Boko Haram and the Future of Nigeria

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah - Three hundred mostly Christian girls from a high school in northeastern Nigeria were kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group, whose chief, Abubakar Shekau, announced that the girls had been converted to Islam. For the first time since the government decided to fight Boko Haram in July 2009, President Jonathan Goodluck has openly accepted Western and Israeli assistance in the war. The events in Nigeria have highlighted the issue of political Islam in Africa's most populous country, with its 177 million citizens divided roughly equally between Christians predominating in the south and Muslims in the north. Sheikh Ibrahim Alzakzaky, the undisputed leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, is a Nigerian Shiite. A protege of Iran, he works to disseminate Shiite theology and create a radical socioeconomic and military order resembling that of Hizbullah in Lebanon. He is believed to have over a million supporters. Many armed Islamist groups are now fighting the Nigerian government, seeking to force it to adopt an Islamist regime. Northern Muslim states have become a battleground, with Boko Haram combatants being trained in terrorist camps in Mali. The Nigerian government's inability to cope with the Boko Haram threat has led some Christian intellectuals and politicians to note that the developed parts of Nigeria are mostly in Christian areas, and call for a partition of the country if necessary. Subduing Boko Haram is in the West's interest.

2014-05-16 00:00:00

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