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Opinion: France’s Brave Position - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There is a strong diplomatic confrontation between France on one side, and the Assad regime, Iran and Russia on the other. Despite the threats against it, the French government insists on its firm stance and solidarity with the Syrian people after most international powers have abandoned it.

The Russians have criticised the French saying that they are surprised by France’s insistence on opposing their project in Syria and describe their attacks and sieges on the Syrian people which has caused the displacement of millions of them as a war on terror. They also believe that France, by taking these stances, is not only disagreeing with them, but with the European orientation in general.

The French draft resolution which called for an end to the bombing of Aleppo and that was vetoed by the Russians caused verbal confrontations between the ambassadors of Security Council members last week. This is not the only action that the French government has sponsored. France is one of the states that supported the Syrian Revolution from the outset, and has supported the political efforts of the coalition and various councils. It has also been repeatedly targeted by terrorist operations carried out by organisations such as ISIS. The actions of these organisations demonstrate that that they are implementing a project that benefits Assad and the Iranians, and that they are targeting countries that stand against Assad’s regime and its allies. Despite the recurrence of terrorist attacks on France, it has continued to stand against the brutal war being waged on the Syrian people.

France has not just suffered from terrorism carried out by ISIS. It has also faced an internal crisis that is no less dangerous; the growing racism against foreigners and French Muslims. This racism is fuelled by the crimes of terrorist organisations that are linked to the Syrian crisis and the flood of immigrants from Syria and other countries into western Europe.

On the political and diplomatic levels in particular, the French government is leading a call for countries involved in the siege and destruction of Aleppo and other Syrian cities to be held accountable and prosecuted for war crimes. It also wants international institutions to act against them.

We have been witnessing these positions for years and we should appreciate what the French are doing. Their fair and unbiased policy on the Syrian issue is an extension of their position against the Assad regime in Lebanon. This is illustrated by the fact that France backed the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, and its position was essential and crucial after he was assassinated by the Assad regime.

French presidents generally continued with this approach, except for Sarkozy who tried to better Assad’s image by cooperating with some regional powers and who failed in the end.

Some may believe that the French attitude is not enough to change the situation on the ground because although France is a big country, it is not as big as the United States and Russia, the two superpowers. Despite this, it is playing a big role and leading the locomotive of confrontation at a time when most other nations prefer to avoid confrontation with the “axis of evil”.

Considering the disregard for values and international laws shown by Assad’s allies, it is significant that countries like France take these stances which we hope will lead to a reasonable political solution. The Iranian – Russian war in Syria has so far failed to end the uprising of the Syrian people. It has also failed to maintain Assad’s rule over Syria, even in the half which is now under his rule. They can only rely on a country like France to support a political solution to get them out of this quagmire.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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