View Full Version : Cameroon: in the shadow of Nigeria

11-13-2007, 06:18 PM

More than 20 Cameroonian soldiers have been killed during fighting in the Bakassi peninsula near the border with Nigeria, say Cameroon army officials.

03-05-2014, 04:48 PM
The Tenth Parallel North has been described as the "fault line where Islam and Christianity meet and clash." [1] In Africa, the Tenth Parallel passes west to east through Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia. Cameroon is the only one of these countries to avoid major ethnic, religious, sectarian or terrorism-related conflict in the last decade.

However, militants are now using Cameroon as a rear base for carrying out attacks in Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR). These groups include Boko Haram and Ansaru in northern Cameroon and (CAR) militants, including Slka, in eastern Cameroon. Cameroon is likely to see new security threats spilling over into its territory from its two Tenth Parallel neighbors, as well as increasing pressures on the state from refugee flows into Cameroon from Nigeria and the CAR.


Interesting analysis

08-08-2014, 02:13 PM
I knew this was going to happen.

1. Cameroon is even more badly governed than Nigeria & Northern Cameroon is worse off than Northern Nigeria.

2. There's no real difference with Northern Cameroon, Northeast Nigeria or parts of the middle of Thad - they are all Kanuri, colonial borders don't mean much.

Yaounde - The Nigerian Islamist movement Boko Haram has recruited and trained hundreds of young Cameroonians to carry out attacks in their own country, according to the police and civilians.

As the militant group seeks to gain a foothold in the poor, rural north of Cameroon, experts warn that violence may spread beyond border areas to other parts of the central African country.

"Boko Haram has recruited many young people" from Cameroon's Far North region, a police officer from the area told AFP on condition of anonymity


When I say that colonial era boundaries are simply not viable long-term, this is what I mean. In other parts of Africa, these borders are being eliminated by trade, not conflict.

Paradoxically, decades of Western aid have led to less, not more capable African governments - and one of the goals of aid (as I hear) is to produce more capable African governments.

Paul Biya is old, tired and probably unwilling to fight a long-drawn out battle with Boko Haram. I hear Cameroonian Army strength is only about 20,000. True, the French will pitch in, but for how long - and what political solutions will be considered?

I don't know what a viable long-term political & economic solution to the crisis in the Sahel will look like. However, I'm not sure anyone else does either.

Echo Bravo
08-08-2014, 04:35 PM
KingJaJa, I agree wholeheartedly with you concerning the colonial borders that were arbitrarily drawn into the sand and that resulted in nations/ethnic groups being incorporated into 2 or 3 different states. Your argument is sound and cannot be faulted.

However, that happened decades ago and Africa needs to come to terms with itself and move forward. We cannot continue blaming the past without taking responsibility for the present and planning for the future.

Insofar as Boko Haram is concerned: There are some who are fully aware of the fact that we issued a warning to the Nigerian government in 2012 of an upcoming BH offensive. This was discarded and instead other advice was accepted – such advice intimating that all is good and well, when in fact it wasn’t. By accepting unsound advice, governments erode their own powerbases and often bring their legitimacy into question. The populace take note of this as they are not blind or deaf.

Some African governments have apparently chosen to ignore their responsibilities and continue to rely on the West to jump in to solve their problems. The message this propagates is loud and clear to all who care to listen. But, many of these problems are the result of a lack of national strategy, a lack of a national security strategy, poor governance, a lack of direction and so forth – not the result of colonialism. Of course, without sound and credible intelligence, no focussed or realistic strategy can developed. Without valid predictive intelligence, there can be little to no flexibility.

So, back to BH: Where was the intelligence that indicated this was coming? If it was available, why were the armed forces incorrectly trained, equipped and postured and therefore caught by surprise? The same questions can be asked of Cameroon who are now suffering a similar onslaught.

The toppling of Ghadaffi must surely have allowed the intelligence services to make very valid intelligence predictions. Why didn’t they?

Yes, the colonial borders will always remain a point of disagreement but, we cannot continue blaming them for what is now happening. Besides, do you think any of our governments will willingly hand over large tracts of their territory to a neighbouring government? Personally, I doubt it.

The bottom line is that Africa needs to wake up and take control of itself. We cannot continue looking to the West to solve problems we in many instances have caused ourselves.

08-08-2014, 04:43 PM
Eighteen months ago I was party to a conversation with Africa watchers about BH. One watcher with years of experience in Nigeria remarked that Western diplomats had been warned about BH, but dismissed the threat. When the chat turned to Cameroon it was noted that non-French engagement was minimal - almost as if the country didn't exist. It was claimed that there was no UK capacity to even review what Cameroon's security forces had and what was needed.

Bill Moore
08-08-2014, 10:53 PM
Dayuhan, I don’t comment on this site for numerous reasons.
However, I need to point out that as “mercenaries” we operated – and still operate -under the domestic laws of the governments that contracted us. That places us in a very different position to other PMCs that operate under their own country’s domestic laws and are therefore not accountable to the host government’s laws. Although we were (and still are) usually called when all other options have failed and the contracting government is close to collapse, we apply and enforce a very strict code of conduct.
I can also add that many of the African troops we have recently encountered and that have been trained by foreign military advisors and PMCs need to be retrained as their “training” has been shocking at best. Similarly, advice given to some African governments by “foreign Africa specialists” has been very poor and in many cases, has done more harm than good.
A lack of credible intelligence, unrealistic strategies, poor operational designs and ill-prepared troops can never result in success. Add to that a lack of political and military will and a misunderstanding of the enemy and his support base and, at best, you have a disaster in the making.
Considering the above, it will most certainly pose “untenable limits on an intervention, it's better not to go there in the first place”.

After thinking about this awhile I do agree we (the U.S.) generally do a very poor job at training foreign troops, despite all our hoopla to the contrary. I won't bore everyone with why that is, it is just the way it is. A self-evident truth that our leadership refuses to recognize.

I think your comments about unrealistic strategies, poor operational designs, etc., if directed against the U.S. military, may be overstated. You stated you work for the state that hired you as a mercenary. I assume in most cases that state believes they have a significant threat, and are looking for a military solution, which is why they hired you.

In contrast, when the U.S. military deploys to Africa we normally are subordinate to our State Department. This is a huge difference, our State Department is using the military as a foreign policy tool to further their diplomatic objectives. They don't care about winning, and they certainly don't share the same level of threat to their diplomacy interests that the state we're supporting feels.

When the U.S. military is in the lead, as it was in the initial phases of our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military did a great job of defeating its adversaries in battle. What came after that is where we lost our direction and momentum. Mercenaries supporting an existing government don't have the same issues of dealing with what comes next after a government falls. On the other hand, this is where we have failed repeatedly. Until we toss out our naïve ideas of installing the least stable form of government, a newly formed democracy, as an end state and develop an occupation doctrine we'll continue to fail when we oust governments with our military.

I think if you take some of our higher end SOF units and better trained light infantry units and allow them to focus on hunting the adversary, like EO appeared to do in Sierra Leone, they would do quite well. Like any military unit operating in a new area they'll have to go through an initial learning curve.

Lots and lots of other issues, but I think the difference of a military unit for working for a state or their diplomatic corps is a significant difference that results in very different outcomes.

Bill Moore
08-08-2014, 10:56 PM
Eighteen months ago I was party to a conversation with Africa watchers about BH. One watcher with years of experience in Nigeria remarked that Western diplomats had been warned about BH, but dismissed the threat. When the chat turned to Cameroon it was noted that non-French engagement was minimal - almost as if the country didn't exist. It was claimed that there was no UK capacity to even review what Cameroon's security forces had and what was needed.

If it is a Francophone country is it so unusual that the UK wouldn't get involved? I think the appropriate question is are the French helping? The next question is are they coordinated efforts across the borders since the threat doesn't reside in our nicely defined geographical boundaries?

08-08-2014, 11:46 PM
If it is a Francophone country is it so unusual that the UK wouldn't get involved? I think the appropriate question is are the French helping? The next question is are they coordinated efforts across the borders since the threat doesn't reside in our nicely defined geographical boundaries?

The Cameroon is a relatively new nation, being formed from two colonies, one British and one French. Upon independence the UK's interest evaporated, the French were far happier to stay around. According to a little reseach after this chat I found the French did have a military linkage, although like most of Africa small arms were of communist origin. Wiki:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameroon

The president has been in power since 1982, which suggests - well, fossilisation.:wry:

Regarding the cross-border coordination; of late statements of intent exist, but I have my doubts it means much.

Bill Moore
08-09-2014, 02:59 AM
Thanks for the info, I did a little digging and learned that both English and French are official languages, and according the CIA fact book 20% of the population is Muslim. Couldn't find much on Cameroon on our State Department website, which indicates that we're not paying much attention to it either.

SWJ Blog
10-24-2014, 11:02 AM
A Small War in Cameroon (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/a-small-war-in-cameroon)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/a-small-war-in-cameroon) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

12-29-2014, 12:58 PM
Boko Harem have long crossed the western border into Cameroon, in recent months meeting resistance and a military response. Events there are rarely reported directly. The BBC has two reports:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-30623199 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-30623199)http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-30078626

01-16-2015, 05:08 PM
Once again Chad's military are likely to fight next door, this time in the Cameroon; previously they have been in Mali and the CAR - each time they left after criticism, if downright public opposition to their presence.

Earlier today a former British defence adviser in Nigeria, in a BBC radio interview, dismissed proposed external assistance to Nigeria's military would either help or be asked for.

03-04-2015, 12:05 AM
Thomas Fessy (BBC World Service) has a lengthy report on:
At last, Nigeria and its neighbours - Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin - have a plan for their Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to fight Boko Haram's Islamist militants. The plan has now been approved by the African Union.

Numerous un-named diplomats are cited,, who are shall I say cautiously optimistic. Just how Nigeria, with possibly a new President will respond is very unclear IMHO.

04-15-2015, 08:14 PM
Cameroon, Nigeria's eastern neighbour rarely features in external reporting, partly as its president has been in power since 1982, so hat tip to WoTR for a review:http://warontherocks.com/2015/04/fight-boko-haram-by-aiding-cameroon/?singlepage=1

Cameroon the author says has similar features to Nigeria (its far richer n'bor), in particular between the Christian south and the poorer Muslim north.

05-14-2015, 09:04 AM
Lindsey Hilsum, UK C4's chief international reporter, has been in Northern Cameroon, where Nigerian activity appears to be pushing Boko Haram across the international border - which straddles the local tribe, numbers of whom are with Boko Haram.

There is a six minute fim clip:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKSWiKzC4P0

Her written report:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/13/on-the-border-and-in-the-crossfire-cameroons-war-with-boko-haram

07-26-2015, 06:30 PM
A five part series in the 'New African' magazine (new to me) and one refers to the campaign in the Cameroon against Boko Haram. The first reasonably in-depth article I've seen:http://newafricanmagazine.com/inside-boko-haram/

Though when you read a passage like this I do wonder if the PR "spin" has been accepted without question:
The Defence Ministry’s head of communications, Lieutenant Colonel Didier Badjeck, claims that Cameroonian forces have killed 2,000 militants. Nouma says around 600 fighters are in Maroua prison. Apart from hideouts in the Mandara Mountains, Boko Haram holds no territory in Cameroon. This success has come at the cost of 14 soldiers killed in action and 31 wounded in the first five months of 2015.

Interesting to note the role of snipers.

07-26-2015, 06:44 PM
Most of the posts on the Cameroon were in the current Nigeria thread and thirteen have been copied here today.

The threads title was Cameroonian Soldiers killed in the Bakassi, a border dispute with Nigeria in 2007 and now IIRC settled amicably.

The new title is Cameroon: in the shadow of Nigeria.

12-28-2015, 07:41 PM
In FP's emailed Situation Report:
Obama announced the deployment of 300 commandos to Cameroon to work with the security forces from Cameroon, Chad, Benin, Niger and Nigeria in a bid to bolster the local effort against the Nigeria-based Boko Haram militant group.

The NYT has a little more:
Mr. Obama announced in October that he had ordered 300 troops, most of them special operators, to Cameroon ...The American troops, Mr. Obama said, would provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for the region, largely by operating unarmed surveillance drones. The troops would not engage in combat, he said.

An interesting deployment, especially as Nigeria has officially - under the current and previous presidencies - did not have good working relations. Plus to my recollection Cameroon has not had a previous US deployment, for example an elite unit was Israeli-trained.

03-02-2016, 12:53 PM
A rarity, a US journalist reports from the Cameroon, after spending time "out & about" looking and asking questions. Yes the title implies the focus is on newly opened, expanding facility for US drones - there is more:https://theintercept.com/2016/02/25/us-extends-drone-war-deeper-into-africa-with-secretive-base/? (https://theintercept.com/2016/02/25/us-extends-drone-war-deeper-into-africa-with-secretive-base/?comments=1#comments)

On the much-heralded (in 2015) regional, multi-national force:
The new multinational force had gotten up and running in November, he said, adding that most of the soldiers belonged to the BIR — “among the best troops in Cameroon.” But other sources told me that the multinational force had been beset by internal feuding. The Nigerian military was demanding a leadership role, and the Chadians and Cameroonians were resisting. The feuding had slowed the integration of the three nations’ soldiers into a single unit; the “multinational force” along Cameroon’s border, for example, was still almost entirely made up of Cameroonians, and by the time I caught up with the officer in mid-January, it had made only four brief incursions into Nigeria.

03-26-2016, 04:45 PM
A short BBC World Service report from northern Cameroon, including some comments by the local military (BIR) and gendarmerie commanders on changing Boko Haram tactics:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-35838112

04-29-2016, 12:11 PM
An overview by an ICG analyst:https://sustainablesecurity.org/2016/04/06/qa-boko-haram-in-cameroon/

A couple of key points:
...the military cooperation between Chad and Nigeria or Nigeria and Cameroon that, despite the bottlenecks recorded at the beginning, has improved significantly over recent months to the extent that the right of hot pursuit is now a reality....No serious brainstorming is done on development issues and the fight against radicalization at the regional level. In the same light, no reflection has been initiated on the ways to end this crisis now that Boko Haram is weakened.

03-18-2017, 07:53 PM
So after four months of disorder in the English-speaking region of Cameroon a Nairobi-based reporter writes a report and he headline:
A nation divided: tensions mount in Cameroon as English speakers marginalised by Francophone majorityLink:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/18/nation-divided-tensions-mount-cameroon-english-speakers-marginalisedby/

I had not seen any reporting of this, but one must wonder if Boko Haram are the winners here.

The BBC World Service two weeks ago had a radio podcast:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04tnn64

04-04-2017, 09:20 PM
A comprehensive overview and update on Cameroon's northern province and Boko Haram:http://oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefing_papers_and_reports/cameroon%E2%80%99s_far_north_responding_boko_haram

02-17-2018, 10:08 PM
Not exactly a surprise, this report indicates there is a level of violence, bitterness over the government's response, refugees and Nigeria extraditing dissident leaders back to the Cameroon.

06-08-2018, 07:39 AM
A short article, with plenty of photos:
Ruthless violence between francophone state forces and English-speaking separatists has forced tens of thousands of Cameroonians into Nigeria, splintering families and leaving many people sleeping rough, without access to staples such as food, clothing and education.....At least 160k are displaced inside Cameroon, and more than 21k have fled to Nigeria to escape what has been described by bishops as “blind, inhuman, monstrous violence (http://natimesnews.com/2018/05/17/anglophone-crisis-cameroon-bishops-decry-blind-inhuman-monstrous-violence-in-anglophone-regions/)”.

06-25-2018, 02:57 PM
A BBC News investigation, found thanks to a "lurker". A nine minute video:
Could Cameroon be the site of Africa’s next civil war?BBC’s Africa Eye has found evidence of torture and abuse by both sides of a conflict involving French-speaking government forces and fighters from the country’s minority English-speaking regions.

One unit involved the BIR (Rapid Intervention Battalion) has been trained by Israel and USA - for the anti-Boko Haram campaign.

07-27-2018, 07:03 PM
A BBC News investigation, found thanks to a "lurker". A nine minute video:

One unit involved the BIR (Rapid Intervention Battalion) has been trained by Israel and USA - for the anti-Boko Haram campaign.

Please read the link below and watch the video.


Togo has also been in turmoil, its dictator doesn't want to leave.

Troubling times.

09-24-2018, 04:29 PM
The previous post, in July 2018, referred to a short video clip circulating and allegedly showed Cameroon soldiers killing civilians - which was denied. Now a BBC News investigation, based on a close examination of the video, matching open source information and some sources within the army:
In July 2018 a horrifying video began to circulate on social media. It shows two women and two young children being led away at gunpoint by a group of Cameroonian soldiers. The captives are blindfolded, forced to the ground, and shot 22 times. The government of Cameroon initially dismissed the video as “fake news.” But BBC Africa Eye, through forensic analysis of the footage, can prove exactly where this happened, when it happened, and who is responsible for the killings


The suspects have now been arrested and await an investigation / trial.

10-02-2018, 04:54 PM
Vice News report on Ambazonia, the breakaway region and the harsh government reaction.

10-05-2018, 07:00 PM
A BBC News report, it appears to be based on the three analysts spoken to and has differences from the Vice News report. Notably that the rebels have modern firearms, whilst Vice reported no such weapons.

11-01-2018, 08:31 PM
Via The Soufan Group and BLUF:

On October 22, Cameroon’s presidential election results were announced and President Paul Biya won a seventh term as president and will serve a seven-year term in office.
Several violent separatist groups have formed in the region and seek an independent state, while violent clashes have occurred between the French-speaking majority and the English-speaking minority.
The majority of violent separatist attacks have targeted Cameroon’s security forces, but civilians, schools and state-owned companies have also been attacked. Cameroon’s security forces have responded indiscriminately, and often with a heavy-hand.
There is a growing humanitarian crisis in the Anglophone region, with between 160,000 and 300,000 people displaced and 600 killed, including 160 members of the security forces. Approximately 30,000 Cameroonians have fled to Nigeria as refugees.


07-13-2019, 07:21 PM
May be different:
The government of Cameroon this week began rolling out an unlikely weapon in the fight against Boko Haram militants. Authorities are distributing thousands of goats and sheep to young Cameroonians in villages along with border with Nigeria.
The program aims to providing livestock for a basic income in order to stop the Islamist militant group’s recruiting tactics. The hope is that the livestock will empower thousands of vulnerable families and stop them from joining the extremists, who promise jobs.