The emergence of terrorist group Boko Haram, after its deadly attacks and merciless kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian girls from a boarding school, has brought it to the headlines and raised dozens of questions over the corrupt political system in Nigeria, writes Haseeb Rizvi.
But it just so happens that the US is engaged in an economic “war” of sort with China and others inside Africa, and is also looking to expand its military presence in Africa. Is this an opportunity for the West to take advantage?
Boko Haram has technically existed inside Nigeria for more than a decade and precedes Al Qaeda; it can be traced back to Muslim sectarianism, post-independence from colonialism in the 1960’s.
Originally the ideology of Boko Haram stems from a fear of western influence in Nigerian Muslims, which explains the translation of the group’s name “Western education is forbidden.” The group have only really emerged in the last decade claiming responsibility for dozens of bombings, killings and kidnappings.
Ironically, the same pattern of sectarianism and civil war exists in almost every post-colonial country, for example India – which saw fighting between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs and even violence between people of the same faith and ethnicity, which led to the formation of Pakistan.
The exact same pattern exists in the Middle East, which saw the creation of Wahhabism and the Kingdom of Saud by the British, which subsequently led to the creation of countless terrorist “jihad” groups around the world, such as Boko Haram.
Corrupt political system
Just as many other developing countries, Nigeria is rife with corruption and greed, a consequence of the poverty and instability imposed by non-African entities such as America and Europe.
This has led to a large number of Nigerian politicians forging secret alliances with other foreign powers and corporations, including China and South Korea, in exchange for financial or other gains, which often comes in the form of foreign “aid.”
It is also widely feared amongst Nigerians that some politicians and military leaders are directly or indirectly involved in supporting/funding Boko Haram.
Moreover, it’s no secret that China is investing billions into Africa, to get their hands on minerals. Minerals are used extensively for the production of technology as well as other goods, and currently China is the world’s largest manufacturer. This tips the economic balance in China’s favour, against the US.
Furthermore, China’s economic ties with Nigeria have been increasing steadily over the past few years, whilst America’s declines, as it’s scaling back its oil imports from Nigeria and looking elsewhere, in particular fracking. A similar pattern is occurring across the globe, propelled with the formation of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in 2009.
Essentially, governments of the Western world are having to deal with the fact that within the next decade or so, they will no longer retain the same level of control over the developing countries they have been exploiting for more than the past century. Therefore, it remains the interest of western powers to keep Africa unstable to legitimise erroneous strategies for their own economic survival.
New era, old tactics.
During the past decade, global politics have entered a new era – with an increasingly powerful opposition to counter US, Europe et al, and this has led to more covert operations and backdoor warfare.
Most notable was the removal of Muammar Gaddafi; an opportunity that was exploited by the West under the guise of freedom, democracy and “The Arab Spring” – but in reality the aim was to demolish his plan to form a new currency in Africa, the Gold Dinar, which would have been based on the value of gold. This was an idea that would have shifted the economic balance of the world in Africa’s favour.
Since Libya’s so-called liberation from Gaddafi, it is now a safe haven for terrorist training and weapons trafficking, which eventually end up in Nigeria in the hands of Boko Haram. And the troops come marching in …
However, as with any military intervention or presence, the West needs a justification that can be sold to its own people, through the mainstream media narrative, under the banner of spreading democracy and freedom – as was most recently displayed in Ukraine and Syria.
Likewise, an escalation of violence and unrest in Africa gives the West an opportunity to extend their tentacles deeper and provide a platform for a long-term and extensive military presence.
America already has a military presence in Africa under the banner of Africom or the United States African Command. The US military base in Djibouti, called Camp Lemonnier, houses conventional forces, as well as special forces and aerial drones believed to be flown over Yemen and Somalia. However, America wants to expand its Africom project, and whilst many African countries are hesitant to let this happen – Boko Haram provide the perfect opportunity for its expansion as well as the possible introduction of other Western entities under the banner of “freedom and liberty.”
It is once again rather convenient that combating an “evil terrorist group” has greater benefit to the West than it does the real victims of terrorism.
A grim conclusion
Based on all the contributing factors – the shady origins of Boko Haram; the corruption of the Nigerian government; Africa’s minerals supply; the economic war between the US and China; as well as America’s plan to expand its Africom military project – it stands to reason that Boko Haram are yet another proxy terrorist group indirectly helping the West in its objectives to cling on to economical survival and geopolitical power. Not to mention the hundreds of examples of the West’s history of hegemony and covert operations around the world over the past decades and centuries, which includes training and arming the Taliban.
It is important to make clear that America cannot be solely responsible for Boko Haram and the recent attacks in Nigeria. The Nigerian government are also accountable due to their incompetence, negligence and corruption. Having said that, this existing set-up works perfectly in favour of foreign nations such as the US as well as corporations who have a vested interest in Nigeria.
It is also paramount to state the fact that Boko Haram are fundamentally a group of evil and ruthless militants, hellbent on causing destruction and death either way. Unfortunately, they do so in the name of religion and God, and whilst knowingly or not, they’re helping the West in its global economic and power struggle. Ironically, the same is true for the “rebels” in Syria too.
What happens next in Nigeria and Africa remains to be seen, there has been an escalation of violence across Africa and Boko Haram have vowed to increase their attacks in Nigeria. The US is mindful of flexing its military might and will probably have to resort to drone strikes if pressure increases towards taking action against Boko Haram.
If the violence increases and continues, the West will have a stronger case to increase their grip inside Africa. Again.