DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 18, 2009
France has injected fresh momentum into the Middle East nuclear race by inviting Gulf nations to take a minority stake in the French nuclear giant Areva (CEPFi.PA), debkafile's military sources report.
They will be able to use their access to advanced nuclear technology for creating the infrastructure for a military nuclear industry to rival Iran's.
Paris has a separate deal with Egypt.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 6, 2008
French president Nicolas Sarkozy said in Damascus Wednesday, Sept 3: "Obviously there is a lack of confidence between Iran and the nations involved in this issue. We [the French] will continue our efforts for dialogue."
In a clear departure from Washington's position and in breach of his promises to Israel not to accept a nuclear Iran, Sarkozy omitted to refer to sanctions or any other penalties and clearly avoided recriminations against the Islamic Republic.
debkafile's Middle East sources report that the French president was preparing for a discussion on the Iranian nuclear program taking place in Damascus Thursday.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 5, 2008
Israel has not verified the announcement, which debkafile's sources report the presidential palace in Paris put out to lend weight to Nicolas Sarkozy's state visit to Damascus starting Wed. Sept 3 and boost his pretensions to a role in Middle East peacemaking.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 16, 2008
French president Nicolas Sarkozy organized a jovial photo-op with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to launch his Mediterranean union debut with 43 leaders in Paris Sunday, July 13.
The first sour note came from Syrian president Bashar Assad, who was reinstated by Sarkozy's invitation on the international stage.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 25, 2008
Addressing a Knesset session in his honor, June 23, the first French president on a state visit to Israel in 12 years, proclaimed his undying friendship for and admiration of the Jewish state, while stressing that a lasting Middle East peace required a halt on Israeli settlement "on Palestinian land," and a solution of the refugee problem. Sarkozy also told the Knesset France would not accept a nuclear-armed Iran.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 21, 2008
debkafile's sources reveal that prime minister Ehud Olmert told US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice when they met in Jerusalem Sunday, June 15, that he was willing to evacuate Israeli troops and hand this strategic enclave on the Hermon slopes to United Nations custody as early as July. He has not brought the issue either before the full government or the security cabinet.
Our Middle East sources disclose that the Shebaa Farms tactic was initiated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy; he sold it to President George W. Bush when they met in Paris Saturday. It ties in with the Israeli-Syrian peace talks brokered by Turkey.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 10, 2008
Nicolas Sarkozy arrived Saturday, June 7, with a large delegation including prime minister Francois Fillon and heads of government and opposition parties.
In an interview with Lebanese dailies he remarked: "I had said ... that I would resume contacts with Syria only when positive, concrete developments occurred in Lebanon with a view to getting out of the crisis. One has to concede that the Doha accord, the election of President (Michel) Suleiman and the return of Fouad Saniora as prime minister are such developments. I have called (Syrian President Bashar) Assad to tell him of my desire to see the continued implementation of the accord."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 15, 2008
debkafile's shipping correspondent reports that the CMA-CGM company, owners of the luxury yacht Le Ponant seized in Somali waters a week ago, did not deny paying ransom for the release of the 32-member crew and yacht. At the same time, the elite French GIGN force was able to capture 6 of the 10 pirates after a brief exchange of fire on the shore near the Somali town of Garacad and put them aboard the French helicopter carrier Jean d'Arc, which was standing by.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 11, 2008
debkafile's shipping correspondent reveals that the pirates who seized the French Le Ponant luxury yacht Friday in international waters off Somalia and took its 32-man crew hostage, headed south Monday, April 7. They are moored on the Indian Ocean shore of the semi-autonomous Somali province of Puntland, near the village of Garacad.
Tuesday, President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet the families of the captive crew to update them on the situation.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 27, 2008
French president Nicolas Sarkozy was addressing a joint session of the British parliament on a state visit to the United Kingdom Wednesday, March 26. He went on to pledge more French troops to NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan, declaring: We cannot afford to see the Taliban and al Qaeda return to that country. Referring to the international financial crisis, Sarkozy said the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are not strong enough and should be reformed. He also urged the G8 group of industrialized nations to open up to new members. Europe, said the French president, needs a continental immigration policy.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 29, 2008
debkafile's military sources report exclusively that the first Persian Gulf exercise without the US in many years began Feb. 24. It will last ten days. It is also the first time the United Arab Emirates and France have invoked their 19-year old military pact.
While Iran is not explicitly targeted, the objectives of the maneuver are to practice repulsing marine landings by sea on the Gulf participants' shores and missile attacks from the east.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 1, 2008
Aftr talks with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said: "I have ordered by team to suspend diplomatic relations with Syria until we see Syria cooperating in the presidential election in Lebanon."
Parliament postponed the vote Saturday for the 11th time over the intransigence of the pro-Syrian bloc.
The French president stopped short of severing relations with Damascus, saying:
"I will no longer maintain ties with Syria and order all my colleagues to follow suit." We can wait no longer. Syria must stop talking and act.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> Reports: Iranian-Syrian nuclear issues heat up amid growing mistrust of IAEA director in Washington, Paris and Jerusalem<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 5, 2007
French defense minister Herve Morin said Monday, Oct. 29, he has information that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. He thus publicly contradicted remarks made by IAEA director Mohammed ElBaradai that there is no such evidence.
debkafile's sources report that president Nicolas Sarkozy plans a state visit to Jerusalem in a few weeks, during which he will the address the Knesset on the Iranian nuclear threat, counter-measures and his commitment to Israel's security.
French FM Kouchner: The Iranian nuclear crisis forces the world to prepare for the worst - which is war
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 20, 2007
In a series of press, radio and TV interviews, Sunday, Sept. 16, Bernard Kouchner also said he had advised large French companies not to respond to tenders issued by Tehran. debkafile adds: France thus joined the economic sanctions imposed by the US, Britain, Japan and Germany on Iran for refusing to give up uranium enrichment, but implicit in Kouchner's advice was a word of caution to French companies to stay clear of business complications with a nation on the brink of war.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span>: Sarkozy is first Western leader to speak out loud about US plan to bomb Iran<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 3, 2007
Addressing 180 French diplomats Monday, Aug. 27, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable and the world must tighten sanctions while offering Tehran incentives to halt weapons development. "This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran," he said.
debkafile's diplomatic sources disclose that Sarkozy's warning to Tehran was the bluntest but not the only one given Tehran of the Bush administration plans to bomb at its nuclear facilities.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 23, 2007
The concept of a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable, says Nicolas Sarkozy in Berlin interview
In his first comment as French president on the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program, Sarkozy said: A nuclear Iran "would free the way for an arms race in the region and directly threaten Israel and southeastern Europe," he said. Iran must choose between cooperating with the international community or harsher sanctions.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span>: Will al Qaeda use violence to prevent Sarcozy becoming French president? The Madrid rail bombing worked in Spain <br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 29, 2007
The right-centre contender Nicolas Sarcozy has a better than good chance of winning France's presidential runoff on May 6, after his 31% vote in the first round topped the 26% gained by his leading rival, the Socialist Segolene Royal.
debkafile's counter-terror sources report: The countdown has begun at the contenders' campaign headquarters, but also at the secret lair of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the latest manifestation of the vicious Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat -GSPC.
The al Qaeda jihadists view Sarkozy as a dangerous enemy of radical Islamic organizations in France, whose foreign policy is likely to friendlier to the United States than that of Royal.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 20, 2007
The latest polls show one-third of French voters still undecided, four days before Sunday's first round of voting. Center-right Nicolas Sarkozy leads marginally with 29% followed by Socialist Segolene Royal's 25%. The centrist candidate Francois Bayrou is down to 15%. There is every chance of a runoff scheduled for May 6.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 5, 2007
Last week, French president Jacques Chirac said he was not concerned about the danger of Iran having "...one or perhaps a second bomb..." In a statement he retracted a day later, he said it would be an act of self-destruction for Iran to use a nuclear weapon against another country.
"Where will it drop it, this bomb? On Israel?" he asked. "It would not have gone 200 meters into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed."
Most Israeli officials preferred to dismiss Chirac's statement as the meandering of a president heading for retirement after the May vote for his successor. But, in Washington, his remarks were taken seriously by influential circles as fodder for their campaign against going to war in Iran. They argue that, sooner or later, Iran will get the bomb, the components for assembling one and nuclear weapons technology.
Chirac also knocked over the Olmert government's fundamental policy of shunting responsibility for dealing with Iran's nuclear armament over to the "international community," namely the United States and Europe. The French president was saying in effect to Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Shimon Peres: Don't push the problem over to us if you can't manage it on your own.
debkafile's security sources warn against underrating the dangers inherent in Chirac's comments. They are seen as giving wings to a budding tendency in the West to treat a nuclear-armed Iran with fatalism rather than directly fighting it.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 28, 2005
French president Jacques Chirac lavished brilliant fanfare and ceremonial warmth on a rare visitor to Paris, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, when he arrived Wednesday, July 28, on a state visit to France. The ice-breaking symbolism was just that, no more than a thin veneer over the true state of Franco-Israel relations and the difficulties besetting the two leaders.Chirac's approval rating at home has plummeted to just over 33%, an unpopularity record unmatched by any previous French president in office. He is beleaguered at home and isolated in Europe.
US officials are privately referring to Disengagement B and Disengagement C which would entail the destruction of entire Israeli towns, Maaleh Adumim outside Jerusalem and Ariel further north. To soften up the Israeli government, sanctions have been in force for some months against Israel's security and military organizations whose performance has begun to show damage.