An official at the U.S. defence says the United States supports the creation of a West African force of up to 10,000 troops to fight Nigerian Islamist group, the Boko Haram.
The 54-nation African Union has approved the force and has asked the United Nations (UN) to endorse it urgently, subsequent to attacks by the islamist group in north-east Nigeria and neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon, seeking to carve out an Islamic state.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for African Affairs, Amanda J. Dory, said on Wednesday, during a visit to Cameroon that Washington, one of five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council, would back a U.N. resolution.
“The U.S. is providing diplomatic support in terms of engagement in the U.N. Security Council for the awaited resolution authorizing the deployment of a Multinational Joint Task Force by the African Union against Boko Haram,” she said.
If approved, the new force would receive U.N. funding and would likely turn out to be a bigger and better resourced operation than the present offensive being mounted against the militants by Nigeria and its neighbours.
However, a perception that Nigeria was failing to deal with the militants alone, and a growing number of cross-border attacks, prompted Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon to launch their existing operation to try to hold the militants.
Meanwhile, Nigerian Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mr Mike Omeri, told reporters earlier on Wednesday, that the attempt by the Boko Haram insurgents to seek assistance from ISIS, was a confirmation of the kind of pressure the group was receiving from multi-national forces.
Mr Omeri appealed for support from Nigerians in the fight against the Boko Haram, noting that so far, 36 towns had been reclaimed from the insurgents.
Diplomats said the African Union Peace and Security Council was due to discuss on Thursday, the text of a possible resolution that could then be circulated to the 15 U.N. Security Council members.
However, Diplomats said France, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council, had been seeking to rally support for the resolution in time for a vote by early April.
The United States had already helped Cameroon’s army security equipment to fight Boko Haram and France on the other hand, is increasing its own West African counter-insurgency force to support regional troops fighting Boko Haram.