by Femi Fani-Kayode
The CIA have confirmed the fact that up to 30,000 soldiers are now fighting for ISIS, ISIL and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Given this sobering news it is a matter of tremendous relief and indeed joy that President Barack Obama has announced that it is the intention of the United States to ‘’degrade and destroy’’ ISIL by launching a series of deadly airstrikes and to play a more vigorous and active role in the fight against terror.
Our very own President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian Armed Forces have a lesson to learn from this new-found American initiative and resolve: it is time for us to take off the gloves and to despatch our own local equivalent of ISIS back to hell where they belong.
It is time for us to recognize the fact that were are not just fighting against a group of barbaric, primitive and ignorant peasants, cave men and insurgents who lack compassion and human decency but rather that we are involved in a full scale civil war against a sophisticated, clever, determined, well-funded, well-motivated, well-armed and relentless enemy who have plenty of resources and local support from elements within the political class and who are hell-bent on killing our people, raping our women, abducting our children, dismembering our country and taking us back to the 6th century.
Had it not been for the admirable efforts of Colonel Sambo Dasuki, who was appointed National Security Advisor after the demise of General Patrick Azazi a couple of years back, things would have been a lot worse and Abuja would have still been under siege today. Had it not been for the sheer dexterity and immense courage of our intelligence agencies and Armed Forces the towns of Bama, Konduga and a number of other communities in the north-east would still have been occupied by the Haramites today and Maiduguri itself, the capital of Borno State, may well have fallen by now.
I have nothing but praise, gratitude and admiration for our uniformed men and women that are fighting at the warfront and I pray for them every day. Regardless of a few set backs here and there they really have done us proud. Yet things should never have got this bad in the first place and Boko Haram ought to never have been allowed to make the kind of inroads and impact that they have made in the last four years. Three years ago I warned about this threat and offered similar counsel in a series of essays about Boko Haram.
I also criticised what I considered to be the Federal Government’s inadequate response to the challenge at the time. Sadly, rather than listen, the majority of Nigerian politicians, newspaper columnists, government officials and professional commentators, as usual, condemned me roundly, said that I was an alarmist and complained that I was being far too harsh on the enemy and far too extreme in my counsel.
One particular individual even accused me of being a ‘’bloodthirsty and callous maniac who had no value for human life’’. Clearly they misunderstood what Boko Haram stood for and they had no understanding of the nature of the beast that they were dealing with.
Today, almost 20,000 cold-blooded murders and hundreds of abductions and kidnappings later, the very same people that condemned me and ostracised me three years ago for advocating that the Jonathan administration ought to ”treat Boko Haram like a festering and putrid cancer”, ‘’kill all the Haramites and their secret friends, allies and sponsors” and that ”they should blow up the towns that were loyal to them or that harbored them’’ are now commending my foresight.
They are also burying their heads in shame and hiding under their beds whenever they hear the words ‘’Boko Haram’’. Worse still those of them that are southerners are urging their fellow southerners that live in the north to leave the north as quickly as possible and move back to the south as a consequence of the scourge, as if that would not play right into the hands of the terrorists.
The truth is that the majority of Nigerians are notoriously shortsighted people who are not only undiscerning but who also always choose to believe the best about the villains and the worst about the good guys. Sadly this has played right into the hands and the horrific narrative of the beasts and terrorists that seek to decimate us and consequently for the last three years they have had a field day.
Yet, if it is any consolation, this has been so throughout the world and not just in Nigeria. The Jonathan administration were not the only ones that were slow in their initial response to the challenge presented by the islamists and they were not the only ones that failed to fully comprehend and appreciate the fact that the terrorists needed to be utterly crushed right from the outset.
The Obama administration and indeed the rest of the civilised world made the same mistake when confronted with similar terrorist organisations in north Africa, the Middle East and east Africa in the last three years. The result of that lack of foresight is the fact that today ISIS, ISIL and the Islamic State have now become a threat to the entire free world.
In Africa groups like Boko Haram and Al Shabab have drawn immense inspiration and courage from the successes of ISIL and ISIS in Iraq and Syria. ISIL is the greatest threat to world peace today and they have committed more horrors and indulged in more violence than any other islamist terrorist organisation that has ever existed.
They are providing moral support for Al Qaeda in the north African Maghreb, Al Shabab in East Africa, Boko Haram in west Africa, Hamas in Gaza, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Chechnyan separatists in Russia, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Islamic Jihad in Algeria, Daesh in Lebanon, the Al Nusra Front in Syria and all the other vermin that is crawling out from under the woodwork in the name of violent Jihad and in an attempt to create a new world Caliphate.
Thousands of Christians, moderate Muslims and people of other faiths have been slaughtered in cold blood and abducted, raped and sold into slavery by the Boko Haramites and their allies and associates in northern Nigeria, the Cameroons and Mali in the last 4 years alone.
This is a global war and we must ALL stand together to create more awareness and to fight it. I put much of the blame for the mess we are in on the doorstep of President Obama. He has been weak and naive on this matter right from the start.
He refused to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation up until early this year even though by the end of last year they had butchered well over 15,000 Nigerians. This is inexplicable and it is indefensible.
Even worse was his covert support for the rebels in Syria which included ISIS, Al Nusra and all the other islamist terrorists that were, and still are, fighting the government of President Bashar Al Assad. This policy was not only short-sighted and counterproductive but it was also nothing short of reprehensible.
Ditto the support that some of America’s closest allies in the region including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and all the other countries in the Middle East that funded the so-called rebels that were fighting Al Assad. Thankfully those rebels have not succeeded up until today.
If they had done so we would have had an ISIL/Al Nusra government in power in Damascus today and I cannot imagine what could possibly be worse than that for peace in the Middle East and for peace with Israel.
On that score I say thank God for the Russians, Hezbollah (yes Hezbollah) and Iran who saw that the greater evil was ISIL and Al Nusra and who supported Al Assad and stood with him against them. America and her allies have to sit up, do some real soul-searching and endeavor to stop creating the unholy mess that the the rest of the world has to later assist in cleaning up.
Let us face it, getting rid of men like Muammar Ghadaffi, Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak was a big mistake. The Arab spring has turned into a never-ending and horrific nightmare and that nightmare appears to want to consume the entire world in fratricidal butchery and never-ending carnage.
Yes those men were ruthless and brutal dictators but at least they were secularists who knew how to deal with islamist terror and Al Qaeda and at least they kept the peace in their respective countries and regions.
No they were not democrats but neither are the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan or any other ally of America in the Middle East except for Israel.
What is going on today in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Egypt today as a direct consequence of the choices that America made and the implementation of American foreign policy in those countries over the last ten to fifteen years is simply perverse and barbaric.
It is a tragedy of monumental proportions and it really does have implications for the entire free world and particularly for the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Israel. One thing is clear: whether we like to admit it or not the violent terrorists with their barbaric vision of a new islamist world order are here to stay.
We either do nothing, accept it and prepare for the worst or we fight it with all that we have got. I would prefer that we do the latter. Given the new-found resolve of the Americans in their struggle against ISIL and given the recent gains that the Nigerian Armed Forces have made in the war with Boko Haram it is clear that we are now moving in the right direction. May God deliver us and may He grant us the victory in this noble quest.
Femi Fani-Kayode is a lawyer and former minister of aviation. He is a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), he was once a member of the All Progressive Congress (APC). He writes from Lagos.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.