‘US failure in Afghanistan serves as a serious warning for the Sahel’, says Rama Yade
By Rama Yade
Posted on Thursday, 2 September 2021 07:51
Although France withdrew its troops from Afghanistan in 2014, it is still militarily present in the Sahel, despite an announced withdrawal. The disastrous events taking place in Kabul should prompt Paris to reflect on the conditions for the evacuation of its soldiers from the African region.
In September 2008, when I was secretary of state for foreign affairs and human rights, I made a second visit to our French soldiers in Kabul. This time, at Camp Warehouse, I paid my respects in front of a monument erected in memory of those who had fallen on Afghan soil; 10 of them had been killed in an ambush the previous August.
Despite this assumed military presence, the France I represented was nevertheless proud of its singular approach, which contrasted sharply with the US’s purely military one. This is what I said at the time: “The Afghans still remember how long our cooperation has been going on. We have two French high schools there, created in the 1920s, which have an excellent reputation; as does the French hospital in Kabul. Our archaeological cooperation in search of Afghan heritage, which the Taliban had ransacked, as well as the destroyed Bamyian Buddah, is exemplary; and our army has established close ties with the population.”
Through this statement, I was trying to highlight the specifics of French diplomacy. Unlike the Americans, we, the French, knew that we would only be able to achieve our objectives by getting as close as possible to the people and thinking about long-term development. When I was surrounded by little Afghan girls at the French Lycée Malalai, my heart swelled with pride as I could see in their eyes that they were picturing a future with a free and sovereign Afghanistan, first and foremost for women!