France Is Talking About Using ‘Force’ in Syria Now

Dashiell Bennett, The Atlantic Wire
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Dashiell Bennett, The Atlantic Wire
Aug. 22, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

NEW YORK — France’s For­eign Min­is­ter sug­ges­ted today that the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity must re­spond “with force” if it’s proven that hun­dreds of deaths in Syr­ia on Wed­nes­day were caused by chem­ic­al weapons. In a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view on Thursday, Laurent Fabi­us did not spe­cify what ac­tion might be taken or who should do it. (France, NATO, the U.S. or some com­bin­a­tion?) He also spe­cific­ally ruled out send­ing ground forces in­to Syr­ia. However, his state­ment re­flects a grow­ing con­cern that Bashar al-As­sad’s re­gime may have fi­nally gone too far for the rest of the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity to ig­nore the prob­lem any longer.

His state­ment came after an emer­gency Se­cur­ity Coun­cil meet­ing at the United Na­tions res­ul­ted in pre­dict­ably tooth­less re­sponse. The group did not even of­fi­cially or­der a full in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the at­tack and al­leg­a­tions of chem­ic­al weapon use, but merely asked for “clar­ity” and ex­pressed “strong con­cern.” No res­ol­u­tions or new sanc­tions were pro­posed. Any form­al ac­tion taken by the Se­cur­ity Coun­cil is likely to be blocked by Rus­sia, which re­mains As­sad’s most stead­fast ally.

The lack of ac­tion also drew out­rage from Tur­key, which shares a bor­der with Syr­ia and has been vo­cally op­posed to As­sad from the be­gin­ning. The tep­id re­sponse from the U.N. is even more dis­ap­point­ing giv­en that one of their chem­ic­al weapons in­vest­ig­a­tion teams is already in Syr­ia, and stay­ing at a hotel just minutes from the at­tack site, but has not been per­mit­ted to in­vest­ig­ate. There are even re­ports that As­sad’s forces have been bomb­ing the same area with con­ven­tion­al weapons, per­haps to cov­er evid­ence.

Is­raeli in­tel­li­gence has also de­clared that the evid­ence of a chem­ic­al at­tack is cred­ible, and that the As­sad gov­ern­ment is re­spons­ible. Rebel op­pos­i­tion groups says as many as 1,300 people were killed in the at­tack.

Re­prin­ted with per­mis­sion from the At­lantic Wire. The ori­gin­al story can be found here.

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