Military support for Côte d’Ivoire: Imperative of a realpolitik

  • A gesture of solidarity
  • The spirit of TAC
  • An unjustified controversy

A delivery of military equipment at an estimated cost of 2.3 billion CFA francs received by Burkina from Côte d’Ivoire is causing controversy. The discretion that surrounded the reception of said material further confused people. Concealing the centuries-old ties between the two countries, some have allowed themselves to exaggerate by crying conspiracy. And yet, it wasn’t worth it.

Far from the cameras and the microphones, the Burkinabè authorities received around fifty pickup vehicles, 1,000 assault rifles and 100,000 ammunition from the sister country, Côte d’Ivoire. A gesture of solidarity from the Ivorian government which thinks it is its duty to come to the rescue of a neighbor facing a major challenge, the terrorist threat. As the spokesperson for the Ivorian government pointed out following a question from a journalist after the Council of Ministers on Wednesday March 22, 2023, the donation of military equipment to Burkina responds to an imperative of solidarity. Burkina, like other countries in the Sahel, has been dealing with the terrorist snot for eight years. Côte d’Ivoire, the happy benefactor, is also in the eye of the storm. What could be more normal than to help the neighbor to contain the flames which invade his house instead of waiting without doing anything? If Burkina manages to stem the terrorist wave, Côte d’Ivoire is indirectly safe. Those who quickly became controversial because they doubted the sincerity of the donation omitted a number of parameters in their anger. If, as some claim, the equipment was an order from the Kaboré regime which arrived after the events of January 24, 2022, was it necessary for the Ivorian government to hand it over to Lieutenant-Colonel, Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, at the risk of to be accused of treason? Even if the agreement was cordial between Damiba and Ouattara, it would still have been difficult to deliver the said material at the risk of being seen as supporting the putschists. If we stick to the fact that the equipment would have been ordered by Burkina for a long time, its current delivery, even if it is no longer the cordial understanding between the current authorities and those of Côte d’Ivoire , responds to an imperative of realpolitik. Was it necessary to gut himself for all that? Since terrorist groups have scoured the Sahel, particularly Mali, Burkina and Niger, the lack of solidarity between African states in the midst of misfortune has not ceased to be denounced. But why take offense when Côte d’Ivoire expresses its solidarity with its neighbour?

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“establishing a dynamic partnership”

At the height of the socio-political crisis experienced by Côte d’Ivoire in the 2000-2010 period, the climate had also deteriorated between Ouagadougou and Abidjan. The authorities of the time, aware of the centuries-old ties that unite the two countries, knew how to transcend their misunderstandings to preserve the essentials. It is in this dynamic that the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation (TAC) was born on July 29, 2008. Among other things, its objectives are to establish a permanent framework for consultation between the two countries, to set up a dynamic partnership to guarantee the stability and prosperity of the two countries, to consolidate the privileged relations of fraternity and cooperation in the major areas of common interest, in particular cultural and artistic, to stimulate the process of sub-regional integration and to promote the good – be Burkinabè and Ivorian peoples. Whatever the moments of difficulty that the two countries may experience in their journey, the spirit of this TAC cannot be relegated to oblivion. Such an initiative was able to materialize to make this Ivorian-Burkinabè cooperation sustainable. The example of this agreement is unprecedented in the sub-region. Moreover, in their respective political histories with the different regimes that have managed state power, Burkina and Côte d’Ivoire have experienced difficult parentheses without compromising their desire to always be together. Côte d’Ivoire is a leading economic partner for Burkina. It is not because headwinds carry all sorts of discourse that we would allow ourselves to be blinded by adopting bellicose postures. Common sense recommends that everyone show some restraint in assessing the facts.

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That is to say that this controversy over the delivery of arms from Côte d’Ivoire to Burkina finds no valid justification. The drama that Burkina is going through has a negative echo in Côte d’Ivoire. As a result, she cannot remain an ostrich in the face of the misfortune that strikes her neighbour. As it is trivially said, history and geography have forever sealed the fate of the two countries. Beyond the storms that there may be, the Burkinabè and Ivorian peoples are called upon to hold hands. On the contrary, we should rejoice in this active African solidarity instead of getting lost in diversions with hateful and tendentious overtones. If the example of Côte d’Ivoire could arouse healthy emulation in the sub-region, we would have partly found a solution to the security issue. It is this lack of mutual aid that gives the latitude to some to come and make all sorts of proposals in our tropics. Maintaining debates that divert us from real concerns is to dig the bed of a certain stalemate. Those who distract public opinion by seeing through the gesture of Côte d’Ivoire a maneuver by France to destabilize are getting nowhere, if not the age-old conspiracy theory. In the face of difficulties, we must have the courage to question beyond our shortcuts. We need to change glasses to see a little further. It is at this price that we will be better able to assume our responsibilities in the face of a daily life full of uncertainties. Let’s dare to bet on fruitful, lucid reflection, free from anachronistic prejudices.

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Jerome Hayimi

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