French Interior Minister: Help Syrian Rebels ‘Triage’ Islamic Extremists from Their Ranks

Syria is a "monumental" concern for France

From James Jay Carafano, National Interest:  The French minister [of Interior Manuel Valls] said he had a list of “monumental” concerns . . . and number one on his list is Syria. Whether Al Qaeda or Assad wins—or if the battle spreads into a larger, regional Shia-Sunni civil war—France is the loser, he implied. The implication: Paris is more than ready to help arm the Free Syrian Army to keep them from losing.

Valls acknowledged the risk of weapons winding up in the hands of Al Qaeda, but—he shrugged—what’s the alternative? A no-fly zone, he said, was too risky. Boots on the ground? Unthinkable. The only solution, Valls suggested, was to keep the freedom fighters in the fight and press them to “triage”—in other words, purgethe hard-core Islamists from their own ranks.

Valls was equally worried about the blowback from the fighting in Syria on France. Foreign fighters from Europe (about six hundred, he estimated) have flooded into Syria in the last twelve months. That’s almost 60 percent of the number that went to fight in Afghanistan over a thirteen-year period. These foreign fighters hail from many European nations—Belgium, England, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and Italy—but nearly a quarter (some 140 fighters) come from France.

James Jay Carafano is vice president of defense and foreign policy studies at The Heritage Foundation.  (photo: BGNES)

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