Analysis

  • The Guantánamo prisoner the US wants to release but who France refuses to take

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     © (dr) © (dr)

    The US detention camp of Guantánamo Bay in Cuba continues to hold 166 prisoners, of which some 100 are officially regarded as ready for release. But many of these remain trapped within the camp because returning them to their countries of origin is considered by the US as too risky either for security reasons or for their personal safety. Algerian national Nabil Hadjarab, 32, (pictured) is one of those. His situation could be resolved if he were released to France, where he was raised and where his family reside and are ready to look after him. But, writes Mediapart international affairs specialist Thomas Cantaloube, Hadjarab’s freedom is blocked by the French authorities who continue to ignore appeals for his transfer and who, by doing so, contribute to the status quo at the highly controversial camp that President Barack Obama promised, in vain, he would close.    

  • Coming soon...President Hollande's economic U-turn

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    François Hollande has acknowledged economic reality by accepting that France can no longer meet its goal of cutting its budget deficit to 3% of GDP this year. In doing so he is abandoning one of his key campaign pledges, and he is now preparing to bring his economic policy squarely into line with that of most other European countries, which inevitably raises the spectre of the infamous 'structural reforms'. Are their parallels with President Mitterrand's notorious economic U-turn in 1983? Martine Orange reports.

  • Is free speech on the internet under threat in France?

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    The so-called Twitter Affair in which anti-Semitic and other racist comments were Tweeted has provoked a major outcry in France over the use and abuse of the internet. The government has promised to take action and a senator is currently overseeing plans for new legislation to 'supervise' the web in France. But many internet rights campaigners fear that freedom of speech could become the first casualty of this war on racist, sexist and homophobic language on the internet. Jérôme Hourdeaux reports.

  • Europe's 3 percent deficit target – brief history of a political fetish made in France

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    The French government has revealed that it will almost certainly not be able to meet its objective of trimming the public spending deficit to 3% of GDP by 2013. But where did this slavishly-followed rule – now enshrined in European treaties - come from in the first place? And does it have any economic validity today? Lénaïg Bredoux explores how and why this crucial figure was first created and discovers it dates back more than 30 years...

  • The energy stakes in the Sahel surrounding the war in Mali

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    As in many recent conflicts involving Western intervention in other countries, France’s decision to wage war against Islamist militants in Mali has been accused by some as furthering its energy interests and economic investments, a suggestion that President François Hollande has unequivocally denied. Mediapart’s international affairs specialist Thomas Cantaloube finds the truth lies in between as he examines here just what are France's interests in the region. While Mali has quasi-inexistent mineral or energy resources, in the wider Sahel area, comprising the north of Mali, the east of Mauretania, Niger and parts of Algeria and Libya, the energy issue is significant.

  • French president's 'blinkered and lonely' war in Mali

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    President François Hollande has just become involved in a large-scale war in Mali. Already some 800 French troops are on the ground in the African country, with the number expected to increase to 2,500 in the coming days and weeks. Meanwhile French aircraft have been carrying out strikes across the country. President Hollande sent in the troops last Friday, January 11th, after Mali's interim president made an urgent plea for help as Islamic rebels headed towards the country's capital. However, argues Mediapart's editor François Bonnet, the intervention has taken place in an impromptu manner, with shifting objectives, an unclear timetable and after having deliberately ignored the complex processes of political negotiations. As a result, he says, France finds itself alone without its European allies in a country that has completely fallen apart.

  • Revealed: The real story about French Muslims, immigration and radicalisation

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    Islam is the second religion in France yet Muslims often feel discriminated against and misunderstood. And because the French state outlaws the gathering of data on religious or ethnic grounds it is difficult to know exactly how Muslims view their faith, how many are being radicalised – or even how many Muslims there are in the country. Here Mediapart publishes the results of a major new study attempting to overcome this lack of data. It confirms that a small proportion of Muslim youths are being radicalised. But it also shows how the way in which they are depicted in society has led to an increased religious sentiment among Muslims anxious to assert their identity. Carine Fouteau reports.

  • Schooled for scandal: the 'affairs' of the French Left

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    Mediapart’s revelations that French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac held for many years a secret Swiss bank account has met with either hostile reaction or embarrassed silence among his colleagues in the Socialist Party. While it is inflexible and demanding in its approach to scandals involving the Right, the Left has often demonstrated an unwillingness to face up to those other scandals in its own midst, argues here Mediapart legal affairs specialist Michel Deléan, who catalogues a (non-exhaustive) history of scams that have undermined previous socialist governments.

  • What became of President Hollande's plans to reshape Europe?

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    During his election campaign and his first few weeks in office, François Hollande promised to take a different line in Europe, expressing the desire to “reshape” the European Union and promote growth to provide an alternative to German-imposed austerity and structural reforms. But since then the German agenda has re-emerged as the dominant force in the EU, threatening to leave France isolated. Lénaïg Bredoux and Ludovic Lamant wonder what happened to the president’s reformist zeal.

  • The budget minister and the Swiss bank account: why only an independent judicial investigation will do

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    Budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac has adopted a fresh strategy as he tries to defend himself against Mediapart's investigation that shows he had an undisclosed Swiss bank account until 2010. Cahuzac is trying to get the bank to waive its banking secrecy rules to confirm he held no such account – something the bank has so far refused to do. But as François Bonnet and Dan Israel point out, behind this apparent delaying tactic there is a clear conflict of interest between Cahuzac the budget minister and Cahuzac the private bank customer. Which is why, they argue, only an independent judicial investigation can get to the heart of the affair.