Franco-Iraqi relations and Fifth Republic foreign policy, 1958-1990
This study analyses the evolution of France's relations with Iraq since 1958. It seeks to understand the motivations behind French government, state and private sector interests in Iraq. This is done in the dual context of France's economic rivalry with other western powers in the Middle East, and the Iraqi state's attempts to follow an independent foreign policy while using its oil revenues to rapidly industrialise and arm itself. The text first charts France's rivalry with Britain in the ex-Ottoman empire and its fears of Anglo-American domination of oil supplies. It then demonstrates that while France's early links with Israel continued under President De Gaulle, by the mid sixties they had been eclipsed by the commercial importance of trade with Arab states. The core text then focuses on France's relationship with Iraq since 1958, the year in which new governments came to power in both states. Despite the 1972 nationalisation of the Iraq Petroleum company, in which France had a 25% stake, French politicians and businessmen nevertheless gained favourable access to oil supplies, greatly increasing their exports of defence and high technology products, including a nuclear reactor, to Iraq during the seventies. The Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) intensified both bilateral trade links and the indebtedness of Iraq to France. By the mid-eighties what become a de-facto alliance generated severe problems for France's middle eastern policies, particularly towards Iran. The central themes of the study are the processes of foreign policy formation in France, and the extent and impact of economic interests underlying policy making. The thesis argues that substantial state ownership in France's oil, defence and aeronautical industries, coupled with the common interests and interpretations of a relatively homogeneous and interconnected corps of businessmen, politicians and civil servants, helps explain the continuity of French policy in the region. This is seen to be true despite the change of government (from Gaullist to Socialist) in France in May 1981.