Au Revoir Freedom Fries? France Calls For Action In Iraq

As France ponders its own involvement in Iraq and Syria, it hosted about 30 international leaders Monday to discuss the ISIS threat.

Au Revoir Freedom Fries? France Calls For Action In Iraq
Parti Socialiste / CC BY NC ND 2.0

It’s the country whose refusal to join the U.S. invasion in Iraq prompted the renaming of Freedom Fries. Question now is, what kind of military assistance will France bring to this go-around?  

That’s the question Paris might answer Monday when it hosts dozens of the world’s foreign ministers to discuss the ISIS situation. (Video via Euronews

This, as the U.S. tries to cobble together an international coalition. 

The State Department says more than 40 countries have signed on to the U.S.-led plan in Iraq and Syria, but it’s unclear what role most of these countries will play. France is no exception, but here’s what we know so far.

France has started flying reconnaissance missions over Iraq and has provided arms to the Kurdish forces fighting ISIS. As for whether it will join the U.S. in airstrikes, France says it's ready to participate but hasn't said when. (Video via U.S. Central Command

The U.S. would certainly welcome any help it can get from the world's fifth-biggest military spender. But the French public, long skeptical of military intervention in the region, is hesitant.  

France, of course, famously chose to sit out of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and largely views the current crisis as the result of American involvement there. (Video via CBS)

In fact, President Francois Hollande has said as much himself, recently suggesting "major powers" had failed to sufficiently act in Iraq and Syria years ago. 

Hollande is seen as pretty hawkish, having launched small-scale military operations in the Central African Republic and Mali. (Video via France 24

And last year, when the UK’s parliament rejected calls to join the U.S. in a bombing campaign in Syria, it was France who emerged as America’s only major European ally. (Video via Aleppo Media Centre

Hollande now faces the task of persuading the public to support an increased military campaign in Iraq and Syria. His main argument is ISIS poses a threat to France’s own security — a message he's already laying the groundwork for. Monday he said there was "no time to lose" in that fight.

France is home to Western Europe's biggest Muslim population. A growing number of French citizens, mainly from the country’s immigrant communities, have gone to Syria to wage jihad. France puts that number around 500. (Video via YouTube /  ولاية الرقة) 

But those numbers might not be enough for Hollande to convince his critics. Not only are the French historically skeptical of intervening in Iraq, they're skeptical of him. 

With an approval rating below 20 percent, Hollande is considered the most unpopular French president in modern history.