Taliban: Boko Haram cannot take over Nigeria – Seye Olaniyonu

Taliban: Boko Haram cannot take over Nigeria – Seye Olaniyonu

Since the take-over of Afghanistan by the Taliban, commentators in Nigeria have suddenly turned to experts on terrorism.


These pseudo-experts have started raising undue alarm on the pending implication of the development in Afghanistan; while linking it with the Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria. As usual, the commentaries aimed at sustaining trends than facts.


The Taliban is a radically different movement from Boko Haram. Though both are bloodthirsty monsters, the fact remains that Nigeria is not Afghanistan. This is critical in the analysis that will follow in the course of this piece.


To understand the Taliban, we must go back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the role of resistance fighters, popularly known as Mujahideen. These fighters, supported by the United States and the West, pushed the Soviet Army out.


In 1994, some students formed what is now known as Taliban; which basically was an alternative to the government in Kabul; which had mismanaged the country in the aftermath of the Soviet-backed communist regime. The Mujahadeen had invaded Kabul and taken over power. While the former resistance fighters were good in fighting the Soviet Union; they were a disaster as far as governance was concerned. It was easy for the Taliban to take them out.


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In fact, the political atmosphere in Afghanistan in the early 1990s provided the perfect ground for the Taliban. The movement did not start as a group terrorizing the people. They were popular for their low tolerance for corruption, swift justice and proper administration.


Within two years, they were able to take over 90% of the country. In fact, they ruled the country from 1996 to 2001 before they were toppled by the US-led coalition in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack.


Their hardline strict interpretation of Sunni Islam caused a lot of dissatisfaction with the people.


Truth be told, there is no much difference between the Taliban and the House of Saud ruling the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Moreso, there were more Saudi nationals among the terrorists that hijacked the ill-fated planes that crashed into the World Trade Centre in 2011 than were Afghans.


Saudi Arabia was one of the few countries that recognized the Taliban as a country; alongside the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Also, it is an open secret that groups like Taliban got support from Saudi through the Madarasa funding. If there is a country to be wary of, it is Saudi Arabia, not the Taliban.


Furthermore, Afghanistan is 99.9% Muslims, Nigeria is not. Even the North is not 90% Muslims. This is not the time to push the panic button.


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The Taliban started as a political movement with an eye on seizing powers. That is what it has been doing for close to three decades. But the group will do everything it can to be a good boy as they seek recognition of the world as a legitimate country. They already stated it that they would not be a safe haven for terror groups.


The point is, the social-political environment that allowed the Taliban to develop is not the same as Boko Haram. Yes, Nigeria has serious security breaches in the northern part of the country; which looks more hopeless by the day. Nevertheless, this latest round of panic-stations by some alarmists is not necessary.


As a nation, our concern should be on the United States. The military-industrial complex needs a new front for selling their weapons now that Afghanistan is out of the way. With the activities of Boko Haram and insurgents in the Chad basin; Nigeria needs to be wary of the gods of war.


To underscore this point, in no distance future, the US government will embrace the Taliban. The Trump administration had negotiated with the group before announcing the planned withdrawal. For the US government, every action is divided along strategic economic and military lines. Any offer of assistance by the US government in the Chad region should be approached with caution.


Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and others were pawns in the complex US game, and as a nation; we have what it takes to defeat Boko Haram and other groups. They are never going to take over.


The US still remains an important ally.


But it is an ally that must be approached with extreme caution.

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