French President Emmanuel Macron at Algiers Airport on December 6, 2017
After Algiers, French President Emmanuel Macron arrived Thursday morning in Qatar for a brief visit where he has to announce several contracts and discuss the fight against terrorism and the crisis in the Middle East after the announcements of Donald Trump on Jerusalem.
Shortly after his arrival at 08:00 local time (0500 GMT), the head of state visited the US base Al-Udeid, 30 km southwest of Doha, the largest in the Middle East and headquarters of Centcom , the US central command of anti-jihadist operations.
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.
Macron’s visit to Qatar follows the announcement by US President Donald Trump of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and transferring the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to that city.
These announcements sparked an international wave of convictions, particularly in the Arab-Muslim world.
At a news conference in Algiers, Macron said „regrettable“ the decisions of Mr. Trump and recalled „the commitment of France and Europe to the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine alive side by side in peace and security within internationally recognized borders with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states „.
In addition to an African tour largely devoted to the fight against jihadists in the Sahel, as well as a visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Emmanuel Macron must address this issue again in Doha where he expects results against the financing of radicalization.
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.
Macron said he had already secured the commitment from 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 a list of suspicious institutions from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
In Doha, he has to meet with the young emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, he received in Paris in September, before a joint press conference.
– Fight against terrorism –
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.
Mr. Macron intends 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 Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attends the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Kuwait on December 5, 2017
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.
– ‚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 Egypt broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar and closed their air and sea links as well as the only land border of the emirate (with the Saudi).
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 Russia, not to mention a 25-year partnership with Total on the offshore oil field of Al -Chahine.