How can Nigeria get rid of corruption
What strategy in the fight against Boko Haram?
At the end of January, the African Union reacted and decided to send an emergency force of 7,500 men. Details of the mission should be clarified in the coming weeks.
Nigeria's neighbor, Chad, has already acted and sent troops to the border region. They have already hit Boko Haram. On February 3rd, the terrorists evicted the Nigerian border town of Gamboru. The next day, soldiers from Chad and Cameroon pushed back a counter-attack by the terrorists on the neighboring city of Fotokol in Cameroon.
ARTE Journal asked the Africa experts Carlos Koos from the Leibniz Institute for Global and Regional Studies and Philippe Hugon from the French "Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques" about the conflict and the chances against Boko Haram.
ARTE Journal: How can you fight Boko Haram?
Carlo Koos: Boko Haram has existed since the early 2000s. At first it was a peaceful, religious group that campaigned against discrimination against the population. Towards the middle to the end of the 2000s, the fighters then radicalized and developed into a terrorist organization. It would of course have been necessary much earlier to improve living conditions in northern Nigeria and to give the population a socio-economic perspective, but it is too late for that now. The organization has developed a life of its own and would probably no longer be satisfied with political involvement today. Therefore, military intervention is definitely necessary at the moment. The Nigerian army, a fairly well trained and well equipped army by African standards, has been stationed in the northeast for a long time with the task of fighting Boko Haram.
Why is the Nigerian army so powerless?
The army is very corrupt right up to the ranks, some even have ties to Boko Haram.
Philippe Hugon - 05/02/2015
Philippe Hugon: There are several reasons for this. The army is very corrupt right up to the ranks, some even have ties to Boko Haram. Initially, they initially supplied them with weapons. The army operates on terrain it does not know well. In addition, it has no weapons against very mobile movements that manage to infiltrate the population and sometimes even gain support, especially from the Kanouri ethnic group, to which the majority of the Boko Haram fighters belong. The army limits itself to using force against the population, it has become very unpopular.
Carlo Koss: I can only guess at that. Nigeria is a large country and state control in the northeast is not that strong, both in terms of the legitimacy of the state and in terms of its monopoly of force. Boko Haram fills this legitimation and power vacuum in Nigeria's border provinces. The means of tracking Boko Haram in such an area are relatively limited. Due to the very fragile border lines to Niger and Cameroon, the armed groups can move easily and that makes it difficult for the army to fight the group sustainably. The military would have to rely on information support from the local population. But through human rights violations, which the Nigerian army repeatedly committed against the population, they have destroyed the trust of the population and cannot count on their help.
How do you see the chances of success of a reaction force recently approved by the African Union?
But if these 7,500 men were actually deployed, I cannot imagine that they would have a great deal of influence on the fight against Boko Haram.
Carlo Koos - 05/02/2015
Carlo Koos: The African Union is a very sluggish structure with little funding and it is not really well endowed either. The first question that arises is when would such a force come. But if these 7,500 men were actually deployed, I cannot imagine that they would have a great deal of influence on the fight against Boko Haram. Because they do not speak the local languages and will have difficulties communicating with the population. The African Union has generally not been particularly successful in previous missions either. Cooperation with the neighboring states of Nigeria would make more sense.
Philippe Hugon: First, the emergency force must be funded. Certainly from the United Nations and that takes time. The African Union has reached an agreement, but the difficulty will be to implement this agreement.
Does that mean military intervention, as Chad has been doing for a few days?
Carlo Koos: Yes, a regional initiative is very important, especially because the region between northeast Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon is very permeable. In addition, the troops of these neighboring states can work under local conditions and communicate with the population. However, I find it difficult to imagine that the Cameroon and Chadian armies will make deep forays into Nigeria. The main aspect will be to act in a coordinated manner against the fact that Boko Haram cannot find a safe haven in the border states.
What are Chad's chances in this fight?
Chad is one of the most powerful armies in Africa and the state is directly affected by the Boko Haram threat.
Philippe Hugon - 05/02/2015
Philippe Hugon: Chad has one of the most powerful armies in Africa and the state is directly affected by the Boko Haram threat. N’Djamena is less than 200 kilometers from the zones under the control of Boko Haram. They also fear a merger between Boko Haram and the Seleka militias in Central Africa. Therefore, they have mobilized a lot. They have already recaptured parts of the areas of Boko Haram, but they are outnumbered with around 3,000 soldiers in the African troops versus 8,000 to 30,000 soldiers according to experts.
Do you think it likely that Chad’s troops will be permanently stationed in Nigeria?
Philippe Hugon: Nigeria is very vigilant about its national sovereignty. You have agreed to the intervention of the troops from neighboring countries, but the question of whether these troops will stay longer can only arise after the elections.
How do you interpret Nigeria's initial reservations about the intervention of the Chadian troops in your national territory?
Carlo Koos: That is a very natural attitude, it is about an understanding of sovereignty. Every sovereign state in the world has something against it if a foreign army marches in. International pressure was certainly exerted to start such a local action.
Has cooperation between the states in the region improved?
Regional cooperation is making progress, but military resources vary widely in terms of skills, technology and organization.
Philippe Hugon - 05/02/2015
Philippe Hugon: Yes, even if very big rivalries persist, especially between Nigeria and Cameroon. Regional cooperation is making progress, but military resources vary widely in terms of skills, technology and organization. You definitely need logistical support that only western countries like the USA or France could provide.
So how should Nigeria and the neighboring countries proceed?
Carlo Koos: You have to get rid of the idea that this is something that can be pacified in the next few months, or even the next year or two. The train left. We must also not forget that Boko Haram does not act independently, but is supported financially and morally by Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb and morally by the terrorist militia IS. I think in the long run it will depend on a mix of different strategies. The living conditions of the population in the north-east of the country must be blatantly improved, incentives must be created for fighters who are not completely radicalized to reintegrate into society, and the most radicalized units can really only be fought militarily, through a cooperative approach between them Neighbore states.
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