France Threatens "Force" if Use of Chemical Weapons is Confirmed in Syria


Credit: Guillaume Paumier/wikimedia

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said that the French could use force if it is confirmed that chemical weapons were used in the recent massacre outside of Damascus.

From Sky News:

France is seeking a reaction with "force" if a massacre in Syria involving chemical weapons is confirmed, its foreign minister has said.

"If it is proven, France's position is that there must be a reaction, a reaction that could take the form of a reaction with force," Laurent Fabius told BFM-TV.

"There are possibilities for responding," he said without elaborating.

He added that if the UN Security Council could not make a decision, one would have to be taken "in other ways".

Given that Russia, one of Syria's closest allies, is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council it is unlikely that the U.N. will respond with the sort of force that Fabius mentioned.

Numerous U.N. members have asked for the U.N. weapons inspectors, who arrived before the most recent alleged use of chemical weapons, to have access to the area where the massacre took place. According to the BBC there is no sign that the inspectors will be allowed to access the site, which came under attack from government forces earlier today. Without inspectors in the area it is unclear when the use of chemical weapons will be definitively confirmed.

While Fabius did not rule out putting French troops on the ground in Syria he should consider that the highest ranking officer of the American military does not think that military intervention in Syria is a good idea, namely because rebels would not support American interests. There is no reason to think that rebels in Syria would treat French interests any differently than American interests.

The French have demonstrated that they are willing to engage in military intervention, most recently in Mali, where French forces, with the assistance of a number of African militaries, expelled Islamic extremists from territory that they had captured in the north of the former French colony.

However, Mali is not Syria, a country where  there are numerous different groups with a wide range of motivations fighting eachother in a region that comes with a lot of diplomatic and political bagge not seen in Mali. Perhaps Fabius should consider a response different to the force he alluded to earlier if the use of chemical weapons is confirmed.