The French ex-diplomat is Minister Plenipotentiary, knight of the Legion of Honour and officer of the National Order of Merit. From 1976 to 1978, Raimbaud was Secretary in Djeddah (Saudi Arabia), and then from 1978 to 1979 in Aden (Yemen), before he was transferred from 1979 to 1985 in the Central administration (Africa and Madagascar Affairs). He was then appointed second Counsellor in Cairo and Brasilia from 1988 to 1991, before becoming French Ambassador to Mauritania from 1991 to 1994 and then Ambassador to Sudan for more than five years. From June 2000 to February 2003, he was Director of the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA), then in the Central Administration at the Quai d’Orsay, before becoming French Ambassador to Zimbabwe in 2004 and retiring in 2006. He then became a lecturer and also taught at the Centre for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies (CEDS).
The interview conducted by Francesco Guadagni has been published in the Italian medium “L’antidiplomatico”.
Mr. Raimbaud, 2021 is the tenth anniversary of the so-called Arab Spring. What assessment can we make?
Let us first make it clear that the protest movements that broke out between December 2010 (in Tunisia) and spring 2011 are obviously neither a political “spring” nor “peaceful and spontaneous revolutions” for democracy and human rights. Although they initially attracted gullible people who fought against corruption and authoritarian regimes, it soon became apparent that the movements were being monitored and manipulated by activists trained by Western NGOs in the West, using standardized techniques of mobilization, propaganda and organization learned locally from the colorful revolutions that led to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The dominant media groups called them” struggles for democracy and human rights”. What were they really?
What was demanded was the departure of the heads of state, a change of government and reforms aimed at weakening or destroying the state, the institutions, the armies (priority objectives for the West and Israel, as well as the “revolutionaries”always inspired by foreign countries). Incantations of democracy and human rights are bait to win the sympathy of Western protectors and “friends”. These organized, orchestrated, manipulated and soon heavily financed and armed uprisings from abroad (Anglo-Saxon countries through NGOs) turned into conflicts and chaotic situations and spread from country to country from the Maghreb to the Mashrek. This cascade of tragedies is not a sequence of isolated and spontaneous civil wars, as the false version spread in the West suggests, in order to conceal the gross interference of the Atlantic Empire. Taken together, they form the components of a plan of destabilization and destruction (we cannot repeat this often enough) that has been concerted, conceived and theorized by the United States, its Anglo-Saxon “parents” and its Israeli “branch.” This company obviously relies on relays, accomplices, allies in all affected countries: in the foreground the Islamic extremist forces: often the Muslim Brotherhood, sponsored by Turkey and Qatar, or movements influenced by the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates or other Gulf states. Without this open and finally recognized alliance of interests between the West and Israel on the one hand, states and Islamist forces on the other, there would be no “revolutions” that will take different turns and developments.
From Tunisia to Libya it was a rapid escalation. The original plan to eliminate Gaddafi has been blown up and it was necessary to intervene with a criminal war, the effects of which are still felt today. Was it the resistance of the Syrian people that stopped Washington’s plan to completely destabilize the region?
The first results were seen in Tunisia, then in Egypt (with the expulsion of Ben Ali and Mubarak after a few weeks), the electoral processes were able to bring the Muslim brotherhood to Power, political instability, insecurity, destabilization came. In Algeria and Mauritania, a first “spring” was reported in January 2011 and nipped in the bud. Likewise in Morocco, where the king quickly restored the situation, and in Bahrain, where Saudi Arabia intervened to “save"the Sunni dynasty from a Shiite population. The riot never stopped. The” revolution " has turned into a civil war in Yemen: it continues to this day. Libya and then Syria are hit. Gaddafi’s Djamahiriya is confronted with illegal NATO intervention, secession and chaos. Gaddafi is murdered by” revolutionaries “supported by Western” services”. The state is destroyed and never recovers.
Syria experienced the war against jihadism, the West, Islamists and terrorism, the " friends of the Syrian people” (114 states at the end of 2012, a number that then dissolved). The multi-layered war (”Syria’s Wars, " the title of my latest work, published in June 2019) quickly assumed the appearance of a war of aggression, even in its most violent and spectacular jihadist and terrorist aspects. These events, which have been taking place for ten years in most Arab countries, but also in the” enlarged “Middle East (the” Greater Middle East " of George W. Sowing chaos and destruction and creating a climate of open war have highlighted the global confrontation between the US and its Israeli-Anglo-Saxon empire on the one hand and the two “emerging” or “reborn” Great Eurasia and their allies on the other. In this global political and economic, financial, military, strategic, ideological and geopolitical confrontation, the countries of the Greater Middle East are a stake, a battlefield and decisive actors (see my book “Storm on the Greater Middle East” 2015 – 2017). I will come back to this later.
Interestingly, almost all Arab Republican countries are affected by this” epidemic”, from North Africa to the Middle East, as well as two monarchies, Morocco and Bahrain. The oil monarchies (Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states) have been strangely spared, although their regimes are the most backward but supported by the US and the West. As for the role of the media, it deserves its own book. I will come back to that later.
Let’s take a step back. The heads of state of Libya and Syria, Gaddafi and Assad, visit European countries such as Italy and France in 2010, with relations that seem cordial. A year later, there are uprisings in Libya that lead to the assassination of Gaddafi, and a war begins in Syria in which Assad resists. Erdogan’s Turkey itself had very good relations with Syria. What caused this change of course?
The relations were undoubtedly deceptively cordial in the two cases you have pointed out; these two cases must be separated. It is more or less a question of Europeans getting political, strategic or economic concessions (in the case of oil or gas) from heads of state known for their firmness of principle and loyalty to the alliance, without having a counterpart on the side of Paris or Rome. As for Libya, I think the idea was to convince Gaddafi to abandon any nuclear project (he would have done it) and his plans for independence and the economic, financial and monetary unity of Africa (he would not have done that and therefore had to be “punished”).
The Syrian case is a bit different. France was apparently responsible for mediating the American pressure of W. Bush and Colin Powell on Bashar al Assad to convince him to renounce his alliance with Iran and his relations with Hezbollah in order to please Israel. The Syrian president did not give in and demanded compensation for the pipeline projects. Bashar al Assad did not give up, he had to pay for it. Understand that these points are probably only the obvious part of the case. In 2010/2011 it was clearly written in Washington that Syria must be destroyed. If there is no excuse, we will create one. Concession or not, it is written that there will be war, thanks to the epidemic of “revolutions”, which allows the conflict to break out a priori from within, without too much conspicuous interference.
During the Berlusconi government, Gaddafi had established fruitful political and economic relations with Italy and had reached agreements on oil and infrastructure. In the war against Libya, Sarkozy’s France was one of the main promoters: do you think it is a mistake to say that it was a war against Italy to get the Libyan oil?
Yes, I think it’s a gamble. In the case of Libya, it was not primarily the oil that was targeted. It was mainly “Gaddafi’s billions”, i.e. Libyan funds (probably several hundred billion dollars) and they are frozen before they” disappear” … But the main objective of NATO’s armed intervention was to liquidate Gaddafi in order to prevent him from financing an African monetary system independent of the dollar, the euro and the West. So they had to destroy the Libyan state, which happened.
How do you assess the role of information from the West and the Gulf States in the conflicts in Syria and Libya? How important was the propaganda?
The role of these media to which they refer was very damaging and the propaganda was linked to real brainwashing. They have all participated in the massive misinformation of opinions: from the lies of intellectuals to the dishonesty of politicians. Journalists and “reporters” have largely contributed to a massive intellectual fraud and blind unanimity in favor of the aggressors and criminals, in Syria as in Libya. The Western media has done much to destroy the moral authority that the West and its clientele have unjustly claimed.
What kind of country was Syria before the war?
“Beating heart of Arabism”, seat of the first caliphs, center of the influence of enlightened Islam and cradle of Christianity. Syria – also deprived of 40% of its historical territory through colonization and mandates-enjoyed great prestige among Arabs and Muslims. In this country with a rich archaeological and historical heritage, where tolerance in the customs and customs of religions and denominations is carved in marble, an art of living has been cultivated, and to this day it is maintained, which pleases visitors. The quality of their diplomacy and the consistency of their commitments and alliances have always evoked respect, I would say, even in the misfortune of the moment. Syria is, by nature, a radiant Land. A prosperous, independent, stable, self-sufficient country that produces most of what it consumes and consumes what it produces, a country with no external debt and no dependence on the IMF and the World Bank.
A free, efficient school and education system that trains a large number of valuable graduates and leaders, many of whom unfortunately emigrated to the diaspora during the war.
A remarkable, modern and free health and social system that exists throughout the Syrian territory and attracts the inhabitants of neighboring countries. A self-sufficient country that produced all areas of medicine, even for export.
More generally, a network of efficient social services. A modern economy in transition. We could add " what happened to Syria” by recalling some numbers and realities: 400,000 dead, one or two million wounded and mutilated, six or seven million Syrians who were “displaced”, i. e. due to war and terrorism are forced to settle elsewhere on Syrian territory, at least five million Syrians who have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, sometimes to Europe, mostly fleeing from terrorists, armed opposition, occupiers, mistreatment, starvation, etc . 60% of the country devastated, another 20% occupied by Turks, American troops, Europeans, supported by Kurdish separatists …
What is the Syrian resistance, after ten years of war and sanctions, with the help of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah? This conflict has not been ended according to the ideas of the West, especially the United States and Israel. Has this war reshaped the geopolitical balance, with new global players such as China and Russia thwarting Western plans?
Partly, yes. Sure, Syria is devastated, but it has not been defeated and dismantled after ten years of ruthless warfare through a collective aggression involving more than a hundred members of the “international community”, that is, more than half of the United Nations, in one way or another, as well as an infinitely renewed stream of tens or hundreds of thousands of terrorists who claim to be part of the Holy War. Syria has certainly benefited from the support of loyal allies (Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah, Russia, China, even the Iraqi Shiite movements, which are gradually loosening from the US stranglehold). But the fact remains that for four and a half years – from March 2011 to September 2015, the time of the air intervention of the Russian army stationed at its side – the Syrian army resisted the aforementioned enemies. The geopolitical balance gradually shifted and Western and Israeli plans were thwarted. But the West does not see itself as defeated, it forbids the return of refugees, reconstruction, normal life, through a war (invisible from outside) and silenced by the Western media.
When President Assad was asked whether politics in the United States will be different under a Democrat than under a Republican, he replied that nothing will change. Because it is the lobbies, the corporations, that determine the course of American politics. Do you think anything will change with Biden?
President Bashar al Assad is not wrong when he says that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats in general and between Trump and Biden in particular, and that nothing will change under Biden. Nothing will change for the Arab world and Syria in particular. At least in principle, because a change in Tehran promised by Biden could have an indirect impact on the situation in Syria. In fact, the US president may be the most powerful man in the world, but he is far from the most powerful man in the United States. Just as the Congress is far from as omnipotent as it sometimes gives the impression. It is the neoconservative “deep state” he leads, supported by the Zionist Jewish community and the powerful lobby of Protestant Zionist Christians (especially the Evangelical Church, which claims more than 60 million members in America and 600 million worldwide). The lobbies, the 17 US intelligence agencies, which undoubtedly have more than a million agents, the military hierarchy, the banks, the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft – translator’s note) – are all part of this “deep state” – as Trump would probably put it.