Small Wars Journal

Nigeria's Troubling Counterinsurgency Strategy Against Boko Haram

Nigeria's Troubling Counterinsurgency Strategy Against Boko Haram by Vanda Felbab-Brown - Foreign Affairs

The kidnapping of 110 schoolgirls from Dapchi last month is the latest event to cast doubt on the Nigerian government’s claims that Boko Haram has been technically defeated. Unfortunately, the attack should have come as no surprise. Since 2015, the jihadist group has lost significant territorial control and no longer holds major cities. But as I saw during my fieldwork in Nigeria in January, the jihadist threat is far from gone, and counterinsurgency policies continue to be troubled and troubling.

Since 2009, Boko Haram has waged a brutal insurgency in northeastern Nigeria and neighboring countries. Both its violent jihad and the Nigerian government’s and militias’ counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, the prolonged detention and disappearance of tens of thousands more, and the displacement of over two million. There has also been massive economic devastation in an already exceedingly poor and underdeveloped region. Even in comparison with other Islamist jihadist groups, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan or al Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haram stands out in its predatory behavior and failure to deliver the most rudimentary public services to the communities it controls…

Read on.