Why France stood alone to scuttle Iran deal

Paris aspires to play a larger role in world affairs; after the US, France has the highest number of diplomatic offices across the globe, she noted, adding that the Middle East is seen as a “high-priority” area. Since America’s clout in the region appears to be waning — following the Obama administration’s perceived serial weakness in dealing with Egypt, Syria and Iran — France is more than happy to step in and extend its sphere of influence, she said.

Furthermore, France has high stakes in Sunni countries in the region that are fiercely opposed to Iran becoming a nuclear power. Saudi Arabia, for instance, is the region’s foremost buyer of French arms. “In light of the current economic situation in France, which really does not look so bright, these weapons deals are very important to the country,” Hershco said.

In late August, Paris reportedly signed a €1 billion ($1.34 billion) defense contract with Saudi Arabia, which included overhaul work on four frigates and two refueling ships.