https://diyaruna.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_di/features/2019/11/28/feature-02

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Security |

France remains committed to regional partnerships

By Khalid al-Taie

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A French fighter jet takes off to launch attacks against ISIS strongholds in Syria. [Photo courtesy of the French Ministry of Defence]

France's continued presence in the Middle East has helped improve regional stability and neutralise the threat of terrorism, Iraqi experts told Diyaruna.

Over the past five years, Paris has worked with other partners in the international coalition to defeat the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).

But even after the group's territorial defeat and the demise of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, France continues the fight against ISIS remnants in Iraq alongside its Iraqi partners.

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly commented on the strike on Twitter, saying "we give no respite" to ISIS.

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The French anti-aircraft destroyer Cassard sails in Gulf waters as part of the anti-ISIS Opération Chammal. [Photo courtesy of the French Ministry of Defence]

"France’s position is constant and its determination to fight terrorism remains intact," she said.

France proactive in war on terror

France has played a major role in the war on terror and fully abides by security agreements struck with regional allies, said Hilal al-Obaidi, an Iraqi expert in international relations.

Its participation in the war on terror stems from its sense that terrorism is not a threat to the countries of the region alone but to the entire world, and that "it cannot remain idle in the face of such a threat", he told Diyaruna.

Proactively attacking terrorists on their home turf rather than merely being on the defensive has been the guiding principle of the French strategy in the war against ISIS, al-Obeidi said.

France has been committed to defending the Gulf region and the Middle East and has been providing military and intelligence support to ward off threats and the prospect of war, he added.

"France has honourably supported the war on terrorism and we appreciate the tremendous efforts of the French artillery in protecting our western border with Syria against ISIS infiltration," said Anbar provincial council security committee chairman Naeem al-Koud.

France is a strong partner of Iraq and has offered its combat expertise to Iraqi soldiers and supplied them with weapons and equipment so they can protect their country, he told Diyaruna.

Al-Koud pointed to France’s historical ties to the Iraqi people and other governments in the region, noting that the French are committed to stamping out the sources of terrorism and achieving regional security.

Protecting international waters

"The French presence in our region is significant and vital and there have been long-term, mutual French interests, especially in Gulf countries," Ghazi Faisal Hussain, who is an adviser at the Iraqi Centre for Strategic Studies, told Diyaruna.

He pointed to the permanent French naval military base in the UAE, as well as agreements and partnerships with Gulf countries in the areas of joint defence and maritime security.

The French Defense Ministry celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the France-UAE military partnership on November 25th.

French naval vessels, including destroyers like the Auvergne air defence frigates Chevalier Paul and Cassard have participated in France's Opération Chammal against ISIS, Hussain said.

Hussain also pointed to France’s role in the Bahrain-based Combined Task Force (CTF 150), a multinational coalition naval task force working under the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

The CMF is a 33-nation force that promotes security across approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters and some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

France's mission as part of CTF 150 is to intercept the smuggling of drugs, weapons and illegal commercial shipments and prevent their falling in the hands of armed groups, Hussain said.

On September 25th, the French frigate Nivose, representing CTF 150, seized 2.5 tonnes of hashish from a rogue dhow.

France also is committed to monitoring the crucial Strait of Hormuz, through which a third of the world's seaborne oil passes, and plays a vital role in securing oil tankers and global trade in the international waters of the Gulf.

French frigate Jean Bart will end its deployment in the region on November 20th, and will be replaced by French frigate Courbet, which will be deployed until February 22nd.

These deployments complement the work of the International Maritime Security Construct, an alliance spearheaded by the US, that aims to protect merchant ships and ensure freedom of navigation and international trade.

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