Reprinted from Asia Times
Up to the very gloomy day when the "soldiers of the Caliphate" hit "the capital of abomination and perversions" -- as ISIS/ISIL/Daesh framed its attack on Paris -- French President Francois Hollande and his insufferable poseur of a Prime Minister Laurent Fabius were adamant: Assad must go.
For the Elysee palace, Assad equaled Daesh.
A measure of the incongruence of Hollande's administration is that none of his ENA-formed advisers told him he was becoming even more irrelevant than usual.
Russia and Iran were proving their point with the "4+1" (Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah) actions on the ground and skies in Syria fighting all shades of Salafi-jihadism, "moderate" or otherwise.
And even the Obama administration -- after multiple meetings between Secretary Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov -- was correcting its course. That culminated in those pregnant with meaning 35 minutes of Obama and Putin face to face in a side table at the G-20 in Antalya on Sunday.
Guess who remained aligned with Hollande up to the last, tragic minute: the ideological matrix of all strands of Salafi-jihadism, Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, and the GCC minions. The French government "reward": plenty of juicy weapons deals. Here is just a partial list, coupled with hardcore French weaponizing of "moderate rebels."
So this is how "socialist" -- the dirtiest of words in the Beltway -- France fights its own GWOT (Global War on Terror): showering Rafales over "moderate rebel" enabler Doha, and with Salafi-jihadi weaponizer Riyadh as best client. Business, unsurprisingly, is booming.
It took an unprecedented carnage in Paris for Hollande, Fabius and Prime Minister Valls to wake up from their torpor and see which way the -- lethal -- wind was blowing. Now it's "war." It's "merciless." And it's against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.
Already in Vienna on Saturday, Lavrov and Kerry -- seconded by the usual minions, some of them reluctantly -- finally agreed to designate Jabhat al-Nusra, aka al-Qaeda in Syria, as terrorists, not "moderate rebels."
And yet few in the West will remember poseur Fabius praising al-Nusra just a few weeks ago; they "do a good job" in Syria ("Ils font un bon boulot.")
Hollande, immediately after unveiling France's remix of the 2001 Bush-declared "war on terra," bombed Raqqa, the fake "Caliphate" capital. Fabius, in Antalya, defended the decision as "political"; France had to be "present and active" following the Paris massacre.
"Active" should be interpreted as "previously noncommittal," at best. But "political"? Not really; rather borderline unlawful. ISIS/ISIL/Daesh is not a state -- as much as they bill themselves as a "Caliphate." Assuming international law still applies, France's invoked right of "self-defense" is illegal. Not to mention Paris was not invited by Damascus to strike inside Syrian territory, unlike the Russian Air Force.
Finally displaced from its splendid slumber, the French government had to strike Raqqa because after all the whole world is watching. Coordinated raids erupted all across France, from Toulouse and Grenoble to Calais. France's only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier -- and Europe's top (naval) dog -- the Charles de Gaulle, leaves Toulon on Thursday for the Persian Gulf. Hollande proudly extolled the mission; it "bolsters Paris' firepower."
From torpor to resolve. But why only now?