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French Press Review 23 February 2018


France praises the work of the Barkhane anti-terror operation as it speeds up fund-raising for the G-5 Sahel force, while the French government unveils blueprint for a crackdown against Jihadi radicalization.

We start with an assessment of the Barkhane anti-terrorism operation in the France Defence Minister Florence Parly. This, as some 20 heads of State and government gather in Brussels  for a donor conference to bolster the projected G-5 Sahel force.

Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad have already pledged 5000 men for the force expected to be deployed by 2018.

Madame Parly sat down with Le Parisien to discuss discreet but ruthless war waged some 3,000 kms away from Paris since 2014 by the 4000-strong force.

Florence Parly says 450 neutralized since the Barkhane operation took over the mission assigned to the defunct task force, with 120 Jihadists killed and 150 more arrested and handed over to Malian authorities over the past year.

The Minister also told le Parisien that over 22 tons of military equipment was recovered from Al-Qaeda-backed groups. Parly told the paper that while the Barkhane forces will not stay in the African region forever, France intends to maintain its forces there for as long as it is necessary.

Meanwhile, just 48 hours to the opening of the Paris International Agricultural show, some papers take a deep look at the challenge of blending traditional and modernity in agro business.

L'Opinion says that the vast majority of farmers now fully understand the imperative of moving to a new era which it claims will not be easy considering the large number of cumbersome administrative procedures, vulnerabilities and risks complicating their business.

From the newspaper's point of view, while there is nostalgia about the past, the farming world knows it must now face more open markets in a European Union which is less protectionist than it was before.

L'Humanite, for its part, claims that President Emmanuel Macron is walking a tightrope on the issue of agricultural policy. This is amid the growing anger of French farmers declaring bankruptcy, with up to one-third of them said to be earning wages of less 350 euros per month.

The Communist newspaper says that their condition has been aggravated by consumer suspicions of food quality and the president's promises of a Agricultural spring which is nowhere to be found.

Les Echos claims that President Macron's poll ratings have dipped as he sticks with his hectic reform agenda in a crucial phase  that hasn't started producing any visible results.

That has reinvigorated the unions says the paper,  adding that it is probably out of desperation to prevent young farmers from joining protests called on March 22 by the hardline General Workers Confederation that he invited some 700 of them to  a cocktail at the Elysée Palace on Thursday.

Today's le Figaro, meanwhile, looks forward to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe's   government plan to combat Jihadist radicalization in France. The paper describes the issue as one of the domains where the authorities are still flailing around three years after the Charlie Hebdo talks in January 2015.

The right-wing publication says the 60 or so measures to be announced are aimed at changing the thrust of action from disengagement to de-radicalization a rhetoric which in its words does not mask the scale of the challenge faced by security forces.

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