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French press review 13 June 2014

Islamist offensive on Baghdad shares the limelight with the Brazilian football World Cup bonanza in today's French press.

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Today’s front pages are all about Iraq with Le Figaro issuing an SOS about the Jihadists now on the gates of Baghdad.

It reports that radical Movement of the Islamist state of Iraq and the Levant, which has been disavowed even by the al-Qaida leadership, has taken over a huge swathe of predominantly Sunni-Muslim Arab territory in northern and north-central Iraq.

Le Monde reports that, since launching their offensive on Monday, the rebels have captured key towns in the ethnically divided Diyala province, including the second city, Tiktrit, the hometown of the late Sunni Arab dictator Saddam Hussein. More than 500,000 civilians have fled the fighting after the insurgents captured the strategic oil producing city of Mosul, according to the paper.

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Le Figaro says the rebels are now just 60 kms from Baghdad. The right-wing newspaper observes that US President Barack Obama has limited options to weigh in on the crisis, pretty much restricted to ordering drone airstrikes  against the jihadists.

The right-wing newspaper argues in an editorial that it would have loved at this moment to get George W Bush, who is spending his peaceful retirement in Texas painting portraits of his dogs and the powerful of the world, to ask him a few questions about the lessons he has learnt from his invasion of Iraq 11 years ago.

According to Le Figaro, it appears that the weapons of mass destruction he went looking for in Iraq were actually in his hands as the American occupation has unleashed a catastrophe and ended up in disaster.

The Communist Party newspaper L’Humanité agrees for once with right-wing Le Figaro. The Jihadist chaos, it claims is indeed the terrible legacy of Bush’s Iraqi war.

"It is war without end," headlinesLibération, explaining that the lightning gains by the insurgents in northern Iraq are a major boost to their campaign to create an Islamist state in Iraq some day that will destabilise the whole Middle East region.

For La Croix Iraq’s relapse into chaos is a tragic irony of history, one tragedy chasing another, in the wake of the endless bombings staged by Sunni groups, the Shia authorities in Baghdad deliberately decided to exclude them from the realms of power. According to the Catholic newspaper, the destabilisation of Iraq and the war in Syria can only embolden the determination of the jihadist movements who are dreaming of creating an Islamist emirate extending from Baghdad to Damascus.

Click here for our coverage of Brazil World Cup 2014

"Neymar Superstar," crows the Sports daily L’Equipe in a thumbs-up tribute to the young Brazilian striker who scored a double in his team's 3-1 win over Croatia in the opening game in the 2014 football the World Cup in Sao Paolo Thursday.

Le Figaro says the hosts were lucky to get the result in the wake of controversial decisions by the Japanese referee, who ruled out a Croatian equaliser and granted the Brazilians a questionable penalty.

Libération weighs the chances of the indomitable bounty hunters of Cameroon ahead of their Group A game against Mexico in Natal this Friday. Libé says the team arrived Brazil after their usual squabbling with federation officials about match bonuses.

L’Humanité wants an open debate about the "wild capitalist beasts" who manage global football but who won’t subject themselves to any control.

La Croix looks forward to France’s opener against Honduras Sunday with a fine portrait of the Blues manager Didier Deschamps. According to the Catholic daily the former world champion and team captain enjoys the reputation of being supergifted, having won everything as player and coach branding him the reassuring face of French football.
 

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