From Joris Fioriti, AFP: France ended its combat mission in Afghanistan on Tuesday, withdrawing troops from a strategic province northeast of Kabul as part of a speeded-up departure from the war-torn country.
Paris has said all French combat soldiers will leave the country next month, two years before allied nations contributing to the 100,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led by the United States are due to depart.
Hollande sped the pace of French withdrawal by a year. “Withdrawal” is a bit of a misnomer, since 1,500 of France’s 3,600 stroing contingent will remain to pack up their comrades’ equipment – but they too will be home by the end of 2013. There was a lot of resistance from the NATO allies, especially the US, to this French move, but Hollande stuck by his election promise.
All the signs, though, are that Hollande isn’t giving up France’s petit-Imperial ambitions. His nation intends to be more heavily involved than any other Western nation in the upcoming intervention in Mali, and has already been more hawkish on Syria than most.