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French weekly magazines review 26 November 2017

__ DR

On this weekend's contents pages, an attempt to explain the complexities of the stand-off between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Is Morocco trying to infiltrate France? What wild animal was shot dead on a Paris street this week? And why is Donald Trump not going to be Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2017?


Barely one week after the visit to Paris of Saad Hariri, Lebanon's prime minister, apparently pushed into resignation by the Saudi Arabian authorities, Le Point attempts to explain what's what in a region so complex even the local specialists don't know what's happening or why.

The broad outlines at least are clear.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are at loggerheads to see which of them can establish regional domination. Lebanon, like Syria and Iraq, is the theatre of a proxy clash between Tehran and Riyadh.

The real problem dates from the withdrawal of the Americans following the second Bush war in Iraq, the magazine says. Without a theoretically impartial sherrif, the local heavyweights have settled down for long war of attrtition. It's a combat which, warns Le Point, could well lead to the catastropic destabilisation of a region which is already the theatre of several civil wars, an Islamist insurrection, two or three independence movements and the endless Israeli-Palestinian standoff.

The current situation is bad. But it could get worse. Much worse, says Le Point.

The Moroccans are coming!

Marianne's main cover story offers to reveal how Morocco has infiltrated France, at the political, industrial, intellectual and artistic level.

Why Morocco? Well, it makes a change from Russia. And there are obvious economic and strategic shared interests. But infiltration?

In the midst of a lot of woolly inuendo and blatant blather, the best Marianne can come up with in support of its claim of Moroccan manipulation is the allegation that Rabat pulled the levers to ensure that Leila Aïchi, parliamentary candidate from President Emmanuel Macron's Republic on the Move party, and a harsh critic of Moroccan policy towards separatists in the Western Sahara, was dropped from the list of Macron's marchers.

The only problem with the story is that it's as old as the hills. The magazine Jeune Afrique carried a report on the difficulties posed for the authorities in Rabat by Aïchi's candidacy in its issue dated 13 May 2017. That's 25 weeks ago, give or take a day.

Tiger shot dead in Paris street

L'Express looks at the strange, sad case of a tiger shot dead on Friday just down the road from our offices here in the leafy suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux. The tiger is a rare beast on a global level and your chances of seeing one on the chic streets of Paris's 15th arrondissement must be microscopically small. But it happened. Last week.

The 200kg feline escaped from its enclosure at a visiting circus. The law is completely inflexible in such cases: the owner must be equipped to kill the wandering beast, there is no question of tranquilising darts or any such niceties. For wild animals, the penalty for doing a bit of sightseeing in Paris is death.

And that's exactly what happened to Friday's tiger. Trapped in a dead end, the animal was killed by its owner.

Now the animal rights people are on the warpath. They want circuses with wild creatures to be banned from France, as is already the case in 29 countries worldwide and 63 French towns and cities.

Whatever you think about the difficult conditions under which wild animals are forced to live in zoos, the situation for those in circuses is obviously much worse with tiny cages and frequent journeys, leading to a lfe of boredom, disorder and restriction.

Time magazine in the wars with Trump

L'Express also looks at the latest spat between the American weekly Time and US President Donald Trump.

Trump was the magazine's Person of the Year in 2016. The editors recently told the White House that the US president was "probably" going to take the honours this year again but that he'd have to agree to a major interview and a photoshoot.

Trump didn't like the "probably" and politely told Time that he wasn't interested.

We'll know who gets to replace Trump when the special issue of Time is published  on 6 December.

Thanks to the free publicity provided by the Twittermeister, they'll probably sell billions of extra copies. Well done Time!

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