Alot has happened in the months in which this blog has been running on an enforced silent mode. So firstly let’s do a brief recap:
1. Ansorul-Muslimiin has been degraded extensively by the Chadian-Cameroonian offensive, likewise the Bukar Faction of Jamaa’atu Ahlis-Sunnah. They are right now non-players on the whole scene, with no relevance whatsoever. Most of their leaders have been killed in Northern Cameroon by Chadian Special Forces, although in quite a few operations there were rumours of French Special Forces operators doing the heavy hitting, but they are unconfirmed.
2. The whole world by now is aware of Shekau’s pledge of allegiance to Islamic State of Al-Baghdadi, what the world may not be aware of is that Shekau is no longer in charge of his group, the Islamic State leadership in Syria or Iraq appointed an Amiir over the Emirate Of West Africa as Shekau’s faction is now known, he is a Libyan who is said to have been in Mali under Mukhtar Bil Mukhtar’s faction of AQIM before it evolved into Al-Murabituun, he was the contact between the Islamic State in Libya and Shekau’s group, and was responsible for arranging the connection between Shekau’s group and the Islamic State’s leadership in Syria or Iraq. He is simply called Al-Libii meaning the Libyan, his name and nom de guerre are still a secret. Shekau right now has command over the Lake Chad sector of Islamic State West Africa which includes the whole of Northern Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. Southern Nigeria now falls under the control of another sub-Amiir appointed by Al-Libii.
3. Khalid Al-Barnawi is said to have been killed by the Chadians, but other information indicates he was badly wounded in combat, and authority over Harakatul-Muhajiriin has been assumed by Muhammad Zubair , a member of the group’s Shuraa Council.
4. Harakatul-Muhajiriin sometime ago initiated contact with AQIM and AL-Shabaab seeking to connect with Al-Qaeda Central and offer a formal pledge of allegiance to Aiman Azh-Zhowahiri. The recent offensives by the combine Multinational Joint Task Force has severely degraded the group’s conventional warfare capabilities, forcing it into the classic terrorist strategy of withdrawal-strike back with suicide bombs and other terror tactics-rebuild strength-return back to battle when strong enough.
5. Both Islamic State West Africa and Harakatul-Muhajriin are cooperating deeply now from what I hear, sharing intel, planning joint operations, and leveraging on each other’s assets. Although the relationship is far from chummy as both sides view each other as an enemy that needs to be taken care of, but after taking care of the Nigerian Government and the other enemy regimes. For now necessity pulls them together, but just before the Chadians began their offensive, there was a threat of internecine fighting amongst the insurgents.
For now i expect that more bombs will go off in Chad and Cameroon, as the insurgents seek to force Chad to back out of the war, a prospect which is unlikely as long as Chad’s transport route through Northern Cameroon to the sea is still threatened by the insurgents. The Chadians will bear the bombs and the civilian deaths which will follow as long as they can preserve their access to the sea. Should the insurgents suddenly give up on Northern Cameroon, then Chad’s strategic priorities will shift especially if the insurgents also avoid bombing Chad. Chad will still remain in the anti-Boko Haram coalition, but they will not participate actively nor will they risk massive civilian casualties for no reason.
In Nigeria too, the insurgents will stick to the regular play of suicide bombings, slaughtering of fishermen, villagers etc. Rape will be used more as a weapon. The objective of all these being to maintain the ability to terrify the populace at low cost, thus forcing the diversion of necessary security personnel to secure inhabited areas, thus reducing the amount of pressure on them as they rebuild and reorganize under cover.