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Sunday, 3 November 2013

US Restates Commitment to Wipe Out Boko Haram

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Barrck Obama

By Nduka Nwosu  in Washington DC    
The United States of America, Thursday re-stated its commitment to join the Federal Government and counter terrorism experts in wiping out Boko Haram and its war of extermination against defenceless civilians in the northern part of the country.
According to the statement, in spite of the increased spate of activities of Boko Haram and similar terrorist groups in the sub-region, which made many wonder if U.S. diplomacy in West Africa had failed, the US was resolute in its commitment to fight terrorism to a stand-still.
The statement was made during the eighth annual Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSTP), chaired by Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs.
Thomas-Greenfield expressed dismay at the incessant killing of civilians in the northern region of Nigeria by Boko Haram, while in Libya, Tunisia and Mali, Algeria and Niger Republic, terrorists continue to capitalise on the relative political instability in those countries, “but the stakes for TSCTP have never been higher than they are today,” Thomas-Greenfield asserted.
According to the US Bureau of African Affairs, sponsors of the conference, in the past 18 months, there had been rising political instability in Libya, Tunisia, and Mali as terrorists capitalise on this to carry out attacks against civilians.
Said the Under-Secretary of State: “Indeed, events in Mali raised hard questions. We should continue to seek broad understanding of the lessons learned from Mali. However, it is important to note that despite this setback we experienced, the region as a whole responded rapidly to events in Mali, which was possible in part due to international support, including TSCTP’s enduring engagement and capacity-building efforts.”
Addressing the conference, Thomas-Greenfield noted that  last year underscored the real threat posed by al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, or "AQIM," and associated violent extremist groups throughout this vulnerable region. “But at the same time,” Thomas-Greenfield noted, 2012 underscored the resolve of governments and civil society groups to counter that threat. African forces – many of them U.S.-trained – responded to the situation in Mali and worked alongside the French military to push back AQIM from safe havens in northern Mali,” where Nigeria along with UN troops fought to repel the activities of these terrorists while helping to re-direct the country along an elected democratic government, which has largely weakened the base of the terrorists and rebel allies.
Said Thomas-Greenfield:”The intervention left AQIM scattered, fractured, and demoralised. And then, Malians took to the polls in a historic democratic election – an election that was a powerful rebuke to the restrictive rule and violent extremist ideology that AQIM imposed.
Meanwhile, the governments of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger have recommitted to counter terrorism and to enhance security along their shared borders.”
Thomas-Greenfield painstakingly gave statistics which showed that In 2005, the architects of TSCTP rightly understood that the majority of communities across North and West Africa rejected violent extremist ideology, and that the governments were largely committed to countering AQIM and other violent extremist groups. What is needed, she said, is not imposing US solutions, but rather, building resilience, building capacity, and building partnerships. “Almost a decade later.”

she argued, “that approach remains sound and should continue to be at the heart of our strategy.
“The region faces significant terrorist threats, which continue to morph, exploiting local grievances and divisions between various ethnic groups, porous borders, and weak institutions. While violent extremism manifests differently across the vast region comprising the Sahel and Maghreb, we see linkages between violent extremist groups across borders. In response, our strategy must be increasingly regional and comprehensive.”
According to Thomas-Greenfield, earlier this year, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman convened a working group of relevant Department of State and USAID offices to review the strategy toward the Sahel-Maghreb region. The working group identified five core recommendations – all of which should guide the collective efforts on moving forward.
The first of these recommendations is a focus on stabilizing the Libya-Niger-Mali corridor, which has become a main area of operations and transit for AQIM and its associated groups. Second, s a suggestion on looking for ways to push good governance, the rule of law, human rights, and inclusive economic growth across the region while thinking about how it can support peaceful, successful elections across the region, particularly in Burkina Faso, Niger, Libya, and Nigeria.
Third is an aim at strengthening regional cooperation and  synchronisation efforts with key international partners. Fourth, it recommends for ways of helping governments and communities manage their borders as a focus for US security and development assistance. Fifth and finally, in conjunction with the first four recommendations, the working group agreed to strengthen TSCTP. “We have since conducted an interagency review. The review concluded “that while TSCTP is not the vehicle to advance all of our priorities in the region, it remains an essential program to build state and civil society capacity and cooperation to counter terrorism.”

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