The advance of Turkish forces against the Kurds of Afrin and the intensification of the Syrian regime's offensive in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, where its forces have isolated the city of Douma, prompted François Hollande to leave the reserve that he had imposed himself since his departure from the Elysee, on international issues.
Why did you decide to leave the silence on the Syrian tragedy?
I feel at once supportive and responsible. Solidary because I do not forget what the Kurds were able to do in an extremely difficult time to allow the coalition to chase Daesh from Rakka and beyond. It is not possible to celebrate the liberation of part of Syria and let whole populations die, which we know to have played a decisive role in achieving this result.
But I also feel responsible for Ghouta. I had not been the author of the famous "red line". It was Barack Obama who defined it about the use of chemical weapons. In August 2013, the United States, after a bombardment with sarin gas by the regime [damask] in Eastern Ghouta, rather than conducting military strikes, had preferred to negotiate with the Russians and the international community the destruction of the regime's chemical arsenal. We followed them.
Bashar Al-Assad has nevertheless kept such weapons and he does not hesitate to continue to resort to it, even if it does so in a more discreet and therefore more pernicious way. Russia is still there to block investigations at the United Nations that can lead to sanctions. It is still there to prevent resolutions from being voted on in the Security Council, or to ensure that they remain a dead letter.
What would it be possible to do?
I do not want to complicate a game that is already a lot. But I think that the democratic powers - I insist on this word, democratic - must become aware of their responsibility, of what their influence and their role may be.
There are three big players in Syria today who are on the offensive. The regime, of course, who advances in destroying with the help of Iranian fighters or Hezbollah. After Aleppo and other cities, it is now the turn of Damascus, because the Ghouta is the suburbs of the capital.
The second player is Russia, which, faced with the inertia of Western countries, cynically supports the regime and even contributes to abuses.
The third is Turkey, who understood, after having been for a moment in conflict with Moscow, the part she could play: sharing. It is not a coincidence that these two tests of Ghouta and Afrin take place at the same time. Russia has let Ankara go to Afrin, and Turkey will withdraw some of the rebels it supports from the Ghouta, some of which may even reinforce the attack on Afrin.
What would be the most urgent measures that could be requested by these democratic powers that you mentioned?
That the planes of the Syrian regime bombing Ghouta, including hospitals and even cemeteries, and that the Turkish aircraft acting on Afrin can no longer fly over these areas.
The red lines can not concern only chemical weapons because it implies each time to demonstrate their use and to prove which side did, while all the ability of the regime, and its protector Russian, is each time to try to sow doubt by evoking provocations. In addition, if we only fix a red line on the use of sarin gas, we refrain from intervening if massacres are committed with other weapons. The deliberate bombardment of civilian populations, of whatever nature, creates an unacceptable humanitarian and political situation.
Talking about a red line without going into the act makes the Westerners less credible?
I never mentioned a red line, neither in 2013 nor later. If there is a red line and it is violated without causing a reaction, the one who has allowed himself such a transgression is allowed everything. After the refusal to intervene in 2013, the Syrian regime was not the only one to believe it all allowed. Vladimir Putin understood that he could annex the Crimea and destabilize the east of Ukraine without risking being blamed other than by sanctions.
Do you really think possible the establishment of air exclusion zones above Ghouta and Afrin?
The United Nations Security Council is blocked by the Russian veto. But it is imperative to assert that these territories can no longer be overflown, especially Afrin, where it is a country outside Syria that uses its aviation and which, moreover is a member of NATO.
So it's up to NATO to act on Afrin's question?
France is part of NATO, with Turkey. But who is this ally to whom some sell arms and who uses his planes to strike civilian populations? What is this Turkish ally hitting our own allies with ground support from jihadist groups? Knowing that porosities exist between these groups and terrorist entities.
Was the break-up of these contradictions not to be expected at a time when France and the international coalition against IS have joined the Kurdish forces against the jihadists in Syria?
I planned to involve the Kurds in the discussions on the future of Syria, as soon as they succeeded with their Arab partners in chasing the jihadists in the north-east of the country. I had made sure to remember that there could be no question of a break-up of Syria.
On the other hand, if there were Kurdish groups from Afrin or elsewhere to attack Turkey, Ankara would be justified in justifying self-defense. But the Kurds of Syria did not attack Turkey. They have other worries: they had not completed their offensive on the territories where the IS retreated between Syria and Iraq, at the precise moment when Turkey launched its operation on Afrin.
For Turkey, you call NATO to act. But vis-à-vis the diet, the reaction would be more complicated. To impose a no-fly zone, it would require a UN resolution?
The subject is how we must react to Vladimir Putin, more than against Bashar Al-Assad. It is Russia which is the main power and the risk is serious of an escalation if no limit is fixed to it.
We can put pressure on sanctions, trade rules, the oil and gas issue. The West must be aware of what danger is. We must talk to Vladimir Putin, we can talk about the historical relations between France and Russia. But that's no reason to let her advance her pieces without reacting. Donald Trump's position is neither clear nor predictable, so it is up to France, Europe, NATO to set in motion.
Russia has been rearming for several years, and if it is threatening, it must be threatened. By allowing Ankara to bomb our Kurdish allies in Syria, Moscow is also pushing for a division of NATO. As hardly a year ago, Vladimir Putin had no harsh words against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, these two countries have agreed to share Syria.
What would you ask Emmanuel Macron about the Syrian file?
My duty is to recall what I have done in the name of France and what that entails. If I supported the Kurds as part of the coalition, it is not to leave them in the situation where they are.
If I have been so hard on the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and I have been steadfastly, it is not to let him liquidate his opposition and massacre his people. If I led discussions with the Russians, it was to score break points.
The Turkish forces and their Syrian auxiliaries are at the gates of Afrin. What would its downfall mean for the actors France supports in the region and beyond?
That would mean that our allies would be dropped the day after a victory we celebrated together, and that what would happen in Afrin will happen tomorrow somewhere else. Those we support elsewhere in the world might think they are not protected. What is the word worth when it is no longer respected?
This good has nothing that has put France in the shit for 5 years and has elected this president and today the revoila this con especially do not put your head to return c is dead shit remains a shit and the French n in the pool of the incapable of your species
insults, bad words are counterproductive ...
a povre c of mahometan !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!