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French weekly magazines review 2 July 2017

media DR

From French President Emmanuel Macron to his US counterpart Donald Trump, all human life is here. Well, not quite. But there is the danger of a new Middle Eastern war over Qatar. And France's rich people are getting richer. Who says there's never any good news in the magazines?

French domestic issues make the covers of two of this week’s publications. First the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné devotes its front page to French President Emmanuel Macron.

With a new government and a large majority in the National Assembly, Macron now controls everything, the paper says. Comparing him to Jupiter, the boss of the Greek gods, Le Canard says Macron has an absolute majority and a team which is absolutely devoted to him.

His National Assembly majority has even allowed him to force out his key political allies from the MoDem party, including their leader Francois Bayrou, after only a month in the job of justice minister, the paper points out.

As Bayrou and two of his party members fight off claims of illegal use of EU funds, gone are the allies who might have caused Macron trouble at the first opportunity. So from the National Assembly to Versailles, where Macron is due to address both houses of parliament on Monday, the new president has everything in his power to make Jupiter rhyme with autoritarian.

At home with the rich

A different domestic matter makes the front page of right-wing L’Express, which takes a look at France’s richest families.

The magazine warns its readers not to miss off a zero when looking at their estimated fortunes.

Top of the list is Bernard Arnault, the head of the LVMH luxury group on 48.2 billion euros. He has knocked France’s richest woman off the top spot. She's Liliane Bettencourt, the heir to the L’Oréal cosmetics group. In second place, she is valued at 40.7 billion. Further down the line we have François Pinault, of the luxury group Kering, who is third at 19 billion and Serge Dassault, of Dassault engineering, at 17 billion in fourth place.

But L’Express says that, although the same people occupy the same positions, other tycoons who have made their money from new technology are keen to take their place. Patrick Drahi from the Attice telecoms group, for example, who is worth 13 billion euros and Xavier Niel from the Free telecoms giant on eight billion. L'Express is, by the way, owned by none other than the rising rich kid Patrick Drahi.

And if any of us normal mortals were worried that any of these multi-billionnaires were facing hard times, we can rest assured.

L‘Express says the the 226 billion euros held by the 20 richest people in France is constantly on the rise, by 44 percent since March 2016.

And, if the figure has shot up this year, writes L’Express, it is largely due to the good performance of the companies over which they preside. For example, over the past 18 months France’s  Arnault has seen his fortune increase by 58 percent.

French capitalism may be looked down upon by most people, says L’Express, but its dynasties are in rude health. And they have only one aim which is to last and to pass on their fortune, even if many live in a situation of virtually paranoid secrecy.

Gulf conflict could become global affair

The other right-wing weekly, Le Point, devotes its front cover to what it calls the "War that threatens the world", in reference to the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The weekly says the clash between the two nations began in Syria and Yemen and it has since moved on to Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, has been joined by Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE in demanding that Qatar step up the fight against terrorism in exchange for a lifting of their recently imposed embargo.

But Le Point says no-one is fooled. At a time when Shia-Muslim Iran is marking military points in both Syria and Iraq, Saudi Arabia has only one objective and that is to weaken Iran’s ally Qatar.

There is no way that Saudi Arabia, which sees itself as the leader of the Sunni-Muslim world, will allow Iran out of the isolation it has been in since the 1980s to become a rival regional leader, the magazine says, even if that means resorting to the use of armed force.

Le Point has words of warning. What is happening in the Middle East is not just a simple regional quarrel but a major conflict which threatens world security and the world economy. It says the United States’ responsibility is considerable and by forgetting its traditional role as a pacifying force, Donald Trump is making a major error and throwing oil on the fire.

The dark secrets of the Trump dynasty

Maybe Trump is too busy worrying about what left-leaning L’Obs describes as the Trump family’s black dossiers.

The weekly writes that although the Trumps have been compared to the Addams family, they make nobody laugh. The Trumps are a clan where nothing is forgotton and where personal loyalty comes before everythig else.

We know that Trump has no friends and he lives in a world where the law is not that of the United States but of personal allegience, L'Obs says, adding that that is where things might come unstuck writes.

For Don, the family he heads and which made his fortune may also provoke his downfall. Jared Kushner is the husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka. He is one of the key witnesses in the inquiryinto alleged collusion between Moscow and the Trump election campaign which is being led by former FBI director Robert Mueller. And that inquiry, writes the paper, might end up turning some family members against the patriarch.

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