Senegalaise Military Adventure and Incursion in the Gambia: A Test on Our Military Capability and a Threat to National Security
By Dr. Assan Jallow
“The isolation and neglect of our men and women in uniform is the domino effect that has come to haunt us in the unsecured prisons of hopelessness and to have an enemy that poses to be a genuine friend exploiting and exposing our national defense vulnerabilities.“
There is an ongoing debate about the continuous presence and effects of ECOMIG forces in The Gambia. From a security perspective, the ECOMIG forces are a threat to Gambia’s national security. Their presence has continued to dampen the hopes and enthusiasm of our men and women in uniform with the chilling effects of low morale based on an isolationist policy to pursue France’s agenda and entrapped our military in the dungeons of hopelessness in the barracks as errand boys and assigned with no national services or duties in the country. Our men and women in uniform are betrayed by the executive and their commanders who had compromised national security for political expediency.
Let me not hasten to state but, the deployment of ECOMIG was to serve as a stabilizing force temporarily, and now they have overstayed their welcome in the country thanks to the timidity of the political leaders who thought that Jammeh was an imminent danger to the newly installed administration in Banjul. Moreover, he might still have a pocket of trusted lieutenants within the army that could destabilize the peace and stability of The Gambia. That was the justification that gave us the ECOMIG project. Is the ECOMIG project sustainable, and what are the ramifications on the post ECOMIG forces in The Gambia? These questions have not being given thoughts yet, and that is where involving and making our military personnel be part of the security reforms and entrusted with responsibilities rather than reducing them in the Barracks comes handy. As a runaway police officer (RAPO), I do not qualify to discuss security matters as it is outside my specialty or vocation. However, as a concerned citizen, I have to join the discourse and share my frustrations on the actions and inactions of the administration in Banjul following the incursion of Senegalaise military personnel from a political and policy vintage point. It is concerning and worrying to see how our entrusted public officials and security chiefs are using words to downplay the imminent security threats posed by Senegalaise military personnel.
The question that lingers our hearts is why Senegal is given the keys to our defense capability and now testing the waters of our military might after using the EU to disarm the Gambia Armed Forces. I am troubled by the continuous incursion of Senegalaise military personnel, and my mind reflected on a book I read several years ago by the political scientist – Graham Allison, titled: “The Thucydides‘ Trap.” Though the book is a contestation of China and the United States, and the book can be likened to our current situation. We are entrapped in this Thucydides trap where the chances of escaping the inevitability of Senegal’s pursuit in the Gambia are slim, holding all the factors at play constant.
Can the National Security Council (NSC) tell the Gambians the rationale behind the continuous incursion or entry of Senegalaise security officials with heavy-arms and armored vehicles into the Gambian territories without being confronted, disarmed, and arrested? What is incorporated in the bilateral security agreements of hot pursuits, and has it been ratified before our nation’s deputies? How can 20-30 Senegalaise military personnel lost their way during a routine patrol and mistakenly found themselves in the Gambian territory in this modern age and time, given the advanced military technologies they have at their disposal during their military operations? Why are the authorities not taking actions against this provocateur madness, given the fact that national security underpins the way Gambians live? The issue seems not to both our security chiefs and the political leadership under President Barrow because they are signatories that had mortgaged our territorial integrity and national sovereignty to Senegal through the influenced of France and the EU, thanks to using the fear factor, political inexperience in governance, leadership, and dearth in persuasion and negotiation skills. Without a shadow of a doubt, the continuous entry and presence of Senegalaise military personnel in The Gambia‘s territories poses an existential threat and to the citizens. It is a national security threat that is concerning, and measured actions should be taken to contain the imminent crawling danger breeding the nostrils of provocation, confrontation, and sabotage. In retrospect, this reveals the fundamental flaws of the secretly signed security pact between the two countries (i.e., Senegal and The Gambia), where Senegal seems to control the narratives and dictates the circumstances to their benefit and on the agenda of France and the EU to balkanize The Gambia. The heavy presence of Senegal’s military is a strong indication that The Gambia’s nostrils and oxygen are in the hands of Senegal. My judgment is anchored from an individual‘s perspective and on a national security lens.
Consequently, I am beginning to be worried and very concerned about the future of our country in the hands of inexperienced people than before. We are at the center of the pool where our country’s future is being traded based on handouts for our independence and sovereignty. This is because every day, a new problem rears its head, and officials of the government poorly manage it, thus questioning their abilities and state of health to run the affairs of a state. It concerns me because the scenarios reveal the fundamental flaws in our national security and political governance, which indicates that we are walking the path of damnation and waiting to be destroyed both within and without by our neighbor (Senegal).
The viability of our sovereignty and national security is at stake and in the hands of a neighboring country whose intent is to compromise our sovereignty and amalgamate The Gambia as its 16th Province. It is quite right that Senegal had always wished to control and direct the geopolitics within the coastlines of The Gambia and beyond, and it seems they are pursuing it with the craft of cleverly designed strategies and persuasions through our signed bilateral agreements using the hands of preferential treatment and directing the agenda with a Senegalaise interest. It appears that in all the bilateral agreements we had signed with Senegal (i.e., trade, transportation, and security), their motive is to use the politics of ‘nahateh“. Our experience with Senegal taught us that you could not shake hands with the Devil and expect him to keep the bargain squarely afoot with mutually-beneficial gains for both parties of the agreements.
This is what happens to a nation that relies heavily on the shoulders of another nation for everything. Our president and officials have betrayed us and had mortgaged our future to Senegal as they take instructions from the Macky Sall‘s government. Even if they had to sneeze or cough, they must dial the codified numbers of +221 and the following message “Hello Macky, with your permission, can I cough, sneeze, drink water or use the bathroom?” Our leaders dare not take any actions without first consulting and seeking approval from Macky Sall. That is what the political Illuminati class does best, and we are blessed with a couple of them who had sullied their conscience for self-desires, greed, power, and lust.
Senegal has been relentless and patient operating in many fields,and in many dimensions, we do not think of as security or operational theaters…… thus greatly enhancing our vulnerabilities due to our level of awareness to date. We are being confronted by an ideology that intends to dominate our mindset differently than anything we have known with the belief that Jammeh is a threat and that there still exists a security threat in our security apparatus. This is what we were/are made to believe, thus resulting in our executives resorting to using the influence of Macky Sall and his government to have a joint security pact signed as a counter-measure to quell any possible reprisals or counter-coups of Jammeh‘s loyalists within our national security establishments. Senegal has cleverly used the tactical weapons of manipulations and propaganda to drive their long-held agenda to extinguish the glimmer of hope and make The Gambia succumb to its begging knees, and become its 16thProvince. That has been the agenda of Senegal since Senghore.
No one doubts the baskets of offers to be gained from bilateral agreements and cooperations between The Gambia and Senegal. However, our bilateral agreements had always been one-sided, and it occurs to me that our size is a measured factor that is taken into consideration and not our independence and sovereignty as a nation, during and after the negotiation processes.
To borrow the words of Dr. Warren Bennis in his book, entitle: “Why Leaders Can‘t Lead – The Unconscious Conspiracy Continues,” ‘Gambians are now going through a self-imposed isolation phase. Each individual feels helpless to affect anything beyond the immediate environment and so retreats into an ever-contracting private world – a phenomenon that manifests itself among the affluent as “cocooning“ and among the poor as drug addiction.‘ Dr. Bennis further argued that “an unconscious conspiracy in contemporary society prevent leaders – no matter what their original vision – from taking charge and making change. The question is: Who is in charge here to share the government‘s position on the recent actions of the Senegalaise military personnel incursion with heavy–armed weapons in The Gambia? The answer seems to be no one. I highly recommend this great book by Dr. Bennis to everyone in a position of leadership, or aspiring to such a position; for all those concerned with who is elected, promoted, or appointed to leadership in any kind of organization, but most importantly to those occupying leadership positions in the current administration or government, including President Adama Barrow. They will draw great insights into leadership and develop an exemplifying leadership competence to lead differently and direct a holistic vision that reflects the wishes and aspirations of the people.
For a country that does not take pride in its military risked being exposed to the floodgates of insecurity. Moreover, any notion that suggests an alternative to ending Senegal’s provocation is just wishful thinking. Because the silence and inaction of the PORG, the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) and security chiefs in the face of an incursion are astounding and defies the logic of measured leadership. Is this what you want The Gambia to be treated with, despite being a sovereign republic?
For the youth of “Sarė Omar,” you have done our country proud by standing against the illegal entry of foreign military personnel. I salute you for demonstrating bravado and valor with the #BadgeOfHonor. You are the true heroes and sons of our beloved Gambia. The country owes you for, and your actions qualify your formal enlistment into our military and other security agencies to safeguard and protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of The Gambia. I wish you all the best of luck in your personal and professional endeavors.
#Albaarka #UnJaarama and #JerreNgenJeef