Efforts to divide spheres of influence in Africa By Natalya Kovalenko

18 January 2013Voice of Russia

The French armed forces are conducting a successful counter-terrorist operation in Mali. The town of Kona was retaken from the Islamists Thursday. The enemy suffered considerable losses, the military says. Among such cheerful statements the issue of what the foreign armed forces are doing in an alien country has been pushed into the background.

Meanwhile, Paris passed a decision on the military operation in Mali before receiving a relevant sanction of the UN Security Council (UNSC). Later the UNSC gave its approval for this but by that time the air bombardment of the armed groups of rebels by the French forces had been in progress for several days. It is very difficult to root out the historical relations between a mother country and its colony, Deputy Director of the Institute of Asian and African Countries Leonid Geveling says.

“After the African colonies declared their independence from France, the latter retained strong ties with them. The French culture is deeply rooted in these countries, which, of course, influenced the military and political situation there. The French quick reaction forces did not leave quite a number of African countries for a long time and actively influenced their domestic policy.”

Granting independence to the African colonies, official Paris continued to support state officials and the intelligentsia there that received education in the French higher educational establishments. Paris was always ready to help all those whom it regarded as its own, an expert with the Institute of Oriental studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Boris Dolgov says.

France actively interfered in the domestic conflict in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) . At that time France supported the current president in his fight against his rival who won the elections. But later the results were disputed, and a French commando unit, practically, ousted the former president and brought Alassane Quattara, who is married to a French citizen, to power in the country. This was direct interference.”

In Chad the French did their utmost to save the regime of Idriss Deby, and in Libya they helped to overthrow the Gaddafi regime. Practically engineering the West’s intervention in Libya and taking an active part in this intervention, France made the Tuareg people angry. Now It has to pay for this, Chief of the Centre for the Russian-African Relations Studies at the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yevgeny Koredyasov says.

“There is no doubt that the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime and the killing of Gaddafi strengthened extremist moods not only in the north of Africa but also in the countries south of Sahara. The Tuareg people who made part of the Libyan national army remained loyal to their leader and fled to Sahara, taking a huge amount of arms, vehicles and ammunition with them. Now they make up the backbone of the jihadist detachments in Mali.”

As it appears, the situation is aggravated by the fact that as it appears, a new division of spheres of influence has begun in Africa, Chief of the Centre for Global and Strategic Studies at the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Leonid Fituni says.

“Both the military and political situation is worsening in Africa. Concrete forms and reasons for interference are different in various regions. Judging by the facts, negative tendencies will be strengthened in Africa which is gradually turning into an object of intense rivalry between various countries aimed at rearranging global interests.”

Judging by the facts, Paris does not plan to start playing a less important role in Africa. The reports that came some days ago said that two French commandos who tried to rescue a French agent were killed in Somalia. The spy was also killed.

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