January 3, 2006:
Usually we cover the armed forces of nations here. But this time we look at warlord armies, or at least the one that is forming in the northern Central African Republic (CAR). Someone, perhaps followers of former president Ange-Félix Patassé (replaced by current president François Bozize during a 2003 coup) is paying the bill. Gunmen are being hired, by professional organizers, for a major military operation. It's difficult to keep these things secret, although you can hide the identity of the top people for a while. Where's the money coming from? Libya used to be the "usual suspect," but has said publicly that they are out of the coup game. Current president François Bozize has many enemies, including many soldiers he demobilized after he took power in 2003. These former soldiers are unhappy with the payments they received for their faithful service (in supporting the Bozize coup against Patassé.) Some of these lads have taken to banditry, others still have their guns, and would be willing to use them again for a big payday. At the moment, the CAR army has only a few troops in the north, and not very effective ones at that. Anyone with a few hundred better motivated gunmen could quickly seize control of the northern part of the country. That could touch off another civil war. All because someone with a few hundred thousand dollars, and connections with some former CAR officers living in the north, decided to do some mischief.