The challenge of returning foreign fighters affects the whole of Europe. France adopted a clear-cut unofficial policy of outsourcing, asking Iraq to prosecute French fighters to keep them away from Europe. In fact, the issue of returnees cannot be swept under the carpet and needs a proper strategy that combines prosecution and de-radicalization.
On November 12, French president Emmanuel Macron and his Chadian counterpart, Idriss Déby, met in Paris, at the Peace Forum. Faced with the urgency of the situation in the Sahel, where the G5 military forces (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) have just suffered a major setback with the death of 50 Malian soldiers during a terrorist attack, France seems more than ever to rely on Chad and its army to restore security.
Between 3 and 6 February this year French air force jets attacked a convoy of trucks carrying rebels in north-east Chad, who were advancing on the capital N’Djamena with the aim of overthrowing the regime of President Idriss Deby. Since the Nineties, France has repeatedly promised to reduce its interference in internal African politics without wider consultation, yet this was a unilateral French strike, ordered by Paris, that harked back to the days when France regularly intervened in the internal politics of its former colonies.
When China’s President Xi Jinping launched his flagship project on the “Silk Road Economic Belt” in Astana in the fall of 2013, followed by the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” in Jakarta a month later, few people in France took notice, except perhaps for a few experts in academic circles or research institutions focusing on China.
With the so-called “Gilets jaunes movement”, France has gone through a political mobilization which is both “déjà vu” and radically new. The “déjà vu” dimension is linked to the historical tradition of protest and political violence in a country where the representative channels and the intermediary groups are and always have been sociologically weak and politically illegitimate since the 1789 revolution. This French peculiarity has little to teach to other democratic systems which are usually better equipped with instruments of mediation both at the societal and political level.
Les résultats du premier tour des élections présidentielles françaises sont un message clair et pour la France et pour l’Europe. Le nouveau Président de la République Française sera Emmanuel Macron (24,01% des suffrages exprimés) ou Marine Le Pen (21,30% des suffrages exprimés).
France has suffered terrorist attacks since the end of WWII. The terrorism stemming from former colonies in the mid-1950s; the terrorism of international communism (Action Directe) and the internationalized Middle-Eastern terrorism (Carlos and the Palestinians at least). Since 1995, France has been the target of attacks by radical Islam terrorism.
Since the terrorism wave in Europe started with Charlie Hebdo and the Paris attacks in November, Brussels has been presented as the crib of foreign fighters in Europe. The attacks of yesterday morning in the city, which is the heart of the European Institutions, have demonstrated that Brussels is not just the nest where the eggs are brooded, on the contrary it could be the vulnerable theatre of terrorism and fear.
Alexander Lukashenko that hosted the summit in Minsk could barely hide his happiness. He did not take a direct part in the 16-hours long negotiations, but got a precious opportunity to transform his status from the one of “the last European Dictator” into the one of the main European peace-maker with the European leaders paying a visit to him.
As the dust and emotions still settle over the attacks by jihadists in Paris, there has been a great deal of commentary on the lessons we should derive from this tragedy. The focus has largely been on free speech, integration, intelligence failures, and the competing claims of responsibility by the Islamic State and Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). So what lessons should we draw?
A Matter of Integration?