‚Civil War is Brewing‘: Barnier Wants to Shut Borders Amid Macron-Army Spat

Written by | Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

France should suspend all immigration from outside the European Union for up to five years and push the bloc to toughen its external borders, the EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said, adding that refugees and students would be among those exempted from the proposal. Barnier, who is thought to be considering a tilt at the French presidency, also said the EU’s external frontier had become a “sieve”. “I think we have to take the time for three or five years to suspend immigration,” he told public broadcaster France 2, raising eyebrows of many in Paris and Brussels. Barnier also called for a discussion with other EU member states about making the bloc’s external border “more rigorous”. Barnier is believed to have his eye on becoming the candidate for centre-right party The Republicans, though most polls currently suggest that the 2022 contest will be between the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron, and the far-right Marine Le Pen.
Barnier’s remarks follow the call by the head of France’s military on anonymous signatories of a letter, which claimed “civil war is brewing” in France, to resign from the army. It was already the second letter to be published in a right wing magazine, denouncing the “disintegration” of France and the dangers of Islamism. Three weeks ago the weekly magazine Valeurs Actuelles published a similar letter, authored by 20 former generals, which claimed France was “in peril”, warning that “Islamism and hordes from the suburbs” were transforming the country, which was “disintegrating”. It was also endorsed by a hundred high-ranking officers and more than a thousand other soldiers, the magazine said. The latest letter, written by those who call themselves “recent career soldiers”, some of whom have “experienced enemy fire” in Mali, Afghanistan or the Central African Republic, denounces what they perceive as a “brewing” civil war.
In a separate but related development, the head of President Macron’s political party has threatened to withdraw support for one of its own candidates, Sara Zemmahi, in upcoming regional elections after she was pictured wearing a headscarf in a campaign poster. Zemmahi, an engineer, is shown smiling in a white headscarf along with three colleagues from the Republic on the Move (LREM) party who are running in the elections in June. “Wearing ostentatious religious symbols on a campaign document is not compatible with the values of LREM,” Guerini wrote late on Monday (10 May). Analysts say Macron has tacked to the right in recent months in a bid to outflank the RN, led by Marine Le Pen, who is seen as his main rival in 2022 presidential elections. Zemmahi’s fellow candidate Mahfoud Benali defended her, saying she was active in local charities and should not be judged by her appearance. “I see Sara’s abilities – I don’t see what she’s wearing,” Benali said.

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