posted on Sep, 4 2013 @ 01:45 PM
Just a quick thread to let you know how things are going in the debate in the National Assembly (lower parliamentary house) in Paris.
Deputies seem to be generally divided along party lines, with the Government (socialists) being in favor of military action alongside the USA and the
Opposition (Conservatives) being far more cautious.
The debate was opened by the Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault (socialist). He's turning into a bit of a hawk. He said Monday that France was still
determined to "punish" Syria for the gas attacks on civilians. Today in Parliament he said that the evidence was sure that poison gas had been used
and that the Syrian government was responsible. He said doing nothing about Syria is tantamount almost to barbarism (i.e. that the civilised world
needs to "do something about Syria"). That if the world doesn't react by using force against Syria, that would mean we tolerate the use of WMD's
He said it is a matter of duty and honor that France takes responsibility, that doing nothing isn't an option. I don't know if that's a veiled
criticism of the British parliamentarians last week.
The Prime Minister referred to the use of poison gas during World War I on French soil. He & the Defense Minister said that the total prohibition on
the use of poison gas be restored.
The Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the upper house (the Senate) in a parallel debate that France will not send ground troops, nor is the
intention to change the regime. But he hopes the use of force as a punishment will help the rebels politically.
Christian Jacob for the Conservative opposition UMP in the National Assembly criticized President Hollande & the government for their inactivity, that
their threats to punish Syria 8 days ago still haven't come to anything. He characterised France as being stuck in a military and diplomatic
stalemate. He says that the French government is happy to simply follow the USA and not lead. And that France shouldn't have to wait about while the
USA Congress now debates the whole issue.
But Jacob also says that the Opposition will only approve on the use of force against Syria if there's a mandate for military action in the UN
Security Council. That appears to be where the split will be when deputies vote later, doesn't seem to be whether force is required ... I think a
majority is in favor ... but it's whether the Opposition is convinced. Jacob seems to suggest that France should be united when our military goes to
war & that it can only be united if the UN Security Council votes for action too.
To me this debate is unusual. Parliament has no say in the use of the military. That constitutional right is reserved for the President only. So I
guess this debate is important but not binding on President Hollande.
I will update later.
French National Assembly - Video (in French) - Emergency Debate