An analysis of former French ambassadors’ criticism of Macron’s approach to Gaza

2023/12/07 | interview, political

Strategic Council Online-Interview: Referring to the publication of a letter by several French ex-ambassadors regarding the developments in Gaza in Le Monde newspaper, the former ambassador of Iran to France stated that the positions of France in the Gaza war and the events that have affected the diplomacy of this country since the beginning of the conflicts have caused reactions in the French diplomatic circles. He added that it is noteworthy that the French ambassadors considered the destruction of Hamas to be an illusion and that these different positions have become a little more public.

Abolqasem Delfi told the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations that about 18 former French ambassadors, with their names and signatures, have written an open letter in which they describe the events that are happening in the Gaza war, such as the attacks of the Israeli regime against the Palestinians, the violation of international regulations and have criticized the heavy military pressure of the Israeli regime against the Palestinians and the Israeli goals behind these attacks.

Delfi pointed out that the French ambassadors, in their letter, called the events of October 7, during which Hamas and the Palestinians took the war into Israel and killed some Israelis and transferred some of them to Gaza, unprecedented and considered it an unpleasant act and so-called “terrorist” in their view.

He added that while emphasizing the need for the intervention of the permanent members of the Security Council, the former French ambassadors have demanded measures to stop the war, send international aid to the region, and find a peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue.

“This letter, which was published in Le Monde, did not address the French foreign policy and did not want to take a critical look at the performance of Macron’s government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but this criticism was aimed at the developments in Gaza, the harsh and inhumane positions and actions of the Israeli regime against the Palestinian people, the Israeli regime’s desire to destroy or mass murder the Palestinians or Hamas or re-occupy Gaza and take measures to manage Gaza in the future. They stated that the humanitarian pause should become a permanent ceasefire as soon as possible, and international organizations and regulations should monitor the situation.”

He considered the report published in “Le Figaro” newspaper two weeks before the publication of this letter to be significant. He explained that this newspaper claimed to have access to a letter or the content of a confidential letter in which a number of French ambassadors and diplomats in the Middle Eastern and North African countries have criticized the country’s policies in the Gaza war, addressing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only parts of the letter that include important points have been published. If it is published with the same content, this unprecedented letter has some room for reflection on French diplomacy.

Delfi said that if the letter had remained confidential and unpublished, there could have been other arguments, and perhaps the opinion of diplomats would not have been aligned with the positions of the county. However, now that the letter is public, some considerations must be noticed.

“It is possible that this scenario is to create a media atmosphere and a political game to make the role of the French in the Gaza war and regional developments more concrete and bold Because, after the publication of Figaro’s article, the spokesperson of the French government and the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced their position about it. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, without wanting to turn this issue into a political controversy between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the diplomats, wanted to pass it by slowly and said that the foreign policy of France is determined by the politicians elected by the people and what the diplomats said is not at the level of executive policies. Rather, it is a comment.”

Delfi added that the spokesperson of the French government did not refer to the letter’s content, which states that France has become more isolated and criticized among the countries of the region with the policies it has adopted. The people of the region’s countries are demonstrating against France such as the protests held in Tunisia, Lebanon, and Tehran in front of the French embassy.

 

“The spokesperson of the French government said that the position of France in the Middle East is important and significant, and whenever Mr. Macron needs, he is in contact with the leaders of the Middle East countries and talks and exchanges opinions with them about the process of developments in the Middle East. But in the public opinion of West Asia, the role of France has been severely questioned compared to the past”.

This former diplomat stated that based on this letter, the way the policies were implemented caused the people of the region to take a stance against French policies, and said that the French government’s performance in the Middle East has been such that in the future they can cite that France, due to its support for Netanyahu’s government, has participated in the Israeli regime’s genocide against the Palestinians. They pointed to Macron’s position during his trip to the occupied territories, where he defended the Israeli regime’s right to defend itself against Hamas attacks. They said that the Israeli regime had the right to defend itself.

Delfi added that another point mentioned in the letter is that Macron said during that trip that we should try to use the international coalition created to fight Daesh against Hamas. This support for the Israeli regime makes France considered an accomplice in the actions of the Israeli regime in Gaza, and the content of this article has been noted in the ambassadors’ letter.

He stated that after the publication of the letter in Figaro, in an interview with the BBC, Macron took a strong stance against the bombings of the Israeli regime in Gaza and called it unacceptable and called for the bombings to stop. To fully support the Israeli regime and move towards the Palestinians, this needs to be grounded, which can be done by publishing this letter.

Delfi added that in response to Macron’s interview, French newspapers have also criticized the attacks of the Israeli regime, which can be one of the effects and consequences of the ambassadors’ letter. However, Macron’s position was published one month after the beginning of the Gaza war when Palestinian casualties reached about 10,000, 70 percent of them women and children. Therefore, international pressure can also be effective in Mr. Macron’s position.

This former diplomat continued by saying that in France, the foreign policy team has the first and last word, but during Macron’s era, the Elysée’s diplomatic consultants have become very active and have provided a stage for Mr. Macron to participate in foreign policy more than ever before.

Delfi said that among the presidents of the Fifth Republic, Macron has had the most presence in French diplomacy and foreign policy. For this reason, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and French diplomats have found an intangible sensitivity and confrontation with this part of Elysee’s diplomacy, and they believe that he should not interfere so much in the foreign policy section.

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