Thanks to the “help” of the US and NATO, and their Islamist proxy butchers of Libya, the African Sahel is now potentially facing a “slide into hell”. Libya is, of course, facing its own disharmony, but its Sahelian neighbors are facing a host of problems too. Like Qaddafi was, many of the countries of the Sahel are fighting their own Al-Qaeda/Islamist elements as well. And many of the governments of this region have suggested that the Libyan disarray/chaos handed Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — a golden opportunity — to obtain looted arms, guns and a variety of other deadly munitions too.
Countries like Niger, Mali, and Mauritania, are struggling to deter an influx of fighters and jihadis, from the ostensibly declining — yet still bubbling over — Libyan military theater. Though the Sahel is not exactly like Somalia, other security concerns there include terrorist attacks in Nigeria, which have ravaged many sections of that country. And additionally, the NATO/Western military intervention and concomitant destruction of Libya has extinguished a generous donor in the area, and a nation where thousands of Sahelian workers found gainful employment; and even sent remittances, as an economic lifeline, back home. All of this, within the backdrop of an area facing a drought, and in a vast, sprawling, arid region — with villages often in remote and inaccessible areas.
The wars in Libya and Ivory Coast, indeed, have forced about 200,000 migrants to return to the Sahel —instead of sending money home from their foreign employment. David Gressly, the regional director of Unicef in Western Africa, has said, “It’s a double blow to families because they’ve lost the remittances and they’ve got additional people in the family to take care of.”
A current food crisis is also looming on the horizon in the Sahelian region, and moreover around ten million people are affected — in Niger (6 million), Mali (2.9 million), Mauritania (around 500,000), and tens of thousands in other countries of the region too.
Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, argues that drought and famine are not extraordinary events, but predictable consequences of a global food system “built on inequality, imbalances and – ultimately – fragility.” The food system is broken — according to De Schutter — and this can often mean waiting for people to starve before actually doing something. The readiness for persistent famine is not currently built-in or existent within the system, and the current crisis in the African Sahel is an illustrative example of this. It represents a crack in the global food system because famine in the region should be considered as normal — and not an unusual, unique, extreme, unpredictable, or out of the ordinary circumstance or event.
The Libyan misadventure’s contribution to the Sahelian discontent/immiseration, I do not think, however, should be discounted. The oil on the brain of Western hegemonic powers seized their opportunity to take out a man, who, far too little would play ball/go along with them. And neighboring nations and impoverished areas are reaping the “benefits” of such myopic opportunism of the — blinded by greed, hubris, and petroleum — Western avaricious, ravenous and, indeed, ideologically moribund imperialist states!