Sunday, December 30, 2007

France Finds Its Voice

France has had a long history of influence and dominion over the Levant, which is the region encompassing Lebanon and Syria. Syria likes to believe that it should dominate Lebanon, while Lebanon struggles to maintain its sovereignty.

France's Sarkozy is weaving through the diplomatic morass to tell Syria where to stick it. Sarkozy suspended diplomatic relations with Syria for their ongoing influence and attempts to thwart the democratic process in Lebanon.
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said Sunday that Paris would suspend diplomatic contacts with Syria until Damascus showed its willingness to let Lebanon elect a new president.

The Western-backed government in Lebanon and the pro-Syrian opposition have been unable to overcome their disagreements to follow through with the election, and many Western countries have accused Damascus of interfering in the process — a contention that Syria denies.

After meeting here with President Hosni Mubarak, Sarkozy said at a news conference that he would not have any more contact with Damascus until his government had “received proof of Syria’s intention to let Lebanon designate a president of consensus.”

France, the former colonial ruler of Lebanon, has led the international effort to mediate between feuding Lebanese politicians and has consistently implored the Syrians to cooperate.

Sarkozy spoke with President Bashar al-Assad as recently as the beginning of December to urge him to “facilitate” the election in Lebanon. Sarkozy sent his chief of staff, Claude Guéant, to Damascus in early November and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner met his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moallem, earlier that month on the sidelines of a conference in Turkey that focused on Iraq.

“France has taken the responsibility of talking with Syria,” Sarkozy said in Cairo Sunday. “One must recognize today that we cannot wait any longer, Syria must stop talking and now must act.”
It's as strong a position as has been taken by France in a good long time. However, it may not nearly be sufficient to deal with Assad and the thugs who act as his proxy in Lebanon, including Hizbullah.

Syria has yet to be held accountable for the multitude of assassinations, including that of Rafik Hariri and Pierre Gemayel. Assad has yet to be held accountable.

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