On Wednesday the French Parliament debated on Syria but with no votes as it alleges. There are many concerns over France and USA on how will they both deliver their political strategy whether the nation should launch strikes against Syria, though France’s president says he will wait for a decision from the U.S. Congress on possible military action against Bashar Assad’s regime.
As the Obama administration worked to build support ahead of the Congress vote, the U.S. and Israel conducted a joint missile test Tuesday in the eastern Mediterranean in an apparent signal of military readiness. In the operation, a missile was fired from the sea toward the Israeli coast to test the tracking by the country’s missile defense system.
The French parliament will debate the Syria issue Wednesday, but no vote is scheduled. France’s constitution doesn’t require such a vote for military intervention unless its lasts longer than four months, though some French lawmakers have urged President Francois Hollande to call one anyway.
The U.S. and France accuse the Syrian government of using chemical weapons in an Aug. 21 attack on rebel-held suburbs of Damascus that killed hundreds of people. President Barack Obama and Hollande are pushing for a military response to punish Assad for his alleged use of poison gas against civilians — though U.S. officials say any action will be limited in scope, not aimed at helping to remove Assad.
On Tuesday, the White House won backing for military action from two powerful Republicans — House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and House majority leader Eric Cantor.
In Paris, Hollande said that the U.S. vote “will have consequences on the coalition that we will have to create.” He did not specify whether that meant a military coalition.
“A large coalition must therefore be created on the international scale, with the United States — which will soon take its decision — (and) with Europe … and Arab countries,” Hollande said.
If Congress votes no, France “will take up its responsibilities by supporting the democratic opposition (in Syria) in such a way that a response is provided,” he added.
France’s government on Monday released an extract of intelligence gathered by two leading French intelligence agencies alleging that Assad’s regime was behind the attack and at least two other, smaller-scale ones earlier this year.
Hollande added Tuesday that France had indications the nerve agent sarin was used in the Aug. 21 attack, a claim U.S. officials have also made.
The U.S. and France say the alleged chemical attack violates international conventions. Russia, which with Iran has been a staunch backer of Assad throughout the conflict, has brushed aside Western evidence of an alleged Syrian regime role.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that any “punitive” action could unleash more turmoil and bloodshed in that nation’s civil war.
“I take note of the argument for action to prevent a future use of chemical weapons. At the same time, we must consider the impact of any punitive measure on efforts to prevent further bloodshed and facilitate the political resolution of the conflict,” Ban said.
With the Middle East anxious as it awaits a decision about strikes, Israel and the U.S. tested the Jewish state’s Arrow 3 missile-defense system over the Mediterranean.
A medium-range decoy missile, known as a Sparrow, was fired in the Mediterranean, and the system successfully detected and tracked it, the Israeli Defense Ministry said. The decoy was not carrying a warhead and the system did not intercept it, the ministry said.
In a statement Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman George Little said the U.S. provided technical assistance and support to the Israeli test.
He said the test was “long planned to help evaluate the Arrow Ballistic Missile Defense system’s ability to detect, track, and communicate information about a simulated threat to Israel.”
He said the test had nothing to do with the U.S. consideration of military action in Syria.
Nonetheless, it served as a reminder to Syria and its patron, Iran, that Israel is pressing forward with development of a “multilayered” missile-defense system. Both Syria and Iran, and their Lebanese ally Hezbollah, possess vast arsenals of rockets and missiles.
The Arrow 3, expected to be operational around 2016, would be the first such “multilayer” missile-defense system, designed to intercept long-range missiles such the Iranian Shahab before they re-enter the atmosphere.
Last year, Israel also successfully tested a system designed to intercept missiles with ranges of up to 300 kilometers (180 miles) which is expected to be operational by early 2015.
Another system for short-range rockets successfully shot down hundreds fired from the Gaza Strip during eight days of fighting in November, and more recently intercepted a rocket fired from Lebanon.
Meanwhile in Syria, regime troops recaptured the town of Ariha, a busy commercial center in the restive northern province of Idlib following days of heavy bombardment, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Ariha has changed hands several times in the past two years. Rebels had succeeded in wrestling it from government control late last month.
Since the outbreak of the Syria conflict in March 2011, the two sides have fought to a stalemate, though the Assad regime has retaken the offensive in recent months. Rebel fighters control large rural stretches in northern and eastern Syria, while Assad is holding on to most of the main urban areas.
The Syrian conflict, which began as a popular uprising against Assad in March 2011, later degenerated into a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.
The U.N. refugee agency announced Tuesday that the number of Syrians who have fled the country has surpassed the 2 million mark.
Along with more than four million people displaced inside Syria, this means more than six million Syrians have been uprooted, out of an estimated population of 23 million.
Antonio Guterres, the head of the Office for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said Syria is hemorrhaging an average of almost 5,000 citizens a day across its borders, many of them with little more than the clothes they are wearing. Nearly 1.8 million refugees have fled in the past 12 months alone, he said.
The agency’s special envoy, actress Angelina Jolie, said “some neighboring countries could be brought to the point of collapse” if the situation keeps deteriorating at its current pace. Most Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Tthere are many questions for me which came to mind:
If Assad is removed from power will the replacement be another dictator who would be much worse than Assad which I can honestly see this happen.
Should U.S. give support to the Syrian rebels what is to stop them from turning the weapons to our the so-called coalition which may or may not give them the freedom of Syria by certain elements of rebels who has links to religious fanatics in the regions of Syria.
President Obama said that there will be no U.S. boots will land on Syrian soil so does that mean that the Arab League will put their troops on Syria soil.
When has Syria ever seen a fully democratic elections and the will of its citizens being honoured by a democratic elected government.
The reason why I seek those answers to the questions is on the grounds of what many have witnessed by both the social media and read in press coming out of Egypt and syria as I don’t think that a country like Syria in the Middle East and surrounding country can appreciate the a fully elected democratic government as soon as something goes wrong they are quick enough to revert to the old system of having army rule.
See the history of the Syrian elections:
Syria is divided between two governments, both of which make contested claims to be the only democratic government of Syria. A bitter civil war between the two has raged through 2012 and 2013 following a period of unarmed demonstrations and unrest in 2011, which was part of the international wave of protest known as the Arab Spring.
The Baathist government, headed by Bashar Assad, son of previous leader Hafez Assad, is based in Damascus, the traditional capital. The Free Syrian government is conducting its first regional elections in early March 2013 for Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and main commercial hub. Due to fighting, the elections are being held by 200+ representatives in Ghazi, Turkey.
Both of Syria’s major cities are divided, as both sides have forces in each other’s respective strongholds in the north and south. The western coastal areas, heavily populated by members of the president’s sect, the Alawites, are firmly under Damascus’ control. The eastern areas of Syria, much of which are populated by Kurds, are almost entirely outside of Damascus’ control. Druze and Palestinian areas in the south suffer from divided loyalties, and the area of central Syria between the two capitals is a region of mixed pockets of control and hotly contested highways and other essential supply lines. There are fighters and equipment from other nations on both sides of the conflict, and the UN security Council has been divided and largely powerless to affect conditions in Syria.
Syria elects on national level a head of state – the president – and a legislature. The People’s Council (Majlis al-Sha’ab) has 250 members elected for a four-year term in 15 multi-seat constituencies. According to previous Syrian constitution of 1973 Syria was a form of single-party state in which only one political party, the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party was legally allowed to hold effective power. Although minor parties were allowed, they were legally required to accept the leadership of the dominant party.
The presidential candidate was appointed by the parliament, on suggestion of the Baath Party, and needed to be confirmed for a seven-year term in a national single-candidate referendum. The most recent presidential referendum took place in 2007.
The new Syrian constitution of 2012, approved in popular referendum, introduced multi-party system without guaranted leadership of any political party. In a new article 88, it introduced presidential elections and limited the term of office for the president to seven years with a maximum of one re-election.
During the French Mandate and after the independence the parliamentary elections in Syria have been held under a system similar to the Lebanese one, with fixed representation for every religious community, including Druzes, Alawis and Christians. In 1949 the system was modified, giving women the right to vote.
History between France and Syria
In 1918, Syria was declared an independent kingdom under King Faisal I, son of Sharif Hussein. However, France and Britain had their own plans in mind. In an agreement known as the Sykes-Picot agreement, they decided to divide the Middle East into French and British ‘spheres of influence’. Syria was to be put under French mandate. In early 1920, French troops landed on the Syrian coast, after several battles with poorly equipped Syrian rebels, they managed to get the country under their control. In 1923, the League of Nation officially recognized French mandate over Syria.
Syrians decided to resist the new invaders. In 1925, they revolted against the mandate. Several battles took place in Jabal al-Arab region and in Damascus. The capital was severely damaged during French air raids in retaliation for the city’s support for rebels. It was until 1936 when France finally accepted to give Syria partial independence according to the Franco-Syrian treaty signed in Paris , but French troops remained on the Syrian soil and continued to influence the Syrian policies. During World War II, Syria witnessed military confrontations between French troops loyal to the Vichy government, allied with the Germans, and Free French troops allied with the British. In 1941, the British army, along with its French allies, occupied the country and promised full independence after the end of the war.
Again, the French did not live up to their promises. Syrians protested again, and in 29 May 1945, French troops attacked the Syrian Parliament building in Damascus , sparking more anger and demonstrations. The matter was discussed in the United Nations Security Council, which came up with a resolution demanding France’s withdrawal from Syria. The French had to comply; their last soldier left Syria on 17 April 1946, which was chosen to be Syria ‘s National Day.
The early years of independence were marked by political instability. In 1948, the Syrian army was sent to Palestine to fight along with other Arab armies against the newly created State of Israel. The Arabs lost the war, and Israel occupied 78 percent of the area of historical Palestine. In July 1949, Syria was the last Arab country to sign an armistice agreement with Israel. However, it was only the beginning of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In 1949, Syria ‘s national government was overthrown by a military coup d’etat led by Hussni al-Zaim. Later that year Zaim was overthrown by his colleague Sami al-Hinnawi. Few months later, Hinnawi was overthrown by Colonel Adib al-Sheeshakli. The latter continued to rule the country until 1954, when growing public opposition forced him to resign and leave the country. The national government was restored, but again to face instability, this time coming from abroad. In the mid-1950s, Syria ‘s relation with the West witnessed some tension with the improving Syrian-Soviet relations. In 1957, Turkey, a close ally of the US and a member of the NATO, massed its troops on the Syrian borders threatening to invade the country.
The western threat was also one of the reasons that helped achieve Syria ‘s union with Egypt under the United Arab Republic (UAR) in February 1958, with Egyptian Gamal Abdul Nasser as president. Nasser’s condition to accept union with Syria was dissolving all Syrian political parties. This was one of many reasons that led to the collapse in of the UAR on September 28, 1961 , with a bloodless military coup in Damascus .
In 8 March 1963, the Baath Arab Socialist Party came to power in a coup known in Syria as the March Revolution. The Baathists dissolved the Parliament and introduced a one-party regime that was destablized by conflicts within the Baath itself. In February 1966, the right wing of Baath assumed leadership of the party, establishing radical Salah Jadid as the strongman of the country.
In the spring of 1967, severe clashes erupted on the borders between Syria and Israel . In April, Israeli officials publicly threatened to invade Syria . Those threats were among other major events that led to the Six Days War between Israel and its neighboring Arab countries. On 5 June 1967, Israel started its war against the Arabs, first by invading the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and the West Bank of Jordan and then on June 10, the Syrian Golan Heights. Within two days of fighting, Syria had lost the strategic region including its main city of Quneitra . On June 11, the warring parties accepted the UN’s call for cease-fire. Later in 1967, the UN Security Council issued its famous 242 resolution calling for complete Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in the Six Day War, in exchange for peace talks and Arab recognition of Israel’s right to exist.
November 16, 1970; Hafez al-Assad, then the defense minister, led the Correction Movement that brought Syria stability and security after years of political disturbance. Assad, elected president in 1971 with an overwhelming majority, started to get the nation ready to fight for its occupied land. He mobilized the major political powers in Syria under the National Progressive Front, and got the People’s Council (Parliament) back to work. The Syrians did not wait too long. On October, 6th 1973, Syria and Egypt launched a surprising attack against the Israeli forces in the occupied Sinai and Golan Heights. In few days, Syrian troops nearly managed to liberate all the occupied territories, but Israeli forces managed to recover with a massive US airlfit. Syria soon found itself fighting US and Israel together; and with the fighting on the Egyptian front ceased, the Syrians accepted a UN brokered cease-fire. The security council issued another resolution, 338, calling for Israeli withdrawal from Arab territories and for peace talks to achieve a just peace in the Middle East .
Obviously, the Syrians did not want the war to end this way. In early 1974 they launched an attrition war against the Israeli forces in the Golan. The continuous fighting and the Arab moral victory pushed the US into mediating a settlement between Syria and Israel. The US secretary of state Henry Kissinger succeeded in reaching an agreement to disengage Syrian and Israeli troops in the Golan. According to the agreement, Syria regained control over a strip of territory in the Golan including the major city of Quneitra . President Assad raised the Syrian flag over the liberated land on June 26, 1974, but the Syrians were surprised to find that Quneitra and many other towns and villages in the Golan were deliberately destroyed by the Israelis. The city was never rebuilt. UN troops were deployed in the liberated area to prevent any violations of the cease-fire.
In 1975, the Lebanese civil war started. In 1976, Syrian troops were deployed in Lebanon upon request from the Lebanese Government. The troops in Lebanon stood against the invading Israeli army in 1982, and full-scale land and air battles took place between the two sides. In 1990, Syria and its allies in Lebanon succeeded in putting an end to the 15-year-old civil war, and Syrian troops remained in Lebanon to maintain security and stability. In 1978, Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat signed a separate peace agreement with Israel, which was a serious blow to Arab solidarity. Syria was among other Arab nations that opposed Sadat’s move. If Israelis really wants peace, Assad proposed, they should simply withdraw from all the territories occupied in 1967.
In 1980, Iraq launched a war against Iran. Earlier in 1979, the Islamic revolution in Iran had ended its alliance with the west and declared its support for the Palestinian cause. Syria thought this was a wrong war, at a wrong time and against the wrong enemy. Very few Arab countries supported the Syrian position. Only two years after his war against Iran ended with nothing but heave losses and casualities, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded the small Arabian Gulf state of Kuwait in August 1990, sparking wide spread international condemnation. Syria participated in the US-led international coalition that was formed to defend Saudi Arabia and liberate Kuwait. The Gulf War that followed resulted in the destruction of the Iraqi and imposing harsh international sanctions on Iraq. Another major Arab power was now practically out of the conflict with Israel.
After the Gulf War, Syria accepted the US invitation for an international peace conference on the Middle East. The conference, held in Madrid in November 1991, marked the launch of bilateral Arab-Israeli peace talks. The talks were based on the UN resolutions calling for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967, and on the so-called ‘land for peace’ formula. However, they were stalled for years because of Israel’s continuous refusal to give back any Arab territory. The Arab position was more weakened when the Palestinians and the Jordanians signed separate peace agreements with Israel in 1993 and 1994. Syria and Lebanon, however, vowed to sign peace together or sign not. Syria continued to support the Lebanese resistance fighters led by Hizbollah against the Israeli occupation forces in South Lebanon. In May 2000, Hizbollah succeeded in driving Israel out of Southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation.
Syrian-Israeli peace talks reached a dead end in 1996 with Israel refusing to discuss the complete withdrawal from the Golan Heights. In late 1999, Israel signalled its will to accept such move, and the talks were resumed in the US, this time at a high level between Foreign Minister Farouq al-Sahara’a and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The talks were again stalled in early 2000 when Barak tried to exclude the north-eastern shore of the Lake Tiberius from the proposed Israeli withdrawal plan. Syria made it clear that no single inch of the Syrian soil will be given away.
On June 10th 2000, President Assad died of a heart attack. His son, Bashar al-Assad was elected President on July 10th.
So is it little wonder why France does not want to go it alone as they fear the reprisals of the Syrians and they will continue to be the puppert of the USA.