France–Iraq relations

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France-Iraq relations
Map indicating locations of France and Iraq



France–Iraq relations refers to the international relations between France and Iraq. Before Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, France enjoyed friendly relations with former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, however the relationship turned sour once Iraq entered Kuwaiti soil and soon France cut off ties with Iraq. Following thirteen years, France resumed relations with Iraq in 2003.[1] Iraq has an embassy in Paris and France has an embassy and a representative office in Baghdad.


Historically, France has long had a special relationship with Iraq, and has been Iraq's most friendly accomplice in the West.[2] The special relationship began three decades ago,[2] when General Charles de Gaulle cultivated Arab countries in the wake of the 1967 war in the Middle East. This policy was seen by Paris as a way of boosting trade ties with oil-rich nations and extending French influence in an area which had been dominated by the Anglo-Saxons.[2]

In 1970 France was one of Iraq's main trading partners.[2] Diplomatic and economic ties were given a crucial boost in 1974, when former French Prime Minister, and President, Jacques Chirac, called Saddam Hussein a personal friend.[2] Following this statement, his government agreed to build an experimental nuclear reactor near Baghdad,[1] which was later bombed by Israel.[2] Arms sales continued, as well as French infrastructure projects in Iraq and by the late 1970s France was second only to the USSR as a supplier of both civilian and military equipment to Iraq.

The relationship continued under French Socialist governments in the 1980s. France, like many other Western countries, strongly backed Iraq in its war against Iran. Paris supplied Baghdad with sophisticated weaponry, including Mirage fighter bombers and Super Etendard aircraft equipped with Exocet missiles. When Iraq delayed payments for the equipment, Paris rescheduled the debt.

The relationship between both countries began to diminish in 1991 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. France responded by trying to persuade Saddam Hussein to withdraw and just a few days before Operation Desert Storm began, French envoys were in Baghdad, trying to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

France remained more favourably-inclined towards Baghdad than other Western countries. Economically, relations with Iraq were a costly disaster, as they were left with $4 billion in unpaid bills.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "France and Iraq Restore Relations". BBC. 2004-07-12. Retrieved 2008-08-23. France and Iraq have restored diplomatic ties after a 13-year break. Iraq's then leader, Saddam Hussein, severed ties in 1991 in protest at France's participation in the war to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Iraq: The French Connection". BBC. 1998-02-23. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 

Further reading[edit]

  • David Styan, France & Iraq: Oil, Arms and French Policy Making in the Middle East, published by I.B.Tauris, 2006 ISBN 1-84511-045-5.

External links[edit]