CategoryBoko Haram

Defeating the power of incumbency in the 2015 Nigerian presidential election, by Henrik Angerbrandt

While the presidential election was anticipated to be close, there were still doubts that it would be possible to unseat an incumbent president in Nigeria. So when Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) was declared as winner of the election, Nigerian democracy has entered a new stage that will contribute to set the standard for coming elections in Africa.  Continue reading

Is the struggle against Boko Haram entering a new phase? By Henrik Angerbrandt

A week and a half before Nigeria’s presidential election was scheduled, the military declared in a letter to the chairman of the electoral commission that they would not be able to assist with security measures for another for six weeks due to a major offensive to be concluded in the north-east. As a result, the elections were postponed for six weeks. Observers posed the question on what could be done in six weeks when the insurgency has lasted for close to six years. Now it seems like President Jonathan has intensified the struggle and at the moment gives the insurgency the priority he has been criticised for not showing before. Continue reading

Postponed Nigerian elections: Less about security than about politics, by Henrik Angerbrandt

Since 2009, Boko Haram attacks and military counterattacks have created widespread insecurity in Nigeria, killing more than 13 000 people. Since mid-summer, Nigeria has lost a territory by the size of Belgium to the insurgents. The military has proven unable to both prevent and withstand attacks. Soldiers unwilling to meet better equipped insurgents have been sentenced to death in a court martial. Last week, the military realised they need six weeks to conclude “a major military operation” against the insurgency in the northeast. Continue reading

Monsters of Our Own Creation: How Nigerian Corruption & Climate Change Gave Rise To Boko Haram, by Andrew Gibson

40 years ago, the town of Baga was bustling with an industry and a commerce born of the body of water that had given its residents life for as long as anyone could remember. Nestled in the most northeasterly corner of Nigeria along the shoreline of Lake Chad, Baga served as the piscine midwife for tens of thousands of fishmongers all across the country, providing roughly 135,000 tons of smoked and dried fish a year. Today, thanks to the construction of dams on the lake’s feeder rivers, excessive irrigation and the effects climate change, Lake Chad has shrunk to less than one-fifth of its original size. The massive body of water that locals used to refer to as “an ocean” is now a shriveled imitation of its former self and Baga, which used to sit right on the water, is now twelve and a half miles away from its shores.The fish, which used to be so plentiful and served as the lifeblood of the community, have all but vanished from the Nigerian side of the lake, leading many locals to give up fishing and try their hand at farming or finding work in the city of Maiduguri, more than 120 miles away. Left in dire straits, the people of Baga hoped that the Nigerian government would come to their aide and try to replenish the lake by pumping water up from the nearby Congo River, enforcing more water-efficient irrigation methods and rebuilding wasteful dams. Put simply, Baga needed water. It would get only fire. Continue reading

Fear and Loathing in Jos, Nigeria, by Susan Shepler

Since 2001, Jos, Nigeria is internationally known for intermittent bursts of violent, inter-religious conflict. In addition, for the past several years Nigeria has faced terror attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram, what many would call the worst violent crisis since independence. On 20 May 2014, two bombs went off in the center of Jos, killing at least 118 people and injuring 56 more. The area targeted was Terminus Market, arguably the busiest and most densely populated location in town, a market used by all ethnic groups and by Christians and Muslims alike.

I’ve been living in Jos this past year, researching connections between formal education, the state, and armed conflict and lecturing at the university whenever classes are in session. In the course of my normal activities, I pass the location of the bomb blasts several times a week. The Nigerian government seems unwilling to describe what is happening as a war, but I lived through the tail end of the civil war in Sierra Leone, and this fear, these checkpoints, it feels a lot like a war to me. Actually, not knowing where or when the next bomb blast will occur feels worse (to me) than living in war.

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Boko Haram and the Nigerian state (Guest post by Henrik Angerbrandt)

Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad) – more known as Boko Haram – came in the centre of attention in Nigeria in mid-2009 when they clashed with police squad ’Operation Flush’ in Borno State capital, Maiduguri, resulting in more than 800 deaths. The leader, Muhammad Yusuf, was arrested and killed while in police custody. This followed a pattern of how the Nigerian state has approached similar radical Islamist groups before. This time, however, the strategy resulted in a spiral of violence between Boko Haram, the police, and security forces that is taking an ever more vicious face. Continue reading

Boko Haram and the Nigerian state (Guest post by Henrik Angerbrandt)

Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad) – more known as Boko Haram – came in the centre of attention in Nigeria in mid-2009 when they clashed with police squad ’Operation Flush’ in Borno State capital, Maiduguri, resulting in more than 800 deaths. The leader, Muhammad Yusuf, was arrested and killed while in police custody. This followed a pattern of how the Nigerian state has approached similar radical Islamist groups before. This time, however, the strategy resulted in a spiral of violence between Boko Haram, the police, and security forces that is taking an ever more vicious face. Continue reading

On Sporadic Radicalism

Last week I participated in the third Marrakech Security Forum which this year focused on “Issues and security consequences of transition in North Africa”. It also included several panels on the consequences for the Sahel region, as well as the problem of drugs trafficking in West Africa. In this well-ordered event organized by Federation Africaine Des etudes Strategiques/Centre Marocain des Etudes Strategiques  there were participants from some 50 countries, about 120 men but only 10 women, clearly indicating the male biased interest in the security business. Participants came chiefly from the MENA region but to quite some extent also from francophone Africa south of the Sahara. It was a crowd of senior diplomats, high rank militaries and professors. It appeared that everyone was a director of one institute or another other. There were naturally also a number of Europeans and Americans. Many of the more than hundred, too brief, presentations were quite general statements on the political situation in North Africa and in the Sahel region. Interestingly U.S. officials and academics choose to humbly downplay the U.S. role in Africa in the years to come, except for in a few strategic countries. French officials raised concern over the situation in Algeria and also talked about the situation in the Sahel as “war” and showed concern for the increasing interconnectedness of militant Islamist groups in the region and all the way down to Nigeria. Participants from Africa South of the Sahara gave quite divergent views on the possibilities of an “African spring”, but the Sahelialists were equally afraid of developments around AQIM, Boko Haram and other radical groups. Continue reading

On Sporadic Radicalism

Last week I participated in the third Marrakech Security Forum which this year focused on “Issues and security consequences of transition in North Africa”. It also included several panels on the consequences for the Sahel region, as well as the problem of drugs trafficking in West Africa. In this well-ordered event organized by Federation Africaine Des etudes Strategiques/Centre Marocain des Etudes Strategiques  there were participants from some 50 countries, about 120 men but only 10 women, clearly indicating the male biased interest in the security business. Participants came chiefly from the MENA region but to quite some extent also from francophone Africa south of the Sahara. It was a crowd of senior diplomats, high rank militaries and professors. It appeared that everyone was a director of one institute or another other. There were naturally also a number of Europeans and Americans. Many of the more than hundred, too brief, presentations were quite general statements on the political situation in North Africa and in the Sahel region. Interestingly U.S. officials and academics choose to humbly downplay the U.S. role in Africa in the years to come, except for in a few strategic countries. French officials raised concern over the situation in Algeria and also talked about the situation in the Sahel as “war” and showed concern for the increasing interconnectedness of militant Islamist groups in the region and all the way down to Nigeria. Participants from Africa South of the Sahara gave quite divergent views on the possibilities of an “African spring”, but the Sahelialists were equally afraid of developments around AQIM, Boko Haram and other radical groups. Continue reading

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