France opens negotiations with Syria to recover its 18 agents
On 13 February 2012, Thierry Meyssan revealed on the first Russian television channel that Syria had captured a dozen French soldiers. Voltaire Networkis now in a position to confirm that as of 26 February the number of French prisoners is 18 (eighteen).
If Paris admits that they were on a mission, they will be entitled to prisoner-of-war status and protected by the relative Geneva Convention; but if Paris denies having sent them, they will be considered as foreign civilians and judged in Syria for their crimes, which are punishable by the death penalty.
France has opened three negotiation channels via the Russian Federation, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman.
The ambassador of France, Eric Chevallier, returned urgently to Damascus on 23 February.
Kofi Annan has been appointed as the joint United Nations-Arab League envoy on the Syrian crisis.
Aware of the potential use it can make of the captives in the midst of the French electoral campaign, Damascus called on Syrian state media not to raise the matter at this time. It thus reserves the possibility of dealing with it under the radar if this option proves to be more advantageous. While acknowledging the uniqueness of this situation, the Syrian journalists, who were quick to adapted to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the new media law, growled that limits are again being imposed for reasons of national security.
If negotiations are kept secret, France will have to quietly pay very heavy war indemnities, either in cash or by way of economic privileges. If they are made public, France can hope to reduce the bill, but Nicolas Sarkozy and Alain Juppe will have some explaining to do to their fellow citizens. Their political camp would compromise its chances of winning the presidential election, with the president even risking to be brought before the High Court (Articles 35 and 68 of the Constitution).
In the Rainbow Warrior affair (1985), where there was a sunken ship and one person killed, France had formally apologized and had paid a compensation of $ 7 million to New Zealand and $ 8.16 million to Greenpeace. Above all, Paris had to consent to the importation of sheep of New Zealand partially destroying its own sheep industry. In exchange, the two detained French agents were released. Ironically, Laurent Fabius, the Prime Minister whose government had ordered the attack on the Rainbow Warrior, is tipped to become foreign minister if the Socialist candidate, François Hollande, becomes the next French president. The latter happens to be former brother-in-law of Lt. Col. Gerard Royal, who commanded the operation.
In the secret war against Syria, France and its allies are responsible for a conflict that caused the death of at least 3,000 Syrian soldiers and 1,500 civilians, plus economic losses and the sabotage of infrastructure estimated at least $ 3 billion.