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    President Donald Trump playfully reaches over to cleans lint off French President Emmanuel Macron's suit jacket during their meeting in Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 24, 2018

    Gilets Jaunes: US Calling the Shots While France Searches for 'Russian Meddling'

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    Moscow has dismissed France's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the yellow vest protests, calling the allegations "pure slander." Meanwhile, an anxious Paris has also asked its US allies to stay out of its internal affairs. Sputnik contributor Ivan Danilov explains who or what really stands behind the 'spontaneous' protest movement.

    French authorities are reaching their wit's end dealing with the yellow vest protest rallies rocking Paris and cities across France over the last four weeks. On Sunday, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced that the Secretariat-General for National Defence and Security, an inter-ministerial organ of the French government, was investigating reports of Russian meddling in the protest movement following UK media reports about alleged 'Russia-linked' Twitter accounts fueling the rallies online. Russian Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the allegations outright on Monday, saying Moscow "considers everything that happens purely an internal affair of France."

    Also Sunday, Le Drian asked Donald Trump to butt out of France's internal affairs after the US president issued a pair of tweets claiming the yellow vests protests were related to the Paris climate change accords and demanding that his French counterpart drop his 'European Army' idea. "I say to Donald Trump, and the President of the Republic tells him too: We do not take part in American [political] debates, so please let our country live its own life," Le Drian said.

    Commenting on the news out of Paris, economist and Sputnik contributor Ivan Danilov suggested that, using simple logic, there is far more reason for Elysees Palace to suspect Washington than Moscow.

    "It can't be ruled out that, sometime in the near future, the idea that the unrest in Paris was instigated by Russian propaganda will not only become extremely popular among European and US media, but also serve as a pretext for the next round of anti-Russian sanctions," the journalist wrote.

    "On the other hand, if we abstract ourselves from the latest episode of anti-Russian media hysteria, it can be argued that an absolutely unique socio-political experiment is currently underway in Paris," Danilov added. Namely, the yellow vests movement can help answer the question of whether it's "possible for a colour revolution to succeed if it is not supported by the European political establishment."

    For now, the journalist argued, "the most likely answer seems to be 'no, it can't.' But as the saying goes, the show isn't over 'till the fat lady sings, and the game in France is far from its conclusion."

    A Series of Coincidences

    According to Danilov, up to now, "commentators and experts who have pointed to a Trump 'footprint' in events in France…have been ridiculed for giving in to conspiracy theories. Of course, one can choose to sincerely believe in the following chain of coincidences: a) Macron declares the need to create a European army, the need to achieve complete European sovereignty from the US, indicates a readiness to resist to the end in the trade war with Washington, attempts to create a mechanism to bypass US sanctions on Iran, and supports reducing the role of the US dollar in the European and global financial system. b) literally out of nowhere, he gets a real colour revolution on his hands, complete with the recognizable colour symbols, decentralized coordination using social networks, [Ukrainian Maidan-style] skipping schoolchildren, heart-rending footage of street musicians playing for protesters against the background of the 'dreaded police', and even video of protesters being beaten and humiliated by police amid cries of 'they are children'."

    Riot police officer stand in front a burning trash bin during clashes, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 in Marseille, southern France
    © AP Photo / Claude Paris
    Riot police officer stand in front a burning trash bin during clashes, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 in Marseille, southern France

    And the "coincidences" don't end there, Danilov noted, with President Trump tweeting Macron, urging him to pay up for NATO, abandon the Paris agreement on climate change, and even claim that the yellow vests protesters are really chanting "we Want Trump!"

    "Maybe it is a coincidence that Steve Bannon, Trump's chief political consultant and coordinator of his election campaign, an expert on 'guerrilla' political organizations, who is now in Europe with the openly stated goal of creating a pro-Trump political movement, recently said in Brussels that the French protesters were 'the same voters who elected Trump.'"

    "I repeat, it's possible that all of this really was just a coincidence; but nevertheless, one can be excused for treating" the current narrative, "that Macron was simply unlucky and that the unrest 'just happened' without any outside interference, with a grain of salt," the journalist noted.

    Demonstrators clash with police during the yellow vests protest against higher fuel prices, in Brussels, Belgium, December 8, 2018
    © REUTERS / Yves Herman
    Demonstrators clash with police during the "yellow vests" protest against higher fuel prices, in Brussels, Belgium, December 8, 2018

    Nor does this mean that the yellow vests movement is artificial, Danilov stressed. "Quite the opposite: any textbook on coups d'etat, starting with the famous fundamental work on the subject by US political scientist Edward Luttwak 'Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook', recommends that the coup's organizers and architects take advantage of problems and contradictions yjsy exist in a given country." 

    Yellow vests mass protests against the rise in fuel prices in the French capital of Paris
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    Macron really has infuriated the public with his tax and diesel fuel price policy, along with his overall "arrogant attitude to ordinary French and his frankly anti-social policy," the commentator noted. This fact helps to explain why the protests have attracted people from across France's social strata, and why they enjoy widespread support of upwards of 70 percent, according to opinion polls. 

    "But support for the protests is based on a 'negative' agenda, i.e., a large number of French would simply like to send Elysees Palace the message that Macron's politics and Macron himself have evoked colossal annoyance." At the same time, the yellow vests do not have a leader, and there is no single political force which could unify the movement into something constructive, Danilov emphasized.

    "Incidentally, the skill and consistency with which any attempt by even the most marginal and radical of French politicians to integrate into this movement may be a sign that it was envisioned, from the start, simply as a battering ram to be used against France, its economy and political system. It's entirely possible that those standing behind this 'colour revolution' don't need any actual reforms, and that they are not at all interested in the wants and needs of ordinary French people. Their anger and hope for change for the better are simply being used to destroy their own state. And all this prompts the question: is this not reminiscent of anything?"

    Ultimately, Danilov warned that judging by the recent appearance of yellow vest protests in neighboring Belgium and the Netherlands, it can be said that not just France, but also Europe as a whole, including its prosperous Western part, is facing a systemic social crisis making its nations vulnerable to such upheavals.

    For many decades, revolutions, Maidan-style coups and civil wars passed Europe by. "But now, the era of calm is over, social contradictions have piled up, and the political system is clearly no longer capable of adequately responding to social challenges. And that means that sooner or later, many European capitals will light up like today's Paris," Danilov concluded.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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