Looking back over the history of the French colonisation of Syria, and comparing it with the actions of Presidents Sarkozy and Hollande, Thierry Meyssan brings to light the desire of certain of today’s French politicians to recolonise this country. Theirs is an anachronistic and criminal position which is steadily transforming France into one of the most hated states in the world.
- Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron sign the Lancaster House Agreement. This document is a duplicate, one century later, of the entente cordiale concluded by the Sykes-Picot Agreements.
France is today the main international power which is calling for the overthrow of the Syrian Arab Republic. While the White House and the Kremlin are secretly negotiating the most efficient way of getting rid of the jihadists, Paris persists in accusing the « Bachar régime » (sic) of having created Daesh, and declaring that after having eliminated the Islamic Emirate, it will be necessary to overthrow « the Alawite dictatorship » (re-sic). France is publicly supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and also, secretly, by Israel.
How can we explain the adoption of such a losing hand, considering that France has nothing to gain from this crusade, either economically or politically, that the United States has ceased training combatants to fight the Republic, and that Russia is presently reducing the jihadist groups to cinders ?
Most commentators have rightly pointed out the personal links that ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy entertained with Qatar, sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, and those of President François Hollande, not only with Qatar, but now also with Saudi Arabia. Both Presidents obtained illegal financing for their electoral campaigns from these states, and also enjoyed all sorts of facilities offered by the same states. Besides this, Saudi Arabia now holds a non-negligible percentage of the companies listed in the CAC40, which means that any sudden withdrawal of its investments would cause serious economic damage to France.
I would like now to evoke another explanatory hypothesis – the colonial interests of certain French leaders. In order to do so, I must take a step back into history.
The Sykes-Picot Agreements
During the first World War, the British, French, and Russian Empires secretly agreed to share the colonies of the Austro-Hungarian, German and Ottoman Empires, once they were defeated. After a round of secret negotiations at Downing Street, Sir Mark Sykes - advisor to the War Ministry and superior officer of « Lawrence of Arabia » - and the special envoy from the Quai d’Orsay, François Georges-Picot, decided to share the Ottoman province of Greater Syria between them, and informed the Tsar of this decision.
The British, whose Empire was principally economic, appropriated for itself the oil-fields which were then known, and also Palestine, with the intention of setting up a colony there for Jewish settlement. Their territory extended across what are now the states of Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait. Paris, at that time divided between the partisans and opponents of colonialism, was prepared to sanction a form of colonisation which was at the same time economic, cultural and political. It therefore appropriated the territories which correspond to today’s Lebanon and Syria. Half of the population of this region was at that time Christian, whom France claimed to have been « protecting » since the reign of François 1st. Finally, the holy sites of Jerusalem and Acre were supposed to be internationalised. But in reality, these agreements were never completely implemented, partly because the British had undertaken certain contradictory engagements, but especially because their intention was to create a Jewish state in order to continue their own colonial expansion.
The British and French « democracies » never publicly debated these agreements, because they would have shocked the British population, and would have been rejected by the French population. The Sykes-Picot Agreements were revealed by Bolshevik revolutionaries who discovered them in the Tsar’s archives. They provoked the fury of the Arab peoples, but the British and French populations did not react to the actions of their governments.
The French colonial ideal
French colonisation began under Charles X with the bloody conquest of Algeria. It was a question of prestige which was never validated by the French, and led to the revolution of July 1830.
But the idea of colonialism only appeared in France after the fall of the Second Empire and the loss of Alsace-Moselle. Two left-wing politicians, Gambetta and Jules Ferry, proposed embarking on the conquest of new territories in Africa and Asia, since they were unable to liberate Alsace-Moselle, now occupied by the German Reich. They united with the economic interests of the right wing parties linked to the exploitation of Algeria.
Since diverting the nation’s attention from their failure to liberate the national territory was not a particularly glorious motive, the friends of Gambetta and Ferry wrapped the idea up in a fog of catalysing rhetoric. They claimed not that it was a question of satisfying expansionist or economic appetites, but of « liberating oppressed peoples » (sic) and « emancipating » « inferior » cultures (re-sic). That sounded more noble.
The partisans of colonisation created a lobby to defend their appetites in the National Assembly and the Senate – they called it the « Colonial Party ». The term « party » should not lead us into error here. It did not designate a political formation, but a trans-partisan state mindset which united a hundred parliamentaries from both the right and the left. They went on to acquire the support of powerful businessmen, military leaders, geographers and top civil servants such as François Georges-Picot. While very few French citizens were interested in colonisation before the first World War, they were far more numerous during the period between the two World Wars... in other words, after the restitution of Alsace and Moselle. The Colonial Party, which by now was no more than the party of blind capitalism wrapped in a cloak of Human Rights-ism, attempted to win over the population by staging a number of huge demonstrations, like the sinister Paris Colonial Exposition of 1931. This fever reached its peak with Léon Blum’s Popular Front in 1936.
The colonisation of « Lesser Syria »
After the Great War and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Sharif Hussein of the two Mosques of Mecca and Medina proclaimed the independance of the Arab people. In conformity with the promises of « Lawrence of Arabia », he proclaimed himself « King of the Arabs », but was quickly brought to order by the « perfidious Albion ».
In 1918, his son, Emir Faisal 1st of Iraq, proclaimed a provisional Arab government in Damascus, while the British occupied Palestine and the French occupied the Mediterranean coast. The Arabs were attempting to create a unitary, multiconfessional, democratic and independent state.
US President Woodrow Wilson had reconciled his country with the United Kingdom around the common project of the creation of a Jewish state, but was opposed to the idea of colonising the rest of the region. Before leaving the Versailles Conference, France made sure it was granted a mandate by the Supreme Inter-Allied War Council, during the San Remo Conference, to administer its zone of influence. Colonisation had now found a legal alibi – the Levantines had to be helped to organise themselves after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
The first democratic elections were organised in Syria by the provisional Arab government. They awarded the majority in the Syrian General Congress to a handful of minor despots with no real political affiliation - but the assembly was dominated by personalities of the nationalist minority. The Congress adopted a monarchical, bicameral Constitution. When the French mandate was announced, the People rose against Emir Fayçal, who had decided to collaborate with the French and the Maronites of Lebanon, who supported him. Paris sent an army under the orders of General Gouraud, a member of the « Colonial Party ». The Syrian nationalists join battle with him at Khan Mayssaloun, and were crushed. Colonisation had begun.
General Gouraud first of all separated Lebanon – where he had the support of the Maronites – from the rest of Syria, which he attempted to rule by dividing and opposing the different confessional groups. The capital of « Syria » was transferred to Homs, a small Sunnite town, before being restored to Damascus, but colonial power remained based in Beirut, Lebanon. The colony was awarded its own flag in 1932. It was composed of three horizontal bands, representing the Fatimid Caliphate (green), the Umayyad Caliphate (white) and the Abbasid Caliphate (black) – these were symbols of the Shia Muslims for the first, and the Sunni Muslims for the other two. The three red stars represent the three Christian minorities, Druze and Alawite.
France intended to make Lebanon a Maronite state, because the Maronites are Christians who recognise Papal authority, and to make Syria a Muslim state. It continually attacked the Christians of « Lesser Syria » since they are mostly Orthodox.
In 1936, the left wing gained power in France with the government of the Popular Front. They agreed to negotiate with the Arab nationalists and promised them independence. The Under-Secretary of State for the Maghrebian protectorates and the Near-Eastern mandates, Pierre Viénot, negotiated the independence of Lebanon and Syria, as he had attempted to do for Tunisia. The Treaty was unanimously ratified by the Syrian Parliament, but was never presented to the Senate by Léon Blum – a member of the « Colonial Party ».
During the same period, the government of the Popular Front decided to separate the town of Antioch from « Lesser Syria », and proposed to attach it to Turkey, which was done in 1939. By doing so, Léon Blum aimed at ridding himself of the Orthodox Christians, whose patriarch occupies the Chair of Antioch, and whom the Turks would be sure to repress.
Finally, the division of France during the second World War put an end to colonisation. Philippe Pétain’s legal government struggled to hold on to the mandate, while Charles de Gaulle’s legitimate government proclaimed the independence of Lebanon and Syria in 1941.
At the end of the second World War, the provisional Government of the Republic implemented the programme of the National Council of the Resistance. However, the « Colonial Party » opposed the independence of the colonised people. On the 8th of May 1945, there was the massacre in Sétif (Algeria), under the command of General Raymond Duval, and on the 29th of May, the massacre of Damascus, under the comand of General Fernand Olive. The city was bombed by the French aviation for two days. A large part of its historic souk was destroyed. Even the Assembly of the Syrian People’s Congress was bombed.
France’s colonial ambitions in Syria since 2011
When, in 2008, President Nicolas Sarkozy invited his Syrian opposite number, Bachar el-Assad, to the 14th of July ceremonies on the Champs-Élysées in order to celebrate his democratic progress, he was also busy negotiating the remodelling of the « Greater Middle East » with the United States and the United Kingdom, set for 2009-10. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, convinced him to re-launch the Franco-British colonial project under the guidance of the United States – this is known as the theory of « leading from behind ».
On the 2nd of November 2010 – in other words before the « Arab Spring » - France and the UK signed a series of documents known as the Lancaster House Agreements. While the public part of these documents indicated that the two states would blend their « projection forces » (that is to say their colonial forces), the secret part of the Agreements anticipates the attacks on Libya and Syria, on the 21st March 2011. We now know that Libya was attacked two days earlier by France, causing the anger of the United Kingdom at having been double-crossed by its ally. The attack on Syria never took place, however, because its commander, the United States, changed its mind.
The Lancaster House Agreements were negotaited for France by Alain Juppé and General Benoît Puga, a hot-headed partisan of colonisation.
On the 29th of July 2011, France created the Free Syrian Army (the « moderates »). Contrary to the official communiqué concerning its commander, Colonel Riyad el-Asaad, the first elements engaged were not Syrians, but Libyan members of al-Qaïda. Riyad el-Asaad is no more than a cover, supposed to give the affair a Syrian veneer. He was chosen because he bears a similar name to President Bachar el-Assad, to whom he is in no way related. However, ignorant of the fact that the two names are not written the same way in Arabic, the Atlantist Press chose to see in him a sign of the « first defector from the régime ».
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is supervised by French legionnaires, detached from their services and placed at the disposition of the Élysée and General Benoît Puga, President Sarkozy’s own private chief commander. The FSA now fights under the French colonial flag.
Currently, the FSA is no longer a permanent army. But it’s trade name is used from time to time for operations dreamed up by the Élysée and carried out by mercenaries from other armed groups. France persists in making a distinction between « moderate » and « extremist » jihadists. Yet there is no difference in terms of personnel or behaviour between the two groups. It was the FSA who began executing homosexuals by throwing them from the roofs of buildings. It was also the FSA who broadcast a video of one of their cannibal leaders eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier. The only difference between the moderates and the extremists is their flag – either the French colonial flag or that of the jihad.
At the beginning of 2012, French legionnaires escorted the 3,000 combatants of the FSA to Homs, the ancient capital of French colonialism, in order to make it the « revolutionary capital ». They moved into the new area of Baba Amr, where they proclaimed an Islamic Emirate. A revolutionary tribunal condemned to death more than 150 inhabitants who had stayed in the area, and had their throats cut in public. The FSA held out for a month against a siege, protected by fire stations of Milan anti-tank missiles offered to them by France.
When President François Hollande re-launched the war against Syria, in July 2012, he maintained - and this is unique in the history of France – his predecessor’s private chief commander, General Benoît Puga. He has adopted the rhetoric and the mannerisms of colonialism. He declares that the Syrian Arab Republic is a « bloody dictatorship » - (meaning we have to go in and « liberate an oppressed population ») - and that the power in Syria has been confiscated by an Alawite minority – (meaning that we have to « emancipate » the Syrians from this horrible sect.) He forbids Syrian refugees in Europe to participate in the elections being held in their home country, and decides in their stead that the Syrian National Council - non-elected – is their legitimate representative. His Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, declares that the democratically elected President, Bachar el-Assad, « does not deserve to be on this Earth ».
The declarations of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing
On the 27th of September last, ex-President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing gave a one-page interview to the daily Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui en France, concerning the refugee crisis and Russian intervention against terrorists in Syria. He said - « I am wondering about the possibility of creating a UN mandate for Syria, for a duration of five years ».
The UNO has never once given a « mandate » since it was created. The simple word itself harks back to the worst of colonisation. No French leader has publicly evoked the French colonial ambition since the independence of Algeria, 53 years ago.
It is pertinent here to recall that Geneviève, the sister of François Georges-Picot (of the Sykes-Picot Agreements), married senator Jacques Bardoux – a member of the « Colonial Party ». As for their daughter, May Bardoux, she married the President of the Société Financière Française et Coloniale, Edmond Giscard d’Estaing, the father of the ex-President of France.
So the solution to the Syrian problem, according to the grand-nephew of the man who negotiated the French mandate for Syria with the British, is to recolonise the country.