France is a noble country and the French people are noble people. Dictionaries define miserability as a subset in nobility, in other words, the nobility that is miserable. Miserability can be miserable for many reasons: “The loss of property, a devastating revolution or free will” says the authors of a blog dedicated to “enriching the English Dictionary.”
Let’s see how it works in real-life situations:
Total S.A. is a French multinational integrated oil and gas company founded in 1924 and one of the seven “Supermajor” oil companies in the world. When the British swindled the French in the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916, the French ended up with pomegranate fields in Lebanon and the British landed on the Iraqi oil fields. Then-French President Raymond Poincaré asked Col. Ernest Mercier to garner the support of banks and companies to create the Compagnie française des pétroles (CFP, “French Petroleum Company”), which was created on March 28, 1924.
In fact, the victors of World War I had reached an agreement during the San Remo Conference of 1920 when they were dividing the Ottoman Empire. The French state received one-quarter of the Turkish Oil Company (then held by the Deutsche Bank) as part of the compensation for war damages caused by Germany during World War I. The French government’s share was given to CFP. In other words, Total S.A. was paid by the Turkish Oil Company (later renamed the Iraq Petroleum Company in 1929).
However, there were 99 other firms and banks contributing to CFP and the company from the start was regarded as a private sector company, as it was listed on the Paris Stock Exchange in 1929. Its gasoline brand, Total, was so popular that in 1985 the company renamed itself as Total CFP. After Total’s takeover of Belgium’s Petrofina in 1999, it became known as Total Fina. Afterward, it also acquired Elf Aquitaine. First named TotalFinaElf after the merger in 2000, it later returned to its original Total on May 6, 2003.
The same year, Total signed for a 30% stake in the gas exploration venture in Saudi Arabia with Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco. In May 2006, Saudi Aramco and Total began to develop the Jubail Refinery and Petrochemical project in Saudi Arabia. In September 2008, the two companies officially established a joint venture called Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Company (SATORP), in which a 62.5% stake was held by Saudi Aramco and the rest held by Total.
The company soon ventured into a partnership with Iranian oil companies but had to withdraw from it when the United Nations sanctioned Iran over its possible nuclear weapons program. Nevertheless, it never missed the opportunity to grab a share of the Iraqi oil after the U.S. occupation of the country. SATORP partnered with a consortium (18%) to produce oil in the “Halfaya field” in southern Iraq, which contains an estimated 4.1 billion barrels (650 million cubic meters) of oil.
If you are following the spectacular success story of Total, by now you might think that it is paying billions of euros to the French Treasury in taxes and bringing in good-paying jobs for the people. Right? After all, it earned $210 billion in 2018 and made $12 billion net profit employing 104,000 people. With Total S.A., President Emmanuel Macron should not have any headaches with yellow vests. No diminished health service, no unemployment payment cuts, right?
But no! Total S.A., for which President Macron perils France as a heedless adventurer in a war in the Aegean Sea or the Mediterranean, pays not a single red penny to the French people! Because it says it earns all its money out of the country.
The reason Macron risks his country on the side of Greece is not because he believes in the right of the continental shelf or exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the tiny Kastellorizo (Megisti-Meis) island that is merely 5 square miles large, rather than a county as big as Turkey at 302,000 square miles. He can’t claim those for a Greek island when Britain has larger islands next to the French mainland without any territorial waters, continental shelves, or EEZ. But Macron risks a total disaster in the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean by egging Greece on to sign an agreement with Egypt and organizing joint naval exercises with them because Total S.A. is about to lose a $500 billion possible revenue in oil and gas explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean.
It wouldn’t lose the revenue if Macron was less green behind ears and less greedy when he gambled with Libya’s warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar instead of the Government of National Accord (GNA). France could respect the rights of all the coastal countries in the region and the Palestinians. Macron could see that despite all the political maneuvers the Greek side plays in Cyprus, there are Turkish Cypriots who have the right to oil explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Voila, this is how Macron is creating a total misery in the region. How he is going to explain all these to the French people in the next elections is anybody’s guess.