Institute of Geopolitics, France
Can we make peace with terrorists ?
The case of Boko Haram in Nigeria
An Islamic sect turn into a terrorist group, Boko Haram has killed thousands of civilians and continues fighting an international coalition made of Nigerian, Chadian, Nigerien and Cameroonian troops. At first sight, it seems impossible to negotiate anything with fanatics who use young girls to perpetrate suicide attacks. Yet one needs to decipher their demands to understand how to approach the Sunni Community for the propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad (Jama’atu Ahlis-Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad), the real name of Boko Haram. In a first part, this presentation will thus explain what the group stands for:
-a full implementation of Shariah that requires the establishment of an Islamic State. The main theocratic model here is the Sokoto Caliphate (1804-1903), not ISIS;
-the right to have their mosque and to live according to their Islamic rules;
-the eradication of the corruption of the Muslim minds through Western education and democracy (i.e. power by the people instead of God)
-the liberation of jailed members.
In a second part, I will show that negotiations actually started in 2012 and are now conducted under the aegis of a new president elected in 2015, Muhammadu Buhari. I will argue that it is possible to negotiate at 3 levels:
-exchange of prisoners;
Obviously, the establishment of an Islamic State in Nigeria is not possible in a plural society.