Newsweek quotes Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow for Middle East Security Bilal Y. Saab on the strengthening relationship between France and its arms clients in the Middle East:
“The French Ministry of Defense says that French arms sales rose by 18 percent in 2014, the country’s best export performance for fifteen years,” says Bilal Y. Saab, a Middle East security expert at the Atlantic Council, who notes that French sales overtook Germany’s last year.
Frequent visits to French arms clients by Hollande, Le Drian and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius have strengthened ties between France and its new Middle Eastern and Asian client base, according to Saab, pointing to Hollande’s invitation to the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) May summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “He is the first foreign leader to attend the summit, and Hollande’s attendance at a ceremony in Doha before the GCC summit was even more significant,” Saab says, referring to the annual economic summit of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
“This rapprochement helped Paris sell Doha 24 Rafale fighter jets and other military equipment worth $7 billion,” Saab says. “France is doing better than all other European countries because it’s matching its arms sales with political engagement. That’s what you call Defense Diplomacy 101.”