Unlike the missions in
Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya, this West African conflict was
resolved quickly, preventing instead of inciting civil war
Supporters of Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara parade through Abidjan. By Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters
ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire -- When French helicopters scrambled in the skies above Côte d'Ivoire biggest city in April, many in and out of the country were loathe to watch France at it again, interfering in the affairs of a former colony in Africa. The gunships fired rockets through the night at military bases around Abidjan, blowing up arms depots that sent exploding munitions in every direction in a terrifying display of deadly fireworks.
Destroying these heavy arms was the basis of the intervention, authorized by the UN Security Council during the violent political crisis that had consumed the country in the preceding weeks. Much as missiles and air strikes had been unleashed on Libya only days beforehand under the pretext of protecting civilians, the international community had given the UN peacekeeping mission and its French support the go-ahead for what actually amounted to a regime change.
But unlike what happened in Libya -- or in Iraq or Afghanistan -- the intervention in Côte d'Ivoire worked. Within a week, former president Laurent Gbagbo, who had refused to accept defeat in an election and plunged his country into a steadily escalating spiral of violence and repression, was in custody, and within two weeks the majority of his forces had surrendered or rallied to the new President's side.