The Rendon Group Snapshot Report: 30 January 2018

by Alex Kasper on January 31, 2018

The sale of US fighter planes to Nigeria


Two-ship formation of SNC/Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos over Kabul, Afghanistan, APR16. (USAF)

On 25JAN18, Nigeria’s Defense Minister Mansur Dan Ali stated that his country will protest the conditions the United States has imposed on its planned $494 million purchase of 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter planes.  The planned deal includes the sale of thousands of bombs and rockets and maintenance services. The protested conditions include a 2020 deadline for transfer of the aircraft, a prohibition on the training and education of Nigerian technicians on the production of the crafts, and an exclusion of Nigerians from working on maintenance crews. The conclusion of the deal has already been long-delayed by controversy. Under former US President Barack Obama the deal was postponed due to concerns about the Nigerian military’s disregard for human rights, demonstrated by incidents such as the 17JAN17 accidental bombing of a refugee camp that killed over 100 civilians. However, in APR17 President Donald Trump’s administration approved the sale, citing support for Nigeria’s efforts to fight Boko Haram militants and boosting US defense jobs. In DEC17, the Nigerian air force announced a formal agreement on the deal.   Defense Minister Dan Ali has not specified whether the disagreement over the current conditions of the deal will affect the air force’s 20FEB18 target for the its official signing and payment.

News summary of events during 15MAY16 – 25JAN18

  • 15MAY16: The Obama administration considered selling Super Tucano aircraft to Nigeria but faced immediate criticism from Senate Democrats and human rights organizations. (NYT)
  • 05DEC16: Nigeria purchased military aircraft from Pakistan and Russia after the United States refused to move forward with the Super Tucano sale. (Newsweek)
  • 17JAN17: A Nigerian fighter jet searching for Boko Haram members accidentally bombed a camp for displaced people who had fled the militants, killing scores. (NYT)
  • 10APR17: The Trump administration appeared likely to sell roughly a dozen ground attack aircraft to Nigeria for the country’s fight against Boko Haram militants. (WP)
  • 08JUN17: US Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressing concerns about selling military gear to Nigeria, citing human rights abuses. (The Cable)
  • 02AUG17: The US State Department approved the sale of warplanes to Nigeria to aid its fight against Boko Haram militants, ending a suspension of weapons sales that followed a deadly military strike on a refugee camp. (GUA)
  • 20NOV17: The US called for Nigeria to probe human rights abuses in the fight against Boko Haram. (AFP)
  • 27DEC17: The Nigerian air force said the US had agreed to to sell 12 Super Tucano A-29 planes to Nigeria (REU)
  • 28DEC17: US Ambassador to Nigeria Stuart Symington expressed the US government’s commitment to helping Nigeria completely defeat the Boko Haram terrorists and also eliminate all forms of terrorism from its territory. (GUA)
  • 25JAN18: Nigerian Defense Minister Mansur Dan Ali said that his country will protest the United States over conditions imposed on its planned $494 million purchase of 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter planes. (REU)

Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the sale of US fighter planes to Nigeria

  • @benedictenasr – Bénédicte Aboul-Nasr, Program Associate, Africa & Peacekeeping, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
  • @FrankSlijper – Frank Slijper, Policy Adviser, PAX
  • @JohnCampbellcfr – John CampbellSr. Fellow for Africa, Council on Foreign Relations
  • @Tomi_Oladipo – Tomi OladipoAfrica Security CorrespondentBBC
  • @twiterlessabe – Abe Kenmore, Reporter, WTD News

Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the sale of US fighter planes to Nigeria

Hilary Matfess, PhD Student, Yale University

“Some in Washington suggested that the sale is a sign of ‘goodwill’ between the US and Nigeria; others suggest the purchase is a vanity project for the Nigerian government. Regardless of the motivations behind the sale, it’s clear that it’s ill-advised and potentially counterproductive.”

  • “Here’s the case against Trump selling Super-T planes to help Nigeria’s battle with Boko Haram,” Quartz, 17APR17

Sarah Margon, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch

[The Nigerian military has a history of attacks that inflict a heavy civilian toll and that the January bombing of the camp for displaced people] “is not the sole example that we have of the air force dropping munitions on civilians…President Trump has made really clear that fighting terrorism, as they define this, is going to be the top foreign policy priority. And that means that the consideration of mitigating circumstances and other issues that could create a problem in the long term will not be at the forefront.” 

  • “U.S. Plans Sale of Warplanes to Nigeria for Fighting Boko Haram,” NYT, 11APR17

Matthew Page, Consultant, former US State Department expert on Nigeria

“U.S. policy makers know full well it’s a flawed deal that ignores longstanding and unresolved human rights concerns…Cash-strapped Nigeria is about to fork over the equivalent of half its defense budget to the world’s wealthiest country for just 12 propeller planes.” 

  • “U.S. Plans Sale of Warplanes to Nigeria for Fighting Boko Haram,” NYT, 11APR17 

J. Peter Pham, Vice President, Head of Africa Center, Atlantic Council

“It’s hard to argue that any country in Africa is more important than Nigeria for the geopolitical and other strategic interests of the U.S.” 

  • “Trump to sell attack planes to Nigeria for Boko Haram fight,” AP, 10APR17

Yan St. Pierre, Counterterrorism Analyst, Modern Security Consulting Group

“If the Air Force is still involved in so-called mopping up operations, which is in itself problematic, that says they still require a heavy hand. They still require a lot of backup to use the Air Force. That means this conflict is anything but over and the situation is actually worse than they presented.”

  • “Death Toll in Nigeria IDP Camp Bombing Climbs to 236,” VOA, 24JAN17 

Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the Nigeria’s protest US conditions on $494 million purchase of fighter planes

1. Nigerian Jet Mistakenly Bombs Refugee Camp, Killing Scores

Media: Associated Press

Byline: N/A

Date: 17 January 2017

DAKAR, Senegal — A Nigerian fighter jet searching for Boko Haram members on Tuesday accidentally bombed a camp for displaced people who had fled the militants, killing dozens of camp residents and at least six humanitarian workers, and wounding numerous others.

The bombing struck a government-run camp in Rann, Nigeria, near the Cameroonian and Chadian borders, an area where Boko Haram had recently increased attacks.

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2. Trump to sell planes to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram despite concerns over human rights abuses

Media: Associated Press

Byline: N/A

Date: 10 April 2017

The Trump administration will move forward with the sale of high-tech aircraft to Nigeria for its campaign against Boko Haram Islamic extremists despite concerns over abuses committed by the African nation’s security forces, according to U.S. officials.

Congress is expected to receive formal notification within weeks, setting in motion a deal with Nigeria that the Obama administration had planned to approve at the very end of Barack Obama’s presidency. The arrangement will call for Nigeria to purchase up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear for nearly $600 million, one of the officials said.

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3. Pentagon notified U.S. Congress of $593 million military sale to Nigeria

Media: Reuters

Byline: Mike Stone

Date: 30 August 2017 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon has notified the U.S. Congress of the sale to Nigeria of 12 Super Tucano A-29 planes and weapons worth $593 million, which the West African country wants for its fight against the militant group Boko Haram.

The Federal Register on Monday published the Aug. 2 notification from the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The sale includes thousands of bombs and rockets and was originally agreed by former President Barack Obama’s administration.

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4.  Nigeria Says U.S. Agrees Delayed $593 Million Fighter Plane Sale 

Media: Reuters

Byline: Paul Carsten

Date: 27 December 2017

ABUJA (Reuters) – The United States has formally agreed to sell 12 Super Tucano A-29 planes and weapons to Nigeria, the West African country’s air force said, confirming the resurrection of a deal frozen by the Obama administration over rights concerns.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama delayed the sale in one of his last decisions in office after the Nigerian Air Force bombed a refugee camp in January.

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5. Nigeria to protest U.S. conditions on $494 million purchase of fighter planes 

Media: Reuters

Byline: Felix Onuah

Date: 25 January 2018

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria will protest to the United States over conditions imposed on its planned $494 million purchase of 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter planes, Defence Minister Mansur Dan Ali said on Thursday.

Those conditions include the 2020 transfer date for the aircraft and that Nigerian technicians will not be trained by U.S. staff, be part of maintenance crews, nor can they study the production of the planes, he told reporters at a briefing in Abuja.

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