Conflict in Nigeria

Intrastate conflict is a severe, complex and longstanding element of Nigerian political life. When the British combined two separate territories, a diverse swathe of West Africa suddenly became a political unit. Northern Nigeria is largely Muslim, while the South is largely Christian and contains many different ethnicities. The two regions and the groups within them have different political influences (e.g. Islamist vs. Western vs. traditional African). Divisions within Nigeria have fueled conflicts throughout the 20th century and into the present.

Mismanagement of Nigeria’s natural resources and other factors have contributed to sustained underdevelopment in the country. Scapegoating of other religious and ethnic groups is more likely to be successful under conditions of economic stress. This is similar to the situation in the DRC in intergroup conflict can find support among those for whom survival is a primary concern, as well as in communities and where national borders and state identity are less meaningful than other identifiers such as religion or ethnicity (Reyntjens).

The most recent conflict within Nigeria originated with the establishment of sharia law in parts of the North in the late 1990s. Riots between Christians and Muslims caused many civilian deaths in the years following the creation of the laws. In 2009 a group called Boko Haram initiated a violent campaign against the Nigerian government, which some have designated “terrorism.” The Nigerian government does not have the capacity to combat terrorist activity. Although there has been international condemnation of Boko Haram, this response has been described as “slow,” as major players (especially the US) have been reluctant to become directly involved in the region.

In his article for this week, Autesserre questions the critique on the emphasis on state-building the DRC, held by both powerful and marginalized survey respondents despite the “predatory” nature of the state. The question of political and economic disenfranchisement is important in the context of Nigerian conflict, considering that the poverty rate has increased rather than decreased in the last several decades (concurrent with the discovery of oil and limited globalization of culture and trade). Nigerian scholar Chris Kwaja asserts that poverty and desperation are the root causes of Nigeria’s ongoing ethnic and racial conflicts, noting particularly that certain members of communities can be prevented from traditional rights of citizens (read: denied limited public and private resources) based on ethnicity or religion. In Nigeria, and in the DRC and many other developing countries where corruption is a problem, simply increasing state capacity is not a silver bullet vis a vis intrastate conflict because the state apparatus can itself be used tool used to sustain social power imbalances and pursue personal gain.


“The roots of Nigeria’s religious and ethnic conflict”

“Islamist insurgency in Nigeria”

“Experts: Slow International Response Contributed to Rise of Boko Haram”

Reyntjens, Filip. 2005. The privatisation and criminalisation of public space in the geopolitics of the Great Lakes region. Journal of Modern African Studies. 43 (4). 587 – 607.

Autesserre, Séverine. 2012. Dangerous tales: Dominant narratives on the Congo and their unintended consequences. African Affairs, 111(443), 202-222.

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Benin and Conflict

While Benin has had a deep history in conflict and civil war, Benin currently is heralded as a peaceful nation.  Many scholars attribute Benin’s avoidance of conflict to having a developed democratic government. Benin boasts some of lowest political violence rates in the country. Even Geneva Academy of International of humanitarian law and human rights, an organization that closely tracks any conflict within a country, acknowledges that there are no current conflicts within Benin.

The era of peace within Benin may be coming to close, according to some statistical studies. The Armed Location and Event dataset displays that riots and violence against citizens had been growing since 2009. There was also an attempted poisoning of Boni Yayi in October 2012, the second attempt in five years. Recently Benin has had to deal with Niger Delta pirates; 350 km of offshore water have been declared as a “war risk” zone by Lloyds of London (AfCon 21 October 2011).  These pirates have links to many militant groups in south Nigeria.

Benin also still has to deal with the repercussions of conflict within other countries.  Because of the evolving rebel conflict within Mali, many refugees have been fleeing to Benin, putting more pressure on an already weak economy. The UN is dedicated to solving this cause, attempting to help these refugees by giving them aid and even repatriating some refugees. The UN plans on helping 5,000 Togolese refugees in 2015 (  This conflict is extremely worrisome to Benin, a country with a week military. President Boni Yayi is worried that conflict could spread throughout the region because of the Islamist militants in Mali, claiming, “These terrorist movements engage in all sorts of trafficking in drugs, people and all calibre of arms. They are committing massive violations of the fundamental rights of citizens by imposing practices from another age. They are irreversibly mutilating people by amputating their upper and lower limbs as punishment.” (Boni Yayi) Yayi is worried that the UN is quickly losing interest in a consequential conflict.

Yet Benin has still had a recent history on conflict with neighboring Burkina Faso. There has been a history of land disputes between the local villages of the respectful countries.  Relations with the boarder of Nigeria were also strained in 2009 because of cross-boarder gang clashes.

As long as the conflict in Mali doesn’t spill over into Benin, the peaceful nation should be able to control the relatively smaller domestic conflicts.

































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Zimbabwean Involvement in Civil and Interstate Conflict

The initial conflicts in Zimbabwe began with the arrival of the Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company in the 1890s. Until 1898, they fought a war against the Ndebele Clan who ruled over a large portion of what became Southern Rhodesia. Europeans managed to maintain their grip on power until Ian Smith’s declared autonomy from Britain and continued white-minority rule touching off a guerilla war against the state by the Marxist-Lenninist ZIPRA and the Maoist ZANLA armed groups who fought each other while at the same time fighting the state. This independence war period, known as the Rhodesian Bush War was marked by heavy support and meddling by outside parties such as China, USSR, and Mozambique. Zimbabwe is a nation founded on violence and conflict because it is being ruled by a liberation movement (ZANU-PF a merger of previous rebel groups from the Independence war) which can’t seem to make the transition from fighting wars to building a peaceful society (Beyond Violence).
Since gaining power in 1980, Mugabe’s government has not suffered from high casualty internal conflict but rather constant low-intensity state terror and repression campaigns built around silencing opposition to ZANU-PF and protecting state interests. Mugabe did decide to intervene in the Second Congo War in 1997 allying with Angola on the side of the Kinshasa government. The reasons for intervention were part economic—the DRC government had signed contracts with Zimbabwe during the 1st war amounting to around $200 million. As of 2012, relations have worsened given that Kabila’s unpaid debt to Zimbabwe in military and consumables expenditures incurred throughout the war has reached over $1 billion (Independent). The other reason for intervening in the DRC was political—Mugabe hated being seen as a ‘dinosaur’ compared to the young leaders of Rwanda and Uganda who had both intervened. Zimbabwe also wanted to reclaim some of the leadership lost to South Africa in the region (Reynjens).
The war created disaffected war veterans who demanded compensation for disabilities incurred while fighting. Government subsidies and payouts to over 50,000 veterans helped to further exacerbate the problems of hyperinflation and didn’t stop the most disgruntled of them from squatting and occupying white commercial farms. Farmers were forcibly displaced along with their workers and resistance resulted in brutal beatings and sometimes death ( Today the main conflict that exists in Zimbabwe is that of youth-brigades teamed up with dubious veterans who take white-farmers land by force and with the encouragement of Mugabe’s government.
The other form that internal conflict has taken in Zimbabwe is political violence. Because of Mugabe’s one party rule, the regime is incredibly hostile against any opposition. Around election time, the atmosphere is one of intimidation and violence. Between 2000 and 2010, there were over 3,000 extra-judicial executions, hundreds of disappearances, and more than 7,000 cases of torture or serious assault. To date, no police investigations have been undertaken, nor arrests or charges pressed concerning the violence surrounding the run-off election in 2008 and the years before. Many journalists and civil society leaders were arrested, tortured or seriously beaten (Beyond Violence).

The privatisation and criminalisation of public space in the geopolitics of the Great Lakes region:

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Cameroon: Nearly Conflict-Free For Now…

Since its struggles for independence, Cameroon has remained relatively conflict-free. This is a huge anomaly compared to many of its Sub-Saharan neighbors who seem to be in a perpetual state of conflict, whether civil or interstate. However, Cameroon’s one real international conflict is with their powerful neighbor and regional leader, Nigeria. This conflict has been an ongoing conflict dating back to 1993. In 1993, the dispute escalated to the point of actual military confrontation and since then there have been occasional skirmishes and military posturing. In 2006, the Greentree Agreement settled the conflict militarily, however tensions still remain very high. Cameroon’s conflict with Nigeria is in relation to the ownership of land near Lake Chad as well as the Bakassi Peninsula. Both of these are oil-rich areas with the capability to yield large profits for the sovereign country. As a regional power, with the highest population and GDP in Africa, Nigeria has always seemed to have the upper hand in this conflict. However, international actors have become involved as well, as the International Court of Justice has begun to consider the issue.

Outside of this land dispute, Cameroon seems to be entirely void of international conflicts. There are no other wars of note, and much like most peripheral countries they don’t get involved in the wars of others. Much of this ties into Cameroon’s anti-contrarian approach on the world stage. Whether it is with the United States, France or any other world power, Cameroon avoids conflict at all costs. This shows the importance of international actors on the prevention of armed conflicts for countries in all regions. Cameroon is very focused on cooperating with the United Nations and Security Council countries, in order to improve their “legitimacy” on the world stage. This goal in their foreign relations acts as an internal prevention against aggressive tendencies and subsequent armed conflict. This also displays the immense ability that international actors, such as the United Nations, have when it comes to deterring armed conflicts across the globe. The fear of reprimand, rejection and potential sanctions is enough deterrence for many countries, including Cameroon.

Internally, Cameroon has avoided armed conflicts as well. There have been no sincere civil conflicts since the days just succeeding independence. One potential reason for this is the lack of an abundance of a powerful natural resource and the related “resource curse.” Although they possess oil, it is not at the level of Nigeria or other oil-rich nations that have become scarred by the possession. This helps Cameroon avoid the corruption and conflicts associated with the resource curse, which hindered Nigeria’s development and led to bloody conflicts across the continent. However, for some it seems a civil conflict is just a matter of time. The Cameroonian newspaper, Cameroon Voice, suggests that the conditions in Cameroon mirror that of neighboring countries in the midst of civil conflict, however no uprisings have occurred. It is suggested the Cameroonians have long avoided war because it is “something they abhor but that may become necessary,” (Leon Tuam). Hopefully Tuam’s analysis of the situation is wrong and Cameroon remains peaceful but it is hard to argue that the conditions aren’t ripe for an uprising of some sort.

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Violent Conflict in Libya

Journal 5


Intra-state conflict in Libya has persisted following the end of the civil war in 2011. The lack of a credible, centralized government has spawned and emboldened numerous militia groups. Escalating violence has created grave humanitarian concerns and has forced foreign actors to withdraw from Libya. Neighboring countries have engaged in the conflict between Islamists and nationalists, exacerbating instability. Libya is on the verge of another full-fledged civil war as rivaling factions fight for economic resources and political power.


The most recent conflict ensued when the predominantly-Islamist General National Congress (GNC) refused to step down after the expiration of its electoral mandate in January of 2014. In response, nationalist forces, led by General Khalifa Haftar, launched an attack against Islamic militants in Benghazi, and then again, in Tripoli, in order to ensure non-interference from the GNC in state elections. The election that took place on June 25, 2014 replaced the GNC with a new House of Representatives, ousting the large majority of prominent Islamists. After the electoral defeat, Islamists retaliated by initiating a month-long battle over control of the Tripoli International Airport. Islamists have refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the new House of Representatives in Tobruk and claim that the country’s only legislative body is the GNC, which is in Tripoli, creating two antagonistic parliaments.


The fighting has continued for nearly six months. Billions of dollars in damage have been caused to the cities of Benghazi and Tripoli, hundreds of people have died, and thousands have fled. The airport and seaport in Benghazi have been closed, further crippling the economy. The constant shelling by rivaling militias has brought about a humanitarian crisis that requires help from the international community. However, the majority of foreign actors, including the United Nations, have been forced to evacuate the country due to security concerns. Founding Director of the African Leadership Centre, Funmi Olonisakin, explains that humanitarian responses are only possible when there is police or a military presence able to provide reasonable safety and security. Libya’s national army and police force have been replaced by, approximately 350 autonomous militias, making it impossible for the international community to effectively intervene or mediate the crisis.


While some members of the international community have not been able to provide assistance to Libya, others have actively aggravated the incendiary environment. U.S. officials have reported that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have recently launched airstrikes against Islamist organizations, supporting the efforts of General Haftar’s “Operation Dignity”, while Qatar and Turkey have aligned themselves with Islamist “Operation Dawn.” Foreign actors picking sides will exacerbate the crisis in Libya and catalyze the escalation of larger and broader ethnic, religious and political conflicts through much of Northern Africa and the Middle East.



The current situation in Libya is not simply a matter of Islamist versus nationalist, but rather, it is a multifaceted issue involving a number of moving pieces. The increasingly volatile environment has made it impossible for the international community to intervene in arising humanitarian crises, while meddling from neighboring countries has prolonged turmoil. Regional and international actors must play a role in facilitating negotiations between rivaling factions so that Libya can become a unified and stable state.



BBC News. “Libya Crisis: Tensions Rise as Tripoli Airport Seized.” 24 August 2014. Accessed on 28 October 2014. <>



Eljarh Mohamed. “Libyans Are Bracing for Civil War.” 3 September 2014. The Foreign Policy Group. Accessed on 28 October 2014 <>


Fadel, Leila. “Libya’s Crisis: A Shattered Airport, Two Parliaments, Many Factions.” 26 August 2014. . National Public Radio. Accessed on 28 October 2014 <>


Joffe, Geroge. “Libya Airstrikes: Wider Conflict to Middle East.” 27 August 2014. BBC News Africa.


Olonisakin, Funmi. Chapter 13. “Conflict and conflict resolution in Africa” from Power, Wealth and Global Equity edited by Patrick J. McGowan and Phlip Nel.






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Conflicts in Angola

The two main conflicts in recent memory regarding Angola are the 27-year civil war and the insurgency (facially) resolved in recent years in the oil-rich province of Cabinda. The civil war began in 1975 after the hard-won independence from Portugal and was an incredibly violent conflict between pro and anti-Communist parties. International actors played a huge role in the conflict and are largely responsible for how long the war lasted. The Angolan civil war is commonly cited as an African example of a Cold War-era proxy war between the United States and the USSR. The United States refused to recognize the Communist ruling party for decades and kept fueling money into the opposition parties throughout the conflict. The civil war has had long-lasting effects that continue to be relevant in Angola today, like an ongoing refugee crisis and economic and social unrest. There should be no downplaying the consequences of an extremely violent conflict lasting nearly three decades, but the more recent Cabinda conflict is in some ways more relevant to the topics we’ve been discussing in class.

The conflict between Angola and Cabinda has been long-standing, as the two were separate entities under Portugal. In 1975, under pressure from the international community and the newly independent Angola, Portugal agreed that Cabinda would be a part of Angola. This agreement wholly ignored the wishes of the Cabindan people. The origins of the conflict bear a striking resemblance to the circumstances Wrong described between Eritrea and Ethiopia. There’s a clear pattern here that shows that the will of tiny countries and their rights to self-determination can be totally swept aside by the international community, with western powers and the U.N. given the right to determine nations’ fates in the manner that is most politically convenient for them. When Portuguese troops left Cabinda, Angola invaded and fighting ensued for decades. After the internal civil war ended, fighting between Cabindan liberation forces continued, with little to no involvement from the international community. The conflict caught global attention in 2010 when Togo’s national football team was attacked, by mistake allegedly, by rebel forces. The lack of attention by the U.S. in the decades during the Angolan civil war are particularly interesting when compared to how heavily the U.S. funded and supplied the other rebel forces in Angola. The funding of the anti-Communist rebels in Angola while ignoring the liberation rebels in Cabinda highlights the different ways we’ve discussed in class of how the U.S. has viewed aid over the decades. Currently, there is no organized violence in the region, though there continue to be skirmishes and the issues of conflict remain largely unresolved.

Autesserre’s paper on simple narratives becoming dominant narratives, and how that shapes the way foreign actors perceive the issues of certain countries, seems quite relevant to the role of the international community in Angolan affairs. When looking at the simple narratives of the Angolan civil war, it’s easy to see how the U.S. could become involved in the funding of one rebel force movement while totally ignoring the other. The UNITA rebels benefitted from the transmitted simple and dominant narrative: we are anti-Communist and we oppose the Communist government. The FLEC rebels, while also fighting for their own freedom from an unwanted Communist government, seemed to lack a compelling enough simple narrative to garner aid from the United States.

Sources used:

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Rwandan Genocide

Ethnically motivated interstate violence has been significantly present throughout Rwanda’s history. Rwanda’s ethnicities consist of Hutu’s, Tutsi’s and Twa’s. Twa’s, form over 1% of the population and are believed to be the original inhibitors of Rwanda. Hutu’s consist of rural workers generally from the south with larger facial features and darker skin, as defined by the Dutch. Tutsi’s on the other hand, are believed to be descended from Ethiopia with lighter skin and a taller, thinner frame than Hutu’s and Twa’s. While not always ethnically distinct, Belgium separated Rwanda’s ethnic groups due to the supposed “race of science”. They took the traditional structure of society and transformed it into a polarized “almost apartheid-like system”. Tutsi’s became the ruling class as Twa’s and Hutu’s became the rural, agricultural, peasants of the country.

Rwanda became independent in 1962, just after Hutu’s and Tutsi’s were defined as a different races. By 1964, over 300,000 Tutsi’s had fled from Rwanda and the Hutu purges (this included Paul Kagame, the current president of the nation). Throughout the late 20th century, Rwanda remain frail and weak at the hands of ethnic tensions.

In 1994, Rwanda experienced one of the most horrific genocides with the highest death rate per day the world has ever seen. Over 800,000 people were killed within a hundred day period due to ethnic clashes between the Hutu and Tutsi’s. The minority Tutsi, once favored by the Belgians, were at the center of Hutu disparity and hatred. Spurred by the killing of the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana , a large scale killing of Tutsi’s took place throughout the country. Neighbors, friends and relatives turned on one another often using dull machetes to hack of heads.

The regional and international communities response was limited and arguably oblivious. President Bill Clinton was tentative to become involved after the unfortunate failure of Black Hawk Down in Somalia in 1993. The rest of the world too feared political entanglement in Rwanda’s problems. Rwanda did not pose any political significance to other countries nor did it provide any valuable natural resources as its economy was based in agricultural, something easily outsourced. The Security council and the U.N. provided troops that were either too little or too late to the conflict. Overall, the community mourned the civil conflict of Rwanda as Bill Clinton states it was one of the biggest mistakes of his presidency.

While Africa remained idle in addition to the international community during 1994, Rwanda’s refuges from the genocide greatly affect the region and current political strife. Over two million Hutu’s fled the country into surrounding areas, especially into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The presence of the Hutu militias in the DRC has led to years of conflict in the neighboring nation. It also generates tensions between the Rwandan government and Congolese government as Rwanda allegedly backed the M23 Rebel movement in the DRC causing international backlash threatening Rwanda’s aid.

Since the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has bounced back under the leadership of the RPF’s but continues to feel the repercussions of the ethnic violence to this day.


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Violent Conflict in South Sudan

The area that is today South Sudan has been marred by almost continual conflict for the last half century. The origin of the conflict between can be traced to the division between North and South Sudan. The Northern part of the country that was once Sudan is primarily Muslim and the South (modern-day South Sudan) is primarily Christian. During the colonial period, the two regions were ruled as separate regions Britain and Egypt, whose poor and uneven colonial governance only exacerbated the divisions between the two. Prior to independence, Britain merged the North and the South into a single state, distributing considerably more power to the North at the exclusion of the Southerners, despite forcing the more developed North to promise a certain degree of autonomy to the South. When the North began to renege on its promise, tensions rose in the South, eventually leading to the outbreak of civil war in 1955, just as the country was receiving independence. Some scholars have also argued that central governments in the area of North Sudan have exploited less developed outer regions, including the South, for centuries.

The First Sudan Civil War began as a relatively less violent affair, with guerilla separatist fighters trying to evade the North’s army.  It continued to amass casualties however, and the Southern fighters were able to obtain arms from foreign countries like Israel and the Congo.  The North received their weapons from the Soviety Union as part of that country’s Cold War Africa strategy. After about 500,000 deaths, the war finally ended with the Addis Abbaba Accords in 1972, which saw the North grant the South more autonomy, among other concessions. It is also worth noting that during this first war internal divisions amongst different ethnic groups in South Sudan began to show, which is a major cause of the ongoing Civil War today.

The peace accords of 1972 proved insufficient, and war resumed about a decade later for many of the same reasons underlying the original war. Southern rebel movements had gained steam under the SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement) and their armed wing, and the government in the North decided to adopt aspects of Islamic Sharia Law in 1982 to the further irritation of the Southerners.  This second war would last 22 years and see over two million casualties.  The war was also noted for its human rights abuses and indiscriminant targeting of civilians, particularly by the Sudanese government.  Foreign involvement on either side was limited, but many countries, including other African nations, were active in providing humanitarian aid and pushing for peace.  The war finally ended with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreements, which ultimately led to South Sudanese independence in 2011.

Unfortunately, independence has not meant the end of violent conflict for South Sudan.  Several skirmishes with Sudan followed independence, most notably the Heglig Crisis in 2012, predominantly over oil profit sharing and the delineation of borders.  In December 2013, South Sudan descended into a civil war of its own.  A power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his vice-president Riek Machar (who come from rival ethnic groups), quickly divided the country. Despite major casualties, US and African Union-led calls for negotiations and the threat of famine for a large portion of the population, the violence continues.  Several other foreign players are at work: Sudan, with its oil interests, and Uganda, which appears to have played an important peace-keeping role and has had more success than most in creating dialogue with the two sides.

Sadly, the outlook for long-term peace is not good.  Relations between Sudan and South Sudan remain precarious at best, and a permanent solution to the issues of borders and oil appear very far off.  Additionally, the presence of oil in South Sudan is bound to continue to create resource curse-related problems and President Kiir has already shown signs of “big man” rule.  Years of neglect and under-development mean that South Sudan is essentially starting from scratch, lacking an infrastructure, strong state instructions and capable bureaucrats to secure a prosperous and peaceful future. Even ethnic divisions, which traditionally have not been a great source of conflict in South Sudan, seem to be worsening instead of improving.





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Conflicts and Conflict Management: Chad

Chad’s history has been defined by the constant presence of violence ever since its independence from France in 1960 (PERI). As a country experiencing high levels of poverty, political uncertainty, and social unrest, Chad’s instability has enabled these violent conditions to prevail (BBC). Much of this violence has been political as various rebel groups have endeavored to challenge the government’s authority through attempted coups. Regardless of this, control of the government has not changed since 1990 (PERI). The other prevalent source of conflict has been instigated by the presence of ethnic tensions in the region. Chad has experienced unpredictable and constant change resulting from strained relations between the two major ethnic groups: a predominantly Arab-Muslim group existing in the north of the country and a Christian and animist group in the south (Azevedo; BBC). Violence has served to highlight the weaknesses of Chad’s government, prompting international intervention. Unable to maintain peace on its own, Chad has been forced to accept the involvement of international authorities on the grounds of protecting refugees and, more broadly, promoting peace-building (BBC). Although these are seemingly good intentions, efforts have lacked efficiency and ultimately exacerbated violence (Azevedo).

The intervention of such international authorities has escalated in response to the more recent violence Chad has experienced, prompted by the War in Darfur. While most violence in Chad has been of civil origin, this instance alternately arose as a byproduct of the country’s geographic location. International in nature, this conflict was imposed on Chad as a consequence of its shared western border with Sudan (GPF). Thousands of refugees attempting to avoid the conflict in Sudan flooded into Chad but fighting followed, as Chadian troops faced confrontation with pro-Sudanese government militias (PERI).

Very closely aligned to the case of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, international peace-building efforts rather than serving their intended purpose, proved to be unproductive in Chad (Autesserre). In both of these cases, foreign intervention enabled the persistence of violence rather than placating it, highlighting the lack of correspondence between intentions and outcomes. At first, this intervention came dominantly from the European Union who, seeing the seriousness of the conflict in Chad, approved the deployment of a peacekeeping force (BBC). This force very quickly proved ineffective, lacking the necessary leverage to instigate substantial change. In response, the United Nations assumed responsibility, developing and deploying Minurcat, a peacekeeping force striving to protect the displaced Chadians and refugees from Darfur (BBC). Despite the presence of Minurcat, conflict persisted, escalating to the point to which six other international aid groups decided to suspend efforts in eastern Chad fearing the risk they were exposing their staff to (BBC). Violence in the region persisted along with criticisms of the UN as its inability to address or even placate hostilities became vastly apparent; this ultimately led the Chadian government to request that the UN withdraw its peacekeeping mission from eastern Chad (HRW). Idriss Deby, Chad’s president, was quick to outline the faults in the UN’s attempted intervention, emphasizing the inadequate rate of response leading to incomplete deployment and the subsequent inability to uphold promises of refugee protection (Charbonneau). This case, in which international intervention failed to accomplish peacekeeping goals, is not unique, as is illuminated by similar issues in the Congo (Autesserre). Although these examples differ, both instances serve to illustrate how regardless of intentions, foreign intervention can lead to the perpetuation of hostilities in the face of violent conflicts. These unforeseen repercussions are important to keep in mind when considering the widespread acceptance of foreign involvement as a solution to violent conflict across Africa.



Autesserre, Séverine. “Dangeous Tales: Dominant Narratives on the Congo and Their Unintended Consequences.” African Affairs 111, no. 443 (2012): 202-222.

Azevedo, Mario. A History of War in Chad. Amsterdam: Overseas Publishers Association, 1998.

British Broadcasting Corporation. “Chad Profile.” News: Africa. 2014. Available at:

Central Intelligence Agency. “Africa: Chad.” The World Factbook. Available at:

Charbonneau, Louis. “Chad’s Peacekeeping Force Has Not Been a Failure.” Global Policy. 2010. Available at:

Global Policy Forum. “Sudan/Darfur.” Index of Countries on the Security Council Agenda. Available at:

Human Rights Watch. 2011. “World Report 2011: Chad.” World Report 2011. Available at:

Political Economy Research Institute. “Chad (1965 – ).” Modern Conflicts: Conflict Profile. Available at:

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “2014 UNHCR Country Operations Profile – Chad.” The UN Refugee Agency. 2014. Available at:


*In working on this piece I consulted with a writing mentor, Rachel Earnhardt, through the Wesleyan Writing Program.

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Violence in Kenya

Geographical location and ethnicity are prominent influences on conflict in Kenya. Kenya is close to countries known to empathize with Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab, leaving it especially vulnerable to high terrorism. While ethnic tensions stemming from its colonial era always remained, they were especially exacerbated by Kenya’s turbulent transition to multi-party politics during the 2007-2008 election crisis. Violence was aimed towards the Kikuyu community, of which election winner Mwai Kibaki was a member. Although Leonard rejected the idea that ethnic ties are what made Sub Saharan Africa so vulnerable to civil conflicts, he stated that conflict was often in the name of ethnicity since modern politics were built off of colonial rule, which emphasized ethnicity and racial superiority. Indeed the dominance of the Kikuyu ethnic group could be seen as a continuing trend of pre-independent Kenya, where many of the elite positions held by British settlers were increasingly filled by Kikuyu bourgeoisie. Supporters of Raila Odinga, whose origin in the Luo tribe has been a key to his political activity, alleged electoral corruption.

Odinga refused to hold any talks unless they involved a third party. John Kufuor, Ghanian President and African Union Chairman, was the initial mediator. After Kufuor met separately with Kibaki and Odinga, the sides agreed to “an immediate cessation of violence as well as any acts which ay be detrimental to finding a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis”. Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi continued talks between Kibaki and Odinga, which led to an agreement in forming a coalition government; Odinga was given the new position of Prime Minister, where he could “coordinate and supervise government affairs”. Despite Kenya’s favorable relations with the US, when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived to support the talks, Kenyan Foreign Minister Wetangula stressed the issue needed to be resolved by Kenyans and that outsiders shouldn’t be “putting a gun to anybody’s head” to force a solution.
In 2011, Kenya’s military coordinated with Somalia and Ethiopia to pursue the Al-Shabaab, a Somali jihadist terrorist group that had kidnapped foreign terrorist and aid workers within Kenya. Again, despite close ties with Kenya, the US did not play a prominent role in supporting Kenya, although it did share some surveillance data regarding Al-Shabaab activities in Somalia and Yemen. While Ethiopian representatives initially denied rumors that they would get their troops involved, they agreed to contribute towards the effort against the Al-Shabaab insurgency after a conference of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development; they recognized their proximity in the region also meant vulnerability to the Al-Shabaab’s violent actions.

Since 2011, Kenya has been facing a series of violent terrorist attacks. The nation’s government officials believe that Al-Shabaab is responsible, and that these attacks are their way of retaliating from Operation Linda Nchi. Actors within the region were able to sort these particular things out on their own, despite a relatively minimal Western presence. Especially in the case of the post-election conflict, Kenyan officials reactions to Rice’s visit suggests that it direct intervention on the part of the West would not have been well received. However, with Kenya having been established as an ally to the US in the War on Terrorism, America will have to find a careful balance between giving Kenya assistance in its terrorism conflicts and overstepping its boundaries.

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