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French press review 28 May 2012

There's no getting away from the financial crisis in the eurozone this morning.


Le Monde's main headline has the struggling common currency trading at around 1 dollar 25 cents, its lowest level for two years against the US greenback.

Lots of people are selling euros because they think Europe's leaders and lenders are soon going to run out of room to manoeuvre, and may have to abandon the very idea of monetary union.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The latest bad news comes from Spain, with the authorities in Madrid last week being forced to take control of a major banking group.

As for the Greeks, they get a severe telling-off from the boss of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, on the front page of right-wing Le Figaro. Lagarde says the Greeks should help themselves to struggle back into line with the rest of the eurozone, and they could begin by paying taxes.

Lagarde also says she is more concerned about the survival of children in Africa than about the future of the cradle of European civilisation. You can bet they loved that in Athens.

Austrian film director, Michael Haneke, dominates the front page of Libération. Haneke's film "Amour" last night won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Libé is less than enthusiastic about the result, not because Haneke doesn't deserve the honour, but because this year's Cannes jury didn't have the courage or the imagination to evaluate some of the more audacious entries.

Libération says some great films have been unjustly ignored.

Le Monde's front page editorial is headlined "Yemen's three forgotten wars".

Since the popular ousting of former president Ali Abdallah Saleh earlier this year, Yemen's problems have simply multiplied.

The provisional authorities who, on Saleh's departure last February, inherited a state with very few state-like structures, face a formidable enemy in the international terrorist group, Al Qaeda.

This is the key problem for Washington, which has already linked Yemen-based terrorists to several failed plots to destroy American aircraft. Current US policy seems to be to hit anything vaguely suspect with explosive drones.

The potential for error is obviously huge, but the trade-off between a few dozen innocent but dead Yemeni villagers and a 747 full of American passengers is a no-brainer for the people at the Pentagon.

While the world looks exclusively at that struggle, there are two local conflicts of far greater significance for the survival of Yemen as a nation: in the north, sunni muslims are in a state of permanent civil war with their shi'ite neighbours. That conflict reflects the wider clivage in the muslim middle east, and the opposing sides are probably financed by Saudi Arabia and Iran.

In the south, there are various armed groups working to undo the ill-managed 1990 unification of North and South Yemen.

Cannes 2012

Yemen is practically unique in the Arabian peninsula, says Le Monde, in having a multi-party political system, which has already proved itself capable of dislodging the virtual dictator, Ali Abdallah Saleh.

But if the world leaves the war against Al Qaeda to the American flying bombs, and the war between the muslim sects to the sunnis of Saudi Arabia, then Yemen will go the sad and dangerous way of Somalia.

Allowing a country to disintegrate is never a good tactical option, says Le Monde. And disintegration is even worse when it is dressed up as a geopolitical strategy.

Le Monde also reports from Israel, where there have recently been an increasing number of attacks against African immigrants.

A deputy from the Likoud Party of Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, has described Tel Aviv's Sudanese population as a "spreading cancer", promising to send them back where they came from.

Israel is currently completing a 230-kilometre-long security barrier along the border with Egypt, partly to slow the tide of illegal immigrants.

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