Roundtable on foreign interference in the Central African Republic

On Thursday, October 22, the Africa Center hosted, in partnership with The Sentry, a virtual private roundtable with Ms. Nathalia Dukhan, senior investigator for The Sentry and an expert on the Central African Republic (CAR), and Mr. David Brownstein, a career foreign service officer who served as the chargé d’affaires at US Embassy Bangui in CAR from 2017 to 2019. Africa Center Director of Programs and Studies Ms. Bronwyn Bruton provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion, which was attended by senior members of government, the diplomatic community, and CAR watchers across the DC policy space.

In her remarks, Ms. Dukhan highlighted some of the major themes from her newly released reports from The Sentry and the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center on Russian and French interference in the country, and how transnational criminal networks are exploiting political and economic opportunities in CAR. Mr. Brownstein spoke to the geopolitical strategy behind Russian involvement. Both Mr. Brownstein and Ms. Dukhan emphasized the need to view Russian involvement as part of a larger, multi-country effort to destabilize fragile countries and use weapons sales to extract profits from natural resource industries. Innovative strategies that address the underlying economic incentives for engagement with the Russians could be considered to further peace.

Upon the conclusion of Ms. Dukhan and Mr. Brownstein’s remarks, attendees engaged them on specific questions related to how US policy towards CAR might change under a Biden or Trump administration, alternative methods to foster peace in CAR, as well as general inquiries about Chinese involvement in the CAR mining sector.

Related Experts: Bronwyn Bruton

Image: Joint patrol with military and police in PK5 Neighborhood in Bangui, Central African Republic. (Flickr/UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)