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Geopolitics

What Happens When French Troops Leave Afghanistan?

In the next six months, French troops will be leaving Kapisa province, handing it back to Afghan control. What does the future hold for this hotbed of insurgency?

French troops in Kapisa (Armée française)
French troops in Kapisa (Armée française)
Frederic Bobin

MAHMUD-I-RAQI - The governor is very optimistic. Short, with a thick dark beard, he wears a suit and tie and speaks fluent English. Mehrabuddin Safi's manner suggests the confidence of a high-ranking official who is deaf to the surrounding danger. French President François Hollande has moved up the departure date of French troops from the province of Kapisa by a year; they will be gone by the end of 2012. But this doesn't particularly worry him : "Afghan forces are ready to take over the responsibility of ensuring the province's security."

Yet there is reason to doubt so: one look at the governorate's headquarters - a fortified camp in Mahmud-i-Raqi, the capital of Kapisa, to the north of Kabul - says it all. Heavy reinforced concrete walls, barbed wire, nervous guards loaded down with automatic rifles – the place is like a citadel under siege, and rightly so. That same morning, the explosion of a crude bomb under a bridge just outside Mahmud-i-Raqi, on the road to the district of Nijrab, wounded several Afghan police officers. And of course the recent death of four French soldiers during a suicide attack on June 9 in Nijrab – ordinarily a calmer district – confirms that the insurrection in Kapisa hasn't lost any of its murderous intent.

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Two Ukrainian soldiers at a military base on the outskirts of the separatist region of Donetsk

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Halito!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where the first war crimes trial against a Russian soldier since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine gets underway in Kyiv, Kim Jong-un slams North Korean officials’ response to the coronavirus outbreak and Mexico’s National Registry of Missing People reaches a grim milestone. Meanwhile, Ukrainian news outlet Livy Bereg looks at the rise of ethnic separatism across Russia’s federal regions.

[*Choctaw, Native American]

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