Week in Review: Israeli-Gulf deals, Sweden's Covid-19 gamble and a women's revolution in Belarus
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have signed agreements to normalise relations with Israel, becoming the latest Arab states to break a longstanding taboo in a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries against Iran. Also this week, we speak to exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya about her hopes for a peaceful transition in Belarus and take stock of Sweden's uncommon strategy against the coronavirus pandemic, six months after France and other countries around the world went into a strict lockdown.
First the United Arab Emirates, then Bahrain. According to Middle East experts, other Gulf countries could follow the path to normalising relations with Israel in the near future. Karim Sader, political scientist and consultant specialising in the Gulf, explains what this expanding normalisation means for the Gulf region.
As the coronavirus pandemic accelerates in France, Prime Minister Jean Castex has called for a regionalised approach, stressing that "most of the measures should not be decided from Paris". His words signal very different strategy to the one adopted in March, when the whole of France was put under lockdown.
On March 17, the day after President Emmanuel Macron declared the nation "at war" with Covid-19, lockdown measures to fight the spread of Covid-19 came into force in France. Six months on, people remember the surprise and anguish they felt during this unprecedented historical moment.
Tanzania and Uganda have signed a $3.5 billion deal to begin construction of an oil pipeline – sparking a wave of criticism from environmental groups who say the project willuproot communities and disrupt the local ecosystem.
Care home residents account for nearly half of deaths linked to Covid-19 in Sweden, a high proportion that health professionals and families of the victims have blamed on the government’s reluctance to admit elderly patients to hospital. FRANCE 24's reporters spoke to bereaved families angered by the country's coronavirus response.
Bucking the global trend, Swedish schools have stayed open throughout the pandemic even with relatively high cases of Covid-19. At a school in Stockholm, parents and teachers explain why they are broadly supportive of the move.
A statue of a Spanish conquistador overlooking the Colombian city of Popayán has been torn down by members of indigenous groups in the latest case of a monument to a historical figure with links to racism or colonialism being targeted by protesters.
Director Sean Durkin scooped the top prize at the Deauville American Film Festival for "The Nest", which tells the story of a family struggling with uncertainty and isolation after relocating from the US to England. The movie also claimed two other awards, with jury president Vanessa Paradis praising the direction and the acting of its leads Jude Law and Carrie Coon.
In an interview with FRANCE 24, exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said she held out hope that the regime of Alexander Lukashenko would collapse in the face of mass demonstrations against his disputed re-election. She warned against a bloody escalation and said Lukashenko's resignation was a precondition in order to organise "free and fair and transparent" elections.
In the wake of the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) peace treaty with Israel, FRANCE 24 spoke to Jamal Al-Musharakh, Director of the Policy Planning Department at UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Al-Musharakh said the normalisation of ties between the two countries would not just benefit the UAE and Israel, “but also the Palestinian people and the Middle East". He said the agreement has "given hopes for peace in the region".
Representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government are holding their first direct talks to try to put an end to the 19-year conflict that began after the Taliban were ousted from power by American-led NATO forces in 2001. As a condition for the negotiations, the Taliban demanded the release of 5,000 of their fighters. Our reporters met with some of them, even as much of the Afghan population fears renewed violence.
France may be the top tourist destination in the world, but there’s one national characteristic that tends to raise eyebrows: the French tendency to complain. How true is this cliché? And if they are world champions, what do they complain about? Is there a social function to blowing off steam? Could it actually be healthy?
Film critic Lisa Nesselson talks us through the week's film news, including the latest movie by acclaimed screenwriter, director and novelist Charlie Kaufman, "I'm Thinking of Ending Things", the tenth film by French writer-director Emmanuel Mouret, "Love Affair(s)", and the restoration of 1997 hit "Total Recall" from Paul Verhoeven.
Trumpeter, composer, educator and the Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Centre, New York: Wynton Marsalis is a musical renaissance man and the only person to win a Grammy for both jazz and classical music in the same year — aged just 22. He joins us to talk about “The Ever Fonky Lowdown”, a jazz, gospel, swing and funk-infused record that he calls a “circus”.
The small German town of Sassnitz is grappling with a major geopolitical conflict. Its two Baltic Sea ports are the logistical base for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline projects, designed to bring Russian natural gas to Europe. But work stopped after US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on companies involved in the project. Since then, American senators have threatened not only the companies' managers – but also port employees – with fines and sanctions.
THE 51 PERCENT
The 51 Percent takes a closer look at the defiant women of Belarus who are taking on Europe's last dictator with the support of many of their fellow citizens. This week, we also talk to Josina Z. Machel, the daughter of Graca Machel and step-daughter of Nelson Mandela, about changing societal attitudes towards domestic violence, and meet a group of bloggers in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are determined to challenge gender stereotypes.
PEOPLE & PROFIT
What hopes are there for a recovery from the coronavirus recession? We examine the OECD's latest forecast for the global economy with their chief economist, Laurence Boone. This week's show also looks at whether demand for oil is likely to return to pre-pandemic levels and how French winemakers are making tough calls to survive a difficult 2020.
DOWN TO EARTH
How do we ensure that the seeds which grow the food needed to nourish the rising number of people on the planet are safe and productive? This week Down to Earth explores the challenges of securing a seed system for the long term.
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