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Is Sarkozy Also Helping Iran? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As France announced that it supported an initiative for mediation between the Afghan government, headed by President Hamid Karzai, and the Taliban movement, it proposed holding a conference for Afghanistan’s neighboring countries including Iran and Pakistan. Paris stepped in at a time when the Afghan president announced that he had asked King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to help establish peace in Afghanistan and as news of meetings held in Mecca and attended by Afghan factions circulated.

Does French President Nicolas Sarkozy have the capacity to mediate in this crisis whilst his soldiers still form part of the international coalition that occupies Afghanistan and are engaged in an armed battle against the Taliban in Kabul?

France itself is part of the crisis so how can it put forward a political initiative? Where is the credibility and flexibility that France requires whilst its soldiers fight the Taliban? From another angle, what is Paris attempting to do by bringing Iran, Pakistan and the Taliban together at the same table?

This combination will produce a kind of cheese that is unlike any other of the French political kind; this cheese will carry a smell and a taste that a cheese connoisseur could not bear! The conference that France is calling for is a cause for concern rather than an indication of French political wisdom.

What is the policy of the European states and the European Union, which is headed by France, towards Iran? Is it a policy that involves boycotting as Europe claims? If that was the case then inviting Iran to a conference on Afghanistan hosted by Paris would signify an opening up to Iran and this would be a grave political error. Opening up to Iran by giving it the keys to stability in Afghanistan, and to security and stability in Iraq, means that the Europeans have handed over the region’s lock and key to the Iranians.

Furthermore, this could also be considered the legitimization of Iranian expansion in our region and the approval of the logic of Tehran, which previously stated that the keys to Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon and Afghanistan are in its hands. To invite Iran to the discussion table regarding Afghanistan is to legitimize Iranian expansion in our region. If France does so, it would be reminiscent of the time when France created a window of opportunity for the Syrians who do not even have any grounds to stand on within the international community; in fact, we have already seen the Syrian forces mass on its borders with Lebanon. This may be a misinterpretation of Syria’s rapprochement with Paris but it signifies hurried rapprochement as nobody can guarantee that Damascus will not exploit international circumstances in order to carry out an operation in Lebanon similar to the Russian operation in Georgia.

France is no small country, nor is it a state that can be ignored. However, the concern is that there is hastiness within French politics that demoralizes those who have rights and gives hope to those with vested ambitions.

Why does Hamas, Hezbollah, or Damascus respond positively to Palestinian or Lebanese demands if the possibility of France opening up to Iran is on the horizon? In that case it would be better for Khalid Mishal, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah and Damascus to await a better offer whilst at the same time serving in the interests of Iran.

Dialogue with Iran is not the troubling issue here; rather it is French hastiness that causes concern. The simple question is: what is the price of dialogue with Iran or Damascus? Is there an answer?

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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