News You Really Need To See: “François Hollande’s African Adventures”

“François Hollande’s African Adventures”

The Economist, July 19-25, 2014, p.45

“France’s president, François Hollande, took office in 2012 knowing little of Africa. … Yet Africa has a way of intruding on French politics. … Twice last year, with uncharacteristic decisiveness, Mr Hollande sent French troops into African conflicts: to beat back a jihadist incursion in Mali, and to curb ethno-religious warfare in the Central African Republic (CAR).  Now France wants to reorganise its troops in the region, under the banner ‘Operation Barkhane’, as a 3,000-strong counter-terrorism force.  The new force will be permanent, with its headquarters in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.  It has been designed with five countries that span the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, all former colonies.  A thousand French soldiers will remain indefinitely in Mali (down from a peak of over 4,000 last year), focused on counter-terrorism operations in the north, where there has been a resurgence of violence.  Another 1,200 will be stationed in Chad, the rest split between a surveillance base in Niger, a bigger permanent base in Ivory Coast, and some special forces in Burkina Faso. … The threat has grown since the fall of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, and the focus has also shifted geographically: towards a desert ‘motorway’ that reaches from the porous borders of southern Libya through the Sahel to the Atlantic.  Along it flow arms, drugs, illegal immigrants and jihadists.”

Quickie Analysis:  Interesting article on France’s changing security engagement with francophone Africa.  (A “barkhane” is a crescent-shaped sand dune.)

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