Boko Haram an indictment for Africa


Western powers are always on the prowl to move into the African continent under the guise of humanitarian intervention in search of mineral and other natural resources or in the pursuit of their narrow political and economic interests.

For years the western world has taken advantage of the numerous crises on the African continent to meddle in the internal affairs of countries on the continent. In most cases the intervention of the West, not only in Africa but in other regions notably the Middle East, has had disastrous consequences. It leaves the countries, which were supposedly being helped, in worse situations than those triggered by the internal conflicts.

Studies into the post-Western interventions in Africa and other regions have often pointed to dishonesty on the part of the developed world. 

In some instances the dishonesty has even been exposed before or during the interventions.

But despite the exposures, the African continent has continued to allow the West to meddle in its affairs with disastrous outcomes.

In the latest case of Africa presenting an opportunity for the West to come in, Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy, has failed to rein in the rebel group Boko Haram, leaving the way for the West to intervene. 

This time around China has also joined in the stampede to intervene in Africa after Abuja has failed to recapture the more than 200 school girls who were abducted by Boko Haram last month.

The United States has sent military and security “advisers” to Nigeria to help President Goodluck Jonathan’s government rescue the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist group Boko Haram.

Britain has also sent security forces.

“The kidnapping presents Washington, whose requests to mount military and intelligence operations from Nigeria had repeatedly been rebuffed, with a golden opportunity to secure a foothold in the oil-rich country, now Africa’s largest economy. 

This is part of its efforts to build up a string of military bases across the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and West Africa.

“The move is in line with a broader ‘pivot to Africa,’ aimed at securing control of the continent’s huge mineral and energy resources and containing, if not excluding, China from Africa. 

China has now surpassed the US as Africa’s foremost trading partner and has huge mining, energy and infrastructure investments in the continent,” writes Jean Shaoul, in an opinion we have published in this edition.

The continued delay to establish an African Union Standby Force to act as the continent’s peacekeeping force is partly to blame for the present state of affairs.

It is understandable that the establishment of such an institution needs careful planning and making sure every detail is critically analysed to avoid grave mistakes. 

But the recent spike in conflicts in Africa, often with the intervention of the West or former colonial powers worsening the strife, should be an indictment on the African Union’s Peace and Security Council

. The AU Standby Force was expected to be in place in 2008 but the deadline has since been moved to next year. In the meantime, numerous conflicts have exploded which require the attention of such a force.

The AU Peace and Security Council has convened several meetings since it came into force in 2004 but has not been able to respond to the crises on the continent. Since then some African armies have taken part in peacekeeping missions on the continent in support of other military actors, mostly former colonial powers and other Western nations pursuing their own agenda.

Presented with such a gap, the Washington administration under George Bush in 2008 set up the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), which it now uses in situations such as that obtaining in Nigeria to intervene in African conflicts. 

The US now has more troops in Africa than at any time since its intervention in Somalia in 1993. 

US presence on the continent has increased with around 5 000 personnel stationed in 38 African countries. 

The development is an indictment on the African continent to take charge to complete the establishment of the Standby Force and fully take charge of its security concerns.

May 2014
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