EU has to Prevent Cooperation between Boko Haram and IS
Boko Haram's pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State increases the possibility of international joint attacks that could destabilize North Africa and the Sahel. This could dramatically worsen the already overwhelming immigration crisis for the EU. In order to counter these threats, the EU must form a coalition and prepare to intervene in Libya. This will help provide much needed stability in the region. They must act quickly to avoid catastrophic consequences.
Boko Haram has changed its tactic into strategic withdrawals: the militants leave the Sambisa forest and move towards rural areas to attack villages. However, when they find themselves facing regular military forces they fall back and conduct suicide attacks in or nearby Maiduguri. This is possible due to the presence of secondary bases and strategic supply points in Cameroon (at the border with Nigeria), and also thanks to the help of "distracted and half-interested" armed forces.
The tactical change performed by the jihadist organization represents a real act of resilience that has induced the Nigerian military apparatus to divert its own resources to carry out counter-guerrilla operations. This has given Boko Haram the advantage - its militants have had time to reorganize and plan further operations.
This factual tactic can be inferred by the analysis of the attacks perpetrated on December 28 in Maiduguri and Madagali (at 150 southeast km from Maiduguri), on 13 and 26 January in Kolofata and Bodo and on January 30 in Dalori (at 5 km from Maiduguri). Along with the transformation of the organization as an ally of the Islamic State, such a strategy could conduct Boko Haram to carry out international operations, attacking and abducting Western citizens or targets related to them.
Furthermore Shekau's group would have the pragmatic opportunity to aggregate itself with ISIS in Northern Africa logistically supported by AQIM for its greater logistic connections in North Africa (particularly in Tunisia due to the presence of Ansar al-Sharia). This possibility of them joining link could between Boko Haram and ISIS could be Tunisia, where the government is facing "the great exodus" of foreign fighters. As a matter of fact this bond would worsen the immigration and security issues for the EU, augmenting racism and xenophobia all over the continent.
In order to counter these threats the EU should create a coalition acting first of all in Libya to secure this important country in North Africa. This would suppress the arms trafficking in the Sahel and the migration of Nigerian refugees to Europe.
- The coalition ought to be led by Italy for its economic interests in Libya, corroborated by bilateral treaties between the two countries. In addition, EU coalition should be comprised of a number of key actors.
- Great Britain and France should be expected to provide direct support. Their historical presence in North Africa and Sahel as well as their connections with Egypt, Mali and Algeria, will help facilitate the mission.
- Germany, as economic and political leader of the organization at the moment, should also assist such an intervention.
- Spain and Greece could collaborate for their geographical closeness to North Africa and for being directly affected by its relentless migration.
- Finally, the United States, should support these efforts. Not because Nigeria could generate direct consequences for them, but as a matter of contiguity with its anti-ISIS war in North Africa.
The coalition has to be "discussed" in the European Council and propelled through agreements between the governments of the above-mentioned countries and the Libyan one, due to the lack of a centralized military army in the EU..
Furthermore, the EU coalition should push for a peace-enforcement mandate of the United Nations to create a system of defense in Nigeria, working for the entire area of the Chad lake basin. Only such a coalition can foil the possible deadly alliance between ISIS and Boko Haram in Tunisia and, simultaneously, prevented departures of Tunisian foreign fighters.
If a quick counter-measure isn't taken, Boko Haram could return to besiege Nigeria as vassal of the Islamic State, and leads to a destabilizing chain reaction that would provoke catastrophic consequences for the Region and for Europe..
Massimo Pascarella holds a degree in International Relations from the Second State University of Naples, in Italy. He works for the Bolivian national newspaper "El Deber" as Middle East analyst and he collaborates with various Italian geopolitical Think Tanks.
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