Giscard d’Estaing: French insistance on removing Assad “very unwise”

Valéry Giscard D’Estaing

November 3, 2015

November 5, 2015
Translated from French by Tom Winter

The former President of the Republic gave his vision of what the French position in Syria should be. It differs from the official position that the departure of Bashar Assad is a prerequisite for any political solution. 

Invited on RTL, the former president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing said it was “very unwise” to build on the prior removal of Assad. Establishing a parallel with Iraq, Valery Giscard d’Estaing said that “the mistake that some commentators commit is to say: We must begin by removing Bashar Assad. This is very unwise. 

This is what we did in Iraq with Saddam Hussein, that’s what we did with the dictator in Libya (Qaddafi — Ed.) and we saw the result. 

Currently, the largest city in Syria, Damascus, remains a peaceful town, in any case fairly peaceful. If we removed Assad, Damascus, too, would go into turmoil.”

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He said Assad represents “the Alawite community, one of the largest, and also represents several other minorities that are persecuted.” 

He also advocated on Tuesday a “comprehensive cease-fire” in Syria, with the exception of the group Islamic State: “There are two wars in Syria: a war between political power embodied by Bashar Assad and those who support it – who, contrary to what is often said, are quite numerous – and revolutionaries who want a more democratic and more open regime. You then have a war with Daesh. ” 

According to him, eradicating Daesh should start by making peace between the four components, namely the Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites and Kurds. Then a conference “on the political organization of Syria” could be held to decide the political future of Syria. Only then would it be time to pose the question of Bashar Assad.”

Meanwhile, pending the resolution of this crisis, Valery Giscard d’Estaing has considered the possibility of deploying “blue helmets” on the Iraqi-Syrian border, saying that “Syria is not able actually to ensure the security of that border.” 

But the current president, François Hollande, has again excluded any role for the Syrian president in a future election, “nothing should be done to bolster Assad,” he said. More broadly, the former French president expressed optimism about the Vienna conference during which “the Americans, Russians, Iranians, Saudis, and Europeans together,” discussed the Syrian issue.

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