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French press review 14 December 2016

All of this morning's French papers look to the Syrian city of Aleppo, wondering what will happen next to the city's civilian population, to say nothing of the fate of the rebel fighters who have now agreed to a ceasefire. And there's also a look at the key characteristics of the new US administration, taking shape under the guiding hands of Donald Trump.


The battle for the Syrian city of Aleppo is over.

According to the main story in Le Figaro, embattled rebel fighters have accepted a ceasefire agreement which will allow them to leave Aleppo with their weapons.

The right-wing French daily says civilians and the injured will be evacuated first, followed by rebel fighters who will be allowed to keep their personal arms. They will be asked to choose between being transported to parts of Aleppo province still in rebel hands or they can move further north to Idlib, held by a coalition of jihadist groups.

What will happen to Aleppo civilians?

Le Monde is worried about the fate of the city's civilian population, saying France has called for an immediate meeting of the UN Security Council.

The centrist paper says the first buses were due to start leaving the eastern Aleppo district of Salaheddine, scene of some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks, at 5.00am local time this morning. A journalist working for the AFP press agency said nothing had happened one and a half hours later, that 20 buses are standing by, empty and stationary.

No one can say they didn't know what was happening

Left-leaning Libération's editorial is headlined "Aleppo, watching the horror happen live," a reference to the fact that a variety of Twitter accounts have been offering pictures and testimony of the fate of the civilian population of the city that was once Syria's commercial capital.

Libé accepts the need to go on talking with Bashar Al-Assad and Vladimir Putin, the Syrian and Russian leaders who currently hold all the cards in this civil war with international overtones.

But Libé warns that the legitimate war against Islamist terrorism cannot be used as a disguise for the annihilation of a civilian population, unless we all wish to be guilty of complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity. And, this time, no one can claim that they did not know.

Trump chooses money, military muscle and Kremlin mates

La Croix looks to the United States where president-elect Donald Trump is busy putting the finishing touches to his team of advisors and ministers. Says La Croix, the Trump administration is going to be rich, powerful and friendly towards Russia.

With the naming of Rex Tillerson, the boss of the ExxonMobil oil company, as sectretary of state, Trump has dealt another blow to the ecology movement says La Croix, since Tillerson's company has been one of the main US actors claiming that global warming is a fiction.

The Catholic daily does note that Trump has met former vice-president Al Gore, awarded the Nobel Prize in 2007 for his efforts to save the planet, and warns against jumping to too hasty conclusions.

La Croix says, however, that three words recur in the career histories of those so far chosen by Trump as his right-hand men and women:

  • Military: with three former high-ranking soldiers taking top jobs in the new government, including James Mattis, the first army general to serve a presidential administration since 1950;
  • Money: Despite the repeated campaign calls by billionaire candidate Trump for an end to the selfishness of Wall Street and a fairer distribution of the nation's wealth, no sooner has he got the top job than he appoints several former heavyweights at Goldman Sachs to run the Treasury and act as presidential economic advisors;
  • Russia: with the naming of Tillerson as top US diplomat. The oil baron has already been decotrated with something called the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin. While friendly relations with the Kremlin are not necessarily a bad thing, certain members of Trump's Republican Party are worried that Washington may appear to condone Russian territorial expanion and the regime's authoritarian stance.

La Croix points out that Trump will need the support of his Republican colleagues in Congress and the Senate if he wants to get any work done. And the senators have still to approve the list of ministers proposed by the new president.

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