The countries which lies south of the Sahara desert in north west Africa Sahel belt – Mauritania, Chad, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso – remain below the radar of international affairs. Soldiers die there virtually every week in what are often referred to as “mopping up” operations led by troops of the G5 group of nations which, under the military umbrella of France are tasked with making the Sahel region safe from the incursions of jihadi terrorism. If the soldiers and officers killed are African, their deaths usually go unreported internationally, if they are French they will make it on French news but not elsewhere in Europe.… Seguir leyendo »
Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de mayo de 2009. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.
If Tunisia’s elite continues to fiddle while Carthage burns, the only fledging democracy in the Arab world risks self destructing or reverting to some form of authoritarian rule. It is seven years since the fall of the dictator Ben Ali. His fall decapitated the predatory ruling family and legalised political parties, not least the Islamist party Nahda. And it sparked revolts across the Arab world. However Tunisia faces a real revolution unless its leaders articulate and enact bold economic reforms which offer desperately needed hope to the country’s mass of unemployed and ill-educated young people.
The freedom of speech that followed the end of the old authoritarian regime has today too often morphed into freedom to blackmail and insult.… Seguir leyendo »
Not for decades has there been such public hand-wringing over Russian intentions in Syria, Libya and the Mediterranean. European and American media keep reminding us that Russia’s moves are evidence of aggressive policies, similar to Russian military actions in Ukraine and Crimea. Ethan Chorin, a former US diplomat, in “Russia Strategic Waiting Game in Libya” said this is “hyperbole”. While Russia has taken advantage of the vacuum in US policy since the “Arab spring” to maintain and increase its geographical status, its policy remains “selective and opportunistic.” It has neither the resources nor the desire to incur responsibilities, other than limited in Syria and not at all in Libya for the foreseeable future.… Seguir leyendo »
As ever more private “revelations” of tax avoidance and tax havens hit the front pages of the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the British The Guardian and the French Le Monde – the aptly name Paradise Papers (13.4m files), many ordinary people in Europe have convinced themselves that all their political leaders are dishonest and out to line their pockets rather than work for the public good. In coordination with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 381 journalists in 67 countries have worked with the leaked information, much of which originated with the Bermuda law firm Appleby, to report stories on how wealthy individuals and companies use offshore accounts to make their fortunes untraceable and unreachable.… Seguir leyendo »
One month ago, on October 4, four members of US Special Operations Forces were killed and two wounded in an attack in western Niger, an emerging hot spot of Islamist terrorist activity. If an Islamist armed group was responsible, as some reports suggest, this would be the first known incident in which such a group has killed US soldiers on active duty in the Sahel. Western civilians, including US civilians, have died however in a recent series of mass-casualty attacks by Islamist extremists in regional African capitals. A number of French military have lost their life too.
Such groups conduct regular attacks against local targets: their focus includes government officials, prisons, schools and individuals accused of collaborating with the state or French-led counter terrorism operations – and against UN peacekeepers in Mali.… Seguir leyendo »
In the months and year ahead, the future of Tunisia will be shaped by its regional environment and by the capacity of its leaders to enact bold reforms. While Algeria has helped its smaller neighbour confront terrorism, the country’s interplay with Libya has been altogether more complex. The impact of the Libya crisis on the Tunisian economy has not been easy to decipher but a World Bank report now allows for a better understanding of the complex interplay of economic and social factors between the two countries since 2011.
Slow progress marred by loss of finance minister
Two events characterised the domestic last August.… Seguir leyendo »
Earlier this month, the French parliament voted overwhelmingly to convert a number of emergency police powers into permanent laws as the country tries to face up to the continuing threat of home grown terrorism. Three quarters of MPs backed a bill which will allow police officers to continue to use powers that largely mirror those granted under the state of emergency, which was declared after the Bataclan attacks on November 13, 2015, and extended six times finally expires.
The bill gives police the right to restrict the movement of terror suspects without judicial approval and shut down places of worship if they are deemed by intelligence services to be encouraging terrorism.… Seguir leyendo »
In an age of political vacuousness, we often ask what has happened to the quality of our leaders. Many believe that we deserve such poor leaders because we live in trivial, reality television-addled times dominated by consumerism. Electors across Europe seem, more often than not, unhappy with the leaders of their respective political parties. The French however were never unhappy with Simone Veil, who has died at the age of 89. She was a – reluctant – politician of stature whose appeal transcended age, class and region. She was respected and held in immense affection ever since, as minister of health of President Valery Giscard d’Estaing in 1974 she won the bitter battle to make abortion legal, at a time when most French male politicians, especially if they were conservative Catholics wanted women as tokens in ministerial office –government was a man’s business.… Seguir leyendo »
Voters under 25 flocked to the polls in the British general election which humiliated Theresa May and saw the Conservative party lose its majority in the House of Commons. An election called by the prime minister allegedly to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations produced exactly the contrary result. How the Brexit negotiations start and what form they might take is anybody’s guess. What is not in doubt is that what appeared to be the cast iron rule of the past generation, that old people turn out on polling day and young people do not, seems to have been overturned. The impact of younger voters finding their voice deserves to be measured.… Seguir leyendo »
Britain for one is quite unprepared for the ultimate project of the new French president: the restoration of Franco-German leadership in Europe. For centuries, it avoided a concentration of power in Europe and paid a blood price when it failed in 1914 and 1939. It failed again in the post 1945 era, but successfully divided and conquered after it joined the European Union. Britain played France and Germany off against the other and crafted an EU to suits its interests. The result was the single market, the eastward expansion and the never ending opt-outs. Emmanuel Macron wants a bargain in which Germany secures the euro with a fiscal union while Paris agrees to structural reform at home.… Seguir leyendo »
The appointment of Moumen Ould Kaddour as the new CEO of the state Algerian oil and gas company Sonatrach was a bolt out of the bleu. Nobody was expecting Mr Amine Mazouzi who had been appointed less that two years ago to get the sack. The name of the new incumbent was not even whispered in the corridors of power in the run up to the impromptu board meeting of Sonatrach called by the Minister of Energy Nourredine Boutarfa on 20 March. Like his immediate predecessors he is a competent technician but has no experience in upstream activities or in the commercialisation sector.… Seguir leyendo »
On 21 April 2002, France’s voters unveiled the full and shocking extent of their political disenchantment by sending the veteran far-right leader Jean Marie Le Pen through to the second round of presidential elections to face the outgoing Jacques Chirac. This unexpected success was the most staggering election result in European politics in years. It signed the death warrant of the Fifth Republic. If French voters send Marine Le Pen into the second round of the presidential elections on 23 April and her opponent is Emmanuel Macron, a further nail will have been driven into the republic’s coffin. Fifteen years ago, the socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin was eliminated and his party humiliated.… Seguir leyendo »
Tunisia is often held up as the shinning example of successful transition to democratic rule in the Middle East and North Africa. The popular uprising in one of the region’s smallest states brought the surprisingly swift collapse of the regime of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. This unleashed revolts across the Arab world that left a trail of blood, mayhem and millions of refugees. The “Arab Spring” which promised a wave of liberalism and democracy proved a false dawn. It has given way to suffering and fear across the Middle East and beyond.
Not so in Tunisia where, for the past six years, free and fair elections have become the norm.… Seguir leyendo »
The consequences of the near halving of oil and natural gas liquids prices since last summer depend on whether you are a country highly dependent on such exports or a major importer. Why this decline has happened and how long it might last help to explain what this decline spells for the world economy. Much uncertainty remains over how low prices will go, and for how long, but to the extent that they reflect strong supply rather than lower demand, they offer a welcome boost to the world economy. For many in the West, they also represent a welcome transfer from petro-despotic countries, not least Russia.… Seguir leyendo »
Desde que el despertar árabe derrocó la dictadura de Ben Ali en Túnez hace tres años, África noroccidental ha experimentado acontecimientos que pocos observadores habían pronosticado y mucho menos podido imaginar que podrían tener lugar a lo largo de su vida. El cambio de liderazgo en Túnez y Libia ha sumido a ambos países en un periodo de gran incertidumbre. La violencia se ha convertido en una creciente realidad al tiempo que sus sistemas de seguridad se han debilitado. Un gobierno interino controla nominalmente Libia. Sin embargo, 225.000 milicianos registrados son más leales a sus comandantes que al Estado que les paga.… Seguir leyendo »
Los acontecimientos que tienen lugar actualmente en Egipto representan un rechazo del islam político pero, desde otra perspectiva, constituyen un abierto y rotundo golpe militar; es decir, una negación del propio proceso político. Los golpes militares son la versión política de los ataques de aeronaves no tripuladas ( drones).
El pueblo tunecino fue el primero en el mundo árabe en echar a su afianzado dictador, Zin el Abidin Ben Ali. Estimulados por el ejemplo tunecino, los egipcios derrocaron a Hosni Mubarak a las pocas semanas. Sin embargo, Túnez en la actualidad no va camino del caos al que parece enfrentarse Egipto.… Seguir leyendo »
Desde el acceso de los países del norte de África a la independencia hace medio siglo, han atraído la atención de EE.UU. en mucha menor medida que los pesos pesados de Oriente Medio como Egipto y Arabia Saudí, en tanto que Israel, por razones obvias, es la fuerza impulsora que atrae la atención a la región. Los políticos y medios de comunicación estadounidenses concentran sus miradas sobre todo en Siria y mencionan escasamente los acontecimientos que tienen lugar en el norte de África. Pero la importancia de cuanto sucede en el Magreb y en países colindantes del Sahel en el sur ha empezado a activar la agenda política de Washington.… Seguir leyendo »
El levantamiento popular en Túnez, el más intenso desde su independencia de Francia en 1956, consiguió ayer el abandono del poder y la salida del país del presidente Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Comenzó a raíz de que un joven vendedor callejero de verduras se quemara a lo bonzo hace tres semanas, cuando la policía de Sidi Bouzid confiscó su carrito carente de autorización. Los muertos fueron en aumento desde que Ben Ali ordenara la presencia del Ejército en las calles de Thala, Kasserine y Sidi Bouzid, en un intento de acabar con las manifestaciones contra el desempleo juvenil y el alza del coste de la vida.… Seguir leyendo »