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Soldiers warn of civil war – POLITICO

PARIS – A number of active soldiers have warned France could enter civil war weeks after a group of retired generals raised similar concerns.

An open letter published in the right-wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles on Sunday, warns that France’s decline due to violence, Islamism and hatred of institutions will inevitably lead to civil war and force the army to intervene.

The letter has put President Emmanuel Macron’s administration on the defensive as it tries to react strongly to security in the face of fears over increasing civilization in France.

“[The letter] is a waste of time and does not offer a solution, “said Minister of Economics Bruno Le Maire on Monday to Franceinfo and accused the soldiers of using right-wing extremist rhetoric. “There is no laissez-faire in France. Yes, there is a political Islamism that is trying to break up the country and we are fighting it. “

The controversy arose amid a series of attacks against police officers. An officer was killed during a drug freeze in Avignon last week and a police officer was fatally stabbed to death by a radicalized criminal in the city of Rambouillet last month.

Prime Minister Jean Castex was due to meet police union representatives on Monday evening to discuss measures to improve protection.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen has been quick to back the soldiers, raising allegations that the letters were organized by the far right to score points ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Impending civil war?

A previous letter signed by a group of retired generals and soldiers in April warned of “hordes from the Banlieues [French suburbs]”And” laxist “government policy on Islamism.

The second letter is reportedly from a group of active soldiers posted to Mali, Afghanistan and the Central African Republic. You have also patrolled the streets of France as part of the “Sentinelle” operation following terrorist attacks in recent years.

Written anonymously, it is not clear how representative the letter is of the opinions of the military base.

“This is a professional assessment that we give,” write the soldiers. “We saw this decline in many countries during the crisis. It precedes the breakdown, chaos and violence. And contrary to what [others] let’s say chaos and violence will not come from a military uprising, but from a civil uprising. “

General Jérôme Pellistrandi, editor-in-chief of Revue Défense Nationale magazine, said the soldiers were right about increasing violence in France, but it was wrong to speak up.

“Everyone agrees that society is breaking up, it’s a known fact,” he said. “But is it up to the military to judge what happens? Or should we instead try to promote social harmony? “

“We cannot deny the threat of urban violence, the dire reality faced by other police officers, the attacks on police stations and the killings of police officers. But it bothers me that they talk about civil war. ”

Cross the line

Some on the political left say the letters are a sign of mutiny in the army. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the far-left France Unbowed party, said Sunday the soldiers were “mutinous and cowardly” and would be expelled from the army if he were elected president.

Macron’s La République En Marche tried hard to hit the right note. Ministers on radio chat shows have condemned the soldiers for dangerously crossing the line between military and politics, while broadly agreeing with them.

“We are in a time of depreciation,” said LREM MP Jean-Michel Fauvergue. “These soldiers speak of insecurity, repeated attacks against institutions like the police, the army, and it is a reality, a reality that politicians recognize.”

But he insisted that the warning of an impending civil war was “exaggerated”.

Macron did not respond publicly to the letter, but was filmed with the French Chiefs of Staff during the VE Day commemoration on Saturday, interpreted as a sign of unity and an attempt to end the controversy with the military.

Le Pen supported and defended the generals’ earlier letter the soldiers’ decision to speak upand said, “It is a cry of alarm from people who are not farmers and who die in wars that are not ours.”

“Nobody who reads his letter in good faith would think it was a declaration by the army not to obey orders from politicians,” she said.

But aside from questions about whether the letters encourage insurrection, they have drawn the army into a political debate that is not going away.

“It is the confiscation of the army’s identity for political purposes,” said General Pellistrandi. “The army must remain neutral. This helps extremism in France, the National Rally, but also the extreme left. It’s a disgusting climate. “

The Ministry of Defense has announced that it will impose sanctions on those who signed the first letter for violating the army’s confidentiality obligations.

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