December 30, 2014 – San Francisco, CA – PipeLineNews.org – Since 2009 Boko Haram has waged a brutal campaign of terror against the people of Nigeria, killing at least 13,000. Led by what appears to be a crazed individual, Abubakar Shekau, the group was “doing ISIS” before that organization existed [although its forebear, al-Qaeda in Iraq, was no slouch in that regard].
Nigeria is one of the world’s largest exporters of oil and the resulting revenue has made the country arguably the richest on the continent, over-taking South Africa according to some estimates [see, Nigeria Could Become Africa’s Richest Country]
Politically the country is a basket-case with the president, Goodluck Jonathan having proved incapable or unwilling to confront the growing jihad which has over-run many of the country’s northern states.
Though Jonathan has requested assistance from the Obama administration on numerous occasions, nothing has really happened with the possible exception of some improvements having been made to an intel listening post in nearby Chad.
Having closely followed the conflict for years now we can’t recall a single important victory by government forces over Boko Haram. On the contrary, morale is low in the armed forces; poor training, lack of support from the country’s corrupt leadership and an absence of heavy weaponry all lead to a growing feeling that if the insurrection is left unchecked, Nigeria and its neighbors will soon become terrorist states.
The lack of basic supplies has become so critical that there are reports of protests being led by the wives of Nigerian army members because their husbands are being sent into the field with little or no ammunition for their battle rifles.
As a result soldiers are refusing to fight or instead, taking the first opportunity to desert or mutiny. In what has become the typical response of the Jonathan government, instead of remedying the problem it has condemned over 50 soldiers to death for fleeing in the face of enemy attacks.
Though the country is oil-rich, much of it is drained off by corruption at a level uncommon even for Africa. Thus Jonathan has been forced into requesting international loans to help better equip Nigeria’s defense force while petro-billions come and go with little accounting.
The loss of Nigeria to Boko Haram would prove catastrophic, not only for immediate U.S. security concerns but because it would likely lead to some form of consolidated North African caliphate since the group is now very active outside the confines of Nigeria.
“In the past months Boko Haram has been expanding its activities into neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger. For some time now, experts say, the extremists have maintained bases on both sides of various borders as havens to which they can retreat if attacked. The terrorists are recruiting fighters in the neighboring countries as well. Several high-ranking leaders of the group reportedly come from Chad and Niger…” [source, Every Country Fends For Itself In The Fight Against Boko Haram , Deutsche Welle]
Some very knowledgeable analysts, in this case terrorism expert Patrick Poole have predicted that left unchecked Boko Haram could topple Nigeria, perhaps in as little as 18 months
“The strategic stakes involved for the U.S. are extraordinary, but you would never be able to gauge that from the absence of any alarm from the Obama administration or from either side of the aisle in Congress. Not only does Nigeria have the continent’s largest population at 173 million and thelargest economy in Africa, it also is the10th largest oil producer in the world… It’s worth repeating: Congress had to drag a reluctant Clinton State Department kicking and screaming to get Boko Haram designated in November 2013. Members of Congress also discovered earlier this year that the Clinton State Department intentionally lied and downplayed the threat from Boko Haram, and worked to kill bills in both the House and the Senate calling for their designation in 2012.” [source, Patrick Poole, Nigeria Teeters On The Brink, Front Page Mag]
It’s clear from the Obama administration’s refusal to engage the Islamist enemy on anything but a pretend basis [a couple of daily sorties in Iraq against ISIS does not constitute action] that the jihadists now believe that they have a two year window of opportunity - most likely the best they will ever get - to extend the realm of the caliphate as far as resources will allow them.
Undoing this great harm in the future will prove far more difficult than having prevented it at its inception. Whether blame will accrue to the party most responsible for this state of affairs, Barack Obama, remains to be seen.
We refer the interested reader to an excellent BBC series of articles detailing the activities of al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups in Africa, see Battling al-Qaeda In Africa.
©2014 PipeLineNews.org LLC. All rights reserved.