We’ve repeatedly noted that the humanitarian intervention in Libya has had perverse consequences far beyond Libya’s borders—most pronouncedly in Mali. Mali’s unraveling in turn has dire consequences for its neighbors. A map is worth a thousand words:
Niger is caught in a pincer between the Islamist Tuareg rebels to its north and west and the savage Boko Haram to its south, and could become a major terrorist transit route between Nigeria and Mali. The Washington Post has a useful article on the situation:
Such concerns are increasingly visible in Diffa and other towns nestled along Niger’s long border with Mali and northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram, another Islamist militia with suspected links to al-Qaeda, has intensified attacks this year. In such places, local officials and U.N. workers say, fundamentalist Islam is slowly replacing Sufism, a more open, mystical brand of the faith that has been practiced here for centuries.
Boko Haram is trying to spread its hard-line ideology and violent aspirations in these border towns, and its fighters are using Niger as a gateway to join up with the Islamists in northern Mali, U.N. security experts and local officials say. Diffa, in particular, is about 100 miles from Boko Haram’s main base in Nigeria and is known as a hideout for the militia’s leaders and other members escaping authorities in Nigeria.
And there are other dimensions beyond the fear of a massive international terrorist safe haven springing up in western Africa. Nigeria is one of the biggest oil exporters to the United States, and Niger is one of the largest exporters of uranium in the world. The West has very concrete material interests in the region. Add to that the brutal repression and murder of both moderate Sufis and Christians by the Islamist radicals and you start to get a sense of just how thoroughly the law of unintended consequences is mocking our Libya adventure.
The article is worth reading in full.