News / Europe

French Government Pushes for Syria Response

French Government Pushes for Syria Responsei
X
September 05, 2013
Lawmakers in France on Wednesday debated joining a U.S.-led attack on Syria, after French intelligence reports concluded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
TEXT SIZE - +
Henry Ridgwell
— Lawmakers in France on Wednesday debated joining a possible U.S.-led attack on Syria, after French intelligence reports concluded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people.

At an urgent National Assembly debate, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault set out the government's reasons for supporting an attack on Syria.

The prime minister said to not act would endanger peace and security in the entire region and beyond that, French security. He said the credibility of France's international commitments against non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, would be put in question.

The U.S. and French intelligence services say they have evidence showing that Assad's forces used chemical weapons last month on rebel-held areas outside Damascus, killing more than a thousand people. The Syrian government strongly denies the claim.

Where World Powers Stand on Syria
*as of 8/30/13

  • Britain: Parliament rejects participation in military strike
  • Russia: Against Western intervention
  • France: President wants "firm and proportionate action"
  • China: Foreign Minister says political resolution is "only way out"
  • Germany: Military commitment is not being considered
  • Italy: Will not take part in military action without a U.N. mandate
  • Canada: Supports intervention but no plans to commit Canadian forces
  • Iran: Opposed to any Western military strike
The French government declassified its evidence, which has been published in newspapers. That's a deliberate ploy, said Francois Heisbourg of the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research.

"One is the straightforward goal of answering the question of what happened and who did it. But there is another goal, which is that the French wanted to display to their own people that they had the ability to form their own opinion about what happened using their own national intelligence means," said Heisbourg.

France has a special interest in the Syrian conflict, said David Cadier of the IDEAS analysis group at the London School of Economics and Political Science. "Syria is not just any country for France. This is in its so-called historical area of geopolitical interest."

In January, France sent 4,000 troops to Mali to oust Islamist rebels from the north of the country. With Mali electing a new president last month, the intervention is seen as a success - and has emboldened France, said David Cadier. "Certainly the Mali operation was rather successful; while when it was launched, many experts were a bit worried about the consequences because the Sahel region is quite unstable - as is obviously the Near East."

French President Francois Hollande has made it clear he won't act without the U.S.

With the British parliament voting against any military action in Syria, Franco-American ties are strengthening, said Cadier. "France realized that the transatlantic alliance needs to be strengthened. And to strengthen such an alliance, they need to demonstrate some kind of capacity, including military capacity."

U.S. President Barack Obama has asked Congress to authorize limited military strikes against Syria.

Analysts say Hollande is under increasing pressure to follow Washington and London - and allow lawmakers to vote on military action.

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
  • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid