With the help of leaked documents and witness accounts, Mediapart reveals the inside story on the United Arab Emirates' strategy to influence opinion in France, an operation involving private intelligence gathering and the manipulation of information . The story features an Emirati intelligence agent, a private intelligence agency in Switzerland, academics and two well-known French journalists. Another name that also crops up is that of President Emmanuel Macron's former bodyguard Alexandre Benalla. Yann Philippin and Antton Rouget investigate.
In his first trip abroad since beginning his second term in office, French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday met with the newly elected United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, becoming the first western leader to pay respects to the sheik following the death on Friday of his brother, Sheikh Khalifa.
Around a quarter of the world's gold production is in Africa and extraction of the precious metal has been been stepped up as its price on world markets has increased. But a significant proportion of this mining is carried out illegally by small-scale miners and much of the gold then finds its way into the hands of criminal and armed groups across the continent before being sold in the Middle East. Fanny Pigeaud reports on attempts to clean up the sector through stronger regulations.
The far-right Rassemblement National – the former Front National – was in serious financial difficulty after the Parliamentary and presidential elections in 2017 and was bailed out by a loan of 8 million euros. That loan, Mediapart can reveal, came from French businessman Laurent Foucher who has a range of commercial interests in Africa and who is close to Nicolas Sarkozy's former right-hand man Claude Guéant. The loan was transferred from a bank in the United Arab Emirates but questions still remain over the precise origin of the money. Karl Laske and Marine Turchi report.
Documents obtained by Wikileaks and shared with Mediapart, German publication Der Spiegel and Italy's La Repubblica have revealed a state secret: the hidden corruption behind the sale of French tanks to the United Arab Emirates. The tanks involved in that deal have since been deployed in the current war in Yemen, a conflict which, according to the United Nations, has led to the worse humanitarian crisis in the world. Fabrice Arfi reports.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) last Friday announced a ban on all women and girls travelling with Tunisian passports to the Gulf state on its national airline Emirates and sister carrier Etihad, citing fears of a terrorist attack. While the ban was lifted after just hours, following outrage in Tunisia and from passengers stranded worldwide, the Tunisian government responded at the weekend with a ban of all UAE flights to and from Tunis. But the events are far from an anecdotal spat, for behind the row is the far deeper conflict of a power battle in the Middle East. Lilia Blaise reports.
France’s far-right Front National party is attempting to find funding from abroad for the 2017 presidential election campaign of its leader Marine Le Pen, who has been unable to convince French banks to provide the sizeable loans the party needs. Among potential foreign backers the party has already had contacts with is the United Arab Emirates which, according to one of Le Pen’s close entourage, financed an official visit she made to Egypt in 2015. Marine Turchi reports.
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