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26 June 2017

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bluetonga

It seems unlikely that Macron would have taken such a stance without having first consulted with Berlin, European Union Sovereignty oblige. The shift is not only happening within the restricted scope of French foreign policy but might as well emcompass the wole relationship between continental, German led Europe and both the UK and the USA. The recent reckless, erratic statements and initiatives taken by President Donald Trump certainly helped harming relations and prompting this continental drift, as much as the recent extension of Russian sanctions voted by the US senators which were actually perceived in Europe as meant at harming European energetic business rather than solving elusive domestic electoral interferences or Ukrainian annexions issues.

Fredw

Well, well, indeed. When Macron came on the scene, he was presented (to Americans) as an empty suit with a pretty face. But everything I have seen him do so far has been prepared and thorough. I am beginning to be impressed.

aleksandar

He added :
Macron said he will not allow US “neo-conservatism” to seep into France, and that the focus of French policy will be aimed at achieving “stability” in Syria, rather than getting dragged into a Libya-style conflict.

“What was the outcome of these interventions? Failed states in which terrorist groups flourished. I do not want that in Syria,” the French leader emphasized.
Was so upset that I spilled my coffee over keyboard !

Pundita

This is hopeful news but it's not just Macron. There's been a sudden sea change in US policy on Syria; of course this wasn't announced until Dead Letter Drop day (Friday) in Washington and late in the afternoon -- a giveaway that it's actually important news. From top-tier veteran reporter Robert Burns for the Associated Press, Friday, June 23:

BEGIN QUOTES
US would welcome effective Syrian effort to defeat IS
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military coalition fighting the Islamic State would welcome a concerted effort by the Syrian government or its Iranian-backed partner forces to defeat IS in its remaining strongholds in eastern Syria, a U.S. spokesman said Friday.

Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the coalition, told reporters at the Pentagon that the U.S. goal is to defeat IS wherever it exists. If others, including the Syrian government and its Iranian and Russian allies, want to fight the extremists as well, then "we absolutely have no problem with that," he said, speaking from Baghdad.

"If it looks like they are making a concerted effort to move into ISIS-held areas, and if they show that they can do that, that is not a bad sign," Dillon said, referring to forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. "We are here to fight ISIS as a coalition, but if others want to fight ISIS and defeat them, then we absolutely have no problem with that."
END QUOTES
https://apnews.com/amp/203103329c594ecf94352632eebd3169

There's more in the AP report, which SouthFront interprets today as "US-led Coalition Admits It Has Lost Race For Border With Iraq To Syrian Army"
https://southfront.org/us-led-colaition-admits-lost-race-border-iraq-syrian-army/

But I think there's more to it than a lost race for the border. As to whether it's connected with the Saudi moves against Qatar, the ascendency of MbS and ousting of MbN -- certainly it's all happening around the same time. I note that getting rid of MbN must have included routing his faction in the Saudi military.

LeaNder

bluetonga, I am not aware that any French president ever had to consult the Germans or the European representatives in Bruxelles or the Parliament in Strasbourg before taking a stand on whatever. Not that it would be bad, if there was a larger consent.

But yes, more generally, if the European Union manages to grasp the opportunity offered by Trump this could be a "every cloud has got a silver lining moment". Not quite sure, if we are up to the challenge. Lots or work ahead. No doubt.

ex-PFC Chuck

re: "It seems unlikely that Macron would have taken such a stance without having first consulted with Berlin, European Union Sovereignty oblige."

Agreed. And Macron is the logical one to test the waters of public opinion on this. He and his coalition won the recent elections decisively and IIRC will not face the voters again for nearly five years.

Arioch The

Macron/Merkel
good cop/bad cop

still waiting for real change, not some cosmetic pretense of it? :-/

Gene O

"...he sees no legitimate successor to President Bashar al-Assad..."

General Suheil al-Hassan AKA 'The Tiger' was touted by Le Monde a while back.

b

Macrons best sentence: "With me, there will be an end to the kind neoconservatism imported into France over the last 10 years."

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/21/exclusive-macron-pledges-pragmatism-and-cooperation-with-post-brexit-britain

But let's see if he can and will. Maybe he is just another big talker. The French Foreign Ministry and its think tanks are full of neo-cons. Many are, like in the U.S., Zionists with dubious agendas. It will not be easy to eradicate their influence.

fanto

All,
I do not have access to the German edition of Die Welt, with the article by Hersh, or was it only published in the English on line edition. If it was published in German and in English, that would also confirm the impression of 'sea change' in the German policy, IMO. That would add to the significance of Macron's statements.

LondonBob

Of course it is the Qatari's who own PSG... Well this was a surprise so it is inevitable one explores alternative theories. I observed the French election from afar but I did get the impression Macron pulled off the impressive political feat of being a blank slate for the electorate, someone who voters could project their own beliefs and prejudices on to. So these must just be his own thoughts all along.

Of course Trump has signaled his own lack of interest in neocon adventures and his desire Europe find its own path so this is the unsurprising outcome, and is reflected in recent comments coming out of Germany. Of course this is just a return to pre-Obama old Europe policy, although I doubt Hillary would have been able to coral Europe into so many self inflicted foreign policy errors as Obama was able to.

Jonathan House

I'd be grateful if those with knowledge of what's happening in France would add their thoughts about Macron generally and/or this development specifically. And speaking of France, I've been missing the voice of Patrick Bahzad.

Jackrabbit

Didn't US also say that Assad could stay only a few days prior to Trump's missile attack?

Babak Makkinejad

All:

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/dont-fear-the-new-nationalism-21307

Thirdeye

I noticed the coincident timing of Dillon's and Macron's announcements too. Maybe Macron isn't so independent after all and he got a green light from Washington. Either way, backing down from a bloody, costly, morally bankrupt strategic dead end is a good thing. That is, if they really mean it. I'll be convinced if the all-dressed-up-and-nowhere-to-go force at Al Tanf pulls out.

turcopolier

Jonathan House

We all miss Bahzad. He is still serving and I presume that he is very busy. pl

FB Ali

A former French Foreign Ministry official, some of whose old colleagues are now advisers to Macron, says:

... by the way, Macron is still stumbling. He might change his mind from one day to another. Furthermore, he doesn't seem to be very interested in countries whose GNP is about the same as Slovenia's... Or less..."

bluetonga

To all above commentators

Macron's success in the election race was a mild surprise as he received steady universal media support from the onset, depicting him as a fresh, dynamic alternative to his opponents, some of them timely charged with financial, corruption scandals. Yet it took some time before some program emerged behind the pretty face, and many resented his earlier carreer in the world of high finance and banking. In the second run of the presidential elections, the French massively voted against Marine le Pen while in the recent legislative elections, 53% of the French abstained from voting. So the final figure is that Macron is grossly supported by 14% of the electorate, not much of a popular basis for what he plans to endeavour.

Macron is a very vocal champion of EU, speaks fluently both English and German, gathered the support of the European brass and more specifically of the German leaders. A widespread press photo pictures him kneeling by Angela Merkel who is sitting on a sofa. As Le Pen cracked, "whatever happens, France will be ruled by a woman : Angela Merkel or me".

EEngineer

inserting missing close italics tag.

Greco

Well put.

Greco

I hear rumblings that an aerial raid is waiting to be launched with a possible ground offensive to follow. The UK, France and Israel are involved in this planned offensive. And that Trump is being encouraged to launch a full scale war against Assad at the egging of advisors who believe Russia is a paper tiger that would fold the moment the US flexes muscle. The only way this can happen is if a false flag is perpetrated, hence the warnings Nikki Haley and others have put to Syria, Russia and Iran. They claim Assad is planning to use chemical weapons, which is just another Iraq WMD myth as far as I know, a Gulf of Tonkin pretext.

Is anyone hearing anything of the sort?

Philippe T.

Macron is able to say something and its contrary in the same sentence (he is mocked for his " A et en même temps non-A" assertions). Also, he is in a period where he tries to consolidate an international image by hosting Putin, Trump, Netanyahu, in Paris - since he faces many difficulties in the domestic policy (no "état de grâce" after his election). He is also well known to com'-driven, with no strategy.

BUT, "en même temps" :

- he is the candidate of business, and there is a lot of business to resume with Iran : Airbus signed a 10 billion $ deal (100 Airbus), Total signed a near 5 billion $ deal, Peugeot signed several agreements (1/3 of Iran's cars are Peugeot), etc. Not to mention potential development in the civil nuclear sector. Of course, France sold a lot of weapons to the Gulfies, especially in 2016/17, including Rafales, but cooperation between France and Persia is a multisecular tradition, well anchored in french opinion, who generally disregards the alliance with Saoudis or Qataris (whose funding to french mosqs and imams is not appreciated...).

- contrarely to other European countries (UK put apart), France does not need USA to get a first-hand knowledge about what's really going on in Syria, where operate French SOF and teams of DGSE, not to mention the French diplomatic networks in ME and French military intelligence in Irak. Certainly, they obeyed to Hollande and Fabius policy to support "unicorns", but the informations about the real status on the ground are on the ministers and president desks. Macron knows about the Fabius fiasco in Syria.

- On domestic policy, Macron is playing a lot with the image of "The new kid on the block", the one who will discombobulate the old politicians... The french opinion being every day less convinced by the narrative about good moderate rebels vs evil Assad, Macron had an opportunity to strengthen this image - though a significant part of the french opinion refers to the quote : "Il faut que tout change pour que rien ne change" (The Leopard, Tomasi di Lampedusa) : everything must change in order that nothing changes.

- Public opinion and domestic security agencies are fearing the returnees from Mossul and Rakka, after these ISIS tactical defeats. Both know that a significant terrorist attack is likely to happen, soon or later, in France. If you add the intense public debate after the sacking of the french Chef d'Etat Major des Armées, General de Villiers, that raised a lot of questions not only about the military budget, but also about the military strategy in Sahelian strip and ME, and you understand that it was Macron interest to "move the lines".

- I would be unable to tell you about the Macron/Israel relationship. When recently in Paris, Macron and Netanyahu commemorated the Velodrome d'hiver's raid on 13 000 Jews, organized by french police in july 1942. Traditionaly, from De Gaulle to Mitterrand (included), French leaders used to state that what the Vichy regime did was not engaging France, whose legitimate representatives were in London with CDG. But, in the 90', Chirac presented his apologies on behalf of France for the Vichy misdeeds. Hollande, Sarkozy and Macron are following this line, and Marine Le Pen has been strongly criticized for following the traditional line "Vichy was not France".

((PS : I am not a scholar, neither a diplomat nor a french state agent. Just a regular 65 y old french citizen, whose curiosity for international affairs and strategy was developed during a 17-year stay in Afghanistan and NWFP (1978 - 1995) as a MD who created his own NGO to assist Afghan people by setting up a health network staffed only with Afghans (still operational in countryside) + some trips in central Asia, Caucasia and Balkans (+ North and South America). I first tripped "coast to coast" in USA in 72, when I was 20, and used to come every year in the States for public conferences during the 80' (I miss all these kind americans I met with in towns and villages) . Thus, every writing here is subject to criticism and debate.Even my expertise on Afghanistan is getting old, but speaking fluently dari, I have a good understanding of these "deplorable" people's soul, including Pak Pashtouns . I am currently a "contractuel" MD of the public service in charge of immigration in Marseille, France. Fighting against a serious disease for several months, I have some free time to spend on internet, especially on strategic blogs, and a "fidèle lecteur du Colonel Lang")). Colonel, I don't know the etiquette of your blog, and wether this introduction of myself is pertinent or not. please, feel free to edit or suppress it. RY, PhT.

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