US, Nigerian army to tackle Islamists

2012-06-06 12:32

Washington - The United States plans to work with the Nigerian army to help it combat the threat of the Islamist group Boko Haram which is spreading violence in the west African nation, officials said on Tuesday.

But Washington has still not decided whether to put the group on a blacklist of terrorist organisations - even as gunfire and explosions erupted in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Tuesday.

"This is an issue of ongoing internal deliberations within the United States government," Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Johnnie Carson said after two days of high-level talks with Nigerian officials in the US capital.

The administration was "trying to make a decision which is both appropriate, rational and useful" while "taking into account the significance of any decision that we might make on Nigeria and the Nigerian government".

Maiduguri is at the centre of Boko Haram's insurgency, which has claimed more than 1 000 lives since mid-2009.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja in August which killed at least 25 people.

Its deadliest attack yet occurred in January in the northern city of Kano, when co-ordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 people dead.

But its attacks have grown increasingly sophisticated and have affected a wider geographical area, spreading from their base in the extreme northeast across the wider north and down to the capital Abuja.

The talks - held as part of the US-Nigeria Binational Commission - focused on governance, security cooperation, energy and investment and food security.

Repeated scenes of violence

Opening the talks on Monday, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns said the US was "ready to explore a potential partnership with the Nigerian army to build its civil affairs capacity".

"We are all disturbed by the repeated scenes of violence in various parts of Nigeria which threaten to undercut the gains Nigeria has made," he said.

"Violent extremist militants like those associated with Boko Haram offer no practical programme to improve the lives on Nigerians. They depend on resentment and neglect."

Without providing concrete details of what such a partnership with the Nigerian military could look like, Carson said the US experience in other areas of conflict could help in combating the situation in Nigeria.

"We have some degree of knowledge of experience or expertise as a result of the concerns that we have faced over the past decade in both Iraq and Afghanistan dealing with symmetrical warfare, dealing with IEDs, dealing with assassination, dealing with urban conflict and dealing with groups that have broken down into small cells," he said.

"And we are prepared to share with the government some of the lessons that we have learned in our own experience."

Nigerian permanent secretary Martin Uhomoibhi told the gathering that "the implications of Boko Haram are not tied down to just Nigeria, but to terrorism globally and what terrorism means to democratic nations.

"So the United States will work with Nigeria to address this security challenge because once it is done for Nigeria, it will also have very positive implications for the entire west African region."

  • mkyounus - 2012-06-06 15:49

    who the f@ck are the united states to intervene in problems with other countries!!! why can't they just mind their own business and worry about their own problems,must they always police everybody!!!!

      Happy Makun - 2012-06-06 17:15

      God, help us to overcome this BOKO HARAM wahala.

      Happy Makun - 2012-06-06 17:35

      @mkyounus. Are u sure u are ok? This boko haram are killing people like animals,they are looking for solution to end it you are there talking rubish. Are u sure u are not one of them?

      rohan.sharma.77377 - 2012-06-06 22:50

      these so called arm chair muslims who can;t even live in peace in their own lane , call for demonstration against international problems,first contribute something to world other than nuisance value then start blabbering.

  • Mbamara - 2012-06-07 02:11

    African problems means African solutions. US can't just impose democracy on everyone without considering locality. Late Colonel Gaddafi was right about one thing- Africa needs to have a say, solve its problems without Western aid. Africans are no kids and should not behave as such. Why not send African Union troops and flogg these Religio-Political fanatics once and for all? Boko Haram does not seem to be totally Islamist, they act like militant arm of some political movement. They clain Western education is sin, but announce it on Internet! Why don't they run round streets on horses, blowing cow horns instead? African problems- African solutions.

  • Mzii - 2012-06-07 21:23

    This one is a classic reminder of what future global conflicts will be made of. It is of great importance for you my friends to note this and mark my words. It will no longer be territorial wars or resources dominating, it would be religious ideologies at loggerheads.If the US is to help Nigeria thwart Boko Haram terrorists, it will be fighting an extended complex war that will never end unless the globe achieves religious tolerance, something very difficult.The reference by Iran calling Israel a 'Notorious Zionist Regime' is of religious nature. Its basically Islam vs Christianity.

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