World News: Russia, France, Play Diplomatic Musical Chairs

The multiple coups d'état in West Africa demonstrates how the region has managed to get rid of the tacit authority of the former colonial power that was France to the benefit of Russia, which is very active in the area.

From one rejected power to another with more unofficial action, West Africa is nevertheless exposed to new underground influences.

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By declaring today in an interview with the newspaper Le Monde (Edition of September 3, 2023) that "Françafrique is long dead," the Minister of European Affairs and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, finally only endorses evidence that has prevailed since the sequence of military coups in West Africa.

This area of the continent, fragile and sensitive in view of its exposure to Islamist factions, had nevertheless acquired a form, albeit relative, of stability because of the presence of French military forces and the political and economic support of France.

But, while the said zone is also revealing a new space of influence between Russia and France, and more broadly, the West, several countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Gabon,...) have decided to turn their backs on democracy. Not by categorical rejection of the principles of the latter but rather by what they embody, namely a kind of post-colonial domination printed, felt as such at least, by the former colonial power that was France.

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Interests and influence

Perceived as oppressive and domineering, France is now persona non grata in a zone that has become hostile to its interests. It remains to be seen how diplomatic and economic relations between the France and its countries, rich in raw materials that France had become accustomed to exploiting, albeit within the framework of formal contracts, will evolve. However, the economic question could count less than the content of diplomatic relations, the latter conditioning the former.

France, like other European nations established in West Africa via various and varied companies, will have to be especially concerned with the games of influence and the nations that will indulge in them. And in the first place, Russia.

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If the latter suffers on the Ukrainian front, the more unofficial front opened in West Africa, animated by proxy by the armed forces of the country's theaters of coups d'état, seems to bring more satisfaction. Long a territory under the unofficial control of the former colonial powers, including France, West Africa, emancipates itself from its former guardian thanks to the support of Moscow.

Can we therefore really advance the idea of emancipation or transfer of influence from one dominant country to another? The question deserves to be asked because behind the desire to get rid of the France and its political model, hides also or perhaps, or both, Russia's ambition to get its hands on a region whose intrinsic fragility allows the various coups de force to succeed.

Having become a major geopolitical issue, West Africa is now opening a new page in its history far from France and Europe, close to Russia. But when will West Africa be able to write its own history, detached from any influence?

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Bio: Olivier Longhi has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor, and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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