After invading Mali in January of last year, and announcing their intention to stay “permanently,” the French government declared in December that Mali was “no longer our problem,” ditching the country and invading the nearby Central African Republic instead.
It was supposed to be a quick intervention, nominally to “avert genocide.” Having imposed regime change, France is once again faced with a protracted occupation and no real hope of success, and parliament is set to vote tomorrow to extend the war.
When they went in, President Hollande presented it as an effort to protect the nation’s Christians from a Muslim-dominated rebel faction that had taken over. Now, Christian militias are massacring Muslim civilians, and instead of a one-off mission, France is staring down the barrel of a protracted “nation building” mission.
Polls show over 60 percent of French voters oppose the war, and President Hollande’s approval rating is down to 20 percent, the worst since the waning days of the Fourth Republic, when President Coty’s popularity plummeted on the Algerian War.
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