Boko Haram’s violent campaign for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria has led to the growing isolation of this region. As Boko Haram’s violent attacks have increased, fewer traders are crossing the border to take the risk. Internet and cell phone access have similarly been restricted due to Boko Haram’s bombing of 24 base transceiver stations belonging to at least six telecommunications companies in the northeast. Such isolation serves Boko Haram’s aims well. Ideologically, the sect claims it seeks a purified version of Islam. Severing the region’s links with the outside world curbs the influence of external ideas, technology, and resources – leaving more space for the group’s message.
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A rise in highway ambushes by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa pose a growing threat of isolation for Borno State’s 4 million residents.
Northern Cameroon has experienced the sharpest spike of Boko Haram violence in the Lake Chad Basin over the past 12 months, namely in the form of attacks on civilians.
A rise in Boko Haram and ISWA attacks in Chad has been met with a military surge to clear the area. Enduring success will require a sustained presence and an intensified regional commitment.
In August 2016, Boko Haram split as a result of the internal divisions surrounding the succession of militant Abubakar Shekau as leader of the group, and a debate over whether Muslim civilians can be targeted.
Africa Research Associate Mike Rettig speaks with CBC Radio on the regional dimension of the Boko Haram problem. His segment begins at 15:33. – Listen to the interview – – Read the transcript –
Regional forces have begun to constrain Boko Haram, but tensions and a lack of coordination have hampered progress. On Capitol Hill, Africa Center Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Raymond Gilpin dissects the issue.
Asymmetric Warfare: Reflections on the Responses of Security Forces to Boko Haram Insurgency in Northern Nigeria
The Nigerian government has undertaken a range of actions to combat Boko Haram’s asymmetric insurgency in the country’s northeast: roadblocks, raids, surveillance, patrols, and deradicalization. Nearly all have followed an enemy-centric rather than population-centric approach, despite the fact that many of the factors constraining success are tied directly to the security forces’ operational capacity. For instance, poor coordination, inability to effectively deliver appropriated funds and equipment, enemy penetration, and porous borders all hindered successful counter-enemy actions. However, if Nigeria had instead emphasized a population-centric approach to counterinsurgency, it is possible that such efforts would not have faced as many headwinds.
Part 1: Identity Part 2: Faultlines Part 3: Extremism Part 4: Boko Haram Part 5: Strategies for combating extremism Part 6: Military professionalism Part 7: Maritime security Part 8: Governance Boko Haram emerged in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State in Nigeria’s Northeast Region. Initially organized as a sect under the leadership of... Continue Reading
The multifaceted nature of militant groups in northern Nigeria such as Boko Haram, as well as a lack of clear understanding of the factors that drive regional extremism, reflects larger aspects of Nigeria’s struggle for unity, a panel of scholars told the audience at a roundtable organized by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on... Continue Reading
Term limit norms in Africa have been deteriorating rapidly since 2015, reversing a positive trend over the previous two decades. This trend has important implications since longer presidential tenures are linked to increased corruption, reduced civil liberties, and higher rates of conflict. Even after term limit restrictions have been lifted, there is a pattern of incumbents manipulating electoral outcomes to stay in power. This reflects the declining popularity of these leaders and points to the self-interested motivations for their extended tenures vis-à-vis broader service to the public. It further highlights that the evasion of term limits does not happen in isolation but is part of a broader pattern of undermining the rule of law and weakening democratic institutions. Failure to reverse the downturn in respect for term limits risks bringing Africa back to an era of de facto “presidents for life” and one-party states.
Support for Boko Haram among some of northern Nigeria’s marginalized Muslim communities suggests that security actions alone will be insufficient to quell the instability.