"Jihadists were already finding it hard to operate in North Africa before the Arab Spring of 2011. Since then their problems have become almost insurmountable: they thrive only in countries where Islamists are in prison, not where they are in the ascendant or contesting elections. As for Europe, the last attacks instigated by al-Qaida date back to Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005. Jihadism looks less like a rising phenomenon in the north of Mali than a force in retreat. The French intervention may well give them purpose and greater coherence."
Mildrade Cherfils of the Global Post discusses the recent recommendation by French lawmakers to forbid women from wearing head-to-toe Islamic dress in some public spaces, and how this proposed law relates to the question of "French identity," including issues of immigration, integration and religion.
The President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, has pushed for his country to rejoin NATO's integrated military command in the hopes that it would help establish a capable European Security and Defense Policy. Ronja Kempin writes that this would only be possible if the French were to use their EU Presidency to link NATO and the EU by creating an operational civil-military EU planning and conduct capability closely linked to NATO's capacities.
Paris Bureau Chief Christopher Dickey reports on the success of small and highly professional French combat units that have coordinated with military forces from different countries in varying alliances-the kind of fighting Western armies are called on to do more and more. The French do it well and it is key to their growing-perhaps pivotal-role in NATO that has changed dramatically since the end of the cold war.
Report from the Washington Institute that considers the possibility that the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France may usher in a less accommodative EU policy towards Hezbollah. The report says that Sarkozy appears to see Hezbollah in a different light than his predecessor, Jacques Chirac. In a September 2006 closed-door session with Jewish leaders in the United States, for example, Sarkozy reportedly referred to Hezbollah as a "terrorist organization"—a sentiment unlikely to be stated by Chirac. During last summer's war between Hezbollah and Israel, Sarkozy defendedIsrael's right to defend itself against an organization he described as the "one aggressor" in the conflict. He also stated that France should have committed troops to Lebanon more quickly during the war.
This paper from the German Marshall Fund of the United States looks at the troubled tripartite relationship between Poland, France and Germany. The paper says this unstable relationship – the so-called ‘Weimar Triangle’ – has made it difficult to coordinate relations between the three countries, but notes that recent meetings have seen leaders of the three countries put contentious issues aside and concentrate on finding solutions to outstanding problems.
France faces a problem with its Muslim population, but it is not the problem it generally assumes.Paradoxically, it is the exhaustion of political Islamism, not its radicalisation, that explains much of the violence, and it is the depoliticisation of young Muslims, rather than their alleged reversion to a radical kind of communalism, that ought to be cause for worry.
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