FRENCH PAPERS, Thurs., 20/1/2011: According to Le Canard Enchaîné it was US generals who convinced their Tunisian counterparts to turn against Ben Ali. This allegedly is what led to his fleeing the country. The French diplomatic corps and secret service were caught completely off-guard.
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“America took control of the situation.” This quote is attributed to Michèle Alliot-Marie, France’s Foreign Minister. According to Le Canard Enchaîné, she admitted in private last Monday that American generals spoke to their Tunisian counterparts and put pressure on them to turn on Ben Ali. It seems this is what sparked the Tunisian President’s sudden departure from the country. “We were in a fog of confusion the whole time,” Alliot-Marie allegedly confessed, admitting that France’s diplomatic corps and secret service were caught off guard. “Needless to say, the Americans did not keep us informed.”
The paper shines the light on the frustration of French authorities at their poor understanding and handling of the Tunisian crisis. Defense Minister Alain Juppé reportedly said, “It is incredible that we were discovering via radio and television what was happening in a country with which we have such close relations.”
Le Figaro leads with a focus on the Mohamed Bouazizi, the man who triggered the unrest in Tunisia which led to Ben Ali’s fleeing the country The 26 year old unemployed graduate set himself alight in the town of Sidi Bouzid on the 17th December. Locals hope that Baouzizi’s suicide will lead to a “rebirth” of their country.
Le Monde carries a special supplement today charting the Tunisian ‘revolution’. “The sudden surge of a nation,” reads the headline. It speaks to individual demonstrators and rioters and looks back over the country’s somewhat turbulent history since independence from France in 1956.
Libération features a cartoon depicting the much-tacked about “domino effect” that some way could follow in the region. It shows regional leaders such as Algeria’s Bouteflika falling over under the weight of Ben Ali.
Other stories in today’s French papers:
Le Parisien: Ségolène Royal speaks of her Presidential ambitions
Libération: What can be done to stem the rise of the far-right Front National party?
France Soir: On the back of Berlusconi’s latest sex scandal, the paper investigates sex addiction, its solutions and others who have been treated for it such as David Duchovny and Michael Douglas.
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