What is France doing to counter Daesh? [fr]
To counter the advance of Daesh in Iraq and Syria, and with the knowledge that this terrorist group poses a threat to international security, a global coalition was formed in September 2014. It unites 65 States and organizations with the goal of destroying Daesh’s capacities by all means necessary, including military action. What is Daesh? What threat does it pose? What is France doing to combat Daesh?
France is one of the main contributors to the military action of the international coalition against Daesh. France has been carrying out Operation Chammal within the framework of the coalition in Iraq since September 2014 and in Syria since 8 September 2015.
It carries out air operations, and provides advice and training to Iraqi and particularly Kurdish security forces. France is also providing support to the moderate opposition fighting against Daesh in Syria.
Following the attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis on 13 November 2015, France has intensified air operations over Syrian territory. To this end, it has deployed six Rafales and an Atlantique-2 maritime patrol aircraft operating from the United Arab Emirates, and eight Mirage 2000 aircraft stationed in Jordan. These resources are strengthened from time to time by the carrier battle group built around the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier (18 Super Etendard, 8 Rafale marine, 3,500 French troops, from November 2015 to February 2016).
Our increased military efforts and those of our partners will only have full effect if sustainable political solutions are found for the crises in Syria and Iraq.
In this regard, our position as regards Syria remains clear and consistent: only a political transition based on the Geneva Communiqué can resolve the crisis and reduce extremism in the long term. Resolution 2254 adopted by the Security Council in December 2015 set out a roadmap, with a timetable for transition. France and its partners are calling for the full implementation of this transition, which must maintain the existing institutions and bring together members of the moderate opposition and the regime. But Assad can be no part of the outcome.
This is not merely a question of ethics (as the United Nations has reminded us, his crimes could be considered war crimes and crimes against humanity), it is also a question of effectiveness: keeping Assad in place encourages continued conflict and refugee flows, destabilizes the region and Europe and prevents Syrians from working together against terrorism.
It is therefore in order to support this transition process that France is supporting the moderate opposition, which in December 2015 expressed its commitment to a political solution and to a free and democratic Syria for tomorrow. It is also in order to achieve this transition that France is calling for inter-Syrian negotiations to be resumed under the auspices of the United Nations, via full compliance with the truce introduced on 27 February and free and unhindered humanitarian access to all areas of Syria.
In Iraq, the only lasting solution to the crisis is a political one. We support the Iraqi Government in its efforts to reform and we encourage the Iraqi authorities to quickly adopt the measures announced by the Abadi Government in autumn 2014 towards national reconciliation. Translating this national reconciliation programme into concrete actions is a prerequisite for the sustainable resolution of the crisis, which is the only way to defeat Daesh.
In order to safeguard pluralism and ethnic and religious diversity in the Middle East, on 8 September 2015, alongside Jordan, France co-chaired an International Conference on the Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East. The Conference led to the adoption of a three-part action plan (political, humanitarian and legal) in order to support persecuted populations.
Finally, the pressure on Daesh in Syria and Iraq must not make Libya a fall-back area for the terrorist organization. It is for this reason that it is urgent to find a solution to the political crisis in the country. To this end, France is working in close cooperation with all its partners on the regional and international scene to support the signing of the inter-Libyan agreement, the fruit of over a year’s mediation by the United Nations. This Agreement aims to put an end to the division of the country, to open a transitional period and to form a government of national accord as soon as possible, which is the only way to efficiently tackle the expansion of Daesh and human trafficking in Libya.
France is fully mobilized to cut off Daesh’s sources of financing, alongside its European and international partners.
At international level, France, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has been actively involved in adopting a number of Council resolutions against the financing of terrorism.
On 17 December 2015, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2253 renewing the sanctions regime against Al-Qaeda, which was renamed the sanctions regime against Daesh and Al-Qaeda. The resolution makes progress on two fronts: it updates the sanctions regime to take account of the changing threat, specifically mentioning Daesh, and it strengthens the international framework for combating the financing of terrorism, calling on the Member States to take supplementary measures to cut off Daesh’s financing channels and to hold its financial supporters to account.
Resolution 2199 of 12 February 2015 already required States to take strong measures to fight the illicit trafficking of oil, raw materials and cultural property, and to prevent any financial transfers to Daesh.
From a military perspective, the strikes by the international coalition have destroyed a large number of oil infrastructures controlled by Daesh (e.g. wells, refineries, convoys of tanker trucks), significantly reducing the organization’s income.
France also plays a leading role in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In particular, alongside the United States, it co-led the preparation of a report on the emerging risks of terrorist financing.
At EU level, on 2 February the Commission set out an action plan for combating the financing of terrorism, largely incorporating the proposals made by France last December. This plan includes:
strengthening and harmonizing the prerogatives of the financial intelligence units;
improving systems to freeze terrorist assets;
strengthening the control and regulation of non-banking means of payment;
measures to combat illegal trade in cultural property.
At national level, France has a system to freeze terrorist assets, enabling it to freeze the assets of a person who commits or attempts to commit acts of terrorism, participates in such acts or facilitates them and their financial backers.
In March 2015, the French Minister of Finance and Public Accounts set out a plan to combat the financing of terrorism, which had three goals:
reduce the level of anonymity in the economy so as to better trace financial transactions;
step up monitoring, by mobilizing financial stakeholders in the fight against terrorism;
increase the ability to freeze the assets of those who finance or take part in terrorism.
The overall plan should be fully implemented by the end of the first quarter of 2016.
Finally, France is fully mobilized to tackle art and antique trafficking. In November, the Minister of Finance and Public Accounts wrote to antique dealers’ associations to draw their attention to trafficking in works of art from Syria and Iraq and to the fact that this could help finance Daesh. Furthermore, on 17 November, the President of the French Republic announced at UNESCO that France will introduce customs controls on imported cultural property and will create "shelters" in France for endangered cultural property.
From a humanitarian perspective, France is conducting a series of complementary actions including providing emergency aid to people fleeing the fighting, welcoming refugees and supporting victims of ethnic and religious violence. In addition, France is mobilized to ensure that the crimes committed by Daesh, which according to the United Nations constitute crimes against humanity, and in some cases, crimes of genocide, do not go unpunished.
International criminal justice. France believes it essential that the crimes committed in Syria and Iraq be referred to the International Criminal Court and is continuing to work to this end. It supports the efforts of the United Nations and civil society to document the atrocities committed by Daesh.
Humanitarian assistance in Iraq, Syria and the initial host countries of Syrian and Iraqi refugees (Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey). Since 2012, France has been supporting projects implemented by international organizations and NGOs to provide emergency assistance to populations fleeing from combat zones and to support host communities in Syria’s neighbouring countries. France announced at the London Conference that it would raise €200 million in humanitarian aid for the 2016-2018 period, including for youth and education, focusing on Lebanon, and to support cross-border assistance projects. France also announced that the French Development Agency would provide €900 million in loans and concessional loans for Jordan.
Welcoming Syrian and Iraqi refugees. As recalled by the President of the French Republic, Europe must welcome asylum seekers in dignity. France hosts refugees under its European commitments but also under a resettlement and humanitarian admission programme set up with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.
Support for the victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East. On 8 September 2015, alongside Jordan, France co-chaired an International Conference on the Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East. This Conference led to the adoption of a three-part action plan (political, humanitarian and legal) in order to support persecuted populations. On that occasion, a national emergency fund of €10 million was created for 2015 and 2016. It aims to finance action in the areas of housing, education, vocational training, health, mine clearance and the fight against impunity. Furthermore, the AFD will contribute an additional €15 million to economic and social development projects in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq to support refugees and host communities.
Compliance with international humanitarian law. Finally, France is taking action to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law, including humanitarian access and stopping attacks against civilians in Syria.