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US forces to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria

Written by Atheo | Aletho News | November 13, 2011

The Obama regime is now involving US military forces in yet another African conflict in which the US has no apparent defense imperative. The use of military power has seen a relentless increase across the continent under Obama’s reign with no consideration for pursuit of conflict resolution by any other means.

The single minded focus on military dominance is reflected in this recent bizarre report in the Nigerian Village Square:

In very strong terms the US government is speaking out against Nigeria’s government’s efforts at negotiating with Boko Haram, insisting that it might be impossible for the federal government to convince Boko Haram to end their violence, which the Americans consider as “absolutely unjustifiable,” because many of such terror groups are “absolutely unreconcilable,” [sic] according to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. [...]

According to her, terror groups like Boko Haram “cannot be convinced to end their violence and participate in society,” stressing that there is no set or principles or beliefs that can justify taking the lives of innocent people.

One is left to wonder how it is that US military force, which does take the lives of countless innocent people, is justified on so many foreign continents and so ceaselessly. Perhaps in Clinton’s warped view US drone attacks and special operations raids don’t illicit terror in their victims.

The BBC report on the current situation is less shrill, in fact, it makes the point that the insertion of foreign forces could very well be destabilizing for Nigeria:

Many now believe that the heavy military presence in Borno and neighbouring states is the biggest single factor hindering any chance of a negotiated settlement and peace.

Abubakar Kari, a political scientist from the University of Abuja, says he believes Nigeria is still feeling the consequences of the government’s attempt to destroy the group in 2009.

Boko Haram’s headquarters in Borno state capital Maiduguri was destroyed and their founder and leader Muhammad Yusuf captured and then killed in custody.

Hundreds of members of the group died and ever since it has been attacking government targets in retaliation.

“The rise of Boko Haram is largely as a result of incompetence, lack of foresight and insensitivity from the Nigerian state,” Mr Kari said. [...]

Respected human rights activist Shehu Sani was involved in the first attempt to talk with Boko Haram.

He organized a meeting in September between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Boko Haram members…

“Boko Haram said they wanted their leaders who have been kept in captivity to be released,” he said, “And they want justice done for their members that were killed and they also want the military to withdraw from Maiduguri.”

Mr Sani said that they had made it clear that they were not fighting for an Islamic state, ruled by Sharia law but because of what they see as the injustice that has been done to them.

For those hoping for a negotiated solution, that will come as a relief.

The mediation stalled when one of Boko Haram’s interlocutors was killed shortly after the meeting, but Mr Sani remains optimistic that given the right attitude from the government they could restart.

Opposition parties and in particular those in the north, such as the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), say the government is underestimating the amount of support Boko Haram has among the population. [...]

Congress for Progressive Change national secretary Bubu Galadima said many people in the north felt marginalized and excluded from wealth and opportunity.

The resistance group’s leader, Muhammad Yusuf, who was murdered while in government custody had been widely ridiculed in the Western media as having claimed that the “earth is flat”. In fact, he had merely stated that if the Koran said that the earth was flat he would have faith in its teaching, a rhetorical point meant to stress his faith.

Boko Haram translates* from Hausa/Fulani as ‘no Western education’. Nigerian authorities have in the past referred to the movement as ‘Taliban’ in much the same way that U.S. military spokespersons use the term ‘al-Qaida’ to label any resistance fighters:

“The deputy leader of the Taliban by the name Abubakar Shekau was in the early hours of today killed along with 200 followers by Nigerian troops,” a police officer told the AFP news agency.

An AP report on the military assault describes tactics developed by the Israeli occupation forces in Palestine such as home invasion searches, demolition of homes and mosques with bulldozers, executions, mass displacement of civilian populations and indiscriminate firing at non-combatants.

Looking beyond the recent reporting by the AFP and AP one finds that it was reported in 2009 that an expulsion effort had been undertaken against Hausa/Fulani pastoralists by state officials seeking to deport “nomads [that] did not obtain official permission to settle down”. However, Nigerian law does not require residency permits and nomadic pastoralism has existed in the region for centuries. Nonetheless deportation actions were taken:

“… a combined team from the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Police Force, and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) stormed the affected five villages, purportedly “acting on orders from above”, to identify and deport all aliens who had settled down in the area. All the aliens in question happened to be Fulani herdsmen and under heavy security supervision, they were deported to the neighbouring states of Bauchi, Gombe, Katsina, and Jigawa.”

Described as “aliens”, the state Government “deported” the Fulanis to neighboring states which means there was no doubt about their Nigerian citizenship. The state action violated the constitutional rights of the pastoralists who are guaranteed freedom of movement within Nigeria. The 2009 report goes on to state:

“to descend on innocent people, with a combined team of security operatives in three armoured tanks and 15 trucks, simply because these are Fulani herdsmen who arrived in trucks and not on foot as their kind is wont to do, lays the state government open to charges of ethnic cleansing.”

An older report from a committee of Sahel region governments sheds some light on the possible motives of the state:

“These populations represent a heavy social, economic and political drain for their countries… They don’t take care of anything, refuse to do manual labor, evade taxes, sell their animals only reluctantly, and therefore do not contribute as much to the economic life of the country as we have a right to expect…” (1)

The problem in Nigeria seems to be that the unwanted Fulanis are difficult to tax and don’t participate in the market economy.

Notes

(1) Comite Information Sahel, Qui se nourrit de la famine en Afrique? (Paris: Maspero, 1974) p. 162.

~

They couldn’t pinpoint the members of the Boko Haram sect, so they rounded up innocent civilians in the Gwange ward of Maiduguri and took them to the barracks, the Nigerian police beat them with service sticks, rods and koboko.

One of the leaders of boko haram killed in Maiduguri police headquarters  by Nigerian police after capture.

* Update:

‘Boko Haram’ doesn’t really mean ‘Western education is a sin’

By Dan Murphy | Christian Science Monitor | May 6, 2014

What’s the real meaning of “Boko Haram?” I’ve been wondering about this recently since news articles are constantly informing me (including ones on this website) that it means “Western education is a sin.”

I was surprised that Nigeria’s Hausa language, spoken by the mostly Muslim group that is dominant in the northern half of the country, would have a four letter word that meant “western education.” Haram has always been obvious – a borrowed word from Arabic that refers to things that are forbidden in Islam (as opposed to things that are halal, or permitted).

I wondered if it was an acronym, or a mash-up of two other words. So I started looking around and struck gold with a paper by Paul Newman, professor emeritus in linguistics at Indiana University and one of the world’s leading authorities on the Hausa language.

It turns out the Hausa language doesn’t have a four-letter word that means “Western education.” It isn’t a mash-up or an acronym. What it has is a word that came to be applied to a century-old British colonial education policy that many Hausa-speakers saw as an attempt, more-or-less, to colonize their minds.

First, some information needs to be dispensed with. The word is often described as being borrowed from the English word “book.” Not so, as Dr. Newman’s work makes clear.

Starting in 2009, Wikipedia’s article on the Hausa “Boko alphabet” incorrectly asserted that the word derived from “book.” [...]

Newman writes about the history of the word’s use in this context:

The correct answer was implicitly presented by Liman Muhammad, a Hausa scholar from northern Nigeria, some 45 years ago. In his study of neologisms and lexical enrichment in Hausa, Muhammad (pp. 8-10) gives a list of somewhat over 200 loanwords borrowed from English into Hausa in the area of “Western Education and Culture”. Significantly, boko is not included. Rather one finds boko in his category for western concepts expressed in Hausa by SEMANTIC EXTENSION of pre-existent Hausa words.

According to Muhammad, boko originally meant “Something (an idea or object) that involves a fraud or any form of deception” … Read full article

~

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