President Nicholas Sarkozy returned to France yesterday with accords that will make his country a major player in the Persian Gulf, the Christian Science Monitor reports. France will soon have a permanent military base on the United Arab Emirates' side of the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil pathway; it will also help the UAE build civilian nuclear reactors, netting billions for French businesses.
This represents a huge strategic shift, because France has traditionally focused on areas it once colonized. Some see it as a further means of buddying up with the US in countering Iranian influence, while others see France establishing itself as an alternative to American presence. “France responds to its friends,” Sarkozy said. “France is participating in the stability of this region.”