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Strategy of Tension in France? “Third Position” Manifestations? Macron Institutes Broad Crackdown

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Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel “Bonaparte” Macron

COMMENT: In FTR #957, we noted that “Golden Boy” Emmanuel Macron (at right) was Germany’s choice to lead France. Widely hailed as a herald of political and economic enlightenment, Macron has assumed Napoleonic-like power, implementing policies that are deeply inimical to French democracy.

Having triumphed over the more or less overtly fascist National Front, Macron’s victory was widely acclaimed and he has been described in glowing terms by the world’s media.

Once in office, however, he has instituted a broad-based crackdown on freedom of political expression, using anti-terrorism measures as the basis for lowering the curtain on political liberties.

Worth noting, in this context, is that Macron’s prohibitions against freedom of expression–decrees that will muzzle organized labor activism against his evidently corporatist agenda–were implemented as responses to France’s lethal terror attacks from Islamist militants.

We now learn that weapons for some of the attackers appear to have come from a former National Front bodyguard and apparent operative for the French security authorities.

This raises several possibilities:

  • With France involved with the mess in Syria involving the use of Muslim Brotherhood-generated jihadists as proxy warriors, might we be seeing “blowback” from that operation, rather like the Boston Marathon attacks?
  • Might we be seeing a manifestation of the “Third Position”–a fascist outcropping that melds traditional Nazi/fascist/white supremacist stances and people with left-wing and Third World individuals and institutions?
  • Might we be seeing the results of a French “Strategy of Tension,” with Islamist terrorism being the platform for a broad implementation of authoritarian government?

1.“Former Front National Bodyguard Quizzed on Suspicion of Selling Guns to Paris Terrorist” by Henry Samuel; The Telegraph [UK]; 12/15/2015. 

A former Front National (FN) bodyguard with links to the French extreme-Right has been arrested on suspicion of supplying weapons to one of the gunmen of the January Paris terror attacks.

Claude Hermant, 52, a former paratrooper, mercenary and ex-member of the FN’s shadowy security unit, DPS, was on Tuesday detained for police questioning with his female partner in Lille, northern France.

The case is potentially deeply embarrassing for the French police as Mr Hermant, a former boxing champion, claims he was an informant for gendarmes who allegedly turned a blind eye to his arms trade in exchange for tip-offs.

“The fact that one of the January terrorists (allegedly) procured part of his equipment from an extreme-Right activist more or less covered by the gendarmerie doesn’t look good,” wrote Marianne magazine. . . .

Claude Hermant

Claude Hermant

2. “Macron Cracks Down on French Liberty” by Jonathan Marshall; Consortium News; 7/17/2017.

. . . . Civil liberties and human rights groups have denounced Macron’s blueprint for augmenting the central government’s police powers. His draft law would give local representatives of the Interior Ministry the power to declare security zones, define who can enter or leave them, use electronic tags to restrict the movement of people considered a national security threat, close mosques and other centers of worship, and — with only limited judicial oversight — search private property.

“These measures would trample individual and shared liberties and would lead us toward an authoritarian state,” France’s League of Human Rights declared. “Far from relating only to terrorist acts, these measures would be applied to a wide range of offences. Anyone could become a victim of arbitrary decisions.”

Amnesty International recently condemned the government’s abuse of anti-terrorist emergency powers that restrict freedom of movement and rights to peaceful assembly.

“Under the cover of the state of emergency, rights to protest have been stripped away with hundreds of activists, environmentalists, and labor rights campaigners unjustifiably banned from participating in protests,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s researcher on France.

Repressing Dissent

In the name of preventing “threats to public order,” the government over a period of 18 months issued 155 decrees banning protests, and 574 measures prohibiting specific individuals from taking part in protests against proposed labor law changes.

The latter statistic is particularly notable because Macron plans to issue sweeping decrees to limit the power of unions over working conditions and company firing policies. Such proposals have triggered mass demonstrations and violent clashes with police, in recent months.

The French government imposed its state of emergency — modeled after one instituted in 1955 during the Algerian war — after coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, killed 130 people and injured 368 more. Those attacks followed the January 2015 slaughter of 12 people at the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and of four hostages at a kosher supermarket. The attacks were perpetrated by followers of ISIS and of al-Qaeda in Yemen. . . .

. . . . . As it happens, police were well aware of all three extremists who carried out the January 2015 massacres and of leaders of the November 2015 attacks, but lacked the manpower to keep them under permanent surveillance. Indeed, they traveled across Europe and to Yemen and North Africa with remarkable ease, despite official knowledge of their dangerous proclivities.

In the Guardian’s words, “Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four people in a siege at a kosher grocery store in January (2015) and shot dead a policewoman, was a known radical and repeat offender. While serving a prison sentence for his part in a plot to free another terrorist from jail, he had been flagged as radicalized. This information was not passed from prison services to intelligence agencies on his release.”

Breakdown of Intelligence

Recent French press revelations suggest an even worse breakdown of intelligence. It turns out that Coulibaly and two fellow Islamist radicals who committed the January 2015 attacks acquired their weapons, through an intermediary, from a right-wing police informant and former mercenary named Claude Hermant. He claims to have worked as an agent under the supervision of intelligence officers in the customs service and gendarmerie, a national military police force under the Ministry of Interior.

Information about Hermant’s role was suppressed in 2015 by the Interior Minister, who invoked a state secrets privilege. Hermant’s lawyer has filed a lawsuit to lift the ban on discussion of his client’s connection to the intelligence services. A French newspaper has also published explosive emails from a gendarme giving Hermant the “green light” to move cases of weapons, one of which apparently ended up in Islamist hands due to police incompetence. . . . .



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