Welcome to 2014! While you were away at the beach/alpine cabin/in-laws’ house there were a few important events unfolding in some of the conflicts in Africa. Here is a brief recap of what happened while the world was on holiday:
Fresh in the wake of an M23 formal agreement with the DRC government, the commander of FARDC’s 42nd Commando Battalion, Col Mamadou Ndala, was reportedly killed in an ambush by ADF-Nalu rebels. Although unconfirmed, if this proves true it will be a massive loss to FARDC. The Eastern DRC’s elite FARDC forces benefited greatly under Ndala’s leadership, as the 42nd Battalion was the spearhead of FARDC’s successful offensive against M23, by all accounts performing well and playing a critical role in last year’s victory over the rebel group.
Rooivalk attack helicopters were involved in a Christmas Day sortie against ADF-Nalu rebels. According to Dean Wingrin, a South African military aviation expert, the Rooivalks from 16 Squadron, South African Air Force, responded to a request for assistance and conducted an armed reconnaissance, whereupon they successfully engaged and destroyed an ADF position. The Rooivalks and their crew have thus far provided a significant boost to FIB capabilities in the region, washing away a lot of the crticism poured upon the entire Rooivalk programme and SAAF capabilities.
Central African Republic
Bangui and its surroundings have sunk to a new level of complete disintegration just weeks after ADR interviewed South African journalist Kristen van Schie on her visit to the country. With children being beheaded by rampant former rebels and an ongoing deterioration of security in both Bangui and surrounding areas, the CAR has become one of 2014’s major crisis-spotlights in Africa. Although French and other international UN peacekeepers have been deployed to the region, the mandate under which they have been sent has created a limitation in terms of how much security they can provide in Bangui. Since Seleka rebels took a hold of Bangui and the presidency in March 2013, reports of human rights abuses and war crimes in general have increased steadily.
A crisis is looming in Juba, South Sudan. Regional expert Kate Stegeman gave us some background of what has been emerging in the country. Reports in December of shelling and constant small arms fire amidst a direct confrontation between former Vice President Riek Machar and his supporters and President Kiir has unravelled much of Juba’s stability. Although talks are set to begin in Ethiopia, gunfire and general fighting is still ongoing as of January 2014.
ADR will continue to provide you with expert, on-the-ground news and analysis on this and other crises as they unfold. For breaking news as we hear about it, follow ADR on twitter: @africandefence.