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The announcement by French President Francois Hollande that his country is engaged in a military intervention in Mali represents a significant shift in strategy for the former colonial power in Africa. Up until a couple days ago, France was very much the reluctant intervener, investing all of its energy in coordinating a multilateral intervention (led by the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS) to forestall the further advance of Islamist forces in the Sahel region, and in reassuring worried African states, such as Algeria, that France’s days as an ‘African policeman’ were long gone.