Nigeria https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/6554/all cached version 09/02/2019 02:24:09 en ‘They were planning on stealing the election’: Explosive new tapes reveal Cambridge Analytica CEO’s boasts of voter suppression, manipulation and bribery https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitinc/paul-hilder/they-were-planning-on-stealing-election-explosive-new-tapes-reveal-cambridg <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Previously unknown recording reveals extraordinary ‘black ops’ on three continents – exploiting weaknesses in democracies left wide open by governments and Silicon Valley.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/PA-30406630_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/PA-30406630_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'> Alexander Nix, weeks before Channel 4 News screened its fatal investigation. Image: Christian Charisius/DPA.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">“I worked at Cambridge Analytica while they had Facebook datasets. I went to Russia one time while I worked for Cambridge. I visited Julian Assange while I worked for Cambridge. I once donated to WikiLeaks. I pitched the Trump campaign and wrote the first contract. All of these things make it look like I am at the centre of some big, crazy thing. I see that, and I can’t argue with that. The only thing that I’ve got going for me is that I didn’t do anything wrong. So they can search everything that they want!”</p><p dir="ltr">It was May 2018. Brittany Kaiser, the second Cambridge Analytica whistleblower to go public, had just heard she was being subpoenaed by the Mueller investigation, in a moment captured in ‘The Great Hack’ (a documentary which premiered at the Sundance film festival this week). The media were reporting her February 2017 visit to Assange, another piece of circumstantial evidence supposedly connecting her to the controversies around the successes of Donald Trump and Brexit. Kaiser continued to protest her innocence, and to cooperate fully with investigations.&nbsp;And today we can reveal more about what she knew.</p><p dir="ltr">In explosive recordings that Kaiser made in the summer of 2016, excerpts from which are published exclusively by openDemocracy today, her former boss, Alexander Nix, makes a series of extraordinary claims. The onetime Cambridge Analytica CEO talks of bribing opposition leaders, facilitating election-stealing and suppressing voter turnout.</p><p dir="ltr">When we asked Nix to comment on this new material, he told us that many of our claims had been proven to be false, and others were completely speculative and not grounded in reality. But what we are publishing for the first time are his own words.</p><p dir="ltr">Nix boasts of orchestrating election black ops around the world. He reveals how in Trinidad and Tobago, Strategic Communications Laboratories (the British company behind Cambridge Analytica) engineered a highly successful grassroots campaign to "increase apathy" so that young Afro-Caribbeans would not vote. In Nigeria, evidence was found that SCL used rallies by religious leaders to discourage voting in key districts. Nix also makes a knowing reference to Brexit, although Cambridge Analytica has repeatedly denied involvement in that campaign.</p><p dir="ltr">In the recordings, Nix describes one of his major clients, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, as a "fascist". And he sheds more light on the nexus of data, money and power that Cambridge Analytica deployed as it backed Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency.</p><p dir="ltr">A number of these shocking allegations are also revealed in ‘The Great Hack’. Yet this is far more than a story of one rogue company, now brought low after its name became a byword for electoral controversy. It exposes the back doors through which democracies across the world have been left vulnerable to manipulation. And it is the tip of the iceberg.</p><h2 dir="ltr">What the whistleblower told Parliament</h2><p dir="ltr">It was almost six years ago, in a London sushi bar, that Cambridge Analytica’s chief executive Alexander Nix first sought to enlist Brittany Kaiser, saying: “Let me get you drunk and steal your secrets.” Back when she was an idealistic nineteen-year-old Democrat from Chicago, she had dropped everything to work on Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. Later, after studying human rights and international law, she had moved into the unruly world of trade deals with states like Libya and Iran. </p><p>Kaiser resisted Nix at first, volunteering for the Ready for Hillary campaign instead. But her experience of the Clinton machine left her disillusioned and frustrated. What’s more, her parents were caught on a financial razor’s edge; she needed to pay the bills. In 2014, she finally struck her perilous bargain with Nix. He became her mentor, she his apprentice.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/PA-36045042_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/PA-36045042_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="273" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Brittany Kaiser in front of Parliament’s fake news inquiry, April 2018 Image: PA Images</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Nix had teamed up in 2013 with the alt-right entrepreneur Steve Bannon and the family of hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer to launch Cambridge Analytica. Their mission was to arm a rising populist right to defeat the big data machine built by Obama.</p><p dir="ltr">Kaiser’s decision to work for Nix and Bannon was hard for her former Obama colleagues to understand. Looking back, she told me with a measure of irony that she had been guided by the first African-American president’s creed: “It is important to sit down with rogue actors, without preconditions.” Like others of her millennial generation, she also felt dispossessed, impatient with the status quo and hungry for adventure.</p><p dir="ltr">I first met Brittany Kaiser in February 2017. She was shockingly frank about her company’s role in the right-wing political revolutions of 2016, but it was clear that she knew even more. We spoke on several occasions over more than a year, before I suggested that she blow the whistle publicly to myself and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/23/former-cambridge-analytica-executive-brittany-kaiser-wants-to-stop-lies">Paul Lewis of The Guardian</a>.&nbsp;She readily agreed.</p><p dir="ltr">She testified against her former colleagues, providing arresting new evidence about their unpaid data work on Brexit for the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/revealed-arron-banks-brexit-campaign-had-more-meetings-w">controversial businessman Arron Banks</a> (now under investigation by the National Crime Agency) and his Leave.EU campaign, as well as possible abuses of Facebook and insurance data. She provided the first real proof of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan/brexit-bankroller-arron-banks-cambridge-analytica-and-steve-bannon-expl">Steve Bannon’s role in setting up these deals for Nix</a>, and of Cambridge Analytica’s exclusive data relationship with Bannon’s alt-right propaganda platform, Breitbart News.</p><p dir="ltr">In April 2018 Kaiser testified before the British parliament’s ‘fake news’ inquiry. She covered a dizzying array of topics alongside Cambridge Analytica, including her friends’ cryptocurrency-powered telecommunications schemes in Mexico, and her time working with WikiLeaks’ British lawyers at Doughty Street Chambers on “prisoner of conscience” cases. </p><p>The parliamentarians wanted to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/21/cambridge-analytica-offered-politicians-hacked-emails-witnesses-say">know more about a group of hackers – alumni of Israeli intelligence – who she had introduced to oil-billionaire clients</a>, and who had infiltrated the Nigerian political opposition as part of a 2015 campaign by Nix’s firm. But when it came to the inflammatory content of that campaign, Kaiser pointed the finger firmly at Sam Patten, a long-standing fixture on Cambridge Analytica’s roster of globe-trotting political strategists.</p><p dir="ltr"><i> <iframe allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" frameborder="0" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KOpKkgXNb50" height="315" width="560"></iframe> According to whistleblower Chris Wylie, Cambridge Analytica/SCL used the campaign video in this report from The Guardian to influence the Nigerian presidential election of 2015.</i></p><p dir="ltr">Immediately after running the controversial Nigeria campaign for Nix, Patten <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/31/paul-manafort-sam-patten-charged-cambridge-analytica">went into business</a> with the Russian operative&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/09/konstantin-kilimnik-russia-trump-manafort-mueller">Konstanin Kilimnik</a>. His new partner was not only the right hand of indicted Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in Ukraine, but also a suspected Russian <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/08/manafort-russian-poll-share-konstantin-kilimnik-trump-investigation-2016-election-latest">military intelligence asset</a>. Patten has recently pleaded guilty to channelling donations from a Ukranian oligarch into Donald Trump’s inauguration fund. Kilimnick himself is wanted for questioning by special counsel Robert Mueller, and has recently fled to Moscow.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the British parliamentarians asked Kaiser the obvious question: “Have you ever worked for, paid or unpaid, or provided information to, any country’s intelligence agency, their representatives or associated organisations?” Her answer was “No;” but pressed, she acknowledged having been “approached” in the past, before her time at Cambridge Analytica,&nbsp;“although they wouldn’t properly identify themselves... I’ve been taught what to look out for: my grandfather was a military intelligence officer for 27 years, and knew when I was young that would be a possibility, and told me what to look out for… and to say no.”&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Damian Collins MP, the chair of the fake news inquiry, had one final question for Brittany Kaiser. “If Alexander Nix wanted to reach out to Julian Assange, couldn’t he do it through you?” Without losing her self-possession, she laughed for a split second and responded: “That’s what I was wondering…”</p><p dir="ltr">Collins then announced that Nix was pulling out of his own scheduled interrogation the following day. Within weeks, Cambridge Analytica and Nix’s wider network of data, political and security consulting operations had filed for bankruptcy. It took another month before the silver-tongued, polo-playing Etonian consultant accepted his third summons from Parliament. Wriggling under the spotlight, he claimed to be the real victim of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. According to his telling, a liberal media witch-hunt had found him guilty of the victories of Trump (who Nix had proudly helped to elect) and Brexit – which he still claimed to have had nothing to do with.</p><p dir="ltr">Nix threw particular doubt on the credibility of Chris Wylie, the pink-haired Canadian whistleblower who first set off the firestorm by revealing to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/data-war-whistleblower-christopher-wylie-faceook-nix-bannon-trump">Carole Cadwalladr in The Observer</a> his own role in procuring and weaponising the hijacked data of tens of millions of Facebook users for Cambridge Analytica. Nix claimed that Wylie had left in 2014 to set up his own competing firm, which then itself pitched work for both Trump and Brexit. According to Nix’s telling, Wylie had even spoken of being excited to engage with “crazy evil Russians”.</p><p dir="ltr">I was part of the small audience for Nix’s parliamentary grilling. Next to me sat David Carroll, the principled campaigner for data rights who sued Cambridge Analytica to expose the thousands of pieces of political, consumer and psychographic information they held on him and 240 million other Americans. (Carroll’s dogged campaign recently secured the first guilty plea from Nix’s UK firm.) Suddenly I received a flurry of urgent messages from Kaiser, then in the US.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The Guardian had <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jun/06/cambridge-analytica-brittany-kaiser-julian-assange-wikileaks">just broken the story</a> of her meeting with Julian Assange in February 2017. Based on private material submitted to Parliament, the article suggested that not only had she discussed the US elections with the WikiLeaks founder, she had even funnelled cryptocurrency payments to the organisation. On the same day, Kaiser contradicted the allegations in an interview with the Financial Times.&nbsp;“I didn’t conspire to leak Hillary’s emails and I have nothing to do with Russia,” she told me despairingly.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">I wondered: could this young woman really be the elusive link connecting the Trump campaign to Assange and ‘Guccifer’, the hacker subsequently unmasked as Russian military intelligence? Or was someone framing her to throw us all off the scent?</p><p>Brittany Kaiser had already allowed me to review emails and documents in the course of my reporting, and to help analyse her materials for testimony and publication by Parliament. Now she allowed me to privately review a further motherlode of files so I could find out the truth for myself; she also agreed to be followed by ‘The Great Hack’ filmmakers. I understand that Mueller’s team issued a subpoena but it was never served on her, and that she has cooperated very closely with official investigations in the US. I found no indication whatsoever that she might have been involved in the Democratic National Committee hack.</p><p>Kaiser had originally acknowledged in Parliament that she introduced Nix to her friends in Julian Assange’s London legal team in 2015, but said she knew nothing of her boss’s own contacts with him. Her cryptocurrency donation to WikiLeaks (made with gifted Bitcoin she had no other use for) had taken place several years earlier, while she was working on human rights issues in countries like Iraq.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">If we blame a young woman like Brittany Kaiser for all the failings of Western democracy, or harp endlessly on the significant roles played by Julian Assange or Russia, we risk obscuring where the greatest responsibility lies. As we unearthed more pieces of the puzzle, learning ever more about the back doors through which our democracies have been hacked, I realised the real scandal was closer to home.</p><p dir="ltr">Anyone seeking a single master key to the conspiracy of 2016 risks missing the forest for the trees. As Assange himself wrote in 2006, “Not every conspirator trusts or knows every other conspirator, even though they are all connected… When we look at an authoritarian conspiracy as a whole, we see a system of interacting organs, a beast with arteries and veins whose blood may be thickened and slowed until it falls, stupefied; unable to sufficiently command and control the forces in its environment.”</p><p dir="ltr">Investigations into Trump and Brexit are spotlighting a whole system of conspiracies against democracy, which together do more than any individual plotter to undermine the public good. Leading Western oligarchs, from the Mercers and Steve Bannon to Mark Zuckerberg, did far more than the Russians to elect Donald Trump. The full story has yet to be told. Justice demands that we ask the bigger questions.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Black ops, lies and leaks</h2><p dir="ltr">Throughout 2016, as a practitioner of politics and technology, I tracked the movements that carried Brexit and Trump to victory. They broke the mould of establishment right-wing campaigns, challenging the broken status quo and tapping bottom-up energies like never before. </p><p>But they were also full of black operations, lies, hacks and leaks, with playbooks eerily reminiscent of the Russian political technologists sometimes nicknamed “The Wizards of Oz”. Most strangely, this strange company called Cambridge Analytica, with access to masses of illicit Facebook data and a track record in psychological warfare, seemed to have played a significant part on both sides of the Atlantic.</p><p dir="ltr">I personally campaigned against Brexit, I <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/12/inside-bernie-sanders-campaign-do-or-die">followed the Bernie Sanders campaign on the ground in 2016</a>, and my friends and I lost those fights. We watched the technologies we had been trying to harness for democratic ends being turned against us; we saw hard-right populists hijack our banner of change.</p><p dir="ltr">I felt a crack in history opening up during 2016. I was spending most of my time starting up Crowdpac (our political crowdfunding and democratic big-data platform) in Europe. We never sold data, but almost a million people used our questionnaires to inform their Brexit vote; so I understood what Cambridge Analytica was doing from the other end of the telescope. After Trump’s election,&nbsp;I started trying to find out what had really gone wrong and how we could fix it. </p><p dir="ltr">Private conversations with contacts on the other side, notably Brittany Kaiser, gave me a glimpse of their murky network of international connections.&nbsp;My wife is a creative and product visionary who had worked at Deepmind, the leading British artificial intelligence company taken over by Google. I told her what I was discovering, and she agreed I needed to pursue it. Over the following two years, this journey took me to dark places I would never otherwise have entered. At times I feared for my own life, or for others’.</p><p dir="ltr">In a former life, Kaiser had participated in some of the progressive movements and platforms I had helped to build. Now we shared support for Sanders, experience in private diplomacy and a conviction that data could be used for good. Yet she told indiscreet stories of her own proximity to leading right-wing players, and the moral conflict between some of her work and her underlying values seemed intense.</p><p dir="ltr">I decided to find out if Kaiser’s company had truly hacked our elections, whether they had covert links to Russia, and how culpable Silicon Valley and the West’s own oligarchs were behind the scenes. It was not easy.</p><p dir="ltr">One former employee of Cambridge Analytica compared others’ reticence to “the omertà of the Mafia”, not least because people were afraid of the company’s powerful principals. The family of Robert Mercer, not only a billionaire but also a data scientist accused of white supremacist views, were its controlling investors. The Mercers’ consigliere Steve Bannon sat on Nix’s board with Robert Mercer’s daughter Rebekah, who Nix sometimes referred to as his “work wife”.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/PA-34328004_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/PA-34328004_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="294" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Steve Bannon in his White House days, 2017. Image: Douliery Olivier/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Materials revealed to me and testimony provided by Brittany Kaiser and other sources, some of which have subsequently been published, confirm that Bannon was actively involved in brokering Cambridge Analytica’s relationships with Trump, Brexit campaigners and a flotilla of Mercer-linked organisations. (Whistleblowers have also provided extensive evidence to openDemocracy of the relationships between the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan/brexit-bankroller-arron-banks-cambridge-analytica-and-steve-bannon-expl">Brexit campaign, Cambridge Analytica and Steve Bannon</a>). Bannon admitted last spring that he “put the company together”, but continues to claim he knew nothing of Cambridge Analytica’s misdeeds during his time on its board. Earlier this month he launched The Movement, his latest attempt to lay waste to the politics of the European Union and empower the populist far right with data and strategic advice.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Brittany Kaiser and Chris Wylie remain almost unique among former Cambridge Analytica staffers in their willingness to talk publicly. This is particularly striking given that Alexander Nix reportedly failed to pay most of his employees <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/cambridge-analytica-chief-accused-of-taking-8m-before-collapse-1.3520609">severance they were owed</a>, but himself walked away with a payoff of at least $8.7 million. Nix has denied these allegations, although they were confirmed by multiple sources.</p><p dir="ltr">In the course of my investigation, I nonetheless managed to speak with almost a dozen sources with close knowledge of the company’s operations, and gathered previously unpublished materials and insights from a number of them. One senior source who originally wanted to save the company swiftly realised that they had to “kill the dragon”.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Why? For most of its employees, Cambridge Analytica was just another startup, battling for clients in the Wild West world of personal data and advertising technology (“ad-tech”). It overhyped its value proposition, its data architecture and processes were chaotic, not all projects went well; but many felt proud of their work. They compartmentalised the most controversial contracts, blamed Nix and his lieutenants for any sketchiness, and believed that Cambridge Analytica had become a scapegoat for the systemic abuses of the data brokerage industry. “Everyone is doing it,” I heard again and again.</p><h2 dir="ltr">The smoking gun</h2><p dir="ltr">Brittany Kaiser spoke often about “the crazy things Alexander would say”. But it was hard to find the smoking gun. Then Kaiser and I found an old recording buried deep in her laptop files. It was Alexander Nix’s extraordinary pitch, recorded on her iPhone in the heat of that fateful summer of 2016.</p><p dir="ltr">Last March The Guardian, The New York Times and Britain’s Channel 4 News&nbsp;broke the story of Chris Wylie’s whistleblowing for the first time. Seventy-two hours later, Channel 4 News released <a href="https://www.channel4.com/news/exposed-undercover-secrets-of-donald-trump-data-firm-cambridge-analytica">undercover recordings of Nix and his fellow executives</a>. They talked about ‘honey traps’ that used Ukrainian prostitutes and boasted of secret teams who “ghosted in, did the work, ghosted out” of countries, and “put information into the bloodstream of the internet… with no branding, so it’s unattributable, untrackable”. But even in the Channel 4 sting, Nix was careful to caveat his most inflammatory claims. Not so in Kaiser’s iPhone recording: the mask is truly off.</p><p dir="ltr">“What we sought to do here is… to build a workable model of persuasion that could be rolled out across the United States initially. To help us to target people at an individual level in a way that would increase compliance through communications.</p><p dir="ltr">“Our inventory has questions like, are you frequently lonely, do you enjoy taking part in new initiatives? It's not an opinion survey. Because we're not interested in what you think about the president. We're interested in you, and trying to work out...” Nix searches for the right phrase: “what are your buttons?</p><p dir="ltr">“A few years later we were in Nigeria again, and this was a campaign for [presidential candidate Umaru] Yar’Adua, who was the puppet for [incumbent president Olusegun] Obasanjo,” Nix continues. He appears to be talking about the 2007 elections, not the 2015 race in which Brittany Kaiser and Sam Patten were involved. “So we persuaded our client to do something quite unusual. We persuaded him to allow us to tell everyone in Nigeria that they were planning on stealing the election.</p><p dir="ltr">“And the reason we did this was to inoculate them. We ran this campaign for about 12 months saying, oh, the government's going to steal the election. And then, when the Jimmy Carter Center – who was monitoring the election – announced that the election was not ‘free and fair’, everyone was like… ‘Yeah, we know that.’ As opposed to going ‘WHAT?!!’ and getting really angry!” Yar’Adua won the election by a landslide, but the outcome was controversial and widely thought to have been rigged.</p><p dir="ltr">Nix’s UK company Strategic Communications Laboratories and its US wing Cambridge Analytica were usually careful to mask their most controversial activities in case studies. But I found one brochure in which further telling details of this Nigeria campaign slipped through: “SCL advised that rather than focusing on swing voters, the party should instead aim to dissuade opposition supporters from voting – an action that could be easily monitored. This was achieved by organising anti-election rallies on the day of polling in opposition strongholds, many conducted by local religious figures to maximise their appeal to rural communities.”</p><p dir="ltr">Kaiser heard Alexander Nix give this pitch many times. This previously unknown recording provides irrefutable evidence of him boasting to prospective clients about his experience in voter suppression, his comfort with sowing apathy and fatalism about corruption, and his readiness to facilitate election-stealing. Asked for comment about his own statements, Nix today denied that SCL had worked in Nigeria in 2007.</p><p dir="ltr">Crucially, this recording sets in context the claim by a senior Trump campaign source that “<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-27/inside-the-trump-bunker-with-12-days-to-go">we have three major voter suppression operations under way</a>”, made to Bloomberg in October 2016. By then Cambridge Analytica was working simultaneously with the Trump campaign; the Defeat Crooked Hillary Super PAC, overseen personally by Rebekah Mercer; an underground platform doing psychographic microtargeting of congregations and religious communities; the far-right Media Research Center; the National Rifle Association; and a massive, secretively funded campaign by the National Sports Shooting Federation of gun companies.</p><h2 dir="ltr">How to make black youth not vote</h2><p dir="ltr">Nix moved on to pitch his next case study – a youth mobilisation campaign. Again, all is not as it seems. “Trinidad is a very interesting case history of how we look at problems,” Nix said. “Trinidad's tiny – it's 1.3 million people – but almost exactly half the country are Indian and half the country are Black, Afro-Caribbean. And there are two main political parties, one for the Blacks and one for the Indians… when the Indians are in power the Blacks don't get anything, and vice-versa, you know – they screw each other. So we were working, I think for the third time in Trinidad, and we were working for the Indians, and we did a huge amount for research, and two really important things came out.</p><p dir="ltr">“One was that all the youth, Indian and Afro-Caribbean, felt disenfranchised … And secondly, amongst the Indians the familial hierarchies were really strong. There was huge respect for their elders and their parents and their families, but not so for the Afro-Caribbeans. And that was enough information to inform the entire campaign.</p><p dir="ltr">“We went to the client and said, we only want to do one thing, we want to run a campaign where we target the youth – all youth, all the Blacks and all the Indians – and we try and increase apathy. And they didn't really understand why… but they allowed us to do this campaign, and the campaign had to be non-political, because no one, the kids don’t care about politics. It had to be reactive, because they’re lazy; inclusive of all ethnicities; bottom-up. It had to be exciting, because kids want to do something fun.</p><p dir="ltr">“We came up with this campaign which was all about ‘Be part of the gang, do something cool, be part of a movement.’ And it was called the ‘Do So’ campaign… A3 posters. And graffiti, yellow paint, you know, we cut stencils with the jigsaw… And we'd give these to kids, and they'd get in their cars at night, you know, just make a drawing, get in the car, and race around the country putting up these posters and getting chased by the police and all their friends were doing it, and it was fucking brilliant fun…&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/mtZ9tb0BME_Do_So_460_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/mtZ9tb0BME_Do_So_460_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A poster from the 'Do So' campaign. Image: courtesy of Kierron Yip Ngow/Facebook.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">“Do So. Don't vote. Don't be involved in politics. It's like a sign of resistance against – not government, against politics. And voting. And very soon they're making their own YouTube videos. This is the prime minister’s house that's being graffitied! … It was carnage.</p><p dir="ltr">“And the reason why this was such a good strategy is because we knew, and we really really knew, that when it came to voting, all the Afro-Caribbean kids wouldn't vote, because they ‘Do So’. But all the Indian kids would do what their parents told them to do, which is go out and vote. And so all the Indians went out and voted, and the difference on the 18-35-year-old turnout is like 40%, and that swung the election by about 6% – which is all we needed!”</p><p dir="ltr">Again, Nix was selling his company’s expertise in promoting cynicism and apathy to suppress turnout among the opposition. But this campaign was even more manipulative: enlisting young Afro-Caribbeans in what pretended to be an authentic youth movement, secretly designed to manipulate them into surrendering their votes. This is what ‘compliance’ means in psychological warfare: achieving the desired behavioural effect from a ‘hostile audience’.</p><p dir="ltr">Asked for comment on the Do-So campaign, Nix responded in an email earlier today, writing, “The objective of this campaign was to highlight and protest against political corruption. There is nothing unlawful or illegal about assisting with this activity. SCL / CA has never undertaken voter suppression and there is no evidence to the contrary.”</p><p dir="ltr">Nix’s closing comments in his summer 2016 pitch were tantalising: “We’ve got an in-house intelligence team, so we can do full intelligence protection… Opposition don’t hack your emails and everything else. And we're pretty good at getting intelligence too… You know what? We do a lot of counter operations. You can spend $10 million on an election. Or we can send one of our guys in to go offer the leader of the opposition a bribe, you know, three weeks before polling. It's a very good way to win an election.”</p><p dir="ltr">Beneath the veneer, this seems to have been some of the work Alexander Nix was most proud of. This is how he pitched his company around the world, just as he was finally starting to work for Trump. This is the man who the Mercers and Steve Bannon enlisted to help them reshape the American political mind.</p><h2 dir="ltr">On the US stage</h2><p dir="ltr">In Kaiser’s recording Nix talks cynically about his work in the Republican primaries: with Ted Cruz, with Ben Carson, and then with the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. He claims to have turned Cruz from “the most hated man in US politics” into the front runner before Trump’s wildcard surge. It was not out of love: “We hated this guy. He's far right wing, he's like, you know, fascist,” Nix says of his own candidate. The success factor was big data, which “allows you to literally go in and target every single individual”. What about Brexit? “We don’t talk about that,” he says knowingly, after including it in a list of campaigns they were involved in. Kaiser adds ironically, “Oops – we won!”</p><p dir="ltr">Nix compares his strategies to a marketing campaign selling Coca-Cola in a movie theatre. Instead of working on branding and adverts, turn up the temperature. Get the viewers hot and bothered: they’ll buy more Coke for sure. This cynical perspective can be traced back to the founder of the modern public relations industry, Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays, who wrote: “In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons... who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”</p><p dir="ltr">In the early days of the Cold War, Bernays worked to topple the government of Guatemala through a domestic and foreign propaganda campaign on behalf of the United Fruit Company, the forerunner of Chiquita. Decades later, Nix claimed to be at the forefront of an evolution from “Mad Men” to “Math Men”, replacing the lightbulb moments of unreliable Don Draper creatives on Madison Avenue with mass data and predictive microtargeting. He wanted to precisely hit the Pavlovian reflexes of you, me, everyone. Through this lens, voters become rats in the oligarchs’ maze.</p><p dir="ltr">As Nix gleefully claims of another campaign in which the son of a billionaire African liberation leader covertly funded the youth movement which then drafted him as their candidate for president, “We created everything. We created a need that didn’t exist.”</p><h2>Exit Nix</h2><p dir="ltr">A year after this recording, Nix was negotiating an abortive acquisition deal with Martin Sorrell’s world-leading WPP conglomerate of advertising and marketing firms. In January 2018, he finally raised almost $20m for a new company called Emerdata.</p><p dir="ltr">Papers obtained by my investigation indicate the Mercers were joined by Chinese and Gulf investors in this effort, although the ultimate sources of their funds remain unclear. Johnson Ko, the Chinese state-linked business partner of American mercenary Erik Prince, briefly joined Emerdata’s board alongside one of his associates. (Cambridge Analytica China was also incubated at Ko’s firm Reorient Capital during 2017.)&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The majority of the new funds injected into Emerdata seem to have been extracted personally by Nix through various different pretexts, according to conversations I had with well-placed sources and review of bankruptcy documents. The biggest withdrawal <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/1c8a5e74-6901-11e8-8cf3-0c230fa67aec">of $8.7 million</a> took place after Kaiser’s whistleblowing, and before Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections went into administration. Many employees were never paid their outstanding salaries and severance: the general sacrificed his footsoldiers, most of whom just wanted to get out and move on.</p><p dir="ltr">I first discovered Brittany Kaiser’s support for Bernie Sanders via a YouTube video of a company party at the dog races, arrestingly subtitled “We ‘Rigg’ Elections”. It shows a comedy routine performed by one of Cambridge Analytica’s data scientists, who notes Kaiser’s past involvement with the Obama campaign, suggests she may still be working for the Democrats, and includes this memorable line about Alexander Nix: “He could sell an anchor to a drowning man.”&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Listening again to the pitch recording, I felt that Nix, who continues to protest his innocence and attempt to reboot his career, is now the one sinking under the weight of accumulating evidence. What about those who enabled him?&nbsp;</p><h2 dir="ltr">Beyond Facebookistan, New Deal 2.0? </h2><p dir="ltr">There is no question that Cambridge Analytica’s tactics were somewhat effective in pulling “the wires which control the public mind”, although I have found little evidence that their much-vaunted psychographics actually worked. What seems to have had the most impact was the dubious data hoard they assembled to target dark ads on Facebook, combined with the brutal efficacy of their messages and tactics.</p><p dir="ltr">Yet this was just one of the tangled web of conspiracies now being exposed. It is increasingly clear that a global underworld of manipulators and power brokers treated 2016 as a playground of opportunities. The democracies of the US and the UK were left wide open; we turned out to be almost defenceless against their designs. Central players in the subversion of our open societies regularly attend conferences of the global elite, such as last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Most still seem to operate with impunity.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">During our debrief in Thailand,&nbsp;Kaiser soon started connecting the dots between her fury at the powerful men who had been pulling her strings, her conviction that the greatest abuses of power were taking place in Silicon Valley, and the way her own company had been used to “manipulate millions of voters across America”. Her curiosity started to sharpen: how had she and countless others been so misled?</p><p dir="ltr">“Brittany spent a long time in the underworld,” I say toward the end of 'The Great Hack'. Karim Amer, the film’s co-director, asked me whether I was ever concerned she would let me down. It took me a while to answer. I believed that she had made mistakes, that sometimes things break and cannot be put back together, and that ultimately only she was responsible for her own actions. But more importantly, I believe in the possibility of redemption: both for individuals, and for us collectively as a society. Those who have not gone beyond the pale can always learn and grow. Few of us have made no mistakes.</p><p dir="ltr">Nix memorably describes in his pitch how much more effective it is to protect a private beach from trespassers by putting up a sign that says “Sharks! Keep Out”. The brutal reality is that we live in a world that is under constant siege by sharks of many different kinds, from the financial markets to Silicon Valley and the White House. The ultimate goal of Russian interference and billionaire voter suppression campaigns alike is to get us to ‘Keep Out’ of politics: to accept the dominance of transnational oligarchs, and to lose hope that things can change.</p><p dir="ltr">This is reason enough to reject apathy and disengagement. The outrageous scale of the challenge calls us to embrace our democratic role as citizens, to join our forces and fight for real change. For all their ruthless cynicism and common methods, the pseudo-movements manufactured by Cambridge Analytica, Steve Bannon, the Russians and the architects of Brexit can only thrive in a vacuum. They dissolve when confronted with genuine people power.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Bannon, Nix, the Mercers and Facebook will soon have many more questions to answer. Yet Cambridge Analytica cannot be allowed to be the scapegoat for our broken system. Its successes came from its extraordinary access to data, money and power; but it was simply exploiting the back doors in our democracies which irresponsible elites and Silicon Valley had left wide open.</p><p dir="ltr">In an early 2016 email thread, Cambridge Analytica scientists talk matter-of-factly about using illicit Facebook likes to build ‘lookalike’ models, months after they were supposed to have deleted all their Facebook data; but one writes that their approach “is not competitive with relatively simple processes that Google and Facebook provide using the wealth of their data”.</p><p dir="ltr">Nix modelled his data barony deliberately on the worst excesses of Silicon Valley, while exploiting the loopholes in their platforms to the full. It is long past time for us to learn the larger lesson. The internet giants must do all they can to fix their failings and better serve their users; but they cannot really flourish until their inevitable excesses are reined in by democracy.</p><p dir="ltr">Kaiser has given detailed testimony to Parliament about Cambridge Analytica’s retention of tainted Facebook data. We have no visibility into what she told US authorities.&nbsp;The Federal Trade Commission is reported to be considering imposing an “unprecedented” fine on Mark Zuckerberg’s empire, which has also been indicted by Washington DC’s attorney general for facilitating the breach of users’ data without our consent.</p><p dir="ltr">Every expert I know believes that the Cambridge Analytica breach was just the tip of the iceberg: my investigation found evidence that other huge ‘friend databases’ were similarly extracted from Facebook and weaponised for political use. Last year I co-founded the Freedom From Facebook campaign calling for Zuckerberg’s near-monopoly control of social messaging data to be broken up; we were immediately targeted with disinformation by Facebook’s own negative PR firm, Definers Public Affairs. Definers is run by notorious Republican ‘opposition researchers’ from the political action committee America Rising, which even hosted a joint Christmas party with Cambridge Analytica in 2015.</p><p dir="ltr">Brittany Kaiser initially hoped Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg would turn out to be benevolent oligarchs. Last year she launched a petition calling for them to allow Facebook’s users to own their own data, asking them to learn and change. They have shown no signs of doing either. As a result, ‘Facebookistan’ now has its own leakers and whistleblowers. In recent months, new revelations have shone savage new light on Facebook’s bartering and exposure of user data.</p><p dir="ltr">I spoke on the phone with Kaiser shortly before Christmas. “I was being too nice,” she said. “It gets worse every day. You can’t fix it now, it’s not fixable, not in its current form. Break it up with anti-trust laws. Pull away WhatsApp and Instagram… reorganise their business model. It’s completely out of control, and they never thought anything would happen. They’re not really keeping any of it secret; it’s all in the open, but they thought nobody would notice or care.”</p><p dir="ltr">Instead of the scapegoat, Cambridge Analytica should be the canary in the coalmine. The urgency is clear: we must secure and renew our democracies. That means closing every loophole that enables the laundering of money and data; encouraging mass participation; and establishing strict safeguards against political meddling by billionaires and underworld operatives (both foreign and domestic). We also have to start building a social contract around data that properly respects the digital human rights of citizens, giving us ownership individually and collectively.</p><p dir="ltr">If data is the new oil – a social resource of extraordinary value and danger – then we ought to put it in the hands of the many, not the few, with appropriate safeguards against abuse. If we can build a new wave of technologies that are more deserving of the public’s trust, we will be laying the foundations of a 21st-century commonwealth: a future in which this cornucopia of technology can finally start to be harnessed for the good of all. We need a New Deal for the internet age.</p><p dir="ltr"><i>Update, 29 January 2019: This article has been amended to reflect the fact Channel 4 News also broke the story about Christopher Wylie's whistleblowing.</i></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan/brexit-bankroller-arron-banks-cambridge-analytica-and-steve-bannon-expl">Brexit bankroller Arron Banks, Cambridge Analytica and Steve Bannon – explosive emails reveal fresh links</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/revealed-arron-banks-brexit-campaign-had-more-meetings-w">Revealed: Arron Banks Brexit campaign&#039;s &#039;secret&#039; meetings with Cambridge Analytica</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/cambridge-analytica-is-what-happens-when-you-privatise-military-propaganda">Cambridge Analytica is what happens when you privatise military propaganda</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> Trinidad and Tobago </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk United States Nigeria Trinidad and Tobago UK Democracy and government investigations Steve Mercer Donald Trump Brexit Arron Banks Cambridge Analytica DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Paul Hilder Mon, 28 Jan 2019 23:45:00 +0000 Paul Hilder 121467 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Young, trans Nigerians: ‘people need to see that we exist’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/young-nigerian-trans-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">It may become harder for church and state to deny that trans Nigerians exist, thanks to activists like Miss saHHara.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Miss_saHHara_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Miss saHHara."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Miss_saHHara_1.jpg" alt="Miss saHHara." title="Miss saHHara." width="460" height="328" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Miss saHHara. Photo: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nigerian_Beauty_Queen_Miss_saHHara_Socialising.jpg">Miss saHHara/Wikimedia Commons</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en">CC BY-SA 4.0</a>. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>“When I was a teenager, I had to decide. I either left Nigeria. Or I killed myself.” That is how Miss saHHara, a young trans woman, describes the choice she faced, growing up amid transphobic discrimination, and violence.</p><p dir="ltr">Today, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/sahhara/">Miss saHHara</a> lives in London. She’s a successful model, pageant queen, and performer. She’s also an outspoken and brave advocate, determined to change perceptions of trans people – in Nigeria and beyond. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Miss saHHara speaks openly about the challenges she's faced, and the toll they have taken on her mental health. “There was no way I could live in this society,” she remembers feeling. “I tried to kill myself twice.”</p><p dir="ltr">We spoke over the phone on a Sunday afternoon. “I couldn’t talk to anyone; I couldn’t talk to my parents about my gender identity,” she reflected. “I was confused and crying all the time.”</p><p dir="ltr">Sick of hearing “there are no trans people in Nigeria,” she explains, Miss saHHara decided to publicly come out as trans in 2011. “I couldn’t keep quiet anymore, because people need to see that we exist and we are human beings like any other,” she told me.</p><p dir="ltr">After winning the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr4D3dmfFR0">Super Sirenya Worldwide Pageant</a> in the Philippines in 2014, Miss saHHara launched the advocacy project <a href="http://transvalid.org/">TransValid</a> – an online platform to educate people on trans issues.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-center">“I couldn’t keep quiet anymore, because people need to see that we exist and we are human beings like any other.”</span></p><p dir="ltr">Growing up, Miss saHHara says that members of her family and community would pressure her to play football or the drums ‘with the boys,’ but that she was happiest ‘with the girls,’ teaching them about makeup and how to walk like a beauty queen.</p><p dir="ltr">“You should see me try and walk in a macho way,” she laughed. “It’s impossible!” </p><p dir="ltr">Miss saHHara said her grandmother was “very supportive… We would cook together and I know that if she could see me today she would not reject me as a trans woman. She would say I was a beautiful woman.”</p><p dir="ltr">But the religious community that Miss saHHara grew up in refused to accept her as a woman, she said. In Nigeria, she told me, “God comes first. I would go to church and be preached at and prayed over because they wanted to change my gender identity.”</p><p dir="ltr">“As a teenager, I was completely disorientated,” she explained. “I just didn’t feel right. The gender dysphoria – now I know what it was called, but then I had no idea. I thought I was possessed with evil spirits just like in the Bible and what they said to me in my church.”</p><p dir="ltr">With few chances to express her true self, the teenage Miss saHHara wore high-heeled boots and cut her trousers so that they looked like a skirt. Her family, friends and community would make disapproving comments. “Walking down the street, people called me names,” she said.</p><p dir="ltr">It wasn’t long before name-calling turned into physical violence. “I have scars on my body,” she said. But asking the police for help in a transphobic society is impossible; when Miss saHHara once reported an unrelated crime, it was she who was detained.</p><p dir="ltr">She describes being put in prison as the worst experience of her life. “They looked at me, they saw the way I acted and the way I presented myself. And they locked me up in the hottest part of the prison with all the men.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“They looked at me, they saw the way I acted and the way I presented myself. And they locked me up in the hottest part of the prison with all the men.”</p><p dir="ltr">In 2014, the Nigerian government passed a <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/10/20/tell-me-where-i-can-be-safe/impact-nigerias-same-sex-marriage-prohibition-act">Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act</a>. Homosexuality was already illegal in the country; this law further criminalised public displays of same-sex activity. </p><p dir="ltr">The law also targets anyone who aides the operation of gay clubs, societies, organisations or events. Human rights activists say it has led to an <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/10/20/tell-me-where-i-can-be-safe/impact-nigerias-same-sex-marriage-prohibition-act">increase in homophobic and transphobic </a>violence and hate speech.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/20140301-IMG_2325_(12885985534).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Protest for LGBT rights in Nigeria, in South Africa."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/20140301-IMG_2325_(12885985534).jpg" alt="Protest for LGBT rights in Nigeria, in South Africa." title="Protest for LGBT rights in Nigeria, in South Africa." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A protest in South Africa, for LGBT rights in Nigeria. Photo: <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:20140301-IMG_2325_(12885985534).jpg">Samantha Marx/Wikimedia Commons</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en">CC BY 2.0</a>. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Vera, who lives in Nigeria, has been brutally impacted by the upsurge in attacks in this environment.</p><p dir="ltr">She told me over WhatsApp how, at age 15, she was raped by men who said: “We are doing this to you, so you feel what women feel; by the time you feel the pain you will be a man.” After the assault, she added, she “couldn’t get help because of transphobia.”</p><p dir="ltr">Following the introduction of the 2014 law, Vera was attacked again. Despite evidently being the victim of a violent crime, she was held in jail for two days. The police taunted her by calling her gay. “But I told them I wasn’t gay – I am a straight woman in the wrong body,” she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Vera worries that if she is to live freely as a trans woman, she may have to follow in Miss saHHara's footsteps and leave Nigeria. But she told me that she remains hopeful for a “future where Nigeria will embrace diversity and try to understand human sexuality.”</p><p dir="ltr">She organises, forms networks and offers support to other LGBT people through WhatsApp and Facebook groups. “The first time I met other trans people I felt so happy because I was not alone in my struggle. With them, I can express myself,” she told me.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“The first time I met other trans people I felt so happy because I was not alone in my struggle. With them, I can express myself.”</p><p dir="ltr">Miss saHHara said that she doesn’t know anyone who is openly, publicly trans in Nigeria. “Although I would like to go back to my country, I know it is dangerous for me. People have threatened to kill me,” she said.</p><p dir="ltr">“I wasn’t prepared for how people would react to my story,” she told me, about the backlash that she has faced. “I probably would have lived a quieter and more successful life if I hadn’t come out.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Miss_saHHara_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Miss saHHara."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Miss_saHHara_2.jpg" alt="Miss saHHara." title="Miss saHHara." width="460" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Miss saHHara. Photo: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Miss_saHHara_Super_Sireyna_Worlwide_Conation.jpg">Miss saHHara/Wikimedia Commons</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en">CC BY-SA 4.0</a>. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Miss saHHara says lies have been published about her in the media, and that the Nigerian culture minister even suggested that she should be banned from representing her country in pageants. But this has not dissuaded her: “It made me more determined to represent Nigeria!”</p><p dir="ltr">Miss saHHara wants “to say that we are here and to say that we exist. That you can be whoever you want to be if you put your heart in and fight for it.”</p><p dir="ltr">It’s for women like Vera, then, that Miss saHHara came out publicly. When I ask Vera if she knew of Miss saHHara, she tells me that her activism is inspiring.</p><p dir="ltr">It may be increasingly difficult for the church and state to deny the existence of trans people in Nigeria.</p><p dir="ltr">“The more you see people out there, in the LGBT community, living their lives freely and openly and being who they are, it helps you to understand that we are just human beings like everyone else,” Miss saHHara said.</p><p dir="ltr">In Nigeria, Vera shares Miss saHHara’s hopes. “I hope the future will be better for me,” she told me over WhatsApp. “I pray to be the first trans woman living freely in Nigeria. I believe we are the ones to fight for ourselves.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/alex-moore/trans-northern-ireland-bigotry-schools">I&#039;m a trans teenager in Northern Ireland, where bigotry is taught at school</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 London Nigeria Culture Equality International politics Tracking the backlash women's human rights violence against women gender 50.50 newsletter Sian Norris Mon, 30 Apr 2018 07:13:37 +0000 Sian Norris 117358 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Watching the watchers: the G5 Sahel Force has a human rights problem https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/amanda-clarkson/watching-watchers-g5-sahel-force-has-human-rights-problem <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If history is a lesson, without a robust human rights framework, international missions are <a href="http://www.seychellesnewsagency.com/articles/8231/UN+peacekeeping+missions+under+pressure+to+reform+in+Africa">more likely</a> to add to, rather than prevent, violence.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31371760.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31371760.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>French President Emmanuel Macron lunches with French troops during his visit to France's Barkhane counter-terrorism operation in Africa's Sahel region in Gao, northern Mali, 19 May 2017, his first trip outside Europe since his inauguration on 14 May 2017. Pool/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The Sahel region took centre&nbsp;stage last week as African leaders met at the regional Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security to discuss <span>growing </span>lawlessness along its arc. Consequently, Senegalese President Macky Sall on Monday <a href="https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/africa/2017-11-13-african-leaders-urge-support-for-new-security-doctrine/">called</a> for a unified, comprehensive military response that leaves no room for&nbsp;Africa’s terror groups to&nbsp;hide. While such a response has been welcomed with open arms, concerns have been expressed over the possible sidelining of human rights. Fears abound that without adequate safeguards, any new military intervention will only worsen the bloodshed.</p> <p>It is not difficult to see why a military option has so much appeal as the best approach to resolve the security issues in an increasingly volatile region. Since Libya descended into civil war in 2011, Islamists have overrun parts of northern Mali to the east, and Boko Haram has been persistent in its efforts to secure a foothold at the heart of the region in northern Nigeria. To the south, militants threaten the Sahel from Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan. At the same time, partially as a result of the militants’ advances, a humanitarian crisis is <a href="http://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/december-2013/sahel-one-region-many-crises">unfolding</a>. This year, at least 11 million are facing a major food crisis. The UN has called for efforts to break the cycle of food crises, citing land degradation, population displacement, and ongoing political instability as the pillars of Sahel’s hardship. <span class="mag-quote-center">This year, at least 11 million are facing a major food crisis.</span></p> <p>The Dakar peace forum comes on the heels of the <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-sahel/french-and-west-african-presidents-launch-sahel-force-idUSKBN19N0CS">launch</a> of the G5 Sahel force in July, a military initiative working across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to root out jihadist groups in the region. The newest joint international force in the world, the G5 Sahel envisions up to 5,000 military, police and civilian troops by March 2018. As part of a greater strategic push for intensified cooperation with the Sahel zone, the EU <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1542_en.htm">pledged</a> to support the force with $50 million in funding. Brussels hopes that the migration streams from the region will be reduced when the underlying causes for regional instability are assertively tackled. Added to the 4,000 French troops already deployed across the Sahel, one could be optimistic about the force’s capacity to target and eliminate terrorist hotspots across the Sahel.</p> <p>However, the hopeful rhetoric of European and Sahel leaders should be matched with an equal sense of caution. While focus is placed on gathering the necessary funds and troops, the mission crucially overlooks human rights protection as an important aspect in appeasing the region. And if history is a lesson, without a robust human rights framework, international missions are <a href="http://www.seychellesnewsagency.com/articles/8231/UN+peacekeeping+missions+under+pressure+to+reform+in+Africa">more likely</a> to add to, rather than prevent, violence.</p> <h2><strong>Terrorism is only the topsoil</strong></h2> <p>The G5 Force is unlikely to be an exception. So earlier this month, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour visited Mali with the express purpose of discussing a human rights compliance mechanism for the Sahel Force. He <a href="https://reliefweb.int/report/mali/mali-senior-un-official-calls-human-rights-and-justice-be-heart-fight-against-terrorism">described</a> respect for human rights as a “cornerstone” in the fight against terrorism. He is right to stress this point: sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers throughout Africa has been <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/06/08/holding-abusive-un-peacekeepers-account-0">well-documented</a>, leading the UN Security Council to adopt a <a href="http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/2272(2016)">resolution</a> targeting UN peacekeepers in March last year.</p> <p>The UN Security Council <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2017/sc12881.doc.htm">called</a> on the G5 Sahel force to implement a gender perspective in fulfilling strategic operations, citing the role women play in preventing conflict and pursuing peace-building projects. Though participants of this week’s conference stressed a universal respect for human rights and international law, no specific provisions have been put in place to ensure compliance. But within a new and <a href="http://www.passblue.com/2017/06/15/operation-barkhane/">poorly organised</a> international force, it is unclear how these provisions would be implemented even once articulated.</p> <p>Simply put, a military-focused approach will not solve broader governance issues relating to civil liberties and human rights. This is especially true when the military is part of the problem. In Mali, this is more often the case than not. Government troops have committed grievous human rights violations, with extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture and arbitrary arrests <a href="https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/hrw-accuses-mali-burkina-troops-of-sweeping-rights-abuses-20170908">reported</a> in recent years. Earlier this year, Burkinabe soldiers allegedly burned property and beat at least 70 men accused of supporting a local Islamist group.
 Adequate control of G5 forces is furthermore hindered by the complexity of fractured societies as the operational environment.&nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">Earlier this year, Burkinabe soldiers allegedly burned property and beat at least 70 men accused of supporting a local Islamist group.
</span></p> <p>Conflicts in the region are the result of a “<a href="https://issafrica.org/pscreport/situation-analysis/challenges-and-opportunities-for-the-g5-sahel-force">sedimentation of problems</a>”, and terrorism is only the topsoil. Issues of state legitimacy, violent offences by security forces and corruption contribute to pervasive tensions within local populations. It is unclear how the G5 hopes to address these concerns. Given how local populations are routinely victims of arbitrary arrests and other abuses of troops, the force’s ability to elicit trust from locals is severely limited. </p> <p>Human rights violations are frequently justified in the name of fighting terrorism, thereby undermining the legitimacy of the troops and the governments they represent. Rather than alleviating the problem, many young people <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/08/mali-unchecked-abuses-military-operations">reportedly</a> join rebel groups in reaction to treatment at the hands of government forces.</p> <h2><strong>Mauritania</strong></h2> <p>The risk of further violence is especially high given the involvement of partners that are likely to use Sahel Force participation to cement their power. Mauritania is a key example: President Abdel Aziz has been trying to assert his grip over the country in a controversial referendum where voting for changing Mauritania’s flag was <a href="https://mg.co.za/article/2017-08-08-mauritania-new-flag-same-old-president">combined</a> with abolishing the nation’s senate. The move laid the groundwork for Abdel Aziz to unlawfully <a href="http://mgafrica.com/article/2016-04-04-heated-debate-in-mauritania-over-abdel-azizs-third-term-bid-he-deserved-a-third-a-fourth-or-even-a-fifth-term-says-official">extend</a> his stay in office indefinitely. Highly unpopular, Aziz could be tempted to employ his country’s G5 military contingent to crack down on civil unrest in the name of maintaining regional stability. The effect will be counter-productive, as this will likely fuel anti-establishment sentiment and <a href="http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/02/11/mauritania-s-precarious-stability-and-islamist-undercurrent-pub-62730">increase</a> the risk for religious radicalization.</p> <p>The European countries backing the G5 Force have a responsibility to ensure that protecting civilians comes first. France, being militarily active in the region, could no doubt <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/world/africa/africa-us-military-aid-france.html">help</a> improve training and share intelligence with local troops. Failing to do so would leave the people of the Sahel vulnerable to an inadequately trained and politically disparate armed force united in name only, resulting in the exacerbation of existing problems and empowering of abusive regimes.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/george-joff%C3%A9/chaos-in-sahel">Chaos in the Sahel</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdelkader-abderrahmane/sahel-north-west-africa-s-security-weakest-link">The Sahel: north-west Africa’s security weakest link</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> Libya </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Mali </div> <div class="field-item even"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Sudan </div> <div class="field-item even"> France </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? France Sudan Nigeria Mali Libya EU Conflict International politics Amanda Clarkson Sat, 02 Dec 2017 12:52:11 +0000 Amanda Clarkson 115022 at https://www.opendemocracy.net “Women and Children First”: war, humanitarianism, and the refugee crisis https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/joanna-rozpedowski/women-and-children-first-war-humanitarianism-and-refugee-crisis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Is a rethinking of laws of armed conflict or international humanitarian law, humanitarian assistance and refugee policy not significantly overdue? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-22593315.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Depo Photos/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-22593315.jpg" alt="Depo Photos/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="Depo Photos/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kobani, Syria, March, 2015. Depo Photos/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>According to the 2016 Syrian Center for Policy Research Report, the war in Syria has claimed more than 470,000 direct and indirect casualties and victims since it began in 2011. While 400,000 deaths have been caused by violence or direct participation in the theatre of war, 70,000 were caused by indirect consequences of conflict such as food scarcity, malnutrition, poor sanitation, and communicable diseases. &nbsp;</p><p>South Sudan’s civil war and its cycle of retaliatory killings, abductions, and displacement <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/03/tens-thousands-killed-south-sudan-war-160303054110110.html">have left behind </a>a trail of 50,000 victims and some 200,000 in need of shelter while the ongoing conflict between Houthi rebels and an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia has, <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/death-toll-yemen-conflict-passes-10000-170117040849576.html">according</a> to the UN humanitarian aid office, resulted in 10,000 civilian deaths, 40,000 injuries, and 10 million people in need of “urgent assistance.” </p><p>The all to frequent state collapse, protracted conflicts, civil wars, ongoing violence, skirmishes, and instability in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Somalia paint a picture of a world in the midst of a serious crisis of conscience, which puts the efficacy of political global governance bodies, international organizations, and governing international legal regimes in question. &nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">our conflict-ridden twenty-first century has yet to make good on the lofty promises <em>qua</em> actionable rights enshrined in international law, particularly women and children. </p> <p>While convention and treaty law has over the last fifty years vigorously extended the normative framework for action and offered protections to the most vulnerable members of society while also preserving principles of equality and non-discrimination under law, our conflict-ridden twenty-first century has yet to make good on the lofty promises <em>qua</em> actionable rights enshrined in international law, particularly with regards towomen and children. </p><p>It is worth asking, therefore, whether a rethinking of laws of armed conflict or international humanitarian law, humanitarian assistance and refugee policy - which would emphasize a “Women and Children First” approach as opposed to&nbsp; monolithic “non-combatant”/”civilian” versus “combatant” distinctions in present-day use in pre-conflict, conflict, post-conflict and evacuation situations - is not significantly overdue. </p> <p>In the inter- and intra- state wars mentioned above and numerous others left out, women and children are the most common, helpless and defenseless victims of conflict, who suffer debilitating long-term consequences. Whilst severe conflict, state failure, civil and ethnic wars increase male mortality due to direct participation, female mortality is a result of indirect armed conflict participation with devastating public health impacts. </p><p>Women suffer disproportionately <a href="http://file.prio.no/Publication_files/Prio/Armed%20Conflict%20Deaths%20Disaggregated%20by%20Gender.pdf">due to</a> “disability; poor living conditions; malnutrition; sexual disease; pregnancy related diseases and intentional injury” in conflict and post-conflict scenarios. Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and suicide are among some of the more crippling mental health conditions. </p><p>Sexual violence, rape, the ‘burden of caring for others’, which increases in times of conflict, makes women a particularly vulnerable at risk demographic, which imperils the lives and futures of their children and carries generational effects. </p><p>The World Health Report 2001, <a href="http://file.prio.no/Publication_files/Prio/Armed%20Conflict%20Deaths%20Disaggregated%20by%20Gender.pdf">estimated</a> that ‘310,000 deaths [in 2000 alone] were directly caused by conflict’ and an average of 4.75 years of life are lost due to direct armed violence or premature mortality caused by conflict.’ </p><p>Humanitarian NGOs estimate that during the last ten years, an estimated 10 million children have also been killed as a result of armed conflicts, while the young survivors have been left traumatized, exploited, wounded, mutilated or disabled. </p><p>Separation from parents and the extended family makes children vulnerable to sexual victimization and civilian targets of antipersonnel mine and cluster bomb maiming in addition to involuntary enlistment as child soldiers or imprisonment and forced labor. Lack of access to healthcare, basic sanitation, and education has irreversible lifetime consequences. </p><p class="mag-quote-left">Whilst the Bubonic plague has been the inordinately tragic disease of the fourteenth century, it may be said that modern-day conflict is the plague of choice of ours.</p> <p>In view of the above, international instruments, UN declarations, treaties, and enforcement mechanisms have severely failed in ensuring a minimum standard of protection to civilian population - including women and children - made all the more defenseless and endangered by cascading bouts of ever more sophisticated tools of extermination and brutal violence. </p><p>Despite the 2000 UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace, and Security”, and the subsequent UNSCR 1820 (2008), 1888 and 1889 (2009) resolutions focused on gender-based violence in war, the international community’s ineptitude is made more pronounced by the staggering numbers of the very casualties and victims the international legal mechanisms have been designed to safeguard. </p><p>While the Bubonic plague is still regarded today as the&nbsp; inordinately tragic disease of the fourteenth century - in both scale and numbers - it may be said that modern-day conflict is the self-inflicted plague of choice of ours.</p> <p>In an age in which our moral compass has failed to show true North and increasing norm-relativism has led to absurdities in thought and demagoguery in action, a return to and an extension of a simple seafaring command of “Women and Children First” - first used in the sinking of HMS Birkenhead off the coast of South Africa on 26 February 1852 – to conflict zones and crisis situations may offer strong moral ground for resuscitating a normatively stagnant interest-ridden debate on the question of war and peace and help delineate a baseline of protection without which life of every man, woman, and child in war-zone follows a Hobbesian trajectory of being nothing but ‘nasty, brutish, and short’. </p><p>By prioritizing women and children in pre-conflict evacuation, conflict, post-conflict, and large-scale population and refugee migration scenarios can prevent states from barring conflict refugees on ‘national security’ grounds and widen the role of NGOs and humanitarian organizations to extend beyond the perilous and hard to reach conflict zones. </p><p>Strategically organized, coordinated, logistical rescue operations of women and children from conflict-affected areas, creation of safe zones with access to healthcare, and bestowal of a special protective status as (i) defenseless victims of violence; (ii) an especially vulnerable segment of civilian population; (iii) at risk of physical harm and psychological trauma, can ensure the fulfillment of the minimum human rights and humanitarian assistance standards enacted by international bodies and state signatories and prevent loss of life of innocent civilians caught in crossfire or washed up on Europe’s inhospitable shores. </p> <p>If our sophisticated legal norms and principles can no longer hold any compelling sway over the artificially inflated influence of the UN Security Council and its <em>liberum veto</em> approach to grave international security concerns, perhaps simpler times and shorter moral dicta can teach valuable lessons. </p><p>When <em>Central America </em>went down on a voyage to New York in 1857, the December issue of <em>Godey’s Lady’s Book </em>suggested to its reading audience a moral imperative, by summarizing the sinking of the ship thus: </p> <blockquote><p>"Captain Herndon's first order, 'Save the women and children!' was the test of this Christian heroism... Every man on board that doomed ship knew the captain was acting rightly."</p></blockquote><p> How shall we distinguish right from wrong; moral from immoral; just, principled and civilized from degrading and barbaric in the modern day spectacle of political collusion and war? Simply, by how much worth accrues to the weakest members of society encapsulated in the understated and long forgotten maritime distress call of ‘Save the women and children’ first.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lucy-fiske-rita-shackel/internally-displaced-women-social-rupture-and-political-voice">Internally displaced women: social rupture and political voice </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/bina-fernandez/precarious-migrant-motherhood-in-lebanon">Precarious migrant motherhood in Lebanon </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/julienne-lusenge-jennifer-allsopp/we-want-peace-we%E2%80%99re-tired-of-war">&quot;We want peace. We’re tired of war&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/gender-war-and-peace">Gender, war and peace: &quot;We the people.&quot;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Yemen </div> <div class="field-item odd"> South Sudan </div> <div class="field-item even"> Afghanistan </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democratic Republic of the Congo </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Pakistan </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Somalia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Somalia Pakistan Nigeria Democratic Republic of the Congo Iraq Afghanistan South Sudan Yemen Syria Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Sexual Violence gender-based violence refugees Women human rights Joanna Rozpedowski Violent transitions Sat, 06 May 2017 11:40:17 +0000 Joanna Rozpedowski 110669 at https://www.opendemocracy.net No more partying in Congo Russia https://www.opendemocracy.net/rebecca-tinsley/no-more-partying-in-congo-russia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On the UN International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide, we are reminded: if western voters are angered by globalisation, for Nigeria its by-products are far more deadly.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558533/DSC00070 (2).JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Image courtesy of the author."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558533/DSC00070 (2).JPG" alt="lead " title="Image courtesy of the author." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"Homes and businesses have been wrecked by firebombs, churches are blackened shells, and only Muslims are safe." Image courtesy of author. </span></span></span>“The attack on our town began at midnight,” explained the district leader, a tall, slender man wearing a Manchester United shirt. “We called the security services immediately, and we kept phoning them, but they never arrived. So, the terrorists took their time, working their way through the streets systematically, house by house, killing the inhabitants and setting fire to their homes.” He nodded toward the burnt-out shell of a building, grass growing where once a family had eaten their meals. Now, chickens poked through the charred remains of their furniture.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">“The attackers were here for four hours. They killed 484 people, and then they went away.” He spoke the precise Nigerian English of a man who once studied for Oxford and Cambridge exam board O Levels — the same year I did, it emerged, although three thousand miles separated us.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">“What happened to the security services?” I asked him. “How far away is the barracks?”</p> <p class="p1">“Two miles.” He shrugged. “They finally showed up as the sun rose. They stood around, looking at the bodies littering the fields, the clothes strewn everywhere. Blood and severed limbs. Then they brought us a mechanical digger and went away again. We used the machine to dig a mass grave, and we collected the body parts and put them in the pit. Then we filled the hole and later they came back for their digger.”</p> <p class="p1">As we walked to the mass grave we passed dozens of ruined buildings. The inhabitants were all dead, my guide explained; otherwise the survivors would have rebuilt on their patch of land. Standing at the edge of the mass grave, surrounded by fields of maize, it was clear just how vulnerable the town remains to any local terrorists wishing to ethnically cleanse the district of non-Muslims. The identity of the speaker and the town must remain secret because publicity would only make it a target again.</p><p class="p1">I visited the so-called Middle Belt of Nigeria in November 2016. It is hundreds of miles from the stronghold of Boko Haram (meaning ‘western’ education is forbidden) in Borno state, where the Nigerian security forces claim to have “technically defeated” the Islamist insurgency. Yet, the people I met told me similar attacks are happening across a much larger area, although they rarely receive much attention, even within Nigeria.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">2.6 million Nigerians have fled their homes, moving to areas they hope will be safer</p> <p class="p1">Consequently, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/26/boko-haram-nigeria-famine-hunger-displacement-refugees-climate-change-lake-chad">2.6 million Nigerians have fled their homes</a>, moving to areas they hope will be safer.&nbsp; A Muslim woman who leads a female empowerment charity explained that when possible, people avoid the notoriously grim camps, preferring to stay with their extended families, even if that means sleeping on the ground in a cramped courtyard.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">“Nigerians have to be resilient,” she remarked with a sad smile. “I had 38 people living in my home at one point. But they all went out and found work, even if it was just selling toothpicks in the street. And within a few months they were renting their own homes. That’s how we cope here.”</p> <p class="p1">The Muslim leader went on. “People know they have to avoid those internally displaced people’s camps. After surviving an attack by Boko Haram, it’s the last thing they need.”</p> <p class="p1">In October 2016, Human Rights Watch <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/10/31/nigeria-officials-abusing-displaced-women-girls">reported</a> that government officials, soldiers, policemen and camp leaders were raping and sexually exploiting women and girls in the camps in Borno state, as well as preventing them from leaving freely. &nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">“Will those 38 people be returning to Borno state when they believe Boko Haram is technically defeated, as the authorities claim?” I asked the Muslim leader.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">“Why would they do that?” she responded, clearly puzzled by my question.</p><p class="p1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558533/DSC09473.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Image courtesy of the author."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558533/DSC09473.JPG" alt="" title="Image courtesy of the author." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image courtesy of the author.</span></span></span>Most people beyond Africa know Nigeria for its internet scams and the Chibok girls — the 273 school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014, provoking a hashtag storm. Yet, mentioning the Chibok girls elicited a sigh from the Nigerians I met.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">“I wish there was equal attention paid to the thousands of other young people who have been kidnapped, raped, killed or enslaved by the jihadists,” commented an Anglican canon. “We don’t hear international outrage about the thousands killed by Boko Haram suicide bombs, and the attacks by Fulani cattle raiders, who’ve leaned their tricks from Boko Haram.”</p> <p class="p1">With some honourable exceptions, there is little concern from otherwise vocal and politicised Christians in the West; fundamentalists for whom all life is ostensibly sacred (but perhaps less so when the victims are African).</p> <p class="p1">A community leader drove me through a dusty urban district called “Congo Russia,” named for the veterans of distant wars who used to live there; all ethnicities mingling peacefully, sharing a soda in the shade on a hot day, kicking a soccer ball around in the cool of the evening.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Massive unemployment is partly thanks to the neoliberal Western financiers who insisted Nigeria drop its protectionist tariffs</p> <p class="p1">Now, homes and businesses have been wrecked by firebombs, churches are blackened shells, and only Muslims are safe wandering its streets. Both faiths have polarised accordingly, my guide explained, leaving too few in the middle ground, searching for ways to encourage tolerance and peace-building. Manipulative leaders have seized opportunities to emphasise religious differences, obscuring the economic problems and marginalisation that all communities share.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">Western voters may be angry about globalisation, but in Nigeria one encounters its deadly by-product. Massive unemployment and underemployment is partly thanks to the neoliberal Western financiers who insisted Nigeria drop its protectionist tariffs and subsidies, thereby allowing the Chinese to dump their products at a loss on the market, forcing local manufacturers in the north east to close. Add to that eye-watering corruption at state level, theft of government funds, power cuts and an economy dependent on oil.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">The UN is warning of a <a href="http://www.apple.com">massive impending famine</a> in Borno state. Alas, it will probably be treated like a natural disaster, ignoring the political and economic solutions necessary to tackle the political and economic problems at the root of Boko Haram’s ascendancy. By all means, food aid is needed to prevent further starvation and stunting among the millions of vulnerable children in the region. But, the West would also do well to provide training for the security services in how they handle their home-grown insurgency — so far their tactics <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/04/01/dispatches-nigerias-new-president-boko-haram-and-rights">have been criticised</a> as driving moderate Muslims into the arms of extremists.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Well-meaning local de-radicalisation efforts are futile if Wahhabist hatred continues to be taught and preached</p> <p class="p1">More controversial is stopping the donations to jihadist recruiters in Nigeria’s madrassas and mosques, widely known to come from wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Community leaders told me that well-meaning local de-radicalisation efforts are futile if Wahhabist hatred continues to be taught and preached to idle, impressionable young men with understandable grievances. Yet on this crucial matter, the West, busy supplying arms to Gulf nations, fears to tread. The poisonous impact of decades of extremist propaganda is being felt across a swathe of Africa and Asia, and, increasingly often, in the public spaces of the West. Its reticence is short-sighted, to put it mildly.</p> <p class="p1">As the West is convulsed by the prospect of refugees fleeing conflict, Nigerian families and friends with vastly fewer resources are quietly absorbing a far greater number of displaced people. And through it all, Nigerians are among the most optimistic people in the world, year after year, when <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global/2011/jan/04/nigerians-top-optimism-poll">public opinion is surveyed</a>. In this remarkable, vibrant society wonders truly never cease.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><em><span><br />Rebecca Tinsley tells us: "Network for Africa, the charity I founded, trains local people to become lay counsellors, teaching survivors of conflict to manage their post-traumatic stress. If it can finding the necessary funding, it will create a counselling network in the community affected by Boko Haram's campaign of ethnic cleansing. You can support our work or get involved </span><a href="http://network4africa.org/">here</a><span>."</span></em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Nigeria Conflict Africa Boko Haram - Behind the Headlines Rebecca Tinsley Fri, 09 Dec 2016 08:58:58 +0000 Rebecca Tinsley 107489 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bring Back Our Girls: unbowed, unmoved and unperturbed https://www.opendemocracy.net/belinda-otas/bring-back-our-girls-unbowed-unmoved-and-unperturbed <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The abduction of 276 Chibok girls in 2014 shocked the world. But it gave birth to a movement that heralded a new kind of advocacy in Nigeria.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="p1"><a style="line-height: 1.5; text-decoration: underline;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/westminster"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/howDoParls-banner%402x.png" alt="howDoParls-banner@2x.png" width="100%" /><br /><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/560741/PA-23503202.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A march by the Bring Back Our Girls campaign outside the presidential residence in Abuja, July 2015. (AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/560741/PA-23503202.jpg" alt="lead Women march outside the presidential residence in Nigeria to demand the return of the abducted Chibok girls." title="A march by the Bring Back Our Girls campaign outside the presidential residence in Abuja, July 2015. (AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga)" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A march by the Bring Back Our Girls campaign outside the presidential residence in Abuja, July 2015. (AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga)</span></span></span></a></p><p>Two and a half years after the brazen abduction of 276 Chibok girls by Boko Haram militants, the Bring Back Our Girls Movement (BBOG) continues to advocate for their release, asserting its non-negotiable, unequivocal demand: “To bring back our girls now and alive”. The recent return of 21 of the girls, in a deal reportedly brokered by the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross, reminded the world about the horror of their abduction from their school dormitory in Borno State, north eastern Nigeria. While 57 girls managed to escape, 197 remain in captivity. In May 2016, Amina Ali Nkeki, one of the girls, was rescued by the local joint task force. Hope remains high, as President Muhammadu Buhari has promised the government will “redouble efforts to ensure that we fulfill our pledge of bringing the remaining girls back home. Already, the credible first step has been taken and Government will sustain the effort until all the remaining girls return safely”.</p> <p>The abduction of the girls thrust Nigeria into the glare of the global news media, highlighting the inability of the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to protect its citizens. An international outcry, under the social media hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, was driven by the BBOG Movement. Born out of a need to ensure the plight of the girls was not dismissed, BBOG filled the leadership vacuum that emerged after the slow response by the government, and became an authoritative voice with its marches, daily sit-ins and online activism. Kadaria Ahmed, a journalist and media entrepreneur, describes the movement’s efforts as “amazing, particularly because they are operating in an environment where civic and civil advocacy is fairly new. Nigerians are not used to the idea that regular people get behind a cause and support it - not for personal gains but with a view to promoting a shared cause”.</p> <p>The co-conveners of BBOG are Obiageli Ezekwesili, Saudatu Mahdi, Maryam Uwais and Hadiza Bala Usman. Ezekwesili is the recognised face and voice at the forefront of the group’s work. She explained that the group has remained resolute in its stance because the goal has always been that until the girls return home to their parents, BBOG’s work is not over. “One of the chants of the Bring Back Our girls Movement is ‘when we shall stop?’ And the response is not until our girls are back and alive. When shall we stop? Not without our daughters. It came out of the pledge we made that until our Chibok girls are rescued, it’s an unfinished business. We must find them and enable them to have a second opportunity in life. We haven’t achieved that and consistent with our pledge, we are staying on and we are staying steadfast”.</p> <p>BBOG has been relentless in its campaign to keep the conversation about the Chibok girls in the hearts and minds of Nigerians and the international community. At the height of the story’s visibility in the news media in May 2014, #BringBackOurGirls was one of the most popular hash tags on Twitter, with over 4 million mentions. However, those numbers dropped drastically to a mere 25,123 by April 2015. While this confirms that social media activism and hashtags are not responsible for the security of a nation, it also poses a question if national amnesia and news fatigue had set in about the plight of the girls?<span class="mag-quote-center" style="color: #666666; font-size: 22px; font-weight: bold; text-align: center;">We know our constitutional rights: we are not going to be brow beaten… it’s perfectly right to disobey illegality.</span></p><p>BBOG’s work has experienced its fare share of challenges. I asked Ezekwesili about the girls’ abduction being called a ‘scam’ ahead of the last presidential election, as a way to destabilise the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. She said: “Initially, it would infuriate me. Then it began to make me feel absolute pity, that they lacked empathy. I felt they had lost an essential part of their humanity. Especially after the proof of live video by CNN, and when the mother of Amina Ali Nkeki identified her, almost fainting at the sight of her daughter. Then we got another video where Dorcas Yakubu was pleading to be rescued alongside her classmates”. Ezekwesili goes on to add: “These parents have been pining to see their children. It’s a waste of valuable time to focus on people who call it a scam”.</p> <p>A more serious challenge to the movement came when it started being viewed as the opposition by the government. This is the narrative that played out leading up to Nigeria’s hotly contested 2014 general election. The more BBOG became vociferous with its demand for the girls to be rescued, the more antagonistic the relationship between state and the advocacy group became. This led to their sit-ins and protest marches being disrupted by the police. Ezekwesili tells me that the government of the then president, Goodluck Jonathon, “banned the BBOG from coming out at all to the Unity Fountain (where they had their daily sit-ins), as well as marching on the street. Then the FCT Police Commissioner, who later became an Assistant Inspector General of Police, made it formal that he was banning our movement from engaging in our protest. So, we went to the courts to assert our rights as citizens, and as enshrined in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. The court ruled in our favour.”</p> <p>In September this year, that scenario repeated itself when the administration of President Buhari tried to stop the group from marching in the capital city of Abuja. Ezekwesili points out that nothing changed: “it’s a government saying to us, why are you troublemakers, why can’t you just move on? We are not going to sit and be silent in the face of such indifference to the suffering of citizens. We came out on the basis of two pillars. The first is that of our shared humanity with our Chibok girls. The second is our social contract with the Nigerian state and people. For us, those two things are the guiding values of which everything that we do stands. We know our constitutional rights: we are not going to be brow beaten. No kind of tyranny can succeed in a democracy. It’s totally in violation of the constitution. And what we have said is that it’s perfectly right to disobey illegality”.</p> <p>This of course is a very different picture to when the governing APC party was in opposition in 2014 and supported the group’s cause. In the early days of President Buhari’s administration, he granted the group an audience. Given the recent backlash, there have been accusations that as an opposition party, APC used the cause to highlight the issue of security, a major talking-point during the election. Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s official spokesperson, asserts that the objective of the government is the same as that of BBOG – to bring the girls back home. When pushed about the change in relationship in recent months, and if APC had capitalised on the group’s influence with the Nigerian populace to win hearts and votes, he said: “There’s a modus operandi for the opposition and a different one for a government in power. At the time the BBOG group was formed, the campaign was the only means available to members of the APC to influence the efforts to rescue the missing girls. However, APC is now in government. The APC government has the military and other means at its disposal. Focusing on utilising these means effectively for the girls’ rescue is the current modus operandi of the present government”.</p><p>Ahmed explains that the change in relationship is because “generally Nigerian governments are not used to receiving criticism except from organised political groups. We don’t have a history of advocacy on a large scale by regular people, so every criticism is seen as an attack on government. Now that the former opposition party is now in government, I suspect the expectation is that people would speak to them quietly about this matter. So again, I think there’s a big misunderstanding around what advocacy is and what it should be”.<span class="mag-quote-center" style="color: #666666; font-size: 22px; font-weight: bold; text-align: center;">I just want the girls back. I’m hostage to principles.</span></p> <p>The release of the 21 girls validates the work BBOG has been doing for over two years. However, it has not protected Ezekwesili, who as the spokesperson of the movement has become a prime target for online abuse and scorn. So why does she remain dedicated to BBOG and not walk away? “I’m not the kind of woman that walks away. I’m a woman of my word. When I came out for our Chibok girls, I was driven by a sense of outrage. One thing you must realise is that certain people will not understand your value construct. I live for character: I don’t live for all the other things (possessions and positions) that others consider important in life. So it will be hard for people to sometimes understand that I don’t have anything to defend”. There have been whispers that she colluded with the APC government while in opposition, so she would get a ministerial position in government. An allegation she describes as a “paltry and pathetic kind of way to view life”.</p> <p>Ahmed on the other takes a different approach. It is her view that for BBOG, a collection of individuals who came together for a common good, having Ezekwesili, “a person who you know basically tends to generate strong feelings one way or the other, might not necessarily be a good thing for a movement that is seeking to do advocacy and maintain dialogue. In essence, I’m saying that with a movement like that, perhaps what you need is for the movement in itself to be the personality. I’m not sure it’s the sort of cause that does well being associated with any one individual too closely”.</p> <p>Ezekwesili though remains adamant about BBOG’s objective. “The finishing line for us is that the necessary action be taken to give these girls a chance of rescue and an opportunity to regain destinies that are in suspension. When I look at some of the things that’s thrown in my direction, I think how does this even compare with the kind of suffering of these poor young women, children of poorer citizens of this country, to whom if we owe much more than we owe ourselves. How could I have the luxury of thinking about the insults somebody has thrown my way?”. For her the girls’ freedom is paramount and for that alone, everything else is secondary. “What is insult compared to the fact that we have failed these young women? Young women with promise: we don’t know if amongst those girls we may have the greatest of women in our nation. If the insults will bring back our Chibok girls, let them insult more. I just want the girls back. I’m hostage to principles.”</p> <div class="partnership-in-article-banner-infobox" style="background-color: #f9f3ff; width: 100%; float: right; border-top: solid 3px #DAC2EA;"> <div style="margin-bottom: 8px; padding: 14px;"><span style="font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 8px;">This article is published in association with the <a href="http://www.wfd.org/">Westminster Foundation for Democracy</a>, which is seeking to contribute to public knowledge about effective democracy-strengthening by leading a discussion on openDemocracy about what approaches work best. Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of WFD. WFD’s programmes bring together parliamentary and political party expertise to help developing countries and countries transitioning to democracy.</span></div></div> <p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> westminster Nigeria Civil society Belinda Otas Tue, 01 Nov 2016 15:26:22 +0000 Belinda Otas 106382 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Parliaments and the defence of democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/westminster/nic-cheeseman/parliaments-and-defence-of-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>National legislatures too frequently pass legislation limiting freedom and democracy. To change this requires not just training, but also an appeal to the personal incentives of individual MPs.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/westminster"><img width="100%" alt="howDoParls-banner@2x.png" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/howDoParls-banner%402x.png" /></a></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/17297641976_b2a9a3effa_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/17297641976_b2a9a3effa_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="291" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Parliament and Uhuru Park in Nairobi, Kenya. Ninara/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by)</span></span></span></p><p>The last few years have not been good to democracy. According to the US think tank <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2015">Freedom House</a>, 2014 saw a “disturbing decline in global freedom”, with twice as many countries suffering democratic declines as enjoying democratic gains. This problem has not been contained in one region, but has proved to be a much broader phenomenon, from campaigns against media freedom in Egypt and Turkey to homophobic legislation in Africa and sustained conflict in Iraq and Syria. Worryingly, this is the ninth year in a row that a drop in the overall level of freedom has been recorded.</p> <h2>Democratic backsliding</h2> <p>Much of the blame for this backsliding has been placed on the <a href="http://jia.sipa.columbia.edu/zimbabwes-militarized-electoral-authoritarianism/">shoulders of presidents</a>, who are often depicted as being desperate to retain power at any cost. There is some truth to this, and it is clear that leaders such as Robert Mugabe and <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/10338256">Bashar al-Assad</a> have pushed authoritarian excesses. But what often escapes notice is that some of the most repressive policies introduced in recent times were debated and passed by elected parliaments. Some of the most repressive policies introduced in recent times were debated and passed by elected parliaments. This raises serious questions for those in the democracy promotion community about why legislatures trained in democracy and human rights issues have failed to act as bulwarks to authoritarian abuse – and what can be done about it. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">Some of the most repressive policies introduced in recent times were debated and passed by elected parliaments.</span></p> <p>To start with, consider the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Act,_2014">Uganda Anti-homosexuality Act (2014)</a>, which made headlines around the world throughout 2013. Despite strong pressure for Uganda to respect gay rights from western policy makers, including the UK foreign secretary, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11199047/Gay-rights-should-be-centre-of-UKs-relations-with-Commonwealth-William-Hague.html">William Hague</a>, the bill passed by parliament on 20 December 2013 stipulated life in prison for those found guilty of homosexual acts. In this case, it was thus not the National Assembly that vetoed the legislation, but the Constitutional Court, which struck the act down on procedural grounds under pressure from the executive.</p> <p>The Ugandan parliament actually played a pro-active role in the passage of the act, which was originally introduced as a private member’s bill in 2009. Indeed, it was parliament that voted to reopen the debate after the cabinet <a href="http://af.reuters.com/article/ugandaNews/idAFL5E7JN1YS20110823">concluded</a> that the current laws on homosexuality were sufficient in 2011. When the bill was finally re-introduced in 2012, the speaker declared that she would see that the bill passed before the end of the year as a “<a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-20318436">Christmas gift</a>” to his supporters.</p> <p>Parliaments do not always take a leading role in the introduction of repressive legislation, but at times they fail in their duty to protect constitutional and democratic norms. This was the case in Kenya, where the national assembly passed a law that significantly undermined media freedom. The ‘<a href="http://www.nation.co.ke/news/-/1056/2055520/-/13ahmhf/-/index.html">media council bill</a>’ and associated legislation empowered a quasi-governmental body to impose <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-25418234">large fines</a> of up to $230,000 on media groups and up to $10,000 on individual journalists found guilty of transgressing a rather vague set of guidelines. Although these figures are smaller than those initially proposed – they were revised downward after the president asked MPs to take a second look at the legislation – it still represented a <a href="https://cpj.org/reports/2015/07/broken-promises-kenya-failing-to-uphold-commitment-to-free-press.php">“draconian” move</a> according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The Kenyan case is particularly disappointing given that the legislature, significantly strengthened by the introduction of a new constitution in 2010, has the reputation for being one of&nbsp;<a href="https://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&amp;type=summary&amp;url=/journals/journal_of_democracy/v019/19.2barkan.html">Africa’s most robust bodies</a>. For a short while it looked as though the creation of a new second chamber, the senate, might derail the bill after a number of <a href="http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2015/10/senate-will-throw-away-despotic-media-law-ethuro/">prominent senators</a> pledged to veto the legislation. However, this ultimately proved to be an empty threat, demonstrating the potential vulnerability of constitutional reform to democratic backsliding.</p> <h2>Explaining legislative limitations</h2> <p>In the case of Uganda, legislators supported an infringement on human rights because it was popular: <a href="http://www.hrc.org/blog/lgbt-ugandans-continue-to-face-danger-despite-nullification-of-anti-homosex">96% of Ugandans disapprove of homosexuality</a> and this includes a number of influential religious lobby groups. By passing the legislation MPs were therefore pandering to the electorate. In a political system in which candidates are largely responsible for funding and organising their own re-election campaigns, it is dangerous for parliamentarians to stand against the tide of public opinion. For this reason, more critical MPs asked for the debate on the bill to be <a href="http://www.observer.ug/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=24518:gay-bill-why-mps-fear-open-vote">held behind closed doors</a>, as well as the vote.</p> <p>In the case of Kenya, the bill was actually broadly unpopular. Public opinion is strongly in favour of a free media, with <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/201505041081.html">73% of people</a> backing the media’s watchdog function. At the same time, civil society groups, the domestic and international media, and international donors were quick to criticise the legislation and to point out that it contravenes the spirit of the 2010 constitution. Given this, how can we explain the fact that government MPs and a number of opposition MPs backed the proposals? </p> <p>The answer is two-fold. First, government leaders deployed party whips effectively to enforce the discipline of their own MPs. Second, a number of opposition MPs – who might have been expected to oppose legislation that empowers government censorship – backed the bill, against the <a href="http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2015/10/cord-slates-its-mps-who-backed-law-choking-media/">stated position of their party leaders</a>. This happened either because they had personally suffered from media exposés, and so had little sympathy for journalists, or because they were offered inducements to cross the floor of the house. In this way, the legislative advantages of ruling parties, which enjoy far more sticks and carrots to enforce discipline than opposition parties, helps to explain the failure of the Kenyan parliament to defend democracy.</p> <h2>Protecting democracy</h2> <p>So what can be done to increase the likelihood that legislatures will protect democracy? The key is to find areas in which MPs have built-in incentives to reject repressive legislation, and to emphasise these where possible. Two recent examples illustrate strategies along this vein that may be able to be deployed in other cases.</p> <p>In a number of countries, legislators have played a critical role in defending key democratic institutions such as presidential term limits. A closer look at the failure of presidents to secure a third term through constitutional change in places such as <a href="http://afraf.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/08/17/afraf.adv045">Burundi</a>, <a href="http://jurist.org/paperchase/2006/05/nigeria-senate-rejects-constitutional.php">Nigeria</a>, and <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/200204180631.html">Zambia</a> reveals that one of the main barriers they faced was parliamentary opposition, including from within their own coalitions. On the one hand, more liberal-minded MPs responded positively to the appeals of civil society groups and donors to protect democratic norms and the rule of law. On the other, a number of legislators refused to back the executive either because they had presidential ambitions themselves, or because they were aligned to other presidential hopefuls. </p> <p>In other words, presidential term limits were defended by a broad alliance of MPs motivated by a range of principled and self-interested concerns. This suggests that international intervention to support democracy should seek to marry projects that build legislative capacity with opportunistic engagement around key issues. The potential for what Joel Barkan once called “<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Legislative-Power-Emerging-African-Democracies/dp/1588266885">reform coalitions</a>” to protect democratic gains is well illustrated by another piece of legislation recently introduced in Kenya: the ‘statute law (miscellaneous amendments) bill’, 2013.</p> <p>Despite its innocuous title, the Statute Law represented an attempt by the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta to clamp down on the activities of civil society groups that had supported his prosecution at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">The most notorious clause in the bill proposed to cap the amount of money that NGOs could receive from foreign sources.</span> The most notorious clause in the bill proposed to cap the amount of money that NGOs could receive from foreign sources at <a href="http://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/kenya-rejection-of-bill-capping-ngo-foreign-funding-and-giving-spy-agency-broadened-surveillance-powers/">15% of their total budget</a>. This would have pulled the rug out from under the feet of many human rights and pro-democracy groups, which are heavily reliant on western funding.</p> <p>Initial readings of the amendment suggested that, as with the media legislation, the national assembly might be willing to follow the government’s lead. However, a concerted campaign by donors and civil society organisations changed the minds of a number of parliamentarians and <a href="https://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/37386/en/kenya:-vote-against-amendments-a-win-for-human-rights-and-civil-society">it was subsequently rejected</a>. In some cases, MPs changed their mind because they were persuaded of the importance of a dynamic civil society – which had played a critical role in pushing for the celebrated constitutional reform of 2010. In many other cases, however, MPs changed their minds because they were made to realise that cutting the funding to NGOs that were active in their own constituencies would have a dramatic effect on service delivery and employment, undermining their prospect of re-election.</p> <p>The implication of these examples is clear. Efforts to strengthen the institutional capacity of legislatures, and to train legislators in democratic arts, should be sustained – but they are unlikely to be successful unless they are combined with a careful examination of where MPs do, and don’t, face personal incentives to defend democracy.</p> <div class="partnership-in-article-banner-infobox" style="background-color: #f9f3ff; width: 100%; float: right; border-top: solid 3px #DAC2EA;"> <div style="margin-bottom: 8px; padding: 14px;"><span style="font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 8px;">This article is published in association with the <a href="http://www.wfd.org/">Westminster Foundation for Democracy</a>, which is seeking to contribute to public knowledge about effective democracy-strengthening by leading a discussion on openDemocracy about what approaches work best. Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of WFD. WFD’s programmes bring together parliamentary and political party expertise to help developing countries and countries transitioning to democracy.</span></div></div> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/westminster"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/howDoParls-sideBar%402x.png" alt="howDoParls-sideBar@2x.png" width="140" /></a></p> <div><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/westminster/graeme-ramshaw-alex-stevenson/introducing-new-partnership-how-do-parliaments-shape-democracy-and-dem">Introducing a new partnership: How do parliaments shape democracy? (and democracies shape parliaments?)</a></div> <hr /><p> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/westminster/victoria-hasson/parliaments-in-context-parliament-s-relationship-with-democratic-trends">Parliaments in context: a parliament’s relationship with democratic trends</a></p> <hr /> <div><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/westminster/mikhail-minakov/post-soviet-parliamentarian-drama-view-from-gods-in-kiev">Post-Soviet parliamentarian drama: a view from ‘the gods’ in Kiev</a></div> <hr /> <div><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/westminster/susan-dodsworth/politics-and-parliamentary-strengthening-where-to-now">Politics and parliamentary strengthening: where to now?</a></div> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Uganda </div> <div class="field-item even"> Kenya </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Burundi </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Zambia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> westminster Zambia Burundi Nigeria Kenya Uganda Nic Cheeseman Wed, 24 Feb 2016 07:40:44 +0000 Nic Cheeseman 99910 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Paris as a test case for the west https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/letta-tayler/paris-as-test-case-for-west <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>One effective way for western governments to keep their people safe is to press for fundamental reforms in countries where armed extremists thrive, rather than subverting democracy at home.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/9193239-3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/9193239-3.jpg" alt="Despite the state emergency in France many decided to join the Climate March and challenge the interdiction to demonstrate." title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Despite the state emergency in France many decided to join the Climate March and challenge the interdiction to demonstrate. Demotix/ Marie Boyard. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Not since the Algerian War more than a half-century ago has France imposed such sweeping emergency powers. In little more than two weeks since the Paris attacks, French police have carried out well over 1,000&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/24/world/europe/in-france-some-see-the-police-security-net-as-too-harsh-paris-attacks.html?emc=edit_th_20151124&amp;nl=todaysheadlines&amp;nlid=70717740">raids</a> nationwide, busting open doors, hauling away scores of suspects without warrants—and even using their new counterterror laws to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/30/world/europe/france-uses-sweeping-powers-to-curb-climate-protests-but-clashes-erupt.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0">clamp down</a> on climate-change protesters. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">In the United Kingdom, where Parliament may vote this week on starting airstrikes against the armed extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in Syria, hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise.</span></p> <p>In Belgium, where the Paris attacks were hatched, the country remains on alert, and the prime minster has <a href="http://deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.english/News/1.2500253">proposed</a> measures such as electronically tagging youths the authorities fear will travel to Syria, and telling imams what to preach.</p> <p>In the United Kingdom, where Parliament may vote this week on starting airstrikes against the armed extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in Syria, <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/11/23/hate-crimes-against-muslims-in-the-u-k-on-the-rise/">hate crimes</a> against Muslims are on the rise. In the United States, calls are mounting to ban data encryption and <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/us-house-passes-bill-suspending-syria-refugee-program-190747570.html">bar</a> Syrian refugees. Canada’s new Liberal government will let in some Syrians, but <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/canada-pushes-back-syrian-refugee-deadline-february-210111692.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory&amp;soc_trk=tw">only</a> if they aren’t fighting-age heterosexual males.</p> <p>Responses to the Paris attacks, whether based on the rule of law or sinking to the lowest common denominator—such as Donald Trump’s call to reinstate the form of torture known as <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/12/10/us-senate-report-slams-cia-torture-lies">waterboarding</a>—will be test cases for leading democracies.</p> <p>The urge to respond assertively is natural; governments are responsible for keeping their people safe. But while extra protective measures may well be needed, it’s critically important not to let reactions&nbsp;cross over to the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2005/11/07/BL2005110700793.html">dark side</a> as they did after the September 11 attacks. </p> <p>Arbitrarily targeting Muslims, disproportionately restricting freedom of movement, religion and speech, and subverting the rule of law will only feed the ISIS recruitment narrative. They also make it easier for other governments to justify abuses in the name of security.</p> <p>As they weigh reactions, France, the United States and other democracies would do well to consider the latest Global Terrorism Index, an annual <a href="http://static.visionofhumanity.org/sites/default/files/2015%20Global%20Terrorism%20Index%20Report_0_0.pdf">report</a> by the <a href="http://economicsandpeace.org/">Institute of Economics &amp; Peace</a>. The report defines terrorism as the “threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, religious, economic or social goal through fear, coercion or intimidation”.</p> <p>The index shows that despite a troubling global rise in terrorism in the past 15 years, attacks on the west remain exceedingly rare. Indeed, it says that the 37 people killed in terrorist attacks in 38 western countries last year only accounted for 0.1 percent of the worldwide toll. Though the western toll will be higher this year, it is likely to remain a tiny fraction of the total.&nbsp; <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">Arbitrarily targeting Muslims... will only feed the ISIS recruitment narrative.</span></p> <p>Worldwide, the toll from all forms of murder is 13 times as high as from terrorism alone, and the economic losses from violent crimes is 32 times greater, the report says. In some democracies, like the UK, zero people were killed in terrorism attacks on home soil last year (compare that to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/05/figure-for-child-road-deaths-and-serious-injuries-rises-for-first-time-in-20-years">1,730</a> people killed annually on Britain’s roads).</p> <p>The terrorism index also notes that most of the attacks in the west in the past eight years were the work of far-right fanatics, nationalists, supremacists and others with no link to armed Islamist extremism. Nor was ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, the deadliest armed extremist group; that dubious distinction went to its Nigeria-based affiliate Boko Haram.</p> <p>Western governments should also pay close attention to the report’s finding that the countries with the highest rates of terrorist violence—including Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan—are plagued by government abuses including corruption, summary executions, political imprisonment, torture, and ethnic and religious discrimination.&nbsp;</p> <p>This suggests that one effective way for western governments to keep their people safe is to press for fundamental reforms in countries where armed extremists thrive, rather than subverting democracy at home.</p><p><em><span>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking </span><em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em><span> on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a><span> and following us on Twitter </span><a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/bernard-dreano/letter-from-paris-which-side-will-prevail"> Letter from Paris: which side will prevail?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/bernard-dreano/letter-from-paris">Letter from Paris</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/amandine-scherrer-didier-bigo/will-democratic-debate-over-counterrorism-gain-edge">Will the democratic debate over counterrorism gain the edge in battle? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> France </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Afghanistan </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Pakistan </div> <div class="field-item even"> Canada </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Canada Pakistan Afghanistan Iraq Syria Nigeria United States UK EU France Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Letta Tayler Tue, 01 Dec 2015 14:26:14 +0000 Letta Tayler 98071 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Buhari wins—but new president of Nigeria faces enormous challenge https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/catherine-gegout/buhari-wins%E2%80%94but-new-president-of-nigeria-faces-enormous-challenge <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After the Nigerian presidential election, the new government must address the social and economic policy vacuum&nbsp;Boko Haram&nbsp;has filled if the threat from the Islamists is to be tackled.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Nigerians have chosen General Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, over the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, to be their president. Following an election that saw <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/nigerians-turn-en-masse-critical-presidential-vote-29971743">41 people</a> killed in the north of the country, Jomnathan conceded defeat, and congratulated Buhari on his victory.</p> <p>Buhari’s military regime from 1983 to 1985 <a href="https://theconversation.com/at-72-muhammadu-buhari-could-yet-be-nigerias-comeback-kid-37728">was draconian</a>: he systematically repressed freedom of expression through the jailing of journalists, radical public intellectuals and student protesters. <a href="http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/prospects-for-democratic-consolidation-in-africa-nigeria-s-transition/202871">He is now saying</a> that “the global triumph of democracy has shown that another and a preferable path to change is possible”.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p> <img src="https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/76658/width668/image-20150331-1249-182d14u.jpg" alt="" width="460" /> <span class="image-caption">Nigerians decide. EPA/Tife Owolabi.</span></p> <p>Nigerians and the international community will be watching whether this time around Buhari will work for the common good in Nigeria.</p> <h2>Corruption and crisis</h2> <p>The general political and economic situation in Nigeria is problematic. Nigeria is home to a corrupt government. According to Transparency International, it is ranked 136 out of 175 states in terms of <a href="http://www.transparency.org/cpi2014/results">perceptions of corruption</a>. Women are under-represented in political affairs: until now, the House of Representatives had only one female principal officer and <a href="http://www.premiumtimesng.com/features-and-interviews/179136-analysis-2015-elections-hold-no-promise-for-improved-women-representation-in-nigerian-politics.html">only 7%</a> of the 362 members were women. The <a href="http://www.aitonline.tv/post-female_lawmakers_want_more_women_in_parliament#sthash.09hpizmt.dpuf">House of Representatives committee on women</a> has called for more participation from women in the nation’s politics. We will see if the new government responds to this demand.</p> <p>The economy is in crisis: Nigeria has an unhealthy dependence on its oil exports, which represent more than 80% of its national income. There has been a drop in oil prices, which means that <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/peteguest/2015/03/18/is-nigeria-heading-for-an-economic-crisis/">public sector jobs will have to be cut</a>; 24% of Nigerians are unemployed. Nigeria must double its <a href="http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2011/06/14396143/nigerias-infrastructure-continental-perspective">investment</a> in infrastructure and improve its power sector, water and sanitation, its road networks and its air-transport safety.</p> <p>Nigeria has to be serious about health. The World Health Organisation recommends that governments spend 15% of their budget on health, but Nigeria spends <a href="http://nigeriahealthwatch.com/analysis-of-nigerias-budget-for-health-in-2014/">only 6%</a> of its budget. Nigeria's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/12/786">40,000 pregnancy-related deaths</a>&nbsp;accounted for approximately 14% of the world’s total in 2012.</p> <h2>Northern exposure</h2> <p>The situation in northern Nigeria is critical. Since 2014, more than 6,000 civilians <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jan/23/boko-haram-nigeria-civilian-death-toll-highest-acled-african-war-zones">have been killed by Boko Haram</a>. Around 1m Nigerians <a href="http://www.internal-displacement.org/sub-saharan-africa/nigeria/figures-analysis">have been forcibly displaced</a> within the country and 200,000 have fled to Cameroon, Niger or Chad. Colonel Joseph Nouma of the Maroua Defence Regiment in the Nigerian army <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/report/101198/no-shortage-of-recruits-for-boko-haram-in-cameroon-s-far-north">told the IRIN news service</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>When you go to border villages, all you see are women and children and old people. Young [men], between the ages of ten and 45, are no longer there. They are across the [Nigerian] border with Boko Haram militants.</p></blockquote> <p>In the north, regional actors have been more active than the Nigerian government in fighting Boko Haram. With the approval of the African Union, Nigeria and its neighbours—Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin<span>—</span><span>have deployed a 8,700-strong Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to fight </span><a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/06/us-nigeria-violence-bokoharam-idUSKBN0LA2J120150206">around 4,000-6,000</a><span> Boko Haram Islamist militants.</span></p> <p>Presidents from the Economic Community of Central African States (ECOWAS) pledged in early 2015 to create a $87m emergency fund for military, medical, and logistical support for the MNJTF. Nigeria’s outgoing president expected Boko Haram <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20150320-boko-haram-defeat-less-month-nigeria-president-jonathan/">to be defeated within a month</a>. Even with the presence of regional allies, however, Boko Haram is likely to go into hiding and conduct a <a href="http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/178925-reclaiming-territories-not-end-to-boko-haram-experts-warn.html">guerrilla campaign</a>.</p> <h2>Past policy vacuum</h2> <p>The way the government has addressed violence in the north has been abysmal: very few measures have been taken. Muslim clerics identified lack of good governance as the primary reason Boko Haram succeeded in recruiting members. According <a href="https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/09ABUJA1422_a.html">to a US official</a>, “they warned that similar crises would occur if the government failed to address social problems”.</p> <p>In terms of social measures, when Boko Haram started fighting in 2009, a “societal reorientation programme” was created in the north. But,&nbsp;<a href="https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/09ABUJA1410_a.html">according to one US official</a>, this programme only made it possible for Boko Haram to “recruit more members”, as it had no impact on the population’s well-being.</p> <p>Military action against Boko Haram has been deplorable, probably because Boko Haram <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/14/boko-haram-why-nigerian-militant-group-powerful">had clear connections to the government</a>. The Nigerian army committed <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/sites/default/files/nigeria__more_than_1500_killed_in_armed_conflict_0.pdf">serious human-rights violations</a> in its response. Hundreds of civilians and suspected Boko Haram members <a href="http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/videos/all/dispatches-nigerias-hidden-war">have been killed</a>&nbsp;and detainees have died in military custody.</p> <p>In 2015, Jonathan’s national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, only mentioned the creation of a single <a href="http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/field/field_document/20150122NigeriaSecurityQA_0.pdf">social policy</a>—in Kuje prison in the capital, Abuja, which aims at deradicalising former insurgents. The new government will have to develop social policies to reduce inequalities to prevent further violence.</p> <h2>What the new government has to do</h2> <p>The economic involvement of the Nigerian government is inadequate. Only half of the investment projects in the north were completed in 2014.&nbsp;<span>In 2015, the government created a $133m emergency fund for the north to finance 94 different projects, in areas such as road construction, railways, energy and agriculture, but the precise use of this fund </span><a href="http://www.irinnews.org/report/101198/no-shortage-of-recruits-for-boko-haram-in-cameroon-s-far-north">remains to be seen</a><span>.</span></p> <p>The new president will have to address three longstanding and critical issues in the north: economic development, education and health. Economic development is needed to counter Boko Haram, which is <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/report/101198/no-shortage-of-recruits-for-boko-haram-in-cameroon-s-far-north">paying men around $700 a month</a> to join its ranks.</p> <p>The new government must tackle the difficult issue of unemployment which, among all age groups, is at least 75%. Many young people, especially recent graduates, say it is <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/report/101198/no-shortage-of-recruits-for-boko-haram-in-cameroon-s-far-north">impossible to find decent work</a>. For the few who do have a job, the minimum wage is $70 a month. The new government will also have to address the lack of economic resources and food in the north.</p><p><a href="https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/75870/area14mp/image-20150324-17678-1slzsqy.png"><img src="https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/75870/width668/image-20150324-17678-1slzsqy.png" alt="" /></a> <span class="image-caption">GDP Index (per capita). <a class="source" href="http://www.jica.go.jp/activities/issues/poverty/profile/pdf/nig_02.pdf">UNDP (2009) Human Development Report Nigeria 2008-2009</a>.</span></p><p><span>The map above of GDP per capita, and below for malnutrition, show the important north-south economic divide.</span></p><p> <a href="https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/75869/area14mp/image-20150324-17716-kwhmym.png"><img src="https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/75869/width668/image-20150324-17716-kwhmym.png" alt="" width="460" /></a> <span class="image-caption">Severe acute malnutrition: 2015 burden and prevalence in the Sahel. <a class="source" href="http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/2015%20Regional%20HNO%20Final%202014Dec17.pdf">OCHA 2015 Humanitarian Needs Report</a>.</span></p> <p>The new government will have to prioritise education. When Boko Haram started attacking civilians in 2009, it was known <a href="https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/10LAGOS13_a.html">to oppose 'western education models'</a>. But young men fighting for Boko Haram <a href="www.jica.go.jp/activities/issues/poverty/profile/pdf/nig_02.pdf">could not have had much knowledge of education</a>. In 2011 in northern Nigeria, half of the men had no education at all, only 7% completed primary education and only 6% completed secondary education. Education in the north should therefore be a priority for whoever has power next. This is not only <span>important</span><span>&nbsp;f</span><span>or men but essential for women: in 2011, 65% of women had no education, 6% completed primary education and 3% completed secondary education.</span></p> <p>The new president will also be held accountable for improving health in the north. Clinics are under-staffed and women are <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/report/95812/nigeria-bridging-the-north-south-maternal-death-divide">ten times</a> more likely to die in childbirth than in the south.</p> <p>With these conditions Boko Haram filled a vacuum. The militants will now be much harder to remove but the next government can take steps to start tackling the problems that allowed them to gain a foothold.</p><p><img src="https://counter.theconversation.edu.au/content/39291/count.gif" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p><p><em>This article was originally published on <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a>. Read the <a href="http://theconversation.com/buhari-wins-but-the-new-president-of-nigeria-faces-an-enormous-challenge-39291">original article</a>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/open-security/morten-b%C3%B8%C3%A5s/fear-rumours-and-violence-boko-haram%E2%80%99s-asymmetrical-warfare">Fear, rumours and violence: Boko Haram’s asymmetrical warfare</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/morten-b%C3%B8%C3%A5s/nigerian-state-no-match-for-boko-haram">The Nigerian state: no match for Boko Haram?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Nigeria Conflict Democracy and government rule of law insurgency 'term-id:[26644]' Africa Catherine Gegout Non-state violence Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:04:22 +0000 Catherine Gegout 91687 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A perfect storm: Boko Haram, IS and the Nigerian election https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/richard-howarth/perfect-storm-boko-haram-is-and-nigerian-election <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Boko Haram’s alignment with Islamic State adds to mounting insecurity in Nigeria. A fortnight ahead of the already-deferred election, what does this mean for its democratic prospects?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/buhari.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/buhari.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Return of the strongman? The former general Muhammadu Buhari is once again challenging the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, in the presidential election, running on a 'seccurity' platform. Demotix / <a href="http://www.demotix.com/users/michael-tubi/profile">Michael Tubi</a>. All rights reserved.</p><p>The news that Boko Haram has <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/07/boko-haram-suicide-bombers-50-dead-maiduguri">pledged allegiance</a> to Islamic State (IS) makes for sombre reading. The conflict raging in west Africa has taken thousands of lives, destroyed homes and destabilised a fragile region. The human cost is a tragedy and the political ramifications alarming.&nbsp;Nigeria’s presidential election, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/02/nigerias-postponed-election">already postponed</a>, is close to being unhinged as the conflict with Boko Haram becomes a focal point of the campaign. </p> <p>Indeed, should it go ahead? &nbsp;If the election were to be deferred again, it would not guarantee against &nbsp;a scenario of riots, authoritarian twists and political manoeuvring. A second postponement would send out two signals: that Nigeria is not ready for democracy in action and that it is weakening in the face of Boko Haram’s assault.&nbsp; </p> <p>The political system in Nigeria has often been marred by corruption and lack of transparency, and elections there have had a history of violence, with contested and unaccountable results. A further deferral would only compound these associations, which prevent the most populous African country from being a natural regional leader. </p> <p>Not only would this embolden Boko Haram; it would demonstrate that the Nigerian state cannot guarantee national security through a critical period. Conflicts such as these are often swayed by events which shift the political momentum and this could alter the delicate balance of forces.</p> <p>Yet if the election does go ahead and it follows the <a href="http://www-preview.usip.org/sites/default/files/SR263-Breaking_the_Cycle_of_Electoral_Violence_in_Nigeria.pdf">trend</a> of Nigerian presidential polls, the aftermath could be chaotic, with widespread civil violence, increased ethnic tension and a breakdown of order. In such a fraught milieu, Boko Haram could find fertile ground for recruitment and would most likely take the opportunity to seize key areas in the mainly-Muslim north and further solidify its position. The outcome could be decreased security, control and territory for whichever government emerges. </p> <p>Boko Haram now operates outside of Nigeria, in Chad and Niger—states which had relied on Nigeria’s military strength to hold back the insurgents. And if the civil conflict in the country were to extend to the predominantly-Christian south, the consequence for west Africa as a whole would be troubling indeed. This could issue in a return to a single-party, authoritarian regime in Abuja, claiming to have the political strength to hold the country together and tackle Boko Haram. </p> <h2><strong>Narratives</strong></h2> <p>So much of politics is about signals and counter-signals, and by announcing its alliance with IS Boko Haram has ‘stepped up’ its game. In the last few months <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/21/world/africa/in-newly-sophisticated-boko-haram-videos-hints-of-islamic-state-ties.html?_r=0">the insurgent group’s communication strategy</a> has become far more sophisticated. And the announcement, three weeks before the election, allows certain narratives the time to gain momentum to disrupt the election cycle. These are, first, that being a <em>de facto</em> branch of IS, Boko Haram may well expect increased recruitment, bolstering its offensive. And, secondly, this has made IS’ war a more ‘global struggle’ against ‘the west’—Boko Haram roughly means ‘western education is forbidden’.</p> <p>IS and Boko Haram have always had similar political aims and ideologies and have for some time been viewed through the same lens in the US and Europe. But by mutually aligning they add to each other’s credibility and strategic abilities and fuelfears of a belt of extremism stretching from Nigeria to Syria.</p> <p>IS’ activity in the Middle East has however monopolised attention—associated with a media representation of a clear strategic threat while African counterparts are just protagonists in another conflict. And so while the governments of developed democracies have been preoccupied with IS, Boko Haram has been able to emerge and strengthen at a key strategic node. It sits on the doorstep of one of the west’s most important strategic partners, an oil-producing state, with the ability massively to disrupt elections and democracy—the cornerstone of the west’s purported moral impetus abroad—and potentially it could make large territorial gains following a turbulent election. This election may well prove to be a win-win in symbolic terms for Boko Haram.</p> <h2><strong>Understandable antipathy</strong></h2> <p>In many respects, this is the outcome of years of failed policy towards Africa in general and Nigeria in particular on the part of advanced capitalist countries. Political patronisation and harsh economic strictures on African states over the last 50 years have led to an understandable antipathy towards western governments and a desire for African states to stand on their own feet, on their own terms. </p> <p class="pullquote-right">Yet if the election does go ahead and it follows the&nbsp;<a href="http://www-preview.usip.org/sites/default/files/SR263-Breaking_the_Cycle_of_Electoral_Violence_in_Nigeria.pdf">trend</a>&nbsp;of Nigerian presidential polls, the aftermath could be chaotic, with widespread civil violence, increased ethnic tension and a breakdown of order.</p><p><span></span>In the ‘war on terror’, the stance towards Africa has always been to ‘play hardball’. Nigeria has accepted military assistance and troops, principally from the US, on ‘counter-terrorism’ operations but it has always resisted a permanent presence. Many times the US has attempted to establish its permanent African Command headquarters (AFRICOM) on Nigerian soil <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7251648.stm">but this has been denied</a>. </p> <p>For many, western troops waging war on violent non-state groups has only escalated conflict and added legitimacy to the latter. Many also feel the west’s interests are only strategic and do not have peace at heart. The history of western states manipulating state insecurity, supporting coups and exploiting weakness to promote their own interest is not easily forgotten. And so they now have only limited involvement, reduced to sitting on the sidelines and watching what unfolds. </p> <p>Naturally, state sovereignty should not be undermined, and western military assistance and intervention should only come when asked for or absolutely necessary. But one can’t help feeling that a softer and more equitable foreign policy would have enabled the west to have greater influence to combat Boko Haram and fundamentalism—after Syria and Iraq, Nigeria is in danger of being the next major victim.</p> <p>The US has a <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/10/old-wounds-deep-scars-us-intervention-africa-20131010101130448232.html">dim history of overt military engagement in Africa</a>, notably Somalia (1992-94), and had been reluctant to become heavily involved in the continent until the announcement of AFRICOM by the then president, George W. Bush. Now, the secretary of state, John Kerry, has announced that the <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2015/01/ready-fight-boko-haram-150126000556230.html">US will do more to combat Boko Haram</a>—but previous announcements of all kinds of engagement in Africa by the administration of Barack Obama have done little to change a decades-old stance.</p> <p>The announcement of a major <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/03/chad-niger-launch-offensive-boko-haram-150308130311251.html">military offensive by the Nigerian and Chadian armies</a> against Boko Haram clearly signals a show of regional strength to prevent disorder as the election looms. Yet it is also a signal of how serious a threat the fundamentalists are—in Nigeria western foreign-affairs monitors have missed a beat and there should be universal trepidation about the outcome at the end of the month.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>IS <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/12/isis-welcomes-boko-harams-allegiance-and-plays-down-coalition-victories">welcomes </a>Boko Haram's allegiance.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/morten-b%C3%B8%C3%A5s/nigerian-state-no-match-for-boko-haram">The Nigerian state: no match for Boko Haram?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/gustavo-pl%C3%A1cido-dos-santos/boko-haram-time-for-alternative-approach">Boko Haram: time for an alternative approach</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/hoshang-waziri/is-from-jihadist-ideology-to-jihadist-state">IS: from a jihadist ideology to a jihadist state</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/kenneth-roth/two-big-holes-in-strategy-against-is">The two big holes in the strategy against IS</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Nigeria Conflict insurgency global security middle east Africa Richard Howarth Non-state violence Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:36:09 +0000 Richard Howarth 91239 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fear, rumours and violence: Boko Haram’s asymmetrical warfare https://www.opendemocracy.net/open-security/morten-b%C3%B8%C3%A5s/fear-rumours-and-violence-boko-haram%E2%80%99s-asymmetrical-warfare <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While the global media were transfixed by the Islamist killings in Paris, Boko Haram was engaging in further massacres in north-east Nigeria and even over the border in Cameroon. How has its campaign escalated?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/refugees.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/refugees.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>A slew of inhumanity: four of the 16,000 refugees from Boko Haram living in a makeshift camp across the border in Niger. Flickr / <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/69583224@N05/">European Commission DG ECHO</a>. Some rights reserved.</p><p>Last November, in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/morten-b%C3%B8%C3%A5s/nigerian-state-no-match-for-boko-haram">‘The Nigerian state: no match for Boko Haram?’</a>, I argued that unless Nigeria changed its approach to the rebellion the incapacity of the state and the looming February elections would mean the only thing we could expect anytime soon was more violence. The first weeks of 2015 have seen the insurgents continue the offensive they started last year, with high-profile attacks on several cities and villages along the shores of Lake Chad, such as Baga and Doron Baga. To make things worse, Boko Haram has stepped up its activities in the Far North region of Cameroon. </p> <p>So is Boko Haram mightier than ever? Not necessarily. It is still basically involved in a form of asymmetrical warfare, reliant on the mobility and unpredictability of its forces, allied with effective fear- and rumour-mongering, based on its indisputable use of extreme violence. </p> <p>It is this strategy with which we need to come to terms, rather than becoming too concerned with unverified reports about a new military arsenal. While there is little doubt there is a flourishing market for small and light arms in this part of Africa, the suggestion that Boko Haram has received a considerable amount of heavy weapons from Libya and the Central African Republic (CAR) is more questionable. </p> <p>This is the warfare of the ‘technical’—the four-by-four pick-up equipped with machine-guns, in combination with men-at-arms on motorbikes. If Boko Haram has any more sophisticated weapons at its disposal, it has not used them. This is strikingly similar to the situation elsewhere in the Sahel. </p> <p>Since the fall of the Qaddafi state, much ink has been spilled over concern about the spread of heavy and high-tech weapons from Libya to Salafist groups in the Mali-Sahel region. But have we seen them used anywhere? No. As with Boko Haram, these Salafists rely on the ‘technical’ used for decades. The conflict in the CAR means some weapons may have been traded out of the country and ended up with Boko Haram but again none of the warring parties there has much by way of heavy and sophisticated arms.</p> <h2><strong>Taxing</strong></h2> <p>To understand what has made Boko Haram’s new offensive possible we need to look elsewhere. Could it be resources? </p> <p>The United Nations Environment Programme and GRID-Arendal have estimated that some 5m people live in areas under Boko Haram influence and that the insurgents tax between a quarter and three-quarters of these households. In combination with taxation of the charcoal trade, this they argue suggests Boko Haram could increase its earnings by somewhere between $14m and $43m in 2015. Also estimating that it costs about $1,500 a year to pay for a Boko Haram warrior, they claim that this could enable it to increase its number of men under arms by 15-35,000 this year. It is certainly a frightening scenario—but one subject to considerable uncertainty. </p> <p>Nobody can really say how many people remain within the ambit of Boko Haram control. Yes, some villages do pay tax to Boko Haram but we have no clear idea as to how many, how often or how much. The only sure thing is that it cannot be very much per village, as traditional livelihoods and trade have been hit by the conflict. Nor we do not know anything about Boko Haram’s ability to collect tax and other revenues and to use them in a co-ordinated manner to strengthen military capacity or indeed whether there is a supply of willing new recruits on such a scale. </p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">This is the warfare of the ‘technical’—the four-by-four pick-up equipped with machine-guns</span></p><p><span></span>So we should focus our attention on the strategies which the group undoubtedly utilise, rather than questionable and uncertain scenarios. What Boko Haram is very good at is ‘making the ground fearful’, a classic insurgency strategy applied in many places in this part of Africa. From the different groups which fought in the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone to the Lord’s Resistance Army of northern Uganda, insurgents have generated an impression of power through a combination of graphic display of extreme violence, unpredictability and rumours of new attacks, manpower and weapons. </p> <p>The video shoots by Boko Haram clearly matter in this regard. They display strength, unity and, not least, the menace projected by a raging Abubakar Shekau, its leader. This ranges from the arrogance shown towards the rest of the world after the kidnapping of the ‘Chibok’ girls, to bragging about the pleasure he gets from killing (Shekau suggests it is like slaughtering a chicken) to threats towards neighbouring Cameroon and its president, Paul Biya. </p> <h2>Terrorised</h2><p>Backed up by hit-and-run attacks, explosions and suicide bombings in towns supposedly under the control of the Nigerian state, all this leaves the population—as well as the army and the police—with the impression of an insurgency which can strike anywhere without hindrance. The consequence is a terrorised population, too scared to offer anybody any intelligence which they may have. Even the rumour of a forthcoming Boko Haram attack has been enough to make soldiers and police leave their positions in the countryside, giving the insurgents unlimited access to villages and small towns without having to fight or waste ammunition. </p> <p>It is therefore the inability of the Nigerian state effectively to counter Boko Haram’s master-narrative of fear, rumour and violence that makes the forces of the state ‘no match for Boko Haram’—not necessarily the real strength of the insurgency. It remains to be seen whether Biya’s forces, fighting Boko Haram in Cameroon, will prove more resilient. </p> <p>Similarly, we will just have to wait and see if, after the 14 February election, the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, or his rival, Muhammadu Buhari, will be able to give the situation in the north the attention it deserves. Whoever wins needs to come up with a combination of a new military approach to the north and a political address to the poverty and marginalisation there—which can offer a more compelling narrative than that of Boko Haram.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/morten-b%C3%B8%C3%A5s/nigerian-state-no-match-for-boko-haram">The Nigerian state: no match for Boko Haram?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/gustavo-pl%C3%A1cido-dos-santos/boko-haram-time-for-alternative-approach">Boko Haram: time for an alternative approach</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Nigeria Conflict rule of law insurgency Africa Morten Bøås Non-state violence Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:24:30 +0000 Morten Bøås 89825 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Nigerian state: no match for Boko Haram? https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/morten-b%C3%B8%C3%A5s/nigerian-state-no-match-for-boko-haram <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The latest Boko Haram atrocity in Nigeria will not be the last. The incapacity of the state and looming elections mean more violence can be expected.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The suicide-bomb attack on the Boys’ Science and Technical School (a secondary school) in Potiskum on 10 November, which claimed nearly 50 lives, has once more put Boko Haram and the conflict in northern Nigeria in the international spotlight. The last time the rest of the world paid much attention was when more than 200 girls were kidnapped from a school in Chibok. The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag went global, as world leaders such as Barack Obama and David Cameron signed on, and the “Chibok girls” suddenly gave the conflict a face. </p> <p>Subsequently, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, promised to leave no stone unturned in bringing home the abducted girls and defeating Boko Haram. Other countries, including the UK, US and Israel, offered technical intelligence support. It might have been thought this international focus would force the government to come up with a better and more co-ordinated effort. </p> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/girls.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/girls.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Viral hashtag: girls in Conakry supporting their kidnapped sisters in Nigeria. <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/unicefguinea/">Unicef Guinea</a> / Flickr. Some rights reserved.</p><p>Boko Haram has however not been weakened. On the contrary, the insurgency is stronger than ever. Before Chibok, the organisation had been pushed out of Maiduguri (the provincial capital of Borno state) and could only operate freely in remote border areas towards Cameroon and Chad. This has changed. </p> <p>During the summer and autumn Boko Haram went on the offensive, capturing territory and cities in Borno and in neighbouring Yobe and Adamawa. While the Nigerian army has been weakened by mismanagement, lack of military equipment and falling morale among the troops—leading them at times to abandon position facing Boko Haram advances—the insurgents have been so emboldened as to declare a “caliphate” in the areas under their control.</p> <h2><strong>Haphazard</strong></h2> <p>The Nigerian state’s approach to the conflict has been haphazard from the outset. The three northern states most affected do not matter much economically. And there is a power struggle between northern and southern elites for control of the country’s dominant political force, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). So even if Boko Haram is taking a terrible toll, the main item on the agenda in Abuja is not how to solve the crisis but who will stand in next year’s presidential election—with some claiming Jonathan wants to take the presidency back to the south permanently, ending its conventional rotation. </p> <p>There is an indirect connection between the north-south divide—and the associated bitter conflict over positions, power and money—and Boko Haram. Although the north is mainly Muslim and the south predominantly Christian, this is in essence not a religious cleavage: it evolves around everything from access to land and politically secured offices to the distribution of oil revenues. Embedded as it is in state institutions, including the police, the military and the political parties (including the PDP), this division has clearly limited the state’s capacity to engage in a concerted attack on Boko Haram while protecting local communities and the educational facilities the insurgents so frequently target. This was evident before Chibok but is even more apparent as the country moves towards the primaries through which the parties choose their presidential candidates.</p> <p>On the other side, Boko Haram is good at what it does and is more than just a group of gun-crazy, violent, religious fanatics. It is well-organised: at its core is a tightly-woven group of insurgents, mostly but not exclusively originating among the Kanuri people. Kin networks in this ethnic group has made it possible for Boko Haram to establish flexible and pragmatic cross-border links to Cameroon and Chad, for sanctuary, trade and commerce. </p> <p>This does not imply broad support for Boko Haram among the Kanuri—there is not much evidence for that. Traditional livelihoods are under immense pressure in the borderland, however, due to the desertification caused by the drying up of Lake Chad. Given the irrelevance if not absence of the state in this context, some will take whatever possibilities for generating income come their way, including trading with an organisation such as Boko Haram. </p> <p>In addition to the insurgents in the field, Boko Haram has established “sleeper cells” in the major towns of northern Nigeria, as well as in cities further south. Few of these know much about the rest of the organisation. Sometimes they are activated by remote control; at other times they operate independently but hit targets generically identified by Boko Haram: schools, businesses offering “un-Islamic” goods and services (beer gardens, for example), government facilities or other infrastructure. </p> <h2><strong>Mercenaries</strong></h2> <p>Boko Haram’s fighting capacity is bolstered by mercenaries from Chad who do not necessarily share its political and religious objectives. Most belong to groups who previously fought the long-running Chadian president, Idriss Déby, and live on the margin of their state. They do not care much about whom they assist, or if that assistance means they have to fly the black flag of Boko Haram, as long as they get a fair share of the loot and can bring it back over the border. Operating with or pretending to be Boko Haram is even an advantage for these mercenaries, as it means they avoid attention. And from the perspective of Boko Haram the insurgency appears larger and more powerful than it is.</p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">Boko Haram is good at what it does and is more than just a group of gun-crazy, violent, religious fanatics.</span></p><p><span></span>In the absence of legitimate state presence on the ground, Boko Haram is also a difficult organisation to fight. It is quite self-sufficient, financed by bank robberies and cross-border trade. Such cash transfers leave little if any electronic trace, so the international security operatives who are supposed to assist the Nigerian government cannot achieve much. Improved intelligence is clearly needed but this is not an insurgency that can be tracked from afar. What is needed is ground-level information but local people are often just as afraid of the Nigerian army and police as they are of Boko Haram. With an increasingly strong insurgency and a weak state, they are caught between a rock and a hard place—with few alternatives apart from seeking refugee elsewhere or attempting to negotiate their security with the agents of violence who appear most powerful.</p> <p>In early November there were suggestions of official negotiations with Boko Haram in Chad. But it is entirely unclear who the Nigerian government was negotiating with, if talks ever took place. As the country moves towards the 2015 elections, more rather than less violence can be expected. </p> <p>Nigeria has a long history of violence associated with elections and these could prove the most violent ever. Only if the government performs a U-turn and rapidly transforms its misguided policy towards the north—emphasising human security as its priority—can this vista be avoided.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In an apparently calculated assertion, Boko Haram <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/14/nigeria-boko-haram-kidnapped-girls-chibok?CMP=twt_gu">takes over Chibok</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/gustavo-pl%C3%A1cido-dos-santos/boko-haram-time-for-alternative-approach">Boko Haram: time for an alternative approach</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nigeria-boko-haram-risk">Nigeria, the Boko Haram risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/morten-b%C3%B8%C3%A5s/nigeria-challenge-of-%E2%80%9Cboko-haram-ii%E2%80%9D">Nigeria: the challenge of “Boko Haram II” </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Nigeria Conflict rule of law insurgency Africa Morten Bøås Non-state violence Thu, 13 Nov 2014 15:52:27 +0000 Morten Bøås 87732 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "What can a woman do?" Gender norms in a Nigerian university https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/abiola-odejide/what-can-woman-do-gender-norms-in-nigerian-university <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Are universities necessarily transformative spaces for women students? Research at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, raises critical questions around how conservative gender norms are replicated by young students, in particular in the burgeoning culture of religious student organisations.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>What are the perceptions of being a woman on a Nigerian university campus in spaces which are not strictly regulated by the university authorities? What are the perceptions of female sexuality among the students and staff in these locations? </p> <p>This article explores the perceptions and the lived experiences of female students in the University of Ibadan (UI), the oldest Nigerian university, focusing on the halls of residence and religious fellowships on campus. It also explores the perception of women’s sexuality and its pervasive impact on relationships in the institution. </p> <p>Like most African universities, UI has been affected by serious transformations in political economy that have occurred at both global and local levels. The university has also been adversely impacted by issues such as national political instability, severe under-funding, academic brain drain, and violent agitations which make its governance appear more suited for men. </p> <p>It is within this context that the university is expected to fulfil its mandate of being transformative and empowering. It is also expected that women students entering its mainly masculine terrain will be, in some way, automatically elevated. Nigerian women still have unequal access to higher education – about 37% of the total UI student body was female at the time of the research presented in this article. Moreover, as the research found, part of the lived experience of being a woman on a Nigerian university campus is being portrayed and treated as subordinate. This subordination is ostensibly due to “traditional culture,” as well as social and familial factors which view women as inherently fragile, dependent on male protection and requiring surveillance and control.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Religious and residential life at UI</strong></p> <p>Part of the complex realities that have shaped student life at UI in the last two decades has been the rise of transnational religious movements such as Pentecostalism and reformist (more fundamentalist) Islam. Although students’ religious fellowships have existed since the earliest days of the university, they were on the fringes of the larger student body until the 1980s and 1990s, which saw the emergence of strong evangelical groups of Christians and Muslims. </p> <p>Approximately 7,500 UI students (37% of the total student population as of the 2004/2005 academic year) are registered as members of religious organisations. These highly structured fellowships have a reputation of providing students with social and academic support networks, and also protection against campus violence. </p> <p>Less than half of UI students live on campus. At the time of this study, only 44.6% of students (30% and 15% of male and female students respectively) were accommodated in the university’s twelve halls of residence. Eight of these halls were single sex while four were mixed (co-ed). The halls form a strong part of the university culture on account of the deep ties which students forge there, ties which frequently endure beyond graduation. </p> <p>The method of studying perceptions of women in these religious and residential spaces was mainly qualitative, combining interviews and focus group discussions with both male and female students, including leaders of the fellowships and residential halls. Documentary evidence about the fellowship groups was also used. In addition, the Dean of Students, wardens of selected halls and staff advisers of the religious fellowships were interviewed.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Women’s ‘natural’ place</strong> </p> <p>A major finding of the study was the general perception of, and acquiescence to, a gendered hierarchy which privileged male students. Men were credited with superior skills in leadership and in people, time and crisis management. This position was supported by essentialist notions of women’s ‘natural’ temperament, as well as by various cultural constructs, the generally low status of women in Nigeria and religious doctrine. </p> <p>The cohort of leaders of the religious fellowships was predominantly male, in spite of the large number of women members. Only two groups had up to 30% female leadership and, even then, these women were in turn subordinate to male leadership. The Amira (female head of the women’s arm of&nbsp; Muslim Students’ Society) vigorously dismissed the possibility of women’s leadership by declaring: “Astagafulla (God forbids it), Islam does not encourage the female to be head of the community.” </p> <p>In the women’s halls of residence, women served as executives but even in a co-ed hall that was 80% female, there were no women in the executive. Women’s participation in student politics as potential candidates for elective offices was low and frowned upon, as was women’s activism. A man residing in a mixed hall said that women who engaged in student politics " are probably... those feminists. Those who believe in women’s emancipation. But anybody who is oriented towards getting married, having a family, settling down, definitely,&nbsp; the man will not want it." </p> <p>The reasons given for women’s ostensible apathy were astounding: for example, their “fragility,” “lack of courage,” “inferiority complex,” “keeping malice,” “being more controversial.” These traits were opposed to “men’s boldness,” “self-confidence,” and “strong heart.” The resignation of many women to their marginalisation in university politics is captured in the words of a female hall warden: “Some of (the female students) will always say ‘What can a woman do? Let me just face my academics.’” Only occasional reference was made to an institutional culture that inhibited female participation, such as the psychological and physical violence that characterized student politics and made it threatening to women students. </p> <p>The domestication of women students was observed in both the secular and religious spaces being researched. Considerable exploitative interactions were reported, mainly in the form of women providing domestic services by cooking for men in the residential halls and doing chores such as decorating, sweeping and cooking in the religious fellowships. Where permitted, public preaching by women was limited. </p> <p><strong>Infantilisation and control of women</strong> </p> <p>Closely related to the relegation of women students to the background was their complaint of being infantilised by female hall wardens, who enforced regulations on visiting periods, “morality,” dress codes and “loitering” around the hall by “ladies.” That male students were subjected to less authoritarian treatment by their male wardens<em> </em>and hall supervisors was resented and seen as sexist. </p> <p>Trivialising or labelling of female students was common, for example, in the derisive references to residents of one of the female halls as “<em>butty</em>”, that is, overly westernised, privileged, and not suitable as “wife material.” </p> <p>In the fellowships, women’s high levels of participation in religious activities were stigmatized as excessive, juvenile, and evidence of their being “somehow feebleminded, more easily moved than guys.” This participation was viewed as advantageous, though, as a strategy for women to identify suitable partners. A male respondent said: “There’s a big rush in the husband market. In the fellowships and crusades, you will see the number of sisters who are there to get a husband.” </p> <p><strong>Female sexuality and disorder</strong> </p> <p>In striking contrast to the strong emphasis placed on women’s subsidiary role in the university, their sexuality was constructed as powerful and threatening to the social order. According to this discourse, women’s sexuality was overwhelming and also impossible for women to control by themselves. One of the coordinators of a women’s Christian fellowship presented women students as highly subversive of social norms, " female students... go about nude, all in the name of fashion... the way they dress... may directly or indirectly have influence on the male students... like what they used to say, that ‘women and money is the root of evil." </p> <p>There were recurring references to transactional sex and allegations that women students preferred ‘sugar daddies,’ echoing a dominant media focus in Nigeria on the alleged “immorality” of women undergraduates. Given such views, the residential hall authorities blamed gender-based violence on the victims, holding women responsible for their own sexual harassment because of their “indecent dressing.” </p> <p><strong>Women’s limited resistance</strong> </p> <p>Women students occasionally contested male control of the fellowship groups and the sexual double-standard. Those residing in one of the co-ed halls, in a proactive move, joined a non-governmental organisation, War against Rape and Sexual Harassment (WARSH) to fight cases of rape and sexual harassment, and secured the support of male residents. </p> <p>Women students also reported wanting better mentoring by women lecturers and the women’s groups on campus. Some questioned the more conservative agendas of student groups that were preoccupied with producing “good wives and mothers to build the nation.” </p> <p><strong>Reflecting on the research</strong></p> <p>The perception of a gendered hierarchy in the religious fellowships and student politics of the University of Ibadan was pervasive. Such hierarchy runs contrary to the stated objective of the university to be an equitable space. The statements of many of the women students in this study denote a disturbing level of resignation to an unequal social status, and a reluctance to exert some degree of agency to empower themselves in either secular or religious contexts. There was also a disturbing regurgitation of age-old stereotypes of women as quarrelsome; as less academically gifted than men; as shallow thinkers and as malicious. </p> <p>The popular attribution of such attitudes to ‘tradition,’ and the general preference for them rather than the ‘modernising’ atmosphere of a university, suggests that both women and men students have internalised certain gendered beliefs and practices and are unwilling to change them. This is despite the fact that, as university students, they have been exposed to technological innovations and a range of philosophical, political and social theories. </p> <p>However, we also found evidence of some contestations of the gendered hierarchy in the secular spaces of the university, among hall chairs and female activists. Here, there were remarks that indicate that women can negotiate their relationships with their male friends and academic colleagues. There were also calls for reviews of the university curriculum to include entrepreneurial courses that could make women more employable and thus less dependent on male partners. </p> <p>Uncertainties about campus life and disillusionment about national life have coalesced in the minds of women students into a state of resignation and frustration. While the individual may feel powerless to effect change, the university institution can restructure its policies and processes to establish gender equality. This might be a painful evolution for a deeply masculine institution; it will have to make deep changes in order to challenge the restrictive social roles ascribed to women in what should be a transformative environment. </p> <p><em>This is an abridged version of an article first published in Feminist Africa (Issue 8). Read the full article </em><a href="http://www.feministafrica.org/"><em>here</em></a><em>. Please use the original source if citing.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="background-color: #ededed; padding: 15px; border: 1px dotted #8A3CAC;"><a href="http://www.feministafrica.org/"><img style="width: 150px; float: right; border: 3px solid #fff; margin: 0 0 5px 10px;" src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/FeministAfrica_logoforOD.jpg" alt="" /></a>This article is part of a collaboration between 50.50's <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/our-africa"><em>Our Africa</em></a> and <a href="http://www.feministafrica.org/"><em>Feminist Africa</em></a>. Feminist Africa is a journal published by the African Gender Institute, University of Cape Town, that offers cutting-edge, informative and provocative African feminist scholarship. <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/our-africa">View all articles in the series</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn-simidele-dosekun/feminist-africa-putting-africa%E2%80%99s-feminist-thinking-on-intellectua">Feminist Africa: putting Africa’s feminist thinking on the intellectual map</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nana-darkoa-sekyiamah-sandra-mbanefo-obiago/power-of-stories-raising-profile-of-african-women%E2%80%99s">The power of stories: raising the profile of African women’s cultural production</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-radloff/african-cyberfeminism-in-21st-century">African cyberfeminism in the 21st century </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/oumy-khairy-ndiaye/is-success-of-mpesa-%E2%80%98empowering%E2%80%99-kenyan-rural-women">Is the success of M-Pesa ‘empowering’ Kenyan rural women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/hoodah-abrahamsfayker/litigating-for-equality-in-south-africa-muslim-marriages">Litigating for equality in South Africa: Muslim marriages</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/beti-ellerson-tsitsi-dangarembga/speaking-%E2%80%98unspeakable%E2%80%99-through-film-in-zimbabwe">Speaking the ‘unspeakable’ through film in Zimbabwe</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama-yaba-badoe-salem-mekuria/african-feminist-engagements-with-film">African feminist engagements with film</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ch%C3%A9-ramsden/oscar-pistorius-south-african-story">Oscar Pistorius: the South African story</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Nigeria Equality Feminist Africa 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's health women and power Sexual violence gender feminism everyday feminism bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter Abiola Odejide Mon, 22 Sep 2014 09:45:33 +0000 Abiola Odejide 86098 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The power of stories: raising the profile of African women’s cultural production https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nana-darkoa-sekyiamah-sandra-mbanefo-obiago/power-of-stories-raising-profile-of-african-women%E2%80%99s <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"I’m concerned about the fact that we download a lot about ourselves yet upload very little into mainstream media, no matter which media we are talking about”, Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, Nigerian filmmaker and writer, speaks to Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah about her passion for all forms of creativity.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>&nbsp;Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah</strong>: Can you tell us about yourself and the work you do? </p> <p><strong>Sandra Mbanefo Obiago</strong>: I founded &lsquo;Communicating for Change&rsquo; (CFC) in 1998 and recently started an art business called the African Art Spectrum. The focus of my work is to tell positive stories about Africa from an African viewpoint to Africans and the world. I&rsquo;m concerned about the fact that we download a lot about ourselves yet upload very little into mainstream media, no matter which media we are talking about. I see myself as a content provider, whether I produce films, curate art exhibitions or events, write poetry or articles, or even teach. I am passionate about how we tell our stories and what sort of images we project about Africa and African women. I believe there is a great deal of misrepresentation, even locally, so I&rsquo;ve tried to talk about issues such as health, education, women&rsquo;s empowerment, the environment and other key challenges, through creativity and human interest stories that touch people in meaningful, powerful and also poetic ways. I think we&rsquo;ve been quite successful; our films have been broadcast in forty countries and all over Nigeria. </p> <p>Today I am telling stories through art and performance. CFC, in its time, was a powerful content provider to television stations across Nigeria. It was a pioneer in addressing how small and medium scale creative businesses can strengthen their programmes and also be strong institutions. By working with international organisations like the Goethe Institute and the Ford Foundation, we were able to organize fora and conferences where we addressed important issues such as intellectual property rights, business practices and funding. A wonderful collaboration with the Lagos Business School resulted in the Pan African University creating curricula for creative SMEs, and this has since grown into a full-fledged school of media and communications. </p> <p>I&rsquo;m passionate about all forms of creativity, working to promote our rich culture and to help us address our development challenges. We need closer links between the different sectors of the creative community &ndash; film makers should work closely with the best of Nigerian writers and musicians, and incorporate a stronger visual aesthetic within the frame by working with photographers and visual artists. By working together, the creative community can also tap into the knowledge bank of our content experts in health, development and so on, so that our messages are poetic, accurate and inspirational. </p> <p><strong>NDS</strong>: One of the things that struck me in the forum is that there is no need for any sort of distance between the commercially viable films and socially responsible films. </p> <p><strong>SMO</strong>: Absolutely, I mean look at the film <em>Blood Diamond</em>. There have been a lot of documentaries about the illegal diamond trade but that Hollywood feature film did more than all of them to raise consciousness and inform the public about looking at the source of one&rsquo;s jewellery. In CFC&rsquo;s films, we partnered with Nollywood directors such as <a href="http://www.mainframemovies.tv/">Tunde Kelani</a> and Teco Benson to ensure we combined art, social responsibility and entertainment in a seamless way. </p> <p><strong>NDS</strong>: I think it&rsquo;s a very strong myth that socially responsible films are not commercially successful. </p> <p><strong>SMO</strong>: Well, I think there are some propaganda films that are not artistic, that some of the agencies have used here. For instance, the more conventional &lsquo;ABC&rsquo;s of HIV/AIDS&rsquo; is not as engaging as a popular show like <em>Soul City</em> which is also on HIV/AIDS but is based on research and is also a very entertaining series with high production values. I think some of the reasons why people here believe that socially responsible films may not be entertaining is because they often work with low production budgets. I don&rsquo;t think there is enough investment in the artistic side. </p> <p><strong>NDS</strong>: Where did your passion for creativity come from? </p> <p><strong>SMO</strong>: I started off in school wanting to act so I was in all the plays. I went to drama school and I actually realized that I didn&rsquo;t have what it takes to be in front of the camera; I didn&rsquo;t have enough grit. I branched into education, and then into educational film, and that is really how I got into documentary film. Another important creative area for me is photography and poetry. I&rsquo;m actually working on a photography exhibition right now with my 18 year old daughter which will be presented with poetry. I guess this is why I moved from Communicating for Change which focused on development media and film, to the African Art Spectrum which now connects all the creative dots in my life. </p> <p><strong>NDS</strong>: A number of people mentioned to me that even when you are not there your mark is there, and the people who you work with do what you&rsquo;ve trained them to do. So it sounds like you don&rsquo;t need to be physically present to make sure the work gets done the way you would like. </p> <p><strong>SMO</strong>: It may look like that from the outside, but in reality it takes a whole lot of supervision and quality control to ensure the best output each time. It is very challenging to run creative businesses in Nigeria where there is no supporting infrastructure, and one spends too much money on provide private infrastructure and keeping it going. I once calculated that during a period of two years I spent an average of US$3000 a month on electricity and running my generator. This didn&rsquo;t include staff costs. That&rsquo;s just crazy. How can we make a profit if we spend so much on production? </p> <p>The whole process of creative enterprise management is a big challenge, and I think the problem in Nigeria is that we have a lot of creative people, especially in film, who are running enterprises which they shouldn&rsquo;t be, simply because there are no big studios that one can depend on. This is both frustrating and draining for creative people.&nbsp; So the challenge remains how do we strengthen small scale enterprises in the creative sector? How do we ensure that people doing theatre, jewellery, fashion and so on can actually continue to do so and have managers to manage the business side of their ventures? It&rsquo;s really tough; even abroad it&rsquo;s very tough. </p> <p><strong>NDS</strong>: What did you like about the <em>African Women in Film </em>forum?<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>SMO</strong>: I thought it was intellectually stimulating. We tend to often look at ourselves in isolation. I think as Nigerians, generally, we are over-confident, we believe that we are it, and then you realize that there is a whole historical perspective on the misrepresentation of Africans and the misrepresentation of black women. So how do you as a responsible creative person address that? I didn&rsquo;t agree with some of the speakers who said &lsquo;I make only what sells,&rsquo; and I did agree with what someone from the floor said about &lsquo;creating desire.&rsquo; We do have to create the desire. It&rsquo;s very important, but I thought what was good about the forum was that we had different perspectives so you are not only speaking to the converted &ndash; which is what makes it sometimes very boring when it&rsquo;s just civil society talking about issues. At the forum we were also talking to mainstream Nollywood people, and if we can get them on our side that&rsquo;s very important in our struggle for enlightenment in our artistic endeavours. </p> <p>The biggest challenge for a forum like <em>African Women in Film</em> is to broaden the ripple effect. It&rsquo;s a continuous discussion; it&rsquo;s not a one-stop thing. We need to constantly remind ourselves what the prize is, and then take daily, baby steps to get to it. Our&nbsp; young people, many of whom I have mentored, are so open; they are hungry to learn and these kind of fora are very important for them to get new perspectives. </p> <p>The presentation at the forum about orature, the wealth and nuances of language was also important. We rarely think about these issues, and how we need to translate them onto the screen because the present, young generation does not read enough. My daughter read <em>Things Fall Apart</em> and she loved it but I had to almost force her to read it. The comment from Steven Spielberg that &lsquo;movies are our literature&rsquo; is so true, and I will probably say that Facebook is the literature of this generation. How do we ensure that the messages that we are creating are getting onto those types of platforms? How do we ensure that messages get on to mobile phones and catch the attention of young people? How do you challenge perceptions, knowledge and attitudes about vital issues if not through exciting media? The power of the media is the power of stories to influence our decisions. </p> <p><em>This is an abridged and updated version of an article first published in Feminist Africa, and available </em><a href="http://agi.ac.za/sites/agi.ac.za/files/11_conversation_sandra_mbanefo_obiagwu_with_nana_sekyiamah.pdf"><em>here</em></a><em>. <br /></em></p> <p><em>The conversation took place during the first &lsquo;African Women in Film Forum&rsquo; organized by the </em><a href="http://www.awdf.org/"><em>African Women&rsquo;s Development Fund</em></a><em> and the </em><a href="http://www.lapanig.com/"><em>Lufodo Academy of Performing Arts</em></a><em>. The conversation was updated in 2014 to include new developments in Sandra&rsquo;s career.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="background-color:#ededed; padding: 15px; border: 1px dotted #8A3CAC;"><a href="http://www.feministafrica.org/"><img style="width:150px; float: right;border:3px solid #fff;margin: 0 0 5px 10px" src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/FeministAfrica_logoforOD.jpg" /></a>This article is part of a collaboration between 50.50's <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/our-africa"><i>Our Africa</i></a> and <a href="http://www.feministafrica.org/"><i>Feminist Africa</i></a>. Feminist Africa is a journal published by the African Gender Institute, University of Cape Town, that offers cutting-edge, informative and provocative African feminist scholarship. <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/our-africa">View all articles in the series</a></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama-yaba-badoe-salem-mekuria/african-feminist-engagements-with-film">African feminist engagements with film</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/beti-ellerson-tsitsi-dangarembga/speaking-%E2%80%98unspeakable%E2%80%99-through-film-in-zimbabwe">Speaking the ‘unspeakable’ through film in Zimbabwe</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-radloff/african-cyberfeminism-in-21st-century">African cyberfeminism in the 21st century </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/fatimah-kelleher/women%27s-voices-in-northern-nigeria-hearing-broader-narratives">Women&#039;s voices in northern Nigeria: hearing the broader narratives </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yifat-susskind/what-we-owe-nigeria%E2%80%99s-kidnapped-schoolgirls">What we owe Nigeria’s kidnapped schoolgirls</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/pan-africanism-beyond-survival-to-renaissance">Pan-Africanism: beyond survival to renaissance?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn/our-africa-mapping-african-womens-critical-resistance">Our Africa: mapping African women&#039;s critical resistance </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn-simidele-dosekun/feminist-africa-putting-africa%E2%80%99s-feminist-thinking-on-intellectua">Feminist Africa: putting Africa’s feminist thinking on the intellectual map</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn/tales-of-lionesses-third-african-feminist-forum">Tales of the lionesses: the third African Feminist Forum</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Nigeria Culture Equality Feminist Africa 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements gender feminism 50.50 newsletter young feminists Sandra Mbanefo Obiago Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah Mon, 25 Aug 2014 08:18:34 +0000 Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah and Sandra Mbanefo Obiago 85411 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ebola: between public health and private profit https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/bob-rigg/ebola-between-public-health-and-private-profit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Known to the international community since 1976, why has the world dragged its feet for decades to find a vaccine for Ebola<span style="font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: &amp;amp;amp; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: &amp;amp;amp; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">—</span>and where has the money gone for public health research?&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/546772/ebola tabloids_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/546772/ebola tabloids_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="376" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Fears of Ebola spread to the US. Will this finally galvanize action to find a (affordable) cure for the virus? <a href="http://www.demotix.com/photo/5454584/new-york-tabloids-report-possible-ebola-virus-patient&amp;popup=1">Demotix/Richard Levine</a>. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</p><p>The current focus of public attention is on the unprecedented west African outbreak of Ebola, a virulent disease with a high mortality rate that can be accompanied by the almost complete breakdown of normal bodily functions, as well as by extreme incontinence and bleeding from all orifices. A horrific way of dying.<span></span><span></span></p><p>Of the five types of Ebola, the currently active Zaire Ebolavirus is the most aggressive and lethal, with an extremely high mortality rate up to about 90%.&nbsp;<span>But mass media are not asking possibly the most fundamental question about Ebola–given that Ebola has been known to the international health community since 1976 (featuring in about 34 outbreaks), why was a vaccine not developed long ago?</span></p><p><span></span></p><p>The answer lies in the unwillingness of western pharmaceutical companies wedded to high profits to consider the undoubtedly costly investment in vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases that are rampant in the poorest countries of the world, mostly in Africa.<span></span><span></span></p><p>The speed and unpredictability of the current outbreak has confronted the world with the fearsome possibility that this disease could even spread to the US and the west. As soon as Ebola was perceived to be no longer confined to Africa, the world–which has until now turned its back on Ebola and a number of other tropical infectious diseases–was galvanized into action. There is a significant risk that the mythical global village might become an uncomfortable reality.&nbsp;&nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><p>The present head of the World Bank, whose professional life began with handling an infectious disease outbreak in Haiti, has announced that the World Bank will donate $200 million to an Ebola fund to be administered by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO has set itself a target of $100 million, of which only $30 million has so far been contributed by its member states.&nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><h2>From 'African infection' to global pandemic</h2><p>Until recently, this Ebola outbreak was concentrated in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, three of the poorest countries in the world. Liberia is ranked 179 on the UN Human Development Index, with an average life expectancy of 56.11; Guinea is ranked 175, with a life expectancy of 60.6, while Sierra Leone is at rock bottom, at 183, with a life expectancy of 45.56. All these countries have been ravaged by war and conflict, and are amongst the most corrupt in the world. Poverty is widespread, communication is limited; borders are not just porous, but practically non-existent. Many people live in remote small communities completely out of touch with everything.&nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><p>One unsettling feature of the current outbreak lies in the fact that Ebola has also taken root in some large cities, where it is much harder to identify and eradicate. Because there is little faith in the thoroughly discredited public institutions, any government-declared Ebola emergency is often taken with a grain of salt. Even those health workers who commit to the fight against Ebola frequently lack the most basic forms of protection–unsurprisingly, about 100 health workers have already died. The surviving health professionals <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140814-ebola-africa-america-medicine-science-world/?google_editors_picks=true">live with the knowledge</a> that their commitment can lead to a nasty death, with whose symptoms they are all too familiar. Laboratory workers and other support staff are reluctant to have contact with blood, urine and stool samples, out of fear of the consequences.&nbsp;&nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><p>The WHO will initially focus on sending in teams of well-equipped infectious disease specialists who, notwithstanding their expertise, will nevertheless be functioning in a less than optimal environment. One WHO doctor already in Africa confessed that he had to overcome resistance from his wife when he responded to a call for volunteers.&nbsp;&nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><p>The&nbsp;WHO’s declaration of a “public health emergency of international concern” now authorises it to intervene in the affected countries, to support and strengthen their capacity to respond to this crisis, due to the "serious and unusual nature of the outbreak and the potential for further international spread". Reputable non-governmental organisations such as Medecins Sans Frontieres have criticised the slow international response, saying that the virus is “out of control”. It is not generally understood that the WHO's declaration empowers it to intervene directly in each of the African countries involved in the outbreak, requiring relevant local authorities to<span>&nbsp;actively</span><span>&nbsp;cooperate with it. &nbsp;</span></p><p><span></span></p><p>The degree of chaos and confusion reported by reliable non-governmental organisations suggests that even the WHO’s man on the ground in the region is either out of touch or is being economical with the truth. Only a major concerted intervention by large numbers of well-qualified and well-equipped outside experts can hope to keep the lid on this cauldron of toxic uncertainty. Even if such an intervention is forthcoming, and quickly, it may be too late. &nbsp;</p><p>The primordial western terror of Ebola is best exemplified by the current furious debate in the US, with some claiming that the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) acted irresponsibly when inviting infected US doctors back to the US for high quality care, allegedly exposing the entire population of the west to a possible outbreak.</p><h2>Restricting the global health agenda</h2><p>Because the west has until now perceived Ebola as an African infection, it has been reluctant to fund research into an Ebola vaccine. Now that Ebola could possibly morph into a worldwide pandemic, the west is coming up with considerable resources, to contain the outbreak and to produce a vaccine. If the rigorous standard procedures for testing such vaccines continue to be applied, it could take two years before a vaccine is available.&nbsp;&nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><p>If an Ebola outbreak has by then escaped Africa and has established itself outside Africa, including in the west, demand for the vaccine would vastly exceed supply. The company selected to produce the vaccine would take full advantage of this situation, driving prices and profits through the roof. The weak would go to the wall, unvaccinated, while the powerful immunised themselves.<span></span><span></span></p><p>It can take as long as 21 days for identifiable Ebola symptoms to develop. The latency period normally lasts about 6-10 days. During this period Ebola is normally indistinguishable from the flu.&nbsp;Ebola becomes infectious only when its first symptoms have developed. And the earliest symptoms of Ebola–very high temperature, vomiting, and diarrhea–are not exactly confined to Ebola. This is when there is a considerable risk of infection and contamination.<span></span><span></span></p><p>If Ebola spreads to the west, with its large anonymous conurbations, it would be difficult to control. In the absence of a vaccine, the probability of deaths would increase greatly. At this stage, western media are filled with uninformed chatter about vaccines and serums. Several companies have been working to develop an Ebola vaccine, but in the US, where most of this research is concentrated, most have been denied funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).&nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><p>It is also true that the enormous cost of tests mandated by the FDA&nbsp;<span>until now,</span><span>&nbsp;sometimes running into hundreds of millions of dollars, has been a significant factor in pharmaceutical companies’ reluctance to test new vaccines. The FDA is now under pressure to review or even to abandon this policy in relation to Ebola.</span></p><h2>Chemical vs biological fears</h2><p><span></span></p><p>It has emerged that much of the funding for Ebola research has aimed, not at protecting Africans and others from highly infectious tropical diseases, but at protecting western governments from the possible deliberate use of biological agents by non-state entities, or terrorists. Funding that is unavailable for public health purposes is suddenly miraculously available for national security.<span></span><span></span></p><p>Since 11 September, western governments have been fiercely lobbied by pharmaceutical companies which, out of naked self-interest, have raised alarm in high places by hyper-inflating the threat to the west from biological agents in the hands of terrorist groups. This alarm, with its far-reaching economic and health consequences, has been concealed from the general public.<span></span><span></span></p><p>For example, a UK company called Acambis persuaded governments of a serious risk that smallpox might be deliberately used by terrorists. Acambis went one step further, convincing many governments that they had to prepare for mass vaccination if they wanted to protect their populations. The fact that a much cheaper policy of containment had helped WHO eradicate smallpox from Africa was conveniently overlooked.<span></span><span></span></p><p>Acambis invested a lot of money in lobbying senior public health officials. Enormous quantities of smallpox vaccine were ordered by gullible governments on the advice of these senior public health officials, as Acambis shareholders laughed all the way to the stock exchange, and Acambis was eventually sold to a US company for a fancy price. Since the smallpox vaccine has a limited life expectancy, those governments that bought it were also committing to replace their stocks at regular intervals. It was money for jam.<span></span><span></span></p><p>Governments may have been hoodwinked into spending many hundreds of millions of dollars on a public health fiction devised by the public relations representatives of immensely profitable pharmaceutical companies. &nbsp;</p><p>Although today’s terrorist organisations are much better funded and organised than their counterparts in the aftermath of 9/11, it can be contended that terrorist use of biological agents is unlikely in the present environment. Biological agents are very blunt instruments at best. Once released and dispersed, they cannot be confined to enemy populations, and can spread like wildfire. It is quite possible that they may eventually come back to bite the very organisations which released them, medically and politically.&nbsp;</p><p>Moreover, since the war in Syria, we know that terrorist groups can now produce chemical weapons, which are strategically much more promising than biological agents. They can be targeted at specific areas and populations, and their capacity to generate fear and terror is undiminished.<span></span><span></span></p><p>Various US and Canadian private companies and institutions have worked to develop an Ebola vaccine, but have so far been denied the NIH funding which, in the US, is the precondition for phase one trials on human beings. Excited at the possibility of an international move to enhance preparedness for this outbreak of Ebola, pharmaceutical companies will already be lobbying senior public health officials to secure a contract to develop and produce an Ebola vaccine. Given growing international concern about a possible international Ebola pandemic, the sky will be the limit for the companies cutting each other’s throats for this plum contract.&nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><p>US observers&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/8/4/5963751/the-real-cause-of-the-ebola-outbreak-its-not-what-you-think/in/5712456">recently pointed out</a> that, “right now, more money goes into fighting baldness and erectile dysfunction than hemorrhagic fevers like dengue or Ebola.” A table of global pharmaceutical spending in 2013 shows that “neglected diseases” including Ebola received almost no funding.<span></span><span></span></p><p>At its session on 24 May 2013 the World Health Assembly in Geneva <a href="http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/WHA_66_seventh_day_resolution_adopted/en/">adopted resolution&nbsp;WHA66.12</a> listing 17 neglected tropical diseases. In supporting this resolution, which interestingly enough did not list Ebola as a neglected tropical disease, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan spoke eloquently about and pleaded for the demise of neglected tropical diseases:&nbsp;&nbsp;“The size of the problem is immense as these diseases have always inflicted immense suffering to more than one billion poor ‘voiceless and faceless’ people, causing stigma and social exclusion particularly for women and children who ‘suffer in silence.’”<span></span><span></span></p><p>Dr Margaret Chan’s heartfelt plea went unnoticed outside of the World Health Assembly, like previous pleas of this kind.<span></span><span></span></p><p>The time has come for the BRICS governments, which collectively wield considerable economic power, to demonstrate their commitment to the developing world by establishing a well-endowed fund whose aim is, in consultation with WHO and relevant centres of expertise for infectious diseases, to stimulate research into and development of effective and inexpensive vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases afflicting the population of developing countries.<span></span><span></span></p><p>They would fund the development of independent research institutes and production facilities to produce vaccines and medicines for sale to poor countries at below cost, and to developed countries for two or three times the cost price.&nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><p>This would go some way towards rectifying the historical imbalance between developing and developed worlds in this regard. It would also enormously strengthen the political/economic relationship between BRICS states and developing countries.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jonathan-miller/contemporary-challenges-in-medicines-access">Contemporary challenges in medicines access</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/alice-welbourn/aids-2014-conference-stepping-up-pace-and-still-on-wrong-path">AIDS 2014 Conference: stepping up the pace and still on the wrong path </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/theme_9-americanpower/article_876.jsp">International law or US hegemony: from chemical weapons to Iraq</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ron-g-manley/destroying-syria%E2%80%99s-chemical-weapons">Destroying Syria’s chemical weapons</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Sierra Leone </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Guinea </div> <div class="field-item even"> Liberia </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Liberia Guinea Sierra Leone Nigeria Ebola Bob Rigg Privatisation Mon, 11 Aug 2014 12:21:56 +0000 Bob Rigg 85107 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Jonathan faces the north https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/africa-confidential/jonathan-faces-north <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After two months in the global spotlight, the insurgency in northern Nigeria is fast turning into a national political crisis.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/bringbackourgirls.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/bringbackourgirls.jpg" alt="Bring Back Our Girls campaigner with placard and hashtag" title="" width="230" height="286" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gone viral: the campaign has puzzled Nigerians, amid atrocities before and since. Xavier J. Peg / Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The deepening security crisis in northern Nigeria and along the borders with&nbsp;Cameroon&nbsp;and Niger&nbsp;has galvanised more attention internationally than in Abuja. Last week, it was&nbsp;Britain's turn to hold a security conference on northern Nigeria. It invited an impressive group of diplomats and security experts. Many also attended the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, hosted by the foreign secretary,&nbsp;William Hague,&nbsp;and&nbsp;Angelina Jolie, a special envoy of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees.</p> <p>A month ago it was&nbsp;France&nbsp;which hosted the regional summit at which the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, declared “total war” on the&nbsp;<em>Jama'atu Ahlus Sunnah Lidda'awati wal Jihad</em>, widely known as&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em>, dubbing it the&nbsp;<em>al-Qaeda&nbsp;</em>of west Africa. His fellow leaders, especially Paul Biya of Cameroon, looked markedly less enthusiastic about the prospect of total war in the region.</p> <p>In August,&nbsp;the United States<strong>&nbsp;</strong>president, Barack Obama, will host a grand Africa summit in Washington and security will top the agenda, along with economic renewal. Jonathan has been invited to that too, despite some coded critical messages passing between Abuja and Washington.</p> <p>Many Nigerians have been puzzled by this intensity of international attention, triggered by&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em>'s abduction of more than 230 schoolgirls from Chibok, in Borno state, in April. Far from being a new peak in violence by the jihadist group, it was the latest in a series of bloody attacks in the north-east. Earlier attacks had included the murder of dozens of teenage schoolchildren of both genders and serial abductions. Since the kidnapping of the Chibok girls,&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em>&nbsp;has launched a succession of attacks on villages in the area, and organised two bombs blasts in Abuja.</p> <p>Earlier this month, it killed hundreds more people in the Gwoza local-government area in Borno, after murdering the emir of Gwoza,&nbsp;Shehu Mustapha Idrisa Timta, who had publicly condemned <em>Boko Haram</em>. This prompted speculation that the Islamists may be seeking to take over swathes of territory. Locals say the group's black flag is flying in many villages in the Gwoza area.</p> <h2><strong>"Nine parts military"</strong></h2><p> Taking territory would mark a huge tactical switch for a group which security experts say is about 4,000-5,000 strong and split into hundreds of quasi-autonomous fighting units, with several established bases in the Sambisa Forest, reckoned to cover an area the size of Britain, and the Mandara mountains on the Cameroon border.</p> <p><em>Boko Haram</em>'s fighting and logistical capability has increased under&nbsp;Abubakar Shekau's leadership. “The group is now nine parts military, one part theological, at least for this moment in the struggle,” said a Nigerian official who has had extensive contacts with its former members.</p> <p class="pullquote-right">President Jonathan has not convinced his own people that the government has a strategy to rescue the Chibok girls or contain, let alone defeat,&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em></p><p><em></em>Not only has the group launched a near-constant barrage of attacks on villages, and especially schools, this year; it also has the logistics to move hundreds of captive children and adults around the region in trucks, keeping them well concealed from, or at least beyond the reach of, Nigeria's military and special forces from Britain and the USA.</p> <p>Until now,&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em>'s great military strength has been its mobility—able to hit and run at will, targeting military and police installations, even organising jail breaks. When the government announced emergency laws in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in the north-east alongside a new army onslaught a year ago,&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em>&nbsp;retreated from cities such as Maiduguri to the forest.</p> <p>Although it reduced operations for a few weeks, the militia quickly established a new tempo of armed raids on villages and even the military's Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri. In the short term, there would seem to be little advantage in trying to hold territory, unless it was able to take vast numbers of civilians hostage in the process. Nigerian security officials said the armed forces would see that as a red line and any&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em>-held territory would be attacked by air and land.</p> <h2><strong>Political dynamics</strong></h2> <p>These developments, regardless of international reaction, are changing political dynamics in the country. The local campaign #bringbackourgirls is led by luminaries such as&nbsp;Obi Ezekwesili, a former education minister and vice-president of the World Bank, and&nbsp;Hadiza Bala Usman, an activist from a radical northern family and former special assistant to&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.africa-confidential.com/whos-who-profile/id/2642/Nasir_El-Rufai">Nasir El-Rufai</a></strong>. Their campaign prompted global attention as their messages and interviews flashed across social media and satellite-television stations amid multiple demonstrations in cities across Nigeria.</p> <p>Both&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em>&nbsp;and the government are drawing some harsh lessons from this latest development. Earlier this year, several&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em>&nbsp;fighters intensified their kidnapping and ransom operations, say government security officials. Abductions stick in the public mind far longer than even the bloodiest massacre. Many local newspapers carry a daily tally of the number of days the Chibok girls have been held hostage; one opposition newspaper simply carries “Where are our girls?” each day.</p> <p>The fighters see the operations, officials say, as a means to boost their profile internationally and to raise funds through ransom payments. Cameroon is known to have paid ransoms on behalf of French hostages last year; the official line from Abuja, reinforced by western diplomats, is that no ransom will be paid.</p> <p>Some fear that northern Nigeria could replace the Sahel as the hostage market of choice for jihadist fighters, who have earned tens of millions of dollars from kidnapping there over the past decade. However, the main concern for Jonathan's government is the group's political impact. For months, the orthodoxy in Jonathan's circle was that the group was sustained primarily by opposition politicians and their business allies, who saw it as a way to undermine the government.</p> <p>Tacticians in the governing People's Democratic Party (PDP) suggested that the insurgency could be turned to the government's advantage in elections due next year. The state of emergency likely to continue in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe—all opposition strongholds—makes polling difficult if not impossible. Furthermore, voters will be able to contrast the conditions in the opposition-controlled north-east with the rising wealth of the south-south and south-east states.</p> <p>That calculation no longer works.&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em>'s bases may be confined to the north-east and neighbouring countries but its political effects are sweeping the nation. Whatever he may say at international conferences about the global struggle against terrorism, President Jonathan has not convinced his own people that the government has a strategy to rescue the Chibok girls or contain, let alone defeat,&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em>.</p> <p>Instead, political confidence in his government is declining and there have been ominous rumblings in the military. Some politicians in Abuja think that Jonathan won't win the PDP presidential nomination for next year's elections, while others say he won't even manage to hold on to power until the vote.</p> <p>The announcement this week that&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.africa-confidential.com/whos-who-profile/id/2760/Diezani_Allison-Madueke">Diezani Allison-Madueke</a></strong>, the seemingly immoveable petroleum minister and close presidential ally, is to seek election as secretary general of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries was seen by oil-company executives as a sign that Jonathan is planning to throw in the towel. Even if he wanted to, it's difficult to believe that his Ijaw people, led by fiery nationalists such as&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.africa-confidential.com/whos-who-profile/id/2698/Edwin_Clark">Edwin Clark</a></strong>, would allow him to stand down. Political insiders say simply that Jonathan won't get the votes, state by state, to win the party's presidential primaries but they don't yet have a clear idea of who could.</p> <p>That leaves other messier options. There is much interest in the plans of the Senate president, <strong><a href="http://www.africa-confidential.com/whos-who-profile/id/2624/David_Mark">David Mark</a></strong>, a veteran ally of General&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.africa-confidential.com/whos-who-profile/id/2609/Ibrahim_Babangida">Ibrahim Babangida</a></strong>, whose coup-making days go back to the 1970s and 1980s. Mark has taken a noticeably harder line on&nbsp;<em>Boko Haram</em>&nbsp;than his counterparts at the top of government.</p> <p>He is also, we hear, outraged by the current state of the armed forces, whose soldiers say they lack basic supplies and weaponry. Should Jonathan stumble, jump or be pushed, a groundswell is building for some form of transitional government to tackle both the security crisis and the flagging morale of the military. Among the leaders mooted for such a transition is none other than Brigadier Gen (Retired) David Mark.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>This article is reproduced with appreciation courtesy of </em><em><a href="http://www.africa-confidential.com/">Africa Confidential</a></em><em>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights-blog/gbenga-sesan/bringbackourgirls-%E2%80%93-not-%E2%80%98clicktivism%E2%80%99-but-growing-citizen-mobilis">#BringBackOurGirls – Not ‘clicktivism’ but growing citizen mobilisation </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/gustavo-pl%C3%A1cido-dos-santos/boko-haram-time-for-alternative-approach">Boko Haram: time for an alternative approach</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Nigeria Conflict rule of law resolution 1325: does it make any difference? Boko Haram - Behind the Headlines fundamentalisms Africa Confidential Nigerian sectarian conflict Non-state violence Thu, 19 Jun 2014 11:13:26 +0000 Africa Confidential 83857 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What we owe Nigeria’s kidnapped schoolgirls https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yifat-susskind/what-we-owe-nigeria%E2%80%99s-kidnapped-schoolgirls <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>People worldwide are calling for action to bring back the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria. But concern for the girls demands that we think carefully about the harmful consequences of proposed solutions – especially those calling for US military intervention.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body1">It is a nightmare that, at least for a moment, gripped the world’s attention. Hundreds of girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria by the armed fundamentalist group Boko Haram. The group later released a video of some of the girls, draped in dark colors and seated on the ground. Their families scoured this footage, searching their daughters’ faces for answers to their questions. Is she hurt? Is she afraid? </p> <p class="Body1">The girls’ faces are haunting. Their families are desperate. The failure of the Nigerian authorities to respond adequately is infuriating. The justifiable reaction has been a global outcry to Bring Back Our Girls. </p> <p class="Body1">But the safety of the girls and their communities demands more from us. It demands that we think long and hard about the consequences of the actions we call for and not merely implore our governments to “Do Something.” After all, for the US, that “something” has been to fast-track plans for <a href="http://fpif.org/africom-goes-war-sly/">militarizing its engagement with Africa</a>, primarily through AFRICOM, the US military command for the continent.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body1">Rather than issuing a blank cheque for military intervention, we need to stay focused on the girls and their well-being, now and into the future. Those are certainly the priorities of the grassroots activists in Nigeria who have staged waves of protests and sit-ins. When they issued the call to Bring Back Our Girls, it had a clear target: their own government, tasked with and failing to protect their rights.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/bringBackOurGirlsRally-dem-AyemobaGodswill.jpg" alt="Woman talking and gesticulating at a rally" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A woman expresses her frustration at the Nigerian government. Photo: Ayemoba Godswill / Demotix</span></span></span>For that reason, some have condemned as naïve and damaging the well-intentioned appeals of those outside of Nigeria demanding action from the US and other foreign powers. <a href="http://www.compareafrique.com/dear-americans-hashtags-wont-bringbackourgirls-might-actually-making-things-worse/">Writer Jumoke Balogun points out</a>, “Your calls for the United States to get involved in this crisis undermines the democratic process in Nigeria and co-opts the growing movement against the inept and kleptocratic Jonathan administration.” Those of us outside of Nigeria would do well to think beyond retweeting hashtags and to listen closely to these warnings. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/BringBackOurGirls-Michelle-Obama-juxt.png" alt="M. Obama holds #bringbackourgirls sign. Next to: Nothing will bring back the children murdered by my husband's drone strikes." title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Twitter users respond to Michelle Obama's joining the #bringbackourgirls campaign</span></span></span></p><p class="Body1"><strong>US military footprint in Africa</strong> </p> <p class="Body1">Like all US military ventures, AFRICOM is a <a href="http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/africacommand.htm">vehicle to secure US economic and security interests in the region</a>. The fact that AFRICOM is not a word one hears often in media and policy discussions is a testament to how embedded the US military project is, both in Africa and in our consciousness. It strikes few of us as unsettling that the US and other military powers operate bases around the world, an enduring footprint of colonial and unequal power relations. </p> <p class="Body1">The latest news is that the US military has <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/05/80-us-troops-sent-to-find-nigerian-girls.html">launched a Predator drone to conduct surveillance</a> in the search for the girls. But militarization will not make the girls of Borno State and their families safer. Just ask families in Yemen about US drones. Those drone strikes, many <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/remote-us-base-at-core-of-secret-operations/2012/10/25/a26a9392-197a-11e2-bd10-5ff056538b7c_story.html">originating from a US military base in Djibouti</a>, <a href="https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/03/05-5">terrorize</a> communities, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/world/middleeast/anwar-al-awlaki-a-us-citizen-in-americas-cross-hairs.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">assassinate</a> people with no due process and have <a href="http://www.policymic.com/articles/24164/a-list-of-children-killed-by-drone-strikes-in-pakistan-and-yemen">killed bystanders</a>, including children. </p> <p class="Body1">Drone enthusiasts realize that they are losing the battle for global public opinion. More and more people are learning about the devastating impacts of drone strikes on communities that live in fear of the next random explosion. Often, these realizations come from <a href="http://www.democracynow.org/2014/4/10/not_a_bug_splat_artists_confront">the inventive tactics of grassroots activists</a> like those who printed and swathed an entire Pakistani field in the single image of a child, a stark reminder to a drone pilot thousands of miles away of the consequences of pushing that button. </p> <p class="Body1">It is no surprise that the US military would seize upon the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls as a public relations antidote to manufacture a softer side to drones. What better face than that of a vulnerable girl to signal the benevolent intent of US troops in Africa? In fact, the search for these girls is not the first time that AFRICOM has put a humanitarian face on expanding the US military footprint. Across the region, US military delivery of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/05/world/africa/us-takes-training-role-in-africa-as-threats-grow-and-budgets-shrink.html?smid=pl-share">mosquito nets and prenatal vitamins</a> softens people’s realization that the US military is there to stay – nice and close to known oil reserves. <a href="http://fpif.org/militarized-humanitarianism-africa/">As Joeva Rock writes</a>, “These projects are more like a Trojan Horse: dressed up as gifts, they establish points of entry on the continent when and where they may be needed.” </p> <p class="Body1">US “humanitarian intervention” has already benefited Boko Haram. In 2011, a US/NATO attack destroyed the Libyan state in the name of democracy and human rights. The <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/world/africa/weapons-sent-to-libyan-rebels-with-us-approval-fell-into-islamist-hands.html?pagewanted=all">weapons given to rebels there have since scattered</a>, ending up in the <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/26/us-libya-un-arms-idUSTRE80P1QS20120126">hands of groups like Boko Haram</a>. The more that we militarize the response to the girls’ kidnapping, the more we run the risk of triggering new “unintended consequences,” including more guns turning up in the wrong hands. </p> <p class="Body1"><strong>The erosion of civilian responses to catastrophe</strong> </p> <p class="Body1">We have become accustomed to seeing the military encroach on formerly civilian realms of policing, search and rescue operations, disaster relief, development and more. The militarization of a wide array of government functions serves to keep “defense” budgets flush even through government spending cuts. </p> <p class="Body1">The pivotal shift came hours after the attacks of 9/11, when the Bush Administration chose to <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/specials/attacked/transcripts/bushaddress_092001.html">define a crime against humanity as an act of war</a> to justify invading Iraq and Afghanistan. A robust rule-of-law response upholding human rights would have entailed broad international cooperation in conducting an investigation, arrests, trial and prosecution of the perpetrators. Instead, the US declared war, setting us all on a course that now makes it hard to imagine what our world might look like had the US pursued justice instead of endless war in the wake of the atrocity. </p> <p class="Body1">We soon saw disaster militarism come into its own after Hurricane Katrina, when the military—in violation of a founding principle of US law—<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/05/AR2005090501404.html">patrolled the streets of New Orleans</a>, in essence occupying the flooded city. Like the grateful families accepting mosquito nets from US troops in Niger, only a few in New Orleans questioned the presence of soldiers on their streets in the days after the hurricane. In more and more cities across the US, people are witnessing the dramatic <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/03/28/4_shocking_examples_of_police_militarization_in_americas_small_towns_partner/">militarization of their police</a>. </p> <p class="Body1">And now, when Boko Haram has committed what is so obviously a criminal act, we struggle to imagine a solution that does not entail Predator surveillance or US boots on the ground. And the US military remains a hammer in search of a nail, only too eager to exploit every opportunity to deepen its hold in the region. </p> <p class="Body1"><strong>Women are not pawns – they are leaders</strong> </p> <p class="Body1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/rallyForNigerianSchoolGirls-dem-AyemobaGodswill.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/rallyForNigerianSchoolGirls-dem-AyemobaGodswill.jpg" alt="Large rally of women and men, with woman holding a microphone" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Former Minister of Education Obi Ezekwesili as news of the missing girls' whereabouts spreads. Photo: Ayemoba Godswill / Demotix</span></span></span>If an unqualified call to Bring Back Our Girls opens the door to the “Trojan horse” of humanitarian intervention, then what is the solution? </p> <p class="Body1">Is it to rely on the Nigerian military to act? It is, after all, a primary obligation of every government to protect its citizens. Yet many in Nigeria, including family members of the kidnapped girls, have faulted their government both for inaction and for repressive tactics that have only emboldened Boko Haram. </p> <p class="Body1">It took the abduction of more than 300 girls in a single night for the world to take notice, but women and girls have long been targets of Nigeria’s brutal conflict with Boko Haram. And they are not merely civilians caught in the cross-fire: violence against women is a key tactic of military cultures the world over. <a href="http://ojs.st-andrews.ac.uk/index.php/jtr/article/view/828/707">Nigeria is no exception.</a> </p> <p class="Body1">Like Boko Haram itself, the Nigerian military has waged its battles on the bodies of women and girls, reportedly raping and kidnapping female family members of suspected Boko Haram members to attack the group as a whole. </p> <p class="Body1">In 2011, a leader in Borno State, where the girls were abducted, <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/report/93250/analysis-understanding-nigeria-s-boko-haram-radicals">told a journalist</a>, “We initially thought the military would employ logical strategies to put an end to this cycle of violence... [but] the soldiers went from door to door killing innocent people, they broke into homes stealing property and raping young women.” Boko Haram leader Abubakr Shekau promised revenge in a video, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/07/nigeria-boko-haram-mass-kidnapping-vital-questions">warning</a>, “Since you are now holding our women, just wait and see what will happen to your own women.” </p> <p class="Body1">“Our women” versus “your women” – one would be hard pressed to find a clearer demonstration of women being reduced to pawns. That is what Boko Haram has done to these teenagers and what we risk perpetuating with ill-conceived military solutions. Where is the solution that brings them back home, without subjecting their communities to more militarism and violence? </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/bringBackOurGirlsRallyMourn-dem-AyemobaGodswill.jpg" alt="Woman in red, head in hands" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A woman mourns during a rally to pressure the Nigerian government. Photo: Ayemoba Godswill / Demotix</span></span></span>Unfortunately, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/17/us-nigerian-violence-summit-idUSBREA4G06120140517">the May 17 international security summit on Nigeria</a> sought a regional strategy to counter Boko Haram, without considering these questions. Representatives from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, France, Niger and Nigeria, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States gathered without so much as consulting those most threatened by the crisis: namely, the people of northeastern Nigeria. There was <a href="http://www.peacewomen.org/publications_enews_issue.php?id=197">neither one woman from Nigeria at the meeting nor any representatives of the affected communities.</a></p> <p class="Body1">The UK will host a <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/foreign-secretary-welcomes-constructive-regional-summit-on-boko-haram">follow-up summit in June</a>, and it is crucial that Nigerian women’s organizations be represented there. Organizations like the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom have issued a call to ensure that the UK includes Nigerian women’s civil society organizations. </p> <p class="Body1">These women are the ones who have been <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-gbowee-nigeria-kidnappings-women-girls-20140514-story.html">most vocal in demanding a peaceful resolution</a>. They stand as role models for Nigeria’s girls in their determination to face down police harassment and government denials and to galvanize a nationwide movement to demand the return of the abducted girls. </p> <p class="Body1">Bring Back Our Girls is more than the rallying cry of desperate families. It signals a wider demand throughout Nigerian society for their government to prioritize girls, their right to education, and gender equality for all. We should call for actions that advance those goals.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mahfoud-bennoune/algeria-and-nigeria-sharing-deadweight-of-human-mindlessness">Algeria and Nigeria: sharing the deadweight of human mindlessness</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/afiya-shehrbano-zia/political-correctness-of-drone-activism">The political correctness of drone activism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/where-we-must-stand-african-women-in-age-of-war">Where we must stand: African women in an age of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rochelle-terman/backlash-unintended-consequences-of-western-human-rights-intervention">Backlash: The unintended consequences of western human rights intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">Remote control, a new way of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/fundamentalism-and-education">Fundamentalism and education</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lisa-denney/nigeria-women-on-outskirts-of-politics">Nigeria: women on the outskirts of politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">Challenging militarized masculinities</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/pan-africanism-beyond-survival-to-renaissance">Pan-Africanism: beyond survival to renaissance?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/pervez-hoodbhoy/drones-theirs-and-ours">Drones: theirs and ours</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/richard-reeve/boko-haram-completing-circle-of-liberal-interventionism">Boko Haram: completing the circle of liberal interventionism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/murray-last/boko-haram-militant-political-network-or-criminal-calling-card-0">Boko Haram: militant political network or criminal calling card?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/gustavo-pl%C3%A1cido-dos-santos/boko-haram-time-for-alternative-approach">Boko Haram: time for an alternative approach</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Nigeria Boko Haram - Behind the Headlines 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women and power women and militarism violence against women gender fundamentalisms feminism Sexual violence 50.50 newsletter Yifat Susskind Mon, 02 Jun 2014 09:27:33 +0000 Yifat Susskind 83278 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women's voices in northern Nigeria: hearing the broader narratives https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/fatimah-kelleher/women%27s-voices-in-northern-nigeria-hearing-broader-narratives <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As the world's attention focuses on northern Nigeria with the abduction of schoolgirls from Chibok, Fatimah Kelleher explores the importance of understanding the voices and agency of northern Nigerian women's own activism for change.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/LetusEmpowerOurWomen-cc-AfricaRenewal.jpg" alt="Nigerian woman sits amid other women and holds sign: let us empower our women" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo: Flickr / Africa Renewal</span></span></span>The kidnap of over 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, North Eastern Nigeria by Boko Haram in April 2014 has shone an international spotlight on the northern part of the country for the first time in decades. However, the states north of the Niger and Benue rivers had already been on development radars in recent years, with the predominantly Muslim and Hausa speaking region garnering interest around women’s issues well ahead of the recent crisis. Despite the recent announcement of the country’s ascendancy as <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/datablog/2014/apr/07/nigeria-becomes-africa-largest-economy-get-data">Africa’s largest economy with a GDP of $503bn for 2013</a>, poverty and inequality in Nigeria remain high.&nbsp; In the north of the country, the irony is deeply felt due to some of the lowest levels of employment and per capita income, making economic development, educational access and health key priorities.&nbsp; Within this, women’s rights are a constant thread: The UK Department for International Development (<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67410/nigeria-2011.pdf">DFID) Nigeria’s gender strategy within its operational plan 2011 – 2015</a> has clear targets for women and girls in the North in particular, while <a href="http://www.mercycorps.org.uk/research-resources/adolescent-girls-northern-nigeria-financial-inclusion-and-entrepreneurship">Mercy Corps</a> and <a href="http://girlhub.girleffect.org/nigeria/">Girl Hub</a> have engaged with the economic empowerment of adolescent girls in the sub-region.&nbsp; Other actors such as <a href="http://www.unicef.org/nigeria/children_1926.html">UNICEF</a> and <a href="http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/where-we-work/africa/nigeria">Save the Children</a> are working directly with maternal and child health. But although Nigerian women’s movements have been at the heart of the mobilisation around the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, not to mention that the region has produced well-known African feminists such <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/amina-mama">Amina Mama</a> and <a href="http://www.africanfeministforum.com/ayesha-imam/">Ayesha Imam</a>, broader northern women’s narratives remain largely unheard and unrecognised within an overall development and women’s rights discourse that will continue long after the hashtags of this crisis have diminished. </p> <p><strong>Addressing the prevailing narrative </strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Challenges facing women in the north are undeniably significant. In the North West, the most recent National <a href="http://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/GF15/GF15.pdf">Demographic and Health Survey</a> puts the literacy rate for women at 21%, compared to the national rate for women at 51%. These figures are even more acute at the State level, where northern states like Katsina and Sokoto stand at 5% and 9% respectively.&nbsp; On maternal health, the North East zone has the <a href="http://www.unicef.org/nigeria/ng_publications_advocacybrochure.pdf">highest maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the country</a>, an almost ten fold difference compared the South West zone. As a result, the debilitating consequences of <a href="http://www.fistulafoundation.org/what-is-fistula/">obstetric fistula</a> remain a too often outcome.&nbsp; Early and child marriage also remains a hotly controversial issue. Practices such as <em>purdah</em>, or seclusion (<em>kulle</em> in Hausa), that determines the extent of women’s visibility and mobility in public spaces are also a key part of the prevailing narrative.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.wanep.org/wanep/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=37&amp;Itemid=4">Dr Lydia Umar</a>, Executive Director of the northern-based Gender Awareness Trust&nbsp; (GAT) in a <a href="http://dailytrust.info/index.php/home-front/11674-gender-issues-are-societal-problems-not-women-s-issues">recent interview</a> described the “herculean task in the northern part of Nigeria where the position and roles of women in society tend to be confined to the private sphere”.&nbsp; Women’s representation in political life is therefore low.&nbsp; </p> <p>However, there is a need to go beyond statistical perspectives and their associated socio-cultural explanations. For example, even within the predominantly <a href="http://www.njas.helsinki.fi/pdf-files/vol10num1/yakubu.pdf">home-based nature of their productivity</a>, women are active and major contributors to the informal economy that the sub-region depends on. But a lack of visibility, damning indicators, coupled with developmental difficulties in quantifying their role within society, has led to a series of perceptions regarding agency: </p> <p class="blockquote-new">“There are a lot of stereotypes on northern Nigerian women, even from within the country,” says Aisha Shehu, currently working with women’s health issues as part of a large bilateral project in the north.&nbsp; “There is a general belief that we are crippled by poverty, culture, religion and under-civilisation. But it is a complex region with people from different groups, different levels of development and different levels of respect for women’s rights.” </p> <p>The prevailing narrative of northern women is bound within a language too reliant on the measurability of statistics that highlight the challenges, but are unable to explore the potential and possibilities.&nbsp; <a href="http://agi.ac.za/teaching-material/fatima-adamu">Dr Fatima Adamu</a>, a scholar and activist writing and campaigning on women and gender issues in the north with a focus on Hausa women as agents of change, offers this advice for anyone looking-in: </p> <p class="blockquote-new">“Outsiders need to know more about who we are.&nbsp; They need to understand what works, what doesn’t work...that we live and operate within specific contexts, and that we are agents, not victims, who will take our decisions on the basis of those contexts.” </p> <p><strong>A legacy of women’s own narratives </strong><strong><span></span></strong></p> <p>How then have women in northern Nigeria articulated agency and resisted marginalisation over time? Within the history of the pre-Caliphate Hausa City States there is still no figure more revered than <a href="http://www.historyandwomen.com/2010/08/amina-of-zaria.html">Queen Amina of Zazzau,</a> a legendary rule of war-driven territorial expansion and ingenuity in architectural defence. A masculinised legacy perhaps, but this sits alongside a history of feminine, <em>women for women</em> activism inherent in the region. The most famous of these is the poet, scholar and activist <a href="https://muse.jhu.edu/books/9781609170653">Nana Asma’u</a>, sister of Sultan Usman Dan Fodio and at the heart of a movement promoting women’s literacy and agency across the north in the 19th Century Sokoto Caliphate. More recently, the post-independence activism of <a href="http://www.authorsden.com/SampleWorksPDF/24537.pdf">Hajia Gambo Sawaba</a> in the mid to late 20th Century remains a beacon for strident, uncompromising women’s voices everywhere.&nbsp; </p> <p>Today, activism by northern women in organisations such as the <a href="http://www.fomwan.org/">Federation of Muslim Women ‘s Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN),</a> and <a href="abantunig.org">ABANTU</a> remain undeterred. FOMWAN has for many years promoted education and better health for all, but particularly women. <a href="http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/interviews/people/hajiya-bilkisu-yusuf">Bilkisu Yusuf</a>, a founding member of FOMWAN clearly argues: ‘Education is the most strategic form of empowerment you can give women. Islam makes education compulsory, so we are unhappy at the low level of education among Muslim women”. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/2012_international_women_s_day_celebration-womens-inspiration.JPG" alt="A group of women hold signs: Joint the movement, together we can change the world; no more killings, we are brothers and sisters" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women Inspiration Development Center</span></span></span>Undeniably, representative voices from women most impacted by the region’s poverty and inequality still need to be drawn-out, especially as inequalities <em>between </em>women in the region are heavily defined by economic class, aristocratic heredity, and religious marginalisation.&nbsp; A democratisation of voices among existing women’s narratives in the north is a key imperative going forward.&nbsp; However, even for those who have the access to tools and resources to be heard, these narratives and positions need much greater recognition and respect.&nbsp; Meanwhile, for individual, everyday women in Hausa society in particular, layers of culturally inherent negotiation and agency need further exploration and understanding.&nbsp; Economic self-dertermination is one example of this: </p><p class="blockquote-new">“Economic rights are something integral to our society, something that the typical Hausa woman is immensely proud of,” stresses Fatima Adamu. “Whether Western educated or not, whether employed in the informal sector or not, every Hausa woman is concerned with her right to spend money without any interference from her husband.&nbsp; I have seen so many cases in court where a woman is supported in reporting her husband for not returning money he borrowed from her. We recognise our right in this area– we are not waiting for anyone else to come along and help us exercise that right.”&nbsp; </p> <p>This example – whilst sometimes undermined by other constraints, not to mention depending on ‘who’ and ‘where’ in the north – nevertheless underlines the importance of reframing the dialogue. Much programming is based on the premise that economic empowerment is in itself a catalyst for other rights, and yet here are examples where a woman’s economic sovereignty remains even while other rights continue to be struggled for. Complex agencies already being utilised by women’s rights advocates in the north need to be understood. The following <a href="http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/Muslim%20Women%27s%20Rights%20Northern%20Nigeria%20-%20FINAL_0.pdf">excerpt from Olufemi Vaughan and Suraiya Zubair Banu</a> as they analyse the role of Northern Nigerian women’s organisations in the contentious implementation of <em>Shari’a</em> gives some insight: </p> <p class="blockquote-new">“The unconventional strategies adopted by the leaders of these Muslim women’s rights groups have surprised Nigerian liberals, feminists, and Islamists alike.&nbsp; While the women’s groups remain committed to using the Nigerian Constitution with its strong common law roots and ratification of universal human rights conventions, they have embraced Shari’a law as an essential part of Muslim culture.... these activists consciously draw from a tradition of Hausa and Fulani women that has been inspired by progressive Northern Muslim movements…that consistently advocated for universal free primary education and the provision of essential social services for the masses of poor people in emirate society, including girls and women.” </p> <p><strong>Agency and a literary tradition</strong></p> <p>Accompanying organisation-based activism is the vibrant existence of an unbridled literary tradition among women writers.&nbsp; Sometimes known as <a href="http://wwwmalumfashi.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/hausa-prose-fiction-why-kano-why-market.html">Kano Market Literature</a>, in Hausa they are also known as <em>Littatafin Soyayya, </em>or “books of love”, a title attributed to the genre due to the omnipresent theme of marriage within most, but which does little to capture the societal analysis of this Hausa language fiction that fearlessly addresses themes like child marriage and polygamy. From the arguably seminal novel by <a href="http://weeklytrust.com.ng/index.php/my-thoughts-exactly/13369-the-question-of-child-marriage-and-balaraba-ramat-yakubu-s-novel-wa-zai-auri-jahila">Balaraba Ramat Yakubu</a> – <em>Wa Zai Auri Jahila </em>(“Who Will Marry an Uneducated Girl?”), first published in the 1990s – to the 2006 <em>Mace Mutum</em> by <a href="http://wordswithoutborders.org/contributor/rahma-abdul-majid">Rahma Abdul Majid</a>, the difficult topic of child marriage in particular has been loudly analysed.&nbsp; Through the evocative power of their prose, northern women’s voices are subverting oppressive norms, as this <a href="http://wordswithoutborders.org/article/from-mace-mutum">translated excerpt</a> from the fictional work <em>Mace Mutum</em> demonstrates: </p> <p class="blockquote-new">“At age fourteen it is taboo for a girl still to be sharing a room with her mother; it is an abomination. That is the predicament Lami, and all of us in the family are in. Co-wives and other noisy neighbors draw from a deep well of sarcasm in their abuse&nbsp;of Lami and her mother, and by extension our father. The gossip is always how awful, to have&nbsp;goods as old as this (they mean my sister Lami)&nbsp;that no man cares about, let alone wants to buy. The tears I see running down Lami’s cheeks tell me her sadness, while I see the brawl between Lami’s mother and her co-wife as the ultimate feud between women.” </p> <p>Despite the low levels of literacy, that these books are written in the region’s lingua franca has meant that the reach is still significant, while the ownership and women’s compact that a mother-tongue narrative gives - written by women and often using familiar colloquialisms - is undeniable. </p> <p>Of course such forthright writing has sometimes lead to criticism, despite the fact that the books in themselves are diverse and nuanced in their approaches. A founding author like <a href="http://ibrahim-sheme.blogspot.co.uk/2007/04/bilkisu-funtuwa-interview.html">Bilkisu Funtua</a> who lives in <em>purdah </em>with her family and whose work has upheld religious observance and filial piety whilst addressing women’s rights, is just as likely to garner criticism as <a href="http://www.ipsnews.net/2008/09/qa-quotwe-will-write-about-themquot/">Sa’adatu Baba</a>, a younger novelist who was accused by a Kano State Government official of taking a bribe from European governments to spoil northern Nigerian culture after she wrote about the impact of HIV/AIDS (<em>Mu Kame Kanmu</em> – “Keep Ourselves Safe”).&nbsp; But the independence of women writers in itself has been a key determinant in their ability to resist and respond to such pressures.&nbsp; Predominantly self-published, either as individuals or as part of women’s writers cooperatives, the rapid sale of these books have withstood attempts at <a href="http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mmw/2012/07/censorship-and-hausa-contemporary-literature/">censorship from the Kano State Censorship Board</a>.&nbsp; Many women writers have also moved into the popular <em>Kannywood</em> film industry of northern Nigeria. </p> <p><strong>Future – on amplification and inclusivity&nbsp; </strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Undoubtedly, the major focus of the world’s attention on northern Nigeria is the current Boko Haram insurgency. Within that the discussion of inequality has been largely concerned with understanding the prevailing issues of poverty and (male) disenfranchisement that may explain the root causes of the conflict.&nbsp; However, <a href="http://ojs.st-andrews.ac.uk/index.php/jtr/article/view/828/707">the increasing use of gender based violence</a> against women reported since 2013 highlights the need for women’s engagement on the issues to now be prioritised. External actors working on women’s rights in northern Nigeria must first and foremost capture and understand the rich tapestry of diverse narratives if gender and development engagement is to lead to any meaningful, sustainable change.&nbsp; The challenges of women in the north are indeed great and in need of focus, resources, and commitment.&nbsp; However, in the complex and sensitive landscape of Nigeria’s northern states, the necessary mantra that change must be led and owned by northern Nigerian women themselves has never been more critical.<strong> </strong></p><p><em>This article was first published in March 2014. It is republished here in 50.50's series on</em><strong> <em><span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence-2014">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2014</a></span></em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yifat-susskind/what-we-owe-nigeria%E2%80%99s-kidnapped-schoolgirls">What we owe Nigeria’s kidnapped schoolgirls</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-denney/nigeria-women-on-outskirts-of-politics">Nigeria: women on the outskirts of politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/richard-reeve/boko-haram-completing-circle-of-liberal-interventionism">Boko Haram: completing the circle of liberal interventionism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/murray-last/boko-haram-militant-political-network-or-criminal-calling-card-0">Boko Haram: militant political network or criminal calling card?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/gustavo-pl%C3%A1cido-dos-santos/boko-haram-time-for-alternative-approach">Boko Haram: time for an alternative approach</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Nigeria Boko Haram - Behind the Headlines 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 2014 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women's human rights women and power women and militarism violence against women gender fundamentalisms feminism 50.50 newsletter young feminists Fatimah Kelleher Mon, 02 Jun 2014 09:27:27 +0000 Fatimah Kelleher 83279 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Boko Haram: completing the circle of liberal interventionism? https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/richard-reeve/boko-haram-completing-circle-of-liberal-interventionism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Clarion calls on social media for action in Africa have once again become an excuse to flex military muscle, as the rhetoric of 'humanitarian' interventions is increasingly outfitted with the tactics of the war on terror.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The abduction of over 200 school girls from Chibok has radically changed not only the popular profile of the Boko Haram insurgency but also the narrative of the war in northeast Nigeria. This was probably not intended by the insurgents or the ham-fisted Nigerian government, neither of which seemed to recognise this apparent gear-shift in the insurgency. After this fumble, it was civil society, through the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bringbackourgirls">#BringBackOurGirls</a> social media campaign that picked up and ran with the call for action. Now that the US and its allies have channelled this urge to “do something now” into security assistance, caution is due in monitoring how and why the energy from this new burst of liberal interventionism will be channelled.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/546772/boko haram social media edited_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/546772/boko haram social media edited_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Why have western governments responded to this particular call to action?&nbsp;<a href="http://www.demotix.com/photo/4767529/nigerians-petition-uk-government-do-more-bringbackourgirls&amp;popup=1">Michael Tubi/Demotix</a></span><span><span class="image-caption">. All rights reserved.</span> &nbsp;</span></p> <h2>Responding to Chibok</h2> <p>Boko Haram has a long and undiscriminating record of terrorist violence. <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefing_papers_and_reports/internationalisation_boko_haram">My analysis</a> of data compiled by <a href="http://www.nigeriawatch.org/">Nigeria Watch</a> suggests that about 9,000 Nigerians (including combatants) have died in related violence since 2009, most of them since the federal government declared a localised state of emergency a year ago. That rate has been rising fast; 1,043 were recorded killed in March 2014 alone. Nevertheless, the 14 April Chibok mass abduction and Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau’s subsequent threat to forcibly marry pre-teen girls to his supporters or sell them into slavery were extraordinary, crossing multiple red lines around protection of civilians, girls’ right to education and sexual violence.</p> <p>The #BringBackOurGirls campaign has tapped into a social movement last and best exploited through the <a href="http://invisiblechildren.com/kony/">Stop Kony 2012</a> viral video campaign. That campaign influenced the African Union to establish its Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in April 2012 and was a major driver of post-facto public support for the Obama administration’s October 2011 commitment of US special forces to Uganda and central Africa to hunt LRA leader Joseph Kony. Those troops remain in four countries and have <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/2014/03/23/aa468ca6-b2d0-11e3-8020-b2d790b3c9e1_story.html">recently been reinforced</a>. Kony has not been caught but the LRA menace to children, women and other civilians has been contained and reduced. </p> <p>The state-level response to Chibok has been belated but even stronger. Since 7 May, the US, UK, France, China and Israel have all sent teams to Nigeria to help search for and rescue the abducted girls, and France has hosted a summit of Nigeria, its four neighbours and the US, UK and EU. In fact, all these states already played a role in training, equipping or supporting Nigerian forces against Boko Haram. However, they were reluctant about going public with a counter-insurgency campaign previously linked to the increasingly unpopular and divisive ‘war on terror’, the toxic human rights reputation of the Nigerian security forces, and an entirely reasonable confusion over the political nature and linkages of the ostensibly Islamist rebellion. </p> <h2><strong>Response and replication</strong></h2> <p>Whether this foreign assistance is useful in the search for the missing girls is both highly questionable and a moot point. The US certainly has formidable aerial, satellite and signals reconnaissance technology to employ but it is struggling to coordinate with Nigeria, and unwilling to share raw data with the Nigerian security agencies. Other countries’ contributions probably only replicate Nigerian and US capabilities, and risk over-complicating the search and. </p> <p>The French summit on 17 May was a classic case of replicating initiatives in order to bolster perceptions of French concern, consultation and action. Nigeria, which desperately wants to revel in its new status as Africa’s economic superpower, was humiliated that Paris – Abuja’s great rival for influence in West Africa – assumed its regional leadership role. The summit outcome commitments to bolster security cooperation in the Lake Chad basin replicated those that Nigeria and its neighbours had already made. Those sanctioning Boko Haram replicated UN-led measures.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/546772/hollande jonathan_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/546772/hollande jonathan_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">French President Francois Hollande (L) poses with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (R), during an African security summit to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.demotix.com/photo/4764910/nigeria-president-discusses-regional-security-paris-summit&amp;popup=1">Zaer Belkalaï/Demotix</a>. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The <a href="http://www.elysee.fr/declarations/article/paris-summit-for-security-in-nigeria-conclusions/">Elysée Summit</a> was more useful in redirecting attention to the gendered aspects of Boko Haram’s campaign of violence, issues of particular importance to the EU and the UK, whose <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/sexual-violence-in-conflict/about">Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict</a> convenes on 10 June. Both sides of the conflict have made tactical use of abducting and (separately) raping women and children linked to the other side as a means of exerting pressure or retaliation. Nigerian security forces and their civilian allies increasingly harass local women suspected of working for the militants. Boko Haram is accused of abducting girls and women to marry to its young, poor male combatants. Shekau has put his view on video record that girls above puberty should not be educated. This may be the most convincing explanation for the Chibok kidnapping: women as an economic and sexual resource. </p> <h2>Intervention narratives</h2> <p>The goal of securing the safe release of the abducted girls – and the security of their peers – must be paramount at this time. But, if the foreign assistance being pledged and provided makes little impact on this task, we must ask whether there are other goals motivating western governments to cooperate with Nigerian forces. Clearly, the political urge to assuage activists by responding with action is one of these, although we should not doubt that the Obama or Cameron families share the revulsion of other families around the world united behind #BringBackOurGirls.</p> <p>The social media shaming of the Nigerian and foreign governments’ inactivity and inability to resolve the crisis has propelled foreign military forces across the rubicon. US, and perhaps British, French, Canadian, Israeli and other states’, special forces and reconnaissance aircraft and drones may stay on in Nigeria well beyond the current abduction crisis; this should not be surprising. </p> <p>French forces are currently consolidating their <a href="http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20140108-france-reorganisation-forces-militaires-armee-zone-sahel-sahara/">redeployment</a> from coastal Africa to a string of remote bases in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. Their main base in N’djamena is just 40 km from Boko Haram’s stronghold in northeast Nigeria. US special and private military forces <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-expands-secret-intelligence-operations-in-africa/2012/06/13/gJQAHyvAbV_story.html">operate covertly in most countries of the Sahel-Sahara belt</a>. Until this month, Nigeria appeared to be the exception. </p> <p>The quiet reinforcement of these several thousand French and US troops across the western Sahel since 2012 – linking up to similar strings of mostly US bases in the eastern Sahel and Horn –is justified through the on-going international campaign against al-Qaida. US African Command openly uses the Operation Enduring Freedom tag for its operations in the Horn and Trans-Sahara. In Mali, Niger and Mauritania, French forces have joined battle against the al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an Algerian-origin group with regional aspirations. Yet Boko Haram is rather different. While it professes a common Salafism, it is not an al-Qaida affiliate and appears uninterested in controlling territory or attacking state assets outside of Nigeria. </p> <p>This matters in the Nigerian context for two reasons. The first is in the way that the humanitarian impulse of #BringBackOurGirls – which diplomats can recognise as Protection of Civilians, Responsibility to Protect, or Ending Sexual Violence – shades into the realities of the war on terror. I would count four or five distinct narratives used to justify foreign military interventions in the last 15-20 years:</p> <ol><li>Liberal interventionism – following the ostensibly humanitarian urge to protect civilians and uphold human rights, notably in Kosovo and Sierra Leone.</li><li>The War on Drugs – an old idea reinvigorated with Plan Colombia in 1999.</li><li>The War on Terror – the idea that homeland security begins abroad, notably in Afghanistan, but lately in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Mali and elsewhere. </li><li>Proliferation of WMDs – actively in Iraq, and as a threat to Iran, Syria and others. </li><li>Protection of civilians – controversial used to pursue regime change in Libya, less so in pursuit of Kony thereafter. </li></ol> <p>Clearly, there are overlaps; the Bush administration’s Axis of Evil concept linked state sponsors of terrorism and WMD. ‘Narco-terrorism’ links the wars on drugs and terrorism. Whatever their muddy political and religious ideologies, Kony and Shekau do lead terrorist movements. With the failed war on terror increasingly unpopular among a cynical and war-weary populace, the post-2011 shift back to humanitarian criteria completes the circle back to liberal interventionism. </p> <p>While applauding the global public’s shift from retribution to humanitarianism, we should be wary of politicians’ and generals’ intent in getting involved in northern Nigeria. The signs are that future ‘humanitarian’ interventions will be fought with the tactics of the war on terror, minus its rhetoric.&nbsp;Perhaps we should call these ‘Protection from Terror’ operations? </p> <h2>Self-fulfilling prophecy </h2> <p>If this shift in narrative represents the new Anglo-American take on intervention, the second reason for concern about the international fallout from Chibok is the Nigerian and French imperative to rebrand Boko Haram as part of al-Qaida. Nigeria’s successful addition of <a href="http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2014/sc11410.doc.htm">Boko Haram to the UN Security Council’s Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee list</a> on 22 May was a step in this direction. For Abuja, this may help to isolate Boko Haram and justify the disastrous escalation of the war since France pushed AQIM and its allies out of Mali in early 2013. For France, it creates a common bond and removes a potentially powerful voice of dissent in the AU and regional organisations about its own military presence in the Sahel.</p> <p>Yet al-Qaida, for all its strategic interest in Nigeria’s 90 million Muslims, has shown little interest in Boko Haram and its use of indiscriminate violence against mostly Muslim civilians. Boko Haram has, in rhetoric and action, showed limited interest in a wider struggle beyond Islamicising Nigeria. It almost certainly has links to AQIM and splinter groups in Mali and Niger but these are not obviously strong. Al-Qaida and Boko Haram are not natural bedfellows, but post-Chibok dynamics, including US and Israeli military in northern Nigeria, are pushing them together, potentially consolidating a regional insurgency that is as much anti-western as anti-Nigerian.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-nigeria-and-long-war">Al-Qaida, Nigeria, and a long war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/nick-turse/pivot-to-africa-africoms-gigantic-small-footprint">Pivot to Africa: AFRICOM&#039;s gigantic &#039;small footprint&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/christopher-anzalone/nigeria-and-boko-haram-in-jihadi-media-discourse-0">Nigeria and Boko Haram in jihadi media discourse</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/abdelkader-abderrahmane/fran%C3%A7afrique-and-africa%E2%80%99s-security">Françafrique and Africa’s security</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/nick-turse/heavy-imprint-of-americas-light-footprint">The heavy imprint of America&#039;s &#039;light footprint&#039; </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/nick-turse-tom-engelhardt/us-militarys-new-normal-in-africa">The US military&#039;s new normal in Africa </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/mabel-gonz%C3%A1lez-bustelo/us-and-colombia-building-exportable-model-of-security">The US and Colombia: building an exportable model of security </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> France </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity United States France Nigeria Boko Haram - Behind the Headlines Richard Reeve Sustainable Security Security in Sub-Saharan Africa Militarisation Non-state violence Thu, 29 May 2014 16:36:04 +0000 Richard Reeve 83239 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The US military's new normal in Africa https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/nick-turse-tom-engelhardt/us-militarys-new-normal-in-africa <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Every new African nightmare turns out to be another opening for US military involvement.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Amid the horrific headlines about the fanatical Islamist sect Boko Haram that should make Nigerians cringe, here’s a line from a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/09/boko-haram-us-security-policy-nigeria-kidnap" target="_blank">recent&nbsp;<em>Guardian</em>&nbsp;article</a>&nbsp;that should make Americans do the same, as the US military&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175830/tomgram%3A_nick_turse,_africom_becomes_a_%22war-fighting_combatant_command%22/" target="_blank">continues</a>&nbsp;its “pivot” to Africa: “[US] defense officials are looking to Washington’s alliance with Yemen, with its close intelligence cooperation and CIA drone strikes, as an example for dealing with Boko Haram.”</p><p>In fact, as the latest news reports indicate, that “close” relationship is proving something less than a raging success. An escalating drone campaign against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has resulted in numerous dead “militants,” but also numerous&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175787/tomgram%3A_engelhardt,_washington%27s_wedding_album_from_hell/" target="_blank">dead Yemeni civilians</a>&nbsp;- and a rising tide of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/death-from-above-how-american-drone-strikes-are-devastating-yemen-20140414" target="_blank">resentment</a>&nbsp;against Washington and possibly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/world/middleeast/in-yemen-a-counterterrorism-challenge.html" target="_blank">support</a>&nbsp;for AQAP. As the Washington-Sana relationship ratchets up, meaning more US&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/world/middleeast/yemen-silent-on-disclosure-of-shooting-by-americans.html" target="_blank">boots on the ground</a>, more CIA drones in the skies, and&nbsp;<a href="http://news.yahoo.com/yemen-braces-qaeda-reprisals-over-army-offensive-133942611.html" target="_blank">more attacks</a>&nbsp;on AQAP, the results have been dismal indeed: only recently, the US embassy in the country’s capital was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/07/world/africa/yemen-unrest/" target="_blank">temporarily closed</a>&nbsp;to the public (for fear of attack), the insurgents launched a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gulf-times.com/region/216/details/391493/5-yemen-palace-guards-killed-in-%E2%80%98qaeda%E2%80%99-attack" target="_blank">successful assault</a>&nbsp;on soldiers guarding the presidential palace in the heart of that city, oil pipelines were&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/07/yemen-oil-export-pipeline-blown-up" target="_blank">bombed</a>, electricity in various cities intermittently blacked out, and an incident, a claimed attempt&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/10/world/middleeast/us-officers-kill-armed-civilians-in-yemen-capital.html" target="_blank">to kidnap</a>&nbsp;a CIA agent and a US Special Operations commando from a Sana barbershop, resulted in two Yemeni deaths (and possibly rising local anger). In the meantime, AQAP seems ever more audacious and the country ever less stable. In other words, Washington’s vaunted Yemeni model has been effective so far - if you happen to belong to AQAP.</p><p>One of the poorer, less resource rich countries on the planet, Yemen is at least a global backwater. Nigeria is another matter. With the largest economy in Africa, much oil, and much wealth sloshing around, it has a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/21/world/africa/governor-of-nigerias-central-bank-is-fired-after-warning-of-missing-oil-revenue.html" target="_blank">corrupt</a>&nbsp;leadership, a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR44/043/2012/en/04ab8b67-8969-4c86-bdea-0f82059dff28/afr440432012en.pdf" target="_blank">brutal</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/05/09/new-accounts-suggest-nigerian-army-had-advance-warning-of-boko-harem-kidnapping/" target="_blank">incompetent</a>&nbsp;military, and an Islamist insurgency in its poverty-stricken north that, for simple&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nigeria-boko-haram-militants-killed-hundreds-in-12-hour-raid-on-remote-village/" target="_blank">bestiality</a>, makes AQAP look like a paragon of virtue. The US has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/08/nigerian-taliban-us-boko-haram" target="_blank">aided and trained</a>&nbsp;Nigerian “counterterrorism” forces for years with little to show. Add in the Yemeni model with drones overhead and who knows how the situation may spin further out of control.&nbsp;</p><p>In response to Boko Haram’s kidnapping of 276 young women, the Obama administration has already sent in a&nbsp;<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/05/u-s-sending-small-military-team-to-nigeria-to-help-plan-search-for-girls-held-by-militants/" target="_blank">small military team</a>&nbsp;(with FBI, State Department, and Justice Department representatives included) and launched&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-nigeria-schoolgirls/u-s-global-hawk-drone-joins-search-kidnapped-nigerian-schoolgirls-n104696" target="_blank">drone</a>&nbsp;and "<a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-nigeria-schoolgirls/united-states-sending-manned-flights-over-nigeria-look-girls-n103701" target="_blank">manned surveillance flights</a>," which may prove to be just the first steps in what one day could become a larger operation. Under the circumstances, it’s worth remembering that the US has already played a curious role in Nigeria’s destabilization, thanks to its 2011 intervention in Libya. In the chaos surrounding the fall of Libyan autocrat Muammar Qaddafi, his immense arsenals of weapons were looted and soon enough AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades, and other light weaponry, as well as the requisite pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns or&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/13/us-nigeria-islamists-insight-idUSBRE94C04Q20130513" target="_blank">anti-aircraft guns</a>&nbsp;made&nbsp;<a href="http://studies.aljazeera.net/en/reports/2013/09/201398104245877469.htm" target="_blank">their way</a>&nbsp;across an increasingly destabilized region, including into the hands of Boko Haram. Its militants are far better armed and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/nigerian-islamist-militants-return-from-mali-with-weapons-skills/2013/05/31/d377579e-c628-11e2-9cd9-3b9a22a4000a_story.html" target="_blank">trained</a>&nbsp;today thanks to post-Libyan developments.</p><p>All of this, writes Nick Turse, is but part of what the US military has started to call the “new normal” in Africa. The only US reporter to consistently follow the US&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175823/tomgram%3A_nick_turse,_america%27s_non-stop_ops_in_africa/" target="_blank">pivot</a>&nbsp;to that region in recent years, Turse&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175830/tomgram%3A_nick_turse,_africom_becomes_a_%22war-fighting_combatant_command%22/" target="_blank">makes clear</a>&nbsp;that every new African nightmare turns out to be another opening for U.S. military involvement.&nbsp; Each further step by that military leads to yet&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175714/nick_turse_blowback_central" target="_blank">more regional destabilization</a>, and so to a greater urge to bring the Yemeni model (and its siblings) to bear with... well, you know what effect.&nbsp; Why doesn’t Washington?&nbsp;</p><p><em>Tom Engelhardt.</em></p><h2><strong>The US military’s new normal in Africa</strong>:&nbsp;<strong>A secret African mission and an African mission that’s no secret</strong>&nbsp;</h2><p>By Nick Turse&nbsp;</p><p>What is Operation New Normal?&nbsp;</p><p>It’s a question without an answer, a riddle the US military refuses to solve. It’s a secret operation in Africa that no one knows anything about. Except that someone does. His name is Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee Magee. He lives and breathes Operation New Normal. But he doesn’t want to breath paint fumes or talk to me, so you can’t know anything about it.&nbsp;</p><p>Confused? Stay with me.</p><p>Whatever Operation New Normal may be pales in comparison to the real “new normal” for US Africa Command (AFRICOM). The lower-cased variant is bold and muscular. It’s an expeditionary force on a war footing. To the men involved, it’s a story of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175823/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_america%27s_non-stop_ops_in_africa" target="_blank">growth</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175743/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_africom%27s_gigantic_%22small_footprint%22" target="_blank">expansion</a>, new&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175743/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_africom%27s_gigantic_%22small_footprint%22" target="_blank">battlefields</a>, “<a href="http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140419/NEWS08/304190034/In-Shift-Africa-US-Troops-Find-Complicated-Relationships" target="_blank">combat</a>,” and “<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175830/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_africom_becomes_a_%22war-fighting_combatant_command%22" target="_blank">war</a>.” It’s the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175830/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_africom_becomes_a_%22war-fighting_combatant_command%22" target="_blank">culmination</a>&nbsp;of years of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175743/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_africom%27s_gigantic_%22small_footprint%22" target="_blank">construction</a>, ingratiation, and interventions, the fruits of wide-eyed&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175823/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_america%27s_non-stop_ops_in_africa" target="_blank">expansion</a>&nbsp;and dismal policy&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175714/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_blowback_central" target="_blank">failures</a>, the backing of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175818/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_american_proxy_wars_in_africa" target="_blank">proxies</a>&nbsp;to fight America’s battles, while increasing U.S. personnel and firepower in and around the continent. It is, to quote an officer with AFRICOM, the blossoming of a “<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175830/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_africom_becomes_a_%22war-fighting_combatant_command%22" target="_blank">war-fighting combatant command</a>.” And unlike Operation New Normal, it’s finally heading for a media outlet near you.</p><p><strong>Ever less new, ever more normal</strong></p><p>Since 9/11, the US military has been ramping up missions on the African continent, funneling money into projects to woo allies, supporting and training&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175818/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_american_proxy_wars_in_africa" target="_blank">proxy forces</a>, conducting humanitarian outreach, carrying out air strikes and commando raids, creating a sophisticated&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175567/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_america%27s_shadow_wars_in_africa_" target="_blank">logistics network</a>&nbsp;throughout the region, and building a string of camps, “cooperative security locations,” and bases-by-other-names.</p><p>All the while, AFRICOM&nbsp;<a href="http://www.voanews.com/content/us-military-pays-close-attention-to-boko-haram-militants/1681488.html" target="_blank">downplayed</a>&nbsp;the expansion and much of the media,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-expands-secret-intelligence-operations-in-africa/2012/06/13/gJQAHyvAbV_story.html" target="_blank">with</a>&nbsp;a few&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/remote-us-base-at-core-of-secret-operations/2012/10/25/a26a9392-197a-11e2-bd10-5ff056538b7c_story.html" target="_blank">notable</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/in-africa-us-troops-moving-slowly-against-joseph-kony-and-his-militia/2012/04/16/gIQAtwMKMT_story.html" target="_blank">exceptions</a>, played along. With the end of the Iraq War and the drawdown of combat forces in Afghanistan, Washington has, however, visibly “pivoted” to Africa and, in recent weeks, many&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/16/air-force-sees-resource-shift-as-us-exits-afghanis/" target="_blank">news</a>&nbsp;organizations,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140419/NEWS08/304190034/In-Shift-Africa-US-Troops-Find-Complicated-Relationships" target="_blank">especially</a>&nbsp;those&nbsp;<a href="http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20140416/NEWS/304160040/DoD-quietly-expanding-AFRICOM-missions" target="_blank">devoted</a>&nbsp;to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.navytimes.com/article/20140416/NEWS/304160040/DoD-quietly-expanding-AFRICOM-missions" target="_blank">military</a>, have begun&nbsp;<a href="http://www.janes.com/article/28480/us-develops-new-medevac-technique-for-africa-ops" target="_blank">waking</a>&nbsp;up to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140503/DEFREG04/305030020/US-Deployments-Africa-Raise-Host-Issues" target="_blank">new normal</a>&nbsp;there.</p><p>While daily US troop strength continent-wide hovers in the relatively modest range of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.defense.gov/Transcripts/Transcript.aspx?TranscriptID=5412&amp;utm_source=April+9+2014+EN&amp;utm_campaign=4%2F09%2F2014&amp;utm_medium=email" target="_blank">5,000</a>&nbsp;to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140503/DEFREG04/305030020/US-Deployments-Africa-Raise-Host-Issues" target="_blank">8,000</a>&nbsp;personnel, an under-the-radar expansion has been constant, with the US military now&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175743/tomgram%3A_nick_turse,_africom%27s_gigantic_%22small_footprint%22" target="_blank">conducting</a>&nbsp;operations alongside almost every African military in almost every African country and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175823/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_america%27s_non-stop_ops_in_africa" target="_blank">averaging</a>&nbsp;more than a mission a day.</p><p>This increased engagement has come at a continuing cost. When the US and other allies intervened in 2011 to aid in the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, for instance, it helped set off a chain reaction that led to a security vacuum&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175714/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_blowback_central" target="_blank">destabilizing</a>&nbsp;that country as well as neighboring Mali. The latter saw its elected government&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175714/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_blowback_central" target="_blank">overthrown</a>&nbsp;by a US-trained officer. The former never recovered and has tottered toward failed-state status ever since. Local militias have been&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175831/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_the_pentagon%2C_libya%2C_and_tomorrow%27s_blowback_today" target="_blank">carving out</a>&nbsp;fiefdoms, while killing untold numbers of Libyans - as well, of course, as U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in a September 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, the “cradle” of the Libyan revolution, whose forces the US had&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175831/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_the_pentagon%2C_libya%2C_and_tomorrow%27s_blowback_today" target="_blank">aided</a>&nbsp;with training, materiel, and military might.</p><p>Quickly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/05/01/gop-lawmaker-renews-call-for-select-committee-on-benghazi/" target="_blank">politicized</a>&nbsp;by Congressional Republicans and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/10/megyn-kelly-benghazi-media-collective-yawn_n_3251813.html" target="_blank">conservative</a>&nbsp;news outlets, “<a href="http://media.theweek.com/img/generic/0502MikeLuckovich_Creators.jpg" target="_blank">Benghazi</a>” has become a shorthand for many things, including Obama administration&nbsp;<a href="http://foxnewsinsider.com/2014/04/30/gutfeld-benghazi-media-%E2%80%98will-cover-cover-cover-up%E2%80%99" target="_blank">cover-ups</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/hillarys-nightmare-the-benghazi-industrial-complex-106332.html?ml=po_r#.U2fgTlcmXqE" target="_blank">misconduct</a>, as well as White House&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/hannity/2013/05/07/president-obamas-benghazi-lies-unravel" target="_blank">lies</a>and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/05/01/gop-lawmaker-renews-call-for-select-committee-on-benghazi/" target="_blank">malfeasance</a>. Missing, however, has been thoughtful analysis of the implications of American power-projection in Africa or the possibility that blowback might result from it.&nbsp;</p><p>Far from being chastened by the Benghazi deaths or chalking them up to a failure to imagine the consequences of armed interventions in situations whose local politics they barely grasp, the Pentagon and the Obama administration have used Benghazi as a growth opportunity, a means to take military efforts on the continent to the next level. “Benghazi” has provided AFRICOM with a beefed-up mandate and new clout. It birthed the new normal in Africa.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p><strong>The spoils of blowback</strong></p><p>Those 2012 killings “changed AFRICOM forever,” Major General Raymond Fox, commander of the II Marine Expeditionary Force,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1475" target="_blank">told</a>&nbsp;attendees of a recent Sea-Air-Space conference organized by the&nbsp;<a href="http://navyleague.org/aboutus/about_us.html" target="_blank">Navy League</a>, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marine. The proof lies in the new “crisis response” forces that have popped up in and around Africa, greatly enhancing the regional reach, capabilities, and firepower of the US military.</p><p>Following the debacle in Benghazi, for instance, the US established an Africa-focused force known as Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response (<a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/usmc/spmagtf-cr.htm" target="_blank">SP-MAGTF CR</a>) to give AFRICOM quick-reaction capabilities on the continent. “Temporarily positioned” at Morón Air Base in Spain, this rotating unit of Marines and sailors is officially&nbsp;<a href="http://www.marforaf.marines.mil/UnitHome/SpecialPurposeMAGTFCrisisResponse.aspx" target="_blank">billed</a>&nbsp;as “a balanced, expeditionary force with built-in command, ground, aviation, and logistics elements and organized, trained, and equipped to accomplish a specific mission.”</p><p>Similarly, Benghazi provided the justification for the birthing of another rapid reaction unit, the Commander’s In-Extremis Force.&nbsp; Long in the planning stages and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.africom.mil/Newsroom/Transcript/10566/transcript-africom-transcom-commanders-testify-before-senate-armed-services-committee" target="_blank">supported</a>&nbsp;by the head of the Special Operations Command, Admiral William McRaven, the Fort Carson, Colorado-based unit - part of the 10th Special Forces Group - was sent to Europe&nbsp;<a href="http://www.africom.mil/Newsroom/Transcript/10566/transcript-africom-transcom-commanders-testify-before-senate-armed-services-committee" target="_blank">weeks after</a>&nbsp;Benghazi. Elements of this specialized&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stripes.com/news/africom-announces-it-will-have-rapid-reaction-force-1.201162" target="_blank">counterterrorism unit</a>&nbsp;are now “constantly forward deployed,” AFRICOM spokesman Benjamin Benson told TomDispatch, and stand “ready for the commander to use, if there’s a crisis.”</p><p>The East Africa Response Force (EARF), operating from the lone avowed American base in Africa - Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti - is another new quick-reaction unit. When asked about EARF, Benson said, “The growing complexity of the security environment demonstrated the need for us to have a [Department of Defense]-positioned response force that could respond to crises in the African region.”</p><p>In late December, just days after the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, out of Fort Riley, Kansas,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stripes.com/crisis-response-force-adds-firepower-to-us-base-in-africa-1.277535" target="_blank">arrived</a>&nbsp;in Djibouti to serve as the newly christened EARF, members of the unit were whisked off to South Sudan. Led by EARF’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Lee Magee, the 45-man platoon was dispatched to that restive nation (midwifed into being by the US only a few years earlier) as it slid toward civil war with armed factions moving close to the U.S. embassy in the capital, Juba. The obvious fear: another Benghazi.</p><p>Joined by elements of the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response and more shadowy&nbsp;<a href="http://www.navytimes.com/article/20131227/NEWS/312270010/3-SEALs-wounded-South-Sudan-back-U-S-" target="_blank">special ops troops</a>, members of EARF helped secure and reinforce the embassy and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stripes.com/crisis-response-force-adds-firepower-to-us-base-in-africa-1.277535" target="_blank">evacuate</a>&nbsp;Americans. Magee and most of his troops&nbsp;<a href="http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140419/NEWS08/304190034/In-Shift-Africa-US-Troops-Find-Complicated-Relationships" target="_blank">returned</a>&nbsp;to Djibouti in February, although a few were still serving in South Sudan as recently as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=34502:us-response-force-stands-down-from-south-sudan-embassy-duty&amp;catid=3:Civil%20Security&amp;Itemid=113" target="_blank">last month</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>South Sudan, a nation the US&nbsp;<a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/140120/how-the-us-lost-south-sudan" target="_blank">poured</a>&nbsp;much time and effort into&nbsp;<a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2012/01/mil-120111-voa02.htm" target="_blank">building</a>, is lurching toward the brink of genocide,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27245641" target="_blank">according</a>&nbsp;to Secretary of State John Kerry. With a ceasefire already&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/south-sudanese-army-rebels-blame-each-other-as-latest-cease-fire-is-quickly-violated/2014/05/11/49e8e6dc-d937-11e3-bda1-9b46b2066796_story.html?tid=hpModule_04941f10-8a79-11e2-98d9-3012c1cd8d1e" target="_blank">in shambles</a>&nbsp;within hours of being signed, the country stands as another stark foreign policy failure on a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175714/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_blowback_central" target="_blank">continent</a>&nbsp;now&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/mali-insurgency-followed-10-years-of-us-counterterrorism-programs/2013/01/16/a43f2d32-601e-11e2-a389-ee565c81c565_story.html" target="_blank">rife</a>&nbsp;with them. But just as Benghazi proved a useful excuse for dispatching more forward-deployed firepower toward Africa, the embassy scare in South Sudan acted as a convenient template for future crises in which the U.S. military would be even more involved. “We’re basically the firemen for AFRICOM. If something arises and they need troops somewhere, we can be there just like that,” Captain John Young, a company commander with the East Africa Response Force,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stripes.com/crisis-response-force-adds-firepower-to-us-base-in-africa-1.277535" target="_blank">told</a>&nbsp;<em>Stars and Stripes</em>&nbsp;in the wake of the Juba mission.</p><p><strong>The new normal and the same old, same old</strong></p><p>A batch of official Army Africa documents obtained by TomDispatch convinced me that EARF was intimately connected with Operation New Normal. A July 2013 briefing slide, for instance, references “East Africa Response Force/New Normal,” while another concerning operations on that continent mentions “New Normal Reaction Force East.” At the same time, the phrase “new normal” has been increasingly on the lips of the men running America’s African ops.</p><p>Jason Hyland, a 30-year State Department veteran who serves as Foreign Policy Advisor to Brigadier General Wayne Grigsby, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), for instance,&nbsp;<a href="http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:n8i9piP9regJ:www.hoa.africom.mil/story/7841/foreign-policy-advisorrsquos-experience-knowledge-vital-to-cjtfhoa-mission+&amp;cd=1&amp;hl=en&amp;ct=clnk&amp;gl=us" target="_blank">told</a>&nbsp;an interviewer that the task force “is at the forefront in this region in implementing US policy on the ‘new normal’ to protect our missions when there are uncertain conditions.”&nbsp;</p><p>A news release from CJTF-HOA concerning the Juba operation also used the phrase:<em>&nbsp;“</em>While the East Africa Response Force was providing security for the embassy, additional forces were required to continue the evacuation mission. Under the auspices of ‘the new normal,’ which refers to the heightened threat U.S. Embassies face throughout the world, the SP-MAGTF CR arrived from Morón, Spain,”&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hoa.africom.mil/story/7976/sp-magtf-cr-redeploys-to-mor-n-spain" target="_blank">wrote</a>&nbsp;Technical Sergeant Jasmine Reif. &nbsp;</p><p>Earlier this year in&nbsp;<em>Seapower</em>&nbsp;magazine, the commander of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, Colonel Scott Benedict, <a href="http://www.seapowermagazine.org/stories/20140210-magtf.html" target="_blank">described</a>&nbsp;the “new normal” as a world filled with “a lot of rapidly moving crises,” requiring military interventions and likened it to the Marine Corps deployments in the so-called&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/21/books/review/21SCHWART.html" target="_blank">Banana Wars</a>&nbsp;in Central America and the Caribbean in the early twentieth century.</p><p>On a visit to Camp Lemonnier, Marine commandant General James Amos echoed the same sentiments,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Jan/03/marines-sudan-crisis-response/1/" target="_blank">calling</a>&nbsp;his troops “America’s insurance policy.” Referencing the Marine task force, he invoked that&nbsp;<a href="http://voices.mydesert.com/2014/01/31/commandant-of-the-marine-corps-gen-james-f-amos-talks-global-security-national-defense-priorities/" target="_blank">phrase</a>&nbsp;in an even more expansive way. Aside from “winning battles” in Afghanistan, he&nbsp;<a href="http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Jan/03/marines-sudan-crisis-response/2/?#article-copy" target="_blank">said</a>, the creation of that force was “probably the most significant thing we’ve done in the last year-and-a-half as far as adjusting the Marine Corps for what people are now calling the new normal, which are these crises that are happening around the world.”</p><p>In March, Brigadier General Wayne Grigsby explicitly noted that the phrase meant far more than simple embassy security missions. “Sitting in Djibouti is really the new normal,” the CJTF-HOA commander&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXNmRezHvR4" target="_blank">said</a>. (He was, in fact, sitting in an office in that country.) “It’s not the new normal... as far as providing security for our threatened embassies. It’s really the new normal on how we’re going to operate as a [Department of Defense entity] in supporting the national security strategy of our country.”&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Operation New Normal and the incredible disappearing Lee Magee</strong></p><p>With so many officials talking about the “new normal” and with documents citing a specific operation sporting the same name, I called up AFRICOM’s media chief Benjamin Benson looking for more information. “I don’t know the name new normal,” he told me. “It isn’t a term we’re using to define one of the operations.”</p><p>That seemed awfully curious. An official military document obtained by TomDispatch explicitly noted that US troops would be deployed as part of Operation New Normal in 2014. The term was even used, in still another document, alongside other code-named operations like Juniper Micron and Observant Compass, missions to aid the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175818/" target="_blank">French and African interventions</a>&nbsp;in Mali and to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.africom.mil/what-we-do" target="_blank">degrade or destroy</a>&nbsp;Joseph Kony’s murderous&nbsp;<a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/nation/2013/09/12/operation-observant-compass-kony/2804225/" target="_blank">Lord’s Resistance Army</a>&nbsp;in central Africa.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/546772/operationnewnormal_small.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/546772/operationnewnormal_small.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="176" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>From a 2013 U.S. Army Africa briefing slide referencing Operation New Normal.</span></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Next, I got in touch with Lieutenant Colonel Glen Roberts at CJTF-HOA and explained that I wanted to know about Operation New Normal. His response was effusive and unequivocal: I should speak with Lee Magee - that is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/10/world/africa/us-mission-in-south-sudan-shows-limits-of-military.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee Magee</a>, a West Point graduate, third-generation Army officer, and commander of the East African Response Force who had deployed to South Sudan as the nation shattered on the rocks of reality. “He lives this concept and has executed it,” was how Roberts put it.&nbsp;</p><p>Was I available to talk to Magee the next day? Yes, indeed.</p><p>On March 27th, the day of the proposed interview, however, a lower-ranking public affairs official got in touch to explain that Lieutenant Colonel Magee could not speak to me and Lieutenant Colonel Roberts was out of the office. I asked to reschedule for the next day. The spokesman said he didn’t know what their calendars looked like, but that Roberts was expected back later that day. I left a message, but heard nothing.</p><p>The next morning, I called the press office in Djibouti and asked to speak to Magee. He wasn’t there. No one was. Everyone had left work early. The reason? “Paint fumes.”</p><p>That was a new one.</p><p>Another follow-up and Roberts finally got back in touch. “Apologies, but I am no longer able to arrange an interview with Magee,” he informed me. “Thanks for understanding.”</p><p>But I didn’t understand and told him so. After all, Magee was the man who&nbsp;<em>lived and executed</em>&nbsp;the new normal. I thought we were set for an interview. What happened?</p><p>“He has simply declined an interview, as is his privilege,” was the best Roberts could do. Magee had been dropped into the hot zone in South Sudan to forestall the next Benghazi, and had previously&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stripes.com/crisis-response-force-adds-firepower-to-us-base-in-africa-1.277535" target="_blank">spoken</a>&nbsp;with other&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/10/world/africa/us-mission-in-south-sudan-shows-limits-of-military.html?_r=1" target="_blank">media outlets</a>&nbsp;about his work in Africa, but conversing with me about Operation New Normal was apparently beyond the pale. Or maybe it had something to do with those paint fumes.</p><p>On March 31st, Roberts told me that he could answer the questions by email - questions that I had already sent in on March 17th. But no response came. I followed up again. And again. And again. I sent the questions a second time.&nbsp;</p><p>As of publication, almost two months after my initial inquiry, no word yet. That, evidently, is the new normal, too.</p><p><strong>The real new normal</strong></p><p>Quite obviously, the US military isn’t eager to talk about Operation New Normal, which - despite Benjamin Benson’s contentions, Lee Magee’s silence, and Glen Roberts’ disappearance --is almost certainly the name for a U.S. military mission in East Africa that, US documents suggest, is tied to the Benghazi-birthed East African Response Force.</p><p>More important than uncovering the nature of Operation New Normal, however, is recognizing the real new normal in Africa for the US military: ever-increasing missions across the continent - now&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175823/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_america%27s_non-stop_ops_in_africa" target="_blank">averaging</a>&nbsp;about 1.5 per day - ever more engagement with local&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175818/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_american_proxy_wars_in_africa" target="_blank">proxies</a>&nbsp;in ever more African countries, the construction of ever more new facilities in ever more countries (including plans for a possible new compound in Niger), and a string of bases&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175830/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_africom_becomes_a_%22war-fighting_combatant_command%22" target="_blank">devoted</a>&nbsp;to surveillance activities spreading across the northern tier of Africa. Add to this impressive build-up the three new rapid reaction forces, specialized teams like a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/05/07/us-team-military-personnel-federal-agency-experts-to-reach-nigeria-in-coming/" target="_blank">contingent</a>&nbsp;of AFRICOM personnel and officials from the FBI and the departments of Justice, State, and Defense created to help&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stripes.com/news/africa/pentagon-outlines-plans-to-help-rescue-kidnapped-girls-in-nigeria-1.281876" target="_blank">rescue</a>&nbsp;hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by members of the Islamic militant group Boko Haram, and other shadowy quick-response units like the seldom-mentioned&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175743/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_africom%27s_gigantic_%22small_footprint%22" target="_blank">Naval Special Warfare Unit 10</a>.</p><p>“Having resources [on the continent] that are ready for a response is really valuable,” Benson told me when talking about the Djibouti-based EARF. The same holds for the US military’s new normal in Africa: more of everything valuable to a military seeking a new mission in the wake of two fading, none-too-successful wars.</p><p>The Benghazi killings, unrest in South Sudan, and now the Boko Haram kidnappings have provided the US with ways to bring a long-running “light footprint in Africa” narrative into line with a far heavier reality. Each crisis has provided the US with further justification for publicizing a steady expansion on that continent that’s been underway but under wraps for years. New forces, new battlefields, and a new openness about a new “war,” to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175830/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_africom_becomes_a_%22war-fighting_combatant_command%22" target="_blank">quote</a>&nbsp;one of the men waging it. That’s the real new normal for the U.S. military in Africa - and you don’t need to talk to Lieutenant Colonel Lee Magee to know it.<em>&nbsp;</em></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>This piece, including Tom Engelhardt's introduction, is reposted from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175844/">TomDIspatch.com</a>&nbsp;with that site's permission.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/nick-turse/pivot-to-africa-africoms-gigantic-small-footprint">Pivot to Africa: AFRICOM&#039;s gigantic &#039;small footprint&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/nick-turse/heavy-imprint-of-americas-light-footprint">The heavy imprint of America&#039;s &#039;light footprint&#039; </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/gustavo-pl%C3%A1cido-dos-santos/boko-haram-time-for-alternative-approach">Boko Haram: time for an alternative approach</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-nigeria-and-long-war">Al-Qaida, Nigeria, and a long war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/mabel-gonz%C3%A1lez-bustelo/us-and-colombia-building-exportable-model-of-security">The US and Colombia: building an exportable model of security </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Mali </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity United States Mali Nigeria Tom Engelhardt Nick Turse Security in South and Central Asia Militarisation Thu, 15 May 2014 19:50:16 +0000 Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt 82866 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Boko Haram: time for an alternative approach https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/gustavo-pl%C3%A1cido-dos-santos/boko-haram-time-for-alternative-approach <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Military responses to <em>Boko Haram</em> have proved ineffective, as the latest <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/22/nigeria-parents-kidnapped-schoolgirls-mercy-chibok">atrocities&nbsp;</a>in Nigeria highlight. An alternative focused on good governance, policing and socio-economic development, supported by the international community, would be much more likely to succeed.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/protest in abuja.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/protest in abuja.jpg" alt="Protest in Abuja in 2012 against fuel-subsidy removal" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Development plan needed: 2012 protests against Jonathan's removal of fuel subsidies. Demotix / Peter Nkanga. All rights reserved</span></span></span>In May 2013 the president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, declared a state of emergency in the three northern states worst hit by Islamist insurgency: Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. Nigerian military forces have since initiated a major operation in the north-east aimed at eliminating <em>Boko Haram</em> (“Western education is forbidden”), which has targeted public infrastructures, closed schools, destroyed local economies, killed many people and forced many more to leave their homes. According to the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Assistance, since 2013 <em>Boko Haram</em>’s attacks have displaced around 300,000 people. Most have fled to other states, the remainder seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Recently, the government relief agency, the National Emergency Management Agency, declared a humanitarian crisis affecting more than three million people. Yet the group has shown remarkable resilience and even intensified its assaults.</p> <p>Apart from a deteriorating economy, poor basic services and rampant corruption, the north suffers weak education and few job opportunities. According to the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation, the number of children in Nigeria without access to education increased by 3.6 million between 2000 and 2010, and one in six (10.5 million) do not attend formal schooling. In 2008 half of northern children did not attend school and matters have since deteriorated: in Borno all secondary schools have been shut down, affecting 120,000 students. Neglect has also allowed a misappropriation of education facilities—in particular the <em>Almajiri</em> boarding schools, whose teachers preach fundamentalism and instil hatred towards the West, making them a fertile ground for violence.</p> <h2><strong>Sustainable development</strong></h2> <p>Against this backdrop, in November 2013 Jonathan inaugurated 64 fully-equipped <em>Almajiri</em> Model Schools, aimed at including out-of-school children in the system. The federal government designs the curriculum, provides teaching and learning materials, develops teachers’ capacities and guarantees sustainable food. Once established, the schools are handed over to state governments and monitored to ensure compliance with minimum academic standards. Some members of the president’s security team, instead of targeting <em>Boko Haram</em> youths with brute force, are seeking to enrol repentant militants into vocational schools, where psychologists will give counselling and a “pacifist” version of the <em>Qur’an</em> will be taught. </p> <p>Such programmes will only bear fruit in the long term and only if implemented alongside sustainable economic development. Federal and state governments need to safeguard the functioning of these schools while improving security, reducing corruption, promoting investment (including in infrastructure) and allocating resources more fairly. Genuine political commitment is crucial to address the root causes of the violence and instability that has ravaged the region.</p> <p>Internally displaced persons (IDPs) should also be targeted by government policies. Guaranteeing basic living conditions and providing vocational and entrepreneurial skills may pre-empt large numbers of youths becoming susceptible to <em>Boko Haram</em>’s appeal. Nigerian authorities need to adopt a national legislative and institutional framework on IDPs, possibly based on the <a href="https://www.suffolk.edu/documents/CAS%20Departments/AU_Kampala_Convention_Nastasia_TIMA.pdf">Kampala Convention</a> of 2009, which guides government, donors and humanitarian agencies in preventing displacement and promoting the welfare of those displaced. </p> <h2><strong>The neighbourhood</strong></h2> <p><em>Boko Haram</em> members have found safe havens across the long and porous north-eastern borders with Cameroon and Niger. Open confrontation has been avoided by the authorities and military hostilities would almost certainly worsen the situation. Although the group confines most of its activity within Nigerian borders, however, the possibility of a shift towards international <em>jihadism</em> should not be discounted. Neighbouring countries would then likely face a direct threat to their fragile stability. This needs to be pre-empted by improved border security, through effective intelligence and policing—as opposed to military force—and, again, supportive living conditions. </p> <p>In Niger, <em>Boko Haram</em> has stepped up its recruiting efforts across the country’s impoverished south-east. National authorities initially played down the threat but to neglect <em>Boko Haram</em> could derail the country—already facing insurgency threats in the north—and Nigerien authorities have beefed up patrols and intelligence, even arresting some militants. Cameroon meanwhile is used by <em>Boko Haram</em> as an operational base and to kidnap westerners for ransom, from which to acquire weapons and attract members or secure the release of detained militants. </p> <p>In both countries, fear of escalating tensions has worked against a more proactive approach on the part of the authorities. It becomes all the more urgent that they strengthen their intelligence services, while guaranteeing public safety, welfare and development—including for the thousands of Nigerians seeking refuge in their territory. Failure to protect the latter would provide an opportunity for <em>Boko Haram</em> to extend its operations, whether by taking advantage of the susceptibility to militancy of the youth in particular or by exploiting the socio-political instability where disgruntled and vulnerable refugees are concentrated. </p> <p>As <em>Boko Haram</em> becomes increasingly unbounded, the neighbours of Nigeria need to place its stability at the core of their strategic thinking. Yet they face their own insurgency threats, have inefficient legal systems, lack resources and are largely governed by corrupt and weak regimes—and so their ability to contain fundamentalist violence is correspondingly reduced. For the sake of socio-political stability in the region, therefore, international assistance should be requested and furnished. International actors with solid democratic institutions, mature legal systems, available resources, “counter-terrorism” expertise and strategic interest in the region should create synergies with affected countries for the sustainable containment of violent non-state groups. </p> <h2><strong>International collaboration</strong></h2> <p>The case for international intervention is enhanced by the inability of the Nigerian authorities to quell the instability and avert the unfolding humanitarian crisis. If the state has failed to achieve its traditional role of protecting its citizens, the “responsibility to protect” hoves into view. As a major military and economic African power, Nigeria would almost certainly politicise and so evade such calls for international intervention. </p> <p>In the face of a seemingly irresolvable social disaster yet a reluctance to allow deployment of an international force, however, Nigerian authorities should consider willingly collaborating with the international community—key to exiting the scenario of bloodshed, poverty and underdevelopment. The EU and the US in particular have “counter-terrorism” programmes which, if moulded to the specific needs of affected countries and regions, could bear fruits against non-state violence. </p> <p>Via the <a href="http://www.foreignassistance.gov/web/OU.aspx?OUID=373">Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership</a>, the US has been providing civilian and military assistance to countries across the Sahel and north Africa. But the partnership focuses almost exclusively on security, weighted against the civilian component. US military support to Nigeria’s armed forces has thus failed to produce the desired results, demonstrating its ineffectiveness if the roots of instability are not addressed. On the other hand the EU, which has recognised al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb—purportedly linked to <em>Boko Haram</em>—as a major threat, has elaborated a <a href="http://www.eeas.europa.eu/africa/docs/sahel_strategy_en.pdf">Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel</a> (2011), which makes clear that tackling non-state violence and promoting development go hand-in-hand. </p> <p>The United Nations has also been stepping up efforts to counter instability in the region. In 2013, <a href="http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/undpa/main/enewsletter/pid/24728">the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel</a> was established, seeking to bring together the disparate responses of governments, the region and the international community. Its key objectives are to make governance more inclusive and effective, build capacities to counter cross-border threats and strengthen the resilience of the Sahelian people. Another positive development was the establishment of the Sahel Region Capacity-building Working Group, comprising countries from the region and other influential international actors—such as Canada, the US and the EU. </p> <p>The international community, in particular the EU and the US, should break with its one-size-fits-all approach, look at each country’s particularities and focus less on external factors. By promoting better governance, greater democratic control and capacity-building, it can open the way to more secure borders, more accountable and efficient local management and socio-economic development. </p> <p>From the Nigerian side, a good starting point would be the lifting of the state of emergency, the withdrawal of military forces and their replacement by police and security forces advised and trained by international actors. This would likely result in less abuse of power—thus addressing part of the popular disgruntlement towards public authorities which has been feeding violence—and, paradoxically, probably drive <em>Boko Haram</em> to soften its aggressive stance in the absence of an immediate threat. </p> <h2><strong>Resolving the conundrum</strong></h2> <p>Guaranteeing border security would go half-way to weakening <em>Boko Haram</em>’s ability to acquire finance, men and firepower. But without a full commitment by Nigeria and neighbouring countries none will be able to keep this dangerous insurgent at bay. So the international community has to step in—but with reshaped and refocused interventions which address the roots of instability. Success also depends on a long-term, comprehensive, socio-economic development plan for the region, with a focus on skills for the young, job creation and basic infrastructure. </p> <p>The daunting task of rebuilding Nigeria will depend, above all, on Nigerian authorities putting aside political rivalries, tackling corruption and pursuing the public interest. Even if all these steps are duly applied, however, <em>Boko Haram</em> will not disappear overnight. Patience and dedication will be critical.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/gustavo-pl%C3%A1cido-dos-santos/education-and-violent-extremism-in-nigeria">Education and violent extremism in Nigeria</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nigeria-boko-haram-risk">Nigeria, the Boko Haram risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/morten-b%C3%B8%C3%A5s/nigeria-challenge-of-%E2%80%9Cboko-haram-ii%E2%80%9D">Nigeria: the challenge of “Boko Haram II” </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Nigeria Conflict Democracy and government Africa Boko Haram - Behind the Headlines fundamentalisms Gustavo Plácido dos Santos oS analysis Security in Sub-Saharan Africa Non-state violence Structural Insecurity Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:26:10 +0000 Gustavo Plácido dos Santos 81557 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Al-Qaida, Nigeria, and a long war https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-nigeria-and-long-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The strategy of the United States and its allies in face of the "al-Qaida idea"&nbsp;will prolong not settle the global war.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>A theme explored repeatedly in this series of columns is the persistence of the al-Qaida idea. The reason for the emphasis on "idea" is straightforward. It is clear and undeniable that al-Qaida has been greatly diminished as an organised entity, not least by the United States's campaign of <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/suicide-bombs-without-suicides-why-drones-are-so-cool">armed-drone</a> attacks. But the movement's <em>jihadist </em>worldview has maintained and even enhanced its appeal over the same period, to the extent that its challenge is potentially even greater than it was in the aftermath of 9/11 (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-multiform-idea">Al-Qaida, a multiform idea</a>", 8 August 2013).. </p><p>This view clearly resonates with US security analysts who now identify a resurgence of al-Qaida in the wake of the Arab awakening's failure to deliver greater justice and emancipation (see Robert F Worth &amp; Eric Schmitt, “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/04/world/middleeast/jihadist-groups-gain-in-turmoil-across-middle-east.html?ref=alqaeda&amp;_r=0">Jihadists re-emerge as global threat officials say</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 3 December 2013). They focus in part on the rise to <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syria-next-blowback">prominence</a> of radical groups among the Syrian opposition, and even suggest that Washington might have to consider working <a href="http://gulfnews.com/news/region/syria/syria-jihadist-threat-may-force-us-rethink-on-bashar-al-assad-1.1263189">alongside</a> the Bashar al-Assad regime.</p><p>The perspective is also relevant to other theatres: recent <em>jihadist</em> successes in <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25206462">Yemen</a>, the rise of extreme Islamist paramilitary <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/25/us-libya-security-idUSBRE9AO04O20131125">elements</a> in Libya, and the growth in <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25150707">violence</a> in Iraq. A trend has emerged that contests the notion current in 2010-11 – that al-Qaida, both as movement and idea, was becoming a spent force. It is now recognised that even if the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-enduring-insurgency">movement</a> may have been hugely damaged, the idea remains as potent as ever.</p><p>This emerging analysis echoes and parallels the thinking attempted since 2001 in these <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">columns</a>. Yet the new approach in Washington still partly misses the mark by concentrating so much <a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/al_qaeda/index.html">attention</a> on the middle east. This makes recent developments in Nigeria, especially actions of the Boko Haram movement, a salutary reminder of the need to adopt a broader international understanding. </p><p><strong>The Boko Haram file </strong></p><p>Several earlier columns have discussed the growth of this movement and its impact on Nigeria as a whole, albeit Boko Haram's strength is concentrated in the country's north (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-franchise-nigerian-case">Al-Qaida franchise: the Nigerian case</a>"&nbsp; [25 August 2011], and "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nigeria-boko-haram-risk">Nigeria, the Boko Haram risk</a>"&nbsp; [9 May 2013]). The past six months have seen further major developments, with escalating violence both by Boko Haram and the government’s counter-terror forces. Yet an extreme emergency, with scores of people being killed every week, is still scarcely covered in the western establishment media (see Will Hartley, “<a href="http://archive.is/I7COX">Soft Target - Boko Haram widens campaign against civilians</a>”, <a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane’s Intelligence Review</em></a>, December 2013).</p><p>Throughout 2012-13 the Nigerian government has sought rigorously to repress the <a href="http://www.usip.org/publications/what-boko-haram">movement</a>, with tactics that include support for local armed vigilantes. These have had an impact, but <a href="http://www.cfr.org/nigeria/boko-haram/p25739">Boko Haram</a> has responded by extending its attacks against civil targets, especially schools, in districts supporting the pro-government militias.</p><p>There is a strong argument that the movement's violent approach is alienating the public in the areas affected. But this itself makes a specific action early on 2 December 2013 very significant. A Boko Haram operation involving scores - possibly hundreds - of paramilitaries was launched close to the city of <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/nigeria.htm">Maiduguri</a>, the site of Boko Haram’s foundation and long a centre of support.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25187142">attack</a> was distinguished by its target: not a civilian one, but a major military base. Indeed, the base is a key facility for the state's war against Boko Haram, containing an air-base deploying helicopter-gunships and strike-aircraft as well as army barracks. </p><p>The precise details of what happened were at first elusive, not least because the government was keen to downplay the incident. Within a day the picture became clearer, with one report saying:</p><p>"[Boko Haram fighters] streamed towards Maiduguri city in the early hours of Monday in pick-up trucks and on motorcycles, before opening fire with rockets and small arms on a military base. After a five-hour battle, two helicopters, three under-repair fighter jets, vehicles, officers' housing, workshops and regimental buildings had been destroyed” (see Mike Pflanz, “<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/nigeria/10492759/Dozens-killed-by-Islamist-gunmen-in-Boko-Haram-attack-in-Nigeria.html">Dozens killed by Islamist gunmen in Boko Haram in Nigeria</a>”, <em>Telegraph</em>, 3 December 2013)</p><p>Scores of people <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/video/africa/2013/12/boko-haram-attacks-an-air-base-nigeria-2013123164011457106.html">died</a> in the fighting, including civilians caught in the crossfire. A bigger problem for the government, though, was the very fact that the militants were able to overrun the base with every evidence of impunity.</p><p>On past performance, the government will respond with yet more force, in turn provoking a <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/386c00ce-5b79-11e3-a2ba-00144feabdc0.html">vigorous</a> counter-reaction by Boko Haram. The overall death-toll from five years of conflict since 2009 is already in the many thousands, and it is clear that government claims of a movement in retreat are nonsense.</p><p><strong>The wrong track</strong></p><p>The continued impact of Boko Haram has a twofold importance. The first aspect is that it exposes the over-emphasis on the middle east in the US's perception of a resurgent global <em>jihadism</em>. Washington is very concerned with Syria, Iraq and Yemen, but it neglects Libya and even more Nigeria (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syria-and-libya-slow-meltdown">Syria and Libya, a slow meltdown</a>", 28 November 2013).</p><p>The second aspect is the wider Nigerian context of Boko Haram. This group has arisen in one of the poorest regions of Nigeria, one where state support is meagre and people see themselves <a href="http://dailypost.com.ng/2013/07/24/ayodeji-obademi-boko-haram-poverty-jonathan-and-the-game-of-musical-chairs/">losing</a> out as the oil-rich (and largely Christian) south benefits repeatedly (see "<a href="http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21590909-terrorist-insurgency-has-deepened-poor-regions-already-grave-problems-why">Why northerners feel done down</a>”, <em>Economist</em>, 30 November 2013). The commercial capital of Lagos on the south-west coast, for example, has a literacy rate of 92%, whereas in Borno state in the far north-east it is 15%.</p><p>Boko Haram can rely on many factors to generate support. The rigorous military repression that has been a signal feature of Goodluck Jonathan's presidency is one. But a deeper factor is the experience and marked awareness of <a href="http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/index.php/news/national-news/138533-unesco-chief-blames-boko-haram-insurgency-on-poverty-ignorance-others">marginalisation</a> among the population the movement draws on. It is this that <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/kenya-nigeria-syria-iraq-dynamics-of-war">connects</a> Boko Haram with developments in many parts of the middle east and north Africa. The potent al-Qaida idea may be rigid and often brutal in its execution but it <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-next-stage">benefits</a> persistently from support from the margins.</p><p>A relatively early column in this series was entitled “<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1127.jsp">A thirty-year war</a>” (4 April 2003). In the context of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, it argued that the approach of the United States in the middle east "plays directly into the hands of militant radicals." Over a <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/decades-war-legacy-and-lesson">decade</a> later, the US and other western countries see a forceful counter-terror response as the logical <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/americas-wars-long-fallout">answe</a>r to the resurgence of the al-Qaida idea. That response may keep its attraction in the short-term; but as long as it does, it will signify how little has been learned from the failures of the “war on terror” across the twelve years since 9/11. The thirty-year war, sadly, is still on track.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.hrw.org/africa/nigeria">Human Rights Watch - Nigeria</a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><em><a href="http://www.africa-confidential.com/news">Africa Confidential </a><br /></em></p><p>Stephen Ellis, <a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=628"><em>Season of Rains: Africa in the World</em></a> (C Hurst, 2011)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Paul Rogers is professor in the <a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/">department of peace studies</a> at Bradford University, northern England. He is <strong>openDemocracy's</strong> international-security editor, and has been writing a weekly column on global security since 28 September 2001; he also writes a monthly briefing for the <a href="http://oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a>. His books include <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007), and <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</em> </a>(Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010). He is on twitter at: <span class="screen-name screen-name-ProfPRogers pill">@ProfPRogers</span></p> <p><span class="screen-name screen-name-ProfPRogers pill">A lecture by Paul Rogers&nbsp;on <a href="http://sustainablesecurity.org/what-sustainable-security">sustainable security</a>, delivered to the Quaker yearly <a href="http://www.quaker.org.uk/ym-updates">meeting</a> on 3 August 2011, provides an overview of the analysis that&nbsp;underpins his openDemocracy column. It is available in two parts and can be accessed from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.networkforpeace.org.uk/resources/qpsw/paul-rogers-lecture-sustainable-security">here</a></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nigeria-boko-haram-risk">Nigeria, the Boko Haram risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-and-libya-slow-meltdown">Syria and Libya, a slow meltdown</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-war-and-negotiation">Syria, war and negotiation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/james-oconnell-and-peace-studies">James O&#039;Connell and peace studies</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/climate-change-canary-to-ghost">Climate change: canary to ghost </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-decades-legacy">Syria, a decade&#039;s legacy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-realigning-war">Syria, realigning the war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/kenya-nigeria-syria-iraq-dynamics-of-war">Kenya-Nigeria, Syria-Iraq: dynamics of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-condition-and-prospect">Al-Qaida: condition and prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-fatal-choice">Syria, a fatal choice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-multiform-idea">Al-Qaida, a multiform idea</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/egypt-and-worlds-revolt">Egypt, and the world&#039;s revolt</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-mali-nigeria-wars-paralysis">Syria, Mali, Nigeria: war&#039;s paralysis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thinning-world-mali-nigeria-india">The thinning world: Mali, Nigeria, India</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-panoptic-shiver">America: the panoptic shiver</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-turn-new-wars-special-forces">America&#039;s turn: new wars, special forces</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-franchise-nigerian-case">Al-Qaida franchise: the Nigerian case </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-past-present-future">The thirty-year war: past, present, future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/conflicts/global_security/the-thirty-year-war-revisited">The thirty-year war, revisited </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Nigeria Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power middle east Africa Boko Haram - Behind the Headlines Paul Rogers Thu, 05 Dec 2013 05:13:44 +0000 Paul Rogers 77577 at https://www.opendemocracy.net From 'Silence Would Be Treason' - the last writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa https://www.opendemocracy.net/ken-saro-wiwa-biodun-jefiyo/from-silence-would-be-treason-last-writings-of-ken-saro-wiwa <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>No, Shell are merely hoping that the government will succeed in “pacifying” the Ogoni and then they will move in proudly and calmly to continue to steal. They are in for a fight they will never forget.</p> </div> </div> </div> <blockquote><p><strong><em>Silence would be treason</em></strong> publishes for the first time an extraordinary series of letters and poems sent by Saro-Wiwa to Irish solidarity activist Sr Majella McCarron during his time in military detention. These letters and poems are the last expression of a voice the regime was determined to silence: a voice for indigenous rights, environmental survival and democracy, many of whose battles were won despite his death and whose voice comes alive today again in these letters.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Donated by Sr Majella to the National University of Ireland Maynooth after Maynooth students' involvement in the "Shell to Sea" campaign in NW Ireland, the letters have been transcribed and edited by Helen Fallon, &Iacute;de Corley and Laurence Cox with a foreword by Nigerian environmentalist and poet Nnimmo Bassey. </p><p>&nbsp;</p></blockquote> <h2>Biodun Jefiyo introduces us to the writer and to two extracts from these last writings:&nbsp; &nbsp;</h2> <p><em>One military dictator, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, defined the true Nigerian this way: Every Nigerian had a price and all you had to do was to find the right price; if however you found a Nigerian who had no price and could therefore not be bought, he or she was not a true Nigerian and had to be carefully watched. Another military dictator, Sani Abacha, had a far more sinister take on this matter: Every Nigerian had a price; any woman or man that had no price and could not be bought was not a Nigerian and had to be jailed or killed or both. I know of no literary testament from our unhappy country that goes more to the heart of this particular darkness than this volume containing the last writings of the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni rights and environmental activist who was executed by Abacha. The letters and poems collected in this volume show with great eloquence that Saro-Wiwa confronted Abacha&rsquo;s darkness with anger, sadness, wit and humour. Beyond Abacha and the savagery of the Nigerian military dictatorship, Saro-Wiwa also confronted the darkness of the international oil conglomerates, especially Shell. The unspeakable plunder of resources and despoliation of the environment that they perpetrate are given a searing indictment in this volume, taking this testament far beyond Ogoniland and Nigeria to the four corners of our planet.</em></p> <p><em>Remarkably however, this is not a volume overwhelmed by the darkness that its writer confronted and fought in a struggle that ultimately consumed his life. In nearly every letter and poem in the volume there is suffusing light and uncommon grace. One reason for this is perhaps the simple fact that, like so many other great figures throughout history that finally confronted the worst and the best in themselves and in humanity in an oppressor&rsquo;s dungeon, Saro-Wiwa transcended the particular travails of his fate, leaving a testimony, a legacy that will perhaps resonate far beyond the present.&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em>But there is also the Irish nun to whom the letters and poems were addressed and sent and through whose agency they now come to us as if Saro-Wiwa speaks from the grave. Thus, this volume also tells the beautiful and deeply affecting story of a friendship that crossed the boundaries of race, nationality, gender, and age, a friendship that goes to the roots of the most noble and selfless of human sentiments. I confidently expect that in time, this slim volume will take its rightful place among the most important works of prison writing and environmental activism in the world.</em></p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/ken-letter%20%282%29.jpg" alt="" width="460" align="center" /></p> <h2>Letter smuggled out of military detention to solidarity worker Majella McCarron, 1 October, 1994</h2> <p>&ldquo;Dear Sr. Majella,</p> <p>Thanks a lot for your letter starting from 3<sup>rd</sup> September &amp; the only communication I&rsquo;ve got from you since you left. I have, on my part, sent two letters and doubt now that you got any of them...&nbsp; I&rsquo;ve got money to keep going for two months&hellip; Keeping MOSOP operational has been quite a problem. With all the Steering Committee members in jail or declared wanted by the police, we have been in trouble...</p><p>You probably know that one of my aims has been to take the Ogoni people on a journey. Even what is happening now is, and please don&rsquo;t think me sadistic, helpful. For one, they are able to see me battling from prison&mdash;from the very jaws of the lion. A number of them have stuck it out in Ogoni and are still able to work in cells. And there are those who went off to Lagos and have done marvellous work with the Press. The activists write me, and from them, I have a sense that the Ogoni people are holding out bravely. They are not fighting&mdash;because I did not even prepare them for physical combat&mdash;but they are holding out psychologically. And that, in spite of massive government propaganda, aided by renegades like Birabi And Leton.</p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/SaroWiwa2.jpg" alt="" width="460" height="305" /><br /><em><small>Destruction of Kaa market in Ogoni</small></em></p><p>However, we have won the propaganda war. I hope that you have seen the writings of Professor Ake and Wole Soyinka&mdash;the latter appearing in the <em>New York Times</em>. Locally, the support of the non-government press has been tremendous. And Yoruba leaders meeting on August 31 sent solidarity messages to the Ogoni and called for my release.</p><p>The Rivers State Government have put out films which I have not seen but they are recognized for what they are&mdash;propaganda&mdash;and in any case, it&rsquo;s always difficult to sell a bad case. More so when the opponent has had a head-on start. Nor can they match us internationally.</p><p>I thank you for your thoughts on the <em>Ogoni Review</em>. I have been wanting to keep it going. Funds have been the problem. If you can raise money abroad for it, we can do all the work, including printing here. Barika has been to Switzerland, and then went off to the U.S. I have not heard of him since then. I have, all the same, had a new employee who&rsquo;s working on copies. I&rsquo;m sending back copies with this letter in the hope that it will help you raise funds. Three hundred pounds (&pound;300.00) sterling a month should be enough to produce 1500-2000 copies monthly &amp; mail them free to the right people and organizations. If such funding becomes available, all you need do is pay it into my a/c no. [number provided] at [name and London address of bank provided]. I&rsquo;ll then arrange to repatriate the funds through the unofficial market which will make the naira equivalent even better.</p><p>I&rsquo;m happy that Bodyshop were able to stop the bad publicity which I&rsquo;m sure was engineered by Shell. They may be made to realize that what we are doing in Ogoni helps to expose Shell as well and they should lend us support. It&rsquo;s a shame that MOSOP have not been able to get help except from the World Council of Churches (cash) and UNPO (kind).</p><p>You will have known that the strike in Lagos was called off after 2 months. It was a great effort, but the British Govt. helped with it. The oil companies too. These organizations find it easier to exploit Nigeria through the military dictatorships. Predictably, Abacha has gone on a spree, trying to prove that he can out Amin Idi Amin. But I expect that he will fail, ultimately.</p><p>Yes, I do have a radio. Two have been seized from me, but I&rsquo;ve got a third. If they seize that, I&rsquo;ll get another. It&rsquo;s the only way I can keep up with events. I get the newspapers too, but all the good ones&mdash;<em>Guardian</em>, <em>Punch</em> &amp; <em>Concord -&nbsp;</em>are proscribed. But the radio has been most useful. Since I have time on my hands, I&rsquo;m able to follow a wide variety of programmes. I get overseas magazines once in a while&mdash;through Prof. Ake&mdash;and I do have access to the novels in my library. I&rsquo;ve written quite some&mdash;novels, Mr. B books &amp; the collection of short stories. At least the first draft is finished and that&rsquo;s some comfort. My time is well used. Getting all these things in has meant paying money out to my guards&mdash;quite a sum of money, Nigeria being Nigeria. But that&rsquo;s okay. I can put it down to &ldquo;business expense&rdquo;. Freedom can be quite expensive or cheap depending on how you look at it. To those who have freedom, it&rsquo;s cheap; those of us who lack it, pay a lot to get just a bit.</p><p>Hauwa was here for a fortnight or so but could not get to see me so I was not able to see my son, Kwame. That the authorities refused to allow it shows the depth of their wickedness. But in Ogoni custom, to refuse a child the favour of seeing his parent is godlessness and a crime. So I&rsquo;m expecting the Ogoni God to punish the criminals. Once when Edward Kobani, now deceased, treated me in a dastardly fashion, my father predicted that he would not die well. That duly came to pass. My dad did see and bless the child along with my mother. He gave them a lot of happiness, I hear, and am satisfied. I&rsquo;ve also had a guard here (a soldier) who saw my parents in good health.</p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/SaroWiwa1.jpg" alt="" width="460" height="293" /><br /><em><small>Destruction of fishing canoes, January 1994</small></em></p><p>I&rsquo;m pleased that you met Father Mashevran. I don&rsquo;t think I&rsquo;ve ever been &ldquo;street-wise&rdquo;. Bull-headed, yes. You have to be to take on Shell and the cabal that rules Nigeria.</p><p>The advice for Ogoni people not to co-operate with the military came from you, of course. Did you think I wasn&rsquo;t hearing from you?</p><p>And now to yourself. I hope that your medicals prove you fit. And that you are well, and happy. I long to see you back in Nigeria, helping, among others, to guide the Ogoni people through the wilderness. You don&rsquo;t know what help you have been to us, and to me personally, intellectually. God grant that you do return to us. I&rsquo;m counting the days. I may still be in detention when you come back. But I&rsquo;m not worried about that. Since the physical conditions are not bad, I&rsquo;m keeping myself mentally busy and doing a lot of those things which I may not have done as a free man. Has it not been said that God moves in a mysterious way/His wonders to perform? When I think how I came to be here, and to succeed in internationalizing the Ogoni issue on a slim budget, I cannot but see God&rsquo;s fingers in it all. And evidence is now getting out to the effect that I might have been the one to be assassinated on 21<sup>st</sup> May but that what had been planned for me went askew, thanks to God. Not that death would have mattered to me. It would have carried more harm to those still alive. However, I do want to take the Ogoni people as far on the journey to re-vitalization as is possible&mdash;until other leaders are bred.</p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/SaroWiwa3.jpg" alt="" width="460" height="287" /><small><em>Destruction of Ogoni villages along the waterfront.</em></small></p><p>My brother, Owens<sup>,</sup> is lying low in Lagos. But he&rsquo;s doing a tremendous job with the Press and the embassies. He&rsquo;s very clear and conscientious, thank God&hellip;</p> <p>Let me end by wishing you and yours the very best and God&rsquo;s abundant blessings.</p><p>Ken."</p> <h2>24 October 1994</h2><p>&ldquo;...The RLA prize [Right Livelihood Award] was most welcome. It encouraged the Ogoni people a great deal, legitimized MOSOP as a non-violent, and environmental and human rights organization, and the prize money will ease things a great deal for me. I don&rsquo;t see Shell and the government allowing me to travel&mdash;they must dread what bombs my presence will drop in Europe as I&rsquo;m supposed to address the Swedish Parliament, the European Parliament in Strasbourg and another meeting in London.<sup></sup>There or not, my words will ring through all the places. If I can&rsquo;t make it, I intend to ask my son to represent me. But somehow, I&rsquo;m hopeful that I&rsquo;ll be there. If I&rsquo;m not, then it is in Ogoni interest that I should not be. God&rsquo;s will.</p><p>As the days go by, I get the more convinced that the cause will win. I remember your encouraging me in the early days of our meeting, saying how because I had a certain independence of means, I might well be the only activist capable of giving Shell a run for their money. When I think how far we&rsquo;ve gone on very thin resources, I have cause to be grateful to God. And no matter what Shell does or says, they&rsquo;ve been in rough waters since July 1992 when I advised the [UN] Working Group on Indigenous Peoples in Geneva. I am grateful to all those of you who have rallied round the Ogoni cause&mdash;UNPO, Greenpeace, International Pen, etc. And there must be better news on the way. I should mention the Bodyshop, of course. You probably know that they nominated me and MOSOP for the RLA Award. I have sent an appeal to President Carter asking him to intervene and resolve the conflict. Someone of his reputation would make quite a difference. My cousin in America has been quoted as saying the MOSOP (USA) would sue Shell. Exxon had to pay 5 billion USD for the oil spill from one tanker in Alaska. By the time we&rsquo;ve created sufficient awareness internationally, it should be possible for us to find assistance should we wish to sue.</p><p>... As far as I am concerned, Shell should lose its mining lease in Ogoni. They may be pretending that they do not want to return to Ogoni. The fact is that they have 500 million barrels of oil on secondary drilling at K. Dere [a village in the Gokana district, Ogoniland]; they only last year awarded a 550 million USD contract to some organization to design the gas collection throughout Ogoni and the K. Dere field was to help in the natural gas plant at Bonny. No, Shell are merely hoping that the government will succeed in &ldquo;pacifying&rdquo; the Ogoni and then they will move in proudly and calmly to continue to steal. They are in for a fight they will never forget. Luckily, I&rsquo;m no longer alone. Several Ogoni youth are now learning the ropes, and if only they could get further exposure, they would be able to continue the struggle even in my absence.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><p>This volume makes the letters available and accessible in a paperback edition for campaign and educational use and supporting the distribution of affordable copies in Africa. As the energy multinationals gear up for another assault on the planet, on indigenous populations and on democracy, the ideas in this book have never been more significant.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><em>Silence would be treason: last writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa</em></strong><strong>. Edited by Helen Fallon, &Iacute;de Corley and Laurence Cox</strong> <strong>with a foreword by Nnimmo Bassey.</strong></p><p><strong>Dakar / Bangalore: Daraja / CODESRIA / Action Aid, 2013.</strong></p></blockquote> <p><em>Thanks go to the publishers for permission to publish these extracts.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Nigeria Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Economics International politics Biodun Jefiyo Ken Saro-Wiwa Thu, 21 Nov 2013 19:34:21 +0000 Ken Saro-Wiwa and Biodun Jefiyo 77198 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Education and violent extremism in Nigeria https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/gustavo-pl%C3%A1cido-dos-santos/education-and-violent-extremism-in-nigeria <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For Boko Haram, 'western civilisation is forbidden'. In a context of poor school attendance among Muslims, especially poor Muslims, is the <em>almajiri </em>system of schooling it favours compatible with a peacebuilding project for the country?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Standard">Violent extremism is at the forefront of security concerns across Africa. From Mali to Somalia and from Sudan to Tanzania, there has been a rise in the number and activity of militant groups. In contrast to Western concerns, these groups are more interested in targeting state, social and religious institutions that oppose their aim of establishing ‘pure’ Islamic states than they are in attacking Western interests.</p> <p class="Standard">This has been happening in Nigeria for the past decade. Nigeria is the continent’s most populous country, fastest growing economy and main oil exporter. State and local institutions, religious places and education facilities have been repeatedly attacked. Insecurity has ultimately led to the imposition of a state of emergency by the federal government in the northeast of the country. Despite Abuja’s military advantage, militant groups are proving to be extremely resilient.</p> <p class="Standard">A chain of events in Nigeria has recently spurred an international debate about religious extremism in the country. Most recently, in late September 2013, students at an agricultural college were shot dead as they slept in the college dormitory. According to Amnesty International, militants have so far killed around 170 teachers and students in school attacks during 2013.</p> <h2>The importance of education </h2> <p class="Standard">According to UNESCO, the number of children in Nigeria without access to education increased by 3.6 million between 2000 and 2010 and now one in six children (10.5 million) do not go take part in formal education. The number of illiterate adults in the country has increased by 10 million over two decades, so that today 35 million adults in Nigeria are unable to read and write properly. </p> <p class="Standard">The north of Nigeria is the most affected region, according to UNESCO’s World Inequality Database on Education. By 2008, 54% of children aged seven to 16 years did not attend school in the northeast and 48% in the northwest. In contrast, a rate of 2-5% was reported in the south. In the northeast and northwest, respectively 73% and 75% of children from the poorest families do not attend formal education. In contrast, in the south the majority of children from poorer families attend school. It is also important to note that nationally 43% of Muslim children do not attend school, while only 5% of Christian children are in this situation. </p> <p class="Standard">Regions with low levels of school attendance will not attract the domestic and foreign investment necessary for development and job creation. Formal education provides students with the essential knowledge in maths, science and the humanities that employers require. An educated population allows the economy to grow, leads to more jobs and increases tax revenues. Education also emancipates people’s minds. The south of the country thus enjoys a comparative advantage over the north.</p> <p class="Standard">Poor economic well-being and lack of opportunities particularly affect the youth. Those affected by these conditions face an uncertain future and must improvise their livelihoods and conduct their relationships outside the usual frameworks. Such improvisation may lead to positive and prosperous ideas but more often than not it risks corruption – leaving people prone to involvement in illegal activities or open to manipulation by political, social and religious leaders. </p> <h2>The almajiri system of education</h2> <p class="Standard">P­­oor Muslim families in Nigeria have two options. They can either keep their children at home in order to labour and contribute to the family’s survival or send them away to reduce the burden on the family’s resources and to provide them with some kind of education. If the latter is possible, children are mostly sent to free boarding schools, often in other states.</p> <p class="Standard">In northern Nigeria, Chad and Niger, there is a type of Qur’anic schooling called the almajiri system of education. <em>Almajiri</em> means an individual that moves from one place to another in search of knowledge. Children sent to these schools are separated from their families and communities, with virtually no means of maintaining contact. The emotional vacuum leaves them particularly reliant on their professors and fellow students. An estimated eight to 10 million children live in almajiri schools in Nigeria. </p> <p class="Standard">The curriculum at these schools is built around studying Arabic and the Qur'an and on attaining knowledge of the various branches of Islamic studies. Extremist philosophies are attaining a toe hold in many of the almajiri schools. Radical clerics are teaching students to hate everything that is Western or influenced by it, including the Nigerian government.</p> <p class="Standard">The almajiri system of education has been rooted in northern Nigeria since long before British colonialism in the 19th century. It is eulogised for having produced regional leaders, religious reformers and clerics, administrators and scholars across northern Nigeria. The schools were typically maintained by the communities where they were located and, in return for the education and care provided by the schools, almajiri students would contribute to the community with simple tasks, such as weaving, gardening and sewing.</p> <p class="Standard">The almajiri education system was obliterated under British colonialism. The British administration funded and promoted Western education across Nigeria and halted funding to Islamic schools. As a result, the almajiri system was left adrift. Madrasas were neglected and left to be managed by often unfit and unprofessional individuals, who pursued their own caprices and selfish goals. Lack of regulation and accountability was rampant in this deteriorated system. These schools lost much of their former glory.</p> <p class="Standard">Today, students are required to pay their teachers but since the majority of these children come from poor families they are sent on to the streets to beg for money and food. The almajiri system has degenerated to such an extent that the very word <em>almajiri</em> has become more associated with child beggars than students. </p> <p class="Standard">Upon finishing their education, the almajirai find themselves with few job prospects or any kind of support. Isolation, impoverishment and lack of prospects become an integral part of these former students’ lives within the underdeveloped context of northeast Nigeria. Organised groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked Boko Haram are able to provide support to these individuals, regardless of whether the former almajirai are moved by religious belief or simple material necessity. It is thought that Boko Haram draws most of its recruits from those who grew up under the almajiri system. In this way, an entire generation of Muslim northern Nigerians is at risk of radicalisation.</p> <h2>Tackling the problem</h2> <p class="Standard">Shortly after Boko Haram’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by Nigerian security forces in July 2009, the group’s acting leader, Sanni Umaru, issued a statement in which he explained its opposition to Western civilisation:</p> <blockquote><p class="Standard">First of all that Boko Haram does not in any way mean ‘Western education is a sin’ as the infidel media continue to portray us. Boko Haram actually means ‘Western civilisation is forbidden’. The difference is that while the first gives the impression that we are opposed to formal education coming from the West, that is Europe, which is not true, the second affirms our believe in the supremacy of Islamic culture (not Education), for culture is broader, it includes education but not determined by Western Education.</p></blockquote> <p class="Standard">The group’s objective is to eradicate western influence and implement its own interpretation of shari’a across Nigeria. This is why it targets secular and Islamic schools alike across northeastern Nigeria. For example, Boko Haram has been attacking Islamiyya schools, which are very similar to the almajiri schools in their Islamic teaching but they also draw inspiration from Western educational models.</p> <p class="Standard">In an attempt to tackle some of the roots of the problem, the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, has initiated a programme of model almajiri boarding schools. The federal government guarantees funding for the building of schools and accommodation; the provision of equipment, furnishings and textbooks; the designing of the curriculum; and the provision of capacity-building training for teachers. Once established, these schools are handed over to the control of state governments and are monitored to ensure compliance with minimum academic standards for basic education.</p> <p class="Standard">Nevertheless, this programme leaves two crucial elements of potential radicalisation unaddressed. Firstly, it does not reform the core of the almajiri education system, which still focuses on Islamic studies at the expense of vocational skills and other subjects. This does not mean that Islamic education should be abolished, simply that the curriculum would benefit from widening. Further steps also need to be taken to ensure that extremist teachers are not active in these schools. Secondly, it does not tackle the structural socio-economic problems in northern Nigeria, which make almajirai vulnerable once they leave the school system. A wider programme of economic development for the region would do much to undermine the militant groups.</p> <p class="Standard">It is essential that the Boko Haram threat in Nigeria be neutralised. Education is not a panacea for Nigeria’s security ills. But providing proper formal education to the millions of vulnerable children would be a significant step forward in tackling militancy in the country.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nigeria-boko-haram-risk">Nigeria, the Boko Haram risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/kenya-nigeria-syria-iraq-dynamics-of-war">Kenya-Nigeria, Syria-Iraq: dynamics of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/morten-b%C3%B8%C3%A5s/nigeria-challenge-of-%E2%80%9Cboko-haram-ii%E2%80%9D">Nigeria: the challenge of “Boko Haram II” </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Nigeria Boko Haram - Behind the Headlines Reconciliation and Peacebuilding Gustavo Plácido dos Santos Security in Sub-Saharan Africa Peacebuilding Wed, 30 Oct 2013 11:38:25 +0000 Gustavo Plácido dos Santos 76399 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Nigeria’s fourteen-year sentence for gay marriage https://www.opendemocracy.net/chinedu-ikpechukwu/nigeria%E2%80%99s-fourteen-year-sentence-for-gay-marriage <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Britain and the United States have aligned foreign aid with gay rights and have threatened to&nbsp;cut aid&nbsp;to Nigeria if the <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/74807203/Nigeria-Same-Sex-Marriage-Bill-final">current bill</a> is passed.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/05/30/nigeria-gay-law-idINDEE94T0EW20130530">Last month</a>, my country inched closer to the outright criminalization of homosexual relations. The latest unanimous vote by the House of Representatives is only the culmination of recent legislation pertaining to homosexual acts. In 2006, under the leadership of President Olesugun Obasanjo, the national assembly proposed a bill prohibiting&nbsp;<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6362505.stm">same-sex marriage</a>. In many ways, it served as a template for the current pending legislation. The 2006 bill not only prohibited same-sex marriage but also&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nassnig.org/nass/legislation2.php?search=same+sex&amp;Submit=Search">banned</a>&nbsp;the adoption of children by same-sex couples, religious recognition of same-sex marriage, institutional recognition of homosexuality including bans on gay clubs, and even public displays of affection in public&nbsp;<em>and</em>&nbsp;private. <strong></strong></p> <p>The current bill being put forward for President Goodluck Jonathan to sign contains all the aforementioned restrictions outlined in the earlier bill. The only difference between both bills lies in the severity of punishments for guilty offenders. In the 2006 bill, a person found guilty (either by being directly involved, or aiding and abetting) of violating these prohibitions was liable to 5 years in prison. The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/74807203/Nigeria-Same-Sex-Marriage-Bill-final">current bill</a>&nbsp;has extended the sentence duration to 14 years for entering a marriage contract, and 10 years for violating any of the other prohibitions. </p> <p>What has driven this recent spate of legislation on homosexuality? It seems to have coincided with the first Nigerian to openly come out before the nation. Bisi Alimi gained notoriety as a gay man at the University of Lagos where he majored in theater arts, prompting an&nbsp;<a href="http://sdgln.com/news/2010/08/10/bisi-alimis-gay-nigerian-story">appearance</a>&nbsp;in October of 2004 on the popular New Dawn talk show where he bravely acknowledged his homosexuality, and in tandem, asked for acceptance from the nation. It seems plausible that the recent legislation push is rooted in a visceral response to the contents of that interview. This prompts the question, should laws be created from disgust?&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The efforts of the Nigerian national assembly are not only flawed in logic; they are also unconstitutional. The current bill being put forward violates religious freedom. The Nigerian constitution&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nigeria-law.org/ConstitutionOfTheFederalRepublicOfNigeria.htm">(Section 38 (1))</a>&nbsp;clearly states that “every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” and that includes the “freedom to change his religion or belief” as well as the “freedom to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching practice and observance”. A mandate that forces churches and mosques not to recognize homosexual relationships clearly goes against this constitutional statute.&nbsp;&nbsp;While it is unlikely that the majority of churches and mosques would currently recognize homosexuality, it cannot be underestimated what the impact would be if a few broke the mould. The constitution&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nigeria-law.org/ConstitutionOfTheFederalRepublicOfNigeria.htm">guarantees</a>&nbsp;a freedom of expression which would be violated by the bill’s prohibition of public affection between homosexuals. The constitution also&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nigeria-law.org/ConstitutionOfTheFederalRepublicOfNigeria.htm">protects</a>&nbsp;the freedoms of persons to “freely assemble and associate with other persons” which would be in direct conflict with the bill’s prohibition on gay clubs and institutions. </p> <p>All Nigerians will feel the impact of this law as it awaits President Jonathan’s signature. Britain and the United States have aligned foreign aid with gay rights and have threatened to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/04/nigeria-gay-marriage-ban-aids-hiv">cut aid</a>&nbsp;to Nigeria if this bill is passed. The UK&nbsp;<a href="http://icai.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ICAI-Nigeria-TORs-FINAL.pdf">spent</a>&nbsp;about&nbsp;<strong>£</strong>141 million in 2012 to help improve education facilities, as well as family planning and immunization services. The UK had&nbsp;<a href="http://icai.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ICAI-Nigeria-TORs-FINAL.pdf">committed</a>&nbsp;to increasing aid by 116% to&nbsp;<strong>£</strong>305 million for 2014/15. The US, on the other hand,&nbsp;<a href="http://oig.state.gov/documents/organization/207009.pdf">funded</a>&nbsp;$630 million in foreign aid in 2012 to Nigeria, 80% of which was used to help with the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. The rest of the money went to fund malaria treatment and eradication. Malaria and HIV/AIDS&nbsp;<a href="http://photos.state.gov/libraries/nigeria/231771/Public/December-MalariaFactSheet2.pdf">cause</a>&nbsp;515, 000 deaths annually with malaria accounting for roughly 60% of those deaths. It is no exaggeration to say that cuts to foreign aid would provide a monumental obstacle to those who currently benefit from these programmes.</p> <p>The aggressive intolerance of homosexuals has been propagated under the&nbsp;<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6940061.stm">banner</a>&nbsp;of “protecting the integrity of our culture”.&nbsp;Perhaps the greatest concern is the level of fear among homosexuals in Nigeria that this law will induce. Harassment without investigation or trial has already driven them underground. By criminalizing homosexuality, the government has now institutionalized disgust.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nigeria-boko-haram-risk">Nigeria, the Boko Haram risk</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> Nigeria Civil society Democracy and government Chinedu Ikpechukwu Thu, 08 Aug 2013 11:31:19 +0000 Chinedu Ikpechukwu 74613 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Las nuevas potencias no jugarán con las viejas reglas https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/david-petrasek/las-nuevas-potencias-no-jugar%C3%A1n-con-las-viejas-reglas <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Esperar que las nuevas potencias globales promuevan los derechos humanos fuera de sus países a través de las Naciones Unidas supone que jugarán con las reglas viejas y, para que esa presión sea efectiva, que los factores de derechos humanos condicionarán sus relaciones bilaterales; ninguno de esos supuestos es probable.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>El mundo est&aacute; cambiando: el poder econ&oacute;mico y pol&iacute;tico&nbsp; se est&aacute; deplazando del norte y el oeste al sur y el este; cada vez m&aacute;s, las democracias liberales compartir&aacute;n o ceder&aacute;n el poder global a reg&iacute;menes autoritarios o potencias emergentes que le dan prioridad a la soberan&iacute;a y a la no interferencia sobre el inter&eacute;s en los derechos humanos en el extranjero. Podr&iacute;a parecer que para muchos defensores de los derechos humanos, sin embargo, estos cambios no hacen necesaria una reorientaci&oacute;n fundamental en su estrategia. En los art&iacute;culos que contribuyeron para este foro, Peggy Hicks y Ken Roth de Human Rights Watch (HRW) y Salil Shetty de Amnist&iacute;a Internacional (AI) argumentan en este mismo sentido. Ellos insisten en que seg&uacute;n van emergiendo las nuevas potencias globales, las ONG les deben exigir (en un grado no menor que a las potencias existentes) que utilicen su creciente influencia para presionar a los reg&iacute;menes reacios a cooperar a que respeten los derechos humanos.</p> <p>En respuesta a la debilidad obvia de dicha estrategia (pa&iacute;ses como China y Rusia est&aacute;n expuestos a ser acusados de un abuso generalizado de los derechos humanos, as&iacute; que dif&iacute;cilmente se puede esperar que usen esa misma acusaci&oacute;n en buena fe en contra de otros), AI y HRW argumentan que las democracias que forman parte de las potencias en crecimiento, m&aacute;s prominentemente, Brasil, India y Sud&aacute;frica, deben promover fuera de sus pa&iacute;ses esos valores con los que aclaman estar comprometidos en casa. Sus resultados hasta ahora bien pueden ser decepcionantes, pero AI y HRW argumentan que hay ejemplos exitosos de su esfuerzo. Y apuntan que, en cualquier caso, es de esperar que haya inconsistencia en la promoci&oacute;n de los derechos humanos fuera del pa&iacute;s, la cual, de hecho, es familiar en la trayectoria de las democracias occidentales.</p> <p>Presentan un argumento irresistible. Las exigencias de imparcialidad y las campa&ntilde;as simplemente ingeniosas sugieren que las ONG internacionales deben hacer demandas similares a todos los gobiernos cuyos poderes globales les den influencia. El hecho de que estas ONG tengan or&iacute;genes y fondos occidentales es una raz&oacute;n m&aacute;s para que hagan un mayor esfuerzo para involucrar a las potencias no occidentales, con el fin de demostrar su ecuanimidad y de darle substancia a la pretensi&oacute;n de universalidad. De hecho, tanto AI como HRW est&aacute;n persiguiendo activamente estrategias que profundizar&aacute;n su presencia y compromiso en y con estas nuevas potencias, incluidas aqu&eacute;llas a trav&eacute;s de v&iacute;nculos m&aacute;s fuertes con los actores de la sociedad civil de estos pa&iacute;ses.</p> <p>Sin embargo, el argumento est&aacute; fundado en ciertos supuestos acerca del sistema internacional para la protecci&oacute;n de derechos humanos. M&aacute;s notablemente, asume que mientras las din&aacute;micas de poder se transforman, las reglas del juego seguir&aacute;n pr&aacute;cticamente sin cambios; esto es, que la vigilancia internacional y el escrutinio de asuntos dom&eacute;sticos de derechos humanos continuar&aacute;n en los organismos de la ONU como el Consejo de Derechos Humanos y el Consejo de Seguridad. Visto de esta manera, se trata solamente de exhortar a las potencias nuevas para que sigan sum&aacute;ndose a una estrategia existente de ejercer presi&oacute;n v&iacute;a resoluciones denunciatorias y/o un escrutinio mayor por los ponentes y equipos de investigaci&oacute;n de la ONU.</p> <p>Pero, &iquest;qu&eacute; pasa si la llegada de las nuevas potencias se&ntilde;ala no solamente una mayor renuencia a nombrar y avergonzar, sino una oposici&oacute;n total al enfoque de enfrentamiento que denotan esas acciones? En otras palabras, &iquest;qu&eacute; pasa si las nuevas potencias no solamente se reh&uacute;san a jugar el juego, sino que pretenden reescribir las reglas? De hecho, ya hay evidencia de esta tendencia en el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU, donde cada vez es m&aacute;s dif&iacute;cil reunir una mayor&iacute;a para las resoluciones sobre un pa&iacute;s espec&iacute;fico, y donde muchos gobiernos se oponen en principio al uso de dichas resoluciones de nombrar y avergonzar. Similarmente, se sigue ejerciendo presi&oacute;n sobre el sistema de &ldquo;procedimientos especiales&rdquo; (los relatores y los grupos de trabajo) para que adopten t&aacute;cticas de menor &ldquo;confrontaci&oacute;n&rdquo;, como la producci&oacute;n de informes cr&iacute;ticos, y para que den prioridad al di&aacute;logo. Lo mismo sucede en el Consejo de Seguridad, en el cual podr&iacute;a decirse que el punto m&aacute;s alto con respecto a la voluntad de involucrarse en asuntos de derechos humanos &nbsp;ocurri&oacute; con la resoluci&oacute;n que autoriz&oacute; la intervenci&oacute;n en Libia. Si esta tendencia persiste, las ONG internacionales podr&aacute;n ver que su influencia en los procesos de derechos humanos de la ONU disminuye a pesar de sus esfuerzos para involucrar a las nuevas potencias.</p> <p><strong>&iquest;Una nueva condicionalidad?</strong></p> <p>Hay un problema m&aacute;s fundamental con el argumento acerca de comprometer a los nuevos poderes: asume que la condena y la presi&oacute;n por parte de un gobierno extranjero, actuando a trav&eacute;s de la ONU o bilateralmente, es o seguir&aacute; siendo un m&eacute;todo eficaz para mejorar el respeto por los derechos humanos. La evidencia existente hasta ahora no es concluyente. Parecer&iacute;a que dicha presi&oacute;n solamente funciona cuando el pa&iacute;s que est&aacute; bajo el escrutinio tiene algo que ganar (o perder) del pa&iacute;s o pa&iacute;ses que aplican la presi&oacute;n. Y este c&aacute;lculo puede dar resultados muy diferentes en un mundo cada vez m&aacute;s multipolar.</p> <p>Considere los antecedentes. La estrategia de utilizar la pol&iacute;tica exterior y los foros multilaterales para presionar a los reg&iacute;menes que abusan de los derechos humanos logr&oacute; aceptaci&oacute;n por primera vez a mediados de la d&eacute;cada de los 70 y fue tomando fuerza en la d&eacute;cada de los 80, precisamente en un momento en el que las potencias occidentales estaban en ascenso y el poder Sovi&eacute;tico estaba decayendo. Los pa&iacute;ses que enfrentaron esta nueva presi&oacute;n del exterior, las dictaduras de Am&eacute;rica del Sur y Am&eacute;rica Central, el apartheid en Sud&aacute;frica y los reg&iacute;menes comunistas en Europa del Este, resistieron esta presi&oacute;n o cambiaron sus pol&iacute;ticas, seg&uacute;n haya sido el caso, con base en el grado en el que necesitaban las relaciones comerciales, militares o de asistencia con los poderes occidentales que estaban aplicando la presi&oacute;n. En la d&eacute;cada de los 90, con el poder de los Estados Unidos (y de Occidente) pr&aacute;cticamente sin desaf&iacute;o alguno y, por lo tanto, con muchos pa&iacute;ses dependientes de dichas relaciones, se puede argumentar que hubo un mucho mayor alcance para promover los derechos humanos a trav&eacute;s de la pol&iacute;tica exterior y la ONU. Y de hecho hubo un aumento dram&aacute;tico en el n&uacute;mero de pa&iacute;ses que estuvieron de una forma u otra bajo el escrutinio de la ONU, y de los mecanismos disponibles para hacerlo.</p> <p>Adem&aacute;s, considere los casos en los que la presi&oacute;n de gobiernos extranjeros ha tenido el mayor impacto tangible y, a la inversa, aquellos casos en los que ha sido insignificante. Despu&eacute;s de la Guerra Fr&iacute;a, el deseo de unirse a la Uni&oacute;n Europea y/o la OTAN ha motivado sin duda a los pa&iacute;ses de Europa del Este, Central y Sureste a poner atenci&oacute;n a las preocupaciones sobre derechos humanos planteadas por los miembros existentes de esas alianzas. Similarmente, algunos pa&iacute;ses peque&ntilde;os y medianos que dependen fuertemente de la ayuda o del comercio y la inversi&oacute;n han aumentado en algunos casos el respeto a los derechos humanos bajo la presi&oacute;n extranjera. Sin embargo, las cr&iacute;ticas de Occidente sobre el abuso de derechos humanos tienen hoy un impacto insignificante sobre las grandes potencias como China y Rusia o sobre las potencias medianas o peque&ntilde;as que no dependen de Occidente, por ejemplo, Ir&aacute;n y Sud&aacute;n, o Sri Lanka y Zimbabwe. Se podr&iacute;an citar muchos otros ejemplos.</p> <p>M&aacute;s recientemente, considere el caso de Birmania. Durante veinte a&ntilde;os, el r&eacute;gimen militar rutinariamente fue el sujeto de resoluciones de la ONU que condenaban su historial de derechos humanos, adem&aacute;s de estar aislado y enfrentar sanciones aplicadas por las potencias occidentales. Aun as&iacute;, el r&eacute;gimen se mantuvo mayormente indiferente a la presi&oacute;n extranjera; ciertamente su historial de derechos humanos se mantuvo aterrador. Recientemente, sin embargo, siguiendo una decisi&oacute;n estrat&eacute;gica hecha por el liderazgo birmano de equilibrar la influencia China con la inversi&oacute;n occidental y&nbsp; el acceso a los mercados mundiales, ha hecho unas mejoras dram&aacute;ticas a su historial de derechos humanos para satisfacer a los Estados Unidos, a Europa y, en cierta medida, las demandas de ASEAN.</p> <p>En resumen, el oprobio moral que implica ser se&ntilde;alado por las cr&iacute;ticas raramente genera cambios en s&iacute; mismo. El miedo a que las cr&iacute;ticas, ya sean bilaterales o a trav&eacute;s de las resoluciones de la ONU, puedan indicar&nbsp; repercusiones en otras &aacute;reas es lo que da la ventaja. Puede ser que las potencias emergentes condicionen la inversi&oacute;n, el comercio, la asistencia y las relaciones pol&iacute;ticas con otros pa&iacute;ses en la medida en la que respeten los derechos humanos. Tambi&eacute;n es posible que rechacen a los reg&iacute;menes represivos al negarles la membres&iacute;a en las organizaciones regionales. La Uni&oacute;n Africana, por ejemplo, ha buscado excluir la participaci&oacute;n de gobiernos que toman el poder a trav&eacute;s de golpes de estado o medios inconstitucionales. Pero no hay garant&iacute;a de que lo har&aacute;n, y ciertamente existen muchas evidencias que sugieren que las potencias emergentes, incluso las que son democracias, se mostrar&aacute;n profundamente esc&eacute;pticas sobre el ejercicio de dicha condicionalidad. Y este escepticismo se filtrar&aacute; en las pol&iacute;ticas de las instituciones globales (la ONU, el Banco Mundial, el FMI) seg&uacute;n aumenten el peso del voto y la influencia de las potencias emergentes en estas organizaciones.</p> <p><strong>El apoyo a la sociedad civil</strong></p> <p>&iquest;Esto significa que la estrategia de motivar a las potencias emergentes a promover los derechos humanos en el extranjero est&aacute; condenada al fracaso y, por lo tanto, es un esfuerzo in&uacute;til? No necesariamente, porque aunque las preocupaciones extranjeras sobre el historial de derechos humanos de un pa&iacute;s tengan poco impacto en su gobierno, pueden ser una manera importante de dar apoyo y motivaci&oacute;n a la sociedad civil local. La posici&oacute;n del gobierno brasile&ntilde;o sobre los derechos humanos en Etiop&iacute;a puede importarle poco al r&eacute;gimen et&iacute;ope, pero si es cr&iacute;tica, puede ser un impulso importante para los asediados defensores de derechos humanos de ese pa&iacute;s. Similarmente, el voto de India con los pa&iacute;ses occidentales para criticar a Sri Lanka en el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU ha tenido un impacto insignificante en el gobierno de Sri Lanka (que puede apoyarse en su creciente relaci&oacute;n econ&oacute;mica con China), pero ha sido importante para los defensores locales que pueden utilizarlo para compensar la acusaci&oacute;n de que solamente el occidente hip&oacute;crita habla del asunto de los derechos humanos.</p> <p>Este enfoque en la sociedad civil local es especialmente importante por otra raz&oacute;n. El aumento de nuevas potencias es s&oacute;lo uno de los muchos cambios globales trascendentes en curso. Los dram&aacute;ticos&nbsp; avances en educaci&oacute;n, incluidos aqu&eacute;llos en el nivel secundario y post-secundario, junto con el crecimiento exponencial de las poblaciones urbanas y la difusi&oacute;n del acceso m&oacute;vil a la internet (&iexcl;a 5 mil millones de personas para el 2020!) apuntan a una clase media creciente y potenciada en docenas de pa&iacute;ses. Entre estos, destacar&aacute;n las potencias emergentes: China e India, por supuesto, pero tambi&eacute;n Brasil, Indonesia, M&eacute;xico, Nigeria, Sud&aacute;frica, Turqu&iacute;a y otros.</p> <p>Viendo hacia el futuro, esta reci&eacute;n potenciada clase media ser&aacute; el motor m&aacute;s importante para el cambio, para bien o para mal. Mucho m&aacute;s que la pol&iacute;tica exterior de sus gobiernos, ser&aacute;n su entendimiento de los derechos humanos y sus ganas de exigir la protecci&oacute;n de estos derechos tanto en casa como en el extranjero los que dar&aacute;n forma al futuro de los derechos humanos.</p> <p align="center"><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights"><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/EPlogo-ogr.png" alt="" width="300" /></a></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights-translations/openglobalrights-espa%C3%B1ol"><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/OpenGlobalRights-highlight4-espagnol.png" alt="" width="140" /></a></p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> <div class="field-item even"> Russia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> <div class="field-item even"> India </div> <div class="field-item odd"> South Africa </div> <div class="field-item even"> Myanmar </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iran </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Sudan </div> <div class="field-item even"> Sri Lanka </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Zimbabwe </div> <div class="field-item even"> Indonesia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openGlobalRights Nigeria Indonesia Zimbabwe Sri Lanka Sudan Iran United States Myanmar South Africa India Brazil Russia China Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics David Petrasek openGlobalRights Español Thu, 04 Jul 2013 02:46:46 +0000 David Petrasek 73788 at https://www.opendemocracy.net New powers won’t play by old rules https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/david-petrasek/new-powers-won%E2%80%99t-play-by-old-rules <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/199341.jpg" alt="" hspace="5" width="140" align="right" />Expecting new global powers to promote human rights abroad via the United Nations assumes that they will play by the old rules and - if such pressure is to be effective - that human rights factors will condition their bilateral relationships; neither is likely.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">A contribution to the&nbsp;</span><a style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;" href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights" target="_blank">openGlobalRights</a><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;debate on&nbsp;</span><a style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;" href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/emerging-powers-and-human-rights" target="_blank">Emerging Powers and Human Rights</a><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">.&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;" href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/david-petrasek/las-nuevas-potencias-no-jugar%C3%A1n-con-las-viejas-reglas">Español</a><span style="font-style: italic; font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/199341.jpg" alt="" width="460" height="308" /></p> <p><span>The world is changing: economic and political power is shifting from north and west to south and east; liberal democracies will increasingly share or cede global power to authoritarian regimes or emerging powers that prioritize sovereignty and non-interference over concern for human rights abroad. It would seem that for many international human rights advocates, however, these changes require no fundamental re-orientation of strategy. In the pieces they contributed to this forum, </span><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/kenneth-roth-peggy-hicks/encouraging-stronger-engagement-by-emerging-powers-on-huma">Peggy Hicks and Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch</a><span> (HRW), and </span><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/salil-shetty/challenges-and-opportunities-in-changing-world">Salil Shetty of Amnesty International</a><span> (AI) argue along similar lines. They insist that as new global powers emerge NGOs must demand of them – no less than existing powers – that they use their growing influence to pressure recalcitrant regimes to respect human rights.</span></p> <p>In response to the obvious weakness in such a strategy - countries like China and Russia are themselves open to the charge of widespread human rights abuse, and thus can hardly be expected to wield it in good faith against others - AI and HRW argue that the democracies among the rising powers, most prominently, Brazil, India, and South Africa, must promote abroad the values they claim to be committed to at home. Their record in doing so may be disappointing, but AI and HRW argue that there are successful examples of them doing so. And they point out that, in any case, inconsistency in promoting human rights abroad is to be expected, and indeed is familiar in the record of western democracies. </p> <p>They make a compelling argument. The demands of impartiality and simply clever campaigning suggest that international NGOs should make similar demands of all governments whose global power gives them influence. The fact that these NGOs have western origins and funding is further cause for them to make a greater effort to engage non-western powers, in order to demonstrate their even-handedness and to give substance to the claim of universality. And, indeed, both AI and HRW are actively pursuing strategies that will deepen their presence and engagement in and with these new powers, including through stronger linkages to civil society actors in these countries. </p> <p>However, the argument is grounded in certain assumptions regarding the international system for the protection of human rights. Most notably, it assumes that as the power dynamic shifts, the rules of the game will remain largely unchanged - that is, international oversight and scrutiny of domestic human rights issues will continue in UN bodies like the Human Rights Council and the Security Council. Viewed this way, it is simply a matter of urging the new powers to increasingly sign on to an existing strategy of bringing pressure to bear via denunciatory resolutions and/or enhanced scrutiny by UN rapporteurs or investigation teams. </p> <p>But what if the arrival of new powers signals not just a greater reluctance to name and shame, but outright opposition to the confrontational approach such acts signify? In other words, what if the new powers not only refuse to play the game, but set out to re-write the rules? Indeed, there is already evidence for this tendency in the UN Human Rights Council, where it is increasingly difficult to muster a majority for country-specific resolutions, and where many governments oppose in principle the use of such name and shame resolutions. Similarly, pressure continues on the system of “special procedures” (the rapporteurs and working groups) to adopt less “confrontational” tactics, such as critical reporting, and to prioritise dialogue. So too in the Security Council, where arguably the high-water mark for its willingness to take up human rights issues passed with the resolution authorising intervention in Libya. If this tendency persists, international NGOs might find their influence on UN human rights processes much diminished notwithstanding their efforts to engage with new powers. &nbsp;</p> <h2>A new conditionality? </h2> <p>There is a more fundamental problem with the argument about engaging new powers: it assumes that condemnation and pressure by any foreign government, acting via the UN or bilaterally, is or will remain an effective means for improving respect for human rights. The actual evidence on this point is inconclusive. It would seem that such pressure only really works where the country under scrutiny has something to gain (or lose) from the country or countries applying pressure. And this calculation may play out very differently in an increasingly multi-polar world.</p> <p>Consider the record. The strategy to use foreign policy and multilateral forums to bring pressure on regimes abusing human rights found real traction for the first time in the mid-1970s and gathered pace in the 1980s, precisely at a time when western power was ascending, and Soviet power was declining. The countries that faced this new pressure from abroad – South and Central American dictatorships, apartheid South Africa, the communist regimes of Eastern Europe – withstood this pressure, or changed their policies, as the case may be, largely based on the degree to which they needed the trade, military or aid relationships with western powers that were applying the pressure. &nbsp;In the 1990s, with US (and western) power largely unchallenged, and more countries thus dependent on such relationships, there was arguably much more scope to promote human rights through foreign policy and the UN. And there was indeed a dramatic increase in both the number of countries that came under one form or another of UN scrutiny, and the available mechanisms for doing so.&nbsp; </p> <p>Further, consider the cases where pressure from foreign governments has had the most tangible impact, and conversely those cases where it has been negligible. Post-Cold War, the desire to join the European Union and/or NATO has without doubt motivated the countries of eastern, central and south-eastern Europe to pay attention to human rights concerns raised by the existing members of those alliances. Similarly, small and mid-size countries heavily dependent on aid or trade and investment have in some cases improved respect for human rights under foreign pressure. But western criticism of human rights abuse has negligible impact today on large powers like China or Russia, or medium and small powers who are not dependent on the west, for example, Iran and Sudan, or Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Many other examples could be cited.</p> <p>Most recently, consider the case of Burma. For twenty years the military regime was routinely the subject of UN resolutions condemning its human rights record, as well as being isolated and facing sanctions applied by western powers. Yet, the regime remained largely oblivious to this foreign pressure; certainly its human rights record remained appalling. Recently, however, following a strategic decision made by the Burmese leadership to balance Chinese influence with western investment and access to world markets, it has made dramatic improvements in its human rights record to satisfy US, European and, to some extent, ASEAN demands. </p> <p>In short, the moral opprobrium attached to being singled out for criticism in itself rarely brings about change. It is the fear that criticism, whether bilateral or via UN resolutions, may signal repercussions in other areas that provide the leverage. It may well be that the emerging powers will condition investment, trade, aid and political relationships with other countries on the degree to which they respect human rights. They might also shun repressive regimes by denying them membership in regional organisations. The African Union, for example, has sought to exclude the participation of governments that take power through <em>coup d’etat</em> or unconstitutional means. But there is no guarantee that they will do so, and certainly there is much evidence to suggest the emerging powers, even the democracies among them, will be deeply sceptical of wielding such conditionality. And this scepticism will seep into the policies of global institutions - the UN, World Bank, IMF - as the voting weight and influence of the emerging powers increases in these organisations. </p> <h2>Supporting civil society </h2> <p>Does this mean the strategy of encouraging emerging powers to promote human rights abroad is doomed to fail, and hence a wasted effort?&nbsp; Not necessarily, because even if foreign concern over a country’s human rights record has little impact on the government, it can be an important means of providing support and encouragement to local civil society.&nbsp; The Brazil Government’s position on human rights in Ethiopia may matter little to the Ethiopian regime, but if critical it may be an important boost to the beleaguered human rights defenders in that country. Similarly, India’s vote with western countries to criticise Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council has had negligible impact on the Sri Lankan Government (that can rely on its growing economic relationship with China), but it has been important to local advocates who can use it to offset the charge that it is only the hypocritical west that raises the human rights issue.</p> <p>This focus on local civil society is especially important for another reason. The rise of new powers is only one of the many momentous global shifts now under way. Dramatic gains in education, including at the secondary and post-secondary level, coupled with the exponential growth of urban populations and the diffusion of mobile access to the internet (to 5 billion people by 2020!) all point to a newly empowered and growing middle class in dozens of countries. Prominent among these will be the emerging powers: China and India, of course, but also Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey and others. </p> <p>Looking ahead, it is this newly empowered middle class who will be the most important engine for change, for good or ill. Far more than the foreign policy of their governments, it is their understanding of human rights and their willingness to demand the protection of these rights both at home and abroad that will shape the future of human rights. </p> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights"><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/EPlogo-ogr.png" alt="" width="300" /></a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights"><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/openGlobalRights2.jpg" alt="" width="140" /></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/emerging-powers-and-human-rights" target="_blank" onMouseOver="document.Imgs.src='http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Emerging_Powers_Inset_2.png'" onMouseOut="document.Imgs.src='http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Emerging_Powers_Inset_1.png'"> <img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Emerging_Powers_Inset_1.png" width="140" name="Imgs" border="0" alt="Emerging powers and human rights – Read on" /></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/kenneth-roth-peggy-hicks/encouraging-stronger-engagement-by-emerging-powers-on-huma">Encouraging stronger engagement by emerging powers on human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/aryeh-neier/misunderstanding-our-mission">Misunderstanding our mission</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/margot-salomon/human-rights-are-also-about-social-justice">Human rights are also about social justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/stephen-hopgood/human-rights-past-their-sell-by-date">Human rights: past their sell-by date</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/james-ron-david-crow-shannon-golden/struggle-for-truly-grassroots-human-rights-move">The struggle for a truly grassroots human rights movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/salil-shetty/challenges-and-opportunities-in-changing-world">Challenges and opportunities in a changing world</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/stephen-hopgood/it-begins-and-ends-with-power">It begins and ends with power </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/eric-posner/twilight-of-human-rights-law">The twilight of human rights law</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/stanley-ibe/human-rights-global-expansion">Human rights: the global expansion</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> <div class="field-item even"> Russia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> <div class="field-item even"> India </div> <div class="field-item odd"> South Africa </div> <div class="field-item even"> Myanmar </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iran </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Sudan </div> <div class="field-item even"> Sri Lanka </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Zimbabwe </div> <div class="field-item even"> Indonesia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openGlobalRights openGlobalRights Nigeria Indonesia Zimbabwe Sri Lanka Sudan Iran United States Myanmar South Africa India Brazil Russia China Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Economics International politics David Petrasek Global Response article Emerging Powers and Human Rights Mon, 24 Jun 2013 06:18:28 +0000 David Petrasek 73552 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Planning for exclusion in Abuja https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/ifeoma-ebo/planning-for-exclusion-in-abuja <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Rigid planning and development controls in Abuja, Nigeria's modern capital, have served to exclude population groups deemed 'unworldy' from the city-proper. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This article is co-published with <a href="http://www.urbanafrica.net">UrbanAfrica.net</a><br /></em></p><p>Nigeria, a nation deeply scarred by colonialism and years of civil war, took the decision in 1991 to build a new capital city at the country's centre.</p><p class="pullquote-right">In an 1983 interview, the Minister of the Federal Capital Development Authority, Alhaji Iro Dan Musa claimed that the government wanted a capital city which &ldquo;belonged to all Nigerians&rdquo; best achieved by &ldquo;starting afresh in Abuja"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/#_edn1">[i]</a>.</p><p>Abuja is Africa's first modernist capital and follows in the tradition of other planned cities across the world, from Brasilia (Brazil), to Washington D.C. (USA) to Chandigarh (India). In contrast to Lagos the former capital of Nigeria, Abuja has been carefully planned to project a particular aesthetic to a global audience, inclusive of manicured lawns, un-congested roads, and buildings infused with a nouveau African-centeredness. In Abuja, the Nigerian government intended to build an African utopia, one which would represent a unified, independent Nigeria for the country's fractured, inequal social groups. Yet despite grand, utopian plans for a new and modern capital, in planning and building Abuja an all too familiar pattern of exclusion and disparity has emerged.</p> <p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/abuja3.jpg" alt="" height="345" width="460" /><br /><small>Informal neighbourhood in Abuja's periphery. Ifeoma Ebo, all rights reserved.</small></p><p><strong>Colonial legacies</strong></p> <p>Lagos, Abuja&rsquo;s predecessor, was under colonial rule violently divided between areas for rulers and those for subjects; a division which served to enforce control over the Nigerian population by their colonial officers. And yet these same tactics of divide and rule are deployed in present day Nigeria, utilised by the Nigerian elite to distance themselves from the urban working poor, creating stark spatial divisions between the included and excluded in contemporary Nigerian society. &nbsp;Indeed it was the continuation of social and spatial stratification and a deepening of inequality, difference and division in Lagos, which paved the way to the forming of a new capital in a fresh, &ldquo;neutral territory&rdquo;<a href="#_edn3">[iii]</a> . </p> <p>Indeed despite the contrast between realities and intentions, the creation and design of Abuja was intended to allow Nigeria to rid itself of its colonial past and of &ldquo;undoing everything the colonials had done wrong in Lagos&rdquo;<a href="#_edn4">[iv]</a>. Although the territory was equidistant from all edges of the country in theory establishing its location as &ldquo;neutral&rdquo;, in reality it was located in the northern part of the country which is heavily influenced by Islamic culture.</p><p> <strong>Rights and access to the city</strong></p> <p>Physical and economic exclusion are however an ever-present reality in Abuja; the average citizen simply cannot afford the privileges of inner city living due to unaffordable rents and a lack of access to affordable transport, and is thus physically separated from the inner spaces of the city. The majority of&nbsp; the city's wealthy residents live in the centre where there are paved roads with street lamps, regular power supply, adequate water supply, infrastructure and amenities. While more than 70% of Abuja&rsquo;s working population live in dilapidated satellite towns, owing to their inability to pay the high cost of accommodation in the city centre<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/#_edn2">[ii]</a>.</p><p>Everyday exclusion is not unique to Abuja, yet the city does serve as a microcosm of a fraughtly contested politics of exclusion which affects the entire nation. A politics which manifests in a number of forms across everyday life in the city.<br /><br /><strong>"Illegal" developments and the master plan &nbsp;<em> </em></strong></p> <p>From its very inception the key challenge in governing Abuja, has been to deal with the illegal development of residential and/or commercial properties near the centre of the city. Illegal developments in the city centre violate planning control laws and for the most part are slated for demolition. Indeed in 2003 El-Rufai &ndash; the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory reiterated his desire to rid the city of illegal developments, and deliver a city defined by controlled growth and the promotion of foreign investment <a href="#_edn5">[v]</a>.&nbsp; El-Rufai&rsquo;s tenure led to the demolition of more than 200 buildings in the FCT and thousands in the satellite towns<a href="#_edn6"> [vi]</a>. This strict enforcement of policy left many poor families stranded and unable to regain a foothold in the city, and further served to violently demonstrate which population groups had the right to lay claim to Abuja&rsquo;s built environment, and which did not.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The original master plan for Abuja states that the development authority must &ldquo;develop a housing policy and program tailored to the needs of the Capital&rsquo;s population&rdquo;<a href="#_edn7">[vii]</a>. In reality affordable housing in Abuja is only accessible to the middle to upper classes. The location of luxury homes close to the National Assembly and away from ordinary city neighborhoods is demonstrative of the master plan's advocacy of residential segregation by income. Indeed, one could claim that the master plan aims to craft an environment of cyclical exploitation by using the urban poor for cheap labor to run and service the city (janitorial, drivers, sanitation etc) and yet physically keeping them at distance, unable to benefit from nor participate in the city. </p><p>Exclusion and division also form a central part of state planning policy at Abuja's peripheries. For example, several satellite towns around Abuja were built specifically to house the employees of various multinational companies including Shell, and Julius Berger. Despite the fact that the conditions in these towns are poor, only the employees of these companies are provided housing while those without employment must deal with &ldquo;self-help&rdquo; initiatives.</p> <p><strong>Informal trading</strong><br /><br />The criminalization of informal trading represents another form of the exclusion of working Nigerians from accessing the city. In most Nigerian cities street trading is the most common form of commercial activity.&nbsp; In the unplanned use of public spaces, parks, streets and other prominent sections of the city, street traders redefine the limits of urban space. Street trading can be perceived as a characteristic example of informality and yet is absent in the context of Abuja&rsquo;s master plan.</p> <p>Every Friday near the National Mosque in the Abuja central area there is an informal &ldquo;Friday market&rdquo; established by the local Muslim community.&nbsp; Merchants sell many items that are necessary for Muslims and any other Nigerian at an inexpensive price.&nbsp; They lay their items on the sidewalk because there are no market stalls for this kind of activity.&nbsp; According to the master plan, sidewalks (average 7&rsquo;-12&rsquo;), provide ample space for commercial activities to take place.&nbsp; However, the zoning restrictions prohibit non-stationary commercial activities in the Federal Capital Territory. Thus, in mid 2012 illegal traders stationed around Banex Plaza in the heart of Abuja were forced by city-government to withdraw from the area and make way for access and smooth business operations for formalized commercial activity. While, informal street commerce remains an important part of the Nigerian urban productivity it simply does not feature in the structural or institutional plans for the Capital City.</p> <p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/abuja1.jpg" alt="" height="345" width="460" /><br /><small>Street activity in the Kubwa satellite town. Ifeoma Ebo, all rights reserved.</small><br /><em><br /></em><strong>Urban mobility</strong><em><br /></em><br />While restrictions in urban mobility also serve to exclude Abuja&rsquo;s population from accessing and benefitting from the city. In the existing city transportation layout, the street grid and transportation networks create a physical barrier to the city. The Murtala Mohammed and Nnamdi Azikiwe boulevards, outer &ldquo;ring roads&rdquo; surrounding the city which were used as a planning tool to control urban growth, create a 4 lane barrier for residents of satellite towns who are attempting to enter the central city on foot. In effect, the transportation layout coupled with rigid enforcement of policy allows the FCTA to be selective in how and when the urban poor can enter the city. </p> <p>In this manner in early 2012, the Federal Capital Territory Administration banned commercial motorcyclists and mini bus operations in Abuja. This suspension particularly affected transportation routes that enter the nation&rsquo;s capital. This action was coupled with an introduction of a new public transportation system in the form of high capacity buses to replace the minibuses. The new transportation policy was implemented without clear citizen consultation and has been known to be unreliable and unaffordable for those that it is intended to serve. Inevitably, the ban posed a hardship on commuters from the satellite towns as they have to pay exorbitant transportation fees to get to work in the central city.</p><p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/abuja2.jpg" alt="" height="345" width="460" /><br /><small>Roundabout off the Nnamdi Azikiwe ring road which surrounds Abuja city centre. Ifeoma Ebo, all rights reserved.</small></p> <p>The case of Abuja poses an interesting point of departure to examine the challenges of urbanisation in contemporary Nigeria. On the one hand, existing Nigerian cities are heavily overpopulated, with inadequate urban infrastructure and an absence of forward thinking, inclusive urban strategies by city-governments. In spite of the challenges of urbanisation, Nigerian cities also stage and are produced by thriving informal economies which reflect the cultural and social diversity of its citizens in everyday urban life.</p><p>However, in attempting to compete with 'global' western cities, in planning and governing Abuja, Nigeria has effectively lost a part of its soul; in effect excluding the very people that it was conceived to represent. Modernist design and rigid development controls have created and preserved Abuja&rsquo;s world class appearance, but simultaneously generated barriers of access for the majority of the population. While the strict enforcement of policy maintains a safe and controlled environment, it also creates hardships for the urban poor whose everyday lives and social practices necessarily contravene such policies. New models for design and development are necessary that address urban polarization and promote inclusive, cohesive Nigerian cities. </p><hr size="1" /><p> <small></small></p><p><small><a href="#_ednref1">[i]</a> Africa No 137; January issue ;&ldquo;Abuja &ndash; Symbol of Unity&rdquo;;1983: pg. 62</small></p><p><small> </small></p><p><small><a href="#_ednref2">[ii]</a> &ldquo;Pushing Out the Poor: Forced Evictions Under the Abuja Master Plan&rdquo;; Social and Economic rights Action Center (SERAC); November 2006)</small></p><p><small> </small></p><p><small><a href="#_ednref3">[iii]</a> Elleh, Nnamdi; African Architecture: Evolution and Transformation; Copyright 1997 by McGraw Hill</small></p><p><small> </small></p><p><small><a href="#_ednref4">[iv]</a> Elleh, Nnamdi; African Architecture: Evolution and Transformation; Copyright 1997 by McGraw Hill</small></p><p><small> </small></p><p><small><a href="#_ednref5">[v]</a> El-Rufai, M. Repositioning the Federal Capital Territory.&nbsp; Presentation to the Presidential Retreat on Public Sector Reforms and the Public Private Partnership; 2005 Federal Capital Administration</small></p><p><small> </small></p><p><small><a href="#_ednref6">[vi]</a> &ldquo;No regrets over Abuja demolitions &ndash; El Rufai&rdquo; by Sonie Danie ; February 7, 2013: Vanguard</small></p><p><small> </small></p><p><small><a href="#_ednref7">[vii]</a> The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA); The Master Plan for Abuja, the New Federal Capital of Nigeria; Copyright 1979 by the Federal Capital Development Authority </small></p><p></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/persis-taraporevala/creating-subjects-in-lavasa-private-city">Creating subjects in Lavasa: the private city</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/murray-last/boko-haram-militant-political-network-or-criminal-calling-card-0">Boko Haram: militant political network or criminal calling card?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Abuja </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Abuja Nigeria Cities in Conflict Ifeoma Ebo Splintering Cities Thu, 23 May 2013 15:33:29 +0000 Ifeoma Ebo 72845 at https://www.opendemocracy.net America's turn: new wars, special forces https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/americas-turn-new-wars-special-forces <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A shift in the United States's military strategy in the direction of "remote control" involves greater reliance not just on armed-drones but on special forces. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many columns in this <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> have tracked changes in the United States's military strategy during the decade that followed 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Several highlight the more recent shift towards a strategy of "remote control", and pay particular attention on the widespread use of armed-drones. Another key aspect of this evolving approach that deserves consideration in its own right is the spread of special forces as a leading military instrument (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">Remote control, a new way of war</a>", 18 October 2012) </p><p>The importance of US special forces in Afghanistan is reflected both in controversy around their activities and negotiations over their role after the major withdrawals <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-day-after">planned</a> by the end of 2014. A report of special forces' involvement with a unit of the Afghan national army (ANA) in "night raids" in Wardak province that led to torture and murder created particular tension with the Afghan government of President <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/asia/july-dec01/karzai_12-03.html">Hamid Karzai</a>. At one point, Karzai even demanded the exit of all US forces from the province, despite its strategically vital location (see Matthew Rosenberg “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/world/asia/afghanistan-orders-us-troops-from-key-province-of-wardak.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">Karzai orders special forces out of Afghan Province</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 25 February 2013).</p><p>The Afghan authorities now <a href="http://wap.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/world/asia/afghans-say-an-american-tortured-civilians.html">claim</a> that the relevant unit was led by a US citizen of Afghan descent, Zakaria Kandahari; contained other US personnel; and was <a href="http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/05/torture-afghanistan/">responsible</a> for the murder or disappearance of fifteen Afghans. US officials deny this, and allege in turn that a "rogue" ANA cell perpetrated the violations. The incident adds to the strained relations between Kabul and Washington (see Rod Nordland “<a href="http://wap.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/world/asia/afghans-say-an-american-tortured-civilians.html">Afghans say American led rogue torture unit</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 14 May 2013).</p><p>Such tensions also underline the <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/9/afghan-president-hamid-karzai-wangles-more-money-u/">predicament</a> of the Karzai government, which actually wants more US troops to stay in Afghanistan than are envisaged by Barack Obama's administration. A large residual US contingent would, Karzai hopes, help ensure control in a situation where the ANA is (notwithstanding western military <a href="http://www.isaf.nato.int/">sources</a>) nowhere near ready to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/world/asia/us-special-operations-step-up-in-afghanistan.html?pagewanted=all">take </a>over from Nato. </p><p>The president, speaking to students at Kabul University on 9 May, said that he was <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/afghan-president-says-us-wants-keep-9-bases-125101470.html">willing</a> to host as many as nine US bases in the country, including the major ones at Bagram and Kandahar. This would imply a US force much larger than the 10,000 envisaged by Washington, comprising trainers of the ANA, logistical teams to support drone operations, and special forces to contain any Islamist resurgence (see Nigel Chamberlain, “<a href="http://www.natowatch.org/node/952">What progress on the post-2014 Afghan Security Agreement?</a>”, <em>NATO Watch news brief</em>, 15 May 2013).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Whatever the result in Afghanistan, it is clear that the special forces will continue to be at the centre of the US's position in the country. </p><p><strong>The new horizon</strong></p><p>Afghanistan is but one aspect of a <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/arms-craze-drones-to-lasers">transition</a> that is affecting the US's entire military orientation as Washington draws lessons from its post-9/11 experiences. George W Bush's defence secretary, <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/pentagon/etc/cronfeld.html">Donald Rumsfeld</a>, pursued a “war-lite” policy based on responding to threats and maintaining control overseas while avoiding large-scale troop deployments. The traumas of Iraq and Afghanistan exposed the limits of this approach, leading Rumsfeld's successors gradually to embrace a variant of his doctrine: “remote control” (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/decades-war-legacy-and-lesson">A decade's war: legacy and lesson</a>", 4 April 2013)</p><p>Much of the publicity surrounding this shift refers to <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-wars-new-blowback">armed-drones</a> and their pattern of use across a range of states: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia (and soon, no doubt, in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mali-and-remote-control-war">Mali</a> (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-wars-new-blowback">Drone wars: the new blowback</a>", 30 November 2012). The part played by special forces tends to be less visible, but it is a core part of the strategy. </p><p>This can be seen in the considerable expansion of the <a href="http://www.socom.mil/Pages/AboutUSSOCOM.aspx">US Special Operations Command</a> (USSOCOM), which oversees the distinct special-forces groups in four military branches: the army, navy, air force and marine corps (whose group was set up only in 2006). USSOCOM's establishment as a unified command in 1987 had been influenced by the disaster of <a href="http://www.afhso.af.mil/topics/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=19809">Operation Eagle Claw</a> in 1980, the failed attempt to release US diplomats seized by radical Iranians after the 1979 <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history">revolution</a>. USSOCOM has since grown - from under 43,000 personnel in 2008 to over 63,000 today, with expansion plans taking it to 71,000 by 2015 (by comparison, the entire British army will after cuts now being implemented <a href="http://www.army.mod.uk/news/24264.aspx">number</a> 82,000). </p><p>The largest <a href="http://www.socom.mil/Pages/Mission.aspx">component </a>of USSOCOM (45% of personnel) is the US army's Special Operations Command (SOC), followed by the air-force SOC (28%), the navy's Special Warfare Command (14%) and the marines (4%). The remainder work at the headquarters staff at Tampa, Florida and in several regional commands (see Linda Robinson, “<a href="http://www.cfr.org/national-security-and-defense/future-us-special-operations-forces/p30323">The Future of U.S. Special Operations Forces</a>”, CFR, <em>Council Special Report 66</em>, April 2013).</p><p>The US is far from the only country expanding such forces (though it tends to be more open than others in releasing information about them). In the <a href="http://www.hughmcmanners.com/military/uk-special-forces-guide/">case</a> of the UK, its Special Air Services (SAS) regiment and the navy's Special Boat Squadron (SBS) have been augmented by a Special Forces Support Group (<a href="http://www.eliteukforces.info/sfsg/">SFSG</a>). The latter, set up in 2006, has drawn elite units from the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines and the RAF Regiment to provide logistical and other support for SAS and SBS operations. It has been active recently in Mali and elsewhere.</p><p><strong>The big player</strong></p><p>But in the <a href="http://www.natowatch.org/node/728">world</a> of special forces, there is no doubt that USSOCOM is the main player. It is likely to be dominant too in Nato, as that organisation's new special-operations headquarters at Mons, Belgium gets into its stride, and as “boots-on-the-ground” campaigns become ever less attractive. </p><p>USSOCOM's work divides relatively neatly into two kinds of activities - direct and indirect:</p><p>* The direct approach, receiving most attention, refers to operations that often involve manhunts and may readily lead to the killing (rather than capture) of suspects. Osama bin Laden's elimination in May 2011 is an <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-and-arab-spring-after-bin-laden">example</a>, as are the numerous night-raids that in Afghanistan have provoked so much anti-American sentiment. These raids, which reached their peak rate of more than a dozen a time around 2011-12, have been less reported than the armed-drone attacks; but they have been a core feature of the American fight against the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/antonio-giustozzi/taliban-and-afghanistan%E2%80%99s-war">Taliban</a>. It is likely that the Afghan president, whatever he may say in public, will agree to them continuing - as long as they are as low profile as possible (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">Drone wars: the Afghan model</a>", 14 February 2013).</p><p>The indirect approach refers to USSOCOM's work with relatively weak states to boost their own capabilities. By some accounts, USSOCOM personnel are aiding or have aided the forces of as many as a hundred states; two relatively high-profile examples are Colombia and the Philippines. This, however, is a shadowy world in which little comes to <a href="http://books.national-army-museum.ac.uk/masters-of-chaosthe-secret-history-of-the-special-forces-pr-32534.html">light</a>, and most military leaders (as well as politicians) prefer to keep it that way.</p><p>What is clear is that special forces, along with armed-drones and privatised military companies, are key elements in the move from large deployments (as in Iraq and Afghanistan) <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130511/SHOWSCOUT01/305130011/Special-Report-US-SOCOM-Pushes-Ahead-Aircraft-Vehicle-Plans">towards</a> the "remote control" of threats. It is welcome that armed-drones are discussed and analysed. But special forces should also be the focus of more scrutiny. This would help ensure that they too will feature in the urgently needed debate on different models of security in the post-9/11 world. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415419383/" target="_blank"><span><span>Global Security and the War on Terror: Elite Power and the Illusion of Control</span></span></a></em> (Routledge, 2007)</p><p><a href="http://www.natowatch.org/"><em>NATO Watch</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Paul Rogers is professor in the <a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/">department of peace studies</a> at Bradford University, northern England. He is <strong>openDemocracy's</strong> international-security editor, and has been writing a weekly column on global security since 28 September 2001; he also writes a monthly briefing for the <a href="http://oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a>. His books include <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007), and <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</em> </a>(Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010). He is on twitter at: <span class="screen-name screen-name-ProfPRogers pill">@ProfPRogers</span></p> <p><span class="screen-name screen-name-ProfPRogers pill">A lecture by Paul Rogers on <a href="http://sustainablesecurity.org/what-sustainable-security">sustainable security</a>, delivered to the Quaker yearly <a href="http://www.quaker.org.uk/ym-updates">meeting</a> on 3 August 2011, provides an overview of the analysis that underpins his openDemocracy column. It is available in two parts and can be accessed from <a href="http://www.networkforpeace.org.uk/resources/qpsw/paul-rogers-lecture-sustainable-security">here</a></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nigeria-boko-haram-risk">Nigeria, the Boko Haram risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-franchise-nigerian-case">Al-Qaida franchise: the Nigerian case </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/arms-craze-drones-to-lasers">An arms craze: drones to lasers </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-and-remote-control-war">Mali, and remote-control war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-next-stage">Al-Qaida, the next stage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-hand-of-history">North Korea, the hand of history</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-war-without-exit">Syria, war without exit</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/decades-war-legacy-and-lesson">A decade&#039;s war: legacy and lesson</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-war-foretold">Iraq, a war foretold</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-day-after">Afghanistan, the day after</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/kajaki-saga-of-ruin">Kajaki, saga of ruin</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">Drone wars: the Afghan model</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-new-blowback">Drone wars: the new blowback </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-and-al-qaida-trap">Mali, and the al-Qaida trap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/algeria-mali-and-beyond">Algeria, Mali and beyond</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-warfare-cost-and-challenge">Drone warfare: cost and challenge</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/suicide-bombs-without-suicides-why-drones-are-so-cool">Suicide-bombs without the suicides: why drones are so cool</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/every-casualty-human-face-of-war">Every casualty: the human face of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">Remote control, a new way of war</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Nigeria Conflict Democracy and government International politics Paul Rogers Thu, 16 May 2013 05:30:45 +0000 Paul Rogers 72705 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Nigeria, the Boko Haram risk https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nigeria-boko-haram-risk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Abuja's response to Boko Haram's insurgency is flawed and self-defeating. Without a change of policy, Nigeria will move ever closer to becoming a centre of transational jihadist struggle.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>A recent column in this <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> reported an assault by the Nigerian army on Baga on 16-17 April 2013, a town close to the border with Chad and an alleged site of Boko Haram rebels. The reported death-toll was over 180, with scores injured. In addition, large parts of the town - including as many as 300 houses - had been burned down by the army (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-next-stage">Al-Qaida, the next stage</a>", 25 April 2013) </p><p>In the aftermath, if not perhaps in direct retaliation, Boko Haram paramilitaries staged a co-ordinated pre-dawn attack in the town of Bama on 7 May 2013. A major <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/05/201357225836850553.html">operation</a> by Boko Haram standards, this lasted for five hours and involved some 200 armed personnel attacking a barracks and a prison (from which 105 prisoners were released). The paramilitaries torched police and public buildings,&nbsp; such as the local magistrates' court, and killed twenty-two police officers, fourteen prison warders, two soldiers and four civilians, losing thirteen of their own before withdrawing (see "<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-22444417">'Many dead in Boko Haram attack' in Borno state</a>", BBC News, 7 May 2013).</p><p>The cycle of military <a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/05/01/nigeria-massive-destruction-deaths-military-raid">attack</a> on Baga and Boko Haram's answer in Bama is part of a <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/Report/97527/Timeline-of-Boko-Haram-and-related-violence-in-Nigeria">pattern</a> of accelerating violence which has seen nearly 4,000 people killed since 2009-10. A significant aspect of this conflict is the rigidity of the army and police in dealing with Boko Haram. Nigeria's government may talk of negotiations and even of reconciliation, but on the ground a relentless counterinsurgency operation is underway in which the security forces are killing hundreds of people. </p><p>Many incidents take place around Boko Haram's heartland of support, the city of Maiduguri, like Bama in Borno state in northeast <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/nigeria.htm">Nigeria</a>. At their core is the systematic detention of presumed Boko Haram supporters, many of them later eliminated in custody. There are regular claims that young men have been rounded up on the scantiest of evidence before being shot, tortured or left to die of starvation. Some reported cases speak of men being packed and locked in armoured personnel-carriers, where they suffocate to death in stifling heat.</p><p>An experienced <a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/n/adam_nossiter/index.html">journalist</a> in Maiduguri reports that as many as sixty bodies are being delivered each day by the army to the morgue at the state hospital. In one case, twenty-nine bodies were on the point of being dumped when it was discovered that three of them were still alive; soldiers in the army's joint task force (JTF) immediately shot them dead (see Adam Nossiter, “<a href="http://wap.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/world/africa/body-count-soars-as-nigerian-military-hunts-islamists.html">Bodies Pour In as Nigeria Hunts for Islamists</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 7 May 2013). </p><p>Boko Haram's own operations have often been brutal, but it is clear that the Nigerian military is guilty of extensive atrocities. The fundamental issue is that the army has become gripped by a pattern of behaviour that has developed a <a href="http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/nigerias-civilians-bear-brunt-of-islamist-conflict">momentum</a> of its own, and may be beyond the control of central government. This has three consequences, two of which are international.</p><h2><strong>A spreading war</strong></h2><p>The first consequence, internal to Nigeria, is that persistent <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/10/11/spiraling-violence-0">state violence</a> is having no evident effect in controlling <a href="http://www.usip.org/publications/what-boko-haram">Boko Haram's</a> growth. The movement remains able to stage a large operation of the kind mounted in Bama, while maintaining its level of support. Indeed, the army's frequent killing of young men unconnected to Boko Haram increases antagonism to the army and government in a way that serves the group's purposes. </p><p>The second consequence goes wider. Boko Haram wants to promote radical Islamism within Nigeria and oppose western values, but so far has not to any great extent embraced <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-idea-in-motion">al-Qaida's</a> global <em>jihadist </em>outlook (by, for example, invoking a “far enemy” that requires a war beyond Africa). The Ansaru <a href="http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=40287&amp;cHash=bd00ee2691b7992de9fe4f8e2241841a">offshoot</a> of Boko Haram, however, does view the struggle in Nigeria in global terms, leading it to advocate (and engage in) <a href="http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/islamists-kidnap-seven-foreign-workers-in-northern-nigeria">kidnappings</a> and some killing of foreigners. The more that Nigeria's army uses intense violence against the communities from which Boko Haram and Ansaru have grown, the more likely it is that the next phase of their <a href="http://www.issafrica.org/iss-today/understanding-the-dynamics-of-islamic-radicalism-in-nigeria-is-key-to-bringing-boko-haram-to-book">radicalisation</a> will become more transnational. </p><p>The third consequence is the <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/Report/97988/Displaced-still-homeless-after-clashes-in-Baga-Nigeria">impact</a> of Nigeria's conflict on impressionable young Muslims abroad (including in the Nigerian diaspora), who may come to see what is happening there as part of a worldwide assault on Islam. This view may be very simplistic, but it draws on a powerful narrative that highlights three regime terminations in a dozen years (in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya) and direct western intervention in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan and Mali.</p><p>This narrative is assiduously fostered by skilled propagandists who represent the conflict in Nigeria as yet another assault on Muslims by a secular-Christian government. Here, the new social media are a vital <a href="http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-Article,id=13104/">tool</a>; for coverage of the war in the Nigerian media (and occasionally in the western) is far exceeded by the distribution of graphic visual data of the Nigerian military's impact. </p><p>The latter can include images of burned villages and corpses dumped outside a hospital morgue. The accompanying interpretation links the notion of sustained and brutal repression to the Nigerian state's dependency on western patrons such as Britain and the United States. The claim that a new US <a href="http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-21/world/37905284_1_drone-bases-unarmed-predator-drones-surveillance-drones">drone-base</a> in neighbouring <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/niger.htm">Niger</a> will be used to mount attacks in Nigeria, whether true or not, is the kind of charge that will strike a <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">chord</a> with viwers primed to believe it by copious images of previous <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-warfare-cost-and-challenge">drone operations</a> in Pakistan.</p><p>Nigeria's <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-franchise-nigerian-case">approach</a> to controlling Boko Haram is flawed at just about every level, from the individual to the transnational. The policy fuels the movement's image as defenders of a besieged Islam who have no choice but to resist and to inspire a process of puritan social and spiritual renewal. </p><p>So serious is the process of Nigerian army repression leading to even greater empowerment of Boko Haram, that western states closest to the Abuja government would be well advised to urge a change of course. Without the latter, there is a real risk that in the coming decade Nigeria will become a focus of transational<em> jihadist</em> struggle. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415419383/" target="_blank"><span><span>Global Security and the War on Terror: Elite Power and the Illusion of Control</span></span></a></em> (Routledge, 2007)</p><p><a href="http://www.hrw.org/africa/nigeria">Human Rights Watch - Nigeria</a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><em><a href="http://www.africa-confidential.com/news">Africa Confidential </a><br /></em></p><p>Stephen Ellis, <a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=628"><em>Season of Rains: Africa in the World</em></a> (C Hurst, 2011)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-franchise-nigerian-case">Al-Qaida franchise: the Nigerian case </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-and-remote-control-war">Mali, and remote-control war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/arms-craze-drones-to-lasers">An arms craze: drones to lasers </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-next-stage">Al-Qaida, the next stage</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/north-korea-hand-of-history">North Korea, the hand of history</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-war-without-exit">Syria, war without exit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/decades-war-legacy-and-lesson">A decade&#039;s war: legacy and lesson</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-day-after">Afghanistan, the day after</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-war-foretold">Iraq, a war foretold</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/kajaki-saga-of-ruin">Kajaki, saga of ruin</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">Drone wars: the Afghan model</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-war-after-war">Mali, war after war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/algeria-mali-and-beyond">Algeria, Mali and beyond</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-warfare-cost-and-challenge">Drone warfare: cost and challenge</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-dynamic-of-war">Mali, dynamic of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-new-blowback">Drone wars: the new blowback </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/suicide-bombs-without-suicides-why-drones-are-so-cool">Suicide-bombs without the suicides: why drones are so cool</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Mali </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Mali Nigeria Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security 'term-id:[26644]' democracy & power Boko Haram - Behind the Headlines Paul Rogers Thu, 09 May 2013 04:56:42 +0000 Paul Rogers 72596 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Al-Qaida, the next stage https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-next-stage <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The dispersal of the al-Qaida idea across many national territories takes some pressure off the "far enemy", the United States. But developments in Nigeria could represent a new danger for Washington and its allies.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>A number of developments from the "greater middle east" to west Africa highlights the varying fortunes of the al-Qaida movement over recent years. In Pakistan and Yemen, drone attacks on al-Qaida affiliates <a href="http://backchannel.al-monitor.com/index.php/2013/04/5057/turning-point-yemenis-testimony-on-us-drone-killings-strikes-chord-in-washington/">continue</a> with an intensity that is little recognised outside military circles. This week, a senior al-Qaida intelligence specialist, Abu Ubaydah Abdullah al Alam, was <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/04/al_qaeda_intelligenc.php">reportedly</a> killed in Pakistan, and in Yemen two paramilitary fighters were <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/04/us_drones_strike_aga_6.php">killed</a> in Marib province, the third <a href="http://backchannel.al-monitor.com/index.php/2013/04/5057/turning-point-yemenis-testimony-on-us-drone-killings-strikes-chord-in-washington/">attack</a> in six days (see <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/"><em>Long War Journal</em></a>, 21-22 April 2013).</p><p>In Somalia, the Shabaab movement is conceding territory to advancing African Union forces, as well as facing criticism from some radical Islamic scholars (see Mohamed Mubarak, “<a href="http://www.janes.com/products/janes/security/news/intelligence-review.aspx">Challenge to the Hard Core</a>”, <em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em>, May 2013). In Iraq, however, groups allied to al-Qaida are on the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/decades-war-legacy-and-lesson">offensive</a> against government security forces and <em>Shi'a</em> communities.</p><p>In Syria,<em> jihadist </em>elements among the insurgents are gaining strength, a <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syria-al-qaida-and-future">trend</a> that parallels deep divisions in the more secular <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/04/2013422152033307536.html">opposition</a> forces. The United States is becoming ever more cautious about supplying the rebels, a stance that worries its Israeli ally, for Israel in particular fears that Bashar al-Assad's <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/carsten-wieland/syria-decade-of-lost-chances">regime</a> could eventually fall to an unstable coalition with a very powerful Islamist component. </p><p>Washington itself, though, has been able to draw a <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/americas-global-shift-drone-wars-base-politics">degree</a> of relief from the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-open-endgame">dispersal</a> of the al-Qaida "idea". Many of the newer “offshoots” appear to have nationalist rather than transnational agendas, even as they benefit from open routes of transnational cooperation. The <em>jihadist </em>groups may target western workers (as in the In Amenas <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21056884">raid</a> in Algeria), and the possibility of attacks arising from within western cities remains (as indicated by the Boston <a href="http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/specials/boston-marathon-explosions">incident</a>). But a repeat of Madrid (2004) or London (2005), let alone 9/11, has been avoided. Indeed, few al-Qaida affiliates - Yemen apart - even pay much attention at present to the “far enemy” of the United States.</p><p><strong>The Nigerian case</strong></p><p>Yet this limited comfort may be <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-panoptic-shiver">deceptive</a>, if developments in Nigeria are a guide. There, Boko Haram is continuing to evolve into one of the most potent of Islamist movements. The group, founded in 2002, rose to prominence following an attack on the police HQ in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, in 2009 (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-franchise-nigerian-case">Al-Qaida franchise: the Nigerian case</a>", 25 August 2011). In the aftermath its leader Mohammed Yusuf was captured by the army and handed over to the police, where he died in custody, becoming a martyr to its followers. Since 2009 Boko Haram has been <a href="http://reliefweb.int/report/nigeria/two-dead-after-blast-restive-northeast-nigeria">active</a> across the north (and particularly the northeast), but its operations further south include <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/876561/nigerian-islamists-claim-deadly-attack-on-un">bombing</a> the United Nations offices in Nigeria's capital, Abuja.</p><p>The very high death-toll in these years of fighting between security forces and <a href="http://www.usip.org/publications/what-boko-haram">Boko Haram</a>, probably well over 3,000, owes much to the Nigerian security apparatus's tendency to use intense force in response to incidents. Some politicians call for negotiations, but the police and army see armed power as the only way is to defeat the movement. This approach is reflected in a military <a href="http://www.dw.de/abdu-nigerians-skeptical-about-baga-killings-probe/a-16765860">assault</a> on Baga village on the shores of Lake Chad that reportedly left over 180 people dead and scores wounded, and 300 houses destroyed (see "<a href="http://www.dw.de/high-death-toll-feared-in-nigeria-after-boko-haram-battle/a-16762414">High death toll feared in Nigeria after Boko Haram battle</a>", <em>Deutsche Welle</em>, 22 April 2013).</p><p>Despite such operations and other repression, however, Boko Haram shows few <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/Report/93250/Analysis-Understanding-Nigeria-s-Boko-Haram-radicals">signs</a> of wilting. Indeed, it has produced an <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21510767">offshoot</a> called Ansaru, which has its own agenda as well as being prepared to work with the main body of Boko Haram (see Adam Nossiter, “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/world/africa/in-nigeria-ansaru-militant-group-poses-new-threat.html?ref=nigeria&amp;_r=0">Nigerian unrest adds Qaeda element</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 23 April 2013). </p><p>Ansaru is far more transnational and less concerned with domestic issues. Its representatives have even said that it is unacceptable for groups such as Boko Haram to attack and kill other Nigerians. The splinter's dominant message is that Ansaru will move <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/03/meet-the-ruthless-new-islamist-group-terrorizing-nigeria/273921/">towards</a> kidnapping foreigners and holding them for ransom, which can be a very profitable way of raising funds.</p><p>On its own this may appear a minor shift in a neglected <a href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/nigerian-islamist-fighters-kill-7-foreigners-says-uk-italy-and-greece/story-e6frg6so-1226594471524">conflict</a>. But against the background of al-Qaida's wider disperal it could well turn out to be very significant. </p><p>Until around January 2013, al-Qaida could be characterised as a scattered if still potent idea, whose various loose affiliates (again excepting Yemen) tended to focus on their local struggles and eschew the idea of a global contest (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-idea-in-motion">Al-Qaida, idea in motion</a>", 4 January 2013). The importance of Ansaru is that it embraces this wider concept in a way that echoes the ambition of the al-Qaida of more than a decade ago. If it persists and broadens its appeal, either in Nigeria or even in neighbouring countries, it could be the harbinger of "the post-al-Qaida world". </p><p>This provides one more reason why the Nigerian authorities might well try other approaches than reliance on heavy military force in addressing the problem of Boko Haram and now Ansaru. It is even more important for them to resist any offers of military help from the United States and Britain. The deployment of foreign special forces and <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/suicide-bombs-without-suicides-why-drones-are-so-cool">armed-drones</a> in Nigeria is all Ansaru needs to enable it to grow.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745320878&amp;">A War on Terror: Afghanistan and After</a></em>&nbsp;(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2004) </p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><a href="http://www.ascleiden.nl/library/webdossiers/nigeriaandislam.aspx">Islam in Nigeria</a></p><p>Eva Evers Rosander &amp; David Westerlund eds., <a href="http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/African+Islam+and+Islam+in+Africa"><em>African Islam and Islam in Africa</em></a> (Swallow Press, 1997)</p><p>Stephen Ellis, <a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=628"><em>Season of Rains: Africa in the World</em></a> (C Hurst, 2011)</p><p>Toyin Falola &amp; Matthew M Heaton, <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/knowledge/isbn/item1163123/?site_locale=en_US"><em>A History of Nigeria</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2008)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Paul Rogers is professor in the <a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/">department of peace studies</a> at Bradford University, northern England. He is <strong>openDemocracy's</strong> international-security editor, and has been writing a weekly column on global security since 28 September 2001; he also writes a monthly briefing for the <a href="http://oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a>. His books include <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007), and <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</em> </a>(Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010). He is on twitter at: <span class="screen-name screen-name-ProfPRogers pill">@ProfPRogers</span></p> <p><span class="screen-name screen-name-ProfPRogers pill">A lecture by Paul Rogers&nbsp;on <a href="http://sustainablesecurity.org/what-sustainable-security">sustainable security</a>, delivered to the Quaker yearly <a href="http://www.quaker.org.uk/ym-updates">meeting</a> on 3 August 2011, provides an overview of the analysis that&nbsp;underpins his openDemocracy column. It is available in two parts and can be accessed from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.networkforpeace.org.uk/resources/qpsw/paul-rogers-lecture-sustainable-security">here</a></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/decades-war-legacy-and-lesson">A decade&#039;s war: legacy and lesson</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-and-al-qaida-trap">Mali, and the al-Qaida trap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-warfare-cost-and-challenge">Drone warfare: cost and challenge</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-al-qaida-and-future">Syria, al-Qaida, and the future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/drone-wars">Drone wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-and-world-in-balance">Al-Qaida, and a world in balance</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/suicide-bombs-without-suicides-why-drones-are-so-cool">Suicide-bombs without the suicides: why drones are so cool</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-enduring-insurgency">Al-Qaida: an enduring insurgency</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">Drone wars: the Afghan model</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-idea-in-motion">Al-Qaida, idea in motion</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">Remote control, a new way of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/every-casualty-human-face-of-war">Every casualty: the human face of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-franchise-nigerian-case">Al-Qaida franchise: the Nigerian case </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-yemen-factor-0">Al-Qaida: the Yemen factor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-mali-nigeria-wars-paralysis">Syria, Mali, Nigeria: war&#039;s paralysis</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Syria Nigeria Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power Paul Rogers Thu, 25 Apr 2013 12:40:27 +0000 Paul Rogers 72362 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Re-imagining ourselves: music, film and the representation of Nigerian women https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/saratu-abiola/re-imagining-ourselves-music-film-and-representation-of-nigerian-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With the increasing popularity of Nigerian pop music, and the astoundingly productive Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, Nigeria's creative industries are attracting worldwide attention. Saratu Abiola looks at the problematic representations of women in the Nigerian media</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>On the surface, sexism in much of popular hip-hop culture has influenced Nigerian youth culture today, and has redefined the images of Nigerian women in film and music. If you grew up in the 1990s in Nigeria, you remember&nbsp;<a href="http://premiermusicnigeria.net/?p=132">Onyeka&nbsp;Onwenu</a>, all closely-cropped hair and wholesome elegance, with her songs of lost love and unity. You will also remember&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDrApu9APBk">Christy&nbsp;Essien-Igbokwe’s&nbsp;</a>gentle mien, and her impressive Yoruba showcased in her hit song “Seun&nbsp;Rere”, or even her tears in her music video for “See the children”.&nbsp;<a href="http://premiermusicnigeria.net/?p=83">Evi-Edna&nbsp;Ogholi&nbsp;</a>had her hits as well; you probably blew out candles on a cake to her “Happy Birthday” song. These women, along with a few others, were pop-stars, and earned plaudits and renown alongside the many male artists that dominated Nigerian music&nbsp;in the 1990s.&nbsp;But the Mama Africa imagery that prevailed in that cultural moment meant these pop-stars&nbsp;did not roam too far off from cultural expectations. Today's<strong> </strong>young female artists are different. They dress more sexily than those who came before them and quietly acknowledge their sexuality, albeit not flaunting it as strongly in their music as their American counterparts. The warm, maternal images that ruled the 1990s would look ungainly on contemporary performers such as<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waje">&nbsp;Waje</a>, or <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiwa_Savage">Tiwa&nbsp;Savage</a>, or&nbsp;<a href="https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=omawumi&amp;hl=en&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;hs=qeH&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;tbm=isch&amp;tbo=u&amp;source=univ&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=mb0zUfOUN6nM0QXmuoDICQ&amp;ved=0CDAQsAQ&amp;biw=1067&amp;bih=461">Omawunmi</a>, or just about any of the young women who now take the stage to the applause of fans all over the country. </p> <p>That is not to say that expectations of sexiness and fashion that come with the Nigerian youthful affinity to hip-hop have completely overridden what has been for years the more demure Nigerian ideal. Still, what popular music and film projects as an image of Nigerian womanhood does not in the end reflect the realities of Nigeria's diverse population of women. Even with the superficial differences in outlook, Nigerian pop music, just as popular film, depict women in the same stereotypical way, which leaves little room for representing the full diversity of Nigerian women, or for exploring the realities of the many gendered exclusions and double-standards in Nigerian society. This continuity in stereotypical cultural depictions does not bode well for any improvement in the representation of women in the popular imagination.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Women on the screen</strong></p> <p>Nigerian film and television shows have been around longer than the more youth-driven popular music industry, but the parallels between the representations of women in the more liberal youth culture and the conservative mores being advocated for in Nigerian film are striking. Having internalized much of commercial American hip-hop’s excesses in music videos, popular music videos often feature overt displays of wealth alongside depictions of women as money-hungry and easily bought. Arachie, in her paper <a href="http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1025&amp;context=gs_rp"><em>Crossing Over: The Influence of Black American Female Representation on Nigerian Films</em> and Music Videos</a> observes Nigerian star duo P-Square’s video for ‘<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjIbIjgn1fo">E No Easy</a>’ (which became a popular hit across Africa): </p> <p>“The video girls are either inside of these forms of vehicles or sitting on top of them, while of course fanning themselves with large amounts of cash and dancing. All of the women in this music video represented the gold-digger image.&nbsp; By what the lyrics of this song suggests, it seems as if the true success of a man is measured by materialistic items – especially money, automobiles and women.&nbsp; The amount of money and luxury cars he has, the expensive Champaign he is drinking, and of course having different shades of beautiful women by his side (whether they are there for love or just for the money) were things that were valued in this video.&nbsp; According to the lyrics these three things is what is “supposed to” make a man happy, successful and make him praise God”.</p> <p>On the other side of the representational spectrum, women in much of the film industry are framed within a limiting ‘good/bad’ woman paradigm, with the ‘bad woman’ motif resting on the image of the woman-witch. The&nbsp;lack of nuance in the representation of women is a reflection of Nigerian society’s inclination towards shame and condemnation in its <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/bibi-bakare-yusuf/of-mini-skirts-and-morals-social-control-in-nigeria">moral policing</a>.&nbsp;What television programmes like the popular drama&nbsp;<em>Superstory</em>,&nbsp;or the hugely popular Yoruba-language human interest shows&nbsp;<em>L’Abe&nbsp;Orun </em></p> <p>(Under the Sky) and now-discontinued&nbsp;<em>Nkan Mbe</em>&nbsp;(Strange Things Abound) that uncover witch covens and instances of sorcery have in common, is stunning moral clarity in the adherence&nbsp;to religiously-derived edicts of good behavior. As professor Akin&nbsp;Adesokan&nbsp;writes in <a href="http://www.google.com.ng/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=4&amp;cad=rja&amp;ved=0CC8QFjAD&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fpmnewsnigeria.com%2F2012%2F05%2F31%2Fakin-adesokan-meets-home-based-writers%2F&amp;ei=4C58UPONDKKx0QXG6IHoCw&amp;usg=AFQjCNGctKkvSkh0h9oIVnVU4auYMVpSdw&amp;sig2=wfICgYBb1rULHk87haDseQ" target="_blank"><em>Nollywood&nbsp;and the Idea of Nigerian Cinema</em></a>, exhortation to moral character&nbsp;“calculated to advance larger arguments about morally consequential conduct,” is even observable in pre-Nollywood&nbsp;era Nigerian films of the 1970s and 1980s, “as part of a broad cultural-nationalist discourse, the use of film to project specific ideas about the country, and it took the form of aggregating the expressive forms of diverse cultural traditions for a collective narrative.” For the Nigerian woman, more vulnerable to such exhortations by virtue of socioeconomic position, this means enduring the gaze of a society quicker to flatten her personhood and judge her than it would the man at her side. </p> <p><strong>The damage of stereotypes </strong></p> <p>From creationist stories to conspiracy theories, it is humanity’s inclination to look to stories to explain our world.&nbsp;This in turn underscores the power of art and culture in shaping perceptions of marginalized groups.&nbsp;These stereotypes of women’s behavior as either Mama Africa or femme fatale - as&nbsp;Agatha Ukata&nbsp;<a href="http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10539/10445/Pleriminary%20Pages%20for%20PhD%20Thesis.%20Agatha%20Ukata.pdf?sequence=2">argues</a> in her analysis of Nollywood - serve to validate and rationalize why and how women are marginalized in their roles. Yet, everywhere you look, there are women who buck these stereotypes in their everyday lives, but have to contend with being measured against myth. </p> <p>Gaye Tuchman&nbsp;coined the term “symbolic annihilation”&nbsp;to describe the ignoring or stereotyping of women in mass media in America, in favor of representations of a forced, repressive ideal.&nbsp;As&nbsp;she&nbsp;notes in her book&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbolic_annihilation"><em>Symbolic Annihilation</em></a>, individuals must not only be familiar with the past for a society to survive, but they must also be willing to meet changing conditions. “Nowhere is this need more as readily identifiable&nbsp;as in the area of sex roles – sex roles are social guidelines for sex-appropriate appearance, interests, skills, behaviors, and self-perceptions.” This makes the way that the&nbsp; mischaracterization of women seeps into&nbsp; <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=NG&amp;feature=relmfu&amp;hl=en-GB&amp;v=h7bME6wMqyE">youth culture</a> all the more destructive. </p> <p><strong>Manufacturing representations of women</strong></p> <p>The images of the "sexy”, the economically independent young woman and the woman witch, representations of women in Nigerian popular culture remain out of sync with the social realities we live. Even though women are increasingly taking part in Nigerian society, women are still very much a minority in socioeconomic terms. The economic development among women, while welcome and impressive in recent years, has been uneven. According to the <a href="http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Documents/publications1/Gender-Nigeria2012.pdf"><em>Gender in Nigeria</em></a> report released by The British Council in 2012, women who are steadily employed either have very basic education or are graduates in the university. These are the women, one would imagine, that make up the 15% of Nigerian women with bank accounts, the 7.2% who own their own land, the 20% of women-owned formal sector enterprise. Men are more likely to own the business and the media-houses. Even if women are avid consumers of magazines, television, film and music, men are much better placed to control content and representation than women are. Economic and cultural powers are very much in the hands of men. </p> <p>Taking the data into account, the lack of diverse representations of women in the media is no surprise. What does come as a surprise, though, is how much this is taken for granted. This lack of critique has been dangerous for women, as it has allowed for negative representations of women to become a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMSTYtMSbL0">standard</a> against which women are measured. </p> <p><strong>Embracing the Remix</strong> </p> <p>So where to from here? If sociologist and writer Gaye Tuchmann is <a href="https://www.google.com.ng/url?url=http://scholar.google.com/scholar%3Fcluster%3D8495548576543844528%26hl%3Den%26oi%3Dscholarr&amp;rct=j&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=BzkuUcCeGLSU0QX944CACQ&amp;ved=0CCwQgAMoADAA&amp;q=gaye+tuchman+symbolic+annihilation&amp;usg=AFQjCNHj9FfiG_DEJMktXYX_cLusI3DVyQ">right</a>,&nbsp;and the dominant perceptions of marginalized groups are at their strongest during the threat of social change, then there is no point in hoping to do away with the damaging myths of Nigerian womanhood. As can be observed from the Black-American and women's experience that Tuchmann wrote about in the 1970s, one-dimensional characterization does not end on its own merely as a by-product of increased economic power on the part of the marginalized group. Indeed a key feature of destructive prevailing ideas is that those who are stereotyped tend themselves be consumers of stereotypical representation. It is no surprise that the greater challenge posed by the misrepresentation of women is that many Nigerian women believe in the myths that are perpetuated about them. </p> <p>Members of the marginalized group need to recognize these representations as faulty, and try to change them. If the media is flooded with the monochromatic, then through our own media and in recognition of our own power, take every opportunity to display the full spectrum of who we are. &nbsp;Today, Nigerian women of all backgrounds wear Ankara fabric, formerly only used for traditional garb, sewn into modern styles, and worn with fashionable Western-style shoes and handbags. In much the same way, it is possible to re-craft visions of Nigeria’s diverse womanhood in ways that resonate with women’s lived experience. With the same inventiveness, we can re-imagine ourselves and project these images in the way we wish to be known in both media and film.&nbsp;Still, before any advances can be made in the representation of women in Nigerian media, we all must first see these representations as a problem.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Nigeria Culture 50.50 Our Africa feminism Saratu Abiola Sun, 17 Mar 2013 09:22:50 +0000 Saratu Abiola 71783 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The trials of Roseline Akhalu https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/alan-white/trials-of-roseline-akhalu <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Why is the Home Office continuing a cruel and ludicrous campaign against a woman who they have accepted will definitely die if returned to Nigeria?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 1999, 48-year-old Roseline Akhalu’s husband, a nurse, was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The pair lived a simple life in a shared flat in Benin. Rose worked in local government and earned N22,000 - at the time about £80 - a year. &nbsp;The doctors told Rose’s husband that he’d need to raise £8,000 (N2,000,000) and go to South Africa or India for treatment. There was no way they could do it. Rose stood by as he lost his sight, then his ability to walk, and then to talk. She watched him die, and it broke her heart.</p> <p>In Nigeria men used their children’s names as next-of-kin and since they did not have any children (prior to this, Rose had suffered a miscarriage) her husband used his brother’s name. His family took all of his possessions, including his pass book and cheque book. She wanted to challenge them, but was dissuaded by her mother, a traditionalist who told her she should be thankful to God that she was still young and had her life ahead of her. Rose was alone in the world. She set about putting her life back together.</p> <p>Five years later, she was one of just 23 people to win a Ford Foundation scholarship to study in England. She took a masters degree in Development Studies at Leeds University. Inspired by her experiences, she wanted to establish an NGO to cater for the education of young girls. Back in Nigeria, she'd been helping young girls in her community and trying to give them awareness of their rights to encourage them to return to school, even as teenage mums. Whenever she went back to her village to see her family she would organise meetings under a tree near her house.</p> <p>Rose began to attend St Augustine’s Catholic Church in Leeds. It’s a little parish about three miles from the centre of town. It’s a poor area, but the church has a buzzing middle-aged community; a mix of immigrants and people who’ve lived there all their lives.</p> <p>Claire McLaughlin, a fellow parishioner, became her friend: she and Rose attended coffee mornings after mass. “She’s quite a private person,” she says, “But she’s really interested in other people.” The two women began working on community initiatives for young girls. “She’s brave, too,” says Claire. “She works with asylum seekers, and goes out doing street pastoring work in Harehills - she’s never evangelical with the people on the street: she just wants to help them.”</p> <p>I ask Rose for a few more details on what she does in the church. “I’m a member of the choir and I lead the Bible study group. On Mondays I serve the older people tea, coffee and cake. After food we clean up and play Dominos and Bingo for biscuits. It’s like a day centre for women. They love it and the volunteers love it too. I’ve made so many friends in the church: I spent Christmas and Boxing Day with Paul and Dot...”</p> <p>That’s the new life she built for herself. Christian, innocent and - though how bitter it feels to use this word in the light of what’s to come - somehow rather English.</p> <p>*</p> <p>One day, Rose went to a routine vaccination appointment and was told her blood pressure was too high. She was sent to a nephrologist at Leeds General Infirmary who ran tests and diagnosed renal failure. She planned to return to Nigeria, but was told the only way she could survive was by going on dialysis, or having a kidney implant. In May 2005, she was put on dialysis three times a week.</p> <p>In 2009, she had a successful kidney implant. The next year, her consultant, Dr R J Baker, wrote to her former MP, Fabian Hamilton, explaining how the treatment had complicated her residential situation. She would need regular hospital check-ups and immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of her life.</p> <p>Her plan had been to return to Nigeria. Now, however, it changed. Rose was no "health tourist". But it was her misfortune the medication to protect from rejection of the kidney would cost £10,000 per year in Nigeria - a sum Rose would never be able to earn given the wage differential (85 per cent of the population live on less than $1 a day), high unemployment and fact she is of retirement age in that country. She had no support network there, besides three siblings, all of whom lived in poverty. Moreover, as medical experts - Nigerian and British - have testified, the sanitary and medical facilities she required could not be provided. &nbsp;If deported, she would die within two to four weeks. She began to fight for the right to remain in the UK.</p> <p>In March 2012, Rose arrived at the UK Border Agency (UKBA) Reporting Office for her monthly reporting when she was told she was being detained. Staff from Reliance – a firm contracted by UKBA – told her she was being transported from Leeds to <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2012/10/out-frying-pan-how-britain-lets-down-its-most-vulnerable-migrants">Yarl’s Wood detention centre</a>.</p> <p>Close to Manchester, Rose asked to use the toilet. The female security officer told her she would be taken to a police station where it would be “safe” for her to go. On arrival at Manchester, after another 30 minutes of asking for the toilet she was taken to the Reliance Office for a duty change-over. Her pleas were ignored. She could see a toilet in the office through the van's window. She couldn’t bear to hold it in any longer, and stood up in the van. The officers started to look for a plastic bag into which she could urinate. They couldn’t find the bag for women, so she was given the one for men. The design didn’t work, but Rose couldn’t hold it in any more. She urinated all over her hands and the rest of the van, in full view of the CCTV camera.</p> <p>She tells me: “I felt humiliated and degraded. I was treated like a common criminal. As if I had no dignity, no rights and no voice.” She was left covered in her urine, as was the van. She claims that as a result she suffered a urinary tract infection: she had to sit in her wet clothes until she arrived at Yarl’s Wood at 10.30pm. There is a civil case pending as a result of this incident. Negotiations are ongoing, but at the time of writing Reliance have refused the disclosure of records and documents required for a claim to be quantified.</p> <p>The Home Office was attempting to remove Rose from the country. UKBA had decided that she was indeed a health tourist, even though she applied for her scholarship back in 2002 and her renal specialist had testified that her illness three years later was sudden and impossible to predict.</p> <p>Rose would spend 26 days at Yarl’s Wood. Having been returned home, in May, Rose was then taken back to Yarl’s Wood. The second time round she was not given access to medication for 24 hours. She was then moved to Colnbrook detention centre in Middlesex. There was not enough room for Rose in the women’s space, so she was taken to the male secure cell. The room was, she tells me, “Stuffed with cigarette smoke and rubbish. The officer left another woman and I there, so we started banging on the door, asking for him to let the cigarette smoke out of the room. The officer’s boss came and threatened us, telling us we’d be moved somewhere worse. Eventually a cleaner was sent.” Rose spent 16 days on this second detention.
&nbsp;</p> <p>*</p> <p>At the end of May Rose was released from detention: her solicitors won an injunction which prevented the Home Office from deporting her until a renewed application for permission to proceed with judicial review was heard on 24 July. Greg Mulholland, her MP, said: “I will be writing to the Home Secretary to ask why, despite being granted an appeal hearing, the judge thought it acceptable to allow UKBA to continue harassing Roseline and continue to seek her deportation from the UK. As well as the distress caused, this has been a farce and has wasted considerable amounts of taxpayers’ money. The system clearly needs to be looked at so this cannot happen.”</p> <p>In September the Home Office made a fresh decision: Rose’s appeal was refused. There were a number of outraged responses. Some came from her community: John Packer, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, told <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/esme-madill/nation%E2%80%99s-decency-put-to-test-decision-due-on-transplant-patient%E2%80%99s-perilous-re">OurKingdom</a>: “Roseline has made a life in this country (gaining qualifications here) and is loved and respected in her community in Leeds. It saddens me to think that, having been accepted and cared for in the UK to the extent of being given a kidney transplant which has transformed her life, she should now find herself being forced to return to Nigeria where she would not be able to receive the medical treatment she needs to survive.”</p> <p>Others were medical: representations to the Home Office had come from the National Kidney Federation and from Rose’s consultant, among others. Some were political: as well as a renewed call from her MP, the Joint Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Kidney Group, Madeleine Moon, urged the Home Secretary “most strongly to allow Mrs Akhalu to remain in the UK”. Even the actor Colin Firth also spoke out against the decision: “Our Home Secretary has effectively condemned an innocent woman to death - a decision surely repugnant to every person in this country. It should be reversed immediately and Rose should be allowed to live."</p> <p>Rose’s lawyers were able to appeal to the First-Tier Immigration Tribunal, and in November, Judge Saffer overturned the Home Office’s decision. At the hearing the Home Office accepted – for the first time – that she would definitely die if returned to Nigeria. Astoundingly, it continued to maintain that her removal was proportionate and not in breach of her human rights. However, the judge found she had come here legally, was diagnosed while here legally, that the cost of treatment was not excessive, and that she had established a private life of value to her.</p> <p>At the time, Mulholland said he hoped the Home Office would "see sense and not appeal" against the ruling. "It would be a serious misuse of the public purse to appeal this decision given the evidence that has been presented." But the Home Office appealed the decision on 14 December. The judge refused the appeal. This could have been the end of the matter. Instead, a second appeal was made to the Upper-Tier Immigration Tribunal. A decision is pending.</p> <p>Why is the Home Office continuing this cruel and ludicrous campaign? It seems the department is concerned about growing case law that would facilitate health tourism. Under the present laws it is acceptable to deport someone even if they’ll become terminally ill on arrival in a new country, and this is why Rose’s case has been argued under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights: a right to a private and family life. &nbsp;But this is an exceptional case: is the fight against case law really worth a human being’s life, not to mention the massive legal cost? And as representatives from the National Kidney Foundation have said, donors would think their efforts were a waste of time if a recipient was allowed to die.</p> <p>“It’s just dragged on and on,” says Claire McLaughlin. “It’s time to let her stay. She’s a widow, she’s not going to be a drain on the country and she’s such a useful person to have around.” Her solicitor, Tessa Gregory of Public Interest Lawyers, says: “I cannot comprehend why the Home Secretary is continuing to pursue Rose through the courts after conceding at the last hearing that if Rose is deported to Nigeria she will not be able to access medical care and will die a painful death within four weeks of her return. Not only is such conduct deeply inhumane, it is also a complete waste of scarce public funds on unnecessary and time consuming litigation.”</p> <p>There are a few lines in an email I received from Rose that rather touch my heart. I think it’s the straightforward way she expresses herself: “I’m very happy here in Leeds as I’ve made so many friends. Leeds is now my home. To think that I might be removed made me feel very bad and empty - the thought of losing my wonderful friends is very painful. And they don't want to lose me either.”</p><p><em> This piece was originally published at the <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/alan-white/2013/01/trials-roseline-akhalu">New Statesman</a>. You can read more by Alan on detention, outsourcing and other social affairs <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/alan-white">here</a>.</em><br /> </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/esme-madill/kidney-transplant-case-signals-deep-flaws-in-uk-immigration-policy-and-pract">Kidney transplant case signals deep flaws in UK immigration policy and practice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/simon-parker/uk-s-persecution-of-kidney-transplant-patient-roseline-goes-on-and-on">UK’s persecution of kidney transplant patient Roseline goes on and on</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/ourkingdom/roseline-lives-court-overrules-uk-government-decision-to-condemn-kidney-trans">Roseline lives! Court overrules UK government decision to condemn kidney transplant patient to death</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/few-days-left-to-prevent-uk-transplant-patient-s-perilous-removal-to-nige">A few days left to prevent UK transplant patient’s perilous removal to Nigeria</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/esme-madill/uk-court-halts-kidney-transplant-patient-s-deportation-and-colin-firth-lends">UK court halts kidney-transplant patient’s deportation, and Colin Firth lends support</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/esme-madill/nation-s-decency-put-to-test-decision-due-on-transplant-patient-s-perilous-r">A nation’s decency put to the test: decision due on transplant patient’s perilous removal to Nigeria</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/esme-madill/roseline-s-journey-kidney-transplant-patient-meets-uk-border-agency-contract">Roseline’s journey: a kidney transplant patient meets UK Border Agency contractors</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight UK Nigeria Civil society Democracy and government G4S: Securing whose world? Shine A Light Alan White Wed, 16 Jan 2013 16:48:05 +0000 Alan White 70404 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Mali, dynamic of war https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mali-dynamic-of-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The French-led military intervention in Mali both accelerates the war in the west African country and transforms its character. The prospect is of a long-term engagement that Islamist forces far beyond the region will see as an historic opportunity </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The decision of France's government to intervene directly in Mali on 12 January 2013 represents a sudden intensification of a complex conflict. After months of uncertainty and varying fortunes among the combatants, this new phase of the war will have far-reaching consequences that could extend way beyond Mali's borders. The <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21021132">reported</a> "understanding and support" of the French action from the United Nations Security Council on 14 January is one such; but the impact on individual western states now <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/14/world/africa/french-jets-strike-deep-inside-islamist-held-mali.html">bound</a> into a further military campaign in the Islamic world is also already apparent.</p><p>It is noteworthy, for example that even as it committed forces to operate in the <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/mali.htm">country</a>, France increased domestic-security measures amid warnings from the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/patrice-de-beer/fran%C3%A7ois-hollande-and-france-big-deal">president</a>, Francoise Hollande, about possible <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20130114-mali-france-intervention-terrorist-attacks">retaliatory</a> attacks. Britain, for its part, is supporting the French operation and has made available military-transport aircraft; a C-17 has already <a href="http://uk.news.yahoo.com/mali-first-raf-aircraft-arrives-supplies-045750451.html">delivered</a> supplies to the government-controlled southwest of Mali where French forces are based. It is probable that David Cameron's government will issue a similar security alert. The reported commitment of both United States and British special forces to the French-led effort reflects the <a href="http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/01/mali/">degree</a> of mobilisation underway. </p><p>The situation in Mali has been deteriorating since Islamist elements took over the north of the country in early 2012, in the wake of an abortive military coup in the capital, Bamako (see Gilles Olakounlé Yabi, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/gilles-olakounl%C3%A9-yabi/malis-crisis-pitfalls-and-pathways">Mali's crisis: pitfalls and pathways</a>", 18 April 2012). Several <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">columns</a> in this series have tracked the variable course of the northern conflict and the stuttering efforts of the troubled Malian government, its west African allies, and states beyond the region to find an appropriate response (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mali-war-islamism-and-intervention">Mali: war, Islamism, and intervention</a>" [6 July 2012]; "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syria-mali-nigeria-wars-paralysis">Syria, Mali, Nigeria: war's paralysis</a>" 11 October 2012]; "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mali-and-next-war">Mali, and the next war</a>" [1 November 2012]; and "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mali-preparing-for-war">Mali, preparing for war</a>" [15 November 2012]). </p><p>A central theme explored in these assessments been the connection of the Malian conflict to the wider evolution of the al-Qaida idea (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-idea-in-motion">Al-Qaida, idea in motion</a>", 4 January 2013). Now, with France's military intervention, that aspect may become even more integral to the unfolding of events on the ground.</p><p><strong>The logic of intervention</strong></p><p>The sheer abruptness of the French <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21009958">involvement</a> has taken many observers by surprise. True, towards the end of 2012 there was ample <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jUdmhVwP2t-HZxDKVVz1RzisabOw?docId=CNG.1bde5d7f9e021e793919841aa98ed79f.441">evidence</a> that an attempt to retake northern Mali from the Islamist paramilitaries was being contemplated. But it was assumed that two requirements - the need to train and equip troops from west African states, and the process of involving western troops (from Nato countries) to support them - would extend the timetable for intervention over many months. Indeed, United Nations sources indicated that the earliest date for any <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/sending-soldiers-to-mali-may-be-the-only-solution/article7318783/">action</a> would be September 2013.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>A key element in this judgment was the position of the military forces <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/world/africa/an-aura-of-conflict-grows-in-a-divided-mali.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=1&amp;">expected</a> to take the leading role in any <a href="http://www.janes.com/products/janes/defence-security-report.aspx?id=1065972530">campaign</a> in Mali. In the case of Nigeria, whose forces would compose the largest single contingent, the problem was twofold: the limited capability of the Nigerian army for the task ahead, and the fact that this army was already preoccupied with attempting to subdue the Boko Haram insurgency in <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/nigeria.htm">Nigeria's</a> own north. Similarly, the units that the Economic Community of West African States (<a href="http://www.ecowas.int/">Ecowas</a>) could assemble were equally judged far from being able to take over and hold northern Mali. It was widely assumed that the training of these regional forces would be a precondition of active western involvement, hence the longer anticipated timescale.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>In the event, the dramatic change in the nature of the conflict was precipitated from the other side: the ability of <a href="http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/14/who-are-ansar-dine/">Ansar Dine</a> and other Islamist paramilitaries, having consolidated their control of northern Mali, but to begin to <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/mali/9787439/Al-Qaeda-advances-from-Mali-stronghold.html">advance</a> towards Mali's southwest and occupy centres of population of strategic value that would take them nearer to the capital. </p><p>The heart of this acceleration was a rapid move <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/Report/97229/Panic-in-Mopti-as-rebels-move-southwards">towards</a> (and, on 11 January, occupation of) Konna, a town sixty kilometres northeast of Mopti. The latter has a substantial airfield, adjacent to nearby Sevare, and is the last town with a significant Malian army presence before the richer lands towards Bamako. </p><p>Konna and Mopti are on or near Route N16, the main north-south road. It was the entry into Konna that led the French military to intervene, in two ways.The first was to use strike-aircraft operating out of a base in Chad to <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57563775/mali-militants-gain-ground-despite-french-strikes/">attack</a> rebel forces in and around the town, and deploy helicopter-gunships to attack rebel columns on the route. The second was to fly in at least 400 members of special forces, mainly to start protecting Bamako itself.</p><p>The core purpose of France's intervention at this early stage is thus twofold: to secure Mopti and Sevare, and to begin the process of strengthening Bamako's security. Its airstrikes against rebel training-camps and supply-bases across northern Mali is a stark indicator of how quickly the conflict is escalating.The <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21009368">seizure</a> by counter-attacking Islamist forces on 14 January of the town of Diabaly, 400 kilometres from Bamako, further demonstrates how hard even these limited aims will be (not least as these forces <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/french-bomb-training-camps-supply-lines-of-malian-jihadists-in-north-battle-for-diabaly/2013/01/14/40ddfe6a-5e31-11e2-8acb-ab5cb77e95c8_story.html">entered</a> from a new front in Mauritania to the west).</p><p>The intial reports from Konna include details of civilian casualties, such as three children drowned while trying to cross a river to escape the bombing (see “<a href="http://www.nwcn.com/news/world/186683361.html">African troops head to Mali as battle for north rages; 11 civilians dead</a>”, <em>Washington Post</em>/AP, 13 January 2013). In a situation where the United States has offered the use of drones to support the operation, this may be a signal of what is to follow in the coming months (see Bill Roggio, "<a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2013/01/french_troops_intervene_in_mai.php">French troops intervene in Mali</a>", <em>Long War Journal</em>, 12 January 2013).</p><p>So far, however, the lack of regional or western ground troops means that the anti-insurgency <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/incoming/focus-on-mali/article7353118/">campaign</a> will need far greater strength before it can attempt to push back the Islamist forces towards Mali's north. It is reported that Niger and Burkina Faso are moving 500 troops each to Mali, and that Nigeria may follow soon with its own contingent; but western (especially French) soldiers are <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/01/14/france-mali-rebels-war/1834085/">essential</a> to any major effort to dislodge the Islamist groups. If and when that effort gets underway, an already substantial western military intervention in yet another Islamic country (after Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya) could by degrees turn into a war that stretching throughout 2013. </p><p><strong>The transnational lens</strong></p><p>It is possible that a combined Ecowas/Nato force can occupy and secure northern Mali on behalf of the country's <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17582909">weak</a> government. But this in turn would have two major implications. The first is that to garrison this large territory in the long term will be deeply problematic, and require west African <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/01/14/uk-mali-rebels-idUKBRE90B0H120130114">troops</a> supported by Nato states to be involved for an extended period (and present themselves as attractive targets along the way).</p><p>The second is that a swathe of Islamist movements across north Africa, the middle east and south Asia would find in Mali a new focus for their <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/stephen-ellis/saharas-new-cargo-drugs-and-radicalism">activity</a> and ambitions. This emphasises the reality that a loosely connected movement is now much <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-condition-and-prospect">more</a> of a potent idea. It is an idea that - as the previous column in this <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> argued - can percolate through to paramilitary and other groups - from the Maghreb, Somalia and Yemen to Syria, Iraq, and even the <a href="http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-comments/past-issues/volume-18-2012/december/jihad-in-russia-the-caucasus-emirate/">north Caucasus</a> (see <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-idea-in-motion">Al-Qaida, idea in motion</a>", 4 January 2013). </p><p>In this light, any direct long-term western involvement in Mali will be a gift to <em>jihadi</em> propagandists, who will <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syria-iraq-and-al-qaidas-opportunity">utilise</a> all available forms of social media to press their case that the west is perpetrating yet another cruel attack on Islam. The narrative will be reinforced by the inevitable, gruesome images and videos of killed and maimed civilians, and destroyed and damaged homes.</p><p>France and other Nato states <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/15/opinion/why-we-must-help-save-mali.html">see</a> the Islamist takeover of northern Mali as a direct threat to the regional security west and north Africa, which must be <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20130114-france-fabius-mali-military-intervention-islamists">halted</a> by overwhelming military force. But if this appears to them the only option, it is vital to understand that their adversaries see in it a historic opportunity: the possible start of a costly war that reverberates far beyond Mali. The&nbsp; precedents of Iraq and Afghanistan are an ominous warning of what could lie ahead.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://dronewarsuk.wordpress.com/" target="_blank">DroneWarsUK</a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415419383/" target="_blank"><span><span>Global Security and the War on Terror: Elite Power and the Illusion of Control</span></span></a></em> (Routledge, 2007)</p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><em><a href="http://www.africa-confidential.com/news">Africa Confidential </a><br /></em></p><p>Stephen Ellis, <a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=628"><em>Season of Rains: Africa in the World</em></a> (C Hurst, 2011)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Paul Rogers is professor in the <a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/">department of peace studies</a> at Bradford University, northern England. He is <strong>openDemocracy's</strong> international-security editor, and has been writing a weekly column on global security since 28 September 2001; he also writes a monthly briefing for the <a href="http://oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a>. His books include <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007), and <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</em> </a>(Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010). He is on twitter at: <span class="screen-name screen-name-ProfPRogers pill">@ProfPRogers</span></p> <p><span class="screen-name screen-name-ProfPRogers pill">A lecture by Paul Rogers&nbsp;on <a href="http://sustainablesecurity.org/what-sustainable-security">sustainable security</a>, delivered to the Quaker yearly <a href="http://www.quaker.org.uk/ym-updates">meeting</a> on 3 August 2011, provides an overview of the analysis that&nbsp;underpins his openDemocracy column. It is available in two parts and can be accessed from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.networkforpeace.org.uk/resources/qpsw/paul-rogers-lecture-sustainable-security">here</a></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-idea-in-motion">Al-Qaida, idea in motion</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-new-blowback">Drone wars: the new blowback </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">Remote control, a new way of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-franchise-nigerian-case">Al-Qaida franchise: the Nigerian case </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-endgame-and-blowback">Syria, endgame and blowback</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-panoptic-shiver">America: the panoptic shiver</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-al-qaida-and-future">Syria, al-Qaida, and the future</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/suicide-bombs-without-suicides-why-drones-are-so-cool">Suicide-bombs without the suicides: why drones are so cool</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-mali-nigeria-wars-paralysis">Syria, Mali, Nigeria: war&#039;s paralysis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-election-and-remote-control">America&#039;s election and remote control</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-and-next-war">Mali, and the next war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-global-shift-drone-wars-base-politics">America&#039;s global shift: drone wars, base politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/road-to-endless-war">The road to endless war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conflict/article_141.jsp">Al-Qaida: the weapon of patience</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-open-endgame">Al-Qaida: an open endgame</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-enduring-insurgency">Al-Qaida: an enduring insurgency</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-condition-and-prospect">Al-Qaida: condition and prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-preparing-for-war">Mali, preparing for war </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Mali </div> <div class="field-item even"> Nigeria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Nigeria Mali Conflict Democracy and government International politics 'term-id:[26644]' democracy & power Africa Paul Rogers Security in Middle East and North Africa Diplomacy Tue, 15 Jan 2013 06:07:43 +0000 Paul Rogers 70380 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Al-Qaida, idea in motion https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-idea-in-motion <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The United States's "remote control" campaign against Islamist targets is intensifying. But behind the headlines, the transnational diffusion of al-Qaida's idea is just as potent. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The momentum in the global war against Islamist paramilitary groups can appear to be with the United States and its allies. The killing in a drone <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20896755">attack</a> of a major Pakistani Taliban leader, Mullah Nazir, and his deputy, Ratta Khan, is a case in point. The attack early on 3 January 2013 took place in South Waziristan, well within Pakistani territory, and will thus be <a href="http://dawn.com/2013/01/03/drone-strike-kills-four-in-s-waziristan-2/">seen</a> by many Pakistanis as yet another infringement of sovereignty. Pakistan's military, which regarded Nazir as something of an ally because of his close <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-15149996">links</a> with the Afghan Taliban, also has reasons to be disturbed; Islamabad's enduring need to maintain influence in Afghanistan after the western withdrawal in 2014 will add to the concern. </p><p>Yet the dominant view in Washington is that the <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/01/good_taliban_leader_1.php">operation</a> is (like preceding <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/20121230657116703.html">strikes</a> in Yemen) a further confirmation both of the value of drones and the utility of an <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/01/us_drone_strike_kill_18.php">aggressive</a> military stance. Many analysts even believe that if al-Qaida and its closest local allies are still active in Pakistan, as a whole it is largely a spent force. Al-Qaida may not be “finished” but, this view proposes, it is a pale shadow of the global threat it was seen as representing in 2001.</p><p><strong>The canvas</strong></p><p>A flaw in this line of thought is that it neglects key features of al-Qaida's character and <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-open-endgame">development</a>. The movement's leadership may have acted as a focal point, committed to reasonably clear-cut aims: opposition to “near-enemy” regimes such as the House of Saud and Hosni Mubarak's Egypt, to the "Zionist entity" (Israel) and to the “far enemy” of the United States and its partners. But it was a transnational revolutionary vision more than a narrowly hierarchical entity, a potent eschatological idea more than a conventional organisation. If such aspects are recalled, the state of al-Qaida <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-condition-and-prospect">looks</a> very different - much more a case of evolution and even metamorphosis than terminal decline.</p><p>Within this picture, there are extensive regional variations and cross-cutting trends. In Yemen, for example, local groups have been damaged by drone strikes; in Somalia, loose affiliates of al-Qaida such as al-Shabab have experienced reversals. But elsewhere in east Africa, in Kenya and Tanzania, radical Islamist clerics have become a powerful focus of anger against central government (see “<a href="http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21565641-muslim-extremism-spreads-down-east-africa%E2%80%99s-coastline-contagion-discontent">Contagion of discontent</a>”, <em>Economis</em>t, 3 November 2012). </p><p>In west Africa too, there have been major developments. In Nigeria, around 3,000 people have died since 2009 in the violence involving the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-franchise-nigerian-case">Boko Haram</a> paramilitary movement. The last, festive days of 2012 saw attacks on Christian churches by associates of the Islamist group; in response, vigorous action by the Nigerian joint task force, especially in the north-east city of Maiduguri, killing several Boko Haram suspects.</p><p>In Mali, the <a href="http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=55950">advance</a> of Ansar Dine and other Islamist paramilitaries in the north of the country is gradually creating momentum among western and regional powers towards an armed response, which the French most prominently support (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mali-and-next-war">Mali, and the next war</a>" [1 November 2012] and "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mali-preparing-for-war">Mali, preparing for war</a>" [15 November 2012]). The Islamist militias are preparing for such an outcome:&nbsp; credible reports suggest they are consolidating their control and building up supplies in large underground bunkers in order to counter any assault (see Rukmini Callimachi, “<a href="http://www.scotsman.com/news/international/while-the-world-stands-by-al-qaeda-claims-new-country-1-2713722">While the world stands by, al-Qaeda claims new territory"</a>, <em>Scotsman</em>, 2 January 2012). </p><p>There are, in addition, two other areas - one much publicised in the west, the other invisible - where the al-Qaida phenomenon is <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syria-iraq-and-al-qaidas-opportunity">undergoing</a> significant development. In Syria, the increasing salience of Islamist fighters in the civil war is widely reported (see "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syria-endgame-and-blowback">Syria, endgame and blowback</a>", 13 December 2012). Many are themselves Syrian, but they are now joined by others from across the middle east and south Asia. The latter include figures with combat experience against American and other coalition forces in neighbouring Iraq, some of whom retain close links to radical <em>Sunni</em> groups in Iraq; the more competent come to acquire leadership roles in the battle <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syria-al-qaida-and-future">against</a> the Syrian regime, at the head of militias whose members have little or no religious affiliation or motivation.</p><p>In the north Caucasus, the dynamics of conflict are relatively neglected, which makes an analysis by the London-based <a href="http://www.iiss.org/">International Institute for Strategic Studies</a> all the more valuable (see “<a href="http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-comments/past-issues/volume-18-2012/december/jihad-in-russia-the-caucasus-emirate/">Jihad in Russia: the Caucasus Emirate</a>”, <em>IISS Strategic Comments</em>, 4 December 2012). The study contends that the Russian authorities “are engaged in a large-scale counter-terrorism campaign against the Caucasus Emirate (CE), a Salafist terrorist network with ties to al-Qaeda and other international groups. The CE's operations threaten the stability of the Russian North Caucasus, and could potentially impact further afield.”</p><p>Moscow is particularly concerned about possible security <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/why-is-russian-daghestan-becoming-hotbed-of-instability/24761132.html">problems</a> in the approach to the winter Olympics of 2014, which will be held in the Black Sea <a href="http://www.themoscowtimes.com/guides/travel/2011/eng/article/436913.html#no">resort</a> of Sochi. Indeed, there is a suspicion that Russia's support for Bashar al-Assad's regime stems in part from its perception that radical Islamist groups in Syria could make common cause with the Caucasus Emirate.&nbsp; </p><p>The potency of the Caucasus <a href="http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/03/a-threat-to-the-west-the-rise-of-islamist-insurgency-in-the-northern-caucasus">network</a> is considerable. The IISS report suggests that its active paramilitary membership may be under a thousand, but it has in recent years been able to launch over 2,200 attacks that resulted in the deaths of 1,550 state officials (the most common targets) as well as 400 civilians.</p><p><strong>The links </strong></p><p>The theme that binds these disparate regional phenomena is, precisely, connections. True, the innumerable units involved - from Pakistan to Somalia, Nigeria to Yemen, Mali to Syria, Iraq to the Caucasus - are not manifestations of some unified entity centred on al-Qaida. They are not even branches of a consortium, franchise, or a defined (if diffuse) network. In that sense, if al-Qaida ever existed as a tightly controlled group, it no longer does. </p><p>The form in which it does <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-and-world-in-balance">exist</a> now can best be described as an “idea” - one with myriad and ever-changing interlinkages. This makes it quite reasonable to argue that supporters of a cell in (for example) Mali, Nigeria, Yemen or Pakistan may be far more aware of what is happening in the north Caucasus than almost any official or analyst in Washington or London.</p><p>This, indeed, is the real legacy of Osama bin Laden as he recedes into history. Its power is the capacity to enter into and exert influence on local <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/rage-unquenched-afpak-iraq-and-west">grievances</a> in many diverse areas, often in unpredictable ways. Al-Qaida developed over the 1990s, and had its main direct impact in the 2000s. It may yet have its greatest effect, however indirect, in the next decade, the 2010s.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://dronewarsuk.wordpress.com/" target="_blank">DroneWarsUK</a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415419383/" target="_blank"><span><span>Global Security and the War on Terror: Elite Power and the Illusion of Control</span></span></a></em> (Routledge, 2007)</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em> </p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content"><p>Paul Rogers is professor in the <a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/">department of peace studies</a> at Bradford University, northern England. He is <strong>openDemocracy's</strong> international-security editor, and has been writing a weekly column on global security since 28 September 2001; he also writes a monthly briefing for the <a href="http://oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a>. His books include <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007), and <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</em> </a>(Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010). He is on twitter at: <span class="screen-name screen-name-ProfPRogers pill">@ProfPRogers</span></p> <p><span class="screen-name screen-name-ProfPRogers pill">A lecture by Paul Rogers&nbsp;on <a href="http://sustainablesecurity.org/what-sustainable-security">sustainable security</a>, delivered to the Quaker yearly <a href="http://www.quaker.org.uk/ym-updates">meeting</a> on 3 August 2011, provides an overview of the analysis that&nbsp;underpins his openDemocracy column. It is available in two parts and can be accessed from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.networkforpeace.org.uk/resources/qpsw/paul-rogers-lecture-sustainable-security">here</a></span></p></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-new-blowback">Drone wars: the new blowback </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">Remote control, a new way of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-franchise-nigerian-case">Al-Qaida franchise: the Nigerian case </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-endgame-and-blowback">Syria, endgame and blowback</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-preparing-for-war">Mali, preparing for war </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-al-qaida-and-future">Syria, al-Qaida, and the future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-and-next-war">Mali, and the next war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-iraq-and-al-qaidas-opportunity">Syria, Iraq, and al-Qaida&#039;s opportunity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-panoptic-shiver">America: the panoptic shiver</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-mali-nigeria-wars-paralysis">Syria, Mali, Nigeria: war&#039;s paralysis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/suicide-bombs-without-suicides-why-drones-are-so-cool">Suicide-bombs without the suicides: why drones are so cool</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-global-shift-drone-wars-base-politics">America&#039;s global shift: drone wars, base politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-election-and-remote-control">America&#039;s election and remote control</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/road-to-endless-war">The road to endless war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-new-wars-and-militarised-diplomacy">America&#039;s new wars, and militarised diplomacy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-enduring-insurgency">Al-Qaida: an enduring insurgency</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-open-endgame">Al-Qaida: an open endgame</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conflict/alqaida_3036.jsp">Al-Qaida: a question of leadership</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/al-qaida-condition-and-prospect">Al-Qaida: condition and prospect</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conflict/article_1237.jsp">Al-Qaida: evolution, not comeback</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/article_141.jsp">Al-Qaida: the weapon of patience</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Mali </div> <div class="field-item even"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Yemen </div> <div class="field-item even"> Somalia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Pakistan </div> <div class="field-item even"> Afghanistan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Afghanistan Pakistan Somalia Yemen Nigeria Mali Conflict Democracy and government International politics Globalisation global security democracy & power Paul Rogers Security in Europe Security in Middle East and North Africa Security in North America Non-state violence Fri, 04 Jan 2013 06:30:22 +0000 Paul Rogers 70219 at https://www.opendemocracy.net