The New York Times reports:
After years of shunning involvement in a war it said was wrong, France now believes that it may hold the key to peace in Iraq, proposing itself as an “honest broker” between the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions there...As the Times report continues:
“I believe this is the moment. Everyone knows the Americans will not be able to get this country out of difficulty alone,” [Bernard] Kouchner[, France's new Foreign Minister] told the French radio station RTL on Tuesday before returning to Paris.
“This is about having an opinion and knowing what positive things one can do and what role France can play in this region,” he said, adding that Iraq was “expecting something” from France.
The French move carries the personal mark of Mr. Kouchner, who was one of the few French politicians to back the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein before the American-led invasion in 2003, and whose longstanding relations with Kurdish and Shiite leaders have earned him credibility in the region. During his visit to Iraq, he held talks with religious and political leaders, including Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani, whom he has known for three decades.Kouchner, you might recall, was also the founder of Doctors Without Borders and was a former United Nations administrator for Kosovo.
But don't think French cynicism is dead however. As the Times reports:
As one diplomat explained, “The prevailing view in a significant part of the French diplomatic community is that mediation in Iraq is futile and that the civil war needs to run its course and hand a decisive victory to one faction before the violence can end.”...But as the Times also reports, Kouchner is far from alone in wanting France to be helpful for a change:
Jean-Pierre Chevènement, a former Socialist minister and former presidential candidate, accused Mr. Kouchner of “repenting” before President Bush for France’s opposition to the war and said the trip risked destroying France’s diplomatic standing in the Arab world.But as the
[A]s the left-leaning Le Monde put it, “It’s time to stop lecturing the Americans about their errors and start contributing to a solution.”