THE FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM

France steps up pressure on Spain to support global fight against ISIS

“We are open to receiving any help that relieves our operations,” says French PM Manuel Valls

Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenés visits troops in Lebanon last week in an image supplied by the Ministry of Defense.
Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenés visits troops in Lebanon last week in an image supplied by the Ministry of Defense.Iñaki Gómez / EFE

France on Tuesday sent out new signals to Spain in the hope that the latter will offer some kind of support in the global fight against Islamic State (ISIS).

With the general election coming up on December 20, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has so far been reticent to make any specific contribution to the alliance over fears that military intervention might run into domestic opposition and take away votes from his Popular Party (PP).

While France is aware of this and has refrained from making any specific requests from Madrid, it has warned that time is running out.

French diplomatic sources explained that the French army is stretched thin after having mobilized over 10,000 soldiers to reinforce domestic security

“We understand that Rajoy is waiting for the general election, but there is no doubt that France is open to receiving any kind of help that will relieve our operations abroad,” said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday.

“These are things that should be discussed right now,” added the French ambassador to Spain, Yves Saint-Geours, in an interview with Spanish private network Antena 3. “One of the reasons we didn’t immediately ask for support is that we know very well that the country is in the middle of an [election] campaign, and we the French should not get involved in that.”

But Paris is keen to secure as much support as possible to deal with several fronts simultaneously: in Syria, in Mali and in its own territory, among others.

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French diplomatic sources explained that the French army was stretched thin after mobilizing over 10,000 soldiers to reinforce domestic security. That is why Paris would like allied nations to increase their own military contingents in places such as Mali, where jihadist terrorism is making inroads.

Last Thursday, Spanish officials had suggested that Spain was going to boost its military presence in Africa, but shortly after Friday’s terrorist attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako, the Rajoy administration issued a strong denial.

Rajoy and Hollande are scheduled to meet next Monday in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Sources at La Moncloa prime minister’s residence have not confirmed whether there will be a bilateral meeting between both leaders.

English version by Susana Urra.

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