Yahya Jammeh is now slowly starting to realize that the base of his castle was built on a foundation of sand.
One of my Nigerian friends who knows President Buhari very well told me some days ago that the Nigerian President did not like stubborn people. So when President Buhari came last Friday to Gambia and left very hastily, leaving behind the other members of his delegation, it was very clear that things had fallen apart. My friend told me in no uncertain terms that Yahya Jammeh had made a grave and existential mistake.
Today, as Senegalese troops entered Gambia and rolled through the empty roads of the country easily, meeting no military resistance but people in the villages cheering them on, it was very clear that all the loud threats made by Yahya Jammeh over the past few weeks had just been a load of hot air.
Even though it is rumored that military elements loyal to Ex-President Yahya Jammeh were planning surprise night attacks on the foreign troops, such an action would be extremely foolhardy, as the mass of troops arraigned against them is just too overwhelming.
One thing Jammeh failed to realize in all this period of saber rattling and making loud noises was the distinct disadvantage his country had when it came to defensive warfare. Other countries in the region like Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast have a lot of tropical jungle in which guerilla elements can hide and mount protracted small scale military campaigns.
Unfortunately for Jammeh, his country is completely in the Sahel. Almost the entire country has no major forest. Vegetation is very sparse in most of Gambia. During the dry periods, you can see miles and miles of dry flatlands filled with dried scorched grass that crumbles just when touched. Some areas of Gambia are so hot that nobody can stay anywhere that is not near a known source of drinking water. In essence there is almost no jungle in the country for his overrated "Junglers" to hide in. Jammeh has a brave military, but they could only be realistically used to control the people of his country and the occasional foreign peacekeeping mission.
There was no way Jammeh could fight Senegal, let alone West Africa.
Gambia is also a very small country with an area of about 4,127 square miles. By comparison, Sierra Leone, another small country in West Africa is about 27,699 square miles. As small as Sierra Leone is, it is more than 6 times the size of Gambia and Sierra Leone is one of the smallest countries in West Africa! The widest part of Gambia is less than 30 miles. It is a long and narrow country swallowed entirely by Senegal, except along its coastal boundary with the Atlantic Ocean.
Senegal is 75,951 square miles!
Senegal is 75,951 square miles!
Given these distinct geographical disadvantages and a military that was less than 2000 men, why Yahya Jammeh boasted that he can defeat any force sent to fight him will forever remain a ministry. Probably, by suppressing the small population of his country for 22 years, Jammeh had either forgotten the true size of his country or he truly believed that Allah would intervene on his behalf.
However, many of Jammeh's allies have been more realistic. Almost his entire cabinet, including his Vice President have now resigned. The only ones still holding out are those who believe everything their Marabouts tell them, the ones that probably believe that Jammeh csn actually cure AIDS. Even members of the military, including the Chief of Staff are now reported to have switched their allegiance to Barrow. Stubbornness is a lonely place.
Things are fluid at the moment, with conflicting news coming out of the country. What has been confirmed is that foreign troops are now in the country with UN Security Council and AU blessing and under ECOWAS command to kick out the stubborn Jammeh. World diplomats have shifted recognition of presidential status from Jammeh to Barrow. Gambian troops have so far refused to engage the foreign troops. Jammeh is still in the country.
We will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds. But currently,things do not look good for the king of Kanilai, Babili Mansa Professor Sheikh.