During his first address to his country's ambassadors, French President François Hollande this week spoke of a firm and powerful approach towards the Syrian and Iranian regimes. He drew up a plan for the Syrian regime based on the French opinion that President Bashar al-Assad's departure is inevitable, since there is no political solution to the crisis in the country and he is still carrying out brutal violence and massacres against his own people, requiring the International Criminal Court to look into these crimes.
Holland gave his plan on Syria while waiting to overcome Russian and Chinese obstacles in the Security Council. He believes the Syrian opposition should hasten the formation of an inclusive and representative interim transitional government that can become the legitimate representative of the new Syria.
Afterwards, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters that forming a transitional government would assure those who worry what will happen after the departure of Bashar al-Assad, like Russia, which fears radical Islamists or chaos like what happened in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Holland hopes that Arab states who are allies of France will encourage opposition and recognize the transitional government. Holland also revealed that France is working with Turkey to help Syrians establish zones that are free from the regime’s authority, without going into the details of this assistance process.
Foreign Minister Fabius explained that this issue is still under discussions. As for the use of chemical weapons to repress Syria’s people, he said that it would provide a legitimate reason for direct military intervention. In the same context, he confirmed that France would find it unacceptable for Tehran to obtain nuclear weapons that threaten all countries in the region, and added it was France’s responsibility to further increase sanctions against the Iranian regime.
The determination of Holland towards the Syrian and Iranian issue indicates that the new French president is concerned with helping Syria. But there is no doubt that the Syrian crisis is a disaster because of Russia and China. Russia has lost Libya, where they had a huge embassy and an important position next to the United States after the Americans forgave Qaddafi’s crimes once he paid required funds. It does not intend to abandon the Syrian regime, even though Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister are aware that it is impossible for Bashar al-Assad to stay in power after all these massacres.
The Syrian regime may believe that it is doing as the Algerian Army did to extremists Islamists in the eighties, but the international community was not against Algeria at that time and it was not isolated. The Syrian people are fighting for freedom and a better life, so the situation is different. The circumstances have changed, and even Algeria was recently vulnerable to a popular movement, but the Algerian President was smart and he realized that the distribution of money to citizens might intimidate their resentment. As for Bashar al-Assad, his policy is to kill, beat and displace impoverished people, due to sanctions, corruption and denial of reality.
As long as the West's efforts are based on a non-military interference, Bashar al-Assad will be given a longer time to carry on with his violent approach. But in fact, the more violence and killing he brings, the stronger internal revolution is against him. The brave inhabitants of Aleppo, Homs, Daraa and Damascus have only one wish: to have Bashar resign.
In Aleppo, a large number of people who used to support Assad have now changed their position because of the violence. They are just asking for salvation and his departure; they realize that there is no hope in his tyranny, oppression, killing and war all over Syria. The Syrian people will defeat that regime because in light of these slaughters and massacres they cannot but continue their revolution. The French efforts are much appreciated, despite the complexity and difficulty in finding a proper solution. But the end will be from the inside, since the international community seems to be powerless.
The author is a columnist for al-Hayat newspaer, where this article originially appeared on August 29, 2012.