All for show, like the American effort: “We can already see it in Iraq, where the majority of American planes return to base without having dropped their bombs. And we have just learned the result of these operations were manipulated to make us think they were working.”
French air strikes launched against Islamic State jihadists in Syria on Sunday may win Paris political capital, but are unlikely to yield serious military gains or stop terrorist attacks, analysts say.
The strikes were announced on the eve of the UN General Assembly in New York where Syria is back in the diplomatic limelight after four years of grinding war that has sent tens of thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe.
France, which has been the target of a series of jihadist attacks, has explained its change in strategy by saying it was acting in self-defence.
However analysts say that by sending fighter jets to Syria, France is mainly seeking to ease domestic political pressure, and remain relevant abroad in the latest scramble for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
“To say that we will prevent terrorist attacks in France thanks to air strikes in Syria is, and I am weighing my words, absolute bullshit,” said Eric Denece, the director of the French intelligence think-tank CF2R.
“When the Americans carry out thousands of strikes … it can have a limited impact. But for France in Syria, it will only be a few symbolic strikes. It is gesticulation, smoke and mirrors to deceive the public.”
– ‘Symbolic, political impact’ –
France has been part of the US-led coalition bombarding IS in Iraq since September 2014, and has carried out 215 out of nearly 4,500 strikes there, according to French and US figures.
However until now it refused to join the US, Canada, Turkey and Gulf states in Syria, where the coalition has conducted some 2,500 strikes….
Denece said as the efforts were not accompanied by any ground troops, bombing from the air had limited impact.
“We can already see it in Iraq, where the majority of American planes return to base without having dropped their bombs. And we have just learned the result of these operations were manipulated to make us think they were working.”
Francois Burgat of the Institute for Research into the Arab and Muslim world in Aix-en-Provence agreed that the French air strikes “have in fact very little chance of significantly affecting the military balance.”
But the “symbolic and political impact could be considered more important,” he told AFP….
France’s air strikes against what Prime Minister Manuel Valls called IS “sanctuaries” comes after a series of humiliating blows for the military campaign against the jihadist group….