Boko Haram has apparently set its sights on Maiduguri, assaulting the city on Sunday in an attack that killed at least 200. At the same time, they were able to overrun the nearby city of Monguno, which contained a key army barracks. Maiduguri is the provincial capital as well as the largest city in Borno, Boko Haram’s base of operations, and the loss of Monguno and the barracks there leaves it vulnerable to a sustained campaign. With 600,000 people living in the city of Maiduguri alone, the potential for major civilian casualties is frighteningly high.
Meanwhile, John Kerry visited Nigeria today to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan and his challenger in the upcoming elections, Muhammadu Buhari. Kerry says that the U.S. “prepared to do more to help Nigeria fight Boko Haram,” which I guess is…good news for the Nigerians? I mean, we’ve certainly managed to slow ISIS’s roll, but even assuming that Kerry’s statement means that air power is on the way, hitting Boko Haram targets in dense forest is a substantively different mission than striking ISIS in the relatively arid Syria-Iraq border area. Plus, you know, recent events in Yemen don’t speak well of our ability to really stabilize these kinds of situations.