Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Qatar Connection: Does Paris Have Ulterior Motives in Pressing for Syrian Overthrow?

If Michael Maloof is to be believed,
Paris is in the business of generating business and what is being billed as a strategic joint venture with Sunni Qatar to oust the Shi’ite Alawite regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is designed to benefit France by supporting Qatar’s ambitions in Africa, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

France has been one of the more enthusiastic members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, pressing for direction European Union intervention in Syria, such as creating a no-fly zone over Syria.

Qatar and its close ally Saudi Arabia are the main suppliers of financial assistance and weapons to the Syrian opposition forces, but the EU and indeed Washington aren’t all that enthusiastic in doing the same due to the increasing influx of Sunni Salafists as well as al-Qaida elements with opposition forces.

France also has been the first and most enthusiastic Western power pushing for recognition of the Syrian opposition’s new National Coalition, even to the point of appointing an ambassador.

France showed similar enthusiasm in getting rid of Libya’s 40-year ruler, Moammar Gadhafi, ostensibly to promote its own energy company, Total, in obtaining early contracts from the rebels. All along, however, it was Qatar and Saudi Arabia which were encouraging Western intervention to seek Gadhafi’s ouster.

In addition to pressing for a new regime in Syria, France also is shifting its own attention away from its NATO commitment almost two years early in Afghanistan by withdrawing its troops there.

Instead, Paris wants to shift its focus more to jihadists in the Saharan-Sahelian basin where it has a colonial history, and to begin a strategic rebalancing toward the Maghreb and Mashreq, according to geopolitical analyst Emanuele Scimia.

In undertaking this effort, Scimia said, France is teaming up with Qatar, since Doha already is a major investor in France.

Qatar has a two percent share in France’s oil company, Total, the same company which pressed former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to initiate action in Libya and get the E.U. to join in.

Scimia points out that Qatar also owns the Paris Saint Germain football club, has a 13 percent interest in the French media group Lagardere and a 7.5 percent interest in EADS, the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company.

In addition, Qatar is to invest some 300 million euros, or $389 million, in the French “banlieues” suburbs, which is home to a majority of some six million second and third generation French Muslims.

Qatar’s investment, however, has raised concerns in French politics that the government is pushing Qatar’s conservative form of Islam.

… As Doha assists France in the Levant, Paris will pursue efforts to help Qatar diplomatically and commercially in Africa.