The Syrian President will crown his return to the international political scene today with an appearance at France’s annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs Elysee.
This year, for the first time, the parade will be led by a contingent of UN troops currently deployed in Lebanon.
At yesterday’s inaugural summit of the french-sponsored Mediterranean Union in Paris, Bashar al-Assad painted himself as a key player in the Middle East peace process.
He suggested direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians might bring peace within two years.
But the decision to invite al-Assad has angered the French opposition and some veterans organisations who have called for those marching today to show their displeasure, possibly by not looking up at the official stand.
Syria, along with Iran and Hezbollah, has been accused of involvement in the Drakkar bomb attack 25 years ago in Lebanon in which 58 French peacekeepers were killed.
All strenuously the claims.