Nigeria Focused on Boko Haram Crisis: Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger (France in the Shadows)
Paul Joseph Nzeribe, Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The recently elected President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, is intent on focusing on the Boko Haram Takfiri Islamist crisis. This can be seen by a five African nation joint military force being led by a Nigerian military commander, rather than rotating. Therefore, the nations of Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have agreed to the demands of the Nigerian president.
France 24 reports “A final communiqué following talks in Abuja on the remit of the new 8,700-strong force backed Buhari’s call for a Nigerian military chief to control operations…Cameroon will take the No. 2 role of “deputy first commander” for an initial 12 months while a Chadian will be appointed chief of staff for the first year, the statement said.”
Chad, often viewed with regional awe because of elite troops within its military, will be the military and logistical base. This appears to be more realistic, rather than selecting Baga in northeast Nigeria, given the complex nature of the Islamist terrorist insurgency of Boko Haram. At the same time, it may have been part of a trade off because of the significant role of Chad. However, Chad is also taking a gamble because given the nature of Boko Haram then N’Djamena may come under attack in the future. After all, this Islamist Takfiri movement isn’t afraid to take the fight to other regional nations.
The role of France behind the scenes will be significant and in this sense Chad is rightly the central command for the joint military base. This is based on the special relationship between Chad and France. Also, given the strong military links between Chad and France then clearly elites in Paris can support the joint force through the channels that already exist between both nations.
Reuters reported about the crisis in Mali by stating “Nearly two years after a French-led operation liberated the north of Mali from al Qaeda-linked rebels, France has headquartered a 3,200-strong Sahel counter-insurgency force, Barkhane, in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, some 50 km (30 miles) from the Nigerian border.”
Business Insider similarly stressed: “Chad boasts by far the mightiest army in the region, and is France’s main African military ally. Chadian soldiers provided irreplaceable ground help chasing Islamist militias that had taken control of northern Mali into the desert, as French power struck from the air.”
Obviously, the above reality in relation to the ties between Chad and France means that N’Djamena is a natural choice. At the same time, it appears that France will play an important role – even if in the shadows – because the crisis in Mali highlights the seriousness of the region to political elites in Paris.
President Buhari is intent to focusing on the Boko Haram crisis because of the enormous loss of life in northeastern Nigeria. On top of this, the fear is that Boko Haram will launch terrorist and sectarian attacks in other parts of Nigeria if unchecked. Therefore, a new fresh impetus is being implemented by Nigeria based on the need to stem the tide of death, mayhem and instability.
The BBC reports “Five African countries have agreed to set up a joint military force led by Nigeria to fight the Islamist militant group Boko Haram… Most of the troops will be from Nigeria with Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin also contributing.”
Prior to the newly elected leader of Nigeria being focused on the Boko Haram crisis regional involvement already existed. Modern Tokyo Times reported prior to Buhari coming to power that “Regional nations are now helping Nigeria in its war against the Takfiri Islamist group called Boko Haram. However, true to the nature of Boko Haram then this terrorist organization is now launching attacks against other nations, for example Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Indeed, the latest attack by Boko Haram that occurred in Chad was the first assault launched against this nation. This clearly is related to regional nations helping Nigeria because recent attacks have also took place in Cameroon and Niger.”
Yet now under Buhari it is hoped that Nigeria will really press on against Boko Haram because this Islamist Takfiri movement is killing at random. Also, at times it appears that Nigeria can’t contain the crisis in northeastern Nigeria therefore certain areas are like a state-within-a-state. Therefore, it is hoped that the armed forces of Nigeria will feel the full effects of a new robust policy under Buhari whereby regional forces will take the fight to Boko Haram.
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