Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Old Problems That Never Get Solved

21 Novermber 2011

November 21, 2011: While the government assembles security forces, intelligence capabilities and popular opinion to use against Boko Haram, it is less enthusiastic about dealing with the main reason the Islamic radicals have gained a foothold in the north; corruption and inept government. Boko Haram says that a religious dictatorship in the north would solve all these problems. While many northerners know better (religious governments have failed in Sudan, Iran and Afghanistan), there is tremendous anger at the thieving and incompetent government officials. As long as that situation persists, there will always be angry (and usually unemployed) young men willing to join the terrorists. This is especially true because the police and army tend to be vicious and undisciplined when dealing with what they consider a hostile population. This is an old problem in Nigeria, that never gets solved.

Algerian intelligence claims that Boko Haram has established connections with the Algerian branch of al Qaeda. No proof was offered, other than the fact that the Algerian/North African branch of al Qaeda now runs a major drug smuggling operation (moving cocaine from Guinea-Bissau, where it is flown in from South America, to the Mediterranean coast). But those smuggling routes are over a thousand kilometers from Nigeria and there is no other evidence that North African Islamic radicals have been in Nigeria. While these terrorists have been seen in northern Niger (along the Algerian border), police and counter-terror activity has made it difficult for the al Qaeda groups to move away from the Algerian border region. So, aside from some Nigerians visiting the al Qaeda groups, there is not much of a connection.

Another problem for the government is that the insurrection they have been fighting in the Niger River Delta for decades is little like the Boko Haram situation. ...

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