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Paul Hair is a national security expert and an author. He writes under his own name and as a ghostwriter. Connect with him at http://www.liberateliberty.com/. Contact him at paul@liberateliberty.com.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Boko Haram Is Losing but Isn’t Defeated Yet

Map Courtesy of the CIA World Factbook
Boko Haram is losing its war to a sustained offensive campaign from a coalition of African nations, yet while the military situation favors the African nations, political factors—including the U.S. prioritizing same-sex relations throughout the world—suggest that the Islamic terrorist group still can survive and even emerge victorious.

Signs emerged in early February that African nations (including Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Nigeria) were preparing to increase offensive operations against Boko Haram, right around the same time that Exercise Flintlock ‘15 was about to begin.

Exercise Flintlock is an annual exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command. AFRICOM bills it as the premier special operations exercise for the command that’s designed to provide “increased interoperability, counterterrorism, and combat skills training while creating a venue for regional engagement among all TSCTP [Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership] nations.”

But while the exercise regularly provides training designed to help fight terrorism, the 2015 iteration seemed like it might particularly center on training regional African nations to fight Boko Haram. The group had achieved significant victories and expanded its territory and power by that time, and the United States, Western nations, and African nations would have been foolish not to use Flintlock to focus on fighting Boko Haram.

And they indeed used it to prepare to fight Boko Haram, with participating nations confirming they received training and support designed to help them combat the terrorist group. And when Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Nigeria began a joint operation against Boko Haram by mid to late March, that training and support proved effective with the African nations quickly winning several battles.

Even after Boko Haram announced its allegiance to the Islamic Caliphate the task force of African nations continued winning. And despite media outlets, along with some professional analysts, fearing Boko Haram aligning with the Caliphate would somehow greatly benefit it, there was never any indication that such an alliance actually would.

Boko Haram primarily operates in northeast Nigeria. And while Nigeria isn’t a landlocked nation the territory Boko Haram controls is, with enemies surrounding it on all sides: Nigeria to the south and west, Niger to the north, and Chad and Cameroon to the east. It’s cut off from the world assuming these four nations can secure routes in and out of their territory. Even if the Caliphate or other Islamic terrorist groups in northern Africa want to help Boko Haram or provide Boko Haram members safe haven, there are serious logistical obstacles they must overcome.

This doesn’t mean Boko Haram no longer poses a threat. The Islamic terrorist group will continue conducting operations that will include attacks, committing atrocities, abducting people, and spreading propaganda. However, if the African task force maintains its resolve it can overcome this since it outnumbers the terrorists, has superior weapons, and has the tactical advantage. Thus, from a battlefield perspective, it should only take a matter of weeks for Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria, and the rest of the task force nations to defeat Boko Haram since they have now proven capable and willing to fight to win.

But this won’t necessarily occur. In fact, Boko Haram might only suffer a temporary disruption and ultimately survive and thrive for years to come because of how political factors and political manipulation might affect the war.

Sri Lanka fought a decades-long war against the Tamil Tigers terrorist group. The Sri Lankan government finally had enough of being unserious in fighting the war and decided on a strategy to wipe out its enemies. It worked, and it decisively ended the war in 2009. But the world wasn’t happy about what the Sri Lankans did and it has hounded the Sri Lankan government ever since, intent on accusing its military leaders of war crimes. It might even eventually be successful in overturning the Sri Lankan victory. In other words, the world is punishing Sri Lanka for its decisive victory and there is some evidence the Tamil Tigers could eventually make a comeback if the global community pushes hard enough to overturn the victory.

This is significant for the war against Boko Haram. The U.S. and non-governmental organizations have accused the Nigerians of being heavy-handed in the past. Furthermore, the Nigerians consulted with the Sri Lankans on how they defeated the Tamil Tigers. If they (or the other African task force nations) apply lessons learned in Sri Lanka to defeating Boko Haram, then the world will foment backlash against them and possibly intervene in the fight. And the remnants of Boko Haram could possibly use such an occurrence to avoid defeat and stage an eventual comeback.

And then there are the poor relations between the Goodluck Jonathan administration and the Obama administration. These poor relations might have contributed to Jonathan losing the latest presidential election and shows how a Nigerian administration that does not do as world leaders say ultimately can lose power.

American political operatives consulted for both Nigerian candidates in the recent election but there is some evidence that suggests the Obama administration either directly or indirectly worked on supporting the now-elected Muhammadu Buhari, or undermining the incumbent (and now defeated) Jonathan. Jonathan appears to have been a weak and ineffectual leader, and this certainly contributed to his loss. But the Obama administration might have played a role in it as well. The Obama administration is intent on imposing its sexual and abortion agendas on Nigeria, and Nigeria has not been happy about that. The disagreement over these issues, combined with other issues, made for poor relations between the two nations. The entirety of what actually happened with the elections remains murky at best and the full truth of what the Obama administration may or may not have done might never emerge. Regardless, the Obama administration did not like Jonathan and now he is gone. How Buhari deals with Boko Haram remains to be seen. Furthermore, it remains to be seen how the Obama administration will attempt to influence his rule and dealings with Boko Haram.

Boko Haram can be defeated. But the U.S. and global community might prevent this from happening. Both have already criticized Nigeria for being too heavy handed in fighting the terrorists, and the Obama administration has become increasingly insistent on Nigeria bending to its sexual and abortion agendas. If Nigeria and the other African task force nations do not concede to the demands of the world, and if Buhari does not change their current path, then they may end up facing opposition from the world as well as Boko Haram. And this could lead to Boko Haram surviving and possibly even winning in a war that it currently is losing and ultimately should lose.

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