France's Secret War In Africa

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Johann Hari reports on Paris' military interventions in Africa. Money quote:

As Mahmoud and Idris talk into the night, it is getting dark, and a suffocating blackness and silence falls on the city. There is no electricity and no moonlight. They explain in this blackness that the French-backed troops began firing and the French military began bombing in March for one reason: the desperate locals had begun to rise up against President Bozize, because he had done nothing for them. People here were tired of the fact "there are no schools, no hospitals, and no roads," they explain. "We are completely isolated. When it rains, we are cut off from the world because the roads turn to mud. We have nothing. All the rebels were asking was for government help." As I stumble around Birao, I hear this every time: the rebels were simply begging for government help for the hungry, abandoned people. Even the bemused French soldiers and the Bozize lackeys sent to the area admit this privately. Yet the French response was with bombs against the rebels' pick-up points. Why? What is there here that they want?

If the US did anything like this, you wouldn't hear the last of it. But this is the first report I've read. Thanks, Johann.

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