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

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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More