Under the pretext of sparing the world another genocide, France deployed 1,600 troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) late last year. Since Operation Sangaris was launched, however, the French military has proven powerless to stop the sectarian violence, which took more than a thousand lives in Bangui last month.
Since it has become clear that the humanitarian crisis is beyond French control, President Francois Hollande faces the question of whether Paris should have intervened in the CAR, where a significant percentage of the country’s citizens view France’s intervention as a form of 21st century neo-colonialism. France was clearly naïve to believe that deploying fewer than 2,000 troops to a destabilized nation bordering on anarchy and awash with arms would restore stability.
While the first French brigades to enter the CAR last month were greeted as liberators, not all of its citizens welcomed the former colonial ruler’s military presence — thousands of Séléka supporters protested the intervention. Surely French military commanders did not imagine that they would simply waltz in and be greeted with a shower of rose petals. But by the same token, it seems clear that the French failed to anticipate such vigorous opposition and were unprepared for what awaited them.
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