Unravelling of French Ties in Africa – Senators Blast Macron, Global Powers Vie for Influence

Senators' Open Letter Exposes Macron's Failures, Setting Stage for Superpower Reshuffle

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

There has been a rise in anti-French sentiment on the continent of Africa as a direct result of the failure of France to successfully cooperate with Africa on military, political, and cultural fronts. In the meantime, Russia, China, and the United States have all seen increases in their spheres of influence. Ninety-two members of the French Senate expressed these sentiments in an open letter written to President Emmanuel Macron and published in Le Figaro.

Niger is the latest country in West Africa to reject France, the French military, and French corporations, following in the footsteps of Mali, the Central African Republic, and Burkina Faso, wrote the senators. After the failure of Operation Barkhanearmed formations [Private Military Companies] like “Wagner” are coming in at French expense. The letter reads that these formations are ready to collaborate with leaders who consolidate power by mobilising their populace against the former colonial rulers. Legislators noted that demonstrations and anti-French actions are taking place in countries close to France, such as Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal. These legislators include Bruno Retailleau, the chairman of the “Republicans” party in the French Parliament’s Senate (upper house), and Christian Cambon, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Armed Forces. This movement in sub-Saharan Africa is spreading. They noted that Paris’ relations with North African countries such as Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia were ambiguous.

In recent years, officials of the French administration, according to the senators, have been “disguising failures” by accusing all dissenters of yearning for the policies of “French Africa,” which implies informal supervision over former colonies. According to the letter’s contents, what used to be known as France in Africa is rapidly transforming into a Russian military Africa, a Chinese economic Africa, and an American diplomatic Africa. The authors of the letter drew attention to the fact that the French language is experiencing a slow but steady fall in importance across the continent as a direct result of the growing popularity of the English language.

The senators said that despite being a welcoming continent, Africa seems to comprehend France no longer and is increasingly questioning its role and presence. They demanded that the French President, Emmanuel Macron, take a definite stance.

Although the head of state has not yet provided an official response to the letter, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, has commented on the remark about the military’s inability to succeed. According to a letter obtained by AFP and quoted from, he declared that Operation Barkhane was not a failure; it is erroneous to suggest so. By taking action against terrorist organisations in the Sahel, the Minister is certain that French soldiers are “saving hundreds of lives” and “safeguarding French nationals.” He admitted that learning lessons was necessary, as it should be during any crisis and military operation.

Military Activities Carried Out by France in Africa In August of 2014, France launched an operation known as “Barkhane” to combat Islamist militants in Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad. It was a continuation of Operation Serval, which took place in Mali from 2013 to 2014. Serval took place in Mali from 2013 to 2014. The Ministry of Armed Forces estimates that more than 5,000 personnel are involved in the operation “Barkhane.” During both of France’s operations in the Sahel region, 58 members of the French armed forces have been killed.

Towards the end of the year 2021, the government of Mali, where the majority of the French limited contingent’s personnel were stationed, urged that they be withdrawn from the country as quickly as possible. August of 2022 was the month that this need was satisfied. Most troops were redeployed to the neighbouring country of Niger, where a military coup took place on July 26, 2023. After the revolution, the participants asked that French forces be withdrawn from the country by the next month.

There is a substantial French airbase near the city of Niger, which is also the location of approximately 1,500 French soldiers. In addition to this, military bases have been established in the country by the United States of America, Germany, and Italy. More than a thousand American personnel are currently stationed in Niger.

The presidential security of Niger deposed and detained President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26. General Abdourahmane Tchiani, commander of the guard, proclaimed himself president of the interim CNSP-led government. ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), backed by the US and France, on July 31 condemned the coup, suspended financial aid to the country, and gave Niger’s military leaders one week to reinstate the detained president or the community would use “all measures,” including military, to restore order in the African nation. The military administrations of Niger’s neighbours, Mali and Burkina Faso warned that any military intervention against Niger would be considered a declaration of war against them.

The French foreign ministry stated on August 5 after Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna met with Niger’s Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou in Paris. The statement reaffirmed France’s support for ECOWAS’s efforts to oust this coup attempt. She claimed that the future of Niger and the entire region’s stability are at stake. France, the former colonial power, did not specify whether its support for an ECOWAS intervention in Niger would include military assistance.


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