We could be fac­ing civil war, and our se­cu­rity forces are crip­pled

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY MICHEL GURFINKIEL

A STATE of emer­gency has been de­clared in France.

So far, ev­ery­one, right and left, seems to agree that the coun­try must re­sort to dras­tic means to re­store safety. Com­men­ta­tors fre­quently point to Is­rael as an ex­am­ple to be fol­lowed.

Border con­trols loos­ened un­der the Schen­gen regime have been reestab­lished, there have been ar­rests, mosques seen as hot­beds of rad­i­cal­ism may be closed, and some for­eign imams may be expelled. Se­cu­rity forces in com­bat gear have been guard­ing pub­lic build­ings and pub­lic spa­ces.

Still, one won­ders how ef­fec­tive such poli­cies can be.

Ac­cord­ing to Vin­cent De­s­portes, a for­mer gen­eral and au­thor of a book on na­tional de­fence, France’s se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus is crip­pled and over­stretched.

He said the mil­i­tary’s “op­er­a­tional strength” was cut by 25 per cent un­der Ni­co­las Sarkozy, and again by 25 per cent in Pres­i­dent Hol­lande’s first three years. As a re­sult, no more than 100,000 troops can be mo­bilisedand the cream of the coun­try’s forces are con­stantly ro­tat­ing on mis­sions abroad.

The French also rely on the Gen­darmerie, a semi-mil­i­tarised po­lice corps, and the reg­u­lar po­lice, each over 100,000-strong. The en­tire de­fence and se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus can thus be es­ti­mated at just over 300,000, barely enough for a pop­u­la­tion of 67 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per L’Opin­ion, troops de­ployed af­ter the Jan­uary at­tacks to pro­tect “sen­si­tive” sites such as sy­n­a­gogues and schools have com­plained of be­ing over­worked.

A sec­ond ma­jor dif­fi­culty is France’s eth­nic and re­li­gious di­ver­sity. The eight ter­ror­ists in­volved ap­pear to have been Mus­lim French cit­i­zens of North African de­scent. Pre­vi­ous killings were perpe- trated by Mus­lim French cit­i­zens of North African or Sub-Sa­ha­ran African de­scent.

Thou­sands of young French Mus­lims have joined Al Qaeda and Daesh in Syria, and many of them are back in the coun­try. Many ar­eas have been de­scribed as “no go” zones by po­lice and seem to be con­trolled ei­ther by eth­nic crim­i­nal gangs or ji­hadist net­works.

In such cir­cum­stances, a sus­tained war on terror may eas­ily lapse into a kind of civil war be­tween the eth­nic French and the French Mus­lims. This pos­si­bil­ity ex­ists, de­spite the fact that mi­nori­ties make up a large pro­por­tion of the se­cu­rity forces. Mus­lims make up nine per cent of the pop­u­la­tion. A French po­lit­i­cal science think tank split them into three groups: the “ob­ser­vant”, the “be­liev­ers”, and the “French cit­i­zens of Mus­lim ori­gin”.

The first group grew from 36 per cent of the over­all Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion in 2001 to 42 per cent in 2014, and is much more likely than the two other groups to en­ter­tain neg­a­tive views against non-Mus­lims.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.