Nicolas Sarkozy, France's ex-president, emerged from his post-election silence on Tuesday to issue a statement implicitly criticizing French inaction in Syria, Le Figaro reported Wednesday. -- Predictible reactions from the right and the left ensued....
[Translated from Le Figaro (Paris)]
SYRIA: SARKOZY'S WARNING ANNOYS THE LEFT
By Judith Waintraub
** The ex-president invokes the case of Libya and demands "rapid action from the international community" **
Le Figaro (Paris)
August 8, 2012
The silent treatment is over. Nicolas Sarkozy wants the French to know he's around. In a communiqué published Tuesday evening and co-signed by the former president of the Republic and Abdelbasset Sieda, president of the Conseil national syrien (CNS) ['Syrian National Council'] and principal leader of the opposition, the two men let it be known that they had talked by phone for forty minutes. "They noted the complete convergence of their analyses concerning the gravity of the Syrian crisis and concerning the necessity of rapid action from the international community in order to avoid massacres," said the communiqué. "They agreed that there are great similarities with the Libyan crisis."
At the end of July, Le Parisien attributed to Nicolas Sarkozy sharp criticism on François Hollande's attitude toward the Syrian crisis. "They criticized me over Libya, but at least I acted," he was said to have declared. "We need to be tougher against the Damascus regime, a lot tougher." The former head of state's entourage denied having had any contact with the journalist who signed the article.
The communiqué published Tuesday includes no judgment of the French position. But by invoking the Libyan precedent, Sarkozy implicitly stigmatized the inaction of his successor. In 2011, the French president fought to obtain the U.N.'s green light for a military intervention in Libya. He continued to be active at the head of the coalition that conducted that intervention, right up to the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Implicitly accusing Hollande takes on all the more significance in that France assumed, on Aug. 1, the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council.
The UMP got the message at once, and several leaders immediately piped up. Jean-François Copé had already deplored "the deafening silence of France." Eurodeputy Philippe Juvin said that "François Hollande's wait-and-see attitude on the Syrian matter" was "criminal." "Why is François Hollande, who even has the leadership of the Security Council, doing less than Sarkozy?" he asked. "Why doesn't he decide to intervene? Out of fear? Out of amateurism? Because he doesn't know how to make a decision? Because he hasn't understand what's at stake morally?"
As for Nadine Morano, who is still very much a Sarkozist, she attacked with a tweet: "Hollande is on vacation Sarkoky too but as always actively interested in the Syrian matter as in 2008 for Georgia." The Georgian crisis also broke out in August, and Sarkozy undertook a peace mission to Russia and Georgia.
The minister of defense, Jean-Yves Le Diran, reacted to these criticisms by declaring on RTL that calling for an intervention "is unfortunately just demagogy." "It's easy to say, and very difficult to do," he said. "I would remind the UMP that Alain Juppé constantly invoked the difference between the Libyan situation and the Syrian situation. Being gung-ho gets you nowhere, even if at present we share the anguish and disgust of public opinion in the fact of Bashar al-Assad's crimes."
"The statements by Mr. Sarkozy, Mr. Copé, and other members of the UMP accusing the president of the Republic and the French governemnt of passivity in the face of the drama the Syrian people are living through are irresponsible at a time when our country ought to be united in supporting the determined action of French leaders in this matter," said Martine Aubry in a communiqué. Recalling that Assad was received in Paris by Sarkozy "with every honor," the first secretary of the Parti Socialiste called "this campaign contemptible because it uses the sufferings of the Syrian people for base political ends."
Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, national secretary of the Parti Socialiste for international affairs, called Nicolas Sarkozy's communiqué "inopportune," saying that "Hollandaise" diplomacy has gone "beyond Sarkozist diplomacy." For the PS deputy from Paris, it is also "inelegant, because the least the ex-president should at least have expressed satisfaction at what France has done."
The Élysée did not react, but the foreign affairs minister, Laurent Fabius, said that the U.N. Security Council would meet on Aug. 30 "to discuss, above all, the humanitarian situation in Syria."
Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447-0003
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