France – A New Ally for the Middle East ?
France has recently opened the door for dialog with any Muslim movement beyond its shores that renounces violence. This move signals a shift in policy in the wake of popular uprisings throughout the Middle East .
France is also calling for a political solution to Libya ‘s recent civil war, warning about ensuing difficulty in the NATO military campaign against troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.
Perhaps confident that Islamists will gain power after the uprisings, France may be seeking to build bridges with the political groups that are likely to rise to power after the turmoil subsides. Indicating their commitment, France has also stated its willingness to hold talks with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt .
The suspicion harboured by Western countries, including France , of Islamic movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, is largely due to the fear mongering of the ousted corrupt regimes which stooped to any method to retain power.
As the Brotherhood proves itself to be the most significant opposition force in Egypt , France admits it has been deceived by leaders who painted a negative image of Muslim movements. Regretting the results, France is making a bold stand to minimize the damage in the light of successful popular uprisings in the region.
Known for its criticism of Israeli policy in the past, France was considered a friend to Arab nations. They also accrued favour for sheltering the late Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat and for having opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, France has altered this image.
Sarkozy has openly supported Israel and took a neutral stance regarding the ousted Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, whom he considered a moderate reformer.
France’s most recent innovative diplomacy indicated that Sarkozy is now hoping to link up with the upcoming generation of leaders in the Middle East and sees this as more of a concern than regional stability.
Perhaps France has learned its lesson as it now realizes that stability was not achieved by favouring Middle Eastern authoritarian regimes. Or, maybe Sarkozy simply wants to win the migrant vote in the upcoming elections; regardless, this new stance will rebuild a more positive image of France in the Middle East .