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French press review 14 June 2014

French press shocked by the Netherlands hammering of Spain at the 2014 Football World Cup in Brazil and looming threat in Iraq as Islamist militants close in on the capital Baghdad.


The 5-Nil defeat was the opening match for defending World Cup and European champion Spain. The sports daily L’Equipe says the "incredible" debacle described by Spanish manager Vicente Del Bosque as collective shipwreck is unprecedented in World Cup history.

Le Monde’s weekend issue investigates another Titanic which is about to go down, the French BNP Paribas bank battling to avert a huge American penalty of 10 billion euros for breaching US sanctions on Iran, Sudan and Cuba. According to the newspaper, the lender’s chief executives were forewarned as early as 2006 by President George W. Bush’s deputy Treasury Secretary to stay out of Iran.

Le Monde reports that three experts also warned BNP Paribas about the risks it was taking by undertaking transactions in dollars outside the United States. It underlines that even after that, the bank went ahead handling dollar transactions in Sudan for which on top of the 10 billion dollar penalty could lose its access to the dollar. Le Monde reports that BNP has announced the resignation of Georges Chodron de Courcel one of 12 officials named as being responsible for the scandal and who are wanted by US regulators. The paper says the forced resignations are part of the tense trade off inside the bank as it tries to hash a settlement with US banking regulators.

Click here for our coverage of Brazil World Cup 2014

Libération Weekend is all about "The new Ben Laden" and leader of the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. According to the paper, the mysterious leader has remained invisible while his forces battle to eclipse al-Qaeda in fierce Jihad for the creation of a Sunni Islamist emirate with Baghdad as its capital.

The rebels are now just 60 kms from the Iraqi capital Baghdad and Le Figaro reports that Iran has dispatched three units of the revolutionary guards to support the fellow Shia-dominated regime in the neighbouring country and ordered its airforce to strike any rebel convoy traced around its borders

For Libé the situation in Iraq leaves US President Barack Obama with few military options other than reactivating the drone strikes policy experts described as unproductive in the long term during the US military intervention in Afghanistan. Notwithstanding the challenges, Libération argues that in Iraq, Obama is the pilot of post-Ben Laden era and in that capacity holds the responsibility of dealing with the fallout of the Bush era by defining a new US anti-terrorism strategy indispensable to finish the mission George W. Bush never accomplished.

And Le Figaro laments a 4th day of misery for commuters especially high school students writing their final year exams on Monday as French trade unions extended a major train strike against proposed reforms to contain the rail sector's 40 billion euro debt. Expected to rise to 80 billion euros by 2025, according to official projections

The strike, which began on Tuesday evening, was initially supposed to last 24 hours but has twice been extended as talks between several unions and Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier have so far failed to yield results. There is only one train out of three running in the Paris region this weekend where three million commuters travel daily. Eurostar trains and those running to Germany were functioning normally but only a third of the services to Spain were operational, amid reports that millions of tourists are already ruling France out as their summer travel destination.

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