Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev took the opportunity during his country’s hosting of the “Decolonization: Women’s Empowerment and Development” international conference to once again warn about the threat of French neo-colonialism to the South Caucasus after raising it over the summer. His speech can be read in full here, but what follows are the most relevant excerpts regarding France and Armenia, which will then be analyzed:
“France destabilizes not only its past and present colonies but also our region, the South Caucasus, by supporting separatist tendencies and separatists. By arming Armenia, it implements a militaristic policy, encourages revanchist forces in Armenia, and prepares the ground for the start of new wars in our region.
At the same time, France abuses its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to carry out its biased and prejudiced policy, engages in geopolitical intrigues in various regions, and tries to use Western organizations as a means of pressure on other states.
We observe that racism and Islamophobia are growing in parallel with the tendencies of neocolonialism in France. Having to deal with such disturbing and dangerous trends at home, French authorities are trying to lecture other countries.
The recent expulsion of French troops from Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso showed yet again that its ruthless neo-colonialist policies in Africa are doomed to failure. France, which should be ashamed of its history of colonialism rich in bloody crimes, instead of apologizing for the atrocities it has committed, talks about fictitious ethnic cleansing in other countries.”
It was recently assessed that “The West’s Pro-Armenian Pivot Is Complete After The US & EU Openly Took Its Side” upon both of them putting unprecedented pressure on Azerbaijan over the past week, which comes two months after Baku restored the entirety of the state’s writ over Karabakh. The US and France have since led the West’s efforts to “lure” Armenia away from the Russian-led CSTO in order to transform it into their bastion of regional influence for dividing-and-ruling the South Caucasus.
Azerbaijan is rightly concerned that those two and especially France might one day support any potential revival of Armenian revanchism over its UN-recognized territory, hence President Aliyev’s latest warning about this. His words suggest that Paris is functioning as the proverbial tip of the Western/NATO spear in this respect, driven as it is by the perceived need to restore some of its lost Great Power prestige after being kicked out of the Sahel.
Curiously enough, it wasn’t just Russia’s “Democratic Security” policy in those former French colonies that was responsible for this geopolitical development, but also the US throwing its NATO ally under the bus in Niger in a Machiavellian attempt to retain its base there as was explained in detail here. That piece references how the US earlier threw France under the bus during AUKUS’ surprise formation in September 2021, which ended its nominal partner’s multibillion-dollar nuclear submarine plans.
After throwing a temper tantrum for a few months, France then patched up its ties with the US despite the latter not offering any substantive or even symbolic compensation for what it did, which confirmed that Paris accepts its vassalhood status vis-à-vis Washington. That same relationship is once again on display in the South Caucasus after France decided it help America’s efforts there to “lure” Armenia away from Russia as proven by its leading role in this operation that President Aliyev just pointed out.
France was never able to recover its lost influence in the Pacific after the US stole its lucrative nuclear submarine contract, the same as it’s unlikely to recover what it just lost in the Sahel partially at its nominal partner’s own hand as was explained in the cited analysis. Just like France crawled back to the US after being backstabbed by it with AUKUS to do its geopolitical bidding against Russia in Ukraine, it’s now doing the same in Armenia after being backstabbed by the US in Niger just a few short months ago.
The larger strategic dynamics at play represent a form of the “Lead From Behind” stratagem first pioneered under Obama whereby American vassals function as the tip of the Western/NATO spear in regions where their policymakers believe that their countries have shared interests with the US. Back then, France led the bloc’s conventional War on Libya, while now it’s leading the bloc’s Hybrid War on Russia in the South Caucasus by working overtime to “lure” Armenia away from the CSTO.
The hierarchy and modus operandi remain the same, however, since the US remains the West’s indisputable hegemon whose geopolitical orders are dutifully followed by France. That Western European country’s policymakers continue thinking that America will reward them for doing its bidding against Russia, though that hasn’t happened, and precedent suggests that they’re likely to be backstabbed again sometime soon. Even in that event, France probably still won’t learn its lesson.