10 December 2010

What happened to all the interventionists?

Khartoum has dropped 18 bombs on Southern Sudan, and Ggabo is trying to steal an election in Cote D'Ivoire. Where are the voices for forceful intervention? I'm not even saying that I would support such intervention (though I might), just curious as to why there is no debate?

UPDATE: I found one! G. Pascal Zachary, africanist-journo-professor asks:

Is it time to remove Gbagbo by force?

Rebecca?

27 comments:

Boredinpostconflict said...

Aside from Russia's little intervention in South Ossetia, recent interventions seem to always cause blowbacks. Also, who can afford it these days? Even in the realms of international security, 'cash transfers' as military support seem more appealing than direct intervention. So much for the R2P

Philip said...

Iraq.

Roving Bandit said...

True. And everyone always learns the wrong lessons. So - we going to have to wait for the next genocide before there is any reaction? Seriously how cheap would it be to shoot down a few aging Soviet planes in Sudan?

Boredinpostconflict said...

As expensive as starting a war.....

Rebecca said...

Intervention in Cote D'Ivoire would be next to impossible without dismissing the entire national army and police force, who mostly support Gbagbo and would take to the streets violently over such a move. There isn't an international force even remotely capable of this at the time. I think this is main reason for non-debate on the issue. Intervene internationally and you'd quickly find that the whole country turns against you, not just Gbagbo supporters.

Intervention by the French here has been less than successful in the past, and only resulted in the French population being effectively hunted down and forced to migrate.

Also, there is significantly more to the election story than is being reported in international media. Ouattara is no angel, and both parties likely committed mass amounts of fraud in this election; Ouattara just happened to be the IMF poster-boy who was more favorable to the west and so got immediate international support.

Roving Bandit said...

Thanks Rebecca! I really know very little about Cote d'Ivoire. My policy is generally root for the opposition candidate.

Rebecca said...

I have trouble with that analysis Bandit, for several reasons...

The UN is already rolling out, not beefing up. Even with their 10,000 strong force, they were unable to stop what was really very minor violence (only around 30 dead), were unable to properly monitor any northern regions during the vote (which wound up being the most contested areas), and even completely vacated the capital Yamoussoukro because of relatively small amounts of violence prior to the election. They make a move on Gbagbo, they will have the population rioting in the streets and attacking them full force. Then they will have full out civil war on their hands, as different supporters from the two camps brawl. Intervention creates nothing but more violence in this case. It is not the answer.

Secondly, as I said above, the French tried to intervene in the civil war here back in the early 2000s, and lost 9 of their troops in one attack that was like the French version of the black hawk down American intervention in Somalia. Basically, it went horribly, horribly wrong; only in this intervention, they lost a lot of their French civilians as well who had assets in the country.

Dozens of unarmed Ivorian civilians were killed by the troops, and the people here have not forgotten this fact. They strongly resent any foreign intervention. (There's a pretty good overview of why the Ivorians hate the French here: http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGAFR310052006) After the French bombed the Ivorian fleet, the people here took to the street to kill and destroy anything French. Almost all the French nationals had to be evacuated from their rooftops, as mobs pounded on their doors. The French have never really returned here in any great number since. I can't see them coming back for round two over a power struggle like this. No way the French government would back that again.

The settlement between north and south was already a failure. By this analysis the only purpose for the settlement was for elections to be held, only rushing democracy through. What happens when democracy is rushed? This is exactly what you get. No one at all was surprised to see this happen here, in fact, it was quite expected.

You can't compare Gbagbo to the former rulers in Ghana and Nigeria. If Gbagbo steps down from office, he will find himself in jail because his presidential immunity will no longer be valid. And Charles Taylor's banishment did not happen while he was still in control of the country, with full support by the army and police. It can hardly be called comparable.

Also, I find the suggestion that Ouattara in power would be any different than leaving the country "hostage to bandits and thugs wearing suits" laughable. Ouattara is himself a bandit and thug who amassed one of the world's largest fortunes by selling off his country to the French when he was PM. He is also widely suspected of masterminding the 2002 coup attempt that effectively split the country in two in the first place.

The opposition candidate in this case is no better than the one in office. This election was really about the least of two evils, and most people I talked to here would rather see altogether new leaders, who haven't been running the show for the past 20 years, as both these leaders have.

Rebecca said...

I have trouble with that analysis Bandit, for several reasons...

The UN is already rolling out, not beefing up. Even with their 10,000 strong force, they were unable to stop what was really very minor violence (only around 30 dead), were unable to properly monitor any northern regions during the vote (which wound up being the most contested areas), and even completely vacated the capital Yamoussoukro because of relatively small amounts of violence prior to the election. They make a move on Gbagbo, they will have the population rioting in the streets and attacking them full force. Then they will have full out civil war on their hands, as different supporters from the two camps brawl. Intervention creates nothing but more violence in this case. It is not the answer.

Secondly, as I said above, the French tried to intervene in the civil war here back in the early 2000s, and lost 9 of their troops in one attack that was like the French version of the black hawk down American intervention in Somalia. Basically, it went horribly, horribly wrong; only in this intervention, they lost a lot of their French civilians as well who had assets in the country.

Dozens of unarmed Ivorian civilians were killed by the troops, and the people here have not forgotten this fact. They strongly resent any foreign intervention. (There's a pretty good overview of why the Ivorians hate the French here: http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGAFR310052006) After the French bombed the Ivorian fleet, the people here took to the street to kill and destroy anything French. Almost all the French nationals had to be evacuated from their rooftops, as mobs pounded on their doors. The French have never really returned here in any great number since. I can't see them coming back for round two over a power struggle like this. No way the French government would back that again.

The settlement between north and south was already a failure. By this analysis the only purpose for the settlement was for elections to be held, only rushing democracy through. What happens when democracy is rushed? This is exactly what you get. No one at all was surprised to see this happen here, in fact, it was quite expected.

Rebecca said...
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Rebecca said...
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Rebecca said...
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Anonymous said...

I think Rebecca reaches the correct conclusion but for mostly the wrong reasons. The UN has no business forcefully toppling leaders even after they've stolen elections, as is certainly the case with Gbagbo.

While Rebecca may be convinced that "Ouattara is himself a bandit and thug" and that "the opposition candidate in this case is no better than the one in office", the Ivoirian electorate evidently feels differently. As irritating as it must be for Rebecca and the "people [she] talked to" who certainly know what's best for the country, those stubborn Ivoirians went ahead and had an election anyway in which they delivered a clear and decisive victory for Mr. Ouattara.

Rebecca said...

Actually nearly half of the Ivorian electorate feels no such thing, even if one goes by the CEI's election result (where Ouattara won with only 54%). Then he went and pissed off the Baoule and PDCI people who mostly only voted with him because of the alliance, which he sullied by ignoring the promise of installing a PDCI candidate as Prime Minister, instead appointing FN-backed Soro. The people are hardly lined up on Ouattara's side here. If one actually reads the all the election monitor's findings, they find that it can hardly be called "fair and free"; there is no clear and decisive victory for Ouattara. There is no clear and decisive victory for anyone, only intense allegations of fraud, irregularities and intimidation.

I'm currently living in the country, and those people that I talked to are the "stubborn Ivorians" you talk of, and there is by no means a consensus on Ouattara. Many hate him. Many love him. Same goes for Gbagbo, who currently has the love of the vast majority of the army and police factions. It is hardly the situation here at the moment that everyone is eagerly awaiting Gbagbo to leave.

I'm not suggesting that Gbagbo wasn't involved in mass amounts of election fraud; he certainly was. The point is though, is that so was Ouattara.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca, Bedie supports Soro (temporarily) being Prime Minister as in his own words "exceptional situations require exceptional measures":

http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=118216451578427&id=78444854810

Do you have any reason to believe that the person behind this Facebook page is not Bedie? I have tried to find evidence elsewhere for your claim online but couldn't.

Are you similarly well informed on the other points you are making?

I happen to have been told by people living in Ivory Coast that the vast majority of the army and police is indeed not behind Gbagbo. That may or may not be the case. Perhaps we shouldn't extrapolate too much from the few people we have the opportunity to talk to.

Anonymous said...

If we were to assume for a second that the electoral commission and the UN were correct in calling the election (and I cannot say whether they were, but I am more like to trust their judgement than that of Yao N'Dre), I don't see any reason to belittle a 54% win. It would after all amount to an 8 point lead over the incumbent.

Rebecca said...

Anonymous, a facebook page is not a valid source of information. What reason do I have for not believing the page, well, for one-- it's not even a verified facebook page. Certain celebrities and government officials have verified pages to prove they are the actual person writing the notes. This one doesn't. I can make a page right now calling myself Henri Bedie and print whatever I want. Doesn't make it true. My point above anyway didn't say one thing about whether Bedie supported it or not, it was that ADO has pissed off some of his supporters from that camp. And I've spoken to many Baoule/PDCI people who are absolutely furious at the move. This has also been printed repeatedly in several media sources.

You happen to have been told by people living in the country certain things, that's great-- I'm assuming by this statement you are getting information second hand outside the country. I'm living here, and in the many interviews I have done so far, I've found mixed messages on both candidates. I'm not extrapolating on that. I'm saying that it is hardly the entire country rallying behind Ouattara, as you'd have us believe. 54% is not a vast majority. It's a close majority. It means that nearly half the population 46%, doesn't want Ouattara in office. I don't see how that point belittles the 54% of Ouattara's. My point is that it's not as if ADO won by 80% or something and only a tiny minority wants Gbagbo. It's close.

You are clearly pro-Ouattara, and that is fine. I have no preference either way for any candidate-- I'd only like to see more balance in what is being written in the international media who has so far been very clearly pro-Ouattara. I'm sorry if you are soo offended by what I am writing.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca, actually I much appreciate your writing. In particular your article on fraud during the elections which I delighted in reading when it was still hot off the press.

I believe you've made a statement of fact that Ouattara "sullied [an election pledge] by ignoring the promise of installing a PDCI candidate as Prime Minister".

He probably has pissed off people not in the know. He may even be in the process of sullying an election pledge, but if what he has done is in agreement with Bedie and only until he has actual presidential power I don't see how. The support of Bedie's people is presumably with them if they both end up in a government in the pre-agreed form.

You're also confident that "Gbagbo [...] currently has the love of the vast majority of the army and police factions." Not just support but love, not just majority but a vast one. I wonder how you've measured that, especially when applying the same journalistic standards that you ask of the authenticity of (alledgedly) Bedie's long-running Facebook page which I cannot see being contested anywhere. I think you may have extrapolated here instead of asking two thirds of the forces for their opinion, or even the statistically-relevant subset.

The "only" in front of the 54% I found belittling. I think Obama would have been quite proud of that. I do agree though that considering the fraud that's gone on all over the country there's a larger margin of error which might make this result more or less tight or even reverse it.

I haven't "had [you] believe" that the entire country is rallying behind Ouattara. The Anonymous post that claims he had clearly and decisively won doesn't claim that and wasn't by me, only the two following it. You're in the country and that's great, but it's a big enough country for anyone not be everywhere and location matters lots in this one.

I am more passionately anti-Gbagbo than I am anti-Ouattara and in a stand-off between the two I suppose that does make me pro-Ouattara. But more than that I am in favour of the truth coming to light and Ivorians getting the President they voted for. I appreciate that you are trying to play a part in that.

To get back to the subject of the blog post, like you I believe that trying to remove Gbagbo by force would end in tears for all involved. As we're likely not going to see another election with 10 times as many observers, I am supportive of the international community's efforts because I believe Choi and Ki-Moon got it right as much as I believed Hans Blix did, back in the day. Not to suggest the UN is always right or naturally impartial. It clearly isn't.

I hope you are as fervently supporting more balanced local media as you are more balanced international media. I'd love you for it.

Anonymous said...

Weird... I got an error message when submitting my last comment and in the resulting page Rebecca's last comment was lost, I'm pasting it below:

Anonymous, a facebook page is not a valid source of information. What reason do I have for not believing the page, well, for one-- it's not even a verified facebook page. Certain celebrities and government officials have verified pages to prove they are the actual person writing the notes. This one doesn't. I can make a page right now calling myself Henri Bedie and print whatever I want. Doesn't make it true. My point above anyway didn't say one thing about whether Bedie supported it or not, it was that ADO has pissed off some of his supporters from that camp. And I've spoken to many Baoule/PDCI people who are absolutely furious at the move. This has also been printed repeatedly in several media sources.

You happen to have been told by people living in the country certain things, that's great-- I'm assuming by this statement you are getting information second hand outside the country. I'm living here, and in the many interviews I have done so far, I've found mixed messages on both candidates. I'm not extrapolating on that. I'm saying that it is hardly the entire country rallying behind Ouattara, as you'd have us believe. 54% is not a vast majority. It's a close majority. It means that nearly half the population 46%, doesn't want Ouattara in office. I don't see how that point belittles the 54% of Ouattara's. My point is that it's not as if ADO won by 80% or something and only a tiny minority wants Gbagbo. It's close.

You are clearly pro-Ouattara, and that is fine. I have no preference either way for any candidate-- I'd only like to see more balance in what is being written in the international media who has so far been very clearly pro-Ouattara. I'm sorry if you are soo offended by what I am writing.

Roving Bandit said...
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Roving Bandit said...

Apologies, there seem to be technical problems with the comments and this comment by REBECCA was somehow deleted:

Anonymous, a facebook page is not a valid source of information. What reason do I have for not believing the page, well, for one-- it's not even a verified facebook page. Certain celebrities and government officials have verified pages to prove they are the actual person writing the notes. This one doesn't. I can make a page right now calling myself Henri Bedie and print whatever I want. Doesn't make it true. My point above anyway didn't say one thing about whether Bedie supported it or not, it was that ADO has pissed off some of his supporters from that camp. And I've spoken to many Baoule/PDCI people who are absolutely furious at the move. This has also been printed repeatedly in several media sources.

You happen to have been told by people living in the country certain things, that's great-- I'm assuming by this statement you are getting information second hand outside the country. I'm living here, and in the many interviews I have done so far, I've found mixed messages on both candidates. I'm not extrapolating on that. I'm saying that it is hardly the entire country rallying behind Ouattara, as you'd have us believe. 54% is not a vast majority. It's a close majority. It means that nearly half the population 46%, doesn't want Ouattara in office. I don't see how that point belittles the 54% of Ouattara's. My point is that it's not as if ADO won by 80% or something and only a tiny minority wants Gbagbo. It's close.

You are clearly pro-Ouattara, and that is fine. I have no preference either way for any candidate-- I'd only like to see more balance in what is being written in the international media who has so far been very clearly pro-Ouattara. I'm sorry if you are soo offended by what I am writing.

Rebecca said...

I'm confused about who I'm talking to now... I thought Anon was the same person all the way through. Kind of confusing! :)

Ok. To address the last anon that was written from 1:56:

From the local media, we have heard different claims as to Bedie's feelings on the situation-- none of which I can confidently verify, but that local media (whether true or false) is stirring up some resentments here big time. Some local media that is decidedly pro-Gbagbo has been spouting that Bedie stormed out of the Golf hotel and is now back at home, though I've seen some international media, and heard other rumours that he is in fact supporting the deal. Who knows the truth. What I do know, is that of the people I have interviewed that are PDCI or Baoule, there are a lot of angry people. Whether Bedie is angry or not-- I have no idea. Whether the majority of PDCI people are angry-- again, I could only speculate. I simply know that the alliance there is shady at best to start with, seeing as the PDCI and RDR were for long years bitter rivals, and that any little cracks in the plan seem to have an effect on the street.

The "vast majority" is perhaps too strong; I'm not writing a research paper here, just ranting in a comment on a blog in a few spare minutes, so I apologize for that. It wasn't proper language to describe it. I couldn't be confident on that to any great degree, only through rumour and interviews; which, as you mention-- are limited in their representation. The army general, however, has given his full public support, and every police officer or army troop I've spoken with personally seems (at least publicly) to be decidedly Gbagbo. That doesn't represent the whole country, the whole city, or the whole force; but that being said, from what I gather from researching here-- the higher ups are largely pro-Gbagbo, and so tend to hire along these lines as much as possible.

Most average working folks seem to be more interested in peace than a particular "love" for either candidate and seem to see the flaws in both, with some exceptions. But even those I've spoken with who are decidedly leaning in one direction seem to see politicians as politicians-- not the people most worthy of trust. I have been seeing, however, rumours taking an angry, more sided tone in the last week, even among people who were previously political moderates.

I meant no disrespect by the "only" in the 54% comment. A win is a win, and if he did get 54% without fraud, then he deserves to be in power. Frankly though, I feel like the amount of fraud and irregularities in this election leave the people's voice somewhere in the background, which is sad. I'm upset that the CEI called the win, when there are clearly irregularities, I'm upset that the international media and diplomats ran with that, clearly without reading the actual reports, I'm upset that the Constitutional Council then chose Gbagbo without any investigation when it was in their jurisdiction, and I'm upset that I feel both sides have clearly defrauded the people out of peace.

I'm not getting involved in the local media at the moment. As someone who is a foreign national here, I feel it is not my place to do so and also have some safety concerns taking that route at the moment. We are not out of the woods here yet.

To the first Anon (December 12, 2010 6:43 AM ):
I just wanted to say as well, that I agree with you that the UN has no business toppling leaders, and have actually written previously about my problems with that type of situation. In the original post, it queried why the international isn't calling for intervention, not why shouldn't they. They shouldn't for many reasons; they won't however, because it doesn't benefit them in any real way to do so.

Rebecca said...

Dang! I had posted a full response to the Anon above last night, but it appears Blogger is having some technical glitches here. I'll try to post again now. My apologies to the Anons, I didn't realize there were two of you; I'm kind of confused as to who I'm talking to-- I thought you were the same person throughout when I crafted my original responses.

In response to Anon at December 13, 2010 1:56 AM :

Whether or not Bedie is actually angry at the move is irrelevant. The point is that some of the local media is manipulating the issue here and claiming that Bedie stormed out of the Golf hotel in anger, and other such (propaganda?) stories; and it is causing many people to react angrily. I've interviewed several Baoule or PDCI supporters who have claimed to have voted along alliance lines who are now furious at Ouattara for his selection of a non-PDCI prime minister-- whether or not it is temporary. The alliance was fragile at best to begin with, seeing as PDCI and RDR were long time rivals; and the stories that are being relayed (whether true or not) are stirring up cracks in that alliance. This doesn't speak to the entire PDCI community, or the Baoule people in general-- it is merely an observation based on my own interviews and reading local media on the subject.

The average working person here with few exceptions that I have interviewed has no particular "love" for either candidate, but rather sees them as politicians-- not the people most deserving of trust. Many have expressed to me the desire to see both of these candidates out of the picture. That being said, in the last week or so I have noticed that comments have become much more angrily one-sided, even from those who were previously politically moderate in my presence. It's a slightly worrying trend to me, however-- the streets at the moment have appeared to return to normal.

Rebecca said...

As to the "vast majority", this language was perhaps too strong. I am not writing a research paper here, but rather fitting in a few moments to rant about what I'm seeing in between work and sleep, so it's more just verbal diarrhea based on my own observations without thorough scruitiny into the words being printed. I apologize. I cannot and do not speak for the country, the city or for anyone but myself, and my observations are just that-- observations of a single person conducting research. A more accurate description would be that, every police officer or army troop I have interviewed have expressed to me strong pro-Gbagbo leanings. This doesn't speak to the entire army or police. That being said, the head of the army has spoken publicly in strong support of Gbagbo, and from my research I've found that many of the higher ups in both army and police are strongly and publicly pro-Gbagbo and so tend to hire along those lines as much as possible. That does not mean that the entire police and army is pro-Gbagbo, but it makes me suspect that they are largely in his corner.

As to whether I am "similarly well informed" on the content of my previous comments-- they are based upon personal observations from my time living here in the early 2000s during the civil war and my time here since, including numerous interviews, research and the readings of several local daily newspapers.

The "only" in the 54% comment was not meant with any disrespect. If Ouattara did legitimately win 54% of the vote without fraud than he deserves to be there and should be proud to have received the majority. My personal feelings on the mater are that there was fraud on both sides and that the Ivorian people are the ones to suffer for it. It makes me sad that the CEI decided to independently announce Ouattara; it makes me sad that the international community than jumped on that, clearly without reading the observation reports; it makes me sad that the Constitutional Council then announced Gbagbo without investigation when it was under their jurisdiction; and it also makes me sad that the international community is now claiming to profess what the Ivorian people want. The true voice of the Ivorian people was lost here and is being ignored. Considering that the reports of all the local civil society monitors (nearly 2,000 monitors compared to only a couple hundred international monitors) were brushed aside completely in all international news, I'd say the international community could care less about what the Ivorian people really want.


Yes, I'd like to see more balance locally, but I feel it's not my place to push for that as a foreign national here. I also have some safety concerns in doing so at the moment, as we are not out of the woods yet.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rebecca, I'm at peace.

Apologies for the "similarly well informed", it was a cheap shot.

I did mean supporting more balanced local media in spirit only as everything else would seem suicidal.

I was just going to praise how they've all kept it largely violence free (well, perhaps I shouldn't ignore the odd death squad event), but just now I read that the troops have surrounded the Hotel. Scary.

I wish you and everyone else there all the best.

Rebecca said...

The second part of my comment got cut off again, so I will repost. If it shows up Bandit, I apologize and please feel free to remove this copy.

As to the "vast majority", this language was perhaps too strong. I am not writing a research paper here, but rather fitting in a few moments to rant about what I'm seeing in between work and sleep, so it's more just verbal diarrhea based on my own observations without thorough scruitiny into the words being printed. I apologize. I cannot and do not speak for the country, the city or for anyone but myself, and my observations are just that-- observations of a single person conducting research. A more accurate description would be that, every police officer or army troop I have interviewed have expressed to me strong pro-Gbagbo leanings. This doesn't speak to the entire army or police. That being said, the head of the army has spoken publicly in strong support of Gbagbo, and from my research I've found that many of the higher ups in both army and police are strongly and publicly pro-Gbagbo and so tend to hire along those lines as much as possible. That does not mean that the entire police and army is pro-Gbagbo, but it makes me suspect that they are largely in his corner.

As to whether I am "similarly well informed" on the content of my previous comments-- they are based upon personal observations from my time living here in the early 2000s during the civil war and my time here since, including numerous interviews, research and the readings of several local daily newspapers.

The "only" in the 54% comment was not meant with any disrespect. If Ouattara did legitimately win 54% of the vote without fraud than he deserves to be there and should be proud to have received the majority. My personal feelings on the mater are that there was fraud on both sides and that the Ivorian people are the ones to suffer for it. It makes me sad that the CEI decided to independently announce Ouattara; it makes me sad that the international community than jumped on that, clearly without reading the observation reports; it makes me sad that the Constitutional Council then announced Gbagbo without investigation when it was under their jurisdiction; and it also makes me sad that the international community is now claiming to profess what the Ivorian people want. The true voice of the Ivorian people was lost here and is being ignored. Considering that the reports of all the local civil society monitors (nearly 2,000 monitors compared to only a couple hundred international monitors) were brushed aside completely in all international news, I'd say the international community could care less about what the Ivorian people really want.


Yes, I'd like to see more balance locally, but I feel it's not my place to push for that as a foreign national here. I also have some safety concerns in doing so at the moment, as we are not out of the woods yet.

Rebecca said...

Yes. I've heard rumours this morning that there were shots fired at the Golf Hotel where the opposition is camped behind UN protection. What I've heard so far is that the army moved to put checkpoints around the hotel and that there was some confusion that resulted in an incident. No verification as of yet. I have also received a text from the Canadian embassy telling me to stay away from the Golf Hotel area completely, and friends I know living nearby have told me that the school in the area was shut and the whole street is bordered off because of the violence. No idea what's really happened yet, but I will post if I hear anything new on my site.

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