The United States should develop a new approach to counter the Boko Haram militant group in Nigeria, in part because Nigerian leaders continue to use heavy-handed tactics that have alienated their citizens and yielded few results, according to a new report prepared for the U.S. military.
The report, “Rethinking the U.S. Approach to Boko Haram,” was released by CNA Corp., a Washington-area think tank, on Tuesday. It was requested by U.S. Naval Forces Africa as it developed a supporting plan to U.S. Africa Command’s regional vision for the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa, CNA officials said.
Boko Haram, designated a terrorist organization by Washington in 2013, received international attention last year after it kidnapped at least 200 girls from a school in Nigeria. The Islamist group is believed to have killed about 10,000 people in 2014 and on Saturday swore allegiance to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, although the strength of any ties between the two groups has been questioned by some U.S. intelligence officials.
The United States has cultivated a relationship with Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 180 million people, because it considers it strategically important and worthy of investment, CNA analysts said. But the bloodshed in the northeastern part of the country is partly the result of failures by the Nigerian military and other government forces, they added.