Landing in Paris on July 13
Landing in Paris on July 13

-Analysis-

PARIS — "Paris sera toujours Paris ..." When French singer Maurice Chevalier first released the classic tune in 1939, the aim was to brighten the mood of the curfew-burdened French capital as war approached, assuring them that "Paris will always be Paris."

Fast-forward nearly eight decades and another kind of showman has been trying to convince the world that: "Paris is no longer Paris."

The comment was shared by Donald Trump, allegedly originally traced to a certain "Jim," a "friend" of the American president and "very substantial guy," who "loves the City of Lights." Trump says his pal used to travel to the French capital every summer with his family. But then, Islamic terrorists struck the Charlie Hebdo magazine and the Bataclan concert hall, among other targets, and Jim stopped going to Paris.

But that hasn't stopped Trump from landing in the French capital this morning to take part in tomorrow's Bastille Day celebrations.

Many have been wondering whether Jim exists at all, anywhere else than in the mind of the U.S. president, but it matters little. Trump cited that sentence at a rally in February, which echoed something he had already said early on in his presidential campaign: "The real Paris is a different Paris than the City of Lights that you read about." At least, he didn't call it a "hellhole," which he reserved for Brussels.

Trump's visit, if it goes well, is also a good opportunity for a pragmatic Macron.

So why come to Paris at all? For Philippe Gélie, Washington correspondent for the French daily Le Figaro, French President Emmanuel Macron's invitation was actually an offer he couldn't refuse, given all the hot water he faces back in Washington over the investigation into Russia's meddling in last year's election. "For this man of order, appearances, and pomp, sickened by the constant contestation he's subjected to in the U.S., Emmanuel Macron's offer to come to Paris as a guest of honor for the July 14 celebrations was almost irresistible," Gélie writes.

Trump's visit, if it goes well, is also a good opportunity for a pragmatic Macron to rekindle the French-American relationship, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, and lift France back to the very top rungs of global diplomacy. The French president has clearly stated that the destruction of ISIS and the fight against terrorism are his top priorities, and welcoming Trump on the one-year anniversary of the Nice attack, which killed 86 people, sends a strong signal.

Still, plenty of French citizens are not happy to see Donald Trump parading down the Champs-Élysées. In a column penned for the French business daily Les Échos and translated by Worldcrunch, French philosopher Gaspard Koenig wonders: "Why would France ruin its own party for a president that American history will reject as a regrettable dysfunction of its institutions?" Maybe just to prove yet again that even in the darkest of times, Paris will always be Paris.

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Geopolitics

The New Iraq, Signs Of Hope Amid The Rubble And Reconstruction

How do you rebuild a country decimated by four decades of war and embargoes? Following the withdrawal of the U.S. military, Iraq faces many challenges, from oil revenues captured by the militias and endemic corruption to religious segregation. However, there are glimmers of hope for the country's future.

Street scene in Erbil, Iraq

Théophile Simon

BAGHDAD — With a vast office located at the top of a tower fiercely guarded by the army and a bell to call the staff, Khalid Hamza Abbas is obviously a powerful character, decked out in an impeccable suit. Abbas runs the Basra Oil Company (BOC), the national company responsible for the exploitation of the oil fields in the province of Basra, in the very south of Iraq, from which four million barrels of crude oil flow daily. It’s the equivalent of 4% of world demand and 65% of central government revenue concentrated in a region of only four million inhabitants.

As he explains the profit-sharing scheme between the world’s major oil companies and his public enterprise, the 50-year-old with thin glasses is suddenly stopped dead in his tracks by the ringing of his telephone. He tries a joke to mask his suddenly worried face: "I'm going to ask you to leave my office for a few moments. If I haven't called you back in 10 minutes, call the police."

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