By Alex Kasper
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
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the sale of US fighter planes to Nigeria
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
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.
2. Trump to sell planes to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram despite concerns over human rights abuses
Media: Associated Press
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.
3. Pentagon notified U.S. Congress of $593 million military sale to Nigeria
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.
4. Nigeria Says U.S. Agrees Delayed $593 Million Fighter Plane Sale
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.
5. Nigeria to protest U.S. conditions on $494 million purchase of fighter planes
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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