West Africa and Terrorism
By Abdoulaye W. Dukule
December 30, 2002
We knew all along. In the December 8, 2002 edition of Jeune Afrique/l'Intelligent, Francois Soudan wrote that French President Jacques Chirac was dismayed at the fact that the man the French government has been propping up to become the successor to Old man Houphouet Boigny as their man in the West African sub region had been lying to him all along. The entourage of President Chirac had just found out that indeed Blaise Compaore was part and parcel of the destabilization of Cote d'Ivoire. They discovered that notwithstanding his public declarations, the soldier from Burkina Faso valued the petro-dollars and cash from Blood Diamonds more than France's blessings as "a good person to do business with."
Blaise Compaore was involved in preparing the coup in Abidjan while he was receiving Laurent Gbagbo in Ouagadougou, embracing him and telling him that he will never be part of any effort to destabilize the Ivorian regime. While he was embracing Liberian opposition members in a made-for-TV peace conference, he was providing sanctuary to the terrorists who lived between Monrovia and Ouaga and he was pocketing money from diamond sales by Al Qaeda terrorists and their man in Monrovia.
When the United Nations sanctions were about to be imposed on culprit regimes in West Africa that had fueled the conflict in Sierra Leone, the French went out of their way to ensure that Blaise Compaore was not affected. After the death of Houphouet Boigny, the French needed someone "trustworthy" in West Africa. Blaise Compaore seemed to be the perfect man. He has been in power since 1987. He was slowly becoming part of the political landscape of West Africa and he had made all the mistakes one could make as president and still be alive or in office. They didn't trust the Senegalese, both Abdoulaye Wade and his predecessor Abdou Diouf moved Senegal closer to the United States and Eyadema was just hanging by a thread. Conteh was too much of an "African Chief" to do business with. So they banked on Blaise Compaore. In the corridors of the UN, French diplomats convinced everyone that the man in Ouaga had changed, that he was nothing like the man who killed "his brother" for power and trained thousands of illiterate angry youth from Liberians and Sierra Leone at his Po military base before unleashing them on innocent people.
Blaise and Taylor connived to stage an act of crockery that could only be matched by their first alliance that led to the killing of Thomas Sankara. They pretended to break up and many believed them. They fooled Paris, the UN and Ivorians and we also wrote about "The last friend on the block," when Blaise opened his doors to the Liberian opposition. But we also knew better. We knew that if the 2003 campaign was to cost anywhere between 2 to 4 million dollars to keep the criminal enterprise running, there would be no harm in dishing out a few hundred thousands dollars to Liberian opposition to convince them that Taylor and Blaise were now world apart. And it worked. A few good nights in luxury hotels in Ouaga and the Liberian opposition desperate for "godfathers" were singing the praise of Blaise. Those who dared to criticize the move were called all kinds of name. And here we are. Blaise and Taylor are together and have always worked hand-in-hand.
The Washington Post front-page article of December 29, 2002 only confirms what we said here the day after September 11, 2001.We knew the nature of the regime in Monrovia, we knew of its close links with Ouaga and the axis going all the way to Tripoli, the land of the man who, after failing to rally Arab nations against Israel, has created mini terrorist groups all over the continent to destabilize "Western" interests. We knew that the Axis of Terror, that runs from Tripoli through Ouaga and to the Coast of the Atlantic was well and alive, looking for new expansions. After losing Freetown, and stopped in their move to Guinea, it was expected that they would fall on sleepy Cote d'Ivoire. In that country, where Gbagbo, Bedie, and Guei all sowed the seeds of division by adopting an almost Nazi-like ideology of "national purity", things were ready to blow up. All one needed were a few disgruntled soldiers, a few dollars and guns. And it happened.
The French have nobody to blame but themselves, by shielding Blaise and playing games with Taylor for a few cubic meters of rare tropical wood. Their colonial empire is now blowing up in their face and they are now looking at Washington for salvation. They don't know how to get rid of Blaise and Taylor at the same time without plunging the region into turmoil but with these two present, there will be no peace in West Africa. They are puppets at the hands of Kaddafi but dangerous puppets, with minds and appetites of their own. The French now want Blaise out, with Taylor. How to do it? Their fear of the US getting involved in their empire will not help. Most former French African colonies are looking towards the US but have been restrained in their move because of American "shyness" and its lack of serious interest in the continent beyond oil and minerals.
At the time when the US is looking at securing oil sources on West Africa coast, with the Middle East on the brink of falling into a political earthquake, nothing would please Kaddafi more than becoming the most dependable source of oil for the West. It is a repeat of the first "oil revolution" of the 1970s. The Guy would do it this time without the ideological verbiage.
Most African economies were severely damaged by the Western imposed economic policies of the 1970-1980s. Many governments are now at the mercy of anyone with a few bucks. They have to make a choice between buying aspirins for school children and paying interests on loans that were extended to corrupt regimes during the Cold War by western banks. Countries like Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Congo-Zaire, Sierra Leone have to scramble for decades to pay for loans extended to Samuel Doe, Houphouet-Boigny, Mobutu, Momo and others whose most important credentials were to be "anti-communists." Now, these impoverished countries are breeding grounds for terrorism. Liberia is home to every gangster dealing with drugs (for the thousands of addicted fighters), money to buy blood diamonds and arms for the multitude of renegade armed groups the regime works with all across the continent.
The rebels in Cote d'Ivoire are terrorists. They are holding millions of people hostage to fulfill their political ambitions. Charles Taylor in Liberia is heading nothing but a terrorist organization because by force of arms, intimidation and torture, it has taken the whole country hostage. Blaise Compaore in Burkina Faso is helping the expansion of state terrorism in West Africa. Kaddafi, in Libya, is the mastermind of it all. The French said he had provided $2 million to the rebels. The arms and support staff came for Liberia and Burkina Faso.
How serious is the US about fighting terrorism will be demonstrated when, along with targeting Saddam Hussein, it also looks at the small-town bandits and dictators in "insignificants countries" that have ceased to have any "strategic interest" but can still cause serious harm to the national interest of the US and World Peace.