France’s Syrian affair: If you can’t beat them – balkanise them!

SHAFAQNA – As the Syrian Arab Army is brokering new grounds against what mainstream media still calls “the opposition”, France has hardened its tone, keen to militarily enter the fray to salvage, or rather, claim its stake over Syria.

Earlier this June, media reports broke news that Paris invested its Special Forces in northern Syria, to assist the Kurds in their efforts against ISIL – all part, Paris said, of a broader counter-terrorism impetus in the region.

In an address made to the Public Senat TV, France Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed that Paris was “providing support through weapons supplies, air presence and advice.”

Minister Le Drian’s comment was further echoed by an another state official, when told AFP: ”France has deployed its special forces on the ground in northern Syria to advise rebels and help them fight Islamic State.”

If Western capitals have often been keen to cloud their intervention, to better manage, and orchestrate whatever political fallouts their actions might entail, France has been rather upfront, and I would say unapologetic about its decision to break steal in Syria.

But what is France exactly doing in Syria? And more importantly why now?

The answer to that question may partly lie with the title of a new report published by the Voice of America. The title reads: “France Deploys Special Forces in Syria as IS Loses Ground.”

An interesting choice of words indeed … But there’s more. “The confirmation of French ground assistance to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, the SDF, came as Syrian government warplanes intensified airstrikes on rebel-held districts of Aleppo. Airstrikes Wednesday killed at least 20 people and damaged three hospitals in the rebel parts of the city, according to local political activists and rescue workers known as the White Helmets.”

While many might read here confirmation that the West serves still Syria’s democratic dreams against the dictatorial pride of President Bashar al-Assad – this political antichrist corporate media have taught all good thinking westerners to abhor, I read a political confession.

I see in France’s intervention, an admission of guilt, a desire to remain politically relevant in the Levant, and a desire to assert control come what may.

Yes, I did get all that from VOA! Let me just say that Jamie Dettmer most certainly did not intend for so much information to transpire.

Allow me to walk you back to early 2011 when Syria was witnessing the first stages of an aggressive political takeover. Then, we were told that Syria was in the grip of a popular stand-off pitting President al-Assad regime against pro-democracy activists.

As violence gave way to unimaginable bloodshed and butchery  – which butchery was criminally pinned on Damascus to better justify Western interventionism, ISIL and Co. surfaced, together exploding, and blurring the line in between the now infamous opposition and terrorism.

Today it is difficult to differentiate in between the two … In truth one may argue that both entities are but the products of the same will: control, only expressed differently.

Now that months have turned into years, Syria has become a grand battlefield for all political and ideological deformities. One constant has remained throughout: President Bashar al-Assad has to go.

From the onset of this war the same mantra has towered over all: President Bashar al-Assad had to go.

Syria’s war needs to be looked at from this perspective, and this perspective alone since President al-Assad’s deposition remains Western powers’ endgame. France’s new play here feeds directly into this political narrative … only from a different angle.

What angle?

Look at this way. Herein so far Syria has been made to suffer one engineered revolution, terrorism, and military interventionism all in the name of regime change.

Still Damascus has endured … Damascus did more than just endured actually, it has begun to fight back, and reclaim back its land and its sovereignty. So much so that Terror found itself cornered. So much so that Western powers had to reassess their strategy, and imagine a new “opening” to manifest those goals, they are so bent on bringing about.

What agenda?

This one is easy: control.

Syria has always been about control. Control over Syria’s political narrative, control over Syria’s natural resources, and control over Syria’s geopolitical potential.

France you may recall is one of Syria’s long term political investor. Once upon a colonial time France played cartographer on the carcass of the Ottoman Empire so that “les colonies” would feed, and reflect its political ambitions in the Levant.

Today, decades after the Sikes-Picot agreement, France wants to ensure that its legacy will endure the test of time.

Now, for Western powers to assert control over Syria, chaos, or at the very least divisions would have to be risen … Since ISIL did fail at mainstreaming sectarianism  – not for a lack of trying it needs to be said, one card was left to be played: ethnic tensions, or rather, ethnic dissent.

France you will note planted its flag in northern Syria, in Kurd territory. Would it be that far-fetch to imagine that Paris’ sudden interest in counter-terrorism has everything to do with building a French-Kurdish alliance, to better undermine Damascus authority?

In so far President al-Assad has done a great job at defeating terror! Backed by Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese Hezbollah, the SAA has literally exploded ISIL network, and send thousands of its militants to the nearest hills.

Why did the French felt compelled to intervene now – when they are not wanted – if not to serve their self-interests? Why indeed?

Semyon Bagdasarov, Director of the Moscow-based Center for Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies said in an interview with Svobodnaya Pressa he believes France’s move in Syria will herald a balkanization attempt.

Since the West could not oust President Bashar al-Assad, it will now work to dismantle its sovereignty, playing ethnic empowerment to better control the political fate of the region.

In 2015 Samuel Ramani wrote for the Washington Post: “France’s hawkish attitude towards Assad and the large scale of its intervention in Syria can be explained by three factors. First, France is using its interventionist foreign policy in Syria and the Middle East more broadly, to reinforce its self-perception as a great power. Second, France is fulfilling its historic role of presenting an alternative foreign policy to that offered by the United States. Third, France regards its steadfast opposition to Assad as an opportunity to enhance security cooperation with anti-Assad Sunni countries in the Middle East, which also share France’s deep distrust of Iran.”

Enough said …

By Catherine Shakdam



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