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Cablegate: Weekly Media Wrap-Up: Hamas On the Brink of Civil War; Le

VZCZCXRO4309
RR RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHFR #7898/01 3561108
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221108Z DEC 06 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3939
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 1478
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0285

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 007898

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/PPD, EUR/WE, INR, R

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC PREL KPAO FR
SUBJECT: WEEKLY MEDIA WRAP-UP: HAMAS ON THE BRINK OF CIVIL WAR; LE
PEN AND THE NATIONAL FRONT; IRAN PLAYING THE EURO AGAINST THE
DOLLAR. DECEMBER 22, 2006.


PARIS 00007898 001.4 OF 002


Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

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SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) The threat of civil war in Gaza and Palestinian President
Abbas's proposal for new elections led to speculation about the
Middle East as a spawning ground for civil strife. France's
National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen received widespread
attention in the context of an alleged "softer" policy line. As
Iran demanded that its exports be purchased in euros, commentators
tried to shed light on Iran's motivations. End Summary.

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HAMAS: CIVIL WAR IN THE MAKING IN GAZA
---------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Editorialist Pierre Haski contended in left-wing Liberation
that the "injured and the dead in Gaza were the symbols of what was
turning out to be a civil war that would spare no one." Haski
argued that Mahmoud Abbas's plan for anticipated elections "served
to trigger new violence" and that "the reigning confusion could not
help guarantee free and fair elections." Haski concluded that
"Abbas's 'diktat' was probably one last attempt to bluff Hamas into
yielding." But Haski also warned that "if Abbas's argument does not
work, the only way to separate the two rival currents, Hamas and
Fatah, will be with weapons." Haski called for help from the
international community "to stop a civil war, the most serious of
the many threats the Palestinians have had to endure in the past
forty years." In Catholic La Croix, Dominique Quinio argued that
"the fratricidal war raging between Hamas and Fatah confines the
Palestinians to a dead-end situation." For Patrice Chabanet in
regional Le Journal de la Haute Marne, "the renewed cycle of
violence in Gaza is proof that once again the international
community is incapable of bringing peace to the region, with a
powerless Europe watching and America too preoccupied with Iraq."

3. (SBU) In regional La Montagne, Alexandre Morel argued that "more
than a risk for world peace, the Middle East is today a cauldron of
endless civil wars which turned the myth of an Arab nation into an
illusion." In regional Sud Ouest, Patrick Berthomeau decried the
widespread notion that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was "the
cause of all confrontation in the Middle East." Instead Berthomeau
pointed to "sectarian confrontation" in the Arab-Muslim world as
"generating local wars" and triggering "new and unpredictable
alliances with unforeseeable consequences for regional stability."


--------------------------------------------- ---
A KINDER, GENTLER LE PEN FOR THE ELECTION YEAR??
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (SBU) Left-wing Liberation proclaimed that "despite attempts by
his daughter to portray Jean-Marie Le Pen in a softer light, he has
not changed." But in right-of-center weekly Le Point, Christophe
Ono-dit-Biot concluded that "Marine Le Pen, the National Front
Party's campaign strategy manager, is close to winning her wager and
normalizing the image of the party." In popular right-of-center
France Soir, Maud Guillaumin asserted that "more than just a mere
change, the National Front has undergone a 'mutation.'" Left-wing
Liberation insisted that the National Front was simply "revamping
old stuff," and that Jean-Marie Le Pen wanted to "position himself
at the center of the political spectrum, without giving up on his
basic anti-Semitism." Editorialist Jean-Michel Thenard commented in
left-wing Liberation on Le Pen's "gentrification" and on Le Pen's
"new, cautious and non-provocative anti-Semitic stance." Thenard
warned, however, that "behind the face-lift" orchestrated by his
daughter, "Le Pen's extremism remains unchanged" and warned about
the dangers of "turning Le Pen into a household word" in a landscape
where Sarkozy "shifted to the right and Le Pen to the center."

5. (SBU) Left-leaning television personality Serge Moati of France 5
TV recently devoted his talk show "Ripostes" to Le Pen. Soon
thereafter, Le Pen's Internet site claimed that the show's audience
rating had doubled, thanks to Le Pen's performance. Other
commentators criticized Moati for having conducted the interview
"with empathy" and for having avoided controversial questions about
Le Pen's previous comments about the Holocaust having been "a detail
of history." In an interview in right-of-center Le Point, Moati
argued that "previous attempts to demonize Le Pen had failed to stem
the phenomenon," and concluded: "We either outlaw the movement or we
don't. If we don't, then we have a democratic obligation to
interview Le Pen." Moati agreed that "Le Pen's ideas were
dangerous," but insisted that "closing one's eyes to French reality
was also dangerous."

PARIS 00007898 002.5 OF 002

6. (SBU) A poll conducted for left-of-center Le Monde on December 15
indicated that "more people are adhering to Le Pen's ideas" and that
his daughter had succeeded in "un-demonizing" Le Pen. Left-wing
Liberation asked whether "more people in France are rallying Le
Pen's camp because they agree with him and the National Front or
because he has been sweeping his provocations under the carpet," and
warned against "making too much of the 'Le Pen effect.'" Christophe
Forcari, in his analysis in left-wing Liberation, explained that
voter intentions, "which was what counts," was lower, "between 10
and 11 percent" although "growing steadily." But Forcari also
warned that Le Pen could "definitely" find himself in the run-off.
Despite this projection, Guillaume Tabard predicted in
right-of-center Le Figaro that, contrary to what happened five years
ago, "Sarkozy and Royal had more to fear from a first round without
Le Pen than from a threat of the National Front being present in the
run off."

--------------------------------------------- ---
IRAN AND THE POLITICS OF CURRENCY EXCHANGE RATES
--------------------------------------------- ---

7. (SBU) On Monday Le Figaro Economie led with Iran's threat "to end
its dependence on the dollar." Delphine Minoui argued that while
"this threat could be interpreted as a response to U.S. pressures,
other countries are also looking to reduce their dependence on the
dollar," among them Russia and China. La Tribune concurred in its
editorial that "the real danger for the U.S. currency lies in others
following suit behind Iran, not for reasons of anti-Americanism, but
because of real economic concerns." In right-of-center weekly
magazine Le Point, Mireille Duteil analyzed Ahmadinejad's recent
posturing towards Israel and the U.S. and concluded that "by
opposing the U.S., Ahmadinejad hoped to rally support from a world
supposedly tired of America's superpower. His decision on December
18 to get Iran's oil exports paid in euros fits this logic. While
the fall of the dollar could explain such a move, the fact is that
Iran already sells 57 percent of its oil in euros." Duteil
concluded that "Ahmadinejad's decision was a political response to
Washington, which has been pressuring American banks, but also Arab
banks in the Gulf, to refuse loans to Iran and Iranian businesses."


8. (SBU) In left-wing Liberation, Laurent Mauriac interviewed
American financial analyst Michael Malpede who argued that "the idea
initiated by Tehran could be the beginning of a new worldwide trend
among OPEC nations." Malpede was also quoted as saying that, in his
view, "the announcement was not triggered by political reasons."
But he also warned that for OPEC nations "such a move would be like
shooting themselves in the foot." Malpede nevertheless concluded
that the shift away from dollars "could be gradual."
HOFMANN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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