Emmanuel Macron and the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim ben Hamad al-Thani – Christophe Ena / AP / SIPA
After Algiers , President Emmanuel Macron arrived this Thursday morning at Qatar for a brief visit where he has to announce several contracts and evoke the fight against terrorism and the crisis in the Middle East after Donald Trump’s announcements on Jerusalem.
Shortly after his arrival at 8 am local time (0500 GMT), the head of state visited the US base Al-Udeid, 30 km south-west of Doha, the largest in the Middle East and seat of the Centcom, the US central command of anti-jihadist operations.
Meeting with the US command
He was accompanied by Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Minister of the Armenian Florence Parly, according to an AFP journalist. He was to meet there the American command, as well as the French troops stationed on this base.
The visit of Emmanuel Macron Qatar intervenes the day after the decisions announced by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to that city. These announcements sparked an international wave of convictions, particularly in the Arab-Muslim world.
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At a press conference in Algiers, Emmanuel Macron declared “regrettable” the decisions of Donald Trump and recalled “the commitment of France and Europe to the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine living side by side. coast in peace and security in internationally recognized borders with Jerusalem as capital of the two states “.
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He announced at the Europe-Africa summit in Abidjan last week that he would ask Qatar to no longer fund foundations or schools in France that encourage radical Islam.
Emmanuel Macron said he had already obtained this commitment from the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose country is currently in an open crisis with Qatar. He even offered to relay other countries by handing them to Qatar and Saudi Arabia a list of suspicious institutions.
In Doha, he will meet with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, he received in Paris in September, before a joint press conference.
Several contracts to be concluded
During this visit, the two leaders will open “the first meeting for bilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism, the financing of terrorism and radicalization,” says the Elysee.
Emmanuel Macron plans to organize in early 2018 in Paris an international conference on the financing of terrorism to which he will invite all actors in the region.
The two heads of state should also sign several contracts whose “maturity is close”, according to the Elysee. Among them could be the purchase by Doha of 12 new Rafale fighter jets (Dassault group) and the Doha metro concession to the RATP and Keolis groups, for some 3 billion euros according to the economic press. In 2016, Doha acquired 24 Rafale for 6.3 billion euros.
Paris reaffirms its “median position”
The Gulf crisis, which has pitted Qatar against Saudi Arabia and its allies for six months, must also be at the center of trade.
On these tensions, Emmanuel Macron, anxious to spare all parties with whom he has remained in contact regularly, should reaffirm the “middle” position of France, according to the Elysee.
Since the start of the boycott of Qatar by its Gulf neighbors in June, Paris has not chosen a camp, but called for dialogue and supported Kuwaiti mediation.
Six months ago, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the United Arab Emirates Egypt severed their diplomatic relations with Qatar and closed their air and sea links as well as the only land border of the emirate (with Arabia).
They blame the small gas state to support radical Islamist groups, which Doha refutes, and to get closer to Iran, Ryad’s great regional rival.
In search of support, Qatar has increased in recent months the large arms contracts with Western countries and signed a defense agreement with the Russia , not to mention a 25-year partnership with Total on the Al-Chahine offshore oil field.