Wed Feb 27th, 2008 at 07:18:04 PM EST
L'armée française prend pied dans le Golfe (French Army sets up base in the Gulf)
The French army will set up a military base in the United Arab Emirates according to a report last month by Le Figaro.
The agreement was signed between France and the UAE following a visit by President Sarkozy in the Gulf region. Some 500 troops will be deployed in the UAE on a "permanent basis" and will be based in Abu Dhabi, considered the most important hydrocarbon producers in the federation. The base will be located facing the Hormuz Straits, site of collission between the US and Iranian navies.
The French will be joining US and British military already based in the area.
The stationning of 500 troops or so, in the Straits of Hormuz may be taken as a sign that France wants show the world that she is an international key player in the Gulf, a status that only the US and the UK have enjoyed so far. While an Al Qaeda or Islamist extremist terrorist threat to the more moderate Gulf states is real, France's agreed military presence could be considered a mere token or for 'show-off' or deterrence purposes at best.
Undoubtedly, the economic angle, i.e., the oil question and more, ta da... nuclear business prospects to say the least, may be the real motivation behind France's presence in the Hormuz. If so, the logic, i.e., France's presence in the Straits, then becomes implaccable especially after a cooperation agreement was signed between the two nations for the development of nuclear energy in the UAE, an agreement that could bring billions in dollars to French businesses and high-flying industrialists.
President Sarkozy sure looks like he's giving it all he's got -- his campaign promise to bring out France from its moribund economic state may soon fly (or so he hopes.) Incidentally, the Financial Times reported that France has overtaken the UK in terms of gross national product putting France in 5th place among the world's super powers.
Meanwhile, for those who are keen for Europe to stand on its own two feet, at least in matters of defence, you'll be glad to know that the EDA (European Defence Agency) held a high profile meet today on logistics (well, gotta start somewhere and logistics seem to be a good one to start with) announcing EDA Conference Sees Benefits from Greater Use of Commercial Logistics to Support EU Military Operations. In essence, it was all about what, how, when to and why buy, etc. The meeting was opened by Javier Solana, High Representative and Head of European Defence Agency.
(Frankly, it would have been an interesting conference if only every star ranking speaker had stuck to his time allotment. Each speaker was supposed to deliver a 10-minute speech but some military officers got over-excited and went on and on and on and ended up saying nothing.)
But to ET's EU united defence enthusiasts, I say, don't get all excited now -- Europe is still far from achieving a working defence institution for a united EU, what with veritably, only TEN MILLION EUROS allocated for equipment purchase! Believe me, that's not gonna buy a lot of defence for the EU. No way, Jose!