To lose one African francophone vassal might be considered a misfortune, but to lose two in a matter of months looks careless for Emmanuel Macron, the French President who seems to be putting himself in the record books for accelerating France's demise around the world, particularly Africa.
The recent news that Burkina Faso wants all French troops out of its territory within four weeks must be painful for Macron.
Just a couple of months ago, Mali went the whole nine yards and kicked out the French while welcoming Wagner mercenaries, which signalled to the West that it has a problem in Africa with its out-of-date hegemony, which it's struggling to flog.
The West lost Mali in the summer of 2022, and the pundits lined up to talk of the domino effect if one more francophone country were to depart from Paris' colonial influence.
Many, including Macron, probably thought Mali was a one-off. But keen pundits watched Burkina Faso closely and observed how it seemed to go through the same stages of processing the end of France's to that in Mali – banning French media, kicking out French NGOs before then finally turning to the French military – and so were less surprised when the news came of French troops being asked to leave.
Macron has asked for clarity over this, telling journalists that there is confusion in the media and that he wants to hear the order about troop withdrawal from the Mali President himself.
France has 400 special forces soldiers stationed there to supposedly battle an insurgency, but bilateral relations have deteriorated in recent months.
Protesters have regularly demanded France withdraw its troops from the Sahel country, the latest demonstration just recently on January 20. Burkina Faso is also reeling from an uprising that swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.
In between these two events of Mali and Burkina Faso's rejection of the French, there was the sensational video clip of incoming Italian PM Giorgia Meloni.
In what can only be described as an anti-French rant, Meloni accused the Elysee of manipulating west African countries via the single currency that France created after WWII and foreign currency reserves – including gold – which these countries are required to keep in French banks.
Most of the tirade was factually incorrect, but the essence of the Italian tantrum was Meloni's belief that the EU wouldn't have an African migrant crisis on its southern shores if France weren't making a killing in Africa through its hegemony.
And she might have a point. The manipulation appears to be at the heart of Macron's relationship with Africa. And the locals have woken up and are very angry about the nefarious side of the relationship with Elysee.
Mali first, then Burkina Faso and perhaps even all of the francophone countries in Africa will fall into the sphere of Russia and China's management, as Chad is also showing signs of being the recalcitrant teenager who wants to slide down the tied-together sheets and break free from Macron and Elysee's unpalatable grasp.
The French world as we know it is imploding and it's largely due to most of these former colonies in Africa growing exhausted with the infamous Gaelic arrogance which comes with being French. And Macron is not letting the side down in this regard.
In Morocco, a country which many might consider the closest of all African nations, once governed by the French, the elite are praying for the day when the king throws the lever on them and also kicks them out.
Moroccans are tired of the paternalistic and condescending tone which continues to ring in their ears, and the shift to the English language on all levels of society is extraordinary.
Of course, it's not entirely down to Macron, as part of this swing in Africa is a broader fatigue with the ultimatums that the US put to African countries recently when the Ukraine war started, which have backfired spectacularly.
The arrogance of Joe Biden to believe that America can still make this kind of threats to global south countries is shocking. His tone deafness was obvious when most of Africa refused to be bullied on US sanctions against Russia.
And this is, in part, what the French decline of influence is about. But it's also about an attitude Macron bequeaths to African leaders who they are patently getting sick of in a new world order where being non-aligned has so many more advantages than being tied to a French fantasy of colonialism on the continent.
For many African leaders, it may not have been the Ukraine war or Meloni's internet sensation that pushed them over a line. Or even the more disingenuous presence of French troops in Mali, which Macron announced to the world were there to fight terrorists but were in reality there to protect French companies and citizens.
Je suis pas sorry, sorry
But the recent declaration by Macron that he would not apologise for France's colonial legacy in Algeria – that left an estimated 1.5 million of its citizens dead– represented everything that is wrong about Macron, France and the French in general.
In Africa, the elites have been waiting for decades for a moment when the French would try and make a gesture to the millions that they dehumanised and enslaved.
Only in recent years have these countries awakened and realised that the identity of being French and everything it stands for is hardly genuine. Even those born in France and identify themselves with French society, like MP Carlos Martens Bilongo, who was told to "go back" to Africa by a French deputy.
Francophone countries will no longer be swayed or bullied. They know the unspoken French promise of their elites being protected if they face political insurgency is empty.
They give a chance to Russia for such guarantees, which doesn't send its foreign ministers to the continent to lecture on human rights, but simply sends soldiers.
They look to their relationships with China for trade and investment and to Morocco for services like banking and assistance with the climate crisis.
It is all part of a new world order, a great reset spoken of by many but understood by few, which Macron is unwittingly supporting with his bumbling, outdated colonial conceit. This is worrying the EU and spooking the Americans.
Just in the last few days, Biden is reportedly seeking to make Morocco a huge US military base, with its own military industry and even military aid, all part of a strategy to counter Russia's gains on the continent.
History might not be kind to Macron, who is part of this new cold war unfolding in the continent. And, as Churchill commented, history is written by the victors.
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