Tue, 28 Sep 2021

Peacekeepers are deployed to war-torn countries to protect civilians and enforce national peace agreements and international treaties. However, these operations have often failed to provide reliable protection and lasting peace, with operational incompetence, bureaucratic obstacles and corruption hindering success.

This is explained by retired US army Colonel Wes Martin, who has served in the army military police and in law enforcement positions around the world, saying, "the performance of the UN remains deeply flawed. Africa faces a dual threat: that of China and that of radical Islamist militias. The Biden administration must intervene and quickly.»

According to Martin, problems with this and other conflicts abound. On 30 June, the Fifth United Nations Committee on Administration and Budget approved a budget of $ 6.37 billion for twelve United Nations peacekeeping missions from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, however, these funds are allocated to incompetent and often corrupt individuals.

UN peacekeepers failed to wrest control of Somalia from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabaab movement in 1991-1995. After the civil war, the United Nations negotiated a ceasefire agreement and deployed personnel to distribute aid to Somali civilians facing starvation. Without a central Somali government, however, the UN could not seek permission to deploy troops to counter violent warlords. The peacekeeping mission was limited to observing the ceasefire.

In 1993, UN forces unsuccessfully attempted to disarm Somali militias. After a short stint, the United States and the European Union both withdrew their troops from the mission, and the UN Security Council voted to significantly reduce the mission.

"Today, Somalia suffers from ungovernability, severe impoverishment and crumbling infrastructure. In addition, Al Shabaab has practiced the highest levels of violence that have made the current African Union peacekeeping mission impossible. Colonel Wes Martin said

Unlike Somalia, the United Nations has committed significant resources to peacekeeping in Mali. However, operations remain largely weak. The mission has entered its seventh year, with the intention of providing protection to civilians, supporting a national reconciliation dialogue and implementing previously negotiated peace agreements.

In 2015, the Malian government negotiated a peace agreement with several Tuareg rebel militias. However, he did not respond to the growing threats of Islamist extremists. Mali has become the center of jihadist operations in Africa and until recently, the French-led Operation Barkhane was the only effort targeting Islamic State and Al Qaeda cells in the region.

Although more than 18,000 well-equipped peacekeepers are currently stationed in Mali, Islamists regularly continue violent attacks. As France suspends Operation Barkhane, UN forces will be left without a reliable military counterpart. In the absence of leadership, Mali risks descending into a new chaos.

The former American colonel added that the experiences of the United Nations in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) are the same as those of the Republic of Mali.

CAR suffered a coup in which mainly Muslim Seleka rebel groups deposed President Francois Bozize. In response, an alliance of opposition paramilitaries called "Anti Balaka" was organized to counter Seleka. This is the beginning of a long civil war. On 10 April 2014, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of a "multidimensional" peacekeeping force to protect civilians, facilitate transition and promote humanitarian assistance in CAR.

While the government has struggled to contain the violence, the peacekeeping mission has failed to protect civilians. In 2018, the Union For Peace In the Central African Republic (UPC), an ex-Seleka militant group, murdered more than 100 people at a Catholic mission. The peacekeepers tasked with protecting the mission reportedly retreated in an armoured vehicle to their base instead of defending themselves against the UPC incursion.

In December 2020, the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) was formed, which brought together several of the most powerful militant groups in CAR.

After the failure of the CPC's attempt to take Bangui on 13 January 2021, the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) launched a counter-offensive, gradually retaking major cities from the rebels.

According to a recent UN report, " widespread violations of international humanitarian law by CPC-affiliated groups included the forced recruitment of children, attacks on peacekeepers, sexual violence and looting of humanitarian organizations.»

The current president, Faustin-Archange Touadera, relied on his military, assisted by Rwandan and Russian instructors, in the fight against the CPC. According to a recent UN Security Council report, Russian contractors, posing as instructors, allegedly led operations targeting civilians. In turn, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA) withdrew from the conflict. With limited prospects for peace, UN forces in CAR are likely to operate without much success.

According to Wes Martin, the presence of Russian military contractors in Africa is likely to expand Russia's influence there. Countries interested in achieving rapid success against radicals and rebels can turn to Moscow despite the opprobrium of Washington. As a result, United Nations missions will continue to lose their influence and ability to resolve the tasks assigned to them.

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