Pages 117 - 136
For French diplomacy, managing the Syrian crisis consisted in “holding its own”. This expression refers both to an ambition – to impose one’s reading of a country on which one possesses expertise – and to the demand that one’s role be recognized. This article seeks to understand the construction of French foreign policy and, in particular, its continuities and contradictions. It begins by examining the background of the 2011-2015 diplomatic sequence. France’s involvement in the Arab uprisings stood in contradiction with a long tradition of cooperating with the Syrian regime. The first months of the Syrian revolution were therefore marked by contradictory initiatives on the part of the French government. In May 2011, it revised its policy. France became a supporter of the Syrian opposition, assisted in its development and encouraged its recognition on the international scene. However, faced with the growing pressure of the fight against terrorism, this policy soon ran out of steam, ultimately giving way to a discourse that solely condemned the regime of Bachar al-Assad. French policy found itself isolated in the midst of its allies and called into question on the domestic scene. Arbitration between divergent analyses did not successfully result in a coherent policy and the Russian military intervention in September 2015 completed France’s marginalization in this policy area.