Wednesday, August 5, 2020 09:53:29 PM
AFP, Manama :
French Defence Minister Florence Parly took aim Saturday at "gradual US disengagement" in the Middle East and said its failure to respond to provocations blamed on Iran set off a dangerous chain of events.
Since May, tensions in the Gulf have increased with attacks against tankers, a US unmanned drone being downed, and strikes on key Saudi oil facilities.
Iran was blamed but denied involvement.
Despite the attacks on its Saudi ally and having one of its own drones shot down, the United States has avoided equivalent retaliation.
"We've seen a deliberate gradual US disengagement," Parly said at the annual Manama Dialogue on regional security, adding it had been "on the cards for a while" but had become clearer.
"When the mining of ships went unanswered, the drone got shot. When that in turn went unanswered, major oil facilities were bombed. Where does it stop? Where are the stabilisers?" she asked.
"The region is accustomed to the ebb and flow of US involvement. But this time it seemed more serious."
Parly said the US drawback was a "slow process" and acknowledged that a US carrier strike group had just entered the Gulf.
"But the trend is, I think, quite clear and thus probably irrespective of who wins the next elections."
The US aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln sailed through the key Strait of Hormuz last week to show Washington's "commitment" to freedom of navigation, the Pentagon said.
It was the first time a US aircraft carrier group has passed through the strait since Iran downed a US drone in June in the same area. The French defence minister also put herself at odds with the US on maritime security in the Gulf, after Washington earlier this month launched a maritime coalition based in Bahrain to protect shipping in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
France instead favours a European mission which Parly said should be able to start "very soon".
"We want to make clear that our policy is separate from the 'maximum pressure' American policy," she said, referring to Washington's increasing sanctions against Tehran.
"I would like to add that we are not subtracting anything, we are adding, as a number of countries would not have participated in the American initiative anyway."
In a wide-ranging and strongly-worded speech, Parly also spoke out on the dangers of chemical weapons again being used in Syria-an outcome that would be a red line for France.
"Yes there is a risk and when you look at (rebel-held) Idlib province there is a strong risk," she said.
"I am convinced that if these weapons were used again that France would be ready to react again."
She also homed in on strains on NATO, saying it remained the cornerstone of security in Europe but that it was "time to move from the brain-dead to the brainstorm".
French President Emmanuel Macron stirred controversy this month saying he believed NATO was undergoing "brain death," lamenting a lack of coordination between Europe and the United States, in an interview with The Economist magazine.
Parly said proposals will be laid on the table at the alliance's summit in London in December including for a group of "wise persons or elders to think about the future of NATO".
Reuters, Bangkok :Speakers at a Thai anti-government protest demanded reforms to the monarchy of King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Monday, calling for its powers to be curbed in unusually frank public comments.Defaming the monarchy is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under Thailand's 'lese majeste' laws. Police did not ...
There is intense speculation in the Spanish media about the whereabouts of embattled ex-King Juan Carlos, after his shock announcement on Monday that he was leaving the country.The 82-year-old, who is targeted by a corruption probe, announced the move in a letter posted on the royal website.It gave no details ...
Donna Vekic won the first main-draw match following the resumption of the WTA Tour as she beat Arantxa Rus in the first round of the Palermo Open.The Croatian beat her Dutch opponent 6-1 6-2 at the clay-court event on the Italian island of Sicily.The tournament marks the return of professional ...
Abahani Limited have chalked out various day-long programmes to observe the 71st Birth anniversary of Shaheed Sheikh Kamal, the eldest son of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, today.The directors and officials of Abahani Club will pay tribute to Sheikh Kamal by placing wreaths on his portrait on ...
THE rawhide market for sacrificial animal this year during the Eid-ul-Azha has almost collapsed like last year's literally wiping out seasonal traders and madrasha volunteers who have so far collected rawhide from door to door. Previously they would deposit the sale proceeds as charitable contribution to madrashas and such other ...
EID ul Azha or 'Feast of the Sacrifice', is the second of two such holidays celebrated worldwide each year by Muslims. It honors the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to the command of Allah. In commemoration of this intervention, an ...
Instagram has flagged a video by Madonna which claimed that Covid-19 had already been found, but the vaccine is being hidden to ‘let the rich get richer.’ Instagram blurred out the video with a caption saying: “False Information,” reported by BBC. It also directed users to a page debunking the ...
Reuters, Hong Kong :Hong Kong's government said on Thursday 12 pro-democracy candidates had been disqualified from running for election to the legislature, citing opposition to a new national security law imposed by Beijing, but denied infringing civil rights.Disqualified candidates included pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, some members of the Civic Party, ...
THE government has suspended the special open market sale (OMS) of rice introduced to help the urban poor who were forced to cut food consumption after being hit by the coronavirus crisis. Though normalcy yet to be restored and nobody has a clear idea when the economy will resume in ...
Pop star Justin Bieber has shared an inspirational post about having compassion for those who are hurting. The 26-year-old took to his Instagram and posted: “My desire is to be slow to speak and quick to listen. My desire is to see people the way God sees people. My desire ...