26 August 2018   Leave a comment

The Council of Foreign Relations has published an analysis of the current role of Boko Haram in Nigeria.  The group is an extremist Islamist group (Boko Haram roughly translates as “western education is a sin”located primarily in northeastern Nigeria.  At one point it controlled a large tract of territory and claimed allegiance to the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq.  Recently, however, it has resorted to hit and run attacks as the Nigerian military has tried to get control of the region.  According to the Council:

“The United Nations’ refugee agency estimates the conflict has displaced 2.4 million people and put more than seven million at risk of starvation. It has also led to the degradation of infrastructure, including the closing or destruction of more than half of the region’s schools, and the near-complete breakdown of an already weak public health system.”

The group seems be riven by ideological fissures and the pressure from the Nigerian central government: its current strategy of disrupting life in Nigeria reflects that weakness but is nonetheless destructive.

Boko Haram–Related Deaths Map

 

The RAND Corporation has released an essay on the likelihood of an Israeli-Iranian conflict which suggests that the chances for an open conflict are increasing.  The US and Israel are clearly concerned about Iranian influence over the Syrian government, and the Israelis have made overtures to the Russians, who also support the Syrian government, to work out a deal for limiting Iranian influence.  The authors do not think that such overtures will be successful;

“While Russia may be interested in limiting the Iranian presence over the longer term, it has little interest in pressing for Iranian force withdrawals since both Moscow and Damascus are dependent on Iranian-backed militias to secure and hold territory. As such, neither the Syrian regime nor Russia are likely to acquiesce to U.S. and Israeli demands for the expulsion of Iranian-linked militias. Therefore, viewing any Russian proposition indicating it will secure the removal of Iranian and LH (Lebanese Hezbollah) forces in Syria as genuine would be imprudent.”

The objective of the Trump Administration is to limit significantly the US presence in Syria.  Such a move would undoubtedly embolden the Iranians and it is probable that Israel would oppose a US withdrawal.  But President Trump has clearly signaled his preference for a US withdrawal. 

Posted August 26, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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