While Vladimir Putin hangs tough and refuses to negotiate, the French are mulling over opening talks with the jihadists who are holding two French journalists in Iraq. But Betrand Badie, clearly a master of understatement, points out that the jihadists are “not really considered to be the sort of people one can associate with.” From AFP, with thanks to Jeff Lastname:
PARIS, Sept 7 (AFP) – Winning the support of Muslim religious and community leaders could prove to be an effective but dangerous way for Paris to secure the release of two journalists held hostage in Iraq, experts say.
Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, who criss-crossed the Middle East last week in a bid to save the two newsmen, helped mobilise unprecedented support in the Arab world, from Al-Jazeera television to Iraq’s senior Sunni Muslim scholars.
But Bertrand Badie, an expert on international relations at the Institute for Political Studies in Paris, said courting such “non-state actors” could backfire, as they were until now “not really considered to be the sort of people one can associate with.”
A French diplomat said earning the support of top Muslim clerics allowed Paris to “hope that new channels, closed off up until now, could be opened” in the race to secure the release of Radio France correspondent Christian Chesnot and Le Figaro reporter Georges Malbrunot, in captivity since August 20.
But Badie countered that such an initiative created “a precedent that could weigh heavily” on French policy in the future, as it represented a “change in diplomatic style and technique”.
Yes. Neville Chamberlain learned that that sort of precedent could weigh quite heavily indeed.
By welcoming the trip to Baghdad by a delegation from France’s officially recognised Muslim body, the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM), Paris also took the risk of looking like it needs to delegate, Badie said.
“This co-management of the situation without a doubt marks the decline of the centralised republican model,” he said.
“The Muslim community in France comes out substantially stronger, and makes itself into a sort of substitute for the French foreign ministry.”