Boko Haram, Negotiations, and the Nigerian Federal Government
by John Campbell
Jacob Zenn, of the Jamestown Foundation, had a response to my November 2nd post Boko Haram Offers Cease Fire Opportunity? He writes:
“The “Abu Muhammed Ibn Abdulaziz” who spoke with the media seems to have the same name as an ‘Abu Muhammad’ who reportedly spoke of negotiations with the government in Saudi Arabia several months ago. At that time Boko Haram leader Abu Shekau and Shekau’s spokesperson vehemently denied such negotiations, claiming Abu Muhammed was a “fake”.”
This observation adds weight to my sense that these negotiations will go nowhere.
Jacob Zenn also kindly brought to my attention an article he wrote for the CTC Sentinel, “Boko Haram’s Dangerous Expansion into Northwest Nigeria,” published last month. The article contains a detailed analysis of Boko Haram. I found especially useful its discussion of how Boko Haram seems to be splintering. New to me was his conclusion that Boko Haram’s goals include the transfer of spiritual authority away from the sultan of Sokoto to itself. He also undertakes a nuanced discussion of the relationship between Boko Haram and AQIM.
I highly recommend the article, not least because, among many other things, Boko Haram appears to be a civil war among Muslims. Yet the movement’s religious dimension is often overlooked. It is also quickly forgotten that the Sultan of Sokoto supported the southern Christian Goodluck Jonathan’s candidacy for the presidency against the northern Muslim Muhammadu Buhari in the 2011 elections.