The course of a life sometimes depends on a fight given for lost. Just graduated from the Paris Institute of Political Studies, Énora Chame (a nickname) is told by a professor: “If you don’t have political or family support, whatever your results, you will never go to the Middle East with the Quai (d’Orsay). They do not send women to post in Arab countries “, assures him this former ambassador.
Years later, the Air Force offers him what diplomacy would not have offered him. And much more. She becomes a captain in the army and gets a UN post which opens the doors to the Middle East and a short period of history.
“A tribute to these Syrians who today we take for tramps”
In his book When the shadow advances, high-risk mission in Syria (Mareuil editions, €19.90), Énora Chame lifts a corner of the veil on the first hours of the war in Syria and on a “a very small window of action for the international community”, from April to August 2012. While the revolution takes on the features of an armed insurrection, the UN envoy Kofi Annan negotiates a ceasefire, accompanied by the deployment of 300 United Nations observers. Énora Chame, volunteer, is the only French officer selected to participate in this ephemeral last-ditch enterprise, called the United Nations supervision mission in Syria (UNSMIS).
Ten years later, she delivers an ardent and humanist story, with multiple resonances. “I wanted to makea tribute to the Syrians who are taken for tramps, strolled from one country to another “she assures us during a visit to Paris.
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“Born in Syria in 2004”, the young woman knows the country and speaks its language when she arrives there, unarmed, to observe a precarious ceasefire. She discovers “the darkness of the Free Syrian Army”, still unknown at the time, who fought the Al Assad regime. And witness the gradual arrival of Al-Qaeda in this boiling cauldron.
Being a woman is a plus in her intelligence gathering which involves listening to all the parties involved, rebels, Syrian army, tribes… “It was a chance, too, to be in uniform. I had access to everyone. It allowed me to enter the houses, does she remember. And the men opposite said to themselves that I must be very brave. »
“My cutthroat’s smile was meant for me”
Behind the doors and walls that still stand, the young woman sees death, massacres and torture in the face. In Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Deir ez Zor, she lifts the mortuary sheets, documents, analyzes and digests as best she can. “I have no particular trauma vis-à-vis the dead. A dead man died, and there were so many… The hardest part is leaving people behind, abandoning the living, especially when you know that they will probably be tortured next, she said with a dark and frank look. You have to agree to forgive yourself for your own helplessness. »
On June 9, 2011, she escaped an ambush by jihadists from Iraq, in the region of Deir ez Zor. ” We discuss rationally and calmly the advantages and disadvantages of cutting our throats. she relates, clinically. His team of observers emerges alive from this surreal negotiation. But a shadow remains after defying death. “My cutthroat’s smile was meant for me”she writes further.
Enora Chame has, by chance, benefited in the past from an Israeli therapeutic program of which she is still unaware of the mysterious springs, but which endowed her with a “particularly strong form of psychic protection”. ” It worked for me, she assures. You have to clean your mental hard drive regularly to heal. You never break your wrist twice in the same place, it’s the same for your brain. »
“There is no more Syria”
Necessarily discreet about her private life and her current assignment, she is now a colonel in the Air Force, and admires the women who commit today, “Sharper, sportier and equipped to their size! she slips, glad to see that they are no longer political quotas. »
After this satisfaction, it darkens again at the mention of Syria, which has disappeared in his eyes. “I didn’t want to follow what happened next. I don’t want any more emotions. There is no more Syria” she says, as if bruised.
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But the war she experienced there and elsewhere is never far away. Ukraine, whose jurisdictions are very different, echoes this. “I feel like people are rediscovering what a war is. Yes, there are dead in the streets, we bury them as best we can, the buildings are collapsing, it’s a war. When we don’t want there to be, we stop, we make peaceshe says. What I like is combat, action, thinking under pressure. There’s nothing I hate more than a war. »
His inspiration: The Trojan War will not take placeby Jean Giraudoux
“One of my cult books, which I ended up memorizing as a teenager, is The Trojan War will not take place by Jean Giraudoux. In 1935, Giraudoux had made himself the defender of the mandate of the League of Nations and of the ” fourteen points of President Wilson, as the world was felt to be swept away towards a new world war. It described the ruthless chain of mechanisms leading to war and its conclusion was desperate: the Trojan War would indeed take place. »