Articles and analysis

Olivier GuittaDuring his French presidential campaign in 2017, then candidate Emmanuel Macron had promised that if elected he would tackle the fight against Islamism in his first 100 days in office. It took him actually three and a half years to deliver a landmark speech and a plan to deal with that thorny issue. While Macron said all the right things, including calling a spade a spade, the measures are not going far enough and some are likely not to be implemented, wrote Olivier Guitta in the Levant News.

President Macron wants to defend secularism against Islamist separatism and his government will present a law by the end of the year. That law will supposedly allow the dissolution of religious groups that 'attack the dignity of people, using psychological or physical pressure, and break the values of France'. Macron insisted 'no concessions' would be made in a new drive to push religion out of education and the public sector. An important measure is to stop foreign imams from coming to France: about 300 imams come each year from Turkey, Algeria, Morocco to preach in French mosques. Macron emphasized that it was necessary to 'liberate Islam in France from foreign influences,' naming countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. He announced that all French imams will be trained in France and would have to be certified from now on and could be kicked out at any time. In the past, the school that was training imams was controlled by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

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DominiqueIMG-20201015-WA0021Recently, an article appeared in the New York Times discussing the American 'policy of maximum pressure' on Iran, reports Dominique Ankone. This policy entails financial sanctions re-imposed on Iran by the U.S. government after their formal withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal. The author bases his article on the remarks of an officer of the Israeli army. The US strategy has resulted in discontent among the Iranians, according to the officer cited in the article. About the economic sanctions he is quoted to have said: "It has made it clear [within Iran] that there's a thin dictatorial layer, covering [big] resentment from a society who want to live and educate themselves. Given time, the economic pressure can topple the regime." According to the author, the policy is 'fueling a sense of grievance among a restive people'. Is a new Iranian Revolution possible, and why might it be thinkable?.

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Much is made of the heroism of the Mediterranean resistance campaigns of World War II. The fierce defence of Malta, the defiance of the Greeks in the face of a triple occupation - and the curious case of Gibraltar, which avoided invasion altogether, writes Laurent Rathborn. But was this becasue of one man, or were greater historical forces at play?
Germany could not pass up taking control of the Strait of Gibraltar, cutting off the British from Suez and their eastern empire, and smoothing resupply of raw materials from North African Vichy client regimes. Yet Gibraltar was not invaded, and the vast preparations for its defence (including mass evacuations and frantic tunnel-digging) ensured that Axis bombing raids were shrugged off with relatively little damage.
Gibraltar has occupied a particular spot in the lore surrounding World War II Nazi resistance figures, mostly due to the fact that one of the most senior was the man tasked with planning the invasion of the Rock and that on the surface at least, it was saved by that same German internal resistance and interference, rather than any opposing action by the Allies.

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