- ‘ Cases of rape rise to 84% in Nigeria’
- Dana air crash update: 23 aircrash victims’ families yet to receive compensation
- Mimiko inaugurates new Mother & Child hospital today
- N4.56b pension scam: Female accused hospitalised,trial stalled
- Construction workers hail FG’s decision on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
- Blackout looms as Egbin power plant breaks down
- FMBN, NEXIM, BOA, IB lose N47bn in 6 months - CBN
- FirstBank wins Nigerian Bank of the Year award
- PDP tackles ACN over Tukur’s comments
- Electricity workers threaten strike over Wamakko
- ‘NDIC prosecuted 55 directors, staff of micro finance banks in 2011’
- Judgment in Oni’s appeal stalled, re-fixed for Jan 8
- Slain banker: Deceased had only 3 wounds -Accused’s father
- Appointments: S/West not marginalised —FCC
America, Boko Haram and Nigeria (1)
MIXED reactions have greeted the US government’s designation of three prominent Boko Haram terrorist leaders as ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorists’ (SDGT), thereby adding them to its long list of foreign terrorists. This action comes short of, or it may perhaps be a prelude to, a full declaration of Boko Haram itself as a foreign terrorist organization, (FTO), a designation by the Secretary of State, which would automatically have made it a target to be mercilessly and ruthlessly pursued for extermination by the US security forces. As it is, those individuals so designated as global terrorists have now officially become legitimate targets of US attacks, arrest and assassination, and will undoubtedly be hunted down and eliminated by US Special Forces, with all its negative implications for our country’s national security. As of January 2012, there were not less than 51 organizations from around the world on the US State Department’s list of FTOs, with such names as FARC, Al-Qaida, Hamas, Hisballah, Shining Path, featuring prominently on that list.
An organization is designated as FTO after it has satisfied certain laid down criteria, namely: it has to be a non-US based foreign organization; it must be known to engage in terrorist activities or terrorism, and ‘retain the capacity to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism’; and its terrorist activity must threaten US national security or the security of US nationals, including their economic interests. Ironically, only the US itself can determine when its interests or those of its nationals are perceived to be threatened, as well as how to respond to such threats. Even if Boko Haram is not yet so designated, the fact remains that its leaders are already on America’s gun-sight, to be taken out whenever located and on the executive orders of the US President, exactly the same way Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaida leaders have been taken out in recent years and without reference to the governments of their respective countries of abode. The implication of this for Nigeria is simply this: America does not require Nigeria’s permission to pursue and liquidate those it calls terrorists on our soil, whether those terrorists are Nigerian nationals or not!
It is part of the ugly reality of contemporary world of power politics that a nation that cannot master and mind its own internal affairs will definitely have to contend with external interference and dictation. We have witnessed this before in our economy when both the IMF and World Bank jointly force-fed us the bitter pills of structural adjustment programmes in the mid-1980s after our own civilian and military rulers had mercilessly bled the economy white through massive corruption and unbridled prodigality. One of the effects was the plunging of the Naira from an all time strong currency to one of the world’s weakest and worthless currencies. Don’t forget that by the end of the 1970s decade, a Naira exchanged for one dollar and a half and it was almost legal tender in most West African countries. But then the massive plunder of the national economy led to serious economic decline, the precipitous drop in the value of the Naira, and loss of competitiveness in the world. Even today, we are yet to begin to recover from the aftermaths of SAP. But this piece is not about the economy but rather about the US attitude to terrorism and its policies for dealing with it, as they affect Nigeria.
After suffering the massive bomb attacks on September 11, 2001, undoubtedly a great blow to the world’s sole surviving military superpower after the Cold War, the US vowed to pursue terrorists across the globe without any care in the world for the national sensibilities of the countries where terrorists may be hiding. In declaring its global war on terror, then US President George W. Bush also asserted that the US would bring its enemies to justice or bring justice to them wherever they may be. From that moment on, President Bush and his major hawkish advisors, specifically Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz began to whimsically define what constitutes terrorism and determine who exactly is a terrorist. The war on terrorism simply became an omnibus excuse for the US government to behave lawlessly and as it pleases at home and abroad, and to subject hundreds, if not thousands, of the nationals of other countries to arrest, extraordinary rendition, torture and inhuman treatments in Guantanamo Bay and in other remote parts of the world outside the purview and protection of American law.
That characteristic American disregard for the rights of others while pursuing its own interests remains the same, no matter which individual is occupying the White House. Unfortunately, many starry-eyed Nigerians rejoiced at Barack Obama’s election as US president as if that would necessarily change America’s behavior towards Africa. I also did rejoice at his election, but for me, it was purely for reasons of racial pride only. Individual leaders rarely alter the course and content of US foreign policy, so Obama would not be an exception. He would not mind riding roughshod and trampling upon Nigeria’s national security and the security of Nigerians if that would serve the purpose of defending American interests, especially in pursuit of its cynical war on terror. He was after all elected to protect and advance American interests only.
Nigeria’s embarrassingly incompetent handling of its own domestic terrorism has provided the US a veritable excuse to physically and militarily intervene and interfere in our domestic affairs, and violate our national security at will, all in the guise of pursuing global terrorists. We must not forget that the US government did not bother to consult Pakistan, one of its supposed main allies in its unilateral war on terror, before sending in its Special Forces to murder Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil. The attack was an egregious violation of the territorial integrity and national security of Pakistan. What else could poor Pakistan have done beyond simply registering a feeble protest, after all we still live in a ‘world where the big fish eat the small fish, and the small fish eat worms’. Nigeria is not even in the same league with Pakistan when it comes to being strategically important to America in its war on terror.
If the US could so flagrantly and wantonly violate Pakistan’s national security to kill Osama bin Laden, what would it not do to Nigeria? That explains why the US has gone ahead to designate those Boko Haram mass murderers as ‘global terrorists’ not minding the feeble protests from some Nigerians. America is a country whose government is serious about its interests and those of its citizens and would spare no expenses to protect and advance them. There is practically nothing that the Nigerian government can do about that US decision and the possibility of its waging its anti-terror war against our nationals on our soil, and without our permission for that matter. We have proved over and again that we are not in control of the situation. And so far, the Federal Government has hardly shown any firm resolve to deal decisively with the burgeoning insecurity in the land which has reportedly claimed over 2,000 lives since 2009 when Boko Haram announced its bloody presence in our national life.
Not only that, Boko Haram is now reputed to have established links with fellow terrorist organizations in the Islamic Maghreb and Somalia and thus may be spreading its tentacles beyond the shores of Nigeria, especially into West and Central Africa. Whether we like it or not, this is more than enough to cause the US to worry, as it has tremendous interests in the hydrocarbon resources of the Gulf of Guinea and thus would not tolerate anything that would interfere or obstruct its ready access to these strategic resources. This is aside from the fact that Nigeria and other West African states have been collaborating with the US in chasing so-called terrorists across the Sahel region of West Africa. We must therefore not be alarmed any time in the future when US Special Forces begin to move in stealthily and clandestinely to murder our nationals on our soil, after all they have been designated ‘global terrorists’ and thus have become enemies that the United States can whimsically take out without consulting with us.
According to a news item posted on the website of Eurasia Review on June 24, 2012, a ‘mysterious’ missile strike killed some Al Qaeda terrorists travelling in a convoy of four vehicles in breakaway northern region of Mali, an area which the separatists now call Azawad. How many people were killed, how many of them were real terrorists and how many were mere ‘collateral casualties’ may not be known. Who has the ‘unique capabilities’ to carry out such mysterious missile strikes is not beyond imagination, since US anti-terrorism forces have been operating in West Africa and the Sahel hunting down those the US has designated as terrorists.
(To be continued next week)