Allan Little, the BBC's PARIS Correspondent, makes a rare visit to Algiers.
He asks the locals, business people and other activists what they think of President Chirac.
Since the Iraqi war FRANCE has become popular with opponents of the conflict particularly those in the Arab world.
Did their past experience as the colonizers in Algeria teach the French crucial lessons in how to manage change peacefully in this volatile region? Of what concrete benefit to FRANCE, or the Arabs, is the President's championing of the Arab cause?
Next week - Syria.
Allan Little, the BBC's PARIS Correspondent, makes a rare visit to Damascus.
With exceptional access to the country's ruling elite he asks them about change.
From Prime Minister to the President's personal advisor on reform - all are talking about the need for a shake up.
But is that all it is - talk? And what pressure, if any, is FRANCE bringing to bear on this ossified political and economic environment.
If the French, as they claim - rather than the Americans - hold the keys to substantial change in the region then it ought to be possible to see evidence of their influence on the ground.