PARIS, April 17 – – French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Thursday said that aid pledges promised for humanitarian aid to Syria should be respected and he remarked that often this is not the case.
Billions of dollars have been pledged by participants in three Syrian Aid conferences hosted by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah but the follow-through on these pledges has been lacking.
While Kuwait has given generously to host the Syrian Aid conferences and has contributed to this humanitarian cause – to the point where the Amir has been nominated a “Humanitarian Leader” by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon – other nations have not followed up on the commitments made at the Kuwaiti-hosted conferences.
“We have to have more finances and an increase in financing,” the French Foreign Minister said in answer to Kuwait News Agency questions on the Syrian humanitarian issue and the follow-up to the Kuwaiti conferences.
“Often during conferences we hear enormous figures which are put forward but if we review the situation two or three years later, the figures remain figures and the reality is not there,” Fabius said in answer to a KUNA question.
“There are several aspects to the Syrian tragedy and you have taken one of the most important aspects, the human dimension, the humanitarian dimension,” he told KUNA.
“When we write history of the Syrian tragedy, we will realise it is one of the greatest human dramas, perhaps the greatest human drama of the start of this century,” he said in his response, citing the latest estimated number of dead in this conflict at around 220,000 or 230,000.
“Beyond this, there are the displaced populations and all the consequences for neighbouring countries…and our colleagues dealing with the refugee problem constantly tell us it is a terrifying situation,” he warned.
“I can only subscribe to this need to increase financing and humanitarian aid of all kinds.” Also speaking to the Anglo-American Press Association on more broader Syrian issues, France’s Chief Diplomat said that Syria was a country that has been “devastated and shattered” by the four-year conflict with the humanitarian consequences at are only too visible.
“To face up to this situation, the solution must be political… but in the immediate future we must increase financing and all sort of humanitarian aid.”
“If we go to the root of the problem…the Syrian tragedy started with a revolt by a few young people in a village and this revolt was treated in such a fashion by Bashar Al-Assad – there were no terrorists at this time – that we have arrived little by little at the frightening situation we are in today,” Fabius remarked.
He recalled that during the Geneva I talks in June 2012, there was hope for a solution and the sideline discussions were about “where Bashar Al-Assad would be sent.”
He reiterated that at that stage there were no external interventions in Syria and there were no terrorists but Al-Assad was not removed.
Fabius again stressed his government’s position that Bashar Al-Assad had no place in the solution to the Syrian crisis, even if some of his regime may be called upon to participate in a future government.
And he spoke out strongly against emerging ideas that the international community should deal with Bashar because he was the lesser of two evils and is preferable to the Islamic State (IS).
“I don’t know if it is the case in the United States or in Britain but we sometimes feel the emergence of a reasoning which is the following: So Bashar Al-Assad is a known, terrible tyrant, labelled a criminal against humanity but as Daesh (IS) is really terrifying, between these two terrifying elements we must choose the least terrifying and therefore we must support Bashar Al-Assad,” he stated.
“This analysis is not shared at all by France,” Fabius affirmed.
The French position was not just based on morality, he noted, even if Al-Assad is guilty of many “abominable” crimes, including the use chemical weapons against his own people and facilitating the emergence of IS by freeing certain of the radical movement’s supporters.
Fabius warned that dealing with Bashar would be a provocation to many Syrians and would further divide the Syrian people.
“If we were to allow ourselves to consider that Bashar Al-Assad was the future for his people (and) If we were to propose this as a solution for the Syrian people, at least half of this Syrian population would go over to terrorist groups as they would not be able to accept that the future included the one who is considered to be at the origin of this drama.”
“We are working…sometimes discreetly and secretly, on a political solution that will bring about unity between elements of the regime, not Bashar Al-Assad, and the opposition,” he revealed but declined to identify any parties to the discussions.
He said the regime must be included in the solution in order to avoid a situation as happened in Iraq when the entire State structure collapsed after the US invasion in 2003.
“We are working with the Arabs, the Americans and the Russians to try to bring about this solution” and avoid a total dismemberment of Syria, Fabius concluded.