US Sanctions On Iran Endangers Region – France

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian attends a meeting on the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, in Paris, on May 18, 2018.
Christophe Petit Tesson / EPA POOL / AFP


French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Wednesday that the United States risks further destabilising the Middle East after Washington warned Iran faced the “strongest sanctions in history”.

“The sanctions to be launched against Iran will not foster dialogue, on the contrary, they will boost the importance and power of Iran’s conservatives and weaken president (Hassan) Rouhani, who wanted to negotiate,” Le Drian told France Inter radio. “Finally, this stance is likely to put the region in further danger than it is today.”


France Condemns United States Over Iran Sanctions

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian looks on during a joint press conference with his German counterpart prior to a meeting to discuss the EU, common defence policy and international issues on May 7, 2018 in Berlin. Tobias Schwarz / AFP


France’s foreign minister on Thursday condemned the United States for reimposing sanctions against foreign companies trading with Iran, labelling the move “unacceptable” in comments that expose the deepening rift between Washington and its European allies on the issue.

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump announced he was pulling out of a landmark deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program and reintroducing sanctions on the Islamic republic and those who trade with it.

The decision overturned years of painstaking diplomacy and left European allies scrambling to save the hard-fought deal.

Washington has given European firms doing business in Iran up to six months to wind up investments or risk US sanctions and they are also forbidden from signing any new contracts with Iran.

On Thursday France’s top diplomat Jean-Yves Le Drian slammed those conditions, saying Washington needed to negotiate with its European allies on any sanctions that might affect their companies.

“We feel that the extraterritoriality of their sanction measures are unacceptable,” he told the French daily Le Parisien.

“The Europeans should not have to pay for the withdrawal of an agreement by the United States, to which they had themselves contributed,” he said.

Europeans, he added, would “do everything to protect the interests of their companies” and planned to lead “tight negotiations” with Washington via the European Union.

Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran deal has left his country diplomatically isolated.

Tehran agreed in 2015 to curb its uranium enrichment programme in exchange for sanctions relief after mammoth negotiations with the US, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China and Russia.

All the other signatories to the deal had called on Trump to stay with the agreement and condemned his decision to leave — although Le Drian’s criticisms are some of the most forceful yet from a key European ally.


France To Increase Troop Numbers In Ivory Coast After Beach Attack

franceFrance will nearly double the number of troops it has in Ivory Coast, the defense minister said on Saturday.

He was on a visit to the country during which he laid flowers at the site of an attack on tourists that killed 19 people.

Jean-Yves Le Drian placed a bouquet on the beach in Grand Bassam, a resort town 40 km (25 miles) from Abidjan, where gunmen shot swimmers and sunbathers before storming hotels last month, an attack claimed by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Four French citizens were killed.

Le Drian said France, the former colonial power, would increase its contingent of troops in Ivory Coast to 900 from 550.

“We need to reinforce coordination in an intelligence capacity at the same time as in an intervention capacity in the whole of West Africa,” the defence minister said.

Ending Insurgency: France, Nigeria Defence Ministers Sign Deal

Ending InsurgencyNigeria and France have signed a deal that would help government of both countries focus on training and procurement of equipment for its military personnel to end war against terrorism.

Speaking at the end of the Nigeria/France High Defence Committee meeting in Abuja, Nigeria’s Minister of Defense, Mansur Dan-Ali and his French counterpart, Jean Yves Le Drian said plans are also in top gear to improve on intelligence gathering.

The French government had pledged to work with the Federal Government of Nigeria towards combating the menace of terrorism.

The Director, Military Intelligence of the Republic of France, General Christophe Gomert, in 2015 declared his country’s unwavering support to Nigeria in its fight against insurgency.

General Gomert said the fight against global terrorism could be won through effective collaboration between the two countries.

The Chief of Nigeria’s Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Monday Morgan, also said that Nigeria would continue to build on the existing bilateral relationship between both countries.

U.S. Supports U.N. Resolution On Boko Haram Regional Force

Boko haram counter-terrorism forcesAn official at the U.S. defence says the United States supports the creation of a West African force of up to 10,000 troops to fight Nigerian Islamist group, the Boko Haram.

The 54-nation African Union has approved the force and has asked the United Nations (UN) to endorse it urgently, subsequent to attacks by the islamist group in north-east Nigeria and neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon, seeking to carve out an Islamic state.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for African Affairs, Amanda J. Dory, said on Wednesday, during a visit to Cameroon that Washington, one of five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council, would back a U.N. resolution.

“The U.S. is providing diplomatic support in terms of engagement in the U.N. Security Council for the awaited resolution authorizing the deployment of a Multinational Joint Task Force by the African Union against Boko Haram,” she said.

If approved, the new force would receive U.N. funding and would likely turn out to be a bigger and better resourced operation than the present offensive being mounted against the militants by Nigeria and its neighbours.

However, a perception that Nigeria was failing to deal with the militants alone, and a growing number of cross-border attacks, prompted Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon to launch their existing operation to try to hold the militants.

Meanwhile, Nigerian Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mr Mike Omeri, told reporters earlier on Wednesday, that the attempt by the Boko Haram insurgents to seek assistance from ISIS, was a confirmation of the kind of pressure the group was receiving from multi-national forces.

Mr Omeri appealed for support from Nigerians in the fight against the Boko Haram, noting that so far, 36 towns had been reclaimed from the insurgents.

Diplomats said the African Union Peace and Security Council was due to discuss on Thursday, the text of a possible resolution that could then be circulated to the 15 U.N. Security Council members.

However, Diplomats said France, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council, had been seeking to rally support for the resolution in time for a vote by early April.

The United States had already helped Cameroon’s army security equipment to fight Boko Haram and France on the other hand, is increasing its own West African counter-insurgency force to support regional troops fighting Boko Haram.

France To Increase W/Africa Troops To Support Boko Haram Fight

French President, Francois Hollande

The French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on Wednesday said France will increase its West African counter insurgency forces to support the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) fighting Boko Haram in West Africa.

“We will slightly increase the numbers on Barkhane to give us the means to support and accompany the tensions that are taking place around Lake Chad,” he said, without giving details.

Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin have mobilised forces this year to help Nigeria defeat Boko Haram after it seized large amounts of territory and staged cross-border attacks.

France already has about 3,000 troops, excluding special forces, spanning from Mauritania in the West to southern Libya in the East tasked with hunting down al Qaeda-linked groups.

French Troops Re-Claim Malian Town

French forces have now re-claimed the northern Malian town of Kidal, the last main stronghold of Islamist rebels in the region.

The militant Islamist fighters left the town, near the Algerian border, and are now believed to be hiding in the surrounding mountains.

Kidal was captured days after French and Malian forces retook the provincial capitals Gao and Timbuktu.

Haminy Maiga, a Kidal official, said the troops who arrived aboard four planes had met no resistance.

“The French arrived aboard four planes,” said, Mr Maiga, who heads the regional assembly.

“They took the airport and then entered the town, and there was no combat. The French are patrolling the town and two helicopters are patrolling overhead.”

Earlier, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said a sandstorm had delayed the troops from leaving the airport and entering the town.