Continued Attacks on Civilians in Nigeria

At least 99 civilians were recently killed in Nigeria in attacks blamed on Boko Haram. Although the U.S. Department of State announced the designation of Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) in November 2013, more than 200 people have been killed since the new year in islamist militant attacks that mainly target civilians. The Nigerian government has taken steps to engage Cameroon, thought to be the refuge of Boko Haram militants along the sparsely populated border, however little is being done by Biya’s government out of fear of retaliation by Boko Haram.

With the spillover of Islamic militant groups (e.g. AQIM, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram) across international borders, collaboration among affected governments is becoming a necessity. However, I’m forced to wonder whether the affected governments have the capability to effectively do so, especially if their internal governing structures are weak to begin with. Perhaps a joint, regional force that is tasked with managing, if not eliminating, extremist groups acting across their borders could lead to stronger governing institutions within these countries.

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3 Responses to Continued Attacks on Civilians in Nigeria

  1. findleyjn says:

    In today’s news, and France24 both posted articles regarding increased cooperation between the U.S. and France that, “solidified a partnership to combat terrorism and quell sectarian violence across the southern reaches of the Sahara.” While international intervention to quell violence in Africa is useful, neither article discussed a partnership with the affected country governments. It may be worthwhile in the long run for the U.S. and France to partner up with the affected countries to address terrorism and violence in Africa. Building those relationships would require the U.S. and France to be on the ground for a shorter period of time, and also increase the capacity of affected countries to deal with these issues in the future. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” If international interventions can teach nations how to manage their terrorism problems instead of handling the issues on their own, perhaps everyone will benefit in the long run.

  2. Annie says:

    It might be worthwhile for the U.S. and France to commit resources to training, as you said, a regional security force that could handle the spillover. Either way, I think to adequately deal with security problems, there needs to be “ownership” of the local governments to a greater degree than foreign intervenors.

  3. kenneycj says:

    It should be noted that the U.S. has conducted trainings on counter-terrorism in the region (see However, as Annie stated, there needs to be ownership of these issues within affected countries, like Nigeria.

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