On the chessboard of the Lausanne negotiations on the Iranian nuclear agreement, France evolved as a surprisingly independent player. Compared with the other negotiating powers, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius espoused the toughest positions in relation to the timeline for lifting sanctions, the nature of inspections and curtailing Iran's ability to continue nuclear research and development. The French, who have earned a reputation as the appeasing side in such negotiations, emerged this time as the tough guy within the six world powers and the most proactive European player.
A senior French official at the Quai d'Orsay (French Foreign Ministry) told Al-Monitor that the policy adopted by French President Francois Hollande and Fabius is related to the French strategic view on the future of a Middle East in transition. This strategic approach of backing authoritarian regimes as opposed to irredentist and terrorist organizations has already been manifested in cases such as supporting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's fight against the Muslim Brotherhood. France also sides with the pragmatic Sunni forces of Saudi Arabia and Jordan. This, he explained, is amplified by France's economic interests in Saudi Arabia, including the massive Saudi financing of French arms deals with Lebanon.