France fights barbaric invasion of Europe
CANBERRA—The United Nations Security Council has unanimously passed a resolution calling on all UN members to “take all necessary measures” in the global war against the Islamic State (IS). The resolution stressed that UN members should “redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks,” and urged them to “eradicate the safe haven” that IS and other militant groups had established in parts of Iraq and Syria.
But the resolution fell short of invoking Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which gives specific legal authorization for the use of force. Nonetheless, this omission did not tie the hands of France and Russia from launching retaliatory military action against IS strongholds. They argued that it is justifiable because of the right of countries to self-defense.
The UN Security Council acted in response to the French-drafted document calling on UN members to take up the fight against the IS following its statement claiming responsibility for the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that left more than 120 civilians dead and scores wounded.
French diplomats said the UN Security Council resolution would provide important international support to the anti-IS campaign that has been ramped up since the Paris attacks. “The exceptional and unprecedented threat posed by this group to the entire international community requires a strong, united and unambiguous response from the Security Council,” said French Ambassador to the UN François Delattre.
As France pushed for a stronger international coalition against the IS, French President François Hollande said his country would “intensify” its action in Syria. Its campaign received a much-needed boost from the UN Security Council resolution and key European allies.
Speaking in Paris as he held talks with Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron said “the world is coming together” to fight the IS. He backed his reassuring words with his “firm conviction” that the United Kingdom should join the air strike on Syria. He said the UN Security Council resolution, which pledged that the international community would “redouble” action against the IS, showed the unity in the fight against violent jihadists in Europe and around the world.
“We have shown our firm resolve and together we will destroy this evil threat,” Cameron said. “I firmly support the action of President Hollande to strike IS in Syria, and it is my firm conviction that Britain should do so, too.”
The United Kingdom is making its Akrotiri air base in Cyprus available to France, as Paris has deployed its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle as the launching platform for devastating attacks into IS territory in Syria.
Cameron is preparing to set out his plan for tackling the ongoing crisis in Syria this week, after a UK foreign affairs committee report that said Britain should not join allied bombing in Syria without a coherent international strategy on the IS. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said UK military capability—such as the use of Brimstone missiles—would be an important contribution to the international fight against Islamist extremists.
On the international front, Hollande has said that getting rid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is no longer what counts. He said a coalition among France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States—all members of the UN Security Council—is starting to take shape and its aim will be simple: “to grind the IS into the dust.” European commentators considered this a “huge step” in the light of the fact that just a few days ago, the French government was arguing that Assad was as much of a problem as the jihadists. “Now, there is clear hierarchy of evil.”
Hollande, in a meeting with mayors on Wednesday, urged his countrymen to defy terrorism by going back to their normal way of living—visiting cafés and museums, and not caving in to fear and xenophobia. “Our duty is to get on with our lives,” he told the mayors. “Terrorists steal the lives of innocent people, and they also want to suspend ours. France will remain a country of freedom of movement, of culture, an active, brave and dynamic country that doesn’t surrender to fear.”
He vowed to work with allies to destroy the Islamic State, after earlier declaring that France was at war with IS terrorists. But he also warned people against overreaction. “We must be implacable against all forms of violence. No xenophobic, anti-Semite, anti-Muslim act must be tolerated.” He also said France should honor its duty to offer protection to refugees from Syria and Iraq, “because they are being tormented by the same who attacked us.”
The tough measures against the terrorist attacks came down as France extended a state of emergency for three months. These include a measure that enables authorities to close any association or gathering—which notably includes mosques and community groups—that would encourage people to carry out terrorist acts.
But Hollande stressed that “life must return to normal,” and promised extra security to ensure that museums and popular sites can reopen. Then he challenged French citizens to contemplate the scenario: “What would our country be without its cafés, concerts, sport events, museums—in short, the soul of French culture and civilization and the universal principle embodied in liberté, égalité and fraternité.”
It’s hard to visualize Paris not as the crown jewel of the Age of Enlightenment.
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