Boko Haram war: Going badly
Sir: The war in the North East of Nigeria is now in a difficult phase with the incessant attacks on Nigerian soldiers. The routing of the 157 Task Force battalion military bases at Matele in November 2018 is the latest in the series. The casualties must have been heavy considering that the strength of a battalion is between 500-1000 soldiers.
The sudden and new found strength of the insurgents should be of concern, especially if the suspected link with other external forces is confirmed.
The association of Boko Haram with Alqaida, Al Shabbab and ISIS is already established.
But, could it be that the Shia community worldwide had joined the war as threatened or assumed? This possibility is based on the unresolved conflict between the Shias and the Nigerian government.
The Shias backed by Iran and Hezbollah mutually protect and defend their members everywhere, anywhere and by whatever means necessary.
Boko Haram and Shia may not share the same ideology, but in the face of a common foe, both may opt to work together based on the reasoning of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’
The introduction of sophisticated weapons such as drones and the recent successes of the insurgents are beyond the capability of a rag tag military formation. This development gives credence to the insinuations that this war may have been internationalised, and a hybrid, well equipped enemy formed, which will be difficult to defeat.
Asymmetric wars have never been won, even by the most powerful armies. The war waged in Afghanistan by the defunct Soviet Union accelerated its disintegration.
It was the same in Vietnam, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, where powerful armies were defeated and destroyed in a lopsided war against rag tag militias.
The open allegations by Nigerian soldiers against their commanders could develop into a full scale mutiny, which will pitch soldiers against each other, or against their commanders to the detriment of the war efforts and the country.
War is not glorious. It is characterised by bloodshed, violent deaths, fear, anxiety and sorrow. These factors should be borne in mind when military and political leaders are taking critical decisions which could lead to war or bring peace.
The avenues for peaceful resolution of this crisis exist. The initiatives of Hajia Hamsatu Alamin and Aisha Wakil to broker a cease fire and peace are well known internationally but it is either not made known to the public in Nigeria or it is suppressed.
This possibility gives credence to the insinuations that, after all, this war may be a money making enterprise for individuals or groups within the country who are benefiting from the bloodshed.
The public should take interest in what these brave women are doing. Their activities and interviews in the international mass media are explicit, clear and informative.
They are harbingers of peace and truth, with no vested interests, except to bring peace to Borno and other affected states in Nigeria.
Ambassador Rasheed was director of Trade and Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja.
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