If the French ever get serious about counterterrorism they should seek to capture or kill the Islamic leadership ravaging throughout French Africa. Indigenous French resources aren’t readily at hand, however, the reach of Paris by proxy is advantageous.
Chad began deploying troops last Friday night in Cameroon, AFRICOM in Stuttgart, Germany can help given its longstanding presence throughout the region. Nevertheless, the French can use African resources to quell the spell of militant Islam in Africa.
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has welcomed Chadian troop movements throughout its nation, this doubles the Nigerian effort launched by President Goodluck Jonathan. These tactical efforts must be complimented by governance issues if indigenous counterterror measures are to gain traction. Niger, Chad and Cameroon all share a border with Nigeria. Boko Haram’s reach is moving westward toward the Atlantic, threatening Nigeria from within. Its stronghold is only garnished with weak national governance coupled to fragmented ethnic, religious separatism throughout Nigeria. The vast majority of Boko Haram’s ethnicity are the Kanuri people who are indigenous to Nigeria. It’s founder is a Cameroonian Muslim preacher who moved to Nigeria in the 1940’s, this coupled with the death of Gaddafi opened up the scope for cash rich Riyadh to import radicals.
Chad still holds the regions most experienced fighters. A deeply poor nation of 13 million, spread across an expanse of desert larger than Texas and California combined. Charles de Gaulle built a military base in Chad that the French are welcomed to use in its regional offensive. The key here is sound intelligence and drones. Chad was instrumental in battling Islamic militants who captured Mali in 2013, they were routed by Chadian troops stationed, garrisoned by French sources.
If the French turn their counterterror mission over to their bureaucracies, it will vanish. Bureau is a French word for ‘desk’. Bureaucracies don’t function with any resolve or efficiency, especially those in Europe. Security bureaucracies fail when they are confused about their mission or lack of confidence in the support of their political leadership. The fault lines for mission creep toward no-man’s-land is vast.
Let’s hope the French get, and keep up to speed.