Alex Rowell writes: “Tremblez, tyrans,” warns La Marseillaise, the French revolutionary song that, in abridged form, has been the national anthem of the Republic since 1795. “[We are] all soldiers combating you.”
One tyrant unlikely to tremble at these words today is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is one of the few people to have had reason to enjoy the aftermath of last Friday’s attacks by ISIS in Paris. What has transpired in the week since on the French political scene – as it has to varying extents across Europe generally – is tantamount to a bloodless coup d’état for supporters and fellow travelers of Damascus and its allies Moscow and Tehran.
The phrase used by one source in Paris is “the defeat of the [Foreign Minister Laurent] Fabius Doctrine,” and indeed the man who once wrote a Washington Post op-ed arguing that “Assad and Daesh [ISIS] are two sides of the same barbaric coin,” and who just weeks ago said Russian strikes in Syria were killing civilians, on Thursday declared Russian intentions against ISIS were “sincere,” and called on France to “gather all our forces” in alliance with them.
This followed the news that the French military, which in August 2013 was just “hours” from air-striking Syrian regime targets until US President Barack Obama telephoned President François Hollande to call them off, is now formally coordinating the dispatch of an aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean with Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin has instructed his navy to welcome the French crew “as allies.” Perhaps most tellingly, Hollande is combining a trip to Washington on Tuesday to discuss the fight against ISIS with an equivalent visit to Moscow two days later – suggesting, if only symbolically, an unprecedented new parity of relationships. [Continue reading…]