The Sahel: the challenge of foreign troupes PDF Print E-mail
Written by André Marie Pouya,Journaliste / Consultant   
Sunday, 26 November 2017 23:41

Before the Malian crisis eruption in 2012, they were present, but imperceptibly. Five years later, are very clever those who could release reliable statistics on the number of foreign military operating in all the Sahel countries. The flags of most major powers hover in this region, weakened, in part, by the jihadists. That presence brings to the fore several considerations. On the ‘’a la carte menu’’: appreciation, unwillingness and rebuff of these helpful armies.



Weak governance


At the beginning, foreign troupes presence was a response to the calls made by distressed Sahel governments threatened, in their very existence, as well as that of their States. In order not to be left out, with regard to strategic issues, the governments that were called on, have offered to come, "in support" to the threatened Sahel states. Threatened by terrorist combatants, many countries have mutely accepted the presence of these foreign troupes. Their argument, old and pragmatic, was the following: ‘’all good wills are welcome’’.


In their mind, that strategy was going to affect the drives of the troublemakers, in the Sahel shaky sands. These well trained foreign soldiers, over-equipped and carrying up to date precision intelligence technologies, would make hopeless the all-out harassment of these troublemakers, without apparent political agenda, and called terrorists.


Thereafter, UN, American, German, French, Italian, Chinese and many others foreign soldiers came in. It was a process of benchmarking; intended to not only demonstrate force but also to serve as an example to those African soldiers, demoralized by their ongoing setbacks each time they were confronting jihadists.


That Sahel leaders’ pragmatic approach was encouraged by the respite of their desperate people, relentlessly stunned by the insufficiencies suffered by their national armies in their confrontation of this new enemy.


These armies great hopes were drawn from lessons learned out of the first armed clashes with terrorists. Facing their own realities, the Sahelian armies would then open their hearts, their closets and their accounting books, in short, the tools of their internal governance, to their former and now their new protectors.


The latters, operating on more rational, not to say more transparent rules, would help these brothers in arms to change their bad practices. A new era would open, under the deadly and roaring thrusts of those who claim to "defeat imperialism by faith."


As times goes on, those reluctant to the presence of foreign troupes on the land of their ancestors thought to at least score periodic victories.



Terrorists not deterred by foreign troupes.


For the moment, the presence of the world powers’ troupes has not stunned the terrorists. At times, one might even conclude that this friendly military invasion stimulates the audacity of these modern times desperados. Between these foreign troupes and Sahel populations, misunderstandings are accumulating.


Most recently, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which has approximately fourteen thousand (14,000) soldiers, has made the following argumentation: "The fight against terrorism is not in the MINUSMA mandate.‘’


 Terrorist attacks are now global in their scope. In the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Belgium, unthinkable booster shots are administered, secretly or on one plain morning, to countries who believed they had dominated the rest of humanity through the battle of the minds: their civilization!


Then, the stubborn skeptical come to exclaim, with an intellectual satisfaction grieved by the horror of blind killings, in the mumbling manner that follows the events: "we had told you so! ‘’.


  Fully pleased with the spectacle, even if the delectation has been discreet – indeed minimum modesty remains required - those who reject foreign troupes’ presence in the Sahel, in the name of the sacred theology of national sovereignty, bring in their peaceful heavy artillery. They claim loudly: this foreign military presence in the region further exposes our country and our people, transformed, against their will, into targets of the enemy.  Indeed they are supposed to have given their consent to this military landing of a new type.


Obviously, the establishment of the military bases is carried out with total discretion. Discretion even from Sahel Prime ministers who observe a political silence, when questioned about the conditions of the presence of the unknown military berets in the region. Many Sahelian parliamentarians will confess, for some naively, to have learned of the presence of foreign troupes in their own country "by the media". The "Question" was discussed at the summit level. That is to say between the Head of State and his counterparts of the major countries concerned.


But, are they, really, "counterparts"? United Nations diplomacy, although strongly modulated by the supremacy of the Security Council, has taught us, Africans, the principle of voting: one country, one voice.


That great powers graciousness, which at times appeases us with illusions, must not soften our critical vigilance needs. If countries, foreign to the continent, allow themselves to take on issues as sovereign as Defense and Security, it is because the Sahelian states have, for ages, reached the bottom.


The debate, again, is open. Injured, fatally wounded, we are ready to solicit and accept any therapy; the assessment will be done after healing. We should not always scream that there is plot! We still have a construction site that no one disputes to us: the post-war anti-terrorist era.


Olivier Guichard, companion in France Liberation Order, had he not said, one day of doubts, to a certain Charles de Gaulle: "My general, we follow you, eyes wide open ..."





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