Insurgence: United Nation must help West Africa now

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UNITED Nations should act now to prevent humanitarian crisis in West Africa. Military operations are on in some regions in Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria. Niger, Chad, Cameroun and others. This is the time to avoid humanitarian disaster in West Africa.  The war on terrorism in West Africa should be fought on many fronts: diplomatic, intelligence, covert action, economic sanctions, law enforcement as well as military. Diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, and economic sanctions have historically served as auxiliary measures in wartime. Economic sanctions, in particular, have routinely foreshadowed or accompanied broader war efforts. There is need for sanctions against Islamic countries that are exporting terrorism to West Africa. In the 21st century it is dishonest for members of the United Nations Security Council to pretend that they do not know the Islamic countries that are exporting terrorism to West Africa. Members of United Nations Security Council know the Islamic countries that are supporting Boko Haram in Nigeria.

A lot depends on the amount of international support that will be available for Mali, Nigeria and the regional G5 Sahel Force. Currently, there are serious shortfalls and this poses future problems. A failed Nigeria, Mali and others are a danger not only for its neighbors, but for a region stretching from the Sahel, across the Mediterranean and deep into Europe. Containing the terrorist problem is better than dealing with its effects. The UN Security Council should authorize peace operations in Nigeria and other West African countries.  United Nations should focus on duties, such as ensuring security, stabilization and protection of civilians; supporting national political dialogue and reconciliation; and assisting the reestablishment of State authority, the rebuilding of the security sector, and the promotion and protection of human rights in the countries terrorized by Boko Haram and ISIS in West Africa.

There should be a wide array of sanctions against Islamic countries exporting terrorism to Nigeria and other West African countries which include arms embargoes, targeted sanctions on individuals, restricting trade of commodities that support combatants, and travel restrictions. We need sanctions from the UN, the European Union (EU), and the U.S. against Islamic countries that are exporting terrorism to West Africa in the name of Boko Haram and ISIS. The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.

In accordance with paragraph 13 of resolution 1822 (2008) and subsequent related resolutions,  the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee makes accessible a narrative summary of reasons for the listing for individuals, groups, undertakings and entities included in the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List.

Leaders in Africa and within the UN should play a larger role in securing peace and stability on the continent. While the UN has a regular peacekeeping budget, the AU must continually seek out donors, such as the UN, the EU, and the United States, to fund its missions.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has said 2018 was a challenging year for the Nigerian military. He also said experienced and skilled fighters of the Islamic State terrorists dislodged from Syria, relocated to the North-East of Nigeria.

The air chief added that the military’s helicopter gunships were adapting to emerging threats and making good progress to take out terrorists. Abubakar stated this on Monday in his New Year message to the troops, made available by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola.  The air chief said the war against Boko Haram insurgency had been enhanced by the acquisition of new aircraft platforms and reactivation of existing ones. He noted that the military must also prepare for the 2019 General Elections, remain apolitical and “firmly resist any entreaties against the interest of our beloved country.”

Abubakar said, “The out-gone year 2018 was indeed marked by both challenges and opportunities; however, the NAF, with the vital support of all stakeholders, was able to exploit the opportunities while overcoming the challenges encountered along the way.

“In the fight against the Boko Haram, we saw the emergence of new tactics as well as the introduction of highly experienced and skilled fighters and technology, as ISIS elements, dislodged from Syria, relocated to the North-East of our country. Our fighter and helicopter gunship pilots are adapting creditably to these emerging nuances and making good progress, despite the recent setbacks.

United Nations should provide international financial support for Nigeria and the G5. The G5 is tasked with fighting terrorist movements and organized crime in the Sahel region and help protect the civilian population. But its financial situation is insecure.

Mali’s own soldiers are taking part in the fight against regional instability but are in great need of better equipment and better pay. Until they receive those things, Mali will depend heavily on foreign forces to protect its borders and its people.

To defeat Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa we need targeted economic sanctions which will become the preferred form of sanctions. That is because broad sanctions on a country that affect imports of vital products, restrictions on investment and trade, and other broad economic sanctions, have had a disproportionate impact on the population, less on the regime or rebels. Targeted sanctions, particularly financial ones and travel bans, have become steadily more sophisticated and effective, especially when enforced by the U.S. and its specialists in the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury and other parts of the U.S. government.

United Nations and African Union should pay attention to 1994,report by Robert Kaplan when he wrote a controversial Atlantic article, “The Coming Anarchy,” warning of West Africa’s ungoverned spaces, disease-ridden slums, weak borders, and impoverished masses. Kaplan declared: “we ignore this dying region at our own risk.” In 2004, Douglas Farah and Richard Shultz published a Washington Post op-ed that picked up the argument where Kaplan had left off. West Africa had become a terrorist sanctuary. Three years after the 9/11 attacks, the authors proclaimed, “weak and corrupt governments, vast, virtually stateless stretches awash in weapons, and impoverished, largely Muslim populations make the region an ideal sanctuary…The now-identifiable presence of al Qaeda in other countries shows that these once-marginal wars and regions matter. We ignore the warnings at our peril.”

History has not borne out this “coming anarchy” of terrorism, and West Africa is not rife with international extremism. Alas, the region is not beyond terrorism’s grasp either. This means several longstanding arguments about extremism in West Africa need to be carefully revisited. Many observers perpetuate the image of West Africa as a blank slate for counterterrorism experiments. Yet efforts have been ongoing for decades, and international, regional, and local frameworks already exist. UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) established the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) in an effort to stop terrorism in all of its forms. UN Security Council Resolution 1624 (2005) is designed to improve border security and encourage member countries to submit updates to the CTC.

  • Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City

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