International Relations, Culture and Politics
David Styan - The Revival of Franco-Libyan Relations 105
David Styan The Revival of Franco-Libyan Relations Introduction: Trade with Tripoli, France’s Mediterranean Vision and the volte-face of 2011 This chapter analyses the re-establishment of diplomatic and economic ties between France and Libya during the period 2003–10. Its focus is thus on events before the upheavals in the Arab world and the Western interven- tion in Libya of 2011. Set against the overlapping ties which were carefully woven between Paris and Tripoli over the previous seven years, France’s leading role in the March 2011 military campaign to overthrow Gaddafi appears highly paradoxical. While it is not the purpose of this chapter to examine such paradoxes, in the light of the events of 2011 it is worth pref- acing this chapter by noting some key aspects of, and questions raised by, France’s leading military role and the abrupt change in stance of France, Britain, Italy and the US towards Gaddafi and his government. In Libya, three weeks of violent clashes followed demonstrations which began in Benghazi on 15–17 February, inspired in part by events in neigh- bouring Tunisia, from where President Ben Ali had f led on 14 January, and Egypt, where President Mubarak had been forced out of of fice on 11 February. Mubarak had been a key supporter of Sarkozy’s Union for the Mediterranean. French diplomacy and statements on the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt had vacillated. Policy uncertainty coupled with a grow- ing sense of complacency and complicity culminated in the dismissal of the foreign minister,...
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