President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that France no longer demands the departure of Bashar al-Assad.
President Macron said France did not want to contribute to instability in Syria in the absence of a “legitimate successor.” However, he specified that France will react immediately and, if need be, unilaterally if Syria uses chemical weapons.
“If chemical weapons are used on the ground and we know how to find out their provenance, France will launch strikes to destroy the chemical weapons stocks,” Macron said, specifying that he would not repeat President Obama’s mistake and would act on this red line.
In an interview with seven newspapers, Macron made a break with President Hollande’s foreign policy. France will no longer be an ardent supporter of the Syrian opposition at the United Nations, opposing Russia and Iran. Macron now speaks of “convergent views” with Russia on Syria, prioritizing “the fight against terrorism,” avoiding “a failed state,” while also “protecting minorities.”
Macron dismissed the “neoconservatism” of intervention imported to France over the last decade, hailing non-intervention in Iraq, regretting intervention in Libya, and making clear that he would not allow Syria to follow the road of a failed state.
The departure from a firm diplomatic line held for six years is hailed as realistic by his supporters and dismissed as cynical by his critics. The Syrian National Coalition reacted angrily to what is regarded as a “tragic fall for morality and humanity,” France 24 reports.