François Fillion president? What future for the relations between France and the Middle Eastern countries ?


By Chloé de Radzitzky


François Fillon giving his speech after his victory at the center-right wings parties primaries, Sunday 27th of October. (CITIZENSIDE/FRANCOIS PAULETTO / CITIZENSIDE)

François Fillon won the French primaries of the center-right wing parties’ primaries with 67 %. The internal affairs of the country, such as the employment, security and the economy were until now the focus points of its campaign. It is however interesting to wonder about what the former prime minister of Nicolas Sarkozy proposes regarding foreign policy; and particularly regarding to the Middle East.

The position of the potential future French president on the Syrian crisis is radically different from the one adopted by François Hollande. Hence, François Fillon vows for a strategic partnership with Moscow and Damascus; while France is a part of the international coalition, pushing for the departure of Bachar Al-Assad. He also wants to include Tehran in the process. He asserts that if the Syrian dictator is always in power, it is because he benefits from popular support. He has already declared his will to protect the minorities of the region, particularly the Christian community. Fillon considers that the only way of protecting Christians in the Middle East is to avoid a seizure of power by the Sunnites.

This position towards Syria brings questions about how the relations France and other countries of the region will evolve if Fillon wins the elections. The candidate for presidency risks to shake the traditional French network of alliances in the Middle East by willing to get closer to Iran. It risks to put an end to the favored relations with certain Gulf monarchies, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It is however necessary to be aware that there will probably be a gap between the campaign’s statements and concrete actions if François Fillon won the presidency. Indeed, some of these monarchies have an important role in the French economy, and damaging these relationships could be costly.

Fillon’ s pro-Iran has also urges the journalists of the Times of Israel to wonder about the nature of the relation of their country with the potential future French president. They reviewed several statements, wondering if it is possible for France to support the Iranian interventions in Syria, while insisting on the importance of Israel’s security. Tehran fights the Islamic State on the ground through militias associated with the Hezbollah; and this group was created with the aim of fighting the Jewish State. For what concerns its position regarding to the Palestinians, Fillon insists on the necessity of a two-state solution. On the other hand, he voted on the other hand against the resolution proposing that France recognizes Palestine in 2014.

In conclusion, the relations between France and Middle Eastern countries might be redefined in the hypothesis where François Fillon would become president. It is nevertheless necessary to insist on the fact that nothing is decided yet. Hence, positions held during presidential election campaigns cannot always be as such once the winner effectively takes office.