Updated: March 6, 2021
Sudanese President is continuing hisdiplomatic charm offensive regarding another key African Security Issue. Aftershowing his continued influence regarding the morass in South Sudan and hisefforts to deflect from his arms trafficking in Libya, he is supporting effortsby one of his main allies.
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Ever since the UN Security Council approved a plan in December 2017 to allow for Russia to enter the Central African Republic to train and equip two battalions of the National Army events have proven interesting in the Country. The carnage between Muslim and Christian Militia Groups continued unabated, Three Russian opposition journalists investigating Russian Private Military Companies were killed in the country and several militia groups stated that they would not disarm until the Russian presence was vacated. How would the Kremlin respond?
It reached out to one of its main allies in Africa for assistance. That person happens to be Sudanese President and the man indicted for War Crimes Omar Bashir. The Sudanese have been working with various militias in an effort to have them sit down at the table with Bangui in an effort to form not only an inclusive government but also to expand its influence along the northern and northeastern borders where the Seleka insurgency originated from back in 2012.
Results from these efforts have not been totally fruitful. Therefore Khartoum is attempting a new tactic in the effort to support the Russians in Central African Republic. It is reaching out to two other states which have had interesting and somewhat dubious roles in the collapse of the Central African Republic back in 2012. Which nations are being sought out?
First of all is Gabon. Gabon was one of several Francophone nations to send troops to CAR in a vain effort to prop up the Bozize Government. After a temporary ceasefire the Seleka forces were able to drive the President from power and seize the reins of power for themselves. Afterwords when the sectarian violence broke out the Gabonese once again supported the efforts of France to restore order. They currently have one of the largest contingents from Africa in the MINUSCA mission. One factor that could delay this effort is the current health of President Ali Bongo. Reports of him having a stroke and being hospitalized in Saudi Arabia could affect the timing of this endeavor.
The other nation that is being invited to talks is the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). When the second wave of fighting erupted back in 2013 a wave of fighters entered into the battle zone that were not native to CAR. Their dialect of French suggested that they were from the Congo. However there is an interesting backstory to the inclusion of Brazzaville. If we turn back the clock to the Cold War it will be revealed that Brazzaville despite being a French Colony was a firm member of the Pro-Soviet Bloc in Africa. It was not until the collapse of the Soviet Union and the discovery of Oil when they discovered their supposed pro-western sympathies.
The first question is will the prior relationship between Moscow and Brazzaville in order to support the Russian led initiative to restore a functioning government? On the surface it appears to be something worth following. Undercutting support for hostile elements is crucial for any entity in the region. Same with reaching out to Gabon. Having these two states provide a united front in support of Bangui will appear to show a base of support to allow for other regional actors to back.
Success in this effort will be a diplomatic defeat for France. Having Russia come into the game at such a late time frame and undercut their efforts to protect their interests will be a huge defeat for Paris. Since most of the French efforts have been supported by the United States at the UN this could be seen as a defeat for Washington as well. Recent complaints by Russia about the US sabotaging arms deliveries to CAR may only amount to pinpricks in the grand scheme of things.
The effort to bring in Bashir by Moscow to assist in getting the Militias together is a shrewd move by the Kremlin. That being said the poor state of affairs in the Central African Republic for decades show that it may not be as easy as they think.