Tag Archives: France

Black boxes from France’s ill-fated helicopters found in Mali

The black boxes from two French military helicopters that collided and killed 13 soldiers during an operation against alleged militants in Mali have been recovered, France has announced.

French military spokesman Colonel Frederic Barbry told BFMTV on Wednesday that the boxes “will be handed over to the relevant authorities to be analyzed.”

A French Tiger attack helicopter and a Cougar military transport helicopter collided under yet unknown circumstances on Monday, during an operation — also involving a third helicopter and a squadron of Mirage jets — to provide air cover for ground troops pursuing alleged militants.

All the 13 soldiers on board the two aircraft were killed in the incident.

Barbry did not rule out any scenario as to the cause of the crash. But he seemed to suggest that the collision might have taken place due to low visibility. It was a moonless night, he said, and flight conditions at the time were “extremely difficult.”

The deaths brought to 41 the number of the French troops killed in the Sahel region since France intervened purportedly against militants in northern Mali in 2013.


Turkey to send 11 Daesh/ISIS members back to France

As part of Turkey’s policy of repatriating foreign Daesh/ISIS members to their home countries, 11 French national members of the terror group will be sent back to France at beginning of December, said Turkish officials on Thursday.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu made the announcement at a conference on migration in the Aegean province of Izmir.

Several European countries have resisted Turkey’s efforts to repatriate Daesh/ISIS terrorists, but Turkey has vowed to press forward.

To date 370,000 Syrian refugees who were hosted in Turkey have returned to their country, Soylu added.

Turkey hosts some 3.6 million refugees from neighboring Syria, more than any other country in the world.

Since 2016, it has conducted operations along its borders to eliminate terrorists there and also create safe conditions for the return of Syrian refugees.

Soylu also said that while 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, so far this year, some 430,000 have been held.

Since recognizing Daesh as a terror group in 2013, Turkey has been attacked by Daesh/ISIS terrorists numerous times, including 10 suicide bombings, seven bombings, and four armed attacks which killed 315 people and injured hundreds.

In response to the attacks, Turkey launched anti-terror operations at home and abroad, neutralizing 3,500 Daesh terrorists and arresting 5,500.


Yellow Jacket protests mark a year of anger

A diminished Yellow Jackets movement on Saturday showed it was nonetheless determined to make citizen anger felt in the streets of Paris as it marked the one-year anniversary of its first protest.

Police expected several thousand protesters in the French capital, a far cry from the hundreds of thousands who in earlier weeks swarmed into cities and towns around France from the countryside to protest rising fuel costs.

However, Action 53 — marking the 53rd weekend of protests — had the same hallmarks of destruction and clashes with police as earlier demonstrations. By early afternoon Saturday, Paris’ Place d’Italie was in flames, a section of the city’s peripheral highway had been momentarily blocked and police had arrested several dozen protesters, including one of the founding activists, Thierry Paul Valette, according to BFMTV.

After launching in November 2018, protesters took to the streets weekly — and while their numbers gradually sagged, they had a concrete impact.

As their rampages scared off tourists and impinged on the Christmas 2018 shopping season, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in December said they were creating an “economic catastrophe,” and President Emmanuel Macron withdrew his plans for a carbon tax, the original impetus for the protests. Five months later, he announced a “national debate” to collect public opinion on matters like taxation, public services and shifting toward a greener economy.

“This period has changed me,” Macron told reporters in April as he announced a series of reforms aimed at addressing some Yellow Jacket anxieties, while rejecting core demands like a new tax on the rich.

In a poll published Wednesday, 55 percent of respondents generally support the Yellow Jacket protests. However, a greater proportion, 66 percent, don’t want to see the demonstrations ramp up again.

On Saturday, protesters headed toward the Place de la Bastille, while firefighters dodged projectiles as they responded to flames at the Place d’Italie — police barred a march slated to begin from the roundabout, citing violence. Hundreds of other actions were planned around the country.

Distrust between police and citizens is one of the legacies of the Yellow Jacket protests, said David Le Bars, head of the French police commissioners’ union.

“Nothing will be like before in the relationship between the police and a certain part of the population,” Le Bars told Franceinfo on Saturday. “Parts of society are about to fracture.”


French police ratchet up evidence search in Epstein probe

French police are launching a fresh appeal for witnesses and victims to come forward to aid their probe of Jeffrey Epstein and allegations that one of the financier’s associates drugged and raped young models.

Police hope the new appeal issued Friday will have a broader reach than a similar call for witnesses they issued on Facebook and Twitter in September.

Women who say they were raped and sexually assaulted by one of Epstein’s associates, modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, had this week told The Associated Press they were disappointed with the limited scope of police efforts to track down witnesses.

Brunel has denied wrongdoing and said via his lawyer he is willing to talk to investigators.

The French probe was launched in August after Epstein took his life while awaiting trial.


‘France cannot host everyone’, says Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron has declared that France “cannot welcome everyone”, the latest in a series of comments suggesting tighter new laws on immigration.

Macron set the tone last week when he hinted at a tougher line on immigration in the second half of his mandate, arguing the government must stop voters drifting to far-right parties.

“France cannot host everyone if it wants to host them well,” Macron told French radio station Europe 1.

The president noted that France had seen a sharp increase in the numbers of people asking for asylum since the 2017 presidential election and said much tighter European cooperation was needed.

Macron’s comments come as the French parliament is set next week for a major debate on migration policy, with the lower house National Assembly discussing the issue on Monday and the Senate on Wednesday.

There should be a debate about how much and what kind of free medical aid is currently automatically available to undocumented migrants, Macron said, but he stressed that to cut it completely would be “ridiculous”.

Nevertheless, he remarked that “in order to be able to welcome everyone properly, we should not be too attractive a country”.

Help immigrants integrate

He also made clear that he wanted applications for asylum to be processed more quickly so that genuine refugees could benefit faster from French protection.

Another priority, he said, was to help immigrants integrate successfully by increasing access to French language courses and jobs.

He noted that illegal immigrants are not being sent back to their countries quickly enough and the system needs to be “much more efficient”.

The French president, whose first term expires in 2022, is keenly aware that his biggest political rival remains Marine Le Pen and her anti-immigration National Rally party.

Reactions to his latest stance on immigration from politicians on the right and far-fight have been sceptical.

Jordan Bardella, vice-president of the National Rally suggested Macron would not follow his words with concrete actions and that he was simply electioneering.

Some members of Macron’s own centrist LaREM party have expressed unease at the president’s new tone on matters around immigration.

France last year received a record 122,743 asylum requests, up 22 percent compared to 2017.


Mediapart: French warplanes sold to Egypt used to back up Haftar in Libya

A study by French website Mediapart and Radio France Internationale (RFI) and two other French investigation sites in coordination with Dutch site Lighthouse Reports has revealed that French Rafael warplanes sold to Egypt had been used to support Khalifa Haftar’s forces in their military operations in Libya.

The study said the missiles used by Haftar’s forces at a southern Tripoli base are French and France admits this.

“The warplanes used to support Haftar’s forces in attacks on Derna in eastern Libya and airbase near Houn two years ago and there are footage of them.” It said.

Former Chief of French Intelligence Bernard Bajolet told Mediapart that Haftar was more effective than the Head of Presidential Council Fayez Al-Sarraj in fighting terrorism in Libya, saying he was in contact with them when he was in his post

He said Haftar was of more interest to France as he was in control of more areas in Libya.

France sold Egypt 24 Rafale aircraft worth 5.2 billion euros in 2015, which brought lots of criticism by human rights and political organizations.

In 2016, three French military officers were killed in Benghazi, where they were helping Haftar’s forces, after their helicopter was downed by Benghazi Defense Brigades.

Libya’s Army forces under the command of Presidential Council discovered US Javelin missiles sold to France in earlier time. France admitted ownership of the missiles and said they were meant to protect French soldiers delivering anti-terrorism expertise in Libya.


Bubble taxis making a splash on the Seine

Paris is testing out a new form of travel: an eco-friendly bubble-shaped taxi that zips along the water.

Organisers are holding test runs this week on a white, oval-shaped electric hydrofoil boat that resembles a tiny space shuttle.

The boats can fit four passengers, and if they get approved, can be ordered on an app, like land taxis, shared bikes or other forms of transport.

Designers hope to run the so-called SeaBubbles commercially in Paris and other cities starting next year.

Anders Bringdal, SeaBubbles CEO, said: “The most important [factor] for us is no noise, no waves, no pollution. And bringing them into cities that are congested.”

Mr Bringdal said the water taxi will “not only be fun” but also makes economic sense.

“If you compare a similar size boat with an engine, you are going to run 30, 40, 50 euro an hour in fuel cost when this one costs you three,” he said.


Iran, France confer on expanding nuclear cooperation

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi, who traveled to Vienna to attend the 63rd IAEA General Conference, also met with Acting Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Cornel Feruta and Russian atomic chief Alexey Likhachev.

In his address to the IAEA General Conference on Monday, Salehi criticized the remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal for failing to fulfill their commitments and warned against the US unilateralism and destructive actions which undermine multilateralism and important diplomatic gains obtained over the past few decades.


French first lady is ‘truly ugly,’ says Brazilian minister

A Brazilian government minister said French first lady Brigitte Macron was “truly ugly” Thursday, only days after the country’s president appeared to endorse an attack on her appearance.

Brazil’s economy minister Paulo Guedes said he agreed with President Jair Bolsonaro’s comments about Macron’s looks.

“The president said it — it’s true,” he said to applause during an economic forum. “The woman is truly ugly.”

Later, an aide said in a statement that Guedes “asks for forgiveness for the joke he made today during a public event… when he mentioned the French first lady.”

Bolsonaro garnered criticism last week when he appeared to agree with a Facebook post that implied French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife was not as attractive as his own wife Michele Bolsonaro.

He wrote “Do not humiliate the guy, ha ha” on a post that read “Now you understand why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro” next to pictures of the two first ladies.

The French president called Bolsonaro’s behavior “extraordinarily rude” and the Brazilian president later deleted his comment.

Brazil and France have clashed in recent weeks over the handling of fires in the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, which is crucial for a stable global climate.


UK, France react to Iran’s statement on nuclear deal

France and the U.K. on Thursday criticized Iran’s recently announced intention to further reduce its level of compliance with the nuclear deal of 2015.

Iran’s plan to suspend limits on nuclear research and development is “deeply concerning”, said a statement by the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“This third step away from its commitments under the nuclear deal is particularly disappointing at a time when we and our European and international partners are working hard to de-escalate tensions with Iran,” the statement added.

In a separate statement, French Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said that Iran “should refrain from taking concrete actions that will not comply with its commitments and may harm efforts to de-escalate tension”.

Muhll said that they will discuss Iran’s recent announcement with partners and International Atomic Energy Agency.

On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that his country would soon take a third step in reducing its commitments under the nuclear deal.

The nuclear deal agreed on by Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K., the U.S. and the EU gave Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange of limiting its nuclear program.

Iran now insists that Europe must provide it additional economic support if they want to save the deal, after U.S. withdrew in May 2018 and slammed sanctions on Tehran.