“We are witnessing the inexorable and inevitable decline of French influence and presence in sub-Saharan Africa,” says a journalist

Expelled on Sunday October 2 by Captain Traoré, the head of the ruling junta in Burkina Faso, Lieutenant Colonel Damiba, resigned. After this umpteenth blow, the violence increased, particularly against the French embassy. For Vincent Hugeux, journalist, essayist, professor at SciencesPo, guest on Monday, October 3 on franceinfo, “we attend” in Burkina Faso in “inexorable and inevitable decline of French influence and presence in sub-Saharan Africa.”

franceinfo: Is it a strategic country in the Sahel war?

vincent hugoux : Of course, there is a contingent estimated at 400 men, special forces whose vocation is to train, train their Burkinabe brothers-in-arms in a base that is located about thirty kilometers from the capital, Ouagadougou. If cet elément du dispositif devait être I withdrawn hastily après le retrait antérieur du versant malien du dispositif Barkhane, ce serait en quelque sorte un nouvel épisode dans un feuilleton qui pourrait être entitled le déclin inexorable et ineluctable de l’influence et de la présence française en Sub-Saharan Africa.

Following the coups, links with France are disintegrating. Is it a loss of influence?

We just had a pretty unprecedented textbook case, namely double trigger hits, first in Mali in 2020-2021, then now in Burkina Faso, eight months apart. The legitimate obsession of the African populations, namely an improvement in the security situation for the time being, has not found an answer. There is a double paradox regarding this sequence. However, it is when the influence of Paris on its former African colonies is weakest that the rejection is most virulent.

We hear about the plundering of African resources. It is effectively a colonial backwardness that has never really been eliminated. But today, French foreign trade and investment in Africa represent less than 5%.

vincent hugoux

in france info

Most of these investments are directed to English-speaking African countries, therefore outside the pregroup. The second paradox, even more unusual than the previous one, is that we are turning Russia to the side of the spearhead, local opinions widely exploited by local and foreign actors, at a precise moment when the army of Holy Russia wipes out and connects the sharp setbacks. on the Ukrainian front. It cannot be said, I witnessed it on the ground, that this famous Wagner force, these mercenaries in the service of the Kremlin, showed great courage in the fight against the jihadists. They shone more in depredation and exactions than in the ebb of the threat of the madmen of Allah.

Did France fail to seduce the Burkinabe population?

What I have been able to measure throughout my reports is the intense perplexity of the Africans who tell them: “How is it that the fifth or sixth army in the world, with all its technological supremacy, its satellites, its fighters, is unable to annihilate a gang of jihadists?” So it’s not that simple because jihadism has become very professional. It opposes conventional weapons with a completely new and novel conflictivity, with a perfect knowledge of the terrain, small isolated groups, etc. But this has created fertile ground for the dissemination of absolutely delusional theses that, in particular, impute to France not only a form of leniency towards jihadists, but also accuse it of having openly armed, equipped and financed today’s murderers. .

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