International Analysis

Hollande's foreign 'success story' in tatters as Mali heads for partition

When French troops intervened in Mali in early 2013 the aim was to shore up a faltering regime and help bring stability and strong government to the former colony. Instead just over two years later the African nation seems on the edge of a political catastrophe. There has been a growing number of attacks and armed clashes in the country and the United Nations mission that replaced the French military operation has suffered heavy casualties. Meanwhile there has been little or no political progress domestically as everyone waits for the signature of a peace agreement which will result in a de facto partition of the country. Thomas Cantaloube reports.

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It was not supposed to turn out like this. When French troops intervened in Mali in January 2013, it was intended to be President François Hollande's great foreign policy 'success story'. Here was a resolute president taking a rapid decision, showing that France remained a great nation capable of sending its troops around the world, fighting against fanatical Islamists to preserve democracy, while at the same time distancing itself from the old demons of 'Françafrique', the neocolonial approach in which Paris meddled in its former colonies and did deals with unwholesome and sometimes corrupt regimes. But two years later Mali has become one of those forgotten wars that no longer make the front pages, but which instead prevails over the crumbling of a country amid general indifference, in particular from those who were behind the intervention in the first place (see also Afghanistan, Libya, the Central African Republic and so on...).

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