France Key to Iraq Deal?
Nicolas Sarkozy’s government has pledged to take a lead role in brokering a peace deal among Iraq’s warring groups.
After years of shunning involvement in a war it said was wrong, France now believes it may hold the key to peace in Iraq, proposing itself as an “honest broker” between the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions.
The shift was one of the most concrete consequences yet of the thaw in French-American relations following the election in May of President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose administration no longer feels bound by the adamant refusal to take a role in Iraq that characterized the reign of his predecessor, Jacques Chirac.
During a three-day visit to Baghdad that ended Tuesday, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said that the time had come for France, and Europe, to play a greater role in Iraq. “I believe this is the moment. Everyone knows the Americans will not be able to get this country out of difficulty alone,” Kouchner told the French radio station RTL on Tuesday before returning to Paris. “I really believe that depending on what happens here it will change the world.”
It would be ironic, indeed, if France were able to come in and save the day. As Laura Rozen notes, Bob Ney, the man who changed the name of French fried potatoes in the House cafeteria to “Freedom Fries,” is now in jail while France is suddenly (with apologies to J. Michael Straczynski) our last, best hope for peace.
While I’m skeptical that they — or any outside power — can solve anything quickly, their change of course here is welcome news. One would think that they would have more chance of being seen as an honest broker than we do at this stage.