The non-political interventionist foreign policy long held by the Senegales government towards The Gambia might be seeing its end. The Gambia as a nation sandwiched into Senegal is an undeniable evidence of our inseparable destiny. A pursuit of prosperity and happiness for one is explicitly dependent on the inclusion of the other.
Senegal’s announcement of what is presumed to be the biggest offshore Oil and Gas deposit discovery in West Africa has a gross implication for the regime in The Gambia. What does it mean for the Jammeh vicious Dictatorship? That is the ultimate question. Frankly, it’s a question with two possible outcomes depending on what best serves Senegal’s strategic and political interest.
Jammeh’s decades long principle of instilling fear to earn the respect and conditional love of his adversaries might be seeing its ultimate end or a further extension of the vicious circle. It is evident that the entire citizenry has been gripped by the subject of fear rendering people to withdraw and marvel at the endless circus being displayed in Banjul. The sudden fruitful treasure hunt by Senegal could see the Petro-Dollar politics defining the political narrative in both Dakar and Banjul very soon.
The sustainability of the Senegalese findings and the conversion of this huge deposit into hard currency and materially rewarding assets are inherently dependent on the unanimity on terms concerning essential agreements on Oil and Gas production, especially in geologically rich areas that are within sensitive geographical locations shared by both countries. Stability in Casamance, Mauretania, The Gambia and Guinea Bissau is the single biggest challenge that Senegal will have to master in order to be in the deriving seat towards translating these natural resource findings into a beneficially rewarding prosperity. Evidences have shown in the past of Jammeh’s direct support for the insurgence in the southern Senegalese region of Casamance. The destabilization of southern Senegal with Jammeh’s invested interest has impacted development agendas of this region. It is therefore imperative that Senegal remove all threats of instability in this region in order to boost investors’ confidence and assure the long term viability of its Gas production. The slightest presence of major security threat will induce a sense of fear on the side of investors in the Oil and Gas sector since their infrastructures could be an easy targets and leverage by rebels to force the Senegalise government into making undue consensuses. Jammeh’s government will certainly use this leverage at its disposal to counter the Senegales development agendas. Therefore, this government in Banjul, the long running Casamace conflict and the endless instability in Guinea Bissau will have a crippling impact on Senegal if they are left unattended to.
The Gambia might share a vast array of Linguistic, cultural, religious and Traditional roots with Senegal but the effect of colonization has shaped and redefined our sense of nationhood. Senegal and The Gambia are two states with a common nation but our patriotic devotions are influenced exclusively by the boundaries that distinguish the two land masses as two different countries. Hence, it is instinctive for both countries to play their cards closer to their chest while focusing on their interests in any future negotiations or commitments.
However, the question is “can Senegeal trust the Jammeh government to even commit to strategic and crucial agreements hoping The Gambia’s dysfunctional government will honour its oaths?” The track records of the present government in The Gambia are sufficient enough to indict it as an unreliable partner in undertaking important commitment. The recent closure of the border is a testimony of how The Gambia government disregard the plight of the peoples of both countries. Several such unilateral decisions by the Gambia government have disqualified the regime in place as a reliable partner in the development of Senegambia.
I am not a political scientist, but that doesn’t make me lose sight of what is obvious. Senegal will certainly make a move to either change the government in the Gambia to something that better suit their interest or help this regime maintain a stronger hold on power. The later is only feasible if Senegal’s assessment of the situation is not an economic suicide on their side. So Jammeh should brace for two things; the first is to start packing and searching for an escape route or ready to play proxy for the Senegalese government. One way or the other, the days of playing games as he wills are over. The Petro-Dollar and the organised Senegalese Democracy are the new commanding powers in the region. It also include the fact that even The Gambia happens to find Oil offshore, Senegal’s democratic reputation will overshadow Jammeh’s regime and will certainly dictate the pace at which development and security is assured in Senegambia.
The Senegalese long standing non interference policy in the affairs of The Gambia is certainly coming to an end.
Written by: The Engineer 198449