Araberlandene er dypt bekymret over utsikten til at Nicolas Sarkozy vil legge om den tradisjonelt pro-arabiske linjen. Sarkozy har ikke lagt skjul på sin sympati for Israel. President Hosni Mubarak ble så bekymret at han ba om et møte med Sarkozy.
In contrast to Jacques Chirac, who had chilly relations with Israel, Mr Sarkozy is an admirer of the Jewish state and has warm ties with the French Jewish community. His maternal grandfather was a Greek Jew from Salonika who migrated to France before the Second World War. As a sign of the favour that the new part-Jewish President enjoys, he won the votes of 91 per cent of the 7,000 French citizens living in Israel outside Jerusalem.
Mr Sarkozy’s pro-Israeli views have prompted a flurry of contacts between Arab capitals and Paris over the past week, with governments seeking a reassurance of continuity. President Mubarak of Egypt was so worried about a French shift that he sought a meeting to ask Mr Sarkozy about his «Israeli bias» when he came to Paris last month to bid farewell to Mr Chirac.
Mr Sarkozy’s pro-American views have added to concern that he would break with France’s traditionally independent policy in the region. Mohamed Salmawy, the editor of Egypt’s Al-Ahram Weekly, has said that it was vital for the peace of the planet that France remain a «counter to American hegemony».
Sarkozy har uttalt seg kritisk om Irak og var mot invasjonen. Men hans nye utenriksminister Bernard Kouchner kan komme til å ta initiativ, ikke minst fordi Irak nå også er en humanitær katastrofe.