“Welcome our girls, welcome our sisters”

Boko Haram’s constant terrorist threat in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Mali has provoked a multitude of deaths and controversies in the last eight years (organization founded in 2002), whose aim is to declare the establishment of the Sharia as in force norm in all the conditions of Nigeria. This organization has provoked 20.000 casualties, the displacement of 1,5 million refugees and a humanitarian crisis without precedents in the North-East of Nigeria in its eight years of insurgency.

During one of the moments of Boko Haram’s maximum territorial expansion, on April 13, 2014, members of this terrorist group were penetrating a center of Chibok’s secondary education, to the Northeast of the country, kidnapping 276 teenagers, between twelve and seventeen years of age. Of the kidnapped girls, 57 could escape of his captors, but the rest disappeared.

Now 82 of the Chibok school girls have been returned in a trade deal between Boko Haram and the Nigerian Government. In order to retrieve the girls, five of Boko Haram commanders have now been set free. The Chibok girls gained attention after social media erupted with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, many public figures such as former United States First Lady Michelle Obama came out in support of the movements. As of today, there are still 113 girls held captive by Boko Haram.

For the return of the girls, some parents traveled to the capital to celebrate and to be with their daughters as soon as possible, meanwhile there are still parents worried about the 113 missing girls. Integrating these girls back to society is going to be a tough task as they faced unbelievable psychical pressure and violence without any hope for freedom. Because many of them were Christians they had to convert to Islam.  It followed marriage to their captor and childbirth somewhere in the forest. The others were forced to take part in suicide missions. The UN Special Rapporteurs stressed the necessity for useful measures to address stigma and rejection of women and people associated with Boko Haram by their families and communities.

As the girls return to their homes “the president was delighted to receive them and he promised that all that is needed to be done to reintegrate them into the society will be done,” said Femi Adesina. Their reintegration to the society will be supervised by government officials.

Even though President Muhammadu Buhari promised for his election to make the fight against Boko Haram and the return of the Girls his priorities it is unclear how active the terrorist group is now. Buhari late last year announced Boko Haram had been “crushed”. With the group, still in activity in Northern Nigeria and its surrounding countries Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris says, “A lot of people in Nigeria don’t believe that Boko Haram will simply release those girls after three years in captivity for nothing in return.”. This shows that even after the release of 21 girls last year and 82 now the population remains uncertain about their safety from the group and the power of the government.

Source:CNN

 

THE MIDDLE EAST SITUATION; A PERSPECTIVE FROM A NORWEGIAN OFFICER WORKING FOR NATO

 

Lieutenant Colonel Tore Bade is a Norwegian officer who currently works for NATO at the NATO headquarters in Turkey (Izmir). He works with Military Cooperation, helping with military training.

He has been working for the Norwegian Armed Forces for more than 32 years, and has participated in missions in such places as Lebanon (1990-91), Iraq (1992-93), Rwanda (1995), Bosnia 1997-98), Kosovo (2002-03), Iraq (2006), Afghanistan (2008), and Egypt (2010-2011 during the revolution.tore nao

Centering ourselves in one of his missions, we could highlight the one in Iraq, between 1992 and 1993, where he also worked for the United Nations with UNICEF and UNHCR, helping the refugees.

Tore spent half of the year in Bagdad and the other half in Kurdistan in the North of Iraq, right after the first gulf war and the invasion of Kuwait. This was the moment when Iraq was settled under the international sanctions.

Some years later he went back to this country (exactly in 2006) this time, helping in the training of Iraqi soldiers.  In this mission, several of his comrades in arms were killed, when their military base was attacked up to fifteen times a day with rockets and mortars.

Tore affirms that probably the most difficult part of a mission is not being contending, but being apart from his wife and his four children;   << When I look back, I think that this is one of the most silly things I ever did. Volunteering to go to on missions means volunteering to be far away from my family >>

When Tore went to Iraq for the first time, the only way of communication with his family was by satellite.  He had to pay ten dollars per minute of call. The second time he was in the country, the army paid the calls, but he could just call home once per week or every ten days.

He reaffirms; << Even sometimes I think I have been selfish and stupid, every time I go back home I try to compensate the time I have been away, and I appreciate it much more>>.

For Tore Bade, frankly speaking, there is not always a great deal of idealism from his point of view in his work. He believes that many military personnel want to “live the experience they have been training for”, therefore, they mostly go to the battlefield to corroborate that they are able to do their work and function when someone is shooting at them or bombs are falling. It is a bit like a fireman, who trains to work in burning houses. You really want to know if you can do the job.

Talking now about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization we should bear in mind that they also work with countries which are not in the NATO, willing to help maintain stability in them, and to encourage democracy, transparency and confidence building.   A great example in this case, is Jordan (one of few stable countries at the moment in the Middle East). NATO has an excellent partnership with Jordan and assists the Jordanian military forces, introducing them to the NATO way of doing business, and therefore, also helping to reinforce the stability of the country. This helps Jordan to maintain security on its borders, and reinforces stability in the region as a whole.

NATO uses its resources many ways, also to encourage transparency in terms of military budgets and tries to help implement democratic values, so it is not just a military labor but they also help the countries to become more open to the international community. Moreover, they teach leadership, showing military officers to “lead by example”.

<< If you want soldiers to respect you and to do things in the right way, you, as their commander, should be the first person to do the difficult and dangerous duties as well.
This does not happen in all countries; instead, officers and non-commissioned officers are afraid themselves. >>

Centering ourselves in the Middle East situation , Tore believes that there is a big problem taking place in the region right now, and that it will have a very big impact not just in the region, but in Europe and in fact, the whole world.  He affirms that problems that exacerbate the situation may be issues like a lack of democracy, or freedom of speech, which unfortunately helps to generate discontent. The problems also relate to Europe and will require many years to fix.

Many influential people say that this is the beginning of the third world war, Tore is optimistic. Even though, he believes that stopping terrorism is not possible over night.

<<One cannot militarily destroy  all of them, even if one could for a while, it will keep coming back, so to win will require a long term approach with a lot more than military resources.
We are unfortunately going to experience terrorism for many years to come. Terrorists serve themselves from the hopelessness of the people.  Life as we know it is going to change. We will need much more security, much more surveillance, and this means that people living in the western countries will have to get used to a very different way of life. We will have television cameras, many police checking, a very different security situation….
>>

 

Lucía Rodríguez Lara ; IR Student (Universidad Europea de Madrid)

“An agreement between the “big ones” is the only possible solution since it’s a multiple conflict, not only because of the actors on the ground but also for the countries supporting them”

The Middle East is a very rich region of the world that still has weak governments in some of the countries and that mostly shares a culture completely opposite to the Western civilization. Nowadays the whole international community is turning its eyes towards this region and more specifically to Syria, where the Islamic State has its main activity. However, the Syrian conflict does not only involve th
e Islamic State and the local government but also many other actors that at the end involve al_DSC0027most the whole international society.

I had the opportunity to deepen in these issues asking the former ambassador of Spain in Iraq about it. He is called Ignacio Rupérez and was born in Madrid in 1943. He studied law and worked as a journalist before joining the diplomatic career. Once he became a diplomat in 1984, he traveled to Cuba, Ukraine, Egypt, Israel, Honduras and Iraq. Furthermore, he was the Chief Supervisor of the region of North America, Continental Asia, Europe and Canada at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid. He is nowadays based in Madrid sharing his vast knowledge about International Relations in several talks and seminars.

I could ask him about different aspects of today’s most actual issues and also about his personal experience abroad. We spent a nice morning analyzing the main threats and possible solutions that the international community faces in the current world.

The most important international conflict at the moment is located in Syria. In an attempt to seek a solution to this conflict, some states celebrated the Vienna Conference to set an agreement, which has been criticized by some as useless. In that sense, the former Spanish ambassador in Iraq said, “the agreement can favor a ceasefire and later a solution but if the great powers (Saudi Arabia, United State, Russia and Iran) don’t support this it’s impossible to reach an agreement, no matter what the United Nations or the public international opinion say”. However, the events have changed a lot today since last Friday’s Paris attacks and the ambassador’s opinion might have changed.

The war in Syria is a very difficult conflict where many parties want to satisfy their own interests. Therefore, analysts agree that a unified and common answer must be given to defeat the main threat, which is the Islamic State. Mr. Rupérez also believes that “an agreement between the “big ones” is the only possible solution because it’s a multiple conflict not only because of the actors on the ground but also for the countries supporting them”. At the end, this multilateralism worsens the conflict due to the many interests that clash and that find their beginnings in the history.

The Libyan situation has to be carefully taken into account because the stability of the region is still lacking and radical islamists can take advantage of it. The UN supervisor at Libya, Mr. Bernardino Leon, has recently left his post due to a conflict of interest during the peace talks in this country. However, Mr. Rupérez recognized the difficulty of this task regarding the many opposing parties. He focuses the problem on the future perspectives wondering whether Libya, Syria or Iraq will remain as unitary countries and adds, “the creation of Libya and Iraq was done from the union of three ottoman provinces and now this framework is not working because each of them want to take their own way”.

When talking about the nature of this islamist terrorism, the former ambassador in Iraq argues that there is an “emotional, ideological and identity feature behind the attitude of the terrorists” and highlights the anti-system feeling that members of these groups have against the West. For that reason, the way of eradicating this terrorism must be done with “patience and constancy”. A poor life together with the exaltation of the messages, he says, create an explosive mix with dangerous consequences.

Fianlly, when it comes to his stay in Iraq as a Spanish ambassador, Mr. Rupérez only has positive words about the experience. The reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the country in 2005 was fully successful and he recognizes that the Iraqi population had no negative feelings against the Spanish representation there. He admits that he could travel around the whole country without having any security problems.

By: María Gaytán de Ayala Gabarain

The West hasn’t done enough to eliminate the Islamic State

It all started on the 7th of January 2015, when two jihadists, Said and Chérif Kouachi, initiated the bloodbath in the headquarters of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo resulting in the murders of 12 people and wounding of 11.
From that moment we can definitely say that the Western Nations started worrying and paying more attention about the real threat that ISIS represents.

The reaction of the international community has not been sufficient enough to contrast the jihadists. Until now the men deployed in the United Arab Emirates that will fight the guerrilla group are only 600 and of course the number can’t compete against the jihadist forces. It was also announced that around 8 fighting airplanes, a surveillance plane and other transport planes will be disposed in the territories to contrast and fight back ISIS. The coalition led by the US is composed by 30 Western states plus other 10 Arab state including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates supporting the Sunni faction in the two countries but also Iran has agreed to support the Shia Muslim population currently fighting against the Islamic State.

Furthermore, America has been a prominent country from the west in trying to stop ISIS. The “world has failed to find workable solutions to the most pressing needs” ISIS being one of them. The air strikes the U.S. has been sending have not been enough to stop them and Obama has also been deploying less foot troops into the Middle East. In countries such as Iraq and Syria, which has resulted in ISIS occupying over one third of Syrian territory. An American official, the Pentagon press secretary has said: “Air strikes are not enough to stop ISIS and ground forces are needed to retake the territory”. Until this is done with the help of other nations ISIS will continue to cause brutal attacks and mass murders.

The west has not done enough to stop ISIS in its path of terror and destruction. The Western nations are just as responsible for the uprising of ISIS as the Middle East. This has been due to “the U.S. and its allies destabilizing Iraq and Syria, creating safe havens for extremists and their groups which previously did not exist”. The martyr of the Jordan pilot in February 2015 also had a big impact on the West’s contribution into stopping ISIS. It increased the attention because of the brutal video going viral on social media sites such as Facebook. It should not have to take brutal attacks like this for the west to help, if more was done before maybe it would of prevented things like this happening.

The pilot was doused in petrol and set fire to by ISIS militants.

The pilot was doused in petrol and set fire to by ISIS militants.

Interview with Mrs. Catherine Dumas, french politician member of the UMP

The beginning of 2015 was marked by horrific events, the Islamist attacks against the newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, for publishing drawings of the Prophet Muhammad. The repercussion of these facts has been considerable, in France and abroad. Over four million people have manifested after the drama on the French territory, forty-four heads of state paraded on January 11th with more than one and a half million people, and many gatherings solidarity took place all around the world.

I had the honor and the privilege to interview Catherine Dumas on these terrorist acts and more particulary on security measures adoptedSénatrice et conseillère de Paris, Présidente du Club parlementaire de la Table française by the government to avoid new tragedies.

Since 1983, Madam Catherine Dumas was elected for mayor of the 17th district where she is Vice President of the UMP group. In the council of Paris since 2001, she was elected Senator from 2007 to 2011. She is also a regional councilor for Ile de France.

Following the attacks, a key issue had to be discussed; how to fight against this terrorism that continues to grow? Ms. Dumas explained me that the government had immediately responded by strengthening security measures, and also the Plan Vigipirate which is a tool of the fight plan against terrorism.

To do this, the Paris area and several departments of France were placed under surveillance, and public buildings, Jewish and Muslim religious places, public transport and department stores. These are more than one hundred twenty-two thousand soldiers, police and gendarmes were mobilized and according to her, it is a real effort from the law enforcement.

Then, I asked her if the anti-terrorism laws adopted by the government were quite beneficial for France. We have discussed a fundamental law, that of “fight against terrorism” admitted in January 2006, which aims to consolidate the French security through many means, for example, strengthening the control of communications or presence of surveillance in public places. In 2008 this law was completed by new measures.

Last November, another anti-terrorism law was passed, introducing a ban on leaving the territory to prevent the departure of French candidates for jihad in Iraq and Syria, by depriving them of their passport and identity card.

But with the aim of these terrorist acts, these laws should not be further strengthened? The government should not proclaim others? Ms. Dumas said me that shortly after these actions, the Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, wanted to take further steps in improving the information in prison and generalizing isolation in prison of the radical Islamist detainees. Then, Nicolas Sarkozy, president of the UMP, wished to establish measures of ban on French’s territory of return of jihad in Syria.

With all her answers and explanations, I understood that the laws were not absolutely fixed, they evolved, and that news was created permanently with their time, so that the population feels in total safety in their country.

Finally, we talked about a current topic, these Europeans who are increasingly leaving to join Islamic State. I asked Madam Dumas several questions: how much is there from French present in Syria and in Iraq? How much of them are involved by the jihadist recruitment? And, why these people are they attracted by the ideologies of the jihad?

She learnt me that 15 000 people from 80 countries have joined Iraq and Syria. At European level, 3000 people have left their country. The Europeans killed in these two countries are estimated at 120 since the beginning of the conflict in 2012.

More than a thousand French nationals were involved in the jihadist sectors. By teaching me that actually, 260 French people expressed their desire to go join the Islamic State, I felt that Mrs. Dumas was confused.

For her, there really is no typical profile among French jihadists. The common point for many is to have made a return to Islam or a recent conversion. Concerning the recruitment, it made the most of the time on the Internet, social networks and dissemination of videos. These shocking images, the rhythms and catchy music, she qualifies them as indoctrination. They use even very brutal video games to attract as many young as possible.

Two hundred French people already came back from Syria and Irak because they were disappointed and very tired. So, how the French authorities react to these departures ? The parliament adopted an anti-terrorism bill which allows the families to report to the authorities the behavior of their close friends when they have doubts. Many departures were prevented and the police received more hundreds of reports. «This is another step forward» said Catherine Dumas.

Alexandra Peytel

First Radio Sub-Saharan Africa

Radio Sub-Saharan Africa

Radio Sub-Saharan Africa

EXPECTED GLOBAL EFFORTS TO STOP BOKO HARAM

Mr Ban Ki Moon, during the meeting of the AU

During the day of the 31h of January, the general secretary of the ONU has taken the decision on the African Union (AU) to create an African regional force to fight against the army of Boko Haram Boko Haram.

The General Secretary of the UN, Mr Ban Ki-moon, on Saturday 7th, had coped with the idea of a regional force from the African Union to fight against the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, which come to conduct further deadly attacks in northern Cameroon. Denouncing the brutality unnamed of the militia Boko Haram, Mr Ban Ki-Moon felt that the situation need a “regional and international cooperation” to fight against the group.

The AU will then request a resolution of the UN Security Council for the deployment of the force, according to Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the organization. The AU also plans to ask the UN to create a fund to finance it.

“Africans are willing to send their troops to the effort, but it is also morally important that the UN and the international community are alongside the Africans for this fight, which is not unique to Africa” according to Chergui. The United Nations could consider participating in this regional force by bringing “advisers and logistical support,” according to a diplomat. Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin had already agreed end of 2014 to establish a force of 3,000 men to fight against Boko Haram, but because of disagreements between Abuja and its neighbours, this force was not still operational.

The soldats deployed against Boko Haram

The soldats deployed against Boko Haram

Since 2009, more than 13000 people died because of the attacks of this world known terrorist group, and more than 1 million of people were displaced. Definitely, the entire globe needs to take into account this worrying situation and little by little international organizations are starting to react and avoid unnecessary deaths.

The strategy that is going to be followed in order to solve this conflict has already being supported by the African Union. The next step is to get the support of the United Nations Security Council so that finally economic help could be achieved in order to start the military mission.

The Commissioner of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, Smail Chergui, informed about the UN intention to create a force composed by 75000 man and woman. This force has the aim to avoid the terrorist group expansion that has caused the declaration of states of emergency regions like Chad, Niger or Cameroon.

According to Ban Ki-Moon, Boko Haram has “committed unspeakable brutalities. These terrorist group should be fought thanks to regional and international cooperation”. Journalists affirmed that during the AU Summit many military experts agreed to debate in deep the possibility of creating a regional armed force in a meeting that took place between the 5th and 7th of February, although no news have been reported.

According to Dlamini-Zuma, the president of the AU Commission, Boko Haram “has already spread beyond the Nigerian borders, so the situation requires a collective, effective and decisive response”.