By Samsudeen Sarr
I had intended to remain silent about the recent Senegalese military incursion into Jarra Soma or somewhere around there last week; but after being bombarded with multitude of messages from friends and acquaintances asking for my thoughts, I decided to make a brief statement on the provocative incident(s).
I have nonetheless noticed so many new voices of Gambians protesting about these incidents for their contempt to our sovereignty and frequency along our borders but often trivialized and justified by the Gambia government in order to cover up the illegal escapades.
It however goes to prove that given the nationalistic propensity of our citizenry, it will be naive to assume that the longer these Senegalese troops remain occupying our country the more likely Gambians will accept the ill-conceived political and economic “symbiosis” being gradually imposed on us. Gambia is not Guinea Bissau and we fully-well know what France is up to.
To say that their combat-fitted military patrol had lost their navigation bearing and strayed into the Gambia when earlier reports disclosed their intention to confiscate wood/logs from Gambian loggers until the youth in the immediate vicinity demonstrated a concerted resistance against them is an excuse for the dupable.
The last time they attempted a similar infiltration, the situation degenerated into a stand off between them and a lightly-armed detachment of the Gambia Armed Forces until the authorities had to swiftly intervene and force the marauders to withdraw. More of these mischiefs have been registered including another recent one at the TransGambia Bridge which again required our authorities to intercede and settle the altercation; but the most offensive so far was the so-called hot pursuit of an innocent Gambian found in his house around Basse, where a heavily armed Senegalese security cell that had illegally crossed our borders, forcefully entered into the “suspect’s” premises, shot and arrested him before bundling off the poor fellow back to Senegal.
To add insult to injury, witnesses had reported the trespassers bragging about arresting along any member of the Gambian police or armed forces who would have attempted to stop them in their illegal act. There were none in the village, anyway. Was that not textbook agent-provocateurs on steroid?
Of course, our defense minister Sheikh Omar Faye tried to spin the lawlessness, justifying it on a dubious security pact signed by Senegal and Gambia that licensed them into such thuggery. Gambian forces dare not conduct such operations into Senegal no matter the seriousness of any defense agreement signed between the two states.
In fact, hot pursuit, also known as “fresh or immediate pursuit”, means a close continuous pursuit of a fleeing suspected lawbreaker or hostile military force especially across territorial lines. That definition in no way corresponds to what happened when foreign thugs in uniform, found a man/suspect in his house in a friendly country and shot and arrested him for a crime he was later exonerated of all its charges. The level of high profile criminal that will warrant a hot pursuit wouldn’t be easily found innocent by any serious court, much more on the suspect’s first appearance before a judge. No matter how the defense minister spun it, the whole operation was unlawful while the victim, later released, went with his injuries and having nowhere to complain about the injustice. He could have been killed just like Haruna Jatta of Kaninlai and justified by our unconscionable judases.
However, I heard that the commander of the Farafenni Barracks this time deployed soldiers to Jarra to confront the Senegalese-armored-patrol unit that had left before their arrival. Video footage of the unit in the village showed a well equipped, battle-prepared force surrounded by an angry confrontational crowd. Like I said earlier, the excuse that they wandered off into Gambian territory is just another fox and bull story.
Yes, the last time they committed a similar provocation in the Kombos resulting in a tense logjam with the members of the Gambia Armed Forces, Gambian authorities again dismissed it with the lame excuse that the heavily armed combatants crossed into the Gambian village to pay a curtesy call to a senior religious leader. Dumb excuse!
I want to once again reiterate my counseling to the Gambia Armed Forces command to be wary of these calculated provocations. They mustn’t be nudged into a confrontation with these ruffians; the only feat they are looking for is to spill Gambian blood since they invaded our country for no justifiable reasons in 2017. They have seized all the army’s heavy arsenals and took them away to Senegal, leaving our troops with only light weapons and are still bent on nettling them into a fight that they will certainly win, ultimately giving them the legitimacy to indefinitely occupy the country.
The GAF PRO Major Sanyang in his interview with the Fatu Network made it clear that the contents of the defense agreement signed by the Barrow and Sall governments on the hot pursuit issue in particular was beyond his expertise. That is essentially another way of conveying the limited understanding of his superiors about what was signed in Dakar or even the terms and conditions of deploying these savages in the country.
They shouldn’t ever be bothered by the insignificant backseat-drivers calling them cowards and all sorts of names for not doing something foolish. In other words, they shouldn’t be lured into a fight they cannot win. That is simple military science. To get into a fight, the soldier must be assured winning it or inflicting maximum damage to the enemy; although unforeseen circumstances can always alter the dynamics in the battlefield.
I don’t expect any change in the helplessness of the GAF under this government; but hopefully the next Gambia government will provide them with the autonomy and vital combat training to resist these kinds of military banditry that is not fought by conventional means but by modern gorilla tactics. The GAF have been recognized worldwide for their special peacekeeping skills; so the next training objective should be geared towards the establishment and reinforcement of a formidable and disciplined force in gorilla warfare. All these intimidating armored personnel carriers and heavy caliber machine-guns can easily be neutralized by a well trained gorilla-fighting unit, especially within one’s own terrain and one’s special advantage of home support.
In the event of another incursion, which will doubtlessly occur again and again, let the State House call Dakar and settle it between Macky Sall and Adama Barrow. They know what they secretly signed together. And if our lawmakers and politicians are too chickenhearted to ask for the contents of the document/agreement which I can guarantee bore no legality, why kill or die for it? Any bastard who die for it will die for nothing. They will merely shift the blame on the victims for starting the trouble and perhaps reward the killers with promotions; after all, the lifeline of this new Gambia government is directly wired to the seat of President Macky Sall in Dakar.
Senegalese troops will never be crazy to stray into Mauritanian and Malian territories much more to conduct an illegal hot pursuit across their northern and eastern frontiers. They have been looking for Gambian blood and will never stop until they quench their thirst of it.
Unless we know what it exactly entails, maybe we should start considering the possibility of taking this illegal arrangement to the ECOWAS or international courts.