Six months after the passing of Queen Elizabeth and as the new monarch is about to formally take the throne, the king's subjects seem little amused by the upcoming coronation, polls suggest, and some have used the royal transition to justify taking their distances from the British crown. 

In Quebec members of the National Assembly are no longer required to swear allegiance to the sovereign in order to take their seats. In December the province, where the royals are arguably the least popular, tabled a bill that made it optional to pledge the oath of allegiance, to the great satisfaction of sovereigntists which considered the act an abomination . 

“This is a fine moment for democracy,” said PQ leader Paul St Pierre Plamondon at the time. But the move left law experts scratching their heads. “Quebec is basically acting…  as if it is a sovereign government and is claiming it can do whatever it wants regardless of what’s in the Canadian constitution,” told CBC law professor Errol Mendes. But Quebec has not been alone. 

In nearby Ontario a motion to scrap the oath in a small town was brought forward, though it was not seconded, quickly putting an end to the issue before it started a formal debate. This saved the province a huge legislative head ache considering the implication it would have had to its municipal act, but the debate is nonetheless ongoing not only in Canada but in much of the Commonwealth. 

“I think there are those that are fully in favor of the royalty and colonialism and then there are those that are not,” said Prescott mayor Gauri Shankar, where the Ontario motion was briefly introduced. And this could speak for all Canadians. 

In a recent poll only 13% of people said they felt a connection to the monarchy, compared to 81% who did not. Few seemed interested to follow the upcoming coronation of Charles III. In fact 56% thought it was time to reconsider the country’s ties to the monarchy. 

While not every country is thinking to go the way of Barbados and abandon the crown, quite a few are, according to royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams, who told the Express, as Commonwealth Day was marked, that independence "may very well happen" to a number of countries among the 14 that have Charles III as head of state, from Antigua to the Bahamas and New Zealand. 

While moving away from the crown wasn't a priority, former prime minister Jacinda Ardern said it seemed to be inevitable down the road, eventually in that country. Fitzwilliams noted that in some cases doing so would be more difficult than in others. "Sometimes it's a simple vote," he noted, but added "in Barbados they didn't even have a vote. In New Zealand you need a referendum. In Canada and Australia it's more complicated" with a certain number of provinces needing to agree to it. The transition is taking place when some, even and perhaps especially in the UK itself, think the money for the coronation would best be spent elsewhere at a time of raging inflation.


A l'avant-centre des plus importantes manifestations en Iran depuis des années, femmes et filles sont-elles victimes de représailles pour leur geste? L'empoisonne-ment soupçonné de nombre de jeunes étudiantes ces derniers mois dans plus de 200 établissements du pays fait scandale autant au coeur de la république islamique qu'à l'international, où plusieurs ont fait appel à une enquête sur les incidents. 

Les auteurs de ces actes restent inconnus, laissant place à une multiplication de théories et à une augmentation des tensions dans une rue pas encore toute à fait remise des manifestations de l'automne. 

Les écoles pour filles sont majoritairement ciblées par ces cas suspects, qui ont été rapportés pour la première fois dans la ville sainte de Qom en novembre, alors que le mouvement protestataire battait encore son plein suite à la mort de Mahsa Amini. 

Alors que la république islamique ne s'est jamais opposée à l'éducation des jeunes filles, celles-ci sont souvent ciblées par des éléments fondamentalistes du monde islamique, de l'Afghanistan à certaines régions d'Afrique. Téhéran avait notamment fait appel à la réouverture des écoles en Afghanistan, où elles ont été fermées par le régime taliban. Des gestes de soutien de femmes afghanes ont également été notés pendant les manifestations iraniennes de l'automne. 

Mais ce genre d'attaque n'a pas épargné l'Iran non plus, notamment à Isfahan en 2014 lorsque des extrémistes ont attaqué des femmes armés d'acide pour condamner leur tenue vestimentaire. Les incidents à Qom ont l'objectif de cibler l'instruction des filles, déplorait lui-même le vice ministre de la santé Younes Panahi. "Certaines personnes veulent que toutes les écoles, spécialement celles des filles, soient fermées," dit-il. 

Mais le régime d'ordre général ne se gêne pas de pointer du doigt des acteurs "externes", ces anciens bouc émissaires. Ce n'est qu'après le tollé suscité à l'international que le procureur général en Iran a fait appel à une enquête sur les incidents. Le ministre de l'intérieur Ahmad Vahidi avait d'ailleurs suggéré que la multiplication des incidents se devait au stress et à l'inquiétude générés par les premiers cas d'empoisonnement au gaz, qui ont touché des milliers d'étudiantes depuis l'automne. 

Quoiqu'il en soit, le dirigeant suprême Ali Khamenei a lui-même qualifié ces incidents d'"impardonnables" ajoutant qu'il n'y aurait aucune pitié envers les coupables, alors que de nouvelles manifestations étaient prévues, notamment par des parents de moins en moins enclins à laisser leurs filles se rendre à l'école. Le gouvernement a ces derniers temps tenté de calmer le jeu quelque peu, procédant à plusieurs arrestations et remettant en liberté des milliers d'individus, surtout des femmes, incarcérés lors des manifestations, un geste pas sûr de suffire cependant. 

Des militants ont dénoncé ce genre d'amnistie présidentielle à titre de tentative de redorer l'image du régime, rappelant que de nombreux activistes demeurent derrière les barreaux. Plusieurs manifes-tants sont de l'avis que seul un groupe avec l'appui du régime serait capable de tels actes. A l'occasion des célébration du nouvel an persan, certains groupes ont profité des rassemblements publics pour manifester contre le pouvoir, des femmes étant montrées dans certaines vidéos brûlant leur voile au sein de marches faisant appel à la "liberté" dans plusieurs villes du pays.


The multilingual white and blue sign at the border crossing of Wagah between Pakistan and India is formal: "The largest democracy in the world welcomes you." But some observers are increasingly worried about recent developments in one institution serving as a building block of any blooming democracy: its press. Concerns over declining media freedoms under the current government have been growing over the years but have been especially highlighted after the tax inspection raid of the BBC offices in February. 

Bureaus in the capital Delhi and financial hub Mumbai were visited by dozens of tax officials who asked staff to step away from their computers and hand over their phones after what officials said were failures by the British media giant to respond to requests to clarify its fiscal affairs. The BBC said it was cooperating in what officials are calling a  "survey" and would meantime continue to report "without fear or favour". 

This is hardly the first raid of this kind to hit media based in India, something observers say serves as a form of intimidation tactic against outlets which have criticized the current government. And this the BBC certainly did when it recently aired a two-part documentary looking into prime minister Narendra Modi's role in sectarian riots in his home state of Gujarat twenty years ago, at the time he served as chief state minister. 

The documentary didn't even air in India but was accused by officials of being "biased" and "politics by other means." With elections looming in India next year Modi can still count of high approval ratings but the documentary touched a nerve to the point it was banned from social media and from being played in India, an attempt to do so resulting in the detention of a number of students. Students aren't the only ones being detained. 

The Committee to Project Journalists reported seven journalists imprisoned in its latest annual India census. It charged: “Indian authorities have used tax investigations as a pretext to target critical news outlets before, and must cease harassing BBC employees immediately, in line with the values of freedom that should be espoused in the world’s largest democracy.” The Indian government had ordered YouTube and Twitter to take down links sharing the first episode. 

Reporters Sans Frontieres said the raids had "all the hallmarks of a reprisal for the release of a documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi". But while the BBC was accused of violating “transfer pricing rules” and accused of “diversion of profits" a spokesman of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party stated rather bluntly: “India is a country which gives an opportunity to every organisation... as long as you don't spew venom.” RSF says the raid is sadly a sign of the times, coming "when independent media are being hounded more and more, and when pluralism is shrinking in India due to increased media concentration." 

It cited other cases of raids targeting various outlets, but also human rights groups critical of the government, actions often ending without charges. Two years ago a massive raid of Dainik Bhaskar newspaper followed a report which questioned the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The authorities also raided Newslaundry and Newsclick in 2021 following critical coverage of the government. And critics say that when the government isn't using tax inspectors to send a message, it is cutting some of its advertising spending, which some organizations rely on to keep operating. Officials point out however the government isn't in the business of funding the media. The Editors Guild of India said the BBC raids were just another case of "government agencies being used to intimidate and harass news organizations" citing four trumped up tax inspections in 2021 alone. 

And the overall media landscape in India has been slipping, the country's ranking in the Press Freedom Index dropping to 150th place last year from 140th when Modi took over as prime minister. Not much higher in the list is neighbor and longtime rival Pakistan, ranked 157th, and embroiled in controversy  over its bans to the airing of speeches by former PM and possibly leader in waiting Imran Khan. The country's media regulator has accused him of attacking the state’s institutions and promoting hatred, while supporters and observers see an attack by the government on democracy. 

The move by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority means the country is “fast descending into darkness,” told Al-Jazeera Hammad Azhar, who belongs to Khan’s Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf party. “This [ban on Khan’s speeches] is not only unconstitutional as it goes against freedom of expression … There cannot be a blanket ban on speeches of politicians. O

Other than questions of legality, it is also extremely anti-democratic in nature." Press groups were also calling for a full investigation after Pakistan's first transgender anchor was shot outside her home recently. There's a role for another major institution, the judiciary, argues lawyer Apar Gupta in the Hindu newspaper. "The Supreme Court needs to revive and apply the doctrine of “effect and consequence” to consider a broader canvas of executive actions that will shape the practices of our criminal courts," he writes. "For instance, in the BBC case, a relevant fact for a court to determine is not limited to allegations of tax evasion but whether the scrutiny is prompted by a documentary that is critical of the Prime Minister. Today, for a free and fair press, not only journalists but even our courts need to act without fear or favour."


They spy on them, seek to influence their elections, sometimes refuse to pick up the phone when they call... and are major trading partners. The relationship between North America and China is an odd one to say the least, tensions rising as the middle power seeks to exert more global influence, reaching into Canada's ballot box. This according to intelligence leaked to the media which revealed a campaign by Beijing to prevent both a Conservative win in 2021, the party having a number of candidates viewed as hostile to China, and a Liberal majority, seeking to keep the country divided and led by a weaker government. 

A parliamen-tary committee already looking into Chinese meddling in the 2019 election expanded hearings to look into 2021 as well amid calls for an inquiry. The report was leaked as US and Canadian militaries turned their eyes to the skies after downing a Chinese spy balloon, leading to the downing of three other non identified objects over North American skies in the days following, though none were said of being related to the balloon. 

China severed some lines of commu-nication, protesting the destruction of what it claimed was a weather balloon but the US insisted was an airship with spying capabilities. Relations between the North American capitals and Beijing have been tested over the years, over issues such as the treatment of Uyghurs, the house arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and following the recent visit of US officials to Taiwan, prompting a new round of tensions between the island nation and the mainland. 

But trade has been more affected by supply chain issues linked to the pandemic than politics. The pandemic had already prompted some North American companies to repatriate some production home, notably after the PPE shortages. While heightened geopolitical ten-sions - especially around support to Russia and threats to Taiwan - could spell more trouble ahead, there was an encouraging sign of détente when US Sec. of state Antony Blinken met with China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, in a first face to face engagement since the balloon incident, held on the sidelines of the Munich security conference. That incident had cancelled plans for a Blinken visit to China. He expressed disappointment the Chinese military had refused to take calls from US counterparts after the balloon was brought down. 

In Munich the US made it clear it "will not stand for any violation of our sovereignty," terms China uses itself with regards to Taiwan. Washington says the incident exposed a Chinese program which "intruded into the airspace of over 40 countries across 5 continents," according to spokesman Ned Price. The conference mostly focused on Ukraine and China's position weighed heavily as allies were concerned Beijing could be on the verge of assisting Russia with lethal weapons, something which would in the eyes of the alliance bring serious "consequences." 

In Washington meanwhile a bipartisan select committee was looking into everything from the balloon incident to data collection using popular social media app Tiktok, now banned from government phones. While trade has gone on, U.S. and European multinational firms have become more cautious about their capital investments in China due to geopolitical concerns, according to a risk consultancy IMA Asia. This at a time the Joe Biden White House is reviewing penalties imposed under former President Donald Trump, who levied tariffs on Chinese goods to bolster U.S.-made goods, a trade war which has also made relations edgier. 

While China's growth has slowed to around 3% more recently and trade tensions continue, IMA's Richard Martin said investors would be foolish to shun the market altogether, especially as it reopens after dropping its zero-covid policy. “Yes, some companies will diversify, but they don’t want to diversify away from the biggest growth market in the world,” he said. “Even at 3% or 4% growth, China will add more dollar value in the next five years than the United States. You can’t walk away from that.” 

Soon after the latest report of Chinese interference in Canadian elections, Canadian officials said Chinese buoys had also been located in the Arctic, which they said were probably monitoring sea traffic. But Beijing stresses that, while "misunderstandings" exist between Canada and China, "extensive common interests, and common grounds are far greater than disagreements," according to Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen. "The economic and trade cooperation between China and Canada has a solid foundation." 

In fact trade between China and Canada reached a record $100 billion in 2022, up by 16%. Canada's average trade growth with other countries was only 8.9%, but reached 10% with China, according to Wang. "Never-theless, we do not deny that there are still some areas of mutual incomprehension or even dissatisfaction between our two countries," Wang noted. Canada's poultry exports were impacted by China's bird flu fears while Ottawa excluded Huawei from its telecom market. 

Concerns about Huawei equipment and social media favorite Tiktok spying on unsuspecting users has shown the complexity of the relationship between the middle kingdom and its major Western trading partners, top Chinese companies being closely associated with the regime. This issue was raised in Munich as US officials accused Chinese state companies of providing assistance to Russia in recent weeks, an assistance Washington fears may only grow as the war drags on. 

It may take a while to align current political tensions with trade, according to Anastasia Ufimtseva of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, but "potentially, in the future, we might observe the changes in trade." But for now it's apparently full steam ahead.


Inexistante au sein de la crise ukrainienne, la diplomatie russe est en pleine action sur le continent africain, où  Moscou tente d'étendre son influence dans le sillage du départ français. D'ailleurs peu après le passage du chef de la diplomatie russe Serguei Lavrov sur le continent le mois dernier, le Burkina Faso annonçait la fin des opérations militaires fran-çaises, précisant cependant qu'il n'était pas question de rompre les relations avec Paris. 

Il s'agissait de la deuxième visite de Lavrov sur le continent en autant de semaines, lui qui a également fait une tournée importante l'an dernier. Lors de son plus récent passage, la Russie se disait garantir une aide aux pays hôtes en matière de lutte au jihadisme, le groupe Wagner ayant dans plusieurs coins remplacé les soldats de l'armée française sur ce front. 

En visite au Mali, où un vent anti-francais vogue depuis quelques années et où Paris a retiré ses soldats, Lavrov a affirmé que "nous allons apporter notre assistance pour surmonter ces difficultés. Cela concerne la Guinée, le Burkina Faso et le Tchad, et en général la région sahélo-sahélienne et même les pays du Golfe de Guinée." 

Une longue liste pour un pays dépassé dans la seule campagne ukrainienne qu'il pensait remporter en quelques jours et qui marque son premier anniversaire. Le besoin en Afrique est d'autant plus criant qu'une nouvelle attaque contre une patrouille militaire "en mouvement" faisait plus de 50 victimes en une seule journée en février au Burkina Faso, près de la frontière malienne. 

Même suggestion de soutien russe en Mauritanie, un pays qui a cependant réussi à éviter les attaques jihadistes ces dernières années et qui s'est opposé à la guerre en Ukraine ainsi qu'à l'annexion des parties orientales par Moscou. Moscou se veut un contre poids à dans ordre mondial soi-disant bâti sur des "approches néocoloniales". 

A Bamako l'homologue et hôte malien a repoussé les critiques de ce virage russe. "Nous ne justifierons plus notre choix de partenaire, dit-il lors de la visite. La Russie est là à la demande du Mali et répond efficacement à nos besoins stratégiques". Pourtant certains observateurs notent que le pays ne réussit pas mieux sa lutte contre le jihadisme depuis l'apport de Moscou, qui y a transféré des avions militaires et des hélicoptères de combat ces dernières années. 

Des analyses estiment d'ailleurs que les pertes civiles ont été plus importantes en 2022 dans la lutte contre le jihadisme. Pourtant, fin février Ouaga affirmait à son tour vouloir "diversifier ses partenaires" contre le jihadisme, quelque mois après la visite du premier ministre à Moscou. Alors qu'Emmanuel Macron  entamait lui-même un voyage en Afrique et que Paris prévoyait redéployer ses effectifs au Niger, le secrétaire général des Nations unies Antonio Guterres soldait l'expérience du G5 pour assurer la sécurité comme un échec, prônant plutôt des opérations d'imposition de la paix et de lutte antiterroriste avec "un mandat du Conseil de sécurité". 

"L'Afrique a besoin de paix, dit-il devant l'assemblée de l'Union africaine, nous devons continuer de lutter pour la paix. Néanmoins pour parler sans détour les mécanismes de paix vacillent." Le G5 faisait selon lui figure de modèle de contributions volontaires qui "ont prouvé qu'elles ne sont pas capables de l'efficacité de ces forces". 

Entre temps la nouvelle orientation de la politique française sur le continent annonce la fin de la "nostalgie pour la Françafrique" et de la notion de "pré-carré" se disant considérer ces pays comme partenaires à part entière de l'hexagone et ne prévoyant plus que des bases militaires cogérées avec les pays hôtes. Paris prévoit une "diminution visible" des effectifs militaires mais un "effort accru" de formation et d'équipement.


Say what you will about Nigeria's chaos and many woes, about its violence-wracked regions and out of control corruption, about its pre-electoral and electoral violence, when the time came at the end of his second term, Muhammadu Buhari relinquished his presidential throne to give Africa's most populous country a chance to make its choice of new leader for the coming years. 

Not all of the continent's heads of state have resisted the temptation to extend their stay. It was all the more remarkable considering the former general had himself seized power in a coup decades ago before turning to politics. Perhaps his own removal following another coup was a good reason to steer the country away from military dictatorship and on the path of democracy. 

But not everyone is happy with the results and there is much to say about the state of the country following the last 8 years, and the lack of law and order in many parts of Nigeria remains daunting despite some efforts to push back against Boko Haram. These days violence and kidnappings remains commonplace in areas troubled by banditry, while corruption and unemployment will challenge his successor all over the map.   

With 37% of the vote, ruling party leader candidate Bola Tinubu, 70, bettered Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party and  Peter Obi from the lesser known Labour party, among the 18 candidates on the ballot. While the latter, powered by younger voters, failed to end the dominance of traditional parties since the end of the dictatorship, he did secure the vote in Lagos, where Tinubu was governor. 

The latter called on opponents to "team up together" after a troubled elections, and this they did but by calling for a rerun after issues experienced by new electoral machines used for the first time. 

The opposition claimed the vote was "heavily doctored and manipulated." While there were delays and some violence at a number of polling stations observers say it was poor planning and communication by the electoral commission that mostly hampered the vote. "The election fell well short of Nigerian citizens' expec-tations," stated a joint observer mission. But the commission insisted the vote was "free, fair and credible", ignoring calls for a new election. 

87 million people registered for the vote yet turnout was only 27%, the lowest since the end of military rule. On his fifth attempt to win the presidency and as one of the architects of the 1999 transition, Tenubu always felt it was "my turn" to take over the reins, a slogan used in a campaign where he touted his success developing Nigeria's largest city. 

"This is a shining moment in the life of any man and affirmation of our democratic existence," he said after being declared the winner. "I represent a promise and with your support, I know that promise will be fulfilled."  But some observers say Nigerians are left wondering if their vote can truly make a difference. 

"That is bad news for any democracy and reduces pressure on elected officials to deliver," political analyst Remi Adekoya told CNN. "The shambolic conduct of these elections in many places will not help that situation. Many Nigerians are even less likely to believe in the democratic process now."


One year after tanks rolled past abandoned border posts into Ukraine for what the Kremlin said was to be a short "special operation", both sides of the conflict are licking their wounds and gearing up for a new round of hostilities, Russia amassing thousands of hastily trained conscripts as Ukraine obtained a commitment for dozens of tanks but not the hoped for fighter jets. At least not yet. 

Both would require a rush training regimen, alarming as according to estimates nearly 300,000 troops have been killed or wounded so far. The two sides can count on outside support in a conflict that has left few countries untouched. While Ukraine has been able to rely on support from NATO, Russia has been receiving military aid from Iran, China and even North Korea. 

But will this lead to a wider war? This was the concern of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres days after former Russian president Dmitry Medmedev warned the latest supply of advanced military aid to Ukraine will only trigger more retaliatory strikes from Russia, not ruling out nuclear weapons if necessary. 

"We don't set ourselves any limits and, depending on the nature of the threats, we're ready to use all types of weapons, in accordance with our doctrinal documents, including the fundamentals of nuclear deterrence," he warned. 

A widening war was certainly the fear when Russian missiles targeting Ukraine flew over Moldova as the country faced a political crisis which saw its PM step down and government collapse. Days before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Moscow would seek to destabilize the country which includes a separatist pro-Russian enclave. 

Outgoing Western PM Natalia Gavrilita  said Moldova was struggling with multiple crises caused by the war next door. Was this going to create cracks in an alliance already tested by Turkiye's reluctance to allow Sweden into NATO? While the US was providing another $2.1 bil. in financial aid, NATO countries struggled to provide their ally with enough ammunition as both sides were readying for a new Russian offensive some say has already begun. 

In  a snap visit to the UK Zelensky urged MPs to provide jet fighters, calling them "wings for freedom," terms to drive in the message his country was waging the fight of the free world against Russian aggression. "I trust this symbol will help us for our next coalition," he said in London. "A coalition of the planes." 

In Brussels he said he had obtained assurances some countries would provide fighter jets. But critics fear this may draw other countries and NATO further into the war. Russia warned sending Ukraine fighter jets would generate "a response." 

Any peace overture seemed a long way off. For the Kremlin peace talks start with Ukraine's recognition of the "new territorial reality" of annexed areas, a non starter for Kyiv. Last weekend the owner of private military group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, opined it could take up to two years for Russia to secure control of its eastern conquests, more if it decided to push further. 

Former diplomat Gérard Araud says it may amount to a Korean-like outcome, with no peace agreement but a ceasefire, eventually, and lasting tensions between the neighbors. In the meantime, supporters this weekend were calling for long-term support to Ukraine, including more weapons, the UK in particular vowing to "double down" its assistance.


Quatre mois après l'appel du premier ministre haïtien en faveur de l'intervention d'une force internationale afin de stabiliser son pays et de combattre de fléau des gangs de rue, celle-ci tarde encore à se matérialiser malgré des déclarations de soutien de certains pays, dont la Jamaïque, qui se dit prête à participer à une telle mission. 

D'autres pays avec plus de moyens sont plus réticents, dont le Canada, qui estime que ce genre d'intervention a eu des conséquences plutôt fâcheuses dans le passé. Selon l'ambassadeur du Canada aux Nations unies, Bob Rae: "Il faut en faire plus (pour soutenir Haïti), cela est clair. Mais nous devons aussi faire les choses différemment que dans le passé, dit-il au Conseil de sécurité. Nous devons tirer les enseignements des impor-tantes interventions militaires du passé, parce qu'elles n'ont en fait pas réussi à apporter une stabilité à long terme aux Haïtiens." 

La solution doit être interne et haïtienne, dit-il, mais en ce moment le paysage interne est celui du déchirement sanglant de gangs de rue qui font la loin dans leur fief, et tentent d'étendre leur présence dans celui de leurs rivaux, plongeant la population dans la terreur. 

Ottawa opte pour l'instant d'intervenir en imposant des sanctions contre des personnalités accusées de soutenir les gangs, tout en apportant un soutien logistique à la force policière. 

Cette dernière vit sous le même règne de terreur, ayant perdu non moins de 78 agents depuis le début du mandat du premier ministre Ariel Henry, une douzaine le mois dernier, le plus meurtrier jusqu'à maintenant. 

Ce soutien matériel a notamment pris la forme du survol temporaire d'un avion Aurora CP-140, ordinairement en patrouille au-dessus de la mer des Caraïbes mais plus récemment déployé dans le ciel de Port-au-Prince pour suivre les activitiés des gangs qui ne contrôlent plus seulement les zones historiquement difficiles de la capitale, comme Cité Soleil, mais qui ont étendu leur empire aux portes de quartiers jadis épargnés et mieux nantis, comme Pétionville. 

C'est là d'ailleurs où a eu lieu une des plus violentes attaques contre la police, causant la mort de quatre agents lors d'une ambuscade. Un journaliste écrira: "Ce drame met à nu la situation inquiétante qui prévaut dans un pays gangréné par les gangs." 

L'aéronef canadien avait pour objectif the fournir "une capacité de renseignement, de surveillance et de reconnaissance pour renforcer les efforts visant à établir et à maintenir la paix et la sécurité pour le peuple haïtien," selon le gouvernment canadien, qui allait analyser ses images pour voir quelle assistance supplémentaire il allait pouvoir apporter. 

Un appui au sol est également nécessaire afin de venir en aide à ces forces policières moins bien armées et franchement démoralisées par leurs pertes récentes, non seulement à Port-au-Prince, mais ailleurs au pays, où de nombreuses zones échappent au contrôle gouvernemental. Selon ce même gouvernement canadien, qui décourage tout déplacement vers ce pays où de nombreux actes de violence et d'enlèvements ont eu lieu et proie à de sévères pénuries de produits de première nécessité tels que le carburant, l'eau potable et la nourriture, les policiers ne sont pas toujours en mesure d'intervenir dans plusieurs quartiers. 

Tel est le sort de la perle des Antilles deux ans après l'assassinat de son président, dont le successeur n'a pas obtenu l'appui de la population, laissant en place un vide politique qui a eu les conséquences désastreuses que l'on connait. Cette semaine  Ottawa promettait $12 millions en aide humanitaire ainsi qu'un navire pour patrouiller la côte.


While Europe has been lucky enough to avoid an energy crisis this winter despite Russia's squeeze, in part thanks to milder temperatures, other parts of the world haven't been so lucky, and some, far from the European battle front, even blame the Ukrainian conflict for their woes. Pakistan's crisis is months old after a year the country reduced its work week to conserve energy. 

It kicked off 2023 with a new energy conservation plan ordering all markets to close by 8:30 pm and restaurants by 10 pm. Federal departments were also ordered to reduce their energy consumption by 30%. The crisis has caused blackouts nationwide and is due to the country's heavy dependence on fuel imports at a time of high (28%) inflation leaving its currency in free fall. Squabbling with the International Monetary Fund has also delayed a much-needed $1.1 bil. bailout adding pressure as the country's parties remain locked in a fierce political battle. 

What some are calling the worst economic crisis in the country since partition has left millions lining up for gas and food handouts and the nation itself on the brink of bankruptcy. Halfway around the world South Africa's energy crisis prompted Pretoria to declare a national state of disaster to tackle crippling blackouts. But critics say this will only open the door to a spending free for all. 

The crisis there is even older, going back to 2008 when the country instituted rolling power outages to protect the grid as state utility company Eskom remained unable to create enough energy to meet the country's growing demand. The crisis has electoral implications ahead of next year's presidential elections. It is estimated the country's growth will be trimmed by 2% this year because of the failure to provide enough juice nationally. 

In addition to South Africa other nations of the continent have been struck by energy shortages, from Libya to Kenya and Zimbabwe. In fact the African Development bank stated that more than 640 million of the continent’s 1.4 billion people don’t have electricity despite efforts in countries such as Zimbabwe and Egypt and researchers warned “fewer than 40% of African countries will reach universal access to electricity by 2050”.  

Shortages have not spared the Americas, Haiti in particular, where recently Electricite de Haiti justified its drastic rationing of electricity and total blackout in certain areas of the country due to "the drop in the level of Lake Péligre due to the dry season, the fuel crisis aggravated by the control of strategic areas by armed gangs and technical problems of a structural nature requiring major invest-ments..." 

The country has been thrown into chaos following the assassination of its president in 2021, leaving large sections of the capital under the control of gangs waging bloody warfare. But the blackouts precede the assassination and have been around for many years in this other country dependent on fuel imports and unable to pay for them. Natural disasters in time only weakened an already inefficient and fragile national power grid. 

Only about a quarter of the population had power before the latest crisis, and not always for an entire day, access clearly distinguishing the haves from the have nots. Years ago Jovenel Moise, the president who was assassinated, optimistically pledged to bring “24 hours around the clock” electrical service to his citizens. 

Instead the blackouts became a symbol of a dysfunctional government. Not only that, "for many Haitians, blackouts do not just signal a political crisis — they also symbolize feelings of their loss of political power," argued Greg Beckett, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Western University. "In that sense, blackouts are not just the result of a weak government. They are a symptom of a deeper crisis of sovereignty as the Haitian people continue to struggle, still, for democracy, autonomy and self-determination." 

In the internet age, blackouts leave millions without power and unempow-ered. Another country with enduring power woes, Egypt has been struggling for years, president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi calling his country's crisis nearly a decade ago a "battle for our existence." A struggle which has not spared a country which is notoriously oil-rich: Nigeria, which the World Bank said a few years ago was losing about $28 billion, or 2% of its GDP, due to power outages.  

A recent report by the International Energy Agency says Nigeria’s access to electricity is affected by  a lack of power generation and transmission capacity and hampered by frequent grid collapses.  “Nigeria’s power grid collapsed seven times from January through to September 2022," the report said. "This is higher than in 2020 and 2021 when there were four grid collapses each year according to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC)." 

Still that represented "some improvement" compared to previous years, where the total "averaged 13 collapses per year (with a peak of 28 in 2016)." Lack of generation and higher demand are causing  the crisis, and the latter will keep climbing after the slowdown of the pandemic, not only in Nigeria but across the continent. 

According to the IEA electricity demand growth on the continent is expected to rebound in 2023 to over 3%, followed by an average of 4.5% regional growth for 2024 and 2025, and natural gas will be the top source of energy. But will there be enough of it? In Europe, a bit of decent weather and a little sacrifice can avert a major energy crisis, not so in so many countries around the world dealing with much deeper issues.


As the war dragged on and the winter neared, Europe dreaded the scramble for electricity across the energy squeezed continent and feared long cold nights in the dark. 

To avoid such chilling fate public buildings cut their lighting and people changed their habits, but helping tremendously was also a weather remaining on the mild side, leaving ski hill operators furious but communities able to manage curtailing their use of power and avoiding the feared apocalypse, at least so far.  This may have averted a true energy crisis until now, but for how long can we expect mother nature to cooperate? 

Indeed Europe has been able to count its blessings as a warm fall led to a mild start to the cold season, weather stations across the continent registering record high temperatures that have kept energy use low and even trimmed prices. As a result, according to data from smart thermometer company Tado, Europeans waited later into the fall to turn up the heat, mostly doing so at the end of November rather than the beginning, when they usually do. German public  authorities also kept office temperatures lower, at some 19 degrees C. 

Such efforts across the board left a nation once paralyzed by the fear of freezing this winter confident it could see through the remaining months. "With savings, gas inflows, good storage levels, we are very, very optimistic that we will no longer have to worry about a gas shortage this winter," said German network regulator Klaus Mueller. 

Not bad on a continent that imports 80% of its gas. Even countries notoriously dependent on Russian gas, such as Moldova, managed little energetic exploits. A  short-term energy deal enabled the nation of 2.6 million to cut, not just its consumption but its reliance on Russian imports, by buying 100 million cubic metres of gas from a domestic supplier. "Since last year, we have promised to make reserves and find an alternative to stop being dependent on a single source. I managed to do it," boasted Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu in December. 

This combination of consumption cuts, alternative solutions and higher temperatures drove down demand and, ultimately, the price, of natural gas, to about 113$ per megawatt hour, the lowest level since the beginning of the war. The lower demand also enabled nations to stock up and fill their storage facilities, enabling them to look at next winter. "We have to start thinking about 2023/24," tweeted German network regulator Klaus Mueller. "We have to keep saving gas, being more energy efficient, build out renewables and fill storage." 

This is removing a key weapon Russia was counting on in its arsenal. Certainly prices remain high, and Europe may still lack the reserves it will need in case of a bad winter next year, but meanwhile observers say the continent's fortunes may be changing to the point of being able to void a recession in 2023 as the feared energy crisis gives way to more optimistic scenarios. “The stressors that caused the energy crisis of 2022 are all relaxing at the same time,” Lion Hirth of the Hertie School told the Economist. 

But the winter is not over, and Finnish leader Sanna Marin reminded participants at a Davos World Economic Forum session of her neighbor's ongoing threats. "The war affects Europe in very concrete ways. We are not only in the war in Ukraine but also in an energy war in Europe," she said. "Russia is using energy as a tool, as a weapon against Europe and it tries to diminish our support for Ukraine." By many early accounts, Russia has failed. "The speed with which Europe was able to find alternative sources of energy and succeed in weaning itself off Russian imports has surprised many, most of all Russian leaders," argued Ariel Cohen, a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. "It is unlikely that European leaders will not repeat the mistake of relying on Russia; as inflation decreases in the West and Europe readjusts its energy policy, the sanctions imposed on Russia will only become more severe and more damaging." 

Russia has been able to find partners to support it, but China and India have been able to obtain price discounts that won't do Moscow's bottom line much favors, he notes. "By December 2022, Russia witnessed revenue from fossil fuel exports slump to its lowest level since the invasion in February." 

Still Moscow has managed to mitigate its trade losses with the West and may be planning a new major offensive for the spring. Meanwhile the US became a larger gas supplier than Russia in Europe, leaving Washington to deepen cooperation with the old continent both militarily and energetically. Others concur Europe's switch to alternative resources have made Putin's attempt to use energy as a weapon and blackmailing Europe result in failures. 

"Now, as we approach the one-year anniversary of Putin’s invasion, it is apparent that Russia has permanently forfeited its erstwhile economic might in the global marketplace," argued Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, of the Yale School of Management, and  Steven Tian of the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute. "Thanks to an unseasonably warm winter in Europe, Putin’s moment of maximum leverage has passed uneventfully. The biggest victim of Putin’s gas gambit was Russia itself. Putin’s natural gas leverage is now nonexistent, as the world—and, most importantly, Europe—no longer needs Russian gas." 

But it needs tanks to ward off future offensives in Ukraine, as the latest military debates in the alliance have shown, and the Kremlin is more determined than ever to throw everything it can to hang on to the areas of Ukraine it controls, possibly looking ahead to next winter.


Il y a des dirigeants qui s'accrochent au pouvoir à tout prix, et ceux qui l'abandonnent le moment venu. Rares sont ceux qui quittent leur poste volontairement avant le temps, mais à l'âge de 42 ans, Jacinda Ardern estimait que son heure était venue après six années difficiles au poste de première ministre de Nouvelle-Zélande, marquées par des hauts, la naissance de sa fille, et des bas, de la pandémie aux tragédies qui ont ébranlé ses concitoyens. 

"Je suis humain. Les politiciens sont humains, dit-elle. On donne tout ce qu'on peut aussi longtemps qu'on le peut, et puis c'est le temps (de quitter). Et pour moi, le temps est venu." Les ravages de la pandémie avaient été évités, mais à quel prix, le pays fermant frontière et commerces pendant de longs mois, lui attirant la fougue d'opposants, tandis que l'inflation minait ses objectifs de combattre la pauvreté et de bâtir des logements abordables. 

Résultat, celle qui avait été ré-élue avec 49% des intentions de vote en 2020, le taux le plus important en 50 ans, tirait de l'arrière dans les sondages, un défi qui devient celui de son successeur alors que le pays se dirige vers de nouvelles urnes en octobre. L'architecte de la lutte contre la pandémie, Chris Hipkins, portera l'étendard du parti travailliste contre les conservateurs du National. 

Certains voient dans ce départ le triste sort de dirigeants à tous les niveaux, mais surtout des femmes, de plus en plus dans la ligne de tir. "Elle méritait tellement mieux", se désolait l'acteur Sam Neill, condamnant les attaques de misogynes et de brutes à l'égard d'un "grand dirigeant" à une époque où les politiciens peuvent se retrouver agressés physiquement ou au travers des médias sociaux. 

C'est notamment le cas de jeunes politiciens, souvent des femmes, qui font face à des actes d'agression sur internet. Le gouvernement de cette autre jeune femme d'état, la filandaise Sanna Marin, 37 ans, a notamment été visé sans relâche par "un niveau élevé de messages abusifs" selon le centre de communication de l'Otan. Selon un rapport de 2021 les femmes qui étaient à la tête de divers ministères étaient visées par "des abus misogynes qui attaquaient leurs valeurs, ridiculisaient leurs prises de décisions et remettaient en question leur aptitude à diriger".  

Marin, est devenue première ministre à l'âge de 34 ans, la plus jeune à obtenir un tel poste. Selon des études ce genre d'attaque décourage souvent les femmes à participer à la politique. Est-ce qui a finalement fait déborder le vase à Wellington après l'attaque de la mosquée de Christchurch et l'explosion volcanique de White Island? 

"Il y a eu beaucoup de misogynie à son égard... des commentaires sur son sexe, son âge et des commentaires sur son partenaire," résume Lara Greaves de l'université de Auckland. Hipkins a immédiatement déploré ce genre d'attaque. "Il y a eu une escalade de vitriol, dit-il, et certains politiciens en ont fait l'objet plutôt que d'autres... (Ardern) a été la cible de comportements absolument intolérables et inacceptables."   


Nearly thirty years after the signature of the Oslo accord which promised peace in the Middle East, the region remains as troubled by clashes and violence as ever  as Israel pursues an anti-terrorism campaign meant to end militant attacks, while  a hard line government takes over in the Holy land. 

Before the end of January some three dozen Palestintians had been felled by Israeli forces in the West Bank, a fifth of last year's total, as Israeli forces conducted repeated raids to prevent attacks against civilians, often meeting the fire of militants. This produced as many deaths on both sides as the incoming administration vowed a harder line and Palestinians promised to respond in kind. In a single raid 10 people were killed in Jenin, the most violent episode in years, causing concern among observers wary of witnessing another major flare-up in the Middle East.

 The following day, Holocaust remembrance day, seven were killed in an attack on an East Jerusalem synagogue. Hours after that, two were hurt in another Jerusalem shooting involving a 13 year old boy. "I am deeply alarmed and saddened by the continuing cycle of violence in the occuped West Bank," deplored UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland. "Since the beginning of the year we are continuing to witness high levels of violence and other negative trends that characterized 2022. It is crucial to reduce tensions immediately and prevent more loss of life." 

The Palestinian presidency accused Israel of perpetrating a "massacre" in Jenin, which Israel says was carried out to arrest Jihadi militants "heavily involved in planning and executing multiple major terrorist attacks on Israel civilians and soldiers." President Mahmoud Abbas delared three days of mourning after a "massacre" he said which took place "amid international silence."

Palestinian officials usually work with Israel to prevent militant attacks but announced they were suspending this cooperation in the aftermath of the raid. United Nations and Arab mediators said they were engaged with Israeli officials to calm the flare-up as the US secretary of state visited the region, urging both sides to "restore calm." IDF troops in the West Bank and near the Gaza Strip were put on heightened alert. 

While the anti-terror Operation Breakwater has been going on for months, the violence has increased as a new hard line right-wing govern-ment takes over in Jerusalem, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, who announced punitive measures including plans to "strengthen" controversial and divisive Jewish settlements, cancel social security benefits for the families of attackers and make guns easier to get for Israelis. 

The anti-terror operation has resulted in the highest death toll in the West Bank since the Second intifada which ended in 2005. For many there has been little sign of change since then, let alone the days going back to the 1993 agreement. "It is the same story again and again," told the Telegraph 22-year old student Nour. "The occupation does not stop killing us, so we will not stop resisting." Polls suggest support for the peace process is at an all time low on both sides of the longstanding conflict. 

The incoming hard line administration will not help make anything better, eyeing more Jewish settlements in contested areas, inflaming tensions further. Netanyahu told CNN people can't get "hung up" on peace negotiations. "When effectively the Arab Israeli conflict (comes) to an end, I think we'll circle back to the Palestinians and get a workable peace," he said, adding he had over time reached many peace agreements.


De nouvelles exigences de test de dépistage, des vérifications à la frontière, le tout sur fond de nouveaux variants, c'est du déjà vu, et c'est l'évolution du covid début 2023. Pour l'heure les restrictions frappent les voyageurs chinois notamment après un relâchement plutôt soudain et extraordinaire des restric-tions de l'an passé qui s'est vite traduit par une explosion des nouveaux cas et de décès; une propagation rapide de la pandémie qui risque, selon des experts, de mener à de nouveaux variants. 

Le plus récent est d'ailleurs en pleine expansion, un XBB.1.5 qui a déjà rejoint nos côtes et serait plus transmissible, sans être plus agressif. C'est un peu merci à la vaccination de masse en Amérique du nord et en Europe... qui n'a pas été aussi répandue dans le pays d'origine de la pandémie. 

Les conséquences en Chine ont été mirobolantes après l'abandon éclair de ce qui étaient jusqu'à tout récemment les mesures les plus restrictives au monde. La semaine dernière on faisait état de 60000 morts lors du dernier mois, mettant fin à des semaines d'opacité malgré les appels à la transparence de l'OMS. Le chiffre est dix fois celui qui avait été rapporté pour la Chine... depuis le début de la pandémie. 

La mort de certaines personnalités aurait mis la puce à l'oreille ainsi que les attroupements près des salons funéraires et des sites crématoires. Parmi les victimes de renom Tang Weiguo, fondateur sexagé-naire de Shanghai Kehua Bio-Engineering, ainsi que la chanteuse d'opéra de 39 ans Chu Lanlan et le danseur  et politicien Zhao Qing, mort à 87 ans. Conséquence, plus d'une douzaine de pays imposent des tests à l'entrée aux visiteurs chinois, une mesure jugée discriminatoire selon Pékin, malgré son propre et soudain retournement de veste récent. 

Mais plusieurs spécialistes doutent de l'efficacité de cette exigence, alors des Chinois vont se déplacer en grand nombre à l'occasion du nouvel an lunaire, y voyant plutôt un acte politique. Etats-Unis, Canada et plusieurs pays européens ont imposé cette exigence, qui de l'avis de Kerry Bowman de l'Université de Toronto constitute "absolument un geste politique qui n'est pas fondé sur la science à ce stade". Il ajoute: "Nous n'en sommes plus aux premiers jours de la pandémie alors je pense que c'est largement politique." 

D'autres experts estiment que tester tous les passagers serait impopulaire mais beaucoup plus efficace pour détecter les nouveaux variants, tout en tenant compte de l'analyse des égoûts. On en apprend toujours du nouveau sur ce virus qui a subi de nombreuses mutations depuis le début de la pandémie. L'autopsie de 44 victimes du covid aurait révélé que le virus se répand non seulement dans le système respiratoire mais à travers le corps, du cerveau aux autres organes dont le coeur, y survivant parfois pendant des mois. 

En Amérique du nord c'est New York qui enregistre le plus de cas du nouveau variant, et la métropole poursuit ses efforts afin de freiner la progression du virus, encourageant les citoyens lors de bombreuses campagnes à "faire leur part" en gardant leurs vaccins à jour et conservant des tentes de dépistage du covid sur plusieurs trottoirs de Manhattan, notamment en face du fameux Empire State Building sur la 34ème rue. 

Mais aux Etats-Unis également, le taux de vaccination n'est pas au niveau espéré par les autorités saintaires. Fatigue vaccinale, certes, mais le manquement est aussi dû aux fausses informations sans cesse véhiculées sur les réseaux sociaux. A titre d'exemple, les fausses rumeurs qui ont vu le jour après l'effondrement hautement médiatisé d'un joueur de football des Bills de Buffalo au premier quart d'un match récent, après avoir reçu un choc à la poitrine. 

Ces rumeurs voulaient que ceci ait un lien avec le vaccin contre le covid plutôt que le coup encaissé par le joueur lors du match. En Chine les médias sociaux ont été aussi conséquents à propos de la ligne dure de Pékin, la circulation d'images de manifestations parfois violentes en décembre mettant un terme aux restrictions. 

Parfois les fausses infos viennent de sources plutôt officielles à première vue, dont certains membres extrémistes du congrès américain. Récemment un membre du parlement britannique, Andrew Bridgen, faisait l'objet d'une suspension pour avoir fait circuler de fausses infos sur le vaccin. A présent la propagation du virus atteint de nouveaux sommets en Chine, contaminant possiblement 90% des habitants de la province de Henan, la troisième la plus peuplée. La politique zéro covid donne-t-elle dorénavant lieu au 100% covid? Et ce avant même les grands départs des vacances du nouvel an lunaire, les premières sans restrictions depuis le début de la pandémie? 

Résultat, non seulement certains pays referment la porte aux ressortissants chinois, ils recommandent à leurs citoyens d'éviter les déplacements non essentiels en Chine, pays à nouveau paria, qui pourtant au plus fort de la crise occidentale avait lui-même allégé ses politiques. Pour combien de temps encore ce monde à deux vitesses? Même les virus divergent, celui de BF.7, plus transmissible aussi, se limitant pour l’instant encore à la Chine. 

Mais l'explosion de cas en Chine pourrait avoir des conséquence pour la planête si elle chambarde le secteur manufacturier. Ceci dit, à l'instar de la Chine, d'autres pays devraient également voir la réalité d'en face, notamment en Europe. Un expert anciennement de l'OMS, Daniel Acuna, accuse le continent de voir la vie en rose.


Between the chaos unleashed after the arrest of a drug lord's son in the host country and tensions in Brazil after protesters stormed public institutions, there was much to discuss as the three amigos met for their latest summit in Mexico. 

US president Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau and host Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador condemned the attacks against Brazil's legislature, presidential palace and supreme court, nearly two years to the day after the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol in Washington. 

In both countries protesters supporting a populist's failed re-election bid had gathered in great numbers to dispute the vote, causing chaos and destruction, as their neighbors looked on in disbelief. Like Donald Trump, ousted right wing populist Jair Bolsonaro had cast doubts about the result of recent presidential elections, narrowly lost to leftist Lula da Silva, a message of rejection which was echoed loudly on some social media platforms, accused of inflaming tensions in the deeply divided South American country. 

Security forces were sent to calm the situation in the capital Brasilia, arresting hundreds. This turn to violence over politics isn't new to the continent. The events in fact closely followed a  similar outburst by supporters of ousted Peruvian president Pedro Castillo, impeached and jailed last month. Supporters demanding his release set up roadblocks which caused major disruptions that lasted for weeks. 

As the three leaders, gathered to discuss migration and other issues they have been struggling with, mulled over the ramifications of the Brazilian riot, the host country was struggling to contain the violent aftermath of the arrest of the son of jailed drug lord Joaquin "el Chapo" Guzman, sparking violent attacks by drug gangs in a number of areas of the country, causing nations, including Canada and the US, to issue travel advisories targeting this very popular winter travel destination. 

Ovidio Guzman's extradition to the US was put on hold in the aftermath of his arrest, an operation which resulted in the death of 29 people. The US accuses him of being “a senior member of the Sinaloa cartel.” He had previously been arrested in 2019 but released soon after by the current president, who feared further bloodshed. The year certainly began on an alarming note in the Americas, but some see a silver lining despite the clashes. 

Timed right before the three amigos meeting, the arrest in Mexico may have been a way for Obrador to show his visitors that he is “in control of the armed forces and Mexico’s security situation,” according to Gladys McCormick, a Mexico-US relations specialist at Syracuse University. The violence abated soon afterwards. Brazil's security forces also quickly regained control of the situation in the capital, in a crackdown which arrested some 1,500 and resulted in injuries but no deaths, a notable outcome in a country marked by the excesses of military dictatorship. 

 Encouragingly, pro-democracy protests later condemned the riots but some suspect the military was supportive of the Bolsonaro camp. The amigos were also following another troubled spot, Haiti, still  mired in gang-related violence.


Depuis quelques années le mouvement de restitution des oeuvres d'antiquité aux pays d'origine prend de l'ampleur, mais la pièce manquante, et de résistance, reste les marbres du Parthénon, encore logés au British museum, loin des côtes del la mer Egée, mais pour combien de temps encore. 

Récemment le prestigieux musée londonien confirmait que des "discussions constructives" étaient en cours avec les autorités grecques à propos des pièces inestimables dont la création précède la naissance du Christ. Les appels au retour ne datent pas d'hier et ont été nombreux depuis leur exportation par le Lord Elgin au XIXe siècle, mais la frise pourrait faire l'objet de la plus spectaculaire restitution du genre depuis le début de la campagne internationale des dernières années. 

En 2011 le musée californien Paul Getty retournait à l'Italie la statue de la déesse Morgantina, une pièce acquise par le musée en 1988 qui s'était avérée pillée et exportée illégalement par des intermédiaires pas toujours transparents. La statue est désormais au musée archéologique d'Aidone en Sicile, ayant, comme plusieurs autres pièces à travers le monde retrouvé sa patrie d'origine. 

En 2012 le musée Yale Peabody renvoyait au Pérou des milliers de pièces déterrées au Machu Picchu dont bijoux, céramiques et autres objets désormais retrouvés à Cuzco, cité névralgique pour tout visiteur du grand site péruvien faisant partie du patrimoine de l'UNESCO. Les deux partis étaient fiers que ce retour ait eu lieu après des tractations diplomatiques plutôt que sous une obligation judicière, ce qui n'a pas toujours été le cas dans ce genre d'affaire. 

Le musée d'art métropolitain de New York a notamment en 2006, et après de longues années de contentieux, dû retourner un vase grec ainsi que plusieurs autres oeuvres en Italie. Mais le retour du Yale Peabody a un peu ouvert les vannes, permettant au Pérou de se lancer à la conquête d'autres objets éparpillés à travers le monde, notamment des textiles retrouvés en Suède. 

Plus récemment, en 2021, c'était à plusieurs musées européens de renvoyer des pièces d'art dans leur pays d'origine, en Afrique notamment, butin d'un colonialisme à present condamné. Le retour de bronzes du Bénin du Quai Branly à Paris ont notamment fait la manchette, tout comme le retour d'une statue de bronze du Bénin, rapatriée au Nigéria. Mais ce n'est qu'un début. 

En 2018 une analyse du gouvernement français estimait à 90% la part de l'héritage culturel africain retrouvé dans divers musées occidentaux. Et pas tout le monde était près à envisager un renvoi des pièces les plus populaires. A cette époque, le maire de Londres Boris Johnson, devenu premier ministre par la suite, insistait notamment sur le fait que la frise de 75 mètres du Parthénon avaient été acquise "dans la légalité... selon les lois appropriées à l'époque." 

Les rumeurs actuelles laissent plutôt entendre la possibilité d'un prêt à long terme entre le British museum et Athènes dans le cadre d'un “échange culturel” qui éviterait au musée de démanteler sa collection, sans enfreindre la loi qui l'interdit de céder une partie de sa collection. 

Mais la Grèce n'y voit qu'une entente temporaire, estimant que les objets ont été effectivement pillés à une époque où la Grèce était sous occupation ottomane. Mais certains experts regrettent la perpective d'un tel transfert, même en Grèce. L'ancien directeur de musée d'Athènes Dimitris Michalopoulos estime que la frise serait bien mieux entretenue si elle demeurait en Grande-Bretagne.


As the new year began and with it the prospect of more months of bloodshed in Ukraine, there was no sign of despair in the battered country. If anything, its determination to prevail was stronger than ever, president Volodymyr Zelensky, in a holiday message, calling for "patience and faith" as the cold of winter gripped the country wracked by power failures. 

"In this battle, we have another powerful and effective weapon," he said, speaking with the steely determination that has become the war-time trade-mark of the former comedian. "The hammer and sword of our spirit and consciousness. The wisdom of God. Courage and bravery. Virtues that incline us to do good and overcome evil." 

After over 300 days of attacks such words never seemed to get old. The call for sacrifice, as poignant as ever, even as new rocket fire targeted Kherson, killing a dozen people on Christmas eve. The follow-ing day Ukraine replied, hitting a Russian bomber base using drones. 

Kyiv was no longer giving much thought to Vladimir Putin's half-hearted call for negotiations, almost plead-ing: "We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them - we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are," Putin told Rossiya 1 state television, shortly after finally describing the conflict with Ukraine as war for the first time. 

But Ukraine has lost too much to back down now. "Russia single-handedly attacked Ukraine and is killing citizens," a Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. "Russia doesn't want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility."  The US agreed Moscow was just posturing, days after having received Zelensky in a rare foreign visit. His message to Congress has been just as poignant and defiant. 

"Against all odds and doom-and-gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking," he said to U.S. lawmakers. "It gives me good reason to share with you our first joint victory: We defeated Russia in the battle for minds of the world. We have no fear, nor should anyone in the world have it. Ukrainians gained this victory, and it gives us courage which inspires the entire world." 

Ukraine wasn't alone, in fact had never been, receiving billions in military and other support from Western countries determined still to ensure Russia's failure, making increasingly daring military deliveries to their ally, including Patriot missile defenses. "If your Patriots stop the Russian terror against our cities, it will let Ukrainian patriots work to the full to defend our freedom," Zelensky told Congress. 

Putin said he was "100% sure" his military could "weed out" the weapon system, which he described as "fairly outdated", but then again he had been quite sure about a quick victory in Ukraine. The US announced $1.85 billion in new security assistance, and this support was money well spent, Zelensky stressed, an investment into a democracy being challenged across the world. "Your money is not charity. It’s an investment in the global security and democracy," he said. 

But Ukraine still "lacks the long-range strike capability and other offensive equipment it needs to maintain its momentum," argued a RANE intelligence analysis, some-thing it wasn't sure to acquire despite Zelensky's pleas in Washington amid thunderous applause in the legislature. But the targeting of the Engels air base in southern Russia, nearly 900km from Ukraine's border, showed Kyiv's growing reach using unmanned drones. It followed two other attacks in the region earlier in December. 

This sparked a call for tightened security measures in Russia that, if carried out, did not appear to prevent further attacks, leaving the governor or nearby Saratov to try to reassure citizens there was "absolutely no threat to residents." The war has however reached well into Russia by now, sparking cries from families of soldiers sent to the front. In his address to Congress Zelensky said another battle for freedom had to be waged, one by Russians against their own regime. 

"The Russians will stand a chance to be free only when they defeat the Kremlin in their minds," he said. "Yet, the battle continues, and we have to defeat the Kremlin on the battlefield." Of course there was only defiance from the Kremlin, Putin making his longest and most aggressive new year's message as the country's easternmost of its 11 time zones ushered in the new year, calling 2022 "a year of hard, necessary decisions." 

Russian officials sometimes even went as far as describing Russia's attacks as heroic efforts to "defend their fatherland." But as a new barrage of missiles landed in Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Ukraine lashed back with its usual defiance, Kyiv governor Oleksiy Kuleba saying "the terrorist state once again shows its cynicism. Even on New Year's Eve it continued to launch massive missile strikes," adding Russia did this "because it knows that for us it is the New Year, and for them it is the last." 

Addressing Russians, Zelensky, in his own year-end address, said Putin's attack was "burning "your country and your future." The new year attacks were preceded by the most important barrage of Russian strikes since the invasion, a sign Putin was not willing back down on his offensive despite making previous offers for negotiations. But Ukraine has been striking back with perhaps its most terrifying salvo, hitting barracks with its US-acquired HIMARS rockets in occupied Donetsk and reportedly killing hundreds of Russian soldiers in what would be among the deadliest days of the war. 

While the Kremlin is facing internal criticism for the mounting losses, military analysts in the West point out Ukraine's successes may only prolong the conflict by boosting support for Russian troops at a time of flagging morale. Recently Moscow said it would send clowns and other performers to boost troop morale, an effort not certain to succeed.


Douze ans après le printemps arabe on a depuis longtemps dépassé le seuil de la désillusion en Tunisie et crevé les rêves de démocratie qui pouvaient accompagner la disparition du despote qui régnait alors. 

À peine 11% des électeurs ont voté lors du premier tour d'un scrutin parlementaire largement boycotté par la plupart des partis politiques en décembre, un parlement, il faut l'avouer, sans véritable pouvoir un peu plus d'un an après le coup d'état constitutionnel du président Kaïs Saïed. 

La coalition d'opposition Front de salut national estime d'ailleurs que ce dernier a perdu toute légitimité en raison du faible taux de participation, en partie expliqué par la réforme électorale interdisant toute affiliation politique pour les candidats, qui d'ailleurs étaient peu connus. 

« C’est un grand désaveu populaire pour le processus enclenché en juillet 2021 quand Saïed a gelé la législature et limogé son premier ministre, s’arrogeant tous les pouvoirs, déclarait après le scrutin Ahmed Néjib Chebbi, le chef de la principale coalition d’opposants en Tunisie, appelant le président à «quitter ses fonctions immédiatement » et exigeant de nouvelles élections présidentielles. 

Le taux de participation a été bien plus faible que les prognostics les plus pessimistes le prédisaient, selon le politologue Hamadi Redissi: « C’est un désaveu personnel pour M. Saïed qui a décidé tout, tout seul », dit-il en entrevue à l'AFP. Mais alors que «sa légitimité est en cause» il note qu'«il n’existe aucun mécanisme juridique pour destituer le président ». 

L'appel à la mobilisation et aux manifestations se bute lui-même à la division de l'opposition. Le parlement, comme l'opposition, est également affaibli depuis l'adoption d'une constitution en été qui a réduit les prérogatives de la législature. 

"Il y a un vide politique qui s'est créé en Tunisie aussi bien du côté de l'opposition que dans le camp présidentiel, qui n'a ni parti ni mouvement pour relayer ses messages au sein de l'opinion publique", estime le chercheur Vincent Geisser. 

C'est le pays de manière générale qui est affaibli, à la fois par l'important taux de chômage, qui était déjà d'actualité il y a plus de 10 ans, et l'inflation galopante accompagnée des pénuries de produits essentiels comme le lait, de sucre, de riz, sans parler de leurs effets d'apauvris-sement. 

Le report par le Fonds monétaire international à la nouvelle année d’un accord définitif sur un nouveau prêt de 2 milliards de dollars a également été perçu comme un rejet du gouvernement en place. "Ces élections ont renforcé les préoccupations occidentales sur le cap choisi par le président Saïed, aussi bien sur le plan politique et démocratique que sur le plan économique, ajoute Geisser. 

Les partenaires occidentaux ont l'impression qu'il gouverne par la rhétorique en désignant des responsables de la situation socio-économique mais sans avoir de réel programme." En attendant le ministre de l'économie admet que "l'année 2023 sera difficile". 


They were brief affairs of a few hours in small nations that ultimately met with failure but enough to inspire broader questions about Africa's struggle with democracy. Months after Sao Tome lived through a failed coup attempt, the small nation of Gambia said in December it had avoided the fate of so many countries across the continent in recent years. Some more than once. 

Half a dozen soldiers were arrested and others sought for their attempt to topple the government, an act condemned by the president of neighboring Senegal, who also heads the African Union: "The UA vigorouly rejects any attempt to take power by military means and is in solidarity with the Gambian government." 

President Adama Barrow was re-elected in 2021 after intially taking power in 2017, ending decades of dictatorship. Some see former strongman Yahya Jammeh behind the recent attempt, citing a meeting during which he said, days before the arrests, he would return to the country from exile in Guinea to reclaim his post. 

"What's happening to the African continent?" enquired Burkina Faso online site Wakatsera. "Between failed coup attempts and successful coups democracy is looking for itself." It was no small irony the site was based in Ouagadougou, which saw not one but two coups take place last year alone, joining other countries where the military has taken over. 

But while attempts failed in Guinea Bissau and Mali this year (one had been successful there both in 2021 and 2020), the ones in Burkina Faso, in January and September, prolonged the continent's history of assaults on democracy and constitutional order. Though these days soldiers tend to topple other soldiers. 

Barrow was in the midst of a reform of his security services when the latest coup attempt took place. He had already faced one shortly after he initially took power. A regional force mostly made of Senegalese soldiers ensures his security since Barrow's rise to power. This choice of foreign troops irritates some members of the brass in the small nation of 2.5 million surrounded by Senegal. 

Troops from Ghana and Nigeria also protect key transport infrastructures. A former minister has also separately been arrested for producing a video suggesting Barrow would be toppled in this year's local elections. 

An investigative commission has been launched into the coup attempt, the government claiming it has already uncovered wider internal and external, as well as civilian, support for the coup. Plotters were said of targeting electrical installations as well as radio stations and the airport, while going after high-placed government officials. 

The outlook hardly looks encouraging for the months ahead. Right before Christmas Burkina Faso expelled a UN coordinator for warning that country faced "chaos" in the coming months, as a UN mission gets underwa to assess the country's situation.


Après des semaines de tensions parfois violentes, la crise semblait de dissiper en début d'année au Pérou, théâtre de manifestations et blocages depuis la destitution du président Pedro Castillo en décembre, mais le calme durera-t-il jusqu'à la tenue des prochaines élections? 

L'actuelle présidente Dina Boluarte avait rejeté les appels à la démission et demandé au congrès de convoquer des élections générales anticipées alors que le compte de morts augmentait lors de cette crise qui paralysait plusieurs axes routiers et transports à travers le Pérou. 

Le tout avait dégénéré début décembre lorsque Castillo a tenté d'organiser un auto-coup d'État avec pour but de fermer le parlement et de gouverner par décret. Il fut promptement arrêté alors qu'il tentait de rejoindre l'ambassade du Mexique pour demander l'asile après avoir été destitué par le congrès. 

Il fait actuellement l'objet d'accusations de rébellion et de complot, des accusations qu'il rejette, se considérant toujours un chef d'état en fonction. Ses supporters avaient pris le contrôle de plusieurs axes routiers lors d'une crise qui a isolé plusieurs régions et quelque temps pris en otage des centaines de touristes étrangers, notamment venus visiter le site archéologique de Macchu Picchu. 

"Ce n'est que par le calme, la cordialité et un dialogue sincère et ouvert que nous pourrons travailler (...) Comment pouvons-nous nous battre entre Péruviens, gâcher nos institutions, bloquer les routes?" déclarait la première présidente de la nation andine, déplorant la mort de douzaines d'individus, certains mineurs, lors des affrontements. 

Les manifestants exigaient la libération de Castillo, un radical de gauche issu de classe modeste, la démission de Boluarte - pourtant membre du même parti - la fermeture du parlement et des élections générales immédiates. Là-dessus les deux camps s'entendaient, mais il revenait au congrès d'avancer le scrutin prévu pour 2026, ce qu'il fit, mais pour 2024 seulement. 

Entre temps les tensions restent vives et la présidente est impopulaire dans une bonne partie de la population. Cette dernière a dû procéder à plusieurs changements minis-tériels, le ministre de l'éducation ayant notamment rendu sa démission, déplorant une "mort de compatriotes sans justification" durant le plus fort de la crise, ajoutant que "la violence de l'état ne pouvait pas être disproportionnée et causer la mort." 

Les violences sont notamment symboliques dans le sud quechua du pays, lieu des victoires de Simon Bolivar contre l'occupation espagnole, une région pauvre qui a connu de sombres jours durant la dictature du siècle dernier. 

Une dizaine de personnes sont notamment mortes dans la capitale régionale d'Ayacucho  lors des affrontements de décembre. Alors que de nombreux barrages ont été démantelés, certains tardaient à l'être, provocant des appels au calme. 

Les tensions restent vives entre le Pérou et le Mexique également, qui a offert l'asile à la famille de Castillo et a été accusé d'ingérence pour  avoir soutenu l'ancien président, causant le départ des ambassadeurs dans les deux pays sans cependant rompre les relations entre les capitales. C'est en fait la gauche latino- américaine qui s'était rangée derrière Castillo début décembre.


With schools closed, soccer games played in front of empty stands and city-wide lockdowns, it seems like a  flashback to the fall of 2020, but this is China right now, a reminder the covid pandemic hasn't lessened its grip on the world as that regime is still choosing to apply a severe zero-covid strategy. 

The contrast is stark with the West, where much of this belongs to the past but health measures are still being encouraged as the flu season takes a severe grip on hospitals in conjunction with climbing  RSV cases among children, clogging  ICUs and making authorities rethink their policies on mask wearing. 

While Ontario and Quebec, where hospitals have been inundaded with sick children amid a Canada-wide child medicine shor-tage, have encouraged their citizens to wear masks again in public when distancing is not possible, they have come short of mandating masks, an issue which is still provoking protests. A school board meeting was cut short in Ottawa on a night trustees were supposed to vote on mask measures in school after participants were shouted down. 

But provincial health officials are struggling as the province deals with a new health crisis, mostly affecting the young. One Ontario two year old was nearly translferred to New York state because of the lack of ICU beds, but there as well  emergencies have been flooded with sick children, making access to ICU beds more difficult. In both countries staffing shortages and nursing home issues are making matters worse, and experts warn we have yet to hit the peak of the flu season. 

“This is not just an issue. This is a crisis,” told the Washington Post Anne Klibanski, president and CEO of Mass General Brigham in Boston, in an echo of cries heard throughout the pandemic. “We are caring for patients in the hallways of our emergency departments. There is a huge capacity crisis, and it’s becoming more and more impossible to take care of patients correctly and provide the best care that we all need to be providing." 

The staffing shortages come after two intense relentless years which have drained health staff, leaving some burned out and no longer willing to work in the profession. In the US more than half a million people quit their health-care and social services positions in  September alone, while according to the American Medical Association 1 in 5 doctors plan on leaving the field within two years. 

There has been little reprieve in this field despite the improved covid numbers, but thousands still die from the illness every month across the world. China, ground zero of the outbreak, has done remarkably well cutting fatalities, but this is at the cost of prolonged restrictions. Last week the country of 1.4 billion reported its first covid deaths in six months, bringing the country's official death toll to just over 5,200. 

While the achievement is remarkable, it has not come without protest in view of draconian covid fighting measures, the latest shutting schools and businesses as the capital came to a grinding halt, keeping three million people in a section of the city at home. Travelling to Beijing requires another measure that belongs to the past elsewhere, testing and quarantining during these tests. And these covid measures have sparked rare protests, including recently after a baby died after her medical care was delayed by covid restrictions. 

Protest has also gripped the world's largest iPhone producing plant, bringing production to a halt. In North America the flu, not covid, is responsible for most ICU visits, while France activated a national emergency response plan to deal with soaring bronchiolitis infections among children. This will free additional resources as the country deals with the  highest number of bronchiolitis-related hospitalizations in more than 10 years, children there and elsewhere being exposed to bugs for the first time as pandemic measures are lifted. In a single week 7,000 children had to be admitted in ICUs across France. 

While Spain has not seen the same level of outbreaks health care workers have also complained about staff shortages, coming out in massive protests while doctors staged a one day strike, decrying what they consider to be a dismantling of the public health system in favor of more private approaches. The conservative government however says it is politically motivated action by leftist unions, but there as elsewhere the aftermath of the pandemic is being felt in the industry. 

A number of European countries were witnessing the same shortage of  medicines seen in North America due to distribution and other issues. Top of the list, amoxicillin, a major antibiotic prescribed to children on both sides of the pond from Oregon state to France. That country's public health agency said shortages could continue well into the new year, even until March. 

Canada meanwhile, which has been facing child medication shortages for weeks, said a special shipment of over a million units was coming to relieve shortages, as Canadians crossed the border into the U.S., often overwhelming border pharma-cies there too. A shortage of doctors in Canada is also making the fall's health crisis more acute, leaving parents in a blind panic. Doctor shortages were also a problem in the UK, and according to one study, only made worse by Brexit on top of everything else. But all this is far removed from the Chinese reality. 

Like everyone else the Chinese have been watching the World Cup but wondering if it is happening on another planet with its full stadiums and unmasked fans. This contrast and a deadly fire in the West of the country where delayed rescue efforts were blamed on covid measures sparked nationwide protests the likes of which have been unseen since 1989. While crackdowns ensued, Beijing did ease some of the restrictions following the unprecedented unrest, but stuck to the overall goal of its "zero covid" strategy.


Le coup d'envoi de la coupe du monde a eu lieu sur fond de controverse. Juste avant leur match inaugural, les joueurs allemands ont posé pour la photo de famille la bouche couverte. Le message était dirigé à la FIFA, qui avait interdit le port d'un bandeau protestant la discrimination au Qatar. 

Le pays hôte était sous les projecteurs à la fois pour son traitement des migrants ayant rendu la construction des stades possible et ses commen-taires sur les visiteurs homosexuels lors d'un tournoi qui, de l'aveu d'un ancien président de la FIFA, n'aurait jamais du avoir lieu dans ce pays du Golfe. 

Sepp Blatter a émis ces propos à quelques jours du coup d'envoi alors qu'Amnistie internationale condamnait les conditions des travailleurs étrangers au Qatar, le tout pendant que la controverse entourait les propos de l'ambassadeur de la Coupe du Monde sur l'homosexualité. 

Les visiteurs gays sont bienvenus pourvu qu'ils obéïssent aux règles locales, conservatrices, déclare Khalid Salman, avant de décrire leur sexualité à titre de "déviance mentale". Quelques jours plus tard on rapportera l'interdiction d'accès aux sites de spectateurs arborant des arcs en ciel. 

Le Qatar tentait déjà de mettre de l'eau sur les flammèches d'un rapport d'Amnistie déplorant le traitement des travailleurs migrants essentiels à la construction des nombreux sites du Mondial, un sujet qui a déjà provoqué des appels au boycott. Certaines municipalités de la France au Danemark ont d'ailleurs décidé de ne pas diffuser les rencontres sur les places publiques comme on aurait pu le faire dans le passé, certains partisans préférant même ne pas partir leur téléviseur. 

Ces positions sont surtout fortes en Allemagne, les spectateurs y ayant déployé des banderoles faisant appel au boycott pendant les rencontres de la Bundesliga. Le Bayern a d'ailleur été critiqué en raison de son partenariat avec Qatar Airways, une entente qui pourrait être revue dans un avenir proche. 

Quand à Blatter, l'ancien patron de la FIFA estimait en veille de tournoi que l'octroi de la Coupe du monde à ce petit pays d'à peine 3 millions d'habitants pas particulièrement brillant en foot avait été "une erreur". Ce pays est trop petit, dit-il en entrevue, le soccer et la Coupe du monde sont trop imposants pour sa taille." 

Autant constater que le prochain Mondial est l'affaire de trois pays totalisant une population de plus de 500 millions d'habitants. "C'était une mauvaise décision. Et j'en suis responsable puisque j'étais président à l'époque", ajoute-t-il. C'est notamment en raison des pressions exercées par l'ancienne étoile française Michel Platini, lors d'une réunion avec le président français à l'époque, Nicolas Sarkozy, que le Mondial est allé au Qatar au lieu des Etats-Unis, note-t-il. 

Ce dernier fait aussi remarquer que son successeur a choisi de déménager au Qatar récemment, ajoutant: "Qu'est-ce que la FIFA peut faire si son président se trouve dans le même bateau que le Qatar?" 

Amnistie proposait l'établisse-ment d'un fonds de plusieurs centaines de millions de dollars pour compenser les familles des travailleurs morts, sans retour d'appel à Doha. Le pays hôte fait par ailleurs l'objet de reproches de la part d'écologistes qui remettent en question sa prétendue organisation de Mondial "zéro carbone". 

Mais rien de tout ceci pour décourager le Qatar qui, satisfait de l'organisation de son Mondial, pense déjà à une candidature olympique en 2036. Evidemment les Jeux ne pourraient pas avoir lieu l'été.


As Canadians guiltily lingered on patios late into the fall and Europeans gathered on beaches, it was hard to deny the record setting weather was agreeable, but also a troubling result of global warming. Pleasant, specta-cular even at times, if only limited to those few moments of calm before the storm. Before the cold winter, and more worsening weather patterns. A mirage of pleasure, a delusion of ephemeral bliss. 

Climate change was also melting glaciers like never before, spreading drought and accompanying famine in Third World countries as well a stirring up more storms of the century and catastrophes regardless of wealth or region. In fact some 15,000 deaths in Europe were a result of heatwaves this year according to the World Health Organization. 

This was not lost on attendees of this year's COP27 environ-mental summit, one carried out as many came to the conclusion that goals limiting temperature rises to 1.5C degrees above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century were not realistic despite the world's best efforts. And the world hasn't been making its best efforts. The planet was more likely to see an increase of 2.4C if it tried harder, but right now the temperature rises looked more like they would reach 2.8C. 

We already stand at 1.15C above pre-industrial times and once more UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was left to prepare another shock message, this one entitled "chronicle of climate chaos" while climate activists demonstrated near the summit site of Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, as well as elsewhere, splashing famous works of art or glueing themselves to them in art galleries and museums. "We are on the highway of climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator," warned Guterres. 

The UN called progress on cutting emissions since last year's Glasgow gathering "woefully inade-quate". COP26 had called for a phasing down of the use of coal, but its use has been on the rise as a result of the war-caused energy crisis in Europe, leaving countries to abandon green measures in a desperate attempt to stay warm and keep the lights on this winter. 

Winding down deforestation by 2030 has also been on the agenda as well as targets to cut methane emissions. This had caused some commotion in environment-friendly New Zealand where farmers slammed domestic policies taxing emissions from animals, the infamous "burp and fart tax". 

Looking forward, COP27 sought to tackle a topic long dear to Third World countries: compensating poor nations suffering the brunt of a global warming largely caused by the actions of leading economies. "The inclusion of this agenda reflects a sense of solidarity for the victims of climate disasters," noted COP27 president Sameh Shoukry. Pakistan said it would seek compensation and debt relief after devastating floods that cost the country some $30 billion. 

"Millions of people are going into winter without shelter or livelihood," stressed prime minister Shehbaz Sharif. "Women and children are still looking to us to protect their basic needs." Some countries such as Canada are fine with the idea of compensating poorer nations, but won't be held 'liable' in the process. 

European countries have even gone as far as advancing possible figures. Germany says it will make  €170 million available for such a fund, while COP26 host Scotland considered something in the area of $10 million and spearhead Denmark some $18 million. But sometimes the green agenda alone has been hard to keep top of mind considering other global crises such as inflation and war in Europe. 

But if anything the crisis in Europe should encourage nations to act faster on climate shange, argued newly-minted UK PM Rishi Sunak. "Climate and energy security go hand in hand," he said. "Putin's abhorrent war in Ukraine and rising energy prices across the world are not a reason to go slow on climate change. They are a reason to act faster." 

If anything, countries may seek to do just that to actually cut costs down the road. Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer said last week climate change was already costing the economy billions. According  to his analysis Canada's GDP was 0.8% lower  due to lower agricultural output, higher energy use and disruptions due to weather.  

And even if every policy announced to fight climate change was carried out, the impact on the economy is still expected to grow to 5.6% by the end of the century. Clamoring for action, activists were also protesting the heavy presence of members of the fossil fuel lobby at this year's summit, over 600 lobbyists from the oil and gas sector having been registered. 

"The explosion in the number of industry delegates attending the negotiations reinforces the conviction of the climate justice community that the industry views the COP as a carnival of sorts," opined  Kwami Kpondzo of the Friends of the Earth. The lobbies however say their presence is necessary if only to discuss how measures should be implemented. 

But as the summit ended  the prospect of a final declaration that did not include solid targets upset activists seeing it as proof objectives were being watered down at a time they needed to be reinforced.  Certainly many were underwhelmed by the first drafts of a final agreement that repeated many of  last year's goals of accelerating measures to reduce reliance on coal and phase out fuel subsidies, but did little more than welcome the debate on launching a fund for countries  suffering from climate change while not providing any details.


Il y a les éternels de la politique comme les despotes et présidents à vie, puis il y a ceux qui réussissent, parfois malgré des controverses, à se frayer un chemin au gouvernement encore et encore. 

Après le retour de Silvio Berlusconi au sein de la coalition de centre droite en Italie, vient celui de Bibi Netanyahu, membre d'une semblable coalition radicale israélienne. Deux person-nalités éternelles de la politique à la tête de pays constamment aux urnes - il s'agissait de la cinquième élection depuis 2019 en Israël - survivants d'une descente aux enfers politique qu'ils n'auraient pu réussir ailleurs. 

Evidemment Lula aussi a été ré-élu au Brésil malgré sa condamnation pour corru-ption, avant d'être blanchi par la cour brésilienne. Netan-yahu cependant se retrouve à la fois en plein procès et désigné pour former le prochain gouvernement alors qu'il retrouve sa place dans l'échiquier politique tornitruant du pays hébreu. 

En fin de compte son bloc d'extrême droite a été composé de 64 sièges, dont la moitié appartenant à son parti de droite Likoud, sur les 120 sièges du Knesset, devançant le parti centriste Yesh Atid du premier ministre sortant Yaïr Lapid. Comme Lula Bibi est un vétéran septuagénaire qui n'en est pas à son premier bal. 

"J'ai de l'expérience, j'ai fait quelques élections... notre chemin, celui du Likoud, a prouvé qu'il était le bon," lançait-il devant des partisans réunis à Jérusalem. Certains opposants, dont l'ancien du Likoud et ministre de la Justice Gideon Saar, étaient alarmés par le risque de voir Israël se diriger vers une "coalition d'extrémistes" menée par Netanyahu et les autres membres de son bloc. 

Parmi eux Itamar Ben Gvir, une étoile montante issue des colonies qui avait fait appel à l'utilisation de la force contre les Palestiniens: "Les gens veulent marcher en sécurité dans les rues, que nos soldats et policiers ne soient pas pieds et poings liés". Ce dernier et un autre allié de Bibi, Bezalel Smotrich, ont doublé leur appui lors de ces élections. 

"Israël est sur le point d'entamer une révolution de droite, religieuse et autoritaire, dont le but est de détruire l'infrastructure démocratique sur laquelle le pays a été construit", estimait le quotidien de gauche Haaretz. Il pourrait s'agir d'un jour sombre dans l'histoire d'Israël". Même souci dans le camp arabe divisé. 

"Les résultats montrent que Netanyahu a le plus de chance de former un gouvernement avec des fascistes à ses côtés, s'est inquiétée Aïda Touma-Suleiman du parti Hadash-Taal. Et cela nous préoccupe grandement (...) car cela témoigne de la direction que prend ce pays et ce qui attend les Palestiniens qui y vivent". 

En attendant le procès pour corruption se poursuivait à Jérusalem avec le témoignage d'employés de compagnies qui auraient fourni des produits de luxe achetés pour le compte de Netanyahu et son épouse.    


Considering the president's low popularity numbers, the high inflation and traditional midterm bleeding by the party holding the White House, Democrats were trying to limit the losses and avoid the much touted "red wave" in this year's U.S. elections, and while much was up in the air days after the vote it quickly appeared they may have managed to do just that, infuriating a former president itching to throw his hat back in the ring and making Republicans ques-tion their leadership. 

Donald Trump, who retains a large following and still draws crowds, announced this week he would seek a third run at the presidency, but the electoral results may have made the contest for the Republican presidential candidate in 2024 all the more competitive. Republicans did end up seizing the House of Representatives, but with a slim margin, and failed to win the Senate. 

One GOP winner emerging early election night was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 contender who won handily in a state that did not see a single Democrat win a contest on election night. Observers say this makes him a strong candidate to run for president, to the   dismay of sunshine state resident Trump, who refused to change plans to announce his candidacy despite the reluctance of many in his own party. 

In fact election night saw a number of candidates endorsed by Trump stumble, leaving Republicans to consider whether making him the presidential candidate is worth the divisions it may cause within the party. This was causing new divisions in a country already torn between party lines, as the vote also divided Americans on the issues of abortion, a top  concern among Democrats, and inflation mostly alarming Republicans. 

The campaign had mobilized current and recent presidents, whipping up the vitriol in aggressive campaign ads as reports of violence targeting politicians worsened. Among them the home invasion targeting the husband of outgoing House speaker Nancy Pelosi, not only a testimony of the insecurity lived by elected officials and their families but a clear display of entrenched divisions, as Republican supporters mocked the violent incident. 

To former president Barack Obama, this heralded tough days ahead, seeing the incident as the result of personal and violent political rhetoric. "This habit we have of demonizing political oppo-nents, saying crazy stuff. It creates a dangerous climate," he said in a campaign stop. But voting day was relatively peaceful, and to some observers, the midterms did accomplish sending a message against extremism, even if a number of winning candidates still deny the results of the 2020 election. 

The night's result however wasn't sure to settle the debate about that other 2024 candidate. But while exit polls overwhelmingly gave Biden thumbs down, including people who said they were voting for Democratic candidates, the US president said this would not factor in his decision whether to run again in two years, telling a reporter: "Watch me." The Economist magazine however suggested Biden could make a graceful exit to remind us what true statesmanship is all about. 

In the meantime however there seemed to be some light at the end of the inflation tunnel, at least in the US, where slightly improved inflation numbers led the markets to register their best day since 2020. But recession fears still gripped many, no matter what their affiliations. 

Overall Americans are so concerned about the state of the nation two thirds of them say the country is at its lowest point, and more than a quarter are so stressed about it they have a hard time functioning, according to the American Psychological Association, noting that previously "politics didn't seem to be a driving stressor."


Au Brésil aussi, faut-il le croire, un mandat en était assez après quatre ans d'un Donald Trump de l'hémis-phère sud. Et comme aux Etats-Unis deux ans plus tôt, le camp perdant ne s'est pas empressé de reconnaitre la défaite. 

Jair Bolsonaro a pendant quelques jours gardé le silence après le dévoilement des résultats, lui qui avait remis en cause le processus électoral, dont l'usage d'urnes électroniques, mais dut reconnaitre qu'il avait été défait par son rival de gauche, l'ancien président Luis Inacio Lula Da Silva, au second tour avec 50,9%  des suffrages. 

C'était, il faut le dire, bien plus serré que prévu. Mais en fin de compte même l'appui de l'étoile Neymar n'a pas été suffisant afin de sauver ce mandat présidentiel unique. Tout comme Trump, Bolsonaro a été défait par un vétéran de la politique septuagénaire, aussi vieux que Joe Biden lorsqu'il a été élu il y a deux ans. 

Après une vague de victoires de la droite en Europe, la soirée a rassuré un peu la gauche progressiste des grandes nations. A un moment où les Démocrates se font du souci à propos de l'âge de Biden à deux ans de la présidentielle américaine, Da Silva n'est pas, faut-il le rappeler, tout à fait au plus haut du palmarès des présidents les plus mûrs. 

Mais ceux qui y figurent semblent être soit du genre autocrate, comme le camerounais Paul Biya (89) soit de contrées plutôt troublées, comme le président de l'autorité palestinienne Mahmoud Abbas (86) ou le libanais Michel Aoun (89), qui a d'ailleurs récemment quitté son poste alors que le pays traverse une imprtante crise. 

La campagne brésilienne féroce n'a pas manqué de feux d'artifices, notamment lors d'un débat télévisé au courant duquel Bolsonaro a traité son rival de "traitre" et d'"ancien détenu" pour avoir passé du temps en prison pour corruption, alors que ce dernier l'a traité de "menteur". 

C'est l'annulation de sa sentence par la Cour suprême qui a permis à Lula de se présenter à nouveau cette année et d'être l'auteur d'un retour politique spectaculaire. Il devra dorénavant s'attaquer aux problèmes de faim, d'inflation et de chômage qui s'abattent sur le pays, qui se remet d'une gestion assez catastrophique de la pandémie et de l'écologie. 

Entre temps dirigeants et politiciens du monde entier n'ont pas attendu la réaction de Bolsonaro avant de féliciter son rival. Parmi eux le président français mais aussi l'ex-candidat de gauche Jean-Luc Mélenchon: "Le Brésil populaire et les pauvres deviennent la priorité, dit-il. Les complots policiers et judiciaires, la prison et le pilonnage médiatique ont échoué." Malheureusement des blocages persistaient, des partisans de Bolsonaro furieux barrant plusieurs artères après la sortie des résultats. 

Lula pour sa part espérait mettre fin aux divisions. "Je suis ici pour gouverner ce pays  qui traverse une situation trés difficile. Mais je crois qu’avec l’aide du peuple nous trouverons une sortie pour que ce pays puisse reprendre sa vie démocratique de façon harmonieuse et que nous puissions rétablir la paix entre des gens qui ont des opinions divergentes." Une des tâches sans doute les plus difficiles sur la planche brésilienne.   Alors que le camp Bolsonaro n'a pas félicité les vainqueurs il s'est engagé à commencer le processus de transition, un début.


White Italy's new far right government may not be to everyone's taste, at least the country known for its usual political chaos is enjoying some period of relative stability. This cannot be said of a country further north better known for its bland food and tight upper lip. 

Days after the resignation of short-lived Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak became the latest British prime minister to pass through Downing Street's revolving doors. Unlike the others before him however he is the first British leader of Indian heritage, the first Hindu to hold the post, and the first to meet with the new monarch before assuming office. 

The election of the former chancellor of the exchequer and ex-chief secretary to the treasury comes after former PM Boris Johnson cut short his vacation to throw his hat in the ring only to back Sunak in the end. Some critics seeing Johnson willing to re-enter politics, despite being ousted following a set of scandals, had called for a general election, but may now be willing to give the 42-year-old father of two a chance to form government and end months of instability, being the third PM in weeks, the fourth in three years. Sunak's remaining opponent Penny Mordaunt also conceded, leaving him to take the leader-ship. 

While it still pales compared to Italy's instability, as Rome ushers in its 68th government in 76 years, it seems the post of head of government in Britain has been rattled by Brexit like everything else, and now the leadership as well has been steadily heading for the exit. Truss resigned shortly after losing the support of cabinet ministers in the wake of her first budget. Sadly her tenure was more akin to Canada's Kim Campbell's or Sweden's Magdalena Andersson's, both short-lived premiers, than personal inspiration Margaret Thatcher, who in contrast was Britain's second-longest serving premier. 

It was in part because her mini-budget was not quite what the late Iron lady would have had in mind that Truss has come and gone, declaring herself unable to deliver the mandate on which she was elected. By then she had lost a cabinet secretary and the confidence of those who had backed her for those few weeks. 

And not all did, leading to a troubled mandate from the start. By stepping aside Johnson hoped the party could rally around Sunak, the former London mayor's ephemeral candidacy having sparked concerns of deep division considering the many party members who had quit in droves when Johnson was still clinging to power, among them Sunak himself. 

European counterparts had also considered Johnson's depar-ture good riddance. Sunak's rise to the post comes after relatively few years in office, having first been elected in 2015 and becoming the youngest PM in over a century. Perhaps the type of youth Britain needs to gets its politics and economics in order. 

In the mean time Sunak is dismissing calls for a general election, stressing his mandate was one his party was elected on. “A mandate that says we want a stronger NHS, better schools, safer streets, control over our borders and levelling up, that is the mandate that I and this government will deliver for the British people."


Demonstrations on the anniversary of the year-old coup in Sudan caused more bloodshed, dashing the hopes of citizens previously elated to witness the end of Omar  Bashir's 30 year reign, but devastated that democracy failed to progress since. Sadly these tales are too familiar on a continent which saw other men in uniform and presidents cling to power again this year, many struggling with the continents' rise in militant attacks. 

In Burkina Faso, which saw no less than two coups over the last months, Capt. Ibrahim Traore sits as interim president as the transition prolongs itself, as it usually does. 

In Guinea the junta leading the country has extended its stay in power but says it will turn the keys over to a civilian government in two years rather than three, following intense interna-tional pressure. But no one knows when the transition will actually begin. In Chad, dozens were killed when protesters demonstrated against the two-year extension of president Mahamat Idriss Deby's mandate. There's no lack of courage in these asymetrical clashes between the security forces and unarmed protesters. 

In Sudan  over 120 people have been killed since Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhane's coup and yet protesters erected barriers anew recently to impede the progress of military forces. Demonstrators have been holding the line throughout, refusing to negotiate with the junta anything short of a return to civilian rule. 

Meanwhile international aid is being withheld towards this country very much in need.  Coming into power al-Burhane had infuriated the citizenry, arresting civil leaders which had been part of a power-sharing agreement when Bashir was deposed in 2019. Few expect the promised 2023 elections to take place and international mediation is going nowhere, leaving one of Africa's largest countries struggling with instability at a time it is facing food shortages and outbreaks of famine. 

Further West the fight against Islamic insurgents has been behind a number of coups. The bloody attacks are not sparing the military in Burkina Faso, which is also facing dire food shortages. Over a dozen were killed at the end of October in an attack on an army base in the country rattled by instability. The continuing attacks by the insurgents, who have ties with al-Qaida and the Islamic State, ongoing since 2015, have spurred soldiers to overthrow the government in September, the second coup this year. 

Traore was sworn in several weeks after Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was removed in a coup, pledging support for a transition leading to elections no earlier than July 2024. “We are confronted with a security and humanitarian crisis without precedent," he said. “Our aims are none other than the reconquest of territory occupied by these hordes of terrorists,” adding “Burkina’s existence is in danger”. 

Observers point out he will be pressured to deliver or face his predecessors' fate, but must compose with a divided military containing members loyal to his predecessor. The insurgency is making it difficult to provide aid to needy citizens. The UN called the humanitarian situation in Burkina Faso so dire that some women and children have eaten only leaves and salt for weeks. 

“Growing insecurity and blockades in many areas have left communities cut off from the rest of the country and facing growing hunger. Aid workers are struggling to reach these people who need assistance,” the UN's Martin Griffiths said in a statement. A quarter of the population – nearly five million people – is in need of emergency assistance. 

The continuing struggle against rebel groups also prompted coups in Mali, Guinea and Chad in the last few years. The junta proposed a 36-month transition in Guinea, but when this was rejected by the opposition went on to ban any public demonstrations, sparking occasional clashes with protesters. 

In Chad people have similarly marched against the continuing rule of Mahamat Idriss Deby, who succeeded his father after he was assassinated last year. The opposition called making him successor a coup but agreed to let him act in the interim for 18 months, before the extension of power was announced, sparking clashes. Dozens were killed in protests in a single day last week as security forces used live bullets to disperse them. 

Meanwhile the US has blamed the worsening  security crisis in Mali on the presence of Russian mercenaries, who have taken over military roles once led by now banished French forces, which are reassessing their fight against insurgencies in the whole region. Human Rights Watch blamed Islamic armed groups for killing hundreds and forcing tens of thousands to flee their villages in systematic attacks taking place since March. 

The security forces themselves have been accused of abuse by the rights group and Washington says its hands are tied helping the country since it partnered with the Russian security firm. "The Malian junta has invited in Wagner and terrorism has gotten signficantly worse", said Victoria Nuland of the US State Department, claiming that "incidents of terror" had risen some 30 percent over the past six months. 

Terror in fact has been the cry of alarm across the continent this fall after a series of attacks in Somalia, double blasts last weekend alone killing 100,  attributed to the Shebab Al-Qaida linked terror group. Terror threats in Nigeria prompted the US to evacuate its non essential staff there last week as Washington was warning another country, South Africa, about threats to its financial hub of Standton, in Johannesburg. 

The Islamic state had previously threatened to target the country for supporting counter-terror efforts in neighboring Mozambique, itself under attack by militants for the last five years.  Last week the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Africa Focus Group vowed to continue the fight against terrorism on the continent. It clearly has its work cut out. According to the American Enterprise Institute the explosion of Salafi-Jihadi insurgencies in Sub-Saharan Africa was the reason why the number of countries affected by the threat ballooned from 14 to 35 in the last seven years. And their impact is wreaking havoc on governments from one end of the continent to the other.


L'interruption a duré quelques instants mais était digne d'un film holly-woodien. Alors qu'est présentée une intervention de l’ayatollah Khamenei en présence d'autres dignitaires du régime à la télévision d'état iranienne l'image coupe et présente un masque blanc presque caricatural, les sourcis épais, sur fond noir, puis passe aussitôt à une image de l’ayatollah entouré de flammes et visé par une cible balistique rouge. 

Il est accompagné des photos de quatre femmes, victimes du régime islamiste tuées lors de manifestations, puis des textes: «joignez-vous à nous et levez vous» et «le sang de nos jeunes dégouline de tes doigts». 

Alors que le régime tente de couper internet pour empêcher la prolongation des manifestations qui ne se gênent plus de parler de nouvelle révolution, la transmission piratée se fait sur les ondes télévisées par un groupe qui en même temps sur les médias sociaux clame: « Le printemps arrive » et parle de transmettre dans un avenir proche «la bonne nouvelle du renversement du régime». D'habitude les pirates informatiques iraniens s'en prennent à l'Occident. 

Parmi les photos sur écran, celle de la jeune fille kurde de 22 ans, Masha Amini, embarquée il y a plus d'un mois puis brutalisée par la police des moeurs pour port "inapproprié" du voile. Sa mort par la suite lance une vague sans précédent de manifes-tations qui ne s'emparent non seulement de la capitale mais du pays entier, souvent avec des conséquences sanglantes. 

En peu de temps plus de 100 personnes auraient été tuées avec un mombre encore plus important de personnes blessées et arrêtées depuis les premiers éclats et la répression accompagnant ces manifes-tations regroupant des femmes osant se promener sans voile dans ce pays achi conservateur,allant jusqu'à le brûler sous l'applaudissement des foules. Parmi la nouvelle vague de victimes une ado de 16 ans, Nika Shakarami, filmée en public brûlant son voile, entourée de manifestants faisant appel à la fin du régime. Elle disparait dans le tumulte qui suit, ayant juste le temps de dire à ses amis qu'elle a la police aux trousses. 

Les autorités se défendent par la suite, niant tout lien entre sa mort et les manifestations, mais les victimes de la répression sont trop nombreuses pour convaicre sa propre mère. Puis ce genre de mort sous détention fait partie de la règle. Il y a presque 20 ans déjà la canado-iranienne Zahra Kazemi connaissait le même sort dans la prison d'Evin, qui avait déjà alors la réputation qu'on lui connait. 

Les manifestations, bien que rares en Iran, ont bien eu lieu de temps en temps à travers les années, tout récemment pour protester contre la chèreté. Les dernières pourraient-elles vraiment faire changer les choses? L'histoire se répète, mais certains parlent tout de même d'un point tournant. Selon l'expert des questions iraniennes Roham Alvandi "alors que dans le passé on voyait les manifestants fuir (la répression) cette fois on voit de jeunes personnes non armées lui faire face et je pense que ce genre d'image de bravoure est problématique pour le régime car cela encourage une opposition encore plus forte et une plus grande résistance des gens, dit-il à la BBC. A mon avis il s'agit du début de la fin de la république islamique." 

Ce genre de déclaration a été entendu plus d'une fois lors de manifestations qui ont pu avoir lieu à travers les années depuis la révolution, notamment celles qui ont comdamné des élections douteuses en 2009. Mais la révolution de 1979 a d'ailleurs elle-même pris plus d'un an à s'installer, rappelle-t-il, et ne s'est pas faite du premier coup. Mais Alvandi estime qu'après les derniers incidents le régime a "perdu toute légitimité" au pays, lui qui traine déjà l'image d'un paria à l'international. 

De nouveaux martyrs voient ainsi le jour en Iran, où ce genre de sacrifique est honoré, mais cette fois des martyrs jeunes et tous aussi déterminés contre le régime des mollahs qui impose une vision stricte de l'islam. Pendant ce temps Téhéran accuse les Etats-Unis et Israel, anciens démons, d'être derrière la révolte et prétend que la jeune kurde est morte de conditions pré-existantes et non de brutalités, une version pas sûre de convaincre les manifestants qui continuaient leurs gestes. 

Pour Mehdi Khalaji du Washington Institute, les manifestations qui se déroulent depuis la mi-septembre sont différentes des autres pour plusieurs raisons, notamment le fait qu'elles ne sont ni causées par les conditions économiques, sévères sous les sanctions internationales qui se sont raffermies ces derniers jours, ni par une décision politique. Elles ont un caractère plus vaste, portées par le slogan "femmes, vie et liberté", et des jeunes portés à condamner le régime  sans être entrainé par le clergé, les réformistes ou les dissidents. 

D'ailleurs le fait que des femmes, surtout jeunes, soit à l'avant plan de ce mouvement est inédit, selon la sociologue Azadeh Kian, et ceci va se poursuivre car pour la première fois le nombre de femmes hautement instruites dépasse celui des hommes en Iran, ces dernières rejetant des lois et institutions achaïques du régime. Elles ne sont pas seules car les hommes ont d'ailleurs rejoint le mouvement, déclencheant des grèves. 

Le mouvement a provoqué des manifestations à travers le monde et notamment en Afghanistan, dans un pays où ce combat est d'actualité depuis le retour des talibans au pouvoir. Y circulaient les mêmes slogans de "Femmes, vie, liberté", certaines affiches osant déclarer: "L'Iran s'est levé, c'est à notre tour" et "de Kaboul en Iran dites non à la dictature." Les conséquences de ces gestes de bravoure ont été sévères envers les femmes y participant. Mais ce même lien pour les rassembler: le courage. Les drames cependant se poursuivent. Fin septembre 66 manifestants trouvaient la mort au Balouchistan. Puis cette semaine on redoutait le sort d'une grimpeuse qui avait participé à une compétition internationale sans voile. 


Every week food price protests rock another country, from South America to Europe and Asia, as inflation takes its toll on the world's poorest and not so poor, leaving countries struggling to try to give their citizens a break. 

Over the summer, the one reason to cheer was the gradual lowering of gas prices after hitting $120 US a barrel, but OPEC's decision to cut production and boost prices, despite Western appeals and with Russia's blessing, have deepened the energy crisis in addition to hurting consumers, hitting Europe in particular, Moscow standing accused of sabotaging gas pipelines going West. 

As the old continent enters the fall under a cloud of uncertainty, countries and cities have been doing what they can to reduce their consumption, from turning off some public lighting from Egypt to Denmark, to closing public pools in France, made unaffordable due to soaring energy prices. But this is hardly enough to ease pressures, some countries restarting cole plants abandoned during environ-mental blitzes out of pure desperation. 

Such desperation in fact that even energy-rich Qatar, among a number of Gulf nations gaining billions from rising energy prices, observed  the situation had caused Europe to do a u-turn from green energy, adding environmental concerns to energy and inflationary worries. "Sadly, the growing economic burden has fizzled the euphoria over the series of energy transition plans, causing severe erosion in public support for reducing carbon emissions," state minister for energy Saad al-Kaabi told a conference in Japan. 

"Many countries particularly in Europe which had been strong advocates of green energy and carbon-free future have made a sudden and sharp U-turn. Today, coal burning is once again on the rise reaching its highest levels since 2014." 

And not just coal. Germany, which intended to shut its three remaining nuclear power plants this year, announced it would keep at least two of them running until April 2023 to make it through the coming winter. The European Parliament had backed EU rules this summer which considered investments in gas, such as what Qatar has to offer, and nuclear power plants, as climate-friendly. 

While even activist Greta Thunberg seems to agree, the developments was not sure to please some participants of this year's COP summit, at a time rising prices on everything may also translate into rising emissions. The higher oil prices are also threatening to drag on the conflict in Ukraine, as they stand to fill Moscow's coffers, further funding the attack against its neighbor, and driving a wedge between the West and their Gulf  energy suppliers. 

US President Joe Biden said there would be consequences after Saudi Arabia moved to cut oil production, a decision the White House said sided with Moscow despite Biden's controversial visit to the kingdom this year, trying to improve relations soured by the assassination of a journalist. 

Ukraine's grid is the most threatened heading into winter after the barrage of recent Russian strikes hit power infrastructure. Russia mean-while was receiving the head of the UAE as it sought closer relationships with Gulf allies, the latter having become a haven for Russian billionaires fleeing sanctions, while still providing key air links with Moscow. 


Going nuclear, the expression has lost its true meaning enough to enter conventional speech. It's not the n-word commonly warned about but one which is rearing its ugly head as Vladimir Putin considers his dwindling options, and further east, as North Korea's recent barrage of rockets, including one which overflew Japanese territory, formed part of a "simulated" nuclear attack on its neighbor. 

While chances of a nuclear attack in both cases remain remote, the doomsday clocks seems to have inched ever more closer to midnight. Rhetoric may have something to do with it after the US president surprised his own advisors, calling the current escalation with Russia the most threatening environment since the Cuban missile crisis. Many note the president may have exaggerated, but others point out the intervention certainly underscored the seriousness of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. 

A former British national security adviser called the threat to the world the greatest since the Second World War. More recently Putin reacted with conventional weapons when he fired missiles into various civilian areas of Ukraine after the destruction of a key link between Russia and Crimea. 

But the Russian president has raised the issue of nuclear weapons in the past and again recently, leaving some observers to fear how he would react if further Ukrainian military successes backed him into a corner. NATO warned Moscow last week of the serious consequences it faced if it used nuclear weapons in a desperate bid to win the upper hand in the conflict, which has yielded numerous battlefield losses, most recently in territory Russia said it was annexing in the east of the country. 

Following the latest attacks against his country president Volodymyr Zelen-sky said he would officially apply to join NATO, a move Moscow responded would start no less than the Third World War. The EU wasn't lowering the tone either, an official saying the Russian army would be "annihilated" if it used nuclear weapons, language harkening back to the Cold war. The statement, oddly, came from the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, which said that the West's response would not be nuclear but powerful no less, calling this a "serious moment in history." 

The alarming rhetoric it seems it being used on both sides of the conflict. North Korea meanwhile has fired over half a dozen rockets into nearby territorial waters in what it called a simulated attack on its southern neighbor. But one of those missiles, in a rare display of range and aggression, sailed over Japan, sending citizens that only know too well the consequences of a nuclear attack, into panic mode. 

Pyongyang said it launched two long-range cruise missiles that were able to carry nuclear weapons and that its tactical simulation was in response to recent joint US-South Korea military drills. "North Korea's cruise missiles, air force and tactical nuclear devices are probably much less capable than propaganda suggests," opined Leif-Eric Easley of Ewha University in Seoul. "But it would be a mistake to dismiss North Korea's recent weapons testing spree as bluster or sabre-rattling." 

North Korea also flew fighter jets close to the demilitarized zone, making South Korea scramble jets as a result. It did nothing to calm tensions that all parties, not just North Korea, were conducting nuclear drills. NATO and Russia have also been proceeding with nuclear exercises, a regular upkeep of preparedness levels held this year in a charged up atmosphere.


While the far right came short of taking power in France again this year, its successes were evident elsewhere on the old continent, carried by a wave of often xenophobic populism. After the shock in Sweden earlier in the month, it was for Italy to carry the hard right to power in September. 

The right-wing coalition gathering Matteo Salvini's League, Silvio Berlusconi's eternal Forza Italia and Giorgia Meloni's Fratelli d'Italia swept legislative elections, likely bringing to power the first woman prime minister. 

Ironically the Scandinavian upset earlier had ousted that country's short-lived first female premier, for a second time this year, in the country better known for its progressive and inclusive politics. But this had changed over time as a party originally associated with Neo-Nazis, the Swedish Democrats, became the second largest party in the Riksdag. 

Once ostracized from Swedish politics, the SD eventually won over the Moderates, who allowed them to run in tandem in order to oust Magdalena Andersson's Social Democrats. A pact with the devil on the right? The SD's popularity had risen dramatically in recent  years as the country struggled with growing violence and policies to integrate thousands of migrants welcomed into the country following the Syrian crisis.

The SD watered down some of its tougher messages, appealing a bit to more centrist voters, but the slogans sounded familiar. "It's time to make Sweden good again," declared Swedish Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson after the win. While the SD will take 73 seats in the legislature, more than the Moderates, the government will likely come under the leadership of Ulf Kristersson, leader of the more traditional conservative party. 

In Italy however, it was firebrand Meloni herself who looked to take the helm in the eternal city. She would become arguably the most right-wing leader since Mussolini after her Brothers of Italy party scored 26% of the vote, a remarkable gain after scraping barely 4% in the 2018 elections. They too had made their messages more appealing to centrist voters over time. 

"There is this idea in Italy that we have tried everyone else, so let's try her now," told Reuters Wolfango Piccoli of political risk consultancy Teneo. The 45-year-old leader has promised to slash immigration and taxes and made a name for herself condemning the government's covid health measures. "Meloni is a great communicator but faces significant economic constraints and doesn't have much experience, so she will probably not enjoy a long honeymoon," Piccoli said. 

It will be a few months before the government is formally in place in Italy, and the form it could take is causing some concern among observers. "Frankly we don't know what we're going to get," said former White House official Larry Haas. "Obviously she's tried to mainstream extreme opinions in the lead up to the election". Still "people are concerned that we're looking at another Viktor Orban and illiberal types of democracy," he added, referring to the hard right regime in place in Hungary. 

Spain has also seen a rise of the hard right following the recent regional successes of party Vox. In fact Meloni saw the Iberian peninsula continuing the march of the hard right on the continent. “I hope my victory paves the way for the triumph of Vox in Spain,” she told Spanish news agency EFE, to which  Vox leader Santiago Abascal responded: “Meloni has shown the path for a Europe that is proud, free and of sovereign nations, capable of co-operating for the security and prosperity of all.” Glowing promises as the continent faces high inflation and an energy crisis.


Un virus meutrier s'abat sur la Russie depuis quelque temps. Il ne s'agit plus vraiment du covid, qui y a pourtant fait des ravages, ou de la variole du singe. Il semble frapper des victimes plutôt bien nanties, un genre de goutte de l'establishment, mais fatale et plutôt curieuse. 

Le mois dernier une des victimes se nommait Ivan Pechorin, un haut cadre de la corporation du développement de l'orient et de l'Arctique et homme de confiance de Vladimir Poutine, frappé malgré son jeune âge de 39 ans, dans la contrée éloignée de Vladivostok. Mais âge et lieu semblent peu importer. Quelques jours plus tard il s'agissait d'Anatoly Gerashchenko, autre proche de Poutine, mort à 73 ans, à Moscou. 

Au tout début de septembre il s'agissait du PDG de l'importante firme pétrolière Lukoil, Ravil Maganov, après une chute étrange de la fenêtre d'un hôpital. Gerashchenko lui avait fait une chute dans des escaliers... 

De la dizaine de victimes récentes quatre appartenaient au géant énergétique Gazprom ou à une compagnie connexe, firme au coeur de la crise énergétique européenne elle-même liée à la guerre en Ukraine. Il faut penser que le monde de l'industrie a plutôt mal accueilli les sanctions contre la Russie, et indirectement, l'"opération spéciale" du Kremlin en Ukraine. 

Peut-être pas si indirectement que ça parfois. Plus tôt cette année Lukoil avait fait appel à la paix dans ce conflit, un rare écart de conduite d'une compagnie de cette taille, quand on connait le pétrin que peuvent s'attirer les critiques de la guerre. Pas seulement de la guerre, mais du régime qui semble emporter nombre de victimes qui ont le malheur de se prononcer contre les politiques du Kremlin, surtout de son Tsar. 

Journalistes, politiciens ou anciens espions, les victimes sont nombreuses, certains ayant presque la chance de se retrouver derrière les barreaux, notamment l'opposant Alexei Navalny, d'autres dans un lit d'hôpital, comme l'ancien agent double Sergei Skripal, ou alors, plus dramatiquement, leur tombe. Parmi eux le cas notoire de l'ancien espion russe Alexander Litvinenko. 

Mais la contagion récente et fatale semble s'en prendre aux oligarques ayant non pas le permis de tuer, mais de s'enrichir... à condition de suivre les règles du jeu du Kremlin. Les écarts de conduite ont eu un effet plutôt néfaste sur leur santé depuis le début de la guerre en Ukraine, en plus de perturber leurs affaires. 

Des enquêteurs internationaux remettent en question ces "accidents" tragiques, y voyant plutôt des assassinats masqués reliés soit aux déclarations contre la guerre, soit à la corruption du milieu énergétique qui a permis à ces individus de gravir les échelons. Accidents, empoisonnements, suicides suspects, les méthodes employées sont souvent associées au monde du renseignement russe, mais un expert en géopolitique ne voit pas l'intérêt qu'aurait à gagner le Kremlin en les faisant disparaitre. 

"Les rares fois où on a pu relier ce type d'actions aux services de sécurité c'était plutôt pour des personnes avec des rôles politiques, comme l'opposant Alexeï Navalny, explique Ulrich Bounat à RTL. Là, on est vraiment plus sur des personnages économiques, qui sont des connaissances de longue date et des appuis pour aider au développement économique de la Russie". 

Les sanctions occidentales en place depuis le début de la guerre ont cependant "fortement réduit la manne pétrolière à se partager entre les différentes entreprises, poursuit-il. Tout cela attise les convoitises. Du coup, ces disparitions suspectes pour-raient être le résultat de règlement de comptes mafieux". Même si le terme peut paraitre parfois autant associé à la corruption de ce milieu des affaires qu'au Kremlin. 

D'ailleurs avec les déboires russes de la guerre en Ukraine cette automne, les critiques du pouvoir croissent à vue d'oeil, un politicien de la ville de St Petersbourg, si chère à Poutine, faisant appel à sa destitution. "On est rendu au point où les groupes libéraux et pro-guerre peuvent se retrouver avec le même but, celui de pousser Poutine à rendre sa démission, déclarait non sans risque Dmitry Palyuga. On visait les gens qui appuyaient Poutine avant mais qui se sentent à présent trahis." 

Une conseillère de cette même ville, Ksenia Thorstrom, aide à faire circuler la pétition de Palyuga, estimant que même si les mesures de Poutine sont devenues à ses yeux irrationnelles, il n'est pas totalement exclu de le persuader à quitter le pouvoir. Ceci va cependant à l'encontre d'analyses qui suggèrent que Poutine s'est de plus en plus isolé pendant la pandémie, s'attirant parfois les critiques de ses proches. La décision de mobiliser 300000 troupes additionelles, provoquant de nombreuses manifestations réprimées, semble confirmer l'entêtement de Poutine. 

Payluga explique à la chaine CNN qu'il reconnait les risques de critiquer le pouvoir, espérant que le régime ait d'autres chats à fouetter que de simples politiciens locaux. "Peut-être est-ce parce que nous sommes de simples politiciens très mineurs pour un grand pays comme la Russie. C'est peut-être pour ça que nous ne pensons pas que nous serons empoisonnés ou quelquechose comme ça." 

Chose encourageante malgré les risques et le fait que peu de membres de la Douma risquent de rejoindre son mouvement: le peu de gens qui se sont prononcés contre son initiative. "Je n'ai reçu que deux messages où on m'a accusé de choses mauvaises. C'est un niveau de haine très bas, et en revanche j'ai reçu beaucoup de soutien." Un soutien qui grandit avec la résistance à l'appel à la mobilisation militaire.... quand ses opposants ne se précipitent pas aux frontières pour fuir.  


Decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, old tensions and unresolved border issues are causing clashes all along the 22.4 million square kilometres of the once sprawling empire. 

While the war in Ukraine has captured much of the attention, other former Soviet republics have time and again come to blows over territorial disputes unsettled in the years that have followed the 1991 revolution, disputes in some cases going back decades. 

In September fresh fighting erupted between Kyrgyzstan and central Asian neighbor Tajikistan leaving dozens dead over a disputed area, blaming each other for violating the tenuous ceasefire in place. The Kyrgyz border force accused its neighbor of shelling its territory and initiating the violence. 

Kyrgyzstan said it evacuated nearly 150,000 civilians from the conflict area, Batken province, a strip of land isolated from the rest of the country which is bordered by Tajikistan to the south, west and north and contains a Tajik exclave. The new clashes were just a resumption of violence which had taken place as recently as last year in the contested area. 

A similiar resumption of clashes over a contested area also brought new exchanges of fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, other former Soviet republics lying thousands of kilometres west and on the other side of the Caspian sea. More than 100 soldiers were killed in new fighting over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a long standing contested region. 

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, whose popularity has suffered at home as a result of military losses last year, said his neighbor had grabbed 10 sq. km of land, and turned to longtime ally Moscow for support. Baku claimed the opposite, saying it had been at the receiving end of Armenian shelling. 

Russia said the ceasefire it had brokered was still holding despite the clashes, which threatened to draw Moscow, already in over its head in Ukraine, and Ankara, supportive of Azerbaijan, into the conflict, which could also impact key oil and gas routes supplying Europe, a continent facing energy shortages as winter nears. 

Oddly enough, at a time of heightened tensions between the US and Russia, the crisis has brought both powers on the same side, trying to prevent a full-scale war over the disputed region. The frail peace agreement brokered by Moscow however has left Pashinyan weakened at home, forcing his troops to withdraw from contested areas.  

Clashes between the two sides preceded the creation of the Soviet Union, which sought, with its might and repression, to put an end to regional ethnic clashes. But these resumed even before the end of the Soviet empire. 

Meanwhile Moscow's current fixation with Ukraine comes at a cost to the old power. Its late reliance on North Korean weapons and call for partial mobilization is an admission that the war next door it taking a tremendous toll, according to Western intelligence. The "special operation" in Ukraine seems to have become the nightmare many feared, making clashes in the former republics pale in comparison.