France To Offer U.s. Resolution On Destroying Syria’s Chemical Weapons

The 15-point statement contains nothing new in legal terms. Instead, Peillon says, it represents an attempt to promote better understanding, and more consistent enforcement, of long-established principles which have their roots in the anti-clericalism of the French revolution and the countrys 1905 law enforcing a strict separation of church and state. Peillons initiative was greeted coolly by leaders of Frances five million Muslims, some of whom see the aggressive promotion of secularity as an assault on their culture and traditions. Recent years have seen a string of legal disputes arising from the exclusion from school of girls wearing headscarves in defiance of a 2004 law which prohibits the wearing of ostentatious religious symbols. Dalil Boubakeur, the chairman of the French Muslim Council, said the charters emphasis on that law and to the equality of girls and boys amounted to allusions to Islam which would trigger concern in the community. Ninety percent of Muslims are going to have the feeling they are being targeted by this charter, Boubakeur told AFP. That interpretation was rejected by Peillon. Secularity is about the equality of everyone in the Republic. There are those who think it is all about banning things. In fact it was what allows us to live together freely. The charter starts out by emphasising that France respects all faiths and that the state is neutral in regard to them. It goes on to explain, in child-friendly terms, that the absence of religion from schools affords pupils the conditions to forge their own personality, exercise free will and become citizens in an environment free from pressure or proselytising. In practice, that means that teaching staff must never give any indication of their religious (or political) convictions during lessons and that pupils cannot use their faith as a reason to challenge the content of the national curriculum, the manner of teaching or the rules of the school. The notion of the Ecole laique (secular school) as one of the cornerstones of the Republic and a guarantee of the universal right to the freedom of expression and thought is one that is cherished by Frances intellectual elite. Outside minority faith communities, it also enjoys strong support among the population. To me its not right people coming to school with religious symbols, said 16-year-old Arthur Rivelois outside his Parisian Lycee.

The French proposal will call for Syria to allow inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to oversee the destruction of chemical weapons and will require that Syria become a member of the organization. If there are any deviations, “extremely serious consequences” would be on the table, he said. “It is upon the acceptance of these precise conditions that we will judge the credibility of the intentions that were expressed yesterday,” Fabius said. Lavrov’s proposal came after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry first raised the idea in an off-handed way that made clear the idea of President Bashar Assad giving up Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile was unlikely. Lavrov said he discussed the proposal with U.S. officials before announcing it at a briefing Monday. Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the idea privately on the sidelines of last week’s Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg, and Lavrov discussed it with Kerry, the Times said. France has emerged as the Obama administration’s leading European ally after the British Parliament voted against involvement in military action against Syria. On Monday, President Obama tentatively embraced the Russian proposal while in London, Prime Minister David Cameron offered a qualified nod. “My intention throughout this process has been to ensure that the blatant use of chemical weapons that we saw doesn’t happen again,” Obama said Monday night on the Public Broadcasting Service, one of six interviews he had with the broadcast and cable networks.

Analysis: France’s hawkish stand on Syria a pattern


Both Hollande and his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, acted with the approval of the United Nations and yet were still assailed by critics as “neo-colonialists,” one of the nastiest things one can direct at a politician in France. But in Syria, Hollande is prepared to go a step further, and like the U.S. had done in the Balkan wars to stop that conflict, use force without U.N. approval. Analysts wonder whether Hollande is dodging problems at home by launching interventions abroad. Hollande is wrestling with unpopularity and economic malaise, but analysts say Paris’ stand on Syria has been consistently hawkish. “Since the very beginning of the crackdown by Bashar Assad following the uprising in Deraa in March 2011, France has kept the same stance: At the time, the foreign minister Alain Juppe condemned the crackdown as an ‘act of barbarism’ and a ‘crime against humanity,'” said Denis Bauchard, an analyst at the French Institute of International Relations, a Paris think tank. “When Hollande took office in 2012, he continued in the same direction.” Since 2011, France has backed Syria’s rebels, on both humanitarian and political grounds. Paris early on proposed arming the rebellion, a move discouraged by other European nations in the first year of the uprising. “The French wanted to act, to strike, even before Aug. 21, but the U.S. didn’t want to, so France couldn’t act alone,” said Samir Aita, Syrian journalist and editor in chief of the Arabic editions of Le Monde newspaper. But following an alleged chemical attack near Damascus that killed more than 1,400 people in August, Hollande and many French felt a red line has been crossed. “Chemical weapons have been used Hollande is aware of the seriousness of these acts and if the international community does nothing, not only Assad can continue chemical attacks, but other rogue states or terrorist groups may use them too,” said Eduardo Cypel, spokesman for France’s Socialist party.