The first is simple. On a not-very-left but not-right morning TV show, today, Morning Joe, a quick mention of the ISIS beheading of a Croatian oil worker who was kidnapped in Cairo elicited the following conclusion : “…shows the increasing reach of ISIS.”
The correct take on what happened is exactly the opposite. Terrorist groups that are failing at normal warfare, as ISIS is in the Levant, break up into individuial guerillas undertaking easier, simpler acts.
It’s a clear demonstration they are becoming weaker.
It’s equally true of the other major terrorist organization in Africa: al-Shabaab. Both BH & Shabaab were large-scale military organizations that have been routed leaving no well organized terrorist armies left in Africa.
BH’s long time leader, Abubakar Shekau, who at one point controlled nearly a fifth of Nigeria, has apparently been killed or exiled and replaced by Mahamat Daoud who the Chadian leader said yesterday wants to negotiate peace.
There’s no reason to negotiate with Boko Haram, now. There’s little of it left.
According to Reuters, BH now controls hardly anything in Nigeria except a small, remote forest.
Mahamat Daoud smiles. Find me another picture of a major terrorist smiling.
The remarkable turnaround in Nigeria this year is linked to several factors. First, the newly elected president is a former general who has successfully consolidated Nigeria’s civil administration with its military, not seen before.
Like former times in several South American countries, the military and civilian sects of society never got along. Civilian rule was corrupt and inefficient. Frequent military coups returned stability to the country but also resulted in massive human rights violations.
Nigeria’s current president, former general Muhammadu Buhari, who won the March presidential election seems to have changed this … at least so far.
The other factor is widespread presumption of massive U.S. military aid. In fact the sudden and productive delivery of U.S. weapons to Nigeria seems to have become an issue locally.
The Christian Science Monitor reported last week that Buhari is himself concerned that defeating BH depended upon outside military support, and has called for the creation of a Nigerian military-industrial complex so the country can produce its own weaponry.
(A topic of its own, of course. Whatever else can be said of ‘supporting your allies’ it becomes undeniable that the world becomes further militarized.)
The new conciliatory face of BH is quite unlike what happened to Shabaab. Shabaab splintered and fled in face of Kenyan troops and U.S. special services on the ground in East Africa. Shabaab never offered to negotiate.
In Kenya and Uganda it devolved into guerilla attacks such as the Westgate Mall. That now has all but ended as what’s left of Shabaab evaporates outside of Somalia. Within Somalia the remaining militants are struggling to retain small areas of control.
For good reasons or bad ones, whether the current state of affairs will be lasting or short-lived, terrorism in Africa is way down.
Many American’s problem is that they demand 100% of everything. Something that’s bad, like terrorism or back problems or faulty car brakes, gnaws at them virtually until there is no problem left at all.
And that rarely happens.
So their ability to calmly consider the problem and enthusiastically work towards a best if partial solution is compromised by their fear that that itty-bitty 1% not taken care of, will take care of them.
Only in movies is this a meaningful way of life.