White Nationalism Is Destroying the West

On July 14, 2016, as French families strolled along Nice’s seafront promenade, a Tunisian man driving a large truck rammed into a crowd, killing 86 people. A month later, the mayor of nearby Cannes declared that “burkinis” — a catchall term for modest swimwear favored by many religious women — would be banned from the city’s beaches; a municipal official called the bathing suits “ostentatious clothing” expressing an “allegiance to terrorist movements that are at war with us.”

One of the law’s first victims was a third-generation Frenchwoman who was ordered by the police to strip off her veil while onlookers shouted, “Go back to your country.” Still, many French politicians and intellectuals rushed to defend the ban. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy called modest swimwear “a provocation”; Alain Finkielkraut, a prominent philosopher, argued that “the burkini is a flag.” But what they presented as a defense of secular liberal values was in fact an attack on them — a law, masquerading as neutral, had explicitly targeted one religious group.

When rapid immigration and terrorist attacks occur simultaneously — and the terrorists belong to the same ethnic or religious group as the new immigrants — the combination of fear and xenophobia can be dangerous and destructive. In much of Europe, fear of “jihadists” (who pose a genuine security threat) and animosity toward refugees (who generally do not) have been conflated in a way that allows far-right populists to seize on ISIS attacks as a pretext to shut the doors to desperate refugees, many of whom are themselves fleeing ISIS, and to engage in blatant discrimination against Muslim fellow citizens.

But this isn’t happening only in European countries. In recent years, anti-immigration rhetoric and nativist policies have become the new normal in liberal democracies from Europe to the United States. Legitimate debates about immigration policy and preventing extremism have been eclipsed by an obsessive focus on Muslims that paints them as an immutable civilizational enemy that is fundamentally incompatible with Western democratic values.

Yet despite the breathless warnings of impending Islamic conquest sounded by alarmist writers and pandering politicians, the risk of Islamization of the West has been greatly exaggerated. Islamists are not on the verge of seizing power in any advanced Western democracy or even winning significant political influence at the polls.

The same cannot be said of white nationalists, who today are on the march from Charlottesville, Va., to Dresden, Germany. As an ideology, white nationalism poses a significantly greater threat to Western democracies; its proponents and sympathizers have proved, historically and recently, that they can win a sizable share of the vote — as they did this year in France, Germany and the Netherlands — and even win power, as they have in the United States.

Far-right leaders are correct that immigration creates problems; what they miss is that they are the primary problem. The greatest threat to liberal democracies does not come from immigrants and refugees but from the backlash against them by those on the inside who are exploiting fear of outsiders to chip away at the values and institutions that make our societies liberal.

Anti-Semitic and xenophobic movements did not disappear from Europe after the liberation of Auschwitz, just as white supremacist groups have lurked beneath the surface of American politics ever since the Emancipation Proclamation. What has changed is that these groups have now been stirred from their slumber by savvy politicians seeking to stoke anger toward immigrants, refugees and racial minorities for their own benefit. Leaders from Donald Trump to France’s Marine Le Pen have validated the worldview of these groups, implicitly or explicitly encouraging them to promote their hateful opinions openly. As a result, ideas that were once marginal have now gone mainstream.

The trend is unmistakable. Hungary’s ruling party has plastered anti-Semitic ads on bus stops and billboards; an overtly neo-Nazi movement won 7 percent of the vote in Greece’s 2015 election; Germany’s upstart far-right party, which includes a popular member who criticized Berlin’s Holocaust memorial as “a monument of shame,” won 13 percent in last month’s election.

In France and Denmark, populist leaders have gone to great pains to shed the right’s crudest baggage and rebrand themselves in a way that appeals to Jews, women and gay people by depicting Muslims as the primary threat to all three groups. But their core goal remains the same: to close the borders and expel unwanted foreigners.

Cultural and demographic anxiety about dwindling native populations and rapidly increasing immigrant ones lies at the heart of these parties’ ideologies. In America, Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, worries about the impossibility of restoring “our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” In Europe, the right frets about who’s having the new German or Danish babies and the fact that it’s not white Germans or Danes — a social Darwinist dread popularized by the German writer Thilo Sarrazin, whose best-selling 2010 book, “Germany Abolishes Itself,” warned that barely literate Muslims were poised to replace the supposedly more intelligent German race.

The leader of the Netherlands’ newest far-right party fears that Europe will not exist “as a predominantly white-skinned, Christian or post-Christian, Roman-law-based kind of society” a few decades from now. “If I go to a museum, and I look at these portraits, they are essentially people like me that I can see. In 50 years it won’t be,” he worries.

France, more than any other country, has been the source of these ideas.

In February 2016, French right-wing groups descended on the town of Calais, protesting a huge informal refugee camp there known as the “Jungle.”

The New York Times

World Cup 2018 Power Rankings: Germany on Top among Qualified 23


London – Twenty-three nations have booked their places for the World Cup in Russia, with the holders and Brazil looking in good shape, but we rank England in 13th place, below Iceland:

1) Germany
If the world champions were frustrated by their failure to win continental honors at Euro 2016 they have certainly taken it out on everyone else since. Germany won 10 qualifying games out of 10 and, even if San Marino’s presence in Group C needs taking into account, a record 43 goals scored suggests things are back in their old working order. So too did their Confederations Cup title in July, achieved with an experimental squad. Joachim Löw can select from an unrivaled depth of talent and, while winning back-to-back World Cups remains a huge task, none of next summer’s contenders has an equivalent selection of tools with which to tackle the different challenges they will face.

2) Brazil
Brazil look revitalized under Tite and the light work they made of the fiendish Conmebol qualifying procedure was deeply impressive. The manager has openly stated they should be listed among the leading contenders next summer; it is hard to disagree and it is worth listening to Dani Alves when he says Tite’s human touch makes him “very distant from all Brazilian coaches”. Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Casemiro, Philippe Coutinho and an energized Paulinho are among those benefiting from the transformation and perhaps a sequence of failing to lift the trophy since 2002 will be ended in Russia.

3) Spain
Will it aid Spain that, certainly unlike most of their European rivals, they have already had to dispose of another World Cup contender in the qualifiers? Italy may well make it through the play-offs and, in fairness the rest of Group G was not up to much, but that 3-0 win at the Bernabéu last month was ominous and La Roja’s new generation appear ready to challenge seriously next summer. Álvaro Morata is developing into a genuinely world-class striker; Marco Asensio has a glittering career ahead at just 21; and the in-form Isco, who scored twice against the Italians, has been given room to express himself by Julen Lopetegui. Spain have emerged from their rough period to look a major force once again.

4) France
Qualifying was not without the odd hiccup – but for the frame of the goal that home draw with Luxembourg could have become something far more humiliating – but France did well in one of the more awkward groups and the potential of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembélé and Kylian Mbappé trumps that of virtually any side that will be playing in Russia. Can Didier Deschamps get the best out of them all? If he can then France, who have few obvious weaknesses on paper, will deserve to be ranked among the favorites next summer.

5) Belgium
Belgium put on one of Europe’s better qualifying campaigns, negating any real threat from two potentially tricky rivals in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece. Perhaps the unlikely combination of the Spaniard Roberto Martínez and the Frenchman Thierry Henry can deliver where Marc Wilmots failed and produce a run of convincing tournament performances. Romelu Lukaku’s form for club and country makes Christian Benteke’s struggles all the less troublesome, while Dries Mertens is in the form of his life for Napoli. None of their other mainstays need too much introduction and there remains the tantalizing prospect that, should everything be harnessed correctly, Belgium can do something special.

6) Portugal
They only scraped into the automatic qualification place although, save for a post-Euro 2016 hangover defeat in Switzerland, there was not too much wrong with Portugal’s campaign. Now the question is whether Fernando Santos can get players such as Bernardo Silva and André Silva to perform on the highest stage, and whether Cristiano Ronaldo – who will be 33 when Russia 2018 comes around – can handle a game every three or four days for, potentially, a month. Should Santos succeed then Portugal ought to be more fluid than the team that did not win too many friends in taking the European title.

7) Argentina
The bones will be picked out of a qualifying campaign that flirted with disaster and required saving by a Lionel Messi masterclass in Ecuador, but Argentina have made it and will automatically be installed as one of the favorites. It is worth pointing out that everyone bar Brazil came close to missing out in an extraordinary Conmebol qualifying group; it will also be a big concern, though, that the gap between Jorge Sampaoli’s team and their bitterest rivals – whom they did defeat in a summer friendly – was so big. They certainly have the individual talent to bridge it in Russia – and, in what will probably be his last World Cup, Messi has the incentive to deliver more magic.

8) Poland
There is a strut to Poland under Adam Nawalka and they fit neatly into any “dark horse” assessment – not least because the world’s sixth-ranked side will be one of the eight seeded teams in Russia. That is almost entirely down to their outstanding form during qualifying, marred only by a puzzling 4-0 defeat in Denmark; goals are not usually a problem and especially not for Robert Lewandowski, who scored 16 of their 28 in Group E. They are fast and assertive at their best. The worry would be that, as seemed to be the case at Euro 2016, Lewandowski may try to do too much and blunt his own effectiveness in the penalty area.

9) Mexico
The urbane Juan Carlos Osorio may not be universally popular in Mexico but his team barely had to break sweat in a poor qualifying group, an irrelevant (to them) late defeat away to Honduras notwithstanding. The Colombian Osorio has been criticized for his rotation of players, among other things but El Tri play with clarity and, with Carlos Vela and Javier Hernández both in their prime, carry a serious threat. It is still hard to see them mustering a performance that can overthrow one or more of the favorites, though.

10) Nigeria
Nigeria have started to get their house in order and there is distinct optimism around a generation of players that looks their best hope of a last-eight spot in some years. Victor Moses, Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi add Premier League quality. The coach, the German Gernot Rohr, has molded a balanced and organized side that can be lethal on the counterattack and maybe, after a series of nondescript World Cup appearances, Nigeria are now equipped for something more.

11) Uruguay
The one guarantee with Uruguay is that they will always hang in there and second place in the South American qualifiers was a pleasant tonic after a run of three consecutive defeats either side of Christmas. Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani always give you a decent chance and they have an exceptional midfield talent coming through behind them in Federico Valverde. They finished up in good form with a 4-2 win over Bolivia although, with 20 goals conceded, Óscar Tabárez may be concerned that some of their time-honored solidity needs recapturing.

12) Iceland
The Iceland manager, Heimir Hallgrimsson, believes his side should turn up in Russia with the same hope of winning as anyone else. Nobody would dare laugh nowadays: Iceland kept their heads to win a fiendish Group I after Croatia folded with the finishing line in sight, and the question now is whether they can at least emulate their last-eight finish of Euro 2016. They can be such a difficult team to analyze, sometimes lacking an obvious pattern of play, but they benefit from an exceptional knowledge of one another and unswervable self-belief. Those two factors, added to the match-winning excellence of Gylfi Sigurdsson, could leave them perfectly equipped for another eye-catching campaign.

13) England
England were barely dealt a single problem in the most sterile of qualifying groups. Performances in the last two major tournaments speak rather less favorably of their prospects and they are left in a curious position where, after years in which their potential was often grossly overstated, expectations will perhaps move a little exaggeratedly in the other direction. Gareth Southgate’s team are competent enough and have an outstanding striker in Harry Kane; the problem is that nothing about what goes on behind him seems at all intuitive. There has been plenty of talk about lessons being learned in the team’s wider approach to tournament football; that may be so but the smart money is still on England pulling through the group stage comfortably enough before floundering against bolder opponents.

14) Egypt
What a story Egypt’s World Cup qualification, their first since 1990, provided and the good news might not stop there. Héctor Cúper’s team showed at the Africa Cup of Nations, where they finished runners-up to Cameroon, that they know their way around a major tournament and in Mohammed Salah they have a talisman who can decide tight games against anyone. They have an experienced spine, plenty of momentum and an immediate target – the Argentinian Cúper has already asked them to make the last 16 and, if they can take the initiative against sides that drop deep, it should not be beyond them.

15) Colombia
Colombia spluttered over the line and will need to be better if their quarter-final finish of 2014 is to be emulated. It is almost certainly a final chance on this stage for Radamel Falcao, who so cruelly missed out four years ago, while a repeat of last time around from James Rodríguez – generally disappointing since then – will probably be in order too. José Pekerman was relieved his team secured qualification by drawing with Peru and the resilience the Argentina-born coach showed in the critical draw in Peru will be required in spades eight months from now.

16) Serbia
It has been quite a turnaround for Serbia since, almost exactly three years ago, they underwent the shame of that fateful Euro 2016 qualifier against Albania and the picture looks altogether brighter now after they came top of a hard Group D. Nemanja Matic is the linchpin of a team with a pleasing blend of youth and experience. Slavoljub Muslin probably lacks the goalscoring power for a deep run next summer, but Serbia have been under-performing for some time and should, as a minimum, provide larger countries with an awkward moment or two.

17) Iran
“Team Melli” have never been past the group stage at a World Cup and, while they topped Group A in Asia’s third qualifying round by seven points, it would appear difficult for the Portuguese Carlos Queiroz to inspire something better next summer. Iran found it much harder to put teams away than their position suggested, although they were hardly averse to grinding out a result – five away games brought just two goals in total, both in 1-0 victories. They have a solid defense and a forward of great talent in Sardar Azmoun, but may struggle against stronger sides.

18) Costa Rica
Costa Rica continue to punch above their weight and their record in qualifying against the USA – inflicting two grievous blows in winning 4-0 and 2-0 – was eye-catching. They have a world-class goalkeeper in Keylor Navas although the squad as a whole is aging somewhat. It is a stretch to imagine they have the potential to reach the quarter-finals again, although only a fool would dismiss them out of hand. Their last meeting with a European side, a narrow defeat to Spain two years ago, suggests they should compete.

19) Japan
Vahid Halilhodzic looked to be on borrowed time before Japan, in beating Australia 2-0 six weeks ago, secured their progress to a sixth successive World Cup. The chances of bettering their two last-16 finishes seem fairly remote, although the Bosnian Halilhodzic took Algeria through the group stage in 2014 and, in a funny way, looks a better fit for the final tournament than for the qualifiers. Japan have plenty of European experience these days but, like Algeria, will still need to show signs of over-performing to move up these rankings.

20) Russia
Rarely has the buildup to a World Cup brought such little local enthusiasm for the home team, although Qatar may run Russia close in four years’ time. At the Confederations Cup it was Cristiano Ronaldo, rather than Stanislav Cherchesov’s stodgy side, that brought the crowds out in their droves and there is little obvious reason for that to change. Friendly results, including a win achieved in a slightly eccentric assignment against Dinamo Moscow, have been decent enough but it would currently take an optimistic soul to look beyond a last-16 exit at best.

21) Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia thanked Bert van Marwijk for taking them to a first World Cup in 12 years and promptly parted company with the Dutchman, negotiations for a new contract breaking down amid suggestions that he was not spending enough time in the country. It means they have lost the services of a 2010 World Cup finalist – with Holland – for next year’s tournament and the Argentinian Edgardo Bauza, who had been coaching their qualifying group B rivals the United Arab Emirates, will lead them to Russia instead. They did well to pip Australia to automatic qualification and look forward to players such as the prolific Mohammed al-Sahlawi to step up and have an impact.

22) South Korea
An unconvincing set of qualifiers was compounded by friendly defeats to Russia and Morocco – 4-2 and 3-2 respectively – this month and optimism is distinctly lacking. South Korea have not won a game since March, when they beat Syria 1-0, and bar the admirable Son Heung-min they possess few names to make opponents sit up. Shin Tae-yong, appointed in July, has a battle on his hands – not least to win round South Korea’s fans, who still hold out hope of a glorious return to the fold for Guus Hiddink.

23) Panama
Barely known to most without a keen interest in the Concacaf qualifying tournament, Panama are a welcome new face and will be ready to bloody a nose or two. If we are being harsh, their form in a group low on quality was essentially middling – and they had a decisive slice of luck against Costa Rica on Tuesday when their equalizer was given despite not crossing the line – but nobody in the country will care. They disrupted the USA, among others, with some strong-arm tactics on the road to Russia – perhaps recalling Honduras’s performance at Brazil 2014.

The Guardian Sport

France’s Azoulay Wins UNESCO Director General’s Post


Paris – UNESCO’s executive board voted Friday to make a former French culture minister the UN cultural agency’s next chief for the four coming years after an unusually heated election.

UNESCO’s executive board voted 30 to 28 in favor of Audrey Azoulay against Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari.

The board’s selection of Azoulay over a Qatari candidate came the day after the United States announced that it intends to pull out of UNESCO because of its alleged anti-Israel bias.

Azoulay’s nomination was based on the request of former French President Francois Hollande, yet she received great support from President Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

For this purpose, a diplomatic cell was set up to monitor the elections and provide the necessary votes to the former minister of culture, who previously worked as cultural adviser to Hollande at the Elysee Palace.

The Arab candidates dropped out of the race one after the other. The first was the Iraqi candidate, followed by Lebanon’s and finally Egypt’s, who left after losing against Azoulay in an extraordinary runoff on Friday.

Moushira Khattab of Egypt managed to secure 25 votes to Azoulay’s 31. Egypt immediately expressed its support for the French candidate.

Macron congratulated Azoulay on his twitter account, adding that France will continue to fight for education and culture in the world.

Azoulay, who is UNESCO’s 11th director, was born in Paris into a Moroccan-Jewish family.

Her father is Andre Azoulay, a banker and adviser to the Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, also served his father, the late King Hassan II. Her mother is writer Katia Brami.

Confronted with Arab divisions, France presented Azoulay as a consensus figure, who could mend fences within the organization and soothe tensions caused by recent resolutions against Israel.

“Now more than ever UNESCO needs a project… which restores confidence and overcomes political divisions,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement reacting to the US pullout.

According to diplomatic sources in Paris, Morocco supported the French candidate from the beginning and campaigned for her, especially among African countries close to it.

EU: Washington Does Not Have Authority to Terminate Iran Nuclear Deal


London – European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stressed on Friday that US President Donald Trump does not have the authority to terminate the nuclear deal world powers signed with Iran in wake of his recent announcement of a new strategy against Tehran.

She said: “The president of the United States has many powers, but not this one.”

Trump had announced during a speech unveiling during which he unveiled the new strategy that he could terminate the deal at any time.

In other European reactions to Trump’s stance, France, Germany and Britain said in a joint statement that preserving the nuclear deal “falls within our national interest.”

French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romat said in a statement that the deal was a strong tool to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert stated: “We have a great interest in the continuation of this international unity. If … an important country like the United States comes to a different conclusion as appears to be the case, we will work even harder with other partners to maintain this cohesion.”

Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano declared on Friday that Tehran is “subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime.”

He added that Iran is honoring its commitments.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that FM Sergei Lavrov had telephoned his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif on Friday, saying that Moscow will remain completely committed to the nuclear deal with Tehran.

Lavrov told Zarif that Russia was firmly determined to implement the deal in the form in which it was approved by the United Nations Security Council, reported Reuters.

The Kremlin meanwhile warned of “negative and dire consequences” if Washington withdrew from the deal, saying that Tehran would reciprocate such a move.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that spiking the deal “would undoubtedly hurt the atmosphere of predictability, security, stability and non-proliferation in the entire world.”

Echoing Moscow’s stance, Beijing reiterated its commitment to the nuclear deal with Iran.

A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman hoped that all sides would continue to support and implement the agreement.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “strongly hoped” the Iran nuclear deal will remain in place, after Trump accused Iran of violating the accord.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric noted that Guterres had long praised the 2015 pact as a very important breakthrough to stem the spread of nuclear weapons and advance global peace.

Erdogan Discusses with Macron Mediation Plan between Irbil, Baghdad


Ankara, Irbil – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held telephone talks on Saturday with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on the latest developments in the aftermath of the Kurdish independence referendum.

Turkish sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the two officials addressed Macron’s initiative to mediate between Irbil and Baghdad.

For his part, Erdogan stressed Turkey’s commitment to the unity of Iraq and Syria.

Ankara had voiced its support for France’s initiative, saying however that it was not enough to resolve the crisis caused by the referendum.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had held talks in Paris on Thursday with French FM Jean-Yves Le Drian on the Kurdish developments. He expressed Turkey’s support for all efforts that would resolve the problem, noting however that a single country alone cannot resolve this issue.

Baghdad and Ankara had openly rejected the referendum.

The problem should be resolved through the Iraqi constitution, added Cavusoglu.

He also demanded that the Kurdistan region set a deadline for backing down from the “erroneous” referendum.

Erdogan urged during a meeting for his Justice and Development Party Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani to also go back on the vote “otherwise you will be alone and isolated.”

He said that Turkey is determined to stand against all powers that are threatening its internal and external security.

Barzani meanwhile announced on Saturday that Irbil will not close the door against dialogue with Baghdad.

“Kurdistan always wants to resolve its differences with Baghdad through dialogue. We want to end problems with it through negotiations,” he added while placing a wreath of flowers on the tomb of late Iraqi President Jalal Talbani in the city of al-Suleimanieh.

Iraqi Vice President Iyad Allawi revealed that efforts are ongoing to resolve disputes between the two sides.

Barazani and Allawi had held a meeting in al-Suleimanieh to address the latest Iraqi developments. This marks that first meeting between an Iraqi and Kurdish official since the September 25 referendum.

An overwhelming majority of Kurds voted in favor of independence.

Paris: Freeing Raqqa of Last ISIS Holdouts May Take ‘Weeks’

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said Friday that the battle to flush ISIS militants of their last holdouts in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa could drag on for “weeks.”

“It’s probably a question of weeks,” Parly told France Inter radio.

“It’s a slow, difficult battle but which is nonetheless effective,” she said, adding the continuing fight for the city center was “obviously the hardest.”

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, stormed ISIS’ Syrian bastion in June and has since wrested 90 percent of the city from the terrorist group.

France is part of the US-led coalition that has been pounding ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria from the air in order to help local forces flush out the extremists.

Parly estimated that around 500 French militants remained in Iraq or Syria.

“Many are thrown onto the frontlines,” she said, adding those who want to flee are forced by ISIS to fight.

Aid agencies said Thursday that Syria is in the throes of its worst fighting since the battle for eastern Aleppo last year, with heavy air strikes causing hundreds of civilian casualties.

Hospitals, schools and people fleeing violence have been “targeted by direct air strikes” that may amount to war crimes, the United Nations said, without apportioning blame.

Russia and the US-led coalition are carrying out separate air strikes in Syria ostensibly aimed at defeating ISIS.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also said in a statement that up to 10 hospitals were reported to have been damaged in the past 10 days.

Abadi Does Not Want to Fight Kurds, Erdogan Supports Closing Borders

Paris, Ankara — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed on Thursday that he does not want an armed confrontation with the Kurds in relation to the crisis of the referendum on independence held in the Kurdistan region on Sept. 25.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his country would soon close the border with the region, and also spoke about a tripartite mechanism discussed between Ankara, Tehran, and Baghdad on closing the flow of oil from northern Iraq.

The Kurdish file governed al-Abadi’s talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday, although Iraq had in principal negatively responded to the French suggestion that stipulates Macron’s mediation in the crisis between Baghdad and Irbil.

Still, Paris did not amend its position regarding the crisis between the two sides. Macron again expressed the French position during his joint press conference with the Iraqi prime minister on Thursday.

He said France insists to mediate between Baghdad and Erbil, it refuses any escalation, particularly at the military level, and it is attached to the sovereignty of Iraq and the stability and integrity of its territories.

For his part, al-Abadi said: “We do not want an armed confrontation, we don’t want clashes, but the federal authority must prevail and nobody can infringe on the federal authority.”

The Iraqi prime minister discussed with the French president the Kurdish crisis, the war on ISIS and the need to annul the referendum on independence, and he urged Kurdish Peshmerga forces in disputed areas to work with Iraqi security forces under the authority of the central government in Baghdad.

“I call on the Peshmerga to remain an integral part of the Iraqi forces under the authority of the federal authorities, to guarantee the security of citizens so that we can rebuild these zones,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Turkey, Erdogan announced that his country would soon close its border with northern Iraq and shut its airspace in response to last week’s Kurdish independence referendum.

The Turkish president added: “We are demanding that the Kurdish government learn a lesson from their mistakes and take the appropriate steps to compensate them.”

Erdogan also announced that Turkey already established a tripartite mechanism with Iran and Iraq that would decide jointly whether to cut oil exports from Kurdish northern Iraq.

Joint Military Exercise between Saudi Arabia, France


Ta’if – Saudi Arabia and France kicked off a joint military exercise in the Saudi region of Ta’if, southwest of Makkah on Tuesday.

The exercise, involving an unspecified number of ground troops from the two countries, would focus on battles in mountainous regions and on how to back ground operations with proper air cover.

The drill was a routine part of military cooperation between France and Saudi Arabia.

Leader of the drill Colonel Fawaz al-Osaimi explained that it is considered an extension of joint exercises between the Saudi Royal Land Forces, represented by paratroopers and special security forces, the Special Mountain War Center, and the French Special Forces.

It aims at enhancing joint military bilateral cooperation and exchanging experiences and concepts in terms of operations using all available resources.

Training on offensive operations and those in support of Air Force and Ground Forces fighter jets will be conducted with a focus on all skills in the mountainous environment.

Didier Deschamps: I Apply my own Style and Have Not Taken Anything from other Coaches


London – In an extract from a new book France manager Didier Deschamps discusses leadership, talent and creating a link with his players based on trust.

Didier Deschamps is sitting opposite me in a hotel bar in Monaco and is explaining the art of leadership. “I don’t think you just become a leader,” he says, leaning forward in a low armchair and sipping an espresso. “You can’t wake up one morning and say, ‘Right, now I’m going to be a leader.’ I think it is something that’s in you, that you’re born with, and which develops. Some people have that character, that personality and it comes naturally. You can’t force it. It has to be authentic and natural. Innate. It comes from you, your early years, your attitude as an adolescent, how you are with a group and as the one who influences things.”

In the past Deschamps has credited Aimé Jacquet (France’s World Cup-winning coach) and Marcello Lippi as great influences. He spoke of Jacquet’s man-management skills and Lippi’s tactical smarts. But when I ask what he has taken from different coaches, he snaps. “I didn’t take anything!” His fist slaps into his palm to make his point. “Everything you go through has to fit in with the way you are and your own ideas. You wouldn’t be able to do today what coaches did when I was a player. I say something to my son and he tells me I’m prehistoric. You have to live in your time, be of today.”

This is one of the key lessons that Deschamps is keen to impart. Leaders may be born but adaptability can be developed. And for managers today it could be the most important of all. Just because one plan worked at a certain time with a certain group is no guarantee that the same plan will work again elsewhere.

“The key thing is knowing how to adapt,” he says. “Adapting to the group that you have at your disposal; adapting to the place where you’re working; adapting to the local environment. This is crucial: adaptability. It means being aware of the strengths and weaknesses inside the group; being aware of all the outside factors that can influence your sphere; and adapting to all of that, then modifying what you’ve done and not being afraid to change.”

Deschamps is talking on a personal level but the same is true of today’s modern, behemoth companies. PayPal began as a cryptography company, Google used to sell its own search technology to other search engines and Facebook started out as a campus-only social network. Apple was not the first to create a smartphone, a tablet computer or a digital music player: they just did it better than others. They all adapted to capture new value in the market. Deschamps’s job is to do the same.

During his 15 years as a coach – at Monaco, Marseille, Juventus and with France – Deschamps has had to adapt. Some players in the France squad were not even born when he lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy at the Stade de France in 1998. He openly admits that managing millennials today is a challenge and not just in the sporting context.

“The role of the leader is much more complex today,” he says. “In society at large mentalities have changed. In any professional sphere an 18-year-old wants everything and they want it straightaway because they feel strong. They have mastered new technology which gives them a certain power over generations above them. And these days an 18-year-old has no qualms about wanting to take the place of someone who’s 30 or 40, who has experience. These days there are no borders; kids feel strong and confident. They have a desire to explore and to conquer. These can be good things but there can be a bad side as well.”

This often involves an entourage whose motivations may not always tally with the player’s best interests, or a social network that provides the player with a link to fans and additional commercial revenue. These are outside influences that never concerned Deschamps as a player. “They see players as a cash cow and that cow has to keep giving milk.” Deschamps gives an example of the player who has been dropped and whose agent tells him, “The coach is an idiot” and demands a move straightaway. He has seen it happen.

“One of the words I hear a lot is injustice,” he continues. “But what is considered injustice for them may not be something you agree with. So it all becomes a question of how you interpret words and where you put your cursor on the importance of words. For a lot of young guys these days, very quickly they will say that’s totally unfair.”

This may be familiar to those who work with millennials in a non-sporting environment. They are accused of being entitled, narcissistic and unfocused, attitudes that confound their managers. Social networks have created a generation who crave instant recognition. Technology empowers them to challenge authority.

Simon Sinek, a British-American author and motivational speaker, urges leaders today to understand how social media also affects behaviors. Engagement with social media releases dopamine, the same chemical triggered by smoking, drinking or gambling. Dopamine is addictive and social media gives people access to that hit. As this generation switch their craving for approval from parents to their peers, so they rely on social networks: for likes, retweets and shares.

“As they grow older we’re seeing that many kids can’t form deep-meaning relationships,” Sinek said. “Many friendships are superficial; they can’t rely on them; their friends may cancel on them. They don’t have the right coping mechanisms for stress, so when it comes in their lives they turn to a device and not to a person.”

That means a different type of management is now required. It’s one that involves an exchange of views, an understanding of opinions and a mutual trust. As Deschamps tells me how he builds that trust I am surprised by the rigor with which he approaches his role.

He thinks about every word he utters, and is acutely aware of his body language and how he delivers his message. “It’s not just about the words you use, but the way you use them, and the message that puts over. Also your face too and the way you project your message. If you’re telling the group to stay calm, be good, and you have beads of sweat dripping down your forehead, you’re in trouble …”

Deschamps takes in as much as he can. He has created a circle of trust that both empowers the group and provides him with more information to make better decisions. This is how he gains an edge.

Every new player called up to the France squad has a one-on-one chat with Deschamps. He tells them what he thinks of them, what he wants from them and warns them what to expect in the future. Once that player is an international, the way people look at him will change forever as will expectations from his support structure, team-mates, opponents and the media.

Deschamps ensures that all players have a copy of his Code of Conduct in their rooms at Clairefontaine, the French training center. In it he asks them to respect the jersey and the national anthem, to display an open and friendly attitude, to be genuine and humble and, in a section on how to handle the press, to remember that “your behavior, attitude and words shape your image as it is replayed to the public by the media, which are an unavoidable and indispensable part of your journey. They mold the image that you show to the entire country, so be professional with them, too.”

You can get a gist of his message from how Deschamps defines talent. He thinks all young players have potential, not talent. “Talent doesn’t exist in young players. Talent is something that you are able to show at a high level over a period of time. We’re talking about consistency, that’s talent. Talent has to be confirmed. It’s the confirmation of potential. It’s getting to the top and maintaining that level over a period of time.”

The player needs to understand his message. “What I don’t want them to think is that if they have to come to Clairefontaine they have made it. This is only the first step.”

Deschamps then keeps an eye on how they settle in with the squad, not just on the pitch but off it. It’s very interesting for me to watch that. Deschamps will give a youngster a wider margin for error, but he will not accept a lack of effort, a lack of determination or a lack of desire.

“If it happens they get a warning and I see how they react. It comes down to a relationship based on trust,” he says. “The role I have as national team coach is about having a moral contract. I don’t pay these guys, their club does, which is why I’m talking about a moral engagement. It’s about creating a link based on trust. The human relationships these days have become almost as important as what’s on the pitch.

“Being a manager is about recognizing talent and knowing how to use it in the right context. You need to spot that thing which tells you, ‘He’s the guy who can bring me what I need here’. Your choices are human investments; you have to put time in, to get to know them better. They have different lives, personalities, cultures, backgrounds, even views on life. So you have to be able to tune in to their station. Man-management has become extremely important.”

This is where the dialogue comes in; not always face-to-face in his office, but sometimes the odd word on the training ground or during a meal. It’s all considered and thoughtful. The information on his players is out there, available to us all. “What interests me is knowing the man behind all that.”

The Guardian Sport

Five Questioned over Failed Bomb in Paris Neighborhood


Five suspects were interrogated on Tuesday for their possible connection to a failed bomb discovered in an apartment building in a posh neighborhood in the French capital Paris.

Judicial sources said the explosive device included two gas canisters inside the building in the affluent 16th district of western Paris and two outside, some of them doused with petrol and wired to connect to a mobile phone.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said one of those arrested was on an intelligence services list of “radicalized” persons.

Asked to explain how someone under surveillance could carry out an attempted attack undetected, he said radicals usually have “friends, networks that can carry out the act,” people who don’t show outward signs of radicalization “but are ready to help.”

He said the incident shows that the threat against France remains “extremely big.”

“Blowing up a building in a chic neighborhood of Paris — is this not a sign that no one is safe? This doesn’t happen just in suburbs in working class neighborhoods,” he said.

“We are still in a state of war,” Collomb, speaking after a Sunday attack in which a knifeman killed two women in Marseille, told France Inter radio.

It was unclear why the device was planted at the location where it was found as there was no obvious target living there, the judicial sources said.

More than 230 people have been killed in France in attacks by extremist militants over the past three years. The ISIS terrorist group, whose bases in Syria and Iraq are being bombed by French war planes, has urged followers to attack France.

Most of those killed died in attacks by extremist gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris in 2015 and when a man drove a large truck into crowds in the Riviera resort of Nice in 2016.

Since then, there has been a string of attacks perpetrated by lone assailants, often targeting police or soldiers.

“The threat is changing form,” said Collomb.

A counter-terrorism investigation is also under way after the attack on Sunday, where a knifeman slit the throat of one of his victims and killed her cousin before being shot dead by soldiers at a train station in the southern port city.

A separate inquiry has been opened to establish why the man, who had been briefly detained by police the day before in the city of Lyon had been released.

France declared a state of emergency in late 2015 after the Paris attack by gunmen and suicide bombers, giving police special search and arrest powers to combat would-be terrorists.

New legislation was due to be put to a vote in parliament on Tuesday to make many of those emergency measures permanent.

Collomb stressed the importance of the counter-terrorism law as critics say it tramples on individual liberties and puts France in a permanent state of emergency.