French weekly magazines review
President Hollande hits the spotlight again not because of his administrative woes but because of his fruitless hunt for allies as he presses on with plans for airstrikes against Syria following the massacre of hundreds of people using chemical weapons.
The winds blow very fast these days writes Le Figaro magazine. Just a few days ago it seemed a sure thing that the plan to attack Syria was a done deal between the White House, the Elysée Palace and Downing Street. But now, according to the weekly, French President François Hollande finds himself suddenly deserted by British Prime Minister David Cameron who was barred by parliament from any military initiative and weakened by US President Obama’s indecisiveness.
Le Point explains that whether Obama intervenes in Syria or not, he will end up being the loser. Le Point recalls that he came to power on a platform of extending a hand to dictators, a rapprochement with Iran and improved relations with the Middle East.
According to the magazine, however, that has not happened. It believes that Obama is closely watched by a nation already exhausted by two wars and an economic crisis. Thus, they are is not motivated to try and resolve all the injustices committed by dictatorial regimes.
Le Point also explores the underground influences fueling the Syrian tragedy including Iran, Qatar and Saudi Arabia who are all fighting for leadership of the region. The weekly reports that Teheran’s religious guards have been training the Syrian military in repression tactics since March 2011. Qatar has installed its man Muaz al Khatib at the helm of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, setting its eyes set on toppling the al-Assad regime in Damascus and extending the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Le Nouvel Observateur claims that Obama’s decision to seek congressional clearance for the punitive airstrikes against the regime in Damascus has destabilized François Hollande but not his determination to press ahead even if his European neighbours have ruled themselves out of any part in the perilous mission.
The left-leaning magazine inspects the grievances of a motley of anti-war campaigners teeming with anger. They stretch from the far right to the radical left of French politics, according to the weekly -- the National Front, accusing Hollande of emboldening the Islamists and giving them an excuse to persecute Syria’s Christians. François Mitterand’s Interior minister Jean-Pierre Chevènement is simply disgusted at seeing a French side of American imperialism, while other left-wing radicals slam François Hollande as an American lap dog.
The satirical Le Canard Enchaîné says Hollande is in no way in low spirits as he waits for a US congressional vote on 9 September on President Obama’s war plan. According to the weekly he is actually basking in refreshing news from the OECD predicting a 0,3 percent facelift for the French economy in 2013 and having a good laugh about the UMP opposition’s attempt to turn the Syria mission into a political issue. Le Canard Enchaîné mocks the conservativesfor forgetting that it will be the war planes invented by long-time UMP lawmaker Serge Dassault that will be on display if France goes ahead with the airstrikes.
Le Point reviews a time bomb waiting to explode about the colourful affairs of ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy. It’s a Catherine Graciet’s new thriller Sarkozy-Kadhafi: secret story behind a betrayal. The investigative journalist found out that the assassinated Libyan dictator spent about 50 million euros to fund Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign and an additional 7 million euros as fees to intermediaries. The bombshell includes revelations that French Special Forces tried to assassinate Kadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam who described Sarkozy as a clown and asked him to refund the money his father gave him.
L’Express is all about the trials and turbulations of the Sarkozy clan. After the alleged sale of a dutch painting by his ex-chief of staff Claude Guéant, former ambassador Boris Boillon was discovered by police with 350,000 euros and 40,000 dollars in hard cash in this luggage. He was about to board a train from Paris to Belgium on 31 July when police stopped him for a routine check. Boillon worked for Sarkozy during his time at the interior minister, and then followed him to the Elysée before becoming Sarkozy’s ambassador to Iraq at the tender age of 37.