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Fight against Terrorism – Iraq – Syria

Published on December 4, 2014
Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to France 2 (excerpts)
Paris, December 4, 2014

Regarding the Middle East, the Iranians have reportedly carried out bombing raids against the Islamic State in Iraq; is this a turning point?

There were reports to that effect yesterday, but it hasn’t been confirmed. We are talking with the Iraqi prime minister who was received here yesterday evening by President Hollande; it hasn’t been confirmed. In any case, the Iranians stated from the outset that they reserved the right to take action if there was any threat in the Baghdad or Erbil regions, since they share a border with Iraq.

Can the Iranians join the coalition?

No, that’s different. We’ve always said that the coalition is something very special. Around 60 members of the coalition met yesterday in Brussels. The Iranians are acting independently and in a different way, but it’s clear that whether we’re talking about the coalition or the Iranians, we’re opposed to the terrorist movement Daesh, which is extremely dangerous and is trying to take control of Iraq and Syria.

Will the air strikes be enough?

No, they’re not enough; they are necessary. We need powerful means to combat the Daesh terrorists, but we need people on the ground, but on the ground, …

There are the Syrians on the ground…

It’s the Iraqis.

As well as the Syrians…

No, Syria is another matter.

Bashar al-Assad is saying, “the strikes are useless, and it’s me that’s doing the work on the ground…”

No, that’s not true! These are two different countries: Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, the work on the ground is being done by Iraqi soldiers. And for that the Iraqi government needs to be an inclusive government that brings everyone together; it’s making very positive gestures in this direction and we support it. The Iraqi army has regained ground from Daesh. In Syria, it’s completely different.

John Kerry said that it would be a long process…

Yes, probably very long.

In Syria, it’s another matter. There’s Daesh, i.e. the terrorists which unfortunately have a strong presence there, and then there’s Bashar al-Assad. I saw that he gave an interview to Match; I think that he simply forgets to say that under his presidency more than 200,000 people have died.

He disputes this figure.

That’s absurd, unfortunately.

So there can never be any agreement with Bashar al-Assad with respect to combating the Islamic State?

We want a political solution. Military efforts are of course needed, but we want a political solution. This political solution must bring together - based on the so-called Geneva 1 agreement – elements of the regime – but not Bashar al-Assad, since it’s hard to imagine how someone who has caused the death of 200,000 people can lead his country on a long term basis – and of course, the democratic and moderate opposition. We are continuing to work toward this with all international leaders. (…)./.

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