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On France and Qatar 24, October 2012

Posted by thegulfblog.com in French IR, Qatar.
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I spoke on France 24 last night about Qatar’s Gaza trip but I can’t find that so here are a couple of links to me waffling away about Qatar’s not so perfidious investments in France.

Here and here.


The famous French work ethic 5, September 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in French IR.
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Far be it from me, but a slothly ros bif from across the Channel, I mean, La manche, to criticise my chums en France, after all they have given us the baguette, ham, etorki cheese, red wine, revolution and the world’s most beautiful city, but I venture that these pictures have something deleterious to say about the French work ethic.

As lovely as these post-it note designs are, I fear that had this been done in London, the admittedly artistic culprits would have been sacked immediately for wasting time at the office. Zut alors, and all that.

The Niqabitches 6, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in French IR.
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Here are the Niqabitches protesting France’s banning of the Burka. Go to the Arabist’s website to see their video (with lovely music).

Rogue French banker to pay back $5 billion 5, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in French IR.
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Jérôme Kerviel, the rogue French trader who nearly brought down France’s Société Générale bank, has been ordered to pay $5 billion in damages in addition to going to jail for three years.

At his current salary (which I doubt he’ll return to after jail) it would take him roughly 170,000 years.

Saudi King guest of honour at Bastille Day 21, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in French IR, Saudi Arabia.
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Le Figaro has confirmed that Saudi’s King Abudllah will be the guest of honour at French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s Bastille Day celebration in July. I believe that at this occasion on Sarkozy’s first Bastille Day the Qatari Emir was the honoured guest.

It seems like this is a perfect opportunity for Sarkozy to show his guest of choice just how important he and his country is by bestowing upon them this honor. I’m sure that it doesn’t hurt when it comes to securing arms and other contracts too.

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France and Kuwait renew military ties 24, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in French IR, Kuwait.
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200508rafalezt9Kuwait and France have stepped up their military cooperation in a ceremony in Paris. The two armed forces undertook military manoeuvres recently but it has only been now that the deal for Kuwait to buy some 28 Rafael fighter-jets appears to have been officially agreed.

The Abu Dhabi based newspaper The National quotes the French Defense Minister declaring that this agreement heralds the beginning of France’s desire to “to regain its place and to play a full role to secure the stability and security of this strategic region.” However, analysts contacted for the piece are somewhat sceptical and see this gambit as little more than a sale’s exercise for Sarkozy. The truth, as so often, may well fall between these arguments.

France, it must be remembered, set up a military base in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, overlooking the Straits of Hormuz. For sure, a significant proportion of the reasoning behind this venture would be to give themselves prime position to supply the UAE with defense equipment and accouterments, given that the UAE are the world’s third largest arms  importers. Yet, stationing troops on foreign soil in such a volatile area is, it could be argued, is going above and beyond the call of duty to accrue sales for French arms manufacturers.

There seems to be, therefore, overall, a desire by Emperor President Sarkozy to – as ever – assure and guarantee France’s place at the top table of international relations. Indeed, this is hardly surprising given his predilection for the international lime-light and France’s often palpable desire to be seen as an equal world power.

French Suicides 29, September 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in French IR.
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The Times reports that there have been 24 suicides in 18 months at a French telephone company. This is – I am sure it doesn’t need to be said – a shocking statistic and is by far the worst manifestation of France’s seeming inability to reform its welfare-state, held to ransom by the Unions, go on strike at the drop of a proverbial hat and preposterously long lunch time taking society.

Mona-Lisa in a Burka 8, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in French IR.
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A tribute to Sarkozy’s attack on the Islamic Burka.


Hat tip: (i.e. stolen from) this excellent blog on Kuwait with an unusual and welcome focus on human rights and migrant worker issues.

Sarkozy’s Islam comments poorly timed 23, June 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in French IR, Middle East, Qatar.
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French Emperor President Nicholas Sarkozy has controversially stated that the Islamic Burka is not welcome in France:

The problem of the burka is not a religious problem, it’s a problem of liberty and women’s dignity. It’s not a religious symbol, but a sign of subservience and debasement. I want to say solemnly, the burka is not welcome in France. In our country, we can’t accept women prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity. That’s not our idea of freedom.

Many worry that overt symbols of Islam such as the Burka or girls wearing the Veil in schools (as well as anyone wearing any religious symbolism in schools) threaten France’s secular nature.

These comments come, however, during the visit of the Emir of Qatar, Hamad Al Thani, to France. Qatar is something of a confusing country. Outwardly, they host Al Jazeera, allow alcohol consumption in the state, invite Western Universities to Doha to teach their children, but they are intrinsically a conservative country and follow the strict, much maligned Wahhabi version of Islam, as in Saudi Arabia. Conservative or not, such comments are sure to be provocative in a country where France wants to secure lucrative defense and other types of contracts. Indeed, this visit officially celebrates Qatar Airway’s purchase of Airbus aircraft at a time when the aviation industry isn’t far from on its knees.

One wonders how one the one hand Sarkozy wants to tow this hard-line approach at home, sure to anger many Muslims, but also seek to create ever greater links with countries in the Persian Gulf. These links range from establishing a French military base in Abu Dhabi, to supplying the Emirates with fighter- aircraft as well as ‘selling out’, as some French people see it, and allowing the Sorbonne and the Louvre to go to Abu Dhabi. Indeed, it seems like Sarkozy is seeking to let himself have cake and eat it.

Article catch up 29, May 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Bahrain, China and the ME, Egypt, French IR, LNG, Middle East.
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– Interestingly, it is being suggested that Turkey might be acting as an intermediary for America in persuading Kyrgyzstan to retain their US base.

– MEI blog and Marc Lynch on Obama scheduling a visit to Riyadh just before he gives his much-hyped speech in Cairo.

Commentary on Bahrain’s new proposals to augment migrant worker’s rights being significantly watered down by business interests.

Bomb at Iranian mosque in the run up to the elections.

– Thailand building LNG regasification facilities to receive LNG from the Middle East.

– Yemen are about to join Qatar et al in the exporting of LNG.

– On the Middle East’s expected increase in defense spending.

– Marc Lynch on the importance of Arab opinion polls.

– MEI blog on the Iranian un/blocking of Facebook and Microsoft’s bizarre decision to ban Messenger in various embargoed countries and on the French base in the UAE.

– China is now the largest exporter to the Middle East having over-taken the US. Hat tip: Silk Road Economy via the Arabist.

– On the possibility of China creating its own Al Jazeera.

– On the surprisingly close Israeli-Iranian relations below governmental level. See also ‘Treacherous Alliances.’