EDITORIAL: Response to terrorism not consistent
As the many hotspots around the world are examined, it is not difficult to reach the conclusion that governing is becoming increasingly challenging for many governments facing the spectre of terrorism.
Nigeria, for example, is in a state of war with its local militants Boko Haram, who are wreaking havoc in the north-eastern region.
Nigeria launched a massive offensive against Boko Haram last week, deploying several thousand troops across three states where President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency after the Islamists seized territory and chased out government officials.
Boko Haram’s traditional base of Borno is expected to see the most intense fighting, and it is reported that some residents have fled east towards the Cameroon border.
Many have warned that there is a risk of high civilian deaths, and Nigeria’s military has been accused of massive human rights violations in the past, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Global condemnation is muted, in part because Nigeria has oil reserves.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry said last Friday that he was “deeply concerned about the fighting in north-eastern Nigeria” and urged the security forces to “apply disciplined use of force in all operations”.
Boko Haram has said it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, but the group’s demands have repeatedly shifted. The conflict is estimated to have cost 3 600 lives since 2009, including killings by the security forces.
The United States seems to support the military response by the Nigerian government in quelling the militants, who are considered terrorists. In contrast, the American position is to arm the rebels who are fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad government in Syria.
The difference is that Boko Haram in Nigeria has links with al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan.
The situation in Syria appears to be going from bad to worse. First, there were reports of the Syrian regime using short-range missiles against the population, actions that were widely condemned by the international community.
Russia has literally jumped the gun in Syria. Its hasty decision to send in anti-ship missiles that could be used to counter any future military intervention has torpedoed the entire security equation in the region.
This will inevitably prompt the United States to come up with a counter-strategy of its own and intensify its efforts to arm the Syrian rebels, who for long had been insisting on getting heavy weapons.
In this scenario, there is little to expect from peace conferences on Syria between United States and Russia and the forthcoming summit meetings in London and Geneva as the equation is now mired in mistrust and is about nothing but power politics.