Russian military analyst wrote a piece published by Al Jazeera News where he revealed why Boko Haram violence is a political issue and who stands to profit from it.
It is none of a secret that the two competing Nigerian parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), have on numerous occasions accused each other of sponsoring insurgency in the country. The allegations are getting even more spicy ahead of the elections to be held in Nigeria next year.
This time the analytics comes from outside, as expert Alexander Nekrassov, Russian international political commentator and former Senior Advisor to the Kremlin, who tags the APC as “Muslim extremists”.
In an editorial made public last month Nekrassov starts with the opinion that Kremlin’s official position on any conflict in the world is tightly linked with the question “What’s in it for the Yanks? Or, if we put it in the language of the statements that have been coming from Moscow in the past several months over Ukraine: What’s in it for our American partners?” By this the analyst actually means that Washington strategically views the whole world as its backyard and does everything possible to pursue its agenda with remarkable determination and ruthlessness, Thisday noted in its analysis.
Thus, touching upon the topic of terrorism in Nigeria, Nekrassov wrote that the question “What is in it for our American partners?” is yet to provide any real answers for the Kremlin, but contended that the “view there is that had US First Lady Michelle Obama not lent her support to the very high profile “Bring Our Girls Back” hash tag campaign after Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in the province of Borno, the US, and the West, would have probably remained indifferent to the crisis in Nigeria.”
Rise of Boko Haram
Recalling that Boko Haram was set up as a non-violent movement which has started shedding blood only since 2009, Nekrassov adds that the reasons for violence in country north appear for Russian officials confusing, as Boko Haram “is actually fighting for control of the area that has no oil reserves”.
“The interesting angle on the crisis in Nigeria is that it is seen in Moscow as political conflict rather than a religious one, even though the country is equally split between Muslims and Christians. As the thinking in Moscow goes, if it was a classic “religious war”, then Boko Haram would not have been indiscriminate in murdering both Muslims and Christians.”
Recalling that Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and oil exporter to the US, the Russian analyst claims that meanwhile “Russia’s trade at the moment with Nigeria amounts to only around $300m a year, which pales in significance compared to other major players. But the thinking in Moscow is that this situation has to change if Russia is to make a return to Africa”.
Benefits for the opposition
Speaking about political powers benefitting from the insurgency crisis in Nigeria, Nekrassov says that “after every attack, everyone is reminded that there is still no trace of the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls… Nevertheless, the kidnapping on such a vast scale was obviously intended as a blow to Jonathan’s regime first and foremost, because selling the girls for around $20 each was not really going to enrich Boko Haram. So this was more of a slap on the face of the government in power that could only benefit the opposition. In politics, anything that happens in a year leading to a big election should be always treated as a build up to that election.”
According to Nekrassov, the Russian experts came to a conclusion that the recent upsurge in Boko Haram violence, terrorists’ operation in “broad daylight” and taking over army and police “proves that the group has been getting some training and advice from outside”.
“Some reports have linked the group with terrorist networks across Africa and the Middle East like al-Shabab, al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia when it comes to combat training, funding and the exchange of military hardware and weaponry. The one conclusion that the Russian experts have drawn is that the US and their western allies have missed the growth of extremist groups, which has already manifested itself in Iraq with large parts of it now controlled by the Islamic State group, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
“How is it possible for US military and intelligence sources on the ground, both in Iraq and Syria, to have missed the Islamic State group amassing its forces and invading Iraq? It is anyone’s guess. But it’s a disastrous oversight by any standard. The same applies to Nigeria, with the US and other western nations having woken up to the reality of the Boko Haram threat only when the situation started to spin out of control. All things considered, Jonathan’s regime is still a better option than the coalition of the Muslim extremists that is shaping up now with an aim to win next year’s elections.”
Related: Experts Reveal Shekau’s Intentions
Nekrassov, so as his Russian colleagues, predict even a more dramatic rise in violence ahead of the elections and does not exclude the possibility of international intervention. Some fear that Goodluck Jonathan may extend the state of emergency, currently functioning in the 3 states, and even postpone the 2015 elections unless the situation improves.
In connection with this, the Russian recalls 2011 presidential elections when APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, was accused of inciting violence after losing, which resulted in nearly 1,000 deaths. According to him, experts fear that in 2015 the situation could be worse than that.
Nekrassov concludes his editorial with the statement:
“Wake up call or not, if the West and African countries don’t take drastic steps to reign in Boko Haram and its backers, both in Nigeria and beyond, we might see the recently crowned “the biggest economy in Africa” thrown into total disarray.”
Australian expert about Boko Haram sponsors
It would be recalled that days ago an Australian, Dr Stephen Davis, who had acted as a negotiator in the Chibok issue and spent 4 months in the North-East trying to enable the release of the girls abducted by Boko Haram, also alleged that opposition politician were involved in sponsoring insurgency. He however said that the dreaded Nigerian sect is getting out of control of its sponsors adding:
“These politicians think that if they win power they can turn these terrorists off, but this has mutated. It’s no longer a case of Muslims purifying by killing off Christians. They are just killing indiscriminately, beheading, disembowelling people – men, women and children and whole villages.”