After the attack in Paris

After the attack in Paris

In the neighborhood of Strasbourg Saint Denis in Paris, is also referred to as the “Little Istanbul”, an attack was conducted on a street where also one of the PKK center is located.

3 people were dead including some PKK members, while 3 more were injured.

The culprit of the attack, a French citizen named William M., was caught by the local residents and handed over to the police.

These are the first informations reported in the press about the attack in Paris…

The bloody history of Strasbourg Saint Denis

And about the details;

The place where the attack took place could even be described as the heart of Paris. Strasbourg Saint Denis has always been a neighborhood full of businesses owned by immigrants throughout its history.

It was settled by the Italians who flew from the Fascist dictatorship, then by Spanish and Portuguese, and then by Turks and Kurds mostly during the 80s and finally by the Yugoslav nations fleeing from the war.

Their journeys that began in small sweatshops, now go on with businesses such as grocery shops, greengroceries restaurants and some other small businesses.

It is not only Turks and Kurds that are prominent in the neighborhood, but also Albanians, Serbians, Pakistanis, and Sri Lankans.

The attack cite, the intersection of Rue d’Enghien Street and Faubourg Saint Denis Street, faced in the 80s a number on clashes and shootings within the political organization, were people were shot and stabbed.

The center, where Sakine Cansiz was murdered back in 2013, is only at a walking distance to the cite of the recent attack.

The neighborhood and the street are under constant surveillance of the police and the intelligence agencies, due to its immigrant population, bloody history, and presence of many cells of the PKK and other organizations that operate in Türkiye.

William M. and his long criminal record

The culprit of the attack is a “pureblood” French citizen named William M. aged 69.

He is a retired railroad worker.

He already has a criminal record due to possessing an unlicensed firearm, and attempts of murder on some immigrants.

Le Canard Enchaine newspaper reported on December 9th 2021 that William has assaulted on refugee tents near Bercy region of Paris with a machete by shouting “death to foreigners, death to refugees” and injured many inside a tent, including a child.

However, he was soon released, just like in many other incidents.

What is interesting, is that after the attack the French Interior Minister has stated that William M. did not have a “Fiche S” record in the registry of law enforcement or intelligence agencies, meaning he was not suspected of “threatening the national security”.

The former Interior Minister and intelligence officials were left at a very tough situation, back when it was revealed that the French citizens who conducted the attacks at Charlie Hebdo, in Paris and Toulouse, all had “Fiche S” records.

It can be said that the Interior Minister made the aforementioned statement, in order to lift the responsibilities from its own back.

Let us also add that William M., whose first statements after the attack were “I hate foreigners” was sent to a mental facility instead of a prison.

The possible goals and the timing of the attack

When the timing and the place of the attack was observed it can be seen that;

Sakine Cansiz was murdered in January 2013, when Oslo meetings were fully in force, on a street that was at a walking distance from the point where the recent attack took place.

Türkiye is still at a critical process, while preparing for the election campaigns on one hand, and still debating the closure of HDP on the other hand.

And most importantly, a ground operation by the Turkish Armed Forces against the PKK hideouts under the protection of the US in Northern Syria, is still being discussed.

Therefore, it is quite possible for the Turkish domestic politics and the planned military operation planned in Syria to be intervened, over this attack.

And this incident seems to have two different sides for France as well;

The French interests in Mesopotamia has been increasing since the Sykes-Picot Agreement. And PKK also serves as an instrument for France to influence the region.

Especially during the François Mitterand administration, Paris almost became a second headquarters after Mount Kandil, for the PKK. The organization has led all its international relations, propaganda and funding operations all from Paris.

However, first after the killing of Sakine Cansiz and now with the recent attack, it is possible that the French influence over PKK and therefore its influence over Northern Syria can be damaged.

It is also a sign that the PKK members have burned all bridges, despite the possibility of French cutting its support, given that PKK protesters are putting Paris on fire.

And when considering this from the French politics, this can be assessed as another punch given to Macron, who has already been weakened by a large margin.

While nationalist and left-wing parties are gaining more votes, the “communautarisme” and anti-immigrant movements are gaining more momentum.

The number of suburbs that police has lost control over the metropolitan areas such as Paris, Marseille and Lyon, are growing more than ever. It is even reported that some public services such as post offices, schools and hospitals are unavailable in these areas due to security issues.

On the other hand, it can be seen that the culture of different ethnicities living along together and the exchanges between the ethnic groups are on a decline in the country.

It would now be a realistic assessment to say that social disintegration has come to point where it could threaten the national security and unity of France.

In short, it does not seem possible to explain such an attack as a mere coincidence, in a street that is constantly surveyed by the police and intelligence agencies, in the heart of Paris.

And the effects of this attack will not only be felt in France, but also in the confrontations in Türkiye and the north of Syria.

Onur Sinan Güzaltan
Onur Sinan Güzaltan was born in Istanbul in 1985. He had his Bachelors's degree in Law, from the Paris-Est Créteil Val de Marne Universty /Paris XII and a Master's degree in International and European Law. He got his certificate of diploma equivalence at Galatasaray University. Later, he got a Master's degree in International Trade Law, at the Institut de Droit des Affaires Internationales, founded jointly by the Sorbonne Universty and the Cairo Universty. In this process, he had served as the Cairo representative for the Aydinlik Newspaper. He has several articles and television streams within the international press, in such as People's Daily, Al Yaum, Al Ahram, Russia Today FranceAl Youm Al Sabea. In addition to being the author of the Tanrı Bizi İster Mi?, a work that studies the 2011-2013 political period in Egypt, he had also contributed to the multi-author study titled Ortadoğu Çıkmazında Türkiye, with an article that focused on the Turkish-Egyptian relations. While currently working as a lawyer, he also writes a weekly column for Aydinlik Newspaper on the subject of international politics and geopolitics.

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February 2023