3.2.08

Quiet and loud cries from Kigali, Bukavu and Ndjamena

Bullets, blood, violence, death, trouble in the presidential palace. The picture of Westerners (mainly French) fleeing, a YouTube video of policemen and military protecting and patrolling hotels in the capital just one click away. Is this familiar to anyone?

Perhaps not the video on YouTube it isn't, but there are no doubts that the 800.000 nightmare in Rwanda in 1994 still lives in the minds of many and it came to mind once again. It sure lives in my darker imaginary as do the less famous protracted killings that spun off into the neighboring Kivus in the DRC in the following decade, claiming more than 5 million lives since 1998. This time it is not Kigali or Bukavu but Ndjamena.

Chadian Rebels (United Front for Change) heard whispers of an imminent EU force coming to Chad and organized an urgent attack of the capital. In the political drawing boards of the EU, those driving the Common Foreign and Security Policy had assured a few weeks ago, before all the big trouble, that this time the European troops would be more muscled, have a clearer mandate, more experience, success! This already planned out mission was set to announce the dawn of a new era in international involvement and overcome the ghosts of an actor which has been again and again regarded as weak, fractured and useless when it comes to the hard-knock matters of sensitive foreign policy and realpolitik.

The European Union (EU) decided it was too much for her to handle and has now postponed indefinitely its mission. I understand the strategic and realistic claims but cannot help but notice the sad paradox: EU organizes force to contain conflict and protect Darfur refugees from violence in Chad . EU cancels force because of too much conflict and danger in Chad.

This is just after the new constitutional treaty, set to become another unquestionable victory for EU unity (after due ratification), has set in place a structurally dangerous set of rules for the decision of mandates and strategy procedural revisions of future military interventions. Decisions and changes in strategy are to be decided only by those member states who participate directly with troops. A measure which can potentially, once again, create serious situations of dissent within the Union. I hope not.

At the end of the day the AU has the big responsibility of stepping in and make its diplomatic, and if need be, military weight felt. The declaration at the AU meeting that African leaders will not recognize the rebels if they take power leaves an agonizing uncertainty for the future.


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