The Western Press has not understood the full significance of the French Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defense (Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parly)’s trip to Iraq on 25 and 26 August 2017.

The media is content to regurgitate the official version: that France is committed to fighting Daesh and supports the reconstruction of Iraq.

As it happens, the French delegation now in Baghdad, has provided a 430 million euro loan, but has not donated any money.

Of particular note: making a break with the uncertainty that seemed to reign at Paris, the delegation repeated that it wanted to make it clear that France had withdrawn from intervening in Syria and toppling the Republic for the benefit of the Muslim Brotherhood. The delegation assured journalists that President Assad could participate in the “transition” and could even stand for president if he so wished. This was intended as an overture to Bashar al-Assad who had rejected the envoys charged with re-opening the French embassy in Damascus. Syria had laid down as a pre-condition for this, the complete withdrawal of support to the jihadists. This leads us to the conclusion that it is hardly probable that the declarations of Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parly will have the slightest effect, as this support continues.

At Erbil, the French delegation met President Barzani while he was fully engaged in preparations for his referendum for independence. The common communiqué published at the end of the meeting declares that France has made its point of view on the ballot, but takes great care to refrain from specifying what exactly France’s position is. The French Press seems to be ignorant of the referendum to be called at the end of September, a referendum that both the U.S. and Turkey have slammed. The Kurdish press, for its part, has been urged to withdraw declarations made by President François Hollande on 8 September 2016 from the Internet. It then had publicly taken the position in support of the independence of the region of the Iraqi Kurdistan, the territories annexed collaborating with Daesh, as well as the Rojava, which is Syrian Arab territory on which Paris, Erbil and Ankara wanted to create a Kurdistan and to drive out the Turkish Kurds from it.

Jean-Yves Le Drian was François Hollande’s Defence Minister and then went on to become Emmanuel Macron’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. President Barzani’s current plan for an independent state is only tenuously connected to the grandiose plan conceived by Alain Juppe and François Hollande. However, neither plan will be able to benefit from recognition from any other state except for Israel.

Paris, which has already changed its opinion several times on the issue of a Kurdish State, does not seem to know what it wants. Thus it has two different narratives: one when it is addressing France and the other when it is addressing the Middle East.

Anoosha Boralessa