Archive | October, 2015

Obama to deploy 300 US troops to Cameroon to fight Boko Haram: Enter the Conspiracy Theorists.

15 Oct

By Nwana Tifu                                                                                                                        

When news broke-out yesterday that Obama was sending 300 troops to Cameroon to support the fight against Boko Haram, social media was set on fire by dependency theorists, patrimonials and conspiracy theorists speculating and suggesting all forms of hypotheses to decry this US move as paternalistic, as a cover being used to destabilise Cameroon where the Chinese and French were failing.It is for this reason that I did the following political analysis.

With anti-French sentiments currently running sky high in Cameroon and given that French forces in the Central African Republic have been caught on video at artisanal mines and in pedophile cases, Cameroon has showed disgust for its traditional military and economic ally by entering lucrative contracts with the Chinese and has been flirting gratuitously with the benevolence of German and Russian weapons supplies.
Located in one of the most geostrategic regions of the world, Cameroons international policy of non-confrontation has come under test from transnational criminal networks, rebel groups religious militants.These groups have imposed acts of violence on this politically docile country to an extent where it has now been roused from its long military slumber to prove itself a formidable fighting force in defense of its territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
The US has all through this time refrained from direct interference given that Cameroon is a French protege. America through its strategy of leading from behind through financing, intelligence sharing and periodic naval drills with its Africa Command to fine tune the assault and rescue capacities of the Cameroon navy to defend its geopolitical interests seriously threatened by oil bunkering and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea oil corridor.
America’s mixed failure and successes at combatting ISIL in Syria and Iraq, its drone operations against Al Shabab in Somalia, al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen, Pakistan, Libya and Afghanistan or its now endless chase after the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony in the tropical forests spanning Central Africa to the Sudans, has left it badly in need a victory in the style granted by Seal team six in taking out the much dreaded Osama Bin Laden.
Following a string of incursions on its territory by Boko Haram militants extending their false jihad from their Nigerian heartland into the Lake Chad basin area shared by Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon, trade routes have been cut off, a humanitarian and malnutrition crisis now threatens all the countries of the region all under existential nightmares from these armed groups.

With Boko Haram resorting to hit and run tactics, it has in these past months emboldened itself and for the first time has used suicide bombers and kamikazes to implant and spread its terror campaign in Cameroon following a streak of kidnappings of foreigners and nationals.
The absence of an effective French military presence in Cameroon has enticed the US still in the good diplomatic books of Cameroon to now step in and fill the vacuum. Cameroon is part of a multinational task force formed by the sanction of the international community under the auspices of the UN and AU to eradicate Boko Haram and has been assigned the task of hosting the logistics center for the forces operations. Hence in furtherance of US national security and foreign policy interests and at the express invitation of the Cameroon government, the deployment of 300 military personnel with the part of this broad regional effort to stop the spread of Boko Haram and other violent extremist organizations in the Sahel especially was authorized by Obama through Congress on 14 October 2016 until a time when it is determined that they are no longer needed. This comes months after Cameroon hosted regional conferences and meetings on combating the geometric growth of insecurity in the region.
Now that Russia is causing confusion in the middle East over its bombardment of western sponsored rebels and ISIL militants alike, the US must avoid direct confrontation with Russia and take the fight to a new theatre.
This is strategic because sometime ago, Boko Haram pledged and swore allegiance to ISIS. The lake Chad basin area is endowed with several natural resources from oil in southern Chad exported by pipeline over Cameroon to uranium deposits in Niger, It is therefore out of question to let all these fall under the control of jihadists.After months of courting the US for weapons to fight Boko Haram without success by the Nigerian government, American worries about governance accountability and other rights abuses in Nigeria prompted them to withhold this vital support from Nigeria. At this moment, this is the best thing to pursue especially, now that the new Nigerian president Buhari seems ready and willing to cooperate as well as Cameroon, Chad, Niger, a move that contrasts to the docileness of his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan versus the discreet yet poignant resoluteness and dynamism of the Cameroon government in its fight against the Boko Haram sect.