Showing posts tagged as "france"

Showing posts tagged france

24 Feb
France risks long stay after misjudging Central African Republic | John Irish and Daniel Flynn
When France sent troops to halt violence between Christians and Muslims in Central African Republic, commanders named the mission Sangaris after a local butterfly to reflect its short life. Three months later, it is clear they badly miscalculated.
Buoyed by a swift victory in last year’s war against Islamists in Mali, France’s military predicted six months would be enough to quell sectarian conflict in Central African Republic, which began in March when Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: hdptcar/flickr

France risks long stay after misjudging Central African Republic | John Irish and Daniel Flynn

When France sent troops to halt violence between Christians and Muslims in Central African Republic, commanders named the mission Sangaris after a local butterfly to reflect its short life. Three months later, it is clear they badly miscalculated.

Buoyed by a swift victory in last year’s war against Islamists in Mali, France’s military predicted six months would be enough to quell sectarian conflict in Central African Republic, which began in March when Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: hdptcar/flickr

11 Apr
Mali: Security, Dialogue and Meaningful Reform
Dakar/Brussels | 11 Apr 2013
Mali and its international partners need to seize the moment for national dialogue to forestall renewed political and security crises.
Mali: Security, Dialogue and Meaningful Reform, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the situation in Mali after France’s military intervention to restore the north of the country to government control and as the UN Security Council considers the deployment and mandate of a stabilisation mission. Sporadic fighting in the north continues and formidable threats to security remain. The presidential election, currently scheduled for July, poses particularly acute challenges. An inclusive political process, involving national dialogue and reconciliation between Mali’s various communities, are critical to preventing a resurgence of violence. Over time, only improved governance can ensure sustained peace and stability.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Mali’s political leaders need to make public and well-publicised commitments to peace and reconciliation, or risk an election campaign that reinforces divisions, inflaming tensions after the vote, and jeopardising badly-needed reforms.
Mass communication, especially through the radio and television stations listened to across the country, is crucial to encourage political participation and reduce tension. By the same token, a new mechanism for monitoring the media should check inflammatory or divisive language.
Mali’s regional and international partners should help persuade the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) that its interests are best served by renouncing its armed struggle and participating in a political process. For their part, leaders in Bamako should avoid imposing conditions on armed groups that close the door to dialogue, however discreet. Such dialogue will be vital to give all northern Malians the opportunity to participate in the elections, without which the far north could again become a base for armed rebellion.
A clear distinction should be maintained between, on the one hand, the planned UN stabilisation mission, with its large civilian component, and, on the other, a “parallel force” responsible for counter-terror operations, whose legal basis and geographic mandate should be clarified.
“Elections must be held soon but not at any cost”, says Gilles Yabi, Crisis Group’s West Africa Project Director. “Reconciliation must begin now, as should the provision of basic social and economic services to the north. The radicalisation of public opinion is a major risk and Mali’s leaders and institutions must take firm action to prevent people, especially those in the south, lumping together rebels, terrorists and drug traffickers with all Tuaregs and Arabs”.
“Focusing on terrorism alone risks distracting from the main problems”, says Comfort Ero, Crisis Group’s Africa Program Director. “Corruption and poor governance are more important causes of the crisis than the terrorist threat, the Tuareg issue, or even the north-south divide. The challenges for the region and the UN are to align their positions on the political process, and to insist that Malians, especially their elites, assume responsibility for reversing bad governance and preventing another crisis”.
FULL REPORT

Mali: Security, Dialogue and Meaningful Reform

Dakar/Brussels | 11 Apr 2013

Mali and its international partners need to seize the moment for national dialogue to forestall renewed political and security crises.

Mali: Security, Dialogue and Meaningful Reform, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the situation in Mali after France’s military intervention to restore the north of the country to government control and as the UN Security Council considers the deployment and mandate of a stabilisation mission. Sporadic fighting in the north continues and formidable threats to security remain. The presidential election, currently scheduled for July, poses particularly acute challenges. An inclusive political process, involving national dialogue and reconciliation between Mali’s various communities, are critical to preventing a resurgence of violence. Over time, only improved governance can ensure sustained peace and stability.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Mali’s political leaders need to make public and well-publicised commitments to peace and reconciliation, or risk an election campaign that reinforces divisions, inflaming tensions after the vote, and jeopardising badly-needed reforms.
  • Mass communication, especially through the radio and television stations listened to across the country, is crucial to encourage political participation and reduce tension. By the same token, a new mechanism for monitoring the media should check inflammatory or divisive language.
  • Mali’s regional and international partners should help persuade the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) that its interests are best served by renouncing its armed struggle and participating in a political process. For their part, leaders in Bamako should avoid imposing conditions on armed groups that close the door to dialogue, however discreet. Such dialogue will be vital to give all northern Malians the opportunity to participate in the elections, without which the far north could again become a base for armed rebellion.
  • A clear distinction should be maintained between, on the one hand, the planned UN stabilisation mission, with its large civilian component, and, on the other, a “parallel force” responsible for counter-terror operations, whose legal basis and geographic mandate should be clarified.

“Elections must be held soon but not at any cost”, says Gilles Yabi, Crisis Group’s West Africa Project Director. “Reconciliation must begin now, as should the provision of basic social and economic services to the north. The radicalisation of public opinion is a major risk and Mali’s leaders and institutions must take firm action to prevent people, especially those in the south, lumping together rebels, terrorists and drug traffickers with all Tuaregs and Arabs”.

“Focusing on terrorism alone risks distracting from the main problems”, says Comfort Ero, Crisis Group’s Africa Program Director. “Corruption and poor governance are more important causes of the crisis than the terrorist threat, the Tuareg issue, or even the north-south divide. The challenges for the region and the UN are to align their positions on the political process, and to insist that Malians, especially their elites, assume responsibility for reversing bad governance and preventing another crisis”.

FULL REPORT

5 Feb
Paris tente de relancer l’opposition syrienne, sans illusions | l’Orient le Jour
Mais la communauté internationale semble résignée à l’attentisme. “C’est un conflit qui pour l’instant n’a été coûteux que pour les Syriens, pas pour les acteurs extérieurs. Pour le moment ces derniers se contentent de regarder, de voir où ça mène et de prendre quelques mesures velléitaires en attendant. Et personne ne cherche sérieusement une solution”, estime Peter Harling, spécialiste de la Syrie à l’International Crisis Group.
Qui ne voit pas non plus d’issue à court terme du côté des protagonistes syriens. “Pour l’instant, les gens les plus raisonnables sont pris en otages par les éléments les plus radicaux”, du côté du régime comme de l’opposition, relève-t-il.
ARTICLE COMPLET (l’Orient le Jour)
Photo: James Gordon/Flickr

Paris tente de relancer l’opposition syrienne, sans illusions | l’Orient le Jour

Mais la communauté internationale semble résignée à l’attentisme. “C’est un conflit qui pour l’instant n’a été coûteux que pour les Syriens, pas pour les acteurs extérieurs. Pour le moment ces derniers se contentent de regarder, de voir où ça mène et de prendre quelques mesures velléitaires en attendant. Et personne ne cherche sérieusement une solution”, estime Peter Harling, spécialiste de la Syrie à l’International Crisis Group.

Qui ne voit pas non plus d’issue à court terme du côté des protagonistes syriens. “Pour l’instant, les gens les plus raisonnables sont pris en otages par les éléments les plus radicaux”, du côté du régime comme de l’opposition, relève-t-il.

ARTICLE COMPLET (l’Orient le Jour)

Photo: James Gordon/Flickr

30 May
Annan says Syria ‘at a tipping point’ after massacre | LA Times
By Patrick J. McDonnell
U.S. and world leaders dramatically increased pressure on Syria in the wake of a civilian massacre, with special envoy Kofi Annan declaring the country to be at a tipping point and urging its president to implement a peace plan that could fatally weaken his grip on power.Annan spoke Tuesday in the Syrian capital as a group of nations — including the United States, Britain, France and Australia — expelled Syrian diplomats in an orchestrated response to last week’s massacre of more than 100 people, the majority of them women and children, in the central Syrian township of Houla.Most of the victims were initially thought to have died in government shelling, but the U.N. human rights office said Tuesday that evidence indicated most were summarily executed in a house-to-house rampage Friday. The U.N. said residents who were interviewed blamed shabiha, pro-government militiamen who rights groups say have acted as regime enforcers and executioners.The Syrian government has denied responsibility for the massacre, whose graphic images of bloodied and mangled corpses have prompted global revulsion. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Tuesday condemned what she called an “absolutely indefensible, vile, despicable massacre.”Nuland said the United States would look for ways to “tighten the noose” around the regime of President Bashar Assad.Germany and Britain said they were expelling the Syrian ambassadors to their countries, and the U.S. said it was giving the charge d’affaires, the top Syrian diplomat in Washington, 72 hours to leave.
FULL ARTICLE (LA Times)

Photo: Guillaume Baptiste/AFP/Getty Images

Annan says Syria ‘at a tipping point’ after massacre | LA Times

By Patrick J. McDonnell

U.S. and world leaders dramatically increased pressure on Syria in the wake of a civilian massacre, with special envoy Kofi Annan declaring the country to be at a tipping point and urging its president to implement a peace plan that could fatally weaken his grip on power.

Annan spoke Tuesday in the Syrian capital as a group of nations — including the United States, Britain, France and Australia — expelled Syrian diplomats in an orchestrated response to last week’s massacre of more than 100 people, the majority of them women and children, in the central Syrian township of Houla.

Most of the victims were initially thought to have died in government shelling, but the U.N. human rights office said Tuesday that evidence indicated most were summarily executed in a house-to-house rampage Friday. The U.N. said residents who were interviewed blamed shabiha, pro-government militiamen who rights groups say have acted as regime enforcers and executioners.

The Syrian government has denied responsibility for the massacre, whose graphic images of bloodied and mangled corpses have prompted global revulsion. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Tuesday condemned what she called an “absolutely indefensible, vile, despicable massacre.”

Nuland said the United States would look for ways to “tighten the noose” around the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Germany and Britain said they were expelling the Syrian ambassadors to their countries, and the U.S. said it was giving the charge d’affaires, the top Syrian diplomat in Washington, 72 hours to leave.

Photo: Guillaume Baptiste/AFP/Getty Images

22 May
Iran Nuclear Crisis: What’s On The Table At The Baghdad Talks? | Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty
By Charles Recknagel
World powers are meeting in Baghdad with Iran this week over the Islamic republic’s controversial nuclear program. Here are five things to know ahead of time. 
Who is meeting and why?The five permanent Security Council members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — plus Germany (better known as the P5+1) are sitting down with Iran in the Iraqi capital on May 23 to discuss ways out of the Iran nuclear crisis. Western powers accuse Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program under the cover of its nuclear-energy activities. Iran denies the charges.What’s on the agenda?
The most urgent item on the agenda is to convince Iran to give nuclear inspectors access to the Parchin military site near Tehran. Concerns over Iran’s nuclear intentions have increased since the UN nuclear-watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reported in November that Iran has carried out past activities “relevant to the development of an explosive nuclear device.”Western officials suspect Iran built a container at Parchin in 2000 for the probable testing of high explosives and want to know more about experiments there. They also accuse Iran of refusing to let UN inspectors inside Parchin until Tehran can remove incriminating evidence. Iran has dismissed the allegations as “ridiculous.”Overall, the UN Security Council is demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment and other activities they say could contribute to acquiring bomb-grade nuclear material until it proves its program is peaceful. Tehran says it has the right to enrich uranium as part of its nuclear energy program.
FULL ARTICLE (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty)
Photo: AFP

Iran Nuclear Crisis: What’s On The Table At The Baghdad Talks? | Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty

By Charles Recknagel

World powers are meeting in Baghdad with Iran this week over the Islamic republic’s controversial nuclear program. Here are five things to know ahead of time. 

Who is meeting and why?

The five permanent Security Council members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — plus Germany (better known as the P5+1) are sitting down with Iran in the Iraqi capital on May 23 to discuss ways out of the Iran nuclear crisis. Western powers accuse Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program under the cover of its nuclear-energy activities. Iran denies the charges.

What’s on the agenda?

The most urgent item on the agenda is to convince Iran to give nuclear inspectors access to the Parchin military site near Tehran. Concerns over Iran’s nuclear intentions have increased since the UN nuclear-watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reported in November that Iran has carried out past activities “relevant to the development of an explosive nuclear device.”

Western officials suspect Iran built a container at Parchin in 2000 for the probable testing of high explosives and want to know more about experiments there. They also accuse Iran of refusing to let UN inspectors inside Parchin until Tehran can remove incriminating evidence. Iran has dismissed the allegations as “ridiculous.”

Overall, the UN Security Council is demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment and other activities they say could contribute to acquiring bomb-grade nuclear material until it proves its program is peaceful. Tehran says it has the right to enrich uranium as part of its nuclear energy program.

FULL ARTICLE (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty)

Photo: AFP

22 Dec

Bloomberg: Turkey Halts Political Talks With France After Genocide Vote

By Emre Peker

Turkey froze all political and military relations with France after the French parliament’s lower chamber approved a measure that makes it a crime to deny genocide against Armenians a century ago.

The government recalled its ambassador to Paris for consultations, canceled a joint meeting of economy and trade ministers in January and halted all programs for training and cultural affairs, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today in televised remarks in Ankara following the vote in Paris.

Turkey has been warning France for the past week that its fast-growing economy means it can hurt companies such as Airbus SAS and Electricite de France SA if the measure goes through. It was presented by a member from the party of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is seeking re-election in April and trailing his socialist opponent in the polls.

“This process has been sacrificed because of the government’s electoral calculations and Mr. Sarkozy’s political calculations,” Erdogan said. “This is practicing politics via xenophobia.”

The premier said Ottoman Turkey had not committed genocide against Armenians and his country is proud of its history. The measures are the first steps in a series of sanctions against France that will follow, depending on what course the French parliament and government take, he said.

Punishing Denial

The French parliament approved a law that would punish denial of any genocide recognized by French law with as long as a year in prison and a 45,000-euro ($59,000) fine. The motion was backed in a voice vote and now moves to the Senate, which hasn’t set a timetable to debate it.

Armenians say 1.5 million ethnic Armenians were killed from 1915 to 1923 in a deliberate campaign of genocide. About 20 countries including Greece, Canada and Russia, Turkey’s second- biggest trading partner behind Germany, recognize the events as genocide.

The Turkish government says mass killings of Armenians took place as part of clashes in which thousands of Turks and Armenians died after Armenian groups sided with the invading Russian army.

Little Progress

Turkey and its eastern neighbor Armenia have made little progress toward establishing relations as set out in protocols signed in 2009. Still, that agreement to set up joint commissions of historians to examine what took place showed that “Turkey has moved from complete negation toward a much greater awareness of what happened,” according to Hugh Pope, a project director in Turkey for the International Crisis Group.

“The French bill is counter-productive because the emotional reaction in Turkey can set back the cause for years,” Pope said by telephone. “That’s why France is so short-sighted to introduce this bill.”

FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg)

12 Dec

Reuters: French accusations put Syria’s allies in spotlight

By Dominic Evans (BEIRUT)

France says it believes Syria was behind an attack on U.N. peacekeepers in south Lebanon. While Paris has no proof, Damascus has plenty of armed supporters who might try to destabilize Lebanon to divert attention from its own turmoil.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe blamed Syria on Sunday, singling out its powerful Lebanese ally Hezbollah which holds sway in southern Lebanon where five French soldiers were wounded in an explosion that wrecked their patrol vehicle last week.

Syria and Hezbollah both denied the charge on Monday, but Syria’s Lebanese opponents have accused Damascus of trying to stir up trouble through proxies who also include Palestinian groups in refugee camps and pro-Syrian political groups.

Analysts said the French accusation was part of an escalating showdown between Western powers demanding President Bashar al-Assad halt the violence in his country, and Syria and its allies, including Iran and Hezbollah.

"France considers itself now as spearheading the campaign against Syria," Lebanese analyst Oussama Safa said. "I think the French see these attacks in the context of this confrontation, and (a sign of) Syria’s tentacles in the region."

Friday’s bombing near the southern city of Tyre was the third attack on UNIFIL forces in Lebanon since the outbreak of protests in neighboring Syria in March. Prior to that, the last attack took place three years earlier in January 2008.

It also followed a rare volley of rockets fired across Lebanon’s southern border into Israel two weeks ago. Another rocket fired on Sunday night failed to cross the frontier, wounding a Lebanese woman in a border village, the army said.

Hezbollah, which fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006 leading to UNIFIL being beefed up in southern Lebanon, condemned the attack, saying it aimed to destabilize the area. It said Juppe’s accusation was a “great injustice which we completely reject.”

Syria’s foreign ministry also denied any link to the attack and accused France of fabricating charges against Syria.

"MESSAGE FROM BASHAR"

But anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon were even quicker than France to point the blame at Damascus.

"Another Syrian message from Bashar," tweeted former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who was ousted in January when Hezbollah and its pro-Syrian political allies resigned from his unity government.

Hariri did not say exactly who he thought carried out the attack, but Syria has allies in Lebanon where it maintained a military presence for nearly three decades before withdrawing under international pressure in 2005.

"I don’t know whether it’s Hezbollah or someone else. But if you assume it’s a Syrian message, Syria has lots of proxies in Lebanon and it could be any of them," said Sahar Attrache, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

"But I would also assume that Hezbollah wouldn’t mind these sort of messages being sent."

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)