French President Francois Hollande told his nation this week: “Decline is not our destiny”. Aptly for the theme of putative French renaissance, Hollande delivered his speech amid the splendor and opulence of the Elysee Palace in Paris.
The seat of French government can be seen as symbolic of the wealth that France has exploited over centuries from countless people around the world under its colonial subjugation. France’s supposed modern status is thus paid for with the blood, sweat and misery of impoverished African and Asian nations. So too, it seems, will its efforts to be a great power once more.
Not that all that expropriated wealth down through the centuries seems to have benefited the ordinary French people. Today, the country is mired in record unemployment, shocking inner-city poverty and decay, and deepening deficits.
However, as in foregone times, the French ruling class appears to be seeking political and economic salvation from its national woes through foreign adventurism, or what may be deemed neo-colonialism. And again countless people will pay for French imperialist meddling with their blood and suffering.
Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in regard to Syria, one of France’s former colonies. For the past 20 months, France and that other colonial has-been Britain have been at the forefront of the conspiracy of foreign powers to destabilize the government of President Bashar Al Assad.
Massacres, car bombings, executions, kidnappings - every form of terror has been deployed against Syrian civilians by foreign mercenaries supported by France, Britain, the US, Turkey, Israel and the Persian Gulf Arab dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The Western media spin this criminality as a noble uprising or a civil war when in reality it is a covert war of aggression fomented by France, Britain, Washington and their regional proxies.
What gives these foreign powers the right to subvert a sovereign government is nothing but their own arrogant presumption. As the former colonial power in this part of the Middle East, France seems to be particularly laden with this arrogant self-righteousness.
This week saw the French government crowning the newly cobbled together Syrian National Coalition as the “sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people”. The coalition was hastily hammered out last weekend after a week of horse-trading among squabbling exiles and political careerists in a luxury hotel in Doha, the Qatari capital. The newfound group - which is reported, somewhat laughably, to represent 90 per cent of the Syrian opposition - is meant to replace the former Syrian National Council. The latter - another Western creation - was riven with petty rivalries and was seen as having no control over the myriad militant groups ransacking Syrian society. It wasn’t quite delivering for its foreign masters, and so was unceremoniously dumped.
What makes the SNC Mark II any more representative or legitimate is nothing other than Western diplomatic and media propaganda that is infusing an image of gravitas. The new group is headed by Syrian Sunni cleric Moaz Al Khatib and it is to be based in Cairo. However, opposition parties within Syria that are calling for negotiated reforms with the Assad government in Damascus say that the SNC is not representative of their position or the vast majority of Syrian people.
For a start, the Western-backed exile group has made it a primary principle to not entertain any negotiations with the Syrian government - even though the latter has an elected mandate from the citizens living in Syria. This point-blank refusal to negotiate with the Assad administration is in contravention of the Geneva accord that was formed last June in discussions between Russia, China and the Western states. Not surprisingly, the Western regimes have backslided on their empty, treacherous words when it suits their cynical self-interests.
What is going on here is a move by the Western governments and their regional allies to contrive a Syrian government-in-exile, regardless of its complete lack of legitimacy, in order for the foreign enemies of Assad to find a legal way to increase weapons supplies to the mercenaries and to set up no-fly zones. This has become a necessity because the foreign conspiracy to destroy Syria from within has so far failed - despite copious covert supply of weaponry from the West via its conduits of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
The French neo-colonialists are leading the way in this next phase of covert aggression. President Hollande stated this week: “I announce that France recognizes the Syrian National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people and thus as the future provisional government of a democratic Syria and to bring an end to Bashar Al Assad’s regime.”
Note that while the US, Britain, Germany and the Arab League had only granted the SNC official recognition as the Syrian opposition, Paris was jumping the gun to afford governmental status. This move is an outrageous assault on Syrian sovereignty, which Damascus rightly denounced as an “act of war”.
No sooner had the French unilaterally anointed this elitist exile group as the government-in-waiting than the predictable logical next step was taken. France, it was disclosed, would now open up the way for officially supplying weapons to the Syrian militants - despite the fact that the European Union has an embargo on all arms sales to Syria.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: “For the moment, there is an embargo, so there are no arms being delivered from the European side. The issue ... will no doubt be raised for defensive arms."
No doubt indeed. One begins to detect the smell of grease being slapped on to the rhetoric and legalities. Fabius went on to explain that “weapons for defensive purposes” could include anti-aircraft missiles.
Thus the French government has in one fell swoop created a parallel government for Syria, based in Cairo, which in turn allows Paris to openly supply weapons in spite of an EU arms embargo. With such weaponry, the mercenaries will be able to set up “no-fly zones” - or as the French like to call them “liberated zones” - near the Turkish border and within Syria.
This is the beginning of Syrian sovereign territory being carved up by terrorist gangs who have no support among the Syrian people - indeed have been committing endless atrocities against the people - and who could only achieve such a feat because of criminal foreign intervention.
France’s militarist vanguard role in Syria is a repeat of how it paved the way last year for arming anti-government militants in Libya and a seventh-month NATO aerial bombardment of that country, which led to some 50,000 deaths and the murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. France is also taking a prominent lead in calling for military intervention in the West African state of Mali, allegedly to defeat “Islamic terrorism”.
In other words, French neo-colonialism is strutting with a newfound arrogance. Ironically, however, this resurgence in French militarism and apparent prowess is closely related to the country’s chronic demise as a bankrupt, broken-down capitalist power.
While President Francois Hollande spoke this week about “decline not being France’s destiny” he also outlined a grim package of public spending cuts and tax hikes on the nation.
Evidently, the fiscal austerity demanded by the French ruling class does not extend to cuts in military funding for conflict in Syria and elsewhere around the world. Decline would seem to be everyone’s destiny except, bien sur, for the deluded French neocolonialist rulers.