France Stages a Comeback in the Middle East

Jan 5, 2018 | 21:53 GMT

Qatari officials greet French President Emmanuel Macron (R) on his recent visit to Doha in December 2017.

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shakes hands with Qatari officials during a meeting in Doha on December 7, 2017.



  • French President Emmanuel Macron will continue his efforts to promote order and stability throughout the Middle East and North Africa, as part of a bid to renew France's influence in the region.
  • Regional proxy battles between Iran and Saudi Arabia, however, will undermine Macron's efforts.
  • Nevertheless, because France has a lower profile in the Middle East relative to other foreign powers, such as the United States, it will have more leeway to negotiate the disputes. 

France has been involved in the Middle East in one way or another for centuries, starting with the Crusades. The modern phase of its activities in the region began just after World War II, as France's collapsing empire gave way during the Cold War to a web of alliances in the Arab world and beyond. France prioritized relationships in its former colonies, such as Tunisia, to protect its sphere of influence from both the global threat of Communism and from what it saw as an Anglo-American challenge to its own independent foreign policy. After its defeat in Algeria in 1962, the country took a back seat to the United States and United Kingdom's leadership in the Middle East. But today France is setting the stage for a comeback in the region. Under the guidance of French President Emmanuel Macron -- just over halfway through his first year in office --...

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