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Syria

Published on July 11, 2014
Hearing of M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, before the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee

Paris, July 8, 2014

(…)

In some ways, the strengthening of ISIS plays into the hands of Mr Bashar al-Assad, who says that he is fighting ISIS without really doing so. I said – and this hasn’t been refuted – that we had evidence ISIS was selling oil to Bashar al-Assad from wells that this group had seized in Syria. We’re aware that in the event of a confrontation between Bashar al-Assad and ISIS, the hatred felt towards this terrorist group is such that it could serve to strengthen Bashar al-Assad. That’s Bashar al-Assad’s goal, but at the same time it’s ridiculous, given the demands for a united Syria.

We are taking steps to increase our support – in a non-lethal manner – for the moderate opposition. For the first time, the Americans have voted in favour of providing $500 million to support the moderate opposition. (…)

At the same time, the government, as it had announced, is strengthening its measures to combat these terrorist movements, and the proposals that M. Cazeneuve is making take into account the whole cycle. Until now, legislation has been somewhat limiting: we weren’t able to prevent people from leaving France; even if we knew that they were going to commit reprehensible acts or that they had been to the country, it had to involve association with a terrorist group, etc. It was very difficult to catch them in the act and punish them. The Minister of the Interior, with my consent, took operations from point A to point Z.

Point A is being informed of what’s happening and trying to dissuade these people from leaving. Hence these very important efforts to try and make contact with the families. Then we have to be able to stop those individuals who we think, based on the evidence we have, will go to Syria or Iraq to wage jihad. Measures will be proposed to that end.

If, despite all that, these people still go there, then we have to be able to impose penalties, even if it’s a matter of an individual act.

Lastly, these people – and unfortunately there are many of them – must be monitored. And since a lot of things operate via the Internet, we must be able to intervene in order to ensure that certain messages can’t be broadcast. I hope to get broad agreement on that, because it’s simply common sense to combat something that also poses a threat to us. (…)

On the issue of Syrian refugees, there are many of them and France must of course play its part. The decision has been made to accept 500 additional refugees. Some of you are talking about the considerable number of refugees in Lebanon – where they will soon represent a third of the population – in Jordan, in Turkey, everywhere: Europe must play its part by carrying out the necessary controls of course. (…)./.

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