An advance unit of hundreds of Chadian troops, backed up by a column of tanks, arrived at Cameroon's northern border town of Kousseri Jan. 17, greeted with cheers by local residents terrorized by Boko Haram. The intervention force, approved by Chad's parliament, is to number in the thousands. Days earlier, most of the residents of nearby Kolofata were forced to flee after an attack by Boko Haram. Cameroon troops killed 143 insurgents in a gun battle that lasted more than four hours, the army said. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau this month threatened Cameroon's President Paul Biya in an online video. Biya sent some 1,000 troops to the border to fight Boko Haram after the wife of deputy premier Amadou Ali was captured in July by suspected militants. A French-led initiative calls for Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad to contribute 700 troops each to a multinational force against Boko Haram. (Press TV, Jan. 18; AFP, Jan. 17; BBC News, Bloomberg, Jan. 16)
These nations are also coming together as a bloc over resource exploitation. President Biya signed a law last year allowing Niger to export crude oil through the Chad-Cameroon pipeline. Cameroon’s parastatal National Hydrocarbons Corporation (SNH) reached an agreement in 2013 for Niger to pump its crude through the 1,080-kilometer pipeline to terminals on the Atlantic coast. Niger, which produces 60,000 barrels a day, will build a 600-kilometer duct linking its Agadem bloc to the Chad-Cameroon line. (WSJ, July 24, 2014)
The Chad-Cameroon pipeline opened in 2003, despite criticism over its impacts on indigenous peoples. It has been named one of the strategic interests behind the 2007 establishment of the Pentagon's Africa Command, and proposals for a NATO role in the Sahel.