Macron And Africa-France Relations,

Paul Ejime, author and former diplomatic/war correspondent

Macron, after threatening to pull French troops out of the Sahel, and accusing the Malian junta of veering toward “Radical Islamism,” now says that France will “transform” its military operation in the Sahel.

He has provided very little details, but the reading in defence quarters is that France plans to replace Barkhane Mission in the Sahel with a France-led European Takuba Taskforce, which has U.S. support, and to which countries such as Sweden, Estonia and Czech Republic have already committed. The taskforce will require strong commitment and foot-on-the-ground participation of host countries.

In general terms, relations are lopsided between France and its former African colonies from which Paris benefits to the tune of an estimated Euro-500 billion annually, including from so-called “colonial tax.” Apart from the political control, the strong influence which Paris wields in many of these countries includes its right of first refusal to the exploration/exploitation of mineral resources and management of their economy through the CFA franc currency tied to the Euro and which is literally managed by the French Treasury.

France has more than 10,000 troops in 23 Francophone African countries with which it has defence/military pacts. Five of the countries, Gabon, Cameroon, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Djibouti have permanent French military bases, while Chad is the headquarters of the largest non-permanent French contingent of 5,100-Barkhane forces with about 4,500 of the troops deployed to restive Mali. […]

It is baffling that despite the deployment of the French Barkhane forces and the 15,000-strong UN Mission, MINUSMA, Mali remains in security turmoil with its mineral-rich northern region as the epicentre of terrorism, as well as separatist and Islamist insurrections in the Sahel. The situation is such that more than 60% of the entire Malian territory including the north and central regions is a hotbed of insecurity from where the Islamist jihadists continue to launch sporadic deadly attacks on neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

So, what difference will the Takuba Taskforce make?

The reduction or withdrawal of foreign forces could either complicate or ameliorate the security situation in the Sahel. However, a lasting solution to the chronic instability in Mali and other former French colonies in Africa must necessarily address the deficiencies in their socio-economic and political governance systems, to allow these nations to manage their resources and defence architecture without undue outside interference. Läs artikel

Toppmötet ett sätt att förbli relevanta,

Frida Wallno, ledarskribent på Dagens Industri

[…] USA har också infört nya sanktioner på grund av ryska cyberattacker och skällt ut Moskva för de militära provokationerna mot Ukraina.  Länderna tog under våren hem sina respektive ambassadörer, vilket bekräftat lågvattenmärket.

En annan förklaring till de låga förväntningarna är ländernas relativa irrelevans. Den rysk-amerikanska relationen spelar inte samma roll för världen längre.

De har visserligen kärnvapen, men såväl Ryssland som USA är på dekis jämfört med fornstora dagar, vilket i hög grad även gäller deras ledare.  Länderna har fått vänja sig vid att Kina tar en allt större plats globalt, och tvingats anpassa sig därefter.

Med tanke på Bidens retorik under de tidigare delarna av Europaresan var mötet med Putin heller inte helt nödvändigt. […]

Biden hoppas sannolikt att det ska blidka kritiken på hemmaplan över beslutet att inte sätta in sanktioner mot Nord Stream II. Det var för övrigt ett klokt beslut. Europas energisäkerhet är en fråga för Europa, inte för USA. Läs ledaren

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on June 15, 2021,

[…] CCTV: On June 13, the G7 summit concluded and issued a communiqué, which made groundless accusations on China with regard to Xinjiang, Hong Kong and other issues. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have noted that the G7 summit communiqué mentions China-related issues, deliberately slandering China on issues related to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan as well as maritime issues, and interfering in China’s internal affairs. Such moves seriously contravenes the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the trend of the times for peace, development and win-win cooperation. It reveals the bad intentions of the US and a few other countries to create confrontation and estrangement and widen differences and disagreements. China is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to this.

Issues related to Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan are purely China’s internal affairs that brook no foreign interference. China is firmly resolved in safeguarding its sovereignty, security and development interests.

I want to emphasize that multipolarization and democratic international relations are irresistible trend of the times. The era of one country or a bloc of countries dictating world affairs is over. Under the current situation, the international community need to strengthen solidarity and cooperation and practice true multilateralism more than ever. Countries should not seek bloc politics on the basis of the interests of small cliques, suppress different development models by holding ideology as the yardstick, and still less confuse right with wrong and shift blames onto others. The US is ill, very ill indeed. We’d like to advise the G7 to take its pulse and come up with a prescription for the US. Läs intevjun

Russia forces Nato fighter jets into action as Putin takes on Biden – planes scrambled,

NATO Air Command tweeted: “NATO and Partner nations scrambled fighters to meet increased Russian air activity across the Baltic Sea. Spanish, Italian, Polish and Danish fighters met the Russian aircraft to ensure the safety and security of the Baltic Sea Airspace. Partners Sweden and Finland also joined.”

This comes just days after the Kremlin intercepted a US spy plane.

The Russian Pacific Fleet carried out a military exercise in the Pacific Ocean that involved 20 warships and several ships. The drill was carried out on June 10 to practice responding to a simulated enemy attack. On the same day as the drill, Russia’s Eastern Military District reported they intercepted an RC-135 strategic reconnaissance plane over the Pacific Ocean.

The Russian military said: “The crew of the Russian fighter identified the air target as a strategic reconnaissance aircraft RC-135 of the US Air Force and escorted it over the Pacific Ocean.” They added: “After the foreign military aircraft was turned away from the state border of Russia, the Russian fighter returned safely to its home base.” Läs artikel

U.S. – Russia Presidential Joint Statement on Strategic Stability,

We, President of the United States of America Joseph R. Biden and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, note the United States and Russia have demonstrated that, even in periods of tension, they are able to make progress on our shared goals of ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war.

The recent extension of the New START Treaty exemplifies our commitment to nuclear arms control. Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

Consistent with these goals, the United States and Russia will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust. Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures. Läs uttalandet

Sverige misstänks ha kränkt Finlands luftrum på Bottenviken,

Ett flygplan som tillhör den svenska kustbevakningen misstänks ha kränkt finländskt luftrum nära Kemi, meddelar Försvarsministeriet.

Den misstänkta kränkningen inträffade på tisdag eftermiddag.

Ministeriet uppger att Gränsbevakningsväsendet utreder fallet och informerar mer om undersökningen senare.

På Twitter skriver Utrikesministeriet att man kontaktat Sveriges ambassad i Helsingfors och bett dem utreda den misstänkta kränkningen. Läs pressmeddelande

Rigs are sailing north for drilling in Russian Arctic waters,

Jackup rig Perro Negro 8 this week arrived in Murmansk for preparations before upcoming operations in the Gulf of Ob. The installation that is owned by Italian oilfield service company Saipem is due to engage in the far northern bay in early July, Russian state seaport authority Rosmorport informs.

The rig that is built in 2010 was transported to Murmansk from Dubai by Norwegian heavy loads carrier Falcon. It is likely to drill either at the the Severo-Obskoye and Geofysicheskoye license areas, or possibly the Kamennomysskoye-More or the Semakovsky project.

The Gulf of Ob and adjacent Yamal and Gydan peninsulas are currently top priority areas for the Russian oil industry with heavy presence from companies like Novatek and Gazprom Neft. Läs artikel

António Guterres nominated by Security Council for second term as UN chief,

The Security Council has formally selected the current Secretary-General António Guterres as its nominee to serve a second five-year term in the UN’s top job.

The recommendation, made in a resolution adopted by acclamation in a private meeting, now goes to the 193-member General Assembly for formal approval.

In a statement, Mr. Guterres said it was “a great honour” to be selected, and thanked ambassadors serving on the Security Council for placing their trust in him. “My gratitude also extends to Portugal, for having nominated me again”, he added. Läs pressmeddelande

Store jagerfly-formasjoner i norskledet øvelse provoserer Russland,

Flyøvelsen Arctic Challenge startet forrige mandag og skal pågå til og med fredag.

Det er femte gang øvelsen arrangeres. I år ledes den av Norge som for første gang deltar med sine nye F-35A-kampfly. Det er rundt 70 fly som nå øver i luftrommet nord i Norge, Sverige og Finland. Det liker naboen i øst dårlig:

Dagen etter at øvelsen startet, protesterte den russiske ambassaden i USA mot øvelsen som de hevder strider med en bærekraftig og fredelig utvikling av Nordområdene.

Som Russland riktig påpeker, deltar USA på Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE).

Til den svenske flystasjonen Kallax har de deployert F-16-fly, som til daglig er stasjonert på Spangdahlem-basen i Tyskland, mens de har to KC-135 tankfly i Rovaniemi. Flere tilsvarende tankfly deltar også i øvelsen og flyr ut fra hjemmebasen RAF Mildenhall i England.

USAs budskap er tosidig: Det understrekes både at dette er en øvelse som arrangeres rutinemessig hvert andre år og ikke er knyttet til noen aktuelle hendelser, samtidig som at US Air Force uttaler at øvelser som ACE-21 demonstrerer evnen de har til å samarbeide med sine nordiske allierte og partnere og sender et kraftig avskrekkende budskap. Läs artikel

Russia, Belarus to practice troop’s stealthy deployment in Zapad-2021 strategic drills,

Russia and Belarus will practice stealthy military deployments in the upcoming Zapad-2021 (West-2021) joint strategic drills, Commander of Russia’s Western Military District Colonel General Aleksandr Zhuravlyov said in an interview with the Defense Ministry’s Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper on Friday.

“Enhanced attention is being paid to the early readiness of the system of command and control and all the types of logistics support, as well as the stealthy deployment of the required contingent,” the commander said. Läs artikel

World’s Most Powerful Imprison Julian Assange for His Virtues—Not His Vices,

Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist

Note: The following text is based on a speech delivered at a rally Thursday night, June 10, in New York City in support of Julian Assange, currently imprisoned at Belmarsh Prison in the United Kingdom under threat of possible extradition to the United States.

A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice.

This why we are here tonight.  Yes, all of us who know and admire Julian decry his prolonged suffering and the suffering of his family.  Yes, we demand that the many wrongs and injustices that have been visited upon him be ended.  Yes, we honor him up for his courage and his integrity. But the battle for Julian’s liberty has always been much more than the persecution of a publisher.  It is the most important battle for press freedom of our era.  And if we lose this battle, it will be devastating, not only for Julian and his family, but for us.

The long campaign against Julian and WikiLeaks is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of inverted totalitarianism, a form of totalitarianism that maintains the fictions of the old capitalist democracy, including its institutions, iconography, patriotic symbols and rhetoric, but internally has surrendered total control to the dictates of global corporations. Läs talet