Did France Lie to the Gulf States?
French arms exports increased by 18%, and the Middle East is headlining the clients list
The Gulf states did not lose sight of the fantacy “France : The Superopower State”, but wanted an official mediator and speaker
France’s friendly attitude towards the Gulf States can’t be for free. It has certainly already began to reap the benefits of its support for the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) policies.
The French Ministry of Defense issued a report a few months ago acknowledging that French arms exports increased by 18% in 2014, and pointing out that countries in the Middle East are headlining the clients list.
The same report also pointed out the statistics of the French arms export industry are the best in fifteen years. That qualifies France to be the fourth largest arms exporter in the world, with the expectation of a continuous increase during the current year.
For years now, France has been seeking to create new outlets to strengthen its relationship with the Gulf states. Offering political support for these countries was the outlet through which France was able to rescue its economy from the global economic crisis in 2008. The success is of this strategy is proven by looking at the sealed arms deals with a number of Gulf countries, and Riyadh’s promises to invest in French projects.
From this point we have to wonder, why are the Arab Gulf states pouring generosity on France? The statistics indicate that 35% of the total French trade in the Arab world is with the Gulf, while France’s strategic ally, the United States has kept its position and still remains to its reign.
Some concluded analysis suggest that the Gulf might be looking for a new strategic ally, after their traditional ally, the U.S. had been conitiusly letting the GCC down when it comes to the hot topics in the region. Is France eligible for that title? Do the Gulf states seek to punish the U.S. by replacing it through partnerships with other international forces ? Can France play this role?
The French people acknowledge that promoting the fantacy of France being a superpower state has to stop. France today is not a dominant force, but could make a difference in several international agendas. Are the Gulf states aware of this fact ?
I do not think the Gulf diplomacy is unaware of France’s political prestige and the limited extent of impact it has on the international level. The evidence is that Gulf States still favors their traditional ally, the U.S. and gives the Americans with the most important privileges.
Although France has succeeded in winning a share of the Gulf pie, America still controls the largest share. While France sold 175 million U.S. dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia during 2014, America has sold them what is worth $ 1.2 billion.
Not to mention the American bases stationed in the Persian Gulf still remain there, and if that proves anything, it certainly proves that France, despite offering guaranteed military support for the countries in the region, is unable to keep up with the U.S. or compete against its control and influence in different fields. France is also unable to drift far from the line and plan set for it by the U.S. which is most clearly reflected through its position on the recent Russian intervention in Syria.
Gulf countries do not see France as a solid partner or ally that would overturn the balance of sensitive issues to their benefit. That shows in the fact that despite all of the investments and transactions directed towards France specifically, and deals that are expected to favor France only, the Gulf States are yet to place France high up side by side with the U.S.
In other words, despites France’s pride in its own history, capabilities and superpower, the country failed to convince the oil princes with any more than just being a mediator and a pressuring force, which is seen by the Gulf as a reward for France’s support of Saudi Arabia’s positions in Syria, Yemen, and its position on the Iranian issue.
Historically, the Gulf States has not taken a position of a pressuring force, but has always used a mediator through which they pass their vision and positions on international issues generally, and regional issues specifically. The Gulf States found France to be that strategic partner and mediator given Washington’s betrayal when it comes to hot topics in the region.
That being said, it has to be noted that although the French people have expressed their loss of confidence in President Francois Hollande’s political performance, he was able to persuade the Gulf with his ability to play this role perfectly.