Tag Archives: macron

COVID-19: Emmanuel Macron says ‘non’ to lockdown.

Advertisements

French President Emmanuel Macron has gambled by not imposing a third national lockdown to contain Covid-19 — against expectations and the advice of his most senior scientific advisers.

The 43-year-old leader opted to tighten existing restrictions on travel and shopping at a cabinet meeting on Friday after a week in which his government appeared to be preparing the public for new stay-at-home orders.

The move keeps France on a different path to its biggest neighbours Britain and Germany at a time when the more contagious UK variant of the disease is spreading rapidly across Europe.

Advertisements

“Everything suggests that a new wave could occur because of the variant, but perhaps we can avoid it thanks to the measures that we decided early and that the French people are respecting,” Health Minister Olivier Veran told the Journal du Dimanche (JDD) newspaper on Sunday.

He said that, unlike in other countries, the number of new coronavirus cases had barely increased last week, while other indicators — such as traces of the virus detected in waste water — were also reassuring.

Advertisements

The French government put in place a strict night-time curfew after a second lockdown ended in December, while deaths of around 250 a day are currently less than a quarter of the number in Britain or Germany.

Macron was reported to have been concerned about the impact of another lockdown on a country struggling with the mental health consequences of nearly a year of restrictions, as well as a deep recession.

“Even when the path is narrow, you need to take it,” the JDD reported Macron as telling ministers at the meeting on Friday.

Advertisements

“When you’re French, you have everything you need to succeed providing you dare to try.”

Images of anti-lockdown riots in the Netherlands last week are also said to have weighed on his thinking.

But by going against the instincts of health minister Veran and others on his coronavirus scientific council, Macron is taking personal responsibility for a decision with potential to backfire.

“Why Macron Said No” read the front-page headline of the JDD, making it clear who should be credited — or blamed — in the future.

Advertisements

Election campaign – Many experts, citing studies since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, argue that early lockdowns are the most effective because they tend to be shorter and reduce the overall economic damage.

“The situation is serious, but we think that we have the means to beat what’s going to happen. It’s worth a try,” an unnamed presidential adviser told Le Monde newspaper.

Advertisements

Another made clear to the same newspaper that another lockdown had not been ruled out, meaning a change in approach was possible.

“If, in the coming days, we witness an incredible increase in the epidemic, then we’ll act,” the adviser said.

At stake, however, is the government’s credibility and the clarity of its messaging, just 15 months from a presidential election in which Macron is expected to face off against resurgent far-right leader, Marine Le Pen.

Advertisements

As he bids for a second term, the French leader’s record on managing the coronavirus crisis — including the lockdowns, economic support packages and the vaccination campaign — will come under fierce scrutiny.

A poll published Sunday in the JDD showed only 36 percent had confidence in the government’s handling, while 64 percent did not.

Using an expression first used during the tumultuous inter-war years of France’s Third Republic, Le Pen has accused the government of acting “like a dead dog floating along in the water”.

“We have the feeling of being knocked around without ever anticipating, without ever looking ahead, without ever taking the decisions that allow us to avoid, when it’s possible, lockdown number 1, number 2 or number 3,” she said last week.

Advertisements

But in arguing against lockdowns, it may be that both Macron and Le Pen are out of step with public opinion.

A poll Sunday in the JDD, showed that 60 percent would be in favour of a lockdown, but most want schools and non-essential shops to stay open.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

COVID-19: AstraZeneca vaccines ‘not effective’ for age 65 and over – Macron

Advertisements

The discussion about the right target age group for the vaccine has compounded controversy surrounding AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine appeared not to be effective for people over 65 years of age.

Speaking to reporters only hours before the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the vaccine for adults of all ages, Macron also questioned Britain’s decision to delay the second dose of Covid vaccines to inoculate more people.

Macron said there was “very little information” available for the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish company and Oxford University.

Advertisements

“Today we think that it is quasi-ineffective for people over 65,” he told the reporters, his office confirmed to AFP.

“What I can tell you officially today is that the early results we have are not encouraging for 60 to 65-year-old people concerning AstraZeneca,” he said.

Macron said he was awaiting the EMA’s verdict which came later Friday and also that of France’s own health authority “because they have the numbers”.

The French expert decision on the vaccine is expected at the start of next week, according to sources close to the health authority.

Advertisements

“I don’t have any data, and I don’t have a scientific team of my own to look at the numbers,” Macron acknowledged.

Addressing the UK’s vaccination strategy of stretching the time between first and second doses in order to give the protection afforded by the first dose to the maximum number of people, Macron said “the objective is not to have the largest possible number of first doses”.

Advertisements

In an attempt to speed up its vaccine rollout, UK health chiefs have delayed second doses for up to 12 weeks.

“When you have all the health agencies and the manufacturers who are telling you that for it to work you have to have two injections with a maximum of 28 days between the two, as is the case with Pfizer/BioNTech, and you have countries that have a vaccination strategy of only giving one injection, I am not sure that it’s totally serious,” said Macron.

“Scientists tell you that we accelerate mutations when you only give one injection because people are less well covered and therefore the virus adapts.

Advertisements

“We lie to people when we say ‘you are vaccinated’. You have a first dose of a vaccine that is made up of two,” he added.

Meanwhile, Germany’s vaccine commission on Friday maintained its advice against using AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccines on older people.

“The reason is because there is currently insufficient data on the effectiveness of the vaccines on people above 65 years old,” said the commission known as STIKO.

The advice by the panel of medical experts will be taken into account by the government as it officially draws up its decree on usage of the vaccine.

Advertisements

The European Commission Friday published a redacted version of its contract with the drugs giant, hoping to prove the company had breached a commitment on vaccine deliveries.

Brussels is furious with the pharmaceuticals company after it warned that it would only be able to deliver a fraction of the doses the EU had been expecting once the vaccine is approved for use in the bloc.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Emmanuel Macron gets infected

Advertisements

France this week imposed an overnight curfew to help deal with soaring cases there.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for Covid-19, his office says.

The 42-year-old took a test after symptoms appeared and will now isolate for seven days, the Elysée Palace said in a statement.

Mr Macron “is still in charge” of running the country and will work remotely, said an official.

There have been two million confirmed cases in the country since the epidemic began, with more than 59,400 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Advertisements

“The President of the Republic has been diagnosed positive for Covid-19 today,” the Elysée said in a statement on Thursday morning. “This diagnosis was made following an PCR test performed at the onset of the first symptoms.”

It is not yet known how Mr Macron caught the virus but his office said it was identifying those he had been in close contact with to inform them of the situation.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

COVID-19: FMR French President, Valery Giscard dies at 94.

Advertisements

After losing his legislative seat, he ended his active political career in 2004.

Former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, a leading advocate of European integration who led his country into a new modern era, has died of Covid-19, his family said. He was 94.

Advertisements

Giscard, who had been in the hospital several times in recent months for heart problems, died late Wednesday “surrounded by his family” at the family home in the Loire region.

“His state of health had worsened and he died as a consequence of Covid-19,” the family said in a statement sent to AFP, adding that his funeral would be strictly private, according to his wishes.

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to his predecessor, saying Giscard’s seven-year term had “transformed France”.

Advertisements

“His death has plunged the French nation into mourning”, Macron said, describing Giscard as “a servant of the state, a politician of progress and freedom”.

Giscard made one of his last public appearances on September 30 last year for the funeral of another former president, Jacques Chirac, who had been his prime minister.

He became the 20th century’s youngest president at 48 when in 1974 he beat his Socialist rival Francois Mitterrand, to whom he then lost after his seven-year term in 1981 in a failed re-election bid.

His presidency marked a clear break from the Gaullist conservatism of postwar France, which had been dominated by Charles de Gaulle and his successor Georges Pompidou.

Advertisements

In France, he is remembered for his radical reform drive, which included the legalisation of abortion, the liberalisation of divorce and the lowering of the voting age to 18.

In Europe, he helped drive moves towards a monetary union, in close cooperation with his German counterpart chancellor Helmut Schmidt, with whom he became friends and whose leadership years almost overlapped with his own.

Advertisements

Together they launched the European Monetary System (EMS), a precursor of today’s single currency, the euro.

“For Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Europe was to be a French ambition and France a modern nation. Respect,” said Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.

He “succeeded in modernising political life in France,” added former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, praising the “great intelligence” he used to master “even the most complex international problems”.

Advertisements

Like Schmidt, Giscard was also a firm believer in strong ties with the US.

With his death, France “has lost a statesman who chose to open up to the world”, added Sarkozy’s Socialist successor Francois Hollande. He hailed a man who was “resolutely European” who helped strengthen Franco-German unity.

It was at Giscard’s initiative that leaders of the world’s richest countries first met in 1975, an event that evolved into the annual summits of the Group of Seven (G7) club.

‘A job unfinished’
With a more relaxed presidential-style than his predecessors, “VGE” was sometimes seen in public playing football or the accordion.

Advertisements

He also hosted garbage collectors to breakfast and invited himself to dinner at the homes of ordinary citizens.

Giscard involved his family in his political appearances, had the blue and red of France’s “tricolore” flag toned down, and the Marseillaise national anthem slowed.

Advertisements

Giscard was firmly part of the elite.

Tall and slender and with an elegant, aristocratic manner, he studied at France’s exclusive Ecole Polytechnique and the National Administration School.

Aged just 18, he joined the French resistance in World War II and took part in the liberation of Paris from its Nazi occupiers in 1944. He then served for eight months in Germany and Austria.

Advertisements

He launched his political career in 1959, becoming finance minister in 1969.

After his defeat in 1981 — which he said left him with “frustration at a job unfinished” — he remained active in centrist politics, first regaining a seat in the French parliament and then serving in the European Parliament.

In 2001, he was selected by European leaders to lead work on the bloc’s constitutional treaty — which French voters then rejected.

The death of Mitterrand in 1996 followed by that of his successor Chirac in 2019 had left Giscard as France’s oldest surviving leader by far.

Advertisements

In May 2020, French prosecutors opened an investigation after claims by a German reporter that he had repeatedly inappropriately touched her at his Paris office after an interview in 2018.

But Giscard strongly denied the allegations, describing them as “grotesque”.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

I understand muslim’s shock over prophet cartoons – Macron says.

Advertisements

In an exclusive interview, French President Emmanuel Macron says he understands the ‘sentiments’ being expressed by the Muslim world over cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

French President Emmanuel Macron says he understands the feelings of Muslims who are shocked by the displaying of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad but added that the “radical Islam” he is trying to fight is a threat to all people, especially Muslims.

Macron’s comments, in an exclusive interview to be aired in full on Saturday, come amid heightened tensions between the French government and the Muslim world over the cartoons, which Muslims consider to be blasphemous.

“I understand the sentiments being expressed and I respect them. But you must understand my role right now, it’s to do two things: to promote calm and also to protect these rights,” Macron said.

“I will always defend in my country the freedom to speak, to write, to think, to draw,” he added.

Macron also hit out at what he described as “distortions” from political leaders, saying people were often led to believe that the caricatures were a creation of the French state.

Advertisements

“I think that the reactions came as a result of lies and distortions of my words because people understood that I supported these cartoons,” the president said in the interview.

“The caricatures are not a governmental project, but emerged from free and independent newspapers that are not affiliated with the government,” he added.

Macron was referring to the recent republishing of the caricatures by the Charlie Hebdo magazine to mark the opening of the trial for a deadly attack against its staff in 2015 when the Paris-based publication’s cartoons were cited as a reason for the assault.

The president had defended the “right to blaspheme” under free speech rights at the time of the republication in September, weeks before he prompted backlash from Muslim activists on October 2 when he claimed in a speech that Islam was “in crisis globally” and announced his plan “to reform Islam” in order to make it more compatible with his country’s republican values.

Advertisements

Macron president reiterated his stance about the cartoons after a French teacher, who showed the caricatures to his pupils in class during a discussion on free speech, was beheaded by an attacker on October 16. Last week, the depictions were projected on French government buildings.

‘Muslims the first victims’
While Muslims in France have condemned the killing of the teacher, they have also expressed fears of collective punishment amid a government crackdown targeting Islamic organisations and attacks by vigilante groups on mosques.

Meanwhile, Macron’s comments stirred anger across the Muslim world, leading tens of thousands of people – from Pakistan to Bangladesh to the Palestinian territories – to join anti-France protests. As a debate over Islam and freedom of expression deepened in recent weeks, many officials and protesters in Muslim-majority countries issued calls for a boycott of French-made products.

The prophet is deeply revered by Muslims and any kind of visual depiction is forbidden in Islam. The caricatures in question are seen by them as offensive and Islamophobic because they are perceived to link Islam with “terrorism”.

Advertisements

“Today in the world there are people who distort Islam and in the name of this religion that they claim to defend, they kill, they slaughter … today there is violence practised by some extremist movements and individuals in the name of Islam,” Macron said.

“Of course this is a problem for Islam because Muslims are the first victims,” he added. “More than 80 percent of the victims of terrorism are Muslims, and this is a problem for all of us.”

Media’s senior political analyst known to Noble Reporters Media, said Macron’s comments appeared to be “an attempt at clarifying … where he stands on issues that are of importance to France and the Muslim world”.

“I think the damage is done. But I’m not sure it needs to continue to escalate, because at the end of the day … there is no winner. Europe standing shoulder-to-shoulder against a number of countries in the Muslim world over cultural and religious issues and interpretations of these issues,” Bishara said.

Advertisements

“No one is a winner, and if there are any losers, it will be a lot of the Muslims in Europe. So it is in everyone’s interest if the French president is sincere about contextualising and about backtracking some of the things he said – that he now understands clearly that they were controversial, and he did not mean to criticise Islam as a religion – that should begin to improve the atmosphere between France, Europe, and the Muslim world.”

France was sent into further shock on Thursday when a knife-wielding Tunisian man killed three people at a church in the Mediterranean city of Nice. That same day, a Saudi man stabbed and lightly wounded a security guard at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Leaders of many Muslim countries offered their condolences to France after the Nice attack and expressed their solidarity as they condemned the violence.

In another incident on Saturday, an attacker wounded a Greek Orthodox priest in a shooting in Lyon before fleeing, according to reports. The motive was not immediately clear.


#Newsworthy

Emmanuel Macron backs Iraq sovereignty on first visit.

Advertisements

In first foreign visit since PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi formed gov’t in May, French president pledges support for Iraq.


French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged support for Iraq and said the main challenges facing the country are Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group fighters and foreign interference in its affairs.

Macron is the first head of state to visit the Iraqi capital since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraq’s former intelligence chief, formed a new government in May.

“We are here for and we will continue to support Iraq,” Macron said at a news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih.

“Any foreign intervention may undermine the efforts exerted by you as a government.”

Advertisements

Iraqi officials should continue to share the vision of restoring “Iraq’s sovereignty,” he said, adding that this is a “very significant enterprise not only for Iraq, but also the entire region”.

“I would like to reiterate that France totally supports the Iraqi state and institutions.”

Macron had earlier said he was heading to Baghdad “to launch an initiative alongside the United Nations to support a process of sovereignty”.

Later on Wednesday, the French leader met al-Kadhimi during his day-long trip, which comes amid a severe economic crisis and coronavirus pandemic that has put a huge strain on Iraqi economy and politics. He is also expected to meet Nechirvan Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region.

Advertisements

Al-Kadhimi was selected by parliament in May to head a government that would guide the country towards early elections and has called for one to be held in June 2021.

His predecessor Adel Abdul Mahdi quit under pressure from protests against corruption and foreign interference in December last year.

Salih told Macron the Iraqi leadership is looking forward to a future where Baghdad will claim an ‘essential and a central role in the region’. [The Presidency of the Republic of Iraq Office/Handout via Reuters]

Early elections are a main demand of anti-government protesters who staged months of mass demonstrations last year and were killed in their hundreds by security forces and gunmen suspected of links to Iran-backed armed groups.

Salih told Macron the Iraqi leadership is looking forward to a future where Baghdad will claim an “essential and a central role in the region”.

Advertisements

“This area must be in a peace and stability situation, and the base of this stabilities proceed from the strengthening of Iraq’s role as a competent country with sovereignty,” he said.

President Salih said he looked forward to a longer visit by Macron in 2021, and al-Kadhimi said he hoped France and Europe as a whole could help “restore stability” to the rocky region.

“We do not want to be an arena for confrontations but a zone of stability and moderation,” al-Kadhimi said in a news conference, adding that France and Iraq would sign energy agreements in the future and deepen military cooperation.

“We talked about a future project, using nuclear energy to produce electricity and peaceful projects, which will be under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency … which will create jobs and address electricity shortages.”

Advertisements

US-Iran tensions
After a United States-led invasion toppled former president Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq was ravaged by waves of sectarian conflict that culminated in ISIL capturing swaths of the country six years ago.

At the same time, the country has been caught for years between its two main allies, Iran and the United States, a balancing act that has become increasingly tortured since Washington’s withdrawal in 2018 from a multilateral nuclear deal with Tehran.

France is among the European nations that remain key backers of the 2015 agreement.

Reporting from Baghdad, Noble Reporters Media learnt Macron’s visit was an “important step”, especially since the country is caught between two allies who are at odds with each other.

Advertisements

Al-Kadhimi, who is backed by the US, assumed office on May 7 when Baghdad’s relations with Washington were precarious. Like previous Iraqi leaders, he has to walk a tightrope amid the US-Iran rivalry.

The January assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and top Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis by the US in Baghdad prompted demands by Shia legislators that US forces leave Iraq.

Al-Kadhimi visited Washington last month, where he held talks with President Donald Trump. He said his administration is committed to introducing security reforms as rogue militia groups stage near-daily attacks against the seat of his government.

Other crises for al-Kadhimi include slashed state coffers in the crude oil-dependent country following a severe drop in prices, adding to the woes of an economy already struggling amid the pandemic.


#Newsworthy…

Update: France reform proposal for Lebanon in details.

Advertisements

France proposed a detailed draft list of sweeping reforms it is pressuring Lebanon to implement by year’s end.


French President Emmanuel Macron, in a visit to Lebanon, has offered to help provide the crisis-hit nation with vital aid if its politicians make good on long-overdue reforms.

Speaking at the palatial French ambassador’s residence in Beirut from where Greater Lebanon was proclaimed by colonial France 100 years ago, Macron said he would rally international aid at an October donor conference aimed at rebuilding the capital after a devastating explosion last month and halting the country’s economic demise.

But “we will not give Lebanon a carte-blanche, or a blank check,” he added, noting that everything was conditional on whether the country’s fractious leaders could unite around change.

Even before the August 4 explosion that killed at least 190 people, wounded more than 6,000 and damaged wide swaths of Beirut, Lebanon had been drowning in economic crisis.

Advertisements

Its government was seeking $20bn in financial aid, half from an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme and the other half from development funds pledged by a host of donor nations at a 2018 donor conference. An additional sum of nearly $5bn is now needed for the reconstruction of Beirut, as well as humanitarian assistance.

French President Emmanuel Macron and French Health Minister Olivier Veran visit Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut [Stephane Lemouton/Reuters]

Macron said Lebanese leaders had pledged to form a government with 15 days, which must then implement a host of reforms within one to three months.

Before the meetings on Tuesday, the French embassy distributed a “draft programme for the new government”, to the heads of political blocs, which Noble Reporters Media has obtained.

The French draft proposals get into the nitty-gritty details of public policy in Lebanon, underlining some laws and projects and sidelining others.

Advertisements

Here are the main points:

COVID-19 and the humanitarian situation

  • The government will prepare and disseminate a coronavirus pandemic control plan “that includes support for the most vulnerable people”.
  • It will strengthen social safety net programmes for the population.

Aftermath of the Beirut explosion

  • The government will facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid – provided by the international community and coordinated by the United Nations – in an “expeditious, transparent and effective manner”.
  • It will put in place governance mechanisms to allow the disbursal of aid in a “transparent and traceable manner”.
  • It will begin reconstruction based on a needs assessment by the World Bank, EU and UN that estimated the value of damages caused by the explosion at up to $4.6bn.
  • The government will rapidly launch tenders for the reconstruction of Beirut’s port according to “neutral” standards.
  • It will conduct an “impartial and independent investigation” into the port explosion “that enables the full truth to be established regarding the causes of the explosion, with the support of Lebanon’s international partners … within a reasonable timeframe”.
Advertisements

Reforms

  • The government will regularly exchange views with civil society regarding its programme and the reforms it entails.
  • It will immediately resume stalled negotiations with the IMF and rapidly approve measures requested by the lender, including a capital controls law and a “full audit” of the Central Bank’s accounts.
  • The French proposal also called for the approval of a timetable for working with the IMF within 15 days of the government gaining confidence. 

It goes on to propose time limits for sector-specific reforms.

Electricity sector

Within one month, the government will:

  • Appoint officials to the National Electricity Regulatory Authority according to Law 462/2002 “without amendments”, and provide the Authority with the resources to carry out its work.
  • Launch tenders for gas-fired power plants to plug Lebanon’s massive energy gap.
  • “Abandon” the controversial Selaata power plant project in its current form. The project is one President Michel Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement party have insisted on.

Within three months, the government will:

  • Announce a timetable for raising the price of electricity, “provided that this will first affect the most financially wealthy consumers”.
Advertisements

Capital controls

Within one month:

  • Parliament should finalise and approve a draft law on capital control that should “immediately be implemented for a period of four years” after it is approved by the IMF.

Governance, judicial and financial regulations

Within one month, the government will:

  • Hold a meeting to follow up on the 2018 donor conference in which the international community pledged $11bn in soft loans, and launch a website dedicated to following up on projects, financing and related reforms.
  • Complete judicial, financial and administrative appointments, including members of the Supreme Judicial Council, the Financial Market Supervisory Authority and regulatory bodies in the electricity, telecommunications and civil aviation sectors, “in accordance with transparency and competency-based standards”.
  • Approve in Parliament a law on the independence of the judiciary.
  • Launch a study on Lebanon’s public administration by an “independent international institution” such as the World Bank or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) “with a specialised office”.
Advertisements

Fighting corruption and smuggling

Within one month, the government will:

  • Appoint members of the National Anti-Corruption Commission and grant it the resources to launch its work.
  • Launch the track to accede to a 1997 OECD treaty on combating corruption.
  • Implement customs reforms with immediate effect.

Within three months, the government will:

  • Establish “control gates” and strengthen oversight at the Beirut and Tripoli ports and at the Beirut airport, as well as at other border crossings.

Public procurement reform

Within one month:

  • Parliament will prepare, adopt and implement a bill on public procurement reform.
  • The government will grant the Higher Council for Privatization the human and financial capabilities necessary to carry out its tasks.
Advertisements

Public finances

Within one month:

  • Prepare and vote on a “corrective finance bill that explicitly clarifies the status of accounts for the year 2020”.

By the end of the year:

  • Prepare and approve a “harmonised” budget for the year 2021.

Elections

  • “The government will ensure that new legislative elections are organised within a maximum period of one year.”
  • “The electoral law will be reformed with the full inclusion of civil society, allowing Parliament to be more representative of the aspirations of civil society.”

At his speech later on Wednesday, however, Macron seemed to walk back his proposal for early polls, saying there was “no consensus” on early elections and that other reforms were the priority.


#Newsworthy…

France president, Macron, first foreign leader to visit Iraq since May.

Advertisements

French president is the first foreign leader to visit Iraq since PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi formed a government in May.


French President Emmanuel Macron has landed in Baghdad on his first official trip to Iraq, where he hopes to help the country reassert its “sovereignty” after years of conflict.

Macron is the first head of state to visit the Iraqi capital since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraq’s former intelligence chief, formed a new government in May.

The French leader is expected to meet al-Kadhimi and President Barham Salih at the presidential palace during his day-long trip on Wednesday, which comes amid a severe economic crisis and coronavirus pandemic that has put a huge strain on Iraqi economy and politics.

The visit would be of “great importance, as it’s the third by French officials in a single month,” said Husham Dawood, an adviser to the Iraqi premier.

Speaking in Lebanon on Tuesday night while concluding his two-day visit there, Macron said he was heading to Baghdad “to launch an initiative alongside the United Nations to support a process of sovereignty”.

In Lebanon, Macron offers the carrot or the stick
“The fight for Iraq’s sovereignty is essential,” Macron had told reporters on Friday, before departing for Lebanon.

Advertisements

He said Iraqis, who “suffered so much”, deserved options besides domination by regional powers or groups such as ISIL (ISIS).

“There are leaders and a people who are aware of this, and who want to take their destiny in hand. The role of France is to help them do so,” Macron said.

Macron will hold a series of high-level meetings during his visit [Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters]

He said he would also discuss the case of French citizens who fought with ISIL, which was defeated in Iraq in 2017 with international support. Nearly a dozen French ISIL members have been sentenced to death before Iraqi courts.

Macron is also expected to meet Nechirvan Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region.

Advertisements

Soon after winning the presidency in 2017, Macron had tried to mediate between the Kurdish north and the federal government, but financial and security disputes between the two sides remain unresolved.

US-Iran tensions
After a United States-led invasion toppled former president Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq was ravaged by waves of sectarian conflict that culminated in ISIL capturing swaths of the country six years ago.

At the same time, the country has been caught for years between its two main allies, Iran and the United States, a balancing act that has become increasingly tortured since Washington’s withdrawal in 2018 from a multilateral nuclear deal with Tehran.

France is among the European nations that remain key backers of the 2015 agreement.

Advertisements

Al-Kadhimi, who is backed by the US, assumed office on May 7 when Baghdad’s relations with Washington were precarious. Like previous Iraqi leaders, he has to walk a tightrope amid the US-Iran rivalry.

The January assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and top Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis by the US in Baghdad prompted demands by Shia legislators that US forces leave Iraq.

Al-Kadhimi visited Washington last month, where he held talks with President Donald Trump. He said his administration is committed to introducing security reforms as rogue militia groups stage near-daily attacks against the seat of his government.

Other crises for al-Kadhimi include slashed state coffers in the crude oil-dependent country following a severe drop in prices, adding to the woes of an economy already struggling amid the pandemic.


#Newsworthy…

France leader, Macron gives Lebanon two options.

Advertisements

In second Beirut visit since deadly blast, French president vows wide-reaching aid, threatens sanctions to coax reforms.


French President Emmanuel Macron presented Lebanon’s political establishment with two choices during a trip that ended Tuesday: implement reforms, and vital international aid will flow plentifully, but continue on the same path, and the doors to assistance will slam shut – and the country’s ossified political leadership may be directly targeted with sanctions.

“I did not come today to give a warning, but I returned to help Lebanon and accompany it to its future,” Macron said on Tuesday, 100 years since colonial France declared the founding of Greater Lebanon.

Macron arrived in Beirut on Monday with the aim of pushing the country’s sectarian leaders to find consensus over reforms and over the need to end decades of corruption and mismanagement that have devastated the country. He pledged to hold an aid conference for the economically-devastated nation at the end of October if reforms are commenced.

His previous visit came just days after a monstrous explosion last month killed 190 people, injured more than 6,000 and wrecked half of the city, causing up to $4.6bn in physical damage, according to a World Bank assessment.

At the time, Macon came bearing a message that change was necessasry if the country was to avoid total collapse.

Advertisements

“You are at a critical moment in your history where the political system must be reformed,” he said on Tuesday.

“When a country disintegrates, you never know when it will be reborn.”

New PM not a ‘messiah’
Indeed, there is little to celebrate – and much to fear – as Lebanon marks its 100th birthday. In the past year it has witnessed massive protests, deep economic and financial crisis, a surging coronavirus outbreak and one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts ever recorded.

Since Macron’s last visit, Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s flailing government resigned and a new Prime Minister, Mustapha Adib, has been appointed by the country’s establishment under direct French pressure.

Advertisements

France aimed to ensure that whoever is selected has wide political buy-in, unlike Diab.

Macron admitted that Adib was not a “messiah” and contended that Adib knew that he was backed by “political forces that have lost the confidence of the public”.

Nevertheless, he said Adib was able to form a capable government and to implement the needed reforms. And Macron said he had heard encouraging words from political leaders.

He split Tuesday between ceremonial gestures – a visit to the destroyed Beirut port and planting a cedar tree, the country’s national emblem – and tete-a-tete meetings with politicians, whom he summoned to the ambassador’s residence.

Advertisements

Macron told reporters that they had pledged to form a government within 15 days – unprecedented in Lebanon’s recent history, where government formation usually take many months.

The government would then have to implement reforms to the crippled electricity sector and the insolvent financial sector within three months, and hold early parliamentary polls within a year.

Macron promised to return by December to follow up on the reform process.

Macron says he plans to return to Lebanon in December [Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool via AFP]

Sanction threats
If reforms are not implemented, Macron said he would inform the international community that no aid could flow and he would talk openly about those in Lebanon who were blocking change.

Advertisements

“We will not give Lebanon a carte blanche, or a blank check,” he said.

He also said he did not rule out sanctions against political leaders, but said that France would first have to prove crimes such as corruption or terrorism had been committed.

A western diplomat told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) that Macron was keeping the option of sanctions open as “a stick he can wave” at politicians.

This includes the threat of sanctions against President Michel Aoun’s son-in-law, Gebran Bassil, who heads the country’s largest party in terms of its share of seats in parliament.

Advertisements

However, the source said that there were no sanctions currently being prepared, as the international community waits for the Lebanese response to Macron’s initiative.

All political leaders have so far expressed their openness to the French initiative, including Hezbollah and Aoun. Several leaders have also called for Lebanon to finally make the move to being a secular state – a shift mandated by its constitution – though they have also said this in the past.

Currently, all seats in parliament are allocated by sect, and top state positions are meted out along religious lines.

Macron was repeatedly asked to justify his decision to give Hezbollah a seat at the table by meeting with a top Hezbollah official.

Advertisements

The Iran-backed armed group and political party is blacklisted as a terrorist group by western nations including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, but France maintains relations with its so-called “political wing”.

Macron said Hezbollah was a major constituent of the Lebanese population, with representation in parliament, and it would be foolish to exclude the group from the reform process.

He said that the next round of reform talks with Lebanon would broach the thorny issue of the group’s arsenal, which rivals that of the Lebanese army.

“Will we get to results directly? I don’t know,” said Macron. “But it shouldn’t be a taboo.”


#Newsworthy…

News+: Bodies of Aid workers killed in Niger returns to Paris.

Advertisements

The bodies of six French aid workers killed by suspected jihadists in Niger arrived in Paris Friday, with Prime Minister Jean Castex due to lead a national tribute later in the day.

The four women and two men were killed on Sunday along with their Nigerien guide and driver in a wildlife haven about an hour’s drive southeast from the capital Niamey.

The victims worked for French NGO Acted and were aged between 25 and 30.

The national tribute in the VIP section of Paris’s Orly airport will be closed to the media. Castex will be joined by several senior ministers.

“It’s important that the nation pays homage to them,” said Jerome Bertin, the head of France Victimes federation.

“Their families want their commitment to be really cited… they were not tourists killed in Niger but young people engaged in helping the people of this country.”

Advertisements

The country, one of the poorest in the world, is struggling with incursions by Islamists from both Nigeria to the south and Mali to the west.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a Defense Council video-conference on Niger at the Fort de Bregancon, southern France on August 11, 2020. Daniel Cole / POOL / AFP

In Paris, French anti-terror prosecutors said they would investigate charges of “murders with links to a terrorist enterprise” and “criminal terrorist association”.

There have been no claims of responsibility so far.

A judicial source in Paris told AFP the attack was “premeditated” and “targeting Westerners”.

Advertisements

French President Emmanuel Macron described it as “manifestly a terrorist attack” and said there would be repercussions.

“We’re pursuing action to eradicate the terrorist groups, with the strengthened support of our partners,” Macron said.

The president did not elaborate on the exact nature of the measures envisaged but Castex said the “odious crime” would not go unpunished.

Acted has decided temporarily to suspend work in Niger but has stressed it will not pull out of the country.


#Newsworthy…

Beirut explosions: World must react – Macron insists

Advertisements

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday called for speedy international backing for disaster-struck Lebanon and urged its leaders to prevent “chaos” as he opened an emergency aid conference following Beirut’s deadly port blast.

Macron hosted US President Donald Trump and other world leaders for the virtual conference to drum up aid for Lebanon, as the UN said some $117 million will be needed over the next three months for the emergency response.

“The objective today is to act quickly and effectively to coordinate our aid on the ground so that it goes as efficiently as possible to the Lebanese people,” Macron told the conference also attended by Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, UN aid coordinator Mark Lowcock, representatives of the World Bank, the Red Cross, the IMF, the EU, the Arab League and several Middle Eastern leaders.

Macron was the first world leader to visit Beirut after Tuesday’s devastating explosion which killed at least 158 people, wounded some 6,000 and left an estimated 300,000 homeless.

Advertisements

Lebanese people enraged by the official negligence blamed for the explosion have taken to the streets in anti-government protests that saw clashes with the army.

Macron said it was “up to the authorities of the country to act so that the country does not sink, and to respond to the aspirations that the Lebanese people are expressing right now, legitimately, in the streets of Beirut.

“We must all work together to ensure that neither violence nor chaos prevails,” he added. “It is the future of Lebanon that is at stake.”

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech during a press conference in Beirut on August 6, 2020, two days after a massive explosion devastated the Lebanese capital. Thibault Camus / POOL / AFP

Macron also warned that “those who have an interest in this division and chaos, it is the powers that would somehow want to put the Lebanese people at risk”. He did not name names.

Advertisements

– Millions of dollars needed –

The French president repeated his call for political and economic reforms, which he said “would allow the international community to act effectively side by side with Lebanon for the reconstruction.”

Prime Minister Hassan Diab said Saturday that he would call for early elections.

A handout picture provided by the Lebanese photo agency Dalati and Nohra on May 21, 2020 shows Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab speaking during a press conference at the governmental palace in the capital Beirut. DALATI AND NOHRA / AFP.

An “emergency response framework” drafted by the United Nations said $66.3 million was needed for immediate humanitarian aid, including health services for the injured, emergency shelter for those whose homes were destroyed, food distribution and programmes to “prevent further spread of COVID-19”.

Phase II of the plan will require $50.6 million to rebuild public infrastructure, rehabilitate private homes and prevent disease outbreaks.

Advertisements

It said at least 15 medical facilities, including three major hospitals, sustained structural damage in the blast, and extensive damage to more than 120 schools may interrupt learning for some 55,000 children.

Thousands of people are in need of food and the blast interrupted basic water and sanitation to many neighbourhoods.

Speaking in Beirut after his visit on Thursday, Macron said clear and transparent governance will be put in place to ensure all international aid “is directly chanelled to the people, to NGOs, to the teams in the field who need it, without any possible opacity or diversion.”

File photo: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event about regulatory reform on the South Lawn of the White House on July 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

– ‘Everyone wants to help’-

Trump, confirming his attendance at the conference, tweeted Saturday that “everyone wants to help!”.

Advertisements

Israel, with whom Lebanon has no diplomatic relations, was not on the list of participants, nor Iran which wields huge influence in Lebanon through the Shiite group Hezbollah.

Key Arab states in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq and the UAE were represented, as were Britain, China, Jordan and Egypt.

Macron, who hosted the conference from his summer residence on the Mediterranean, has said he would return to Lebanon on September 1 to check progress.


#Newsworthy…

Beirut explosions: Lebanon leader reject Macron’s call for global probe

Advertisements

Lebanon’s president has rejected any international probe into the catastrophic Beirut port blast, saying a missile or negligence could have been responsible as rescuers desperately combed the rubble for survivors.

The entrenched ruling class has come under fire once again since Tuesday’s explosion, which killed at least 154 people and devastated swathes of the capital.

The revelation that a huge shipment of hazardous ammonium nitrate had languished for years in a warehouse in the heart of the capital served as shocking proof to many Lebanese of the rot at the core of their political system.

Even Lebanese President Michel Aoun admitted Friday that the “paralysed” system needed to be “reconsidered”.

Advertisements

He pledged “swift justice”, but rejected widespread calls for an international probe, telling a reporter he saw it as an attempt to “dilute the truth”.

“There are two possible scenarios for what happened: it was either negligence or foreign interference through a missile or bomb,” he said, the first time a top Lebanese official raised the possibility that the port had been attacked.

What ignited the massive shipment of the chemical remains unclear — officials have said work had recently begun on repairs to the warehouse, while others suspected fireworks stored either in the same place or nearby.

Near the site of the explosion, by the carcass of the port’s giant grain silos, rescue teams from France, Russia, Germany, Italy and other countries coordinated their search efforts.

Advertisements

The World Food Programme has promised food for affected families and wheat imports to replace lost stocks from the silos, and US President Donald Trump said he would join other leaders in a conference call Sunday to discuss coordinating international aid.

Four bodies were uncovered near the port’s control room Friday, where a significant number of people were expected to have been working at the time of the blast.

No one has been found alive.

“I am waiting to hear that you have been rescued alive, my dear,” tweeted Emilie Hasrouty, whose brother is among the missing.

Advertisements

“I am paralysed with fear.”

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun (C) wears a protective face mask as he visits the site of a massive explosion the previous day in the heart of the Lebanese Beirut on August 5, 2020. (Photo by – / DALATI AND NOHRA / AFP)

100,000 children homeless
At the port, reduced to an enormous scrapyard, excavators removed mangled shipping containers to clear a path for rescuers.

Civil defence teams anxiously watched a sniffer dog pace around a gap under a fallen crane.

Beirut has received a stream of international assistance since the blast.

Advertisements

On Friday, relief flights from Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates landed in Lebanon, following others from France, Kuwait, Qatar and Russia.

International police agency Interpol has said it will send a team of experts who are specialised in identifying victims.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, called for $15 million to cover immediate health needs.

Lebanon’s hospitals, already strained by rising coronavirus cases and a severe economic crisis, were heavily damaged by the blast and overwhelmed by casualties.

Advertisements

Two days after the explosion, Lebanese were flocking to a 20-tent Russian field hospital newly established in the capital’s largest sports stadium.

The United Nations said up to 100,000 children are among the 300,000 people made homeless, including many who have been separated from their families.

‘We have nothing’
With destruction from the blast engulfing half of the capital and estimated to cost more than $3 billion, world leaders, advocacy groups and Lebanese have demanded an international probe to ensure impartiality.

But Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement said Friday the army should lead such a probe because it was “trusted” by all.

Advertisements

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah denied accusations the Shiite party had been storing arms at the port, saying: “We have nothing in the port.”

Lebanon’s probe has so far led to 21 arrests, including the port’s general manager Hassan Koraytem, other customs officials and port engineers, a judicial source told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media).

Dozens more were being interrogated by Lebanon’s military court, which is focusing on administrative and security officials at the port as well as government authorities who may have ignored warnings about explosive materials.

“The list of arrests will reach the top guys, who are now among the suspects,” the source said.

Advertisements

Lebanon’s central bank also ordered asset freezes for seven port and customs officials, an official and a banking source told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media).

The measures did not dampen the anger in Beirut’s streets, where dozens of demonstrators scuffled with security forces firing tear gas late Thursday.

And volunteers clearing debris have chased out two government ministers who tried to visit devastated neighbourhoods with furious chants of “resign”.

An anti-government protest is planned for Saturday afternoon under the slogan, “Hang them by the gallows”.


#Newsworthy…

Beirut explosions: President Macron seeks international probe

Advertisements

French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday called for an international investigation into the blast at Beirut’s port that killed more than 130 people and ravaged entire neighbourhoods, costing the country billions.

“An international, open and transparent probe is needed to prevent things from remaining hidden and doubt from creeping in,” he told reporters at the end of a snap visit to the Lebanese capital.

In asking for an international enquiry, he joined calls widely supported in and outside Lebanon for an independent probe, and said French investigators were on their way to Beirut.

Advertisements

Even as they counted their dead and cleared streets of debris, many Lebanese were boiling with anger over a blast they see as the most shocking expression yet of their leadership’s incompetence.

Lebanese authorities said the massive explosion was triggered by a fire igniting 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at Beirut’s port.

But many questions have been raised as to how such a huge cargo of highly explosive material could have been left unsecured for years.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech during a press conference in Beirut on August 6, 2020, two days after a massive explosion devastated the Lebanese capital. Thibault Camus / POOL / AFP

Macron said a French military aircraft carrier was hours away from landing in Beirut with “rescue teams and investigators to take the search and the probe forward”.

Advertisements

Lebanon’s foreign minister had announced on French radio Thursday that an investigating committee had been given four days to determine responsibility for Tuesday’s devastating explosion.

Yet most of the members of this committee are high-ranking officials who command little trust from the people and many relatives of the blast’s victims have been calling for foreign investigators.

The cataclysmic explosion, which left an estimated 300,000 people temporarily homeless and injured around 5,000 people, struck when Lebanon was already battling rampant inflation and rising poverty.

The International Monetary Fund has offered help but Lebanon’s political leaders have balked at the measures the monetary institution is requesting for a rescue package to be approved.

Advertisements

To help ease the crisis, an international aid conference for Lebanon would be held “in the coming days,” Macron said.

He stressed that the aid raised during the conference would be chanelled “directly to the people, the relief organisations and the teams that need it on the ground”.

The French president took a tough tone on the reforms he said were the only thing holding back a massive aid package that could put the ailing country back in the saddle.

Speaking of Lebanon’s political leaders, Macron said: “Their responsibility is huge, that of a revamped pact with the Lebanese people in the coming weeks, that of deep change.”


#Newsworthy…

Beirut explosions: President Macron of France heads to Lebanon

Advertisements

French President Emmanuel Macron was expected in Lebanon Thursday, two days after a monster blast sowed unfathomable destruction in Beirut and brought Paris’s Middle East protege to its knees.

The highest-ranking foreign official to visit the country since Tuesday’s tragedy, Macron will visit the site of the blast that obliterated part of Beirut port and ripped through entire neighbourhoods of the city.

Two days on, Lebanon was still reeling from a blast so huge it was felt in neighbouring countries, its mushroom-shaped cloud drawing comparisons with Hiroshima and the devastation caused by its shockwave with the scene of an earthquake.

The provisional death toll stood at 137 but with dozens missing and 5,000 wounded, the number of victims was expected to rise as rescue workers continued to comb through the rubble.

According to several officials, the explosion was caused by a fire igniting 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser stored in a portside warehouse.

Advertisements

“Apocalypse”, “Armageddon” — Lebanese were lost for words to describe the impact of the blast, which dwarfed anything the country had ever experienced despite its violence-plagued history.

The Beirut governor estimated up to 300,000 people may have been made temporarily homeless by the destruction, which he said would cost the debt-ridden country in excess of three billion dollars.

French President Emmanuel Macron makes a statement as he arrives for a European Union Council in Brussels on July 17, 2020. (Photo by Francisco Seco / POOL / AFP)

International probe
Even as they counted their dead and cleaned up the streets, many Lebanese were boiling with anger over a blast they see as the most shocking expression yet of their leadership’s incompetence and corruption.

“We can’t bear more than this. This is it. The whole system has got to go,” said 30-year-old Mohammad Suyur as he picked up broken glass in Mar Mikhail, one of the most affected districts in Beirut.

Advertisements

Many questions were being asked as to how such a huge cargo of highly explosive material could have been left unsecured in Beirut for years.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab and President Michel Aoun promised to put the culprits behind bars but trust in institutions is low and few on the streets of the Lebanese capital held out any hope of an impartial inquiry.

Human Rights Watch on Thursday supported mounting calls for an international probe as the only credible option.

“An independent investigation with international experts is the best guarantee that victims of the explosion will get the justice they deserve,” the watchdog said.

Advertisements

In France, prosecutors on Wednesday opened a probe into the blast over injuries inflicted to 21 French citizens.

Paris spearheaded international mobilisation in support of Lebanon, which will mark its centenary next month but has looked like a country on its last legs since defaulting on its debt earlier this year.

Flights carrying medical aid, field hospitals, rescue experts and tracking dogs have been flying in since Wednesday to Beirut airport, which sustained no serious damage from the explosion.

Political backlash
Besides the international emergency effort, the aftermath of the terrible explosion yielded countless uplifting examples of spontaneous solidarity.

Advertisements

Much of the cleanup was being handled by volunteers who improvised working groups, bringing their own equipment and making appeals for help on social media.

“We’re sending people into the damaged homes of the elderly and handicapped to help them find a home for tonight,” said Husam Abu Nasr, a 30-year-old volunteer.

“We don’t have a state to take these steps, so we took matters into our own hands,” he said.

Business owners swiftly took to social media, posting offers to repair doors, paint damaged walls or replace shattered windows for free.

Advertisements

An unprecedented nationwide and cross-sectarian protest movement that erupted on October 17 last year had looked for a moment like it could topple what it considers a hereditary kleptocracy.

The euphoria faded as change failed to materialise and the combination of economic hardship and the coronavirus pandemic left the revolution in tatters.

The revulsion at Tuesday’s tragedy and its implications could rekindle the flame however and activists’ social media accounts were rife with calls for a new push to remove Lebanon’s widely reviled political leaders.

“Lebanon’s political class should be on guard in the weeks ahead,” Faysal Itani, a deputy director at the Center for Global Policy, wrote in an opinion piece for Media (known to Noble Reporters Media).

“Shock will inevitably turn to anger.”


#Newsworthy…

French virus doctor receive surprise visit from President Macron.


President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday held a surprise meeting with the Marseille-based French medical professor who has caused controversy within the country’s scientific community for insisting the anti-malaria drug chloroquine can beat the coronavirus.

Professor Didier Raoult met Macron at his specialised infectious diseases hospital in Marseille, in a visit that was not announced in advance, the French presidency said.


The meeting lasted three and a half hours and, unusually, media were allowed no access.

The findings of Raoult, a prominent figure in France with shoulder-length blond hair and a grey beard, have divided opinion, with some hailing him as a saviour but others deriding his work as fake.


The Elysee has said that Macron intends to consult a broad spectrum of voices before giving his third address to the nation on the coronavirus epidemic on Monday.

A French presidential official insisted that the meeting did not represent any kind of “recognition” of the professor’s methods ahead of his speech on Monday.


“The president wants to take into account all the tests and studies, including those of professor Raoult. It is not for him (Macron) to settle the debate, this must be done by scientists,” added the official.

‘Strong legitimisation’
Macron is expected to announce that a lockdown that began on March 17 will be further extended beyond April 15, and further measures amid a persistently grim daily death toll, but also signs of gradual improvement.


Raoult has claimed that a new study he has conducted confirms chloroquine’s “efficiency” at combatting the virus.

He was expected to share the findings at the meeting with Macron who has yet to publicly share his opinion on the controversy.


Frederic Dabi, deputy director general of polling firm Ifop, said Macron was seeking to show he was consulting a broad body of opinion.

It is a “way of controlling the comments of Didier Raoult because now he cannot say no one ever listened to him” while also a “strong legitimisation” of a figure who remains hugely controversial.


Raoult, whose theory has been taken up by US President Donald Trump, said his new study of 80 patients showed that four out of five of those treated with the drug had “favourable” outcomes.

He had earlier reported that after treating 24 patients for six days with hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, the virus disappeared in all but a quarter of them.


The research has not yet been peer reviewed nor formally published in a medical journal.

France on Thursday reported its first fall in the number of patients in intensive care suffering from COVID-19 since the coronavirus epidemic began, with 82 fewer people in intensive care units compared with the day earlier.

The total combined death toll in hospitals and nursing homes now stands at 12,210


#Newsworthy…

Libya peace conference: President Macron to attend in berlin


French President Emmanuel Macron will attend a Libyan peace conference called by Germany in Berlin on Sunday, a source in the Elysee Palace says.

Macron spoke to German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Thursday ahead of the talks, which are intended to bring eastern Libyan military strongman, Khalifa Haftar, together with Fayez al-Serraj, the prime minister of a weak UN-backed government based in the capital Tripoli.

Macron has held two previous peace summits with the rival leaders in France, without lasting success, while Italy and most recently Russia have also tried to bring the warring parties together.

France’s relations with Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) have declined over the past year after Paris backed an offensive by Haftar in southern Libya.

France denies, however, GNA allegations that it supported the offensive on Tripoli launched by Haftar in April.


#Newsworthy…

President Macron says ‘Being colonized was a grave mistake’

President Emmanuel Macron of France on Saturday December 20, declared that colonialism was a “grave mistake” and a “serious fault” made by the French Republic.

The French President who spoke during a visit to Ivory Coast, a former French colony in West Africa said he hopes “a new page” of the story could be written.

Macron said;

“Too often, France is perceived as taking a supremacy stance and to dress itself in the rags of colonialism, which has been a grave mistake, a serious fault of the Republic”

Colonialism was grave mistake - President Emmanuel Macron

This is however not the first time the French President will be expressing his views about colonialism. During his election campaign for presidency, Macron created a storm by calling France’s colonisation of Algeria a “crime against humanity”.

#Newsworthy…

You should check whether you are brain dead first – President Tayyip Of Turkey Asked President Macron Before NATO

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, November 29th said that Emmanuel Macron’s warning that NATO was dying reflects a “sick and shallow” understanding, telling the French president “you should check whether you are brain dead”.

Erdogan was speaking days ahead of a summit of the military alliance, which Macron said was experiencing “brain death” because of American unpredictability under President Donald Trump and strained ties with Turkey.

The Turkish and French presidents, who have traded criticism over Ankara’s cross-border offensive in northeast Syria, will be among NATO leaders meeting at a summit of the transatlantic alliance in Britain on December 4.

“I’m addressing Mr Macron from Turkey and I will say it at NATO: You should check whether you are brain dead first,” Erdogan said.

Macron said in an interview three weeks ago there was a lack of strategic coordination between European allies on the one hand and the United States and Turkey, on the other. He has also decried NATO’s inability to react to what he called Turkey’s “crazy” offensive into northern Syria.

Turkey is refusing to back a NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland unless it gets more political support for its fight against Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria.

Macron’s remarks drew strong reaction from European peers who believe Europe still needs to rely heavily on NATO, but he said on Thursday his remarks had been a useful wake-up call and he would not apologize for saying them.

#Newsworthy…