with the wink of


Hi, everyone:

Their task would be easier if there were an agreed peace to keep. A much smaller AU force, less than 7,000-strong, due to be merged with the UN force, has been struggling to make an endlessly flouted ceasefire stick since 2004. But the AU’s force has been battered by attacks from the various rebel and bandit groups that have proliferated, some with the wink of the government. Last month ten Nigerian soldiers serving in the AU force were killed in a rebel attack on their base at Haskanita, bringing AU deaths up to 28 so far.

Could you tell me the meaning of the underlined part?

Best wishes
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It is a conspiratorial wink.
    It means that the government knows about some of these "rebel and bandit groups" but is doing nothing about them. Figuratively, the government is noticing these groups, knows it should do something about them, but deliberately doesn't.

    Let me give you a very different and much simpler example.
    I'm sitting at home on a lazy afternoon.
    The door opens quietly and WMPG crawls in with a balloon and a pin.
    No one in the room notices, apart from me.
    She starts to crawl over to the chair where her mother is sitting, half asleep.
    She suddenly notices that I am watching her and stops - staring at me.
    I wink and look away.
    WMPG knows that I know she's there, and that although really I should stop her I'm not going to.
    Shortly after that, there is a very loud bang from behind WMPG's mum's chair ... ... and WMPG and I laugh heartily.

    (WMPG = World's Most Perfect Granddaughter)
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