Cameroon, the central African country once known as an oasis of stability amongst volatile neighbors, is falling apart. Recent disturbing images emerging depict a country descending into violent civil war as the Cameroonian government fights to quash an Anglophone separatist movement. Thousands of innocent civilians have fled to neighboring Nigeria and Chad to avoid the violent atrocities orchestrated by both sides.
The most notable among some of these recent images, however, is the participation of members of Cameroon’s elite Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), a unit previously investigated for humanitarian abuses that have also been trained and equipped by the American military.
This training has been part of broader deployments of U.S. military personnel in support of regional security operations against Boko Haram and ISIS, deployments which have made Cameroon host to the fourth largest contingent of American forces on the continent, as well as critical drone base. BIR has proven to be effective in fighting Boko Haram, but their involvement in repeated humanitarian abuses warrants a debate about the United States’ long-term strategy and if such abuses are something we simply accept when engaged in such unstable regions.