For example, the day before the government of Burkina Faso decided to denounce an agreement with France on military assistance concluded back in 1961. And in mid-February, the French military officially ended operations in the country as part of the Sabre mission.
The decision by the authorities in Burkina Faso to terminate the 60-year-old military agreement came as a very unpleasant surprise to Paris, and alongside the demonstration by the African state of its own priorities, was also a clear challenge to France from the entire Black Continent.
The pact will finally expire in a month, at which point some 400 French commandos, who are stationed in a camp near the capital, Ouagadougou, will leave Burkina Faso. The demand for the withdrawal of French troops from the country was announced on Burkina Faso television at the end of January this year.
A similar decision had been taken earlier by the government of Mali. As a result, the French military left the country in August 2022 and the bilateral defence agreement was terminated by the authorities.
Who is next, what other African country, a former French colony, will follow the example of Mali and Burkina Faso? Senegal, Gabon? Is it not due to anxiety over a complete break from the former metropolis of some African countries that Macron undertook a week-long tour of the Black Continent? Especially since it began literally immediately after the expulsion of the French military from Burkina Faso and the termination of the military pact that, in effect, allowed French units to be based in the West African country under the guise of an anti-terrorist operation.
So Macron now has the obvious task of trying to maintain at least some of Paris’s influence in Africa. But he doesn’t seem to have much of a chance.
It is known that Macron will visit four countries around the Congo basin – Gabon, Angola, Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, located quite far from other former French colonies, where the anti-metropolitan trend is most evident today. Moreover, before the start of the tour, the French president had promised to significantly reduce the number of his troops in Africa. True, few believe it – both in Africa and in Paris. It seems doubtful that the French will abandon their military presence on the continent and withdraw their bases, for example, from Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, and Chad.
It is clear that this prospect is not in the interests of contemporary France, which, if we call things by their proper names, is a follower, or rather the successor, of colonialist ideas, which, in fact, is very clearly understood in African countries as well. This was in any case demonstrated by the numerous protests against French policies that took place at the start of the year in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou, which called for the restoration of Burkina Faso’s economic, political, and cultural independence.
This is an extremely dangerous trend for France, which could have a continuation across the African continent. So Macron’s tour is a forced step, a desperate attempt to level out the counterproductive processes that have been deployed there against France. The mass demonstration that took place on the occasion of Macron’s forthcoming visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo on March 3-4 showed once again that the current African tour will be a failure for the French president, although hypothetically it is intended to help restart relations between Paris and the African states.
If we look back at the policies of previous French leaders in Africa, it is easy to see that the former metropolis has never ceased to play the role of political-military dominant there. For example, during the 2007 election campaign, French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy promised to review Paris’ policy in the Black Continent, stating that “France will no longer play the role of a gendarme in Africa”. However, as subsequent events in 2008 showed, Sarkozy’s promises were followed by bombings in Libya. Similar assurances were given by President François Hollande. Speaking in Dakar in October 2012, he declared that Paris would henceforth discuss with African states on an equal footing and that the practice of neocolonialism would become a thing of the past.
But all the assurances of ex-leaders of France remained at the level of declarative statements, without any practical implementation. Firstly, this was facilitated by the fact that France still maintains overseas territories thousands of kilometres away from its borders, which generally falls outside international law. Secondly, Paris has tacitly ruled parts of Africa to this day and firmly maintains a policy of colonialism that also overcrosses the democratic principles of the Old World, which France claims most of all.
It is no coincidence that this issue was raised by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at the Non-Aligned Movement’s Contact Group summit in response to COVID-19. And first of all, it was noted that the Movement has always strongly supported the indisputable sovereignty of the Union of Comoros over the island of Mayotte, which is still under the colonial rule of France.
“As reflected in the founding documents of NAM, we call on the French Government to respect the rights of the people of New Caledonia and other peoples in the French overseas communities and territories. The territories administered by France outside Europe are the abominable remnants of the French colonial empire. We also call on France to apologise and acknowledge responsibility for its colonial past, bloody colonial crimes and acts of genocide against NAM member states in Africa, South East Asia, and elsewhere,” the Head of State said, noting the growing trend of neo-colonialism worldwide.
President Aliyev’s justified criticism is a very clear message to France, although it also applies to countries that promote a policy of occupation and war, in particular Armenia. All the more so as both countries have firmly cemented their status as occupiers. The paradox is that while African countries demonstrate their determination to escape the yoke of the colonial policy of France, Armenia, as an occupier, is ready to become a new colony of France. However, this has a logical explanation, given the mutual aspiration of these very different countries for a policy of neo-fascism.
And it is quite appropriate to draw parallels between the hostile policy of France in Algeria and the genocide committed by Armenians in Karabakh. On the other hand, it is France and Armenia that are trying to destabilise the region again in the current post-conflict period, when the Karabakh problem is completely exhausted. At the same time, it should be recognised that there is much credit to be given to France for the arrival of the European mission in Armenia, on which Yerevan is vainly trying to shift responsibility for Armenia’s future. However, the extent to which Paris will be closely involved in the Armenian problems at a time when France’s rating is falling globally, and especially in Africa, is a rhetorical question…