French Former Top General Says He Fears Civil War Due to ‘Crisis of Authority’

Chief of the Defense Staff, French Army General Pierre de Villiers arrives aboard a command car during the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on July 14, 2017. - The parade on Paris's Champs-Elysees will commemorate the centenary of the US entering WWI and will …

French General Pierre de Villiers, the former chief of staff of the French armed forces, has warned that France could be heading for civil conflict, due to Islamist radicals and growing urban violence.

General de Villiers, who made headlines by quitting as armed forces chief of staff in 2017 over clashes on army budget cuts with President Emmanuel Macron, warned of a variety of factors that could see France heading to potential civil conflict.

According to the General, the social climate in France has been tense well before the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns imposed by the French government.

“Let’s not kid ourselves with illusions about confinement, which is like a lid on the pot: the current climate is gloomy at best, eruptive at worst, in any case very unstable. Everywhere, poverty and anger are increasing,” de Villiers told the newspaper, Le Parisien.

“And six crises overlap: health, security, economic, financial, geostrategic and obviously political, what I call the crisis of authority,” he said and added that France could be reaching a tipping point.

“It can change slowly, or very quickly if there is a spark like in 1789 or 1914. France is an old democracy, a mature country, but it has historically struggled to reform. It is often by explosions, by ruptures,” he said.

“France has been at peace for 75 years. We soldiers do not want war. We know what it is. My fear is civil war. When we behead a teacher in front of a college or when we murder three people who come to pray in a church,” he added referring to the recent terror attacks in Yvelines and Nice.

The 64-year-old also spoke of the problem of radical Islamic extremists and others who hate France, noting it could take generations to integrate them.

“Recovering 20-year-olds who hate France, who are close to […] the Salafists, that can neither be simple nor quick. The task is gigantic. But do we have other choices? Politics should be the art of placing one’s action in the long term,” he said.

According to a leaked intelligence report released earlier this year, at least 150 neighbourhoods and areas across France are “held” by radical Islamists.

The brother of General de Villers, former French secretary of state Philippe de Villiers, noted in 2018 that the General had warned President Macron about the growing instability in parts of the country.

“If the suburbs give rise to further and even more violent uprisings, we will have no way to face them: we lack the means, we lack the men. This is the reality of the French political situation,” General de Villiers is alleged to have told the French leader, according to his brother.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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