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Understanding Sarkozy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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“Nicolas Sarkozy has gone back to his Jewish origins,” “Sarkozy is Bush’s new puppet,” and “Sarkozy is unreliable because he’s drunk even at global summits”. These are complaints of Arabs about the new French president who has been residing in the Elysee Palace for the past four months and shall remain there until he completes his five-year term as President of France. In the past, the French president would occupy that position for seven years however, in 2000; this was reduced to five years.

Before Sarkozy, many Arabs criticized former French president Jaques Chirac and accused him of working in the interest of the Hariris and were happy when the French president left office thinking that the position of France would change as soon as his term ended. Such simple thinking that seeks to defend mistakes and even crimes committed in our region is based on hope. The question of the personal stance of the French president in itself demonstrates ignorance since there is no concept of friendship or enmity in international relations in which the focus is interests and interests only.

Sarkozy frequently repeats the phrase “France’s interest.” We should bear in mind where this man came from before entering the Elysee Palace. He had gained significant administrative and political experience and became the mayor of a Parisien suburb when he was just 28 years-old. He was appointed Minister of Finance at the age of 38 and was later made Minister of Interior. He played an active role within his party and won the election battle despite the general feeling that France had had enough of the men of the centre-right and wanted a leftist woman instead.

A man of such experience knows too well that France has many interests in the Arab world and that French interests lie in balanced international relations. He openly states that he wants a bigger role for his country and this explains his advanced political stances with regards to major causes, for example, in his stance towards the Iranian regime. These are not positions of a subordinate man; rather, it is part of international politics. Military confrontation with Iran is not wanted by Europe, but Iranian missiles have become closer in range, not to the Arabian Gulf or Israel, but to Europe itself. The issue is unbearable for all Western Europeans who unanimously agree, for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, on an issue, in this case, the Iranian issue. The French president is powerfully pressuring Iranians explicitly and implicitly in the hope that they would listen to him before the inevitable war erupts if they continue to develop their nuclear project.

Sarkozy’s attack on the Iranians emerges from wisdom as he wants to prevent the war for them. They have two options, either to listen to the French President or confront the American President. Sarkozy has already diplomatically transformed the role of France from central pacifier to central attacker. If there are any powers to burden the strong president, they will not emerge from Damascus or Tehran or come from Bin Laden. In fact, it will be from the French leftists who threaten to combat his project for internal reform, which previous French presidents failed to achieve.