“Afghanistan: Lessons from France-United Arab Emirates Relations”. Dominique Trinquand’s platform

Abu Dhabi is only a three-hour flight from Kabul and a seven-hour flight from Paris. Since August 17, France has been using its military base in Abu Dhabi to conduct an emergency airlift between Kabul and Paris to evacuate its citizens and threatened Afghans. This military cooperation between France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) enabled the evacuation of more than 2,000 people, the vast majority of them Afghans, to Paris.

The use of the French base in Abu Dhabi to evacuate these vulnerable Afghan citizens and coalition nationals is the culmination of a decade-long partnership between France and the United Arab Emirates. In 2009, the President of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, went there to inaugurate the first French military base in the Persian Gulf. Foreign Minister Abdallah bin Zayed declared at the time that the partnership with France had “absolute priority”. The Emirates have become an essential asset for the French Army’s projection capability in the Middle East and beyond. The recent visit of Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Military Minister Florence Parly to Abu Dhabi bears witness to this.

Not only is the United Arab Emirates a proven military partner, they also share French geopolitical issues.

France, United Arab Emirates and their allies defend freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf. Following Iranian threats against the Strait of Hormuz, France offered to deploy a European maritime briefing mission to its naval base. This European operation (Anegor) was launched in 2020. Later, in April 2021, the UAE Navy participated for the first time in the annual bilateral naval combat readiness exercise in the Persian Gulf between France and India.

The Emirates are working with French services to combat the terrorism linked to religious extremism that has shaped France over the past decade

Reliability. In addition, France and the United Arab Emirates oppose Turkey’s expansionism in the Euro-Mediterranean region. In return, France gave its full diplomatic and military support to Greece, whose maritime sovereignty was being challenged by Turkey. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates was granted observer status at the EastMed Forum.

which has allowed them to forge closer ties with EU member states like Cyprus, Greece and France, which share concerns about Turkey.

More generally, the Emirates work with the French services in the fight against terrorism related to religious extremism that has plagued France over the past decade. While President Macron is making the fight against Islamic separatism a hobby, his ally Mohamed bin Zayed in the Arab world is attacking the political Islam supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. Both agree with a moderate vision of Islam integrated into society.

The Emirates’ financial support for the G5 Sahel is also a concrete sign of the UAE’s support for the fight against religious extremism on the African continent.

The just-completed Apagan operation between Kabul and Paris illustrates one of the many facets of Franco-Emirati cooperation and convergence between the two countries. Today an airlift, tomorrow the traditional mediating role between Western countries and Arab and Asian powers. More than ten years ago, France chose the Emirates and once again they prove their reliability in a moment of crisis.

General Dominique Trinquand is the former head of the French military mission to the UN.

EastMed gas pipeline project.

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