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French block

The Telegraph reports that the French government has told an airline that it is not to ferry British troops to Basra. The ban is seen as reflecting Paris’s opposition to the occupation of Iraq.

Corsair, which has been chartered numerous times to transport UK forces around the world, pulled out of a contract to fly reinforcements to Basra at the weekend.

Transport ministry officials said yesterday that the move had nothing to do with safety but was a result of the intervention of the foreign ministry. The foreign ministry denied the report, saying there was “no political motive”. But British defence officials appeared to confirm that the ban was political and not technical.

A Corsair spokesman said most of the flights undertaken for the MoD took troops to training exercises. For security and insurance reasons they rarely flew to war zones.

We did fly to Pristina during the Kosovo crisis, but only once it had been cleared for civil aviation.

Basra is already open to civilian aircraft.

For once I have nothing to add to Instapundit’s commentary:

Hmm. Petty? Yes. Ineffectual? Yes. Infuriating and off-putting? Yes. Counterproductive? Yes. It’s got to be a product of the French Foreign Ministry.

Via Instapundit

14 comments to French block

  • Russ Goble

    Already open to commercial aircraft but it’s a warzone. Gee, and one wonders why folks want to partake in frog bashing.

  • Edmund Burke

    Corsica’s a war zone, but it doesn’t stop Corsair flying there.

  • Gabriel Syme

    Russ Goble: How does reporting about what the French are up to amount to frog-bashing? Basra is certainly not a war-zone by any stretch of imagination! No more than NI is and there are plenty of flights to Belfast…

  • CRL

    Gabriel, Russ is on YOUR side. 🙂 Hint of irony.

  • R.C. Dean

    How does reporting about what the French are up to amount to frog-bashing?

    Because sometimes the truth hurts?

  • A_t

    ” Basra is certainly not a war-zone by any stretch of imagination! No more than NI is”

    hmm… i’d be a lot happier going on a holiday to NI than Basra in the next few weeks 🙂

  • Johnathan

    The French govt. is surely entitled to take such a stance but what gets up the nose is the sneaky way they do it. If a French official said, “We refuse to allow our airlines to carry troops to Iraq because of our official pro-Baath, whoops, sorry, peace policy,” that would at least be honest.

    The sooner France is governed by men with the stature of de Gaulle rather than the current bunch of creeps, cowards and crooks, the better.

  • Guy Herbert

    Surely flying in troops in planes labelled “Corsair” is not a very sensible approach if you are trying to sell the legitimacy of the occupation? They’ll be using “Crusader Airways” next…

  • JSAllison

    Umm, de Gaulle of “l’etat c’est moi”? Well, at least they’d be honest about being prigs.

  • Sandy P.

    A spy sent this to Andrew Sullivan (finally, points awarded for honesty);

    An email from my France correspondent, catching me up on the latest grotesqueries from perfidious Paris:

    An article in this week’s L’Express pretty much lays bare France’s diplomatic aim on the US-Iraq-UN front, namely, to revamp the UN as a useful weapon against the US. This poisonous article has to be read to be believed, but basically the theme is that Bush’s offer to get the UN involved again in Iraq is a “poisoned present” that only a “dupe” would accept, but that nonetheless the demarche offers a not-to-be-missed opportunity to restore both “credibility” and “diplomatic survival” to the UN and its Security Council, which alone can hope to control the “all powerful” US. Anyway, here’s the last paragraph: “In the name of their credibility, and of their diplomatic survival, the UN and its Security Council can’t afford to miss the opportunity to bring back the all-powerful America into the fold and to retake some semblance of initiative on the critically important Iraq dossier. But it remains to measure their hypothetical power, once more, by the measuring stick of concessions from Washington.” I reread the article, you know, looking for something about doing good work amongst people who could sorely use some, and found nothing. And there’s nothing about bringing democracy to the Middle East either. It’s all about bringing the US to heel.

    And what else do the French care about?”

  • Jacob

    ” … that would at least be honest”

    Honest ? The French ??
    When will you grow up and stop being so childishly utopian ?

  • Shaun Bourke

    For Froggies and Froggieland in general to reach UP to the gutter requires that they climb several hundred flights of stairs.

  • Does this mean the UK will cease to use French airlines for charter flights? Seems like a simple call to me.
    “If you don’t want us to give a French airline lots of money for providing a service when we need it, then we will find someone else who would like to earn the money we are willing to spend.”

  • Russ Goble

    Gabriel, perhaps I worded my statement poorly (wouldn’t be the first time). But yeah, I’m on your side. This is another example of everything I despise about the French political class. A political class, that the entire country seemingly takes pride in. So, this example is another reason to go on a frog bashing rant. That’s what I was getting at. Kudos to the ranters on this board for not frog bashing quite as much as I certainly would have liked. But, alas, I suppose most of us who post here regularly are actually getting kind of bored with France and their pitiful attempts at brinkmanship.