Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE) President Bashar al Assad has strongly criticized France, accusing it of supporting terrorism., saying it was therefore unfit to talk about peace settlements. He said ‘France has been the standard bearer in supporting terrorism in Syria from the very beginning’
President Macron has replied saying that the comments were ‘unacceptable’ and endorsing the comments of his foreign secretary Jean-Yves Le Drian that ‘When you have spent your time massacring your own people, you are generally a bit more discrete’. He added ‘I don’t think that Syria boils down to Bashar al Assad.’
Speaking alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Macron said he would push for peace talks involving all parties, including Assad, promising ‘initiatives’ early next year. He also criticized peace talks in Astana with Russia, Iran and Turkey saying ‘I don’t believe in a resolution of a conflict by external forces that want to impose a peace’. He added ‘We have been coherent since the beginning in fighting against a single enemy Daesh in Syria’.
Le Drian’s predecessor as Foreign Secretary Laurent Fabius under President Hollande raised eyebrows by appearing to call for the assassination of the Syrian President in 2012. He was also quoted as approving of Al Nusrah, a branch of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, ‘doing a good job’.
Macron has also been criticized by Iran. Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency saying that France would soon lose its credibility if it ‘blindly follows’ American President Trump. He said ‘The French President is now acting as Trump’s lap dog’.
Macron has dissociated France from Trump’s attempts to renegotiate the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement but he has followed the American lead in criticizing Iranian ballistic missile tests suggesting, like the Americans, that further sanctions should be imposed on Iran because of them
Tensions between Iran and France have risen in recent months after Macron said Tehran should be less aggressive in the Middle East, citing in particular its involvement in Syria’s civil war.
Macron is anxious to reestablish relations with Iran but also needs to keep in step with Washington. This is a difficult trick to pull off. There has been talk of his making a visit to Teheran but the Iranians are signaling that unless he changes his tune the visit will not happen. France is anxious to restore the former strong business relations it once had with Iran which have been disrupted by terrorism.