Fifty years after parts of Jerusalem and other lands were annexed by Israel following the six day Israeli Arab war, one could hardly argue that peace had come to the Middle East.

The last months had however seen a period of relative calm in Israeli-Arab relations after a history of terror and rocket attacks, violent intifadas and military retaliation. But Washington’s announ-cement it was moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient walled city shattered whatever calm there was ahead of Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations.

Arab leaders starting with the Palestinian leader warned the US administration of the  unnecessary tensions linked to the announcement while Turkey spoke of a red line being drawn in the sand, threatening its ties to Israel and igniting fire in a region constantly on a knife’s edge.

Stating the “whole world is against” the move, Arab leaders planned an emergency summit on the issue, as the region boils with the war in Yemen and tensions between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors. “When you look at a place on the verge of an explosion you do not introduce a flame,” said Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO. President Abbas said the move would “lead us into wars that will never end."

Curiously the White House hoped the move would jump start peace, an idea which created some rare Mideast unity as it was ridiculed as much in Tehran as it was in Arab capitals, all warning that fulfilling this campaign promise would have the opposite effect. Indeed within days Palestinian areas erupted in violent protest amid cries of new intifada while US embassies around the world stood under alert.

Jordan’s king had joined a chorus of world leaders stressing that the status of Jerusalem was key to any peace deal and stability in the region. The embassy itself would not be moved for months, being a delicate security and logistics operation. No other country has an embassy in Jerusalem, a reluctance tied to Mideast peace efforts and a consensus the city’s status should be decided as part of any peace deal, not before one is reached, which would risk influencing decision making.

Canada was one country which immediately indicated it would not be following America’s lead after a decision which further isolated Washington on the world stage. The relative peace was also shattened by the first rocket launch against Israel in four months as Palestinian activists organized “days of rage” this week.

In contrast Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu praised the announcement as "historic" and "courageous" and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat welcomed it saying “the president is following his heart and history and saying and doing the right thing” in another sign of the Israeli Arab divide 70 years after the agreement which lead to partition of these lands.

The US president stressed “we are not taking any position on any final status issue including the specific boundaries“ which would be determined locally. Jerusalem is where the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, is located, he noted. “Peace is never beyond the grasp of those seeking to reach it,” he said, but to many this now seemed  more distant than ever.

Trump praised all three religions which consider the city sacred, oddly enough, as came into effect strict US immigration measures that were once described as a Muslim travel ban.   

Un drôle de parfum enrobe la politique libanaise, ou alors n’est-ce que la dose est passablement trop forte? Récemment le premier ministre Saad Hariri confirmait la suspension de sa démission surprise un mois plus tôt, qui avait outré la présidence libanaise, semé des inquiétudes de kidnapping par le régime saoudien et braqué les projecteurs sur la guerre froide que se disputent le royaume de Riyad et la république islamique. 

Hariri avait alors déclaré sa vie en danger, une constatation plutôt alarmante quand on pense au sort de son père en 2005, en sonné l’alarme sur l’influence déstabilisatrice du Hezbollah au pays. Le président Michel Aoun a plutôt accusé les Saoudiens de tenir le chef du gouvernement, qui a fait sa démission choc à Riyad, en otage, accusant le régime de manipulation et d’ingérence en politique libanaise.

C’est Aoun qui l’aurait “enjoint d’attendre” avant de présenter sa démission, “pour permettre davantage de consultations.” Passant par Paris, Hariri retourne alors à Beyrouth, accueilli par des supporters à l’occasion de la fête d’indépendance du petit pays. Le Liban reste le théâtre d’affrontements indirects entre Téhéran, dont le soutien du Hezbollah est féroce, et Riyad, les deux puissances étant déjà engagées dans la crise yéménite au sud de la péninsule d’Arabie.

Le ministre des affaires extérieures saoudien Adel Al-joubeir avait donné le ton des dernières semaines lors de la réunion extraordinaire récente de la Ligue arabe en affirmant que son pays ne resterait pas “les bras croisés” face à la politique “agressive” de Téhéran dans la région. Les deux pays ont rompu leurs relations en 2016.

Dans un pays qui en a tant besoin mais déchiré par les influences des voisins, le président Aoun a fait appel à l’unité lors des fêtes d’indépendance du 22 novembre, car la division  “provoquerait une destruction totale et n’épargnerait personne,” dit-il tout en accusant la Ligue arabe de “financer et d’entraîner des groupes terroristes”, risquant de plonger le pays du cèdre dans l’”embrasement.”

Les tensions entre Téhéran et Riyad se sont exacerbées début novembre quand un missile envoyé par les Houthis, alliés aux iraniens, a été intercepté près de la capitale saoudienne. Le ministre des affaires étrangères du Bahreïn a par ailleurs accusé le Hezbollah d’effectuer des opérations “non seulement à l’intérieur des frontières du pays mais il traverse toutes les frontières de nos nations. C’est une menace pour la sécurité nationale arabe.”

Selon le secrétaire général de la Ligue “les capitales arabes sont dans la mire des missiles balistiques de Téhéran,” ce que la république islamique nie. Le Bahreïn est particulièrement tourmenté par sa minorité chiite, qui réclame des réformes au sein du régime sunnite. En entrevue à Paris Match, Hariri répète ses avertissements sur le Hezbollah qui conserve au Liban "un rôle politique" et où il a des armes. "L'intérêt du Liban, dit-il, est de faire en sorte que ces armes ne soient pas utilisées ailleurs."

Parcontre il nie avoir été détenu par Riyad. "J'ai démissionné... avec l'intention de faire un choc positif." Malgré sa situation délicate "le Liban vit un petit miracle, dit-il. La région est ravagée par les affrontements confessionnels. Nous avons connu des tensions très fortes. Nous avons préféré calmer le jeu." Mais les risques persistent dit celui qui dit craindre un assassinat aux mains de Damas.


A president under arrest, soldiers in the streets while a man in military garb takes to the airwaves to urge calm, the scenario is not an unfamiliar one on the African continent. But where these scenes were taking place did cause some surprise this time.

After decades in power, ever since his country’s independence, Zimbabwe’s military placed the world's oldest head of state, 93-year-old Robert Mugabe, under house arrest as it seized power in a “bloodless correction” that suspended the long reign of the rebel leader who oversaw the end of white rule but refused to step down.

The military said it was purging the government of forces which it said had sought to corrupt those loyal to the revolution that brought independence in 1980. But local media said sources indicated the military singled out those loyal to the Mugabes.

Days after Mugabe fired his vice-president, who was known to be close to the military, to leave his wife as possible successor, soldiers took to the streets and placed the elderly president and a number of his ministers in custody, initially saying Mugabe himself wasn’t targeted but rather “criminals” around him. “We wish to make abundantly clear this is not a military takeover,” Maj-Gen.  Sibusiso Mayo took to the air saying, adding the president’s security “is guaranteed“.

He said the army would “pacify a degenerating ... situation” and promised “a return to normalcy”, but this is hardly how one would describe the sad state of the nation, facing hyperinflation and shortages which have sent its citizens looking beyond the borders for assistance and to get their hands on basic necessities.

The military had days earlier threatened to “step in” to calm rising political tensions, a statement the ruling ZANU-PF considered “treasonable conduct”, showing the first cracks between those in power and a military which until now had stayed loyal to the leadership. Some hoped this would mark a turning point after years of poverty, human rights violations and corruption under Mugabe.

Veterans groups once fiercely loyal to Mugabe now expressed hopes the military would make a “normal democracy “ out of the suffering country, which at one point saw hyper inflation hit 80 billion percent... before inflation was declared illegal, eliminating whatever worth the depleted local currency once had.

The economy grew by 0.5% last year but its underground market is thriving, the shadow economy representing about a third of the GDP; what was once the breadbasket of Africa decimated by farm seizures by so-called war veterans barely old enough to drive. But perhaps the existing and still abundant resources, including diamonds, could lead to future growth, with the right people in power, observers note.

Could this include longtime opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who just returned to Zimbabwe after going abroad for health reasons? The opposition is divided ahead of elections, possibly still scheduled for next year. Meanwhile ousted vice president Emmerson Mnan-gagwa also returned to Zimbabwe, possibly to seize power himself.

This is not without concern as he was behind bloody purges conducted by the regime in the 1980s. For now at least, there seemed to be a moment for celebration, as crowds took to the streets to party, not daring yet to look too far ahead.           


After decades of growing global emissions there had been a downward trend to the spiral the world had seemingly been intractably engulfed in these last few years, at least until a recent report registered a first rise in CO2 emissions in four years, largely due to China’s increase in coal use as that economy expanded again.

Even Beijing seemed surprised, having led new efforts to cut carbon emissions. So as the U.S. administration looked to a future based on so-called “clean coal” after pulling out of the Paris emissions agreement, and countries looked to work around Washington to keep global emissions targets alive in Bonn, some 15,000 scientists found it appropriate to update the state of the planet, 25 years after the first Rio warnings, and issue a global warning on the need to change the planet's course.

But was it too much or a much needed wake up call? A professor and graduate student from Oregon state university’s College of Forestry found that since those now distant alarm bells, more warning signs have emerged, something which drew attention after a year of terrible U.S. storms blamed on global warming.

William Ripple found that, since, the world had seen growing trends including a decline in freshwater availability, unsustainable marine fisheries, ocean dead zones, forest losses, dwindling biodiversity, climate change and the ever increasing population growth. They noted reduced ozone layer depletion, but these may be heading back up. “The trends are alarming,” Ripple told the BBC.
“And they speak for themselves.”

Response to their paper was over whelming. “The scientists around the world are very concerned about the state of the world, the environmental situation and climate change,” he said. “So this allows them to have a collective voice.” The report came as New Zealand was announcing it was introducing a new program tailored for climate change refugees and shortly after latest figures showed a 2% rise in CO2 emissions caused by humans globally.

Emissions were up 3.5% overall. While the number is subject to debate scientists say it points to a growth trend that threatens global emission targets. “With global CO2 emissions from human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017 time is running out on our ability to keep our warming well below 2 degrees C, let alone 1.5C,” said prof. Corinne Le Quere from the university of East Anglia.

While coal use was up in China and the US, oil and gas was prompting major concerns. “There have been lots of ups and downs in the use of coal but in the background there has been no weakening in the use of oil and gas and that is quite worrisome,” Le Quere said. But some critics called the bell ringing irresponsible scaremongering.

"There's a small percentage that loves the crisis narrative," noted Erle Ellis of Maryland University, noting that the warning ignores increases in wealth, health and well-being of people over the years. Was the warning over the top? Perhaps, but climate change is increasingly hard to ignore.

Recently a major credit agency, Moody's, warned coastal communities of the United States, even in areas unaffected by this year's storms such as California and Maine, that they should prepare for climate change or risk losing access to cheap credit. "What we want people to realize is: If you're exposed, we know that. We're going to ask questions about what you're doing to mitigate that exposure," Lenny Jones of Moody's told Bloomberg. "That's taken into your credit ratings."

Among the indicators the agency uses to assess such exposure is the economic activity of coastal areas, damage from hurricanes and tornados and the presence of homes in a flood plain, making the costal states from Georgia to Mississippi the most at risk in the U.S. As sea levels rise from melting glaciers, by some eight inches in the last century, scientists note the major cities of the globe affected would depend on the location of those melts, from Pantagonia and Antarctica, to Greenland and Northern Canada.

Some are of such size, notably the glaciers of Pine Island Bay in Antarctica, that their catastrophic melt could add 11 feet to sea levels and submerge coastal cities everywhere. A rise of half that amount could displace millions worldwide and flood major cities from Shanghai to Mumbai and Ho Chi Minh City.

Closer to these parts, the melt of Greenland glaciers is viewed by some as the ground zero of climate change, the territory losing some 270 billion tons of ice every year. Bracing for the possible impact to coastal communities across the globe, cities gathered in Chicago this week to commit to fighting climate change. Among them, was a leader both familiar and sensitive to the issue, and the city.

"2015 was the warmest year on record until 2016 became the warmest on record. That tells us the climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it," Barack Obama told the summit. "And that's why I made climate change a priority while I was president," signing a Paris agreement quickly abandoned by his successor, but which local leaders across the country are trying to honour still, all the while the Environment Protection Agency was stripping references to climate change on its website.


Days after leader Carles Puigdemont addressed the Catalan assembly about the Oct. 1st referendum on separation a certain confusion set in. Had the wealthy eastern part of Spain broken away or not?

The separatist leader would soon find out the implications of the former to his own personal freedom. The question lingered until Puigdemont clarified the declaration was on hold so that dialogue could take place, dismaying nationalists and leaving European officials to heave a sight of relief.

But talks with Madrid did not ensue either in Spanish or Catalan, the break away region refusing to remove the threat of separation or call early elections. As Madrid prepared to invoke a rare constitutional article to seize control of Catalonia, the regional assembly declared independence, a move shortly followed by the Spanish senate's green light to take control of the region’s autonomous powers, the first time in four decades such direct rule measures were taken in Spain.

After weeks of pro and anti-independence marches never had the country’s solitudes appeared so divided. Had the methods of Catalonia ultimately achieved what Basque militants had failed to obtain during decades of bloody clashes? But as flag-waving nationalists  flooded the streets of Barcelona there was a sense independence was far from acquired.

The European Union reiterated its support for unity, refusing to talk directly with Catalonia but urging Madrid not to use violence to squash independence. Could violence engulf a crisis which until now had remained relatively peaceful? While rebellion and sedition charges were being prepared against Catalonia's leaders, Puigdemont urged "peace, civility and dignity".

In Madrid Prime Minister Rajoy called "for calm from all Spaniards," for other reasons, as "The rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia," adding that dismissing Puigdemont and his ministers would be his first order of business. Seventy Catalan parliamentarians had voted in favor of independence while 10 voted against and two handed in blank ballots of the assembly's 135 members.

"We can only hope the conflict will remain in the political realm," said hopefully former Catalan leader Joan Rigol I Roig. But Catalans were hardly unanimous, pro-union Catalans saying many had boycotted the independence referendum. Citizens party leader Carlos Carrioza charged that separatists had in fact staged a "coup against the democracy of Spain."

The central government would have none of that, ultimately dissolving the regional government and calling for December elections. Polls since the unilateral declaration of independence have shown some 55% of Catalans were opposed. Europe has seen a number of declarations of the sort since the fall of the Berlin wall, most hailing from former Soviet and Yugoslav republics.

But the Catalan declaration was a first in the bosom of the European Union and euro zone, causing the immediate rejection of EU partners from the United Kingdom and France, overseas to Canada and the United States. Understandably some Scottish officials were more welcoming, the region of Great Britain still weighing its decision whether or not to stage a new referendum after Brexit.

Polls have also shown Catalans to be in favor of the dissolution of the regional parliament, though there is no guarantee the election will form a pro-unity government. The nationalist parties have seen some division form amid the ranks since the referendum Madrid hopes could enable it to divide and conquer. It is  cautious not to seem too harsh after the violent incidents of the October 1 independence vote which raised concerns across the world.

The ousted leader slammed the central government's actions as "premeditated aggression" running "contrary to the expressed will of the citizens of our country, who know perfectly well that in a democracy it is parliaments that choose, or remove, presidents." He said the nationalist push would endure "without violence, insults, in an inclusive way, respecting people and symbols, opinions."

But some pro-unity Catalans say they have been bullied and shown lack of respect, choosing the days after the dissolution of the regional government to stage mass demonstrations in the streets of Barcelona. "The standoff has entered a new level of fragility, economic uncertainty and social unrest" stated a Stratfor analysis of events. "It is the first time since Spain's return to democracy in the late 1970s that Madrid has decided to take direct control of an autonomous region's institutions. Whatever happens next will be unprecedented."

Madrid for instance could have a hard time imposing its will on Catalonia's 200,000 civil servants, the analysis notes, though the central government will now be handling the purse strings as leverage. The uncertainty has affected the usually vibrant regional economy, some 1500 companies moving their legal seats out of Catalonia.

The Barcelona chamber of commerce also downgraded Catalonia's growth from 2.7% to 2.5% for 2018, something which will also have a national impact, showing the importance of a region creating 20% of Spain's wealth. Madrid hopes elections will solve the crisis and enable it to extricate itself from Catalonia gradually, leaving it with its usual powers, but this may take time. And some fear the arrest of a number of Catalan ministers, while a warrant is out for Puidgemont's, now in exile in Brussels, will only give nationalists a new boost ahead of the vote


Volonté d’ouverture réelle, manipulation politique ou un peu des deux? Les annonces choc émanant du royaume saoudien s’accumulent avec la succession  du roi bien en tête. Le fils héritier du monarque serait largement derrière les tractations des derniers mois, promettant une nouvelle ouverture et une version moins rigoureuse de l’Islam conservateur dont le pays est le champion.

Se détacher du pétrole, transformer l’Arabie Saou-dite en un centre d’affaires ou d'échange tout en opérant une brèche dans un système qui a laissé la femme au second plan, voilà à quoi s’est engagé le jeune prince favori, Mohammed bin Salman, principal conseillé du roi.

Celui-ci a longtemps favorisé l’épanouissement de la femme dans un pays encore dominé par le régime du gardien ou tuteur masculin, accueillant des femmes dans son orbite professionnel  et prônant le genre d’ouverture envers le droit de conduire et de participer à des événements sociaux en tant que spectatrice récemment approuvée aux plus hautes instances.

Le jeune Salman, qui mène également une chasse à la corruption, ne s’est pas gêné de s’en prendre à ses rivaux potentiels dans la course à la succession, une dizaine de jeunes princes, dont le milliardaire Alaweed bin Tatal, propriétaire richissime du Georges V à Paris, ainsi que quatre ministres et une dizaine d’anciens ministres, faisant l’objet d'enquête du comité anti corruption qu’il dirige.

La montée fulgurante de l’homme de 32 ans a divisé le royaume, certains approuvant les réformes en cours mais d’autres regrettant son goût du pouvoir malgré son manque d’expérience et jeune âge.

Celui-ci contrôle notamment la firme d’investissement Kingdom Holding ainsi qu’un nombre important des parts dans des compagnies internationales de renom bien branchées telles Apple et Twitter. Les annonces sur les femmes donnent suite aux réformes récentes, dont le droit au vote lors des élections municipales de 2015 et la participation des premières athlètes olympiques lors des Jeux de Londres.

Mais le système des gardiens reste bien en place, ce qui laisse les femmes sans l’autorisation de se marier ou de divorcer, même de voyager, sans l’aval d’un gardien familial masculin, parmi les nom-breuses autres restrictions liées à leur sexe. Puis les annonces récentes se font sur fond d'arrestations de critiques du régime, dont des blogueurs ou utilisateurs de médias sociaux, dont Twitter, défavorables au pouvoir.

Quant aux 200 personnes interrogées ou détenues en lien avec la corruption, la prison est plutôt de leur goût, soit le Ritz Carlton de Riyad. Fin octobre, en dévoilant des plans de mégaprojet bien saoudien sur la mer Rouge, le jeune Salman promet une Arabie “modérée “ en rupture avec la traditionnelle version rigoriste de l’Islam, dont le pays abrite les plus importants lieux saints.

“Nous n’allons pas passer 30 ans de plus de notre vie à nous accommoder d’idées extrémistes et nous allons les détruire maintenant,” déclarait-il sous les applaudissements, promet-tant un Islam “tolérant et ouvert sur le monde et toutes les autres religions” prêt même à commencer à approuver des visas pour touristes.


La peste, ce fléau historique responsable de la mort de plus de 50 millions de personnes en Europe au 14e siècle, c’est une maladie dont l’éclosion est pourtant  saisonnière à Madagascar, ile d’écologie exceptionnelle.

Mais l’actuelle saison de cette maladie désormais curable a vu des cas se répandre à l’extérieur des régions ordinairement touchées, assez pour mobiliser une Organisation internationale de la santé préoccupée par le risque d’exportation en Afrique orientale et ailleurs.

Plus de 2000 cas de peste pulmonaire ont été enregistrés au cours des dernières semaines, faisant de l’éclosion la pire du genre en un demi siècle. La propagation par la voie des airs en a fait un fléau particulièrement mortel et dur à combattre sur cette île relative-ment pauvre du continent africain.

L’explosion du nombre de cas d’une proportion de 37% en cinq jours a particulièrement alarmé les experts en matière de santé et sonné l’alerte chez les pays avoisinnants, de l’Afrique du sud au Kenya et de la Réunion aux Comores. Deux tiers des cas auraient été propagés par la voie des airs, soit l’éternuement ou le crachat. Aggravant l’éclosion, les célébrations des jours des morts qui ont causé plusieurs rassemblements importants.

Certains dansent ou paradent alors avec le corps de leurs proches lors de ces cérémonies macabres, une pratique désormais proscrite par les autorités. “Dans ce genre de cas on oublie vite les précautions en matière de santé,” fait remarquer Panu Saaristo de la Croix Rouge. L’OMS se console cependant du nombre décroissant de cas dans certaines régions du pays, mais seul un quart de l'île a été épargné jusqu'à présent.

On parvient mal à trouver la raison de la gravité de l’éclosion cette année mais certains médias pointaient du doigt les incendies forestiers et la fuite des rats vers les localités touchées. D’autres blâment les événements météorologiques. Selon l’OMS l’éclosion de cette année est particulièrement sévère, ayant fait plus de 160 morts,  et frappe cinq mois avant la fin de la saison pendant laquelle la peste fait ordinairement des victimes.

Traitée rapidement, la peste, qu’elle soit bubonique ou pulmonaire, est curable si “une antibiothérapie courante” est administrée dès les premiers signes. L’OMS a ainsi précipité 1,2 millions de doses antibiotiques vers l’ile et débloqué 1,5 millions $ de fonds d’urgence, mais dit nécessiter 5,5 millions $ pour pouvoir riposter à la flambée des cas.

L'organisation doit également combattre une autre maladie dans la région, sans remède celle-là, soit la fièvre de Marburg, aux symptômes terriblement similaires à ceux de l'ébola dont se remet à peine l'Afrique de l'ouest. Cette maladie tue environ 88% des personnes touchées, les premiers cas ayant fait des victimes en Ouganda.

Le risque de propagation y est important, notamment parce que les personnes atteintes avaient été en contact avec plusieurs autres personnes, mais aussi parce que les cas avaient lieu près de la frontière kenyane.

«Ce n’est pas la première fois que nous avons une flambée de cas, note la ministre de la santé ougandaise. Ce n’est pas la dernière fois. Parce que l’Ouganda se trouve dans la ceinture de la méningite, de la fièvre jaune, d’ébola. Nous avons les réservoirs de ce virus dans le pays."


While the sequel is rarely as good as the original, it can yield surprises. One year after the Panama papers lead to the ouster of leaders in Iceland and Pakistan, the leak of 13.4 million financial records of wealthy leaders and businessmen who placed assets in offshore banks has exposed ties between Russia and the current U.S. commerce secretary, placed the spotlight on the Canadian prime minister's top fundraiser and even exposed the Queen's offshore interests, to mention just some of about 120 leaders from around the world.

F1 champ Hamilton was also singled out for saving taxes by registering his Bombardier private jet in the Isle of Man while the Montreal Canadiens set up a pair of trusts in Bermuda according to leaked documents of Appelby, a firm which specialized in such offshore deals.

The Habs and businessman Stephen Bronfman issued denials following the leaks, which also revealed that a decade ago Queen Elizabeth’s estate invested in a Cayman Islands fund. Other royals snagged in the spotlight include Jordan’s queen Noor, while a myriad of foreign officials, from Uganda’s foreign minister to Brazil’s ex finance minister, also deserved their chapter in the voluminous financial paperwork dump.

The alleged ties of key associates of the U.S. president with offshore accounts proved particularly concerning in Washington amid ongoing allegations of Russian collusion. The commerce secretary used “Cayman Islands entities to maintain a financial stake in Navigator Holding,” the International consortium of investigative journalists found, noting the shipping company has “top clients that include Kremlin-linked energy firm Sibur,” partly owned by Putin’s son in law.

The company has “crony connections” claims Russia expert and former State Department official Daniel Fried. Meanwhile the Bronfman revelations come at a time the Canadian government is accused by the political opposition of being too chummy with rich friends and donors while failing to act against tax evasion but sheltering friends of the ruling Liberals.

“We are fully committed to fighting tax evasion and tax avoidance,” Justin Trudeau said in light of the allegations, adding the Canada Revenue Agency is “reviewing links to Canadian entities and will take every appropriate action.” He however elicited much criticism saying he found Bronfman's justifications acceptable.

This is the latest controversy involving the prime minister's rich friends to land him in trouble, starting with his Christmas vacation to the Aga Khan's private island a year after his 2015 election. Corporate entities have not been spared by the so-called Paradise papers, companies like Apple, Uber and Nike being listed as finding tax havens, the first to the tune of $252 billion, an amount it moved from tax-friendly Ireland to the island of Jersey when the former conducted tax reforms.

Such Channel islands have featured as prominently as their well known Caribbean tax-evasion equivalents in the documents, the Isle of Man serving to save tax expenses for everything from that jet purchase to transactions by a Canadian mining company operating in Africa but registered in Whitehorse.

While such holdings are not always ethical, the journalism consortium reminded readers it “does not suggest or imply that any persons, companies or other entities haven broken the law” by publishing the documents. But coming days after the first indictments in the American inquiry on Russian influence and as the government in Ottawa dealt with controversy over the finance minister's foreign holdings, the money trail has raised embarrassing ques-tions in a number of countries.

Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat was another leader also quick to state that “no proof of any illegal or irregular circum-stances has emerged,” after revelations in the Paradise papers that his island has been a popular destination for Azeri money. But Malta is still stirred by the recent assassination of an investigative journalist who was in part looking into Muscat’s wife, whose name appeared in the Panama papers. While the leader and his wife denied any wrongdoing, the family of the late Daphne Galicia has been vocal asking for Muscat’s resignation and institutional change.

Tax evading schemes in Malta and the Isle if Man are also starting to gather scrutiny at the European Commission, concerned some of their regulations may be contravening continental tax laws. The EU's finance chief condemned tax evaders as "vampires" and said institutions had to adapt to the latest schemes.

“These aggressive tax planning optimisation schemes, many of them appear to be completely legal. So we have to respond on the legal front by establishing a new legal framework. If this is legal, as many people claim, then we need to change the law,” said Pierre Moscovici. “Trans-parency is the first weapon in our armoury. It’s the one that will allow us to stop a culture of secrecy, and a feeling of impunity of people who are carrying out tax avoidance."


Après le grand Timonier le 'ti monier? En fait c’est au même titre que l’auteur du grand pas en avant lui-même, Mao tsé-toung, que le président chinois Xi Jinping a été élevé lorsque son nom a été inscrit dans la charte du Parti communiste chinois lors du congrès du grand parti de l’empire du milieu.

Au courant de celui-ci plus de 2300 délégués ont approuvé à l’unanimité l’inclusion dans la charte du parti « de la pensée XI Jiping du socialisme à la chinoise de la nouvelle ère », un geste qui n’avait pas été fait envers ses prédécesseurs Jiang Zémin et Hu Jintao.

«cela conférera à Xi une autorité extra-ordinaire, note le politologue Willy Lam, de l’université chinoise de Hong Kong, il pourrait être comme lui: dirigeant à vie aussi longtemps qu’il est en bonne santé ». Pour l’heure son mandat de cinq ans a été renouvelé mais se retrouve désormais entre ses mains le choix de la succession.

Si le titre est déjà quelquechose il faut ajouter le fait qu’il a été décerné après peu d’années a la barre. « La tradition en Chine veut que l’empereur soit aussi le professeur, le maître à penser, explique à l’AFP le politologue Hu Xingdou, Xi y est arrivé dès la fin de son premier mandat, c’est rare dans notre histoire. »

Certes des défis guettent l’empereur, alors que le pays se dirige vers une période de ralentissement économique relatif mais une expansion de son influence internationale. Or malgré tous ses pouvoirs Washington est là pour lui demander de veiller à son voisinage et dompter l’incontrôlable voisin nord coréen.

Mais dans cette pensée à présent gravée dans le roc du panthéon des plus grands dirigeants chinois, Xi voit grand, notamment une «grande renaissance de la nation », comme un autre bond, et l’engagement, à temps pour le centenaire de 2049, de constituer une armée « de premier rang mondial » pour la postérité.

Au compte des effectifs ont y est déjà mais il s’agit de dompter cette technologie qui laisse le rival  américain seul sur son trône, le genre de technologie qui ne passe pas par les usines chinoises. Xi a d’ailleurs veillé sur la révision de cette force de  deux millions d’âmes alors que le pays s’imposait dans la mer de Chine.

L’occasion est d’ailleurs bonne d’agir sur une scène internationale délaissée par les États-Unis et d’y occuper « une place de choix » en « posant les règles en affaires mondiales ». Et sur le terroir qui dit pouvoir suprême dit interdiction de remettre en question la direction communiste du pays, et de moins en moins, celle de son président.

Celui-ci a d’ailleurs resserré sa poigne sur le pays, nettoyé son propre milieu en éliminant des dirigeants haut placés lors de sa campagne anti corruption et poursuivi les atteintes à la liberté d'expression, ce «socialisme à la sauce chinoise d’une nouvelle ère » qui peut être servie aux convives à titre de «choix nouveau pour d’autres pays ».

Mais Lam n’y voit qu’«un retour à la direction unique » plutôt qu’une approche collégiale, selon lui  «un pas en arrière » plutôt qu'un bond en avant pour faire progresser l'empire du milieu au 21ème siècle.      


Ils sont de retour. En 2014 la place centrale devant le parlement de Kiev était transformée en camp de manifestants, protégeant le gouvernement après les éclats meurtriers qui avaient évincé le président pro-russe qui a osé tourner les armes contre le peuple.

Après l’annexion de la Crimée et même l’élection du président pro-européen Poroshenko, ils restaient en place derrière leurs barricades, jusqu’au moment où on leur a laissé savoir que c’en était assez.

Depuis les tentes ont refait leur apparition ainsi que les manifestations, contre Poroshenko cette fois, lui donnant le choix de respecter ses promesses de lutter contre la corruption ou de décamper à son tour. Le 18 octobre des éclats avec la police se sont soldés par  une dizaine d’arrestations.

Quelques heures plus tard les manifestants étaient relâchés et allaient rejoindre leurs confrères dans leur camp, promettant d’y rester jusqu’à ce que le gouvernement ne prenne des mesures contre cet ancien fléau qui survit aux gouvernements successifs et ignore la couleur du parti. Avec leur cuisine communautaire et leurs feux de poubelle, les manifestants reprenaient la place du parlement en lui redonnant des airs de révolte.

« Poroshenko a ignoré les demandes du peuple en matière de mesures anti corruption, » souligne Serhiy Leshchenko, parmi eux. Malgré le rapport déséquilibré des forces la police refuse d’évacuer le camp sur ce site symbolique de la petite révolution de 2014. On ne veut pas répéter les « vieilles erreurs » d’il y a trois ans, lors des événements qui firent 100 morts.

Il s’agit après tout d’un geste propre « à la culture politique ukrainienne » rappelle Leschenko, et constitue « le seul moyen de se faire entendre », des demandes d’établir des tribunaux spéciaux anti corruption et d’abandon de l’immunité parlementaire.

Parmi les manifestants, l’ancien président géorgien Mikheil Saakashvili, gouverneur d’Odessa Oblast jusqu’il y a un an lorsqu’il quitta son poste, accusant Poroshenko de donner libre cours à la corruption dans sa région. Il a depuis perdu sa nationalité ukrainienne, ce qui, après avoir perdu sa nationalité géorgienne, le laisse sans patrie.

Il mène cependant une guerre sans relâche contre la corruption en lançant un nouveau parti. Mais l’Ukraine lui a nié le statut de réfugié peu après avoir présenté son «plan pour sauver l’Ukraine » qui vise notamment la corruption mais également le système de santé et la création d’une armée de réservistes.

Le pays reste encore en état de guerre dans sa région orientale, alors que des éclats viennent périodiquement ébranler les autres régions du pays, et même la capitale parfois. La semaine dernière Kiev pointait Moscou du doigt après une explosion qui a fait deux morts à l'extérieur d'un bureau de télévision, et blessé le parlementaire Ihor Mosiychuk, un membre nationaliste de l'opposition.

En juillet le journaliste d'enquête Pavel Sheremet était tué lors de l'explosion d'une auto piégée. Un attentat qui ne serait pas si déplacé dans la Russie de Poutine. L'ombre du grand voisin plane encore sur le pays.


If this isn't war, what must that be like? The question resonates in the aftermath of the deadliest bombing in Somalia’s bloody history, which claimed over 350 lives and left dozens of others unaccounted for. Sadly it wasn't the latest attack of the sort. But after years of unrelenting violence that mid October blast was so shocking it sent thousands to the tense streets in protest.

The country's beleaguered president said the nation in the Horn of Africa had to prepare for a "state of war "  a notion which may have lost its meaning. New U.S. assisted military offensives would target the suspected insurgents, al Shabab jihadists, Washington having  declared part of the country a zone for drone operations earlier this year.

The effectiveness of such offensives has come into question, as well as that of US intelligence on the continent, or lack thereof, after half a dozen US soldiers were killed in a Niger mission recently. Would the spectre of 1993 reappear if Washington adds to the 400 troops already in Somalia to help train local forces?

Military missions have been increased since the election of a Somali American president in February in an imperfect election, but the results are visibly all but conclusive, as jihadists continue to target both military and civilians. The new leadership has also been unable to prevent pirates working off the Somali coast from resuming their attacks on ships travelling through the strategic waterways, a resumption of activities some blamed on illegal fishing and others on the country's famine.

Others see dwindling vigilance by maritimers as a culprit, coupled with the lack of onshore resources to end the attacks. "We have been relying on offshore containment, but the best way to combat piracy is through onshore solutions," says Dr. Afyare Elmi of Qatar University. "The best way is to invest in the national government, to build capacity at national level."

The U.S. carried its latest drone strikes in the country following the Mogadishu attack. This week it went further by launching its first air strikes there, but targeted ISIS after a New York lone wolf attack killed 8. But some local officials fear US military action may only be making matters worse.

They identified the man responsible for the Oct. 14 attack as a former soldier whose hometown was raided by Somali troops assisted by US special forces in a botched operation months ago which left 10 civilians killed, and said the bombing could have been an act of revenge.

This isn't uncommon according to a recent United Nations report, which states that in “a majority of cases, state action appears to be the primary factor finally pushing individuals into violent extremism in Africa”. The report interviewed hundreds of former militant fighters, 71% of whom said “government action”, including the “killing of a family member or friend” or “arrest of a family member or friend” prompted them to join a militant group.

While Al-Shabab has denied a role in the October 14 attack, perhaps shocked by its death toll, it hardly halted operations, claiming responsibility for two attacks in Mogadishu last week which killed two dozen people, one of them a regional security chief. The attack led to the sacking of police and intelligence chiefs at a time the two portfolios are key to the country's survival.

Over a quarter century after the fall of dictator Siad Barre the country remains a frail state hardly able to handle its own affairs. Officials now fear a 2020 calendar to withdraw some 22,000 African Union troops and turn the keys to Somali forces is very much in doubt.


Break-away referendums are tension-filled affairs, especially as they tend to let a minority decide on the future of an entire nation. Catalonia and Kurdistan were no different, the Spanish and Iraqi regions facing perhaps the most pressure of recent independence plebiscites, central authorities declaring them illegal.
The former saw preventive arrests and police interventions to block polling stations while the latter was able to proceed with the understanding it was non-binding, its organizers besieged by Baghdad and neighboring capitals threatening border actions and broken ties.

The Iraqi government asked local officials to yield control of the region’s airports ahead of the vote while airlines stopped servicing them. In the end the Kurds voted in favor overwhelmingly, which organizers said would bolster the autonomous region’s hand dealing with Baghdad. The numbers were convincing with 92% of participants voting yes, a score immediately met with resistance in the Iraqi capital where Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for the referendum to be annulled and a new dialogue.

Talks would follow, the regional government ruled, but only to negotiate the region’s eventual break up. The vote shook oil prices amid threats of a blockade by neighbors of the Kurdish region home to rich oil fields. "Let’s engage in serious dialogue and become good neighbors," declared Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani. But Baghdad suspended lawmakers who voted yes in the referendum.

Break ups are hardly ever peaceful like the velvet revolution, the independence of South Sudan and Eritrea only bringing war with their former citizens. While the scenario seems much less likely in Spain, the violence of Madrid’s preventive measures caused alarm there and in other countries, and sparked concerns this would only boost what was lukewarm support for independence. Rallies in Catalonia in the days leading to the vote condemned the rush by Madrid to send police to the region, a move leader Carles Puidgemont likened to Franco-style interference. 

"There’s a serious and worrying return to the fall of democracy in Spain and it's not just us who are realizing that,"  he said, deploring the arrival of ferries to accommodate the coming officers. "In the worst years of the ETA era you wouldn’t get such massive deployments. There’s no violence here." Sympathetic to the cause, Quebec nationalist and observer Gilbert Paquette condemned police action he said prevented Catalan civil servants from doing their jobs preparing ballots.

His province's legislature later passed a motion condemning Madrid's "authoritarian" measures. A dozen officials working in the election were arrested on the orders of a Barcelona judge days before the vote and Madrid threatened others with obscene fines. Paquette called Madrid’s actions that of "a regime of terror" whose actions will only "reinforce their convictions". In scenes reminiscent of the 1995 Quebec referendum, cities across Spain held flag-waving rallies in support of unity.

But at least the Quebec votes in 1980 and 1995 had been allowed to go forward, activists both for and against independence occupied schools and railed against Madrid because it sought to deny the vote altogether, leading to clashes on voting day which injured hundreds of people. Spanish authorities blasted Catalan officials as "irresponsible" for allowing the vote to go forward despite warnings, while Barcelona called police action unjustified violence.

Video showed Spanish police smashing into polling stations to remove ballots and voters, pulling some participants by the hair. While Madrid denied the legitimacy of the referendum, calling it a "mockery" of democracy, Puidgemont said Sunday Catalonia had "won the right to statehood" after the voters who did manage to cast ballots overwhelmingly endorsed independence, 90% voting in favor.

"With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form a republic," he said, adding later that Catalonia didn't want "a traumatic break" with the rest of the country. The dueling interpretations, and calls for European mediation by Puidgemont, promised tense weeks ahead as 40 trade unions and Catalan associations carried out a region-wide strike this week to denounce "the grave violation of rights and freedoms," bringing tens of thousands to the streets.

Spain's King Felipe addressed the nation about the crisis but hardly offered mediation, saying the referendum's organizers had put themselves "outside the law", and failing to mention the violence. Catalan officials said they were disappointed the monarch did little more than toe the government line. While officials from Canada to the European Union limited their commentary to the fact it was an internal matter, they expressed concern about the often violent nature of police action, which used rubber bullets, and hoped dialogue would ensue.

"We call on all relevant players to now move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue," the European Commission said in a statement. "Violence can never be an instrument in politics." But EU officials also found the Catalan vote "not legal" while Spain's justice minister warned that any declaration of independence could give Madrid the right to suspend the Catalan government's authority. But Catalan officials, invigorated by the strong support and angered by the violence, remained undaunted, leaving Europe with its latest crisis on its hands.


Après un départ de qualification catastrophique, les finalistes du dernier Mondial étaient au bord du gouffre dans les Andes, risquant de rater le rendez-vous en Russie l’été prochain.

Dans la première minute de jeu le précipice s’approchait davantage après ce but choc des hôtes qui envoyaient leurs partisans aux anges dans les hauteurs de Quito.

Le prochain Mondial allait-in être disputé sans une des grandes étoiles du sport? C’est là que Lionel Messi prit les choses en main, trouvant le filet deux fois en 20 minutes avant de compléter le tour du chapeau en deuxième moitié. L’Argentine ferait son retour à la grande fête du foot, qu’elle n’a jamais manqué depuis ses glorieuses années.

« On a de la chance, le meilleur joueur du sport est argentin, déclara l’entraîneur Jorge Sampaoli, on doit s’assurer à ce que tout ne lui tombe pas sur les épaules mais aujourd’hui il a étalé son grand talent. » Ça prenait bien ça pour éviter le drame au milieu du monde. « J’ai dit au groupe que Messi ne doit pas de coupe du monde à l’Argentine mais que le foot lui doit la coupe. Il faut l’aider à y être présent.»

Le jour même la France signait son retour en Coupe du monde après un gain contre la Biélorussie alors que les États-Unis rataient leur qualification après un échec face à Trinité et Tobago, pourtant classés derniers dans le groupe.

Il s’agit d’une première absence américaine depuis le Mondial de Mexico en 1986. Ce pays est d’ailleurs le seul des trois hôtes de l’édition nord-américaine de 2026 à se rendre en Russie après avoir dominé son groupe lors des qualifications.

La Syrie quant à elle, qui gardait encore espoir malgré l’état du pays qui la force à disputer tous ses marchés à l’extérieur, tombait face aux socceroos 2-1, mettant fin à un rêve de longue date, celui de participer à la Coupe du monde pour la toute première fois.

En revanche la participation historique du Panama, après une victoire de 2-1 contre le voisin Costa ricain, a semé la zizanie dans le petit pays d’Amérique centrale. « La voix du peuple à bien été entendue, déclara le président Juan Carlos Valera, demain sera jour de congé national».

L’Islande a également donné suite à ses exploits d’Euro 2016 avec une première présence en Coupe du monde, devenant le plus petit à y participer en battant le Kosovo 2-0.  « Et moi qui pensais, après l’Euro, la chose la plus difficile à faire était de repartir à zéro, dit par la suite l’entraîneur Heimir Hallgrimsson, à présent entré dans la légende, nous avons battu de grandes nations pour nous rendre ici... pourquoi n’aurions nous pas une chance de l’emporter?»


Plus d'un an après l'entrée au pouvoir de la lauréate du prix Nobel de la paix en Birmanie, l'intensification des hostilités entre rebelles membres de la minorité musulmane et les forces gouvernementales a fait gonfler le flot de réfugiés birmans vers le Bengladesh.

Les espoirs de pacification, et surtout de geste de la part d'Aung San Suu Kyi, restée jusqu'à tout récemment silencieuse à propos des Rohingyas et évitant les projecteurs de l'ONU cette semaine, s'effondrent avec la vaste opération militaire dans une province de l'ouest pour contrer les attaques de la l'Armée du salut des Rohingya de l'Arakan, causant le départ de 400000 réfugiés de cette minorité largement maltraitée par les éléments les plus radicaux de la majorité bouddhiste. Selon l'ONU on frôle la catastrophe humanitaire, alors qu'on fait état de plus de 400 morts résultant des violences. La pauvreté de l'état d'accueil, qui se remet mal des inondations catastrophiques de cet été, rend la situation plus misérable.

"À cause des arrivées massives des réfugiés, une immense crise humanitaire se déroule ici, déclare le militant des droits de l'homme Nur Khan Liton. Les gens sont installés dans des camps de réfugiés, sur les routes, dans les cours  d'école et même dehors. Ils défrichent pour créer de nouveaux  refuges. L'eau et la nourriture vont manquer." Aux cris des ONGs se joignent les conda-mnations des groupes internationaux face au long mutisme de Suu Kyi.

"Il s'agit d'une boucherie, elle a lieu à l'heure actuelle et ce n'est pas seulement que le bureau d'Aung San Suu Kyi ne fait rien, d'une certaine manière ils nourrissent le brasier," estime Matthew Smith du groupe des droits de l'homme Forty Rights. Lorsque celle-ci a brisé son silence cette semaine, c'était pour condamner «toutes les violations des droits de l'homme» sans mentionner les membres de cette minorité.  

Elle promettait de faire poursuivre « tous ceux qui ont violé la loi et violé les droits de l'homme». Jadis vénérée comme Mandela d'Asie, Suu Kyi a fait l'objet de pressions d'autres lauréats, dont Malala, face à la crise. Cette dernière lui a demandé de condamner ouvertement le traitement "tragique et honteux" de la minorité musulmane. "Le monde l'attend," dit-elle.

Suu Kyi a notamment en entrevue refusé de caractériser les actes commis contre les Rohingyas de nettoyage ethnique et insisté sur le fait que plusieurs populations avaient fui les violences dans le passé, non seulement les musulmans. Certains occidentaux admet-tent cependant que Suu Kyi doit en tout temps ménager ses propos, le pays restant encore sous l'emprise des militaires. Ses déclarations sur la minorité "sont très décevantes," déclare pour sa part Gloria Nafzinger d'Amnistie internationale, mais ajoute que le poste de Suu Kyi exerce peu de contrôle sur les militaires.

Celle-ci "fait face à de nombreux défis afin de moderniser son pays", fait remarquer de son côté le ministre des affaires étrangères britannique Boris Johnson, notant qu'il était "vital qu'elle reçoive l'appui des militaires birmans". Or ces derniers sont accusés de commettre des atrocités aboutissant au massacre de civils et à la destruction des villages lors des dernières offensives.

Human Rights Watch a récemment dévoilé des images satellites montrant plus de 700 habitations incidiées dans un seul village de cette minorité. Les groupes des droits de l'homme regrettent la "politi-que de l'autruche" du régime face aux "horreurs" des dernières semaines. Au point même où les appels au retrait du titre de lauréate du prix Nobel de paix se multiplient.

Suu Kyi insiste cependant sur le fait que le gouvernement "défend toute la population de Rakhine de la meilleure façon possible" contre "les terroristes". La fin de semaine dernière les rebelles annonçaient un cessez-le-feu pour mettre fin aux violences qui se sont exacerbées depuis leurs attaques contre des postes de police en août, et faciliter l'arrivée de l'aide humanitaire. Mais le gouvernement a rejeté toute pause, se disant refuser de "négocier avec les terroristes."

Puis rien pour faciliter la fuite des milliers de membres de cette minorité apatride prise entre les combats. Le chemin de la sortie aurait même été truffé de mines, et ce récemment, selon Amnistie et des représentants du Bengladesh. Vingt ans après le traité interdisant les mines antipersonnel, le régime birman en fait toujours l'usage selon Amnistie.

"Tout montre du doigt les forces de sécurité birmanes, qui viseraient des passages utilisés par les Rohingyas pour fuir," déclarait Tirana Hassan d'Amnistie. Alors que l'ONU se saisit de l'affaire demande à la Birmanie de cesser ses opérations militaires contres les Rohingyas, sur fond the cris au génocide et au nettoyage ethnique, des histoires d'horreurs surgissent des lieux où les migrants sont parvenus à se réfugier.

Sans patrie depuis les changements constitutionnels en 1982 en Birmanie, cette minorité connait rarement un bon accueil. Déjà le Bengladesh souhaite le retour des réfugiés au Myanmar, et il n'est pas le seul. Quelques 40,000 Rohingyas ont trouvé refuge en Inde au cours des années, et Delhi clame à son tour le départ des migrants sur son territoire. Pendant ce temps l'état de Rakhine se vide, environ 40% des villages Rohingyas y étant abandonnés, dont certains entièrement détruits.

"Les Rohingyas sont une minorité musulmane apatride de Birmanie qui subit discrimination et extrême pauvreté depuis plusieurs décennies, résume le HCR, ils n'ont pas accès aux droits fondamentaux, comme la liberté de mouvement, le droit à l'éducation et au travail."


Alors que les référendums pour l’indépendance en Espagne et au Kurdistan ont parfois été marqués par une certaine violence, parfois physique mais surtout verbale adressée par les opposants nationaux et internationaux, elle n’a pas atteint celle de la contestation indépendantiste au Cameroun, qui a débuté après l’envoi de professeurs français dans une région anglophone du pays.

Au moins 14 personnes ont connu la mort au début d’octobre lorsque la crise a atteint son paroxysme suivant la déclaration symbolique d’indépendance d’une région au nord du pays. Est-ce a quoi les autres mouvements doivent également se préparer?

Voilà depuis un an que la minorité anglophone de cet ancien pays de francafrique, qui représente environ un camerounais sur cinq, proteste sa margi-nalization au sein de la société. La goutte qui aurait fait déborder le vase: l’envoi de professeurs francophones dans cette région, dont la médiocrité dans les deux langues aurait soulevé des plaintes de tentative d’assimilation.

Ajoutant aux tensions, des mesures de Yaoundé ces derniers mois imposant le couvre-feu et l’interdiction des réunions de plus de quatre personnes en public. Suite aux derniers éclats s’est ajoutée l’interdiction aux journalistes de rencontrer les partisans de l’indépendance.

Ces derniers prônent un retour à la fédération des années 1961-1972, alors qu’éclatait la crise du Biafra au Nigéria. Les tactiques deviennent parfois propre à la guérilla cependant avec l'explosion d'une bombe près d’un poste de police à Bamenda ainsi qu'à Douala, dans la partie francophone.

Face à la crise le président Paul Biya appelle au dialogue condamnant «de façon énergétique tous les actes de violence d’où qu’ils viennent.» Mais les violences se confondent-elles? Le pays est également proie aux violences islamistes dont celle de Boko Haram, qui mène depuis plusieurs années une véritable guerre chez le voisin nigérian.

Le gouvernement tient le groupe responsable de la mort de plus de 1000 camerounais et de l’enlèvement de la famille d’un des ministres, mais des critiques estiment que les mesures anti-terroristes mises en place créent des inquiétudes dans la zone anglophone. Face à la crise France et UE se disent préoccupées par les événements alors que l’ONU exhorte les autorités camerounaises « à promouvoir des mesures de réconciliation nationale».

La semaine dernière le ministre de la défense Joseph Béti Assomo annonçait l'ouverture d'une enquête judiciaire sur les violences dans les régions anglophones. "En plus de l'évaluation des dégâts matériels, il y a également des enquêtes précises qui ont été ouvertes par les autorités judiciaires sur le bilan (des) événements", dit-il.

Selon lui les événements du début du mois 'sont le fait de certains extrémistes violents," mais Amnistie internationale faisait état de 500 personnes détenues dans des prisons surpeuplées suite à des arrestations "massives et arbitraires dans les zones anglophones."


L’esclavage. C’est un mot qui devrait appartenir au passé, refaisant surface de temps à autre comme exagération, ou lors de furieux débats publics sur les séquelles du passé. Pourtant il reste d’actualité, gardant tout son sens au sein des réseaux trafiquant des migrants ou au cœur de cultes ciblant les plus vulnérables.

En ce 21e siècle il décrit l’état de plus de 40 millions d’humains, le quart des enfants, selon l’Organisation Internationale du Travail. Ces derniers vivent un autre enfer, celui du travail des jeunes de cinq à 17 ans, 152 millions en tout, particulièrement dans le domaine agricole.

«Le monde ne sera pas en situation d’atteindre les objectifs de développement durable tant que nous n’aurons pas considérablement intensifié nos efforts pour lutter contre ces fléaux, note sèchement Guy Ryder, directeur général de l’OIT, les nouvelles estimations mondiales peuvent nous aider à élaborer et structurer des interventions visant à prévenir le travail forcé comme le travail des enfants. »

Sur un continent où ils peuvent servir de soldats dans les tranchées des plus grands, l’Afrique, 72 millions d’enfants grandissent sans connaître une véritable jeunesse, près de la moitié dans des occupations dangereuses, alors que l’Asie suit de près avec 62 millions d’enfants au travail. Un enfant africain sur cinq serait ainsi privé du banc d’école. Andrew Forrest de la Walk Free Foundation qualifie de « honte pour tous » cet état des choses.

«C’est aussi lié à la discrimination et aux inégalités du monde actuel. À cela s’ajoute une tolérance choquante face à l’exploi-tation.» Il revient au monde des affaires, aux gouvernements, à la société civile et à chaque individu d’intervenir, dit-il. Selon Michaelle De Cock de l’OIT «il y a un besoin de droits sociaux et du travail dans l’économie informelle».

Fait délicat, deux tiers des enfants au travail le seraient au sein d’une entreprise familiale, en ville ou en campagne, d’où le besoin selon l’organisation de « comprendre et de s'attarder sur la dépendance des familles envers le travail des enfants si l’on veut faire du progrès ». Les organisations telles que Walk Free tentent de sauver les victimes de cet esclavage moderne, mais ce n’est pour l’instant que la pointe de l’iceberg.

«Seulement quel-ques dizaines de milliers  de victimes sont aidées, assistées ou appuyées,» note Fiona David. Malheureusement plus de 200 ans après l’interdiction de l’esclavage les chiffres sont à la hausse. Il y a quatre ans un premier indice mondial de l’esclavage, le Global Slavery Index, faisait état de 30 millions de cas, Haïti, l’Inde, le Népal, la Mauritanie et le Pakistan y ayant le plus souvent recours.

Selon les chiffres les plus récents l’Inde et la Chine trônent au triste palmarès de chiffres absolus. Mais l'Occident n'est pas totalement exclu du palmarès. Des cas y font surface tout les jours, sous forme d'exploi-tation des plus vulnérables, les victimes du traffic humain. Le fondateur de Walk Free, le PDG milliardaire minier australien Andrew Forrest, avait posé les projecteurs sur sa propre entreprise avant de faire de l'élimination de l'esclavage sa mission civilisatrice.

"A l'opposé des phénomènes naturels comme le cancer et l'ébola, dit-il, il s'agit de quelquechose que les hommes peuvent contrôler."


Like most of its neighbours, Cambodia is hardly a model of democracy, categorized as "not free" by Freedom House along with Vietnam, Thailand and the neighbourly giant, China. But events taking place a year before elections is pushing the country deeper into autocracy.

A media crackdown, the arrest of opposition politicians and an air of paranoia sweeping the Cambodian leadership have imperiled democracy to the point of being beyond salvation from within the country's borders, says an opposition heading for the exit.

"Democracy is in danger, my life is in danger," said the deputy leader of the country’s main opposition party Mu Sochua days before she eventually fled the country on a tip her arrest was imminent. While Myanmar’s war on its Muslim minority is capturing world headlines little has been noticed of the clampdown of media and opposition in the last weeks Sochua has decried as  "psychological warfare".

In September police arrested the head of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and charged him with treason on charges of plotting to topple the government with the assistance of the U.S., the habitual scapegoat.

This closely followed the closing of the reputable Cambodia Daily newspaper, which dedicated its last issue to covering the arrests. Its parting shot, the banner headline: Descent into outright dictatorship, on the front page. With elections looming Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for decades, declared he would remain at the helm for years, and seems to be employing every method to ensure this.

"Mr Hun Sen as part of his strategy is eliminating the heads of opposition, as many people high up as possible," said Sochua. Whatever civil society there once was to prevent abuse is slowly ebbing away notes Ou Virak of the Future Forum.

"It would have Been unthinkable to kick out the (party) and close the Cambodia Daily five years ago," he told the Financial Times, "they would have pushed back and the government would have caved." But no longer. With the long ruling People's Party holding a slim lead in polls, observers suspect coming elections are behind the crackdown and accompanying anti-American rhetoric.

The US is accused of being behind a number of plots against the regime. Government officials have also called the ousted opposition leader "a foreign token" acting against the national interest. The pattern is unfortunately a familiar one in the lead up to elections.

"This is what he has been doing for the past 25 years," notes commentator Cham Bunthet. "He gives the opposition some breathing room and then he cuts it."  The longtime ruler has now sidelined five opposition leaders and muzzled 15 radio stations.

"The timing of this crackdown is less surprising than its scope and severity," notes Freedom House guest writer Lee Morgenbesser. "Ahead of national elections next year, Hun Sen is heavily tilting the playing field to the advantage of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party." Helpful to the regime: China's support and American indifference.

"It's a devastating blow to the free flow of unbiased information across Cambodia before pivotal national elections next year," deplores Shawn Crispin of the Committee to Protest Journalists.


Calgary sans les flames? C’est un peu comme essayer d’imaginer le centre ville sans son amphithéâtre en forme de selle. Or voila que celui-ci est au cœur de la bisbille entre le club de hockey et la ville.

Le saddledome date des Jeux de 1988, et alors que de nouvelles are as vouent le jour d’Edmonton, la Grande rivale, à l’as Vegas, l’équipe d’expansion, un aréna de 34 ans ne fait pas l’affaire de la ligue dont seuls les espoirs de retour à Québec  avaient motivé le développement du centre Vidéotron dans la vieille capitale.

Au plus fort de la crise on a osé proférer ce mot en d qui en premier lieu ne semble pas avoir sa place dans une ville canadienne où règne le sport f’hiver. Non pas dépression, mais déménagement, bien qu’il s’agisse presque de synonyme en l’occurrence.

En premier lieu les flames, alors mème que l’avant saison battait son plein, se retiraient des pourparlers entourant la construction du nouvel amphithéâtre, citant des coûts que se permettraient mal les citadins d’une ville qui ne vit pas ses mous les plus roses financièrement, bien que celle-ci ait l’air de se relever peu à peu.

Pour l’heure la ligue écarte tout départ du club, mais s’impatiente de la lenteur de la progression vers un nouvel aréna. « Ils vont s’accrocher  aussi longtemps qu’ils le pourront, du moins c’est la situation actuelle, declara Gary bettman.

Ce n’est pas une perspective exaltante pour personne mais c’est un constat réaliste de la situation dans laquelle ils se trouvent ». Un premier projet pouvant dépasser le milliard et rattaché à un stade de football a été écarté, mais la ville est revenue à la charge avec une offre publique avec laquelle elle espérait relancer le bal, se disant prête de payer 185 millions $ du demi milliard nécessaire pour un projet d’aréna, qui remplacerait le deuxième stade le plus vieux après le madison square garden.

Le coût est cinq fois celui du Saddledome à l’époque mais légèrement moins élevé que le 600 millions de rogers place à Edmonton, ou le stade bâti par Wayne gretsky tire enfin sa révérence.

Mais quelques jours plus tard les Flames confirmaient qu'ils mettaient fin à leur projet de nouvel aréna, disant qu'ils auraient été prêts à financer la construction de l'ordre de 275 millions $, mais que l'offre n'était plus sur la table après deux ans de négociations.

«Dans un petit marché, même un comptant sur une équipe de la LNH, un aréna construit par des fonds privés n’est pas viable, ont indiqué les propriétaires des Flames. La proposition de la ville n’est pas viable, pas plus qu’elle n’est juste en comparaison avec les ententes négociées dans d’autres marchés comparables.»

Le sujet allait rester d'actualité alors que le maire Naheed Nenshi défend son poste aux élections municipales d'octobre. En attendant c’est la performance sur la glace qui fait le plus de brouhaha, les jeunes Oilers venant au bout des Flames lors des deux rencontres d’avant saison 5-4 et 5-2.


The frail tourist dependent islands of the Caribbean usually recover after the passage of hurricanes, but it takes time. A full decade after a hurricane targeted Cuba in the 1990s buildings in Havana still bore the scars of the devastation. And it will take some time before the islands, from St Martin to Antigua and Puerto Rico, already struggling with bankruptcy, recover from this summer's catastrophic triple whammy.

While hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas to the tune of some $150 billion by some estimates, hurricane Irma, right on its tail, sent horror stories out of the small islands of Antigua and Barbuda, where some 90% of cars and buildings were said of being damaged, as well as St Martin and the British ruled Turks and Caicos, wiping out infrastructures and electricity and stranding holiday makers from cooler climes.

The percentage of devastation is roughly the same in the Florida Keys, where 90% of homes have suffered damage. Cuban officials meanwhile credited precau-tionary measures for avoiding the worst, but still faced a difficult clean up job on this island of shortages and limited means after Irma left 10 dead and hundreds of thousands fled the path of the storm. But the bruised islands were in for more difficult days as Hurricane Mary threatened to inflict more damage on the survivors from the Virgin islands to Puerto Ric

Billionaire Richard Branson, who huddled in his wine cellar of the Virgin Islands during the hurricane but emerged to a devastated property, blamed man-made climate change for the string of storms this summer, and called for a Marshall Plan-like disaster recovery to lift the islands out of despair. "The boats are piled up like matchsticks in the harbour. Huge cargo ships were thrown out of the water and into rocks. Resorts have been decimated. The houses have their roofs blown off; even some churches where people sheltered have lost roofs," Branson reported.

He called on US and UK governments, who indeed leaped into action, to actively support the affected populations and for politicians to act against global warming. "Man-made climate change is contributing to increasingly strong hurricanes causing unprece-dented damage. The whole world should be scrambling to get on top of the climate change issue before it is too late – for this generation, let alone the generations to come," said Branson.

Pope Francis seemed to share the sentiment tying the events to global warming, saying: "Those who deny this must go to the scientists and ask them. They speak very clearly." While an increasing amount of reports point the finger at climate change for this year's storms, not everyone in the scientific community is ready to jump to such conclusions, yet.

"It is premature to conclude that human activities–and parti-cularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity," concluded the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a report.

"That said, human activities may have already caused changes that are not yet detectable due to the small magnitude of the changes or observational limitations, or are not yet confidently modeled."

Over 20 were killed by Irma on these islands while another half dozen were killed in the United States where Irma battered Florida from the Keys to Miami and beyond, causing millions to evacuate. Making matters worse was the looting which compounded the misery of shortages of everything from food and water to medicine


Fifty years after the independence of South Yemen formalized the division of the state at the bottom of the Arabian peninsula, the country may as well be splintered, after Shiite Houthis have taken over the capital and sent the government to the southern city of Aden to continue its tenuous hold on half the country.

More than two years into the civil war in what was already among the least developed countries in the region, especially compared to its opulent neighbor, the growing toll has sparked global alarm, the United Nations considering the crisis the worst humanitarian emergency in the world, wracked by war, famine, and a cholera epidemic only made worse by this year's monsoon.

More than a third of the country's 25 million people are in need of immediate assistance, with more than half lacking food. In early September already over half a million cholera cases had been recorded, linked to some 2,000 deaths in all parts of the country, no matter who controls it. No ruler has had a strong grip on the country since the ouster of president Saleh as the shockwaves of the Arab spring reverberated.

The longtime president had sought to strengthen his hand by seeking constitutional changes ending term limits, but was ousted by ensuing protests and violence. At least until he staged his comeback with Iran-backed Houthis who took hold of the capital Sanaa but have been bombarded by Saudi and other Gulf air forces. Stuck in the middle, a suffering population with nowhere to run and increasingly nothing to eat.

"Given the collapse of the country's historically fragile institutions and the inability of relief workers to reach many parts of the countryside, it's a safe bet that the scale of the health and food crisis is actually worse than reported," reflected Michael Dempsey, a former U.S. acting director of national intelligence.

"If that weren't bad enough, the war is generating a series of new and ominous security threats to the region at large," he adds in a piece in the Washington Post, noting the launching of Houthi missiles into Saudi Arabia and growing threats to regional maritime traffic. Not to mention the risks of Islamist insurgency growing among the wreckage.

Air strikes have been responsible for dozens of civilian deaths in August alone, including one which the Saudi government apologized for, flattening buildings following a "technical mistake." While Houthis blamed Riyadh for the attacks, the Shiite group has also been accused of hindering huma-nitarian efforts to tackle the crisis facing the peninsula.

Yet Yemen remains a popular route for smugglers ferrying migrants fleeing the African continent. The IOM says some 55,000 people have fled the Horn of Africa for Yemen since the beginning of the year (110000 did so in all of 2016). The vulnerable newcomers are sometimes exploited, when they do make it to shore. In March Saudi Arabia was criticized for an air strike against a boat carrying refugees, killing 42 Somalis.


Il y a rien comme le sport pour faire momentanément oublier le calvaire de la crise syrienne. 

Alors que le pays tente de mettre fin aux derniers gestes de résistance de l'état islamique, il reste fermement dans la poigne de l'homme fort Bashir El-Assad. 

Pourtant certains syriens rêvent encore de gloire sportive, et le onze national y est presque parvenu lors d'un match de qualification de la zone Asie en vue du mondial de l'an prochain. 

Il restait quelques instants à Téhéran au match l'opposant au rival iranien quand les visiteurs ont nivelé le score. 

Une victoire syrienne aurait garanti une participation en Russie, mais la nulle 2-2 dans les temps d'arrêt, a rendu possible une série de barrage contre l'Australie le mois prochain, et maintient donc intacts les espoirs d'effectuer un retour dans la cour des grands l'an prochain. 

La Syrie tente de se qualifier pour son tout premier mondial malgré l'état terrifiant de plusieurs infrastructures du territoire national. Le club d'ailleurs ne joue aucun match chez lui, la Malaisie servant de terrain à domicile.

La Syrie est en effet loin de retourner à la normale, ou de pouvoir de règle générale accueillir des événements d'envergure internationaux, étant parvenue à organiser sa première foire internationale le mois dernier seulement.

Mais rien n'empêche les partisans de rêver à une présence en coupe du monde. "Ce rêve va devenir réalité et nous participerons à la coupe du monde," déclarait interviewé par la télévision syrienne peu avant le match contre l'Iran.

Mais s'y rendre ne sera pas sans embûche, le club devant remporter une série aller-retour contre les socceroos pour pouvoir prolonger son rêve en participant aux éliminatoires régionaux.

Pas mal tout de même pour une sélection choisie en fonction des allégeances politiques plutôt que le talent. D'ailleurs un seul joueur ne serait pas un fervent supporter du tyran de Damas, mais plutôt aux couleurs de l'opposition.


The ruling by Kenya's Supreme Court to annul recent elections was one for the history books in term of court decisions in Africa, but earlier the continent had witnessed another rarity when a long reigning leader stepped down, his succession determined by democratic process.

Of course 74 year old Angolan leader Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, at the helm for nearly four decades, counted on his family still wielding influence long after he's left the scene. At least it's a good start that he chose not to spend his remaining days as leader, unlike so many counterparts from Algiers to Harare.

The ailing leader was the second oldest serving president, behind his Equatorial Guinea counter-part, and decided this winter defence minister Joao Lourenço would carry the torch of the dominant MPLA party, which has ruled since independence. It received 61% of the vote according to preliminary results, but the opposition has also made some progress.

Lourenço becomes the first new face of the nation in over a generation but will also have fewer powers after the legislature voted a law that prevents the president from sacking some high ranking officials, such as the heads of the police and army, for eight years. Dos Santos meanwhile will benefit from immunity, as he will remain on the seat of the council of the republic.

Other family members will retain important positions, from a billionaire daughter who is Africa's richest woman, to his son, who heads a wealth fund to invest the country's oil riches. The sums of these riches have dwindled with the fall of oil prices, which need to be above $85 in order for the country to balance its budget.

Angola, once among the fastest growing economies in the world, has seen much decline and much inflation. It has also seen much corruption, being high on the list of the most corrupt countries, a major issue of the campaign and one the president elect had promised to tackle. To his credit he is seen as one of the few national figures free of suspicion of corruption. Lourenço has denied the outgoing family will maintain a stranglehold on power.

“I think I will have all the power," he said. "I only wouldn’t have all the power if there were two presidents of the country, which is not the case.” In a country of great inequalities, the wealth of the Dos Santos has sparked considerable outrage, especially when a younger son of the outgoing leader bought a $500.000 watch at a charity auction.

These wealthy children are caught up in some of the corruption cases which sadly come with the territory of long presidential rules. The struggling economy, especially in the non-oil sector, and corruption matters dragged the MPLA's popularity under 70%, giving the opposition Unita over 26% of the vote and a new lease on life after making substantial gains in the capital.

Lourenço has vowed to return Angola to the days of its economic miracle, but short of a tremendous, and better managed, oil price surge, the odds are stacked against him.


For such silent artefacts they are creating quite the outrage. But some would argue their presence alone speaks louder than words. From the southern US to Canada and Australia, monuments and statues have come under fire this summer like never before, with Charlottesville protests near a Confederate monument feeding the flames.

Since that incident, battles around various historic sites have multiplied across the country, and in nearby Canada, where First Nations unhappy of government efforts to support to their communities have criticized sites honouring those who instituted the residential system which tore Native communities apart.

That debate has expanded to statues after the government said it would rename one of its buildings honouring Hector-Louis Langevin, the architect of the residential system. Soon others tied to historical wrongs against First Nations were coming under scrutiny, such as Egerton Ryerson, who had a university named after him, and most prominently the nation's first prime minister, Sir John A Macdonald, who is accused by the Elementary teachers federation of Ontario of being an "architect of genocide against indigenous peoples."

Is this going too far? In Australia a 19th century statue where Cpt. James Cook is described as the one who went on to "discover" the country, has been the subject of much outcry. While statues are all the rage, other symbols are up for debate too, from an anchor with a swastika in an open air museum to street names north of Ottawa honouring Nobel Prize winners who were Nazi sympathizers.

It is not clear whether the anchor, which was found in a lake nearly 30 years ago, is from a sunken German ship or an older vessel, which has sparked a debate about a symbol of hatred in the 20th century which previously held an entirely different significance. Historians note that on older British ships swastikas were in fact painted on for good luck. Sport team symbols have also over the years been criticized for logos depicting caricatural Natives, from the Cleveland Indians to the Washington Redskins.

While these pro teams have been able to hang on to their logos despite public campaigns against them, minor teams using similar logos and names have changed them over the years, including the Nepean Redskins, a minor football team renamed the Eagles. The Mississauga Chiefs minor hockey team on the other hands got to keep their name with the blessing of local First Nations.

But has the debate over the nation's first prime minister gone too far? Macdonald is on everything from school names to 10 dollar bills, his statues standing tall from coast to coast. This revisionist summer even statues of Christopher Columbus have come under scrutiny. As New York City engaged in its review of symbols of hate, mayor De Blasio did not rule out removing Manhattan's 76-foot Columbus Circle monument after a Columbus monuments in Baltimore and Yonkers were defaced for being racist. If this continues some rather large memorials may end up being altered.

But even some figures you would think would be offended by the huge carved Robert E Lee monument on Stone Mountain in Georgia have called for pause, describing calls to remove it counterproductive. "I perso-nally feel that we made a mistake fighting over the Confederate flag here in Georgia," former Atlanta mayor and civil rights leader Andrew Young told the New York Times, "or that that was an answer to the problem of the death of nine people to take down the Confederate flag in South Carolina."

In Canada some editorialists stressed differences between Macdonald and Confederate figures. "Putting Macdonald in the same box as Jefferson Davis... is the height of ignorance," penned the Globe & Mail. "One diminished human freedom and possibilities. The other created a country that does the opposite." Some pursued the logic of revisionism well into the 20th century, pointing to the current prime minister's father.

"His father after all, was not without dictatorial moves," penned the Sun newspapers. "He had no qualms removing the liberties of Canadians by invoking the War Measures' Act, and having the armed forces patrolling our streets in tanks."

During a press conference in which he announced the restructuring of the Natives Affairs Department, Trudeau flatly turned down changing Macdonald's name from any federal building. After all where would it stop? Wilfrid Laurier had a little hangup about letting Chinese immi-grants into Canada while William Lyon Mackenzie King turned away Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler. All, one could argue, were very much creatures of their time, imperfect, and unschooled in today's more inclusive visions of the Western world.

Therefore likely to fail the modern day microscope test. Tearing down tributes to personalities now considered controversial would be "counterproductive," argues the former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Sen. Murray Sinclair. Instead, he urged the public to honour Indigenous heroes.

This was in fact one of 94 recommendations made by the commission, in its two year old report, which called for honouring Natives as well as those who suffered under the residential system, by erecting visible monuments to its victims across Canada.


There were all the element of a buildup for an endless battle as the opposition in Kenya rejected results of the latest election giving incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta a new mandate, calling for supporters to participate in a general strike, claiming the tally was tampered with.

But world observers mostly concurred  the vote had been largely fair, and in the end many Kenyans ignored the call to strike and carried on with their lives. Not that everything was peaceful.

Earlier authorities had asked the losing side to accept the results, showing Kenyatta carried 54% of the vote, in an effort to avoid clashes which have followed elections in the past.

But 24 people were killed in post electoral violence as the UN appealed for calm. Violence had broken out even as Kenya awaited the results of the presidential election, one attack targeting the home of the vice-president while another killed an official responsible  for the electronic voting system, leading the opposition to reject results and declare the vote rigged, but observers saw no evidence of this.

The violence came as no surprise after a tense and divisive campaign. As family feuds go this is a longstanding one, Kenyatta and Raila Odinga not only going at it again after the former took the 2013 contest, but the duo continuing the duel their fathers engaged in soon after independence.

Kenyatta, whose father oversaw the break from Britain, can run no more according to the constitution, and carried the shadow of an ICC indictment for his alleged role in bloodshed during the 2007 vote organizers strove to avoid. Over 1300 Kenyans died in the 2007 ethnic violence and some 600000 were displaced.

The vote this year was however not entirely peaceful, violence on election day causing at least one death after a campaign marked by hateful messages some feared would spark communal violence. For Odinga this was his fourth candidacy, and at 72, possibly his last, after three previous failures. Kenyatta has in fact not failed to contrast his relative youth with that of his rival, whom he mocked as an "analogue" candidate in the digital era.

This worked well rallying his base in the Kikuyu ethnic group. But Kenyatta has been accused of curtailing press freedom, passing restrictive laws while journalists were sacked for criticizing his policies. Odinga, the son of the country's first vice president, has been a divisive figure, popular among his Luo community but criticized for frequently changing political allegiance, casting himself as a reformist frequently.

He was imprisoned the first of two times under accusations of trying to stage a coup in 1982. It isn't unusual for opposition parties to dig in their heels after losing at the polls in Africa, sometimes for a good reason. This Spring Adama Barrow was finally invested as new president of Gambia after neighboring forces pressured the incumbent Yahya Jammeh to abide by electoral results and leave power after 22 years at the helm.

Last year the opposition in Congo denounced an "electoral hold up" after longtime ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso was re-elected with 60% of polls in a vote they condemned as a farce. The same year Jean Ping resisted efforts to concede after losing to incumbent Ali Bongo in Gabon, who tallied just under 50% of results. Suspiciously Bongo collected 99.9% of votes in his home region, intensifying cries of fraud by the opposition.


In surreal times surreal scenes. Like a South Korean k-pop concert near the always tense demilitarized zone. The show was not to be confused with previous uses of the music, blasted in loudspeakers across the DMZ in a bout of psychological warfare waged with North Korea for decades. It was in fact a peace offering in the area at a time the latest exchange of mutually assured rhetoric could spark panic.

Instead, for a few days, it triggered concern thousands of miles away on the Pacific island of Guam. But no panic. The 160000 US islanders too it turns out have grown used to the absurdity of being peons in a longstanding exchange of threats, sometimes only meant to make those uttering them deflect attention from domestic issues. While Pyongyang has a well established tradition of deflecting a myriad of domestic issues by raising the spectre of foreign threats, observers say the approach is new for Washington, at least in terms of dealing with North Korea.

"This is a trick out of Vladimir Putin's book, which is to always whip up an international conflict," notes Charles Hecker of consultancy Control Risk, a remark not without irony considering the swirling investigation of collusion with Russia. "To distract everybody from what's going on."

Trump's threat to deal with Kim Jong-Un "with fire and fury like the world has never seen" coincided with the FBI's raid of the home of former campaign manager Paul Manafort in its investigation of ties to the Putin regime. Days later Trump said military options were on the table on the crisis in Venezuela as well, another statement met with surprise by the establishment.

Later Vice President Mike Pence sought to ease concerns raised by the president's remarks saying that while the US was concerned about Venezuela descending into chaos it would use its economic and diplomatic might first and foremost to influence things. But president Maduro held an anti-imperialist rally seeking to capitalize on the U.S. threat, which only bolstered his criticism of Washington. He scheduled military exercises for this week.

"It never hurts to whip up a good international conflict when you're facing problems at home," Hecker added on CNBC, noting that for a few days in August the U.S. had "forgotten the Russia investigation." But the charged up rhetoric caused a bit of tension in the US however, with public security officials sending out directives in Guam and residents as far as Chicago dreading the implications of Pyongyang's development of longer range missiles. But residents of the US territory have been threatened this way before.

Guam resident Vicente Bautista told a local daily he heard this sort of threat as far back as 40 years ago when stationed in the demilitarized zone. "They have had missiles targeting Guam ever since," he said. Public authorities issued familiar evacuation orders during the crisis, following instructions routinely issued for typhoons.

Guam governor Eddie Calvo says the territory has been heartened at least three times since 2013 and he for one is happy Trump is finally standing up for the island which houses two large military bases. Calvo called Kim Jong-Un "a bully with some very strong weapons" who "has to be countered quite strongly."

Even before Pyongyang signalled it would stand down on carrying an immediate attack on Guam few, including Hecker, believed even the latest outburst of vitriol would lead to conflict, saying the "geopolitical fundamentals" of the conflict remain the same. Thus the relative calm after the exchanges.

But there's worry the unpredictable nature of the two leaders could lead the world down a dark path. "We are not closer to war than a week ago but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago," said CIA director Mike Pompeo. If this is a case of deflecting criticism through foreign actions it is not without precedent, even for America.

Many saw US air strikes against suspected terror strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan two decades ago as such a thing, coming at the height of the Monica Lewinsky drama. Other actions have gone so far as to trigger war, the Russian interior minister shortly after the outbreak of the 1904 Russo-Japanese war going on the record saying "we need a little, victorious war to stem revolution."

The recent Crimean conflict was seen as an effort of the Kremlin to rally support to deflect the economic crisis at home tied to lower oil revenues while the earlier incarnation of the Crimean war was also viewed by historians as an attempt by Napoleon to strengthen his base at home. Of course the outcomes have not always been desired, Argentina's effort to deflect economic crisis at home in 1982 by targeting the Falklands leading to a swift victorious British response some say played no small part in beginning to topple the dictatorship in Buenos Aires.

Is the Trump administration's approach comparable or is it perhaps looking to the crisis to possibly obtain, of all things, trade concessions? Pressuring China to up its ante against the turbulent neighbor next door, Trump hinted he may feel differently about his country's huge trade deficit with China if it stepped up its game. Days later Beijing slapped new trade restrictions sure to impact the hermit kingdom. They soon lead to protest at the border.

More certain to win a bout with Pyongyang, the White House may however not necessarily get what it wants in terms of changing the domestic channel, the investigation on alleged ties with Russia moving forward full steam ahead. "In the end diversion is a fool's errand, offering fleeting political benefit and inviting very real risk," opined a piece in the Atlantic. "Of course the attraction of a risk wager depends on how weak a president is, domestically." And now, some wonder, what's next?



It's the birthplace of Confederation and the island should be giddy with excitement, but there's a strong sense of déjà vu all over again. While the big red digits at Confederation landing read 2017 there's a sense they're interchangeable.

For one thing the cradle of union, Province House, the legislature, seems in between celebrations, undergoing a major renovation, leaving visitors to loiter around construction barriers looking for the visiting office.

A sign across the street from the building and war memorial cues up celebrations past, "Come celebrate with us 150 years: 1864 - 2014." That is after all when the conference involving the founding leaders took place, not that it involved the locals directly. Prince Edward Island didn't join the new nation before 1873, and you know this from the T-shirts for sale around the marina in Charlottetown. It makes you wonder whether these fiercely proud and independent islanders, who in 1867 were in fact still considering the option of joining the United States, have much to celebrate at all this year of all things Canadian, from a Bono gig on Parliament Hill to
giant French made dragons fuming on the streets of the capital. Sure there's a buzz, but it's summer and there's always a buzz, mainly consisting of Quebecers looking to travel, but not too far away, and Japanese so enamored with Anne of Green Gables that the birthplace of its author is largely bilingual, English and Japanese.

Islanders do like a good party, and did have something to celebrate this year and that was Bridge Fest, marking the 20th anniversary of Confederation bridge. But this too had its pros and cons. In fact those still miffed by the damage to the ferry business and loss of a certain insularity still refuse to cross it to this day.

This island pride should not be confused with island unity, which historian David Weale says makes the story of Confederation all the more interesting. "Islanders have probably never been united on any other issue as much as they were in their desire to be independent and to stay out of Confederation," he tells the CBC. "Islanders had this feisty, independent spirit that they wanted to go on their own."

Of course that may have been too much to ask from such a small population in the shadow of a growing union north of the 49th and ever larger United States to the south. That small population still confuses today and some are left to wonder whether it can get any respect. An American foreign correspondent working with the NPU once expressed surprise PEI was considered a bona fide province despite its modest population of some 145,000, minus the tourists.

Even Canadians sometimes get it wrong, major controversy erupting when a map of Canada drawn by Vancouver airport omitted the island altogether. Then there's the slight the neighbouring province nearly landed. While islanders may not agree on the date, they are fiercely proud of being the birthplace of Confederation and PEI politicians have sought to make this motto, on every provincial licence plate, official. 

MP Wayne Easter and Senator Diane Griffin introduced bills that would enshrine Jean Chrétien's declaration Charlottetown is the birthplace of Confederation into law. But New Brunswick says it deserves its share of fame because its Lieutenant-Governor at the time, Arthur Gordon, proposed the conference be held on the island, and besides PEI had no formal role beyond hosting.

"We agree that Prince Edward Island is the ‘Cradle of Confederation,’ but would like to augment that by saying that New Brunswick had a significant role in it, too,” says the province's tourism minister. Historians point out that Gordon may have had a more regional conference in mind at the outset, rather than a wider union with upper and lower Canada.

“New Brunswickers and Maritimers should be proud that not only one, but three provinces, contributed to the original movement toward unity.” Behind the good natured ribbing is competition for tourist cash as the cruise ships and RVs descend on the region with the added bump Lonely Planet gave Canada by declaring it its destination of choice in 2017, tall ships and fuming dragons and all.

Can there be too much of a good thing? On an island of two lane roads and quiet gatherings at the Frosty Treat dairy bar, perhaps. "It's getting boring, having one in '14, and '17, and then we'll have another one in '23 — it's not so special anymore," says Weale, decrying a spot of centennial fatigue.But not all agree with that assessment. "They're all equally important," says one horse-drawn carriage driver at the museum of Anne of Green Gables of the multiple years of celebration, "all good reasons to have a party."


La trampoline? Bon d'accord. Le surf? Oui à la rigueur. Les jeux vidéos un sport olympique? Bon ce n'est pas du pocker mais c'est de quoi faire sourciller les adeptes de la lutte greco romaine (non pas le catch télévisé) ou du lancer du javelot.

Alors que Les instances du sport se penchent sûr la question de cette activité prisée chez les jeunes (et plus vieux) et qui sème la hystérie lors de leurs championnats du monde l'idée laisse d'autant plus perplexe qu'une etude récente établit un lien entre la perte de matières grise et cette activité. Évidemment on pourrait en dire autant à propos de la boxe.

Un représentant du comité olympique des jeux de Paris a laissé entendre qu'il allait soulever la question de compétitions de sport électronique en prévision des jeux de 2024 dans la ville lumière.

Alors que l'idée peu paraître inusitée elle a déjà fait du chemin en Asie, ou ces compétitions remplissent des arenas de partisans farouches et excites, et où elles ont obtenu leurs lettres de noblesse en tant que discipline aux jeux d'Asie en prévision de l'édition de 2022.

Selon Tony Estanguet du comité de Paris, il s'agit de moderniser des jeux qui devront plaire à une génération branchée. "Il faut y regarder Ca parce qu'on ne peut pas dire 'ce n'est pas ce que nous sommes, ce n'est pas olympique'. La jeunesse est intéressée au sport électronique et ce genre de chose. Regardons la chose de près. Allons à leur rencontre. Voyons si nous pouvons ériger des ponts."

Toute décision devra être prise d'ici 2019. Pour les jeux précédents à Tokyo, planche à roulette, baseball, softball, surf, karate et escalade ont été ajoutés au menu. Au moment de confirmer les sports électroniques le conseil olympique d'Asie à justifie sa décision vu "le développement rapide et la popularité grandissante de ce nouveau genre de sport chez les jeunes ".

Le sport électronique se développe ailleurs qu'en Asie, l'université de l'Utah annonçant qu'il y aurait désormais une bourse pour les étudiants qui prendront part à l'équipe de sport électronique universitaire. L'an dernier ce genre de sport à génére près d'un demi milliard de dollars en revenus et a été suivi par 320 millions de partisans .

En Finlande ses adeptes ont été officiellement reconnus comme athletes par le fisc. "D'une manière générale le sport peut comprendre des jeux d'habilité mentale, ou le succès est mesure autre more que par la performance physique".

Les premiers egames, JOs pour egamers, ont d'ailleurs eu lieu en marge des jeux de Rio et couronne un canadien, Ally, médaille d'or pour ses exploits au jeu de Mario. Plus tot les world cyber games couronnaient les héros du sport entre 2000 et 2013.


Ils l'ont échappé belle, mais qu'on se le tienne pour dit, la chasse contre la corruption est engagée, et leurs opposants ne sont pas prêts de baisser les mains. Les présidents du Brésil et de l'Afrique du Sud ont tous deux survécu ce mois-ci à un vote parlementaire qui aurait pu mettre fin à leur règne pour corruption.

À Pretoria, Le vote de confiance a permis à Jacob Zuma de garder son poste, lui qui en était à son sixième vote du genre. À Brasilia Michel Temer en était également à son plus récent défi, survivant à un vote qui aurait pu ouvrir un procès pour corruption passive, malgré sa mise en accusation formelle.

Ce dernier s'est selon le procureur général "prévalu de sa condition de chef d'état" pour recevoir des pots de vin d'une compagnie de viande. Les députés qui sont venus à sa rescousse ont jugé le besoin des réformes qu'il veut engager afin de sortir le pays de sa crise économique au sommet des priorités, mais des opposants promettent de nouvelles accusations sous peu après la diffusion d'enregistrements coprom-ettants.

Ses deux prédé-cesseurs ont également fait face à la musique, Lula da Silva ayant tout juste reçu une peine de neuf ans de prison pour corruption en juillet. Dilma Roussef a connu la destitution pour manipulation des comptes publics. Il ne s'agit aucunement des seuls dirigeants élus démocrati-quement à faire face à ce genre d'accusation.

En Israël le dirigeant de longue date Benjamin Netanyahu pourrait faire face à des inculpations pour corruption, fraude et abus de confiance. Deux tiers des Israéliens sont de l'avis qu'il devrait démissionner s'il est mis en examen pour corruption. La corruption a été et reste au cœur de plusieurs crises qui ont notamment secoué l'Amérique latine.

Selon John Feffer de Foreign policy in focus, le sujet est au cœur de la crise qui a porté le Venezuela au bord de l'éclatement. "Selon la commission des contrôleurs de l'assemblée nationale des membres du gouvernement croches sont allés piller 70 milliards de dollars dans les coffres publics.

D'autres analystes parlent de chiffres plus près de 350 milliards de fonds détournés," dit-il. Des scandales de corruption ont ébranlé la région du Mexique à la terre de feu (Chili et Argentine) ces dernières années. Résultat l'an dernier seuls 34% des citoyens de la région étaient satisfaits de l'état de la démocratie.

"Le mouvement anti corruption est très rassembleur. Il fusionne la rage de l'inégalité économique avec le manque de transparence politique et la frustration des atteintes à la réglementation, soutient Feffer. Il ne s'agit pas seulement d'injecter plus de transparence au système existant, il s'agit d'exposer les manquements profonds du système de politique économique".


Une ville sans voiture ce n'est pas encore pour demain, mais pour une ville sans voiture roulant sur le gasoil l'horizon semble se dessiner au courant de la prochaine génération. Après la France et l'Inde, un marché de taille, la Grande Bretagne annonçait le mois dernier la fin des ventes d'auto roulant sur l'essence ou le diesel d'ici 2040.

Pourtant on est loin d'emboîter le pas, à peine 3% des autos vendues mondialement était électriques ou hybrides. Les États-Unis ont beau avoir mis fin à leur participation aux accords de Paris, plusieurs autres nations industrialisées promettent de poursuivre leur poussée environnementale.

Mais comme les objectifs de Kyoto, celle-ci risque-t-elle de connaître l'échec? Brexit ou non, la Grande Bretagne veut rouler vert, avec un parc de véhicules roulant sans émissions, d'ici 2050. "Nous ne pouvons continuer avec des autos fonctionnant au diesel ou a l'essence, déclarait le ministre de l'environnement, nous n'avons pas le choix, il faut adopter les nouvelles technologies".

Plus tôt c'était à l'Hexagone de mener son combat contre les effets de serre sur les autopistes du pays, le nouveau gouvernement parlant de "transition écologique" permettant aux constructeurs automobiles d'"innover et de devenir des leaders de marché". En Inde on a fixé un objectif plus ambitieux, soit 2030, les grandes inquétudes écologiques saisissant ce marché titanesque.

"Il s'agit d'un objectif  inspirant," déclarait le conseiller Anil Kumar Jain. En Norvège, pays vert par excellence, on a fixé plus tôt encore, à 2025, la date butoir à laquelle on ne vendra plus de nouveaux véhicules produisant des émissions. Évidemment on y connaît une longueur d'avance, 40% des véhicules vendus l'an dernier ayant été verts.

Une dizaine d'autres pays ont des cibles de vente d'automobiles électriques, dont la Chine, l'Allemagne et la Corée. Exclu du compte, le Canada fait tout de même partie des 10 pays où l'on vend le plus de ce genre de véhicule. Cette année le constructeur Volvo a déclaré qu'il ne lancerait plus que de modèles hybrides ou électriques à partir de 2019.

Les modèles existants continueront à être produits mais seront progressivement remplacés par du vert. "Cette annonce marque la fin des voitures équipées uniquement d'un moteur à combustion," déclare le grand patron Hakan Samuelsson.

Le geste n'était pas purement écologique puisque le constructeur a déjà fait savoir que la nouvelle réglementation européenne rendait la construction de nouveaux modèles de moteurs à diesel trop dispendieuse.

Leader de l'auto verte, Tesla a évidemment une certaine longueur d'avance, et tente de s'imposer davantage avec son modèle 3 à partir de 35000U$, plus abordable que les précédents mais encore trop cher pour certains. Mais les observateurs de l'industrie restent sceptiques car ils ont déjà connu ce genre d'engagement vert, des objectifs non atteints.

"Les grands manufacturiers auto-mobiles vont sans doute s'accrocher et ne pas abandonner ce marché (gasoil), estime l'analyste automobile Stéphanie Brinley en entrevue à CNN. Ils trouveront bien un moyen." Mais même les compagnies pétrolières sem-blent faire le grand saut vert, Shell créant une division énergie propre financée d'un milliard par année en prévision d'un pic de demande en 2020.


Les Jeux de 2024 et 2028 iront à Paris et à Los Angeles, cela aura-t-il un impact sur une éventuelle candidature de Calgary afin d'accueillir les jeux d'hiver de 2026? Les règles de l'alternance géographique semblent avoir été oubliées ces derniers temps alors que Pyeongchang, Tokyo et Pékin se préparent à accueillir les rendez-vous des prochaines années.

Mais une autre question travaille la ville albertaine qui a déjà été l'hôte des JOs en 1988, non pas la question du ski de descente, le talon d'Achille de Québec, mais celle des coûts, qui a déjà retiré la candidature de plusieurs villes - récemment Stockholm - et laisse aux plus riches l'accueil de la fête du sport.

Les prix du brut étant ce qu'ils sont, la crise économique albertaine est loin d'être passée, et le moment aurait pu être mieux choisi avant de laisser planer une possible candidature canadienne. Certes la ville a maintenu son parc athlétique après les jeux de 1988, et les Flames ont besoin d'un nouvel amphithéâtre de toutes façons, mais la question n'est pas là. 

Un comité exploratoire en est venu à la conclusion que la métropole albertaine pourrait à nouveau accueillir les JOs "mais devrions nous vraiment le faire?" s'interrogeait Rick Hanson, du comité. Selon le maire Naheed Nenshi il faudra en savoir davantage sur les nouvelles exigence du CIO.

Entre temps les premiers estimés élèvent à 2,4 milliards les pertes financières d'une telle candidature, un chiffre qui aurait moins fait réfléchir il y a quelques années lorsque la province voguait encore sur les flots de son or noir.

La proposition de tenir un référendum sur la candidature a cependant été rejetée par le conseil administratif, du moins avant que l'on connaisse les nouvelles exigences du CIO, qui a perdu plusieurs candidatures en raison des coûts élevés et des questions sur les retombées des JOs. Voilà qui laisse la ville "en bonne position de négocier" selon Hanson.

Mais l'exploration pourrait se poursuivre jusqu'après les jeux de Pyeongchang l'hiver prochain, et si soit le provincial ou le fédéral dit non "nous sommes cuits" calcule Nenshi. Calgary a déjà rejeté l'idée d'une candidature partagée - une solution qui fait cependant du chemin afin de partager les coûts élevés d'une telle compétition - avec la ville reine, decision condamnée d'irresponsable à Edmonton.

Évidemment le nouveau domicile des Oilers pourrait déjà sabrer de moitié les exigences d'avoir deux arénas capables d'accueillir les compétitions. Nenshi n'a pas formellement rejeté la proposition, puisque sa ville aurait également besoin d'un site pour accueillir les compétitions de curling.

Mais pour l'heure les études se penchent sur une candidature unique calgarienne. D'ailleurs Edmonton a déjà retiré sa candidature des jeux du Commonwealth de 2022 en raison de l'écroulement du prix de l'or noir. "Franchement je pense que la même logique s'applique à Calgary, estime le maire d'Edmonton Don Iveson, je ne vois pas comment le gouvernement provincial peut appuyer un de ces événements dans l'environnement actuel".

Selon un sondage deux tiers des habitants de Calgary appuieraient une telle candidature. Edmonton de son côté pourrait se voir accueillir des compétitions internationales en 2026 cependant puisque la ville pourrait accueillir des rencontres de la coupe du monde de soccer si la candidature partagée entre le Canada, le Mexique et les Etats-Unis porte fruit.

NOTRE 150e

L'économie se porte plutôt bien, la paix constitutionnelle tient toujours et le Canada figure dans le top 10 de l'index mondial des pays les plus heureux et réputés, l'occasion était ainsi plutôt bonne de fêter le 150e anniversaire de la confédération.

Mais alors que les Canadiens apprécient les libertés et l'accès à aux technologies de cette génération, ils sont plutôt pessimistes par rapport à la génération de leurs parents.

Selon Sébastien Dallaire du sondeur Ipsos, ils sont 58% à voir la sécurité d'emploi en péril par rapport à celle de leur parents et à avoir des craintes sur la qualité de leur retraite (54%).

De plus 43% redoutent que la jeunesse connaisse de moins bonnes perspectives d'avenir, notam-ment décrocher un emploi stable. 70% des Canadiens pensent que le monde va trop vite et plus de la moitié se sentent dépassés par les événements. La moitié a même la nostalgie du passé et plus de 60% rêvent d'une existence plus simple, d'un train de vie moins précipité.

Dépassés par le trop plein d'information contra-dictoire, ils se font plus confiance en eux même qu'aux experts. Mais cette anxiété est parfois plus importante se aux États-Unis, qui célèbrent aussi leur indépendance, mais dont l'image a plutôt détérioré sous l'actuelle présidence.

Selon un sondage Pew de 37 pays, une chute dramatique de confiance accordée au président à été constatée dans presque tous les pays de l'étude. Alors que 64% des gens recensés avaient une opinion favorable des États Unis à la fin du règne Obama, ils sont 49% à l'heure actuelle. Exceptions aux Philippines, en Russie et en Israel, alors que le taux de confiance des Canadiens envers Trump se situait dans la moyenne mondiale... soit 22%.

Sinon la population autochtone a fait connaitre ses pensées, parfois mélancoliques, à propos des 150 dernières années, organisant des manifestations en marge des célébrations après des tensions liées à l'érection d'un tipi sur la colline parlementaire. Les autochtones jugent insuffisants les gestes de bonne volonté du gouvernement et veulent souligner les crises qui affligent les populations des réserves en matière de santé, salubrité et de sécurité.

On regrette notamment que l'érection symbolique du tipi ait en premier lieu été gênée par les forces de l'ordre, aux aguets à la veille du grand rassemblement du 1er juillet, alors que les parlementaires rappellent sou-vent, lors des interventions en chambre, que l'édifice est implanté en terre algonquine.

En fin de compte la solution fut toute canadienne, un compromis permettant au tipi non seulement de rester en place mais d'être installé plus près de la tour de la paix. La paix des braves reste alors maintenue.


It's one of the most isolated islands on the planet, guarded jealously by curious silent stone guardians overlooking villages scattered across Rapa Nui. From these far lands scientists and researchers claim miracle drugs may have been found, but drugs are sadly not an exclusively good story on this island, a resident tells us.

It comes with the territory of easier access for tourists and new residents settling on the land, a long way from the time a single boat reached its shores to replenish residents. It is with the latter some have concerns.

Of course new-comers have brought some good over the years such as better infrastructures and cold hard cash, and the people most fascinated with this South Pacific outpost would certainly be able to reap the rewards if the promised fountain of youth mate-rializes in the way of unique drugs to fight age-related illnesses.

Unique it is, as rapamycin was originally found growing in the shadows of the stone giants. The bacterial byproduct raised promises of everything from fighting Alzheimer's to extending the life of once ailing animals. Have the protective Moais sought to pursue their role of  guardians by bringing health benefits well beyond the village down the road?

But the drugs' supposed qualities were boasted half a century ago. It was 1964 when Canadian researchers made the find, and concerns about side effects  and the long term effects have stalled its widespread use. It has however been commercialized as a drug helping fight off organ rejection in transplant patients.

For centuries many have sought to commercialize these barren lands, but little could be found by the colonial overlords before tourism. The island is almost completely without wood after a history of over-use by locals, possibly as logs to move the famed Moai statues, in the hundreds, from their quarries to their current locations across the island.

The British tried mining and sheep raising for a while, but this failed. For tourism to develop a great deal of work had to go into once more raising and restoring  the stone giants, toppled by clan rivalries and possibly highly religious colonists despising what they saw as idol worship.

Nothing has come easy on a land where much has to be imported, leaving consumer costs high. Perhaps the drug find holds promise, if it first holds water, and only if the locals reap some of the promised rewards. But meantime the influx of mainland Chileans is leaving some longtime residents cross.

"I hate them, they have brought drugs over the years and caused problems," says Tarita Ponth, who has lived here all her life and has seen the transformation of the island first hand, for better and for worse. "It's not a very big drug problem, but still a problem."

And on an island of 8000, it doesn't take many cases to make a problem big. For now whatever bad drug issues there are are still overshadowed by the potential "good" drug story.

Even if it remains a story and isn't the sort of mirage lost in the final rays of the setting sun over the ocean behind the Moais of Ahu Tahai, where tourists gather to gaze in awe at the mystery that remains on an island of many unknowns.

What if the Moais did one day "walk" unassisted to their current location? What if they were the products of aliens from another planet as some claim? And how old are they really? Perhaps it is only fitting much mystery remains about the so-called miracle drug of Easter island.


Le grand Nord canadien c'est le royaume de l'hiver au fond duquel survivent quelques communautés isolées. C'est les espaces grands ouverts et les paysages à couper le souffle à perte de vue mais les nouvelles qui peuvent en émaner sont souvent désolantes.

Des suicides des communautés autochtones à l'isolement d'une ville manitobaine dont le seul lien ferroviaire a été coupé par les inondations. Règle générale, cet isolement peut parfois sembler carcéral, et les prix des denrées importées du sud, criminels. Mais telle est la loi d'un marché éloigné rejoint principalement par la voie des airs.

Conséquence, la bouteille de lait de 4 litres à 10$ et la boite de couches à 70$. Certains produits bénéficient d'une subvention fédérale du programme nutrition Nord, ramenant les prix quelque peu vers le bas, mais ils restent chers, et malgré des salaires relativement élevés de certains, pas tous, ils sont plusieurs à avoir de la peine à rejoindre les deux bouts.

Ce 10$ la bouteille prend en compte la subvention, mais certains produits, comme les couches, ne sont pas couverts. Peu étonnant que les prix soient en moyenne trois fois plus élevés qu'ailleurs au pays dans notre plus jeune territoire, le Nunavut. Mais une des 25 communautés de ce continent de deux millions de kilomètres carrés, la plus importante, Iqaluit, peut se réjouir d'une chose, soit les rabais possibles aux travers du programme Amazon Prime, du moins pour l'instant.

Si l'acquisition de Whole Foods a pour plusieurs marqué le l'entrée du vendeur géant par internet dans le monde alimentaire, pour d'autres cette réalité ne revêtait aucun secret. Le service de livraison accéléré permet aux abonnés de la ville de se payer un pont aérien permettant d'économiser par-fois la moitié du prix affiché en magasin. Prenez ces couches par exemple, disponibles pour 35$ sur Amazon.

"Amazon Prime a fait plus pour faire grimper le niveau de vie de ma famille que n'importe quel programme territorial ou provincial. Point à la ligne," écrivait un résident de la capitale du nord sur les réseaux sociaux. Mais les abonnés se font du souci, car Amazon a déjà retiré son service de livraison gratuite de certaines commu-nautés du Nord, dont Rankin Inlet.

Il y a deux ans l'interruption de la livraison gratuite dans cette communauté isolée a fait grimper la facture de 29$ plus 22$ par kilo, laissant ses clients avec une note plus salée que celle de leur épicier local. Une telle coupure à Iqaluit "serait une très mauvaise nouvelle, explique à la CBC Rhonda Cunningham, je ne veux pas dire le chaos mais peut-être quelquechose du genre".

Pour le moment le bureau de poste d'Iqaluit est parmi les plus occupés au pays, le taux des livraisons restant en croissance constante, moyennant les 12 paquets par habitant lors des cinq premiers mois de l'année. La grande majorité sont marqués du logo Amazon. Évidemment pas tous ne peuvent se permettre l'abonnement de 80$ par année.

"Si quelquechose pouvait cibler les personnes souffrant d'insécurité alimentaire l'impact serait plus important au sein de la communauté ," fait remarquer Wade Thorhaug de la société Qayuqtuvik. Entre temps le gouvernement révise le programme nutrition Nord qui avait remplacé son prédécesseur en 2001, limitant les choix.

"Voilà tout à fait inacceptable que tant de gens du Nord peinent à nourrir leurs famille," déclarait la ministre responsable au fédéral le mois dernier. En attendant le programme nutrition Nord a été étendu à Churchill, cette communauté coupée du monde par l'interruption du service par rail cause par les inondations du printemps.


It wasn't the rain that most upset visitors to Parliament Hill on Canada Day, which was plentiful, but the airport style security checks that left revellers waiting hours to enter the grounds.

The public space had become a fortress ahead of Canada 150 celebrations in the most important security top up ahead of the marquee event of the sesquicentennial. Over the years there have been many, from security barriers to the shutting down of uninvited car traffic. Such are the realities of the modern world as authorities balance the need to keep the symbolic places of national signi-ficance both accessible and secure.

The reasons for this are becoming increasingly obvious after the October 2014 shooting on Parliament Hill. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had in fact circumvented some of that security by carjacking a vehicle already behind the barriers to make his way to center block. The halls of the building still bear the scars of the shootout, bullet holes a testimony to the tremendous firefight which ensued as members of Parliament barricaded themselves while security officers took on the lone gunman.

A Parliament precinct police service has since been created to provide an extra layer of security.It came thirty years after the storming of Denis Lortie in Quebec City's Assemblée nationale, killing three. Both came to an end after the interventions of the sergeant at arms, fatal in one case. Canada is hardly alone.

The year of the Ottawa attack others were threatening lawmakers in more volatile parts of the world. In May 2014 militants attacked the legislature in Mogadishu, killing a dozen in a brazen bomb and gun assault. In Libya an Al-Qaida inspired group also attacked the legislature in Tripoli that month, sparking concerns about the government's stability years after Gaddafi's fall.

In December 2001 a terror attack on the Parliament in Delhi left 14 dead including the five perpetrators, sparking new tensions with rival Pakistan. This had been but the latest incident between the two bitter neighbors. Weeks earlier militants targeted the legislative assembly complex in Kashmir, killing 41 including the perpetrators when three Fidayeen bombers rammed the main gate, the bloodiest attack of the sort.

Years later an attack in the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad in 2007 killed one MP and injured 24 after a suicide bomber penetrated the fortified green zone. Just this year an attempt was made on Westminster during one of several car ramming attacks in London. Increasingly the ends justify the means, even if security officials in Canada conceded the July 1st wait times had been unacceptable.

The symbolism of such attacks does not escape history buffs who recall the 1933 Reichstag fire in Berlin which armed the Nazis with an excuse to grab on to power in Germany and hold it with an iron fist as the country descended into the folly of their ideology. Or Guy Fawkes' ill-fated scheme.

More recently it was the parliament in Caracas coming under attack by government supporters demonstrating against the opposition-controlled National Assem-bly. Several lawmakers were injured in the skirmishes which took place on the country's Independence Day ahead of a crucial referendum. The act was similar to the storming of the Macedonian parliament by nationalist protesters condemning the selection of a speaker with Albanian roots earlier this year.


Rien qu'à voir la fureur des hakka maoris avec lesquels ils saluent leurs opposants en début de match, qui voudrait tomber sur un membre de l'équipe de rugby des Allblacks particulièrement de mauvaise humeur?

Et bien voilà que tous les membres de l'équipe nationale de la Nouvelle Zélande sont furax après ce rare échec contre les Lions britanniques et irlandais 24-21 à Wellington, ville, s'il faut le croire, desormais synonyme de défaite après huit ans de gains consécutifs sur le territoire insulaire. Huit. Quarante huit rencontres.

Mais voilà qui appartient désormais au passé. La défaite est toute fraîche ainsi que le présent constat: les visiteurs se sont imposés sur le plan physique, ce qui a fait de la série internationale de trois rencontres la plus féroce des dernières années entre ces grands rivaux du ballon ovale.

"Voilà la beauté de ce genre de matchs, il y a un match décisif, fait remarquer l'entraîneur des Allblacks Ian Foster, vous savez que l'enjeu est important quand tout le monde tente de s'imposer physiquement et la question des de savoir si vous êtes assez intelligent afin de contrôler ces émotions et d'être efficace avec".

Décisif? Seulement s'il y a un gagnant. Or le match ultime s'est soldé... par une nulle, 15-15, laissant la série égale pour la première fois de son histoire. Pourtant un pénalty à deux minutes de la fin a bien failli briser l'égalité.

Seulement l'arbitre, en regardant la reprise, a jugé l'hors jeu accidentel. La prestation inattendue des visiteurs semble avoir justifié ce genre de tournée internationale des Lions, remise en question par les critiques.

Les visiteurs étaient loins d'être les favoris et sont revenus de l'arrière peu de fois dans ce genre de série après avoir perdu le premier match. Mais pour reprendre la formule plutôt élogieuse du Telegraph: "Les Allblacks revêtaient la cape de Superman, mais ils ont été mis à nu."

Voilà bien 14 ans que le club n'avait pas perdu sur le terrain de Wellington, mais un carton rouge avait joué à la faveur des visiteurs. Dorénavant, après deux matchs consécutifs devant leurs partisans sans victoire, il faut en venir à l'évidence que même les Allblacks, ces maitres du sport avec la victoire dans l'âme, ne sont pas invincibles.

"Les Allblacks sont des maitres du rugby, ils méritent leur premier rang mondial, estime l'entraineur britannique Clive Woodward, mais ils ne sont pas imbattables et il n'y a aucune raison qui empêcherait un des autres clubs de remporter la coupe du monde en 2019".


By the looks of it there was much to celebrate during this year's Pride marches. In Serbia, the first openly gay prime minister is a woman, in Ireland, a man. The strides of a once shunned and ostracized community have been notable, but Pride marches in recent weeks, when they were allowed to proceed, have highlighted short-comings and continuing struggles, such as the crackdown of a parade in Istanbul, a relatively progressive city in a conservative country practically under emergency rule.

Even in post-Stonewall America, marches high-lighted concerns the current administration will turn the clock back on progress made. But there are of course lands where the community has faced harsher struggles. The European court of human rights said Russia's law banning so-called gay propaganda violated the rights to freedom of expression, a ruling which surprised few considering the regime in Moscow.

The plight and mistreatment of gay Chechens in Russia has by now drawn international condemnation, amid reports of torture and disappearances and few reassurances in the discourse of regional and national leaders.

The new European leaders do signal progress, notably in Catholic Ireland, where homosexuality only became legal in 1993. The recent date puts into perspective the struggles in other, less advanced countries where this community faces persecution at this time with few signs of hope. Then two years ago Ireland allowed same-sex marriage, opening the way for the rise to power and acceptance of 38 year old Leo Varadkar, the youngest to hold the post.

Serbia's Ana Brnabic is hardly older, at 41, but there was a large police presence at Pride events celebrating her coming leadership, with signs reading "We want life worthy of humans" in the conservative country. Observers note her choice as prime minister, a less powerful role than the presidency, suggests an attempt to make the country more palatable in its bid for EU membership, considering its close ties to Russia. Not really a statement of progressive politics.

European leaders have been trailblazers in the political world, starting with the election of Iceland's Johanna Sigurdardottir in 2009, followed by Belgium's Elio Di Rupo and Luxembourg's Xavier Bettel. No doubt others preceded them, but in complete anonymity.  In many countries it is best kept silent. Even in Turkey, which three years ago hosted the largest Pride events in the Muslim world, police enforced a ban on the march, firing tear gas, rubber bullets and detaining participants. 

While homosexuality has been legal in Turkey for much of its modern history, members of the gay community have complained of greater discrimination since the failed coup attempt sparked an ensuing national crackdown. Pride marches in Ukraine also encountered violent protests by right-wing extremists. Of course things are more difficult in other regions, including in the Muslim world. Sadly it wasn't so long ago that the largest Muslim country, Indonesia, was tolerant toward homosexuals.

But activists have seen a transformation in the last year and a half into a country of frequent raids and vigilante attacks. Members of the community "are exhausted and they're horrified," Human Right Watch researcher Kyle Knight tells CNN. "Even the activists I know who started the very first organization in the 1980s say they've never seen anything like this." Recently two young men were taken to police and caned by authorities for having gay sex.

While the latter is not illegal in most of the country, a wave of conservatism including regional Islamic bylaws, have come down on the country's homosexual community. Even in a country as progressive as the US, Pride participants brought a strong activist message to the streets amid signs of rollback by the Trump administration, notably on the federal guidance advising school districts to let transgender students use the bathrooms of their choice.

The marches there also saw division over issues tied to policing and what some have called a lack of diversity. Some of these tensions have spilled into Canada, where police officers have been told to stay away from some gay marches, but the sight of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joining the Toronto Pride for the second year in a row was a statement which still resonates. Two-thirds of Canadians polled said they even expect to see a gay prime minister elected in the next 25 years, the country already being home to two gay premiers, in Ontario and Prince Edward Island.

Overall the vast majority of Canadians, some 87%, support LGBT rights. Canada is among the countries which have followed the Netherlands' lead at the turn of the millenium and legalized same-sex marriage, along with nearly 20 other countries from Argentina to France and Britain. German lawmakers only last week allowed same-sex couples full marriage and adoption rights.

While Berlin is joining an increasingly tolerant space in Europe, Taiwan broke the ice in Asia by being the first country to set its sights on legalizing same-sex marriage, after a constitutional court ruled current discriminatory laws as invalid. "The freedom of marriage for two persons of the same sex, once legally recognized, will constitute the collective basis, together with opposite-sex marriage, for a stable society," the court ruled


At a time the faithful are being tested, global religious leaders including the Pope, the Dalaï lama and Ayatollah Sayyid Fadhel Al-Milani made a rare united call for understanding and friend-ship, a joint statement which followed a number of terror attacks and acts of religious intolerance.

Soon after, the need for this message was underlined when a man in London ran over people streaming out of Finsbury Park mosque with his van following Ramadan services. The attack mode was now painfully familiar in a city which had seen a number of tragic incidents of the sort tied to Islamist extremism. The city was already dealing with the aftermath of a major building fire which killed over 70 people in a predominantly immigrant part of town. 

"An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths and communities. Those who try to divide us will not succeed," said Mohammed Kozbar of the mosque. But communities were being tested. Police were soon accused of being late to respond and declare the attack an act of terror. The attack on Muslims answering the call to prayer , killing one and injuring 10, was also sadly familiar.

In Quebec City a young man was charged with murder after killing six people when he stormed into a mosque with a weapon in February. More recently attacks on a Catholic Coptic congregation in Egypt killed 28, another sad and bloody chapter after Cairo church bombings in December and on Palm Sunday. Sometimes attacks on parishioners were aimed at their ethnic makeup, such as Dylann Roof's attack of a Charleston church, killing nine, rather than their religion.

Sometimes it was both. In the case of the Finsbury Park attack the targeted mosque has become the focal point of attention over the years, having housed extremist imams and being the target of anti-Muslim threats more recently. The incident was the latest to occur under Prime Minister Theresa May, who lost her bet by calling a snap vote and ended up with a hung parliament. She had previously said Londoners were fed up with terror attacks and called on tougher security measures to be implemented.

The mayor of London said his citizens refused to be divided by such attacks, but anger was increasingly palpable. Anger was also on the rise in Egypt in the aftermath of the May 26 attack on the bus carrying parishioners. Egyptian forces launched raids into Libya soon after, the plates of the cars carrying the attackers being from the neighbouring country.

"My parishioners are very angry," said Abouna Beshoi, "they are in despair." Future trips were being cancelled or being left up in the air while police asked to be notified of future travel plans in a country where Coptic communities have been targets for years. Earlier this year Pope Francis had visited Egypt soon after suicide bombers attacked St George's cathedral in Tanta and St Mark's cathedral in Alexandria.

During his visit he said more Christians were being martyred today than during persecutions in the early centuries of Christianity. Concerns of copycat attacks remain, one individual in Paris having been arrested for trying to charge a crowd of worshippers leaving a mosque in Paris last week, claiming he wanted to avenge the Paris terror attacks of the last few years, but he was prevented from doing so by security barriers.

In this cycle of violence, it is easy to confuse the targeted religions. Days later eight people were injured when two armed men opened fire near a mosque in Avignon, in an incident police refused to call a terror attack as the place of worship was apparently not the intended target. But this was cold comfort for a community and a country under stress, days from Bastille Day, a holiday marked in blood during the deadly Nice attack last year.


Pas facile d'organiser un référendum dans un immense pays désertique sur fond de menace islamiste. Cette dernière a d'ailleurs déjà fait reporter des exercices électoraux dans le passé en raison des violences dans le Nord. Le 17 juin ils étaient des milliers à manifester à Bamako en scandant "non à la révision de la constitution" à moins d'un mois du vote.

Celui-ci doit "mettre en œuvre certains engagements de l'accord pour la paix et la réconciliation au Mali" signé avec l'ancienne rébellion touareg en 2015, mais presqu'en même temps que la manifestation, l'attaque d'un lieu touristique près de la capitale faisait cinq morts et rappelait l'insécurité au pays.

L'attaque a été revendiquée par des jihadistes du Sahel qui se disent liés à Al-qaida. Alors qu'il s'agissait de la première attaque du genre contre des touristes depuis plus d'un an, le pays reste sous l'état d'urgence depuis l'attaque de l'hôtel Radisson de Bamako qui fit 20 morts en 2015. Selon un procureur l'attaque récente était d'un "mode opératoire semblable".

Accord de paix ou non une grande partie du territoire national échappe toujours du contrôle de Bamako, malgré la présence de troupes de l'ONU et françaises. Les manifestants n'ont rien contre la paix mais estiment que la nouvelle constitution donnerait trop de pouvoir à la présidence. Puis "comment peut-on organiser un référendum au moment où une partie du territoire est occupée?" fait remarquer Oumar Diallo.

Le projet de réforme prévoit notamment la création d'un sénat et d'une cour des comptes mais ne changera ni la durée ni le nombre permis de mandats présidentiels, une question d'actualité en Afrique qui a déjà soulevé la contestation ailleurs.

C'est notamment la disposition permettant au président de nommer le tiers des sénateurs qui inquiète l'opposition. L'attaque suit de période de fusion des jihadistes Sahel que veut contrer une force multinationale comptant cinq pays, soit le Mali, la Mauritanie, le Niger, le Tchad et le Burkina Faso.

Récemment le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU donnait d'ailleurs sa bénédiction à la création de cette force destinée à lutter contre le terrorisme de groupes djihadisme persistant de la région, sans cependant délivrer un mandat officiel des Nations unies.

Ces attaques continuent malgré la signature de cet accord de paix censé isoler les militants, les attaques au Mali se répandant depuis le nord à plusieurs autres régions du pays, jusqu'au Burkina Faso et au Niger, d'où  leur implication dans la force militaire du G5. Le projet ne verra pas le jour avant plusieurs mois, puis reste à régler le problème non-négligeable du financement, qui menace presque de tuer le lancement du projet dans l'oeuf, du moins au Tchad.

"Tout cela coûte excessivement cher et, si rien n’est fait, le Tchad sera malheureusement dans l’obligation de se retirer", affirme le président tchadien Idriss Déby dans une entrevue à quelques jours du sommet du G5 de la fin de semaine à laquelle participait le président Macron. Le Tchad est un petit pays qui n’a pas de moyens, qui a connu d’énormes problèmes dans son histoire récente."

A la veille de cette visite du président français, une vidéo paraissait montrant six otages, toujours sous l'emprise des djihadistes.


Sixty years ago Colombia's last dictator was ousted, but instead of making the country into a thriving democracy it became synonymous with drug war and unrest in the region. As the conflict draws to an end the hemisphere is becoming free of war for the first time in generations.

Not that civil unrest doesn't stir now and then in the Americas. Nor is the country entirely free of the kind of violence with which has bloodied it over the last decades. In June a bomb went off in a women's toilet of an upscale Bogota mall, the second incident of the sort this year. In February a bomb by the Marxist ELN group also targeted the high altitude capital 2,600 meters over sea level.

A reminder that while in its final stages, the peace process still isn't entirely hammered out. Security has improved in Bogota over the past decade as police and military increased surveillance and put more armed officers on the streets. At one time all bags were checked at the entrance to shopping malls, but that has been vastly scaled back in recent years. Sniffer dogs still check cars at parking facilities in the capital however and the central square at the heart of government power, where general assembly, presi-dency and mayor's office are concentrated, remains heavily protected by an army of police and military.

A peace accord signed last year with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's biggest guerrilla group, raised confidence bomb attacks might cease. But this isn't Colombia's only insurgency. The country's second-largest insurgent group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), injured dozens of police in that February blast. The Marxist group is currently negotiating peace with the government after talks began earlier this year. Authorities said there have also been threats of attacks in Bogota by the so-called Gulf Clan, a group of former right-wing paramilitary fighters who traffic drugs.

But the ELN isn't entirely done with its tricks. In June it was accused of kidnapping two Dutch journalists, before releasing them, as with other recent kidnappings of foreigners. The Canadian government warns about the continuing threat of armed groups on its travel site. But despite its sometimes violent history, Colombia is actually becoming a land of hope for neighbouring Venezuelans living a major economic crisis including shortages of everything from medicine to food. Bogota's neighbourhood of Little Mene Grande is named by locals after the Venezuela town where many newcormers hail from.

The crisis is so acute next door that Colombian officials travelled to visit a Syrian camp in Turkey to learn how to deal with instances of large migration. This is a reversal from decades ago when the Colombian conflict sent millions of people into Venezuela. Other Venezue-lans risk a sometimes perilous sea journey, seeking to barter the little they have for essentials in Trinidad.

They sometimes get caught and end up in overcrowded detention centres where they await family to gather the funds to free them. But even that, some say, can end up being better than staying in Venezuela. It's hard to draw any comparison between Colombia's past and Venezuela's present, but there is a strange animosity between the two countries notes Edgar, a longtime tour guide in Bogota.

"We don't have this kind of tension with other countries in the region," he says. Still the newcomers manage to settle down and scrape by performing menial tasks, unlikely to be representative of any diplomas they may have. They still make do, hoping some sense of normalcy eventually returns at home. Meantime normalcy is returning to Colombia says Miguel, a driver pointing to a billboard promoting national reconciliation as he passes the center of town.

"For the last three years it has gotten much better," he says. "People can now do what they want (without fear)." But there is still uncertainty over the current state of affairs, worries Edgar. "The guerilla groups have lied to us repeatedly in the past, we just don't know for sure what is going to happen." FARC is handing in its last weapons and closing its camps at the begining of August, its last fighters pledging to continue the fight as a political movement, not an unfamiliar promise.

The group stared out as a peasant army in the 1960s fighting for agrarian reform but its numbers, once some 17000 strong, dwindled after a relentless US-backed offen-sive beginning at the turn of the century. "Today doesn't end the existence of FARC, it ends our armed struggle," leader Rodrigo Londono said in June. In the words of president and Nobel laureate Juan Santos, "weapons became words. Our peace is real and it's irreversible."

But some Colombians as well as FARC veterans are wary of the failed transitions to politics in the 1980s, when a number of FARC members were assassinated by paramilitary forces. Today, as elsewhere in Latin America, the end of guerilla war is only succeeded by deadly turf wars between drug cartels and gangs, often catching civilians in the crossfire. "Sadly some people are still too impatient to get rich quickly without putting in the time and choose drugs to do so, this is still going on," Edgar notes. Things have improved in the country once synonymous with the drug war, but true peace may yet prove elusive.


Aux yeux du monde les monarchies du golfe ont tendance à se confondre. Riches au point de la démesure mais de plus en plus axées sur une diversification de leur économie focalisée sur les hydrocarbures, elles forment un cartel  puissant de la grande ressource éner-gétique de la planète.

Et pourtant ces pays traversent une période de discorde aigue qui a éclaté aux yeux du monde lorsque l'Arabie saoudite, les Emirats arabes unis, Le Bahreïn et quelques autres nations arabes ont rompu leurs relations avec le Qatar, le pays le plus riche par habitant de la planète et un futur hôte de la Coupe du monde, isolé comme jamais au fond de sa petite péninsule, une position stratégique dans cette cour de multi-milliardaires.

Or la richesse ne fait pas le bonheur, et le petit pays de 2,5 millions d'habitants, dont la majorité sont des travailleurs étrangers, a été accusé d'appuyer des mouvements islamistes et d'entretenir des rapports étroits avec l'Iran. Riyad accuse le Qatar notamment de déstabiliser la région en appuyant des groupes tels que la fraternité musulmane, Al-qaida, l'Etat islamique et des groupes militants actifs dans l'est du royaume saoudien.

Doha rejette cette version des faits, niant soutenir de tels groupes et accusant ses voisins de "fabrication" des faits. La crise a eu de quoi ébranler le prix du brut tout en posant des questions existentielles dans ce petit pays qui veut se développer en lieu de transit pour voyageurs internationaux mais qui doit importer la grande part de sa nourriture. Non seulement les pays accusateurs ont-ils rappelé leurs diplomates en exigeant le départ des Qataris sur leur sol, ils ont fermé leur espace aérien à la compagnie nationale Qatar Airways. Le Qatar, dirigé par un gouvernent chiite dans une péninsule dominée par des gouvernements sunnites, connaît des rapports spéciaux avec Téhéran, félicitant le président Rohani de sa réélection récente et parta-geant une région gazière avec l'Iran.

Mais les tensions régionales ont atteint leur paroxysme avec cette accusation en bloc, déchirant davantage la région générale du golfe. Selon le bureau de Rohani: "L'ère de rompre les liens diplomatiques et de fermer les frontières est révolue, ce n'est pas une manière de régler les crises. Ces pays n'ont pas le choix et doivent entamer un dialogue régional".

L'appui de Doha en faveur du président Morsi au Caire avait déjà causé un gel des relations en 2014. L'Égypte fait partie des pays qui isolent le Qatar, notamment à propos de la fraternité. L'appui financier de la bande de Gaza, fief du Hamas, est également à l'origine de tensions de longue date. La crise a eu pour effet de sortir le petit pays de la coalition dirigée par Riyad dans le conflit au Yémen.

On accuse notamment 59 individus et une douzaine d'organismes terro-ristes de liens avec le régime. Deux membres du Conseil de la Coopération du golfe, Oman et le Koweït, n'ont cependant pas emboité le pas, préférant préserver leur image de médiateurs. D'autres pays par ailleurs renforcé leur alliance avec Doha, notamment Téhéran qui, pure ironie, a dépêché plusieurs aéronefs remplis de denrées alimentaires vers ce pays richissime pour contourner le blocus terrestre saoudien.

Ankara et Moscou comptent également parmi les alliés du régime, ce qui selon le groupe d'analystes Stratfor lui permet de tenir le coup en attendant d'en venir à une entente avec ses rivaux: "Le Qatar peut endurer grâce à sa politique extérieure étendue et ses partenariats économiques". Pour l'experte Patricia DeGennaro, le terrorisme n'est que de la poudre aux yeux. "La véritable raison d'isoler le Qatar c'est le gaz liquéfié et non le terrorisme".


The country is the less mentioned partner in the fight against ISIS, but its presence on the ground has been notable. So it was only a matter of time before the terror group turned its sights on Iran, one of the first countries to assist rival Iraq in the war against its invaders.

The coordinated attack of parliament and a key spiritual shrine just outside the capital involving a hostage taking was the worst sort of attack to hit the Islamic republic since the turbulent early days of the Khomeini revolution.

The attack against the Ayatollah's shrine was sure to strike the country at its soul on that deadly day which claimed 17 lives. The terror group has threatened to strike Iran for years, but only now has it levelled a blow, involving home grown attackers seeking to destabilize a country already the focus of international pressure invol-ving its nuclear programme and support of militants across the Middle East, including Houthi fighters in the war in Yemen.

Tehran received little sympathy from its neighbours, already con-cerned about its return on world markets as an exporting oil rival, but did obtain rare words of kindness from Washington at least the State Department, which condemned the terrorist attacks in Tehran, going on to "express our condolences to the victims and their families, and send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Iran," adding "the depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world."

Similarly Canada, which has encouraged an open dialogue with Iran, expressed its sympathies no differently than with other countries recently targeted by Daesh, from Afghanistan to Britain.

The challenge comes early into the new mandate of Hassan Rohani, re-elected in May at a time he considered results a choice in favor of "enga-gement with the world" as opposed to extremism, the type ISIS perfectly embodies. At the time the State Department's head, Rex Tillerson, had a markedly different message to Tehran, calling on the regime to stop financing terror groups and  "destabilizing forces that exist in this region."

Of course while his intentions may be good, Rohani remains a subordinate to the country's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Tehran has since the attack arrested nearly 50 suspects and claimed to have killed the mastermind. "The com-mander of this terrorist group was based in the border regions, but after the attacks left the country," an official said. 

"However, with cooperation of (intelligence) services that are close to Iran, he paid the price of his crimes on Saturday and was killed by Iran's security forces." Lawmakers meanwhile, who were unscathed but shakened and clear targets of the attack, requested that security services "explain how terrorists managed to reach the capital and hit two sensitive targets."


Independence? Given the choice a number of nations have been voting against, not that this is discouraging others. It was the Scottish referendum which embol-dened the separatist movement in Catalonia, pushing for its own plebiscite, and while the latest UK elections have brought doubts to the tartan project, nationalists in Spain's eastern region are pushing for a vote this fall despite Madrid's continued resistance.

With the Euro-pean project rattled of late and borders of growing interest, nationalism is alive and well, even if the last  country to break away and obtain its independence, South Sudan, has been a cautionary tale. That doesn't prevent various states from still caressing dreams of independence, from Soma-liland to Kurdistan, usually parts of existing countries faring a bit better than other regions.

Of course someone's dream is often someone else's nightmare. Madrid has put up fierce resistance to the Catalans' dreams of independence, if only because they are not embraced by a majority of locals. By announcing the eastern region hugging the Mediterranean would seek a vote on October 1st, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont knows he is facing a legal dispute with Madrid.

The question will ask "do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?" breaking ties with the monarchy in the process. Madrid will produce a legal challenge, calling such a plebiscite illegal, based on the current constitution. With only 44% in favor of independence, proponents may hope Madrid's efforts to block and Barcelona's defiance would fire up support.

Catalonia is the wealthiest region of relatively well to do Spain (but far from debt free), which is itself mostly over previous euro challenges. While this is making some hesitant to break away, the Kurds of northern Iraq are convinced they can do better by breaking away from Baghdad.

But there opposition to an announced referendum is fierce and international, Turkey and the U.S. being among those who weighed in against the recent date setting. Calling such a move, scheduled for September, a "great mistake" in the volatile region, Ankara says Iraq's unity was a precondition for regional stability, if that is the term used to describe the current state of affairs in the war torn region.

The already largely autonomous region is increasingly clashing with Baghdad over the control of oil and provides the fiercest fighters on the ground against ISIS. But this fight has effectively left now disputed areas of the country under Kurdish control. The date set to hold the vote is September 25 but there also divisions exist.

An independent Kurdistan would seek close economic and other ties with Iraq, officials say, but that would not calm tensions in the region, where Kurdish populations spill over borders into Turkey and Syria. With most of Kurdish oil moving through Turkey, such a vote could put a squeeze on efforts to bring oil to market.

Back in the UK, Scotland has not entirely dropped its plans for independence, but the poor showing of the SNP in the snap election has put on hold fundraising efforts for a second referendum, which started being discussed in the wake of Brexit. Scotland has already held a vote two years ago which rejected a break up and the SNP has suffered its worst score in a decade , losing a quarter of its support, in the vote which produced a hung parliament in London.

Also holding a referendum rejecting independence was Puerto Rico, a US territory $60 billion in debt which was given the choice but preferred U.S. statehood. The financial crisis has however left it facing cuts to public services, high unemployment and a wave of exodus. For the US the vote has interestingly reversed recent trends of devolution, losing Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, which have all broken away over the last few decades.


Vingt ans après la mort de Mobutu Sese Seko, qui dans les mois qui ont suivi a plongé le géant au cœur de l'Afrique dans la tourmente d'une guerre civile meurtrière, les voisins se font du souci.

A l'écroulement du prix des matières premières qui soutenait cette économie déjà souffrante se sont ajoutés une éclosion d'ébola et des éclats entre militaires et milices dans l'état de Kasai, faisant plusieurs centaines de victimes.

Kinshasa devait déjà composer avec une crise politique plusieurs mois après la fin du mandat de Joseph Kabila, qui tient les rênes du pouvoir depuis 17 ans et que l'opposition reproche de vouloir pour-suivre son règne malgré les limites constitutionnelles.

Pour l'heure l'opposition se voue à la patience, mais accuse le gouvernement de  ne pas respecter son engagement de partager le pouvoir, en choisissant un membre peu connu de l'opposition plutôt que Félix Tshisekedi, fils du vétéran Etienne, mort en février. Le Kasai est d'ailleurs un bastion de l'opposition et celle-ci accuse Kabila de raviver les tensions afin de rester au pouvoir.

L'entente de l'automne dernier lui permettait d'allonger son mandat pendant un an sous condition de ne pas se présenter cette année. "Pour l'instant nous tentons de régler cette question avec diplomatie, dit Tshisekedi, mais quand on sera au bout de nos peines nous demanderons aux gens de chasser le dictateur".

Elizabeth Brown, une correspondante qui a couvert les dernières heures du règne de Mobutu et travaille sur un projet de mémoire de ses années passées au Congo, se désole de la tournure des événements, qui l'empêchent de retourner au pays en compagnie de sa fille. "Comme si le Congo avait besoin de ça," dit-elle de l'éclosion d'ébola qui a jusqu'à présent fait deux victimes, six autres étant suspectes.

Il s'agit de la huitième éclosion au pays depuis 1976 mais la menace semblait sous contrôle selon les autorités qui attendaient l'arrivée d'un vaccin, entre autre développé par des chercheurs canadiens, qui a fait ses preuves en laboratoire. Mais la crise au Kasai, qui s'ajoute aux petits éclats réguliers de l'est du pays, s'envenime, l'ONU y ayant découvert une quarantaine de fausses communes.

Deux de ses casques bleus qui étaient allés enquêter ont d'ailleurs été tués. "Mes collègues au Congo me disent que c'est trop dangereux de s'aventurer sur la route de Kamponde, l'ONU a trouvé de nouvelles fausses communes, explique Brown, qui a fréquenté ce village dans le passé. UNICEF rapporte que 150000 enfants ne sont pas en classe dans le Kasai et 600 écoles y ont été endommagées par le conflit. L'institut que je fréquentais en fait-il partie? Je ne parviens plus à rejoindre personne pour me renseigner sur l'état du village".

La crise a fait fuir plus d'un million de personnes et 400000 enfants sont victimes de malnutrition.Un sondage récent révélait qu'une majorité de Congolais craint de plus sombres jours à l'horizon. "L'incertitude politique jumelée à l'état des institutions et la baisse des prix des matières premières contribuent à cette situation toxique" analysait l'International Crisis Group récemment.

Alors que l'UE sanctionnait neuf haut responsables du régime et que l'ONU exigeait une enquête sur les massacres, Kinshasa se montrait résistante: "On ne donne pas d'ultimatum à un état souverain" déclara la ministre des droits de l'homme Marie-Ange Mushobekwa. Si le régime n'approfondit pas son enquête, l'ONU compte bien lancer sa propre initiative avec ou sans l'aval de Kinshasa.


This weekend as thousands were to gather for an emotional commemorative benefit concert in Manchester two weeks after a similar venue faced the horrors of now all too common modern day terrorism, London saw another attack run over pedestrians on London Bridge. A suicide attack targeting a major European city and concertgoers among the victims, using vehicles as weapons, it is the familiarity of these atrocities, the catalogue of references they conjure, that are making these events so horrific and apparently without end.

Late this week an open air concert in Germany sent the crowd home early due to a terror threat. Right before the busy summer travel and concert season begins, the UK attack claimed by ISIS, threatening more during Ramadan and raising the UK's terror threat level to its highest, sent waves of panick well beyond Europe. Concert, sport and other venues in other countries said they would tighten security measures after the box office attack in Manchester which occurred as the relatively youthful crowd of pop artist Ariana Grande started leaving.

The attack of a 22-year-old British born suicide bomber killing 22 and injuring over 100, carried flashes of the terrible night of the Bataclan attack in Paris, without the coordination of that terrible night of bloodshed. But authorities raced to dismantle the network they said was behind it, fearing it prepared more attacks. As in France earlier this year where a gunman killed a police officer on the Champs Elysées, the attack occurred soon before a national election, the first after the Brexit vote, postponing campaigning as Britons and much of the world united to mourn and condemn the attack.

Prime minister Theresa May referred to the incident, not the first during her short tenure following the attack in London which led to the steps of Whitehall, as an "appalling terrorist attack". "We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage."

It was the targeting of a concert known to attract youngsters which particularly horrified observers, and while the motive of the attack is yet to be fully understood, some reports mentioning revenge for racial attacks endured by the bomber's father, ISIS has sought to claim young victims in reprisal for what it calls the deaths of civilians in the war waged against it. Salman Abedi was the son of a Libyan immigrant who had fought the Gaddafi regime and supported jihadism. Salman's sister was quoted as saying he may have been driven by what he considered injustices.

"I think he saw children - Muslim children - dying everywhere and wanted revenge. He saw the explosives America drops on children in Syria and wanted revenge." That week in fact the coalition fighting ISIS conceded it had mistakenly killed dozens of civilians in recent air offensives, among them women and children.

A recent report by the British based Syrian observatory for human rights has noted a spike of civilian killings by coalition air strikes in Syria and Iraq. Before the latest incidents it recorded 225 civilians including 44 children killed in the month following April 23rd, the highest total since the beginning of the air campaign. This week the coalition admitted at least 484 civilians had died in its strikes against ISIS since 2014.

"There has been a very big escalation," said Rami Abdel Rahman.

The world's most vulnerable populations, young children, have been victims of terror attacks at schools from South Asia to Africa, notably with the mass kidnapping perpetrated by Boko Haram years ago. They are also among the victims of failed flight to European shores, a sunken craft sending dozens to their deaths off the coast of Libya last week including children. This week infants were among 44 migrants who died just trying to get to Africa's shores, in the desert on the way to Libya.

According to one study by UNICEF some 24 million children are threatened by conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. The youngest victim of the Manchester concert was 8. The city has over time developed a reputation of being a hotbed for radicalization.

A few years ago police busted a local gang of radical Muslims for using a market stall to distribute literature, CDs and DVDs in order to convert young Britons to Islam and send them to wage "Jihad" against Western forces in Afghanistan. Munir Farooqi, a former Taliban fighter, was given four life sentences in 2011 after being found guilty of trying to recruit youngsters.

Recent estimates put the number of potential terror suspects being monitored at 3,000 in Britain, not including some 400 fighters known to have come back from Syria. The means to follow their activities have been dwindling according to The Express, as concerns were being raised about potentially missed signals by security services.

By some accounts at least three warnings had been issued about Abedi by U.S. and other authorities. Security measures were tightened across Britain after the attack, parliament's work temporarily interrupted as well as Buckingham palace's chang-ing of the guard , as the United Kingdom at one point raised its alert level to critical, sending troops to protect key areas ahead of a banking holiday.

But despite their best efforts, authorities were not able to prevent this weekend's attack, eerily similar to the Westminster incident, which started with the mowing down of easy targets, pedestrians on London Bridge, before knifing incidents involving three suspects. After this third terrorist incident in recent weeks, a city used to dealing with adversity remains on edge, tormented by a new normal testing the patience of its citizens.


Dans cette ville où flotte la bannière crapuleuse de l'état islamique, l'armée tente de reprendre du terrain à coup de frappes aériennes et d'incur-sions au sol alors que les citadins qui n'ont pas pu fuir à temps restent sur les dents et se cachent derrière leurs persiennes en attendant la fin des violences. 

On n'est pas à Mossoul mais bien aux Philippines, où les éclats ont fait plus de 100 morts lors des derniers jours. La loi martiale, l'île de Mindanao la connaît bien, elle qui est le théâtre d'une guérilla de longue date contre Manille. L'état de siège dure en fait depuis des décennies dans le sud du pays dont les fiefs d'Abu Sayyaf de Solo et Julu, le groupe responsable de la pire attaque terroriste au pays, celle d'un traversier, qui a fait 116 victimes en 2004.

Dix ans plus tard le dirigeant Isnilon Hapilon prêtait allégiance à l'EI, bannière de ses derniers combats. Mais lorsque le président Duterte a lancé une opération contre lui,  dont la tête est mise à prix par Washington, les renforts n'ont pas tardé.

Les assaillants islamistes se sont vengés sur le peuple, soit une congrégation et un prêtre catholique à Marawi, une ville au nord de Davao, où Duterte a été maire et forgé sa réputation d'homme fort. Depuis sa présidence ce dernier a lancé une guerre sans merci contre la criminalité qui s'est soldée par plusieurs morts et a attiré une condamnation internationale, mais celui-ci s'est moqué des reproches et a poursuivi la ligne dure.

À Mindanao cependant, la ligne dure fait partie des mœurs, et la réaction a été vive, la guérilla posant les bannières de l'EI et postant des tireurs en hauteur à travers la ville, exigeant le retrait des troupes. En revanche, Duterte, qui a été élu notamment en raison de la ligne dure à Davao, a décrété l'état d'urgence, qu'il menace d'étendre à plusieurs régions du pays. "Nous sommes sous un état d'urgence," dit-il ajoutant que sa réaction sera "sévère".

"Évidemment notre pays a besoin d'armes modernes, poursuit-il, nous avons passé une commande aux États-Unis mais à présent la situation n'y est plus très nette alors pour combattre l'état islamique et leurs unités nous aurons besoins d'armes modernes."

Washington a annulé la commande suite aux accusations de morts extrajudiciaires issues de la campagne anti drogue du pays qui a fait plusieurs milliers de morts, la plupart des criminels, mais pas toujours.

"Toute personne qui tient une arme, confronte le gouvernement avec violence, mes ordres sont de n'épargner personne, mettons un terme au problème à Mindanao une fois pour toute." L'application de la loi martiale par l'ancien dictateur Ferdinand Marcos fait partie des pages les plus sombres de l'histoire du pays, c'est par conséquent sans surprise qu'un Duterte provocateur n'y voit qu'une "très bonne" expérience.

Mais les organisations des droits de l'homme condamnent l'impo-sition de la loi qui selon eux est exagérer l'étendue de la crise et ouvre la voie aux violations de droits de l'homme sans limite. Abu Sayyaf il faut l'avouer avait récemment décapité sa nouvelle victime, un pêcheur capturé l'an dernier. Deux Canadiens étaient également au compte des victimes l'an dernier.

Le Canada avait alors refusé de payer une rançon de 60000$ exigée par le groupe séparatiste qui finance son armement de la sorte. Duterte compte à présent sur l'appui de Moscou, où il se trouvait en visite avant d'écourter son séjour, et possiblement celui de Pékin.

La crise éclatait alors que le G7 se réunissait pour discuter terrorisme entre autre, suite au massacre de Manchester. Selon Zachary Abuza du National War College, Duterte n'a rien fait pour poursuivre les efforts de paix engagés dans le sud du pays malgré ses promesses. "Ceci nécessite une solution politique et le gouvernement y était presque parvenu avec le groupe le plus important en 2015," note-t-il.


In the fight against ISIS in Syria there is no question the regime in Damascus is hardly one Western powers could consider calling an ally.

In Iraq, perhaps the term is more palatable, but despite the closer relationship and efforts to train soldiers leading the fight on the ground, the methods used can leave to be desired and in fact harken back to the dark pages of Iraq's not so distant past.

This was clearly illustrated by a daring photojournalist embedded with elite Iraqi units in the never ending battle of Mosul, and the images he brought back went beyond the battlefield, showing the dark recesses of the conflict. Ali Arkady's images, sneaked out at his own peril and shared with the Toronto Star and NBC News, depicted gagged and blindfolded detainees suf-fering in silence hung by their twisted wrists.

They conjure the worst images of degradation from members of another allied military, in Abu Ghraib prison over a decade ago. Would the involvement of NATO in the war, as announced in the recent summit, bring an end to abuse of what are mainly Sunni Muslims, sometimes involving knives, guns and live electric wires?

The violent images shed light on the sectarian nature of the fight, with members of the Iraqi military unit saying they were avenging the deaths of Shiites in the hands of Sunnis, in one instance executing  one detainee trying to flee with his arms bound after a night of torture. Arkady himself was occasionally asked to partake in the demeaning acts and lower his camera to strike blows against detainees.

"I saw only the good at first with these guys," he said of the early stages of his assignment. "There with Sunni and Shiite fighting together uniting against ISIS for all the right reasons." But that changed over time as he gained the trust of the units around him.

As the battle of Mosul winds down there is concern about the continuing sectarian divide and military acts against populations which may only fuel future violence down the road in the already stricken country.

Had Abu Ghraib after all not served as a recruiting tool for jihadists as ISIS became more prominent, an attack against the prison in 2013 resulting in the release of some 500 prisoners who went on to bolster the group's ranks? Canadian Armed Forces officials shown the images said such acts went contrary to their training and threatened the people's trust in their military.

"As a professional soldier and as a human being what I saw in the images was, quite frankly, abhorrent and sickening," Col. Jay Janzen told the Star. "The coalition is doing everything it can to make sure that to the greatest extent possible the law of conflict is being respected and in cases where it isn't, it needs to be investigated and people need to be held to account."

Amnesty International made plain the accusations are commonplace: "Paramilitary militias and government forces committed war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law," mostly against Sunni Arabs.


Les violences des groupes armés qui se livrent une guerre territoriale en Centrafrique ne se sont jamais arrêtées mais celles-ci atteignaient un sommet à la mi-mai. Plus de 110 personnes connaissaient la mort après l'attaque du quartier musulman et la base de l'ONU de Bangassou, dans ce sud-est turbulent du pays. Pointés du doigt, les anti-Balaka pro-chrétiens qui livrent une lutte aux musulmans ex-Séléka depuis des lunes pour contrôler les ressources - l'or, l'ivoire, le diamant et le pétrole notamment- de cette région en crise qui partage une frontière avec un autre pays aux prises avec les violences, le Congo.

Au compte des victimes, les casques bleus, dont la présence n'est pas toujours appréciée au pays et qui ne font pas toujours le poids face aux groupes armés. Fait rare au pays, des armes lourdes étaient notamment utilisées lors des récentes attaques.

Ces casques bleus redoutent également  le fait de se sentir de plus en plus seuls. "Dans le sud et sud est il est en train de se créer un vide sécuritaire avec le départ des armées américaine et ougandaise installées depuis cinq ou six ans, explique Thierry Vircoulon de l'Institut français des relations internationales.

Les groupes armés installés depuis des années essaient de définir des zones d'influence et se battent dans ces zones". Le départ des Français de l'opération Sangaris a notamment donné libre voie aux éclats malgré la présence de 21000 troupes de l'ONU. Paris avait-elle déclaré victoire trop tôt?

Elle qui s'était félicitée d'avoir "évité des massacres de masse... permis un processus de réconciliation intercommunautaire et la reconstruction de l'état centrafricain". Or celui-ci semble encore manquer à l'appel.

Le pays a bien organisé des élections l'an dernier dans l'espoir de faire bouger les choses, mais les résultats deçoivent et laissent cette nation bien pauvre avec peu d'espoir de progrès. Il n'y a pas eu de "nouvel élan de reconstruction de l'état" constate Vircoulon, alors que 400000 réfugiés fuient toujours les violences, ce qu'ils parviennent difficilement à faire.

Le président Faustin-Archange Touadéra déplore "avec la dernière énergie ces actes criminels et odieux" mais presque sans force, déjà, après quelques mois à la tête du pays. Pourtant les relations inter- communautaires étaient plutôt bonnes dans cette localité frontalière, et il s'agit peut être là de la raison du massacre.

"La façon d'opérer est très surprenante. L'attaque a été orchestrée, planifiée militairement, selon Nathalia Dukhan d'Enough project, les civils étaient clairement visés." Cette semaine les participants à une réunion sur la sécurité régionale au Cameroun avertissaient qu'un nouveau conflit était inévitable sans un soutien de la communauté internationale.

Par ailleurs un rapport des Nations Unies estimait que non moins de la moitié des habitants du pays dépendaient de l'aide humanitaire pour survivre. Près de 40000 enfants de moins de cinq ans y souffrent également de malnutrition.


Certains dirigeants s'accro-chent désespérément au pouvoir, même si la tentative gambienne, comme celle du Burkina Faso il y a quelques années, a été vouée à l'échec. En Algérie, Bouteflika à peine vu en public en raison de sa piètre santé, semble même voué au poste jusqu'à la mort. Mais après?

Selon la femme de l'éternel tyran de Harare, il n'y a aucune  raison de se limiter au monde des vivants. Grace Mugabe, qui a 41 ans de moins que son mari et espère bien conserver tous les avantages qui reviennent à la première femme du pays, ne voit aucun inconvénient à présenter le corps de Robert Mugabe aux prochaines élections si "dieu décide de nous le prendre."

Après tout, poursuit-elle "toute personne qui était avec Mugabe en 1980 (au moment de l'indépendance) n'a aucun droit de dire de lui qu'il est trop vieux." Le chef d'état fêtait son 93e anniversaire en février, ce qui a donné lieu à multes célébrations à travers le pays. Il a déjà déclaré vouloir vivre jusqu'à 100 ans et s'accrocher au pouvoir jusqu'à la mort.

Sa femme quant à elle prévoit lui acheter une chaise roulante afin qu'il puisse poursuivre son règne avec son aide. Insensé? Fait intéressant, 10 des 13 chefs d'état morts alors qu'ils étaient en fonction entre 2009 et 2013 étaient africains.

L'année précédente, 2008, c'était au guinéen Lansana Conté de rendre l'âme, et la transition fut particulièrement chaotique, l'armée s'emparant du pouvoir. Quelques jours avant sa mort un journal avait fait paraître une photo peu flatteuse, montrant un président au bout de ses forces et visiblement malade.

Ceci suscita un tollé politique, la publication se voyant obligée de présenter une photo plus grande montrant un président en pleine santé en première page le lendemain. Or celle ci était évidemment vieille, et son sujet expira quelques heures plus tard.

Ce repli défensif camouflait un manque de planification à propos de la succession, qui entraîna le désastre; c'est un exemple qui hante encore le continent. Plus récemment c'est le Nigéria qui se fait du souci vue la convalescence prolongée de son chef d'état. Muhammadu Buhari est à Londres depuis plusieurs semaines, et son absence suscite bien des inquiétudes, son prédecesseur Umaru Yar'Adua ayant été de ceux qui sont morts au poste, en 2010.

Plusieurs pays africains ont certes vu la transition bien se passer, notamment au Malawi, après la mort du septuagénaire Mutharika en 2012, un pays dont on entend peu parler, ce qui en soi est rassurant. Mais quel avenir au Zimbabwe, pays de crises éternelles? La réponse nous vient-elle d'Azeribaijan, où le president a nommé sa femme vice-présidente? Selon les nouvelles mesures constitu-tionnelles, c'est elle qui hériterait du poste si...


Famine, for a while it seemed eradicated from the landscape, leaving in the past images of emaciated infants with bloated tummies such as Ethiopia's in the middle of the 1980s. To a large extent large scale famines have disappeared, but after a six year hiatus, famine is back, in a country which has never had it.

That's because South Sudan didn't exist then, but the young history of the world's newest country has been, to say the least, a troubled one. Tensions with its northern neighbor and internal clashes between rival tribes have rocked an already poor nation, creating a humanitarian crisis amid fears of genocide. 

Now 4.9 million people, 40% of the population, are in urgent need of food according to The United Nations' World Food Programme, a million on the brink of famine and 100,000 facing starvation.  "Our worst fears have been realized," said Serge Tissot of the Food and Agriculture Organiza-tion.

The region as a whole is under threat of famine, including other war wracked countries such as Somalia and Yemen and parts of Nigeria where the Boko Haram insurgency endures. In all some 20 million people are threatened with famine over the next six months in a series of emergencies crossing borders.

The criteria for declaring famine are strict, and therefore the situation alarming, especially in parts of the state of Unity.  They include a minimum 20% of households facing extreme food shortages, malnutrition rates  exceeding  30% and a death rate over two per day per 10,000 people. 

The threat of contagion was being stressed in the alarming UN report. "If sustained and adequate assistance is delivered urgently the hunger situation can be improved in the coming months and further suffering mitigated," it said, local aid officials blaming "man made" conditions for bringing famine back to Africa.

These parts of Sudan have already been struck by famine nearly a decade ago, while they were fighting to independence, which, once attained, only allowed civil war to break out, dividing early on the freshly minted government in Juba, affecting everything from crops already struggling with drought to the economy.

The African Union has previously detailed accounts of bloodbaths, mass rapes, and even forced cannibalism. The United Nations maintain 10,000 troops in the country. Among the victims, the most vulnerable, in a country already plagued by the use of child soldiers. "If we do not reach these children with urgent aid many of them will die," warned Jeremy Hopkins of UNICEF.

But even if it arrives, bringing emergency aid to afflicted regions is daunting in itself. "There's only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security," told the New York Times Joyce Luna of the World Food Programme. "At this time it's more necessary than ever for everyone to not just stop with words, but take concrete action so that food aid can reach suffering populations," weighed in Pope Francis.

At a time the U.S. is considering scaling back its United Nations and aid backing, word of financial woes providing aid relief sparked particular concern. "The situation is dire," said U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a desperate appeal for funds. "We need $4.4 billion by the end of March to avert a catastrophe."

Of this amount, under $100 million had been pledged. Famine last struck the continent six years ago in Somalia, a country now afflicted by severe drought, then killing a quarter million people in two months at the time. But U.S. researchers warn this bout is simply "unprecedented in recent decades." Much of it was preventable had governments taken heed, observers say. A proposed arms embargo in South Sudan may have stemmed some of the violence at the source of the emergency.

The crisis now "underscores the complete failure by government, opposition forces, and international actors to end the cycle of abuse," says Human Rights Watch researcher Jonathan Pedneault. In the Lake Chad region alone, at the crossroads of Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, some 3 million people need immediate assistance, a recent donor conference gathering a third of the $1.5 billion required to assist them.

In Somalia, al Shabab attacks continue to claim victims, but, as in nearby Kenya next door, it is a drought which is principally responsible for placing half of the population of 10 million in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the U.N. humanitarian office. In parti-cular some 363,000 acutely malnourished Somali children "need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished," USAID says.


It was another tragedy in a sea of despair. The bodies of 74 migrants who had perished when their boat capsized were placed in body bags under white blankets on a pebbled beach on the Libyan coast of Zawiya before they were collected one by one by members of the Red Crescent. A sole survivor had made it, clinging to the remains of a shredded dingy.

Others were never recovered because of the choppy seas. Only half of the bodies washed up on the shores. This sort of scene has been a constant in the last few years along the Mediterranean, and is in fact getting worse.

In January alone over 1,300 had already died trying to reach European shores, more than a dozen times the number of the previous January. And this is the quiet season when fewer try this treacherous route because of the weather. The ill fated passengers lying lifeless on the beach were all African men.

Little seems to stem the flow of migrants heading north, neither the walls put up in Europe nor the squalid conditions of the camps where many end up. It's colder, but it isn't necessary worse than at home, and despite at times poor welcoming conditions, there's still hope to find a better life, eventually.

"While the number of people taking the eastern Mediterranean and west Balkans route to travel into Europe (has) obviously significantly dropped since last year, there hasn't been a fall in the number of people ... traveling through the central Mediterranean routes from Libya to Italy," says Stephen Ryan of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"And in fact, although still early, the numbers of people that have successfully made the journey is higher than it was last year." This will have policy implications on a continent already strained by the weight of migrants from the Middle East and Africa.

But what makes things worse are the methods used by the smugglers organizing these passages to transport the migrants. While they are putting them on boats, they don't necessarily make it to European shores, or any shores, just part of the way. 

"What we hear from those rescued is that routinely smugglers are putting them to sea and then follow them later and take the engines away saying you don't need them anymore because you'll be rescued," says Leonard Doyle, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration.

"In this case they were left to drift and were not rescued," he said, adding "Those who died appeared to have been dehydrated for days." The coast guards patrolling the Mediterranean have their work cut out for them.

Days after the tragedy Rescuers found 332 people in a single day in three separate rubber boats traveling north of the Libyan coast. On the eve Italy's coast guard said some 730 migrants were rescued during seven different operations.

And as daunting as it is, nature is hardly the only barrier to their progress northwards. Hungary said it is going to erect a second barrier on its border with Serbia in anticipation of this year's wave of migrants, moving north in greater numbers, if this is even possible, as the weather becomes warmer.

And the greeting that awaits them in the nations of refuge, including a particularly generous Germany whose leadership may suffer a poll setback this year as a result, isn't always pleasant.

According to the Interior ministry some 10 migrants were attacked every day last year, a year some 1 million made their way to the country fleeing persecution and war. And the EU has had to threaten with fees countries not willing to take in their share of migrants.

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