Monday, December 05, 2022

US approves $1B arms sale to Nigeria despite rights concerns

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The Biden administration has given Nigeria the green light to buy advanced attack helicopters worth nearly $1 billion despite concerns about the country’s human rights record as it battles threats from criminal gangs and extremists in the north. Is.

The State Department on Thursday announced the approval of the sale of 24 Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters and related equipment to Nigeria for $997 million. Related equipment includes guidance, night vision and targeting systems as well as engines and training aids, the department said in a notice to Congress.

Sales went ahead after Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Abuja in November During this, he expressed concern about Nigeria’s rights record. At the time, however, Blinken also clarified that the United States regards Nigeria as a partner in combating terrorism and Islamic extremism in West Africa and the Sahel, a region along the Sahara Desert extending into North Africa, and Looking to expand cooperation. it in those areas.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a strategic partner in sub-Saharan Africa,” the department told Congress.

The notice said the deal would “better equip Nigeria to contribute to shared security objectives, promote regional stability, and build interoperability with the US and other Western partners” and “better equipped with US and Nigerian security goals”. Will make a big contribution.”

Nigeria’s security forces have long been accused of human rights violations in their operations, with personnel often evading justice.

In October 2020, the military opened fire on a demonstration in the country’s economic center According to a government-backed panel, where hundreds of people were protesting police brutality, 11 people were killed and several others were injured.

During a visit to Blinken in November, he said the US was looking forward to seeing the full results of the investigation and would make a decision on arms sales to Nigeria based on the findings and whether those responsible would be held accountable.

Nigeria also faces a growing threat from armed gangs and extremist insurgents who are now working together in the country’s troubled northwest, threatening to further destabilize an already volatile region.

Analysts believe that Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 206 million people, is reeling from violence in the north and a coalition between the two groups could worsen the crisis.

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