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Subsequent French leaders, both from the Left and the Right, adopted his policy. The French approach to anti-Western figures and revolutionaries extended to provision of safe-haven to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the most prominent opponent to the Iranian regime of the pro-Western Mohammad Reza Shah.

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Khomeini used his time in France to engage the Western media and broadcast calls for revolution. The French approach backfired this time, however, for after reaching power, Khomeini sponsored terrorism on French soil—for example the wave of bombings in Paris in , which killed eleven and wounded and the assassination of Shahpour Bakhtiar, the last premier under the shah. Beginning in the late s, Lebanon became the focus of the French government's activism in the Middle East.

In , the French government made a contingent of troops available to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, created to monitor the Lebanese-Israeli border in the wake of Israel's Litani River operation. However, following the October bombing of the U. The French air force also helped enforce the no-fly zone over Iraqi Kurdistan although it later ceased its participation in order to maintain its lucrative trade relationship with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Throughout this period, the French government maintained cool relations with Israel, joining with the Arab League in condemning Israel while refusing to affix its name to resolutions condemning terrorism against the Jewish state.

For instance in , out of eighteen United Nations resolutions condemning Israel and vetoed by the United States, France voted thirteen times in favor and abstained five times. Upon assuming the presidency in , Chirac sought to readjust the status quo in French policy and shift Paris's sympathies further toward the Arab world. Speaking in Cairo in April , Chirac declared, "France's Arab policy must be a dimension of its foreign policy.

I wish to give it a new boost. France was also first among foreign investors in Jordan. As soon as the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians deteriorated, Chirac appeared, in the eyes of Arab opinion, to be the only Western leader that could counter the unconditional support of the United States to Israel.

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Chirac then became more popular than certain leaders or kings in the Arab capitals. Many in the Arab world also admire Chirac for his charm, especially when working crowds. On October 22, , Chirac sought to mix with bystanders while walking in a predominantly Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem. When Israeli security would not allow the crowds to approach too closely, he shouted, "This is not security; this is pure provocation, what do you want me to do? Fly back right away to Paris? His popularity has further grown as he has repeatedly juxtaposed his pro-Arab stance with Washington's support for Israel.

When the White House and State Department condemned Palestinian terrorism, Chirac would often exculpate the bombers with talk of root causes. Bush the least favorite world leader after Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. The basis of Chirac's outreach—and perhaps a cause of it—has been the development of close personal relationships with a number of Arab leaders, including not only Arafat and the late prime minister of Lebanon, Rafik al-Hariri, but also with the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, his son and successor Bashar, as well as former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

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These personal relationships have become the backbone of French Middle East policy. Perhaps Chirac's deepest friendship has been with Saddam Hussein. When Hussein visited France the following September—his only visit to a Western country [32] — then-prime minister Chirac said, "I welcome you as my personal friend. I assure you of my esteem, my consideration, and my affection. Resigning from government in , Chirac founded the Rassemblement pour la Republique, which would soon become France's largest political party.

There remain persistent rumors that Hussein helped finance the party, supported by allegations by Lebanese arms merchant Sarkis Soghanalian [34] and by various Iraqi politicians. In , Saddam reportedly threatened to expose French leaders who had earlier accepted his largesse. Chirac to Mr. If the trickery continues, we will be forced to unmask them, all of them, before the French public.

Baghdad rewarded Paris for its loyalty. When Chirac again became prime minister in after a decade out of power, the relationship once more blossomed. The following year, reports surfaced that Chirac had offered to rebuild the nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel in In , French oil companies Total and Elf won contracts worth billions to develop southern Iraqi oil fields upon the lifting of the sanctions regime. France quickly became Iraq's chief trade partner, a position it maintained until Hussein's investment in Chirac proved fruitful for the Iraqi leader.

In , when asked how patient he was prepared to be with Saddam Hussein, Chirac responded, "When it comes to humanitarian affairs, France's patience is limitless. According to The Sunday Times of London, French officials regularly "kept Saddam abreast of every development in American planning and may have helped him to prepare for war. The pristine condition of those left behind suggested manufacture after the imposition of sanctions.

My Life in Politics by Jacques Chirac

Several French officials benefited personally from their close ties to Baghdad. Documents unearthed in the wake of the Iraqi regime's collapse suggest that French officials accepted lucrative oil vouchers from the Iraqi government in exchange for diplomatic favors. Security Council] against any American decision to attack Iraq.

Among the French officials indicted are several members of Chirac's inner circle, including Charles Pasqua, his former interior minister. A May 17, report released by the U. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations concluded,. Documents created by the Ministry of Oil during the Hussein regime and interviews of high-ranking Hussein regime officials conducted by the Subcommittee provide substantial evidence that Charles Pasqua was granted oil allocations for 11 million barrels of oil from the Hussein regime under the Oil-for-Food Program in return for his continued support.

Documents reveal that the Iraqi government also gave fourteen million barrels of oil to French businessman Patrick Maugein, whom it considered "a conduit to French president Chirac. The level of oil-for-food contacts reflects both the high-level of Franco-Iraqi ties, as well as Saddam Hussein's belief that the Chirac administration was an easy target for a campaign of influence.

Saakashvili -- who already had a great test before him -- now has an even greater burden. In addition to pushing his nation forward, he will have to reassure his people that his government is stable. This time, he'll need more than roses. Cold weather ahead. Groundhog Day happened to coincide this year with another event that generally indicates what the future's going to be like: the president's State of the Union address.

A speech is generally a better indicator than a shadow, and Bush's words provided a clear indication: more and more of the same. Ranging from Social Security to gay marriage to Iraq, the president sent a clear message to the world: these are my four years, so get ready.

Still, there were a few surprising moments.

Many Republicans showed up with purple ink on their fingers in celebration of the vote in Iraq. Bush even had some one-liners that got the audience:. Now, as we see a little gray in the mirror, or a lot of gray By the year , the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt. The State of the Union address was his biggest chance yet to sell the public on the idea.

You decide if he was successful:. I have a message for every American who is 55 or older: Do not let anyone mislead you.

Jacques Chirac under investigation over corruption allegations

For you, the Social Security system will not change. For younger workers, the Social Security system has serious problems that will grow worse with time. We must pass reforms that solve the financial problems. Iraq, of course, also figured big in the president's address. The message, however, made it sound like he'd been dipping into his speech archive:. We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out.

And, with a straight face, this:. The United States has no right, no desire and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else. While he was at it, the president also hit on two subjects close to the hearts of his conservative religious constituents. First up, stem cell research: To build a culture of life, we must also ensure that scientific advances always serve human dignity, not take advantage of some lives for the benefit of others. And, of course, gay marriage:. The second great responsibility to our children and grandchildren is to honor and to pass along the values that sustain a free society.

Government is not the source of these values, but government should never undermine them. Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be redefined by activist judges. For the good of families, children and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage. The groundhog appears to have been right. Chirac allegedly siphoned off state funds for work benefiting the party political machine that ensured his election as president in He faces charges of embezzlement, breach of trust and illegal conflict of interest.

But lawyers for the year-old wrote to the court this weekend saying he was not capable of taking part because of his fragile mental state and failing memory. They argued he was not fit to answer questions about his past and the trial should go ahead without him. Chirac's family had dreaded an appearance in court as a humiliating postscript to one of the longest political careers in Europe: twice president, twice prime minister and 18 years as mayor of Paris.

It would be a historic downfall. Chirac was to appear in the same courtroom that saw Marie Antoinette sentenced to the guillotine.

French ex-president Chirac on trial