[Debate] Sarkozy and Hollande on Middle East: La Même Chose
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Tue May 8 10:40:32 BST 2012
Sarkozy and Hollande on Middle East: La Même Chose
By: Patrick Galey
Published Saturday, May 5, 2012
. . . . .
Hollande vowed to cut economic migration at a time when France is
feeling the pinch from the eurozone’s financial turmoil. Sarkozy went
one step further, referencing Le Pen by name and claiming only he had
the experience and gumption to put a meaningful cap on immigration’s
pall over France by cutting the number of people entering the country
. . . . .
Hollande's public statements indicate striking Middle Eastern policy
similarities to the current government. Like Sarkozy, Hollande has
declared that an Iranian nuclear missile would be unacceptable for
Europe. Like Sarkozy, Hollande has called for a two-state solution in
Palestine while trumpeting Israeli security as a key French concern.
. . . . .
Looking ahead to the next term in office, Hollande has struck a
remarkably similar tone to the current government.
Sarkozy and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe have been among the
most hawkish European officials to address the Syrian crisis, closing
the French Embassy in Damascus and calling multiple times for
President Bashar Assad to leave office. Sarkozy has issued incessant
calls for a full ceasefire in Syria, and has somewhat ominously
compared the restive city of Homs to Benghazi, Libya's erstwhile rebel
Hollande, for his part, declared last month that he would support
military intervention in Syria, “if done within a [United Nations]
framework.” Juppe has offered words to the same effect in recent
According to Thomas Klau, senior policy fellow at the European Council
on Foreign Relations, both Sarkozy and Hollande will wait and see what
happens in Syria before veering from the French course of public
criticism of the Damascus government.
“The current government and Juppe have been very active on the Syria
dossier and doing all they could to get Russia to move its stance,”
Klau told Al-Akhbar. “I wouldn't expect the French policy to be
different under Hollande. Much of his policy will be determined by
events on the ground and the success – or the lack of it – from the
[UN/Arab League Envoy Kofi] Annan's mediation effort.”
Dempsey added that Hollande had raised the prospect of military
intervention in Syria “because he can say it without the
responsibility” of having to go through with it. As a permanent member
of the UN Security Council, France still has some global clout, but
not nearly enough to convince Russia or China to bless any advance on
Syria. Both candidates know and accept this, and continuity in the
French approach to Damascus is more likely than meaningful change.
In a similar way, with Paris' pro-Israel lobby as influential among
the Socialists as they are in Sarkozy's UMP party, Hollande, should he
win, is unlikely to depart from France's current line on Palestine.
In spite of a few diplomatic gaffes, including branding Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a liar,” Sarkozy has spent much of the
last five years offering support to Israeli officials. Hollande, with
influential pro-Israeli figures such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn having
the ear of many Parisian socialists, will have a hard time departing
from such engagement.
“Nicolas Sarkozy was personally convinced that the national interest
of Israel was very close to French national interest,” Klau said.
“With Francois Hollande, his attitude isn't very significant. Neither
of them place themselves in the Arabist tradition of French foreign
policy, which has lost relevance anyway.”
So if foreign policy has provided so few soundbites in the French
presidential election, it is because both candidates are largely in
. . . . .
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