French press review 14 July 2014

Le Figaro gives pride of place to French army chief, General Pierre de Villiers, and his claim that the armed services are already working beyond their capacities and can not reasonably be asked to accept further budget cuts.

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The General threatened to resign last May if the defence budget was cut. Now he seems less hot under the collar, describing himself as "serene and determined" as far as the immediate future of the French military machine is concerned. The operation in Mali is officially over, generally considered a success even if the country remains divided and unsettled. French forces will now embark on a broader campaign to pacify the Sahel, seen by most commentators as a dangerous breeding ground for islamic militants and various criminal opportunists.

Le Figaro salutes the military, pointing out that no fewer than 84,000 soldiers, a quarter of the current force, will leave the ranks over the next six years and will not be replaced.

 

Libération's main story concerns the paralysis of the so-called "international community" in the face of the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

That international inaction, says Libé, has worked to the advantage of extremists on both sides. Before the outbreak of these latest hostilities, Hamas was on the brink of political, economic and moral bankruptcy. Israeli air strikes are helping to improve the organisation's loical standing. The Palestinian Authority seems sidelined to the point of insignificance.

Everyone agrees that a ceasefire is the next crucial step, but no one has any idea how to stop Palestinian rockets or prevent an Israeli invasion. Egyptian president Al-Sissi has no time for Hamas, the Turkish Prime Minister is no longer regarded as a big regional player, Qatar is too small to be taken seriously and Russia is regarded as a dangerous ally, especially since the Kremlin already has major damage limitation problems in Ukraine and in Syria.

On inside pages, Le Monde laments the fact that there are no African competitors in this year's Tour de France cycle race.

Eritrea's Natnael Berhane was forced out before the start because of a slump in form. Daryl Impey of South Africa, the first African ever to wear the Tour leader's yellow jersey (in 2013), can't take part because he tested positive for a banned substance in a race back home earlier this year. And even the Kenyan-born, South African-raised, English cyclist, Christopher Froome, is out of the running following a bad fall last week.

The magazine Jeune Afrique says it's only a matter of time before the big African events, like the Tour of Burkina Faso or its Rwandan equivalent, produce the sort of talent needed to compete in the Tour de France.

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