Macron’s Gulf tour goes beyond security interests

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“Part of our security is played out in the Middle East,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday as he began a two-day visit to the Gulf. Mr. Macron’s visit to the region began with a meeting with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates, on a trip that included a visit to the ‘Expo 2020 Dubai.

During Mr. Macron’s presidency, France deepened its diplomatic relations with its Arab partners, reflecting not only a growing recognition of the positive role that Paris can play in the Arab world, but also the need to be at home. listening to regional voices in the process. As Mr. Macron’s words suggest, business in the Middle East and the West does not take place in isolation. A multitude of challenges – from an ongoing migration crisis to the proliferation of extremist armed groups – are shared by the two regions and require joint strategies and common determination to address them.

Some of these challenges, of course, are not new; they have been festering for many years, and have sometimes been further complicated by external actors underestimating their importance. France has distinguished itself in this regard by keeping them at the forefront of its foreign policy, even when this has been difficult to do. He played a leading role in unifying the regional security agenda, conducting joint exercises with Greece and Egypt in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. It has conducted similar exercises with the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf, aimed at ensuring the security of important trade sea routes and strengthening the region’s defenses against terrorist groups like ISIS.

Business in the Middle East and the West does not take place in isolation

As part of these security partnerships, one of the highlights of Mr. Macron’s visit to the United Arab Emirates was a deal worth nearly $ 19 billion, in which France would provide the United Arab Emirates. 80 Rafale combat aircraft and 12 Caracal H225 helicopters.

Other common challenges go beyond defense partnerships. The list of potential areas of cooperation between France and the Arab world has been extended to include economic recovery, environmental protection, technological innovation and food security.

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By developing his country’s relations with the Gulf countries, Mr. Macron has placed particular emphasis on these areas. Along with the defense agreements, Mr. Macron’s visit to the United Arab Emirates also resulted in comprehensive economic agreements worth $ 17 billion, including the creation of a “Franco-Emirati Fund Partnership” 3.6 billion dollars to develop the French company. Abu Dhabi-based sovereign wealth fund Mubadala also plans to invest nearly $ 1.6 billion in the French economy, especially in sectors such as energy, semiconductors and space exploration. The UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food also signed a memorandum of understanding to develop “sustainable and resilient food systems in both countries”.

Mr. Macron’s visit to the Gulf, although brief, brought France’s role in the Middle East back to center stage. He reminded the world how important international partnerships are to achieve greater stability. As the world seeks to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and shift its attention to broader issues, such as climate change, its leaders must keep in mind that stability – whether in the Middle East or in Europe – is a holistic enterprise, which goes far beyond security cooperation.

Posted: Dec 5, 2021, 3:00 AM

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