By Matthew Blood

Nigeria's Critical Juncture: Boko Haram, Buhari, and the Future of the Fourth Republic

Matthew Blood warns that the violence that has plagued Northern Nigeria is unlikely to end any time soon. Despite recent defeats at the hands of Nigerian and international armed forces, thousands of Boko Haram members, including most of the insurgency's leadership, have melted back into their ethnic homelands.

The recent success of the Nigerian government and the international coalition in the fight against Boko Haram is a welcome development for a country whose citizens have watched helplessly as Islamist militants have killed tens of thousands of civilians and displaced millions more since 2009.[1] With the recapture of Gwoza in northeastern Borno state, Boko Haram has now been driven out of most of the territory it once controlled.[2] After more than a half decade of an official response characterized by alternating bouts of indifference, incompetence, and indiscriminate reprisals, the Nigerian government has managed to do in six weeks what it had seemingly been unable or unwilling to do in six years.

The speed with which the Nigerian military and allied forces were able to retake territory the size of Belgium held for months and even years by Boko Haram is less surprising than might appear at first glance. Much of the early fighting in the campaign relied on hundreds of South African and ex-Soviet bloc mercenaries using helicopter gunships and armored vehicles in nighttime attacks on Boko Haram encampments. Nigerian security forces would then claim responsibility for the victories, occupying the already-cleared areas only after most of the fighting was over.[3] At the same time, a nearly 10,000-strong coalition force led by the Chadian military, one of the most effective in the region, attacked Boko Haram positions elsewhere in cooperation with Cameroon and Niger, backed by training and intelligence supplied by the United States and its European allies.[4]

Unfortunately, the violence that has plagued northern Nigeria is unlikely to end anytime soon. Significant numbers of militants appear to have been killed only in the early stages of the offensive. As the coalition advance has gained momentum, Boko Haram members have increasingly chosen to retreat rather than risk conventional set-piece battles with superior forces.[5] Thousands of the movement's fighters remain at large, including nearly all of the insurgency's leadership.[6] U.S. and UN officials have both warned of a strategic withdrawal on the part of the militants with a high likelihood of protracted insurgent violence for the foreseeable future.[7] Large numbers of Boko Haram members have already melted back into towns and cities among their ethnic kinsmen or fled deeper into the vast, 23,000-square-mile Sambisa Forest along the Cameroon border.

The Boko Haram Complex

From the start, Boko Haram was poorly adapted to holding and governing significant amounts of territory. In common usage, the Boko Haram label actually describes a complex, multifaceted insurgency composed of a number of different factions, cells, and criminal groups exhibiting varying degrees of coordination with the wider movement.[8] Significant uncertainty exists about almost every aspect of the insurgency. What is clear, however, is that the rebellion is considerably more amorphous and less hierarchical than many accounts in the international media suggest.

The maniacal Abubakar Shekau and his lieutenants head a core organization that might usefully be thought of as Boko Haram proper. But Shekau's group coexists with perhaps three to five other militant factions that, despite their operational autonomy and occasionally serious conflicts over ideological and tactical differences, maintain some degree of cooperation within the umbrella-like Boko Haram structure.[9] The splinter group Ansaru, headed by Mamman Nur and Khalid al-Barnawi, who broke with Shekau over the indiscriminate targeting of Muslims, is the most well-known of these factions. Nur and al-Barnawi are believed to possess the most significant ties of anyone in the Boko Haram network to international terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar Dine, MUJAO, and al-Shabab.[10]

The operations of these Boko Haram factions are regularly outsourced to criminal groups and local gangs that function as paid auxiliaries of the Islamist militants and whose members can be hired or activated and deactivated as needed. Many fighters are therefore part-time, drawn from the vast lumpenproletariat of northeastern Nigeria and the nearby border states. The resulting insurgent mosaic spans the range from jihadist true believers to ex-Nigerian military personnel, organized criminal groups, youth gangs, unemployed young men, and those forcibly conscripted under threat to themselves and their families.[11] The movement is “further complicated by [criminal] imitators... who commit violence under the guise of the group” for illicit, for-profit purposes of no relationship to any religious or political goals.[12] The end result is that the Boko Haram insurgency is not entirely under the control of Shekau or any other single actor. And the exact degree to which the different factions and criminal entities coordinate among each other is often unclear.

Despite the declaration of a caliphate in northern Nigeria, the militants appear to have had little or no plan for programmatic governance and statebuilding of any equivalence to that currently being carried out by the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, with which Shekau has recently, at least formally, aligned the Boko Haram movement.[13] Towns and cities under Boko Haram control were mainly turned into rebel military bases, staging grounds, and large prison camps for the multitudes of abducted civilians held hostage by the militants. What passed for governance under the movement appears to have been a mixture of draconian social control, based on the uneven application of medieval punishments mandated by the group's extremist interpretation of Islam, combined with violent predation and anomic violence directed toward the civilian population.[14] The movement lacks the necessary political cadres and administrative personnel for even the most rudimentary social provision.[15] It appears to contain no specialists in anything whatsoever other than indiscriminate violence. In this sense, Boko Haram operates in a manner resembling Mancur Olson's classic roving bandits, extracting resources from civilian populations in a scorched-earth campaign of wanton brutality that has destroyed much of the popular support the insurgency once had.[16]

Journalists travelling with government soldiers entering the black-flagged territory formerly controlled by the militants report finding mass graves on the outskirts of towns and cities emptied of their inhabitants.[17] Markets were systematically looted and shuttered. Most military-aged men and boys appear to have been killed outright with the lucky ones given the opportunity of being forcibly conscripted. Women and girls were distributed among the fighters as sex slaves.[18] The youngest children were collected in Boko Haram madrassas for indoctrination and grooming, presumably for later use as child soldiers, sex slaves, suicide bombers, and human shields. Elderly women, left unmolested, were confined to their homes and neglected. Food was reportedly scarce.[19]

Lack of organizational coherence was always going to be a weakness for Boko Haram's ability to hold and defend territory from competent military opponents. At the same time, the diffuse nature of the insurgency has largely been a strength for the movement's capacity to sow violence across a vast expanse of weakly governed territory. In retrospect, the large area controlled by the group was more a function of the Nigerian government's ineptitude and wholesale abandonment of its sovereign obligations than any deliberate strategic military plan on the part of Boko Haram.

Muhammadu Buhari

The election of retired general Muhammadu Buhari of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is a significant development in a country that has regularly witnessed large-scale electoral fraud and post-election violence since its ostensible return to democratic rule with the establishment of the Fourth Republic in 1999. Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan, whose government has been widely criticized for a range of abuses and failures, deserves credit for a courageous concession that likely preempted a violent political crisis that would have seriously weakened the Nigerian government and inflamed Muslim opinion in the north at a critical moment in the fight against Boko Haram.

Until recently, many northerners have viewed democracy as synonymous with secular, western-imposed corruption, impoverishment, and government abuse. This perception has grown dramatically since 2011, when Jonathan abandoned the power alternation scheme that voluntarily rotated control of the presidency between northern Muslims and southern Christians. In the near term, Muhammadu Buhari's victory may help ameliorate some of the suspicion held by many Muslims that the national political system is rigged against them. Buhari enjoys widespread popular support across his native north where people celebrated in the streets at the announcement of his victory. His election opens the way for major policy changes in the government's approach to the ongoing Boko Haram crisis and the wider problems facing Nigeria as a whole. As Gallup recently reported, “unlike... past elections, Buhari will govern with a clear mandate from voters and must rule with the goals of his electorate in mind to meet heightened expectations for change.”[20]

The escalating crisis in the north was at the center of Muhammadu Buhari's presidential campaign and was a key factor in his victory over the incumbent Jonathan, who is widely believed to have mismanaged and neglected the conflict.[21] The 72-year-old former general's biography contains suggestions he may well be better placed to advance the fight against Boko Haram than his predecessor. Buhari is himself a northern Muslim who promises to be more oriented to the marginalized region's concerns and realities. In the mid-1970s, he served as military governor of Borno state and has firsthand knowledge of ground zero in the contemporary conflict. A decade later, Buhari oversaw the suppression of the Maitatsine uprising, regarded by many as one of the present insurgency's radical Islamist antecedents.[22] This time around the battle against the extremists will also be somewhat personal for the incoming president. In 2014, he survived an assassination attempt by Boko Haram militants during an attack on a campaign event that killed dozens.[23]

Buhari's credentials as an anticorruption reformer are by all accounts unimpeachable. After seizing power in a military coup in 1983, he led an aggressive, if authoritarian, crackdown on the large-scale government corruption for which the Nigerian elite had become infamous. The effort was at times misguided and ultimately short lived, but “[t]he motives for Buhari's authoritarian response to Nigeria's political, economic, and social crises are largely considered to have been pure.”[24] Whatever his shortcomings, the new president understands the way official graft has alienated Nigerians from the government, strangled the country's economic potential, and fed into the spiraling discontent and militancy of marginalized groups.

As a former general, Buhari is also acutely aware of the way corruption has crippled the Nigerian military, which has been plagued by problems qualitatively similar to those that led to the collapse of the Iraqi armed forces during the Islamic State's breakout offensive last year. The Nigerian elite has grown accustomed to cannibalizing a $6 billion annual defense budget while poorly trained and equipped security forces consistently underperform in the face of the Boko Haram onslaught.[25]

But ending militancy in northern Nigeria will require more than an effective fighting force. Reigning in the atrocities and human rights abuses regularly committed by the security services must be a key short-term priority. As former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell has observed, “the Nigerian security agencies may have killed as many Nigerians as Boko Haram in certain time periods.”[26] Extensively documented reports of war crimes and crimes against humanity routinely committed by government forces make for harrowing reading.[27] The conduct of the government and its civilian vigilante proxies has helped fuel the conflict spiral in the north, generating whatever popular support currently exists for the otherwise morally bankrupt Boko Haram movement while enhancing the militants' ability to recruit among victimized populations.

Buhari is no liberal; he is a religious conservative and one-time military dictator who supported the controversial drive to institute sharia law across the north during the early 2000s. His previous victory over the Maitatsine rebellion was purchased at a heavy cost in civilian lives.[28] During the bitterly-contested 2011 elections, both Buhari and Jonathan engaged in divisive appeals to ethnic and religious identity.[29] This time around, such appeals were less prevalent and Buhari gained greater backing from parts of the Christian community alarmed at the government's inability to address the deepening security crisis. Supporters of the former military ruler claim his beliefs about the importance of democracy and human rights have evolved since the 1980s. The extent to which this is true remains to be seen. Whether Buhari's authoritarian personality will prove to be an asset or a liability in Nigeria's contemporary cut-throat politics is another open question.

Nigeria's Critical Juncture

Nigeria's Fourth Republic has arrived at a critical juncture: a moment in which options for the embattled country are comparatively open in a way they have not been in the recent past and will not be in the near future. The immediate prospects for Africa's most populous state contain great uncertainty and considerable danger, but also significant potential. Indeed, one of Buhari's first challenges will be managing the popular expectations for rapid change he himself helped create. But successful elections combined with the recent coalition offensive have bought the government time to consolidate security gains while starting to implement desperately needed short and long-term reforms.[30] The actions of Buhari and the Nigerian government will be the key determinant of the security environment in the coming months and years.

Boko Haram is bloodied but not beaten. The militants are still capable of inflicting massive violence. Going forward, the insurgents can be expected to return to the strategy of guerilla warfare, terrorism, and unbridled atrocity that has characterized the recent past. A renewed campaign of violence targeting government officials, security forces, and civilian soft targets is already underway. Within the apparent chaos, Boko Haram will seek to exploit existing social cleavages by fomenting ethnic and religious conflict and provoking government retaliation against northern civilians. The militants aim to polarize the country and terrorize those with whom they disagree by creating an ethnically and religiously-based security dilemma that will force fence-sitters to choose sides in a war between supposedly “good” Muslims, as defined by Shekau and his fanatical comrades, and everyone else.[31]

Reclaiming the territory once held by Boko Haram is a significant victory nonetheless, one that has disrupted the movement's operations and paved the way for further gains. A key question is the extent to which the Nigerian state will be capable of holding the reconquered ground once its foreign allies withdraw. Buhari has promised to redirect the government's strategy, but exactly how remains unclear. Countering the militant threat will require a broad package of military and non-military measures aimed at degrading Boko Haram, increasing human security, and beginning the difficult work of reforming Nigerian institutions.

Good Enough Counterinsurgency

After more than a decade of bitterly contested warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, population-centered counterinsurgency has fallen out of favor in many policy circles where it is said to be too difficult and, ultimately, unrealistic.[32] Critics of counterinsurgency doctrine, instead, favor more limited counterterrorism measures aimed at disrupting and dismantling terrorist groups. For comparatively secure countries fighting foreign wars of choice, this may or may not be the preferable option. Unfortunately, a strategy that relies solely on counterterrorism measures is not possible for states facing powerful homegrown insurgencies like Nigeria.

For Buhari's government, the alternatives to population-centered counterinsurgency are limited to the wholesale abandonment of large parts of the national territory to millenarian Islamist rebels and domestic anarchy, or else scaling up and doubling down on the dirty war presently being waged by the Nigerian military. Both of these options guarantee escalating violence and further alienation of the Nigerian people. In short, for Nigeria, there are no alternatives to a population-centered approach in the fight against Boko Haram. Counterinsurgency is difficult, but not insurmountably so. In the near term, the Nigerian government does not need to be good; it needs to be good enough. Nigeria and its security services will not be transformed overnight, no matter who is in charge. The immediate goal should be to establish a secure enough environment in which to begin an ongoing process of reform.[33]

In the short term, the Nigerian government must continue cooperating with the international coalition to press its advantage in the current offensive against Boko Haram. The formidable terrain of the Sambisa Forest offers significant benefits to the insurgents, but it has the virtue of being far from civilian populations, other than those hostages still held captive by the militants. Elsewhere, the Nigerian government should capitalize on the present momentum by securing cleared areas with a greater and more effective official presence across the north capable of protecting local civilians from insurgent reprisals.

Those in the security services responsible for serious human rights violations must be identified, removed, and punished. Ultimately, Buhari and the military leadership must be made to understand that doing so will strengthen the war effort, not weaken it. If the human rights practices of the Nigerian security forces can be sufficiently improved, the door will be opened to increased training and support provided by the United States, which is currently barred by law from doing so under the Leahy amendment.[34] If Buhari wants to establish a virtuous cycle leading to the improved effectiveness and professionalism of the security services, this is the place to start.

If the government can consolidate recent gains in the north, the composition of the insurgency can be exploited to separate irreconcilable jihadist true believers from those who can be deterred or convinced to defect in a context of more secure conditions. The latter categories include for-profit Boko Haram fighters, criminals, gang members, child soldiers, and the unemployed as well as the forcibly conscripted. This cannot happen, however, so long as militants wishing to surrender, defect, or return to civilian life expect torture and summary execution at the hands of government forces.

An amnesty program for low and mid-level insurgents like the one that helped reduce violence in the Niger Delta is one possibility.[35] Though not without risks, the moral hazard associated with such a program might be considerably less in the north, given the lack of critical infrastructure like oil wells and pipelines some militants in the south have used to establish what amount to de facto protection rackets. The government should start making early plans for appropriate disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) measures that can be implemented with the help of the international community as a complement to any amnesty program or other bid to bring Boko Haram's reconcilable fighters in from the cold.

The government should also work with the international community to increase humanitarian support to civilians displaced by the war or otherwise deprived of their livelihoods.[36] Conditions in the refugee camps of northern Nigeria and neighboring countries are increasingly dire and government officials have been implicated in the exploitation, sale, and trafficking of refugees in cooperation with criminal groups.[37] An effective humanitarian operation would be a forceful signal to northern Nigerians that the government can help resolve social problems, not just create them. Addressing the growing humanitarian crisis would serve to increase the government's legitimacy while alleviating increasingly desperate human suffering.

The Future of Nigeria's Fourth Republic

Even if Buhari's regime can improve security and stem the immediate bleeding from the Boko Haram insurgency, the deep, long-term issues of statebuilding and economic development in the north and throughout the rest of country will remain. The fundamental failures of the Nigerian government have been among the most important drivers of the religious radicalism that has metastasized throughout the country since the 1980s.[38] Countering violent extremism will require addressing root causes, the majority of which lack readily available military solutions. Maneuvering the levers of a deeply troubled bureaucracy to accomplish those ends promises to be the more difficult component in the fight against Islamist militancy. In the absence of deeper reforms, however, even the total military eradication of the present insurgency cannot prevent the emergence of successor groups and reincarnations. Boko Haram is only the latest manifestation of growing ethnic and religious violence in Nigeria. Without tackling the underlying causes of extremism, it is unlikely to be the last.

In the long term, reforming Nigeria and its institutions will require rooting out corruption, transforming the country's mafia-like political culture, building government capacity, undertaking comprehensive security sector reform (SSR), institutionalizing the rule of law and respect for human rights, developing the non-oil economy, reducing poverty, and increasing educational enrollment. Buhari's government will also need to counter the radicalizing messages that have become increasingly common in the country's mosques and madrassas, influenced by the globalized Salafism exported from Saudi Arabia since the 1970s. In tandem with other reforms, promoting legitimate and popularly supported representatives of Nigeria's comparatively more tolerant Sufi tradition of Islam might be one part of the necessary war of ideas.

Reversing fifty years of decay in the heart of the Nigerian state is more than a tall order for even the most committed and able of reformers. Buhari is no saint, and much about how he will govern remains unknown. There will be limits to what he can accomplish, and those who benefit from the status quo will continue to resist change, perhaps violently. If significant reform does come, progress will be measured over the course of decades, not years.

Nigeria has arrived at a critical juncture nonetheless. The recent coalition offensive and successful elections have cracked open the door for the start of that reform process. Buhari's job is to jam in his foot and hold for his successors before the door slams shut for good. If he fails, if government and insurgent violence is allowed to spiral upward, the opportunity for significant progress could be delayed by a generation or more. If that happens, the viability of Nigeria as a unified country would not be guaranteed.

It is an open question whether or not Buhari will be up to the task before him. Given the weight of Nigeria's history, there should be no illusions about the likelihood of success. The war in the north will almost certainly get worse before it gets better. And yet, it remains that the current moment offers the single best chance in years to make inroads against the violence of Boko Haram.

End Notes

[1] Council on Foreign Relations, “Nigeria Security Tracker,”

[2] BBC News, “Boko Haram HQ Gwoza in Nigeria ‘retaken',” March 27, 2015,

[3] Adam Nossiter, “Mercenaries Join Military Campaign Against Boko Haram,” New York Times, March 12, 2015,; and David Smith, “South Africa's ageing white mercenaries who helped turn tide on Boko Haram,” Guardian, April 14, 2015,

[4] Adam Nossiter, “Chad Strongman Says Nigeria is Absent in Fight Against Boko Haram,” New York Times, March 27, 2015,

[5] Aminu Abubakar and Bukar Hussein, “Civilians still targets for Boko Haram despite military success,” Agence France-Presse, April 28, 2015,; and Agence France-Presse, “Regional forces retake Nigerian town from Boko Haram, says Niger,” April 1, 2015,

[6] Estimates of Boko Haram's size range from 6,000 to 15,000 fighters. VOA News, “US Estimates Boko Haram Has Up to 6,000 Fighters,” February 6, 2015,; and Amnesty International, Our Job is to Shoot, Slaughter, and Kill: Boko Haram's Reign of Terror in North-East Nigeria, AFR 44/1360/2015 (April 2015), 15,

[7] VOA News, “Niger President: End of Boko Haram Near,” April 1, 2015,; and Lisa Schlein, “UN Calls for Global Response to Stop Boko Haram Terror Threat,” VOA News, April 1, 2015,

[8] Mike Smith, Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria's Unholy War (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2015), 12-13, 137-138; and Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos, “Nigeria's Interminable Insurgency? Addressing the Boko Haram Crisis,” Chatham House (September 2014), 11-12,

[9] Ibid; and International Crisis Group, Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency, Africa Report, no. 216 (April 3, 2014), 22,

[10] Jacob Zenn, “Leadership Analysis of Boko Haram and Ansaru in Nigeria,” CTC Sentinel 7, no. 2 (February 24, 2014), 23-29,; and John Campbell, U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria's Boko Haram, Council on Foreign Relations, Special Report, no. 70 (November 2014), 9-10,

[11] Monde Kingsley Nfor, “No shortage of recruits for Boko Haram in Cameroon's Far North,” IRIN, March 5, 2015,; and Thomas Fessy, “Niger hit by Nigeria's Boko Haram fallout,” BBC News, April 22, 2014,

[12] Smith, Boko Haram, 5.

[13] On IS governance, see Charles Caris and Samuel Reynolds, “ISIS Governance in Syria,” Institute for the Study of War, Middle East Security Report, no. 22 (July 2014),

[14] Amnesty International, Our Job is to Shoot, Slaughter, and Kill, 15-17. On violent predation, see Nelson Kasfir, “Domestic Anarchy, Security Dilemmas, and Violent Predation: Causes of Failure,” in Robert Rotberg, ed. When States Fail: Causes and Consequences (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), 53-76; on anomic violence, see Phil Williams, “The Terrorism Debate Over Mexican Drug Trafficking Violence,” Terrorism and Political Violence 24, no. 2 (2012), 259-278.

[15] For the importance of political and administrative personnel in rebel treatment of civilian populations, see William Reno, Warfare in Independent Africa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 119-162.

[16] Under conditions of anarchy, stationary bandits taxing local production on an ongoing basis have an incentive to limit their own predation and protect populations under their control from other bandits in order to avoid threats to their own source of income. In other words, stationary bandits have an incentive to govern. Roving or mobile bandits, in contrast, have no such incentive and will extract as much as possible, as quickly as possible with no regard for their victims before moving on to the next target group. See Kyle Beardsley and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, “Is Boko Haram a Roving Bandit?” Political Violence @ a Glance, April 16, 2015, For a detailed description of a representative sample of Boko Haram raids, see Amnesty International, Our Job is to Shoot, Slaughter, and Kill, 33-55.

[17] Kevin Seiff, “I've seen the Taliban's brutality in Afghanistan. Boko Haram might be worse.” Washington Post, April 12, 2015,; and Tomi Oladipo, “Ashes and death: What Boko Haram left behind in Baga,” BBC News, March 16, 2015,

[18] Ibid; and Amnesty International, Our Job is to Shoot, Slaughter, and Kill, 59-76.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Jay Loschky and Robin Sanders, “Nigeria's Big Chance,” Gallup, April 8, 2015,

[21] Ibid.

[22] Philip Obaji, Jr., “Can This Man Crush Boko Haram?” Daily Beast, April 14, 2015,; and “Maitatsine Riots,” in Toyin Falola and Ann Genova, Historical Dictionary of Nigeria (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2009), 218.

[23] BBC News, “Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari in profile,” March 31, 2015,

[24] Toyin Falola and Matthew Heaton, A History of Nigeria (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 215; and “Buhari, Major General Muhammadu (1942- ),” in Falola and Genova, Historical Dictionary of Nigeria, 68.

[25] Campbell, U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria's Boko Haram, 13; Tim Cocks, “Boko Haram exploits Nigeria's slow military decline,” Reuters, May 9, 2014,; and Will Ross, “The soldiers without enough weapons to fight jihadists,” BBC News, January 22, 2015,

[26] Ibid.

[27] Amnesty International, Nigeria: Trapped in the Cycle of Violence, AFR 44/043/2012 (November 2012),; Human Rights Watch, Spiraling Violence: Boko Haram Attacks and Security Force Abuses in Nigeria (October 2012),; Adam Nossiter, “Massacre in Nigeria Spurs Outcry Over Military Tactics,” New York Times, April 29, 2013,; and Michelle Faul, “Nigeria's military killing thousands of detainees,” Associated Press, October 18, 2013,

[28] Obaji, “Can This Man Crush Boko Haram?”

[29] John Campbell, Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield), 29.

[30] Campbell, U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria's Boko Haram, 23.

[31] On ethnically organized security dilemmas, see Barry Posen, “The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict,” in Michael E. Brown, ed. Ethnic Conflict and International Security (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 103-124; and Kasfir, “Domestic Anarchy, Security Dilemmas, and Violent Predation,” 53-76.

[32] See Oleg Svet, “COIN's Failure in Afghanistan,” National Interest, August 31, 2012,

[33] Susan Rose-Ackerman, “Establishing the Rule of Law,” in Rotberg, When States Fail, 184.

[34] Campbell, U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria's Boko Haram, 17-23; Lauren Ploch Blanchard, “Nigeria's Boko Haram: Frequently Asked Questions,” Congressional Research Service, R43558 (June 10, 2014), 14-16,; and BBC News, “Boko Haram crisis: Nigeria fury over US arms refusal,” November 11, 2014,

[35] Smith, Boko Haram, 73-74.

[36] Campbell, U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria's Boko Haram, 21-22.

[37] Charles Dickson, “Grim Tales of Rape, Child Trafficking in Displaced Persons Camps,” International Centre for Investigative Reporting, January 29, 2015,; and Moki Edwin Kindzeka, “UN Refugee Chief: Nigeria Crisis Similar to Syria's,” VOA News, March 26, 2015,

[38] Kyari Mohammed, “The Message and Methods of Boko Haram,” in Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos, ed. Boko Haram: Islamism, Politics, Security and the State in Nigeria (Leiden: African Studies Centre, 2014), 23; Daniel Jordan Smith, A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 219-220; and Falola and Heaton, A History of Nigeria, 211.

Matthew Blood is an independent political and security analyst. He has a master's degree in human security from the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.