An uptick in violence in the Central African Republic is part of a rising tide of violence across parts of the Sahel and Central Africa that potentially link conflicts from Somalia to Mali and Nigeria. While it has local aspects, the conflict is worth paying attention to because of its wider ramifications.In recent weeks, a series of incidents has raised concerns in a country beset by violence for the last decade. With countries like France, the United States, China and Chad already having played a role, reports indicated that Rwanda and Russia have sent troops to the country to “counter a surge in violence.” Russian-backed military contractors have already been working in the country for several years, illustrating how it is a regional conflict. The CAR, as the country is often abbreviated, has accused former leader Francois Bozize of an “attempted coup” prior to elections that took place on December 27. On Election Day, some 117 CAR troops were forced to flee to Cameroon due to fighting with rebels. Human rights groups accused rebels from the Coalition of Patriots for Change of “creating havoc.”The UN is concerned. “The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attacks on 25 December 2020 against the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) in Dékoa and near Sibut, both in Kémo Prefecture, which resulted in three peacekeepers from Burundi killed and two others injured,” a statement said. The UN warned of escalating violence.How did this start?In 2012 a series of opposition and rebel groups with names like the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace formed the Seleka rebel group and came to briefly control much of the country. They committed atrocities. The groups were rooted in the mostly Muslim eastern part of the country, and were pushed back in 2014 by another movement called anti-Balaka, which was rooted among Christians.France launched Operation Sangaris to stop the fighting, an operation that ended in 2016. United Nations Peacekeepers serving with MINUSCA were deployed. A peace pact was adopted in 2015, after which elections took place.There are many intersecting issues in the CAR. Some caution against seeing the violence through a religious lens. However, the sectarian nature of the different armed groups, Christian and Muslim armed camps, is part of a pattern across other states in the area, such as Nigeria, where the Islamist Boko Haram have committed atrocities. The CAR is also known for diamond mining and has a long history of French interference dating from the colonial era. The next steps in the CAR are unclear, but the recent controversies and violence, including near-daily incidents that threaten lives and the role of peacekeepers, point to a disturbing trend. The role of Russia and other countries also points to how countries other than the US are playing a growing role in Africa – and the United States no longer appears to even bother with attempting to mediate conflicts. That may change with the new US administration.