The British rupture of relations with Syria has embarrassed and exposed a French government that has said and done nothing in public to Syria despite the widespread conviction here that Syrian agents had a hand in the wave of bombings that terrified Paris during September.
Syria has close relations with the Iranian government, which is believed to influence and support the Lebanese Shias. Syrian pressure on Iran could be the price that the French want [Hafez Assad] to pay if they are really planning, as the French press reports, to sell arms to Syria.
The French have long prided themselves on their complex and subtle ways of dealing with the machinations and mazes of Middle Eastern politics, even when that has involved negotiations with terrorists. The trouble for the French government, from a political point of view, is that all these obscure maneuvers look rather feeble when compared to Prime Minister [Margaret Thatcher]'s punishment of Syria for a role in the El Al bombing case that is not much greater than what many French suspect was Syria's role in the Paris bombings.