The French Foreign Minister has denied being given recordings documenting the moment Saudi officials at their Consulate in Istanbul brutally murdered dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This came just as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that his government had been given verified copies of the recordings from Turkey. Hours later, Germany further confirmed receipt of the recordings from Ankara. Beyond implicitly accusing Ankara of lying about passing French officials the murder recordings, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also accused Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “playing political games”. Such remarks made the day after President Erdogan was hosted by the French President smacks not only of diplomatic childishness but of a crude understanding of Turkey’s vital role in seeing that the murderers of Jamal Khashoggi are brought to justice.
President Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun slammed the remarks of the French Foreign Minister as “unacceptable” while further reminding French officials,
“Let us not forget that this case would have been already covered up had it not been for Turkey’s determined efforts”.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu further rebuked the French side, saying:
“The French foreign minister went too far, and he has to know how to talk to a president. I know our intelligence service gave all the information, including wiretaps and transcripts, to French intelligence at their request on Oct. 24”.
Cavusoglu also stated,
“The French Foreign Minister is not telling the truth”.
“We will pursue the Khashoggi case to the end. We’re cooperating with everyone internationally. As the whole world is praising Turkey’s stance, the French foreign minister’s accusations and rudeness are extremely puzzling. What’s behind this? Are they trying to cover up this killing?”
Cavusoglu further said that at this point it would not be surprising if Paris denied that Saudi Arabia was behind Jamal Khashoggi’s murder even though weeks ago Riyadh confessed to the crime. He further pledged to investigate all current French-Saudi bilateral deals in the aftermath of shocking and absurd lies from Paris.
This comes after the French President made a substantial faux pas during his speech allegedly to commemorate the end of the First World War when he instead turned it into a kind of electoral rally during which he insulted his guest, the US President and in so doing reducing what should have been a solemn event to a vulgar political display of the lowest order. Rather than honour veterans of the past, Macron saw fit to insult them by politicising their deaths.
In respect of relations with Ankara, today’s statement by the French Foreign Minister is not the first time that the current French government has gone out of its way to insult the dignity of the Turkish nation in recent months. In April of this year, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that France had helped to cause a divide between the tripartite Astana partnership for peace in Syria comprised of Russia, Turkey and Iran. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded to this insult by stating,
“We have to have strong relations with all countries…I’d like to invite him (Macron) to become more serious”.
In a further supreme insult and indeed a threat to peace in Turkey and the wider region, in March of this year, French President Emmanuel Macron invited a member of the PKK affiliate YPG’s political arm PYD to the Élysée Palace. This was not only a dangerous move but a diplomatically unwise move. In the 21st century, mature states should not be dealing with non-state entities that are hostile to the legitimate authorities of their country, while mature states should also avoid courting non-state entities that pose a direct terrorist threat to their neighbours. In inviting PYD “politician” Khaled Eissa to the presidential palace of France, President Macron did both of these things. Taken in totality, Macron did nothing more than shake hands with a terrorist.
But if Macron’s move in inviting a terrorist to a palace normally reserved for fellow heads of state and legitimate politicians was not bad enough in terms of posing an overt security risk by attempting to legitimise a terrorist organisation, it was a diplomatically foolish move. The YPG/PKK’s primary enemy is Turkey and as a fellow NATO member, France has a responsibility not to show support for terrorist groups whose stated goal is making war upon Turkey. President Erdogan made his feelings about the incident known when he delivered the following statement about Macron’s antics,
“France is abetting terrorists by hosting them at the presidential palace… as long as you nurture these terrorists, the west will drown”.
Subsequent to Eissa’s visit with Macron, Turkish media revealed that French special forces are now present in north eastern Syria in spite of there being no legal mandate for their presence in the region.
French military cooperating with YPG/PKK terrorists
— ANADOLU AGENCY (ENG) (@anadoluagency) March 31, 2018
Taken in totality, France must decide if its loyalties are to the YPG/PKK terror organisation or to a fellow NATO security partner The Republic of Turkey? While the answer to this question should be obvious seeing as the PKK has murdered over 40,000 people since the beginning of their dirty way in the late 1970s, it is clear that the current French government is both conflicted and confused about issues relating to Turkey’s vital role in solving the Khashoggi murder as well as Turkey’s vital role in providing inter-continental security to multiple partner nations including France.
When Macron was elected in 2017 he did not have any foreign policy experience. Over one year later, it would appear that the young French President still has a great deal to learn.