Increasingly, as the process of globalisation transforms and permeates the life of the entire world, characters almost unknown to the public emerge who, because they occupy key positions in a given political, diplomatic, financial, military and industrial mechanism, become a sort of lever with which wars, alliances and street riots can be turned on and off. For a quarter of a century, the French senator Nathalie Goulet was one such character: despite a less than spotless reputation, a rather low degree of loyalty and limited skills, her well-groomed fingernails helped to move events of historic significance.
The opening photo shows her with Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the current Saudi monarch, but she has been a lobbyist for many countries, sometimes in conflict with each other, becoming, even without government appointments, a vital and secret ganglion of French policy in the Middle East. Negotiating without appearing: the golden rule of those in politics who choose to deal with international relations to help those seeking friendship in the country of which they are members of parliament: still in strict confidence, her husband, when she was his assistant, dealt with the sale of French arms to those same countries.
Lobbyists like Nathalie Goulet are special people: they don’t do it for the money (and they don’t get rich), nor do they do it for the sake of power, since they don’t have any, but, on the contrary, they spend their lives mediating between very powerful centres of interests, in a balancing act that marks the most important event on the international scene since the Congress of Vienna in 1815: It is no longer just the diplomacies of the great nation states that face each other, but more so those of the multinationals, often more powerful and cumbersome than the nation in which they were born and raised. This is why we have chosen the petite Parisian lawyer: because her political and professional career is an example of a new way of breathing the air at the highest levels among the giants of global competition.
The young lawyer and the elderly senator
17 July 1942: 13,000 Parisian Jews are arrested, held for days without food or water in the Velodrome, and then deported to Nazi extermination camps
Nathalie Milsztein was born on 24 May 1958 in Boulogne-Billancourt (Seine) into a Jewish family which, during the Nazi invasion, was involved in the arrests of 16 and 17 July 1942, as part of the SS operation called “Spring Wind”. Her father survives the concentration camps. Little Nathalie thirsted for justice: she studied with extreme diligence, graduated with a first prize in general civil law, became a lawyer at the Paris Bar – all of which disappeared from her official biography after she was struck off the bar in 2000: she failed to appear at a hearing; she did not pay a fine of 7000 francs that was imposed on her for pretending to take care of a client’s file without doing so; she misused other people’s money (swindling a client for whom she was handling a bankruptcy procedure, and then using 150,000 francs to support, with a loan, another client of hers); she collected, on at least three occasions, an advance payment and then refused to protect the client, plus other petty larcenies.
The Council of the Bar Association considers the facts to be “exceptionally serious“… “I was negligent“, admits Goulet. “I let my firm go bankrupt, I completely lost control of it“. The decision was confirmed on appeal in 2006, and the senator was only re-registered with the Paris Bar in 2011, by which time she was a powerful senator, but never practised again. Her law firm (SCP Milsztein Giuraud), founded in 1994 with a share capital of €59,455, was put into liquidation in 1999 and then struck off the register in 2003 due to insolvency. All this because, in 1999, she became the mistress of the elderly conservative senator (RPR, Rassemblement pour la République) Daniel Goulet, 33 years her senior: first she was his assistant, then his mistress, then his wife and finally his widow.
The new couple has a difficult past: Mrs Goulet, who has married a man 25 years her senior, divorces, leaving her children with her ex-husband, who moves to the United States. When Daniel meets Nathalie, he separates from his invalid wife and has two daughters, Florence and Danièle, one of whom, hired as an assistant by her father, actively supports one of his opponents and is therefore replaced by Nathalie Milsztein. She persuaded the elderly Goulet, whom the RPR leadership wanted to replace with a younger man, to stand in the 2001 elections, which he won by just 41 votes in the run-off. Goulet appointed Nathalie as his deputy, and the party reacted with anger, exposing his new partner’s legal troubles. But Goulet resisted.
On the contrary, he fights to make sure his young wife takes his place: on 20 November 2006, Philippe Douste-Blazy, then at the Quai d’Orsay, entrusts him with a “temporary mission” on French policy in the Near and Middle East, without an official mention. On 19 January 2007, Goulet wrote to President Chirac so that the mission would become official and his wife could take his place: “Or will I have to arrange for my widow and deputy to be called to succeed me at the age of 79?” 
On 18 February 2007, during the Index World Military Armaments Fair in Abu Dhabi, Daniel Goulet suffers a stroke and dies on 25 February 2007 in a local hospital – and his daughters accuse Nathalie of killing him “to succeed him at the Luxembourg Palace”. She proudly retorts: My life with him was not a career plan. We loved each other. According to the doctor who followed him to Abu Dhabi, the senator died of a cerebral haemorrhage due to high blood pressure, and the case was closed in December 2008. Nevertheless, in May 2007, the French weekly Le Point published an article entitled ‘Affaire Goulet – Mort d’un sénateur’, and the French press published a series of speculations. Nathalie Goulet took the magazine and the journalists to court, and on 18 December 2008 she won: the court fined the accused €1,000 each, plus €5,000 in damages and €2,500 in legal fees.
The day after Daniel Goulet’s death, Nathalie inherited his seat in the National Assembly. In 2011, as a candidate on the UC (Union Centriste) lists, she was elected with a flattering result, a success repeated in the September 2017 elections. In Parliament, she has fought mainly as a lobbyist for the Gulf countries: she was rapporteur for two bills, one on an assistance agreement with Saudi Arabia and the other on military cooperation with the United Arab Emirates. In the national arena, she has for years led a battle to set up a Senate enquiry committee on possible irregularities in judicial telephone tapping.
She is the first Member of Parliament to publish her tax returns (which are now compulsory for everyone): a studio-apartment in the 7th arrondissement in Paris (worth €213,000), her house in the Orne (about €200,000), two cars (a Peugeot 307 and a Renault Laguna) and jewellery worth about €130,000. During this campaign, Nathalie Goulet was a member of the Senate investigation committee on tax evasion (2012) and vice-president of the investigation committee on the role of banks and financial intermediaries in tax evasion, which was triggered by the Cahuzac affair.
This battle restored her credibility and reputation, so much so that, on 3 July 2014, she decided to run for the presidency of the Senate. She did not have the votes to win this battle either, and on 30 September she withdrew her candidacy and decided to support her party colleague François Zocchetto, who was not elected. Perhaps one of the reasons for this defeat was the fact that, in the midst of the civil war, Zocchetto decided to go to Damascus and meet (in a personal capacity) Bashar-al-Assad. This after France, due to the regime’s cruelty, closed its embassy in Syria.
Most of her energies, since she has been Daniel Goulet’s assistant, have been devoted to the development of friendship between France and the Middle East, with the declared aim of fighting against terrorism, trying to underline, in the West, the difference between Islam and jihad.
29 April 2020: Nathalie Goulet (right) meets the Turkish Ambassador in Paris, Ismail Hakki Musa, who promises aid from Ankara for the Orne region of France against the pandemic
In a National Assembly which, in order to make relations with lobbyists transparent, promotes the creation and organisation of specific ‘Friendship Groups’, Nathalie Goulet is today only a member of the France-Afghanistan group (trying to help opponents of the Taliban and trying to get as many refugees as possible) and France-Israel. But, in the past, he was part of the ‘hotter’ groups such as France-Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar), France-Turkey (of which he was Vice-President), France-Southern Caucasus (Vice-President) and France-China. In this capacity, he accompanied President François Hollande on several official trips: to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.
In June 2014 he obtained, in his capacity as a member of the Senate delegation to the NATO Assembly, as president of the France-Yemen parliamentary group and vice-president of the France-Gulf countries group, the creation of a Senate Commission of Inquiry into the fight against jihadist financial networks in France and Europe. But the Commission does not take off, there are too many French connections with those countries, so much so that in September 2014, when the tourist Hervé Gourdel is beheaded by Algerian jihadists, the only reaction is a law that establishes increased prudence and controls in view of possible terrorist attacks.
In October 2015, Nathalie is rapporteur for the French Senate’s mission “on the organisation, location and financing of Islam in France and its places of worship“. The appointment comes after she proposed to welcome 200,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in France, in memory of their families deported during the Second World War. She loudly supports the overthrow of Bashar Al-Assad, as she had previously done with Muammar Gaddafi, so she opposes French arms sales to Syria.
Her position is a contradictory one: a great admirer of Mohammad Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia and Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, in the Syrian conflict Goulet is on Turkey’s side, even when Ankara participates in the Azerbaijani invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh, and is the rapporteur of a bill on cooperation with Turkey on internal security. At the same time, Goulet holds an equivocal position on the conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is an ally of Al Qaeda against the UN-recognised government, a cell of the organisation created by Osama Bin Laden that is responsible for the massacre against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was trained.
Shortly after the attack, Nathalie Goulet met secretly with CIA director John Brennan. The involvement of NATO’s secret services in the Charlie Hebdo attack was discussed at length, especially in relation to the activities of a French mercenary, Claude Hermant, who is said to have supplied the weapons used by Amedy Coulibaly in the massacre. In the wake of popular anger, Goulet asked the government to introduce a French-style ‘Patriot Act’, i.e. the suspension of constitutional freedoms, in agreement with Washington, in order to combat terrorism more efficiently. Then, in 2019, she changes her position completely, and signs a petition against the French enquiries on jihad and against Islamophobia proposed by Emmanuel Macron.
The denialist of the Armenian genocide
1915: US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau publishes photos of the Turkish genocide in Armenia
In February 2012, as vice-president of the France-Turkey friendship group, she voted to censor the law punishing the denial of the “so-called” (as Goulet calls it) Armenian genocide in 1915, which was the cause of a dispute between Ankara and Paris. Nathalie Goulet says she is pleased to see that “this purely electoral text has been removed from our legislative arsenal. It is a defeat for the President of the Republic who did not want to follow the advice of the greatest legal specialists (…). Our Turkish and Azeri friends have thus been able to count on our loyalty” .
His position baffled public opinion. France is the nation that welcomed and protected the largest number of Armenians who fled the massacre: people who, in the following century, from Charles Aznavour to Édouard Balladur and Alain Prost, contributed enormously to French grandeur. According to Goulet, it was “simply” the effect of the war – a kind of collateral accident. The senator admits that she has ‘always looked at the Armenian community with suspicion‘ and that, according to Goulet, Armenians export hatred and intolerance to France.
Despite the fact that Azerbaijan is led by a dictatorship, Nathalie Goulet openly defends this government: since the situation of democratic freedoms in China and Saudi Arabia is no better, France continues to do business with those countries, and therefore it is not clear why it should slam the door in the face of the Azerbaijanis, especially considering the fact that Baku was one of the first capitals of the Islamic world to open to political and commercial agreements with Israel.
When the “Four-Day War” broke out in April 2016 with the Azerbaijani and Turkish invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh, Goulet not only officially supported the motives of the invaders, but was also the first European politician to go to the UN to demand Armenia’s condemnation and Azerbaijan’s support.
The strenuous defence of Iran
Nathalie Goulet wearing a t-shirt praising Iran’s President Hassan Rohani
The senator’s position on Persian Gulf issues is even more volatile. In July 2011, Nathalie G because she is the rapporteur of a bill on the promotion of military cooperation with the United Arab Emirates, justifying it with the fact that Abu Dhabi has already signed similar agreements with the United States and the United Kingdom and is seeking the protection and support of another nuclear power. The agreement is stunning: France pledges to “deter or repel any aggression” against the Emirates: “The potential aggressor is of course Iran, although it is not identified as a threat in any public document,” notes the senator.
France already has a permanent military base in Abu Dhabi: it is called the “Peace Camp”, it was inaugurated in 2009, with which to compete with the US and Britain for military and commercial influence in the area, and it is the first French base abroad since World War II – a symbolic move to show as Nicolas Sarkozy’s hard line and send a warning to Iran. A couple of years and things change: although Marine Le Pen remains the most loyal friend of the Ayatollah’s regime, the opening towards Iran began in June 2014 with the publication of a document signed by almost all parties, from the extreme right to the left.
In 2011, 320 MPs out of not more than 577 signed an appeal to recognise the OMPI (Organisation des Moudjahidines du Peuple Iranien), a movement even more fundamentalist than that of the Ayatollahs, as a pro-Western political opposition in Iran: a serious error of judge’s judgment corrected by the pro-Saudi Nathalie Goulet. However, the senator has repeatedly not only defended Tehran but also jihad, and has repeatedly shown in public a T-shirt saying “in Rohani we trust”, in praise of the Iranian president who has executed more than 1500 people and authorised the marriage of old men to young girls.
In 2012, the magazine Iran Focus published “Iran – les fréquentations troublantes du sénateur Nathalie Goulet”, which reads: “Ms Goulet’s tribulations in the maze of theocracy are not new and are not innocent. She openly declares herself a “friend” of the Iranian regime. The dangerous relations that have brought her, veiled in a handkerchief, to the country of the ayatollahs, have sometimes made Nathalie Goulet a formidable adviser to the mullahs, who recommends to their ambassador in France to “withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation pact”, or incites them to “withdraw their assets from French banks“. Yet in 2010 Goulet mocked a French journalist who wore a veil to interview Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad… 
Despite being called “Iran’s European friend” by the Tehran press for years, Goulet went so far as to complain that she was not sufficiently supported by the Iranian embassy in Paris in her fight to keep opponents of the Iranian regime on the terrorist blacklist, against a European court decision exonerating them. “I acted without the support of the Iranian embassy, I was alone, really alone,” she complained, as if a French senator was due the help of a foreign country to oppose a legal decision.
Nathalie Goulet still ardently defends the ‘virtues of the Iranian electoral system’, the need to ‘break Iran’s diplomatic isolation’ and to consider the idea of a nuclear-armed Iran as a ‘threshold country like Japan’ as ‘acceptable’. The French press takes it for a fool: “lobbying the French government and European authorities on behalf of the mullahs to prevent the removal of Iranian opponents from the EU’s terrorist list raises more than one doubt. This disgraceful lobbying activity, carried out by an elected representative of the Republic, is scandalous and raises questions about Ms Goulet’s real motives“. She replies that the scandal is to continue lobbying against Tehran’s friends.
Israel’s sworn enemy
Caricatures of Israeli politicians killing Disney cartoon characters symbolizing Palestinian children
Nathalie Goulet is part of the France-Israel friendship group, despite the fact that she supports Iran and Turkey. In 2014, Nathalie Goulet slipped on a banana peel, posting on her twitter account pictures of Israeli leaders killing Disney characters symbolizing Palestinian children: then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bludgeoning a dying Pinocchio. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni stabbing Alice, and former Israeli President Shimon Peres strangling Peter Pan. Goulet supports a “very powerful campaign against the mass murder of children“.
In March 2016, the senator attacked the law granting tax exemption of up to 60% to all French people who donate to Tsahal (the Israeli army) . In her written question, the senator denounces as unacceptable the existence of “a tax niche paid by the French taxpayer for the benefit of a foreign army“. This time, public opinion reacts, sometimes even with death threats: why has Goulet never questioned the destination of funds paid to the Palestinian Authority, often used to compensate terrorists’ families and distribute school books that deny Israel’s right to exist? 
The reason is obvious: Goulet, like her husband, loves Palestine, so much so that, in May 2018, during a trip to Ramallah, she donated her husband’s archives to Hamas, namely “more than 40 years of parliamentary diplomacy with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian leadership“. But here again her position is rather contradictory, as Goulet is in favour of economic policies that privatise profits and socialise losses, and agrees with the cynical management of international crises, considering countries such as Syria expendable for the sake of balances in the Persian Gulf, which are crucial to curb Russia’s influence on the European gas market. In 2019, a struggle to open economic negotiations with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also begins, again to stem Russian and Israeli influence in the region.
The end of a political parable
The senator during the election campaign in Normandy
The regional elections in France, originally scheduled for March 2021, were moved to June because of the pandemic. In May, Goulet, who was rated between 3 and 5% in the polls, decided to withdraw. She continued campaigning, all against former defence minister Hervé Mourin, but in the end it was he who won the runoff, so she is now starting to prepare for the next national elections.
But the years have passed. Her husband’s friends, who had supported her even in her most contradictory battles, have died or retired from the political arena. The French press has stopped forgiving her political somersaults, style slips, and choices bordering on legality. Somehow, despite her recent passing of the age of 60, Nathalie Goulet is an expression of a disappearing world. In this terrible phase, characterised by the global pandemic and the constant risk of the explosion of armed conflicts in regions very close to the West and the Middle East, a lobbyist like her has become a burden rather than a support.
Today, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Qatar buy pension funds and football teams, no longer the votes of parliamentarians, and if anything they form alliances with heads of state, not just senators. Political decisions, even in Europe and the United States, are no longer taken in parliaments, but in the rooms of governments, as is also the case in undemocratic regimes such as Russia and China. The French grandeur still exists, but the mistakes made in Libya and Central Africa are pushing big companies to make transnational deals. They no longer need a Nathalie Goulet either. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
 https://www.senat.fr/senateur/goulet_daniel92024q.html ; https://www.memoiresdeguerre.com/2015/05/goulet-nathalie.html ; https://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2007/05/30/le-mystere-des-senateurs-goulet_916735_3224.html
 https://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2007/05/30/le-mystere-des-senateurs-goulet_916735_3224.html ; https://lelab.europe1.fr/Apres-avoir-relaye-une-campagne-pro-Gaza-sur-Twitter-la-senatrice-UDI-Nathalie-Goulet-se-defend-de-tout-antisemitisme-15679
 https://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2007/05/30/le-mystere-des-senateurs-goulet_916735_3224.html ; https://alencon.maville.com/actu/actudet_-affaire-goulet-la-justice-rend-un-non-lieu-_13-783146_actu.Htm
 https://www.youtube.com/user/nathaliegoulet ; https://twitter.com/senateur61 ; https://www.memoiresdeguerre.com/2015/05/goulet-nathalie.html ; https://en.unesco.org/youth-and-internet-fighting-radicalization-and-extremism/nathalie-goulet ; https://www.nossenateurs.fr/nathalie-goulet/dossier/6691
 https://www.ouest-france.fr/normandie/orne/senatoriales-dans-l-orne-nathalie-goulet-et-sebastien-leroux-elus-5268685 ; https://www.senat.fr/senateur/goulet_nathalie07004j.html Qui ci sono tutti i suoi interventi politici: https://www.nossenateurs.fr/nathalie-goulet/dossiers
 https://www.francetvinfo.fr/politique/les-societes-decoutes-judiciaires-menacent-de-couper-la-ligne_1701107.html ; https://www.senat.fr/dossier-legislatif/ppr13-422.html ; https://www.01net.com/actualites/une-senatrice-veut-enqueter-sur-la-plate-forme-des-ecoutes-judiciaires-616598.html
 https://www.ouest-france.fr/elections/departementales/orne/senatoriales-2014-nathalie-goulet-atypique-candidate-au-plateau-2863690 ; https://www.rtl.fr/actu/politique/transparence-nathalie-goulet-est-la-premiere-parlementaire-a-publier-son-patrimoine-7774547253
 Matthieu Delahousse, “Code Birdie : les derniers secrets de l’affaire Cahuzac” Flammarion, Paris 2016
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 https://en.unesco.org/youth-and-internet-fighting-radicalization-and-extremism/nathalie-goulet ; https://www.ouest-france.fr/elections/departementales/orne/senatoriales-2014-nathalie-goulet-atypique-candidate-au-plateau-2863690
 https://www.ouest-france.fr/societe/racisme/islamophobie-des-musulmans-reclament-des-actes-forts-emmanuel-macron-6275104 ; https://ripostelaique.com/les-curieuses-connivences-de-la-senatrice-goulet-avec-des-islamistes-et-le-pir.html ; https://twitter.com/senateur61/status/1109661639291404289