LV 136 : Nuclear deterrence : the satus quo | Ecology and strategy | Mali : speaking the truth

Letter from La Vigie, 19 FEB 2020

Nuclear deterrence: the status quo

An analysis of the nuclear deterrence discourse of the current legislature shows an assumed continuity and a fairly theoretical openness to a European strategic nuclear perspective. One will readily subscribe to this agreed caution. The reactions recorded reveal a rhetoric whose meaning is fading and priority is fading despite the current disorder.

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Ecology and strategy

The preservation of the environment is a global priority, yet it is rarely mentioned by strategists. However, when it comes to managing scarce resources, there is an opposition between a political vision (ecology) and an economic vision (economy), despite the ideological excesses of some. A response to this global problem should logically be multilateral: the American withdrawal from the Paris agreements hinders this approach. Something else must be imagined, all the more so as the strategic factor will weigh more and more heavily in tomorrow’s conflicts, a prospective that must be examined today.

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Lorgnette: Mali: speaking the truth, the end of denial?

By confirming the offer of direct contacts with Iyad Ag Ghali and Amadou Koufa, two emblematic jihadist leaders, IBK, the Malian Head of State transcends the inclusive national dialogue. What does he have to offer?

Probably little, if not a real sharing of political and social views and even local responsibilities. In fact, the military framework has been well renewed: French reinforcement (600 men for Barkhane and G5 Sahel) after the Pau Summit (LV 134), the symbolic and negotiated return to Kidal of an element of the reconstituted Malian army (based on 2/3 of local paramilitaries) on 16 February, the integration into the FAMA of 500 men from the MSA for Menaka and the launch of Maliko, a vast autonomous Malian military operation to reconquer the territory whose eastern theatre covers Gao, Menaka and Kidal.

At the same time, General (ex-captain putschist) Sanogo was released without trial. It is an attempt to bring together all the Malian actors in a Malian military coalition against AW. Al Saharoui (EIGS) designated to all as the terrorist intruder to be eradicated. Then we’ll talk about everything (political, social, religious) But we’re speaking French too. To be seen, up close

JOCV

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LV 135 : Europe and the South | Brexit and the end of EU | Coronavirus : Chinese ?

Letter from La Vigie, dated 5 FEB 2020

Europe and its South

Long regarded as the preserve of southern European countries, the southern Mediterranean shore and its hinterland are now becoming an issue for all European countries, whatever they may be. Only a long-term multilateral strategy will make it possible to resolve the many crises in this region that threaten Europe.

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Brexit and the end of the EU

Brexit thus became law and a country left the European Union for the first time. Admittedly, there are still a few months of negotiations to settle the details of future relations, but the essential points have been said. The EU loses much more than just a 28th of its members: in addition to size (population, GDP) or contribution to the common budget (which will have repercussions on solidarity towards poorer countries, often the latest entrants), it loses a strategic player. While the UK may lose out, the EU sees with its departure the beginning of the end.

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Lorgnette: Coronavirus: Chinese?

The Coronavirus epidemic surprises the observer. As well for its treatment in China, which testifies to the feverishness of the government while the growth rate was ebbing away and that the prior takeover was intended to allow President Xi to better control it. The crisis is generating popular discontent that must be carefully monitored, especially if the power fails to stem the epidemic.

Incidentally, there is a massive movement of quarantines: villages, neighbourhoods, entire cities and even countries, as evidenced by the drastic reduction in relations with China and the closure of borders. We can see here the new phase of globalisation, as we have known it for the last ten years: while trade has increased incredibly (including in diseases), the reaction to the negative effects is closure and local repatriation: here protectionism, there health isolation of a suspect country. The coronavirus is symbolic of geo-economic times and beyond, geopolitical times. Let us hope that this disease is controlled before contaminating everything.

JOCV

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LV 134 : New military strategies | Clever Azerbaijan | Sahel, no Pau

Lettre from La Vigie, dated 22 JAN 2020

New military strategies

Military strategy must articulate both nuclear strategy and the response to asymmetric adversaries. Without dwelling on fashionable concepts (Hybrid Warfare, A2/AD), let us note the return to concerns of high-intensity warfare, which had been forgotten. Opposition between peers or quasi-peers is back on the agenda, without overshadowing other priorities. 2020 is an opportunity to think calmly before the turmoil of the next presidential campaign and the subsequent LPM.

Clever Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is thus on the borders of Europe and Asia, the Russian world and the Middle East, and is of interest to both China and the United States. As a Muslim, Shiite and secular country, it has just presided over the Non-Aligned Movement. Rich in abundant oil, it does not waste this income and succeeds, thanks to skilful diplomacy, in asserting its interests despite the persistent dispute with neighbouring Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. These are all exceptions which would almost be worthy of a model and in any case arouse interest.

Lorgnette: Sahel, no Pau

France convened the leaders of the five G5 Sahel countries at a summit in Pau last week. It asked them, as it were, to confirm their desire to see France intervene in the region, in particular through Operation Barkhane. It was a question of finding political support at a time when the French presence is routinely decried in regional public opinion. In short, to force the said governments to come out of their duplicity. In exchange, France announced the dispatch of 220 additional troops and the refocusing of the operation on the Tri-border region.

220 troops is a 5% reinforcement: no one will believe that this can change the balance of power. As for the concentration on the three borders, it is a change that is at best operative, it certainly has no strategic significance. As for the rest, nothing changes and the stalemate will continue. For the old moons that have been proper and ineffective for decades will continue without changing the political behaviour of the region’s rulers: what if we put them face to face with their responsibilities?

JOCV

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LV 133 : Pespective on 2020 | On common goods of humanity | Lognette : Ottoman Libya

Letter from La Vigie of 8 January 2020

French perspective on 2020: strategic regulation in question

The strategic disruption of the planet continues. In 2020, it could become even more geo-economically unstable. For France, which needs to refocus its strategy and rethink its alliances, this is undoubtedly the time to reassess its external commitments, to exercise strategic restraint and to prioritise efforts on public security and cohesion in order to regain room for manoeuvre.

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The common goods of humanity

Beyond geopolitical or economic issues, it is at a time when multilateralism is experiencing its deepest crisis that it is most needed, particularly to guarantee the sustainable management of the common goods that the planet offers us. Whether we are talking about the environment, the sea and the oceans, exo-atmospheric and cybernetic space or the infinitely small human body, the preservation and exploitation of these goods, which are common to all humankind, require the practice of effective multilateralism so that they may benefit the human species in the long term. The different societies and human generations must also agree to listen to each other before engaging in dialogue.

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Lorgnette: Ottoman Libya

The situation in Libya is experiencing a new wave of uncertainty. While the Tripoli government was showing its limits (that of not governing anything, despite official UN recognition), while Misrata’s militias and their affiliates constituted the last square to oppose the Marshall Haftar, who had launched the final push to conquer Tripoli and reunify the country, helped in this by his Egyptian and Emirati godfathers, not to mention a number of mercenaries, President Erdogan announced that he was going to intervene.

Let us recall the long filiation between Misrata and Turkey to understand that Ankara basically wishes to defend its last point of support in the southern Mediterranean. Turkey remains a Mediterranean power and its neo-Ottomanism recalls its past domination. The fact remains that it is well established in Syria, that its supporters of Idlib are little by little driven out by the Russian-Syrian offensive and that there is a plethora of violent Islamists to be recycled. Ankara will officially send regular troops: let’s bet that the main one will be made up of jihadist séides.

Bad news for Libya and the Sahel!

JOCV

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LV 132 : AMR 2019 : Taking stock of the world to come | Europe and the East | Lorgnette: Christmas dream

Letter from La Vigie, dated 25 December 2019

AMR 2019 : Taking stock of the world to come

Our annual aide-memoire to the king takes up the year again : a neighbourhood in crisis, especially in the south, a belt of conflicts beyond, the end of the West and thus of the notion of world order, a pervasive rivalry between the United States and China, the maintenance of cross-cutting issues (nuclear, terrorism, armed crime) and the birth of new ones (awakening peoples), a passive Europe stuck between the EU and NATO, and a France on the verge of the clarifications that we must now pursue and ambition to achieve.

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Europe and the East

The relationship between Europe and the East is largely determined by the relationship between Europe and Russia. While the spectres of the 20th century still poison this relationship today, a reversal of perspectives may lead to a constructive win-win relationship.

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Lorgnette: Christmas dream

The Christmas period is often the occasion of a truce of the confectioners (trêve des confiseurs). This year, the truce will give way to a strike. Let’s make a dream come true: that of a country that would enforce its motto (Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité). Freedom in every sense of the word (freedom to move as freedom to strike or to demonstrate, the two having to be reconciled); equality (but, if we have understood correctly, this is the subject of the debate underlying the pension reform); and above all fraternity, which we vowed last January (LV 108).  Now, the peoples who are waking up are all calling for fraternity, under their calls for justice and equity. It is fraternity that binds the community together, makes the other one a fellow human being despite his differences, the equal of a brother with whom we share the desire to live together, in an organized society, to live a community of destiny. This stranger that I meet in the street, beggar or beggar, is also this brother.

Basically, fraternity is a vision, not a demand; a prerequisite, not an objective. In this Christmas season, whether you are with your family or on mission, at home or abroad, we wish you a beautiful and soothing fraternity.

JOCV

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LV 131 : Sahel : just before the rubble | EastMed and gas | Lorgnette : Challenges of DG Defence

Letter from La Vigie dated 11 December 2019

Sahel: just before the rubble

The motives put forward by some (economic interests) or others (fight against terrorism) are struggling to convince of the French strategy in the Sahel. As a result, because we define the enemy poorly, we are stalling, knowing that the authorities in the region do not have the same priorities as France. This addition of misperceptions, false pretenses, miscalculations and misunderstandings hinders many initiatives. It is time to make a real diagnosis and start from the bottom.

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Eastmed (Medor ) and gas

The geopolitics of the eastern Mediterranean is now stimulated by the abundance of natural gas that has recently been found on its seabed. The region’s balances are all the more affected by this as the liquefaction of LNG from this gas now allows its production, diffusion and storage in situ, certainly with heavy investments. This rapid evolution creates a strategic dynamic of competitions, alliances and cooperation that has a strong impact not only on the local residents but also on the region near the Levant and even on the green economy, whose regional situation is changing.

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Lorgnette: challenges for DG Defence

The new European Commission is finally in place and presents its innovations. Among these, a “DG Defence Industry & Space”, named Défis (Defense Industry & Space – Challenges in French) and already named “DG Defence” like the CESDP which was quickly established as a European defence. But collective defence is still NATO for most EU Member States (LV 129), as the President of the Commission pointed out.

The result of the partition of DG Industry, this DG will be a stimulus and an arbiter for the EU’s defence industry. We see it as the spearhead of a reconquest by Europeans of their strategic autonomy, a decisive step on the road to a Security and Defence Union, which is obviously complementary to NATO. With the permanent structured cooperation of the 25/27, the €13 billion FEDEF over 7 years and Galileo, we will thus have a catalogue of structures that will complement the COPS, the EUMS, the EDA and prepare the European army that some see emerging.

To counter the Russian threat and meet the Chinese challenge? We’ll judge on the basis of the evidence. But what has been lacking so far is will and strategy; structures will not replace them.

JOCV

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La Vigie Nr 130 : People in motion | Europe-Asia : same equations ? | Lorgnette : pope and nuclear

Letter from La Vigie dated 27 November 2019


People in motion

This autumn saw massive demonstrations all over the world: in Latin America, North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. What does this global and simultaneous phenomenon mean when the analysis of each movement suggests contingent and local factors? Despite the differences (purpose, duration, social or political motivation), they share the disappointment with the established powers. Above all, they appear to be a new consequence of globalization, as paradoxical as this conclusion seems.

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Europe-Asia: same equations?

In twenty years, France and Japan have become strategic partners of the 21st century, re-establishing a level of relations that the two countries had not enjoyed since the advent of the Meiji era, contributing to the archipelago’s opening to modernity at the end of the 19th century. Over the course of the 20th century, after having been allies in the first world war, they became allies of the United States after 1945. With different strategic cultures that reflect their distinct histories, their strategic autonomy and their alliance stances towards Washington now have some common points that are interesting to note as we approach the next NATO Summit.

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Lorgnette: Pope and nuclear

Pope Francis’ speech in Nagasaki (here) constitutes a significant reversal of jurisprudence. Indeed, the Catholic Church has never concealed its opposition to nuclear weapons. But after much debate, it had resolved, in France, to accept the principle of deterrence (text of the 1983 Episcopal Conference). Deterrence had been recognized as a necessary evil. But for Pope Francis, it is “perverse”: “International peace and stability are incompatible with any attempt to rely on the fear of mutual destruction or on the threat of total annihilation“. As for nuclear weapons, if their use had always been condemned, the Church said nothing about their possession. Having or manufacturing it is now condemned: “The use of atomic energy for military purposes is now, more than ever, a crime. It is immoral.

The Pope calls for international negotiations, especially around the TPNW (LV 87). It is the only time when morality meets reality. It must be said that today, despite the objectives affirmed by the NPT, we are not moving towards a world without nuclear weapons. On the contrary.

JOCV

 

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La Vigie Nr 129 (Free) : Europe and the North – Dead NATO – Lorgnette : Social and geopolitics

Letter from La Vigie, posted on 13 Novembre 2019 (free reading)

Europe and the North

The margins of Northern Europe are an area that is not well known in France and yet essential for European balance. We analyse the Nordic countries’ tension between Washington and Moscow as they try to maintain a European foothold. This area is of interest to France in the development of its Arctic strategy and towards Russia, but also and above all in the context of its European strategy.

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Dead NATO

President Macron’s interview with The Economist has the merit of saying out loud what was being whispered in small circles: at least the next Alliance summit in London next month will be interesting. These words are thoughtful and not just a short sentence: they are the result of a thoughtful diagnosis of the transatlantic link and Europe’s raison d’être. E. Macron can be blamed for a very French arrogance: but this is perhaps still the French exception, that of saying necessary things even if they seem unpleasant.

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Lorgnette: Social and geopolitics

What does WhatsApp have in common with a metro ticket? Not much: the proposed tax on the former has triggered the largest protest movement in Lebanon in years; the increase in the latter has had the same result in Chile. We have talked a lot about revolts (Algeria, LV 112 and DS 11; Sudan: LV 115 and 123) or social movements (Brazil LV 104; Yellow jackets: LV 106 and 109). Everywhere, demonstrations are mobilizing crowds who no longer have confidence in their governments: in addition to the examples cited, let us mention the cases of Hong Kong, Iraq, Guinea, Ecuador and Catalonia.

There are many reasons for this: the fight against corruption or the rejection of an oppressive system, they all have in common a willingness to be listened and the search for the common good, which the elites in power are accused of not wanting (or being able) to develop.

Let us note a globalization of demonstrations, for various reasons but with mobilizations that are not drying up and that time or repression are having difficulty extinguishing. This is a new factor that cannot be overlooked.

JOCV

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La Vigie Nr 128 : Why Indo-Pacific? – Towards calm in the Middle East – The Lorgnette: The inevitable Brexit

Letter from La Vigie dated 30 October 2019

Why Indo-Pacific?

In ten years, the term Indo-Pacific (IP) has almost replaced the term Asia-Pacific. What are the reasons for this change in the geographical framework of the main actors’ foreign policies? As the world’s demographic and economic centre of gravity, will the PI become the next challenge in the confrontation between Beijing and Washington or the area of cooperation, freedom and development from which as many people as possible can benefit? To avoid marginalisation, France and Europe must develop a global and coherent vision of the PI accompanied by projects that will concretely meet the expectations of the different sub-regions.

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Towards calm in the Middle East

The Middle East has long been polarized around the Palestinian question and then the jihadist question. From now on, we are in a new phase, initiated before D. Trump came to power. Whether in Turkey, Syria or even Saudi Arabia, policies are changing and one can imagine a region less conflictual than in recent years.

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The Lorgnette: The inevitable Brexit

Very few are able to follow the detours of Euro-British policy around Brexit. However, let us note several things. 1/ The European strategy of blocking Brexit at all costs has failed. It should be noted that the EU was indeed partly responsible for the blockage. Until recently, there was nothing to negotiate. But in the end, the EU negotiated. 2/ Boris Johnson won his bet, contradicting all speculation. Many expected him to seek only a no-deal, but he managed to negotiate, quickly and skilfully, an agreement that was certainly not perfect, which is the hallmark of all agreements. 3/ The British Parliament played an unpleasant role, between persistent blockage and refusal of dissolution: indeed, another of Cameron’s reforms was to introduce a threshold for dissolution, which blocks the system. 4/ The ultimate blockage implemented against BoJo is intended to counter it, not the agreement, which could lead to a no-deal that we were precisely trying to avoid.

Absurdity is indeed a British trait.

But this should not hinder a Brexit that is now inevitable. The result will then have to be assessed in five years or more.

JOCV

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La Vigie Nr 127 : The incredible Mr Trump – Europe, a continent? Lorgnette: Face to face

La Vigie Nr 127 : 16 October 2019

The incredible Mr. Trump

the American political scene has been shaken for several weeks by cases originating in the country’s foreign policy: here the “Ukrainian case”, there the Turkish offensive in northern Syria. Each time, an initiative of President Trump that provokes uproar inside: a procedure of dismissal is thus launched while the Republican Party is deeply moved by the betrayal against the Kurds. No one knows yet whether this is a turning point, but these events demonstrate the deep distrust of the United States, torn between its interests and its values.

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Europe, a continent?

At a time when the future of the European institutions is more uncertain than ever with the looming Brexit crisis, we are wondering what defines Europe’s geopolitical uniqueness. Europe is not the result of chance, it is determined by constants and France is representative of this Continent which transcends the ups and downs of current events.

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The Lorgnette: Face to Face

The face becomes a geopolitical object. Indeed, many contemporary debates raise the question of the visibility of the face. First of all, here is the question of the Islamic veil and in particular the veil hiding the face, the burka. In an open society, can you hide your face on the street? No,” replied the Hong Kong leaders, who are facing massive demonstrations in which opponents of the pro-Chinese government veil their faces in the name of their democratic struggle: can hiding their faces be a sign of oppression, a sign of freedom?

The question is all the more difficult because, beyond this question of public order, there is another question: that of governments’ control over the social life of citizens. This is basically the debate that Mr Cedric O, Secretary of State for Digital Technology, is asking when he says that manufacturers must experiment with facial recognition and that, at the same time, we need safeguards.

Once again, technology appears to be ahead of the law and there are abuses of civil liberties in China that it could allow.

The face is a subject of freedom.

JOCV

La Vigie Nr 126 : Take stock of the situation | Arabian peninsula | Lorgnette : PANG

La Vigie Nr 126 : 2 october 2016

Take stock of the situation

Taking stock of France’s strategic perspectives is a periodic necessity, especially when the scene is lively as it is now. To do this, it is necessary to step back and cross-reference the main lines of force that can be observed. We have identified six of them, which, overlapping each other, provide the framework within which France can act. But is it prepared and willing to do so?

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Arabia is a new country that has long sought to control its neighbourhood, including the Arabian Peninsula. This purpose has been reinforced by the question of political Islam, which has been structural since the founding of the kingdom. A final factor, oil, is added to these determinants. This results in an attitude that is difficult to follow in a highly troubled region.

Lorgnette: PANG

Behind this acronym in the name of petroleum is a formidable mobile war machine capable of influencing the planet’s strategic balances and controlling vast strategic areas to defend our interests and ensure that our views prevail. The PANG is the new generation aircraft carrier. It will enter service in 2040 for 40 years and will serve what is called France’s power projection in the last quarter of the 21st century.

Anticipating the renewal of the CDG AP means both measuring its contribution to the country’s current external action and projecting itself into 2060 to imagine the conflict of the time and face it. Vast challenge, necessary and realistic. No one doubts the strategic centrality of the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean of tomorrow, and the Asia-Pacific region; economic activity will be decisive there and France and its European neighbours will be increasingly concerned. There is no doubt either that we will have to regulate this key maritime space for the development of the planet, we will have to move quickly in combat gear and be able to arbitrate tensions there. Who in Europe will be able to do it? France with its PANG! (To be continued)

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JDOK

La Vigie Nr 125 : The growing importance of strategic intelligence | Strategic reliability | Lorgnette : Saudi Arabia is burning

The growing importance of strategic intelligence

Strategic intelligence is an increasingly crucial activity for many organizations facing infobesity. It serves strategic objectives (anticipation, security and mobilization), does not only operate outwards and is not limited to improved documentation: it must take into account the contemporary hostile environment where information is both energy and weapon.

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Strategic reliability

The reliability of a strategy is assessed with several indicators: its ability to manage uncertainty and assess possibilities, its pragmatism and agility in the face of the unexpected, its ability to combine determination and restraint… It is an essential factor in its sustainability and in the consolidation of the country’s security interests.

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Lorgnette: Saudi Arabia is burning

A coordinated attack by air seriously damaged a Saudi oil site on 14 September: it is not known whether they are drones or missiles or where they come from (Yemen, Iraq, Iran?) and who fired them. The reduction in production capacity has led to a surge in oil prices and affected markets. And yet, while the accusations flourished very early on, there was some restraint in Washington and Riyadh . Here, the bogging down in Yemen highlights the war limits of the kingdom, which cannot engage in an open conflict with its Iranian rival. Here, an already open election campaign is preventing President Trump from opening a new front, against the deep desire of his electorate.

Let us move on to the capacity limits of ground-to-air protection (detection and destruction) in the Saudi kingdom or to the surprising technical innovations of an aggressor capable of launching a salvo of devices operating several hundred kilometres away: let us note the boldness of this strategic initiative and its success, as it reveals the military and political limits of the American-Saudi alliance.

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JDOK