Civil war in Cote d'Ivoire
April 4, 2011 12:39 PM   Subscribe

"War has returned to the Ivory Coast in the guise of massacres, mercenaries, a besieged capital, and a humanitarian nightmare." Several months after incumbent Laurent Gbagbo stole the presidential election, the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire has escalated as the forces of rightful president Alassane Ouattara have reached Abidjan to force Gbagbo's surrender.

French Force Licorne and UN peacekeepers are in Cote d'Ivoire with a mandate to protect civilians. Today the UN went on the offensive, using helicopters to fire upon Gbagbo's residence and a pro-Gbagbo military camp, and Sarkozy has authorized French troops to participate in the UN operation.

Both sides of the conflict have been guilty of atrocities, notably the massacre of 800 civilians in Duékoué by pro-Ouattara forces.

UNHCR has reported that up to one million people have been displaced in the conflict, with more than a hundred thousand fleeing to Liberia, which has been struggling to cope. [photos]

posted by lullaby (22 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
There's also some weird stuff with Pat Roberston and Senator James Inhofe supporting Gbagbo. Salon has an article on that too.
posted by lullaby at 12:45 PM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Too bad they don't have huge oil reserves.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:48 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

My sister-in-law has family who are under threat because of this. Pro-Ouattara forces apparently targeting neighborhoods where pro-Gbagbo civies are
posted by angrycat at 12:50 PM on April 4, 2011

I'm appalled by the Duekoue massacre, but overall I'm not sure what else Ouattara could have done at this point than seek to remove Gbagbo by force. Outtara was in fact elected, and he has waited quite a long time, engaging in considerable negotiation in an effort to persuade Gbagbo to step down without violence. Moreover, leaving aside that he lost the election, Gbagbo's continued tenure has been actively damaging to Ivory Coast.
posted by bearwife at 12:52 PM on April 4, 2011

Too bad they don't have huge oil reserves.

They have seventy percent of the world's cocoa harvest. It's not oil, but believe me, people will notice.
posted by mightygodking at 1:10 PM on April 4, 2011

Oil vs. cocoa: Why Ivory Coast isn't like Libya
Is oil a factor?

Yes, say some analysts. As a major oil producer, Libya's strategic significance is far greater than cocoa- and coffee-producing Ivory Coast, says Clark. Libya's potential as an incubator for Middle Eastern democracy is also an attention-grabber for Western countries, he says.

"There is significant concern over Libya's oil and what that would mean for Western strategic interest and there's a sense that Libya fits into this wider pattern of democratization and the falling of draconian regimes in North Africa and the Middle East."

Knox adds: "Oil is seen by the West as a more strategic commodity than cocoa if we're to be quite blunt."
Freedom for all people (who will sell us their strategic commodities).
posted by notion at 1:16 PM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Jim Inhofe: on the wrong fucking side of history again.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2011

Threeway Handshake, notion, the Ivory Coast may not have oil, but I think you should recognize that some of us might still think it's worth talking about.
posted by nangar at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2011

The second link is broken by the way, it should be Côte d'Ivoire.
posted by nangar at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2011

I have to admit that my only knowledge of Côte d'Ivoire resulted from reading the Wikipedia page during the recent Football World Cup. But I guess that's better than nothing.

The BBC World Service Newshour podcast is what I'm using to be a bit more informed.
posted by panaceanot at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

nangar -- I think some of the cynicism about the lack of oil has to do with (perhaps) the US administration's amazing lack of urgency at 'humanitarian intervention' in the case of a country that isn't providing petroleum. I have to say I'm shocked (shocked!) that massacres of Ivorians is somehow rating less on the US priority list than a country that helps fill NATO's gas tanks.
posted by fet at 2:01 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

From the Salon article:

"Everybody says this man is an evil thug who needs to go," said Robertson introducing one segment in January. "That's not true. He's a Christian, he’s a nice person, and he's run a fairly clean operation in the Ivory Coast."

Somehow I doubt that simple membership in the Fellowship - or being a Christian - is sufficient cause for the Christian right to support Gbagbo.

"Robertson later pointedly noted that the U.N. is "controlled so much by Muslim countries."

The article implies by juxtaposition that anti-Muslim sentiment or fear is the reason or a significant contributing factor. But it doesn't say it.

There is money here, and not in the pitiful $25K a month that Bob McEwen is getting.
posted by Xoebe at 2:20 PM on April 4, 2011

I'm appalled by the Duekoue massacre, but overall I'm not sure what else Ouattara could have done at this point than seek to remove Gbagbo by force.

Maybe, but the second clause doesn't seem to follow from the first. Large scale massacres of civilians doesn't have much to do with overthrowing an illegitimate ruler. Right now it appears that the choice is between a legitimate butcher and an illegitimate one. So, yeah, I guess the legitimate butcher is preferable. Sorta.
posted by Justinian at 4:15 PM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

I mentioned this in the previous thread - I had plans for fieldwork there this summer in the national park just a bit south of Duekoue. After Ouatarra's troops took San Pedro, Yamassoukro, and surrounded Abidjan, I was thinking "Hey ... maybe I *won't* be spending all summer in Ohio after all." Unfortunately, then news of Duekoue came out and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to get in.

I'm not sure that the situation can be resolved without a return to civil war. "Interethnic conflict," spurred on by politicians, former colonial powers, and religion all fighting for control of a scarce but valuable resource does not make me confident about the future. But my hope is that people - even Gbagbo's supporters - will be frustrated enough with the way that he's run things for the past six months that when Ouatarra finally does make it through, things will calm down.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:16 PM on April 4, 2011

Right now it appears that the choice is between a legitimate butcher and an illegitimate one.

That's the impression I get as well. Ouattara has plenty of skeletons in his closet. He won the election and legitimately should be president, but he's not really the "good guy" here. No one is.
posted by lullaby at 4:57 PM on April 4, 2011

I'm betting on genocide/ethnic cleansing in the long run, probably if we get another spike in food or oil prices. Especially since the New Forces seem to be militarily stronger than Gbango's supporters.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:49 PM on April 4, 2011

UNHCR has reported that up to one million people have been displaced in the conflict, with more than a hundred thousand fleeing to Liberia

That leaves ~900,000 that Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, or Ghana are going to have to absorb. I'm in Bamako at the moment and my organization is today sending support south to the overwhelmed border towns that IC's are arriving in. One of my staff is from IC and his parents live just down the road from the pro-Gbagbo base that was bombarded.

I don't see this ending well or anytime soon, sadly. This whole mess, combined with that post a while back about the NGO that has a standing $5 million award plus a pension for any African ruler that cedes power democratically, it blows my mind. The lust of man for power is literally insane.
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:36 AM on April 5, 2011

Gbagbo is negotiating his surrender with France according to al-jeezera
and the BBC.

allkindsoftime, That's the first i've heard of that reward.. Wouldn't have Addo in Ghana qualified because his party had lost the dem. election in 08 ?
posted by fizzix at 8:57 AM on April 5, 2011

There was some footage on Al Jazeera this morning. A crowd. A bonfire. Two men on fire. Burning to death. Being prodded and slapped with sticks by onlookers. There seemed to be more corpses in the background. It is a nightmare.
posted by stonepharisee at 11:49 AM on April 5, 2011

Fizzix, [Nana Akuffo] Addo would not have qualified for the Mo Ibrahim prize because Nana was never the president of Ghana. I think you're referring to J.A. Kufuor, the previous president of Ghana who stepped down after his 2 term limit and handed power over to J.A. Mills (the current president).
posted by ramix at 4:25 PM on April 5, 2011

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