Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nigeria: Update--Dated Grounding of Israeli Surveillance Drones Yet Another Example of Dysfunctional Gov't

According to http://www.haaretz.com, the Nigerian government reportedly purchased Israeli surveillance drones some years ago that might well have been used to hunt for more than 200 girls held by Islamist rebels, yet intentional neglect has left the expensive drones grounded, two official sources and the aircraft's manufacturer said. 

"To the best of our knowledge, these systems aren't operational," Tsur Dvir, marketing officer for Aeronautics Defense Systems, a firm based in Tel Aviv that supplied Nigeria with Aerostar unmanned aerial vehicles, said on Tuesday (May 20).

A Nigerian government source and a former military attache assigned to Abuja confirmed the information, although they said details were sketchy owing to the secretive nature of Israeli-Nigerian military cooperation. 

COMMENT: It is an understatement that the Nigerian government's failure to take good care of equipment provided in the past suggests that a foreign assistance grant could potentially come back and "bite" President Goodluck Jonathan for failure to safeguard equipment that could have made the difference in rescuing the school-girls.

The Nigerian government has made no public statements as to why the Israeli drones were not capably maintained.

It is also not a good sign that those foreign nations that have offered help, including the Israelis, have offered no information as to their progress.

Today is May 21, nearly six weeks since the school-girls were abducted en-mass.

It is not reassuring that President Jonathan or the nations of France, the US, UK and China, including INTERPOL, have failed to make any public statements updating the parents and those nations that have donated their help to the rescue effort.

Considering that the Nigerian government only agreed to accept foreign assistance during the first week of May, the potentiality of ever rescuing the girls appears to looking dimmer and dimmer.

Israel last week sent intelligence and hostage-negotiation officers to Nigeria to work alongside US, British, Chinese and French experts helping the Nigerian authorities in the search, an Israeli official said on Tuesday (May 20).

The April 14 abduction of the girls by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, and the inability of the military to locate them after more than five weeks, have stirred a global outcry. 

A former military attaché said the deal was struck in 2006, with a view to deploying the drones in the oil-producing Niger Delta, where militants were attacking crude pipelines and kidnapping oil workers. The "birds" never were used. 

In December 2013, Nigeria unveiled a locally made drone at an air force base in Kaduna, although it was never deployed.

An Israeli source said the drones were among many procurements that quickly went obsolete owing to lack of maintenance. 

An aerospace industry source said they each drone would have been worth between $15 million and $17 million. 

The US military is already flying manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft over Nigeria to look for the girls, although imagine a country, more than twice the size of California? From the air, the landscape of Nigeria is best described as thick broccoli.

In September 2013, Israel sent operatives to Kenya after al-Shabaab seized the Westgate mall in Nairobi which killed 67 people and injured hundreds.