A top French MEP has cast doubt over whether ‘punishing’ Syria’s Bashar Assad over his government’s suspected use of chemical weapons will help end the conflict.
Arnaud Danjean, a former French intelligence officer for the French military, is a member of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP party.
“If we are talking about punitive strikes, which we are told that are not about toppling the regime or to change the course of the war.
“Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said yesterday the aim is not to liberate Syria.
It would be more coherent to say: we want Assad to come to the negotiating table and stop the massacres, whether with chemical or conventional weapons, by launching a major operation that falls within a real diplomatic strategy. “
But this military expert dismissed the Syrian leader’s threats made in an interview with Le Figaro, in which he claimed an attack on his country would spark a “regional war”.
“It’s well-known that dictators always vow that the worst possible thing will happen to those countries that attack them. I don’t believe it at all. On the other hand, what is certain, that the region is indeed a powder keg and that the regional consequences, in particular in Lebanon could be disastrous.”
Correspondents in Brussels have been quick to criticise the lack of EU leadership on Syria.
But Arnaud Danjean blames those government that were too quick to talk about military intervention.
“When you talk about military options in Europe, you rule out a lot of countries that have neither the means nor the will nor the experience, so you eliminate a collective European solution right away. I think that France and the United Kingdom bear a heavy responsibility in the fact that Europe was not really present during this part of the crisis.”
EU foreign ministers meet in Lithuania at the end of the week to discuss the Syrian conflict.
It will also be a hot topic on the sidelines of the forthcoming G20 summit, where world leaders are meeting to debate economic policies.