The zionist French-Qatari connection
France has lately called for a more assertive role of the European Union (EU) in the civil war that has been scouring Syria since early 2011, demands that have routinely fallen on deaf ears, while European countries keep on holding a cautious position on this crisis.
EU foreign ministers on November 19 welcomed the establishment of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the cartel that opposition forces to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime had set up in Qatar a few days earlier.
Yet, unlike Paris’s auspices, the European bloc was careful not to accord full diplomatic recognition to the new Syrian opposition grouping. It did not commit itself to providing rebels with "defensive" weapons as well. The fear of accidentally arming extremists in Syria runs high in both Brussels and Washington.This sentiment has grown stronger after Islamist and Salafist fighters in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo scornfully rejected the Western-backed National Coalition.
During their meeting, EU foreign ministers also underscored the EU's pledge to boost humanitarian support to both the civil population within Syria's boundaries and Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. In reality, humanitarian agencies could dispute this assertion, since EU countries would be aiming to cut spending in development and humanitarian assistance as part of the planned slash in the 2014-2020 budget of the European Union.
France has been the first Western power to recognize the National Coalition as the Syrian people's sole legitimate representative. French President Francois Hollande has allowed Syria's restyled opposition to appoint an ambassador to Paris.
Britain also acknowledged the National Coalition on November 20. London ruled out sending in arms to the opposition rebels, but it earmarked a first package of support worth US$3.1 million for communications assistance, deployment of a Stabilization Response Team into the opposition-held areas (so as "to meet basic needs of people there", the British Foreign Office said) and humanitarian medical aid.
In addition to supplying anti-aircraft weapons to the rebels, the French government is pressing on its European counterparts to create a no-fly zone along the Syrian-Turkish border. Turkey, along with the six Gulf states, has also officially acknowledged the National Coalition and is finding common ground with France on how to bash Assad. While shelving their quarrel over the World War I-era genocide of Armenians, Paris and Ankara, with the support of Qatar and Jordan, are promoting the creation of protected civilian zones in northern Syria.
In this regard, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) does not seem to be springing to France's aid either. The trans-Atlantic military organization is mulling over a demand from Turkey for the deployment of ground-to-air missiles along its southern border, after mortar shells fired from the Syrian side landed within its territory.
However, NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has stressed that the stationing of Patriot missiles in southern Turkey would have essentially a defensive nature and not result in the creation of a no-fly zone over the Syrian northern region. Rasmussen has also underlined that "it is up to the individual NATO countries that have available Patriots - Germany, the Netherlands and the United States - to decide if they can provide them for deployment in Turkey and for how long".
Going it alone in the Syrian crisis, Paris appears much more intent on offsetting the EU's amnesia about the Middle East than filling the geopolitical vacuum that Washington might leave in this area if its "pivot" to Asia-Pacific were eventually to materialize.
Quite surprisingly, indeed, the proposal for a new EU Common Security and Defense Policy, which Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the same France sketched out in Paris on November 15, did not include the Middle East among the areas singled out for future crisis-management support by the European Union. On the other hand, in their bid for updating the EU military policy, these five countries would prefigure Europe's proactive engagement in the Horn of Africa, Sahel, North Africa, West Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia.
Divisions among European countries over the vote for Palestinian non-member status at the United Nations represent yet another sign of the chaotic course of the EU foreign policy with regard to the Middle East.
France already tried to revive its outdated "grandeur" in 2011 by playing a leading role in NATO's military campaign in Libya. The active involvement in the Syrian quagmire, the efforts to fight jihadist groups in the Saharan-Sahelian basin and the accelerated military withdrawal from Afghanistan - Paris will pull out from the Afghan terrain all its combat troops as early as in December, two years before the main NATO's departure - appear to be all part of the strategic rebalancing towards the Maghreb and Mashreq that the French government is carrying out today.
In pursuing this aim, France is teaming up with Qatar, the more energetic sponsor of the Arab Spring. To date, Doha is one of the largest investors in France: a lifeblood for the nation, which has been recently stripped of its triple-A rating by Moody's Investors Service.
Qatar has a 2% share in French oil company Total and owns the Paris Saint-Germain football club. It controls 13% of Lagardere, the French media group that has an 7.5% interest in EADS, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.
Qatar is set to invest US$130 million in the French "banlieues", the peripheral areas where the majority of the six million Muslim immigrants in France are concentrated. This investment, which Hollande's administration approved in September, has the scope to sustain small businesses managed by the country's Muslim citizens.
Qatar also became in October 2012 an associate member of the International Organization of the Francophonie (IOF), a body representing French-speaking communities throughout the world. This move has raised many doubts among the IOF countries, which find it hard to believe in the Francophone identity of the nation ruled by emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
The quite fresh French-Qatari connection should work on the basis of a mutual convenience: Doha helps France's plans in the Levant, while Paris props up Qatar's diplomatic and commercial expansion in Africa.
Yet, apart from widespread suspicions that Qatari sheikhs are bolstering jihadist forces from the Levant to Mali, the current evolution of the crisis in Syria highlights that the new "dynamic duo" has made its debut in the geopolitical business with a false start.
Simply put, the French-Qatari strategic joint-venture is collecting one misstep after another, as its failed mediation to stop Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has of late demonstrated. Indeed, France's and Qatar's attempt to broker a ceasefire between the two belligerent sides was bluntly dismissed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who privileged the US-backed (and successful) mediation of Egypt.
Emanuele Scimia is a journalist and geopolitical analyst based in Rome.