Ever since President Sarkozy took power in France, the French foreign policy has been undergoing a great deal of revival and revolution. Sarkozy, who sees himself the modern-time Napoleon and savior of the French Republic, has been trying hard to re-impose France back onto the world stage as a major power and actor, and do away with his predecessor’s more laissez-faire approach. Therefore, it is not surprising to see how the French are out to find any kind of opening and welcoming around the world, and coincidentally to exploit them in order to achieve this foreign policy objective.
Hence, when recently the rulers of United Arab Emirates, a little sheikhdom in the southern part of the Persian Gulf, gave France a green light in order to establish a military base in the ground and naval territories of that tiny country, the French President threw himself into the arms of the UAE ruler in Abu Dhabi, and signed an agreement, paving the road to France gaining a foothold in the Persian Gulf.
It must be noted that these countries are greatly to blame for the entrance and sejour of outside powers into the region, especially those powers which had fortunately lost this colonialist attitude and habit for a long time, in this case France. In fact, the French are way out of their league in wanting to setup shop in the Persian Gulf. Also, the French officials, and anyone else for that matter, should know that by imposing themselves, especially militarily, on the region, they further exacerbate and complicate the already delicate balance of power and politics of the region.
Furthermore, their presence in this region can only lead to their intervention in not only the internal matters of the countries in question, but also to that of the whole region, let alone the adjoining regions which these powers are enthusiastically eyeing (i.e. Central and Southeast Asia).
It is also interesting to understand UAE’s motives for such a move, since as part of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, it is already the host of considerable American presence in the region. This small sheikhdom is over-investing heavily in foreign military aid, assistance, and presence, just to want to fight terrorism and naval piracy. From the underlying connotations, one can assume that the Emirate’s leaders are eyeing their neighbor to the north, more than the al-Qaeda cells within the sheikhdom.
What UAE is seeking out of this deal, and the ones surely to be followed, is to be able to increase her political and military leverage against Iran, with an special attention towards confronting or taking possession of the disputed Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf. Emirate’s leaders are therefore getting ready for the future. They know now that these islands are in tight control of the Iranian army and navy, and so if they seek to lay claim to them more vociferously, they need to garner more and more support from the West, especially in terms of military hardware.
And with the current political situation concerning Iran’s nuclear program and regional ambitions, and the possibility of any sort of confrontation in the region concerning Iran and the United States, there is little doubt that many Western powers, as well as the Arabs in the Persian Gulf, would rather see these islands in the hands of an “allied” United Arab Emirates, than an Iranian “enemy.”
On the part of France, if Sarkozy was looking to combat al-Qaeda’s threat and extremist influence which it exerts on the French Muslim community, it would have been wiser for him to firstly turn his attention towards certain North African countries, where the Salafist movement, have been gaining considerable influence across the Muslim community residing in France. In fact, by imposing herself into the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region, France has directly put herself on a collision course with al-Qaeda, as she will have provided more targets to this extremist group, as well as given them further excuse to single out France and her interests worldwide.
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