Nigeria: Please Don't Fight Back

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July 25, 2012: Religious violence has caused nearly a thousand deaths so far this year, nearly all of them in the north, in a few cities where the Islamic terrorist Boko Haram group is active. But about a third of those deaths are not connected with Boko Haram. These have taken place around the central Nigerian city of Jos, where Moslem and Christian tribes have been fighting each other for decades, but the last ten years have been particularly bloody, with over 4,000 dead. Boko Haram encourages the Moslem attackers around Jos but apparently has no formal relationship with them. Moslem and Christian leaders throughout the country are urging their followers to not carry out revenge attacks. This is particularly important for Christians because nearly all the violence in the last few years had been directed at Christians by Moslems. So far there have not been a lot of revenge attacks, but this could quickly change because the anger at the Boko Haram and Jos violence is causing increasing anger among Christians. The government is sending lots of soldiers and police against Boko Haram and that is having some impact. But the soldiers and police are seen as corrupt and recklessly violent and their presence is causing more anti-government anger against the government. This anger often becomes support for Boko Haram.

Anti-corruption investigators have compiled considerable evidence that the recently cancelled fuel subsidy program (which saved the government $6 billion a year) had been plundered by corrupt companies and politicians, who stole over $2 billion a year over the last three years (that were audited, the theft apparently went on for a lot longer). No individuals have been identified for prosecution yet but if recent experience is any guide the accused will buy themselves out of being punished.

The U.S. has offered Nigeria assistance in going after drug smuggling and distribution gangs. Nigeria has accepted, in part because al Qaeda, and possibly Boko Haram, have become allies of the drug gangs. This was not done because the Islamic radicals approve of drugs (they don't, officially) but because it’s a quick way to obtain lots of cash to finance terrorist operations. The Taliban, which Boko Haram openly models itself on, has survived on drug gang subsidies for over a decade.

The government will increase the defense budget from its current $2.2 billion a year to $4.8 billion over the next four years. The budget will go up about 20 percent over each of the next four years. About 89 percent of the military budget will go to personnel (pay and benefits) while the rest will go for equipment, weapons, and construction.

July 24, 2012: In central Nigeria the army has allowed thousands of Moslems to return to their villages after troops searched for weapons and other evidence of organized violence against Christians.

July 22, 2012: In the north (Bauchi State) a bomb went off near a beer garden, killing a nearby child but not harming those drinking beer. Boko Haram did not immediately take credit for this poorly carried out attack, apparently because it did not work and only a child was killed.

July 17, 2012: In Jos (central Nigeria) two more people were killed in tribal violence. Elsewhere around Jos over 5,000 Christians have fled their homes to escape weeks of attacks by Moslems.

 

 

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