The Christian Science Monitor quotes Africa Center Deputy Director Bronwyn Bruton on what the United States is doing to help the Nigerian government rescue more than 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the terrorist organization Boko Haram:
“If these girls are being carted around in convoys of vehicles and the [Nigerian] military is unable or unwilling to do anything about it, there are reasons for that,” says Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center in Washington. Noting the “information vacuum” Nigeria’s government is confronting in the area, she says, “it’s very unlikely that none of the local populations know where these girls are.” The reluctance to talk, she adds, “is an indication of the deep distrust the local population feels toward the national leadership.”
US involvement could help on several fronts, says the Atlantic Council’s Ms. Bruton. The US, which “clearly has its eyes on northern Nigeria and the activities of Boko Haram,” could provide useful intelligence, she says. In addition, neighboring countries worried about Nigerian military activity might be relieved by the US involvement.
“Clearly, neighboring countries would not be thrilled at the prospect of Nigerian soldiers storming across the border,” she says, “so one could imagine the US being very helpful with the neighbors.”
All that said, a US pledge to do “everything possible” is not likely to be the key to setting the girls free.
More than two years ago, Bruton notes, the US pledged to help Uganda and the Central African Republic end the scourge of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, which were terrorizing a remote corner of the CAR and Congo. President Obama sent in 100 special forces soldiers at the end of 2011 – and they are still there, helping local militaries hunt down the warlord wanted since 2007 by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
The southeastern corner of the CAR and northern Nigeria are similar areas in that they are remote and abut several countries where marauding armies can slip away and hide, Bruton says. But she also notes that in both cases horrifically violent groups have managed to retain a certain amount of local support that helps them evade capture.
In helping Nigeria try to recover the kidnapped girls, the US will want to avoid too close an association with the Nigerian military, she says. “You don’t want a US face on the Nigerian human rights situation,” Bruton says.