View Full Version : "gendarme of Africa"

4th February 2005, 11:06
Re: http://www.reuters.co.za/locales/c_newsArticle.jsp;:42031829:4280477552965e26?type= topNews&localeKey=en_ZA&storyID=7535900

The above linked article discusses French troop deployments in Africa.

If Saint Louis, Senegal is "run down", what term can be used to describe Port Harcourt, Nigeria ?


4th February 2005, 11:30
This travel of Chirac in West Africa has some interesting aspects... Especially his stance about Ivory Coast ("we'll leave if asked to do so by African leaders"). It was the first time a French President was visiting a French military base in Africa (the went to 23BIMa near Dakar).

4th February 2005, 19:31
are those military posts? Or are those 1000 some odd troops in Senegal there in an "advisory role"?

4th February 2005, 20:42
These are permanent bases, set-up in accordance with defense agreements France signed with its former colonies after their independence in the early 60s.
There are 4 of them in Africa :
- Djibouti (13DBLE)
- Dakar, Senegal (23BIMa)
- Port Bouët (near Abidjan), Ivory Coast (43BIMa)
- Libreville, Gabon (6BIMa)
They have a small number of permanent personnel (around 250) and are for the rest manned by units coming from France on a rotating assignment (generally 4 months).
The problem is that nowadays, some people in Africa tend to consider thoses bases no longer part of a cooperation process but as a way for France to maintain its influence deemed 'neo-colonialist' on the continent. This sentiment is of course exacerbated among (Ivorian President) Gbagbo's partisans following the events that took place there in last November. Hence the comment by Chirac "we won't stay if we're not welcome".

Eagle eye
4th February 2005, 20:54
The French thought through their 'decolonialisation' much better than some in the Western Sahara or in Southern Africa and provided a measure of stability for their former colonies. Look at some of the former Spanish and Portuguese colonies and the shambles of decade-long wars by proxy between the super-powers (especially Angola)...Ain't sucking up to the French here but it was thought through process except for Algeria...The Ivory Coast was a prosperous and stable country until the cocoa prices fell through and Hophouet didn't make provision for his succession and clung on to the bitter end...Sengor in Senegal was more enlighted and ensured his succession, well, Mandela, thank God for a this Xhosa prince in southern Africa...Otherwise, look at the Mugabe for a dictatorship running down and ruining a country: he's sold off large part of the national economic assets (tobacco plantations to the Chinese) to prop up his finances. So much for independence...

4th February 2005, 22:21
Bonjour Eagle Eye,

Super powers and Angola can easily be translated into USA and Cabinda Province, Angola. The rest of Angola could have been given to Moscow.

For most of the time, 80% of Angola's treasury came from oil royalties from Gulf Oil Cabinda.


Eagle eye
5th February 2005, 11:03
U.S. oil companies (Gulf Oil then Chevron) paid out royalties to the MPLA Marxist government in Luanda while the U.S. government supported the UNITA government either directly or by proxy through Zaire and South Africa. An interesting case-study in playing both sides...

For others on the board, the Portuguese did such a crappy job of granting Angolan and Mozambiquean independence because of the 1974 Revolution in Lisbon by running out of their former colonies with their tail between their legs. Moscow planned this coup via Lisbon after the initial revolution with the hand-over of the two colonies to the Marxist warring factions. The two countries, especially Angola, were thrown into almost thirty years of civil war or more with their respective population, especially in the hinterland, driven into abject misery and famine. Perhaps the two countries could have been better off in being colonies of other former colonial powers.... :eek:

I was an UN electoral observer in Ivory Coast, 2000. At one point, there was a mass uprising. I would have been more hesitating for my colleagues if there weren't French troops at Port Bouet: a base of refuge for observers coming into Abidjan, from Korogo, Mann, San Piero, Bondoukou and other provincial capitals. After the overthrown of Robert Guei, the French embassy was protected by a company of the FFL. Very handy base in the Ivory Coast.

The presence of such troops is not so much 'neo-colonialism' but rather can give a perception of stability for business confidence as an essential prerequisite to external investors in order to generate private and public wealth. The problem as always - and as elsewhere - is the local government's management in the redistribution of generated wealth in the former colony: to benefit either the elites or the masses...

I got the impression that most former colonies with maritime ports drew their finances from two main sources: firstly and 'officially', customs and excise of visiting ships and their trade. secondly, finances from 'l'aide au développement' by well-intentioned Western governments to former colonies.
Instead, the bottom line of certain governments seems to be: 'we're getting more from the lower local processing costs raw materials (cocoa, starch) of the former colonies' natural resources, and taxes levied on their sale as finished products (VAT on edible goods) in our markets and abroad than we spend in 'l'aide au développement'. This is not a cynical viewpoint for each democratically elected government has the remit to uphold, protect and defend the national self-interest. This is a standard: the fault can be elsewhere...

The problem of 'enlightened' western development funds is there is no accountability to the contributing government and its taxpayers that such funds benefit and 'trickle down' to the masses (infrastructure, health, education, transportation) rather than creating direct correlations between their formal transfer of such to developing governments and the order of luxury goods (BMWs, Mercs) for the presidential car fleet and one BMW or Merc for provincial governors - besides being used to finance the salaries of the nomenclatura and the army as a tool of repression...The rest of the poverty among the masses can be blamed on 'neo-colonialism'... Dead easy for some wily leaders in developping countries certainly in the past...

5th February 2005, 17:13
Bonjour Eagle Eye,

I had to spend an entire night thinking about what colonial power did best in Africa to prepare for granting independence to the former places.

It took many hours to think this out, but I'll agree with you; it was France. I cancelled out his imperial excellency Bosaka, President For Life of the Central African Empire with Idi Amin of Uganda. I then thought of the Tirailleurs Senegalais. Senegal sent troops during WWI, WWII and I know they were in Gulf War I.

Plus, the big thing going on in the States now is discussion of Islam. Senegal doesn't have the problems like Nigeria where some provinces adopted Shiah (Islamic law).

Of course, we're dealing in barracks banter only unless we discuss the overall situation. Add the Asian colonies into the equation and some of those disease infested backwaters now surpass European countries.


Peter Lyderik
5th February 2005, 23:09
About Tirailleurs Senegalais