World View: Central African Republic War Morphs from Religious to Ethnic War

French Sangaris forces patrol in Bangui, central African Republic in February 2016 as people vote in presidential elections hoping to bring peace after the country's worst sectarian violence since independence in 1960

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Central African Republic war morphs from religious to ethnic war
  • United Nations peacekeeping force MINUSCA uses airstrikes to stop bloodbath in Bambari

Central African Republic war morphs from religious to ethnic war

Central African Republic
Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) war began in March 2013, when Muslim Séléka militias ousted François Bozizé, the Christian president of CAR, and replaced him with Michel Djotodia, a Muslim.

Muslim Séléka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christian constituencies of the deposed François Bozizé. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Séléka militias.

The actions of the French troops backfired. When the Muslim Séléka troops were disarmed, the Christian anti-Balaka militias “rushed into the vacuum” and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Sélékas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing brutal atrocities, and it has become a full-scale generational crisis war. As in any generational crisis war, bloody, brutal atrocities are committed by all sides, irrespective of religion or ethnicity.

In 2013, the Séléka was a coalition of ethnic militias that were united in their opposition to the Christians and to François Bozizé. Since then, the coalition has begun to unravel, and different factions have been turning on one another.

In the central region of CAR, around the country’s second and third-largest cities, Bambari and Bria, two competing ethnic militias have emerged.

One is the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), dominated by Muslims from the Fulani ethnic group, a nomadic herding ethnic group. Their families travel with their herds of cattle to greener pastures when grazing ground and water are scarce.

The second ethnic militia is the Popular Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic (FPRC), dominated by the Gula and Runga ethnic groups. These ethnic groups are primarily farmers, using hoe cultivation and irrigation techniques, with millet and wheat are the main crops grown. The FPRC is now allying with the Christian “anti-Balaka” militias, which are also primarily farmers.

The FPRC is demanding an independent state in CAR’s north. This is opposed by the UPC. The FPRC have been seeking out and slaughtering Fulani civilians in one village after another, including an extremely brutal assault on the city of Bria. FPRC forces are now closing in on Bambari, where it’s feared the same could happen.

The core issue in the war is one that I’ve described many times: the battle between farmers and herders. Farmers and herders have two completely different lifestyles. Battles between farmers and herders occur in country after country, as I’ve described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that is meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

Generational crisis wars are fought along demographic fault lines, including religion, ethnicity, skin color and geography. Ethnicity is a much more powerful force than religion because you can change your religion but you can’t change your ethnicity. As in many countries, the war in Central African Republic is being fought along ethnic fault lines, particular along the fault line between herders and farmers. IRIN – United Nations and Reuters (26-Nov-2016)

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United Nations peacekeeping force MINUSCA uses airstrikes to stop bloodbath in Bambari

There is a United Nations peacekeeping force in CAR known as MINUSCA, which stands for Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic. MINUSCA has been largely a failure, with its forces mainly concentrated in the capital city Bangui, and has been riven with scandal, with accusations that peacekeepers have been raping girls that they’re supposed to be protecting.

MINUSCA has been watching the impending disaster, as the FPRC forces approach Bambari, with the intention of exterminating the Fulani. MINUSCA is forced to resort to airstrikes to try to halt the advance of the FPRC, and has been targeting “heavily armed” FPRC fighters, although it’s not known whether the airstrikes have produced any casualties. At any rate, based on the publicly available reports, it appears that MINUSCA’s attempt to stop the FPRC slaughter of Fulanis will fail spectacularly.

I’ve been writing about the CAR war ever since it began in 2013, and I’ve always said the same thing: This is a generational crisis war, a force of nature that cannot be stopped until it reaches an explosive climax. The climax is sometimes a real explosion, such as the nuking of Japan that ended World War II. In the usual case, it is a genocidal explosion of such enormity that it is remembered for decades or even centuries, and it causes both sides to stop fighting, and say, “Never again.” And it does not happen again, as long as the survivors of the war are still alive.

As I’ve explained in the past, CAR’s last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion (“War of the Hoe Handle”), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis civil war has already started.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a generational crisis war, and it will not end until a lot of scores get settled with some kind of massive bloody, genocidal climax that will be remembered for decades. CAR is nowhere close to that point yet, and MINUSCA can’t do anything but watch the violence unfold. Reuters and AFP

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Central African Republic, CAR, Bangui, Bria, Bambari, François Bozizé, Michel Djotodia, Séléka, anti-Balaka, Fulani, Gula, Runga, MINUSCA, FPRC, UPC, Popular Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic, Union for Peace in the Central African Republic, Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, Kongo-Wara Rebellion, War of the Hoe Handle, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan
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