DURING the military intervention of France in Mali January 2013, officials in Paris were at pains to emphasise the exercise's modest ambition. "France can intervene only in an exceptional moment, for an exceptional and limited period", said President François Hollande, as French troops swept into the west African country to beat back a jihadist advance that was threatening Mali's capital, Bamako. After stopping the rebels in their tracks, France, he insisted, would hand over the country's security to African forces.
A year-and-a-half later, the French are less bashful about their intentions in the region. On July 17th Mr Hollande is setting off on a trip to the Ivory Coast, Niger and Chad to herald the onset of a new counter-terrorism operation, codenamed "Barkhane", which will aim ... [view whole blog post ]