G. Laporte. 2013. Security Policies of France in West Africa. (ECDPM Presentation). Maastricht: ECDPM.
Seminar on Security policies in West Africa National Defence Academy
Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management, Vienna, 18-19 April 2013
1. Security Policies of France in West Africa
Seminar on Security policies in West Africa, Vienna, 18-19 April 2013
National Defence Academy, Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management
Geert Laporte, Deputy Director, European Centre forDevelopment Policy Management
2. Structure of the presentation
1. Short history of French security interests in Africa
2. Changes in new rules of the game
3. Motives for French intervention in Mali
4. Short-term gains
5. Possible long-term implications
6. Quid the EU?
7. Quid AU and ECOWAS?
8. Lessons learnt
3. Short history of French security interests in Africa
• Strong post-colonial ties with francophone Africa (“Francafrique”- “protection of African dictators in return for minerals”)
• Various interventions to save or remove regimes since 1960s
• Major french bases in CI, Burkina Faso, Chad,Gabon
• Since more than 2 decades: “ time to move away from Francafrique” – “immoral and outdated”.
• Sarkozy: scaling down French troops
• Hollande: “France should stop playing gendarme in Africa”
4. New rules of the game can quickly change
• December 2012: French refusal to intervene in Central African Republic…
• …January 2013: French intervention in Mali as epicentre of post-Libya instability
• Fear of spill-over effects in the region if Malian state implodes
• Need to move fast + unilateral action but with approval of international community (UN resolution- unanimous support Security Council)
5. Motives for French intervention in Mali
• Security motives: stopping jihadist movements “at EU doorstep”,preventing destabilisation of the region
• Economic motives: secure energy resources (uranium Niger, potential oil in Mali,..) and deter rival powers (China-BRICS)
• Illegal trafficking (drugs)
• Hostage crisis
6. Short-term gains
• Stop Jihadists and prevent take-over Bamako and collapse Mali
• Re-affirmation of French military power in Africa
• Praise and backing public opinion in France, Mali and elsewhere in Africa/world
• Test for foreign policy approach of Hollande
7. Long-term implications?
• Neighbouring states could be drawn in conflict (Algeria, Niger, Libya, …)?
• Reprisal attacks against French targets in West Africa (30,000 French) and domestic retaliation in France?
• Sahel: new battleground of global jihadism
• Long term in surgery war with terrorists (tactical withdrawal jihadists and regrouping)?
• No clear French exit and long term strategy
8. Long-term implications? (2)
•Is France willing to also invest in taking away the underlying causes and breeding ground for extremism (= poverty, injustice, poor governance, violence, state fragility, corruption) and to invest in post conflict peace building?
•Military action alone will not end the crisis in Mali
•Short-term quick fix should be complemented with structural actions
9. Quid the EU?
• Comprehensive Sahel strategy with ambitious security dimension
• Ashton “absent” after intervention of France
• Focus on development and long term state reconstruction + training Malian armed forces
• EU should move beyond image of soft power
• BUT, EU institutions Post Lisbon not equipped to make EU a stronger and faster player
10. Quid the African side?
• ECOWAS-AU Plan for promoting inclusive democratic process, reforming defence and security sector, restoring territorial integrity, addressing challenges facing wider Sahel with support of UN, EU
• November 2012: agreement on coordinated military intervention but deployment only foreseen in …September 2013
• Extreme dependency for peace operations on donor funding
11. Lessons learnt
• Mali crisis is a regional issue requiring regional approach with regional institutions in the lead
• Military intervention should be followed by non-military action (structural development)
• Great need for more coherent EU post crisis engagement
• Foreign intervention can only succeed if objectives fit in with local dynamics = Mali stands or falls with a credible government which does not exist
12. Thank you!