Russia’s occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine has upset the world but at the same time the international community has no problem with France and other countries occupying the Central African Republic and potentially creating unnecessary problems in that nation.
The CAR has a history of violence and coups. François Bozizé, president of CAR until 2013, came to power in an early twenty-first century coup. After that, however, he had ruled as part of a somewhat legitimate government, twice winning elections.
But a coalition (Seleka) of nearly all Muslims claimed various grievances against him and launched a rebellion that culminated in 2013.
Bozizé apparently tried negotiating with the Seleka and reportedly even offered them a power sharing agreement. That failed and they ultimately overthrew him and seized control of the government. They installed Michel Djotodia as the new CAR president in March 2013. Surrounding African nations and the international community at large seemed to have accepted this.
The Muslim minority of the CAR now ruled the nation. But this was not enough for them.
Media coverage after that time said that the Seleka embarked on a campaign of terror against Christians living in the CAR. “The Seleka, a mostly Muslim rebel group, seized power from the Christian-dominated government of Francois Bozize nearly a year ago. The Seleka proceeded to rape, pillage and kill many Christians in the ensuing months, sparking the rise of defense groups known as anti-Balaka, or ‘machete proof,’” Voice of America reported on February 28.
The anti-balaka militias proceeded to fight back. The fighting became intense and successful enough that the United Nations (sometime around December 2013) deemed it necessary for foreign countries to invade and occupy the nation to bring about “peace.”
The Seleka-backed Djotodia resigned in January 2014, apparently under pressure to do so with the hope it would quell the violence. But the fighting has continued with the anti-balaka militias now forcing the Selekas to retreat.
Media, non-governmental organizations, and the occupying nations are reporting atrocities being committed by both sides but they emphasize that Christians are responsible for most of them.
The “Christian” anti-balaka militias might not be very Christian and there are undoubtedly some bad things happening. But what did the world expect would happen? Did it expect those being attacked by the Muslim Selekas to do nothing in response? Perhaps it did and so did, perhaps, the Selekas. After all, Muslims have become so used to the world cowering when they attack that it must have come as a shock when their victims actually decided to fight back.
Furthermore, why isn’t the world outraged over the French and other foreign nations occupying the CAR? The Ukrainian people rebelled against their government and the world applauded. Then the world jeered when Russia invaded and occupied Ukraine to “protect the peace.” So why didn’t the world cheer when the people of the CAR rebelled against a government that couldn’t or wouldn’t stop Muslims from slaughtering them? And why isn’t the world jeering the French and other foreigners occupying the CAR to “protect the peace?” They don’t appear to be doing any good and they very well could end up providing the remaining Seleka Muslims an amount of protection so they can return to continue their murderous jihad in the future.
There are differences between the situations in the CAR and Ukraine. There is much more violence in the CAR than there currently is in Ukraine. But that should be expected since the government-affiliated Seleka were violently attacking the Christians of the CAR. The overthrown Ukrainian government may have deserved to be overthrown but it hadn’t waged an enduring campaign of violence against its own people. It killed some of its own people towards the end of its rule but the Seleka have murdered many more in the CAR.
On top of this, how many Ukrainians have the occupying Russian forces killed so far? Current media reporting doesn’t show any killings. That doesn’t hold true for the CAR where media reports that “peacekeepers” have killed CAR Christians, even as they demand that the same CAR Christians disarm.
I don’t suggest that the U.S. or any other nations add to the occupying force already in the CAR. Nor am I advocating for any of the fighting sides. I acknowledge that there are significant intelligence gaps in my knowledge on what is happening and there may be valid reasons for why things are occurring the way they are. However, there isn’t any reason that people in the West should remain silent about what the French and other foreign nations are doing in the CAR. There should be more questions on what purpose the French and other foreign nations are serving. (Are they helping or hurting things and why is it okay for them to kill people but not the people of the CAR who were being slaughtered?)
In short, if the world can cheer the Ukrainians rebellion and criticize any Russian “peacekeeping” efforts as an invasion, then the world needs to answer why it isn’t responding the same way to the people of the CAR who revolted against a government that was unable to stop Muslims from slaughtering them.
Paul Hair honorably served in the U.S. Army Reserve as a non-commissioned officer; he is veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has worked as a civilian in both the government and private sectors. His writings have appeared at various websites. Paul now runs The Security and Culture Intelligencer website (http://scintelligencer.blogspot.com/) and is an independent consultant for Wikistrat, a strategic analysis and forecasting network. Connect with him at the S&CI website and on Twitter at @PaulHair1.
Image: Courtesy of; http://sadefenza.blogspot.com/2013_12_01_archive.html