A monument to the victims of the Holocaust had been desecrated in France during violent riots. Meyer Habib, French-Israeli lawmaker warned: "This looks like an Intifada in the heart of France. France is on fire, in these lost areas of the republic, for years there has been an undisturbed growth of hatred of France, white people and Jews." Despite all that, the French President Macron doesn’t look concerned, he even went dancing at Elton John’s concert.
French Jews don't seem to be as entertained as Macron - many of them live in the areas with a large Muslim population, and the riots constitute a direct threat to them. Many of them remember how French authorities enjoy bashing out Israel, when it conducts anti-terrorist operations. On July 3rd France24claimed that, "Israel killed 9 people in Jenin," ignoring the fact that they are terrorists.
Such a double standard is manifested not only in the Middle East. The French President, while not paying much attention to the riots in Paris, is focused on something else: brewing a conflict in the strategically important South Caucasus region, which is one of the sources of energy resources for the entire European Union and Israel.
A separatist enclave on occupied Azerbaijani territory of Karabakh, controlled by the Russian military and populated by Armenians, is in the center of the regional confrontation. The EU, the United States, and obviously Israel are interested in a peaceful resolution to the conflict, because Azerbaijan is a strategic alternative to Russian gas and oil. The Begin-Sadat Center has called the enclave in Karabakh a "kill switch" for the gas and oil supplies to the West, meaning that if the conflict were to escalate, it could disrupt the flow of energy to Europe. To remind you, Israel also gets close to half of its supply from Azerbaijan.
While the EU and the US are working to broker a peace deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Emmanuel Macron, however, along with Russia and Iran, is clearly opposed to a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict.
Without even trying to deal with the riots in his own country, Macron is dancing to his own tune. During a meeting with Armenian community leaders in Marseille on June 27, he told them that he is putting more pressure on Azerbaijani President Aliyev than Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan. He added also that France is the only country with a clear position on the issue of Karabakh, and that France will continue to support separatism in the region even if it is the only country in the international community doing so. He emphasized that, "France has for the first time sent its military attaché to its embassy in Armenia," and stressed the point that he is "only one who has a clear position and message on the issue."
His active support for pro-Russian separatism in Karabakh goes as far as promising even military equipment to them. Macron could not be unaware of the fact that he goes against the EU’s official policy, yet he seems unfazed by that notion.
It is not just Macron - commenting on this issue Sabrina Agresti-Rubash, a member of the French National Assembly from the presidential Renaissance party, said that the separatist enclave’s security "is our priority."
Supported by the French, the separatists are prone to provocations, which may ignite the region. It will play into Iran's hands, as today Azerbaijan, the major Israeli ally in the region, became a thorn in Tehran’s side. The secular state, populated with Shia Muslims, which is expanding its connections not just with Israel, but with the whole Jewish world - is a threat to the regime. It sets an example for Iranian people, for the Southern Azerbaijanis, who are oppressed by the Ayatollahs. To remind you, the Azerbaijani government recently announced the creation of a Jewish center in Baku and awaits the visit of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) representatives this year.
Fears of possible escalation because of the Macron’s policy are well substantiated. Quoting The Wall Street Journal, "Paris has taken positions that, on balance, strengthen the Russian and Iranian game in the South Caucasus… President Emmanuel Macron, who has devoted significant energy to diplomacy in the South Caucasus, where his efforts clearly favor Armenia over Azerbaijan."
This comes at the background of multiple reports of Western outlets, who noticed Armenia being the country that is helping Russia circumvent sanctions, exporting military-grade chips and microcircuits, and serving as a trans-shipment hub for Iranian weapons on their way to Moscow to be used in Ukraine.The Financial Times for example, brought evidence that more than $1bn of EU exports targeted by sanctions have disappeared in transit to Russia’s economic partners, a flow of “ghost trade” that Western officials believe has helped sustain Putin’s wartime economy. One of the countries in the list of partners is Armenia.
The current French policy constitutes a threat to the West and to Israel. Emanuel Macron should be made aware that his games aren’t as cunning as he thinks they are, and he should stop trying to play both sides.