Shielding Christians blow to radicalisation

There are so many significant events that unfolded in Africa in 2015, ranging from political, economic to socio-cultural. This includes the World Trade Organisation Nairobi Declaration that seeks to reduce agricultural subsidies to benefit developing countries, the political crisis in Burundi, Africa’s push towards the Amendment of the Rome Statute through the Assembly of State parties regarding two prominent Kenyans accused of crimes against humanity in the 2007/08 post-election violence, the failed request to South Africa by ICC to arrest Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir and the ensuing politics.

The violence in South Sudan pitting arch rivals Salva Kiir and Riek Machar that has led to humanitarian crisis, the first visit of a sitting US President to Kenya and the homecoming of US President Barrack Hussein Obama, which was followed by Pope Francis’s historic visit.

Rwanda’s ‘successful’ constitutional amendment referendum that extends presidential term limit for Paul Kagame, successful elections in Tanzania that ushered the “Magufuli” or reformist era in East African politics, constitutional requests by Senegal and Liberia to reduce presidential term limits, and counting.

Even though these happenstances showcasing the attention Africa is attracting in global political-economy contribute to the Africa Rising narrative, most of them cannot be celebrated, especially those that do not dovetail with Africa Unions Agenda 2063 of a peaceful and prosperous Africa with opportunities for all.

Most of these events have been random and sporadic yet they are now exhibiting a dangerous trend that will erode the democratic gains on the continent. Most importantly, those related to political violence, dictatorship and mal-governance have worked to create room for the rise of militarism where armed non-state actors including terrorists have taken centre stage.

Good examples are found in corruption in Kenya and dictatorship in Burundi respectively. One only needs to look at how the state’s absence, corruption and governance issues in countries like Somalia over the years have created space for the emergence of one of the most sophisticated terror networks in the world.

Al-Shabaab is an offshoot of Al-Qaida in Yemen, currently with significant allegiance to ISIS, an organised global terror network with financial muscle responsible for the recent Paris Attacks, the US shootings and the crisis in Syria in concert with a brutal regime and the most recent attacks in Libya that left dozens dead and the killing of some Kenya Defence Forces operating in Somalia under Amisom.

Terrorism is perhaps the elephant in the room when it comes to eventualities in 2015 spilling into 2016 that would be of consequence in emerging economies in Africa, significantly influencing not only interstate relations, but also US-Africa relations and global political-economy, given America’s leadership in counter-terrorism and countries such as Kenya in the front-line of the international conventional ‘War on Terror’.

The threat of terror has prompted joint interventions on security where often, the security of states in Africa has often been undermined, threatened or enhanced by counter-terrorism strategies adopted by those states.

This implies that African states’ success in the ‘Era of Terror’ would largely be pegged on the extent to which their counter-terrorism strategies dovetail with an individual state’s broad security measures on a national and transnational level.

Intergovernmental Cooperation on Security (IGS), an initiative under Barrack Obama proves that terrorism is a global threat. Boko Haram continues to wreak havoc in West Africa demanding joint security interventions by Ecowas similar to the coalition against Isis in the Middle East. Al-Shabaab continues to be a threat in East Africa and the Horn of Africa irrespective of the joint efforts through Amisom and Kenya Defence Forces.

Even though security interventions by Regional Economic Communities are beginning to bear fruit both in East and West Africa in containing large-scale organised terrorism, terrorists only need to succeed once and the consequences will be mentally devastating given the hysteria created when terror is hyped by the highly proliferated global media.

That is why outstanding efforts such as those of shielding Christian passengers by Muslims from Al-Shabaab attacks in a Mandera bound bus in Kenya in December 2015 is a hallmark against radical ideas in Africa that warrants public appraisal.

This is necessary because the biggest battle against ideology is counter ideology.