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France pushes new Syria initiative at UN

September 18, 2017 at 7:49 pm

French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, France on 13 June 13, 2017 [Mustafa Yalçın/Anadolu Agency]

France today warned that the status quo in Syria risked leading to the country’s permanent fragmentation and opening the door to new radical Islamist groups unless UN Security Council members joined forces to push a peaceful solution.

President Emmanuel Macron’s election victory gave Paris, which is a key backer of the Syrian opposition and the second-largest contributor to the US-led coalition fighting Daesh, a chance to re-examine its Syria policy.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in New York he would hold a meeting with the four other permanent members of the Security Council – Britain, China, Russia and the United States – on Thursday to persuade them to create a contact group to give new impetus to end the seven-year conflict.

“The biggest risk is that the future of Syria will be determined by military positions … which would have two consequences: the fragmentation of a state and would stoke new forms of radicalism to replace Islamic State,” Le Drian said in reference to Daesh.

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Le Drian said “realism” dictated that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad could not stay in power after millions of Syrians had fled the country due to the war, but that it was vital major powers worked together to help revive UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva.

“We have to get out of the methods that haven’t enabled us to find a solution since 2011. So it’s for this reason that France wants to create a contact group with the Security Council members at its core and then the regional actors affected by the situation.”

Russia, Turkey and Iran have been negotiating separately for months in Astana to try to reduce the violence on the ground by creating de-escalation zones across the country, although those talks do not cover a long-term political solution.