October 17, 2013
DECOLONIZATION CAME TOO SOON:
Facing sectarian violence and a collapsing state, the Central African Republic (CAR) is soliciting intervention from its former colonial master. In March, a coup led by the Muslim Seleka rebel group removed President François Bozizé from office. Since then, the predominately Christian country has seen intense, armed conflict between Muslim rebels and Christian militias. With more than 440,000 displaced, the people of CAR are calling on France to step in and calm the situation down. . . .
The situation in CAR is one example of a storyline that is repeating itself in nations across Africa. The Christian-Muslim divide is generating economic and security breakdown, leading to calls for French intervention in a region where they were once reviled.
The US and France are sometimes unlikely partners, and here they share common concerns for the security situation across Africa. Though many of the issues tormenting the region aren’t religious in origin, local Muslim groups can easily be infiltrated by internationally connected and well-funded jihadis. This can quickly turn a local spat into a headache for everyone concerned about the phenomenon we are resolutely not calling the global war on terror.
And even without the Islamic angle, you’ve got things like Zimbabweans nostalgic for Rhodesia and Ian Smith, when at least they had jobs, food, and a reasonable degree of safety.