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Posted on October 17, 2021 by Jean-Pierre Filiu

France's strange obsession with Turkey in the Maghreb President Macron only targets Turkey in his interventions in the Maghreb, where Russia and the United Arab Emirates are nevertheless working to undermine French influence.

General Chengriha, Algerian Chief of Staff, visiting Moscow in June. In remarks which continue to sow confusion between Paris and Algiers, Emmanuel Macron strongly attacked the "disinformation" and the "propaganda" which would be in the Maghreb "carried by the Turks", accused of "rewriting there. completely History ”.
Carried away, he even attempted a parallel between the supposed "colonization" of Algeria by "Turkey" and that of Algeria by France.
The tenant of the Elysee can legitimately worry about the smear campaigns against France inspired by President Erdogan, especially during the international controversy over cartoons, in October 2020.
And President Tebboune's next visit to Ankara will mark a kind peak of Algerian-Turkish relations. But by focusing too much on Erdogan, Macron ends up forgetting that it is rather from Russia and the United Arab Emirates that the most serious threats to French influence in the Maghreb emanate.

The French president's blindness in the Maghreb stems directly from the flawed policy he followed in Libya during the first three years of his tenure. Under the guise of "reconciliation" with the internationally recognized government of Tripoli, he in fact provided decisive support to "Marshal" Haftar, which could only encourage him to relaunch the civil war in 2019, torpedoing the UN mediation efforts. France was thus discreetly joining the camp of the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the displayed godfathers of the warlord of East Libya.


But Haftar's offensive only ended up throwing the government in Tripoli into the arms of Turkey, whose intervention reversed the military situation, with Russian "mercenaries" engaged alongside Haftar.

It was this defeat that restored the front lines of 2019 and enabled the current inter-Libyan peace process to begin, a process to which France has this time sincerely joined. However, these years of Libyan wandering remain at the Elysee Palace a form of indulgence towards Russian aims in North Africa, while Turkish ambitions are perceived as fundamentally hostile.

Moscow is, however, by far Algiers’s leading military partner, both in terms of arms supplies and the training of its cadres. General Chengriha, Algerian chief of staff since December 2019, and a true "strong man" of the country, has already visited Russia twice.

During his most recent visit, last June, he attacked Morocco and "foreign interference" in a transparent allusion to France. As for President Putin, he has always encouraged the hard line that prevails within the Algerian general staff towards the popular protest against the Hirak. It is therefore paradoxical to hear the French president denounce "the politico-military system which was built on this anti-French memorial rent" in Algeria without ever mentioning Russia, yet the main external ally of such a "system. ".

This silence is all the more disturbing as Macron does not hesitate to castigate the Malian authorities when they consider resorting to Russian "mercenaries". A DANGEROUS BLIND IN THE EMIRATES The French president readily portrays his closeness, even his complicity with Mohammed Ben Zayed, the crown prince, but de facto ruler, of the United Arab Emirates.

Last month, he received him with pomp at the Château de Fontainebleau where the Napoleon III theater, restored with Emirati funds, now bears the name of the reigning ruler of the Emirates, elder brother of Mohammed Ben Zayed. The peace treaty signed in September 2020 between Israel and the United Arab Emirates lifted the Elysee’s remaining reservations about Abu Dhabi diplomacy, with each capital fueling the other’s anti-Turkish obsession.

But this is to forget that Mohammed Ben Zayed himself maintains shameful relations with declared enemies of France, starting with the Chechen satrap Kadyrov. And that the Emirati leader, humiliated by the setbacks of his protégé Haftar in Libya, sought "revenge" by sabotaging the democratic experiment in Tunisia. Incentives from Abu Dhabi, as well as Cairo, have indeed played a key role in President Saïed’s decision last July to “suspend” the constitutional process in Tunisia.

The very high expectations of the new Tunisian authorities towards the Emirates are nevertheless likely to be disappointed.
 






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