By supporting warlords and undermining the legitimate government, successive French leaders thought they could have their way in the North African state. Now that its plans have failed, the Macron government is playing the blame game.
France is once again threatening sanctions against those interfering in Libya, even as it tries desperately to rescue its own project in the country.
On the one hand, the Macron government has condemned Turkey for coming to the aid of the legitimate Government of National Accord (GNA), on the other it has worked hand in glove with a rogue warlord, Khalifa Haftar, as he tries to seize control of the Libyan state.
Despite being beset with its own problems such as anger over police brutality, the state of the economy, and a far-right on the rise, French officials have made Libya their proverbial hill to die on.
The country has pulled out of planned NATO exercises in the Mediterranean over Turkey’s role in supporting the Libyan government and unfounded claims that Turkish vessels were harassing its own ships
Without Turkish intervention, at the invitation of the UN-recognised GNA government, it is likely that Tripoli would have fallen to Haftar, sparking a humanitarian disaster and resulting refugee crisis that Europe is ill-equipped to handle.
GNA forces, backed by Turkish military advisors and air power through the Turkish military’s drone fleet, have managed to push back the warlord to the strategic city of Sirte.
Why France for all its ostensible commitment to the rule of law and the values of democracy, order, and stability, would have a problem with the legitimate UN-recognised government remains a mystery for anyone not familiar with its role in Libya.
Despite his reputation for committing massacres, unwillingness to negotiate, and even turning against his own allies, Macron has thrown in his lot with Haftar, arming the warlord and providing him with diplomatic support with patronage from the Elysee.
Now that the strategy has failed, instead of introspection, blaming Turkey for its role protecting Libya from the abyss of conflict seems the preferred option in Paris.
The Libyan episodes are far from the only example of French adventurism on the African continent.
Decades after supposedly ending its colonial project in the region, France continues to dominate the lives of tens of millions.
Whether that is via the continuing historic trauma of French rule and the atrocities that came with it, such as in Algeria, where the independence was only attained in 1962, or the economic cloud that hovers over central African countries in the form of French control over their monetary policy.
Given that history, maybe it’s time for France to act on its own advice and stop interfering in the policies of African states?