UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon now says that “the de facto partition of the Central African Republic is a distinct risk.”Rights groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group have already been shouting themselves hoarse about the violence and dangers of a possible genocide since Muslim militants deposed Francois Bozizé in a coup last year. Since then, Muslims mobs and Christian militias have been locked in a destructive cycle of retaliatory killings, threatening both communities. In a report published on Wednesday, Amnesty International warned that entire Muslim communities have been forced to flee since January. FT:
“Hundreds of Muslim civilians who have not managed to escape have been killed by the loosely organised militias known as anti-balaka [literally, anti-machete],” it said.The non-governmental group added that some of those attacks were carried out “in revenge for the previous killing of Christian civilians by Seleka [Muslim] forces and armed Muslims”.
This isn’t just a story about the persecution of Christian or Muslim minorities. The violent partition of states that are already weak and unstable into ethnic or religiously separate enclaves is one of the most difficult problems facing the world today, and it isn’t a problem confined to places like the CAR. Across Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, identity wars are on the rise. The newly partitioned South Sudan is itself in danger of further fragmentation and violence, as are Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the Middle East, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, and Lebanon are battlefields in the larger Sunni-Shia struggle. In Europe, this sort of thing generally went on until a set of wars and conflicts culminated in either the physical extermination or the forced expulsion of enough people to create new homogenous nation states.It’s encouraging that President Obama mentioned the Central African Republic in his speech at the National Prayer breakfast, but the violence in that country nevertheless remains the most underreported crisis of the year. America and the media need to come to terms with the world’s expanding and increasingly deadly identity wars.