Senegal, which has been chosen for strategic reasons to provide the bulwark of the offense against Jammeh’s resistance, does not only have a military that is more than ten times the size of Gambia’s infantry and paltry naval forces, the Senegalese military is among the most technically trained in the West African region.
If Nigeria decides to intervene, which may not even be necessary, Nigeria can provide 90 troops for every single Gambian soldier. This of course does not even involve regional neighbors; Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana and some of the other battle hardened troops in the sub-region.
Yahya Jammeh recently boasted to a group of self appointed Pan-African conflict resolution experts calling themselves the African Bar Association, that he would never be intimidated by West African leaders who want to illegally interfere into the internal affairs of his tiny country. He promised to resist any attempt by ECOWAS to force him to hand over to coalition President-Elect Adama Barrow and stated if there was any external military intervention into the Gambia, he was sure of victory. Jammeh’s main assurance of a victory against the range of troops that would be arrayed against him is his unshakable faith that he has the personal support of Allah.
Probably, there are some members of the Gambian army who may not have Jammeh’s enthusiasm for the pyrrhic victory he is dreaming of. Small armies have won great battles against invading armies in the past. Probably it is this type of historical victory that Jammeh may be secretly dreaming of. We hope for Jammeh and for the sake of the peaceful people of the Gambia, that there some pragmatists among Jammeh’s group of core advisers. This is because any decision by Jammeh to challenge the might of West African troops would either be foolhardy or in the extreme, simply suicidal.
Senegalese troops have had years of battle experience fighting a rebel insurgency in Casamance, the southern part of the country. The country has some of the best conventional forces in the region and the Senegalese military has had strong technical relations with United States military since 2001. Earlier this year Senegal and USA signed a military cooperation agreement primarily aimed at fighting terrorism in the Sub-region.
Upon signing the agreement the US Ambassador Jim Zumwalt in a news conference with Senegal’s Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye stated that, “We believe that this agreement will help the U.S. military and the Senegalese military reinforce our cooperation together to deal with threats to our common interests.” Yahya Jammeh with his saber rattling in Gambia and his threat of introducing instability in the Senegambian sub-region, all in a bid to hang on to power at all costs, clearly falls under the definition of such a threat.
News from sources close to Jammeh indicate that in a desperate attempt to bolster his forces and knowing that there may be members of Gambia’s forces who may not join him on his suicidal resistance mission, Jammeh has been making secret attempts to reach out to rogue mercenaries of Charles Taylor’s now defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) in order to help him resist West African troops. This move on the part of Jammeh to reactivate rebels that have been demobilized by ECOMOG and the United Nations will just help him dig deeper into the quagmire he is already buried in.
Jammeh is planning to mount a “do or die” resistance, foolishly failing to realize that most military resistance that is successful has to at least have the backing of the masses. The world is now poised to see how far Jammeh can go with this foolishness.
Lawrence Okoh, Abuja.