Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ivory Coast

With French forces occupied in Libya, they are unlikely to intervene in the Ivory Coast, where another civil war is about to erupt. In humanitarian terms, however, the two situations are quite similar. Not so long ago, France was making overtures to Laurent Gbagbo. Then Ouattara won the election, Gbagbo refused to accept the result, and Sarkozy strongly supported Ouattara. The country divided, a stalemate ensued, and now civil war looms, with the possibility of tremendous carnage. But neither France nor "the international community" seems greatly engaged by the problem. Yet it would be hard to distinguish in either political or humanitarian terms between the desire for democratic reform in the Ivory Coast and the desire in Libya.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

In humanitarian terms, no, but I'm not sure about political, or military, terms.

I don't know enough about either situation to judge correctly, but in Libya the situation seemed about to implode, while in Côte d'Ivoire there seems to have been relative stalemate for a while (which might now be changing). So an argument could be made that the military option was fairly clear-cut for Libya but would have further destabilised Côte d'Ivoire (politically, also, Libya has probably taken on a greater importance because it's seen as one of a row of dominoes and what happens there could alter the whole Arab world, while Côte d'Ivoire is on its own). I think. Not that I necessarily agree, but I'm not sure if the standards are as double as they've sometimes been portrayed.

Fortunately, more public attention seems to be being paid to Côte d'Ivoire now.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

The military problem in Ivory Coast is tactical: air power and cruise missiles are effective against air defenses, artillery, and armor but can't do much against partisans in pickup trucks or irregulars armed with machetes and embedded in populated areas. So it would be difficult to intervene in IC without ground action, which is more of a commitment than any outside power is likely to make. I agree that military action would have been counterproductive until now, but major carnage seems to be looming, and the humanitarian crisis is as acute as the one hopefully averted in Libya.

FrédéricLN said...

@ arthur Goldhammer : yes; please add that:

1) the international troops are already there on ground, and make their best to prevent slaughters and protect the President. Representant Choi gave a very detailed interview (in French) to TCI two or three days ago, http://www.afreekelection.com/crise/item/4159-article3412.html Its conclusion is very true.

2) Ouattara's troops are much stronger than Gbagbo's. The only (and huge) drawback of the military solution, is the risk of a "rwandan scenario": the fear that some of Gbagbo's troops, seeing the game lost and the trial near, commit retaliation slaugthers of civilians.

It looks like most of the (regular) Army has admitted the President change and remains still, but we can still fear the reactions of the two overpaid "elite" regiments Laurent Gbabgo created to protect his own safety.

gnama gnama said...

Here's a translation note that I'd send privately but can't find an e-mail address on this page. It's more polite to say Ivory Coast without the article.