[…] It’s been 60 years since most of France’s African colonies gained their independence in 1960. Since then, France has intervened militarily more than 50 times on the continent. My research shows how these interventions often follow a consistent logic which emphasises the protection of local and regional political orders, often at the cost of good governance and long-term stability.
Chad has been the most consistent target of French military activism. French politicians dispatched troops to protect a variety of Chadian dictatorships in the 60s, 70s and 80s. In 1986, France launched Operation Epervier to protect the regime of Hissène Habré against the advance of Libyan forces and Libyan-backed rebels, and French forces have remained in the country ever since. Habré was convicted of crimes against humanity in 2016. […]
More recently, for four days in February 2019, a series of French airstrikes in Chad annihilated a column of around 50 pickup trucks carrying rebels from the Union des forces de la résistance, a group opposed to Déby. Although a comparatively minor incident, this is reflective of a broader pattern to France’s lingering involvement in African affairs. If Barkhane’s aim is to counter the jihadist threat in the Sahel, why did its forces intervene to protect a leader from a domestic political rebellion? The main reason boils down to France’s principal foreign policy priority in Africa since 1960: maintaining stable African political orders broadly favourable to French interests. […]
Current French and broader international efforts in the Sahel to combat the spread of jihadist groups follow a similar logic. Local observers and academic researchers have emphasised the importance of state violence and local grievances in generating armed resistance to regional governments and civil war in the region. But French policy continues to focus on the cross-border jihadist threat. This has meant more French investment in training, equipping, accompanying, and sharing intelligence with local security forces. It has also meant an increased reliance on states such as Chad whose armed forces are some of the worst purveyors of violence in the region. Läs artikel