Goodluck Jonathan: Silence isn't inaction

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says he stayed silent about the missing schoolgirls for a good reason

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Silence does not indicate inaction - More than 200 school girls remain missing after they were kidnapped by the Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram in April. Following their abduction, activists from all over the world took to social media to protest their disappearance leading some critics to question Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's relative silence.

In Friday's Washington Post, Mr Jonathan offers his response.

"I have had to remain quiet about the continuing efforts by Nigeria's military, police and investigators to find the girls," he writes. "I am deeply concerned, however, that my silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness."

Mr Jonathan affirms that the Nigerian government and security services will continue to search for the women until they are found and their perpetrators are punished.

"Since 2010, thousands of people have been killed, injured, abducted or forced by Boko Haram, which seeks to overwhelm the country and impose its ideology on all Nigerians," he writes. "My government is determined to make that impossible. We will not succumb to the will of terrorists".

Co-ordination between states is the key to stopping actions like these abductions in the future, he says.

During the next United Nations General Assembly in September, Mr Jonathan says he plans to push for "a UN-coordinated system for sharing intelligence," as well as inter-country special agencies to tackle terrorism regardless of where attacks occur.

"The abduction of our children cannot be seen as an isolated event," he concludes. "Terrorism knows no borders."

The liberal website ThinkProgress notes that Mr Jonathan's opinion piece appeared in the Washington Post thanks to a new, $1.2m [£0.7m] deal the Nigerian president recently signed with the US public relations firm Levick.

"The use of PR firms to place op-eds and other commentary from world leaders is not a rarity," writes Hayes Brown. "As for the effect that the new PR blitz will actually have on changing the narrative, Africa hands are sceptical."

He quotes an Africa expert, Laura Seay, who says that "people on the ground" in Nigeria are going to read Mr Jonathan's column "and laugh, they're going to not believe it, because it's not reflective of the reality."


Landmark peace deal pushes the Philippine economy - When the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel group signed a landmark peace deal with the Philippine government in late March, it was "one of the most remarkable feats of peacemaking in Asia since World War Two," writes Yuriko Koike for the Japan Times.

Since the 1970s, it is estimated that more than 120,000 people have died in separatist violence in Mindanao, the main southern Philippine island, where MILF is based.

"Though questions about the peace agreement's durability remain, with full disarmament yet to take place, the political autonomy granted to the country's Muslim areas seems to have persuaded most MILF fighters that the time has come to end the carnage," she writes.

The recent peace deal, along with the current administration's attempt to end corruption and boost domestic business, have helped the Philippines become Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economy, she says.


Iran and the United States are moving closer to co-operation - Although the possibility of co-operation between Iran and the United States grows as Iraq's stability continues to decline, Iran's "obsession with disruption and instability puts a cap on the possibility of an alliance," writes Abdulaziz Tarabzoni for al Arabiya.

"Tehran's imposed agenda has led to these countries' collapse, a rise in regional sectarianism, and civil war," he writes.

Under the strong influence of Iran, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government in Baghdad has "created tensions and paved the way for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria", Mr Tarabzoni writes.

Pushed by economic hardship, he says, Iran has begun to open more to the West. This new openness is a short-term trend, however, as "Iran's very existence has been dependent on slogans of hating the West, and Washington has to stay aware of that".


A rise in French home-grown jihadists - As the Syrian conflict continues on with no end in sight, countries across the globe are beginning to feel the civil war's effects on their own shores. In France, "stories of home-grown jihadists are becoming tragically familiar," writes Sylvie Kauffmann for the New York Times, with an estimated 700 to 800 French citizens having fought in the conflict since it began.

"Many of the French jihadists come from the banlieues, the segregated suburban housing projects of big cities, but radical Islam also recruits among middle-class families," she writes.

The number of French citizens fighting in Syria has grown 75% during the past six months, she says, leading the former interior minister Manuel Valls to declare jihadism "the greatest danger we will have to face in the next few years".

"Now, as prime minister, he is scrambling for new measures and European co-operation on the issue," she writes. "But his fellow countrymen are still struggling to understand the deeper meaning of this menace in their midst".


Reflecting on Putin's plans - or lack thereof - With the signing of a historic pact today between the EU and Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, some critics are questioning Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent regional meddling.

"What, exactly, has Putin accomplished," asks the Nation's Bob Dreyfuss, "by stoking fires in Ukraine, illegally annexing Crimea, mobilising Russian forces on Ukraine's border, backing thuggish separatists who've created ersatz 'people's republics' in eastern Ukraine, bringing economic sanctions down on Russia, and destroying whatever good will Russia had built up by hosting the Sochi Winter Olympics?"

Russia's involvement in the Ukrainian conflict has cooled relations between Russia and both Europe and the United States, Dreyfuss says, allowing the Obama administration to push the EU to increase military spending and boosting NATO's influence on both sides of the Atlantic.

"Despite some fears that Russia wanted to swallow Ukraine whole, a la Crimea," he concludes, "it seems obvious that Putin is in part trapped by and in part fuelling the almost romantic and religious ties between Russia and Ukraine."

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Middle Eastern commentators wonder whether the recent turmoil in the region will lead to reshape lead to new nations and redrawn borders.

"What can [President Barack] Obama's military experts who have been deployed to Iraq be doing other than supervising partition lines in maps … possibly drawn in collaboration with the Iranians?" - Rajih al-Khuri in Lebanon's al-Nahar.

"No surprise when we see [Iraq Kurdistan Region President Masoud] Barzani openly saying that there is no question about the creation of his Kurdish state in Iraq and that [Isis] has given him a precious gift that he must take advantage of and exploit to make the dream come true… And, no surprise if we see other states, countless states, appearing in the centre, the south, middle of the centre, south of the south, and north of the north just as we see Libya" - Ali Abu-al-Rish in the United Arab Emirates' al-Ittihad.

"The countries surrounding us are in a process of falling in the hands of extreme Islam... Regimes are collapsing, and murderous terror organisations with big capabilities and little inhibitions constitute potential danger for us on all sides." - Yoel Marcus in Israel's Ha'aretz.‎

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