Pator - The Republic capsuleer community was abuzz the past week with the news on 24 February that the Minmatar United Freedom Front, a founding member of Electus Matari, would be leaving the alliance by the end of the week. According to -MUFF CEO Meklon, the corporation came to the conclusion that it was “finally time...to move forward to new goals which, unfortunately, cannot be reached within the current political and operational structure used by Electus Matari.” However, rumors persist that marital problems between Meklon and his wife and successor as Electus Matari executor, Evanda Char, may have had something to do with the split as well.
Though the first public notice of the Freedom Front's decision to leave Electus Matari and form their own alliance was only this week, a number of people we talked to in the Electus Matari leadership said that the move was not particularly surprising in light of problems MUFF had been suffering since Meklon was forced to take a leave of absence last July. Elsebeth Rhiannon, Electus Matari spokeswoman, said that -MUFF “lost a lot of influence and capacity during his absence,” and Gradient CEO Rocius said “their activity has been sporadic, and greatly felt the loss of Meklon during his time in the med labs.”
Compounding these problems, the leadership of the Freedom Front has been butting heads with the other Electus Matari leaders, pushing for the alliance to take a more aggressive stance against the Amarr. These internal political pressures seemed to take their toll on the Freedom Front's relationship with the established leadership, consisting of Re-Awakened Technologies and Gradient. When Meklon returned to active duty, the troubles seemed to come to a head.
Behind the scenes, however, it appears that the personal relationship between Meklon and Evanda Char was also disintegrating. The burden of leadership, the added pressure of a conflict between Electus Matari and both Caldari and Amarr paramilitaries, and Meklon's medical problems appears to have weighed heavily on Commander Char's shoulders. As a result, she sought solace in the arms of another. While requests for comment from Char or her press secretary on the matter were denied, Rocius told us that rumors of an affair between him and the alliance executor were true. When Meklon returned to duty and found out about the affair, there was a physical confrontation between him and Rocius, though both men tried to downplay the incident and said that their relationship has remained professional.
It's clear that this has had an effect on the marriage of Meklon and Char, however. Just six weeks ago, shortly after Meklon returned to duty, the two of them appeared to be quite in love when interviewed for another news article, but the two are now separated and a divorce seems likely, though Meklon expressed regret at the situation. “Every time I open the file, I cannot bring myself to sign the dotted line,” he said with regard to the couple's divorce papers. “Evanda, if anything, was the reason I choose to stay with the Electus for this long after my return.”
Elsebeth Rhiannon, not only Char's press secretary but a close personal friend and confidante, told us that she believed the marriage was suffering long before Meklon's convalescence and the affair, however. “I think they rushed it,” she told us. Citing the stresses both had in their roles as corporate leaders and already confrontational nature of the Freedom Front compared to the rest of Electus Matari, Rhiannon told us that she thought the marriage was an uphill battle from the start. “I did wish that they'd be happy,” she said. “I merely estimated the odds not in their favor.” Admiral Rodj Blake, leader of the Amarr paramilitary PIE Inc, commented that the marriage was “clearly a mockery of that fine institution to begin with” when contacted by IC.
Whatever the reason, it appears that the relationships between both -MUFF and Electus Matari and Meklon and Evanda Char are coming to an end. We asked Meklon what his plans were for his new alliance, the 11th Hour, which was established with CONCORD on 28 February. “I felt that we could do more for the people who are currently held in bonds than what we were currently doing,” he said, explaining that he wants his new alliance to take a more aggressive role against the Amarr Empire, using the forces mustered by the Minmatar loyalist capsuleer community against targets in Amarr space.
When asked if this meant he was moving towards favoring the positions of the Ushra'Khan, he tried to downplay any connection. "My plans, if they succeed, are more of tact than reliance on brute force," he said, though he made sure to recognize the contributions of the "brave pilots of the 'Khan" to the Minmatar cause. He added that it was likely that that his forces would end up working closely with Ushra'Khan pilots against the fortified positions of the Curatores Veritatis Alliance in the Providence region. As far as specific plans for the 11th Hour, Meklon declined to give any insight into what those might be.
The growing diversification of the Minmatar loyalist capsuleer bloc is something that many in the defense establishment of not only the Republic, but the other three major nations, will be watching closely as international tensions increase throughout the cluster.
Speaking on the issue, Getonsur Irkold, a professor of political science and foreign policy at Republic University, told us that “any conflict between the four major nations of the cluster is likely to be influenced by the involvement of the pod pilot community." He added that "the fractious nature of the Minmatar loyalists must obviously be of some concern to the Republic's military and intelligence agencies."
"They have likely been concerned somewhat about the strength and cohesion the Amarr paramilitaries over the last few years. Should the Republic come under attack, it remains to be seen how well the various Minmatar loyalist forces will be able to work together.”
It remains to be seen if MUFF and the 11th Hour will represent an attempt to bridge those differences, or contribute to the divisiveness that has sometimes plagued the Minmatar capsuleer community.