Edito 2009

  • 2009123131/12/2009
    Crisis and changes
    A look to 2009’s highlights in the Mediterranean   The year 2009 began with an event that has marked its entire course: from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009, the Israeli operation Cast Lead transformed the Gaza Strip in ruins. More than 1300 Palestinians were killed including 410 children and 104 women, against only 13...
  • 2009121818/12/2009
    Restoring the primacy of International law
    Wednesday the “Halles de Schaerbeek” in Brussels hosted a preparatory day to the first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. It was launched on previous March and will hold its first session in Barcelona at the beginning of next March. This first public meeting was rewarded by a full house come to listen to...
  • 2009120404/12/2009
    Minarets that hide the forest
    On Sunday the Swiss vote gave a massive approval (57.5%) to the ban on minarets in the country. The reactions that followed this « people’s choice » were, and still are a week later, passionate and indicate above all that the ins and outs of the Swiss voting are complex. The issue is apparently religious, but like...
  • 2009112727/11/2009
    Friends or Foes? President Obama and Israel
    Reactivating peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians had been so far a perilous task, recently rendered mission impossible by the expansion of Israeli settlements across Palestinian territory. As a result, one can observe growing solidarity for the Palestinian cause spreading throughout the Middle East and the World, accompanied by a common feeling that peace with...
  • 2009111313/11/2009
    A welcome French initiative
    Is France preparing to resume an active role in the peace process in the Middle East? The diplomatic developments this week seem to prove it. After Netanyahu’s visit Wednesday to the Elysee, several phone calls to Abbas, Nicolas Sarkozy is receiving Bashar al-Assad today. Wednesday, French President received Prime Minister of Israel at the Elysee...
  • 2009110606/11/2009
    Berlin: A History Lesson
    Germans will gather on Monday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This 27-mile-long Cold War concrete edifice dividing East and West Germany formed a symbol of Cold War divisions between Communist East and the West. The fall of the Berlin Wall on November, 9th 1989 following the collapse of...
  • 2009103030/10/2009
    A stupid quarrel
    The feud between Hamas and Fatah has once again occupied the Middle East news this week. Fatah signed the reconciliation agreement proposed by Cairo while Hamas refused to sign. Mahmoud Abbas then announced presidential elections for January 24, 2010, while the agreement proposed to postpone them to June 28 of that year. Hamas responded by...
  • 2009102323/10/2009
    Turkish strategic U-turn
    In recent weeks, two events demonstrated a re-evaluation by Turkey of the strategic partnership concluded with Israel in 1996. Two weeks ago, Turkey decided to delay international air manoeuvres « Anatolian Eagle » originally taking place from October 12 to 23 over its territory, and that in order to review the list of participants and more than...
  • 2009101616/10/2009
    Diplomacy as « Man of the Match »
    The football game opposing Turkey and Armenia on Wednesday in the qualifying rounds of the next FIFA World Cup to be held in South Africa in 2010, clearly dominated by Turkey (2-0), proved, above all, a crucial victory for diplomacy in improving relations between the two countries. With Turkey holding a relatively disappointing third place...
  • 2009100909/10/2009
    Unlocking the Middle East: Obama Rewarded
    The main highlight of this week has undoubtedly been the Nobel Peace Prize won, this Friday, by US President Barak Obama. According to the Norwegian head of the Nobel Committee, quoted by the BBC, the result constitutes a legitimate reward for the “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples” demonstrated by the current...
  • 2009100202/10/2009
    Iranian show of force
    The international scene was marked this week by heavy tensions on the Iranian nuclear issue. Indeed, Monday, September 21, Iran revealed the existence of a nuclear site in Qom at the IAEA. Following this, at the G20 in Pittsburgh, Barack Obama, surrounded by his French and British counterparts, threatened Iran with sanctions if it does...
  • 2009092525/09/2009
    The French-speaking world seen from Beirut
    This year, what is called “la Francophonie” (the organisation of the French-speaking world) launches sport competitions that will be held in Beirut from September 27 to October 6. This 6th edition will bring together 70 French-speaking countries for six sports competitions but also cultural competitions. In the Mediterranean area as elsewhere, the French language and...
  • 2009091818/09/2009
    Essential Justice
    The report of the Committee of the United Nations chaired by Richard Goldstone on the events that occurred in Gaza last December and January was released on Wednesday. Although it accuses Israel and Hamas of « war crimes, and eventually crimes against humanity”, it is especially compromising for the Jewish state. The Israeli government immediately responded...
  • 2009091111/09/2009
    Negotiations doomed to failure
    At the announcement of the Israeli approval of the construction of 455 new housing units inWest Bank settlements, the international reactions were rather clear: Washington regretted the action, the European Union and Arab League condemned it, Ban Ki Moon declared it « contrary to international law ». We can for once talk about not unanimity, and still...
  • 2009090404/09/2009
    Europe and Qaddafi : dangerous liaisons
    How far will he go? That is the question when reading the latest news on Libya. On TuesdayMuammar Qaddafi celebrated its fortieth anniversary in power. Although they were imposing, it is not the celebrations organized on this occasion that received the greatest interest this week, but well the new statements made by the Colonel on the...
  • 2009082121/08/2009
    A very small step, such large consequences
    In Israel, the latest political facts described by the press have shown the weakness of government training establishment in March by Benjamin Netanyahu. The weak point, however, did not present itself where it was expected, ie between the Likud and the Labor Party, but within the Likud. This week Obama praised Israel for « the step...
  • 2009081414/08/2009
    For the Kurds « to come down the mountain »
    At the end of July, the historic leader of the PKK Abdullah Ocalan announced that it would disclose a « roadmap » on 15 August to reach a definitive peace between the Turkish government and the PKK. In recent weeks, a process was initiated and raised some hopes. This time the parties seem of goodwill and impatient...
  • 2009080808/08/2009
    The implicit nonviolent resistance
    Since the beginning of their struggle for independence, the Palestinians have often used the methods of nonviolent resistance. So, the first intifada was initially conducted under the slogan of nonviolence. More recently, several villages – Bil’in, Nil’in, Jayyous, Budrus, … – began nonviolent direct actions against the progression of the separation wall in the West Bank....
  • 2009073131/07/2009
    Syria’s strategy turns out to be worth it
    For the second time since early summer, Damascus is hosting US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell. This allows us to draw two conclusions: the relations between the United States and Syria are not only warming, but the latter is also becoming a major player in the Middle East. Who would have bet on such a...
  • 2009072424/07/2009
    An iron hand in a velvet glove
    After the death of his father Hassan II on 24 July 1999, Muhammad VI ascended the throne. Morocco is therefore preparing to celebrate the ten years of reign of the king next week, giving the opportunity to many retrospectives on this first decade. The break with the time of Hassan II is real. Nevertheless those who are...
  • 2009071010/07/2009
    Trial and error management of the Iranian issue
    While in Iran, government repression gradually suppresses the protest, the international community is procrastinating on how to deal with the nuclear ambitions of the Islamic Republic. The meeting between Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev and the G8 summit in L’Aquila in Italy were two occasions for the international community to change its...
  • 2009070303/07/2009
    Fragile thawing of the Union for the Mediterranean
    On June 25th, the first ministerial conference of the Union for the Mediterranean (UM) on sustainable development took place in Paris. Since the French craze for what was planned to be a « Mediterranean union », it has been predicted that such a process would be a hostage of the conflicts that paralyze the southern Mediterranean. Unsurprisingly,...
  • 2009062626/06/2009
    Gaza, the forgotten
    After having shed light on the persistent blockade of the Gaza Strip, then having covered with rare perseverance the three weeks of Israeli attacks in passed December and January, the media seem to have forgotten this piece of earth, while the situation is increasingly worrisome. Despite the millions promised by foreign powers for the reconstruction...
  • 2009061919/06/2009
    A thwarted American impulse in the Middle East
    With Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo a new page seemed to be turned in the Middle East. The United States had decided to improve relations with an Iran that was expected to shift to a more moderate government. B. Obama was willing to take a new departure with the Arab-Muslim world. For the first time,...
  • 2009061212/06/2009
    Completed challenge in Lebanon
    Many people felt relieved with the announcement of the election results in Lebanon last Sunday. The March 14 coalition, headed by the Future Movement of Saad Hariri, won a majority of 71 seats against  57 for the March 8 movement, led by the Shiite Hezbollah. The anti-Syrian coalition witnessed a clear victory. Several global and...
  • 2009060505/06/2009
    The American switch in tone in Cairo
    The creation of a Palestinian State, the freeze of settlements, the importance to respect the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty are all themes that were expected. The position taken by President Obama in his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo this Thursday, if it sharply differs from G.W. Bush’s, is not a surprise. The « innovation » does...
  • 2009052929/05/2009
    High-risk French strategy in the Arabo Persian Gulf
    A « determining region for the world ». This is how the French president has described the Gulf region, now considered as the “priority for the year 2009″ by French diplomats, who are gradually withdrawing from the « African backyard. » The opening of a French military base in the United Arab Emirates including maritime, air and land agreements...
  • 2009052020/05/2009
    Dialogue of the deaf at the White House
    « Agree to disagree » analysed the Yediot Aharonot after the meeting held on Monday between B. Obama and B. Netanyahu at the White House. Indeed, the two men appear to have conducted a dialogue of the deaf. And that’s for good reasons since the leaders addressed the Iran issue in two different senses: while B. Netanyahu...
  • 2009051515/05/2009
    Pontifical diplomacy’s achievements and limits
    Pope Benedict XVI has completed his trip to the Middle East. A trip particularly expected after the tensions with the Muslim and the Jewish communities that marked the early years of his pontificate, after the Israeli operation in Gaza a few months ago and the appointment of a new Israeli government unwilling to compromise. It...
  • 2009050808/05/2009
    An injudicious decision
    As a preventive measure to address the spread of swine flu, the Egyptian government took the surprising decision to destroy all of its porks. Slightly more than 250,000 pigs are therefore destined to be slaughtered to the great displeasure of farmers who see their livelihood disappear. On the outskirts of Cairo, in the district of...
  • 2009043030/04/2009
    Lebanon : a future dilemma for the West?
    The American Secretary of State has made an unplanned visit to Beirut where she met the President of Lebanon last weekend. The country will soon face challenges that could destabilize the region and the United- States know it. The first challenge is the return in the limelight of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), that...
  • 2009042424/04/2009
    Iranian smokescreen in Geneva
    The conference on racism, known as Durban II, held in Geneva this week has been much discussed in the international press. Reactions were passionate after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech on the racist character of Israel, some denouncing it loudly, the others supporting it vigorously. Ultimately, this predictable intervention has succeeded in concealing the real...
  • 2009041717/04/2009
    Egyptian concerns
    Egypt has recently decided to make public the arrest of members of a Hezbollah cell in mission in Egypt. According to the Egyptian authorities, their aim was to carry out terrorist actions against Israeli tourists in Sinai while they just wanted to help Palestinian militias according to Hassan Nasrallah. However, these arrests have taken place...
  • 2009041010/04/2009
    Suspicious results in Algeria
    The results fell: Abdelaziz Bouteflika was reelected for a third presidential term with the incredible score of 90.24% of the votes! The tone had been given five months ago with the vote by the Parliament of a draft of a revision of the Constitution submitted by the President and that was meant to remove the limit...
  • 2009040303/04/2009
    Rethinking agriculture in the Mediterranean
    The 2009 edition of the Paris Forum was held last week-end at UNESCO, aiming at “Saving the Mediterranean”. This is quite an ambitious program considering the current state of the Mediterranean environment weakened by massive pollution of soils and waters, a significant population growth, climate change, desertification and agricultural matters. This is once again an...
  • 2009032727/03/2009
    Ehud Barak’s controversial choice
    Ehud Barak won his “bet” within the Israeli Labor Party, which has agreed with his participation to the future right and extreme-right government after B. Netanyahu’s rather blurred concessions concerning peace with the Palestinians. If this agreement appears to be a victory for Ehud Barak, it could also be the death of the Labor Party. The...
  • 2009032020/03/2009
    Water, an ecological, geopolitical and socio-economic stake in the Middle East
    The 5th World Water Forum held in Istanbul this week reminds us of the importance of this resource. In the Middle East, water is a major ecological, but also – and one might even say especially – geopolitical and social. Water resources are one of the key challenges for the countries of the Mediterranean basin, ...
  • 2009031313/03/2009
    Dialogue and multilateralism
     » To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. » The U.S. president was speaking at his inauguration on 20 January. Today this « new way forward » takes shape and gets an encouraging welcome in the Middle East. The foundations of Barack Obama’s Middle East policy appear to...
  • 2009030606/03/2009
    New deal in the Middle East
    This week, the new U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton visited Israel. Unsurprisingly, she recalled the commitment of the United States to the US-Israeli friendship. However, which is notable after eight years of « Bush administration », she reminded the Israelis their duties and criticized the government’s violations of international law. At a time when Israel seems...
  • 2009022727/02/2009
    Complicated secularization in Lebanon
    On March 11th, a circular of the Minister of Interior Ziad Baroud allowed Lebanese citizens to choose whether they wanted or not to remove the reference to religion on their civil register, a document required for each administrative demand as well as at work. In a country still haunted by civil war and where the...
  • 2009022020/02/2009
    Mauritania wants to get out of the crisis
    Mauritania is not often the focus of international news and it is probably not only because it is not the largest country neither of the Union of the Arab Maghreb nor of the African Union but also because the political processes taking place never end in violences. However, since the eviction in August 2008 of...
  • 2009021313/02/2009
    Israel, in a deadlock again
    This week was marked by Tuesday Israeli elections. These have illustrated the stalemate witnessed by the Israeli political scene today. If Tzipi Livni has arithmetically won this election, she is unable, as a few months ago, to build any coalition. Therefore, all kinds of combinations are being imagined, even the possibility that would get together...
  • 2009020606/02/2009
    Promising poll in Iraq
    Past Saturday, the Iraqis were called to the polls to elect their representatives in fourteen of the eighteen provinces. The current global situation made these elections a major test for Iraq’s future. The assessment made following the outcome is fairly positive, although some nuances must be add. Although voters weren’t numerous to go to the...
  • 2009013131/01/2009
    Turkey: an opportunity for Europe
    Between a weak Europe, an apathetic Arab world and the United States in a phase of leadership shifting, Turkey was the exception during the fighting in Gaza. Ally of Israel and the United States, it was nevertheless the first to denounce the Israeli offensive and to call the international community to react as an emergency....
  • 2009012323/01/2009
    A fragmented Europe in the Middle East
    Since the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, Europe is finally waking up. Since Sunday, many initiatives of the Union or its members have been proposed to strengthen the cessation of hostilities, yet fragile, between Israel and Hamas: a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday, a German plan for strengthen the cease-fire, a French proposal for...
  • 2009011616/01/2009
    Matter of law
    While the fights continue in Gaza, a confrontation between principles of law is now taking place: the right to self- defence, on which relies Israel, as an answer to the firing of rockets from Hamas and international humanitarian law, invoked by worldwide associations, NGOs and international institutions seeking an end to the fighting. To justify...
  • 2009010909/01/2009
    Israel, Iran : necessary enemies
    Salient in the case of Israel, absent from the European analysis but present in those of our neighbours across the Atlantic, the role of Iran in the ongoing conflict in Gaza is unclear. What are ultimately the interests the different sides to see Iran take part in clashes between the Israeli army and Hamas? For...
  • 2009010202/01/2009
    Gaza or the lack of concern of the international community for peace
    Besides the lack of precedent of the Israeli operation upon Gaza and the human tragedy it causes, besides the predictable weak reactions of the international community, which are almost caricatures, the relentless Israeli intervention in Gaza is also a stop to hopes conveyed by the recent regional initiatives in the Near East. Indeed, the Israeli...