LV 226: Near and Middle East: stabilisation or future crises in sight? | Prudence and strategy | Lorgnette: Elections in Moldova

Letter from La Vigie, dated 4 October 2023


Near and Middle East: stabilisation or future crises in sight?

The recompositions underway in the Middle East, between Syria’s normalisation of its international position, the safeguarding of Turkish influence in the Caucasus and the re-establishment of Saudi Arabia-Iran relations under the auspices of Beijing, are tending to safeguard the strategic triangle of Russia, Turkey and Iran to the detriment of American and European influence.

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Prudence and strategy

Prudence has a bad reputation, yet it is a necessary quality for a strategist: discerning, forward-looking and informed by experience, it supports the two strategic principles of freedom of action and adaptation. Is there any need to stress that France should adopt a more cautious strategy than it does today?

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Lorgnette: Elections in Moldova

Last Saturday, Slovaks went to the polls and Robert Fico’s party came out on top with 23% of the vote. It should not be too difficult for him to form a coalition and run the country for the legislature. A populist accused of corruption, he managed to convince voters with a surprising foreign policy line: while Slovakia had consistently supported Ukraine, the new prime minister explained that peace negotiations with Moscow were necessary.

In so doing, he joins Hungary’s Victor Orban, who is also paying lip service to Kiev. It should be noted that these two countries, along with Poland, are at the forefront of the controversy with Kiev over cereals, which led to a row between Warsaw and Kiev a fortnight ago. The Visegrad group (which also includes the Czech Republic, which remains a loyal supporter of Ukraine) brings together Central European countries that exemplify what some observers describe as illiberalism.

Yet the question they raise is not simply that of Ukraine and its relationship with Moscow, but also that of European balances. While some were congratulating themselves on European solidarity 18 months ago, it is about to be sorely tested.

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La Vigie Nr 118 : France and her new Armée | Trump and the Middle-East | South-African disappointment

La Vigie, Strategic Letter, Nr 118, 22 mai 2019

France and her new Armée

The relationship between France and its armed forces is evolving. A global army emerges, integrated, combatant, jointed, served by an experienced high command supporting a policy whose presidential centralization is constrained to short-term by a short mandate. The preservation of the eco-systems of the various armies is essential to feed this new armée as well as the maintenance of a  strategic military ecosystem to preserve the long-term military posture of France.

Trump and the Middle-East

Some are beating the war drums in Washington against Iran. Does this mean that the conflict is inevitable? Probably not for two reasons: first, D. Trump is not a supporter of military commitments: if he is brutal, he is not a falcon unlike many in the establishment. Basically, he wants to raise the stakes to push the Iranians to negotiate a new agreement in a weak position. Not sure if they will fall into the trap…. Because Trump becomes predictable…

Lorgnette : South-African disappointment

Twenty-five years after the end of Apartheid in 1994, South Africa has seen new elections, marked by an expected but disappointing victory for the ANC, N. Mandela’s heir party. It certainly obtains 57% of the votes (down 4.5%) but it is more a vote of habit than of conviction, still less of results.

The result was greeted by a discreet and silent embarrassment: here is indeed the first power in Africa that is slowly collapsing in all areas, especially economic with an “official” unemployment rate of 28% and a GDP in free fall. The country has not made the necessary investments to maintain its industrial and mining park and security is one of the worst in Africa, a continent that has references in this field.

Certainly, the new leader, C. Ramaphosa, who succeeded Jacob Zuma in 2018 as a matter of urgency, managed to ignore the enormous corruption scandal that affected the latter. The new elite has been more predatory than reformist. The announced land reform is likely to break the last sector still operating a little. Behind the disappointment is the concern. Few say so….

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