reception of migrants desired by Brussels: “You (the Member States) do not want to welcome refugees? Very well! You will have to go to the cash desk or take them back yourself to their country of origin ”. For some leaders, the transit of the pill promises to be complicated. To the point of derailing the scheme drawn up by the European Commission?

The advice of the day comes from Emmanuel Macron: “Faced with the virus: 1. Wash your hands. 2. Wear your mask. 3. Keep your distance. ”

Have a nice day,

Ronan Planchon, journalist at Figaro

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Migrants: Europeans want to change the rules

A family of refugees from the Moria camp, destroyed on September 9, goes to a new temporary accommodation on the island of Lesbos on Tuesday. Y. NARDI/REUTERS

Failing full optimism, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson deserves credit

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Mahmoud Dicko, the Salafist imam at the bedside of Mali

STORY – In his country in crisis, the religious of Bamako has the favors of the street and is listened to by politicians, soldiers and diplomats.

Imam Mahmoud Dicko arrives to deliver a speech at a ceremony in memory of Malians killed by security forces during protests against Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta on August 28 in Bamako.
Imam Mahmoud Dicko arrives to deliver a speech at a ceremony in memory of Malians killed by security forces during protests against Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta on August 28 in Bamako. ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP

Special envoy to Bamako

The white faux leather sofa, pierced with large and equally fake diamonds, is the only vaguely luxurious pageantry in Imam Mahmoud Dicko’s living room. In front of this small dark room stretches out a large courtyard covered with poor concrete, as there are thousands of in Bamako. It is full of women coming and going with a bowl in hand. The men, far from being all bearded, wait in a tin covered courtyard, waiting for the hour of prayer or a hypothetical meeting. This most banal decor in no way detracts from the power of the imam. The religious, gray goatee and clever smile, is undoubtedly one of the most influential men in Mali. And no one ignores the words from his mosque in Badalabougou. “He displays a modesty which brings him closer to average Malians and opposes him to a political class considered rich and corrupt”, underlines a diplomat.

The August 18 coup, where a handful of soldiers overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta

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Germany still on the front line for welcoming migrants

Angela Merkel continues to open the doors to refugees, particularly from the camps in Greece, but is more cautious than in 2015 to defuse criticism from the AfD.

Syrian and Iraqi migrants take pictures with Angela Merkel on September 10, 2015 in Berlin.
Syrian and Iraqi migrants take their picture with Angela Merkel on September 10, 2015 in Berlin. Fabrizio Bensch/REUTERS

Correspondent in Berlin

Of all European countries, Germany is the one that issues the most asylum rights – 116,000 in 2018 – and takes in the most minor, sick or unaccompanied children. Again on September 15, the Merkel government, at the forefront of the Twenty-Seven, announced that it would receive 1,553 refugees from five Greek islands. But for many, across the Rhine, the account is not there.

Sunday, under the slogan “there is fire and we have room ”, several thousand people marched in Berlin, Cologne, Munich and Leipzig to demand a greater participation of their country in the humanitarian crisis created by the fire of the Moria camp. In the capital alone, 5,000 had gathered in the multicultural district of Moabit, where the aunt of Alan Kurdi, the drowned Syrian boy who had become the emblem of the tragedy, urged the Twenty-Seven to “Do not close your eyes and turn your back” to migrants stranded on European coasts. “We must

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