Jonathan: “Why Can’t Our Friends America Come To Nigeria To Fight Boko Haram?”
On Friday in Abuja, President Goodluck Jonathan granted his first 2015 interview to western media, speaking to the Wall Street Journal. He talked about his chances at the postponed election and dealing with Boko Haram.
Since early 2014, Nigeria has been asking the US to assist in fighting Boko Haram by sending combat soldiers and military advisers to Nigeria, Jonathan said in the interview. He cited intelligence reports as proving that the Islamist militants have ties to and are sponsored by Islamic State, the jihadist group with its leadership based in Iraq and Syria.
“Are they not fighting ISIS? Why can’t they come to Nigeria?” Jonathan queried. “Look, they are our friends. If Nigeria has a problem, then I expect the US to come and assist us.”
The WSJ journalist then quotes a senior official at the US State Department as saying they had not received any requests for troops from Jonathan’s government. The Pentagon official said there were no plans to unilaterally send US troops to Nigeria. There are, however, plans for the US to participate in a multinational task force with African nations to assist Nigeria.
“The US maintains a drone base in Chad, from which it conducts surveillance flights to monitor Boko Haram. It has provided training and some equipment to the Nigerian military, including $80 million of such support last year alone. Some US legislators have said they want Special Forces troops shipped to Nigeria to help combat Boko Haram.
“But various issues have prevented closer cooperation,” the WSJ notes. “Training exercises with the army have been canceled over equipment disputes. Allegations that Nigeria’s military is guilty of grave human-rights abuses in battling Boko Haram—charges that Mr. Jonathan asserts are overblown—cloud the relationship. Many US officials doubt that Islamic State would be able to forge a working partnership with a distant insurgency like Boko Haram, although the two groups voice mutual admiration.”
Speaking about current hardships he faces in office and the election struggle, Jonathan was optimistic and philosophic:“It’s only the dead person that does not face problems.”
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