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November 27, 2016 at 5:16 pm

The Economist Quotes Kendhammer on U.S. Policy Split on Boko Haram

Dr. Brandon Kendhammer

Dr. Brandon Kendhammer

Dr. Brandon Kendhammer, Associate Professor of Political Sciences and Director of International Development Studies Program at Ohio University, was quoted in The Economist in an article headlined “The eyes in Africa’s skies: Taking on West Africa’s terrorists.”

The capital of Niger is not known as a hotspot for planespotters. But passengers waiting to take off at Niamey’s airport are sometimes in for a treat: the sight of an American Predator drone elegantly gliding down ahead of them on its only runway. If they take off and look out of the window, they will see a generously sized base with new-looking hangars and several American transport aircraft.

It is not the only sign of America’s presence in Niamey. The embassy is unusually large; the city’s best restaurants buzz with American accents. And now, at Agadez, an ancient desert city in the north of the country, that is a transit point on the route to Europe, mixed in with the smugglers and migrants are contractors from Europe and South Africa, quietly building another base for drones. Niger, a desperately poor country on the edge of the Sahara—in the semi-arid region known as the Sahel—with a population of some 20m, has become a key location for America’s expanding security presence in West Africa. It is a sign of growing worries about jihadism in the region and of America’s stepped-up efforts to contain it. But the local effects of importing Western might are not always benign….

The focus on Niger makes sense. The country is at the centre of several conflicts….

The worry is that these conflicts will link together, or already have. “There is a big split in American policy on understanding it as a globally connected jihadi group or not,” says Brandon Kendhammer, of Ohio University. In the Pentagon it is generally thought that it is, he says; but officials in the State Department often think the opposite. While a part of Boko Haram has claimed allegiance to Islamic State, the evidence of practical links to the jihadists’ operations in Libya is thin: a few Nigerian fighters (not necessarily from Boko Haram) have turned up in Libya, but that is about it.

Read more in The Economist.

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