Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘laurent fabius

The Sceptical Case for Opposing Western Intervention in Syria.

with 8 comments


Al-Nusra Already Threatens Alawites over Chemical Attacks.

Patrick Cockburn writes (Independent),

The priority for Syrian foreign policy for the past two-and-a-half years has been to avoid foreign military intervention on behalf of the rebels. By the same token, the opposition has tried by every means to secure armed intervention by the US and its allies sufficient to win the war.

He then goes on to say,

Experts specialising in chemical weapons had hitherto expressed scepticism, even derision, at supposed proofs of chemical weapons use in the media.


So it is difficult to think of any action by the Damascus government more self-destructive than the Syrian army launching a massive chemical-weapons attack on rebel-held districts in its own capital. Yet the evidence is piling up that this is exactly what happened last Wednesday and that the Syrian army fired rockets or shells containing poison gas which killed hundreds of people in the east of the city. The opposition may be capable of manufacturing evidence of government atrocities, but it is highly unlikely it could do so on such a large scale as this.

After weighing up the situation detail Cockburn concludes,

The Syrian government denies it had anything to do with the gas attack, but it has not given a credible account of what did happen. Initially, there was disbelief that it would do something so patently against its own interests, but all the evidence so far is that it has done just that.

This morning on France Inter, the well-informed geopolitics commentator Bernard Guetta expressed the  view that all the Western governments were convinced that the chemical attack had taken place.

The issue now is what kind of action they will take.

In France, Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius says on  Europe 1    that “toutes les options restaient “ouvertes” et que la décision concernant une “réponse proportionnée” serait prise “dans les jours qui viennent”.

All options remain open, and that a decision, regarding a proportional response, will be taken in the coming days.

In the UK the BBC reports,

Diplomatic pressure on Syria has failed and the UK is considering its response to a suspected chemical attack, Foreign Secretary William Hague says.

He told the BBC it would be possible for the UK and its allies to respond without the UN’s unanimous backing.

He said the UN Security Council, split over Syria, had not “shouldered its responsibilities”.

Today we learn that (Independent),

The White House signalled on Sunday night that the Syrian government’s decision to finally allow weapons inspectors to analyse the site of last week’s alleged chemical attack was too little too late after bluntly rebuffing an invitation issued by Damascus.

Options for a military strike drawn up by the Pentagon are already on President Barack Obama’s desk.  However as he contemplated them last night – most likely a strike by cruise missiles launched from the Mediterranean – he was on the receiving end of strong warnings to desist from both Moscow and some leaders of his own party at home.

The administration official stressed that President Obama had not made up his mind and was awaiting a final assessment from the US intelligence services on the circumstances of the use of chemical weapons. But he made clear that the outcome of that assessment was hardly a matter of suspense. “There is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident.” Any final decision may also await a meeting of top Western and Arab defence ministers in Amman expected in the coming few days.

This is not a question of arming “Syrian democratic leftists”.

Not is a matter (as Socialist Unity believes) of defending an “axis of resistance”  – Syria, and Iran – against the ‘West’ – imperialism or as they call it, the “West’s hegemonic objectives” .

We would not defend these blood drenched regimes.

It is is doubtful if the Syrian tragedy is a “proxy war” (for whom, for what?), as the Stop the War Coalition alleges.

There are profound democratic reasons to want Assad and the Baathist tyranny to go.

The reason is that intervention will not help Syria to create a democratic society based on social rights.

Western direct involvement in the Syrian civil war will not help the cause of the peoples.

There is indeed a wide range of opposition groups in Syria, many involved in the fighting (see Wikipedia for the long list).

It is said (Reuters)  that they intend to create a National Army.

“Once we get the (battle)field organised, then everything will be organised,” he said. “This will be the army of the new Syria. We want to integrate its ranks and unify the sources of funding and arms,” the Syrian National Coalition member said.

Saudi Arabia has prevailed over Qatar to impose itself as the main outside force supporting the Syrian rebels, in part to counter the influence of Qatari-backed Islamist militants.

Riyadh has put forward $100 million as preliminary funding for a force planned to be 6,000 to 10,000 strong, rebels say.

Sources in the Coalition said the aim was to form a core of several thousand well-trained fighters that would also serve as the base for a bigger national army once Assad was toppled, avoiding a military vacuum and anarchy.

Yet the hard-line Islamist groups, Salafists and Jihadists (list here) within the armed opposition have not stopped growing.

They have shown utter contempt for democracy and human life.

Their hatred of minorities, from Christians, Alawites, to the Kurds, has been demonstrated through gore and horror.

The Al-Nusra Front has already threatened Alwaite villagers (not Assad) as a reprisal against alleged Chemical warfare.

Many of us would not put much faith in a Saudi backed force to replace them – or to rein them in.

The West’s action will be pouring petrol on the fire.

Oppose Western Intervention!

Written by Andrew Coates

August 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Pierre Mauroy (1928 – 2013) Dies.

leave a comment »


France 24

French Socialist politician Pierre Mauroy has died at the age of 84

Former French Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy has died at the age of 84, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced on Friday.

“A pillar of socialism has passed away,” said Fabius, speaking from Tokyo where he was on an official visit with President François Hollande.

Mauroy had been hospitalised since last weekend for routine treatment following surgery in April 2012 for a lung tumour.

He served as prime minister in the first Socialist government of France’s fifth republic from 1981 to 1984 under president François Mitterrand.

During his term, France voted in landmark reforms such as the 39-hour work week, retirement at the age of 60 and the abolition of the death penalty.

He was also the mayor of Lille, a city in the north of France and a Socialist stronghold, and first secretary of the Socialist Party from 1988 to 1992 before Hollande took over as head of the party.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

The Guardian,

Pierre Mauroy, who has died aged 84, was France’s first socialist prime minister under the Fifth Republic. When François Mitterrand was elected president in May 1981, he put Mauroy at the head of a government intent on radical social reform. Though his tenure lasted just three years, he remained a significant figure in the French Socialist party (PS) for the rest of his life.

Mauroy’s government was a radical reforming one, implementing a wide range of social reforms including the reduction of the legal workweek from 40 to 39 hours,[1] the lowering of the retirement age to sixty, and a rise in social welfare benefits. Entitlement to paid holidays was also extended from four to five weeks. During the Mauroy government’s first year in office, minimum pensions were increased by 38%, rent allowances by 50%, family allowances by 25% (50% for households with two children), and the minimum wage by 25%.[2]

More on Wikipedia. (Extracts)

“During the 1981-82 period, state industrial investment was substantially increased, 17 billion francs in ”soft loan” credit was provided to private industry, 7 billion francs was set aside to help school leavers, 54,000 new civil service jobs were created, and a major housebuilding drive was launched.[3] Efforts were made to shift the burden of direct taxes away from lower- income groups, while increases in the minimum wage gave the low paid a real increase in their living standards of about 15% in 1981–82.[1] Unemployment benefits were also increased, together with the duration of time in which one could receive them.[4] In addition, the maximum allowable workweek was reduced from 50 to 48 hours.[5]

Upon taking office, the Mauroy Government embarked upon an ambitious redistributive programme. The minimum wage went up in real terms by 11% between May 1981 and September 1982, while the minimum old age pension was increased by 30%. 800,000 elderly people were exempted from paying T.V. licenses, while 1.5 million were also exempted from local taxes. Between May 1981 and January 1983, family benefits were significantly increased, with the purchasing power of the 2,700,000 families with two children raised by 40%. These policies significantly improved the living standards of the less well off in French society,[6] with poverty reduced during Mauroy’s term in office.[7] Family allowances were increased by 81% for families with two children and by 49% for families with three children, while old-age pensions were raised by 300 francs a month for a single person and 3,700 francs for a couple.

Altogether, the purchasing power of social transfers went up by 45% in 1981 and by 7.6% in 1982. Health care coverage was also extended, with health insurance benefits made more widely available to part-time employees and the unemployed.[6] Efforts were also made to promote voluntary retirement at sixty, with a pension ranging upwards from 80% of the SMIC to 50% of a middle-management salary.[1] In 1982, two measures were introduced that extended eligibility for early retirement for workers aged 55 to 59: the contrats de preretraites progressives and the contrats de solidarite-demission. These programmes were aimed at stimulating consumption and aggregate demand by providing firms with incentives to hire younger workers as replacements for early retirees. A year later, “solidarity contracts” were introduced which provided early retirement for older workers aged 55 or above on the condition that firms replace recipients with younger workers.[8] Elderly people benefited greatly from the social and economic measures undertaken by the Mauroy Government, with the real income of pensioners rising by a quarter.[“


I had some time for Mauroy.

He was very much in the tradition of the established working class based North of France Socialist party.