Only days after US President Obama agreed to a major nuclear power deal with the UAE, the French President is visiting Abu Dhabi to help launch his new naval base.
The UAE, in developing this military alliance with France, is indicating to the USA and to the world that it is not putting all its dates in the one basket.
Strategic Military Alliance
A French military presence in this part of the region is a way of garnering the support of a Middle Eastern partner as the world community struggles to relate to Iran over its nuclear arms buildup. One of the factors that threatened to torpedo the US civil nuclear power deal was the perception that the UAE was palling around with Iran.
Où Est Carla?
What a shame that Carla Bruni has not been able to join her husband on this visit to the Emirates. She may have had work commitments but was she dropped from the military delegation because she is getting to be something of a loose canon?
Only last week the outspoken First Lady launched a blistering attack on Pope Benedict, criticizing him for his old-fashioned stance on birth control and calling his church to ‘evolve’.
Only a couple of days ago Nicolas came under fire from the British press for posting on his Facebook page a ‘nauseating’ and ‘embarrassing’ video of him kissing Carla’s lips.
Nicolas will want to avoid further public relations disasters especially in the culturally sensitive country of the United Arab Emirates.
French-Emirati relationships have been growing culturally through the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Louvre, the UAE-based Paris-Sorbonne University and the substantial gift from the Emirates for the restoration of the royal palace in Fontainebleau.
However, a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report concerning labor conditions on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island has implicated the French projects as being party to “severe exploitation” and failing to take adequate steps to prevent the abuse of laborers. The UAE government and other groups have soundly criticized the report but it will be interesting to see what the French President says on this matter when he lays a foundation stone for the Abu Dhabi Louvre on Saadiyat (‘Happiness’) Island. I wonder what Carla thinks about this issue?
Dr Geoff Pound
Image: Pictures of Nicolas Sarkozy, Carla Bruni and a scene from that video.
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