The Federal Government has taken the decision to send 1, 200 Nigerian soldiers to Mali to help boost the West African and international peace enforcement mission in the beleaguered country. The Nigerian contingent is to be exported in batches, and already, 160 troops have arrived Bamako, the Malian capital, thus making Nigeria the first country from Africa, to arrive Mali, few days after France had commenced ground battles with its 1, 400 troops. The Nigerian authorities have also pledged warplanes to boost the cause of aerial attacks, which are obviously the most logical and strategic way to combat the desert Islamist rebels who have laid siege to the once peaceful West African country for about a year now.
Togo has sent 100 troops, while other West African nations have also pledged support. Chad is sending the highest number with 3, 000 troops already being mobilized for Bamako. Chad has already been described by the United States as the only contributor that has the capacity to combat the insurgents, apparently because of the troops understanding of the desert terrains similar to what obtains in Chad.
Mali’s political crisis began in early 2012 when a detachment of mid-level officers seized power in the face of indecision about the growing uprising from the north. The low-ranking officers were later compromised by an intensified ECOWAS pressure to quit and restore the democratic government. While the centre showed signs of susceptibility to the control of the military boys that stepped aside, a group of rebels emerged among the Toareg ethnic group in the north who began a campaign for self-determination.
The whole incident degenerated to a major security crisis when other insurgent groups started fighting the Malian government for the independence of Northern Mali (Azawad). The 111 doxycycline online pharmacyorder doxycycline hyclate 100mg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), backed by the Ansar Dine, an Islamist group wanted Azawad as independent homeland for the Toaregs. They took control of the place in April 2012, chasing the Malian army far away from Azawad, and governing it as a separate entity in the face of the collapse of the government authority over the region. The situation then got worse when a group of Islamists, Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA), backed by the Al-Qaeda terrorist group in North Africa seized the situation to prosecute a jihadist agenda. They destroyed UN World Heritage Sites in Gao and Timbuktu (two prominent cities in the historic ancient Mali Empire) and declared that part of Mali independent and fully governable by the Sharia Law.
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The security problem got even worse with the imminent collapse of not only the government, but also the Republic of Mali as different groups, including the mutineering National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDR) soldiers, the MNLA, Ansar Dine, and the other vicious MOJWA terrorist group, capitalized on the political lacuna to seize Mali.
Mali has thus become a theatre of war and a very bad example for other African states that have similar cases of Islamist insurgency. If the Malian Islamist groups succeed in their cause, and if MOJWA (an Al-Qaeda faction) realizes its objective of pulling down the secular administration and setting up a Sharia-governed regime in Mali, there will be echoes and reverberations in other African countries where Islamists are daring constitutional governments. Al-Shabab in Somalia and Kenya will be bolstered in morale and spirit and will intensify its insurgency to overrun the governments of those lands.
In Nigeria, the local and international factions of Boko Haram will have good and strong grounds to intensify their cause and further wreak havoc in the already pulverized polity. If the Malian situation results in victory for the terrorists and insurgents, it will be the first in the world where Islamist insurgents would have seized a sovereign state, and a ripple effect will certainly follow. Indeed it will be a classic example for rebels and insurgents who are seeking self-determination in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Ivory Coast and Nigeria. Nigeria is thus directly affected by the situation in Mali and as such should be part of stopping it before the ugly monster influences or changes the gear of insurgency at home.
Moreover, the MOJWA is not just a Malian group. It is a network of terrorists in the West African region that seeks a jihadist cause and wants to establish Islamist government all over the region. MOJWA has the financial, material, spiritual and by extension moral backing of Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb; and it has vowed to accomplish its mission in Mali and then face Nigeria where it claims its Boko Haram allies are being persecuted. My hunch is that the international collaborators and accomplices of Boko Haram are beginning to manifest more intelligibly, and that there is a grand Islamic agenda (traceable to the Islamic Revolution in West Africa of the 19th century) that is coming to roost, and which will eventually spread to the most politically and socially vulnerable parts of Africa.
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MOJWA and Boko Haram are just two examples of many more groups that might soon spring up in North, West and East Africa. These three regions are the most Islam-friendly parts of Africa, and their susceptibility politically makes it cheap for violent Islamist groups to penetrate. Nigeria’s action in sending men and war materials to combat the Malian terrorists is thus in place. I do not see it as the usual or familiar ‘Giant of Africa’ gibberish. It is not a manifestation of the bad old wasteful Afrocentric foreign policy. It is purely strategic and wise, as well as being, indeed, a fight for Nigeria’s own life. Some have said it is done based on the Nigerian foreign policy principle of good neighbourliness. I will say it goes beyond that as it is more of the foreign policy principle of securing the neighbourhood with the overall interest of Nigeria’s security and corporate existence.
The systemic nature of international politics has placed a lot of demand on nations, if their national security and sovereignty must be sustained. Domestic security problems are easily and rapidly internationalized as national groups get easily influenced by what they see and what can promote their own cause; and where there are global networks of groups and operations in a global system in which boundaries are becoming less significant, it is incumbent on nations to watch their backs.
One can only leave Nigerian troops with this advice: demonstrate the highest sense of responsibility and make the nation proud, while critically understudying the Islamist groups and their manner of fighting, mode of operation and mannerisms, with the aim of returning with a better grasp of combating terrorism and dealing more intelligently with Boko Haram. The Nigerian contingent should not just be there to demonstrate gallantry or viciousness. It should be more purpose-driven so as to become more relevant back at home.
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