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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Why John Kerry Came Rushing to Nigeria

It appears American intelligence believes President Buhari will soon descend heavily on Niger Delta militants who are bombing oil pipelines and strangulating Nigeria economically. Giving the poor reputation of the Nigerian armed forces when fighting militants and terrorists, it appears the US is worried about the collateral damage such heavy handedness will engender. That appears to be the most plausible reason why the US Secretary of State John Kerry has to come rushing to Nigeria to caution President Buhari.

All other talks appear to be mere diplomatic niceties designed to divert attention from the real reasons for the visit. That seems to be why on Tuesday this week, Mr. Kerry openly congratulated Nigeria on its recent military successes against Boko Haram. He warned the country will face a blowback if it "cracks down" on the Islamists with excessive force. He did not fail to also praise Nigeria for reclaiming swathes of territory from Boko Haram and releasing thousands of hostages over the past year.

It can be recalled that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Nigerian troops of excessive use of force and extra-judicial killings of suspected Boko Haram insurgents, hundreds of Shiite Muslims and pro-Biafra protesters. Even though the Nigerian Military has since denied the charges, it now appears the US believes some of the allegations. On Tuesday, Mr. Kerry in well crafted diplomatic niceties, cautioned the Nigerian authorities against a heavy-handed military response to insurgency and emphasized respect for human rights.

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