Defence Agreements

The bizarre way France under Macron is dealing with issues should make us wary of the relevance of being wooed into security agreements with volatile and unreliable allies

Defence agreement with France: The brief announcement made shortly after 50th Independence Day celebration almost went unnoticed and was hardly debated by the political body and the press. With already two overseas departments under its protective umbrella in the Indian Ocean, France offers to extend the courtesy to Mauritius. Common wisdom tells us: If you can’t fight, don’t have enemies. There’s no enemy in sight so far threatening to besiege a small island floating on the vast ocean.

But the world’s major players are in a frenzy to secure key strategic spots to prevent rival countries from expanding power and influence in the coming years. This cannot be seen through rosy spectacles today as world politics is currently going through the most dramatic upheavals since World War II.

Mauritian diplomacy might have chosen to strike a balance between India and France by allowing Indian presence in Agalega to counter China’s expanding influence and entrusting France with military defence, a meagre compensation for France’s frustration at China being handed a military base at Djibouti which is a more significant strategic location. Cooperation with France usually goes down well with a largely Francophile press and a big chunk of the public in Mauritius.

“After giving red carpet treatment to Colonel Gaddafi and tapping him on the shoulder, President Sarkozy allied with the British PM to send warplanes to hound him in the deepest recess of Libya. The official excuse was that the Colonel was demanding too hefty financial rewards for containing the flow of African migrants to Europe. The unofficial reason might be the Colonel’s grand plan for the development of Africa away from the grip of western capitalism. Generally well-known for their self-centred interests in dealings with foreign countries, western powers’ pledge to ensure defence cannot be taken for granted…”

How reliable is France? On Sunday March 18th, an employee of the French Consulate in Tel Aviv, Israel was caught and arrested by the police for illegal traffic of weapons with Palestinian organization Hamas. The 20-year-old young Frenchman used the consulate car to carry the illicit dealing. Israeli authorities reject the Consul’s statement that she was not aware of the young man’s dealings with the complicity of a Palestinian employee. Any consulate or embassy is aware of the doings and wherabouts of its employees from top to bottom.

The issue is being considered very seriously in the highest sphere in Israel. President Macron did not offer an apology but stated that he would see to it that the young man’s rights be respected! The Consulate is widely viewed as being inconsistent, hypocrite and anti-Israeli. Non-interference and neutrality are principles which the consulate, for reasons of its own, finds difficult to abide by. The French press gives no attention to the issue. Financial contribution from taxpayers’ money to Palestinian Authority for refugees is flowing in unhindered. EU and US huge financial aids to PA have endowed Palestinian territory with shopping malls and modern infrastructure that are never portrayed in the media. By now, Mahmoud Abbas has bought himself a presidential private jet.

Macron is widely criticized for his amateurishness in the conduct of foreign affairs and failure to crack down on increasing display of anti-French and anti-Jew hostility and aggressivity by people of North African and African migrant stock in France. Macron’s recruitment of young people of migrant stock in their 30s and 40s, of dubious academic background and below average level of general knowledge and culture, is seen as a populist measure which emboldens unruly elements among people of migrant stock in the suburbs and towns to defy law. One of the Mps of African origin shows her total ignorance of history in a speech at the Assembly where she vented her own biased hostile sentiment. The ‘diversity positive discrimination’ policy of Macron is held responsible for promoting aggressive behaviour and racist attacks perpetrated by migrants in France. The press keeps silent over daily violent acts and provocation of all kinds. On Monday March 19th, a group of 100 intellectuals co-signed a letter to President Macron to express their concern over the religious radical ideology which is promoting hate and creating separatism in society.

The bizarre way France under Macron is dealing with issues should make us wary of the relevance of being wooed into security agreements with volatile and unreliable allies who lack authority to guarantee harmony and order in their own house.

After giving red carpet treatment to Colonel Gaddafi and tapping him on the shoulder, President Sarkozy allied with the British PM to send warplanes to hound him in the deepest recess of Libya. The official excuse was that the Colonel was demanding too hefty financial rewards for containing the flow of African migrants to Europe. The unofficial reason might be the Colonel’s grand plan for the development of Africa away from the grip of western capitalism. Responsibility for the Libyan disaster is hardly aired in the media by the main aggressors – US, UK and France. Generally well-known for their self-centred interests in dealings with foreign countries, western powers’ pledge to ensure defence cannot be taken for granted.

How reliable are military allies? One may ask in the light of conflicting interests of yesterday’s allies in the Middle-East turmoil. IS was defeated by a coalition of western powers – the US, UK, Germany, France, together with Arab countries, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Israel in air strikes while the Kurds, men and women, bravely fought on the ground. The Kurds assembled different sections of the population, Sunnis, Shias, Christians, and Yezidis in fierce ground battles against a determined IS army. Their bravery was widely mediatised and lauded and now they are all but let down by former allies.

President Macron, British PM Theresa May and even US President have failed to rein in Turkey’s military expedition into Kurdish region. PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan brazenly defies all warnings and has recruited Syrian IS soldiers to engage in a fierce battle against the Kurds. Bodies of slain Kurd soldiers are horribly mutilated. Torture of prisoners is daily reported. A hundred Kurd boys were arrested and taken away by the Turkish army on Monday 19th. They have not been located.

IS elements in Turkish forces have re-started ethnic cleansing of Yezidis. IS soldiers resort to their favourite technique of beheading captives. Afrin is occupied by Erdogan’s army and thousands of Kurds flee their homes and are forced on the road of exile. UN’s warning is shrugged off by a defiant Erdogan. Turkey’s NATO allies find themselves in an unprecedented situation of great embarrassment. Public opinion is outraged by the allies’ abandonment of Kurds. It recalls how Stalin drove off crowds of Germans from Eastern Europe and forced them on the road of exile. From 1974, Turkey has illegally occupied a huge part of Cyprus. To add insult to injury, Erdogan threatens to invade two Greek islands.

Conversely, France has sold warplanes to Turkey and the EU has just financed it with three billion euros for refugee aid. France claims its sale of fighter jets and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the Arab coalition fighting Yemen is for defence purposes but admits that it has no control over its use on the ground.

It all smacks of hypocrisy and profit-making priorities over righteousness and principles. Power to change the course of history is not in the hands of any majority of people in a country and at international level.

 

* Published in print edition on 23 March 2018

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