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Paris may recognize Syrian National Council – French official | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Paris, Asharq Al-Awsat – Discussions are now being held within French political circles about what should be done to assist the Syrian opposition demanding the ouster of a regime which Paris regards as “illegitimate”. Indeed, French President Nicholas Sarkozy has gone so far as to call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, in a joint-letter with US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

A French official, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that the Syrian opposition, particularly the Syrian National Council [SNC], has informed Paris that “it is not asking for international recognition at this time” and that “it is not yet prepared for such a step.” This is because the SNC is still in the process of organizing and uniting its ranks, and attempting to convince other Syrian opposition trends to join it.

The French official said that the SNC represents the “best framework” to bring together the Syrian opposition, adding that France is “open” to all Syrian opposition trends and parties, including those that are refusing to join the SNC.

The French official source also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “all options are on the table” for France, stressing that Paris has “not taken any decision so far” on the SNC and the issue of recognition. The French source called on the SNC to unite its ranks and crystalize its political platform and determine its viewpoint on several pending issues, including coordination between the Syrian opposition at home and abroad, as well as the issue of foreign intervention. The French source claimed that Paris is “ready” to help the SNC and coordinate between the various different currents within the Syrian opposition.

Many Syrian opposition figures have travelled to Paris, including one Syrian opposition delegation led by well-known Syrian opposition figure Michel Kilo, and another representing the Syrian opposition abroad including figures such as Syrian Human Rights activist Haitham al-Maleh, Arab intellectual Abdulrazzak Eid, and others.

The French government source also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Paris does not rule out becoming the first country to recognize the SNC, although the French official – speaking on the condition of anonymity – stressed that Paris would prefer this step to be taken by the US, the rest of Europe, and the Arab world, collectively, in order to have the strongest possible effect.

This step would see the international world recalling its ambassadors from Damascus and severing all diplomatic ties with the al-Assad regime. However the French official said that Paris does not want to take any hasty decisions, particularly before the SNC has settled its affairs.

Paris is currently monitoring the SNC, and the latest developments in Syria. As for the death of SNC-member Mishal Tamo, the French source told Asharq Al-Awsat that this revealed the “weakness” of the Syrian regime, and represented a “grave political mistake.” The source added that even though the al-Assad regime remains in control of the security apparatus, Damascus will “be unable to keep a tight rein on the situation in the country and will ultimately collapse.”

The unnamed French official made reference to the economic difficulties being faced by the al-Assad regime as a result of the international economic sanctions being imposed on Damascus by the EU, the US, and others.

On the diplomatic level, the French source pointed to the al-Assad regime’s growing international isolation, despite the West’s failure to pass a draft resolution – via the UN – condemning the excessive violence being used by the Syrian regime and adopting “appropriate measures” against it.