Macron claims credit for Syria strikes
The 40-year-old appeared live on broadcaster BFM to say the US, Britain and France had “full international legitimacy to intervene” to enforce humanitarian law.
Macron said failing to enforce red lines had led the Kremlin to think “these people from the international community – they are nice, they are weak… He [Russia’s President Vladimir Putin] has understood it’s not the case any more.”
The allies fired 105 missiles early on Saturday at three alleged chemical-weapons sites in a Damascus suburb to punish the regime for the apparent use of chemical weapons in Douma.
It was probably the most significant western intervention against the Syrian government during the seven-year civil war.
“It was retaliation, not an act of war,” Macron said of the most significant foreign policy decision of his presidency.
“Three sites of production and treatment of chemical weapons were struck … there were no Syrian or Russian victims, which is exactly what we wanted to do,” Macron said.
“We had proof that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regime on Syrians, that’s why we intervened,” the president added.
He declared France was the most active country in the diplomatic arena and at the United Nations.
“Ten days ago President Trump wanted the United States of America to withdraw from Syria. We convinced him to remain,” he said.
France wanted to involve the west, Russia and Turkey in a diplomatic initiative to establish a sustainable political solution in Syria, the centrist president said.
He was less critical of Turkey. “With those strikes we have separated the Russians and the Turks on this. The Turks condemned the chemical weapons.”
Macron also offered to mediate between Washington and Moscow amid tension over the reported chemical attack and allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election.
Macron is due to make a state visit to the US next week and is set to travel to Russia in May.
The president remained firm on his domestic reform agenda, which he said fulfilled his electoral promises and stuck by his policy of reducing guarantees for workers.
“I want us to succeed in the economic field in order to be able to run real social policies,” Macron said.
France has begun implementing plans to tax retirees more and employees less, to axe jobs in some hospitals, reorganise the judiciary and reform the university admissions system, all of which sparked protests.
Since last year, unemployment has slightly decreased from 10 per cent to 8.9 per cent. The government’s growth-rate forecast for this year is 2 per cent of GDP, the best in seven years, and the country’s budget deficit has stayed within the EU’s established parameters for the first time 10 years.
There are no victors in Syria. Picture credit: Wikimedia