The BIG news of the day is that Nicolas and Carla MAY be married already, but no one knows for sure, and the president's spokesman said that he cannot comment on Mr. Sarkozy's personal life. Rumor has it that the couple were married on Thursday at Elysée Palace. Another totally unconfirmed rumor is that she is pregnant. These rumors have spread like wildfire throughout the blogosphere, but as of this moment, there is no proof of anything.
The second biggest news is that on Sunday, Nicolas Sarkozy (sans Carla) arrived in Saudi Arabia, one day before George Bush himself arrived there (to discuss primarily the price of oil). Le Figaro has this report on Sarkozy's remarks in Ryad:
“France wants to be Arabia’s friend, she wants to be the friend of the Arab world, a friend that does not preach lessons, but that tells the truth.” Nicolas Sarkozy used his speech on Monday before the consultative assembly of Saudi Arabia in Ryad to explain the details of his “politics of civilization”, and also to promote friendship between France and the Kingdom of the Saudis.
For the French president, “here in Saudi Arabia the relationship of Islam to modernity is being tested.” This is why “France does not want to be just a strategic economic partner, but also a political partner for Saudi Arabia.” Because, in the opinion of Nicolas Sarkozy, Paris and Ryad “share the same goals of the politics of civilization: to do everything to prevent a clash of civilizations and a religious war.”
Nicolas Sarkozy was anxious to send a positive message to this ultraconservative country, especially with respect to the role of women. “On the condition of women, on freedom of expression, Saudi Arabia itself has begun moving, slowly it is true, but who could not be impressed by the changes that have taken place in a few years?” The French head of State also repeated his wish to allow Arab countries access to civilian nuclear energy, something he feels “ought to be a right for all peoples.”
This is the sixth Muslim-Arab country Sarkozy has visited (if my count is accurate) to whom he has either promised or given nuclear energy for peaceful use. Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and now Arabia. He is scheduled to visit the Emirates where he will make the same offer.
This is the first time I recall him saying that nuclear energy is a right. It’s quite a sweeping statement. He means, of course, for peaceful purposes, but the underlying potential for something far more sinister cannot be disregarded.
Business was also part of his agenda. Besides a criticism of the price of oil, which he considers to be too high, Nicolas Sarkozy promised, on leaving Ryad, “large contracts” for French businesses, and spoke of “potentially 40 billion euros,” especially in armaments.
It might be worthwhile to point out that the news reports mention nothing about Sarkozy having criticized the treatment of Christians in Saudi Arabia. He was critical of the price of oil, and discreetly critical of the condition of women, but not a word on the fate of Christians. One Figaro reader points out:
In Saudi Arabia there is great persecution against Christians who do not have the right to practice their faith, to have a Bible in their homes. They are arrested, ordered to renounce their faith under torture... sometimes unto death!
Another reader said, regarding the contracts:
Very potential, indeed. The truth is that the president left empty-handed: no contract was signed in a country bloated with petrodollars!
This is true of other “deals” cut by Sarkozy. Many of them are, for the moment, just talk.