France-Africa: a long history of military intervention

France, which is currently intervening militarily in both Ivory Coast and Libya, has a long history of armed action in Africa, mostly in its former colonies.

Herewith the main such interventions since 1960, when most of France's African colonies became independent.

In addition to the conflicts listed, France fought an eight-year war in Algeria, which ended with that country's independence in 1962.

- 1964, Gabon: French forces intervene to restore president after coup.
- 1968-1972, Chad: French troops intervene to put down northern rebellion.
- 1978-80, Chad: French forces defend government against rebels.
- 1978, Zaire: French and Belgian paratroops drop into the mineral-rich Katanga region of Zaire (today known as the Democratic Republic of Congo), where rebels are holding Europeans.
- 1979, Central African Republic: French forces depose the eccentric Central African "emperor" Jean-Bedel Bokassa.
- 1983-84, Chad: New French intervention in Chad, where the government is threatened by rebels backed by Colonel Moamer Kadhafi's Libya.
- 1986, Chad: Further operation against Chadian rebels; mainly using aviation.
- 1986, Togo: French reinforcements sent after coup attempt, which fails.
- 1989, Comoros: French forces go in when president is assassinated and mercenaries headed by Bob Denard, also French, take power.
- 1990, Gabon: French troops support the regime of president Omar Bongo; evacuate foreign nationals from cities hit by rioting.
- 1990-1993, Rwanda: French soldiers help evacuate French and other Europeans after rebels invade the country.
- 1991, Zaire: French troops deploy capital Kinshasa during riots against the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko.
- 1992-94, Somalia: France intervenes alongside the US-led "Restore Hope" operation in Somalia.
- 1994: Rwanda: Two separate French interventions follow the death in a plane crash of Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, which sparks genocidal killings that leave some 800,000 people dead.
France's "Operation Turquoise", which also involves troops in neighbouring Zaire, is later considered a disaster, and the Rwandan authorities accuse it of not only failing to stop the massacres but also of facilitating them.
- 1995: Comoros: New French intervention to halt a coup, again led by the French mercenary Bob Denard.
- 1996-7: Central African Republic: Two French interventions to maintain order after munities among the local military.
- 1997: Republic of Congo: French troops intervene during civil war; help evacuate foreigners.
- 1996: Cameroon: France provides military assistance to Cameroon, which is involved in a dispute with Nigeria over an oil-rich border area.
- 1998: Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire): Intervention to evacuate foreigners from Kinshasa during unrest following the overthrow of the Mobutu regime by Laurent-Desire Kabila.
- 2002-present: Ivory Coast: French mount "Operation Licorne" after a military rebellion effectively cuts Ivory Coast in two. In 2004 they destroy Ivory Coast's small air force after government forces bomb a French base.
- 2003: Democratic Republic of Congo: France provides most of the forces for a UN operation to protect civilians in the northeastern Ituri region of the DRC.
- 2008: Chad: New French intervention to bolster regime and evacuate foreigners during attacks by rebels from neighbouring Sudan.
- 2011: Libya: France takes the lead in bombing campaign against Libya, after the United Nations authorises action to protect civilians during a civil war.
- 2011: Ivory Coast: French forces of the "Licorne" operation act alongside UN forces during the civil war sparked by Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to leave power after losing an election.

[Source: The New Age, AFP, Zaf, 13Apr11]

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