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The World Should Brace Up For More Difficult Times, says Are



Mr. Gani Are, Head of Office at MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo) and Project Manager at the United Nations Development Programme, is a political and security analyst. He once predicted that come December 2014, Boko Haram would be routed.  In this chat with KAMAL TAYO OROPO, he gives reasons why the prediction failed and what 2015 holds for global security

With the Charlie Ebdon and the French government’s reaction in arresting the situation still in mind, why has it been impossible to replicate such a swift reaction in the Middle East and Africa in particular?

WHILE the premium most governments on the continent of Africa pay on sanctity of lives of their citizens may not rank among global expectations, most western nations don’t joke with lives of their citizens; even at the risk of being accused of double-standard. When at least 2000 people reportedly died in Baga, Borno State of Nigeria, who reacted? But 14 French nationals died in Paris and all the leaders stood up. Yes, you may say this is one of the harsh realities of international politics; all men are equal, but some are more equal than the others. They must, however, be told that ‘the way you lay your bed, is the way you lie on it.’

In search of global peace and harmony, what does the year 2015 portend? 

    2014 was a tumultuous year globally with conflict and insecurity flaring in different parts of the world as a result of various reasons, ranging from political and religious extremism and global economic challenges. This is further complicated by climate change and massive migration of people, particularly from less developed countries to the developed. This has increased intolerance and xenophobia across the world and this is likely to continue in 2015. With the price of oil plummeting and the global economy still down, we should brace up for difficult times and increase in tension across the world. This will further be complicated by struggle for political power arising from fraudulent and manipulated electoral outcomes. 

   Failure to have transparent political transition may lead to exacerbation of armed struggle, self-determination by nation states and further the perpetration of global insecurity.

   In sub-Saharan Africa, conflict and insecurity is expected to continue to flare across the continent particularly in the Sahel region, as well as parts of West and Central Africa, where weak to non-existent state authority will continue to precipitate intra-state conflicts with dire humanitarian consequences. 

   Conflict affected states such as South Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo may continue to witness instability because of limited options to find binding resolution to the root causes of the conflicts. We might witness resumption of counterinsurgency operations in the DRC ‘s restive northeast because of the inability of the regional actors such as SADC/ICGLR and the UN multi-national peacekeeping force to find a solution to the menace of the FDLR after the neutralization of the M-23 rebel group, allegedly supported by Rwanda.

   Violence is expected to continue in the Central African Republic and South Sudan where different ethnic militias are expected to continue their war of attrition and visiting havoc on the civilian populations.

You predicted the end of Boko Haram by December 2014, but it does appear the insurgents are getting bolder and more daring; what went wrong?

   Yes, I remember predicting the possible end of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria by December 2014, but note that the prediction was based on the conditions that the army was adequately equipped and motivated. But I doubt if that is the case right now. Actually, the loss of the military cantonment in Baga and the arms and ammunitions seized by the Boko Haram has further empowered the Boko Haram and may prolong the insurgency if something drastic is not done immediately.

The governments of Chad, Cameroun and Republic of Niger, have been active collaborators with the Nigerian government in its fight against the insurgents; but how satisfied are you with the level of collaboration they offer?

    The continuous engagement of these neighboring countries –– Chad, Niger and Cameroon ­–– in confronting Boko Haram is good for preventing the spillover of the insurgency into their territories. 

   However, the Boko Haram may attack some targets in these countries in retaliation for their involvement in the conflict. Also, extreme Islamic cells within these countries may be awaken to destabilize them.

  Meanwhile, I believe these countries are trying their best, given the prevailing situation. They are evidently doing better than even the Nigerian government. 

How worried are you about possible fallouts of general election in Nigeria, bearing in mind in the 2011 post-election violence in certain parts of the country?

   Evidently, the government is distracted by electoral campaigns. Also, bear in mind that the newly elected government (even if it is the incumbent that is returned) is not expected to be settled until after May 2015. 

   Consequently, we should expect more havoc from Boko Haram from now, through the elections until, probably the end of the year.    Unfortunately, the brave but under-staffed and ill-equipped men of the Nigerian Army will continue to struggle to stem the tide of Boko Haram’s insurgency. As we get closer to February 2015 elections, Boko Haram is anticipated to increase both its urban and rural armed campaign as a means of disrupting or undermining the electoral process. 

   The fair and transparent outcome of the elections, particularly, the presidential election, is the only way to forestall possible exacerbation of the security challenges in Nigeria. Good management of the post presidential elections fall-out is important for the continued stability of Nigeria.

What does this portends for the security in West Africa?

   In the Sahel region of West Africa, insecurity will likely continue to be driven by Islamic extremist groups seeking to displace secular state authority with their brutal interpretation of Islamic doctrine. Also, the impact of militancy, which was pronounced in northeastern Nigeria, is expected to continue in the first half of 2015.

Looking generally at the continent, is there any chance of succour this year?

  One can only hope and pray. The Islamist militants are also going to continue to attack Kenya, because of its involvement in the Somalia conflicts. 2014 saw Al-Shabab working with local Kenyan radical Muslims attacking Christians and they may try to escalate this in 2015.

  But most crucially, the geo-political stability in Africa is set to be influenced by the socio-economic and political issues across the continent. The reverberation of the deposing of the 27-year reign of Burkina Faso’s president, Blaise Campaore, who tried to amend the country’s constitution in order to get  a third term is expected to echo across the continent, where many leaders may want to pursue similar path in order to perpetuate their reigns beyond the provision of the constitution.

   However, the resistance of the opposition to the attempt to change the constitution may vary from country to country as it will be dependent on a number of factors, which include the ability of the opposition movements to work with the military and the civil society in order to protect their democracy.

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