Monday 27 May 2019

So was DSK caught up in a political sting?

He could yet be the next president of France -- which would be a good result for us, writes Jody Corcoran

As the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn unravels and it looks as though it may fall apart, the question will inevitably be asked: was this a plot by his political enemies to bring about his downfall?

It is unlikely that the question will ever be fully answered, certainly not to the satisfaction of all. But as what may be coincidence gives way to conspiracy and possibly -- who can say? -- eventually to evidence, at this remove it certainly looks as if there may be a case to answer.

The conspiracy of choice centres around the the 2115 Café on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem, New York, where the hotel chambermaid who accused Strauss-Kahn of criminal sexual assault used to spend much of her free time.

There is reported to be a series of particularly interesting photographs on the walls of the cafe.

One shows the owner, Ibrahim 'Abe' Fofanah, 46, gripping and grinning with a police captain; another shows him with the New York City police commissioner, Ray Kelly.

But the most interesting is one of the owner with Alpha Condé, who was elected last November as president of Guinea, the country from which DSK's accuser immigrated to the US before requesting asylum.

Condé also has extensive ties to major political players in France, including people close to -- you've guessed it -- both President Nicolas Sarkozy and Strauss-Kahn.

DSK was expected to be the main challenger to Sarkozy in next year's elections and after the dramatic turn of events last week, he may yet be -- although the prospect must still seem distant.

You can see why the conspiracy-minded French find the case so fascinating.

There is some way to go yet, though, before the theory is proved that Sarkozy, who is deeply unpopular in France, had a hand, act or part in the downfall of the man most likely to have ousted him as president.

It is doubtful that such evidence will be produced, if it ever existed, to link the involvement of Sarkozy in what would surely rank as perhaps the dirtiest trick of them all.

Not that DSK has emerged or is emerging from this most intriguing affair under a shining halo light.

The suppressed, long-rumoured stories of his lascivious behaviour and attitude towards women have finally come to the fore, confirmation, if ever there was, that the private lives of politicians really do matter.

As a former head of the IMF, he may have considerable financial acumen and is reported to have a pragmatic approach to politics and a clear reformist vision for the Socialist Party in France.

But the taint of inappropriate behaviour in New York and in earlier incidents raises questions as to his suitability for high office.

It is reassuring to a large extent, however, that his wife -- his third, in fact -- the French journalist, Anne Sinclair, with whom he seems to enjoy a polygamous relationship, seemed as pleased as did he with the turn of events last week.

Other questions may now also arise, of course, primarily for the authorities in New York, who would seem to have been rather heavy-handed in their approach to this case from the moment they hustled DSK off an aircraft in handcuffs.

As the London Times asked yesterday, had the police properly weighted the accusations before making the arrest? Was Stauss-Kahn prejudged by lurid leaks? Was the 'perp walk' justified? Was his first court appearance, haggard and unshaven, carefully staged to maximise deliberate humiliation?

The irony is that should all charges be dropped and DSK somehow manages to enter the presidential contest, his treatment at the hands of New York's finest may actually serve to enhance his campaign, such is the strong anti-US sentiment still all-pervasive in France.

But the traditional left-wing constituency there, which abhors Sarkozy, must also be uncomfortable at the prospect of DSK as a candidate, not necessarily to do with his approach to sex, but more so, knowing the French, at the class and wealth so evidentially revealed to be at the centre of his lifestyle.

Leaving aside the troubling aspects of this case, it certainly makes for a fascinating time in the politics of France and Europe. A defeat of Sarkozy would, one imagines, be welcomed within the corridors of power here.

He is said to be the greatest obstacle to a successful outcome to the campaign for a reduction in a rate of interest charged on the EU portion of the EU/IMF bailout funds to Ireland.

Should Sarkozy be defeated by the Left, specifically by Strauss-Kahn, it is likely that the former IMF head would relent on this issue, if, indeed, it is still an issue by the time all of that was to come about.

Irony heaped upon delicious irony. In such a scenario, would it not then be appropriate for the Left here to hail their brother Dominique Strauss-Kahn, multi-millionaire, alleged mysogynist and the saviour of Ireland?

Sunday Independent

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