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

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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. . . .

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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