Chirac's 'New Arab Policy' and Middle East Challenges: The Arab-Israeli Conflict, Iraq and Iran
Wood, Pia Christina, The Middle East Journal
President Jacques Chirac's `new Arab policy' is aimed at reversing France's marginalization as a political player in the Middle East and reasserting its role as an active and influential player in the region. Yet Chirac's ambitious agenda may be difficult to implement in view of the fact that the United States is determined to maintain its predominant position in the region. Although the United States continues to dominate the Arab-Israeli peace process, France's strategy of pursuing an active foreign policy has been strengthened by support from the United Nations and the European Union.
On 8 April 1996, French president Jacques Chirac, in the midst of a high-profile visit to the Middle East, proclaimed to students at the University of Cairo that "France's Arab policy must be an essential element of its foreign policy."1 Invoking the tradition of one of his predecessors, President Charles de Gaulle (1958-69) and his famous `politique arabe,' Chirac stated his intention of giving new momentum to French foreign policy. He thus signaled his determination to reverse France's marginalization as a political player in the Middle East, particularly noticeable in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, and reassert an active and influential French role in the region. Yet Chirac's ambitious agenda may be difficult to implement in view of the fact that the United States is determined to maintain its predominant position in the region and to resist any diplomatic/political intervention at variance with its own perceived interests. France's backing of the "land for peace" option in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, its support for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and for Palestinian leader Yasir `Arafat, and its willingness to denounce certain Israeli practices, such as the building of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank,2 contrasts with the more unqualified US support for Israel. In addition, France opposed US threats to launch air strikes against Iraq to force compliance with UN resolutions, and was one of the major supporters of the decision in February 1998 to allow Iraq to increase the amount of oil it could sell under the "oil for food" agreement.3 France was also critical of the US embargo of Iran and the US policy of "dual containment,"4 as well as the Helms-Burton Act and the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA),5 which penalize foreign companies conducting business with Iran among other countries.6
Despite these differences with the United States, the open hostility which existed between the two governments during de Gaulle's era has largely disappeared. In August 1997, French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine (June 1997 - present) remarked that France was only "one of seven or eight influential world powers" and must accept the superpower status of the United States, "without acrimony," while still defending its own interests? The French government recognizes the important political role of the United States in the Middle East and regularly insists that its own efforts complement rather than compete with American leadership.8 There has been significant coordination and cooperation between France and the United States over some issues, such as the UN embargo imposed on Iraq since 1991, when the interests of the two powers have coincided. Nevertheless, the French government remains determined to wield its political power in world affairs by means of creating a counter force to the United States in what Chirac sees as an emerging multipolar world.9
In order to mitigate its middle power status and enhance its influence and position in the Middle East, the French government has concentrated on a combination of strategies. Chirac's two high-profile trips to the Middle East in April and October 1996, French foreign minister Herve de Charette's (1995-97) shuttle diplomacy in response to the crisis following Israel's April 1996 "Grapes of Wrath" operation in Lebanon,10 and Vedrine's diplomatic efforts to avoid US air strikes against Iraq in February 1998, exemplify the French government's determination to play a role in the region. Lacking the political and economic power to rival the United States, however, France has increasingly turned to two fora: the UN Security Council, where it can wield influence based on its permanent membership, and the European Union, where it plays a leadership role in foreign policy.
France's instrumental role in brokering a compromise solution in February-March 1998 to the conflict over the inspection of Iraqi "presidential" sites was possible in part because France was able to use its position in the UN Security Council to gain crucial support from Russia and the non-permanent members. At the same time, the United States, facing domestic and international opposition to air strikes against Iraq, agreed to accept the diplomatic path urged by the French. That path eventually led to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's visit to Iraq on 22-23 February 1998, and a written agreement with Iraqi president Saddam Husayn. France was also successful in procuring European support for continuing a "critical dialogue" with Iran, and for the financing of the peace process. Chirac reiterated on numerous occasions his belief that a common European foreign policy would strengthen France, and that a "Franco-European foreign policy in the Middle East"11 was indispensable. Nevertheless, France's leadership ambitions in the region continue to be constrained by a number of important factors, namely, an active American leadership role in the region, the perception among many Arab governments that the United States is the most important non-regional player, Israeli animosity toward French and European diplomatic intervention in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and divisions among EU members on what policy to adopt for the Middle East. But while France may not be the critical player it wishes to be in the Middle East, its strategy of pursuing an active foreign policy, strengthened by the support it has garnered from the United Nations and the European Union, has led to some significant political achievements in the region.
FRANCE AND THE ARAB-ISRAELI PEACE PROCESS
The Arab-Israeli peace process has always been important for French foreign policy, but has been completely dominated by the United States. Despite their best efforts, neither France nor the European Union has been able to secure a seat at the negotiating table, which remains firmly under American control. Both Israel and the United States have argued that Europe's contribution to the peace process should remain strictly financial because its diplomatic "meddling" is counterproductive.12 This view, however, has been strongly resisted by European Union leaders, and particularly by Chirac, who has insisted that French and European interests demand the inclusion of Europe in the negotiations.
While Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was in power and the 1993 Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements were being implemented, the Chirac government did not strongly press the issue of inclusion. Instead, French officials expressed support for the peace process, generally, while still criticizing certain Israeli actions and continuing to proffer France's diplomatic services. But after Rabin's assassination in November 1995, the Israeli-Lebanese crisis in May 1996, and the deterioration of the peace process under Likud prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu since his election in May 1996, Chirac began to pursue a more vigorous French diplomacy. Disagreements with the United States based on a long-standing leadership rivalry and substantive policy differences ensued.
Between 4-8 April 1996, Chirac traveled to Egypt and Lebanon for the first of two ambitious trips to the Middle East. Although careful not to criticize overtly the continued Syrian military presence in Lebanon,13 Chirac reiterated France's position in support of the withdrawal of Israeli and Syrian troops from Lebanon. He also proposed a French military presence to guarantee the border between Lebanon and Israel in any peace agreement.14
But it was in Egypt that Chirac outlined a more comprehensive design for peace in the Middle East, which strictly adhered to long-standing French policy. At the core was the principle of land for peace: a Palestinian state in exchange for Israeli security, and an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria.15 It was no accident that Chirac chose Egypt for his first major speech concerning the peace process. In the French view, Egypt is an important Arab player and potential ally in the peace process, as well as a significant commercial partner. 16 According to Chirac, "Egypt and France must have a leadership role: Egypt for the whole of the South and France for the whole of Europe."17 However, while Egyptian president Husni Mubarak maintains close ties to France and has called for a greater European role in the peace negotiations, he has been careful to keep good relations with the United States and has been unwilling to contest its predominant role in those talks. Thus Egypt's value as a French ally in the peace negotiations has remained limited due to American and Israeli objections.
Although Chirac's trip to the Middle East did not convince either the United States or Israel to include France in the peace negotiations, France's diplomatic role in the April 1996 Israeli-Lebanese crisis demonstrated that, under certain circumstances, French foreign policy could successfully vie with that of the United States. After the Israelilaunched Operation Grapes of Wrath, the Lebanese government officially asked for French diplomatic intervention. The French government reacted quickly for a number of reasons. First, although France no longer plays a historic role in Lebanon as protector and arbiter, Chirac still considers Lebanon to be a country where France has a special responsibility. Second, Chirac has close personal links with Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, and hopes to increase the participation of French firms in the reconstruction efforts of Lebanon in the aftermath of its civil war (1975-90). Finally, Chirac's announcement of a "new Arab policy" would have appeared meaningless had the French government stood on the side-lines during that crisis.
Foreign Minister de Charette traveled to Israel, Lebanon and Syria in April 1996 and consulted with Iranian foreign minister `Ali Akbar Velayati in an effort to find acceptable terms for the establishment of a cease-fire. The major stumbling block was the American-Israeli condition that the militant Islamist Lebanese Hizballah group lay down its arms and agree not to attack the Israeli army in the security zone in South Lebanon. This was unacceptable to both Syria and Lebanon.8 The French, on the other hand, supported terms whereby both Hizballah and Israel would agree to avoid targeting civilians, while Hizballah would retain its prerogative to resist the Israeli occupation in South Lebanon.19 Despite de Charette's contention that "the French initiative was not in contradiction with the American initiative,"20 and that the two countries were coordinating their positions, it was apparent that the initial French and American propositions were at odds. Although neither the United States nor Israel approved France's high-profile diplomacy, US secretary of state Warren Christopher admitted that France had better contacts than the United States with Syria and Iran.21 The Israeli government, in contrast, openly voiced its hostility to France's role. Israeli prime minister Peres criticized the "total confusion" created by "multiple mediations" and stressed that the only channel for negotiations was through the United States.22 Nevertheless, backed by Syria, Lebanon and Iran, and accepted by Hizballah, the final agreement was largely based on the French proposal, thus allowing the French government to claim that its intervention had been critical to ending the crisis successfully.23 Moreover, despite Israeli objections, Syria and Lebanon insisted that France be included as one of the five members of the surveillance group set up to monitor the truce.24
Thus, with the end of the crisis, Chirac's declaration that "the tenacity of our diplomacy permitted France to find again its place in the affairs of the Middle East"25 appeared at least partly credible. Certainly, the Chirac government gained points in the Arab world. It was also clear that despite support for a joint foreign and security policy, the French government was willing to by-pass the European Union and act unilaterally when national diplomacy promised better results.
The Arab-Israeli conflict has been, and continues to be, a contentious and divisive issue for the European Union. France's go-it-alone policies are the result, in part, of the inability of the European Union to agree to any common action beyond issuing declaratory statements. Nevertheless, France's successful diplomatic foray in the Lebanese-Israeli crisis was a product of specific circumstances. Its proposals and mediating role were supported by three key regional players-Syria, Iran, and Lebanon-that considered France to be valuable as a counter balance to the United States. In addition, the United States, the Israeli government (facing international criticism after the killing of civilians during the Grapes of Wrath operation), and Hizballah were all anxious to end the confrontation quickly. France's proposed terms proved to be the best means to achieve this objective. But the French government's active role in the crisis did not translate into a more influential role in the larger peace process. Israel and the United States continued to oppose French or European participation, a resistance that hardened with the electoral victory of Netanyahu as prime minister in May 1996.
Once in power, the new Likud-led government immediately demonstrated its disapproval of the direction the peace process had taken under the previous government by rejecting the "land for peace" principle. It also clearly signaled its adamant opposition to any European role in the process other than financial.26 As the peace process stalled in late 1996 and throughout 1997, the French government downplayed its reputation of going it alone and emphasized its leadership role in the European Union in an effort to use European support to gain leverage and influence in the peace process.27 According to de Charette, "In tomorrow's Europe, there will be those countries who lead the others. We were able to observe that in the Middle East and particularly in the Lebanese crisis, France was engaged in the front line; after several debates, her actions were supported by our European partners and bore fruit."28
On his second major trip to the Middle East, between 19-25 October 1996, which took him to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian controlled territories, and Syria, Chirac repeated, on numerous occasions, that Europe (not France) ought to be the co-sponsor of the peace process along with the United States. Despite support from the Arab countries and Palestinian leader `Arafat for Chirac's proposal, Israel and the United States have continued to refuse to have European co-sponsors in that process.29 In June 1997, after a meeting with `Arafat in Paris, Chirac again unsuccessfully suggested that the United States and Europe undertake a joint initiative to restart the peace process.30
While US and Israeli opposition has curtailed France's role, some EU members have also expressed their disapproval of France's active diplomacy on their behalf, and have thus undermined France's ability to put forward a common European position. In particular, Germany and Great Britain have been reluctant to antagonize the United States or Israel or to allow France to speak for them. Consequently, the EU actions in response to the impasse in the peace process in the late 1990s have remained extremely modest. For example, the EU members agreed, in October 1996, to appoint Spanish diplomat Miguel Angel Moratinos as "special envoy" to the Middle East with a mandate to offer Europe's "advice and good offices," but he has been ineffectual largely because of Israeli opposition. In April 1997, France successfully urged the European Union to propose a "code of conduct" whereby the Palestinian leadership would redouble its efforts to combat terrorism, while Israel would agree to freeze Israeli settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Netanyahu rejected the idea, maintaining that Europe's role should be essentially economic. Thus, France has been unsuccessful in its efforts to use the European forum as leverage to promote French political ambitions in the Middle East peace process.
By mid-1997, it was clear that only the United States could bring Israel back to the negotiating table with the Palestinian leadership.31 As a result, the French government stepped back and concentrated on criticizing specific Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, such as Netanyahu's refusal to carry out agreements signed by previous governments, and the Israeli prime minister's decision to construct additional settlements in East Jerusalem.32 Most severe were remarks made by Vedrine in September 1997. Categorizing Israeli foreign policy as "catastrophic" and responsible for increasing support for radical Islamist movement Hamas, he went on to state that "the [Israeli] government's. . . measures [of] harassment and humiliation [have taken] the situation of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories to a level of exasperation without precedent."33 In November 1997, after a meeting with `Arafat in Ramallah, Vedrine called for Israel to respect "previous signed agreements,"34 while in France, socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin openly criticized the Netanyahu government.35 While France's willingness to speak out has been appreciated in the Arab world and particularly by the Palestinians, the Netanyahu government has been very critical of it. Continued Israeli and American opposition is likely to prevent more political involvement by Europe or France in the peace process, despite the indispensable role of the European Union as the principal financier of the peace process.
FINANCING THE PEACE PROCESS: FRENCH-EU COOPERATION
While the Chirac government remains resolute in pursuing a 'French' political role in the peace process, it also supports a leading financial role for the European Union. The lion's share of French (and European) aid goes through the European Union. Even when the French government provides separate funds, such as those promised in 1996 when it signed a financial protocol with `Arafat for $16 million to support part of the feasibility studies for a port in Gaza, it did so based on additional funds being allocated by the European Investment Bank, Germany, and the Netherlands.36 Clearly, the French government wants to share the financial burden of financing the peace process. Nevertheless, both of Chirac's prime ministers have consistently been outspoken supporters of `Arafat and the PLO, and have argued persuasively to their EU partners for financial aid to the Palestinians. The case was not difficult to make, as there was general agreement among EU members that improvement in the economic conditions of the Palestinians was vital to the success of the peace process. By the end of the period 1994-98, the European Union will have contributed some $1.8 billion to the West Bank and Gaza, which will equal 45 percent of the total financial and economic aid given to the Palestinians during that same period. In 1996, the European Union financed the Palestinian elections and the European Commission increased its pledge to more than $150 million. In 1997, the European Union and `Arafat signed a bilateral trade agreement, over Israeli objections, which will increase the Palestinian Authority's access to European development funds and gradually liberalize trade between the European Union and the Palestinian controlled territories.37
Despite the importance of EU funds to the peace process, aid has not translated into political influence. The European Union is divided over what role it should play in the peace process, and several members are content to focus primarily on economic aid. In turn, there is no broad support within the European Union for wielding its economic power, including the use of embargos and sanctions, to put pressure on Israel, although the European Union is Israel's number one economic partner. Even France is circumspect about employing economic pressure, and the Chirac government strongly urged the French parliament in March 1997 to ratify the EU-Israel Association Agreement despite the parliament's strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy in East Jerusalem.
Nevertheless, the European Union has become increasingly critical of providing aid to the Palestinians to offset Israeli policies such as the sealing off of the territories and the withholding of Palestinian tax revenues.38 With strong support from France, the EU Commission agreed, in 1996, to provide a $900,000 emergency food aid package to the Palestinian Authority,39 but there is a growing frustration with Israel and a reluctance to fund day-to-day operations instead of longer term development projects. In January 1998, the EU commission blamed Israeli policies for the lack of economic growth and high unemployment rate in the Palestinian controlled territories. It warned that "the Palestinians must have the possibility to exercise their rights to economic development."4 Critical declarations, however, have not led to any EU action. In the final analysis, the European Union may not be satisfied with its limited role as paymaster of the peace process but it is also averse to decreasing its support for the Palestinians. Currently, it has no other viable alternatives because, despite France's best efforts, the European Union lacks the political will to push for a greater role.
THE UN EMBARGO AND IRAQ: FRENCH-AMERICAN DISAGREEMENTS
In the wake of Iraq's defeat in the 1991 Gulf War, the coalition partners and the UN Security Council agreed to place a total embargo on Iraq until the country was disarmed and Saddam Husayn's weapons of mass destruction were located and destroyed By 1995, however, divisions between coalition partners, particularly France and the United States, were apparent. Although the French government agreed that Iraq must cooperate fully with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and dismantle all of its weapons of mass destruction, as outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 687,4' it opposed the American objective of maintaining the crushing economic sanctions on Iraq until Husayn's removal from power. In the French view, Husayn was unlikely to be ousted for a while and the sanctions ought to be lifted as soon as Iraq had complied with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. According to Chirac, "The road [for Iraq] to follow is drawn. It follows the implementation of all the Security Council resolutionsand only those."42
The French also opposed unilateral actions by the United States against Iraq that were not condoned by the United Nations and the modification of UN resolutions to serve American purposes. Thus, when the United States bombed targets in northern Iraq, in September 1996, in retaliation for Iraq's military incursion against the Kurdish group, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan,43 and then extended the "no-fly" zone in southern Iraq from the 32nd parallel to the 33rd parallel, the French government voiced its disapproval. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs argued that UN Security Council resolution 688, which was interpreted by the coalition partners to allow the implementation of the two "no-fly" zones, did not prohibit the movement of Iraqi ground troops nor did it authorize a military response.44 To mark its disapprobation, the French government decided that French planes would participate in air surveillance in southern Iraq up to the 32nd parallel and not beyond.45 In December 1996, the French government distanced itself even further from the United States by announcing that France would not participate after 1 January 1997 in the new surveillance force "Northern Watch" designed to replace operation "Provide Comfort" over northern Iraq.46 Its decision rested on the argument that Resolution 688, passed in 1991, which had led to the "no-fly" zone in northern Iraq, was strictly humanitarian in nature. The new surveillance force, decided on by the United States, Turkey, and Great Britain, without UN approval, might be used, the French argued, for military missions and was beyond the scope of the resolution.47
France's determination to respect the UN Security Council's resolutions and oppose their "manipulation" by the United States represented one important reason for the French-American disagreement over Iraq. The general lack of support in the Arab world for the use of force against Iraq certainly made the French government's decisions easier. Chirac's Gaullist-inspired "new Arab policy" also sought to establish an independent French and/or European position on the Iraq issue. The European Union, however, has provided little support for the French position, mainly because of Great Britain's unequivocal backing of the United States. Nevertheless, the French government argued that the best approach to the Iraqi crisis was to reintegrate Iraq into the international community. To achieve this goal, the French government strongly supported UN Security Council Resolution 986, allowing Iraqi oil to be exchanged for food and medicine, and successfully urged a reluctant Iraq to accept the resolution in May 1996.
France's economic motivations are also noteworthy. The Iraqi debt to France is estimated at $7.5 billion48 and repayment cannot begin until Iraq is allowed to sell its oil. French companies are anxious to gain access to Iraq's oil fields once the sanctions are lifted, and it appears that France's strategy may be paying off. In November 1995, General `Amir Rashid, Iraq's minister of oil, declared that accords with French oil companies Total and Elf were in their final phase, and provisional agreements had been signed.49 In April 1996, `Adnan `Abd al-Majid Jasim, the Iraqi minister of industry and minerals, stated that French companies would be given "special importance" in the negotiations of contracts.50
The French-American disagreement over how to deal with Iraq was rekindled in October 1997. On 23 October, the UN Security Council, pressured by the United States and Great Britain, adopted Resolution 1134, which threatened to ban travel by Iraqi officials if they continued to hinder UNSCOM's work.51 France, Russia and China abstained, arguing that the resolution was too rigid. But France's abstention also reflected its view that after seven years of sanctions, a more coherent, medium-term strategy encompassing some incentives for Iraqi cooperation had to be devised.52 Determined to exploit the differences between the UN Security Council members, the Iraqi government expelled the American members of the UNSCOM team on 13 November 1997. Nizar Hamdun, the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, explained, in an interview with Le Monde, that the decision was based on the conviction that the United States was determined to overthrow the Iraqi regime and that there "was no hope to see the sanctions lifted one day."53 With a major confrontation brewing between Iraq and the United States, the French government found itself in a difficult position. On the one hand, French foreign minister Vedrine firmly stated that the Iraqi decision was "unacceptable" and all UN resolutions had to be implemented.54 On the other hand, the French government criticized the "hysterical" rhetoric emanating from the United States, stated its opposition to the use of force, and warned the United States and Great Britain that any action against Iraq would require the approval of the UN Security Council.55
As with the 1996 Israeli-Lebanese crisis, the Chirac government quickly demonstrated that it had every intention of playing an active role in the search for a solution to the Iraqi crisis. Support from the European Union was scant, as its members remained badly divided over how to respond. Great Britain supported the United States, while the other members preferred to play a more peripheral role. But the relatively good relations between Iraq and France, and the US government's strong preference to preserve unity among the UN Security Council members placed France in a position of strength politically. The convergence of views between France and Russia, which led to close consultation and cooperation between the two powers, ensured that French propositions would carry some weight. Both Chirac and Russian president Boris Yeltsin shared the objective of playing a more important role in world affairs and supported a closer French-Russian relationship as one means of challenging the dominance of the United States.56 In November 1997, Vedrine and Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov agreed to hold regular consultations on the Middle East. According to Vedrine, "The situation in the Middle East of course demands active efforts by the United States. But Europe and Russia should be just as active in these affairs."57 Both France and Russia agreed that Iraqi officials had to comply with all UN resolutions, and could not interfere with UNSCOM's work nor determine the UN team's composition. They also agreed that there should be "a light at the end of the tunnel" when sanctions would be lifted, with intermediary steps along the way to the final verification of the complete destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.58 After days of intense negotiations, the Russians reached an agreement with Iraq, in mid-November, whereby the UNSCOM inspectors would be allowed to return and resume their activities in exchange for a Russian promise to "contribute actively to lifting the sanctions as rapidly as possible."59 France's satisfaction with Husayn's agreement to this proposal, however, was short-lived, as the Iraqi government allowed the UNSCOM inspectors to return but continued to restrict their access to potential weapons sites.60
By January 1998, the French government had hardened its position against Iraq's continued obstruction of UNSCOM, but remained determined to pursue every diplomatic path to gain Iraqi compliance with the UN resolutions. Both Chirac and Vedrine stressed that the Iraqi government had to comply with all UN resolutions and that the UNSCOM inspection team had to be allowed free and unfettered access to all sites. But their opposition to a military solution or any French participation in air strikes against Iraqi targets was also clearly stated.61 In the French view, air strikes would be unlikely to accomplish the objective of finding and destroying Husayn's weapons of mass destruction, would probably result in the expulsion of all UN inspectors at least temporarily, and could back-fire by creating sympathy for the Iraqi people in the Arab world.62 The French government recognized that Arab public opinion perceived that the United States, and to some extent the United Nations, had adopted a "double standard" by threatening air strikes against Iraq for non-compliance with UN resolutions while ignoring Israeli noncompliance with other UN resolutions.63 Chirac also voiced his reservations over the prolonged use of the economic embargo against Iraq because of its catastrophic consequences for the civilian population. "I must state clearly that I am resolutely hostile to unilateral sanctions. . Sanctions must be carefully framed. They must be proportional. They must be limited in duration. They must be based on precise criteria."64 In other words, if Iraq played by the rules and disarmed, the French were willing to request that the sanctions be lifted and Iraq be reintegrated into the international community.
In order to avoid American military action in February 1998, the French government launched a determined and persuasive diplomatic initiative that included consultations with all UN Security Council members, the Iraqi government and other countries in the region, as well as with UN Secretary General Annan. Chirac went so far as to send Saddam Husayn a personal letter stressing that Iraq had to comply with the UN resolutions.65 As the inspection of the "presidential sites"66 was the major sticking point, the French proposed that these sites be inspected under slightly different arrangements. Once again, Chirac intervened personally and met in Paris with the Iraqi minister of foreign affairs, Muhammad Sa`id al-Sahhaf, in order to stress the importance of accepting this solution, as this was Iraq's last chance to avoid military action by the United States. Finally, France was one of the principal promoters of a trip by Annan to Baghdad that led to an agreement with Saddam Husayn on 22 February.67 Although the American administration was not particularly pleased with the French demarche, the lack of international and domestic support for air strikes, combined with the fact that the French government strongly supported the implementation of all UN resolutions, made it difficult for the United States to reject the French-inspired solution. On 23 February, Annan and Tariq `Aziz, Iraq's vice-prime minister, signed a memorandum whereby Iraq reconfirmed its acceptance of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions. In addition, an expanded group of diplomats and of experts from UNSCOM and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was created to inspect eight presidential sites that had hitherto been out of the reach of UNSCOM. Annan's meeting with Chirac on his way back from Iraq, in an official French plane, only enhanced France's reputation as the country that had mediated the successful end to the crisis. According to Annan, "France's aid has been enormous" and Iraq ceded because of tremendous international pressure including pressure from France.68
In the wake of Annan's trip, the UN Security Council unanimously passed resolution 1154, which subscribed to the Annan-`Aziz memorandum, demanded that unconditional and immediate access be accorded to the UNSCOM inspectors, and threatened that any "violations would have the severest consequences."69 But the real struggle occurred over whether the resolution would contain language that would allow the United States and Great Britain to respond immediately with military force to any violation without further UN Security Council consultations. Faced with Chinese and French opposition and Russian veto threats, the United States and Great Britain dropped their demands to include the terms "flagrant violation" or "material breach," which would have implied that an immediate military response could be made.70 But the ambiguity remained, as Washington insisted that it already had the authority to launch air strikes, while France, Russia and China maintained that any use of force had to be approved first by the members of the UN Security Council.
The French government's success in mediating the Iraqi crisis demonstrated that it could play an active and influential diplomatic role in the region if it were backed by forceful international support. In the Iraqi case, strong support in the UN Security Council from Russia, China and the non-permanent members gave France the necessary power to persuade the United States to accept a negotiated solution. It is unlikely that France alone would have been able to push through the agreement, which is one reason that the French government is such a resolute advocate of the need for the United Nations to play a leadership role in international disputes. Its permanent membership in the UN Security Council provides France with a potential lever to counterbalance the power of the United States on the Iraqi issue. France would have liked to see the European Union play a similar role, but British and German support for the United States has prevented any common European stance. There has been, however, considerably more EU solidarity over policy toward Iran.
IRAN AND THE US POLICY OF "DUAL CONTAINMENT": FRENCH-EU SOLIDARITY
Both France and the European Union have staunchly opposed US efforts to obtain support from the international community to join the US political and economic boycott of Iran. The United States has accused Iran of support for international terrorism, opposition to the Arab-Israeli peace process, and the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. The US hard-line response, namely, economic sanctions, has been calculated to undermine the Iranian government. The Clinton government has argued that any trade with Iran would benefit the Iranian regime by improving the economy. In 1995, the US imposed a trade embargo on Iran and in 1996, the Congress passed the ILSA, which called for mandatory sanctions against any foreign company investing more than $20 million yearly in the energy industries of Iran or Libya.
Both the European Union and France have considered Washington's "dual containment" policy,71 which seeks to isolate both Iraq and Iran, to be misguided and counterproductive. Although the French government is concerned that the Iranian government may have been behind some terrorist acts in Europe and elsewhere in recent years, it supports the 1993 EU decision to maintain a "critical dialogue" with Iran. In the French view, isolating Iran serves no useful purpose except to strengthen the hard-liners in the country, while low-level contacts between French and Iranian officials and continued trade provide incentives to cooperate, as well as some means to influence Iranian policy.72 The Europeans consider II,SA and the Helms-Burton Act, which targeted Cuba, to be blunt attempts to impose US political preferences on other countries. French officials have pointed out, on numerous occasions, that only the UN Security Council has the authority to impose international sanctions on a country, which it has not done in the case of Iran.73
At the same time, France and other EU members have very important financial interests at stake that cannot be underestimated in assessing the EU/French position. Iran is one of the largest suppliers of crude oil to the European Union (some $17 billion worth in 1995), while the EU exported $11.5 billion worth of goods to Iran in the same year. The French government is interested in augmenting its trade links with Iran, and French businesses are anxious to gain greater access to Iran's oil and markets. It was not surprising, therefore, that the EU categorically rejected ILSA and that, in November 1997, it passed a statute requiring non-compliance by European companies.74 EU solidarity over this issue has been striking. The Europeans adamantly oppose any US claim that it has the right to legislate what foreign companies may or may not do outside of the United States. France has been at the forefront of countries willing to improve their economic and political ties to Iran. Regular bilateral contacts between France and Iran have been instituted, and in February 1996, Bernard Pons, the minister of equipment and transport, visited Iran and signed three technical accords. In November 1996, Mahmud Vaezi, the Iranian vice-minister for foreign affairs, announced, during a visit to Paris, that Iran planned to buy telecommunication satellites for some $500 million and ten Airbus airplanes. Agreements were also reached whereby Iran would repay some of its debt to France through oil exports and other business contracts.75 But potentially the most controversial deal was signed on 28 September 1997 between the French oil firm, Total, and the Iranian government to explore part of the South Pars offshore gas field. The $2 billion contract, which is shared with Russian and Malaysian oil firms, posed a direct challenge to ILSA. In October 1997, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin warned the United States against interfering with the signing of the contract: "American laws apply in the United States. They don't apply in France."76 Following Total's lead, other European companies, including Royal Dutch/Shell and Elf Aquitaine, began exploring the possibility of investing in Iran. Even a seven-month diplomatic crisis between the European Union and Iran had no serious effect on business negotiations.77
The Clinton administration was reluctant to apply sanctions in the face of a united European stance which included its staunch ally Great Britain, and European warnings that they would respond with countermeasures. Despite calls in the US Congress to put ILSA into effect, efforts by the Clinton administration to find a compromise succeeded in May 1998. An agreement was reached on 18 May between the European Union and the United States whereby the latter would not impose sanctions on European businesses investing in Cuba. At the same meeting, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright confirmed that the United States would not impose sanctions on Total, Gazprom, or Petronas.78 It remains unclear whether the United States will systematically lift sanctions against other European businesses investing in Iran and Libya or continue to decide whether to impose them on a case by case basis. Iranian president Muhammad Khatami's remarks during a CNN interview on 7 January 1998, calling for a "crack in the wall of mistrust" between the US and Iran reinforced the view of those in the administration who believe that sweeping unilateral sanctions are ineffective.79 Thus, in the controversy between the United States and the European Union over Iran, the latter has stood firm. In contrast to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the dispute with Saddam Husayn, where divisions among EU members have been noteworthy, economic interests in Iran have both united the European Union and facilitated agreement over a common position. Clearly, the French government has benefited politically and economically from the unanimity within the European Union on the ILSA. While the United States might have been willing to take action against France alone, it has been disinclined to confront the 15-member European Union. EU solidarity over Iran represents a still infrequent success for a common European foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as a positive contribution to France's political ambitions and economic interests in the region.
Although it is too soon to judge fully how Chirac's "new Arab policy" ultimately will affect France's political ambitions and economic interests in the Middle East, some preliminary remarks are in order. Chirac, in harmony with Socialist foreign minister Vedrine, clearly has aspirations to reinforce France's presence in the region in order to advance its interests. To accomplish these objectives, the French government has become actively engaged in a regional diplomacy that is frequently outspoken and independent from that of the United States. In this sense, continuity with the Gaullist legacy is evident. At the same time, however, France has demonstrated a willingness to consult and cooperate with the United States when their interests converge, as has been the case with Iraq. According to Vedrine, "France and the United States, the only two actors in the world with the means and will to pursue a global policy, will try to work together."so Nevertheless, the French are determined to retain their independent reputation, which has allowed them to claim a privileged mediating role in the Middle East and to concentrate on building international support for their policies. To this end, France has attempted to strengthen support for its policies at the United Nations, within the European Union, and by means of bilateral contacts with major players, such as Russia. According to the French government, the emerging multipolar world presents it with new opportunities to play a leadership role, but only if it can counterbalance that of the United States. A careful evaluation of the relative success or failure of this French strategy in the Middle East reveals a mixed picture.
Chirac's attempts to secure a more significant diplomatic role for France and the European Union in the Arab-Israeli peace negotiations have continued to be thwarted. The key has been the Israeli and American governments' hostility toward a French (or European) role, other than a financial one, and this is unlikely to change in the near future. This is primarily because of France's friendship with numerous Arab governments and its outspoken support for the Palestinian cause. The United States remains the only country able to influence Israel, which means that the peace process moves forward only when the US administration is fully engaged. France has been unable to mobilize UN Security Council support on the peace process because of the readiness of the US government to veto any resolutions that it deems are too critical of Israel. Nevertheless, the Chirac government can justifiably claim to have maintained a strong involvement despite being blocked from any official role in the peace negotiations. French foreign minister de Charette's successful shuttle diplomacy in 1996 demonstrated that France's ties to numerous Arab nations afford it a status that cannot be ignored. In addition, Chirac's outspoken support for the principle of "land for peace" and for a Palestinian state has given those issues added legitimacy in the international community. The European Union, however, has not provided France with significant support, as members continue to have different views of what Europe's role should be in the peace process, although they all agree that peace negotiations must continue. Although the European Union and France have criticized Israeli policies and have objected to being excluded from the American-led negotiations, divisions among its members have prevented the European Union from applying economic pressure on Israel. The one area of agreement has been over financial aid. Europe's monetary contribution is generally considered to be essential to the success of the peace process. In the final analysis, a common European foreign policy has been elusive, as member governments, and particularly France, remain willing to bypass the European Union in order to pursue their own national foreign policies.
Although France has been unable to convince EU members (particularly Great Britain and Germany) to follow its lead and support its diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iraqi crisis, it has presented an activist foreign policy that has included extensive consultations particularly with the United States and Russia, proposals to end Iraq's interference with UNSCOM inspectors, sending special envoys to Iraq, and supporting Annan's mediating trip to Iraq. The eventual success of French diplomacy has not only enhanced France's reputation in the Arab world, but has also demonstrated the new-found strength of the UN Security Council. The French government has long sought to enhance the influence of the council, which it believes could provide France, particularly in a multipolar world, with the clout to offset American primacy over international affairs.
In contrast to their emphasis on "French" diplomacy during the Iraqi crisis, Chirac and Vedrine have responded to the US embargo of Iran by wrapping French foreign policy in the EU flag. The European Union, and the French government in particular, have been outspoken in their opposition to the US "dual containment" policy as it applies to Iran, and to the ILSA, which they view as an infringement on free trade and inapplicable under international law. Franco-European solidarity on this issue, based on common economic interests, illustrates not only the benefits of EU membership for France but also the yet largely unrealized power of the European Union. Notwithstanding the case of Iran, a common European foreign policy may not always be in France's best interests unless the French government continues to play the leading role in foreign affairs within the European Union and manages to preserve its capacity for unilateral initiatives. Chirac seems to think that this is possible.81
1. Le Monde (Paris), 9 April 1996, p. 1. According to Herve de Charette, then foreign minister, "France is determined to play a role in the Middle East," Le Monde, 19 January 1996, p. 3. Quotation translated by author.
2. In March 1997, France co-sponsored a UN Security Council resolution with Great Britain, Portugal and Sweden calling Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem "illegal." The United States vetoed the resolution. Le Monde, 9-10 March, 1997, p. 4.
3. On 14 April 1995, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 986, which allowed Iraq to sell $2 billion worth of oil for humanitarian reasons. As conditions deteriorated for the Iraqi people in 1996-97, France and other nations strongly supported increasing the amount of oil Iraq could sell. On 20 February 1998, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1153, which allowed Iraq to increase its sales of oil to $5.256 billion. See Middle East International, 28 April 1995, p. 10; Le Monde (supplement), 28 February 1998, p. VI; and The New York Times, 31 January 1998, p. A4.
4. According to Chirac, "It is necessary to leave behind the dual containment policy against Iraq and Iran . . ." Le Monde, 24 February 1998, p. 2. Quotation translated by author.
5. The Helms-Burton Act (Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity [Libertad] Act of 1996) provides for sanctions against countries assisting Cuba. For the full text, see "Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996" (PL 101-114, 12 March 1996), United States Statutes at Large 110, pp. 785-824. The Iran and Libya Sanctions Act imposed sanctions on foreign businesses investing over a certain amount in the oil and gas production of either Libya or Iran. For the full text, see "Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996" (PL 104-172, 5 August 1996), United States Statutes at Large 110, pp. 1541-51. 6. See Le Monde, I October 1997, p. 2.
7. Arab News, 29 August 1997, p. 1. In later remarks, Vedrine stated, "There is a very relaxed atmosphere now compared with earlier times. When we [France and the United States] agree, it is for the best. When we do not agree, it is not a crisis. Sooner or later we always resolve our problems. We know when things
get very difficult, we always find ourselves side by side against a common enemy." Arab News, 9 October 1997, p. 9.
8. Le Monde, 18 April 1996, p. 4.
9. According to Jacques Chirac, "We are going . . toward a multipolar world. The United States, of course is first . Europe, despite its difficulties, is becoming stronger ...."Le Monde, 27 February 1998, p. 2. Quotation translated by author.
10. In response to rocket attacks by Hizballah, Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres, facing strong political opposition and an up-coming election, launched a military operation code-named "Grapes of Wrath" into South Lebanon. Israeli forces also bombed non-Hizballah targets, temporarily displaced 400,000 people from South Lebanon, killed Lebanese civilians, and destroyed electrical power stations vital to Lebanon's reconstruction efforts.
11. Le Monde, 5 April 1996, p. 15. In French the phrase is "une veritable politique franco-europeenne au Proche-Orient."
12. During a visit to The Hague to meet with Dutch prime minister Wim Kok, Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu stated that Europe's role in the peace process should be "essentially economic," and criticized what he considered to be Europe's unbalanced pro-Palestinian position. Le Monde, 12 April 1997, p. 5.
13. Syrian military intervention in Lebanon dates to the Lebanese civil war. Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad sent his troops into Lebanon on 31 May 1976. Syrian troops have remained in Lebanon since then and number approximately 30,000. See, for example, Charles Winslow, Lebanon: War and Politics in a Fragmented Society (New York: Routledge, 1996). 14. Le Monde, 6 April 1996, p. 2. 15. Le Monde, 9 April 1996, p. 3.
16. France was the fourth largest exporter to Egypt, with a positive trade balance of four billon French fraces
17. Le Monde, 9 April 1996, p. 1. Quotation translated by author. 18. Le Monde, 19 April 1996, p. 4. 19. Le Monde, 28-29 April 1996, p. 2.
20. Le Monde, 18 April 1996, p. 4. Quotation translated by author. 21. Middle East International, 26 April 1996, p. 8. 22. Ibid.; and Le Monde, 19 April 1996, p. 4.
23. The final terms were based on the 1993 "arrangement" brokered by the United States, and included a cease-fire and an agreement that neither Israel nor Hizballah would target civilians nor would the latter give up its weapons nor the right of "legitimate defense" in the security zone. Israel wanted the terms in writing and signed by Syria and Lebanon, but Syria and Lebanon refused to sign any document with Israel. Eventually Lebanon and Israel both signed separate letters addressed to the United States agreeing to the terms. Le Monde, 28-29 April 1996, p. 2.
24. The French proposed the creation of a surveillance group, consisting of representatives from the United States, France, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, to monitor the Israeli-Lebanese agreement. Le Monde, 8 May 1996, p. 13.
25. Le Monde, 2 May 1996, p. 5. Quotation translated by author. 26. According to Israeli foreign minister David Levy, Europe already plays "an important role in the negotiations, in the economics of peace. We reject all interference in the negotiations. A new mediator in the conflict or in the negotiations is inconceivable." Le Monde, 22 October 1996, p. 2. Quotation translated by author.
27. Le Monde, 2-3 March 1997.
28. Ibid. Quotation translated by author.
29. On 22 October 1996, Nicholas Burns, the spokesman for the US State Department at the time, warned against European intervention in the peace negotiations. "The United States is the only indispensable country [that] has been present [in the Middle East peace process] for the last 25-30 years. We do not wish to create a mini-UN at Taba and at Eilat." Le Monde, 24 October 1996, p. 2. Quotation translated by author. 30. Le Monde, 2 July 1997, p. 3.
31. In 1997, the peace negotiations stalled for a number of reasons, including Prime Minister Netanyahu's stated opposition to certain aspects of the 1993 Oslo Accords (Israeli withdrawal from land in the West Bank), his decision to approve a new Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem (Har Homa), clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in Hebron, and terrorist attacks against Israelis. Le Monde, 23-24 March 1997, p. 3. 32. During a visit to Israel in March 1997, de Charette criticized Israeli plans to construct new settlements in East Jerusalem as "contrary to international law" and "an obstacle to the peace process." Le Monde, 6 March 1997, p. 3.
33. Le Monde, 13 September 1997, p. 2. Quotation translated by author. 34. Liberation (Paris), 26 November 1997, p. 12. 35. Middle East International, 5 December 1997, p. 10. 36. Middle East International, 29 March 1996, p. 4. 37. Middle East International, 7 March 1997, p. 9.
38. In the wake of a double suicide bombing in Jerusalem on 30 July 1997, the Israeli government withheld the transfer of taxes (from Palestinian workers) and customs duties, estimated at $80 million, that it collects for the Palestinian Authority. The New York Times, 15 September 1997, p. Al. 39. Middle East International, 12 April 1996, p. 10. 40. Le Monde, 17 January 1998, p. 3. Quotation translated by author. 41. The resolution states that Iraq must unconditionally destroy all of its chemical and biological weapons, and its ballistic missiles as well as all weapons research, development, and production facilities. For the full text, see "Security Council Action (3 April)," in Yearbook of the United Nations (New York: United Nations, 1992), pp. 172-76.
42. Le Monde, 29-30 December 1997, p. 2. Quotation translated by author. 43. There are two major Kurdish parties in Iraq: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Although they cooperated immediately after the 1991 Gulf War, this cooperation broke down in 1994, and intra-Kurdish fighting ensued. In September 1996, Saddam Husayn sent troops into northern Iraq to support the PDK in its fight against the KDP. Le Monde, 4 September 1996, p. 2. See also Michael M. Gunter, "The KDP-PUK Conflict in Northern Iraq," The Middle East Journal 50, no. 2 (Spring 1996), pp. 225-41.
44. Le Monde, 4 September 1996, p. 2. 45. Le Monde, 7 September 1996, p. 4.
46. In the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, the United States and its allies set up operation "Provide Comfort" and a no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel to protect the Kurdish population in northern Iraq from Saddam Husayn's troops. In May 1992, a no-fly zone was set up over southern Iraq ("Southern Watch") that extended to the 32nd parallel to protect the Shi'ite population. On 31 December 1996, the mandate of operation Provide Comfort expired, and a new agreement ("Northern Watch") was signed, between Turkey, the United States and Great Britain, which was much more limited in scope. While France decided to continue to participate in Southern Watch (only to the 32nd parallel), it decided not to participate in Northern Watch. In its view, the oil-for-food agreement meant that air cover was no longer required to protect humanitarian aid. Moreover, the new mission no longer included a humanitarian dimension. Middle East International, 10 January 1997, pp. 11-12; and Le Monde, 29-30 December 1996, p. 2. 47. Le Monde, 29-30 December 1996, p. 2.
48. Boston Globe, 16 December 1997, p. 1. 49. Ibid.
50. Le Monde, 5 April 1996, p. 4. 51. Le Monde, 31 October 1997, p. 2. 52. The New York Times, 5 November 1997, p. A6. 53. Le Monde, 31 October 1997, p. 2. Quotation translated by author. 54. Le Monde, 11 November 1997, p. 1.
55. Le Figaro (Paris), 11 November 1997, p. 1. Chirac clearly stated his opposition to "the use of force and brutal measures" against Iraq on 7 November during a visit to London. Quotation translated by author.
56. In September 1997, Chirac visited Russia and was presented with an award "For Services to the Country" by President Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin remarked in his speech on that occasion that "Franco-Russian relations have reached the level of privileged partnership." Chirac responded, "Like you, we want a grand partnership between Russia and France, Russia and Europe and a leading place for a strong and peaceful Russia in tomorrow's multipolar world." Arab News, 26 September 1997, p. 4. 57. Arab News, 2 November 1997, p. 5. 58. Liberation, 21 November 1997, p. 8. 59. Ibid., p. 7. Quotation translated by author.
60. Le Monde, 20 January 1998, p. 3.
61. On 5 February 1998, during an interview on Europe I television, Vedrine stated that France "had no intention of associating itself' with military action against Iraq. "At the moment, France is attempting to obtain a solution by diplomatic means and political persuasion." Le Monde, 6 February 1998, p. 4. Quotation translated by author.
62. See comments by Chirac in Le Monde, 27 February 1998, p. 2. 63. Ibid.
64. Ibid. Quotation translated by author. 65. Le Monde, 18 February 1998, p. 3.
66. Saddam Husayn declared these sites to be off limits to UN inspectors, arguing that the sites were part of presidential compounds and residences. According to a UN survey, the eight sites covered 12.2 square miles. The New York Times, 21 February 1998, p. A4.
67. The final accord signed by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and Iraqi vice prime minister Tariq `Aziz on 23 February 1998 included the French inspired plan for the creation of a special group to inspect the eight "presidential sites." For the full text of the accord, see Le Monde, 25 February 1998, p. 2.
68. Le Monde, 25 February 1998, p.7
69. In French, the phase is "toute violation aurait de tres graves consequences," which has a slighlty different meaning. Le Monde, 6 March 1998. p.3
71. For an in-depth discussion of dual containment policy, see F. Gregory Gause III, "The Illogic of Dual Containment," Foreign Affairs 173, no. 2 (March/April 1994), pp. 56-60; and Anthony Lake, "Confronting the Backlash States," Foreign Affairs 173, no. 2 (March/April 1994), pp. 45-55. 72. Le Monde, I October 1997, p. 2.
73. According to French prime minister Lionel Jospin, "No one accepts that the U.S. can pass a law on a global scale. The famous D'Amato Act is perhaps valid for Americans, but the United Nations has not decided to place an embargo on Iran, as it has for example on Iraq." Arab News, 30 September 1997, p. 1.
74. On 22 November 1996, the European Council adopted a proposal in response to the Helms-Burton Act and ILSA (D'Amato Act). It stated, "Concerning the Helms-Burton and D'Amato Acts, it was decided to take rapidly all the necessary measures to counter the extra-territorial effects of these laws. Concerning the Helms-Burton Act, a Council Regulation and a Joint Action together will provide protection, notably by prohibiting the recognition or enforcement of judgments or administrative decisions based on the contested US legislation . . . And, where appropriate, by prohibiting compliance with US legislation. To the extent that the D'Amato Act has specific relevant elements, the texts must take these into account. . ." European Commission, Bulletin of the European Communities, Brussels: ECSC-EC-EAEC, 10, 1996, p. 83.
75. Middle East International, 16 August 1996, p. 5.
76. Arab News, 30 September 1997, p. 1. See also Jospin's remarks quoted in Le Monde, 1 October 1997, p. 2.
77. In April 1997, a Berlin court ruled that members of the Iranian government were responsible for the assassination of four Kurdish dissidents in Germany. The EU members decided to recall temporarily their ambassadors for consultations, but clashed with the Iranian government when it refused to let the German ambassador return to Iran a few months later with the other EU ambassadors. The dispute lasted seven months, but due largely to French efforts, the European Union and Iran reached a compromise in November 1997 whereby the German and French ambassadors would return together to Teheran later than the other EU ambassadors. The EU approved the resumption of ministerial visits to Iran on 23 February 1998. 78. Le Monde, 20 May 1998, p. 3.
79. Le Monde, 9 January 1998, p. 2; and The New York Times, 8 January 1998, p. 1.
80. The Economist (London), 28 February 1998, p. 57.
81. When asked if France would have had the same room to maneuver during the Iraqi crisis if a common European foreign policy had been in place, Chirac replied: "Yes I think so..An important country like France with its history, culture, its own genius, will always have a strong and leading foreign policy. The day that there is a European foreign policy, France will continue to take initiatives, but it will do so with Europe and will be all the stronger. We will conserve our own capacity of initiative and influence. A common foreign policy will take nothing away from us and will bring us added weight." Le Monde, 27 February 1998, p. 2. Quotation translated by author.
Pia Christina Wood is the director of the International Studies Undergraduate Program and an associate professor of Political Science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.…
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Publication information: Article title: Chirac's 'New Arab Policy' and Middle East Challenges: The Arab-Israeli Conflict, Iraq and Iran. Contributors: Wood, Pia Christina - Author. Journal title: The Middle East Journal. Volume: 52. Issue: 4 Publication date: Autumn 1998. Page number: 563+. © Middle East Institute Winter 2009. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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