The year 2015 may go down in history as the most unpredictable; a year of intense activism of sub-national groups; a year of international tension, reminiscent of the Cold War days; a year of energy crisis – slumping oil prices; -indeed, 2015 has been a very horrible year. And the year is ending with no hope for a secure future. We will concentrate on (in)stability, engendered first and foremost by global geo-political and geo-strategic miscalculations. We have had occasions to highlight the Clash of Civilizations that has engulfed most parts of the Middle East and elsewhere, owing to a desire, especially by the West to spread its values globally. Support for insurgencies, labeled in ‘colour revolution’ garbs (Orange Revolution; Arab Spring etc.) since the beginning of the second decade of the 21st Century, has resulted in unexpected consequences, the vacuum thus created being filled by sub-national groups (Ukraine, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and Syria readily come to mind).
How to deal with the menace is now a global problem with no thinkable solution in sight. The United Nations’ recent resolution on the question of Syria is too little (porous), too late. Large swaths of territory have fallen into the hands of Jihadists in Iraq and Syria. The combined efforts of
Syria, Iraq and Turkey seemed useless until the Russian came in. The US has for months been flying sorties against positions held by ISIS but no significant results have been noticed. And this was because the US and its Western allies were more interested in regime change (Assad must go) than tackling the real enemy – the ISIS. Arms and ammunition meant for anti-Assad elements (the Free Syrian Army) found their way into the hands of the ISIS. The continued festering of ISIS and Jihadism generally and the global reach it has today is because the world (the West and their allies, in particular) offered corridors, especially through Turkey, for anti-Assad elements the world over to enter Syria. It allowed the Sunni elements, unable to find satisfaction with Al Qaeda to look for a fulfillment – the re-creation of the Caliphate.
The Expectant Caliphate
So effective and ruthless has the ISIS been (in propaganda, in recruitment, in organizational management, and in combat effectiveness) that, the world has been made impotent.
The slump in oil prices is partly because ISIS controls the most lucrative wells in Iraq and Syria. They know how to market the oil, to the extent that Turkish officials are alleged to be complicit in the ISIL oil markets. They are alleged to produce about fifty thousand barrels a day and make up to about three billion dollars a year. Close sixty percent of oil fields in Syria and about 15% of those in Iraq are in the hands of ISIS. The offshoot of this insane situation is the immigration crisis facing Europe. The UN reports that up to a million people have migrated from the war-torn areas to Europe.
It also has its own implications. It has created a refugee crisis and caused tension among European nations, threatening the very fabric of the European Union. It has economic implications for Europe – jobs, social security etc. Most importantly, it has serious security implications. We have warned in one of our earlier pieces that many Jihadists may be among the immigrants; even if not, that the immigrants have been uprooted from their homelands may cause some constellation – they are a potential hot magma, from which may erupt throughout Europe a Jihadist volcano. And Europe may have to live with this for a long time to come. Against this background, it makes sense to tackle religious extremism with a common sense of purpose – the ‘One Fist’ approach, suggested by Russia. No-one is immune from this menace and to look at the solution through geo-political and/or geo-strategic lenses is wrong. The whole world needs a hands-on approach through the UN.
The war-on-terror, started by Clinton, wrongly warped by the Bush administration, and re-crafted in steeped contours by the Obama administration cannot be won by any single individual country or group of countries. It is the geo-political approach that has led to Russo-Turkish stalemate (the West/NATO staunchly supporting Turkey). Incidentally, Turkey is the loser for downing a plane which is doing the work for the world – fighting ISIS. Should this happen, when the enemy is common to all of us? Incidentally, the rise of ISIS is reverberating everywhere. Boko Haram is on the rise and in 2015 has given Nigeria and the whole of West Africa no respite. They also want to create an AfriCaliphate. Al Shabaab is terrorizing the eastern part of Africa.
In Europe Jihadism has risen to heights unknown in history. The rise of sub-national groups is now more fashion than necessity. The breakup of nations is a global reality. And this is precisely because sub-national groups understand the new geopolitics of our time. The Ukrainian situation is a case in point. Many more such instances in already troubled places are expected to continue into 2016 and beyond.
African countries are a hodge-podge of states, containing Muslims Christians and other faiths. It is the more reason that Africa and Africans should not play into the geo-political game. We have lived in harmony for a long time, in spite of the ills of imperialism and colonization. We need to foster unity among our peoples and ensure that succeeding generations are insulated from the scourge of war.