tv Inside Story Al Jazeera May 8, 2014 11:30am-12:01pm EDT
your stocks. thank you for watching aljazeera america. i'm del walters. "inside story" is next. for news updates through the day . head to al jazeera dot com. where the news never stops. >> nigeria is africa's most populous country, a major oil exporter and struggling to cope with lethal religious-based violence, boko haram, kid snapped girls, and a divided nigeria. that's "inside story." >> hello, i'm ray suarez. maybe you've heard about nigeria in the news in the past few days. the kidnapping of school girls is making headlines worldwide.
it's less likely you've heard much about the country's troubles in recent years. nigeria is struggling with islamist insurgency and rising violence between muslims and christians. like a lot of places nigeria's borders weren't drawn by nationality or history. it was drawn by britain after repeated wars in west african kingdoms. london cobbled together two vast territories that never woul woud have sought nationhood on their own. during the 1950's and 60's, britain left behind a nigeria. over the decades the huge population would head to the polls only to see elections
overturned by military coups. word came from an attack that left hundreds dead and a smoking ruin. boko haram rising violence and promises of american help on this "inside story" 37 only now are the troubles there getting the attention of the wider world. on tuesday americans turned ought across the country in support of nigerians. even the president spoke about it. >> we've already sent in a team to nigeria. they've accepted our help, accommodation of military, law enforcement, and other agencies. this may be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization
that has perpetrated such a horrendous crime. >> that crime happened here three weeks ago as a ruler nigerian high school bustling with students, everyone preparing for final examines, armed militia raided in the middle of the night. more than 300 girls were kidnapped. driven into dense forests, never to be heard from again. >> we thought they were soldiers, and my friends and i jumped from the vehicle and ran back home because we realized they didn't look innocent to us. >> reporter: today 276 of those girls are still missing. two dozen escaped. two died from snakebite. 20 are ill. and reports say 11 more girls have been kidnapped from a neighboring village. >> the islamist extremist group boko haram is taking credit for the ambush. it's militants swearing to sell the girls on the market.
>> i'm the one who captured your girls. i'll sell them in the market. there is a market selling people. god has commanded me to sell. >> reporter: boko haram's number in english means western education is forbidden . they've been threatening to overthrow the government for years and replace it with an islamist state. in may , near the group's main hide out in the forest, since then attacks have escalated and the government said that the insurgency had a killed more than 300 people this year alone. they feel ill equipped to combat the organization bringing
foolings that the government cannot deal with the situation. semi year januar nigerian president said that it's government is doing what it to bring the girls home. it is one of the biggest oil producers, even though the country is rich in natural resources corruption has prevented that money from trickling down to the general population, africa's largest, which remain s mired in poverty. ranging nigeria 144th out of 177 countries on its corruption index with iran just ahead and ukraine just behind. >> as the shocking abduction of hundreds of school girls is followed up by a lethal attack on a village we'll take a look
at nigeria's trouble this hour. joining us for that conversation, deputy director of the atlantic council africa center, from new york, author of "the tenth parallel." her newest book" i am the bigger of the world" is a collection of poems by afghan women. and from boston we're joined by nigerian legal analyst and conflict resolution expert. what is boko haram and how long has it been active. >> boko haram has formed in 1972. the north is very poor, and a group of muslim youth banded together to create jobs to help
certain government officials' goals so they received money. they played vigilanty roles, which is very common. but in 2009, this group had worked hand in glove with local authorities for a while had an argument with authorities that had been building for a long time. and the leader was arrested. while he was in police custody he was executed illegally. the perpetrators, the police perpetrators of that murder posted the video online. that had two effects. one, it outraged a lot of people in the north, especially the followers of boko haram. and two, it put the radicals second in command in charge of the group and they came back in campaign against the authorities. that gave birth to the boko hara today.
>> if you trace the rise of boko haram does it come out of a similar time and similar seed bed as al-shabaab. >> absolutely there are common elements. each of those groups came out of a very specific local context. what unifies them in their fight against the west, for instance, especially with boko haram they hearken back to a time a hundred years ago when muslim leaders led a fight against colonial powers, and boko haram has very much claimed that we're going to free our muslim brothers from the corrupt nigeria. they pull this islam is a freeing element for us against
the corruption of the west. >> you hear boko haram referred to as anti-christian, anti-secular, but hasn't given them more social space to islam in the north allowing the introduction of sharia law as a governing legal structure in many of the northern states? hasn't some of this fight already been fought and won by muslim activists? >> well, that is a very good question, and i think one thing that we need to understand is that boko haram cannot be in isolation of the social economic and political context of nigeria. the northeast is one of the most impoverished areas in nigeria despite all the news we hear about the economy in nigeria. high unemployment, high i will
lit illiteracy and many living in difficult conditions. boko haram took advantage of that, and the way the nigerian security forces mismanaged the 2009 conflict. they went underground and they became more violent and oppressive. what we're seeing now is actually , boko haram claims to be muslims. they are not. they're showing the activities of boko hara are all islamic, one thing that i want to put on the table is that the goal of
the boko haram is not clear. that's why the government is not able to adapt a way to resolve the dispute. they're determined to weaken the government, to cause confusion and ultimately to take over the government. i believe that despite the fact that there are social spaces for people to express themselves religiously, the ideologies and the message that boko haram is preaching has no place in my year gentleman. my yea nigeriaen muslims and christians are peace-loving people. and i think to an extent, they have been successful because of how government has been mismanaged. still, there are a lot of economic, social and political grievances, especially in the northeast, and that's what boko haram has capitalized on. >> fair comment it would be a
mistake to see this strictly as a christian-muslim conflict, one spurred on by religion, but it's actually spurred on by a lot of things. >> i would not call it a muslim-christian conflict in any way. there is a religious di dimensi, of course, but as your guests have pointed out it's clearly a social-political conflict. boko haram is a terrorist group. the leader has pre-tensions to ideology but i think it's a generous description. 99% of the muslims would be horrified to b to hear that he's called a muslim. >> we'll take a break and then hear about the sweep of whey has
>> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. the world's attention is focused on nigeria after the kidnapping of hundreds of school girls by the boko haram. the united states has sent help. if we're not going to talk about this as a christian-muslim conflict, what about the dimensions of a wet-dry conflict, a rich-poor conflict. if this was a prosperous part of nigeria would you be able to convince young men to take up heavy arms and kill strangers and torch villages and that kind of thing? >> well, if we put a larger
context on this, and as your guests are talking about it, it's integral to understand that it is not a christian-muslim conflict. one of the roots from this religious grievance that we hear particularly in the north we have long-standing divisions between north and south nigeria as we heard from the beginning of the show, but in a country that never made sense as a country. the arbitrary colonial borders drawn around a very diverse geographic space. the north of nigeria is extremely dry. it is linked to the sahara desert, and it is growing drier because of the climb shocks. one of the causes of this violence that we're see something that the kind of traditional islamic schooling in the north that millions, tens of millions of young nigerian boys have attended, it's a particular kind of education in west
africa. it used to be that for centuries boys would travel to farms where teachers taught them for free, and in exchange for receiving that education the boys worked on the teacherrer's farm. well, one of the dynamics to this those farms in northern nigeria are no longer viable as a result of climate shocks, desertification has driven many of the people who used to farm in northern nigeria south. these teachers in particular have moved to the edges of slums primarily. they've moved to cities, in particular one of the cities of boko haram. the boys who used to work on farms, they work in another way now, they beg. i've interviewed many of these young begging boys who are hired out by their teachers as ready fodder for political violence, as thugs when an election comes around.
as many nigerians will tell you the reality is that young democracy like religion is a numbers game. the more you have adherence you have to one side, the more likely you are to win an election. that speaks to role the climate and the role of weak democracy, it would certainly be possible, you look at the oil-rich south where traditionally there have been gangs, young boys who again are coming out of a tradition where there is no legitimate civil society that is addressing their most basic needs. although, we know that nigeria is one of the world's largest oil producers, more than half of its population lives on less than $2 a day with month rights to most basic education. there is no free school in nigeria, no right to electrici electricity. often not a road to travel on--
>> let me jump in and turn at that point. you heard eliza talking about the weakness of institutions. there are other countries facing climate change. there are other countries facing this. if you look back at the civil war and the cycles of coups and elections this has been a long-standing problem, haven't hasn't it? >> it has, indeed. as pointed out by your guest, one of the key changes that we are having in the north despite the fact that nigeria's economy has been growing very fast, the division between the north and the south has never been this bigger in terms of economy. agreed you have people in all
parts of nigeria, but the situation in the north is more critical. but at the same time you cannot understand this boko haram violence and conflicts in nigeria without looking at the political dynamics in nigeria. the fact that in 1999 there was a power arrangement between the north and the south. the president that was elected in 1999 who served for eight years and then he died in office. his vice president took over. many northerners felt that was unfair because there was this unwritten arrangement that the power would be shifted from the north and the south. that is also part of the picture, and politicians are using reaso
religion to organize support. many unemployed youth are led against them and the country. that's what we have seen today. >> the president of the united states deplores the kidnapping, but then offers american resources to help th solve the crisis. is that something heard the same way across nigeria. >> i'm not sure that it's heard the same way by many in the united states. ther in the northern of nigeria, the nigerian army is accused of killing thousands of people. thousands of people. that makes it almost impossible to find a group of soldiers that the american army can engage
with without breaking the law. so if you'll notice the press releases, the teams of negotiators, hostage negotiators negotiators, detectives who are being sent to nigeria are being sent to the capitol city 500 miles away from boko haram's heart land. i'm concerned about what they're going to be able to get done from there. if their expectations are being raised by the deployment of u.s. forces they're likely to be disappointed, a lot of americans are as well. >> we'll take another short break. when we come back we'll talk more about the future of this giant country now home to the largest economy in africa. ploitd
it has managed to remain in the barracks and stopped that cycle of coups . how come this well-equipped big army has not been able to suppress boko haram. we have to understand that th is very complex. no matter how efficient an army is, it is very difficult to learn and i think the nigerian army is learning the hard way. we have received reports from some of the people serving in the army that the welfare and equipment that they're working with is actually not enough for them to confront the boko haram militant who is are heavily armed, and also highly motivated because they say they are members and use huge amounts of money. the area affected by this boko
haram violence is located in an area that that is shared by three countries . when the government started talking with the neighboring countries, of course, at the same time they have to balance between fighting insurgents and respect with human rights. that has been a very tough job by them. the report by amnesty international this year alone over 1,500 people killed by military theterrorists and the military. i any they need to be training them how to work with intelligence and how to work with the community. currently there is a lot of suspicion towards the military. >> you heard what he said about boko haram coming in and out of the country easily by the neighbors. does this
has the potential to bring problems to chad, to niger and cameroon, countries that had not had. >> that is absolutely the concern. one of the challenges is that we're seeing members of boko haram already coming across the border. now one of the things, yes, boko haram has been listed by the united states as an international terrorist organization. we have not seen them take action across the borders yet. they use those neighbors more as safe haven. we hear about the girls being taken across the borders. we already are hearing of boko haram having su substantive ties with
al-qaeda. that is the frightening that we see as well as scare-mongering, which we do not want to do, but we do see potential outside of its borders. >> we've been talking about the shortcomings of nigeria's response, but isn't the country much better placed than it's been in the past with some institutional left, regularly operating institutions to respond to some of this? >> yes, it's in a better place than it has been in the past, but everything is relative. i think we have to bear in mind that the resources available up in the north are much more limited than the resources available in the south. and when you're talking about the nigerian army coming into a situation like this, a lot of them are from other parts of the country. they rotate in , and they don't have a local background. they don't know the territory. they don't know the people.
one of the most effective things that the nigerian an army has done is to form an alliance with the local vigilanty groups, the joint task force, essentially a civilian group of young men who have made the fight against al-shabaab--sorry, against boko haram their own cause. and they have picked up sticks, machetes. they've gone out in the forest and driven boko haram out every chance they've got. and i would point out that they're doing that with sticks, not with tanks. >> uniting with vigilanties sound terrible, the way you put it sounds like a positive development. thank you all for being with us on this program. it brings us to the end of inside story. thanks for being with us. in washington, i'm ray suarez.