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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Nigeria, Africa and the War on Terror

The cold war has ended and the war on terror has begun, but the basic tactics of the US foreign policy remains simple and the same. You are either friend or foe. A friend of our friend is a friend, while an enemy of our friend is an enemy. It is that cold war mentality that if you are for the communist you are an enemy.
Recently, Nigeria agreed to a nuclear deal with Iran in which the Iranians would provide information on nuclear technology to Nigeria. Nigeria has said that she could use a nuclear plant since its no news that Nigeria has power issues. The US on the other hand has said that a country like Nigeria could not handle Nuclear Technology. How are we going to deal with the cancer causing wastes? One might think how nice of the US to be very concern with Nigerians, but the US interest in Nigeria is big. The United States has 2 major interests in Nigeria, one in the North and the other in the South. The southern interest has to do with the Niger-Delta and it is Oil. The US get more than 10% of it oil from Nigeria (Niger-Delta), and we all know what happens to oil prices here if some Niger-Delta militant does as much as sneeze. It’s no secret that the US is addicted to oil, President Bush himself said it. The US is like a crack addict with lots of big guns. He’ll do whatever he can to get his fix, especially if the crack dealer refuses to sell to him. The politicians are beginning to recognize this. They know that a continue addiction to foreign oil would bring the country nothing but unnecessary wars. Because, think about what the crack addict in my analogy above would do with his guns, especially if the crack dealer only have knifes. He would grab one of his big guns, maybe a double barrel and pay the dealer a visit. He would first blow the knob of his door, ransack his house until he found the stash and shoot anybody that try to get in his way. This is why the democrats are looking for alternatives, since they are anti-war and all.
The northern interest for the US is about the war on terror. Since the northern population is mainly Muslim, it would be easy for the Jihadists to turn them against the US. So, the US had to guard against this. The Iranian on their part enters into this nuclear pact with Nigeria to antagonize their enemy (The USA) and counter their influence in Nigeria, and also to prove their point that all nations have the right to this technology.
From here, there are 2 options for Nigeria to follow. We can either become pro-US or continue on this path of provoking the US by making nuclear deals with their enemies and refusing their intelligence stations (AFRICOM) on our soil. Their classic response to this as history has shown would be a regime change attempt. They might succeed as it happened with the Abacha regime. They would remove the hostile regime and put a pro-US guy like that former Abia state Governor: Kalu. Regime change is one of US favorite weapons against smaller nations. I remember telling someone that Mugabe would be long gone if Zimbabwe have oil like Nigeria or Iraq. Although, it might be impossible even for the mighty USA to remove a regime backed by its people, the people power can not be underestimated. Even though the US was backing Samuel Doe, he was still defeated by the people. Even in Iraq where majority of the people oppose Saddam, it all had to result in a war for regime change to happen.
In this post-9/11 war on terror, the US has anti-terror interests all over Africa, especially in the horn, because of their closeness to the Middle East. An Obama administration would automatically deliver Kenya completely to the US side of the War. Somalia on the other hand would remain a battle ground. Sudan is pretty much anti-US, and Egypt seems to be in the center. Pretty much all of West Africa is pro-US. Qaddafi seems to be doing his thing in Libya. He use to be very anti-US, helping Charles Taylor and his men defeat the US backed Samuel Doe. His influence in sub-Sahara Africa is bigger than most people might think. I remember a story I read in a Nigerian newspaper years ago. The President of Togo had asked Obasanjo for money to pay his workers. Obasanjo denied him, saying that Nigerians needed the money. So, he went to Qaddafi and got a fat check. Months later when Togo was hosting some kind of African summit and all African leaders were present; Obasanjo was treated like shit, while Qaddafi received a hero’s welcome. Togo’s President had told his people the story and had basically told the workers who paid their salaries and who had denied them money.
A US assistant secretary of state had once said that when it come to dealing with Africa, he had to do what his best for the US even if it hurts Africa since it is the American tax-payers that pays his salaries and not the Africans. I wonder why many of our leaders don’t feel the same way, after-all they are embezzling all of our money. There is a Yoruba proverb that says that wherever two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers the most. How many bombs were dropped on US or Russian soil during the cold war? How many was dropped on Vietnamese and Koreans? This time, it is the war on terror. I think Africans should be asking ourselves weather we want to be the grass in that Yoruba proverb.