Author Topic: Boko Haram - a wider context  (Read 904 times)

Cain

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Boko Haram - a wider context
« on: May 09, 2014, 12:31:44 pm »
Here'a a collection of posts and information I put up on Facebook, in a more reader friendly format.

So, has anyone got more info on Boko Haram's financial backers? I heard a VERY interesting rumour concerning Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, the former President of Mauritania and current resident (military instructor, in fact) of soft-power and Islamist arming enthusiast, Qatar.

Interesting not least because Taya was considered a stalwart American ally (as is Qatar) and Boko Haram have allegedly forged links with AQIM - a group which probably at least partially infiltrated and run by Algerian military intelligence to bilk counter-terrorism funds from the US.

And in commenting on this article:

Adamawa as a territory does historically extend into Cameroon and Chad, with modern Nigeria being a colonial construct (much to the chagrin of Nigerian nationalists). And of course, Nigeria has an infamously corrupt and wealthy political elite (I taught more than a few of their children), which provides even more reasons for armed rebellion.

However, President Goodluck has been pretty against using military solutions to deal with Boko Haram, which is probably just as well given the state and discipline of the Nigerian military. So I think even if we give Nyako the benefit of the doubt for his thesis, then we shouldn't be looking at the federal government...or at least the parts of it Goodluck controls.

============

So, what does it all mean?  Who knows, really.  I mean, it's just speculation at this point, I've seen nothing which points at hard evidence.

That said...

The alliance between AQIM and Boko Haram is potentially disturbing.  As I'm sure we all recall, AQIM joined with the Tuareg rebels in pillaging their way across Mali before international forces, led by the French military, coordinated a counter-attack.  AQIM allegedly also got support from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in addition to their links to Algerian military intelligence.  Whether that relationship extended to US intelligence is...a question no-one has any clear answers on.

But consider.  Qatar.  Saudi Arabia.  Algeria.  An oil-rich Nigeria.  An Islamist inspired rebellion in a region where one would expect a more...ethnic uprising to occur.  The kidnappers of the girls also wore military uniforms, that much is certainly uncontested, only whether they were terrorists posing as military personnel or actually military.  A President reluctant to use military power (and rightly so, given the ill-discipline of the Nigerian military - they'd probably be at greater risk of rape in military custody), having his hand forced by an international crisis. 

And there is the issue of slavery.  Although I mocked Nick Cohen, and rightly so, for his terrible article on this topic, he may have had a kernel of a point when it came to the distinction between kidnapping and slavery.

Slavery is a widespread practice in....Mauritania.  It's also the basis of the political economy of the Tuareg regions of Africa.

All I'm saying is that there is a ugly picture emerging here.

Edit: And it is worth noting that Boko Haram was not considered a designated terrorist group by the US government until very recently.  Could be mere oversight.  Could be.  But it also means materially supporting Boko Haram would not have been a crime under US law.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 12:36:56 pm by Cain »

LMNO

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Re: Boko Haram - a wider context
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2014, 12:46:56 pm »
If I'm connecting these dots right...  The US supports a group or state that supports Boko Haram, which is potentially both a scam and an Islamist wedge group that may have ties to Nigeria's military, and is engaging in a traditional form of slavery by taking the girls?

I'm 70% sure I got some of that wrong.

Cain

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Re: Boko Haram - a wider context
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2014, 12:54:56 pm »
No, that's certainly a viable interpretation as well.

Another is blowback.  Qatar and Saud Arabia and Algeria are using regional Islamist groups to seek a greater role in the region as players and power brokers.  All three are, allegedly, our allies (as you know, I have a rather different definition of ally than the USA).  Their motivation is obvious.

Taya wants back in to the Mauritanian political scene.  Taya was heavily involved in the slave trade.  Taya was a strong ally of Algeria and the USA.  Taya lives in Qatar.

Adamawa Governate is traditionally outside what one could consider "core" Nigerian territory, with close ethnic links to Cameroon and Chad.  Nigeria's a notoriously corrupt and unequal society.  President Goodluck is seen as weak.  A talker.  A compromiser.  Even the activity of Islamist rebels isn't enough to force large scale military operations in the area, bring it under stronger central government control.  But an international incident suddenly puts Boko Haram in the international spotlight...

Isn't the political economy of covert action fun?

LMNO

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Re: Boko Haram - a wider context
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2014, 02:07:05 pm »
What was that thread about the world not being as scary a place as it once was?


Then again, Qatar is hosting the World Cup, so everything there must be fine.

Junkenstein

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Re: Boko Haram - a wider context
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2014, 03:11:24 pm »
The angle I keep coming back to is the Oil. An unstable Nigeria is quite profitable as long as the oil keeps flowing. A stable Nigeria with oil flowing means regulations, taxation, environmental considerations and all kinds of other things mandatory in modern states. This cuts profits and gives them a viable economy. That's hardly good business sense.

That there's various competing government interests is a given, what I'm wondering about are the ties between nations and corporations and just how much influence each has over the situation.

Another angle that troubles me is that this is becoming an increasingly high profile situation and the general rhetoric seems to be stepping up. I can't help but wonder if any nations will decide that they need to help country X by having some troops there in exchange for considerations on natural resources. China is a big player in the region and I'm sure there are those in the US who would prefer those profits directed to their own pockets. I've speculated on and off about Africa being the next big conflict zone for everyone to get involved in. Shit like this doesn't make me think I'm wrong.
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Junkenstein

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Re: Boko Haram - a wider context
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2014, 07:28:19 am »
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-28102251

Progress, of a sort:

Quote
igeria's military says it has raided a Boko Haram intelligence unit thought to be linked to the recent abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls.

The cell leader Babuji Ya'ari was arrested, a military statement said.

Mr Ya'ari had been actively involved in the seizure of the girls as well as the killing in May of a traditional leader, the emir of Gwoza, the statement added.

More than 2,000 people have been killed this year in attacks blamed on Boko Haram militants.

Mr Ya'ari was a businessman who "participated actively in the abduction of schoolgirls" in the northern town of Chibok, the defence ministry statement said.

He used his participation in a civilian vigilante group fighting Boko Haram to cover up his work spying for the militants, the military said, adding that he had co-ordinated "several deadly attacks in Maidugiri", the capital of Borno state, since 2011.

The defence ministry said they had also arrested women from the intelligence cell.

The military's claims could not be independently verified.

Seems like good news, but more detail is really needed. It's been a fair while since various nations pledged all kinds of support so assuming he a)does exist and b)has actually been captured, the question would seem to be which nation's spooks are torturing the shit out of him?
Nine naked Men just walking down the road will cause a heap of trouble for all concerned.