09.01.2014 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

France and Saudi Arabia: The Union of “Misfits”

Saudi_Arabia_King_Abdullah_speaks_with_French_President_Francois_Hollande_Riyadh_Saudi_Arabia_640_001 (1)While the international community summarizes the achievements of the year 2013, exerting even further efforts in reducing the risk of the armed violence spread in the Middle East (especially in Syria , as well as through the settlement of the Iranian nuclear program stand-off) , the head of the Elysee Palace decided to put a rather peculiar final chord to his political activities of the last year.

He chose not to bother himself with peaceful initiatives, especially with those that could improve the social life of the French residents, which those residents have been waiting for since the day of his inauguration. That’s a funny fact if we are to take into consideration that the siting French President represents the socialist party, which by definition should be close to the day-to-day problems of the ordinary working people. And the people decided to pay the President with the same disrespect they’ve been treated with, this fact was established by the poll conducted in late December 2013 by BFM-TV-RMC. This poll showed that Francois Holland was supported by 2% of the French population, which means that the rest 98 % didn’t show any trust for him. The results despite the “devotion to democratic principles” Francois Holland has named as his top priority were banned by Elysee Palace.

Francois Hollande decided to end the year 2013 with a trip to Saudi Arabia , thereby securing the alliance of the two»» nations “rejected” by the United State and a number of other countries. These two have ultimately failed to understand the causes and the significance of the events that occurred at the end of the year in the Middle East therefore they were not able to adapt to the new reality . Another reason for becoming “misfits” is the eagerness the Elysee Palace and Riyadh has shown in staging the chemical provocations in Damascus along with the massive support these countries have shown to the Syrian militants , allowing the spread of Wahhabi ideas not across the Midlle East alone, but in France itself .

According to many political analysts, Hollande has today become the most loyal ally of Saudi Arabia in its attempts to strengthen the so-called ” Sunni arc ” in the fight against Shiite Iran and Syria. The key role in this fight is place by Lebanon and “Hezbollah”. Currently, “the misfits” share a number of foreign policy goals. It’s the tough position the two take on the Syrian issue and the idea of Bashar Assad’s toppling. It’s the views they share on the Iranian nuclear programme, in an effort to reduce the influence Iran enjoys in the region . The blind support Elysee Palace has been showing to Riyadh, can be explained, to some extent , by the famous generosity of the Saudi royal family members and the most generous of them all the head of Saudi intelligence services – Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Foreign politicians can expect substantial cash donations and diamond offerings if they are to support the Saudis and their Wahhabism. It allows Riyadh to manipulate Washington and Paris at their own will.

So, on 29 and 30 December Hollande flew to Saudi Arabia to take a good care of the military industry people that had brought him to power in the first place. On this trip he was accompanied by four of ministers and a group of 30 entrepreneurs.

The main goal of this trip – to secure bilateral strategic cooperation, to sign contracts for supplying the Sunni forces in Lebanon with even more firearms. The same very forces that have been fighting back to back with the Syrian armed opposition in a bloody war against the regular troops that defend their own country, against Syrian officials. Another goal of Hollande’s trip is to establish a close partnership in the intelligence field.

During the negotiations Saudi Arabia consented to allocate $ 3 billion to buy French weapons that would end up in the hands of the Lebanese Army. It is noteworthy that this financial “aid” amounts for two military budgets of Lebanon , that is a former French colony, just like Syria. However, this military aid to Beirut provided by Riyadh and Elysee Palace , aimed primarily at fighting the Lebanese “Hezbollah” will be of little to no help to the international efforts of reducing the regional tension, it wouldn’t be of any use either in promoting the authority of the Lebanese “sponsors” in Lebanon itself and in the Middle East in general.

It’s not that “Hezbollah” is on the side of the common enemy of Paris and Riyadh – President Bashar al-Assad . This new supplies will only further enhance the struggle between Sunnis and Shiites. The region itself will be militarized even further at the expense of the French arms and Saudi money. The ultimate goal of such a generous “gift” is to spread the Wahhabi ideas in Lebanon, which has not fully recovered from a 15 years long civil war . After all, today in the Sunni areas of Lebanon — the largest cities of the country – Tripoli and Sidon are facing a rise of Islamist rhetoric and Al Qaeda is gaining followers there on a daily basis, writes the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akbar.

However , in addition to this transaction , the leaders of France and Saudi Arabia discussed other aspects of bilateral military cooperation, clearly not designed to administer affairs of peace and actively prepare for a regional war . This is primarily a contract for 4 billion euros to modernize the French missiles Crotale ground -to-air with the French firm Thales. Negotiations on this issue for a long time been blocked due to lack of consent on the part of the Saudi elite, but this particular visit to the CSA became a new impetus to this cooperation , especially since the main competitors of French manufacturers in this issue – the U.S. – has somewhat cooled to Saudis .

As for the cooperation of the intelligence services of the two countries and the exchange of “mutual interest to intelligence information ,” France is planing to sell Riyadh the same type of a spy satellite that was sold by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space in the United Arab Emirates last summer. With this “tool” Saudi Arabia will be able to improve significantly the “effectiveness” of its intelligence services and monitor the activities of the armed forces of the enemy in the region. French ship and machine builders (DCNS, Thales and MBDA) received an order to strengthen the kingdom’s submarine fleet, to modernize the Saudi Navy frigates that would on par with Saudi petrodollars be protecting and promoting the Wahhabi values. France has also got a contract to equip the National Guard of the kingdom, as for the project of constructing 16 nuclear reactors on the Saudi soil, this part of the deal is still being negotiated.

Francois Hollande has stated in Riyadh that Saudi Arabia was a “leading partner of France in the Middle East” with a trade turnover of 8 billion euros in 2013, 3 of which is a share of French exports. The “holiday trip” can bring the French military-industrial people, as some experts believe, a hefty income of 250 billion euros over the next 7-10 years.

However, according to a number of experts, a considerable flow of French arms to Lebanon at the expense of the Saudi royal family can not be regarded as nothing else than a direct intervention of Paris and Riyadh in the affairs of this state, despite the publicly declared position of Francois Hollande and his foreign minister — Fabius that “France seeks to ensure the regional stability and security”. The Saudi efforts at fueling the regional conflicts in Iraq and Syria , and now being “allocated” to Lebanon .

Meanwhile, Damascus believes that if regional and Western states will stop providing the financial and military aid to the armed and terrorist groups that operate in Syria and in the neighboring countries, the violence in the region, will ultimately cease, giving way to the assembly of the “Geneva-2” international conference, said Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riad Haddad to NEO.

Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator and special contributor to the  online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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