Gunboat Diplomacy: What Nigeria Can Learn

Republic of Chad.  République du Tchad (French)

GDP ; $7 Billion USD

GDP Purchasing Power Parity (PPP); $13 Billion USD.

GDP per Capital: $650 USD

System of Governance : Absolute Dictatorship.

Attributes

Failed state : by Fund for Peace (FFP). 5th (behind Sudan) on the Failed State Index.

NIGERIAN FEDERATION.

GDP : $570 Billion

GDP PPP: $1.06 trillion.

GDP per Capital: $5700 USD

System of Governance: Federal Democracy (Modelled after the United States )

Attributes

Worlds 4th largest democracy. Africa’s richest economy. 21st largest economy in the world.

Nigeria and Chad could as well be from separate galaxies by all measure when compared to each other. But how could Chad, one of the worlds poorest countries bring the United States, the worlds unique superpower to do its bidding.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration included the Central African nation of Chad in the iteration of its infamous travel ban, which also targets citizens from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. For good reasons. The country is an autocratic state, a repressive regime with a history of habouring and supporting terrorist organisations in Sudan, Niger and the Central African Republicwhen it suites the rogue regime.

Chadian strongman Idris Derby wasnt displeased by this development. Stung by its inclusion into the Travel Ban list. Now Idris Derby set out to show Washington in the least pleasant fashion possible, just how important and valuable Chad has been.

In the wake of the new travel ban announcement on Sept. 24, Chad withdrew hundreds of troops from neighboring Niger, where up to 2,000 of its soldiers were part of a coalition battling Boko Haram.  Despite Chadian government did not offer an official explanation for the pullout.

Superpower wannabe, Emmanuel Macron condemned Chad’s inclusion on the travel ban, saying that it “seriously undermines” the “good relations between the two countries, notably in the fight against terrorism.”

What terrorist?

Despite its relative poverty, Chad plays an outsized role in African security and politics. Its troops are considered some of the most capable in the region, and its president, Idriss Déby, has won considerable influence with the African Union, France, and, until recently at least, the United States by deploying them to clean up others’ messes. By other people’s mess, we mean Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

In addition to leading the fight against Boko Haram, Chad’s military is busy countering al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other jihadis in the Sahel, a volatile region that includes parts of Mali and Niger. Against this backdrop its safe to say Chad is considered the military superpower of West Africa and now welds far more diplomatic clout than Nigeria, one of Africa’s most developed countries with the biggest economy and a thriving democracy.

But what really is responsible for the meteoric rise of the worlds poorest country? Boko Harams attack in Nigeria, the epicentre of the war against Boko Haram is at its lowest since the insurgency began in 2009. All hitherto territories have been captured. The Sambisa forest, once Boko Haram’s impregnable fortress is now used to holding sports competition and shooting ranges.

Also, attacks on Chad are basically non-existent. How serious is the Boko Haram threat to American interest 3,000 miles around across the atlantic, to compell the United States to go against its policy of  legitimizing relations with a authoritarian regimes, turn a blind eye to its human rights abuses and then overturn a U.S decision to include Chad in the Travel Ban list, using Boko Haram, a non existent threat to most of Nigeria, much less Chad or Paris or Washington.

How did Chad become a regional military superpower (in the eyes of France and the U.S) in so short a time span? The answer is simple. U.S military presence in Nigeria’s backyard has nothing to do with Boko Haram. Boko Haram is just a convenient excuse to mask their true agenda.

Without a threat the American people will not stand for it. So they engineer a threat, supply the threat with weapons with the aim of making the region restive, create a military power other than Nigeria and then forge strategic relationships with their puppet, inviting them to the region to help combat BOKO HARAM.

The groundwork for Chad’s newfound military might and security partnership with Washington and Paris was laid in northern Mali in 2013, when Nigeria, mired in its own home-grown battle with Boko Haram could not, for the first time lead a regional military intervention. The Nigerian government explained its position and offered to deploy troops and aircraft.

This leaves of course France and the newly created alternative to Nigeria’s military might in the region, CHAD. Chadian soldiers fought alongside French forces in some of the harshest terrain and deadliest battles as they sought to roll back jihadis who had dug in there. The Mali operations established the autocratic state Chad as the new regional policeman. Not that Nigeria, with its own internal strife cared anyway. But to stamp its place to the rest of the world as the new regional hegemon Nigeria, the already established regional powerhouse has to be usurped before the rest of the world.

So for 24 months Boko Haram was supplied with weapons and cash. The interception of 19 SA-2 Surface to air Missile to Boko Haram was just a stroke of luck. Washington and France has resolved to make Boko Haram the deadliest terrorist group in the world.

When less than two years later Boko Haram began seizing huge swaths of territory in northeastern Nigeria, Washington and Paris conveniently looked to Chad as part of a regional response because it didn’t believe Nigeria could handle the threat on its own.

Chad and Niger, autocratic regimes which also has a budding security partnership with the United States, mounted an armed intervention in early 2015 that pushed Boko Haram out of numerous towns and broke up the group’s Islamic emirate. Later, Chad took on a leading role in the Multinational Joint Task Force, a larger military coalition that included troops from four other nations, hosting its new headquarters as well as a coordination cell partly staffed by Western experts advising the campaign against Boko Haram.

This a new regional military power was born.

Chad has also continued to play an important role in Mali, where the United States is a significant contributor to the operations and aides French counterterrorism efforts with financial, logistical, and intelligence support.

So for the very first time since the creation of ECOWAS Anglophone West Africa was usurped and completely sidelined, relegated to irrelevance.

With Nigeria, the only economic and military threat to the Washington and Paris effectively tamed, it was time to carry out the next move, the creation of another military alliance, the so-called “Sahel G5” force that includes forces from Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

This French version of ECOMOG was tasked with improving security in the troubled Mali-Niger-Burkina Faso border region. The G5 force was a brainchild of the French, and the United States. When Trump took office, he was skeptical of the effort because of the projected cost but initially gave it some rhetorical support.

So the French alliance had West Africa locked firmly in its sphere of influence. But Nigeria still had economic clout in the region. Nigeria is in a league of its own economically. The Nigerian economy is bigger than the combined economies of all of East and West Africa combined.

To challenge Nigeria’s economic leverage in the region there had to be a worthy competitor, a large and equally powerful state. The best candidate for that was Morocco. With a more developed economy and industrial sector Morocco will serve as a viable alternative to Nigeria’s oil dependent economy.

IDRIS DERBY

But while Chad has burnished its image abroad by participating in military operations, it has struggled with mounting unrest and economic hardship at home. An authoritarian leader who seized power in 1990, Déby finds himself increasingly threatened by student and labor union unrest as persistently low oil prices and mounting security expenditures have at times left his government unable to pay workers.

As his position has grown more tenuous, Déby has been blunt with his Western partners: Give more money, or Chad will scale back its regional security commitments. France and others have heeded Déby’s threats. In June, the International Monetary Fundapproved over $300 million in extra loans for Chad. In September, a donor roundtable in Paris generated nearly $20 billion in pledges designed to support Chad’s 2017-2021 national development plan.

The diplomatic clout the impoverished nation of Chad now weilds is unprecendented in the region. Not even Nigeria could hold the two most powerful countries in the Western world to ransom. Lets not forget this is a dictatorship.

Questioned about the rational in financing repressive regimes in West Africa, the U.S government says it was because “several terrorist groups are active within Chad or in the surrounding region” and the government has failed to “adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information.”

Yet on the first count, at least — terrorist groups active within its borders, Chad is better off than many of its neighbors, in the sense that it is the least affected.

According to the State Dept, one possible explanation for this discrepancy, which would be preposterous in any administration except this one, is that the architects of the ban, having repeatedly heard the phrases “Boko Haram” and “Lake Chad” in the same sentence, assumed that Chad must be the epicenter of Boko Haram.

(Lake Chad in fact lies on the border of Chad and three other countries, and Boko Haram is mostly confined to northern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, and southeastern Niger.)

So if Chad is not the epicentre of the war against Boko Haram why is the United States building drone bases and sirverlance facilities in these countries, yet not engaging the Nigerian government, where the epicentre of the battle has been?

Washington said the decision was a mistake. The partial withdrawal of Chadian soldiers from places like southeastern Niger, an area that has been heavily targeted by Boko Haram in recent years, could result in swift and serious consequences, they said.

Initial reports indicate that the security situation there has already begun to deteriorate in the vacuum left by departing Chadian forces: Boko Haram attacks have escalated since the withdrawal, and so has banditry, a chronic regional problem.

A security vacuum will also have political and humanitarian consequences, imperiling tentative deradicalization and amnesty efforts by Niger’s government and making it more difficult to get vital assistance to millions of displaced people in the Lake Chad region.

So we see how Washington and Paris paints a false picture of the security situation the region to justify continued military operations in the region. They persist with the narrative that is factually not correct.

To put things into perspective, consider this statement by the France’s Foreign Ministry.

The Chadian president is likely betting that with his forces withdrawn from Niger, the Trump administration will quickly come to appreciate his country’s security contributions and remove it from the list. The danger for Déby, Washington, and especially for the region, however, is that the administration’s characteristic disorganization and stubbornness may delay a course correction until after serious harm has occurred.

No call for reforms, no call for democratic elections, no calls for upholding the rights of the people they govern. As of this writing hundreds of Southern Cameroonians are being massacred by Cameroonian Security Forces.

Unarmed women and children are rounded up and shot at point-blank range. The United States and France not only maintain strategic relations with these rogue regimes, they also have a military presence. The U.S has a Reaper Drone Base in Garoua, with about 800 troops deployed.

WHERE IS THE OURTAGE? !!!

The world is turning a blind eye to the atrocities being committed on a daily bases in Cameroon. Amnesty International, France, America, United Nations. Nary a word of condemnation, a call to justice and a call for reforms. It is true what they say, the quest for resources and power makes for strange bed fellows.

 

 

 

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