The militant Islamist Boko Haram’s increasingly bold attacks in Nigeria threaten to fuel further Muslim-Christian violence and destabilize West Africa, making the group a leading concern for U.S. policymakers, writes John Campbell, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for Africa policy studies, in a new Council Special Report.
“The Boko Haram insurgency,” Campbell explains, “is a direct result of chronic poor governance by Nigeria’s federal and state governments, the political marginalization of northeastern Nigeria, and the region’s accelerating impoverishment.” Rather than fighting the militant group solely through military force, he argues, the U.S. and Nigerian governments must work together to redress the alienation of Nigeria’s Muslims.
Though the United States has “little leverage” over President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, Washington should “pursue a longer-term strategy to address the roots of northern disillusionment, preserve national unity, and restore Nigeria’s trajectory toward democracy and the rule of law.”
Campbell’s long-term recommendations comprise:
- supporting Nigerians working for human rights and democracy;
- revoking U.S. visas held by Nigerians who promote ethnic and religious violence and commit financial crimes; and
- encouraging Abuja to revamp the culture of its military and police.RTWT U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria’s Boko Haram, a report from CFR’s Center for Preventive Action (CPA). CPA seeks to help prevent, defuse, or resolve deadly conflicts around the world.