What Strategic Posture Should France Adopt in the Middle East? Focus stratégique, No. 112, November 2022
France has a historical presence in the Middle East, where it has many interests to defend: the fight against terrorism, the promotion of the arms industry, the dissemination of humanitarian values, etc. To this end, it has a number of resources at its disposal, notably military: French forces are deployed in Iraq, Syria and Jordan as part of Operation Chammal, in Lebanon for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and in the United Arab Emirates.
This strategic posture, inherited from the history and "Arab policy" of the 20th century, is now being called into question by the geopolitical upheavals in the region. The resizing of the American presence in the Middle East, initiated by the withdrawal from Afghanistan, is accompanied by a growing assumption of responsibility for their own security by local actors. This evolution is embodied, for example, in the signing of the Abraham Accords, which redefine the place of Israel. The American pulling out also allows extra-regional powers such as China and Russia to become progressively involved in the area.
These transformations require an adaptation of the French posture in order to position itself as a credible actor in the strategic competition. It is therefore necessary to move away from the sole focus on counterterrorism, which no longer gathers partners, and more broadly to redefine the partnership strategy and the mechanism deployed on the ground. A strengthened interministerial, or even European, dynamic also seems essential in order to mobilize all the levers available to France.
> This publication is also available in French: Quelle posture stratégique pour la France au Moyen-Orient ?