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Alberto Fernandez lands in Spain before heading for France, where military officers claim “a civil war is brewing”

Tuesday, May 11th 2021 - 09:55 UTC
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After meeting with King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, President Fernández should be off to unrest-ridden France After meeting with King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, President Fernández should be off to unrest-ridden France

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez and his entourage arrived late Monday in Madrid, where he is due to meet with King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Fernández landed in the Spanish capital from Lisbon and will next travel to Paris and Rome in a one-week European trip that saw its Berlin stop removed from the itinerary at the request of Chancellor Angela Merkel, citing covid-19 restrictions.

And it is yet unknown whether French President Emmanuel Macron will be able to welcome his Argentine colleague, given recent events in France, where military officers speak of “a civil war brewing.”

Macron is under fire from a group of military officers of his own armed forces who blame him for a relaxed approach to the issue of Islam. For the second time in less than a month, a group of soldiers warned Macron that their country is in danger of “Islamization.” In a second open letter published in an ultra-conservative outlet, the officers demanded firm action to guarantee the “survival” of the country

The letter was published by the Valeurs Actuelles magazine. It was promoted by active-duty soldiers, but anonymously, unlike the first letter that was endorsed and signed by a group of retired military personnel last April. The new text was even open to the general population and has already been endorsed by more than 163,000 people who have warned Macron that “A civil war is brewing in France” and that the country was in danger of becoming “a failed state.”

The first letter was published on April 21, marking the 60th anniversary of the attempted coup by several generals stationed in Algeria against General Charles De Gaulle. It was signed by a score of generals, a hundred senior commanders, and more than a thousand other ranks who warned that “France is in danger” and declared themselves willing to “support policies that take into account the safeguarding of the nation.”

France's Defense Minister Florence Parly has replied that these letters use “far-right rhetoric, vocabulary, tone, and references. ... to divide, to fracture our nation at a time when more than ever it needs to unite.”

After the publication of the second open but anonymous letter, far-right leader Marine Le Pen called on the disgruntled military to support her candidacy in the 2022 presidential elections. Le Pen said that she shared the views of the rebels. “This is a statement made by thousands (...) and that should be taken seriously by the Executive. I am relieved to see that the National Association is not the only one to reach that conclusion. (...) There is no call for insurrection. If there were, I would not support that,” Le Pen said Monday.

Those behind the text explained their anonymity: “Although by regulation we cannot express ourselves openly, we can't remain silent,” they said.

One of the promoters of the first letter was Jean-Pierre Fabre-Bernadac, former captain of the Gendarmerie, ex-officer of the Army, and responsible from 1993 to 1994 of the order service of the National Front, now the National Group.

But Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin replied that “When you want to be brave, you give your name. (...) When you want to do politics, you run for election. In a democracy, even if certain soldiers do not like it, it is the people who decide.”

The Army then promised “exemplary” sanctions, although the anonymous nature of the letter makes any decision difficult.
The authors of the new letter carried by the conservative Valeurs Actuelles magazine late on Sunday have described themselves as active-duty French soldiers, belonging to the younger generation of the military that saw actual combat over the past years.

“We are what the newspapers have called 'the fire generation.' Men and women, active soldiers, of all armies and all ranks, of all opinions, we all love our country. These are our only claims to fame. And while we cannot, by law, express ourselves with our face uncovered, it is equally impossible for us to stay silent,” the letter reads.

The letter accuses President Macron of making “concessions” to Islamism on French soil, while the country's military has been spilling its blood to fight against it in “Afghanistan, Mali, the Central African Republic or elsewhere.”

The authors have also indicated that at least some of them have taken part in the domestic Operation Sentinelle, launched after the devastating 2015 Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks, and witnessed certain ethnoreligious communities in France completely detached from the rest of the country.

For such communities “France means nothing but an object of sarcasm, contempt or even hatred,” the letter reads.

Like the previous letter, this new one warns the republic's authorities of an impending “civil war,” with the very existence of France being at stake. “Once again, civil war is brewing in France and you know it perfectly well,” the letter reads.

Prime Minister Jean Castex branded the message “an initiative against all of our republican principles, of honor and the duty of the army,” while the military vowed to punish the active-duty signees.

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