Honor and Loyalty : Africa : Terrorism in the Gulf of Guinea

To say that the African continent is in the process of being transformed into a new land for the expansion of terrorism is to acknowledge with great propriety that the scourge is gaining ground every day.

From the four points of impetus that are the southern shore of the Mediterranean, the Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa and more recently the Mozambique Channel, the subtle penetration that nothing and no one seems able to thwart, seems to have set the Gulf of Guinea as its final destination.

The reasons for such a choice are not to be sought in any ideal of confessional puritanism, especially since it is carried by extremists who are very often illiterate, and whose deprave natureand deadly disregard for human life are well known. The focus on the Gulf of Guinea cannot be justified by blind armed violence, disguised as a struggle for the empowerment of people presented as marginalised.

The real reasons why terrorists from every continent, stripe and shade of opinion, want to gain a foothold in our geographical space are, among others, its openness to the ocean, its vantage position at the centre of the planet, and above all, its geographical proximity to the major Western markets for the consumption of narcotic products.

Thus, one could say that where terrorism passes, drugs follow! But the analogy with the premise on the road and development ends here, with terrorism and drugs forming an explosive cocktail in every sense of the word, quite the opposite of the development benefits brought by the passage of a road.

The most improbable aspect of this affair is the sort of connivance established between ideologies that everything would oppose, at least if they were at all sincere.

But here we are! The alleged religious extremists and separatists intend to work together to promote their actual business: drug trafficking. This is of course on the condition that they manage to create transit routes from the Gulf of Guinea to establish a link with the places where the demand for drugs is the highest, even if it means provoking situations of socio-security instability, and even creating lawlessenclaves in the countries crossed by these corridors of death.

In fact, drug trafficking is always accompanied by a significant traffic in weapons of war, the latter being used to maintain a level of violence high enough tocoerce the peopleinto cooperation or silence, thereby reducing the capacity of States to wage an effective fight against the cartels.

Moreover, the drugs never go away completely. There is always a quantity left for local consumption in the transit zones, a pattern that renders the inhabitants of the infected areas poor, as well as inhibits the intellectual and mental capacity of the youth.

Now that the threat has been identified, it is up to the States affected by this other cause of fragility to significantly strengthen the material and cognitive resources of their security systems, while equally intensifying public awareness on the harmful effects of drug trafficking on our communities.

The other important actions to be undertaken will be to pool fighting capacity, synchronisefield operations, share information and transfer skills to less endowed partners. Cameroon could thus share her experience in dismantling terrorist groups and securingher territory, which has so far been free of lawless enclaves or grey areas.

Navy Captain

ATONFACK GUEMO,

Head of Communication Division - MINDEF