Who are the allies of Nigeria?
Boko Haram in Nigeria : The African front
The joint military offensive by four West African armies against the Nigerian terrorist militia Boko Haram seems to be having an effect. After Boko Haram expanded its attacks to the entire Lake Chad region, Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon agreed on a coordinated military response. Since the date for the presidential election in Nigeria was postponed from mid-February to the end of March, the military offensive has continued. Apparently the troops have recaptured parts of the areas occupied by Boko Haram. On Wednesday, the Nigerian army reported that more than 500 Boko Haram fighters were said to have been killed “in the past few weeks”. Nigerian authorities reported the liberation of a total of 36 cities.
Probably in response to this military pressure, the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, swore allegiance to the "Islamic State" (IS) over the weekend. Last year, IS had already publicly praised the kidnapping of more than 200 girls from the school in Chibok in the northeastern state of Borno - and later began to kidnap Yazidi women themselves.
Boko Haram's videos are getting more professional
For weeks, terrorism experts like the American Jacob Zenn from the Jamestown Foundation have been analyzing that Boko Haram's public relations work is becoming more and more similar to that of IS. The videos became more professional: right down to the angle of the camera showing two men who were apparently beheaded a few days ago, everything matched the Iraqi-Syrian IS videos.
What this oath of loyalty by Shekau means in practice is difficult to assess. The Nigerian army sees this as a sign of weakness and an indication that their own military strategy could work this time. On the other hand, the terrorist militia, which years ago swore allegiance to Al Qaeda without any recognizable cooperation, can present itself as even more dangerous than it is. Boko Haram is still able to terrorize the population in northeastern Nigeria. More than 50 people were killed in suicide bombings in the regional capital Maiduguri just over the weekend. A few days ago, Boko Haram is said to have dispatched a seven-year-old girl as a suicide bomber.
It is not yet known whether IS wants an African branch
Whether the IS, in whose ideology racism plays no small role, wants to have a black African branch is still open. An expert on terror in Africa, Marc Engelhardt, warns in his blog that Boko Haram could work with the Libyan offshoot of IS. This would have fatal consequences for Niger in particular, as the army of the bitterly poor desert country only counts 12,000 soldiers. Boko Haram alone is estimated to have 15,000 fighters.
A few days ago Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, who wants to be re-elected despite poor poll numbers, said in an interview with the Al Jazeera broadcaster: "We are short of certain weapons and we have been trying to get these weapons for months." Allies supplied "about five percent" of the weapons they needed, so that the army could now go into the fight against the militia "reasonably equipped".
Nigeria's army only fights successfully abroad
The fact that the Nigerian army, which has been fighting Boko Haram since 2010, never gained the upper hand militarily says a lot about the state of the country. In the current budget, 1.6 billion euros are planned for the army. And although Nigerian blue helmet soldiers serve all over Africa and are praised for their good training and discipline, the army command does not seem to succeed in transferring these virtues to the troops in their own country. On the way from the government coffers in the capital Abuja to the common soldiers, most of the money is apparently lost and is likely to flow into the pockets of military greats. In any case, ordinary soldiers who are sent into battle against Boko Haram report that they are only armed with a machine gun and hardly have to go out with ammunition. Often there is not enough food to eat enough once a day. And now the army should defeat Boko Haram in six weeks, the army leadership promised when the postponement of the election date was announced.
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