CAR

Jeg tænkte på den Centralafrikanske Republik i dag. Ikke dybt, måske, mere som i: Hvad ved jeg (en selvproklameret verdensmand, renæssancemenneske og filosofkonge) egentlig om CAR? Svaret er ”stort set ingenting”.

Uden at foregribe begivenhedernes gang, tror jeg trygt at de nærværende læsere har det på samme måde. Vi ved (eller hører i hvert fald) en masse om Syrien, Afghanistan, Somalia og sågar borgerkrisen i Mali. Men den Centralafrikanske Republik? Nej, vel? Jeg mener: Alene navnet er så non-distinkt som overhovedet muligt. Det mindste de kunne have gjort, var vel at opfinde et navn med schwung i. A la Nigeria. Eller Botswana. Eller Lichtenstein. Sidstnævnte kalder jo heller ikke sig selv for ’Lille fyrstendømme mast inde mellem Schweiz og Østrig’, vel?

Hvorfor er det egentlig sådan? Vores begrænsende interesse for, viden og opmærksomhed om steder som CAR?

Specifikt opstod min egen centralafrikanske tankerække først, da der i sidste uge begyndte at dukke sporadiske mediehistorier op om, at der foregår et kup i landet – grænsende til en begyndende borgerkrig. Det er der ikke mange, der går op i. Nogle nødhjælpsorganisationer, et par tænketanke. End ikke det danske udenrigsministerium har følt sig kaldet til at udtrykke bekymrede ord. Den almindelige ligegyldighed overfor CAR er med andre ord vidt spredt. Forklaringen er vel desværre ret enkel. Ud over dem, der er så (tør jeg godt sige, for landet ligger i bunden på snart sagt alle økonomiske og livskvalitetsmæssige parametre) uheldige at bo i CAR, har situationen i landet nemlig ingen strategisk, politisk eller økonomisk betydning for nogen som helst. Tag som et eksempel The Economist’s nøgterne beretning om den aktuelle situation:

ARGUABLY the poorest country in Africa, the Central African Republic (CAR) is on the verge of being taken over by rebels. A month after starting a campaign in the north, they have captured a string of towns across the country, halting their advance in Damara, an hour’s drive from the capital, Bangui. The CAR’s embattled president, François Bozizé, has been pondering whether to engage the rebels in talks in Libreville, capital of nearby Gabon. The idea would be to create a transitional government of national unity pending an election. The rebels are demanding his resignation as a precondition for a deal. The African Union has been touting a compromise to give Mr Bozizé—and the CAR—a breathing-space. Few people outside Africa seem to give much of a damn.

Men hvad er det så for et land, det der CAR? Nuvel, landets nyere politiske historie tyder på, at hvis man leder efter et sted for at få opfyldt sine stereotype fordomme om dysfunktionelle afrikanske lande, så er CAR lige stedet at tage hen:

The landlocked CAR, endlessly buffeted by coups and rebellions, has been misgoverned since it got independence from France in 1960. The rebels, a hotchpotch of factions known collectively as Seleka (“the alliance” in a local language, Sango), say Mr Bozizé breached the terms of peace deals in 2007 and 2008, whereby they would take part in government and integrate their forces into the national army

Mr Bozizé came to power after a brief civil war in 2003, but, despite winning elections in 2005 and 2011, his grip has long been shaky. He has had to cope with mutinies, banditry and the spillover from conflicts in neighbouring Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda’s brutal Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, has created mayhem on the CAR’s south-eastern fringe.

Mr Bozizé has previously called on foreign forces from the Economic Community of Central African States, a ten-country regional club, to prop up his feeble army. Gabon and Cameroon are now offering extra troops, perhaps too late to save him.

Det fornemmes muligvis, at CAR ud over almindelig uduelighed, ikke ligefrem har været heldige med sit nabolag. At man har brug for hjælp fra de semi-despotiske regimer som Gabon og Cameroun, lover heller ikke alt for godt. Ude fra er der ikke udsigt til det store engagement:

In the past France used to keep an eye on its former territory, pulling strings behind the scenes and occasionally deploying its own troops to keep order. It has 500-odd soldiers in a base near Bangui, and 1,000 or so French civilians in the country. But it seems clear that this time President François Hollande is loth to get involved. A crisis in Mali, at the western end of the Sahara, where a group linked to al-Qaeda has grabbed half the country, is far more serious—and Mr Hollande is nervous enough about getting tied up there.

Most of the CAR’s 4.5m people are subsistence farmers. Political instability has prevented the country’s development, despite an abundance of timber, gold, uranium and diamonds. In its recently published quality-of-life survey of 221 of the world’s major cities, Mercer, an American consultancy, ranked Bangui 220th, a whisker ahead of Baghdad. The CAR looks set to rot away on its own.

Bemærkningen om Mali er relevant, fordi det illustrerer en konflikt, hvor der er noget på spil for det international samfund. CAR er som nævnt jævnt ligegyldig. Et sikkerhedspolitisk nyhedsbrev jeg abonnerer på, skrev følgende i dagens udgave:

This rebellion poses no threat to US national security interests. For international security affairs analysts it presents an opportunity to practice analysis and make predictions in an environment without the distortions that come from overt US involvement.

One lesson for analysts is that it is hard for rebels to attack a national capital unless its guardian forces disband and run. It is also very hard for a small African army to recapture territory lost to the rebels, unless that army has extensive modern world support. For government forces, it always is easier to defend the capital than it is to retake lost territory.

Most African leaders are weary of the seemingly endless and pointless cycle of military overthrows of governments since 1960. The soldiers never seem to tire of the sport. Bozize came to power in a coup. His overthrow by a coup would be condign punishment.

The extra troops from central African states have helped stabilize the internal security situation for the area near Bangui, but cannot prevent de facto fragmentation of the Central African Republic without French military backing.

Det er jo en forfærdelig kynisk og uempatisk analyse af situationen, men den er antageligvis ganske dækkende for hvordan beslutningstagere rundt om i verden tænker. Det egentlig spørgsmål er tilsyneladende: Vil Frankrig intervenere, eller får CAR lov til at rådne videre op? Fortsættelse følger.

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