The government is sending 1,200 troops to help drive the Islamic radicals out of northern Mali. The government believes that some Boko Haram members have been trained in northern Mali, where the al Qaeda affiliated groups have been for a year now. Many other Boko Haram members and potential recruits are influenced by the al Qaeda activity in northern Mali. But now the Islamic terrorists there are on the run. Since January 15
France has taken the initiative and sent troops to attack the al Qaeda forces in Mali. This has led other Western nations to contribute troops and support services. African nations in the region are suddenly sending some 10,000 troops to help chase down the al Qaeda fighters, who are seeking sanctuary in the countryside as the French troops, aided by French warplanes and smart bombs, drive the Islamic terrorists from the cities and the roads. Nigerian advice will be valuable in Mali because the Islamic terrorists there are now forced to operate like Boko Haram.
Yet Mali and Nigeria are different in important ways. While the Boko Haram are all black African, most people in northern Mail are lighter skinned Tuareg (ethnic cousins of the Berbers and ancient Egyptians), and most of the Islamic radicals are lighter skinned Arabs. Added to this is the ancient animosity between Arabs and black Africans. Part of it is pure racism, but another element is the annoying tendency of Arab Moslems to assume they are superior to non-Arab Moslems because the founder of Islam was Arab and the Moslem scriptures are written in Arabic and many Moslem scholars believe that the faithful should learn Arabic to pray and study the scriptures.
Seven months ago the Islamic radicals in northern Mali split over this ethnic/religious issue, with the black African and Tuareg radicals splitting with the mainly Arab al Qaeda. The Tuareg rebels were driven out of the cities by the better armed and more ferocious al Qaeda men. As a result of this, al Qaeda cannot easily hide among the people of northern Mali, who generally dislike al Qaeda and their attempt to impose a harsh Islamic lifestyle on everyone.
Back in Nigeria the army and police are faced with a Moslem population in the north who hate both the Islamic radical Boko Haram, for their violent terrorism and lifestyle rules, as well as the corrupt and violent government and security forces. The corruption and nasty security forces are also present in Mali but in Nigeria these thugs and crooks look like their victims. This gives Boko Haram more protection and makes the Islamic terrorists more difficult to root out. In other words, for counter-terrorist operations, Mali is easy, Nigeria is hard.
January 29, 2013: The national government is only interested in a ceasefire and negotiation deal with all of Boko Haram, not just a faction running things in Borno State. This puts the national government at odds with the government of Borno state, which is eager to make a deal with the Boko Haram within Borno and reduce the violence.
January 28, 2013: The Boko Haram leadership in northern Borno State (and the city most hurt by terrorist violence: Maiduguri) have announced a ceasefire and asked for negotiations with the government. This is seen as a ploy to halt the increasingly successful counter-terror efforts in Borno. There is some local enthusiasm for a cease fire but the national government (which controls the security forces) is not so sure. However, the national government earlier said it would be willing to negotiate if Boko Haram leaders revealed themselves so it would be known who the government would be negotiating with. That the Boko Haram Borno faction leadership has done. If nothing else, it confirms suspicions that Boko Haram is actually several factions that are not under any overall command.
So far 300 army and 300 air force troops have been sent to Mali.
January 27, 2013: In the north (Borno State) Boko Haram gunmen killed eight, including a senior local official.
January 26, 2013: Five Indian sailors who were kidnapped from their ship off the Niger River Delta last December 17th have been freed. The shipping company refused to confirm that a ransom had been paid. If a large ransom was paid (and the pirates won’t keep it a secret) more attacks on ships in the Gulf of Guinea (to rob the vessel and kidnap senior officers) will take place.
January 24, 2013: In central Plateau state continued fighting between local Moslem tribesmen feuding with their Christian rivals left some twenty dead. This violence has been going on in Plateau state for generations.
January 23, 2013: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, Boko Haram gunmen killed and beheaded five people. Troops showed up and confronted some of the attackers and killed at least two of them and recovered weapons and ammo. Three suspects were also arrested.
January 21, 2013: In northern Borno State several Boko Haram attacks killed 23 people who were accused by the Islamic radicals of selling forbidden food or playing games.