The situation in the Central African Republic remains tensed since December last year when three rebel militias announced a unification and launched an offensive against the government-controlled capital of the CAR, Bangui, ahead of the presidential elections. In March 2021, two Russians in the CAR were injured as a result of an attack by militants on a military convoy.
Such an escalation, according to the head of the Fund for Protection of National Values Maksim Shugaley, goes not alone but with unprecedented information attack. In particular, he believes that recently a new round of this mud-slinging was unfolded against the Russian presence in the Central African Republic – and this time other countries might stand behind.
“In April and May, the largest French media Liberation and RFI published materials containing false accusations against Russian instructors from the Commonwealth of Officers for International Security who work in Africa. These articles consist of a listing of some crimes allegedly committed by Russians in the Central African Republic and anonymous statements of unknown people,” Shugaley said.
He noted that even the government of the Central African Republic expresses outrage over the groundless accusations against Russian instructors, who contributed a lot into training of the national army what helped in defeating criminal groups in a matter of months.
In his opinion, the actions of the French media are carefully planned. The participation of the international radio RFI in this informational campaign, which actually broadcasts the position of the Élysée Palace, leaves no doubt that this is happening with the knowledge and upon instructions of the Macron government.
The French authorities have actually started a diplomatic war. The purpose might lie in the intention to force the Bangui government to abandon cooperation with Moscow. The authoritative newspaper Africa Intelligence published an article about blackmailing plans of Paris to freeze its financial aid to the CAR if the leadership of this African country does not stop its contacts with Russia and begin to suppress anti-French sentiments in the society.
Central African Republic as a Disguise
Maksim Shugaley and other sociologists are sure that by blaming Russians for their policy in the CAR France is trying to divert the attention of the international community from what is happening in Chad.
The Chadian president Idriss Déby was recently fatally wounded by the oppositional Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT). And the leader of this organization Muhammad Ali Mahdi happens to live in France.
“I have already raised the question who benefits from this. Khalifa Haftar, who first fought against FACT and then entered into a non-aggression pact with them, did not have personal conflicts with Idriss Déby, because it was Déby himself who overthrew the “African Pinochet” Hissène Habré. Let me remind that Habré held Marshal Haftar in prison in N’Djamena in the mid-80s. Haftar had no reason to help Déby’s killers at all,” explains Shugaley.
But when the Libyan field marshal needs peace and stability, Paris is interested in increasing tensions as a tool to maintain control over the region. Shugaley mentioned that the French special forces are deployed in Libya close to the FACT positions and liaise closely with the faction.
“While being held captive in the Mitiga prison in Tripoli, I met prisoners from FACT. They did not hide the fact that they receive funding from Paris, and that French specialists are involved in their training. They did not consider it as something shameful and needed to be hidden,” the sociologist said.
After Déby’s death, the French media tried to hush up this collaboration, but to no avail.
France has demonstrated more than once similar approaches to get influence on events in its regions of interest. To do so, Paris tries to keep various forces under control in order to choose one side or the other at the right moment. This strategy is perfectly illustrated by the fate of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
“In 2006, Nicolas Sarkozy received 50 million euros from the people of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. A good friend of mine — Seif al-Islam Gaddafi — confirms this deal. Sarkozy needed a reliable and loyal partner, which Gaddafi had always been,” Shugaley noted.
During the first years of Sarkozy’s presidency, the French leader was fulfilling the promises made to Gaddafi. But in 2011, NATO’s intervention to Libya began, and France was in the forefront in this matter.
It was a French rocket that hit Gaddafi’s motorcade and the Libyan leader ended up in the hands of rebels who brutally dealt with him. Shugaley is confident that even though Sarkozy himself is currently serving a sentence for corruption crimes, the new French leadership uses the same tactics which Déby fell victim of.
Central African Republic resists
The danger of repeating Gaddafi’s fate also hung over the President of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadéra. But the national army of the Republic is trained by highly qualified Russian instructors and was able to deal with the bandits.
But right after the repulse of the physical attack at Touadéra information campaign aimed of squeezing Russia out of the Central African Republic was begun by French media. Maksim Shugaley noted that the CAR is a sovereign state and Paris should stop its neocolonial policy towards this country.
“The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed its readiness to cooperate with all states concerning the Central African Republic in order to solve common problems such as ensuring security and development. After all, the Russian presence in Central Africa is legal, meets the requirements of international law and has the approval of the local population,” emphasizes Shugaley.
He also underlined that such a short-sighted position of Paris regarding the Central African Republic had turned people of the country against the French presence. At the same time, Shugaley is confident that Western states still have a chance to change their attitude towards the CAR to a more friendly one. Such a shift in policy is quite possible – the most important thing is to have a real political will for that.