The Crisis in CAR: Navigating Myths and Interests

Ilmari Käihkö, Mats Utas


"Anarchy", "religious war", "genocide" and, recently, "cannibalism" – these are some of the most commonly used words in Western news media when referring to the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR), at least since the takeover of power by the rebel coalition Séléka in March 2013. In the context of these media stereotypes, this article unravels some of the complexities that have arisen in the CAR conflict since the fall of the Bozizé regime and the Séléka takeover. We show how international actors have been pivotal in shaping the current crisis in the country. In order to help steer CAR out of its predicament, we show how important it is that international peacekeeping operations, policymakers and diplomats understand not only the situation on the ground but also the close ties major groups in CAR have with various regional and other international actors. If context awareness remains scant, there is a serious risk that their activities will at best be suboptimal and at worst aid in fuelling the crisis.

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