News Analysis: Paris attacks could change France’s foreign policy toward Syria crisis

DAMASCUS, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) — The deadly attacks that hit Paris on Friday night could push the French administration to prioritize countering terrorism rather than demanding a change in the political system in Syria, analysts say.

The French capital was hit by a wave of bloody attacks on Friday when gunmen and bombers attacked restaurants, a concert hall and a sport stadium, leaving over 140 dead and hundreds others injured.

Earlier this month, the French presidency said in a statement that “Paris supports a political transition in Syria, but (President) Bashar al-Assad cannot be a part of it in the future.”

“The French will sooner or later realize that terrorism is a global phenomenon and that such a phenomenon is not confined only in the countries of the Middle East or the Islamic world and I think that we will soon be hearing voices inside the French administration that will urge for postponing talks about a change in the political rule in Syria in favor of focusing on eliminating the terrorist groups,” Ezz Aldein Qassem, a political analyst, said.

Osama Danura, another analyst, said the French government will surely ramp up its military actions against the IS, which has claimed responsibility for Friday’s deadly attacks.

“The French explicitly said that they will be fighting the IS at home and abroad, and that is a sign that could be translated in more military pressure against IS soon,” Danura told Xinhua.

He, however, noted that the French must change their foreign policy toward Syria in order for the war on terror to be fruitful, saying that the West must join the Russian efforts in truly striking the terrorist groups without distinction.

Danura said the difference between the Russian and the Western approach toward Syria is that the West has so far announced the IS of being the terror group that needs to be hit and demanded a regime change in Syria, while the Russians have acknowledged that several rebel groups in Syria are similar to IS and they should be hit as well and said that only the Syrians have the right to determine their fate of their leadership without foreign interference.

“If the West didn’t integrate their efforts with the Russians and let go of their stances about a regime change in Syria, nothing will change in their foreign policy. They should acknowledge that they have had a hand in empowering the rebels in Syria,” Danura said, referring to some rebel groups, which the West deem as moderates and render support to them, while in reality they are other manifestations of the hardline jihadism.

“If they kept living in denial, the terrorism would still move freely and strike everywhere,” he warned.

For his part, Anas Joudeh, a Syrian opposition figure, said “Paris attacks will surely have big impacts on the conflict map in the region and also the alliance maps as well. These attacks will surely empower the anti-terror international coalition and could also push the Western country to hasten toward finding a political solution for Syria.”

He said the attacks could also bridge the gap between the stances of the Western countries and the Russians in the next phase “and we may see some détente on the international arena regarding the Syrian crisis.”

He said the attacks will eclipse all of the meetings, including the undergoing Vienna talks on the Syria crisis, adding that the Western countries must take a decisive and true stance regarding fighting terrorism.

These attacks could truly contribute to bringing close the opinions of the West and Russia during Vienna talks and this could be a shift in the political approach toward Syria, he said.

On the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, Joudeh said “we may see an increase in the acts of hatred toward the Syrian refugees in Europe by the Europeans, who originally opposed the arrival of refugees to their countries.”

Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad, while condemning the terror attacks in Paris, blamed the French foreign policies for the expansion of terrorism to reach Europe.

“The wrong policies of the West, including France, in the Arab region have contributed to the spread of terrorism,” Assad said, adding that the statements by the European officials that they are against terrorism “means nothing and they have to fight terrorism and follow correct policies.”

The president further said that “We cannot talk about any cooperation on the intelligence level regarding fighting terror groups while the French government policies still support the terrorists.”

Al-Assad said his administration is ready to cooperate with any party to fight terror, noting that the French government is so far not serious.”

He said Paris attacks couldn’t be separated from the deadly bombings that rocked Lebanon’s capital of Beirut on Thursday, during which over 40 people were killed, and the five-year-old Syrian conflict.

He stressed the importance of adopting new policies that could be efficient in curbing the support for the terror groups, by drying up their resources and halting their logistic and political support until finally eliminating them completely.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the attacks, saying the Syrian people know more than anyone else the ugliness of the terrorism and what happened in Paris, noting that terrorism constitutes grave danger on the security and peace in the entire world.

The ministry stressed that “terrorism has no boundaries and will surely rebound on its backers, something which requires uniting all sincere international efforts to eradicate this scourge and correct the wrong policies to achieve an efficient counter terror effort and preserve the peace and stability in the region and the world.”


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