News / Africa

Analysts: Difficult Dialogue with Nigeria's Violent Boko Haram Essential

Police say Boko Haram militants staged attack in Kano, Nigeria Jan 24, 2011 which left this market in ruins and left at lead 185 people dead
Police say Boko Haram militants staged attack in Kano, Nigeria Jan 24, 2011 which left this market in ruins and left at lead 185 people dead
TEXT SIZE - +

Even though Islamic radicals in northern Nigeria continue attacks and are so far resisting offers of dialogue, analysts closely following the violence say negotiations will be essential in any solution.

With deadly violence involving radicals in northern Nigeria taking place on a near daily basis, Boko Haram leaders appear on the Internet and are quoted in newspapers refusing recent Nigerian government offers of dialogue.

On the YouTube website late last week, an audio recording attributed to the self-proclaimed Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau warned that the radicals would begin bombing secular schools and universities in retaliation for recent security and vigilante attacks on mosques and Koranic schools.

Increasingly, Boko Haram leaflets calling for the imposition of Islamic Sharia law are being distributed in major northern Nigerian cities.

The new threats and communications strategy come amid increased warnings by government officials in Nigeria and neighboring countries that Boko Haram is linking up with outside terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Somalia's al-Shabab extremists.

Despite the deteriorating situation, Carl LeVan, a Nigeria expert at American University in Washington, says dialogue is the best solution.  He says any major security crackdown by Nigeria's government, with possible help from other African countries or the United States, would make the situation worse.

"A strategy that militarizes the conflict and reduces the opportunities for negotiations will, in fact, facilitate the internationalization of the conflict.  In other words, it is not clear that there are significant ties to some of the more global violent Islamist movements at this point, but solutions and strategies which push Boko Haram towards more violence and which make offers of diplomacy seem less credible will certainly become a problem down the road,” Levan said.

Analysts say the movement and its grievances are local, but that Boko Haram as well as Nigerian and regional officials have an interest in making it seem much broader to gain attention and possible outside funding.

Last week, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said he wanted to open a dialogue, but that he doubted Boko Haram leaders would come forward.  He compared them to the world's most elusive terrorists, such as former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

John Campbell, who studies Boko Haram at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, says that simplifying who the Nigerian radicals are might be part of the problem.

"I do not think Boko Haram is a coherent organization.  It is rather a movement, a grassroots insurrection against the secular government in Abuja, but also against the traditional northern Islamic establishment which its adherents see as not being really Islamic at all and one that basically exploits the poor populations in the north,” Campbell said.

Boko Haram grew out of a violent Muslim fundamentalist Salafist movement initially called the Taliban.  Its best known leader, radical cleric Mohammed Yusuf, was killed in 2009 while in police custody during a Nigerian security crackdown that killed at least 600 followers.  Analysts and Nigerian officials say that after the crackdown, several radical leaders struggled to become the head of the movement.

Criminal syndicates, some loosely affiliated and others not linked to the movement, have also claimed to speak on behalf of Boko Haram, which means “No to Western education.”  The name itself did not come from the radicals, but from Nigerian media and government officials who sought to make fun of them.

The escalating violence comes amid a sense of growing economic and political marginalization in northern Nigeria, following a series of controversial national elections.  Economists say the number of people living in poverty in the Muslim-dominated north is three time higher than in the mostly Christian south, which is home to President Jonathan.

Deirdre LaPin of the University of Pennsylvania took part in a recent Washington panel about Nigeria's problems.  She said a key to ending the Boko Haram threat should also involve main northern politicians.

"Their marked silence in the face of some of the most egregious attacks by Boko Haram and others in the north suggests that they are not using their authority to control these activities at all," Lapin said.

Analysts say new development policies in northern Nigeria and better local governance are also desperately needed.  Unless this happens, they warn, more young unemployed northern Nigerians could be attracted by Boko Haram's anti-government messages and violent tactics, making the problem even more severe.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid