US-led France ignored reality in Syria, harmed itself with Russia sanctions – frmr French intel boss

Alain Juillet © Romain Lafabregue
The French government ignored its own intelligence in dealing with crises in Ukraine and Syria, and recklessly followed Washington’s lead by joining anti-Russian sanctions, dealing a huge blow to its agriculture, said a former French intelligence boss.

Alain Juillet, former deputy director of intelligence at France’s General Directorate for External Security, accused French authorities of making a range of poor foreign policy choices, such as its pro-rebel stance in the Syrian crisis and anti-Russian response to the Ukrainian turmoil, which he says have proven detrimental to French citizens.

“The French were certainly wrong on Syria and Ukraine,” Juillet told Paris Match on Thursday, while citing two possible reasons for the authorities’ policy blunders. One potential explanation he offered was that the government had received inaccurate intelligence. The other was that “despite the information, the politicians wanted to go in a direction not connected with the reality. On the Syrian issue, we simply ignored the reality,” he stressed.

To highlight the importance of maintaining constructive relations with the Syrian authorities, he mentioned the hostage situation in which four French journalists in Syria spent nearly a year in captivity before being freed in 2014. 

“At the time of the conflict in Iraq, when four journalists were taken hostage in Syria, we maintained good relations, though not official, with Syrian services. These relationships have always served us. Suddenly, all the bridges are cut. This is utter nonsense,” he said.

Juillet also blamed the government for being manipulated into helping “people, supposedly rebels, who are in fact Al-Qaeda affiliates backed by the Gulf countries.” He complained that the “advice of the intelligence services is ignored,” which is “a serious mistake.” 

The former intelligence officer also lamented the damage being done to French industry by sticking to the pro-American policy in the Ukraine conflict.

“By following policy set by Americans, we didn’t anticipate the consequences of the embargo against Moscow. It, of course, has created some problems for Russia, but look what is happening to our agriculture! We ourselves cut its access to the Russian market.”

He also questioned the effectiveness of the US-endorsed embargo on Russia, saying it had been “fabricated” by American neoconservatives. 

US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s admission that the war in Iraq was a mistake shows that he doesn’t mind breaking “a taboo existing among Republicans, who had buried the case,” and indicates that “Americans are beginning to wash their dirty laundry,” according to Juillet, who expects that more and more Americans will begin to question the necessity and nature of the US’ involvement in Ukraine. Several articles have already been published disputing Washington’s handling of the crisis.