Arabs are circulating this picture of Sarkozy.
“… When asked about Seif’s comments during a March 12 interview on France’s TF1 television, Sarkozy replied: “I am sorry to see you in the role of a spokeswoman for Kadhafi’s son, frankly I’ve known you in better roles…. It’s grotesque and I am sorry that I am being interrogated about declarations of Kadhafi or his son on an important channel like TF1,” Sarkozy said.
“When one quotes Mr. Kadhafi, who is dead, his son, who has blood on his hands, that is a regime of dictators, assassins, whose credibility is zero (How convenient!) … frankly, I think we have sunk low enough in the political debate.”
Takieddine is already under investigation for his alleged role in the funding of Edouard Balladur’s failed 1995 presidential campaign for which Sarkozy was spokesman….”
Today’s cartoon in the Belgian daily Le Soir, by Kroll.
The year in French foreign policy began rather well, with a feeling of a fresh start as the new minister of foreign affairs, Michèle Alliot-Marie, returned home rejuvenated from her Christmas holiday to provide renewed strength and focus at the Quai d’Orsay, the home of the ministry. As it turned out, neither her return, nor the vacation itself were such a great idea.
Two months into 2011, the transformation of North Africa has exposed a slew of moral failings in French policy in the Arab world, and it has raised a flurry of questions about Alliot-Marie’s ethics, judgment, and veracity. Political observers and even government ministers are already debating who might take her place, perhaps in the coming days. The French diplomatic corps is increasingly turning on the president as his Middle East policy continues to disintegrate.
It all began in Tunisia, a former French protectorate….
At least 35 people had been killed by Jan. 11, when Alliot-Marie shockingly offered to bolster Ben Ali’s grip on power. She suggested to France’s Parliament that the world-renowned “savoir-faire of our security forces” allows for the “solving of security problems of this sort.”…
It was only after Ben Ali fled into exile on Jan. 14 that French officials finally took the side of the Tunisian people. In Egypt, where relations were never as deep, France spoke cautiously of the potential terrorist threat, and it came around to supporting the Egyptian people before Hosni Mubarak gave up power. But in the case of Libya — whose leader of 42 years, Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi, was warmly welcomed by Sarkozy for a pomp-filled, five-day visit to Paris in 2007 — France stayed silent through six days of crackdowns during which an estimated 233 people were killed. Qaddafi’s promise to fight to the “last drop of blood” seems to have played a role in driving France to turn against him…
The late recognition of the history-changing tide was, perhaps, to be expected. After all, France’s relations with its former colonies have long prioritized stability — especially opening doors for French business and military contracts, while also protecting geopolitical interests….More recently, Sarkozy applied a sort of Françafrique-lite concept to Libya when he signed billions of dollars in industrial contracts with Qaddafi during the 2007 visit. As Libya’s leader pitched his Bedouin tent in Paris, widespread complaints rang out that France — along with Britain and especially Italy — was doing business with a terrorist who regularly abused his own people…
A 2007 U.S. Embassy cable obtained by WikiLeaks and later published by Le Monde quoted France’s ambassador to Tunis at the time, Serge Degallaix, as having said, “Tunisia is not a dictatorship,” and paraphrased him as saying, “Its leaders genuinely listen to the country’s people.” The cable also cited Degallaix as telling his American counterpart that “major changes in French policy toward Tunisia” are “unlikely” under Sarkozy…”
“… French diplomacy is struggling to recover from its mishandling of the popular uprisings in the Arab world and cosy business and arms ties to authoritarian regimes. During the brutal repression of the Tunisian revolution, the French foreign minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, offered the “savoir faire” of French police to help the regime. It emerged that mid-revolt, she and her parents stayed with, and did business with, a crony of the dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Alliot-Marie, who has refused to quit, is now so loathed in the former French colonial protectorate that the Tunisian foreign minister was forced to resign for saying he respected her….. The embarrassment was compounded last weekend when hundreds of Tunisians took to the streets demanding the departure of the new French ambassador, Boris Boillon, a “Sarkoboy” and presidential protege parachuted in after Sarkozy sacked the previous ambassador for failing to predict the revolution. Boillon, 41, once referred to by Sarkozy as “my little Arab” because he speaks Arabic, was forced to deliver a humiliating apology on Tunisian television after being filmed throwing a Sarkozy-style tantrum and insulting local journalists who asked him about his inexperience.
Unnamed ambassadors briefing the press have complained about Sarkozy’s personality. One told Libération that French foreign policy, like Sarkozy, had become “agitated, impulsive, ideologically incoherent and contradictory”. Diplomats complained the Elysée sidelined and ignored its diplomats over the Arab uprisings. …. The Socialist leader, Martine Aubry, told French radio: “Today it’s clear that French diplomacy no longer exists; we’re confusing contracts with diplomacy and that’s why France is shrinking in the world. Its voice no longer carries.” French diplomats’ resentment of Sarkozy had been growing under his previous foreign minister, the leftwing former humanitarian champion, Bernard Kouchner, who was dubbed Mr Know It All by foreign office staff who complained that he was arrogant.
… His visit to Washington was cut short? Like there were more items on the agenda to be discussed with Obama? Hariri is said to stop by Sarkozy on his way to Beirut.