The mystery of the French hostages, continued
Now French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin raises the possibility that the 3 hostages are under Syrian control, and that Syria could be seeking a more favorable situation after the September 2 UN resolution (supported by France) requesting the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon:
Les autorités françaises supposent que le régime de Damas pourrait chercher à tirer un profit diplomatique d’une intervention pour libérer les otages, au moment où ses relations avec la France se sont dégradées, après la résolution de l’ONU du 2 septembre, appuyée par Paris, qui exigeait le retrait des troupes syriennes du Liban.
Note: In case you haven’t read my post from yesterday, notice that the Journal du dimanche” (JDD) was already claiming that Didier Julia — a member of Parliament for the UMP party (Raffarin & Chirac’s party) — and his group were under Syrian control.
This is one tangled mess.
It’s difficult to ignore the French nationalist overtones to the reporting: it’s always “the TWO French hostages (Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot) and their (unnamed) driver”, and also the overtly optimistic tones, such as, yesterday the government showed its ministers a video of the hostages dated Sept. 18 (the France2 news broadcast said Sept. 18, the NYTimes says Sept. 22, therefore “they are well”.
More importantly, the failure of diplomacy-negotiation-appeasement carries serious repercussions, while the above NYTimes article goes on to say “President Jacques Chirac appealed for national unity Tuesday to try to stem criticism of France’s failure to secure the release of two French journalists held in Iraq and restore faith in French diplomacy”. All the same, Two French officials met with the leader of a Sunni Muslim religious group Tuesday, saying they had re-established “the thread of contact” they hoped would lead to the release of two French hostages.
“Plus ça change, plus ça même chose.”