• France edition
 
France set to become main US ally in Syria
Barack Obama shakes hands with Francois Hollande during the G8 summit. AFP Photo / Bertrand Langlois

France set to become main US ally in Syria

Published: 31 Aug 2013 10:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 31 Aug 2013 10:46 GMT+02:00

French President Francois Hollande has made clear his wish to take military action alongside the US against the Syrian regime, making Paris Washington's main ally in the Syria crisis after Britain backed out of any strikes.

French President Francois Hollande has made clear his wish to take military action alongside the US against the Syrian regime, making Paris Washington's main ally in the Syria crisis after Britain backed out of any strikes.

In a 45-minute phone call with US President Barack Obama on Friday, Hollande said France was still determined to punish the Syrian regime, which Paris is convinced used chemical weapons against its own people last week, according to an aide to the French president.

Obama and Hollande "share the same certainty that the attack was chemical in nature and that the regime was undoubtedly responsible," the aide said.

"Hollande repeated France's determination not to leave these crimes unpunished and felt the same determination on Obama's side."

With Britain sidelined from any Syria strikes by a shock vote against them in parliament Thursday, the United States and France find themselves in the position -- unusual in recent years -- of teaming up to lead a push for military intervention in the 29-month Syrian war.

The situation is a far cry from a decade back, when Franco-US ties hit a low over differences on Iraq and then-president Jacques Chirac's opposition to the Anglo-US offensive against Saddam Hussein's regime.

So deep was the animosity that French fries were renamed "freedom fries" in some American restaurants -- including those serving the US House of Representatives office buildings -- and anti-French hate messages were brandished in public, including on T-shirts and billboards.

In a dramatic reversal from the situation then, Hollande has given a shot in the arm to Washington's flagging efforts to form an international coalition for possible strikes on Syria.

"France wants firm and proportionate action against the Damascus regime," he said in an interview with Le Monde daily to be published Saturday.

Hollande, responding to a question, did not exclude the possibility of military strikes within days, even prior to an emergency session of the French parliament on Wednesday to debate the issue.

In his speech making the case for a military operation in Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday praised France as Washington's "oldest ally" but made no mention of Britain.

A Franco-US offensive alliance would be "an unparallelled situation in contemporary times", said Bruno Tertrais from the Foundation of Strategic Research.

"The Americans and the French have worked together on the frontline in the past as in Lebanon in the 80s and 90s, but I don't recollect an offensive coalition comprising the Americans and the French but not the British," he said.

"We are in exactly the opposite situation to 2003," added Tertrais. "The United States does not need anybody militarily. But it is extremely important for them not to be alone politically."

Tertrais said Paris and Washington would try and rope in Arab countries "because both of them want to avoid giving the impression of a Western intervention in Syria."

Obama urged world powers on Friday not to let war weariness stop them from acting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale," he said.

Ruling out "boots on the ground" or a "long-term campaign", he said his administration was "looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act."

His comments came after the United States released an intelligence report that found with "high confidence" that the regime had launched a chemical onslaught in the Damascus suburbs last week that killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children.

Assad's government has denied using chemical weapons and points an accusing finger at the opposition.

If a Franco-American coalition does take shape, Paris is in a position to help with cruise missiles launched by fighter jets and with submarines.

But a French source said Paris would have to re-think logistical planning after Britain's refusal to take part in any offensive.
 

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Assad using chemical weapons: Hollande
French President Francois Hollande pictured on April 20th 2014. AFP Photo: Thomas Samson

Assad using chemical weapons: Hollande

France has "information" but no firm proof that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is still using chemical weapons, President Francois Hollande said Sunday. READ () »

PSG on course for double after cup triumph
PSG's galaxy of stars celebrate their French League Cup win over Lyon. AFP Photo/Franck Fife

PSG on course for double after cup triumph

Paris Saint-Germain won France's League Cup on Saturday, beating Lyon 2-1 in the final at the Stade de France to secure the first leg of a likely domestic double. READ () »

Freed journalists back on French soil
Francois Hollande welcomes French journalists Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres at the Villacoublay air base southwest of Paris. AFP Photo/Thomas Samson

Freed journalists back on French soil

Four French journalists taken hostage in Syria arrived home on Sunday to an emotional reunion with family and colleagues after spending 10 months in captivity in the world's most dangerous country for the media. READ () »

French reporters held captive in Syria set free
Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Pierre Torres and Nicolas Henin. AFP Photo / Chris Huby/ Haytham Pictures/ Torres Family / Benoit Schaeffer

French reporters held captive in Syria set free

Four French journalists held captive in Syria for almost a year were free and "in good health" on Saturday, President Francois Hollande told AFP, saying they would be back in France within hours. READ () »

Euro hunt for French girl ends in her hometown
Europe-wide search for missing French girl ends in her hometown. Photo: AFP

Euro hunt for French girl ends in her hometown

A Europe-wide hunt for a missing 15-year-old French girl ended in her hometown on Friday where she was located with a 48-year-old family friend who was suspected of abducting her. Police believed the friend was suicidal. READ () »

French MP proposes puppy custody law
A French lawmaker wants puppies looked after in case of a divorce. Photo: Robbee/Flickr

French MP proposes puppy custody law

Who gets custody of a dog after a divorce? A French lawmaker has proposed a bill to create a legal framework to answer precisely that and other tricky questions surrounding pets. READ () »

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right
A mosque in the Paris suburbs has gotten a threat tied to the recent election of far-right National Front mayor. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right

After pork products turned up in the mailbox of a suburban Paris mosque along with a threatening letter praising the town's recently elected far-right National Front mayor, muslims are concerned about a "worrying" local shift. READ () »

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires
Hundreds of Velib' bike tires slashed in 'slavery' protest. Photo: Cyril Folliot/AFP

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires

Far-left activists slashed the tires on over 360 Velib’ bikes in Paris this week in protest of the ‘slave’ labour the programme’s operator uses to repair vandalized bikes. The vandals could themselves end up 'slave' labour. READ () »

New scandal means more bad news for president
France's president was smacked with his administration's latest embarrassing scandal. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

New scandal means more bad news for president

The latest blow to struggling President François Hollande came on Friday when a close aide quit over allegations he'd used taxpayer money to support a posh lifestyle and appeared to have breached conflict of interest barriers. READ () »

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay
France's economy minister wants bank bosses to explain their "indecent" pay. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay

France’s economy minister, outraged by huge pay hikes the bosses of the country’s biggest banks have awarded themselves in the past year, called the chiefs to a meeting to “explain” their “indecent” pay. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
VIDEO: Take a look inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Education
French parents are the most laidback about their kids' education. True?
Tech
What do French TV viewers complain about the most? Yes it's English
Business & Money
French tax declarations: The key points to remember
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
Advertisement:
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
National
What's the worst thing to do when you realise you're on the wrong train?
From showers to kissing: Anglos tell Twitter what's weird about France
National
'A big quake will hit France and there will be casualties' - Scientist warns
Culture
After all the dozens of books is France still worth writing about?
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Opinion
Paris or the suburbs - where would you live?
National
VIDEO: Walk the line - crossing the Seine on a tightrope
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se