French policy on Syria: a turning point?

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Michel Makinsky
General Manager, AGEROMYS International, Paris, France

An interesting interview of Emmanuel Macron, the new French president, has Been released on this Thursday,23 June by several newspapers, including the French daily Le Figaro. Its main topic is Syria. As it is not published in the front-page, it has not received much attention. However, this statement deserves a careful reading, as it shows what we may consider at least as a significant change in France’s current policy towards Syria. And even beyond. It may be a turning point. We say “may” as this fairly new trend needs to be confirmed by actual steps and facts. One may not exclude subsequent opposite turns…So let us take note now but we should avoid jumping onto premature conclusions.

In this interview, after showing his firmness through stating that France will not hesitate to hit if Damas uses again chemical weapons which cross red lines, E.Macron solemnly confirms his position: a political Solution is necessary. But he goes much further: he confesses to have Made an “ aggiornamento “ ( I quote his words) on past errors which have

Been broadly shared: firing Bashar el Assad is not a precondition. To be Fair, this is not a brand new line, as before his election, Emmanuel Macron had already said something very similar, as reported by the French daily Le Monde (electronic version: Le, 24 January 2017).

He reaffirms that fighting terrorism is the genuine priority. He urges to keep Syria’s stability. And then, moving forward, he puts in question Frontally previous French governments’ Syrian policy: he deplores Military interventions like the raid in Libya which generate failed

States. More revealing, Emmanuel Macron announces the “end of a kind of neo-conservatism imported in France since ten years”. This is a very clear challenge of the French line on Syria launched by Nicolas Sarkozy and his foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, which was kept intact during François Hollande’s presidency, with Laurent Fabius, his hardliner foreign minister. This line has been  defined and implemented by a group of individuals which are identified under the name “La secte”,in  a very well informed chapter in Vincent Jauvert’s recent book ( “La Face Cachée du Quai d’Orsay”, Robert Laffont Publisher, Paris, 2016).

Indeed, one has to be very cautious. We need to see whether facts and Actual decisions will confirm that the ‘neocon’ line is reaching an end. Nevertheless, this is an amazing new development to see a French Head of State objecting such a doctrine through specifically designing its ideological identity. This neocon current is nevertheless deeprooted in Various ministries and agencies, think tanks.

Some recent declarations on Iran, notably when E.Macron has sent his Congratulations to Rohani for his “good management of presidential Elections” (not his victory) together with a reminder to keep compliant to JCPOA (!), had let us suppose that the previous hardline policy Towards Iran, following the  neocon ideology, was still the current French doctrine. Therefore, it will be critical to monitor whether E.Macron ‘s line on Iran will follow the same path of change. This remains to be seen, in particular when keeping account of this Government’s foreign minister.


*Photo Credit: Reuters

*These views represent those of the author and are not necessarily Iran Review's viewpoints.