Cablegate: France's Changing Africa Policy: Part Iii

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REF: A. PARIS 1501
B. PARIS 1568
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0626 08)

1. (C) SUMMARY: France's new Africa policy may have its
most immediate impact on France's military presence in
Africa. The French are planning to consolidate their
military presence and want to orient it towards cooperation
with Africa's sub-regional groupings (e.g., ECOWAS, SADC, et
al.) and away from bilateral efforts. They foresee their
military presence coalescing into two hubs, one on the
Atlantic Ocean (Senegal or Gabon) and one on the Indian Ocean
(Djibouti or French overseas department Reunion Island).
Even these bases may eventually disappear if Africans prove
capable of maintaining peace and security. Another priority
will be the renegotiation of France's Defense Agreements with
eight African countries, which now feature outdated
provisions from the colonial era. The French announced in
June 2008 the set of priorities that will henceforth frame
French economic assistance to Africa. The Foreign Ministry
is creating a fourth "sous-direction" (akin to a Department
Office) that will more closely match Africa's sub-regional
groups, and may also reconfigure French Embassies in Africa
on a large, medium, and small basis to align priorities with
budget constraints. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Part I of this series (ref A) described the
"France-Afrique" model that governed France's relations with
sub-Saharan Africa for most of the 20th century. Even before
taking office in May 2007, President Nicolas Sarkozy believed
that relations needed revision in response to globalization,
changing circumstances, and the waning of the colonial and
immediate post-colonial periods. He sought a more modern and
transparent relationship, ostensibly of "equals," that would
allow both sides to conduct relations on a business-like and
rational basis. Part II (ref B) discussed France's first
steps (and missteps) in implementing this policy and African
reactions to it. This message (Part III) focuses on France's
military presence in Africa and organizational changes likely
to occur in conjunction with France's new policy. Post
welcomes comments from colleagues at U.S. missions in Africa.

The Bases

3. (C) France has long maintained five permanent military
bases with responsibility for Africa -- in Cote d'Ivoire
Djibouti, Gabon, Senegal, and on Reunion Island, the French
overseas department near Madagascar. There is a de facto
sixth "base" consisting of the long-term operational
deployment in Chad (Operation Epervier, in Chad since 1986).
Basing issues in the four continental African states (Cote
d'Ivoire Djibouti, Gabon, and Senegal) are governed by
bilateral Defense Agreements (see below), which include
certain provisions obligating France to defend those states
from external aggression.

4. (C) COTE D'IVOIRE The status of the French base remains
in doubt given the instability in Cote d'Ivoire and its
distinctly anti-French overtones. The French have stated
that they would not remain in places where they were not
wanted, and Cote d'Ivoire President Gbagbo has indicated that
he would not oppose a French departure. Prior to the 2002
conflict that divided the country, France's military presence
consisted of about 550 troops. Once the current crisis
began, the French augmented their presence in the form of
Operation Licorne (presently about 1,880 troops), which is
working to support the UNOCI peacekeeping mission.

5. (C) Operation Licorne has in effect subsumed France's
"permanent" presence in Cote d'Ivoire Presidential Advisor

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Romain Serman in June told Ambassador Mary Yates (AFRICOM)
that the French military relationship with Cote d'Ivoire
would never be the same, and that France's contingent,
excluding forces associated with Operation Licorne, was
already being treated as a de facto "operational deployment"
rather than a permanent garrison. (See refs D and E for the
French Presidency's views on France's Africa policy as
expressed to Ambassador Yates and DASD Theresa Whelan in June
2008.) If elections occur successfully in Cote d'Ivoire in
2008 and UNOCI and Operation Licorne then disband, we expect
that France's military presence will shrink quickly, with a
possible French decision to end basing altogether in Cote

6. (C) DJIBOUTI: The base in Djibouti is France's largest
in Africa, with about 2,950 troops that can operate at sea,
on land, and in the air. These forces use two installations
(in the city of Djibouti and in Arta) and include two
infantry regiments, a helicopter battalion, Army Special
Forces, marine commandos, and a naval element. The Bouffard
military hospital is the only Level III military medical
facility in the region and treated survivors of the USS Cole
terrorist attack. French Forces in Djibouti (FFDJ) serve
primarily to support the bilateral Defense Agreement. France
provided intelligence and logistical and medical support to
Djiboutian forces as recently as July 2008 during Djibouti's
border dispute with Eritrea. Additionally, the base serves
as a pre-positioning point for intervention in the Middle
East as well as in Africa. Ref B describes strains in the
France-Djibouti relationship (largely over the Borrel case).
The future of the French presence in Djibouti may be affected
by the base the French intend to establish in the UAE per the
agreement the two sides signed on January 15, 2008. It seems
unlikely that the French would maintain two bases in close
proximity whose functions would be somewhat redundant.

7. (C) GABON: The French base in Libreville currently
numbers about 800 troops, including an air element (two C130s
and one helicopter), and a helicopter-equipped Special Forces
unit. Two parachute companies stationed in Gabon were sent
to Chad during the February 2008 rebel incursion.

8. (C) SENEGAL: The French base in Dakar numbers about
1160 troops, with one infantry battalion and air and naval
units. A Defense Ministry official says that the French
garrison in Senegal is much less operationally oriented than
the base in Gabon, remarking that, of the French bases in
Africa, the one in Senegal most closely resembles a "holdover
from the colonial era."

9. (C) REUNION ISLAND: This overseas department is the
home base for about 4,575 French troops and sailors with air,
land, and sea capabilities. The main units are the 2nd
Marine Parachute Infantry Regiment, two surveillance
frigates, two P400 patrol boats, and a number of aircraft.
Reunion Island is responsible not only for portions of
eastern and southern Africa but also for France's Indian
Ocean interests. It is the home port for the French naval
command ALINDIEN.

10. (C) CHAD: The French have deployed Operation Epervier
on a "temporary" basis since 1986, in response to Libyan
provocation in the region. Given its longevity, it has
become a de facto permanent base but has not been accorded
that status. The French military presence has provided
support to the Deby regime and also to the Bozize regime in
C.A.R., in some cases involving combat operations against
rebel groups. Combat support has, in theory, ceased under
President Sarkozy, who has ordered, as part of his policy of
"equal partnership" between France and Africa, that French
troops "would no longer fire on Africans" (except, obviously,
in self-defense), an order that the French claim they
scrupulously obeyed even during the heavy fighting in Chad in
February 2008. The French provided essential support to

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Americans (both official and unofficial) in Chad during the
February rebel incursion.

11. (C) About 1260 troops now serve in Operation Epervier
(one Army Task Force with four infantry companies, six Mirage
F1s, four Puma Helicopters, one C135 refueler, and three C160
transport aircraft). Another 1675 French troops participate
in EUFOR, the EU peacekeeping operation deployed in Chad and
C.A.R., largely through France's initiative, to support
MINURCAT, the UN operation to help Darfur refugees and others
displaced by the region's instability. The French hope that
EUFOR will be replaced by a UN operation, perhaps an expanded
MINURCAT, when EUFOR's mandate expires in March 2009.

12. (C) We expect that the French will continue to deploy
Operation Epervier in Chad, irrespective of the EUFOR
mission, so long as instability emanating from Darfur remains
a serious concern. Several French officials have stated
privately that France would like to see the Chad-Sudan
frontier serve as a breakwater, if not a wall, that would
impede the spread of radical Islam from the Horn of Africa
westward and southward into Africa's interior. That said,
the French may drawdown or end Operation Epervier as soon as
an acceptable level of regional stability is achieved.

13. (C) OTHER DEPLOYMENTS: The French maintain a permanent
naval mission in the Gulf of Guinea, Operation Corymbe,
usually with two ships on patrol, that enables rapid crisis
response, protection for French off-shore oil interests, and
support for NEOs and ongoing peacekeeping operations. This
naval mission cooperates extensively with US NAVEUR's Africa
Partnership Station. In addition, the French have deployed
military forces on an ad hoc basis elsewhere in Africa. For
example, French military units have deployed to Togo to
support Operation Licorne in Cote d'Ivoire and French forces
have recently served in multinational operations in the DRC
and Rwanda, generally under UN mandate. In total, and
excluding French forces stationed on Reunion Island, there
are roughly 10,000 French troops either garrisoned or
deployed in sub-Saharan Africa.


14. (C) Well before Sarkozy's announcement of a new French
Africa policy, French officials told us that France wanted to
re-orient its military presence away from bilateral
relationships and towards increased cooperation with Africa's
sub-regional groupings. This shift would allow France to
treat its military relations with Africa on a broader basis
and not through a series of narrow bilateral relationships
each with its own peculiarities and history.

15. (C) In 2006 (i.e., before Sarkozy's election in 2007),
the French began implementing a new command structure in
Africa featuring four geographic commands, each of which
would generally conform to an analogous regional
sub-grouping. Notably, Cote d'Ivoire was dropped from this
scheme. Given the regional (vice bilateral) focus of the new
commands, the orientation of the new commands may allow more
ready interaction and cooperation with the USG's new AFRICOM,
once the later becomes more present and operational in Africa.

-- French Forces in Djibouti (FFDJ): Responsible for
Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, and
Uganda, or, roughly, the IGAD countries.

-- French Forces in Cape Verde (FFCV): Despite its name, a
command located in Senegal responsible for Senegal, Cape
Verde, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina
Faso, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire Liberia, Sierra
Leone, and Guinea, roughly paralleling ECOWAS.

-- French Forces in Gabon (FFG): Responsible for Gabon,

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Chad, C.A.R., Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, DRC, Congo
Brazzaville, and Angola, corresponding with ECCAS.

-- Armed Forces in the Southern Zone of the Indian Ocean
(FAZSOI): Located on Reunion Island and responsible for
Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe,
Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, South
Africa, and Madagascar, mirroring SADC.

Further Consolidation
. . . and Departure (?)

16. (C) Establishing the four commands appears to be only
the first step in France's plan to consolidate and centralize
its military presence in Africa. Consistent with the White
Papers on Defense and on Foreign Policy issued in June-July
2008, the French tell us that they envision an eventual
configuration with two hubs that would serve as crisis
response centers and headquarters. From these hubs, the
French would direct their bilateral and regional military
cooperation programs, which would center on supporting and
training African forces that would in turn perform stability
operations until now largely performed by the French and
other non-Africans. The two White Papers generally call for
a streamlining of French diplomatic and military operations
worldwide, with an emphasis on efficiency, the elimination of
redundancies, and greater rationality in the apportionment of
ever-decreasing resources.

17. (C) Concerning Africa, the Defense White Paper states:
"France will conserve a capacity for conflict prevention and
for action on the western and eastern sides of the African
continent, as well as in the Sahel region, notably for
combating illicit trafficking and terrorist acts. France
will radically convert the present system of defense
agreements and military cooperation agreements (see below) in
order to evolve towards a partnership between Europe and
Africa and towards cooperation on defense and security,
favoring the rise in strength of African capacities to carry
out peacekeeping."

18. (C) Sarkozy's Africa Advisors (Deputy Diplomatic
Advisor Bruno Joubert and Romain Serman) have told us that
the Defense White Paper was deliberately vague in defining
these "hubs" in order to avoid the suggestion that France
intended to stay forever in Africa, a suggestion that would
contradict one of Sarkozy's statements about France's not
having a mandate to provide for Africa's stability
indefinitely. (See refs C and D.) Indeed, Foreign Minister
Kouchner has publicly stated that in perhaps 15 years there
may not be a French military presence in Africa, and Joubert
says that even as early as 2012, if the AU's standby force
becomes fully operational, it may be possible to reduce or
even close some of France's African bases.

19. (C) The scenario involving a large-scale, near-term
French military withdrawal from Africa, however, remains
speculative. For now, the French are looking at Senegal or
Gabon as the possible western hub and Djibouti as the eastern
hub (assuming that Djibouti is not closed in deference to the
new base in the UAE). Joubert and Serman indicate that the
French military prefers Senegal because of its proximity to
France, the long French presence there, and Senegal's
generally stable political environment. However, Joubert and
Serman believe Gabon may be a better hub because of its more
central location and proximity to the Gulf of Guinea and
Africa's troubled interior. Joubert has said that if
Djibouti could no longer serve as a hub, Reunion Island could
assume that function.

20. (C) Serman notes that another reason for reducing
France's military presence in Africa is to meet domestic
political expectations. The GOF recently announced the

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closure of several military facilities in France, to the
dismay of localities dependent on the revenue associated with
the facilities. The Sarkozy government could not close
domestic installations without also making reductions in
France's overseas presence, Serman observes.

Defense Agreements
21. (C) Sarkozy announced many of aspects of France's
Africa policy in his speech in Cape Town on February 28, 2008
(see refs A and B). Among these was France's intention to
renegotiate all eight of its Defense Agreements in Africa.
Sarkozy said that: "Africa should take charge of its
security problems.... France's military presence in Africa
still rests on the agreements concluded 'the day after'
colonization, more than 50 years ago.... It's not a question
of France's disengaging militarily from Africa but rather
that Africa's security is first of all, naturally, the
business of Africans." These agreements should be "adapted
to the realities of the present time.... Contrary to past
practice," the renegotiated agreements "will be entirely

22. (C) French officials tell us that the eight Defense
Agreements are simply obsolete. The Agreements are with Cote
d'Ivoire (1960), C.A.R. (1960), Djibouti (1977), Gabon
(1960), Senegal (1960, revised 1974), Cameroon (1960, revised
1974), Comoros (1973, revised 1978), and Togo (1963).
Presidential Advisors Serman and Remi Marechaux say that the
Agreements contain mutual defense provisions that are no
longer realistic -- "If France is attacked, are we really
going to expect, much less rely on, Togo to go to war with
whoever attacks us?" More troublesome is the obligation
placed on France to defend its treaty partners. Serman was
quite uncomfortable with the possibility that Djibouti would
invoke its Agreement with France and demand that France come
to its defense during the recent Djibouti-Eritrea border
skirmish. Serman indicated that France was quick to provide
significant rear-area logistical support to Djibouti in order
to avoid a Djiboutian request to engage in combat per the

23. (C) Equally troublesome and outdated are certain
"secret" portions of some of the Agreements. According to
Marechaux, the Defense Agreements with Cameroon and Gabon,
for example, contain "absurd" provisions obligating France,
upon request, to provide internal security in case of
domestic unrest in those countries -- "There is no way we are
going to act as an internal security police force at the
request of a regime with domestic unrest." Serman says that
some of the Agreements contain "secret" clauses giving France
monopoly rights to exploit natural resources in the countries
concerned. "This is so ridiculous today that we can only
laugh about it. Can you imagine us invoking our Agreement
with Togo and ordering Togo to tell China to get out of 'our'

24. (C) French officials say that the renegotiated
Agreements will be stripped of these outdated provisions and
"secret" clauses. Everything will be open and transparent,
with the revised Agreements reflecting today's realities and
both sides' priorities in terms of shared interests. They
will also avoid the paternalism inherent in the original
Agreements. The French have already sent negotiating teams
to the eight countries and hope to make significant progress
in revising them by the end of 2008.

25. (C) African reaction seems positive, albeit qualified.
President Wade of Senegal, according to the press, in July
2008 commented on French intentions: "It is a very good
thing. There are protection, agreements in the event of
an internal or external threat to a regime. These agreements
are secret. There must be an end to this, things must be
clear. But some countries need this protection. It is a

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factor in deterring opposition movements accustomed to
resorting swiftly to violence and weapons. If France
withdraws from those countries, we should not be surprised to
see oppositionists attacking the government. But this is not
the case in Senegal, which has a solid regime and a loyal
army. I am therefore willing to annul the Defense Agreement
between France and Senegal. The other issue is France's
military bases, including the one in Dakar. This French
presence does not bother me if it is useful to France. But
President Sarkozy believes that this base is no longer
necessary (sic)."

26. (U) Major General Salimou Mohamed Amiri, Army Chief of
Staff of the Comoros, reportedly stated in July 2008 that the
Comoros favored a new military cooperation arrangement with
France in lieu of the present Defense Agreement, noting that
it would be anomalous for the defense of the Comoros to fall
under France's authority. He expected that military
cooperation would take the form of training and exchange

Military Cooperation Agreements
27. (C) Indeed, the renegotiated Defense Agreements will
likely resemble the Military Cooperation Agreements France
maintains with some three dozen African countries. The focus
of the Military Cooperation Agreements is training and
professionalism. France's Directorate for Military and
Defense Cooperation (DMCD) supports a staff of about 300
permanent personnel in Africa who are embedded within African
militaries, in some cases wearing the local uniform. DMCD
runs about 150 projects in Africa featuring support of
military schools, technical training, French language
training, armed forces reform and restructuring, equipment
maintenance, communications, and infrastructure support.
African military personnel attend 35 military schools in
France and there are 14 regional military vocational schools
spread across francophone Africa.

28. (C) The French will also likely continue to support the
RECAMP program (Reinforcing African Capabilities for
Maintaining Peace), designed to improve Africans'
peacekeeping capabilities and their ability to participate
successfully in multinational peacekeeping. The French have
welcomed U.S. participation in RECAMP's activities, and the
program seems to mesh well with the U.S. ACOTA program, which
has similar objectives. The French recently integrated the
EU into RECAMP, which is now formally called EuroRECAMP,
giving an EU face to the program (important to the French in
their effort to multilateralize their presence in Africa) and
providing additional resources for the program.

29. (C) In sum, French military objectives in Africa
parallel the non-military aspects of Sarkozy's Africa policy
in terms of strengthening African capabilities; reducing, if
not ending, African dependence on France; promoting openness
and transparency; abandoning colonial-era sentiments and
"special" treatment; engaging the EU and other bodies into
French-led programs; and identifying and exploiting shared
interests and priorities. Ancillary benefits would include
increased commitment to democratization, meritocracy,
professionalism, and self-reliance.

New Priorities for Economic Assistance
30. (C) New Secretary of State for Cooperation and
Francophonie Alain Joyandet, who replaced Jean-Marie Bockel
following Bockel's dismissal (see ref B), outlined French
economic assistance priorities for Africa in a June 19, 2008

-- Strengthening private sector investment in Africa and
support for young African entrepreneurs;
-- Reinforcing agricultural programs in Africa on a

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sustainable basis;
-- Expanding the role of women in small business enterprises;
-- Tripling the number of international volunteers in Africa
within four years;
-- Increasing support to French NGOs ("the role of French
NGOs is too modest when compared to the powerful Anglo-Saxon
and German organizations");
-- Increased support for education and teaching the French
language; and
-- Modernizing France's military cooperation with Africa, in
line with Sarkozy's February 2008 speech in Cape Town.

31. (C) For the past several years, the French have been
using the Partnership Framework Agreement (PFA) as the
umbrella document formalizing French assistance to a
recipient country. Formulated during the final years of the
Chirac Presidency, the PFA has emerged as an efficient way to
package French assistance. Each PFA runs for five years and
describes the various projects the two sides will undertake.
Notably, the sum of money the French intend to spend is
presented as a range, for the PFA is intended to be a
flexible instrument that will allow for changes and
refinements during its five-year run. The PFA is usually
generated by the French Embassy in a partner country, which
identifies needs and possible projects. The proposal is then
sent to Paris where it is vetted by Joyandet's organization
and by the French Development Agency, a separate body that
reports to both the MFA and the Finance Ministry. After
being refined and adopted, the PFA is offered to the
recipient country as the starting point for a final mutual
decision on how and how much French aid is to be provided and
administered. The arrangement seems to be working well and
we expect that the priorities Joyandet mentioned will shape
any new PFAs concluded with partner countries.

Other Structural Changes
32. (C) As noted ref A, the MFA is planning to create a new
"sous-direction" (comparable to a State Department regional
office) within its Africa Bureau. There will then be four
"sous-directions" in the Bureau, which would create a
structure resembling the four military commands covering
Africa and which would align the MFA with Africa's
sub-regional organizations (ECOWAS, SADC, et al.). We are
told that a fourth sous-direction could lead to more desk
officers -- at present, there are only 15 desk officers in
the entire Bureau, many of whom are first- or second-tour
officers and at least two of whom (the Chad and Great Lakes
desks) are seconded from other GOF agencies. (The present
Chad desk officer, like his predecessor, is an Army
Lieutenant Colonel and the Great Lakes desk officer is on
loan from the Interior Ministry.)

33. (C) MFA Africa Bureau contacts say that other changes
are under consideration, including making it easier for
officials from other ministries to serve at the MFA, and even
an idea to make France's diplomatic corps less distinct and
more like other branches of France's civil service. While
this is perceived as a possible dilution of traditional
"diplomacy," some believe that making MFA staff more fungible
could reinvigorate the diplomatic corps, strip it of its
perceived elitist nature, and allow it to profit from the
experiences and backgrounds of non-diplomats.

34. (C) The Diplomatic White Paper issued in July also
suggests, without specificity, that France could consider
working with EU partners to create shared or co-located
diplomatic facilities abroad, which would permit cost savings
among those involved. While joint ambassadorships would not
be possible in the near term for legal reasons, the consular
function, for example, could be exercised jointly by several
partner countries.

35. (C) Finally, Nathalie Delapalme, a respected expert and

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an MFA Africa Advisor for several Foreign Ministers during
the Chirac Presidency, reportedly has suggested that France
could further rationalize its presence in Africa by dividing
its diplomatic missions into three classes, which would allow
a better use of resources. FM Kouchner echoed some of these
ideas during his speech at the French Chiefs of Mission
conference in August 2008.

-- "Full service" missions: South Africa, Cameroon, Cote
d'Ivoire Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, DRC, and
Senegal. The missions in South Africa, Cameroon, Kenya, and
Senegal would also have regional economic responsibilities.

-- "Priority" missions: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina
Faso, Burundi, Comoros, Congo Brazzaville, Djibouti, Gabon,
Ghana, Guinea, Mauritius, Niger, C.A.R., Chad, and Togo.
Some of these could offer some of the services provided by
"full service" missions.

-- "Limited" missions: Botswana (if not classed higher),
Cape Verde, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea,
Liberia, Namibia, Seychelles, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These
missions, each with only about a dozen staff, would be more
"diplomatic presence posts" (akin to the USG APP concept)
working in a "simplified format."

For now, this kind of reorganization still appears in an
embryonic stage, but changes of this sort could take place if
the Sarkozy government implements its broader plans for

36. (C) In saying that he would "reform" France's Africa
policy, Sarkozy has taken on a task of formidable
proportions, which is no less than to break once and for all
from the colonial and post-colonial world and its mindset and
to bring relations into today's era. To do so, he must
overcome inertia and a certain level of comfort on both sides
that have accumulated over many years. Yet, as in other
areas of French policy, he seems determined to move forward
and has taken his first steps. In our view, this is a
positive development, for France-Afrique was becoming an
increasingly creaky, costly, and potentially dangerous
vehicle for dealing with a continent rife with challenges,
less amenable to heeding its former colonial masters, and
inescapably engaged in global issues of all kinds, from
terrorism, to the environment, to drug trafficking, to energy
resource management, and well beyond.

37. (C) But, will France-Afrique and old habits ever
completely fade? One MOD contact, not known for
sentimentality, believes that certain parts of France-Afrique
will endure, if for no other reason than the common use of
the French language and long intertwined histories.
Prefacing his remarks by noting their lack of "political
correctness" and their triteness, he says that the
relationship was for a long time similar to a parent-child
relationship. "Now, the child is an adult, capable of and
deserving of more autonomy, yet still welcoming our help and
guidance. What Sarkozy is doing is kicking the fledgling out
of the nest, which is sort of the way he approaches a lot of
problems. A heavy dose of what you might call 'tough love,'
not always dispensed lovingly. Eventually, the now-grown
adult child will be replaced by something resembling a cousin
or a nephew. We will grow farther apart and less apt to look
to each other reflexively, but some familial bond will
remain, however much we may seek to deny it, and familial
bonds are always to be nurtured. Our job is to make sure
that this inevitable drifting apart takes place positively on
both sides, does not completely extinguish the bond, and,
most importantly, does not turn into an estrangement. That
would be a loss for everyone -- French, Africans, and

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