A number of debatable assumptions here. Instead of overpersonalizing foreign policy analysis, it may be more informative to describe what principles shape FR foreign policy in the MENA region and then you can decide whether you like them or not: https://twitter.com/foreignpolicy/status/1306072818766024706
#Lebanon : More than refugees or colonial nostalgia, it’s a vibrant binational community & a strong belief that LBN is key to MENA balance that drives FR policy. Macron uses traditional FR positon on CEDRE (2018) & re Hezbollah to give a new diplo push to avoid eco collapse.
#Iraq: Paris has been a committed partner to Bagdad (& Erbil) at least since 2014. MoD then FM Le Drian made multiple visits. Military support c/ #ISIS (artillery; air support; training...) ; Eco support (500m€ loan in 2017); Stabilization (reconstruction e.g. Sinjar & Mosul).
#Iraq: Beyond FR-IRQ relations, there is a fear Iran-backed militias’ attacks against US elements could destabilise Iraq further and make it the hotspot of US-Iran tensions. That’s where Macron’s emphasis on Iraqi sovereignty comes from.
#Turkey: Macron promotes EU sovereignty & solidarity with an emphasis on borders since 2017. Many MENA experts miss this bc it is seen as a EU debate but it has implications in #Libya and #EastMed, which connect MENA & EU. #geography
#Turkey: I already explained here the background of the arm wrestling in #EastMed and how the French method is a direct lesson learned from Northeastern #Syria. https://twitter.com/diplocharlie/status/1304516941445509122
#Turkey: on #Libya, there is a migration angle because FR policy makers see how Ankara’s entrenchment could blackmail Europe from Tripoli the same way Ankara did with #Syria #Idlib.
But FR positon re #Libya is also shaped by a stronger European dynamic with #Germany, #Italy and the #EEAS since the launch of the Berlin process. And everybody fears the Russian-Turkish tandem could work the way it did in #Syria = not in the EU’s interest.
#Energy: of course Total is a major oil player but that doesn’t make it the main driver of FR policy in MENA, and surely not in #Iraq, #EastMed or #Libya, where other companies have much higher stakes than the FR one.
Just two examples : 1/ #Iraq: Shell, CNPC, Exxon or Petronas depends much more on Iraqi oil than Total does. Even in Halfaya where Total has a share, CNPC has a share two times bigger in the field.
So Macron recent visits are : 1/consistent with a tradition of FR regional engagement to sustain historical bilateral ties as well as try to mediate when possible ; 2/ more about strengthening European foreign policy for its own sake rather than « filling the US vacuum ».
Obviously EU countries have different visions on how to strengthen EU FP in MENA but it would be more interesting to discuss this than to renew the lazy Napoleon narrative. FR tends to focus on initiatives while other care more abt consensus but this isn’t mutually exclusive.
The last couple of years have seen a lot of discussions in #Europe, not only in Paris, about these issues and how the EU should react to crisis in the MENA. These debates are often ignored in DC (e.g. this article) because they are messy & don’t produce « boots on ground ».
But if experts in DC are serious abt being smarter & get more (diplomacy & RUS/CHN containment) for less (military footprint) in the Middle East, they should pay more attention to European views.
Of course Euros should also be more effective in designing an EU policy in MENA but that’s precisely what Macron pushes for. Ultimately, regional dialogs are the only solution to deescalate in MENA but a smarter US/EU division of labor can help pushing for it.(End)
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