March 26, 2013

Ukraine and Africa. Ukrainian Peacekeepers in Africa. Part 2

 Ukraine and Africa. Ukrainian Peacekeepers in Africa. Part 2: Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Mali

"...In general, the activities of these missions [Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan] helped to avoid a major military confrontation in East Africa that could have significantly affected the entire African region, safety of navigation in the Red Sea, as well as the global energy market."

Thus ended the first part of the material: "Ukrainian Peacekeepers in Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan"


Part 2.

Côte d'Ivoire

Map of Cote d’Ivoire. The territory belonging to RFCI to March 2011 is shown in orange
Map of Cote d’Ivoire. The territory belonging to RFCI to March 2011 is shown in orange ttp://

Foreign intervention in Côte d'Ivoire was caused by the civil war there, which sparkled in the early 2000's. So, in order to stabilize the situation on the Ivorian territory in 2003 there were deployed peacekeeping forces and UN – MINUCI Mission, which already in the next, 2004, were transformed into the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire - UNOCI. Also in Cote d’Ivoire (as a former French colony) were deployed military forces of France (Operational Battalion Group “Licorne”), which was responsible for the security of French citizens.

Thanks to these measures, in 2004 the situation in the country somewhat improved. The signed so-called Uadug Peace Agreements also helped it. But Cote d’Ivoire was actually divided into the Southern part controlled by the Government led by President L.Gbagbo, and the Northern one controlled by the “New Forces” rebel movement.

eft to right: Laurent Gbagbo. Alassane Ouattara
Left to right: Laurent Gbagbo. Alassane Ouattara

In 2010, the situation in Côte d'Ivoire got sharpened again due to the crisis events around the Presidential election. Thus, according to the results of the second round of voting in November 2010, the Independent Electoral Commission of Côte d'Ivoire recognized the opposition leader former Prime Minister of the country A.Ouattara, who received 54.1 % of votes, as the winner of the elections. For his main opponent - the current President of Côte d'Ivoire L.Gbagbo- 45.9 % of voters gave their voices. The decision of the Commission was recognized by the UN General Secretary, the African Union and by the countries of the Economic Cooperation of West African States (ECOWAS).

At the same time, the Constitutional Council of the country (controlled by L.Gbagbo) cancelled the decision of the NEC, because of falsification of the election results which took place in Northern areas of the country. The current President of Côte d'Ivoire was supported by the Government and authorities of power structures of the country. A Government’s Resolution introduced curfew time, closed the country’s borders and prohibited the broadcast of any opposition Media. Subunits of power structures of Côte d'Ivoire also blocked moving about on the territory of Côte d'Ivoire of personnel and transport of the UN Mission and the French Operative Group “Licorne”.

In this situation, both, L.Gbagba and A. Ouattara conducted procedures of their Presidential inauguration, formed their governments of Côte d'Ivoire subordinate to them. All this was accompanied by mass protests and clashes between supporters of the two candidates for the presidency, which actually was a prerequisite of the Civil War.


The political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, which broke out after the second round of Presidential elections on 28 November, 2010 and expressed itself in street clashes between supporters of the current  President Laurent Gbagbo from the  Ivorian People’s Front Party and his opponents from the Unit of the Republicans, whose candidate was Alassane Ouattara.

The crisis in Côte d'Ivoire is a consequence of ethnic strife between the Bete - ethnic minority in the country, and a group of Dyula, a part of the Mande ethnic group, which is the second largest ethnic cluster in the country. Most representatives of the Bete are Christians, and Dyula are  Muslims. However, the reason for the conflict is not so much religious as a tribal factor, caused by economic inequality. The Southern part of the country, inhabited by the Bete and  Baule peoples, is the world center of growing cocoa beans, and the Dyula, living in Northern parts of the country, during the colonial and post-colonial periods had been distanced from power and had no access to financial flows from the export of cocoa beans.

In 2000, the President of Côte d'Ivoire became Laurent Gbagbo who comes from the South. On the 19th of September, 2002 due to the uprising of soldiers discharged from the army on suspicion of disloyalty to the authorities, the country's civil war began.The Dyula joint the rebels of the North, first of MPCI (Patriotic Movement of Côte d'Ivoire) Party, and then of Forces Nouvelles (New Force). The rebels united several tribes, and by 2007, took under their control about 60% of the country’s territory, and retained it until 2011.
On the 30th of March, 2011 without a fight Ouattara forces took under their control the capital of the country, Yamoussoukro. Even before that Oattara's forces had entered the country's economic capital Abidjan.

April 1, 2011 by order of  Nicolas Sarkozy, French military servicemen  landed on the Southern outskirts of Abidjan, to protect French citizens. The French corps was named ”Licorne” Mission and consists of  1,650 soldiers and officers.

L. Gbagba kept under control most of the Government agencies, the Media and power structures, including Armed Forces, the Republican Guard and Security Forces (units of the National Gendarmerie, Police, Customs, etc.). Government’s troops had been reinforced with various paramilitary forces and youth movements, supporting L.Gbagby. An assential military support the current regime of Côte d'Ivoire was given by the Government of Zimbabwe, who secretly supplied arms to the Government’s power structures.

And on the side of A. Ouattara were “Forces of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire”, which included armed groups of so-called “New Forces” in the Northern parts of the country, military servicemen of power structures who moved to the side of the opposition, as well as foreign mercenaries from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. A. Ouattara received a wide support of the international community, including the UN General Assembly and leading Western countries, which strengthened his position in opposing L.Gbagby’s regime.

Soldiers of the government troops

Soldiers of the government troops

That is how Côte d'Ivoiren split into Northern and Southern parts, and preconditions for a new civil war were created.

Western countries and international organizations had increased their pressure on the regime of L.Gbagbo, forcing him to give up power. For example, the UN, USA and EU countries broke diplomatic relations with the government of L. Gbagbo and established them with A.Ouattara. And to deprive L. Gbagbo of funding sources, in January 2011, Western countries imposed an embargo on the export of Cote d'Ivoire's coffee and cocoa beans (the country ranks first in the world in producing and supplying foreign markets with them). The Central Bank of West African States blocked his access to assets of Cote d'Ivoire in any bank, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions against L.Gbagbo and his family by freezing their accounts in U.S. banks.

At the same time, the African Union created the Council of International Mediators which included the Presidents of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, South Africa and Tanzania, to promote a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire. Localizing the armed confrontation in the country, the UN Security Council decided to reinforce UNOCI with the UN forces in Liberia. In this regard, in January 2011, there were formed and transferred into submission of UNOCI Forces of Support made of three infantry companies from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Jordan, as well as a helicopter unit from Ukraine (60 servicemen, two multipurpose helicopters Mi-8MTV and three combat Mi-24P from the 56th Separate Helicopter Detachment of Ukraine's Armed Forces in Liberia).

Ukrainian peacekeepers redeploy from Liberia to Côte d'Ivoir

UN peacekeepers in  Côte d'Ivoire

UN peacekeepers in  Côte d'Ivoire

Despite the external pressure, L.Gbagbo refused to give up authority and activated his efforts to neutralize A. Ouattara and his supporters: he tightened Police regime in the capital of the country Yamusukro, and the largest cities of Cote d'Ivoire; brought additional units of government troops to central and northern parts of the country, dramatically suppressed protests of opposition. Besides, he increased pressure on the UNOCI peacekeeping force and the “Licorn” Operative Group of the Armed Forces of France, having accused them of supporting A. Ouattara and “implementation of foreign intervention in Cote d'Ivoire”. To financially ensure his activity, L.Gbagbo’s government nationalized banks and trade and economic enterprises of the country. A. Ouattara and his government were blocked by L.Gbagbo in a hotel in Abidzhan in the north fo the country together with the security of UN peacekeepers.

The period of relatively passive confrontation of the parties continued till the end of March 2011. And then the situation in Cote d'Ivoire became very dynamic. With the support of South-East Africa, especially Burkina Faso, the controlled by A.Ouattara units “Forces of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire” began an active attack on the central regions of the country. Armed groups of rebels managed to establish control over most cities in Côte d'Ivoire, including the country's capital and the main port city of San Pedro.

Major problems arose when opposition tried to capture Abidzhan where the main forces of L.Gbagbo supporters were concentrated. Fighting actions between the parties of the conflict dragged on, increasing the number of civilian casualties and increasing threat to peacekeeping personnel. In early April of 2011, L.Gbagbo forces stormed the Headquarters of the UN Mission in Abidzhan, trying to stop its activities in the country.

To speed up the process of overthrowing the regime of the former President of Côte d'Ivoire, UN Security Council adopted Resolution № 1975/2011, which suggested tougher sanctions against L.Gbagbo and his surroundings, as well as gave peacekeepers a permission to use of weapons to protect civilians. The Commandment of Peacekeeping Forces and “Licorne” Operative Group of the French Armed Forces decided to carry out a joint operation to destroy firing positions, heavy machinery and storage of weapons of supporters of the former regime of the country.

The Ukrainian Helicopter Unit was involved in the evacuation of the staff of the Headquarters of the UN Peacekeeping Mission from Abidjan. Ukrainian Mi-24P and French “Gazelle” performed tasks in aerial support to the armed forces of A. Ouattara and peacekeeping units, which allowed them to advance to the central districts of Abidjan. Fighting in the city had lasted till April 11, 2011 and ended in the defeat of the forces of L.Gbagbo and his being taken to prison by the rebels.

Since May 2011, the process of restoration of Cote d'Ivoire has been going on, including development of its public authorities and creating new power structures. Although the situation in the country remains difficult due to a number of significant problems: arguments among the new leadership for power continue; the process of formation of the Army and Police is too slow, ethnic and inter-concession contradictions get sharper, manifestations of supporters of the former regime of L.Gbagbo do not stop, criminal activity gets activated at the territory of the country. All this threatens with the appearance of a new armed confrontation in Cote d'Ivoire, which can be prevented by maintaining the country's peacekeeping forces.



Map of Liberia

Map of Liberia

In recent years, the activities of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is one of the positive examples of activity of international community in preventing internal confrontation in the country against the background of conflict electoral processes. In particular, in Liberia, where passions had been boiling around the Parliamentary and Presidential elections in October and November 2011.

Then, by the results of two rounds of voting, the majority of votes was received by the candidate from the ruling party “Unity”, the current President of Liberia E. Johnson-Sirleaf. But the opposition forces got a definite advantage in the Liberian Parliament and, supported by the Parliamentary majority, refused to recognize the results of the Presidential elections and launched mass protests in the capital of Liberia, the city of Monrovia and other Liberian cities.

Despite this, the current President of Liberia managed to keep control of the Security Forces (including Army and Police), and involved them in counteracting the opposition. The National Security Council of Liberia asked the management of the UN Mission for assistance, which began to take active measures against uncontrolled events in the country. UNMIL Forces were transferred to a high degree of readiness and started patrolling the capital, put additional checkpoints on the roads.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the President of Liberia

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the President
of Liberia

These measures actually did not allow the opposition to hold massive anti-Presidential manifestations and it was forced to turn its actions into the legal realm. For example, opposition leaders appealed to the Court of Liberia, disputing the legitimacy of the election results. However, the opposition agreed to talks with the Government, during which the agreement was achieved on creation a special group for developing compromise decisions on the formation of the Government of the country and to remove contradictions between the Government and the opposition.

In this situation, the country's leaders could begin to implement programs for the restoration and development of the country, the main ones being: “Dynamic Liberia – 2030” (social and economic) and “National Vision of Liberia – 2030” (includes achieving national reconciliation in the country). At the same time the Liberian Government activated measures for final overcoming consequences of the civil war in the country in the period of 1999-2003. At this, the economic assistance from other countries and international financial institutions, including U.S., China, Canada, Russia, India, Australia, Nigeria and the World Bank, was very appropriate for Liberia.

Украинские милиционеры, которые сейчас служат в Либерии

Ukrainian police officers who are serving in Liberia now

However, the negative impact on the situation in Liberia had tensions among different religious ethno-concession groups, the high level of corruption of the Liberian authorities (including the appointment of relatives of the President E.Johnson- Sirleaf to key Government positions), and the power structures being unable to effectively control state borders.

Thus, in the second half of 2012, illegal armed groups and criminal groups in the Liberian-Ivorian border got activated. This made the Government of Liberia close the border with Cote d'Ivoire, as well as temporarily minimize the development of mineral deposits in its Eastern regions. Additional units of the Armed Forces of Liberia, the UN UNMIL Mission's Forces were sent to the border areas. By the way, the task of patrolling these areas was fulfilled by Helicopters of the 56th Separate Helicopter Detachment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Basically, these measures, as well as cooperation in solving border problems between the Governments of Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire, had stabilized the situation on their common border.



Map of Mali

Map of Mali

In February of this year EU leadership asked Ukraine to send a Ukrainian Helicopter Unit to the European Union Training Mission in Mali. This Mission will assist in the preparation of Malian Armed Forces to performing tasks for security of the country. This Mission can be considered part of the actions of the world community, especially of France and the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which helps the Government of Mali to restore Constitutional order.

The need for international intervention had arisen in connection with the threat of split of Mali and appearing of uncontrolled centers of international terrorism at its territory in late 2011 - early 2012. Armed groups of Tuareg tribes who participated in the conflict in Libya at M. Qaddafi’s side, had returned to the Northern regions of Mali.

Clashes began between nationalist (“People's Movement for the Liberation Azawad”) and Islamist (“Ansar ad-Din”) movements of Tuaregs of Mali and the armed forces who were trying to keep Government control over the Northern areas of the country. However, the weak activity of the Government on solving this issue, had caused discontent of Malian military circles, and as a result, on the 22nd of March, 2012 a military coup took place in the country.

Mali operational battle map

Mali operational battle map

The military junta had helped the so-called “National Front of Renewal of Democracy and Restoration of the State”, led by Captain A.Sanogo to come to power, who demanded that Tuareg should leave the territory of Mali, threatening to unleash a “total war” for liberation of the country. But on the 6th of April 2012, the Tuareg leaders announced the creation of an independent state of Azawad with its capital in Timbuktu.

In a way the uncontrolled development of events in Mali was stopped under the pressure from the international community. In particular, Malian military junta agreed to formally transfer power to the civilian leadership of the country, headed by the temporary President Dioncounda Traore (was Speaker of Parliament). However, the Government of Mali, with the assistance of ECOWAS member-countries, managed to persuade tribal leaders of Tuareg tribes to give up the official declaration of independence of Azawad and implementation of Sharia norms in cotrolled by them areas.

This decision led to a split between the Tuareg and leaders of the terrorist organization “Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb”, which began to take active control of the northern regions of Mali.

On the 12th of October, 2012, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution № 2017 on the need to restore the territorial integrity of the state and Malian security at its territory (especially in terms of elimination of cells of "Al-Qaeda"). According to the Resolution, the African Union and ECOWAS developed a concept of an operation for resolving the situation in Northern Mali, which was approved by the UN Security Council Resolution № 2085 of December 20, 2012 (it authorized the deployment of the International Mission in Mali AFISMA).

The document suggested the following:

  • to send to Mali a military contingent of African countries numbering up to 3.3 thousand people to help Malian power structures to restore the territorial integrity of the country and eliminate terrorist cells;
  • the USA and EU countries (mainly France) should give logistic support to International Forces in Mali ;
  • to increase the level of combat training of subunits of Malian Armed Forces, with the assistance of the European Union.

However, these measures of the international community failed to quickly resolve the situation in Mali. Earlier this year, the situation in the country got sharpened, owing to the start of large-scale offensive actions of radical groups in the South towards the capital city of Bamako.

В Мали действуют несколько сотен французских военнослужащих.

There are hundreds of  French soldiers in MaliFoto

In this situation, the leadership of France immediately decided to carry out a military operation "Serval" (started January11 this year) and to help the forces of Mali eliminate illegal armed groups and regain control over the Northern parts of the country. The decision was both, political and economic and concerned intentions of France to confirm its leading role in struggle against terrorism and in ensuring stability of the regions of North and North-East Africa (former French colonies), and also to preserve its access to natural resources (in the first turn to deposits of uranium, that are important for the French energy system).

Unlike other conflicts in Africa and in the Middle East, foreign military intervention into the situation in Mali was conducted in full compliance with international Law and did not cause any objections from Western, African countries, or Russia. Thus, the legal ground for the operation "Serval" became a formal appeal of the current President of Mali D.Traore to France and the UN to provide international assistance in the struggle against terrorists. Actions of France were supported by the UN Security Council, NATO, EU, U.S., Russia and a number of other countries, particularly in logistic ensuring the operation.

Force actions of France (both air and ground components) stopped the advance of extremist militias and began the process of liberation of Northern regions of Mali.

The French operation has accelerated the deployment by ECOWAS member states in Mali of the International Mission AFISMA (first subunits of countries-members of the organization began arriving in mid-January of this year and will have completed it by September this year), as well as launching the EU Training Mission in Mali (the decision was adopted by the EU Council of Foreign Relations on January 17 this year).

Just having put on tagelmust, the boy becomes a real Tuareg

Need to say, that the events in northern Mali showed high level of readiness of fighters for combat and their ability to actively oppose Malian Government forces and units of the Armed Forces of France. It even led to delaying military operations. Therefore, the possibility to increase the number of French troops in Mali to about 2.5 thousand people is being considered. But a significant problem in the deployment of EU Training Mission at the territory of Mali is lack of appropriate helicopters.

Worsening of the situation in Northern Mali has intensified terrorist activities in neighboring countries, such as Algeria.

On the 16th of January this year, because the Algerian authorities provided airspace for aircraft of the Air Force of France, militants took hostage about 800 workers of the "Sonatrach" and "British" oil companies in one of the Algerian oil fields near the border with Mali. As a result of the unsuccessful special operation for freeing the hostage, carried out by power structures of Algeria, 80 people died.

To be continued
Photo in the title of material