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March 29

March 29 OPINION PAGE 42 Belgium bombings and America’s failed war on terror By Eugene Enahoro Recently more than 30 people were killed and dozens…

March 29

OPINION PAGE 42

Belgium bombings and America’s failed war on terror

By Eugene Enahoro

Recently more than 30 people were killed and dozens injured in terrorist attacks at Brussels international airport and a city metro station. Brussels is home to the European Union (EU), NATO, international agencies and the Belgian government. In a statement issued on the Amaq agency the Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attacks. Apparently the attacks were in retaliation for the arrest of Salaq Abdeslam who was suspected of masterminding the deadly Paris bomb attacks. Having made the international terrorist watch list Salaq was shot in the leg during his capture and arrest in Brussels played out live on TV a few days prior to the latest attacks.

The Belgian Prime Minister has rightly called the attacks “blind, violent, and cowardly”, correctly pointing out that since true Moslems are peace loving people the terrorists should not be referred to as radical Islamists but as “Islamized radicals”. Terrorist organizations recruit radical criminal elements teach them little parts of the Holy Koran then send them out to engage in further criminal activities. A situation in which little children, nursing mothers and innocent people are murdered indiscriminately is neither Godly or righteous.

The Jihadist group Islamic State (IS) burst on to the scene in 2014 when it seized large territory in Syria and Iraq. Notorious for its brutality including mass killings, abductions and beheadings in June 2014 the group formally declared the establishment of a caliphate and demanded that Muslims and other jihadist groups worldwide swear allegiance and accept its supreme authority. Islamic states are governments primarily based on the application of sharia law. However unlike caliph-led governments which are imperial despotisms or monarchies, modern Islamic states can incorporate modern political institutions such as elections, parliamentary rule, judicial review and popular sovereignty.

Belgium has struggled with Islamist groups for years and at least 500 Belgian citizens have been lured into fighting for IS in Syria and Iraq. In February 2015 US director for National intelligence James clapper said IS had “somewhere in the range of 20,000 to 30,000 fighters” in Iraq and Syria. Quite surprisingly a significant number of IS fighters are not from either Syria or Iraq. In October 2015 the US congress was told that IS fighters included over 5,000 foreigners and at least 250 of them were Americans. Naturally the US has vowed not to allow them to succeed. Many commentators trace Belgium’s problem with Islamists to its decision in the 1970’s to allow Saudi Arabia to construct the city’s great mosque.

In addition to building the mosque the Saudi’s also sent over a large number of imams to preach a hard-line Salafist for of Islam. However the truth is that Islamic fundamentalism only reached its present dangerous heights after the Iraq war. The US government always uses as much force as necessary to defend its interests regardless of the consequences to others. Having appointed itself as the “policeman to the world” unfortunately its interest are not in harmony with world peace.

Republican Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz acknowledges the fact that America has consistently made mistakes in its foreign policy when for purely selfish reasons they got themselves in involved in toppling Middle Eastern governments. The end result of all this is that it has benefitted radical Islamic terrorists. American intervention since the start of the Iraq war has led from one disaster to another and now Europe and the rest of the world is suffering the ill-effects. The middle-east and indeed the world was definitely a safer place when Saddam Hussien of Iraq and Momar Ghadaffi of Libya were in power and Assad was not fighting for his life in Syria. The figures speak for themselves.

In Iraq before 2003 there had not been a single suicide attack since then there have been 1,892. In Pakistan in the fourteen years prior to 9/11 there had been only one suicide attack, whereas in the 14 years since then there have been 486 such attacks. Indeed throughout the world Somalia has had 88, Yemen 85, Libya 29, Nigeria 91, and Syria 165. Although one cannot blame the US for the actions of misguided suicidal youths the fact is that their so called “war on terror” has been an expensive and less than successful enterprise. Between 2002 and 2014 deaths from terrorism in the Middle East increased 4,500%.

Fourteen years after it began the US is on track to have spent six trillion dollars on just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To put that in perspective it works out at about $75,000 for every American household. Even more tragic than the misapplied wasted funds nearly 7,000 US army personnel have died in the process of prosecuting the war. In addition approximately 22 US war veterans commit suicide every day. In all truthfulness the only thing the American war on terror has brought to the world is more war and more terror

Blood and fire in Birnin Kebbi

By Abu Najakku

Tragedies of immense proportions in the form of multiple murders and fire have hit Birnin Kebbi in recent times. Kara, an otherwise melting pot in the outskirts of the state capital, is increasingly becoming a lawless neighbourhood. It is notorious for murder, daylight robbery and theft and the security apparatus in the state is hereby invited to begin to pay serious attention to the unfolding events there. Just last month, unknown persons went to a house in Kara and slaughtered a whole family in their sleep. The head of the family, an itinerant businessman had travelled down to Onitsha on a business trip and before he could return, his wife, twin children and some other children from the neighbouring homes had their throats slit by yet to be identified people. Up to now, there is no clue as to who was responsible for this heinous crime.

And then about mid-night Friday, 25th March, 2016, the Birnin Kebbi Central Market was engulfed by a mysterious fire which was still smouldering by Saturday morning. Millions of Naira in cash was said to have been lost and the fire concentrated on the most strategic shops belonging to the richest merchants in the market. Alhaji Malami Jallo and Alhaji Murtala Zauro are said to be the biggest losers in the inferno. These two businessmen reportedly lost property worth millions of Naira in Bauer and guinea brocade, lace materials as well as other trading articles. Murtala Zauro allegedly slumped and was immediately rushed to the hospital upon seeing how the fire had razed down his shop. He is still there. As of this minute, the Birnin Kebbi Central Market traders are still counting their losses. This inferno is the single biggest tragedy that has befallen commerce in the poor state.

Eyewitnesses said the fire started at a shop that relied on solar power where some batteries exploded and then sent out a spark. Immediately after, the kindled fire spread to other shops and since most traders possessed the “I better pass my neighbour” electricity generating sets, the petrol inside them simply provided additional fuel. Over three hundred standard shops and above 1000 rough-and-ready others were lost to the fire. As you can imagine, the rescue efforts were utterly hopeless not only because the fire fighting equipment was nought but also because there was simply no water in the vicinity. Even if these two were in place, the makeshift shops provided no access for any meaningful action contemplated by relief workers. Meanwhile, speculators that had bought and locked up over 160 idle shops waiting for the highest bidder to rent also lost their deposits.

Observers have noted with alarm the sequence of fire disasters that has affected strategic markets in the North in the last few months. At the same time that the Central Market in Birnin Kebbi was burning, the Abubakar Rimi Market in Sabon Gari, Kano, was also being razed down by fire. Not long ago, the Singer Market had also been incinerated by another fire. Similar occurrences had taken place in Jos, Minna and Yola and you begin to wonder whether these are mere coincidences or there is a coordinated arsonist hand stoking these fires.

As it is, commerce in Birnin Kebbi has practically come to a standstill. Most of our businessmen and women are one line traders and it will really take a long time for the shop owners in the Birnin Kebbi Central Market to come out of this hole. This means that concerted efforts must be made, essentially by the state government, to provide relief for the losers. Relief must not only be substantial, it must be supplied immediately, in order to help maintain the mental and physical health of those directly affected by this unfortunate incident. Many people who went there to see the remains of the market couldn’t hold back tears owing to the level of economic catastrophe they witnessed.

There is an urgent task to rebuild the Birnin Kebbi Central Market. But how do you rebuild the market? Is it something the state government can do alone or does it have to go into partnership with private concerns? Obviously, this is an unforeseen and therefore unbudgeted expenditure, but if you don’t have a market where will you buy and sell? The market has to be modernised; it has to have uninterrupted water supply and a functional, 24-hour fire fighting equipment. The authorities must also take steps to eliminate makeshift structures that more often than not hinder the smooth operations of law abiding buyers and sellers. There should also be adequate and functional conveniences as well as suitable emergency exits for the users.

The fire disaster that visited the Birnin Kebbi Central Market completely overshadowed the royal splendour associated with the turbaning of the 20th Magajin Garin Gwandu, Alhaji Aminullahi Umar by the Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Muhammadu Ilyasu Bashar at the Abdullahin Gwandu Palace in Birnin Kebbi on Saturday, 26th March, 2016.

It’s not known at this point what Governor Atiku Bagudu intends to do with the market, or his plans for providing succour to those who sustained losses but by Sunday, he was said to have visited the place three times to see things for himself and empathize with the people. I would like to use this space to express my heartfelt empathy to the traders, to Governor Bagudu and the entire people of Kebbi on this economic catastrophe and pray to Allah to restore them to their worth and multiply it many times over.

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