France, which has been the primary actor behind the instability and exploitation of Africa for decades, has become an undesirable presence on the continent.
Many countries, from Algeria to Burkina Faso, have made decisions to eliminate France’s presence in their countries, and most recently, Chad arrested French soldiers who were trespassing on the border.
Videos circulating on social media showed Chadian soldiers confiscating weapons and equipment from five French soldiers and lining them up in a row. The treatment France received in Chad, along with being expelled from numerous African countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali, once again highlights the diminishing influence of the colonial power in the continent.
In the video, a Chadian officer, through an interpreter, asked the French soldiers, “Do you have authorization for this mission?”
Chad security sources made an official statement announcing that the French soldiers entered the base without permission. French army spokesperson Pierre Gaudilliere stated that the incident took place on June 8, adding, “This was done in a rather aggressive manner.”
Some Twitter users evaluated the sighting of French soldiers at the Sudan border, where conflicts are taking place, as “suspicious.” One user also mentioned that the detention of the soldiers indicated a “power loss” for the French army in Africa.
In 2013, France had to withdraw its deployed soldiers in Mali due to a political crisis between the two countries and at the request of Malian authorities. France had 2,300 troops in Mali. During the mission of the French army in the region for counterterrorism purposes under Operation Barkhane, terrorist attacks increased. France is widely regarded as responsible for the numerous coups in Mali.
Last December, all French troops stationed in the Central African Republic (CAR) were forced to withdraw. There were 130 French soldiers serving in the country. In August 2022, CAR revoked the title of “permanent doyen ambassador” given to French ambassadors in November. In response, the Paris administration suspended military agreements with CAR, escalating tensions between the two countries.
French President Emmanuel Macron was also reprimanded by President Felix Tshisekedi during his visit to the Congo in March. Tshisekedi, who said, “France and Europe must change their way of cooperation,” added, “Look at us not always with a patriarchal gaze but with respect as real partners. Treat us with respect and see us as real partners. Not as our fathers.” These words had a chilling effect on the French leader.
In February, all French soldiers serving in Burkina Faso under Operation Sabre had to leave the country. The military government that came to power in Burkina Faso on September 30, 2022, announced on January 23 that it was terminating the military cooperation agreement with France and gave French soldiers one month to leave the country. Operation Sabre, based in Ouagadougou, consisted of 400 soldiers from the French Special Forces Command.