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The Game for Yemen: Saudi Arabia and Washington Both Pitch for Socotra Island

Saudi Arabia and the US cooperate – and compete – for control of strategic Yemen island which controls key oil routes and sea ways.

Catherine Shakdam

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It was US Navy Geostrategist Rear Admiral Alfred Thayus Mahan (1840-1914) who once commented:

“Whoever attains maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean would be a prominent player on the international scene.”

What was at stake in Rear Admiral Mahan’s writings was the strategic control by the US of major Ocean sea ways and of the Indian Ocean in particular:

“This ocean is the key to the seven seas in the twenty-first century; the destiny of the world will be decided in these waters.”

The Rear Admiral was not a visionary, but rather a keen observer whose military background and understanding of nations’ political ambitions allowed him to rise above the immediate, to foresee the ultimate goal – domination.

Yemen of course plays an important role in this race for the Indian Ocean. A nation sitting atop geostrategic waterways, Yemen is in more ways than one a victim of its own dormant political power.

Now, for a quick lesson in geography: The Yemeni archipelago of Socotra in the Indian Ocean is located some 80 kilometres off the Horn of Africa and 380 kilometres South of the Yemeni coastline. The islands of Socotra are a wildlife reserve recognized by (UNESCO), as a World Natural Heritage Site. Socotra is at the crossroads of the strategic naval waterways of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

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You will note that Socotra allows for the monitoring of the world oil route, offering a bird eye view over both Bab al Mandan and the Strait of Hormuz. Needless to say that this one island has been coveted by more than just one empire … and though the US staked its claim on Yemen long ago, it is Saudi Arabia today which could soon succeed where others have failed.

Among Washington’s strategic objectives has always been the militarization of major sea ways.  This particular strategic waterway links the Mediterranean to South Asia and the Far East, through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

It is a major transit route for oil tankers. A large share of China’s industrial exports to Western Europe transits through this strategic waterway. Maritime trade from East and Southern Africa to Western Europe also transits within proximity of Socotra, through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

Militarily speaking Socotra stands a perfect vantage point. It was Amjed Jaaved who wrote in 2009 for the Pakistan Observer:

“The [Indian] Ocean is a major sea lane connecting the Middle East, East Asia and Africa with Europe and the Americas. It has four crucial access waterways facilitating international maritime trade, that is the Suez Canal in Egypt, Bab-el-Mandeb (bordering Djibouti and Yemen), Straits of Hormuz (bordering Iran and Oman), and Straits of Malacca (bordering Indonesia and Malaysia). These ‘chokepoints’ are critical to world oil trade as huge amounts of oil pass through them.”

Readers might be interested to know that some 3000 km away from Socotra lies an important military base: the US naval base of Diego Garcia – among America’s largest overseas military facilities.

The missing link in America’s arsenal, Washington was not exactly about to let go of Yemen’s island – territorial sovereignty or not, Socotra would have to be brought into the fold of America’s imperialism … only to be swept off by Saudi Arabia’s very own.

History it happens does not lack irony.

Let’s backtrack to January 2010 – then America was, we were told, coming to terms with the foiled Detroit Christmas bomb attack on Northwest flight 253 … America was scared, the world was calling for answers to its security questions, and of course, Washington neocons were on the prowl for fresh meat.

Need I say that Socotra acted as the proverbial lamb for the slaughter.

On January 2nd, 2010, a high-powered meeting took place between then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh and US General David Petraeus, Commander of the US Central Command.

The Saleh-Petraeus meeting was casually presented by the media as a timely response to the foiled Detroit Christmas bomb attack.   Of course America was in Yemen to guarantee the integrity of its territories – never to expand its military footprint in Southern Arabia! That would be insanity right?!

Can you see where I’m going with this? While I will not play into any conspiracy theory, we cannot deny that Terror’s timing, and its propensity to move in those areas most geostrategically crucial, have had a way of playing to the advantage of our friends in Washington.  Whether by design or opportunism, Washington has played both terror and radicalism to the tune of its own imperialism. I would imagine by now that we can all agree on this?

So there they were: Yemen’s head of state and the powerful US general, playing chess at the expense of Yemen’s territorial integrity.

The meeting, the story goes, had apparently been scheduled on an ad hoc basis as a means of coordinating counter-terrorism initiatives directed against “Al Qaeda in Yemen”, including “the use [of] American drones and missiles on Yemen lands.”

Several reports, however, confirmed that the Saleh-Petraeus meetings were intent upon redefining US military involvement in Yemen, including the establishment of a full-fledged military base on the island of Socotra.

Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh was reported to have “surrendered Socotra to the Americans who would set up a military base, pointing out that U.S. officials and the Yemeni government agreed to set up a military base in Socotra to counter pirates and al-Qaeda.”

Have you ever wondered how President Saleh became America’s bulwark against terrorism? It was the title the US bestowed upon him! Have you ever wondered why Saleh ever agreed to open Yemen’s land to a foreign power? As often happens in politics: money, and the promise of political longevity.

A day before Gen. Petraeus and President Saleh met mainstream media reported that the US general had announced during a press conference in Baghdad that America’s “security assistance” to Yemen would double from $70 million to a whopping $150 million.

This doubling of military aid to Yemen was presented to World public opinion as a response to the Detroit bomb incident, which allegedly had been ordered by al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen.

Subtitles should then have read that Washington purchased a military lease on the island of Socotra!

The establishment of an air force base on the island of Socotra was described by the US media as part of the “Global war on Terrorism”:

“Among the new programs, Saleh and Petraeus agreed to allow the use of American aircraft, perhaps drones, as well as “seaborne missiles”–as long as the operations have prior approval from the Yemenis, according to a senior Yemeni official who requested anonymity when speaking about sensitive subjects. US officials say the island of Socotra, 200 miles off the Yemeni coast, will be beefed up from a small airstrip [under the jurisdiction of the Yemeni military] to a full base in order to support the larger aid program as well as battle Somali pirates. Petraeus is also trying to provide the Yemeni forces with basic equipment such as up-armoured Humvees and possibly more helicopters.”

Back then the US was already planning to develop Socotra into an important naval base – the military sentinel Washington always dreamt of but could never really pull off by lack of political opportunity.

No? What about this: a few days prior to the Petraeus-Saleh discussions, the Yemeni cabinet approved a US$14 million loan by Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) in support of the development of Socotra’s seaport project.

Yemen was all set up to meet America’s demands in exchange for political patronage.

Not exactly alone are we … playing the Game that is

If America has long coveted Southern Arabia for the openings it offers on Africa, the Middle East and of course Asia, the US is not the only power around to have woken up to the importance of Yemen.

Just like Afghanistan saw a great many empires fight over its land-locked territories, so Yemen would experience that too, finding out what it means to stand as a geo-political jewel amongst giants.

This Great Game over Yemen’s waterways dates back to the Soviet era, when Moscow ruled with an iron hand over Socotra and South Yemen. Just like Yemen, or rather, South Yemen, was a pawn in the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union, so unified Yemen still stands as a conquest to be had.

During-the-Cold-War-Russia-established-military-facilities-on-Socotra-The-remnants-of-them-can-still-be-seen-today-

An old Soviet tank – the Soviet Union had military facilities operating on the island during the days of the Cold War.

Petraeus was not the only military official courting Yemen this January 2010. A Russian Navy communiqué in January 25, 2010

“…..confirmed that Russia did not give up its plans to have bases for its ships… on Socotra island.”

Russia lost to the US.  President Saleh was not at that time ready to pull the plug on his American “alliance” and risk losing the power house he had spent decades building around his family.

But selling out to America only served to delay the inevitable.  Quite literally stuck in between a rock and a hard place: imperial America and imperial Saudi Arabia; Yemen stood no chance.

Still, Yemen was not about to throw in the towel … It is in resistance Yemen eventually found itself a path.  Only through resistance could Yemen carve a way forward.

To borrow former World Bank official Peter Koenig’s words: 

“….domination of Yemen is an important step in the Zionist-Anglo-Saxon Empire’s path towards world hegemony. Like Ukraine, Yemen is just another square on the geopolitical chess board which the exceptional nation aims to dominate.”

Today Saudi Arabia accounts among those exceptional nations.

And if the US military coveted Socotra – and Yemen for that matter – a decade before Gen. Petraeus’s coveted catch, it is Riyadh today which is set to reap what Washington sowed.

In 1999, Socotra was chosen “as a site upon which the United States planned to build a signal intelligence system….” Yemeni opposition news media reported that “Yemen’s administration had agreed to allow the U.S. military access to both a port and an airport on Socotra.” According to the opposition daily Al-Haq, “a new civilian airport built on Socotra to promote tourism had conveniently been constructed in accordance with U.S. military specifications.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania), October 18, 2000)

Allow me to elaborate by pointing out some interesting queries.

Have you ever wondered why the US would stand side by side with Saudi Arabia against Yemen, while Washington exerted so much efforts brokering peace in the impoverished nation in the first place? I would argue the US does not want to see the fruits of its labour in Socotra and Southern Yemen lost.

I would argue that it was Washington’s overt dependence on Saudi Arabia to “look after” its interests in southern Arabia which has created this political mess.  A new exceptional power is rising to the table where empires come to rest.   The Saudi Kingdom propelled itself ahead of the flock, a grand master over its former master.

Like I said … history does not lack irony.

Forget America’s military footprint … Riyadh is now on the prowl – a very oil wealthy, and lobby strong Riyadh!

Here is how Abdul Sattar Ghazali, the Chief Editor of the Journal of America summarized the situation:

“The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is a chokepoint between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, and it is a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. The strait is located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Most exports from the Persian Gulf that transit the Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline also pass through Bab el-Mandeb.

An estimated 3.8 million bbl/d of crude oil and refined petroleum products flowed through this waterway in 2013 toward Europe, the United States, and Asia, an increase from 2.9 million bbl/d in 2009. Oil shipped through the strait decreased by almost one-third in 2009 because of the global economic downturn and the decline in northbound oil shipments to Europe. Northbound oil shipments increased through Bab el-Mandeb Strait in 2013, and more than half of the traffic, about 2.1 million bbl/d, moved northbound to the Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline.

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is 18 miles wide at its narrowest point, limiting tanker traffic to two 2-mile-wide channels for inbound and outbound shipments. Closure of the Bab el-Mandeb could keep tankers from the Persian Gulf from reaching the Suez Canal or SUMED Pipeline, diverting them around the southern tip of Africa, adding to transit time and cost. In addition, European and North African southbound oil flows could no longer take the most direct route to Asian markets via the Suez Canal and Bab el-Mandeb.

Any hostile air or sea presence in Yemen could threaten the entire traffic through the Suez Canal, as well as a daily flow of oil and petroleum products that the EIA estimates increased from 2.9 mmb/d in 2009 to 3.8 mmb/d in 2013. Such a threat also can be largely covert or indirect. Libya demonstrated this under Qaddafi when he had a cargo ship drop mines in the Red Sea.”

But what Saudi Arabia you may say?

Well Saudi Arabia has been a keen student of the United States of America when it comes to playing its partners’ weaknesses to weave its own imperial web.

A monarchy without a military, Riyadh was nevertheless able to force nations to do its bidding – chequebook in hand and political threat on the lips. These days, few are the powers who dare to oppose al-Saud’s political will. I would say that the United Nations’ latest run in with the Kingdom this June 2016 firmly anchored that ship.

In February 2016 Press TV ran a report in which it confirmed that resigned Yemeni President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi has leased Socotra to the UAE for a period of 99 years, hoping to encourage Abu Dhabi to support his claim on power.

“Abdo Rabbo Mansur Hadi has offered the Indian Ocean isle to the UAE in an attempt to get Abu Dhabi’s support amid the ongoing conflict in Yemen, the Lebanese al-Mayadeen satellite television channel reported. The report, however, did not elaborate on details of the development. Other reports have suggested that Socotra may come under the US control. The Yemeni island will reportedly be hired for the investments of touristic, economic and navigation fields.”

Through the UAE, Saudi Arabia clearly entered the fray.

Why use the UAE? Because Abu Dhabi needs Yemen on a tight leash if Dubai is to remain the sheikhdom’s golden calf. Let’s not pretend that Southern Yemen would easily rival Dubai given half a chance at growth …

By all accounts Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen is playing into very important political lay lines – which if we are not careful could soon re-arrange a map of the region we won’t be too happy to look at.

The author is the Programs Director for the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies and the author of Arabia’s Rising – Under The Banner Of The First Imam.  She is currently a columnist for RT, a TV & radio commentator for RT, Press TV, Sputnik, and CCTV.  She has also written for Ayatollah Khameini’s website, al-Akhbar, Epic Times, NEO, Katehon think tank, Mintpress, Foreign Policy Journal and many others.

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French opposition rejects Macron’s concessions to Yellow Vests, some demand ‘citizen revolution’

Mélenchon: “I believe that Act 5 of the citizen revolution in our country will be a moment of great mobilization.”

RT

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Via RT…


Macron’s concessions to the Yellow Vests has failed to appease protesters and opposition politicians, such as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who called for “citizen’s revolution” to continue until a fair distribution of wealth is achieved.

Immediately after French President Macron declared a “social and economic state of emergency” in response to large-scale protests by members of the Yellow Vest movement, promising a range of concessions to address their grievances, left-wing opposition politician Mélenchon called on the grassroots campaign to continue their revolution next Saturday.

I believe that Act 5 of the citizen revolution in our country will be a moment of great mobilization.

Macron’s promise of a €100 minimum wage increase, tax-free overtime pay and end-of-year bonuses, Mélenchon argued, will not affect any “considerable part” of the French population. Yet the leader of La France Insoumise stressed that the “decision” to rise up rests with “those who are in action.”

“We expect a real redistribution of wealth,” Benoît Hamon, a former presidential candidate and the founder of the Mouvement Génération, told BFM TV, accusing Macron’s package of measures that benefit the rich.

The Socialist Party’s first secretary, Olivier Faure, also slammed Macron’s financial concessions to struggling workers, noting that his general “course has not changed.”

Although welcoming certain tax measures, Marine Le Pen, president of the National Rally (previously National Front), accused the president’s “model” of governance based on “wild globalization, financialization of the economy, unfair competition,” of failing to address the social and cultural consequences of the Yellow Vest movement.

Macron’s speech was a “great comedy,”according to Debout la France chairman, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who accused the French President of “hypocrisy.”

Yet many found Melanchon’s calls to rise up against the government unreasonable, accusing the 67-year-old opposition politician of being an “opportunist” and “populist,” who is trying to hijack the social protest movement for his own gain.

Furthermore, some 54 percent of French believe the Yellow Vests achieved their goals and want rallies to stop, OpinionWay survey showed. While half of the survey respondents considered Macron’s anti-crisis measures unconvincing, another 49 percent found the president to be successful in addressing the demands of the protesters. Some 68 percent of those polled following Macron’s speech on Monday especially welcomed the increase in the minimum wage, while 78 percent favored tax cuts.

The Yellow Vest protests against pension cuts and fuel tax hikes last month were organized and kept strong via social media, without help from France’s powerful labor unions or official political parties. Some noted that such a mass mobilization of all levels of society managed to achieve unprecedented concessions from the government, which the unions failed to negotiate over the last three decades.

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Soros Mimics Hitler’s Bankers: Will Burden Europeans With Debt To ‘Save’ Them

George Soros is dissatisfied with the current EU refugee policy because it is still based on quotas.

The Duran

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Via GEFIRA:


After the Second World War, many economists racked their brains to answer the question of how Hitler managed to finance his armament, boost the economy and reduce unemployment.

Today his trick is well known. The economic miracle of Führer’s time became possible thanks to the so-called Mefo promissory notes.

The notes were the idea of the then President of the Reichsbank, Hjalmar Schacht, and served not only to finance the armament of the Wehrmacht for the Second World War, but also to create state jobs, which would otherwise not have been possible through the normal use of the money and capital markets, i.e. the annual increase in savings in Germany.

The Reich thus financed the armaments industry by accepting notes issued by the dummy company Metallurgische Forschungsgesellschaft GmbH (hence the name Mefo) rather than paying them in cash. The creation of money was in full swing from 1934 to 1938 – the total amount of notes issued at that time was 12 billion marks. The Reichsbank declared to the German banks that it was prepared to rediscount the Mefo notes, thus enabling the banks to discount them.

Because of their five-year term, the redemption of notes had to begin in 1939 at the latest. This threatened with enormous inflation. Since Schacht saw this as a threat to the Reichsmark, he expressed his doubts about the Reich Minister of Finance. But it did not help, and Schacht was quickly replaced by Economics Minister Walther Funk, who declared that the Reich would not redeem the Mefo notes, but would give Reich bonds to the Reichsbank in exchange. At the time of Funk, the autonomous Reichsbank statute was abolished, the Reichsbank was nationalized, and inflation exploded in such a way that Mefo notes with a circulation of 60 billion Reichsmark burdened the budget in post-war Germany.

George Soros also proposes such a money flurry in the style of Schacht and Funk.

Soros is dissatisfied with the current EU refugee policy because it is still based on quotas. He calls on the EU heads of state and governments to effectively deal with the migrant crisis through money flooding, which he calls “surge funding”.

“This would help to keep the influx of refugees at a level that Europe can absorb.”

Can absorb? Soros would be satisfied with the reception of 300,000 to 500,000 migrants per year. However, he is aware that the costs of his ethnic exchange plan are not financially feasible. In addition to the already enormous costs caused by migrants already in Europe, such a large number of new arrivals would add billions each year.

Soros calculates it at 30 billion euros a year, but argues that it would be worth it because “there is a real threat that the refugee crisis could cause the collapse of Europe’s Schengen system of open internal borders among twenty-six European states,” which would cost the EU between 47 and 100 billion euros in GDP losses.

Soros thus sees the financing of migrants and also of non-European countries that primarily receive migrants (which he also advocates) as a win-win relationship. He calls for the introduction of a new tax for the refugee crisis in the member states, including a financial transaction tax, an increase in VAT and the establishment of refugee funds. Soros knows, however, that such measures would not be accepted in the EU countries, so he proposes a different solution, which does not require a vote in the sovereign countries.

The new EU debt should be made by the EU taking advantage of its largely unused AAA credit status and issuing long-term bonds, which would boost the European economy. The funds could come from the European Stability Mechanism and the EU balance of payments support institution.

 “Both also have very similar institutional structures, and they are both backed entirely by the EU budget—and therefore do not require national guarantees or national parliamentary approval.“

In this way, the ESM and the BoPA (Balance of Payments Assistance Facility) would become the new Mefo’s that could issue bills of exchange, perhaps even cheques for Turks, Soros NGOs. Soros calculates that both institutions have a credit capacity of 60 billion, which should only increase as Portugal, Ireland and Greece repay each year the loans they received during the euro crisis. According to Soros, the old debts should be used to finance the new ones in such a way that it officially does not burden the budget in any of the EU Member States. The financial institutions that are to carry out this debt fraud must extend (indeed – cancel) their status, as the leader of the refugees expressed such a wish in his speech.

That Soros is striving to replace the indigenous European population with new arrivals from Africa and Asia is clear to anyone who observes its activities in Europe. The question is: what does he want to do this for and who is the real ruler, behind him, the real leader?

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The French People Feel Screwed

For the first time in his presidency, Macron is in trouble and Europe and America are looking on.

The Duran

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Authored by David Brown via The Gatestone Institute:


On December 4, French Prime Minister Édouard Phillipe told deputies of the ruling party, “La République en Marche”, that a proposed fuel tax rise, which had led to the largest protests France has seen in decades, would be suspended.

The protesters, called Gilets-Jaunes — “Yellow Vests,” because of the vests drivers are obliged by the government to carry in their vehicles in the event of a roadside breakdown — say that the fuel tax was the last straw from a president who took office with a promise to help the economically left-behind but instead has favoured the rich.

Even by French standards, the protests of the “Yellow Vests” during the weekend of December 1 were startling. Burning cars and vast plumes of grey smoke seemed to engulf the Arc De Triomphe as if Paris were at war. Comparisons were drawn with the Bread Wars of the 17th Century and the spirit of the Revolution of the 18th Century.

For more than two weeks, the “Yellow Vests” disrupted France. They paralyzed highways and forced roads to close — causing shortages across the country – and blocked fuel stations from Lille in the North to Marseilles in the South.

During protests in France’s capital, Paris, the “Yellow Vests” were soon joined by a more violent element, who began torching cars, smashing windows and looting stores. 133 were injured, 412 were arrested and more than 10,000 tear gas and stun grenades were fired.

One elderly lady was killed when she was struck by a stray grenade as she tried to shutter her windows against the melee.

There was talk of imposing a State of Emergency.

The “Yellow Vests” present the most significant opposition French President Emmanuel Macron has faced since coming to office in May 2017. Unlike previous protests in France, which have divided public opinion, these have widespread support – 72% according to a Harris Interactive Poll published December 1st.

Fuel tax rises — announced in November before being retracted on December — were intended to help bring down France’s carbon emissions by curbing the use of cars. Macron makes no secret of his wish to be seen as a global leader for environmental reform.

He forgets that back at home, among the people who elected him, fuel prices really matter to those outside big cities, where four-fifths of commuters drive to work and a third of them cover more than 30km each week.

The increases have incensed people in smaller communities, where they have already seen speed limits reduced to please the Greens and cuts to the local transport services.

These additional costs-of-living increases come at an extremely bad time for ordinary French people working outside of Paris. Lower-middle class families are not poor enough to receive welfare benefits but have seen their income flat-line whilst cost-of-living and taxes have risen.

An analysis by the Institut des Politiques Publiques think-tank shows that benefits cuts and tax changes in 2018 and 2019 will leave pensioners and the bottom fifth of households worse off, while the abolition of the wealth tax means that by far the biggest gains will go to the top 1%

This is tough to swallow. Macron is seen as being out of touch with ordinary people and is unlikely to escape his new title, “the President of the Rich.”

“People have this feeling that the Paris technocrats are doing complicated things to screw them,” said Charles Wyplosz, an economics professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

It is probably not as complex as that. The French people feel screwed.

As employment and growth are slowing, Macron, for the first time in his presidency, is under serious pressure. Unemployment is at 9%; his efforts to reform Europe are stalling, and his approval rating has plummeted to just 23% according to a recent opinion poll by IFOP.

Images of Macron at the Arc De Triomphe daubed in graffiti calling for him to step down, or worse, have done little to bolster his image abroad.

So far, Macron had said he would not bow to street protests. To underline his point, in September 2017, he called protestors against French labour-market reform “slackers”.

The political U-Turn on the fuel tax is a turning point for the Macron presidency. The question is : What next, both for Macron and the “Yellow Vests”?

Macron most likely needs to plough ahead with his reform agenda, and doubtless knows he has the support of a solid majority in the National Assembly to do so. France is crippled by debt (nearly 100% of GDP) and its grossly bloated public sector. There are 5.2 million civil servants in France, and their number has increased by 36% since 1983. These represent 22% of the workforce compared to an OCDE average of 15%.

Tax-expert Jean-Philippe Delsol says France has 1.5 million too many “fonctionnaires [officials]. When you consider that public spending in France now accounts for 57 per cent of gross domestic product. Soon the system will no longer function as there will be less and less people working to support more and more people working less”.

Macron’s mistake, in addition to a seeming inclination for arrogance, is not to have made national economic reform his absolute priority right from his initial grace period after his election. Lower public expenses would have made it possible to lower taxes, hence creating what economists call a virtuous circle. Instead, he waited.

Now, at a time when he is deeply unpopular and social unrest is in full sway he is looking to make further reforms in unemployment benefits, scaling them back by reducing the payments and the length of time beneficiaries can receive the money. The “President of the Rich” strikes again.

There is talk that he may also re-introduce the wealth tax to try to placate the protestors.

Macron’s presidential term lasts until May 13, 2022. Understandably, Macron will be focused on the elections to the European Parliament expected to be held May 23-26, 2019. Headlines have signalled that Marine Le Pen and the National Rally (formally National Front) are ahead in the polls at 20%, compared to Macron’s En Marche at 19%.

The shift is understandable, given the divide between the countryside, where Le Pen has solid support, and the cities, where Macron’s centre-left prevail.

In contrast, the “Yellow Vests” have galvanised support after standing up for the “impotent ordinary”, and seem much buoyed by the solidarity they have been shown by both fire fighters and the police. There are images online of police removing their helmets and firefighters turning their backs on political authority to show their support for the protestors.

Whilst Macron’s political opposition may be fragmented, this new breed of coherent public opposition is something new. Leaderless, unstructured and organised online, the “Yellow Vests” have gained support from the left and right, yet resisted subjugation by either.

Being leaderless makes them difficult to negotiate withor to reason with in private. The “Yellow Vests” seem acutely aware of this strength, given their firm rebuttal of overtures for peace talks from the Macron government.

Enjoying huge support from the public and with reforms to the social welfare system on the horizon, the “Yellow Vests” are not going away.

For the first time in his Presidency, Macron is in trouble and Europe and America are looking on.

After Macron rebuked nationalism during his speech at the armistice ceremony, Trump was quick to remind the French President of his low approval rating and unemployment rate near 10%. A stinging broadside from Trump on twitter suggests that Macron may well be relegated to Trump’s list of global “Losers“:

“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”

The “impotent ordinary” in the United Kingdom, who might feel betrayed over Brexit, and the nationalists in Germany, who have suffered under Merkel , are no doubt staring in wonder at the “Yellow Vests”, wishing for the same moxie.

The historian Thomas Carlyle, chronicler of the French Revolution, said the French were unrivaled practitioners in the “art of insurrection”, and characterised the French mob as the “liveliest phenomena of our world”.

Mobs in other countries, by comparison, he argued were “dull masses” lacking audacity and inventiveness. The blazing yellow vests of the French protest movement , however, have made Macron appear increasingly dull and weak too.

David Brown is based in the United Kingdom.

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