News / Europe

French Government Pushes for Syria Response

French Government Pushes for Syria Responsei
X
September 05, 2013 10:31 AM
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.
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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition 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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs