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Paris under attacks : How to tackle the dilemma of collective security and individual liberty? epos_print_logo.png
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Paris under attacks : How to tackle the dilemma of collective security and individual liberty?

Tuesday, 17 November 2015 17:46
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Epos converses with Emmanuel Dupuy

by Nicolamaria Coppola (EPOS)
EPOS Conversations


The Bataclan theatre was the scene of one of several terror attacks across Paris on Friday night, when 129 people were killed in total - 89 of whom were attending the show at the concert hall – and 352 wounded, 99 of them critically. Prosecutors in France believe three teams of terrorists carried out the attacks, with all seven attackers wearing identical explosives belts. Police say attackers appeared to be "seasoned, at first sight, and well trained". The team is believed to have involved those with links to the Middle East, Belgium and Germany, as well as those from France.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks: in a statement it said it was revenge for French military action in Syria and Iraq.

French Police have identified one gunman who blew himself up at the Bataclan concert hall as 29-year-old Paris native Omar Ismail Mostefai: according to the secret services and the investigators, he has never been linked to terrorism. His father and 34-year-old brother have been taken into custody and their homes are being searched. In the meanwhile three people have been arrested in Belgium after a Belgian hired car found near one attack site. A man arrested in Germany’s Bavaria state after guns and explosives found in his car may also be linked to the events in Paris.

"France will be merciless towards these barbarians from Daesh", French President François Hollande said in the aftermath of the attacks. In a speech to French Parliament, he called for legislative reforms that would expand the country’s ability to fight terrorism both at home and abroad. Hollande appealed for amendments to the Constitution that would create "an appropriate tool we can use without having to resort to the state of emergency", and he added that France was intent on "destroying" the Islamic State militant group.

In the light of the fact that President Hollande sought to extend the current state of emergency for three months, we wonder: what is the line between collective security and individual liberty? In the following exclusive interview for EPOS, Emmanuel Dupuy tries to answer this hard question. Expert in security issues and geopolitics of the Mediterranean region, Dupuy is the President of Paris-based institute IPSE, Institut Prospective et Sécurité en Europe. He works as journalist, consultant (Cabinet d’Ingénierie Stratégique pour la Sécurité), teacher in geopolitics (Institut d’Etudes des Relations Internationales) and researcher in geopolitical issues for various institutions linked to the French defence policy. EPOS has asked him the same questions that we asked Nicolas Tenzer in the interview we did the day after the tragic events in Paris. Dupuy focuses mainly on the security aspects of the issues, and he analyses accurately the debate on the traditional democratic guarantees that could be affected and could be jeopardized after the latest events.

Nicolamaria Coppola: French combat aircraft have just begun flying bombing missions against Islamic State positions in Syria. This is the second time the carrier group has operated in a combat role in the Levant, but other French forces have been bombing the Islamic State since September alongside the US-led multinational force in Iraq and Syria. Were the Paris events a direct and easily predictable consequence of the NATO/US/France/West’s actions and meddling in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East?

Emmanuel Dupuy: France’s dedication to Peace, Stability and Security as lead to the engagement since 2001, of our troops (actually more then 30 000 troops abroad, amongst which 10 000 are operating in Africa in Counter-terrorism operations in the Sahara-Sahel area), and including present participation as well as ancient operations under NATO, EU, UN missions, engaging french military forces in theather such as Irak-Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Lebanon...

Thus, France’s commitment to fight against terrorism, restore Democracy as well as it’s full engagement to stabilize and implement peace in post-conflict situations as put France on the front row of security providers. Furthermore, it seems that as the United States are retrieving from there traditional dedication to be a Key player in the Middle East, as they are also pivoting eastwrads.

This akward situation, leaves space for new actors. There seems to be lesser and lesser US "Boots on the Ground" in Middle East and in Central Asia ; and that has emphasized the traditional "balance of power", traditional diplomatic dialogue dedication of France in the area. Paris as always been a Key player in the Middle East, and thus, since George Picot (who was a french diplomat in London) along with its british collegue, Mark Sykes, sharpened the creation of arab democratic Nations in May 1916.

ISIS as even launched the hasthag #SykesPicotOver with a clear reference to its opposition to both boarder and State management and Democratic Governance issued after the Ist World War. France’s dedication to State and Democracy building in Lebanon, sustain to religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle east (first of wich Oriental Christians and Kurds) as well as a clear support to Palestine state ownership clearly focus on the fact that, for all theese reasons, France is a easy and obvious target for ISIS & AQ and their proxy’s - based on there sectarian, anachronic, abused vision of society and international relations.

Nicolamaria Coppola: Multiple individuals from France and other European countries have traveled to Syria to join extremist groups there. As the Charlie Hebdo attacks have also demonstrated, there is a persistent risk of terrorist attacks within Europe. Do you think that the attacks in Paris, both Charlie Hebdo and November 13th, were entirely grassroots in nature or the assailants received instruction or assistance from abroad from groups such as the Islamic State or al Qaeda?

Emmanuel Dupuy: It seems clear - from theese attacks as well as previous cases during the year (Charlie Hebdo in January, tentative of attacks against Air Products facility in Isère, in June, tentative to kill passagers in Thalys train coming from Amsterdam, last August...) that France is clearly targeted. The mechanism of Terrorism actions undertaken on the french soil seem to pinpoint the dramatic reality of some French born Djihadist Fighters having received a full fledge "train and equip" program in Syria.

The last figures are quite worrying. 12 000 Algerians, Tunisians, Maroccans and Egyptians have gone and come back from Syria and Irak. They are 5000 to 8000 in Europe, 1200 to 1400 in France, amongst which a huge amount of double nationality holders...

The recent and dramatic events wich have hit harshly Paris, seem to confirm the "Belgian" channel as a key figure in the preparation of the attacks. Proportionaly, there are more belgian islamo-djihadist fighters that have flown to Syria than elsewhere in Europe ( in regards of its global population). 400 for a population of 11,5 millions inhabitants, thus a ratio of 36 fighters/1 million inhabitants. In comparaison, the ratio for France is only 6/1 millions inhabitants!

On that behalf, the city of Molenbeek, seems to be a hot spot for the perpetrators of the 13 of November attacks, driven by radical salafist preachers inbedded in this Brussels sub-urban locality where unenployment, inactivity and lack of social and societal inclusion are concrete drivers of radicalisation...

Let’s have in mind that two of the seven suicide bombers implicated in the Paris attacks came from Belgium. That reality does confirm as well a homegrown terrorism in France, who still is the country which have exported the most jihadis than any in Europe.

Nicolamaria Coppola: After the terrible terror attacks in Paris, the initial reaction has been to close the border, declare state of emergency and put boots on the ground. Who would benefit, or lose, from such measures?

Emmanuel Dupuy: Clearly, France as decided, in the last days, to susbtainly sharpen it’s security status. We are now living under the rule of the "State of Emergency" on the whole territory, which never happened since the war in Algeria, when France and it’s meridional Department of Algeria where burdenned by daily terrorism coming fromboth FLN and OAS.

President Hollande, who initialy decided to close the borders, withdrawn, quite rapidly in fact, this initial decision and decided to put emphasize on the strengthening of the 61 border control points with our neighbours (Great Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain).

Declaration of "State of Emergency", strenghtening of the "Sentinelle" Operation (whose 7000 military have been enlarged to 1500 more soldiers), re-instauration of Border control, whereas Schengen Convention since 1995 allows Open Borders within it’s 26 Members are only milestone on the path to a more security driven policy agenda. Prime Minister, Manuel Valls as, thus, openly mentioned the fact that radical preachers may be obliged to leave the territory. Others, such as former President Nicolas Sarkozy has recently advocated as well for the loss of Nationality for those who clearly preach against the values of french Republic.

In synthesis, the 13 of November attacks which have killed 129 people, severely injured more than 300 are the starting point of a new narrative that will have an affect on the upcoming regional elections of the 6 and 13 of December.

Nicolamaria Coppola: What about the intelligence agencies in France? How is it possible that DGSE, DGSI, DRM and others did not expect and detect and put down such attacks? How is it possible that heavily armed people were able to act in public areas like Rue Alibert, Rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi, Rue de Charonne, the Bataclan theatre in Boulevard Voltaire, Avenue de la RĂ©publique, and Boulevard Beaumarchais without any previous reactions from the military forces?

Emmanuel Dupuy: The French Intelligence Community, strong of its 13,000 dedicated and efficient staff, from our six agencies (DGSE, DRM DPSD, from the Ministry of Defence / ISB - Ministry of Interior / Tracfin and GNERD-Customs - Ministry of Finance) has helped to thwart numerous attempted attacks.

It is therefore necessary to rejoice, 1000 promises recruitment agents (including 432 for the DGSI, 280 for the DGSE + 500 in the services of the Ministry of Interior, including 350 policemen and 150 gendarmes in the Central Directorate territorial intelligence ...) that will, by 2017, strengthening our intelligence services.

Previous attempts in 1990 and 2007, to supervise and give substance to the legal tools of public policy intelligence had indeed been sufficiently thorough.

The Law of 9 October 2007 establishing a parliamentary intelligence delegation nevertheless put an end to a strange exception that made our country one of the last western democracies not to be with a parliamentary control mechanism for its specialized services.

For, it is the secret of transparency dialectic that has increased in recent years as to affect both the trust placed in the state and the authority he must preserve to perform its first mission: defense and security of the nation, which passes through an inalienable right to privacy.

If the information is a public service, is there a public service as long as another? Obviously not! The new threats of open digital society, which today affect the security of states and societies confirm the necessary and delicate balance between collective security and individual freedoms should be found. These involve new challenges and to frame the action of intelligence services and that, in the context of the doctrine of liberalism, privatization of intelligence, the revolution of open information, yet that addresses all factors in France too centrally.

The scope and intervention remains as wide as necessary to consider in a comprehensive and concerted way, whether "national security, essential interests of foreign policy and the implementation of international commitments France, key economic or scientific interest, prevention of terrorism or preventing the reconstitution or dissolved group keeping, crime and organized crime, collective violence can seriously undermine the public peace" , as stated in the new Intelligence bill.

Moreover, the risk also remains that too much data kills the useful data. Coordination of the 17 US intelligence agencies, a result of 11 September, was, moreover, an unintended consequence, that of the greater vulnerability of the network, given the sharing induces intra-agency information.

It is not legal because it makes the plays that makes practices. The mass of data in a society of open information and hyper-permeability and mobility networks is such that it should also urgently consider exponential and masses of expensive staff to decode a sufficient duration.

Remember, the Kouachi brothers, implicated in the January Charlie Attacks, had both been identified and placed under surveillance, without any reason to continue tapping not just justify an extension. Administrative plays were limited, so renewable four month period which will probably remain the same in the new law (voted in May 2015).

Nicolamaria Coppola: What will be the political effects for and within the European Union after these tragic events? What do you think we should now expect from the French government, the European Union, in response to the attacks? Shall the traditional democratic guarantees be affected and be jeopardized after the latest events?

Emmanuel Dupuy: In view of the tragic hours we experienced in early January and in the last days, we cannot stanjd back also on better coordination at European level intelligence and against terrorism, building on existing tools like -the Strategy of European Union to fight against terrorism - and calling for the creation of a genuine European intelligence service.

Certainly was created in 2002, the Situation Centre (SitCen) integrated in the European External Action Service (EEAS), becoming afterwards the Intcen. The latter, however, has never really been argued, nor the capability plan budget. It thus comprises only two units of analysis, its staff have been constantly revised downwards (despite the attacks that have bloodied Spain in 2004 and Britain in 2005) and only works with the coordinator of little the fight against terrorism, which in turn depends of the Council of the European Union, which represents the member states!

Not sure the slaughter occurred in Paris, will change anything in Brussels, even though the 28 Homeland Security ministers will gather in the next days!

All legislative projections, administrative capability will not, however, be sufficient to prevent attacks that may at one time or another, cast a pall over the European continent, or, again, our territory. Thus, there is a noticeable difference - scale - between the necessary tools to counter terrorism and those might be called his vows to fight against terrorism.

Therefore, at least a capability emergency law in the search for a more "comprehensive approach" and the inclusion of security in the development of territories, taking account of Realpolitik in our international agenda and resilience of citizens, remain our best weapon, enabling us to provide an effective and lasting response against the sustainable anchoring of terrorism.


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the interviewed’s own and do not necessarily reflect EPOS WorldView’s editorial policy

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 November 2015 08:44

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