Skip to comments.France's friends in Iraq (On the perfidious nature of France and Jacques Chirac)
Posted on 04/28/2003 12:36:44 AM PDT by Chipata
France's friends in Iraq - (Filed: 28/04/2003)
Mocking la perfide Albion has been a national pastime in France for centuries, but the documents that are now being disinterred from the smouldering embers of Saddam Hussein's regime suggest that perfidy would be rather a polite word for the conduct of Jacques Chirac and the French government towards their allies.
Elsewhere in today's Telegraph, Alex Spillius reports that papers found in the Iraqi foreign ministry show how, as recently as three years ago, French diplomats from the Quai d'Orsay were colluding with agents from IRIS (the Iraqi Intelligence Service, better known as the Mukhabarat) to frustrate efforts by the Iraqi opposition and the British-based human rights group Indict to highlight atrocities in Iraq at a conference in Paris.
Other documents include a warm thank-you letter from Saddam to M Chirac in response to the French president's campaign to end UN sanctions, a deal between Peugeot and Baghdad, and mysterious payments from IRIS to beneficiaries in France.
The picture that emerges is not a pretty one. Material from the same Iraqi ministry published elsewhere suggests that French diplomats were keeping Baghdad informed about Bush-Chirac summits and other talks between Washington and Paris. This entente cordiale with the Ba'athist dictatorship provides a new context in which to consider M Chirac's refusal to countenance a Security Council resolution to authorise military action "under any circumstances". At the time, this was seen as a typically Gaullist "Non!", a rhetorical gesture of defiance to the Anglo-American coalition. It appears that M Chirac was also trying to preserve a Franco-Iraqi nexus that now looks quite sinister.
The significance of these intimate links with Saddam will not be lost on America. The Bush Administration's anger with the French was publicly reiterated last week by the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and in Washington high-level meetings are being held to finalise punitive measures. In Paris, the response so far has vacillated between nervous appeasement and brazen provocation.
M Chirac rang the White House to propose a plan, apparently intended to be conciliatory, to establish a role for Nato in Iraq. However, one of the measures being considered in Washington is to downgrade the French role at Nato. Moreover, just as M Chirac was trying to ingratiate himself, his foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, was making a surprise visit to another member of the "axis of evil", Iran, which had just been warned by Washington not to interfere in Iraq.
Tony Blair, who has even more reason than George Bush to feel double-crossed by the French government over Iraq, should be in no hurry to forgive, let alone to forget.
"just as M Chirac was trying to ingratiate himself, his foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, was making a surprise visit to another member of the 'axis of evil', Iran"One can't help wondering just what kind of entente cordiale these collaborateurs have with the Irianian Reich and just how sinister this Franco-Iranian nexus might be.
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