New International Challenges: War or Peace

Book: Roland Dumas, Charles Crettien, New International Challenges : War or Peace (Nouveaux enjeux internationaux, Guerre ou Paix), Le Cherche midi, 2014, 176 p., 17 €.

Former foreign minister, Roland Dumas, and Charles Crettien, a former ambassador who notably served in Somalia, have teamed up to condemn the current excesses of French foreign policy.

The book’s starting point is the new Russian defence policy, announced in March 2012 by president Putin, spelling the end of an era of disarmament and détente started by Gorbachev. Taking into account the significant role that Russia plays in the world, the authors succinctly review the world’s trouble spots: Syria, the Middle East, Maghreb, the Sahel, Sub-Saharan Africa, but also Columbia and Thailand.

In what appears to be a plea for a new French foreign policy, based on a dialogue with Russia and its allies, the authors highlight the dangers of resorting to religious discourse in the current international climate while condemning the improvisations of a French foreign policy discredited by the belligerent and contradictory behaviour of current French political leaders.

Article Translated from French

Source: Conflits




Michel Guénaire on the Return of Nations

Michel Guénaire, The Return of Nations (Le Retour des États) Grasset, 2013, 400 p., 21,50 €

This essay is a plea for the nation-state, combined with a scathing critique of neo-liberalism, the origin of uniform globalisation which holds national history in disregard. With the deepening crisis in our western economies, the role of the state has become vital. The state can no longer simply be the expression of national power, as during the period of empire, but is in fact the perfect embodiment of a nation’s identity. This is because, according to the author, the state remains the best means of protecting peoples interests.

Making use of an extensive social science literature, this work demonstrates how the rest of the world is seeing a reaffirmation of original cultures in reaction to what the author terms “the neo-liberal amnesia” which has vainly attempted to swallow them up. According to the author, the true revolution is not globalisation but the reconfiguration of regional identities in the world with sovereignty as the common goal.

Article Translated from French

Source :

Is the French Foreign Office more Atlanticist than the White House?

Bashar al-Assad’s return to American calculations puts France once again in an absurd position. Although Jennifer Psaki denies it, both John Brennan, head of the CIA, and John Kerry, the Secretary of State, have called for Assad and his regime to be included in any resolution to the Syrian crisis. This is merely a statement of the obvious as, five years into the civil war, Assad’s troops control more than half the population while a large proportion of the rest of the population is under the control of ISIS.

Romain Nadal, spokesman for the French Foreign Office, immediately reacted by saying that “It is clear to us that Bachar al-Assad cannot fit within such a framework”. Since 2011, the French position has been fixed on the Alawite leader’s departure. As with the Iranian issue, the rigidity of the French Foreign Office continues.

After the Chirac-Villepin years and the Atlanticist shift of the Sarkozy government that followed, we could have expected a return to fundementals on the part of the Socialist government. For five years, the Socialists had criticised this sudden shift in foreign policy made by the Sarkozy-Kouchner duo.

In 2007, Henri Emmanuelli, had entitled one of his articles “Alignment: the new focus of French foreign policy”. Pierre Moscovici had criticised “a neo-liberal and a neo-Bonapartist foreign policy”. In 2008, François Hollande had called for a vote of no-confidence against France’s return to the NATO military committee. Martine Aubry in 2009 believed that “nothing justifies that we back the US, which would deny our freedom and align us with their policies”. Laurent Fabius himself had warned that “We are a bridge between East and West, South and North. That bridge will be destroyed”.

Despite the change in French government in 2012, there was no change in the position on the Middle East. It was just the opposite, in fact.

If today France seems to be returning to a form of non-alignment “an ally, not aligned”, according to the phrase, it is against the very thing that made French foreign policy original ever since General de Gaulle. France today is more belligerent than ever before. Even more so than America. Just as George Bush had dreamed of creating a new Middle East from the ashes of the Saddam regime, France wants to eliminate all trace of Syrian history. So much so that France seems more Atlanticist than even the Obama government.

“But in any event, France is an independant country and our foreign policy as regards the apalling events in Syria has not changed”, claims Laurent Fabius. The head of French diplomacy probably believes that his voice is a singular one. But in fact he is aligned with the Republican hawks and the Democratic Party. Regarding Syria and Iran, François Hollande is in tune with John McCain. At the same time, he visits Saudi Arabia where he secures lucrative contracts. But he is very careful not to ask for more details on the ambiguous links between Ryad and ISIS.

Moreover, Paris obstinately refuses to bomb ISIS in Syria. The government berated a group of MPs from both the right and the left who went to visit Damas in order to witness the situation. Laurent Fabius had the audacity to say to his an American counterpart “Any other solution which would put Bashar al-Assad back in office would be a totally outrageuos and fantastic gift to the ISIS terrorists”. But who can believe that ISIS and Bashar are partners when they fight each other ruthlessly in the suburbs of Deir Ez-Or? Who’s been bombing the Kurds with chlorine bombs these few weeks?

François Hollande and Laurent Fabius, with their proxy-war in Syria, have put France in an ultra-Atlanticist position along side Britain. So much so they embarrass Wahsington…

22 July 2015

Translated from French

The orignal author was Hadrien Desuin, a journalist who writes for the French magazines Causeur and Conflits. He graduated from the elite French Military College, Saint-Cyr, and the Officers Training College for the national gendarmarie, and holds a masters degree in strategy and international relations.


Borders of Blood in the Middle East

A passage from Pierre Hillard’s book, The Irresistible March towards the New World Order (La marche irrésistible du nouvel ordre mondial)

The tensions and violence that have shaken the Middle East since the Israeli military intervention in Lebanon on the 12 July 2006, are merely the visible part of an enormous political, economic, religious and philosophical world programme.

The American occupation of Iraq in March 2005 launched a revolutionary project whose aim is to re-shape a vast geographical zone stretching from Morocco to Pakistan: the Greater Middle East. This name conceals a profound geographical reconfiguration which lies in store for these Muslim countries.

There are many theories and much speculation regarding the interntions of American and Israeli leaders. There are, however, some early indications permitting a solid interpretation of the current strategy. This is the focus of the following maps, calling for a geographical reconfiguration of the Middle East.

These maps (“BEFORE” – the situation in 2006 – and “AFTER” – situation following the reconfiguration) appeared in an article, published in an American military review (Armed Forces Journal) in June 2006, written by a retired lieutenant-colonel, Ralph Peters. From 1976, he quickly climbed the ranks in a mechanised infantry division and then, in 1980, went on to continue his career in military intelligence.

Author of a number of works on military strategy and international relations, Ralph Peters retired from the US army in 1999. But he remains in close contact with the US military as he is a member of the AFJ’s editorial board. This publication is just a small part of an empire in the American military press. Founded in 1863, this monthly review is aimed at American officers and deals with a wide range of subjects such as: military technology, logistics, strategy, military doctrine or tactics. In fact, the AFJ is controlled by a parent company whose publications are structured around three structures:

1) The Military Times Media Group which publishes : Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times et Marine Times.

2) The Defense News Media Group, an international group of defence reviews which publishes: Defense News, Armed Forces Journal (AFJ), Training and Simulation Journal, and C4ISR (intelligence, surveillance et reconnaissance).

3) The Federal Times, weekly newspaper dealing with new technology and financial issues.

Since the 1 August 1997, the Army Times Publishing Company has been a subsidiary of an even more powerful group, Gannett. Established in 1906 by Frank Gannett, this press and media empire publishes some 90 daily newspapers, the most famous of which are USA Today and USA Weekend, and controls 22 TV channels. Its activities also extend to the UK, where 17 dailies are under its control. The group generates colossal revenue, estimated at 7.6 billion dollars in 2005.

This introduction allows a better understanding of the environment in which the AFJ operates and of the importance of Ralph Peters work. Indeed, his proposals and calls for a radical change of Middle Eastern borders are clearly not just one man’s idle thoughts.

Numerous studies, calling for a review of national borders in the Middle East, have been launched within American military bodies and in various think-tanks.

As the map marked “AFTER” shows, the changes made to the borders are the result of a deliberate and careful analysis, the publication of which in a prestigious military review is no coincidence. The aim is also to gauge reactions, particularly those of the region’s Muslims. *

We must not regard this document, however, as being final. In fact it is a first draft, likely to be subject to various changes, which some term “adjustment variables”. In reality, the true interest of these documents is to demonstrate that the military, by no longer hesitating to make this fact officially known, is totally committed to a geographical area.

At the same time, this operation must be undertaken in accordance with Israel for whom this shake-up will have direct and immediate implications. Ralph Peters describes himself as an “old friend” of this country (New York Post, 22 July 2006).

* The aim of such a publication is to spark debate among the communities concerned. Inevitably, there will be supporters and opponents of such a reconfiguration. Opposition movements will emerge from the political parties and from the communities of Muslim countries. It will then be possible to put pressure on a particular ethnic or political group in order to encourage demands, which can only be met by the implementation of ethnic and regional policies. In fact, the disintegration of Middle Eastern nations mirrors that of European nations.

Translated from French

The original author was Pierre Hillard, former Professor of International Relations at ESCE, Paris, and author of numerous works on internationalism and the European Union.

Source: Cercle des Volontaires



Dominique de Villepin: “Leading us to believe that we are at war is a trap”

According to Chirac’s former Prime Minister, the hard line made popular by Manuel Valls (the current Prime Minister), the Socialist Party and the opposition is a mistake.

It’s an opinion that goes against the grain. But it is salutary. Dominique de Villepin, invited as guest on French radio on Sunday, challenged the idea of “being at war”, a phrase widely used by Manuel Walls, the Socialist Party and the main opposition party in the aftermath of Friday evening’s terrorist attacks.

A war is when two countries and two armies confront each other”, explains Dominique de Villepin, “which is not the case of the terrorists who struck Paris and the city’s football stadium

“The fact that the terrorists had used Kalachinovs, grenades, a certain amount of weapons, does not constitute an army recognised within the framework of a nation state. In this particular case, we have a group of extremists, a totalitarian party”

The nature of the enemy is not the only argument used by Dominique de Villepin to refute the idea of being at war. “I do not want to play the enemy’s game”, he adds, warning against the consequences of this idea. A “trap” according to him:

“What are the consequences of this idea? The first is to exonerate the terrorists who tell themselves ‘We attack, we are soldiers’. The second is that we legitimise the fact that they are at war, that they have military objectives and that they want to seize our territory, our positions”

The fact that “a bunch of fanatical murderers declare war on you is no reason to fall into their trap of military escalation”. Especially when these murderers “want to divide us and push our country into a civil war”.

The former Foreign Minister, who in 2003 opposed the war in Iraq, asks that we learn the lesson of Western military intervention in the Middle East.

“These attacks are largely linked to an historical process that has intensified with military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere all of which have further enflamed the crisis. Let’s learn from this experience: things have only got worse over the last 10 years – things are worse in Libya, in Afghanistan and in Iraq”

What sense is there is in a total war?” Dominique de Villepin asks again, warning:

“We are going to go all the way to destroy a terrorist group. As a result, that group could well spread the conflict even wider, because we will turn a proportion of Middle Eastern public opinion against us”

According to the former Foreign Minister “It’s not a case of fighting a war over there. This policy of waging a ‘war’ against terrorism is not the right one”

In September of 2014, Dominique de Villepin had made similar statements in response to François Hollande’s speech made at the UN General Assembly. On a French television show, he stated: “Let’s be aware that to a large extent we ourselves created ISIS. We have trapped ourselves in a vicious circle”.

He then went on to add: “There is not a single example that proves the contrary, everything we know about this type of war, waged for decades, has led to failure, especially since Afghanistan”.

Article translated from French

This original author was Michel Soudais





Libya: Increase in Illegal Arms Trade

Warring factions in Libya are now supplied with arms by a large number of friends and “sponsors ”

Six months ago a Kalachinokov bullet cost 10 centimes on the Libyan black market. Today the price has risen to 3.5 euros, a 3,500 percent increase. The reason for this inflation is simple: apart from the arms embargo, the state of security in Libya is unstable.

In addition to the war between the forces in Tripoli and Misrata against those of Tobrouk, recognised by the international community, there is now the urgent need to combat ISIS. Indeed, the terrorist group has increased its control over the territory and uses Libya as a support base, but without gaining the support of the Libyan population.

Apart from the rising price of weapons in the country, this situation encourages an increase in supplies of illegal weapons to Libya which, let’s not forget, is just on Europe’s doorstep.

It is in this climate that Greek authorities discovered a large cargo of arms on a Bolivian vessel. Having left Turkey to make its way to Libya, there is no doubt that the weapons were intended for the Islamic militia coalition Fajr al-Libya which is fighting a war against the government forces of Tobrouk. While Turkey is logistically supporting the Misrata militia, the military wing of the Tripoli-based authorities, Tobrouk can count on the unconditional support of the Egyptian field-marshall Al-Sissi.

More proof of the illegal arms trade: a fishing-trawler came to dock in a port not far from Banghazi in order to unload weapons for the Misrata Islamic militia forces. By way of contrast, at the beginning of summer, fishing-trawlers from Turkey were bombed by planes from Tobrouk; they decided to turn back rather than dock in Libya.

Distribution losses

The supply of arms and ammunition appears logistically more complicated for the Tobrouk forces, whose members include soldiers loyal to the former Ghadafi regime. On the one hand, it would appear that large sums of money, apparently released for weapons, had been embezzled by Libyans living in exile. On the other hand, the massive stocks of weapons that Ghadafi’s army had hidden in the desert – sometimes in impressive underground depots – are either unusable or have fallen into the hands of their enemies, the Misrata militia.

Coalition militants, Fajr al-Libya, discovered this year a military barracks full of weapons belonging to Ghadafi’s former army. But these weapons were obsolete and useless.

Article translated from French

The original author was Caroline Bright, journalist at

Source: Mondafrique