Thursday, 6 January 2011

The prospect for military intervention in Cote d’Ivoire?

It would appear that the consensus currently is not for a unity government but the likelihood of military intervention. This is very dangerous as it could ignite a civil war and ECOWAS could be dragged into a long protracted conflict that may not have an immediate end in sight.

There could also develop deep-seated bitterness between northern and southern Ivorians that could last for generations. The entire West African region risks the impairment of its own development and economic prosperity, with the likelihood of war spreading beyond Ivorian borders, not to mention the spill over of refugees into neighbouring countries, many of who’s infrastructure can barely hope to address immediate needs of their own citizen. Let us also not forget the likely additional influx of foreigners seeking humanitarian assistance.

ECOWAS may not be able to afford a long term ground offensive or even the troop numbers that will be needed. ECOWAS’s future will be in the balance and its credibility damaged if it makes threats of military intervention and fails to follow through. I feel that the military option is not a realistic prospect and all the stakeholders will have to find a way to talk their way out of this crisis.

Previous Nigerian interventions in Liberia and Sierra Leone were not unqualified successes……there could be a a likely repeat of this in Cote d’Ivoire

In Liberia and Sierra Leone the military force was sent in to stabilize and bring a semblance of normality in a chaotic region. The wars went on for too long, thousands of people died, millions were displaced, and the overall damage to property was beyond comprehension. The hoped for economic resurrection and property was not realised. There is now relative peace in Sierra Leone and Liberia. But poverty, lack of jobs and illiteracy are still a major problem threatening the fragile recovery. This could happen all over again in Cote d’Ivoire.