France faces resistance to Arab-European unity efforts

The World

European, Israeli, and Arab leaders met together in France today, almost giving the appearance of unity but at the inauguration of the new Union of the Mediterranean this weekend, cracks were already beginning to show. That’s because the Union incorporates all countries with Mediterranean coastlines including enemies such as Israel and Syria, Syria and Lebanon, and Algeria and Morocco. The Syrian President refused to shake hands with the Israeli Prime Minister, but the French President tried to console relations. This Union is Sarkozy’s attempt to reinvigorate a diplomatic process that has been limping along since the 1990s, but it’s a big gamble because there are doubts on all sides. It’s supposed to also help economic initiatives on all sides, but African immigrants in France today expressed their doubts, and they say so far no one is showing new money to pay for proposed projects. The Union will fund some modest projects to start, but that’s hardly the stuff Europe’s southern neighbors dream of, such as larger economic issues. Libya’s leader Momar Qadafi recently warned of participating in such a Union as this and that any attempt by Europe to bring about a union amongst northern Africa will be viewed as modern colonialism. North Africa has recently seen a rise in terrorism. But European leaders appear reluctant to apply too much pressure early on and sinking this union before it even has a chance to grow.

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