3 December 2013

Nigeria: Analysis - Has Nigeria's 'Major Offensive' Against Boko Haram Been a Failure?


A major Nigerian military offensive was supposed to wipe out Boko Haram. But the Islamist militant group has merely changed its tactics, and struck back in spectacular fashion this week with a huge attack on military targets in a key northern city. SIMON ALLISON wonders if there are better ways of dealing with the Boko Haram problem, or if the government should at least be doing something more.

When Nigeria first announced plans for a "major offensive" against Boko Haram earlier this year, it wasn't meant to take this long. Officials spoke in terms of weeks, a few months at most; and seemed confident that an overwhelming display of force would cow the Islamist militant group into submission.

"The progress is quite encouraging and we believe that if things go on like this, we should be singing hallelujah shortly," said Doyin Okupe, a presidential advisor, just a week after the operation was launched in May.

And progress has been punctuated by consistent reports of military victories. 50 Boko Haram members killed in an attack in September; 150 in a separate incident in the same month; 75 in a raid in October; 20 in an ambush in November; these are just...

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