DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 17, 2009
France is extending its Middle East commitments.
The French spy satellite Helios 2B was scheduled for launching from French Guinea Thursday, Dec. 17, but postponed shortly before liftoff, debkafile's military and intelligence sources report. Designed for real-time battlefield intelligence-gathering, it will also monitor events in Iran.
French officers are also working with Americans and Egyptians on the Iron Blind project for blocking Palestinian arms smuggling tunnels into Gaza.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 22, 2009
The first Western leader to expressly admit knowledge of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said: "It is a certainty to all of our secret services. Iran is working today on a nuclear (weapons) program." He added: "We cannot let Iran acquire nuclear" weapons because it would also be a threat to Israel."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 24, 2009
A week after Air France A330's unexplained fatal dive into the Atlantic June 1, debkafile reports from Paris that US, French and Brazilian investigators have begun going through the list of more than 200 passengers on the flight from Rio to Paris with a tooth comb. They are looking at the victims' countries of origin, family, social and denominational associations for possible clues to the mysterious disaster.
As long as the fog surrounding the tragedy remains impenetrable, a man-made disaster cannot be ruled out. Both the French defense minister and Pentagon have said there were no signs that terrorism was involved in the crash. This was short of an outright denial. But some terror experts are not excluding a terrorist attack.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 6, 2009
The information offered by senior investigator Alan Bouillard on July 2, one month after Air France Rio-Paris flight 447 plunged into the Atlantic killing all 228 people aboard indicates either that the inquiry is stumped or that information is being withheld.
American aviation experts ask many questions, including: How could the investigators be sure without examining the bodies that the Airbus broke up only when it slapped down on the water? All the remains are held by the Brazilian authorities who refuse to give France their autopsy findings.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 14, 2009
After the recovery of 24 bodies, some personal possessions and large sections of the doomed Air France A330, there is still no understanding of what happened aboard the craft in the few short minutes before the crash.
Some experts are not excluding a terrorist attack. Read more about this in debkafile Special Report below.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 3, 2009
Yousouf Fofana, leader of the self-styled Parisian "Gang of Barbarians," has confessed at his trial to the brutal murder of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year old Jew, three years ago, after torturing him for 24 days. The anti-Semitic crime appalled the 600,000-strong French Jewish community, which accuses the government of still neglecting to curb the rising tide of anti-Semitism sweeping in France.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 18, 2009
France has injected fresh momentum into the Middle East nuclear race by inviting Gulf nations to take a minority stake in the French nuclear giant Areva (CEPFi.PA), debkafile's military sources report.
They will be able to use their access to advanced nuclear technology for creating the infrastructure for a military nuclear industry to rival Iran's.
Paris has a separate deal with Egypt.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 6, 2008
French president Nicolas Sarkozy said in Damascus Wednesday, Sept 3: "Obviously there is a lack of confidence between Iran and the nations involved in this issue. We [the French] will continue our efforts for dialogue."
In a clear departure from Washington's position and in breach of his promises to Israel not to accept a nuclear Iran, Sarkozy omitted to refer to sanctions or any other penalties and clearly avoided recriminations against the Islamic Republic.
debkafile's Middle East sources report that the French president was preparing for a discussion on the Iranian nuclear program taking place in Damascus Thursday.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 5, 2008
Israel has not verified the announcement, which debkafile's sources report the presidential palace in Paris put out to lend weight to Nicolas Sarkozy's state visit to Damascus starting Wed. Sept 3 and boost his pretensions to a role in Middle East peacemaking.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 16, 2008
French president Nicolas Sarkozy organized a jovial photo-op with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to launch his Mediterranean union debut with 43 leaders in Paris Sunday, July 13.
The first sour note came from Syrian president Bashar Assad, who was reinstated by Sarkozy's invitation on the international stage.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 25, 2008
Addressing a Knesset session in his honor, June 23, the first French president on a state visit to Israel in 12 years, proclaimed his undying friendship for and admiration of the Jewish state, while stressing that a lasting Middle East peace required a halt on Israeli settlement "on Palestinian land," and a solution of the refugee problem. Sarkozy also told the Knesset France would not accept a nuclear-armed Iran.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 21, 2008
debkafile's sources reveal that prime minister Ehud Olmert told US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice when they met in Jerusalem Sunday, June 15, that he was willing to evacuate Israeli troops and hand this strategic enclave on the Hermon slopes to United Nations custody as early as July. He has not brought the issue either before the full government or the security cabinet.
Our Middle East sources disclose that the Shebaa Farms tactic was initiated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy; he sold it to President George W. Bush when they met in Paris Saturday. It ties in with the Israeli-Syrian peace talks brokered by Turkey.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 10, 2008
Nicolas Sarkozy arrived Saturday, June 7, with a large delegation including prime minister Francois Fillon and heads of government and opposition parties.
In an interview with Lebanese dailies he remarked: "I had said ... that I would resume contacts with Syria only when positive, concrete developments occurred in Lebanon with a view to getting out of the crisis. One has to concede that the Doha accord, the election of President (Michel) Suleiman and the return of Fouad Saniora as prime minister are such developments. I have called (Syrian President Bashar) Assad to tell him of my desire to see the continued implementation of the accord."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 15, 2008
debkafile's shipping correspondent reports that the CMA-CGM company, owners of the luxury yacht Le Ponant seized in Somali waters a week ago, did not deny paying ransom for the release of the 32-member crew and yacht. At the same time, the elite French GIGN force was able to capture 6 of the 10 pirates after a brief exchange of fire on the shore near the Somali town of Garacad and put them aboard the French helicopter carrier Jean d'Arc, which was standing by.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 11, 2008
debkafile's shipping correspondent reveals that the pirates who seized the French Le Ponant luxury yacht Friday in international waters off Somalia and took its 32-man crew hostage, headed south Monday, April 7. They are moored on the Indian Ocean shore of the semi-autonomous Somali province of Puntland, near the village of Garacad.
Tuesday, President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet the families of the captive crew to update them on the situation.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 27, 2008
French president Nicolas Sarkozy was addressing a joint session of the British parliament on a state visit to the United Kingdom Wednesday, March 26. He went on to pledge more French troops to NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan, declaring: We cannot afford to see the Taliban and al Qaeda return to that country. Referring to the international financial crisis, Sarkozy said the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are not strong enough and should be reformed. He also urged the G8 group of industrialized nations to open up to new members. Europe, said the French president, needs a continental immigration policy.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 29, 2008
debkafile's military sources report exclusively that the first Persian Gulf exercise without the US in many years began Feb. 24. It will last ten days. It is also the first time the United Arab Emirates and France have invoked their 19-year old military pact.
While Iran is not explicitly targeted, the objectives of the maneuver are to practice repulsing marine landings by sea on the Gulf participants' shores and missile attacks from the east.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 1, 2008
Aftr talks with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said: "I have ordered by team to suspend diplomatic relations with Syria until we see Syria cooperating in the presidential election in Lebanon."
Parliament postponed the vote Saturday for the 11th time over the intransigence of the pro-Syrian bloc.
The French president stopped short of severing relations with Damascus, saying:
"I will no longer maintain ties with Syria and order all my colleagues to follow suit." We can wait no longer. Syria must stop talking and act.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> Reports: Iranian-Syrian nuclear issues heat up amid growing mistrust of IAEA director in Washington, Paris and Jerusalem<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 5, 2007
French defense minister Herve Morin said Monday, Oct. 29, he has information that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. He thus publicly contradicted remarks made by IAEA director Mohammed ElBaradai that there is no such evidence.
debkafile's sources report that president Nicolas Sarkozy plans a state visit to Jerusalem in a few weeks, during which he will the address the Knesset on the Iranian nuclear threat, counter-measures and his commitment to Israel's security.
French FM Kouchner: The Iranian nuclear crisis forces the world to prepare for the worst - which is war
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 20, 2007
In a series of press, radio and TV interviews, Sunday, Sept. 16, Bernard Kouchner also said he had advised large French companies not to respond to tenders issued by Tehran. debkafile adds: France thus joined the economic sanctions imposed by the US, Britain, Japan and Germany on Iran for refusing to give up uranium enrichment, but implicit in Kouchner's advice was a word of caution to French companies to stay clear of business complications with a nation on the brink of war.