V: Alternative perspectives
Civil society, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency in Africa
Ben U. Nwosu
This chapter explores the association between civil society counterterrorism and counterinsurgency in Africa. The contradiction of connecting civil society with counterinsurgency and counterterrorism lies with the reason that the essence of civil society is characteristically at variance with both terrorism and insurgency. More so force applied majorly to counterterrorism and insurgency is far removed from the ideal civil character of civil society. Counterterrorism, just like counterinsurgency, is framed around the containment of two phenomena that are united by the application of violence which banishes civil society. Essentially, the state-centric and force-driven processes of eliminating the two phenomena indicate gaps that invite consideration tor the presence of civil society.
While terrorism and insurgency are by no means new phenomena, the post 9/11 period has witnessed their phenomenal rise and extension to regions that did not have much of their prevalence in the past. The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) reports the total number of deaths from terrorism between 2000 and 2015 to be 15,538 (Global Terrorism Index, 2017). Terror is said to be centralised in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, followed by South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. These three regions together constitute 84% of recent terrorist attacks and 95% of deaths. Further, in the global terrorist index, there are 13 African states among the worst affected 30 states in the GTI. While the death toll is reported to be decreasing from terrorism, there is a record of increasing spread of terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa (see Global Terrorism Index, 2017) especially the lake Chad Basin. Precisely, Boko Hararn terrorism is spreading beyond the borders of its originating country, Nigeria. Therefore, it is timely to consider a research interest that addresses the relevance of civil society to anti-terrorism and anti-insurgency. This is more so because force-centered, state-driven methods do not address the entire dimensions of terrorism and insurgency.
Containment of terrorism and insurgency with the force of the political state usually leads to a few likely outcomes, among which three stand out. The first is the total destruction of the terrorist insurgency. The second is a partial defeat of terrorism in which the state holds a superior margin of power but could not stop a re-emergence of terrorism/insurgency like the Nigerian case with Boko Haram. The third kind of outcome is state failure arising via a triumph of terrorism and or insurgency. Sometimes an insurgent terrorist group could establish a new state having sacked the preceding regime. This was the case in Afghanistan when the Talibans defeated the sitting government in Kabul and established a theocratic state and when one ot the factions in the Somali conflict achieves military victory over others and momentarily dominates the major cities. The two instances of state failure also go side by side with the abdication of the ethos of civil society. The key thesis of this chapter is that civil society has a contradictory connection with counterinsurgency and counterterrorism because it is open to the forces working to either promote or reverse the two phenomena. Thus, following this introduction, the other sections of the chapter include, a cursory tour of the meaning of civil society to find linkages with insurgency and terrorism; an examination ot the two-way connection between civil society, anti-terrorism and anti-insurgency; case presentation of the experiences of civil society in anti-terrorism and anti-insurgency and finally, the conclusion.