GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
The perception of Gulf countries in France: From terrorism support to the risks for the national sovereignty
Paper Proposal Text :
“France has become the strumpet of Qatar “. In 2013, the far-right party leader Marine Le Pen made this statement in the French press, denouncing the presumed submission of French leaders to the rulers of Gulf monarchies. In the fall of 2016, two French journalists, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot published a successful book about the ambiguous links between several French politicians and rulers of the Gulf monarchies, mainly from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Moreover during the French right party nomination process, two main candidates, François Fillon and Bruno Le Maire called to redefine the relations between France and the Gulf countries.

These three examples show how the growing importance of relations between the Gulf countries and France has become a critical point of French political debates in previous months. In fact, since the 2015 terrorist attacks which occurred in France, the presumed support given by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to terrorist groups like Al-Nosra or ISIS in Iraq and Syria is frequently denounced by French political analysts. The official religious doctrine of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Wahhabism, is indeed seen as radical and threatening the Occidental values and societies, supporting religious extremism and intolerance. Moreover, the growing investments of Arab Gulf countries in France, acquiring famous fashion brands and shops, football clubs, luxuries hotels and castles, have provoked various controversies about the loss of sovereignty of France and the moral corruption of a segment of the French politician class.

Since 2000’s, France and the Gulf Countries have launched several partnerships to improve the collaboration and boost trade exchanges. Some examples include the amendment of the French fiscal legislation in 2009, a French military base in Abu Dhabi opened in 2008, and France is as a key military actor in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

The purpose of this article is to analyze the depth of the relations between France and the Arab Gulf countries, the risks on and the opportunities. We will first analyze the origins of the France-Arab Gulf countries alliance and its recent evolutions, primarily since the 2000’s. We will thus take into consideration the actions initiated by both parties to improve the relations in the diplomatic, military, economic and cultural arenas. In a second part we will study the reasons for the rejection of these alliances by the majority of the French population. Based on these conclusions, we will attempt to determine the opportunities, yet also include the risks, for the future of the French-Gulf states alliance, specifically taking into account the forthcoming presidential elections (May 2017).