French weekly magazines review
Who hopes to profit from the chaos and bloodletting in Syria? Is François Hollande a hypnotist? Can a third-century BC philosopher teach us to be happy? And why are so many politicians sleeping with journalists?
L’Express reports that political and diplomatic obstacles have allowed the conflict to degenerate into civil war with pitched battles for control of territories, interethnic clashes and a mass exodus.
L’Express says up to 24 army generals have defected from the military and crossed into Turkey where 43,000 Syrians have already sought refuge. That’s worrying for governments beyond Syria’s frontiers, according to the right-wing weekly.
Le Point exposes what it calls “game of bluff” being played in the Middle East country. The magazine reports that while the tragic war rages on, “a battle of influence over the post-Basher al-Assad era is being fought behind the scenes”.
According to Le Point, “Qatar and Saudi Arabia are pouring weapons and money in to win over the hearts of Islamist jihadists streaming into the country” from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Yemen, Algerians Egyptians and even some from France.
Le Point believes the stakes of the Syrian conflict are no longer about democracy but whether it will be Sunni or Shia Muslims who will be in charge when Assad's Baathist regime falls. For the right-wing magazine, the Muslim Brotherhood is pulling the strings of the insurgency and sees Syria as the last obstacle to its dream of installing an Islamist state from the Nile to the banks of the Euphrates.
Le Point draws an analogy with the “persisting chaos in Libya”. Despite the successful holding of elections there it has been a lost year, according to the magazine with Libyans “discovering new tribal wars” breaking out and realizing that their government is weak, and there is “no police and no army to protect the revolution”.
L’Express brands French President François Hollande a “hypnotist” in this week’s cover story.
The right-wing journal accuses him of “delaying economic reforms despite the gravity of the situation and lulling the French people to sleep”.
Faced with a jobs crisis, L’Express says that while he may be “waiting for a convenient moment to act, he may end up not acting at all”. That’s “self-defeating for him and for France” and it explains why “the country is on pain-killers”, according to the conservative publication.
Marianne comments on the “desperate situation in which the president finds himself”, over PSA Peugeot-Citroën's plan to shed 8,000 jobs. According to the weekly, not much can be done about the job losses and it attacks the “impudence of the right-wing opposition” which can’t pretend not to have known that the redundancy plan unveiled by Peugeot Citroen would be a “massacre”. Marianne wonders who is next on the list, Air France or Sanofi.
Le Canard Enchaîné sympathises with the president, who is having a tough time dealing with the “treasury problems piling up on his table”. The satirical weekly cites PSA Peugeot-Citroën, the falling euro and the Spanish and Greek crisis as the important issues that must be causing President Hollande sleepless nights.
Le Canard says it is already used to the recurrent habit of seeing the crisis strike during the beautiful hot season - markets suffering sunburns every summer, dragging Spain and Italy in their wake as they did Greece last year. Everything is burning in Spain says Le Canard Enchaîné from the forests of Catalonia, the markets lending to Madrid at very high rates and the fires preventing European leaders from well deserved vacations.
In these times marked by anxiety and low morale in Europe, Le Point and Le Nouvel Observateur offer some tips about how to be happy.
They are drawn from the works of Epicurus, the great third-century BC Greek philosopher. His teachings upheld that pleasure and happiness could be obtained, “not through superstition and divine intervention” but by “living a modest life, making friends and learning about the world”.
Some young Epicurians here in France praise the “pertinence of the Greek philosopher’s thinking” in this week’s Le Nouvel Observateur. They claim that happiness is within everyone’s reach, always around you, when you go jogging, when you sing or when you are in love.
The search for happiness may be what is pushing so many male French politicians into the arms of female journalists here in France.
Several top guns are married to prominent TV stars, a culture Marianne describes as “conspiracy under the sheets”, and a “one-way conflict of interest”.
The left-leaning magazine wonders why female politicians aren’t going out with male journalists. One journalist told Marianne that it may be because male journalists are horribly ugly. Leading French sociologist Nathalie Bajos says it is probably because women in power risk losing their social standing if they go dating people in the media.