Prof. Yenshu Emmanuel Vubo, political sociologist with the University of Buea, examines a possible new world order in 2017.
Boko Haram militants have been wrecking havoc in Lake Chad Basin countries for some years. Do you foresee a possible conclusion of this war in the coming year?
Boko Haram was not originally a regional problem. It was essentially a Nigerian problem, beginning as the politicisation of religion as a result of the former cleavage between the northern and southern portions of Nigeria. It later evolved and crystallised into militant Islam or Boko Haram as we know today. Its goal, under the influence of international Islamist movements such as Al-Shabab, Islamic State, ISIS, and Al-Qaeda, enabled the group to get into alliance with new Islamic movements looking for political organisations.
Given that ISIS will be defeated in no distant future – in Mosul in Iraq and Aleppo in Syria - and with Al-Qaeda dwindling in strength, the legitimacy of Boko Haram at that level will also dwindle. This is because Boko Haram may not have the funding to keep up the war. If its allies and networks are destroyed gradually, Boko Haram may not survive for long. Boko Haram fighters are now hemmed in Sambisa Forest in Nigeria. Some of their hostages have been released or escaped. I don’t see the fighters having the bargaining power any longer to secure anything from Nigeria.
Nigeria’s government is now focused on a military solution to the conflict, though the militants still hold some of the Chibok school girls. I believe the Joint Multi-national Task Force will soon clear Boko Haram out of Sambisa. From a purely strategic standpoint, Boko Haram will sooner than later be a thing of the past because the situation is no longer favourable to them. Today, there are few incidents of suicide bomb attacks in Cameroon. In the New Year, we will see them dwindle and even disappear all together.
President-elect Donald Trump takes over in the US in January 2017. What does his administration portend to the stability of international relations in the coming years?
President-elect Donald Trump has made a lot of declarations on reversal of US policies. Will he review US relations with NATO? If he does, it will be a very drastic change in world politics because there will be realignment. Even America’s attitude towards Russia may be less bellicose in 2017. But the same Trump may now enter into new confrontation with China in league with Russia. You may have a new world context, now that the Cold War is over. The election of Trump puts an end to the post-Cold War management of world affairs.
Obama ensured US hegemony worldwide as the lone super power - together with France, Britain and Germany. The in-coming US administration is like the one before 1945 when America disengaged from world politics per se and was no longer in competition with world powers. It only returned to tilt the balance after assisting Western European nations to win the war. America today looks like it has regressed. We should therefore watch out what this new context holds for the world. So far, we have not heard anything about how President Trump will relate with Western Europe, NATO, etc. Indeed, the world is going to be very different in 2017; even getting down to the local level.
Several nations were not spared from terrorist attacks in 2016. Are there chances of these challenges being reduced in the New Year?
We will see more terrorist attacks in 2017. The truck attack in Nice, France on July 14, 2016, the recent incident at the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany on December 19, 2016 and the assassination of the Russian Ambassador at a photo exhibition in Ankara, Turkey, on the same day, were carried out by loners and not organised groups. These are people active on their own account because they are sympathetic to the cause of big terrorist groups. With Donald Trump not ready to sponsor regime change wars like Barack Obama did in Syria, rebels fighting the government will be crushed by President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian ally. The recent Syrian government assault on rebels in Aleppo was as a result of Trump’s electoral win.
New American foreign policy will lead to a drastic change in terrorist movements because some of them acted in reaction, not as lunatic expressions. These were piecemeal and irrational so-called reactions to imperialism. As the tone changes, everything will end or go down considerably. What else will such terrorists fight for? Who will finance them? America’s new foreign policy will change most of what we see today.
What of African nations? Do you foresee them being quieter or the security situation will heat up?
Things will indeed be quieter. Of late, we have not heard much about northern Mali. The attack on the Coptic Church in Cairo, Egypt on December 11, 2016, was blamed by government on the Moslem Brotherhood. But such incidents are less systematic now than in the past when you tuned into five television channels and all were talking about terrorist attacks in different parts of the world. We are likely going to see a more peaceful environment in Africa in 2017 as a result of changes in the international climate.