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French press review 12 February 2018


Another Syrian war looms as Israel strikes at "Iranian targets". Olympic diplomacy brightens the Korean skies  and Lourdes celebrates a 70th miracle.

The red hot issue dominating the front pages today is Israel's entry into the 7-year civil war in Syria, when its air force admitted on Saturday to have carried out major air raids on so-called Iranian targets in the countr,  the very first time it had publicly acknowledged doing so since the war began.

As the confrontation threatens to open a new and unpredictable period of uncertainty in the Middle East, Libération warns that Israel's entry into the inextricable conflict is a development everyone had dreaded.

What is certain now, according to the paper is that any de-escalation will not come from either Washington, the United Nations or even from Western countries, but through Russia.

Despite Moscow's ties with Teheran, Libé argues, President Vladmir Putin has always maintained pragmatic relations with Israel where 20 per cent of the population is of Russian origin.

La Croix agrees, explaining that the cards are now in Russia's hands. Moscow has the means of calming down its allies in the region, according to the paper.

For Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace, it is clearly in Putin's interest to defuse the looming crisis. As the Assad regime's staunchest ally, it argues, he must not allow himself to be dragged into another war pitting two of the region's superpowers, including one with nuclear weapons.

La Voix du Nord claims that whatever happens, will not dissuade public opinion from holding the international community accountable for its failures, which date back to the Cold War.

The Olympics-driven rapprochement show-cased at the Pyeongchang Winter Games inspires hopeful comments from some papers.

This was after South Korean President Moon Jae-in, sat next to the powerful sister of the North's leader Kim Jong- un at a concert in Seoul by musicians from Pyongyang. It was the final set-piece element of the North Korean delegation's landmark visit.

Nice-Matin presents the enthusiastic applause that greeted the performance as another high moment through which the people of the north and south want to demonstrate how they belong to the same country, split into two by an old war.

“It happens for people to be more intelligent than their leaders”, observes the French Riviera publication. Nice Matin makes the point that this is not the first time since 2000 that Pyongyang and Seoul have presented joint teams at events without reaping any concrete effects from that.

Le Républicain lorrain underlies a paradox, that the Olympic movement draws its media acclaim from making nations look better than what they really are.

Finally, le Parisien has all you need to know about another miracle officially proclaimed at a high mass at Lourdes on Sunday -- the 70th at the holy place where Catholics believe the Blessed Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared 150 years ago.

The micacle in question concerns Sr. Bernadette Moriau, aged 79 and paralyzed for 52 years who has started walking again after a 4-day pilgrimage to Lourdes.

According to Le Parisien, Sr. Bernadette, who underwent 4 different operations in 1960 to correct her condition in vain,  suddenly left her wheel chair and started walking in July 2008,  with her doctors unable to give any medical explanation to what caused her healing.


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