In an interview standing in front of a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad Syria’s ambassador to France, Lamia Chakkour denied having spoken to France 24 and reiterated what had been said to Syrian State TV and Al Arabiya, that she had not resigned.
She said France 24 interviewed a woman claiming to be her. Lamia Chakkour also said: “France 24 … is issuing a message in my name. Naturally, I will bring a lawsuit…to condemn France 24 for its acts of disinformation, which are part of a campaign of falsification of information and disinformation which began in March 2011 against Syria”.
France 24 also made a statement. In preparation for last nights interview-program France 24 sent an e-mail to the Syrian Embassy, using the e-mail to the press office. As the response was favorable France 24 called Lamia Chakkour at the appointed time on a number provided to the channel by the press office. The resignation was later confirmed both the France 24 and by Reuter, by e-mail. France 24 cannot rule out manipulation or provocation.
The questions still remains – what happened? Lamia Chakkour has denied that she resigned. But was the call to the France 24 a hoax?
A possibility is that the web site of the Syrian Embassy had been hacked and that the e-mail correspondence that took place with France 24 and Reuters was, in fact, not with the Embassy. And that the number France 24 was provided to call Lamia Chakkour was false. An indication in that direction is that the web site of the Syrian Embassy in Paris was down after the interview with Lamia Chakkour.
Another possibility is that Lamia Chakkour did indeed do the interview but changed her mind. This is a possibility has France 24 also mentioned that the number they called Lamia Chakkour on they have used before to contact her. We are then talking about scenario B, and probably threats aimed at relatives by the regime. A third possibility is that this was a provocation by the Syrian regime in effort to smear the channel and France ahead of the UNSCR resolution that Alain Juppé is pushing for.
The fact that Lamia Chakkour and/or the Syrian Embassy did not immediatly contact France 24 if the call was a hoax is the strongest indication that Lamia Chakkour either changed her mind or that this was a provocation aimed at the channel and at France.