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Country Report Niger
The Economist Intelligence Unit, May 2013, Pages: 24
A new Nigerian military offensive against Islamist militants has commenced, with reports that civilians are fleeing into Niger and Cameroon.
Following the state of emergency declared in three north-eastern Nigerian states in mid‑May, the military has launched a renewed onslaught against Islamist militants. There are reports of Nigerian civilians fleeing the region, with many crossing into Cameroon and Niger despite efforts to close the borders. It seems likely that some militants will use this as an opportunity to avoid the military offensive, in effect exporting the problem regionally. Both Cameroon and Niger already suffer from Islamist militancy and this is likely to increase as a result of the action in Nigeria.
The crackdown came as the Nigerian government in effect lost control of some parts of north-eastern Nigeria to local militants, the largest group of which is Boko Haram. The insurgency put pressure on the president, Goodluck Jonathan, to find a solution to a low‑level conflict that has persisted for around four years and cost thousands of lives. He appears to be trying a twin-pronged approach; a military offensive while at the same time developing an amnesty scheme for militants prepared to lay down their weapons. This is unlikely to work. Although the military has claimed early success against the militants during the current crackdown, in the past local populations have paid a heavy price for military action with ill‑disciplined and under-equipped forces paying little consideration to collateral damage. Heavy-handedness by the security forces tends to alienate local populations, increase resentment with the government and in some cases promote support for the insurgents. Meanwhile, an amnesty deal is fraught with logistical difficulties and would be unlikely to persuade the religious zealot elements of the militants to abandon their cause.
Country Report Niger
Military crackdown on Islamists has regional implications
Impact on the forecast