TIME europe

Germany Says ‘Nein’ to Greece Bailout Request

Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras listens to Greek President Karolos Papoulias during their meeting at Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece on Feb. 18, 2015.
Thanassis Stavrakis—AP Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras listens to Greek President Karolos Papoulias during their meeting at Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece on Feb. 18, 2015.

Climb-down still leaves doubts in Germany that Athens is serious about implementing reforms

Greece caved in to pressure from the rest of the Eurozone Thursday and asked for an extension of its bailout program.

But euphoria in financial markets lasted less than two hours before the German finance ministry said the request wasn’t “substantial” and didn’t offer enough guarantees that it would continue to implement reforms.

Berlin’s rejection came barely an hour after Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem had confirmed that the Eurogroup’ (comprising the Eurozone’s 19 finance ministers) would meet again Friday in Brussels to discuss the request.

The statement was unusual in that, while Germany has traditionally led the group of creditors driving a hard line at bailout negotiations for six countries over the last five years, it has rarely done anything to pre-empt discussions so thoroughly.

A deal on Friday would buy time for the new Greek government to validate its promise of cracking down on corruption and collecting more taxes, particularly from the business elite that has successfully avoided them in the past. Greece’s government hopes it could then agree a new and less onerous deal with the creditors that would allow it to recover faster.

Greece’s €240 billion program is due to expire at the end of the month, after which it will lose access to over €10 billion ($11.5 billion) of aid. On Monday, the Eurogroup had given Greece an ultimatum on extending the deal, telling finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to either take it or leave it.

A text of the request published by Reuters Thursday indicated that the government pledged to abide by all its previous commitments and recognize the bailout as legally binding. However, the wording of its first point implied that Greece wants to haggle over implementing reforms demanded by the original bailout agreement–an impression reinforced this week as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised to introduce new laws rolling back some of the agreement’s key provisions.

A spokesman for Germany’s finance ministry dismissed it as “not a substantial proposal for a solution. In reality, it aims for a bridging loan without fulfilling the demands of the program.”

Even so, the request is still a major climbdown for the new government, led by Tsipras’ radical left-wing Syriza party, which swept to power on a pledge to overthrow the bailout agreement in January and subsequently declared it “dead”. It pledges to honor all of Greece’s debts and, just as importantly, to continue accepting monitoring visits from the three institutions that have overseen Athens’ implementation of the bailout to date, the hated “troika” of European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.

The request comes less than a day after the ECB subtly, but nonetheless significantly, increased the pressure on Greece by voting only a minimal increase in the amount of cash that Greek banks can access from it.

Greeks have reportedly been pulling deposits out of the banking system in increasing numbers recently, scared at the prospect of their country being forced out of the Eurozone. The increase of only €3.3 billion in the ceiling on Emergency Lending Assistence might have left banks unable to honor requests for withdrawals. The banks are already effectively barred from the ECB’s regular lending operations because the ECB no longer considers Greek government debt as good enough collateral.

The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung had reported earlier Thursday that the ECB would rather impose capital controls on Greece than allow its banking system to continue being drained of resources. However, the ECB later denied this, saying that: “There was no discussion on capital controls in the Governing Council and any reporting on this is incorrect.”

This story updates an earlier version published before the German government issued its statement.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME United Kingdom

Watch Prince William Wish China a Happy New Year in Mandarin

The Duke of Cambridge will visit China in March

Prince William gave his best wishes for the Chinese New Year in Mandarin in a video broadcast on Chinese television

After a brief greeting, the British Prince concluded his message in Mandarin. “I wish you a happy Chinese New Year and good luck in the Year of the Sheep,” he says, according to a Xinhua translation.

The Duke of Cambridge will arrive in Beijing on March 1 to launch a cultural exchange program as the two countries aim to mend ties that were upset in 2012 after Prime Minister David Cameron met with the exiled Dalai Lama. Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Britain later this year.

TIME United Kingdom

U.K. Defense Secretary Says Russia is a ‘Danger’ to Baltic States

British Defence Minister Michael Fallon arrives at the Cabinet Office in central London in 2015.
Leon Neal—AFP/Getty Images British Defence Minister Michael Fallon arrives at the Cabinet Office in central London in 2015.

The same day, Russian jets were spotted off the UK coast

The U.K. Defense Secretary said there is a “real and present danger” of Russia trying to destabilize the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Michael Fallon told reporters Wednesday, “I’m worried about Putin. I’m worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing Nato,” BBC reports. Fallon said he was concerned that Putin would use the same tactics he’s been testing in Ukraine on Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, so Nato must be prepared for more Russian aggression.

The three Baltic states, like Ukraine, were once part of the Soviet Union and have significant Russian-speaking minorities.

Fallon’s statements came the same day as two Russian military aircraft were coas off south-west England. Royal Air Force jets escorted the Russian bombers away from the UK.

TIME Greece

Greece Climbs Down and Asks For Euro Bailout

A man makes a transaction at an ATM outside a National Bank of Greece branch in Athens, Feb. 19, 2015.
Alkis Konstantinidis—Reuters A man makes a transaction at an ATM outside a National Bank of Greece branch in Athens, Feb. 19, 2015.

The conditions of the bailout could remain a sticking point

On Monday, Greece was given an ultimatum on extending its bailout and told to take it or leave it. On Thursday, it took it, or rather, it at least said it would like to take it.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs the ‘Eurogroup’ (comprising the Eurozone’s 19 finance ministers), confirmed via his Twitter feed that the group will meet again Friday in Brussels to discuss a request from Athens for a six-month “extension” of the bailout program.

The program was due to expire at the end of the month, after which Greece would have lost access to over €10 billion ($1.15 billion) of aid.

Separately, Reuters reported a Greek official as confirming that Athens had asked to extend to its “Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement” with the euro zone.

In keeping with the frequently surreal semantic quibbling of recent weeks, the official insisted the government was proposing different terms from its current bailout obligations. However, Reuters said that the government, in its request, pledged to abide by all its previous commitments and recognize the bailout as legally binding.

If that’s the case, then Thursday’s developments represent a major de-escalation of the growing crisis and significantly lower the risk of the situation spiralling out of control in the near term.

It’s also a major climbdown for the new government, led by the radical left-wing Syriza party, which swept to power on a pledge to overthrow the bailout agreement in January and subsequently declared it “dead”. According to Reuters, the government Thursday even accepted to continue accepting monitoring visits from the three institutions that have overseen Athens’ implementation of the bailout to date, the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.

The Greek government’s apparent U-turn came less than a day after the ECB subtly increased the pressure on it by allowing only a minimal increase in the amount of cash it was willing to let Greek banks access.

Greeks have reportedly been pulling deposits out of the banking system in increasing numbers recently, scared at the prospect of their country being forced out of the Eurozone. The increase of only €3.3 billion in the ceiling on Emergency Lending Assistence might have left banks unable to honor requests for withdrawals

The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung had reported earlier Thursday that the ECB would rather impose capital controls on Greece than allow its banking system to continue being drained of resources. However, the ECB later denied this, saying that: “There was no discussion on capital controls in the Governing Council and any reporting on this is incorrect.”

A deal on Friday would buy time for the new Greek government to validate its promise of cracking down on corruption and collecting more taxes, particularly from the business elite that has successfully avoided them in the past. However, it remains to be seen how Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will reconcile Thursday’s promise to abide by the bailout with his declared intention to introduce new laws rolling back some of its key provisions.

TIME On Our Radar

Nine Argentinian Photographers You Need to Follow

Argentinian photography boasts a coterie of brilliant, established artists.

Once one of the richest countries in the world, with a per capita income comparable to France and Germany, Argentina experienced political and economic turmoils during the latter half of the 2oth Century that saw the country fall into recession.

This sense of instability, it could be argued, has influenced an entire generation of photographers and artists. Their creativity, perhaps, seems to arise not only from the country’s strong visual tradition but also from a seeming lack of access to resources; a lack that seems to stimulate a process of analyzing, understanding and narrating everyday life. In this context, Argentinian photography may be slowly finding its feet internationally, but it still boasts a coterie of brilliant, established artists.

Alejandro Chaskielberg (Buenos Aires, 1977) – Alejandro Chaskielberg brings an original style to the field of documentary photography, characterized by precise composition and a cinema-like use of light. His images are mesmerizing stories that tell us a lot about the subjects and their nocturnal worlds. Widely known for his work La Creciente, a project shot in full moon nights at the Parana River Delta, he was recently awarded the prestigious Iberoamerican Photobook Award for his latest work Otsuchi Future Memories on the remains of the Japanese beach village hit by a tsunami in 2011.

Alessandra Sanguinetti (New York, 1968) Raised in Argentina, where she lived from 1970 to 2003, Alessandra Sanguinetti studied at the International Center of Photography in New York and joined Magnum in 2007. Many of her most poignant works are related to childhood and daily life. Her images are free of visual cliche and seem partially autobiographical, betraying a strong connection between photographer and subject. In this sense, The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and The Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams, a long-term project on the lives of two cousins living in a rural area, could be seen as her signature work.

Marcelo Brodsky (Buenos Aires, 1954) Marcelo Brodsky studied photography in Barcelona during a period of exile from Argentina in the 1980s. His photography covers human rights issues, as well as the passage of time. Buena Memoria, his most representative work, references the two classmates from the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires kidnapped and murdered during the military dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla. The work is a lucid and touching picture of how the turbulent political scene of the second half of the 20th Century affected everyday life. Brodsky is still active and has recently launched a visual action in support of the 43 students kidnapped in Iguala, Mexico.

Rodrigo Abd (Buenos Aires, 1976) Rodrigo Abd is a staff photographer for the Associated Press who has been covering the most significant conflicts of the last decade. The war in Afghanistan, the Arab Spring and gang-related drug trade in Guatemala are just some of the stories he has documented. His work is characterized by a close approach to the subject and a deep understanding of social and historical contexts. His powerful images have been recognized with prestigious awards such as the 2012 World Press Photo in General News Singles and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize.

Ananké Asseff (Buenos Aires, 1971) Ananké Asseff’s conceptual photography seems to originate from an intense journey into paranoia and fear, themes that are always present in her work. The subjects portrayed in their homes holding guns in her series Potential, one of her most recognized works, seem to represent the feeling of insecurity among the Argentinian bourgeoisie of the mid 2000s. Indeed, hypothetical danger is typically found in her work, and a sense of tension seems to connect one image to the next. She often plays with other elements such as aesthetics, colors and composition to an impressive effect.

Esteban Pastorino (Buenos Aires, 1972) Esteban Pastorino explores the artist’s creative process and questions our perception of reality. In projects like Aérea 2005-2010, for example, he uses Kite Aerial Photography — a sort of precursor of drone photography — to lift cameras and shoot from previously inaccessible vantage points. The results are ambiguous images that subvert reality and transform real places into fantasy worlds.

Irina Werning (Buenos Aires, 1976) Irina Werning’s work focuses on daily life. Among her pieces, the celebrated Back to the Future, stands out. Here, she recreates, years later, moments taken from her subject’s childhood photographs. The simplicity of these portraits promotes an understanding not only of the physical changes we go through, but also examines the social backgrounds of her subjects.

Marcos López (Gálvez, Santa Fe, 1958) Marcos Lopez has been describing contemporary society in Argentina and across the continent for decades. His characteristic use of color and composition tell us about diverse social circumstances, customs and stereotypes with a hint of sarcasm. Latin American society itself is the protagonist here, depicted in a melodramatic and surrealistic way. Lopez speaks of everyday life without being afraid of self-analysis or letting go of his own sense of humor.

Nicolas Janowski (Buenos Aires, 1980) Nicolas Janowski covers various social themes across the Latin American continent through a very personal point of view, one characterized by a dream-like transformation of the people and places documented. In The Blurred City, Janowski invites us to rethink a megalopolis like Buenos Aires as an open-air theater where the most diverse and unexpected things can happen. In The Liquid Serpent, Janowski brings us on a deep journey in the Amazonian forest where everything seems to melt into one mass, encouraging a viewer to reexamine reality.

Giuseppe Oliverio is the Founder and CEO of the Photographic Museum of Humanity

TIME Ukraine

Ukrainian President Poroshenko Asks for U.N. Peacekeepers to Enforce Truce

Ukrainian soldiers from a unit based in Zaporizhia repair the bullet-shattered windshield of a truck after taking fire during their withdrawal from Debaltseve the previous day on Feb. 19, 2015 in Artemivsk.
Brendan Hoffman—Getty Images Ukrainian soldiers from a unit based in Zaporizhia repair the bullet-shattered windshield of a truck after taking fire during their withdrawal from Debaltseve the previous day on Feb. 19, 2015 in Artemivsk.

"The promise of peace is not being kept" by rebel forces, he said

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called for the U.N. to intervene in his country’s escalating internal crisis on Wednesday, asking for peacekeeping forces to be deployed to enforce a cease-fire he claims is being violated by pro-Russian rebels.

Poroshenko said the peacekeepers would help maintain security “in a situation where the promise of peace is not being kept,” the BBC reports.

The president’s request, which came soon after the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the strategic eastern transport hub of Debaltseve, got the approval of Ukraine’s national security and defense council at an emergency meeting Wednesday night.

More than 2,000 government troops retreated from Debaltseve on Wednesday, and reports said about 22 soldiers had been killed in combat over the past three days. Rebel leaders had insisted the cease-fire, brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany in Minsk last week, did not apply to the town since they had already taken control of it before the agreement.

[BBC]

TIME China

A Viral Video Urges Chinese Parents to Welcome LGBT Kids Home This Lunar New Year

The short film has become a holiday hit in China

This week, hundreds of millions of Chinese will crowd on to planes, trains, cars and motorbikes to make their way home for chun jie, or spring festival. It is a celebration — cue the fireworks — and a chance to reunite with loved ones after months, even years, away. It is also a time to eat, a time to rest, and, for many, a time to field a whole lot of questions from family members: Where’s your girlfriend? When are you getting married? Don’t you know we want a grandchild?

For LGBT folks in China, those questions can be particularly tough. Though China decriminalized gay sex in the late 1990s, stigma and discrimination persist in the workplace and at home, as documented in a report by the UNDP released last year. Though many find a degree of freedom and acceptance in China’s big, booming cities, some struggle to discuss their gender and sexual identities with their parents — a fact that prompted the Chinese branch of PFLAG (formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) to make a short film about the issue.

The video, Coming Home, tells the story of a young man who summons the courage to talk to his mom about being gay, only to be criticized and cast out. After a long period of heartache and estrangement, his mother comes around, tearfully welcoming him home. As the credits roll, real mothers speak directly to the camera, offering words of encouragement and advice to young people facing the journey.

The message to parents: “Accept your children, welcome them home.” And for children: “Don’t give up. Your parents might not understand today, but maybe they will tomorrow.” It’s a sentiment that obviously struck a chord: the video has already racked up 100 million views.

Read next: New Google Doodle Honors Chinese New Year

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Ukraine

Scenes From Eastern Ukraine Show Cease-Fire in Shreds

Twenty-two soldiers were killed in the last few days before Ukrainian troops pulled out of the town of Debaltseve

Ukrainian troops pulled out of the besieged town of Debaltseve on Wednesday as pro-Russian rebels advanced despite a cease-fire agreed upon last week.

The strategic town was the site of intense bombardment by rebel forces, and clashes left at least 22 Ukrainian soldiers dead in the past few days, according to Reuters. On Wednesday, President Petro Poroshenko announced the withdrawal of some 2,000 government troops, casting the move in a positive light as the end of an operation in the town.

The images above reveal the devastation that the fighting has wrought on troops and the local community around Debaltseve. The clashes have continued even after Russian President Vladimir Putin negotiated a cease-fire with Germany and France last week in Belarus.

 

TIME Syria

Why Syria’s Rebels Fear Assad’s Ceasefire Promise

A general view shows damaged buildings along a deserted street and an area controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad, as seen from a rebel-controlled area at the Bab al-Nasr frontline in Aleppo, Feb. 10, 2015.
Hosam Katan—Reuters A general view shows damaged buildings along a deserted street and an area controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad, as seen from a rebel-controlled area at the Bab al-Nasr frontline in Aleppo, Feb. 10, 2015.

Opposition says Aleppo deal is "like treating a cancer with aspirin"

Much of the Syrian city of Aleppo is little more than rubble, damaged by the intense fighting between rebel and government forces over the last four years. The city’s homes, factories and infrastructure have been destroyed by mortars and air strikes.

So when the Syrian government promised to halt its air bombardment of Aleppo as part of a UN-brokered ceasefire agreement, rebel forces might have been expected to rejoice. But instead, opposition forces are skeptical about the ceasefire — saying it will only shift the battlefront, and not end the war or decrease the violence.

“Why should the people of Idlib die and the people of Aleppo live?” asks Louay Al Mokdad, a former spokesperson for the Free Syrian Army, the western-backed rebels fighting Assad’s forces. Al Mokdad says a government commitment to stop air strikes in Aleppo would only mean Assad diverting his war planes to other Syrian cities.

The plan masterminded by Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, includes a U.N.-monitored “freeze zone” for the city that once had 2 million residents and is now one of the most hostile fronts of the Syrian war, where opposition rebels battle both government forces and fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The goal of the “freeze zone” will be to calm the violence and allow humanitarian access to the area. But even as de Mistrura announced that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is willing to commit to a six-week ceasefire, government forces clashed with rebels around Aleppo.

Opposition forces say the Syrian regime has no interest in ending hostilities. “This will just allow the regime to send its forces to fight another place, rebuild and bring in more [Shiite] militias to support them,” says Al Mokdad.

In other parts of the country, local rebel groups have signed ceasefires with government forces—but analysts and opposition leaders say these are usually agreed under duress, making them more like surrender agreements than ceasefires. While this has provided some relief for civilian populations in those areas, military forces have been shifted to other frontlines, not taken off the battlefield.

“Ceasefires are part of the regime’s military strategy,” says Noah Bonsey, the International Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst on Syria. “When the regime has reached these agreements–generally on terms favorable to it–it is then free to re-deploy its forces elsewhere.”

This has further incentivized the regime’s military tactic of collective punishment of the civilian population, Bonsey says. Civilians without access to food, water and medical supplies puts pressure on local rebel forces to broker with the government.

Bonsey says for a freeze like the one suggested by de Mistura to have a positive impact, it will need to be fundamentally different than these previous local agreements. It will need to be equitable and to guarantee military forces from both sides aren’t simply shifted to other fronts.

Children walk on the debris of a damaged building at al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo Feb. 16, 2015.
Hosam Katan—ReutersChildren walk on the debris of a damaged building at al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Feb. 16, 2015.

But the ceasefire would at least give local populations relief from the daily mortar fire and air bombardment and get them much needed supplies. “The aim of the freeze is to primarily reach a reduction of violence for the civilians of Aleppo,” says Juliette S. Touma, Spokesperson for the UN Special Envoy for Syria, “and help accelerate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to people in need, including the displaced who fled the ongoing violence.”

Assad’s goal in negotiating this ceasefire may be less about relief for his citizens and more about winning support internationally, making him look more willing than the rebels to put down his weapons. As international efforts against ISIS grow, Assad’s regime is creeping back into the circle of international legitimacy. “The regime is interested in any steps that bring western countries closer toward acknowledging it as a partner and returning some level of legitimacy,” says Bonsey.

De Mistura and his Syria envoy hope Aleppo will pave the way for a political solution to the conflict that has killed more than 200,000 Syrians. But opposition forces fear that the ceasefire will only end up entrenching the status quo–the regime and its war planes against the poorly armed and trained rebels– not move the country toward a resolution to the conflict.

“It’s like treating cancer with an aspirin,” says Al Mokdad. “You can’t fix this problem with aspirin.”

TIME Nigeria

Boko Haram Vows to Disrupt Elections as President Is Deserted by Key Supporter

A boy walks near a banner campaigning for Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan along a street at Campus Square neighborhood in Lagos, Feb. 2, 2015.
Akintunde Akinleye—Reuters A boy walks near a banner campaigning for Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan along a street at Campus Square neighborhood in Lagos, Feb. 2, 2015.

Goodluck Jonathan needs more time to take on Boko Haram and win the election

It’s never a good sign when your political mentor starts publically questioning your decisions as President, particularly if he is the man who laid the path to the presidency in the first place. For weeks Nigeria’s revered former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, had been quietly criticizing his former protégé and current President Goodluck Jonathan’s ability to combat the Boko Haram militant group. But when the Nigerian election commission announced a six-week postponement of elections to allow for a military operation against the insurgents, Obasanjo turned up the volume, publically insinuating that it was a ploy for the President to cement his position in the face of the rising popularity of his rival Muhammadu Buhari before endorsing Buhari in an interview with the Financial Times.

The elections come at a difficult time for Nigeria. Boko Haram has increased its attacks, and its terrain, over the past few months, expanding into neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon and raising fears for the stability of Africa’s biggest economy and most populous nation. Boko Haram has killed an estimated 13,000 Nigerians, and has abducted more than 1,000 others, including 257 schoolgirls in April. Despite a promised military operation, Nigeria’s ongoing political squabbling continues to prevent a unified national response. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has pledged to disrupt the polls, laying the groundwork for a fraught election season.

It was really only a matter of time before the divorce between Jonathan and Obasanjo became final. No one, however, expected it to be quite so theatrical. In front of a gathering of journalists and members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, Obasanjo handed his membership card to a colleague to be torn up and announced his resignation from the party he helped found in 1999, when he became the country’s first post-dictatorship President. “Henceforth I will only be a Nigerian. I am ready to work with anybody regardless of his or her political affiliation,” he said in a statement that ran in national newspapers on Tuesday. That small act of petulance is likely to have far-reaching consequences for Jonathan’s campaign for re-election, already under strain from wide-ranging accusations of incompetence and weakness. While Obasanjo declared that he would not join the opposition, many will interpret it as an endorsement for the party of Buhari.

Shekau pledged to disrupt the elections “at any cost” also on Tuesday in a 15-minute video released via the group’s new Twitter account. “This election will not be held even if we are dead,” he vowed, speaking in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria. As if to prove his point, two suicide attacks killed at least 38 people on the same day the video was released. Two days before, on Feb. 15, a female suicide bomber killed at least 10 passersby in a market, also in the country’s northeast.

The number of Boko Haram attacks has increased dramatically since the announcement of the postponement of the elections, which were slated for Feb. 15. As a result, few Nigerians believe the leadership’s assurances that the insurgency will be defeated in time to allow residents of the northeast, where it is strongest, to vote. “Even if the ongoing military operations smash all the insurgents’ camps, as promised, Boko Haram has shown itself to be highly mobile, tactically adaptable and considerably resilient,” says Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria researcher for the International Crisis Group. “So it is doubtful that the government will achieve an environment sufficiently secure for displaced persons to return home and for the electoral agency to conduct polls all over the northeast on March 28.”

The governments of Chad, Niger and Cameroon have promised to lend a hand by sending troops, but they are finding themselves bogged down with combatting Boko Haram on home turf. Shekau, in previous videos, pledged to attack any country that went after Boko Haram. He has followed through, threatening leaders by name in his video broadcasts, and sending forces and suicide bombers across the borders of all three countries. Cameroon’s army announced on Feb. 17 that it had killed 86 Boko Haram fighters and detained a further 1,000 suspected supporters. On the same day, Niger’s government claimed to have killed 200 rebels, detained 160 supporters, and averted a suicide bomb attack in the town of Diffa. Such assertions are difficult to corroborate. If true, they are an alarming indication of Boko Haram’s reach and strength. Obasanjo may have criticized Jonathan’s inability to manage Boko Haram, but if the combined forces of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon can’t defeat the insurgency with international support, then his successor may also find it difficult.

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