U.S. Supports U.N. Resolution On Boko Haram Regional Force

Boko haram counter-terrorism forcesAn 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.

Jonathan warns of military intervention in Mali if talks with rebels fail

President Goodluck Jonathan has warned that military intervention in northern Mali will be inevitable if talks with Islamist group controlling the region, fails.

President Jonathan made this known during his visit to Senegal. He however stated that a West African force would only be deployed, with the approval of the United Nations.

ECOWAS would send a force to the area if a peace deal is not reached with the Islamist fighters, stated the president, adding that “diplomacy and negotiation is first.”

“ECOWAS will definitely intervene militarily, but … first and foremost we are negotiating,” he said after talks with Senegalese President Mr Macky Sall.

“We must stabilise the government … I believe through negotiation we will be able to resolve the crisis, we don’t necessarily need military intervention … but if that fails we will have no option.”

“Military intervention is extreme and when negotiations fail, at that time you can talk about military intervention” he said.

Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Djibrille Bas held talks with the militants last month as part of bloc’s diplomatic effort to end the conflict.

ECOWAS, as also asked the UN Security Council to endorse its plan to send 3,000 troops to Mali.

However, it refused, saying it needed more clarity on the West African body’s military objectives and how it intended to achieve them.

Islamist groups and Tuareg rebels took control of large swathes of northern Mali after President Amadou Toumani Toure was overthrown in a coup in March.

But the rebel alliance has since ruptured, with Islamist fighters chasing Tuareg rebels out of several northern towns and imposing Sharia law.

The Islamists have destroyed ancient shrines in the historical city of Timbuktu, claiming they violated Sharia law and promoted idolatry among Muslims.

The UN warned that the destruction of the shrines could amount to war crimes and the International Criminal Court has launched a preliminary inquiry into alleged atrocities.

The Islamists have also stoned to death an unwed couple and amputated the hand of an alleged thief.

Alleged atrocities committed in the rebel-held north are being investigated by international prosecutors.

A new unity government was formed in Mali’s capital, Bamako, at the weekend, promising to spearhead initiatives to end the instability in the north.

Mali has so far rejected a full-scale foreign intervention but said its army, once re-equipped, would need the support of two or three battalions.