Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • Austerity battle overshadows French Socialist’s annual rally

    Read more

  • Besieged UN peacekeepers battle Islamists in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • EU leaders meet in Brussels to seek a response to Russia

    Read more

  • Lesotho PM Thabane 'flees after 'military coup'

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Chelsea’s Torres set for AC Milan switch

    Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' against IS militants in Syria

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

Middle east

US flatters France as ‘oldest ally’ after UK vote on Syria

© AFP

Text by Sam Ball

Latest update : 2013-08-31

US Secretary of State John Kerry called France America’s “oldest ally” Friday as he praised the country for its support of military action in Syria. France is now the US’s only major ally over Syria after the UK ruled out taking part in any strikes.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday welcomed French support for possible military action against the Syrian regime, describing the country as America’s “oldest ally”.

After the US’s traditional ally Great Britain ruled itself out of any military strikes against the Assad regime in a parliamentary vote Thursday, Washington has looked in danger of becoming internationally isolated in its efforts to push for a military intervention.

However, French President François Hollande reaffirmed his country’s support for military action on Friday, telling French daily Le Monde that he supported taking “firm” punitive action in response to the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

France now looks like being the US’s only major international partner in any possible strike on Syria.

"America should feel gratified. We are not alone in our condemnation and we're not alone in our will to do something about it and to act," Kerry said.

"Our oldest ally, the French, said the regime committed this vile action and it's an outrage to use weapons that the (international) community has banned for the last 90 years in all international conventions."

Franco-US military alliance would be ‘unparalleled’

Washington's warm words for France represent a significant turnaround from the hostility of a decade ago, when France refused to back the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

France was then viewed with such animosity by the US that there were attempts to boycott French products and French fries were renamed “freedom fries’ in some American restaurants.

The two countries have, in the past, enjoyed a close relationship, dating back to the 1775–1783 American War of Independence, when France helped the US free itself from British rule.

Christopher Harmer, of the Washington DC-based Institute for the Study of War, told FRANCE 24 that there is still a strong willingness in the US to cooperate with the French on military matters.

“We are very comfortable working with the French. (…) The French and American militaries don’t do a lot of operations together, but when they do the French perform admirably,” he said.

US Government map of areas reportedly affected by Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack

Nevertheless, a Franco-US offensive alliance in Syria would be a “unique situation” in modern times, says Bruno Tertrais from the Foundation of Strategic Research.

"The Americans and the French have worked together on the frontline in the past as in Lebanon in the 80s and 90s, but I don't recollect an offensive coalition comprising the Americans and the French but not the British," he told the AFP news agency.

"We are in exactly the opposite situation to 2003," added Tertrais. "The United States does not need anybody militarily. But it is extremely important for them not to be alone politically."

No mention of Britain

In something of a diplomatic snub, Kerry pointedly failed to mention Britain in Friday’s speech.

The UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron had been in favour of backing an armed intervention in Syria but his motion sanctioning military action suffered a shock defeat in parliament, something likely to weigh negatively on Britain’s so-called “special relationship” with the US.

Kerry did, however, point to support for action against Syria from a number of other nations, including those in the Arab world.

“The world is speaking out. And many friends stand ready to respond. The Arab League pledged ‘to hold the Syrian regime fully responsible for this crime’,” he said.

“Turkey said there is no doubt that the regime is responsible.

“The Australian prime minister said he didn’t want history to record that we were, ‘party to turning such a blind eye’.”

Date created : 2013-08-31

  • USA - SYRIA

    US presses case for military strike against Syria

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    UN inspectors leave Syria as US weighs 'limited' strike

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    France stands firm on Syria despite shock UK vote

    Read more

COMMENT(S)