EA Audio Analysis: Have Boko Haram and Islamic State Established an Alliance? (No.)

Abubakar Shekau of Boko Haram and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State

In the past week, mainstream media outlets have shouted headlines about an “alliance” between the Islamist movement Boko Haram, based in Nigeria, and the Islamic State. For example, CNN baited readers with “Boko Haram + ISIS = Marriage from Hell“, followed by a dramatic video report, “Heading Off Possible ISIS-Boko Haram Alliance“.

So are we facing a “Super-Caliphate“?

No. These reports are usually specious claims, based on superficial “evidence” and tenuous connections.

They are not just exaggerated sensationalism. They are counter-productive: by creating the spectre of a unified “global jihadism”, they sweep away attention to the specific political, economic, and social issues that have given rise to Boko Haram in Nigeria, and to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

James Schneider of New African Magazine and I discussed the issue with Monocle 24’s The Daily on Wednesday night.

Listen from 7:15

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


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