AZAZI: Combating a common terrorist threat

Time for a strategic security relationship between the U.S. and Nigeria

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The report’s conclusions mean that each country requires the assistance from the other. So far, however, the bipartisan congressional recommendations have yet to become U.S. policy, even as the U.S. Africa Command has made clear its similar concerns. The State Department, however, has yet to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization.

Nigeria’s president intends to create a climate where no supporter of terrorism will be safe. In November, Nigerian authorities made the unusual move of arresting a federal senator from the president’s own party, based on intelligence that he was facilitating Boko Haram.

Such an arrest and prosecution of a sitting lawmaker is rare in any democracy. The severe action indicates both the profound nature of the threat as well as Nigeria’s sense of purpose in wiping it out.

The congressional homeland security panel called for the administration to “increase its support for programs that enhance the ability of Nigerian security forces to more effectively target Boko Haram and counter its evolution.”

Such support will certainly assist Nigeria and West Africa as a whole, but it will also be a low-cost, high-impact way of eradicating Boko Haram - and others like it - as a threat to the United States as well.

With recent developments reverberating across Africa, Nigeria is working out strategic partnerships with key players to track and neutralize extremists wherever they may be - before they become violent. We should not be seen merely as a tactical ally of convenience. The United States has been helpful on a small-scale basis, but is far behind other countries in forging a meaningful, strategic counterterrorism relationship with Nigeria.

Nigeria can defend its interests without U.S. support. But the United States cannot well defend its homeland from Boko Haram and other threats without Nigeria. We welcome a mutually beneficial partnership with the U.S. against terrorists like Boko Haram while there is still time.

Owoye Andrew Azazi is national security adviser to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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