9, February 2024
It is more than 6 years since 91-year-old President Biya launched a full-scale attack on the English speaking people of Southern Cameroons — but who is really winning the war in Ambazonia?
Frankly speaking, the answer cannot be straightforward. To be accurate, it is also no longer dependent on Southern Cameroons Self Defense Forces and the Ambazonia Interim Government but much on the political situation in La Republique du Cameroun.
Judging from Yaounde’s military calculations, progress, so far, has been slower than expected, according to Cameroon Intelligence Report sources, although some Francophone military barons have insisted this is accidental and not deliberate.
While our chief political man, Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai says it is still too early to predict the result with any certainty, we of the Cameroon Concord News Group are of the opinion that there are some areas of the Southern Cameroons war in which Yaoundé or the Ambazonia Interim Government are currently leading.
Our London Bureau Chief Isong Asu breaks them down here:
One and indivisible Cameroon and the Federal Republic of Ambazonia
From every indication, neither President Paul Biya nor President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe has achieved the stated objectives they set out at the beginning of this campaign.
Immediately after Biya launched the invasion of English speaking Cameroon six years ago, he outlined the objectives and stated that “Cameroon was one and indivisible.”
Biya’s aims were to flush out separatists and to defend the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cameroon.
But the Biya Francophone officials have repeatedly shifted their goalposts, stating at the beginning that they were fighting Anglophone terrorists and changing it to separatists. And because of its ever-changing Southern Cameroons war aims, the Francophone dominated military has now commercialized the war and there are military bases all over Southern Cameroons including in villages that are not even accessible by road. From Yaoundé’s perspective, we think they’re moving closer to achieving their objectives which is that of militarizing the entire Southern Cameroons.
But the Ambazonia Interim Government is making resistance gains and has managed to put pressure on French Cameroun’s tough defensive lines in Buea and Bamenda. This week, Amba fighters raided Buea the chief city in the South West Region and punished Southern Cameroonians who defied ghost town operation orders.
“We still have a long way to go in this war in Southern Cameroons, but recent actions in Buea and Bamenda are something Yaoundé should be worried about,” Soter Agbaw-Ebai said.
Correspondingly, one of Southern Cameroons main objectives — stated in President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe’s independence speech — is to liberate the entire Southern Cameroons from the union with French Cameroun. But this is appearing to be unattainable following the many divisions deep within the Ambazonia Interim Government.
“So getting to Buea, I don’t actually think that’s ever going to be possible with the Ambazonia leader and his top aides still in Kondengui” Soter Agbaw-Ebai noted.
“No one in Europe takes those clowns in Maryland seriously so it is very hard to see how My Trip To Buea could be achieved in the near term. Only a change of regime in Yaoundé, which seems very unlikely at the moment can reactivate the journey to Buea” Soter Agbaw-Ebai furthered.
La Republique versus Southern Cameroons
If winning the war in Southern Cameroons was based on morale, Southern Cameroonians would emerge as the victor.
Morale among Amba fighters has been high even after the arrest of the Ambazonian leader Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and his top aides in Abuja, Nigeria. Stark resistances from Southern Cameroons Restoration Forces have forced President Biya to make some huge adjustments to his military deployments in English speaking Cameroon and cabinet ministers from Anglophone Cameroon including Paul Atanga Nji have been told not to comment publicly on the war.
“I think Cameroon government army soldiers are in a weaker position today because they appear to be panicking when deployed to the rural areas in Southern Cameroons,” Agbaw-Ebai said.
Biya and his Francophone political elites made their war aims very unclear from the very beginning, which has made it extremely difficult for them to win support for the war in both French and English speaking Cameroon.
A rising number of French speaking Cameroonians have started to express serious doubts about the progress that is being made in this senseless conflict in Southern Cameroons.
“Whether that means there will be some kind of threat to the Biya Francophone Beti Ewondo regime, I think is a different question, but clearly there is quite widespread discontent with the way the war in Southern Cameroons has been run,” Soter Agbaw-Ebai pointed out. Morale has also been weakened by corruption among Cameroon’s military leaders.
Cameroon Government Military against Ambazonia Forces
It is difficult to say who is currently winning from a military standpoint because the two forces do not have complete control of the security situation in Southern Cameroons.
And even with the continued deployment of troops from French Cameroun to Southern Cameroons towns and villages, it is still unclear how effective these French speaking army soldiers plan to deal with the present invincible Amba fighters as well as how resilient Ambazonia fighters will be this 2024.
“For me, the two sides are relatively balanced and I believe the war will drag on for many years after Biya” Soter Agbaw-Ebai concluded.
By Isong Asu
London Bureau Chief
Cameroon Concord News Group