The Future of Central African Republic & Russia’s Attempt to Boost its Arms Sales
January 16, 2020
January 16, 2020
KJ-2. It is almost certain that the exclusion and marginalisation of the Séléka minority will worsen
KJ-3. The focus of the Russian Federation is arms trade; hence, there is a realistic probability that illegal arms trade to the rebel groups will increase in the coming years and Russia would be the supplier
KJ-4. If part or all of the above plays out sustainable peace is unlikely
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) lost political and military influence after it was dissolved in 1991. Therefore, regaining and reasserting its influence was priority in the recovery plan that began in the 1990s and early 2000s. For the Russian Federation, boosting arms trade and providing military support is important to that cause. A profitable atmosphere for such is Africa; this is because of the recurring conflicts and political instability. This makes up the substantial part of Russia’s military interest in Africa.
Finding a lasting solution to the conflict and political instability in Central Africa Republic (CAR) has been difficult. This is because of complex ethnic and religious rivalries, social exclusion, resource politics, and involvement of other countries. Also, military response to dissents stands in the way of sustainable peace. Therefore, It is highly likely that deepening military relations with Russia will be unhelpful in achieving sustainable peace in CAR.
Figure 1. Seleka & Anti-Balaka Controlled Area
The conflict in CAR has ethnic and religious undertones – between the Anti-Balaka (Christian majority in the southern CAR) and Séléka (Muslim minority in northern CAR). There is a realistic probability that the demand for illegal arms by the Séléka group to defend themselves or organise reprisal attacks against government forces remains unhindered. The military relations between CAR and the Russian Federation is becoming a reality. The country is divided into two (see Figure 1). Military support from Russia would imply that the Anti-Balaka who controls the region where the Capital is located will receive help against the Séléka. It is vital to note that the incumbent receives support from France.
The Russian Federation is the second-largest arms producer and trader. As at 2018, 43.1% of its arms goes to Asia while about 20% goes to the Middle East. Russia now rivals European countries on trade exports in Africa. It identifies the continent as an area of opportunity for growth and profit for its military-industrial-complex. CAR has responded to offers and demands from the Russian Federation, and vice versa, and based on Grey Dynamics African Intelligence Report there are two outcomes which support the key judgements earlier stated:
It is almost certain that military support to the CAR government will result in the proliferation of illegal arms trade within the region, and there is a realistic probability that Russia will be the reliable supplier
It is almost certain that the exclusion and marginalisation of the Séléka group will worsen and it is highly likely that the CAR will continue to be marred with conflicts
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grey Dynamics LTD.
Jesutimilehin Akamo is Grey Dynamics’ analyst focussing on Central Africa and a Pre-doctoral fellow at STRATFOR. Jesutimilehin is a trained Human Rights Field Officer and was awarded the Tana 2018 continental essay award.