2015-11-16 Dateline: Paris
By Murielle Delaporte
A new reality is born from the bloodshed which occurred in the streets of Paris last Friday.
8 terrorists, 7 points of attacks, 30 minutes, close to 500 persons hit by Kalashnikovs or explosives, more than 2000 relatives mourning a loved one, 64 million people determined to win the war against barbarism.
The War In Syria
The French are starting to put the dots between the war lead against Daesch by the Hollande government with the Chammal operation started a year ago and the growing domestic terrorist threat.
What makes the situation difficult to comprehend is the hybrid nature of the enemy: hybrid by the military means he uses, hybrid by its status.
As the French minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve stressed in a televised interview, the enemy is a terrorist movement, but with the power of a state, since it can tap into the territory, the oil and banking reserves of the two countries it has started to take over.
The first debate therefore has been to answer the question: how do you fight a war against a non- state actor which has resources like a state?
President Hollande, very much like President Bush after 9/11, has answered with air strikes barely 48 hours after the deadly attacks on French soil against a Daesh command headquarter and training center.
Syria has become France’s Afghanistan, the same way November 13th has become France’s September 11th.
This could finally trigger a political resolution of the Syrian situation, while raising all kinds of foreign policy questions for France, but also for the rest of the coalition involved in the operations against ISIS, such as the evolution of the relationship with Russia and Iran.
If the political consensus exists in France as far as retaliations are concerned, voices in the opposition are questioning the policy lead so far in this part of the world, while some are even favoring sending ground troops (which is rather unlikely).
Europe And The Border Issue
The second major topic being discussed among the French political class and commentators is of course the migrants question and the question of border control (especially with the discovery that one of the kamikaze may have reached France with the exodus from Syria via Greece, and given the fact that the attacks have been organized once again from Belgium’s territory).
The current state of emergency – which could last beyond the initial twelve days for months – has reinstated border control, and everyone is aware that changes may occur regarding Schengen and the rights to French citizenship.
Getting Ready To “Live With It”
Along with the new awareness that France is at war, the French population – even though accustomed to be the theater of terrorist acts – is grasping the fact that this danger is a new reality with a new dimension it has to face and deal with.
The reactions have been three-fold:
(1) Why France ? Why such hate ?
The French want to go beyond their differences to protect its love of freedom.
In less tan a year, with Charlie Hebdo, it was the freedom of expression, which was hit; with the Bataclan and the Stade de France, it is the freedom to enjoy life through music and sports.
The French have many questions aimed at the government: what is being done regarding the people suspected of radicalization?
(2) What is being done against arms trafficking?
(3) Does a solution exist to get rid of these assassins?
The solidarity is real within the population, as shown by many individual courageous actions, which occurred during the horror scenes and the demonstrations, which are still going on in spite of the interdiction to gather in public.
Even though flowers and candles do not bring solutions, there is a wish that this time, and contrary to the last terrorists attack in January, the politicians will not take advantage of these events for their own political games.
If the spirit is similar to January 11th, the tone is rather different and the question of Muslim integration is being purposely left out to favor a genuine national unity.
The shock is tremendous especially among the youth: this horror has affected many friends and friends of friends, often 20 or 30 years old who were just entertaining themselves on a Friday night in a popular part of Paris.
Psychological help is there, but with this new reality of the impossibility of zero risk come new advice from the professional: the French must find the courage to face this within themselves…
A new generation is coming, probably less lucky, but getting stronger.
Murielle Delaporte, the co-founder of Second Line of Defense is in Paris attending a security conference, Milipol, an exhibition organized under the patronage of the French Ministry of the Interior.
Editor’s Note: We have argued that the Russian intervention in Syria was a strategic turning point.
Now the strikes in France are an accelerator of that turning point with the French clearly more concerned with attacking Isis than with Assad or the Russians as the problem.
Credit for photo of the theater hall: