US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris late on Saturday to discuss what increasingly appears to be an imminent US-led military attack, with the active support of France, upon the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Kerry said the international community was now before a "Munich moment", referring to the appeasement that failed to stop Nazi Germany in the 1930s. "We in the United States know, and our French partners know, that this is not the time to be silent spectators to slaughter," he said. The present crisis will, whatever the outcome, be recorded as a turning point for French President François Hollande. Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel argues here that Hollande has alone decided to lead his country to war in a simplistic and precipitated manner, while turning his back on the two challenges left by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, namely a renewal of the democratic process in France and the establishment of a new approach to international relations.
French president François Hollande has made clear that France will join the US in military strikes against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, dismissing calls for a vote of approval beforehand in parliament. As illustrated in yesterday’s heated debate in the lower house, the National Assembly, political and public opinion is deeply divided, both over the legality and consequences of the planned strikes. Lénaïg Bredoux and Caroline Donati have talked to senior French officials and experts close to the Syrian dossier, many of whom agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity, to find out why Hollande appears to have been finally wrongfooted amid a rushed and chaotic final denouement to a crisis of more than two years, and which one government advisor says is down to “a series of balls-ups”.
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