The United States and Russia agreed, at the Geneva 1 conference, in June 2012, to divide the Middle East on the ruins of the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916. What is presented as an attempt to find a just and lasting peace really meant both a return to a bipolar world as at the time of the Soviet Union, and the exclusion of the British and the French in the region.

This project might seem illusory. However, fourteen months later, it is beginning to take shape.

Thus far, Europeans had played well. In November 2010, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron signed the Treaty of Lancaster House in which the two countries pooled their projection forces, that is to say their colonial forces. As agreed with Washington, the two states were waiting for the start of the "Arab Spring" to foment unrest in Libya and Syria. To their Libyan agents, they gave the flag of former King Idriss, collaborator of the British. As for the Free Syrian Army, they gave it the flag of the French mandate. It was easy to see from their symbols that these supposedly revolutionary movements were fabrications of the former occupants.

With the help of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, they were able to sew confusion in the two countries. Part of the opposition to Muammar al- Gaddafi and Assad rallied for a time with the jihadists of NATO. However, though the Libyan Jamahiriya died in the bombing for lack of international alliances, Syria was not bombed and resisted. It was no longer a question of overthrowing institutions but of choosing a future. Gradually misunderstandings vanished. Today, as in all wars, there are only two camps: on the one hand the secular state against international jihadism on the other.

Similarly, during World War II, Charles de Gaulle was isolated in his appeal of June 18, 1940. Very few French answered his call, whether they thought the war lost before it started, or because they did not support his autocratic character. Yet four years later, he gathered behind him 95% of the French, in part because he led them to victory and secondly because he was able to unite around him different political persuasions.

So now as President al -Assad gathers behind the vast majority of Syrians, France does not know what to do. In an interview with TF1, President Francois Hollande claimed that the war was for democracy. According to him, the West should therefore bring Syrian democrats to power in Damascus, that is to say, he clarified, neither Assad nor the jihadists. This absurd analysis would mean that on the battlefield, there were three camps. The truth is that there are only two, and the Democrats have sided with the Syrian state, that is to say, with President al -Assad.

There basically lies the international stake in this war: colonisation makes no sense in the twenty-first century. If the United States and Russia want to divide the region into zones of influence, as their status permits, they must do so on a basis other than that of the British and the French of the last century. They must think in terms of alliance rather than domination.

Roger Lagassé
Al-Watan (Syria)