Onward Christian PSCs!: The New Crusades In Africa
2011- Independence was not supposed to be like this. With Chinese and French oil investment agreements newly agreed upon, a security presence with 15,000 UN peace keepers and the steady return of refugees from the past 3 decades of war and “cold peace”, hopes were not stillborn by any means for the free provinces that comprised Southern Sudan. The Khartoum regime had overplayed its hand three years ago in response to multiple, mutating rebellions in its eastern and western provinces, forcing a private interjection by the PRC and their Egyptian partners that became a moot point once President Bashir was overthrown by his colleagues. Yet, a second coup had been mounted just months ago, and now a new Islamist movement was in power, declaring sharia to be the law across Sudan, utilizing its advanced Chinese weapons options and a steady cash reserve courtesy of petrol thirsty customers in South Korea, Malaysia, India & elsewhere.
America, China & the AU stayed on the sidelines as Juba was bombed back to the Stone Age and militias swept across the land once again, slaughtering civilians and attacking a refugee camp, killing every living being in full view of the international media. Religious organizations within America and the Christian world were appalled. With the UNSC deadlocked because China expected the North to swiftly win and the AU out of money and troops (the kidnapping and execution of dozens of Ugandan and Nigerian troops operating under an AU mandate in Mogadishu in 2008 had tamed enthusiasm for peacekeeping on the continent), inaction was again the order of the day.
At a conference of evangelicals in Atlanta, GA in November, two leading figures proposed a “Christian Legion” to go forth and defend “Christ’s people” against the “jihad”. Within a month, (not withstanding the involvement of Blackwater and other PSC’s already who) a PSC was born, “ECL (Expeditionary Christian Legion)” with funding from a variety of individuals, congregations and Christian NGO’s. Young Christian preachers across Africa, some victims of mandated violence from Islamist groups on contested religious ground in Nigeria, Kenya and Cote D’Ivorie, exhorted their flocks to answer the call to arms and fight the “jihadists”. Ethiopia, which continued to have frayed relations with Sudan over ties to Eritrea and Somalian terror groups, hosted several training camps for the new “crusaders”. With the tacit support of the CIA & Pentagon, ECL hit the Northern forces fast and hard with a series of attacks against air bases and supply depots. After these initial successes, ECL experienced severe defeats, including but not limited to germ warfare attacks as well as a rash of suicide bombings in the refugee camps they helped defend. In response, PRC oil facilities were knocked offline, pipelines blown up and a number of PLA soldiers killed by IEDS.
NYT reporters tied the first two to ECL and exposed their ties to the CIA. Embarrassed, the American President demanded ECL leave the Sudan and applied pressure in the form of federal indictments for violations of arms trafficking laws back in America.
Regardless, the holy war continues amid bombed out cities and towns, with a seemingly limitless flow of Christian Africans arriving to fight. They believe the future of Africa lies in preventing the South from being conquered. The guerrilla training they are learning from sites and forums on the internet and a number of committed ex-US Army trainers may slowly bleed the North to the negotiating table…. or not…
Is such a scenario far-fetched?
If only so.
Given the chasm of distrust still enveloping relations between the South and the North, an overwhelming majority of people in the South are still likely to vote for independence in 2011, with the heavy-handed, ruthless manner in which Khartoum handles its disputes not likely to endear them to the Southern populations.
Khartoum is never going to let the South become independent, on principle alone, let alone all the oil to be extracted with the temptation of some of cutting Southerners out of the windfall as much as possible. Beijing’s open support (another palace, or perhaps some new jet planes?) will continue, even when Khartoum goes to war to bring the South to heel.
Given the mind-warping diversity of Christianity in Africa, the widening distrust of Islam of many Christians across the continent (especially along the fault line within countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia and Sudan) does not speak for all the faithful in every country.
Yet worsening economic and political conditions will only make inter-faith cooperation and trust harder to build, especially as rulers result to scapegoating of specific groups and sects that incur their displeasure.
The naked pursuit of power in its various guises (especially in Nigeria) inevitably breaks down complex relationships into nominally clear opposing religious groups.
Surging populations, even factoring in the AIDS toll, will further exacerbate conditions already worrisome due to a declining pool of resources, crowded living space and foreign interference.
The gamble Beijing is making on stability in simmering spots like Nigeria is hedged by heavy arms sales that in African militaries and among elites will tend to favor one group over another, further provoking hysteria and panic among threatened rivals.
Ground Conditions For Christian PSC’s
After Iraq, support for further interventions will be costly and rare for the US.
Intervention in Africa will be nearly impossible to sell, forcing alternative responses to be considered for advancing or defending US interests on the continent in the face of ethnic cleansing, indiscriminate warfare and violent resource exploitation by warlords and foreign business interests.
Outrage among Christian groups around the world about the treatment of their brethren at the hands of Muslims will reach a fever pitch amid the likely (and past) atrocities committed in the blood soaked corners of Nigeria, Sudan and elsewhere.
Considering the percentage of believers who view world events through the prism of the “end times”, support for retaliation against Islamic forces will be a threshold quickly crossed.
The development of Christian PSC’s will thus be a natural response to the call for “something to be done”.
They will be spread across national origins (America, Britain, South Korea, South Africa- though the latter has laws about this kind of activity) but many will boast international representation of the faithful, the greedy and the adventurous.
What will be most interesting will be how the PSC’s interact with local allies and global enemies.
The 64K question arising from the latter is thus; what kind of guerrilla techniques will they (or motivated individuals) pass on to the locals?
The New Crusades?
The failure of international organizations to adequately address ongoing conflicts (Dar Fur, Somalia),
the weakness of the state (nearly across the board),
the generally thoughtless Chinese (especially) and Western exploitation of local resources at minimal return WRT development and prioritizing good governance
and the striking rhetoric and actions of Al-Qaeda, Saudi Wahabbi financiers and imams and their spawn set the stage for a dangerous period of sub-Saharan African history.
While claims of hopelessness and limitless horizons are dubious, in the center of expectations must be imagination in policy-making.
The chances are very good that at least one key country (and thus potentially, a key region) will experience significant, perhaps explosive religious warfare.
The chances are even better that intervention will either fail or not even come to pass.
Frustration at inaction will lead at least a few empowered actors on the continent and globally to return to the 1990′s and view the successes of Executive Outcomes with a dispassionate, approving eye.
Exploring that possibility should be a priority for those with security interests in Africa.