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    French soldiers patrol in front of the Eiffel Tower, January 8, 2015

    France's 3 Month State of Emergency May Stretch Security to Breaking Point

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    Terrorist Attacks in Paris (254)

    French President Francois Hollande said that he would seek parliamentary approval to extend the state of emergency declared after Friday's terror attacks to three months. However, given the exhausted state of the country's overworked security services, it is possible that further exertion will only stretch them beyond breaking point.

    On Sunday, French parliamentary sources told AFP that the country's president is looking to extend the state of emergency declared following Friday's Paris attacks to last three months, thus covering the upcoming UN climate summit, set to begin at the end of November. According to the country's laws, any extension of the state of emergency beyond 12 days would require parliamentary approval. 

    Commenting on Hollande's proposal, Evgenia Gvozdeva, the Director of Production at the Brussels-based European Strategic Intelligence & Security Center, told Sputnik exactly what the state of emergency would entail, noting that it would "provide more power to security authorities. They can proceed with more arrests, and they can arrest those people who were under police monitoring. They can be detained for a longer period of time than in a normal situation."

    Gvozdeva noted that while "unfortunately, it is not a way to guarantee that there will be no other terrorist attacks in the coming months in France or across Europe, at least it is one of the ways to provide supplementary power to security authorities and to detain those people who could be involved in plotting further terrorist attacks or could be linked to other jihadist networks."

    Overexertion Could Lead to Dangerous Exhaustion 

    However, a look back at the problems of strain and exhaustion among overwhelmed French security forces following January's Charlie Hebdo attacks naturally gives rise to fears that overstretching, overextending and overexerting the security forces could lead to dangerous, perhaps deadly, lapses. 

    As recently as October, sources including The Independent reported that elite French police were already "so tired they have been shooting themselves by mistake," adding that "officers from the [country's] elite close protection unit have clocked up 1.3 million hours in unpaid overtime" in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

    The Independent worryingly recalled that "increased security measures [had pushed] police resources to breaking point," with a lawyer representing the 700 member elite police group suggesting that the unit was a "bomb waiting to explode." 

    Earlier, in April, a number of media outlets warned that the January attacks had exhausted the country's anti-terror police and military, leading many to protest the long hours in difficult and uncomfortable working conditions. France 24's article on the subject was chillingly titled "Soldiers on brink of exhaustion spark terror fears in France." 

    The news outlet pointed out that "as the constant deployment begins to take its toll on the security forces, not to mention the soaring costs, questions are now being asked as to how long France can keep up this vast security operation." 

    Military Jean-Hugues, the head of a professional association representing the military police, warned at the time that "the risk [of ever-accumulating fatigue] is that this will lead to a lack of vigilance, which means that when a real attack comes we are not reactive and therefore unable to stop it…The slightest mistake could have dramatic consequences for the French people."

    Now, ahead of the French parliament's debate on extending the state of emergency declared following Friday's attacks, hopefully French officials will not allow themselves to fall into the same trap.

    Terrorist Attacks in Paris (254)


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    State of Emergency, French National Assembly, Francois Hollande, Paris, France
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