It seems as if every month we learn of new atrocities being committed against Christians in the Central African Republic. In early September it was reported that at least 42 were killed during attacks by Islamist Militants.
This is just the latest in a series of incidents that have occurred during the peace process that began back in 2014. At that time a French-led intervention force drove the SELEKA government out of power and installed a transitional government to rule until a new series of elections could be organized and hopefully create a sustaining functioning central government in Bangui.
However outside elements continue to have a negative impact on the situation in the country. Both Muslims and Christian communities within the country have often accused peacekeepers from African states of showing favoritism towards members of their particular faith. Several instances have resulted in fatal attacks on UN/AU peacekeepers by those who have been slighted by these actions. Sadly it appears that the longer that the perceived slights occur in these communities the more likely these attacks will continue.
With this in mind another actor has decided to make its presence felt. That actor is Russia. Earlier this year with the blessing of the United Nations Security Council several Russian firms entered the country with the announced goal of training two battalions of the Army in an effort to show that progress was being made in the country regarding stability and governance. Even the actions and motives of Russia have become cloudy in this murky conflict.
The activities of one of the firms, Wagner Group, were investigated by Russian journalists who had ties to the opposition. Sadly, in late July these three men were ambushed under mysterious circumstances. This incident caught several analysts by surprise. There were several interesting factors at play behind the scenes, but one thing appears to be certain. Whatever is going on, the Russians do not want anyone to know about it unless they reveal the information themselves.
First of all, Wagner Group has been a long-standing client of indicted war criminal Omar Bashir, President of Sudan. Guess who has been providing assistance to the Russian efforts in Central African Republic? That is correct, Sudan has. Never mind that one key component of the SELEKA militants and the Islamists has been the Janjaweed from Darfur. Does that disturb Washington at all as it progresses towards normalization of relations with Khartoum?
In recent days it has been revealed that Russian private military companies have launched offensive operations in the country. What their goals are have not yet been revealed to the general public. It does not bode well for the Christians who have been suffering since 2012.