How Hollande planned to "punish" Syria and Assad | World Defense

How Hollande planned to "punish" Syria and Assad


Apr 12, 2015
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Translated from :

EXCLUSIF. Comment Hollande avait prévu de frapper la Syrie- 29 septembre 2013 - L'Obs

"The strikes are tonight." On Saturday 31 August, in the morning, the most senior French officials, civilian and military, are convinced that the president will trigger the punitive bombing of Syria the following night. Even more amazing: Hollande himself also believed. And this incredible mistake will last until the end of the afternoon. Meanwhile, for ten hours, the state machinery has been set in motion to make these Franco-American keystrokes, "sell" the view and manage the diplomatic consequences.

This crazy day begins at 3 am on Saturday 31 August, when the duty officer in charge of communications of the President of the Republic receives a call from his US counterpart. It warns that Obama will call Francois Hollande on direct and secure line that connects to the Elysee White House. When? The same day at 18:15, Paris time. The transatlantic misunderstanding begins - a laughable misunderstanding if it was no war.

Council of war

Time shift, the diplomatic adviser to François Hollande, Paul Jean-Ortiz, discovers the message of the White House at 8:00, when he arrives at his office, rue de l'Elysee. It prevents illico Francois Hollande, who decides to convene a small board just after the call from Barack Obama. Must be present Ministers of Defense, Interior and Foreign Affairs, as well as the "big subordinates": Chief of Staff, the bosses of the DGSE and military intelligence ... A council of war after which the head of state will give the formal order of the early French strikes in Syria. This is at least what is believed Hollande and with it, all called personalities.

This August 31 morning, the Elysee would ask the military to be ready to execute this order supposed imminent.

The plan was to bomb overnight, starting at 3 am when people are asleep, says a senior French official. It was to destroy missile batteries and command centers of the Fourth Army, the chemical. "

The strikes must be carried out by several flying Rafale in the Mediterranean, over international waters. "We did not want to shoot from the Turkish sky, tells another. We were concerned that Assad does not invoke self-defense and strikes its neighbor, which could involve NATO."

There is a catch: the Scalp cruise missiles designed for operation with a maximum range of 250 km, the French strike will only achieve that places in western Syria, Damascus understood. The Americans will take care of everything else. "But we are not to depend on them for our fire and our refueling, be held to clarify Defense There is one thing that we do not totally proficient. This is the schedule that would give Obama. starting signal. "

Evidence "declassified"

To prove to the opinion that François Hollande does not act in the wake of the US, so Tony Blair during the Iraq war, the Elysee also decides this Saturday, Aug. 31, to "declassify" some evidence of French chemical attack. "We called the document" Summary declassified National Intelligence 'and we have a blue flag, white, red on every page, "said one official. And in anticipation of the evening strikes, the Ministry of Defence fuiter this text in the "Journal du Dimanche" to be released the next day.

The entire operation of communication plan is established during a meeting at 14:30 that Saturday in the office of Paul Jean-Ortiz, with the chiefs of staff of key ministries. "We discussed the images to provide news, those of the rise of the operation which were already ready, and those of the first strike that could deliver very quickly," said an official. "We also discussed the time he would inform some foreign personalities, says one of the participants. It seemed clear that Hollande would prevent himself Angela Merkel, just after the stroke of Obama's lead."

"The big day had arrived"

Where does this certainty that the US president will give the starting signal this Saturday? "Everything led us to believe that the big day had arrived," said a French official. It had been a week that the prospect of a Franco-American military action against Syria appeared inevitable.

It all started last Sunday, that is to say, four days after the chemical attack against the civilian population, when Barack Obama and Francois Hollande discussed several types of "punishment", including military. "The next day, the staffs of the two countries began to work towards a common strike plan", they say in the Ministry of Defence.

Certainly, the days could just derail. On Wednesday, in London, the House of Commons voted against British participation in these strikes. And we know least, on Thursday, the French and their allies have missed their "blitz" to confer diplomatic, if not a legal, at least some international legitimacy for military action against Syria. They hoped to gather a majority of votes in the Security Council, and thus compel Beijing and Moscow to veto. Despite the efforts of Laurent Fabius, Paris, London and Washington have failed, according to our information, to rally a sufficient number (six) of votes of non-permanent members of said Board. So the idea to go through the UN was abandoned.

Yet this weekend, Americans are still determined. On Thursday, the Obama adviser for security, Susan Rice, informed Paul Jean-Ortiz, despite the British defection and the UN setback, his boss is "close to go." And the next day, Friday 30, several indicators from Washington suggest that the French American strikes are imminent. "That day, John Kerry met several times with Laurent Fabius, ensures an official. He said that Obama had asked him to" prepare public opinion for strikes. "During this same day, said another, "the White House released its evidence on chemical slaughter".
And still this Friday, Francois Hollande and Barack Obama were again discussed at length. The US president said he has not yet made its final decision, but that it will not be long. He added that the strikes could take place soon, "before or after the G20," he said. "Let us remember tomorrow or after tomorrow," he concluded.

Obama's reversal

So that in the announcement of a new call from the White House advisors are convinced that Francois Hollande Saturday, August 31 that the US president has ruled in the night and it will trigger the night operation or even later in the night of Sunday (unlikely event since it went to Europe the next day). No one at the Elysee guess after receiving a letter from 186 parliamentarians asking him to vote the Congress Barack Obama decided last minute to give their reason much less that the primary responsibility for the House of Representatives and Senate already know - several hours so before Hollande ...

"I decided to go, said the head of the White House to his French counterpart on Saturday at 18:15, but I will first seek Congressional approval." François Hollande is stunned. He tries to convince the American president to reconsider his decision - in vain. The head of state then joined the men he was summoned in the green room for a small board. He ordered the military to recall the Rafale and evokes the next firing windows. The general opinion, the fact remains that: around 15 September between the vote of US lawmakers and the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. "After it will be very difficult, if not impossible," they should. This final window will be closed the following week by a clever diplomatic maneuver Vladimir Putin.


Dec 26, 2014
319 0 0
Had they gone through with the plan, the "blow" would have made it easier for the moderate rebels to oust Assad. And had the French known that the U.S would backpedal when they were supposed to take action, they [the French] should have "punished" Assad themselves. Obama's dithering . . . has cost lots of Syrian's their lives.