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CSOs will push hybrid warfare

By Sapien Sapien

One thing is clear; the politically driven yet militarily inspired withdrawal of the US army from the theatre of war in Afghanistan signalled the death knell of the Bush Doctrine as we know it.

Whilst security watchers anticipate a version of “Cyber 9/11”, what is not clear, at this juncture, to numerous watchers and observers is the morphology of the US foreign policy of intervention and manipulation from a reliance of and in the efficacy of 3rd Generation Warfare kind of interventions to an aggressive adoption of an often misunderstood kind of warfare — hybrid warfare.

Hybrid warfare is not new insofar as international statecraft, diplomacy and warfare is concerned. Pragmatically, this kind of warfare operates below the threshold of open conflict, through the creation of simultaneous yet multiple ambiguities. Consequently, an adversary waging hybrid warfare takes advantage of its inherent disguise, a disguise that thrives upon the logical reality that makes attribution difficult.

This kind of warfare mixes, all at once, in series or via blitzkrieg, whichever English is correct there, aspects cyberwarfare, information warfare, regular warfare, propaganda, hoaxes, fake news, irregular warfare, criminal nuisance and any kind of 4th Generation Warfare that attacks a nation’s centre of gravity and renders it incapable of responding appropriately to such covert aggression.

Diplomatic pressure and manipulation is a favourite tactic employed by the US through its embassies across the world as it targets nation states that are perceived to be adversaries. US ambassadors are known to have endorsed the Arab Spring as a wave of “pro-democracy” movements when the anarchy driven events that engulfed Middle East and North Africa (Mena) were at their zenith.

The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in the early 2010s. It began in response to corruption and economic stagnation and was influenced by the Tunisian Revolution.

Ambassador Robert S Ford in Syria had to be pelted with eggs as he encouraged Syrians to rise up against President Bashar Hafez al-Assad whilst Ambassador Christopher Stevens paid with his life in Benghazi.

These two characters were themselves active participants in the broader scheme of regime change as the US waged a sophisticated version of hybrid warfare against Arab states and their leaders, states they felt posed an existential threat to the US foreign policy.

President Barack Obama ignored warnings by the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the effect that these so-called pro-democracy fighters are in essence terrorists hiding behind the “democracy” drivel. As a result of that, we have numerous failed states in the MENA and many ongoing wars, which are now mutating as the destabilisation escalates unabated.

The use of civil society happens to be at the fulcrum of the hybrid warfare agenda.Through vehicles such as USAID which many believe to be a CIA-led vehicle, the US has managed to weaponise aid and penetrate communities and societies under the guise of “democracy and human rights”

Some, if not most, of these civil society organisations (CSO) happen to be havens of corruption and fronts used to perpetuate all forms and kinds of illicit activity and amoral behaviour, chief among them sextortion. US ambassadors have been reduced to activists as they openly violate aspirations and provisions of the Vienna Convention, with impunity. Their shenanigans do not give an iota of care to the desires of the Westphalian Treaty of 1648 that gave us the all important concept of sovereignty.

American interests simply are supreme, so they assume. However, the Taliban managed to remove the aura of American invincibility. They proved that the mirage around the supremacy of the US war machinery is just but sugar-coated cowardice fronted by sophisticated weaponry led by the all-famous Chinooks renowned for extricating stricken US collaborators and diplomats from countries where hegemonic control and dominance capitulate.

The Afghan debacle and the evisceration of the Bush Doctrine is going to result in the intensified implementation of the hybrid warfare thrust by the US upon those countries identified as adversaries of the superpower. CSOs are going to be at the forefront of this engagement as they hide behind the tried and tested human rights mantra. Client states in Africa are going to be at pains to reign in resistance groups as they seek to protect their countries from the not-so-covert hostile manipulation of their systems and structures by US proxies using the human rights cover.

Events in Guinea make for interesting reading. The allegations that the elite forces who seized power in Conakry were in the midst of a US-Army-led military exercise cannot be ignored. The use of special forces to incite anarchy is one instrument of hybrid warfare that must always be contextualised.

As we brace for a rekindled version of the US foreign policy, we all must stay alert to the escalation of a marinated version of hybrid warfare as the superpower seeks to retain influence across all spheres of politics and diplomacy the world over.

Sapien is a security and trade analyst.

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