Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October Nigeria SITREP (Boko Haram)

by 'Fulan Nasrullah'

A few salient points on the so called Ceasefire:

1. There is no ceasefire between the trio of Jamaa'atu Ahlis-Sunnah ('Alal-Haqq) of Sheikh Bukar, Ansorul-Muslimiin Harakatul-Muhajiriin, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
These groups have been engaged in a heavy battles with the Cameroonians on their side of the Mandara Mountains, and they agreed to a temporary cessation of hostilities with Cameroon in several sectors along the border. Part of that agreement was the release of the Chinese an Cameroonian hostages held by Harakatul-Muhajiriin and Ansorul-Muslimiin.

2. This ceasefire between the insurgents and Cameroon was reached despite the objections of Khalid Al-Barnawi because the insurgents had suffered heavy losses in recent battles on the Cameroonian front.
Sources estimate as much as a thousand to fifteen hundred fighters died in a month of fighting in the Adamawa Mountains.

3. Cameroon agreed to this ceasefire because it too had suffered heavy losses in the fight against the insurgents, and it faced an escalation of the fighting and a spread of the conflict out of the border areas where the violence has been contained within to its southern population areas (the Afghanistan Scenario I.e suicide bombings, mass scale terror attacks on civilians in the country's hinterland etc).

4. Cameroon has no interest in wiping out Boko Haram as long as the insurgents remain contained across the border inside Nigeria.
The Cameroonians only view Boko Haram as a threat because the insurgents have been using their territory as a rear base area and have been recruiting Cameroonians in their thousands to fight in the war in Nigeria. This opens the door to such Cameroonian recruits returning home to launch their own jihad against Paul Biya and his regime.
So seeing an opportunity to move the fighting back into Nigeria and preserve the peace in its territory, Yaoundé jumped at it.

5. The Insurgents expansion campaigns were stalled because they underestimated the Cameroonian resolve to keep the fighting out of Cameroon and they ended up diverting resources from their territorial expansion campaigns to fighting the Cameroonians.

6. A ceasefire was asked for by the Nigerian Government and was rejected by all the factions except Shekau's faction.

7. The ceasefire agreement reached in N'Djadmena the Chadian capital between Jamaa'tu Ahlis-Sunnah of Shekau had no fixed operational limit attached to it.

8. The Nigerian negotiators asked for the Shekau Faction delegation to bear a message to Shekau that the Nigerian President was seeking to negotiate a permanent solution to this crisis with the insurgents. This same message was sent through Chadian and Cameroonian intelligence channels to the other three factions. ALL THE FACTIONS rejected the offer of comprehensive negotiations, with Shekau's Faction saying that Abubakar Shekau was only interested in a temporary ceasefire.

9. Contrary to Federal Government claims there was no agreement to release the Chibok girls as Shekau does not hold them. Shekau holds hundreds possibly thousands of women kidnapped by his foot soldiers across Yobe and Borno States, but he doesn't hold the Chibok girls and he holds no territory in that area at all. Rather Shekau's Faction promised to intercede with Ansorul-Muslimiin who are the ones holding the girls to secure their release..

The Federal Government has been trying to portray the ceasefire agreement it reached with Shekau's faction as a political victory. Boko Haram is not a monolithic entity rather it is an ideological movement with for factions only one of whom reached a ceasefire with the Government. Despite this so called ceasefire there was fighting <a href="http:// https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/169793-despite-ceasefire-claims-soldiers-kill-25-boko-haram-militants-in-damboa.html">around military positions in the areas close to Damboa Town</a> (Propaganda aside, insurgents still control Damboa). This fighting was between fighters of the other three factions and the Nigerian Army.

Will the ceasefire lead to a change on the ground? Not much. Most of the ground fighting in the really active war theatres of Southern Borno and Adamawa has been conducted by the other three factions, with Shekau's faction facing a difficult transition from a terrorist/guerrilla army to a conventional force in Yobe and Northern Borno. Not much fighting has taken place in the Shekau faction's area of operations recently.

With the other three factions rejecting any ceasefire negotiations there will definitely be more fighting in the Southern Borno-Adamawa axis as they are not bound by the ceasefire agreement between the Nigerian Government and Shekau. Although the rate at which the insurgents (the trio factions) launch attack would be reduced as they try to reap benefits from the temporary pause in their campaign in Cameroon.

Note On My Absence.
I am unfortunately not always available these days to write as much as I want to. My time is limited and I am in an area where I am often cut off from internet facilities, thanks to the so called Counter Insurgency Campaign in North East Nigeria and I often have to rely on Cameroonian communications networks that are received over the border, to talk to the outside world.