It is not every day that the headlines are filled with articles that cover the intersection of Good Governance, Terrorism and Great Power Competition (actually it probably is) but for Today’s Daily Dump, that is where we will focus. To demonstrate the convergence of the three we will look at one article from The New York Times and an article from War on the Rocks to discuss Africa and Boko Haram.
Although there appears to be several different terror groups fighting in Burkina Faso (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has been the biggest driver of violence), Boko Haram is thought to be active there. To paint this picture, the who is not necessarily as important as the what and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was not in the news today. So, before we dive into what is happening now, I think we should to go to The War on the Rocks and Revisiting the Beginning of Boko Haram for some background and perspective.
In the late 1990s, a promising teenager named Muhammad Ali lived in north-east Nigeria. His brilliance and maturity made him a natural leader. He was the head of his class in school, and his teachers thought that he had a bright future ahead of him as a medical doctor.
Unfortunately, those teachers turned out to be wrong. Ali would go on to establish Boko Haram, one of the most brutal terrorist groups in history. A decade and a half after his death in 2004, at the hands of vigilantes, the conflict between Boko Haram and Nigeria’s security forces has killed an estimated 35,000 people in north-east Nigeria. The violence has devastated communities, leading to the displacement of over three million people, and has plunged millions more into extreme poverty. Today, three different factions of Boko Haram continue to target security forces, civil servants, humanitarian workers, and civilians in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad in their bid to establish their version of a puritanical Islamic state.
The article dives deep into Muhammad Ali’s early life but for our purposes we are going to fast forward to where he became radicalized (emphasis ours):
Ali studied and became radicalized domestically in north-east Nigeria by reading extremist literature — some from the Middle East — and relating this to local issues and grievances. He was inspired by the Taliban and al-Qaeda — whom he tried to mimic — and might have been introduced to jihadi literature during a short trip in Sudan, but he never studied in Sudan or elsewhere, nor did he have personal contacts, much less train and fight, with Taliban or Al-Qaeda members in Nigeria or abroad.
Like it or not, terror is almost always rooted in politics, governance and as in this case, seemingly unrelated world events. The article continues (emphasis ours):
Ali saw the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq as a war on Islam and Muslims globally. Many Muslims across the world viewed the “Global War on Terror” as the United States picking on Muslim countries in an attempt to control the world. But Ali and several in his circle took these grievances much further and deeper. They closely followed events in the Middle East and were transfixed by the speeches of al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. According to Balarabe, Ali and Yusuf listened to the recordings and read the writings of bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and Ayman al Zawahiri so frequently that they memorized and cited large portions of these speeches in their own preaching. From there, they read and translated jihadi publications into local Kanuri and Hausa languages…
It was a perfect storm. A multitude of local factors provided a huge market for Boko Haram’s ideas. Poverty, illiteracy, and inequality had alienated millions of young people in northern Nigeria. Political corruption and police brutality had severely damaged the social contract, which has always been fragile. Ethno-religious tensions and violence from the 1980s, unaddressed through the justice system or reconciliation, had led to a huge inter-faith mistrust between Muslims and Christians, and sectarian tensions among Muslim groups had sharpened. Ali and his associates exploited all of these factors. They translated Arabic literature from the Middle East and infused this with locally relevant materials to roll out a massive grassroots campaign of radicalization. They spoke to local populations in their own language about the problems bedeviling them.
The article tells the end of Ali’s story but also concludes with this important detail when combating terrorism:
In this case, one might assume that the extremism problem in the Lake Chad region is relatively limited, and focus on addressing the factors that make locals vulnerable to recruitment by external forces. On the other hand, if Boko Haram is instead — as I argue — a “homegrown” project conceived and propelled by local actors, then local agency, factors, and grievances should be taken seriously.
Which takes us to The New York Times piece, After Coup in Burkina Faso, Protesters Turn to Russia for Help, where the lack of adequate governance, in this case largely driven by terror, has ultimately lead to a coup and a swing to Russia in the Great Power Competition. From the Times:
The morning after the coup in Burkina Faso, a crowd of revelers celebrating the military takeover in the dusty main plaza of the capital had two messages for the outside world: No to France, and yes to Russia.
“We want a partnership with Russia,” said Bertrand Yoda, a civil engineer who shouted to make himself heard amid hundreds of horn-honking, cheering people gathered in a raucous show of appreciation for the new military junta. “Long live Russia!”
Why was there a coup? Back to the Times and our story of governance:
Mutinying soldiers seized power in this poor West African nation on Monday, riding a wave of boiling frustration at the government’s failure to stem surging Islamist violence that since 2016 has displaced 1.4 million people, killed 2,000 and destabilized perhaps two-thirds of a once-peaceful country.
And a swing in the Great Power Competition:
The sudden clamor for Moscow’s help was a further sign of how Islamist violence across the Sahel, a vast region south of the Sahara, is upending old alliances and eroding pro-Western, if often weak, democratic political orders.
Many people at the protest said they were inspired by Russia’s intervention in the Central African Republic, where Russians guard the president, Russian companies mine for diamonds, and Russian mercenaries fought off an Islamist offensive last year — as well as a more recent Russian foray into Mali, the country to the north of Burkina Faso.
The article may be pay-walled so I don’t want to quote too much. If you can, you definitely should read the entire article for more context. It appears that actual Russian troops are unlikely to be on the ground there and they will instead rely heavily on the Wagner Group. For more information on the Wagner Group, you can go here but for the purposes of our discussion we can stop there. In these two articles, we are able to see the nexus of how poor governance can give rise to terrorism and ultimately lead to a government overthrow and a major shift in the Great Power Competition.
Today we have an unusually large Daily Dump due to holding this article for several days and I would like to quickly highlight several other articles/podcast/shows before we wrap this up.
I started listening to the Podcast: Inching Toward War in Europe – Horns of Dilemma, am about half way through and so far, it has not disappointed. The central theme is, “not one inch” and how that phrase originally meant NATO would not expand one inch eastward after the fall of the Berlin way but was later redefined as “not one inch” of Europe would be off limits to NATO expansion.
I also recently listened to the Podcast: Why People Online Defend the Uighur Genocide – Angry Planet. I really wanted to like it going in but something struck me the wrong way in the middle. I do have a tendency to overreact so I may have to re-listen to give it a fair shake.
Over the weekend I saw this THE PLIGHT OF THE GREEN BERET: Why Special Forces is still losing most of its junior leaders and its survivors are forced to contend with a cultural crisis. from Small Wars Journal.
Key phrase- “Soldiers who worked so hard to become Green Berets are made cogs in a wheel, where their intelligence, resourcefulness, discipline, and persistence is constantly stifled by a command structure of micro-management and risk aversion.” https://t.co/ZKElm1OxZj
— Cognitive Warrior Project (@CognitiveWarri2) January 22, 2022
For something different, how about Report: Ghostly monkey among 224 new Mekong region species from the AP. All of this and more in Today’s Daily Dump!
Inspired by the Cognitive Raider Initiative, The Cognitive Warrior Project has put together a daily list of diverse articles that can easily be chosen from to play a part in developing a more mentally agile warfighter that embraces the adaptation required for tomorrow’s battlefield. Our intent is to create a space where you can choose one or two articles a day (about 10 minutes) instead of mindlessly scrolling social media.
As a reminder: The Cognitive Warrior Project is a private media site, and it is not affiliated in any way with Special Operation Forces, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government. None of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, DoD or Space Force have endorsed, supported, directed, or participated in the creation of the content at this site, or in the creation of the site itself. It’s just a media site that happens to cover the U.S Military, DoD and other National Intelligence Assets.
January 24-26, 2022
Kenya’s SGR Scandal Isn’t Going Away – The China Africa Project
Canada to Build Small Arms Ammunition Factory in Ukraine – The National Interest
Podcast: Learning from the 2008 Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai – Urban Warfare Project
Podcast: Episode 4: Big Hopes for Big Rockets – The 2022 Space Forecast – War in Space Podcast
Podcast: Inching Toward War in Europe – Horns of Dilemma
Putin’s Wager in Russia’s Standoff with the West – War on the Rocks
Revisiting the Beginning of Boko Haram – War on the Rocks
How to Protect Europe From Risky Foreign Direct Investment – War on the Rocks
Cultural Heritage in Ukraine: a Gap in Russian IO Monitoring – Small Wars Journal
Ukraine and the Threat of Citizen Resistance – Small Wars Journal
1/24/2022 National Security and Korean News and Commentary – Small Wars Journal
Re-examining SOTF Command Protocols in the era of Strategic Competition – The Civil Affairs Association
Integrated Arms Control in an Era of Strategic Competition – Center for Strategic and International Studies
Can European Energy Cope with a Conflict in Ukraine? – Center for Strategic and International Studies
What to Watch in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022 – Center for Strategic and International Studies
No easy answers to Lake Chad Basin’s security dilemmas – Institute for Security Studies
Iran signals readiness for direct talks with US – Al Monitor
Opinion: Ukraine is the hollow man of Europe – Asia Times
Indebted Sri Lanka extends a begging bowl to China – Asia Times
Politics and Islam in potent new mix in Indonesia – Asia Times
EU-China conflict escalating over Hong Kong – Asia Times
Russia-Ukraine Standoff – Daily Briefing | Jan. 25 – The Moscow Times
Where Is Germany in the Ukraine Standoff? Its Allies Wonder. – The New York Times
After Coup in Burkina Faso, Protesters Turn to Russia for Help – The New York Times
As West Warns of Russian Attack, Ukraine Sends Different Message – The New York Times
Why Is North Korea Suddenly Launching So Many Missiles? – The New York Times
Russian Naval Assault Could Mean ‘Total Disaster’ For Ukraine’s Economy – Radio Free Europe
Americans Out: Ukrainians Confront Mixed Messaging As War Threat Looms – Radio Free Europe
‘Tired Of Waiting’: Ukraine Photojournalists Talk Mood On The Front Lines – Radio Free Europe
Podcast: Threats, Diplomacy, And The Donbas – The Week Ahead in Russia
Who is Burkina Faso coup leader Damiba? – Africa News
Britain, Canada Flex Hard-Power Muscles in Showdown With Russia – Foreign Policy
Talks in France Resume in Bid to Ease Russia-Ukraine Tensions – Foreign Policy
India Seeks to Escape an Asian Future Led by China – Foreign Policy
There’s Plenty of Blame to Go Around on Ukraine – Foreign Policy
The Army is on the verge of picking a replacement for the M4 and M249 – Task and Purpose
What’s Next In War: US military weapons, gear and tech in 2022 – Task and Purpose
Russia’s New Way of War. – Wavell Room
Multi Dimensional and Domain Operations (MDDO) – Wavell Room
UAE, US intercept Houthi missile attack targeting Abu Dhabi – Defense News
An Assessment of Nigeria’s Security Situation in 2021 – Divergent Options
After U.S.-Russia Talks, Risk of War in Ukraine Still High – The United States Institute of Peace
Watch: China’s COVID Secrets – Frontline
Podcast: S2E9 SOF Caucus – A bipartisan look at SOF – SOFCAST
Podcast: Why People Online Defend the Uighur Genocide – Angry Planet
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