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Boko Haram, Rising From the Ashes

Coen van Wyk

Posted on December 2, 2018 11:00

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A few years ago the Nigerian Government suggested that Boko Haram is all but finished. Recently, in a wave of deadly attacks, the insurgent movement showed that it is stronger than before. Sophisticated technology and foreign fighters strengthen the movement, but it is failure of governance that provides the breeding ground.

It was Ché Guevara, I think, who said that all a revolution needed was a rural ‘foco’, a point of resistance around which peasants can rally. Government forces would then react with such excess that more and more people would rally to the resistance, thus bringing about a revolution.
 
The trajectory of Boko Haram reminds of this theory. Originally based on rejection of western values, this movement has now morphed into a deep-rooted resistance to corrupt, inefficient government. Latest claims are that drones and foreign fighters are being used. Several daring, back-to-back raids overran a convoy, swarmed over military bases, and left scores of soldiers dead and many missing.

Nigerian President Buhari Feferberg/AFP

 

Other attacks were repelled. The rebels suffered some losses, but gained vehicles, fuel and oil, weaponry and uniforms. How can a rag-tag group of rebels humiliate a powerful army with sophisticated equipment and recent military experience in peacekeeping in West Africa? The answer must be sought in the military context, but mostly in the field of governance.

Destruction of livestock. AFP


Critics claim that President Buhari has little contact with realities on the ground. He is said to be caught in political intrigues, and unable to control his military. It is also said that the troops involved are badly led, ill-equipped and not fed properly. At one time a South African group of military contractors led Nigerian troops to stunning victories, and had their contracts summarily terminated. Their commander, Eben Barlow, now reported that men from the units he had trained told him they had been used to the point of exhaustion, and that the Nigerian Government was ignoring intelligence in favor of a false narrative. 

In recent weeks President Buhari called on leaders of neighboring states to stand together, not to relent, and to stamp out the remnants of terrorists. At the same time voices are heard pointing out that the political causes of the conflict, the lack of development, coupled with severe problems in the military are impeding any attempt to solve the conflict. 

Squalid camp for refugees. 360nobs.com

Boko Haram controls most of the State of Borno, and has destroyed schools, hospitals, government buildings. 

Omar Mahmood for the Institute for Security Studies opines that Boko Haram is undergoing a significant change. The organization, now also knows as the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) is increasingly able to dictate the pace of the war, and using news media more. A potential leadership struggle may yet weaken the organization, or may result in it becoming an increasing threat to the region.

ISWA banner. ISS


Boko Haram counts on historic parallels: ancient empires that had risen and conquered in this same region. Unless the Government of Nigeria, and of neighboring countries can gain the initiative, and govern, they will lose the popular support permanently.

 

 

Coen van Wyk

Posted on December 2, 2018 11:00

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Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist group, has kidnapped 110 schoolgirls in the town of Dapchi.

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