US likely to help Nigeria counter Islamists
07 Jun 2012 06:24 GMT
 
Washington: The United States of America is likely to extend assistance to the Nigerian army for curtailing the threats of a local Islamist group, Boko Haram, which is involved in terror activities in the West African country. By Farhan Iqbal

Washington: The United States of America is likely to extend assistance to the Nigerian army for curtailing the threats of a local Islamist group, Boko Haram, which is involved in terror activities in the West African country.

According to the top level officials, the US is in final stages of planning an assistance program for helping the Nigerian forces tackle the violent attacks by Islamists of Boko Haram across Nigeria.

However, it has not been finally decided by the US authorities yet whether to place Boko Haram in blacklist of terrorist organizations or not even after the Nigerian city of Maiduguri was rocked with gunfire and explosions earlier this week.

The high-level talks about the assistance plan between the US and Nigerian officials went on for two days in the US capital, Washington. After the talks, US Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, commented, “This is an issue of ongoing internal deliberations within the United States government.”

“The administration was trying to make a decision which is both appropriate, rational and useful while taking into account the significance of any decision that we might make on Nigeria and the Nigerian government,” he added.

Book Haram has mainly focused on Maiduguri for its insurgent activities and their attacks have killed over 1,000 people so far since mid of 2009.

The terrorist group had claimed responsibility of targeting the UN Headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, by a deadly suicide bombing in which at least 25 people lost their lives in last year’s August.

The northern city of Kano was also not spared by the group as in January this year, at least 185 people were killed in its coordinated bombings and shootings.

The domain of Boko Haram’s terrorist attacks is getting wider and affecting a vast geographical area of Nigeria as they are spreading from their base in the extreme northeast across the wider north and down to Abuja. There has been witnessed sophistication in their terrorist attacks as well as they were well-planned and coordinated.

The talks were held under the US-Nigeria Bi-national Commission and governance, security cooperation, energy and investment and food security were the main concerns of the meeting.

Deputy Secretary of State, Bill Burns, opened the talks saying, “The US is ready to explore a potential partnership with the Nigerian army to build its civil affairs capacity.”

He continued, “We are all disturbed by the repeated scenes of violence in various parts of Nigeria which threaten to undercut the gains Nigeria has made.”

“Violent extremist militants like those associated with Boko Haram offer no practical program to improve the lives on Nigerians. They depend on resentment and neglect,” he added.

Burns observed, “We have some degree of knowledge of experience or expertise as a result of the concerns that we have faced over the past decade in both Iraq and Afghanistan dealing with symmetrical warfare, dealing with IEDs, dealing with assassination, dealing with urban conflict and dealing with groups that have broken down into small cells,” adding, “And we are prepared to share with the government some of the lessons that we have learned in our own experience.”

The Nigerian Permanent Secretary, Martin Uhomoibhi, addressed the meeting saying, “The implications of Boko Haram are not tied down to just Nigeria, but to terrorism globally and what terrorism means to democratic nations.”

“So the United States will work with Nigeria to address this security challenge because once it is done for Nigeria, it will also have very positive implications for the entire west African region,” he concluded.



-- Al Arabiya Digital


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