News Analysis: Paris attacks may lead to stronger French anti-IS role, relatively different view on Syria

2015-11-14 20:06:07 GMT2015-11-15 04:06:07(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- The recent terror attacks in Paris, which killed over a hundred civilians and wounded over 300, are likely to lead France to play a more active role in the U.S.-led alliance against the Islamic State (IS) militant group in the Middle East and to adopt a relatively different position on the Syrian crisis, said Egyptian political and security experts.

Claimed by the IS, the Paris attacks resulted in the highest number of victims in France's modern history, representing a qualitative change in the IS operational strategy.

The attacks came less than two weeks after a Russian plane crashed in Egypt's North Sinai province and killed all 224 on board, mostly Russians; a tragedy that was also claimed by the IS branch in Egypt's Sinai but was strongly refuted by both the Egyptian and the Russian sides.

STRONGER ANTI-IS ROLE

France is already a member of the international anti-IS alliance led by the United States, which has been operating in the region over the past couple of years without much achievement.

"I believe France will have stronger and more active participation in the anti-IS international alliance in the Middle East probably by sending more troops or fighter jets to help eliminate the IS," Hassan Nafaa, professor of political sciences at Cairo University, told Xinhua.

The professor expected the French response to be strong and that France will have a greater anti-terror role in the Middle East, adding that "there will also be a strong reaction from the European Union of which France is an influential part."

Nafaa said that France will have to appear strong in front of the local and international public opinion through its response to such bloody attacks.

VIEW ON SYRIA MAY CHANGE

Russia has recently - and unilaterally - decided to join the anti-terror war in the region by fighting "terrorism" side by side with the troops of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. The move has been opposed by most Western states that see Assad's fall as part of the solution for the Syrian crisis.

Like the United States and most of the West, France's position was clear that there would be no solution in Syria while Assad remained in power.

"The French position on Assad might relatively change, as the bleeding European country may not give priority to Assad's departure but to the elimination of the IS in the first place," professor Nafaa said.

He argued that the French position may turn to be close to that of the Russia, as the theory of getting rid of Assad to resolve the Syrian issue "is getting weaker day by day."

SYRIAN REFUGEES AFFECTED

France declared a state of emergency and three-day mourning over Friday's simultaneous attacks in Paris, described by French President Francois Hollande as "an act of war" by IS jihadists.

At such a chaotic time, countries normally would not want to risk opening its borders for refugees from turmoil-stricken Arab states like Syria, whose name has something to do with the Paris attacks.

"The deadly attacks would surely affect the situation of the Syrian refugees in Europe, as fingers would point at them to be responsible for the recent tragedy," said Gamal Mazloum, a security expert and former chief of the Armed Forces Center for Strategic Studies.

A Syrian refugee camp caught fire in northern France hours after the attacks, Poland announced rejection of receiving any Syrian refugees after the attacks, while some French media circulated that a Syrian passport was found at one of the crime scenes.

"The Syrian refugees suffer from the Syrian regime, so it is time for the world powers, including France, to find real solutions for the Syrian crisis and not to leave the Syrians in such crossroads," said Mazloum, also vice-dean of the Faculty of Strategic Sciences at Riyadh-based Naif Arab University for Security Studies.

"The Russian participation was due to the slackness of the Western anti-terror alliance in the region," Mazloum told Xinhua, arguing that the instability of some Arab countries to the southern Mediterranean Sea poses "a direct threat" to those northern the Mediterranean, including France, Italy and others.

CHANGE IN IS STRATEGY

"The Paris attacks represent a qualitative change in the strategy of the IS, whose tactics used to be different from those of Al-Qaeda, although they both have some shared goals," said Diaa Rashwan, head of Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

Rashwan explained that Al-Qaeda is a terrorist group without a specific territory in which it seeks to establish a state, unlike that IS that wants to establish a state in the Iraq and Syria region.

"Launching cross-border attacks outside its territories was not one of the IS priorities that sought in the first place to strengthen its territorial grasp at home instead of opening an external fighting front and creating further enemies," the top researcher told Xinhua.

"This is why the Paris attacks reveal a real change in the IS strategy, as the simultaneous assaults were well-organized, indicating well-trained elements showing off power and challenging the authorities," Rashwan added.

He expected the perpetrators to be IS Western-recruited elements who joined fighting side by side with the IS in the region and then were ordered to go back home to carry out the attacks.

"Reconsidering the position on Syria could make changes in favor of the whole world, and the learned lesson is not to be negligent in monitoring the Western recruits in terrorist groups," Al-Ahram Center chief told Xinhua.

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