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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default CAR Central African Republic: Fragile, failed and forlorn

    The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) for those without weapons has steadily worsened, with some calling it genocide, others it's a disaster etc:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25095471

    Somehow I doubt that our mainly US readership will be aware, let alone concerned. CAR is after all in the heart of 'The Dark Continent', was a French colony and Africa - via its states - needs to look after its own. In my limited reading I note the absence of the R2P advocates.

    Sadly I expect the situation in CAR will move along steadily, with the likely exception of the capital Bangui, where a small, now reinforced French presence (410 now, rising to 750) may act as a restraint. It is unclear what effect the regional African intervention presence has; it is called FOMAC (2200 strong, EU-funded and present since 2008), it may become an AU if not UN mission.

    Pre-crisis background, note the CAR has a long history post-independence of tyranny:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13150040

    The last two reports, the South African backgrounder is exceptionally useful:http://gga.org/stories/editions/aif-...penNetworksCRM and Al-Jazeera is good all-rounder:http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/fea...L49Plc.twitter
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    Because the violence is still predominantly criminal and not political in nature I think this will not attract attention for intervention.
    RR

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    davidbfpo,

    The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) for those without weapons has steadily worsened, with some calling it genocide, others it's a disaster etc:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25095471

    Somehow I doubt that our mainly US readership will be aware, let alone concerned. CAR is after all in the heart of 'The Dark Continent', was a French colony and Africa - via its states - needs to look after its own. In my limited reading I note the absence of the R2P advocates.

    Sadly I expect the situation in CAR will move along steadily, with the likely exception of the capital Bangui, where a small, now reinforced French presence (410 now, rising to 750) may act as a restraint. It is unclear what effect the regional African intervention presence has; it is called FOMAC (2200 strong, EU-funded and present since 2008), it may become an AU if not UN mission.

    Pre-crisis background, note the CAR has a long history post-independence of tyranny:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13150040

    The last two reports, the South African backgrounder is exceptionally useful:http://gga.org/stories/editions/aif-...penNetworksCRM and Al-Jazeera is good all-rounder:http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/fea...L49Plc.twitter
    CAR isn't "far" - there's just Northern Cameroon between it and Northern Nigeria. You find the same or similar ethnic groups in those places & colonial boundaries don't mean much.

    I keep insisting that US shouldn't be fighting terrorism in Africa, it should seek to understand state failure - that is what's going on hear.

    And yes, a Western journalist told me that he spoke to a Nigerian (from Kaduna in the North), fighting with the Seleka rebels.

    I hear Boko Haram is already setting up shop there - & if they do, nothing can stop them.

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    Default Two Questions:

    1. Should "anyone" be doing "something" about the CAR; and, if so,

    2. Who is that "anyone" who should be doing "something"; and what is that "something" ?

    That country is at least known to me. My aunt, a missionary, served pre-WWII and post-WWII "tours" in the CAR (when it was the Ubangi-Chari area of French Equatorial Africa) at Fort Crampel (now Kaga Bandoro in the Gribingui prefecture), roughly 300 km NNE of Bangui:



    Another important question to me is why the CAR (Wiki) has had "a long history post-independence of tyranny" ? Integral to that question is what was its pre-colonial history of governance - and of exploitation by its northern and eastern neighbors (mostly Islamic), especially with respect to the slave trade ? If the area has had a centuries-old tradition of rule by "strong men", "Western democratic" interveners will have a very rough row to hoe (IMO).

    As KJ has reminded us many times: look to the ethnicities and religions. So, from the Wiki:

    The nation is divided into over 80 ethnic groups, each having its own language. ... Fifty percent of the population of CAR are Christians (Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%), while 35% of the population maintain indigenous beliefs. Islam is practiced by 15% of the country's population.
    From what little pre-colonial history I found, Ubangi-Chari was dominated by the adjacent Islamic states to its north and east. The seeds for an ethno-religious conflict are certainly there.

    Finally, KJ has also noted the relationship of Boko Haram to the former Kanem, Bornu and Kanem-Bornu empires:



    This map shows the farthest extent of the medieval Kanem-Bornu state.

    Thus, Boko Haram has its "modern" Islamist aspect; but also a "nationalistic" aspect (based on the medieval empires) and an ethnic aspect (the Kanuri people), as well. I'm reminded of the Pashtuns of Astan and Pstan.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 11-29-2013 at 10:14 PM.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    JMM99 asked:
    1. Should "anyone" be doing "something" about the CAR; and, if so,

    2. Who is that "anyone" who should be doing "something"; and what is that "something" ?
    Yes, the "anyone" should be African only, maybe with non-African financial, logistic and other support. If Africa thinks it is a problem for them, a moot question, there are some who have the means.

    The "something" is to restrain the 'men of violence' who currently are on a looting plus spree. The first step in 'peacemaking' and some form of settlement, even if that means one day partition - South Sudan took a long time to get independence.

    Easy from a faraway armchair.
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    Davidbfpo,

    The more important question should be - "is the established post-colonial order, which the Central African Republic represents sustainable, if not, then why not allow the natural order to prevail"?

    Read me, I've kept on insisting that most African states are not nations but ex-colonial administrative units. There's no point beating around the bush or wasting time.

    What if a similar situation occurs in a really big state like Nigeria - who will intervene?

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    I keep insisting that US shouldn't be fighting terrorism in Africa, it should seek to understand state failure - that is what's going on hear.

    ...

    I hear Boko Haram is already setting up shop there - & if they do, nothing can stop them.
    Interesting. Assuming you are correct, the question should be "what does an organization like Boko Haram offer the population that other political structures do not?"
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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    TheCurmudgeon,

    Interesting. Assuming you are correct, the question should be "what does an organization like Boko Haram offer the population that other political structures do not?"
    There's very little government presence outside Africa's capital cities (or regional administrative centers), so it is extremely easy for Boko Haram to establish better governance than a disturbingly large number of African states.

    In North East Nigeria the local government system has broken down, literacy rates are as low as 20% - government basically does not exist in large swathes of territory. That's why Boko Haram can be firmly entrenched.

    Central African Republic is much worse governed than Nigeria - at least we can agree on that? So I don't see how an organisation, Boko Haram, that has the resources and capacity to challenge the Nigerian state, will have problems plying its trade in CAR.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    Interesting. Assuming you are correct, the question should be "what does an organization like Boko Haram offer the population that other political structures do not?"
    I think what the population wants is beside the point. The population is very poor and not organized. Boko Haram is organized and a small, armed organized group always can exercise great power over a very large groups of disorganized people whether they like it or not.

    We seem to forget this too often I think. Tyrants are very capable of ruling over populations that don't like them much.
    Last edited by carl; 12-05-2013 at 07:55 PM.
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    King Jaja:

    News reports today say fighting has broken out in Bangui. Reuters reports that some of this fighting is assuming a Christian vs. Muslim character. You have said that if the Muslims push to hard against the Christians in Africa, things could get very, very bad.

    Could you comment on this?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Default CAR: Fragile, failed and forlorn

    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-20-2016 at 05:56 PM. Reason: Copied for reference and edited.

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    Default Blue helmets and 'red lines' with attack helicopters in reserve

    A rare BBC report on the CAR and the problems facing the UN peacekeepers, known as MINUSCA; with the faraway setting in Washington DC:
    Welcome to the world of the warlords. We may be seeing a lot more of them if President Trump keeps his promise to scale back American support for UN peacekeeping. Currently the US supplies 28.57% of the total budget for UN deployments.
    I was not aware MINUSCA had attack helicopters:
    The fact that UN attack helicopters were deployed at the weekend proves this. Not only in the CAR, but in trouble spots across the globe there will be warlords and beleaguered civilians watching what happens next.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-38967461

    Since this conflict is often along Christian -v- Muslim lines, would President Trump remove funding?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-15-2017 at 01:47 PM. Reason: 49,792v
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    Default Syria in focus; CAR is not

    From MSF a report on the deterioration in CAR, in the countryside and in places previously unaffected:
    Last year, CAR had the second highest number of violent incidents in the world – second only to Syria
    It appears few wish to help:
    The United Nations estimates that more than two million people, almost half of the country’s inhabitants, depend on foreign aid. Around US$400 million is required: they haven't even been able to raise 13 percent of this figure.
    Link:https://www.msf.org.uk/article/car-p...survival-mode?

    There is a BBC News report from March 2015 (6 mins), by Fergal Keane, which illustrates how difficult the CAR is - for the UN peacekeepers:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybHcjMcadTc
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-30-2017 at 04:54 PM. Reason: 63,481v
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    Default CAR: sinking

    Crikey SWJ has an article on CAR! It is a brief overview. See:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...al-african-rep

    The second article via an academic opinion website reminds the reader how desperate the CAR is:
    It has a population of 4.6 million people. Since 2013, the country has been embroiled in a civil war that has left half the population in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, and displaced nearly 1 million people. Half of those have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.
    Link:https://theconversation.com/for-the-central-african-republic-there-will-be-no-peace-without-justice-81403?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-23-2017 at 11:24 AM. Reason: 69,741v 6k up since last post
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    Default A NYT opinion on the CAR!

    This article appeared in the NYT on March 22nd and has now appeared on the SWJ Blog (which is no longer indexed on the Forum). The article apparently aroused some criticism.
    Link to original NY column: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/opinion/sunday/central-african-republic-conflict.html? and SWJ Blog's commentary:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...rican-republic
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 1 Week Ago at 06:59 PM. Reason: 87,380v 18k up since last post
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