YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon—Since President Paul Biya came to power in 1982, Cameroon has been a sleepy regime with a soft and aging dictator, a nation all but forgotten in a remote corner of the African continent. This has dramatically changed with the spillover of Boko Haram from Nigeria into Cameroon in 2014 and its transformation into a regional threat. Now there is not a single day without reports of Boko Haram attacks in northern Cameroon. Even before it realized what it meant, the Cameroonian regime had become part of the fight against terrorism. After initially downplaying the problem, Cameroon’s leaders are now discovering the challenges and dangers of this new war. This rising, external threat sheds a new light on a forgotten country with a strategic position in Africa. The geography of Cameroon is both its blessing and its curse—a pivot between...

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