What will be the impact of the call for a boycott...

What will be the impact of the call for a boycott...
What will be the impact of the call for a boycott...

A Charlie Hebdo front page screened on the Montpellier region hotel, October 21, 2020 – N. Bonzom / Maxele Presse

  • Calls for a boycott of French products have been launched in several countries in the Middle East, including Qatar and Kuwait and Jordan.
  • The initiative aims more to mark the spirits in a symbolic way than to penalize France economically.
  • Experts wonder if Recep Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, is not hiding behind this new anti-French initiative.

No more St. Dalfour jams on the shelves of Qatari stores. No more than Babybel or Kiri in those of its neighbor Kuwait. Not to mention flight reservations to Paris now suspended in 450 travel agencies. Calls for a boycott of French products have multiplied all weekend in several countries of the Middle East, after the words of Emmanuel Macron who promised not to “renounce the caricatures” of the Prophet Muhammad during the tribute paid to Samuel Paty.

Besides Qatar and Kuwait, Turkey, Iran and Jordan also called for products to be shunned. Made in France. Au Pakistan,

directly attacked his French counterpart accusing him of “attacking Islam” and “wounding millions of Muslims around the world”. Like those gathered in Ras-Al-Ain in northern Syria and who burned a French flag on Sunday in reaction …

The images are all the more impressive as the crowd waves, in opposition, the black flag of Daesh. The proof that we are more in front of a symbolic message than of a mass movement. “The boycott of French products in the Middle East is a first, but it should not be overestimated,” says
Frédéric Encel, professor of geopolitics at Sciences Po *. We are talking about five countries when the world has 57 predominantly Muslim states. We talk about Qatar and its 300,000 inhabitants when there are 1.5 billion Muslims on Earth… ”

The risk of sanctions in return from the EU

Economically, this boycott, which is spread mainly via social networks, does not directly threaten France, as trade is, in fact, limited. For example: the Hexagon exported, in 2019, “only” 600 million euros of products to Kuwait, against 70 billion to Germany. “Above all, if this boycott continues, these countries will suffer a return of sanctions with a boycott of the entire European Union, prophesies Frédéric Encel. It is not livable for them… ”

Doctorate in Geopolitics, Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache also believes that it is above all a symbolic initiative. “We remember that Recep Erdogan asked for a boycott of Chinese products in support of the Uighur people,” she recalls. He finally gave it up in exchange for major Chinese investments in Turkey… ”

In check in his country, Erdogan shows the muscles

Except that today, it is now France that the Turkish Prime Minister has in the nose. And from ranting, he moved on to thinly veiled threats. This weekend, he questioned the “mental health” of Emmanuel Macron on two occasions, causing a diplomatic crisis. “It’s hard to say if Erdogan is behind this call for a boycott but he is leading the pack which is fueling the fire,” continues Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache. We didn’t wait until this weekend to see him trying to expand his influence. “

A necessity more than a real will. “Erdogan is failing on his external geopolitics and weighed down by the socioeconomic context internally,” explains Frédéric Encel. He therefore shows the muscles to try to reassure his people. As do, according to him, the most fundamentalist movements in Qatar or Kuwait.

“If they wipe their feet on the French doormat, it is above all to reassure their supporters,” continues the Middle East specialist. It is a message of domestic policy… ”That we could still hear resonating when the government presents its bill to fight against separatism. The appointment is already fixed for December 9.

* He has just published the 100 words of war at the Presses Universitaires de France.



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