How France became Syria’s enemy No. 1

Mirella Hodeib reports for The Daily Star:

‘The gory attack Wednesday on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo came at critical time for France: Its traditional sway in the Middle East is steadily declining and more than ever its foreign policy marred by confusion. Those very miscalculations are the topic of journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot’s polemic book “The Roads to Damascus: The Black Dossier of French-Syrian Relations.” The duo – who rose to fame after their kidnapping in Iraq in 2004 – trace in their latest book the details of almost 30 years of French-Syrian ties – relations that have greatly deteriorated at the onset of the Syrian uprising in 2011.

Lebanon being the bone of contention between Damascus and Paris; the authors also go into great lengths describing the major milestones that have shaped the peculiar relationship between the three countries. From the 1981 assassination in Beirut of French diplomat Louis Delmare, including the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri, the 2006 war with Israel and more recently Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war, Lebanon has always been the catalyst of Syrian-French relations.’

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