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French Diplomats in Southwest Asia Still in Open Revolt Against Macron’s Pro-Israeli Policies

Paris, Nov. 13, 2023 (EIRNS)—An article today by Georges Malbrunot in the French daily Le Figaro, reports that “In a joint note, several French ambassadors to the Middle East regret Paris’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s an unprecedented gesture in the recent history of French diplomacy in the Arab world.”

“This joint memo was sent to the Quai d’Orsay, with addresses at the Élysée Palace, says a diplomat in Paris who read it. ‘It’s not a slam dunk,’ adds this diplomat, ‘but in the note, which could still be described as a note of dissent, these ambassadors assert that our position in favor of Israel at the start of the crisis is misunderstood in the Middle East, and that it is at odds with our traditionally balanced position between Israelis and Palestinians.’ According to this diplomat, ‘it establishes France’s loss of credibility and influence, and notes our country’s poor image in the Arab world.’ Then, in a rather diplomatic way, it suggests that all this is the result of positions taken by the President of the Republic.”

When contacted by Le Figaro, Denis Bauchard, Charles-Henri d’Aragon, and Yves Aubin de la Messuzière, three former ambassadors in the Maghreb and the Middle East, confirmed that this was “a collective approach, unprecedented for French ambassadors in the Middle East.” The authors of the note have collectively undertaken to remain discreet. Another diplomat, working at the Quai d’Orsay and close to the protesters, explains that “they have taken their responsibilities, they are in solidarity, and in their minds, this is a first step.”

The authors of the note express sorrow that in several Southwest Asia and Maghreb countries, the harshest criticism is directed not only at the United States and Great Britain, but also at France, as shown by demonstrations at their embassies. “We are sometimes accused of complicity in genocide,” confides a young diplomat working in the Middle East, echoing a grievance against his seniors.

Since the start of the war, some French ambassadors have been denied access to certain decision-making circles in the countries where they are posted. One ambassador has also received death threats from radicals angered by the positions taken by Paris. Behind the scenes, at the Quai d’Orsay, many diplomats are said to support the diplomats’ initiative.

The crisis of confidence between France and the Middle East is “serious” and threatens to become “lasting,” warn the note’s authors. “We’ve had crises in the past, with cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, but we managed to defuse them fairly quickly,” recalls a diplomat, who read the note. “This time,” he adds, echoing the protesters’ warning, “the mistrust of us runs deep and is likely to be long-lasting.”

However, the rebels welcome Macron’s Nov. 10 interview with the BBC in which he harshly criticizes Israeli strikes against Gaza civilians, “is perhaps a sign that he has understood that his position must evolve.”