The Syrian crisis is likely to dominate G7 foreign ministers’ talks in Italy. The two-day summit in the town of Lucca is the first chance for the G7 countries to discuss the issue since the US airstrike on Syria which followed an alleged chemical attack. An extended session on Tuesday will be dedicated to the conflict.
RT: After the alleged Syrian chemical attack, the West was sure Assad was to blame with no solid evidence presented. Now we’re hearing voices insinuating that in fact, it’s all Russia’s fault. What do you make of such accusations?
Franco Frattini: My thought was the following. I think President Trump was obliged or forced to make such a tough decision to go on the first strike against the military base … because he has been blamed for being too flexible, too soft vis-à-vis Assad, for changing a position of America on ‘Assad has to leave immediately.’ It was a decision to confirm that America is still capable of acting in a very strong and tough way. This is my opinion. It cannot and doesn’t mean that American President Trump changed the point of view that a political negotiation is needed. This was the most important political change since the coming of President Trump when he said the idea of Obama ‘Assad should leave as a precondition’ is a wrong idea; it belongs to the people of Syria to decide the fate of Assad. And this opinion in my personal perspective should be taken on the table. I hope, Secretary Tillerson and the Foreign Minister of Italy, Angelino Alfano will reconfirm during the meeting of foreign ministers of the G7 such an opinion. We cannot decide around the table whether Assad should leave now or not. This would be the conclusion of the political process, in that conclusion Russia should be considered as one of the biggest players around the table.
RT: London is pushing the G7 countries to impose new sanctions on Russia over its support for the current Syrian government. Is this really going to help solve the Syrian crisis?
FF: Not at all. This would be another crazy idea following the crazy idea of imposing sanctions against Russia instead of fighting terrorism together. Europe pays the price for the loyalty to NATO, to the transatlantic alliance. All you know is that the government of Italy publicly said that it is time to rethink the sanctions-based policy of the West vis-à-vis Russia. I strongly hope not only that this absurd proposal coming from the UK will be rejected but that in the near future all the European member states will be reflecting on cutting sanctions and reviewing the sanctions while strengthening ties on fighting terrorism which is the threat number one to the[world]. Russia is an ally, not an enemy in fighting terrorism.
RT: The Belgian foreign minister has pointed out that the US attack was carried out without the approval of the UN Security Council. What do you make of that?
FF: It has been not the first time, but it reflects the opinion that President Trump expressed publicly on the role of UN. President Trump said on many occasions, the UN system runs [toward being] incapable to solve the crisis because of the blockades, because of the top powers, because [of] the reciprocal imposition of vetoes and so he said “If I have to go ahead, I have to go ahead immediately” because this is an interest for America. According to American legislation, when a supreme interest of America’s security is at stake, the President can go ahead without the approval of the Congress and – according to the opinion of President Trump – also without the approval of the UN.
Italy has been fighting from the very beginning for reforming the UN Security Council system in order to avoid the weakness of the process, in order to give the UN Security Council the possibility to move rapidly. I agree with the importance of investigating all the possible evidence. But in the case of urgent need, the UN system, unfortunately, proves to be incapable of reacting…
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
‘France isn’t responsible’: Marine Le Pen’s comment on 1942 Jewish roundup triggers outrage
Vel d’Hiv is Velodrome d’Hiver [Winter Cycling stadium] – the infamous location where 13,000 Jewish people were held before being deported to Auschwitz in 1942. Before that, the French police detained them, obeying the German officials’ orders.
“We have taught our children that they had every reason to criticize France, to see only the darkest historical aspects maybe. I want them to be proud of being French once more,” she said in the interview with several French media outlets: Le Figaro, RTL, and LCI.
Le Pen’s statement drew fire from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which lamented that anti-Semitism “is raising its head again today.”
Tel Aviv says the comment “contradicts the historical truth as expressed in repeated statements by French presidents who recognized the country’s responsibility for the fate of the French Jews who perished in the Holocaust.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry also drew attention to the fact that the French government’s acknowledgement of the 1942 events is confirmed by “annual events dedicated to the anniversary of Jewish deportation from France, as well as studies of the Holocaust in the French educational system.”
The Israeli authorities were not the only ones to slam Le Pen’s words – one of her rivals, Emmanuel Macron, pointed out the far-right leaning attitudes the Le Pen family has always expressed.
“Some people had forgotten that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen. They haven’t changed and we shouldn’t indulge or minimize what the National Front is nowadays in our country,” Macron told BFM TV, as cited by Reuters.
Twitter users also expressed their indignation with Le Pen.
According to the latest polls, Le Pen is in the lead in the presidential race, with the latest polls showing about 24 percent supporting her, with Macron closely following with 23 percent, and Fillon getting 19 percent.
Future strikes on Syria a ‘possibility’– White House
“The sight of people being gassed and blown away by barrel bombs ensures that if we see this kind of action again, we hold open the possibility of future action,” Spicer stated.
The US attack was just not a message to Syria, but to other countries as well, Spicer added.
“Not just Syria, but the world saw a president who is going to act decisively.”
On April 6, US missiles struck Shayrat Airbase located in the Syrian province of Homs. Washington claimed it is where Syrian jets armed with alleged chemical weapons took off to launch an assault on a rebel-held town in north-western Idlib province on April, 4. Damascus has denied any such allegations.
The Syrian government noted that its Air Force attacked an arms depot where chemical weapons might have been stockpiled by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front militants.
The US strike destroyed 20 percent of Syria’s aircraft along with fuel and ammunition installations and air defense capabilities, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement.
A total of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from US Navy ships stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean, but only 23 of them reached their targets, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
The majority of the victims killed in the US “retaliation” attack were local villagers, Homs governor Talal al-Barazi, said.
Fourteen people, including nine civilians, were killed in the bombardment, the official stressed.
Moscow emphasized that Syria had destroyed its chemical weapons stockpiles which was confirmed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Russia has meanwhile called for an expert investigation into the chemical attack, saying, it is “the only way to receive and present to the whole international community any objective evidence on the alleged presence of poisonous substances.”