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Opinion: Paris as the Capital of the World | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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From Left to right : European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, delegate, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Union President Donald Tusk, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Jordan’s Queen Rania, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and other heads of states and officials march during the Unity rally “Marche Republicaine” in Paris, on January 11, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/ ERIC FEFERBERG)

“Paris is the capital of the world,” French President François Hollande said recently after the Paris terror attacks, expressing the international support his country has received in the form of a million-strong march in Paris led by him and some 40 world leaders and officials of different levels. The march aimed to demonstrate French unity and the world’s support for France against the terrorist crime that took place there.

The significance of Hollande’s words does not lie in their emotional dimension, but rather indicates how the world is now a different place after these attacks—in the same way the world also changed after the September 11, 2001 attacks. It also demonstrates that France will come to the forefront of the international efforts in the war on terrorism. What France has recently suffered from, and the international support it has received, means the French will have the last word in determining the course of future events in terms of the fight on terror. This is neither perplexing nor uncomfortable, particularly since France is among the West’s most capable countries in terms of realizing the nature of the developments and all terror-related issues in our region.

France has a clear position against terrorism and terrorists, particularly in Mali where it fought Al-Qaeda. It holds a clear and strict position on the situation in Syria and Bashar Al-Assad’s role in fueling the sectarian conflict there, and ensuring that Syria turns into a magnet for terrorists from all over the world, including France. By doing so, Assad wants to say that he is fighting terrorism and that the world needs to stand with him despite his crimes. France has also formulated a clear and strict position on the Iranian nuclear program and realizes the dangers of Tehran’s behavior and the risks of the leniency that the Barack Obama administration has shown on the issue. Paris realizes well the seriousness of What the Houthi movement is doing in Yemen as well as the role Iran is playing in Iraq.

All of this tells us that creating channels of communication with the French, immediately and on all levels, is as significant as showing solidarity with them against these attacks. In other words, establishing an operations room for cooperation with Paris on the new anti-terrorism agenda, to be put forward at the security conference organized by Washington, where France will certainly have the greatest influence. Therefore, communication with France should be stepped up more than ever, particularly since that the Gulf, Iraq, Yemen, and, of course, Syria—squeezed between Assad and Iran on one side and Al-Qaeda, the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on the other—are all victims of terrorism.

It is true that Paris is not going to send troops to the region, as George W. Bush did after the 9/11 attacks, but it will map out, or make a major contribution to, a new anti-terrorism plan. Therefore, there should be communication and coordination with France, particularly since its positions are identical to the wise in our region, whether in Yemen, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon. Such steps should be taken immediately because, indeed, “Paris is the capital of the world.”