The early January 2015 terror attacks in Paris, the French capital, elicited global uproar as individuals, organizations and national governments expressed repugnance at the barbarous actions of the disillusioned extremists who carried out the attacks. Across the world, peace marches, candlelit vigils and other symbolic activities were hurriedly put together to express the world’s disgust at the depraved actions of individuals bent on mass murder. In Paris, 40 world leaders, including French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and British Prime Minister David Cameron marched with a crowd of 1.5 million people. The world briefly stood still.
In Iraq and Syria, the U.S supported offensive against ISIL continues to accelerate as territories that were once under the group’s control are gradually being reclaimed. These latest gains in the war against the Islamists can be attributed to U.S-led airstrikes – part of an international coalition – at ISIL targets that have gradually whittled down the group’s capability to conduct large military operations in these areas. The world is truly committed to not only containing the violent dispositions of this group, but limiting its capacity to carry out large military operations.
Meanwhile in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria, the war with Boko Haram continues to simmer out of control, despite the new offensive against the group by a combination of Nigerian, Chadian, Cameroonian and Nigerien forces (a regional initiative that is targeted at restoring some degree of sanity to the sub-region by checking the further mutation of the group). Despite the joint offensive by the Nigerian-led coalition, the group has been continued to launch series of deadly bombing attacks on soft targets across Maiduguri and its environs. The escalation of the conflict has even resulted in the postponement of Nigeria’s General Elections due to threats by the group to launch random bombing raids on both soft and hard targets in the country’s North, aimed at marring the peaceful conduct of the polls.
That the world is being economical in its contributions to the ongoing military campaign against BH in Nigeria’s North-East is an undeniable fact that keeps taking on more practical meaning by the day. Apart from the subdued show of solidarity by a sprinkling of countries from across globe, consequent to the kidnap of the Chibok girls by BH in 2014, a splattering of technical assistance from France et al, and verbal promises by others to assist the country, nothing concrete has been done to help out on the battleground itself. The Nigerian Government – a new entrant into the war on terror – has sadly been condemned to shouldering the gargantuan responsibilities of fighting this asymmetrical war alone; a significant factor that has contributed in no small measure towards escalating the intensity of the conflict and increasing the casualty rate and amount of destruction in the affected areas, considering the level of expertise that is required to combat such a menace – ugly scenarios that could have been prevented had the world come to Nigeria’s aid.
The double standards in the West’s approach to its purported war on terror – which the Boko Haram insurgency has clearly exposed – is a fact that needs no further proof; one that has brought it out in bad light as a twofaced hypocrite that does not practice the doctrines it preaches; a lackadaisical and lackluster stance that has defined the West’s approach to the war against violent extremism the world over. This one-sidedness becomes all the more glaring when the realities on the ground are juxtaposed with West’s much-vaunted commitment to checking the activities of apocalyptic groups around the world. The much vaunted “Global War On Terror” has turned out to be a hoax after all; a case of Western countries speaking from both sides of their mouths – saying one thing, but doing the opposite.
When a bomb goes off in Paris, New York, London, or when extremists groups threaten the security of any country or sub-region – Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria et al – where there are Western strategic interests – economic, political, military et al – all available human and material resources are expeditiously mobilized and committed towards arresting such threats – covert or overt. But that is usually not the case when similar threats rear their heads in certain parts of the world – like the ongoing ugly scenario in Nigeria’s North-East where the country’s security forces have been battling BH since 2009 – of lesser strategic concern to the West.
Despite the equally culpable political and strategic blunders the Nigerian government and its security forces have made since the onset of the battle against the insurgents, the lack of a coordinated international offensive against this group – compared to the ongoing Western-supported efforts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan et al – has seriously hampered and limited the effectiveness of any attempt so expedited to dislodge them from their strongholds. The lack of standard training in guerrilla warfare, substandard arms and ammunitions, poor intelligence and other operational incongruities have greatly restricted the campaign against BH, a group that is obviously better motivated than the Nigerian forces fighting it.
The refusal of the United States’ government – the supposed arrowhead of the global war on terror – to sell arms to Nigeria, citing some operational inconsistencies on the part of the Nigerian government and military, is a graphic example of the West’s reluctance to help out in the war. America’s preference to deal with the governments and military’s of Nigeria’s neighbors constitutes a key strategic error on its path. The structural/background factors leading to the conflict can only be identified and extinguished within Nigerian borders, despite the proliferation of the conflict to other neighboring countries. If Nigeria, a key stakeholder in the conflict is ignored in any collaborative effort against BH, such a move is surely doomed to fail, regardless of whatever gains are initially made.
How come it is only when a recalcitrant regime pops up in a remote section of the world that the West moves with dispatch to dislodge it? When a regime becomes refractory by attempting to show the “good example” to the rest of the world that it can survive without Western support or aid, all resources – military, political, media et al -are immediately mobilized to demonize and ultimately destroy it. Libya’s Muamar Gadhafi, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, the Taliban in Afghanistan et al, were conflict theatres where the world had to act fast to restore “peace”.
On 8 September 2006, member states of the United Nations adopted a Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The strategy, in the form of a resolution and an annexed Plan of Action (A/RES/60/288), is a unique global instrument that was expected to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism anywhere in the world. It was the first time that all Member States of the have agreed to a common strategic approach to fight terrorism, not only sending a clear message that terrorism is unacceptable in all its forms and manifestation, but also resolving to take practical steps individually and collectively to prevent and combat it. Those practical steps include a wide array of measures ranging from strengthening state capacity to counter terrorist threats to better coordinating United Nations system’s counter-terrorism activities.
The adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy fulfills the commitment made by world leaders at the 2005 September Summit and builds on many of the elements proposed by the Secretary-General in his 2 May 2006 report, entitled “Uniting against Terrorism: Recommendations for a Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy”. But despite the supposed adoption of this unique instrument by the member states of the United Nations Organization, the practical realities on ground paint a very contradictory pictureas depicted by the one-sided application of this strategy in those sections of the world involved in the global effort to oust terrorism.
It is worthy of note that the global war on terror commenced after the September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th, or 9/11: a series of four well coordinated \o “Terrorist attack”terrorist attacks by the \o “Islamic terrorism”Islamic terrorist group \o “Al-Qaeda”al-Qaeda on the \o “United States”United States in \o “New York City”New York City and the \o “Washington metropolitan area”Washington, D.C., metropolitan area on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, killed 2,996 people and caused at least $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage), when the then U.S President, George W. Bush called for a global front against terrorism; a call the whole world answered, regardless of whether the 9/11 attacks took place solely on American soil.
This column wishes to formally state that the war on terror is a war for the continuous survival of the human race on planet earth, regardless of wherever terrorists threats rear their heads – Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Israel, Nigeria et al. The presence of terrorist groups in any part of the world, is a threat to all citizens of the world – whether American, British, French, African, Arab et al – as graphically demonstrated by the events of 9/11 where the nationals of several countries working in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre lost their lives. Within the context of globalization, a phenomenon that has gradually compressed the borders of the world into a global village, all hands must be on deck to collectively strike out at this phantom menace wherever it exists.
As Nigerian, Nigerian, Chadian and Cameroonian forces continue to chase Boko Haram further into the desert, the international community, especially the U.S led West, must as a matter of urgency, join the fray either through the deployment of their Special Forces, assisting with airstrikes, in conjunction with other logistical support that can aid the war against Boko Haram. Multiple good heads are certainly better that a few ones. With the right training, provision of advanced weapons and logistical support in place, the counter insurgency efforts against Boko Haram will be concluded sooner rather than later, giving room for the commencement and conclusion of other Multi-Track Diplomacy Peacemaking and Peace Building efforts aimed at restoring positive peace to the war ravaged region.
MR OBUSEH JUDE, A PEACE RESEARCHER A PRACTITIONER, IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CONFLICT PREVENTION AND PEACE BUILDING INITIATIVE (CPPBI). TEL: 08168580211. E-MAIL: [email protected]