L’Oréal Paris to stage Paris Fashion Week show

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Cosmetics brand L’Oréal Paris plans to take the runway by storm at Paris Fashion Week. The brand, which is Paris Fashion Week partner, is staging Le Défile L’Oréal Paris on October 3 at the Parvis des Droits de L’Homme. The news was reported by WWD. The brand has said the event will be open to the public and will broadcast to over 30 countries globally via L’Oréal Paris’s social media channels. Le Défile is considered a fashion and beauty collaboration. The first ever show in 2017 closed traffic at the Champs Elysées.

This year’s runway show celebrates the anniversary of L’Oréal Paris’s slogan “Because You’re Worth It.” The theme is taking a larger focus on women’s empowerment, especially after last year when the brand launched its international Stand Up Against Street Harassment program to train one million women and men in bystander intervention.

The runway show will feature several of the brand’s spokespeople including Dame Helen Mirren, Camila Cabello, Liya Kebede, and Marie Bochet. L’Oréal makes an effort to cast models of all skin tones, ages, and hair types for the show. Since 2017, L’Oréal Paris has held a every fall for Paris Fashion Week, with COVID-19 putting a damper on their plans for last year. In the past, brands that have participated ranged from established luxury houses like Balmain to younger brands like Marine Serre.

Ex-ambassador: From Pakistan’s view Taliban government is not inclusive

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TEHRAN – In a live interview with the Tehran Times on Tuesday, former Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran says from viewpoint of his country the caretaker Taliban government is not inclusive.

However, Asif Durrani says it depends on defining inclusiveness in a tribal and traditional society like Afghanistan.

“I think we have to look at Afghanistan as per its culture,” the former diplomat notes.

He also believes that the Taliban have “evolved” like any other society, and it is different from the time it ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

This is the text of the interview:

Q: Let’s begin with the hot trend of these days, Afghanistan. How do you assess the Afghanistan events?

A: The Taliban gained control but found out that the government coffers were empty. The American-led government by Mr. Ashraf Ghani left nothing in the country. The big challenge now is how to sustain Afghanistan economically.

Q: Do you think that the Taliban government, the caretaker government, is based on the people’s demands? Many countries, including Pakistan, Imran Khan in particular, and Iran, have called for an inclusive government. Do you see the current government as an inclusive government?

A: Well, that depends on how you describe “inclusive.” The people who fought the Taliban or those with whom the Taliban fought are included in the government. Therefore, such an assumption would be problematic as we talk about predominantly tribal Afghanistan. You’re talking about a society where they are still not familiar with the Western kind of democracy.

“Democracy differs from place to place, country to country, and culture to culture.”

Traditionally, in Afghanistan’s tribal structure, people have been accustomed to using muscle power. From the Taliban’s perspective, they think that the Americans toppled them after 9/11. They claim to be the rightful government, forcefully removed by the Americans. Since the Taliban have captured the country by force, their definition of inclusiveness may, in my personal view, would be at variance with what you and I may define as “inclusive.” In this respect, I don’t know whether by “inclusive” you mean that Ashraf Ghani should have been part of the government, or Mr. Qanouni or Mr. Karzai. Another definition of inclusiveness, propounded by the Taliban, would be whether Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hazaras, who have been part of the Taliban movement, are included in the government, or it is the one you and I would prescribe for the Taliban to include in the government. Therefore, it all depends on how we define inclusiveness.

Q: Let’s define it from Iran’s point of view. It says inclusive forms of all ethnicities and minorities and women in the government.

A: What if the Taliban say, we don’t discuss women; this is our tribal tradition which represents the overwhelming population of Afghanistan. Have you seen Hamid Karzai’s wife in public? Have you seen Ashraf Ghani’s cabinet people and their wives in public? Why don’t people question them while they plead to be democrats and progressive?

Q: No, but I’ve seen their ministers and members of the parliament.

A: They were representatives of the government and the people, and they claim to be progressive. We are discussing Afghanistan. So your level of standards and threshold may not apply.

When we talk about women, during the initial days of the Iranian revolution, the hijab was quite strict, but the situation gradually changed.

I think it is a political evolution with time. We evolve every day. We grow with time and with interaction with people.

Ten years ago, I had some ideas to which I may not subscribe today. We are discussing politics. We are not discussing gender.

Take the example of China. Americans are lecturing the Chinese to introduce democracy, but the Chinese response to the Americans has been that “democracy is not like Coca Cola that tastes the same everywhere.” The Chinese system is based on meritocracy. If you come to the merit, then you are fit for the job. Democracy differs from place to place, country to country, and culture to culture.

I think we have to look at Afghanistan as per its culture. We are trying to impose our understanding on the Afghan people. Let them decide for themselves what is good for them.

Q: You mentioned political evolution. Do you think that the Taliban in 2021 has grown in the time since 1996 or 2001? What are the signs?

A: I think they have evolved. Look at Kabul. It just looks like Tehran, where women are walking in the city without hindrance, which was impossible during the Taliban’s first regime. Previously, the Taliban were reclusive. They would not meet with the people, but now they meet the outsiders.

Now, they have approached all the countries of the world, especially the neighbors. They have a much better relationship with Iran as compared to before 9/11. Earlier, Russia, Iran, and India were on one side. They were supporting the erstwhile Northern Alliance, but the situation is different now. The Taliban have a political office in Doha, which maintains a relationship with the Americans and other European countries. I think they have evolved, but we expect many other improvements in their behavior from international standards.

Q: How do you assess the ISI chief’s visit to Kabul? He then traveled to Iran, and then he returned to Pakistan and held a meeting with the presence of all intelligence chiefs. How do you assess these three moves by the ISI?

A: If there were something sinister, the ISI chief would have undertaken a secret visit to Kabul. Pakistan should not be apologetic that the ISI chief was in Kabul. He was there to discuss security issues that are of concern to Pakistan. When he went to Iran, he discussed security issues that were of interest to Pakistan and Iran. Then there was a meeting of the intelligence chiefs of immediate neighbors of Afghanistan in Islamabad.

Q: May I ask about Pakistan’s initiatives for the Afghanistan developments?

A: Well, I don’t think that Pakistan has initiated any unusual action. There are issues that the neighbors of Afghanistan have discussed at the regional level. We are all part of that regional initiative. There is no exclusive initiative by Pakistan.

Q: There is no exclusive initiative by Pakistan regarding Afghanistan?

A: No.

Q: What do you see as the current solution personally to the Afghanistan issue?

A: Immediately, we have to address the humanitarian crisis, which is looming large in Afghanistan. We all know that almost three fourth of Afghanistan’s budget came from outside. It means that Afghanistan has been dependent on foreign aid. That source is closed, and the U.S. has already frozen Afghan Central Bank’s 9.5 billion dollars. IMF has also frozen 460 million dollars. So the immediate crisis is the supply of food and medicines. It is important to note that the winters will set in in few weeks, especially in northern Afghanistan. Afghanistan needs urgent humanitarian assistance. The United Nations secretary general’s office has said the member states had committed almost 1 billion dollars. Hopefully, the aid will reach out to the people of Afghanistan on an urgent basis.

Q: There’s a challenge in this regard. Taliban’s government has not been recognized internationally, and according to international law, humanitarian aid should be given to internationally and legally recognized governments. How do you think humanitarian aid would reach Afghanistan?

A: The United Nations agencies are already in Afghanistan, and some international NGOs are present there. The international assistance is channeled through the United Nations, not through the Afghan government. But I think the Taliban will generate their revenues through duties on imports and local taxes. A section of analysts also opines that the Taliban would not be as corrupt as their predecessors were. If that assessment is correct, then the waste of national resources would be far less than what we have seen in Ghani’s government.

Q: Reportedly, government officials have not been paid for over a month, and the poverty rate is rising. How long do you think these economic challenges would take the Taliban to resolve and get people’s lives back in order?

A: I don’t know.

Q: Do you have an estimate?

A: I have no idea about the current situation. However, one thing is clear that three fourth of Afghanistan’s workforce in the government sector comprise teachers or medical staff, including women. If the government does not have money to pay, how will you open the schools and pay the teachers and medical staff’s salaries, including female staff? These are serious issues that the international community must look at.

Q: Imran Khan has called for the formation of an inclusive government, and I think my judgment was that based on your remarks, the current caretaker government is inclusive enough. Is that satisfying for the Pakistani government?

A: No. That’s why the Pakistani government has raised this. I spoke with you about the term inclusiveness and how you will interpret it. If you ask the Taliban, they will say it is inclusive, but we would also improve it and include more people in the future, so we have to wait and see. As far as Prime Minister Imran Khan is concerned, he articulated the regional consensus calling upon the Taliban to establish an inclusive dispensation.

Emmanuel Macron and the art of tantrum diplomacy

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France’s fit of pique following Australia’s canceled submarine contract — and the signing of the AUKUS pact — is a sulk that keeps on giving. After recalling its ambassadors to Australia and the US, Paris canceled last week’s scheduled bilateral Franco-British defense summit. France is also reported to be seeking to delay the EU-Australia trade deal whose twelfth meeting was organized for next month.

The French are all the more bruised for the major powers in the Indo-Pacific — Japan and India — welcoming the Pact while Paris has received only muted support from EU members. France is even extending her sulk retrospectively to others who recently declined French defense products. Le Monde reported that the planned November visit of the Swiss Confederation president to Paris was canceled in retaliation for Switzerland rejecting a contract to buy French Rafale fighter aircraft in favor of American F-35s.

With France about to take over the presidency of the EU for six months, Macron will use that role to punish those member and non member states that in his view have crossed him. Belgium may be next, for it too preferred F-35s to its French rival. So what is the root of this tantrum diplomacy and what is it seeking to achieve post-AUKUS?

While not having a monopoly of tantrum diplomacy, France performs well on this front. It stems from three things; historical divisions, fulsome national pride and an indefatigable belief in the French way of doing things. When the latter two are crossed, the reaction is all but diplomatic. In the 19th century the great historian and observer of nations Alexis de Tocqueville explained France’s need to be involved in great enterprises as necessary to counter the centrifugal forces of political and material division. In 1840 he told John Stuart Mill:

‘National pride is our greatest remaining sentiment.’

In the 20th century, General de Gaulle famously tapped into its potency as a unifier of the French declaring that France could only be France if she was in the front rank.

The AUKUS deal was guaranteed to produce a backlash from the French, all the more so for it being conceived and executed brutally by what de Gaulle always referred to wryly as the ‘Anglo-Saxons’. Looking at today’s bitter reaction among the French political class and media of left and right few would disagree with the view of the 19th century French revolutionary Louis Blanc:

‘The principle of egotism is incarnate in the English people, the principle of devotion in the French people. England has set foot in no country without setting up its counting-houses. France has nowhere passed without leaving the perfume of her spirituality’

Emmanuel Macron’s historical acumen, and his yearning to don the mantle of de Gaulle at a time of acute national divisions, was never going to let the Anglosphere’s protagonists get away with a ‘stab in the back’. What he wished for, and still does, is that the Anglosphere sign up to his Indo-Pacific strategy, which in all fairness, was established several years before AUKUS. With poignant historical irony, France’s AUKUS diplomatic tantrum recalls, in reverse, features of de Gaulle’s 1966 withdrawal from Nato’s integrated command.

On returning to power in 1958, President de Gaulle was adamant France should gain greater say in what he saw as an Anglo-Saxon dominated Nato. When the US refused to supply France with the latest strategic submarines in 1959 he withdrew the French Mediterranean fleet from Nato command.

When that failed to produce the right result he notified the allies in September 1965 that France would withdraw all its forces from Nato command, claiming that France could no longer rely on an American-dominated organization. The incremental vice tightened again on March 7, 1966 when de Gaulle instructed his principal allies to withdraw all 26,000 troops stationed in France by July 1, 1967, together with all Nato military organizations and commands. American secretary of state Dean Rusk enquired witheringly whether that included American troops buried in France having fought for the country’s liberation.

France reintegrated Nato’s military command in 2009. After AUKUS, many in the political class called on Macron again to withdraw. But as a former international investment banker cutting deals with large ‘Anglo-Saxon’ banks, he is attuned to ‘Anglo-Saxon’ pragmatism and the historical examples of the effectiveness of tantrum diplomacy.

Following France’s 1966 snubbing of her allies, there was no vindictiveness towards France for her Nato ‘Frexit’, despite it weakening the Western alliance. France was even able to cherry pick what it retained of Nato benefits: membership of the Atlantic Council and above all continued use of Nato’s sophisticated early warning system Nadge.

But expect more pique and gesture diplomacy as a French tactic for getting her way. French ministers and LREM senior party figures have taken to the media to declare that further retaliatory measures be taken. At the forthcoming Nato plenary session on future strategy in Madrid, France will be particularly vocal in requesting greater autonomy for Nato’s European dimension. Despite Macron’s restorative phone calls from Biden and Johnson he will continue with the tantrum diplomacy until he gets his way on AUKUS and Nato.

But Macron must not overplay his hand, as he is wont to do in domestic and international politics. The AUKUS founders most likely want France to sign up. The US and UK are happy for a greater degree of European ‘strategic autonomy’, if it is through Nato. But he must not push his truculence too far.

Ironically the backlash could come from that arena that Macron perceives hubristically as his ‘backyard’ — the EU. He takes over its presidency on January 1, when Germany may not even have a government in place, and will pursue his agenda. But a coalition is building, inside the EU, against him in central Europe around the Visegrád group, most of whom are very attached to American friendship and a strong Nato.

And outside the EU a caucus of antagonized nations is also forming. On May 26, the Swiss withdrew from negotiations with the Commission on a new partnership after Bern refused to sign up to the EU’s freedom of movement demands.

Macron has decided to punish Bern for that and the refusal to buy French fighters. But President Macron should beware. He should know that when the French seek to use Europe for their own ends counter-coalitions grow very rapidly.

This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.