Le Pen Seeks Anti-terrorism Operations in Chad...But Why Does Africa Matter to the French Presidential Candidates?
| 28 March 2017
"Well, Marine Le Pen may be able to save France from abroad. But hold on for a minute, do you really think that Africa is the best place for the French presidential campaigns?"
You might not know where Chad is, but the French far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has visited Chad and positioned herself as a champion of African sovereignty.
She arrived in Chad on Tuesday to meet Chad's President Idriss Deby and discussed the two allies' cooperation in the fight against Islamist militants in Africa. Her schedule took a two-day visit to meet French troops stationed in Chad and to outline her policies for the continent.
"We have of course, discussed the cooperation between France and Chad in the fight against terrorism," the National Front party candidate told media after the meeting with Chad’s president at a family residence in Amdjarass, 900 kilometres (560 miles) northeast of the capital N'Djamena, near the borders with Sudan and Libya.
Le pen met soldiers of Operation Barkhane, a force sent by France to help fight armed Islamist extremists in Africa's Sahel region, which consists of over 3,000 French troops, the force's headquarters is in N'Djamena.
She told the media that she had also discussed Libya with the Chadian president, and she again condemned France's role in helping to oust its longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, which she called "a serious mistake with serious consequences," Le Pen stressed.
Well, Le Pen is not the only French presidential candidate to put foot on military bases in Africa. Center-right candidate François Fillon visited operations in Mali and Niger in December. Thus, the French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian said that "all candidates who make a request may visit the military operations."
Reports say that Le Pen also wants to increase the defense budget to two percent of gross domestic product by 2018, up from about 1.78 percent now, and three percent by 2022. This means that we are going to see more French military interventions in the African continent if Le Pen becomes president.
The Sahel and Sahara regions of Africa, home to terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda are key to France's anti-terrorist strategy. It is also worth mentioning that Africa's regional security crises have put Chad back on the map, due to its geographic location; the country has become a critical military power in the Sahel-Saharan strip in particular, but also further south, in the Central African Republic [CAR].
By deploying its soldiers on multiple fronts, as well as in Mali and more recently in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Lake Chad basin to fight Boko Haram, the country is pursuing a strategy of military diplomacy, hoping to lead the fight against terrorism in the region.
In so doing , Chad has consolidated its alliances with Western countries founded on fighting a common enemy, particularly; with France.
However, the paradigm of security as militarism without a deliberate pursuit of positive peace to ensure the safety and security of persons can become counter-productive in the current environment of the growing threat of Islamist insurgency in the Sahel-Saharan strip and the Lake Chad Basin. It then advocates for a security paradigm shift that must be more attentive to, and respectful of human rights.
On the other hand, Chadian opposition parties said Le Pen should have been banned from visiting the country. Her visit to Chad has created a controversy with some Chadian activists in the country; in addition, Chad’s leading opposition party has strongly condemned the visit. The leader of the National Union for Democracy and Renewal (UNDR), Saleh Kebzabo, said he was "categorically opposed to Le Pen's visit because of her "racist and xenophobic politics," Kebzabo said.
Well, Marine Le Pen may be able to save France from abroad. But hold on for a minute, do you really think that Africa is the best place for the French presidential campaigns?