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Thread: 'Nigeria: the context for violence' (2006-2013)

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    Default 'Nigeria: the context for violence' (2006-2013)

    From ICG, 3 Aug 06: The Swamps of Insurgency: Nigeria's Delta Unrest
    A potent cocktail of poverty, crime and corruption is fuelling a militant threat to Nigeria’s reliability as a major oil producer. Since January 2006, fighters from a new group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), have fought with government forces, sabotaged oil installations, taken foreign oil workers hostage and carried out two lethal car bombings. MEND demands the government withdraw troops, release imprisoned ethnic leaders and grant oil revenue concessions to Delta groups. The Nigerian government needs to forge far-reaching reforms to administration and its approach to revenue sharing, the oil companies to involve credible, community-based organisations in their development efforts and Western governments to pay immediate attention to improving their own development aid...

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    Follow-up report from ICG, 28 Sep 06: Fuelling the Niger Delta Crisis
    ...Militant groups in the Niger Delta are proliferating and mutating rapidly. Few have expressed goals beyond extorting lucrative payments from industry and government. Others are working on behalf of local politicians with electoral ambitions. Several groups appear at least loosely linked with MEND, the most cohesive and politically astute militant group to emerge so far. MEND’s spokesman has both conceded giving tacit approval to groups that carry out sabotage and kidnappings for ransom and distanced his organisations from such activities. He insists his organisation is no longer interested in carrying out the kind of small-scale attacks that have been a staple of the Niger Delta for years, and is instead preparing to deliver a single, crushing blow to the region’s oil industry unless the government agrees to sweeping economic and political reforms long sought by activists.

    Regardless of whether MEND can or will deliver on such threats, few would dispute that the security situation is deteriorating, with consequences for the oil industry. Militants recognise that they do not have to capture ground or even win major battles to accomplish their goals. They also realise that Nigeria’s military and police are insufficiently trained, unmotivated and illequipped to handle a full-fledged insurgency in the Delta’s unforgiving terrain of swamps and creeks. Shutting down Nigeria’s oil production would hurt the federal government more than any other party to the crisis and create what MEND hopes would be an environment for insurgency to flourish. President Obasanjo and his administration must urgently address the region’s grievances before the security situation further degenerates...

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    ICG appears to be the only source that continues to monitor this situation in-depth:

    Nigeria's Faltering Federal Experiment, dated 25 Oct 06

    ...Escalating violence, especially in the oil rich Niger Delta, threatens the integrity of the Nigerian state and raises the spectre of attempted coups by those who feel their privileges are being endangered. In the 46 years since Nigeria gained independence from Britain, successive governments have attempted, with varying degrees of sincerity and commitment, to fashion federal institutions that can accommodate the country’s ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity and nurture a sense of national unity. However, the leaders of these governments, at all levels, have failed to live up to their obligations to offer good governance based on equitable political
    arrangements, transparent administrative practices and accountable public conduct. Communities throughout the country increasingly feel marginalised by and alienated from the Nigerian state...

    ...The government must address these core causes of the failing federal experiment or risk that Delta militias decapitate the oil industry, intercommunal violence spirals out of control, and ethnic militias, sectarian vigilantes and separatist groups continue to plague communities. Since such a destabilised Nigeria would be highly detrimental to the entire fragile West
    African region, still struggling to recover from the wars in Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, the international community has many reasons to encourage far-reaching reforms.

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    Default Vanity Fair article on Nigerian insurgency

    In the latest Vanity Fair, Sebastian Junger wrote a very good article about Nigerian troubles in the Niger Delta with insurgent groups. It's worth reading.

    Here's the link:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/f...2/junger200702

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    Default A bit more...

    Good link - potential problem when considering this in tandem with M.E. conflicts and our "Hugo problem" down south - here is the intro teaser to the article:

    Blood Oil

    Could a bunch of Nigerian militants in speedboats bring about a U.S. recession? Blowing up facilities and taking hostages, they are wreaking havoc on the oil production of America's fifth-largest supplier. Deep in the Niger-delta swamps, the author meets the nightmarish result of four decades of corruption...

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    Default Globalizing this...

    As an addendum,

    U.S. urges 'fivefold expansion' in Alberta oilsands production
    Last Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2007 | 6:31 AM ET
    CBC News

    The U.S. wants Canada to dramatically expand its oil exports from the Alberta oilsands, a move that could have major implications on the environment.
    ....
    Now I'll go read the article.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Okay, this pretty much ties in with the other material I have read about the Niger delta. It's time to stop acting like conquistadors and invest something in the local economy. After all, do we really want to have to fight a war in Nigeria when, with a minuscule investment in local PR, e.g. schools, clean water, etc., we can stop this insurgency before it starts?

    Honestly, as a Canadian, I don't really have to worry about this. Nigeria is the #5 source of foreign oil to the US. Want to guess what the #1 source is? Canada. If Nigeria goes into a civil war, I won't freeze. Still and all, doesn't it make sense to force the oil companies to invest in local development? It would be a situation of, to quote the great American philosopher Tom Lehrer, "doing well, by doing good."

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member sgmgrumpy's Avatar
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    Default The Swamps of Insurgency: Nigeria’s Delta Unrest. Crisis Group Africa Report N°115, 3

    A decade later, the potential consequences of this conflict have escalated in both human and economic terms across a swathe of territory 30 times the size of Ogoniland. Nigerian and international military experts have recognised that the crisis requires a negotiated political resolution. Any attempt at a military solution would be disastrous for residents and risky for the oil industry. Most facilities are in the maze of creeks and rivers that are particularly vulnerable to raids by well-armed militants with intimate knowledge of the terrain. But inaction risks escalating and entrenching the conflict at a time when tensions are already rising in advance of the 2007 national elections.
    MEND increasingly serves as an umbrella organisation for a loose affiliation of rebel groups in the Delta. It has not revealed the identity of its leaders or the source of its funds but its actions demonstrate that it is better armed and organised than previous militant groups. Observers warn that a worst-case scenario could lead to a one to two-year shutdown of the oil industry in the Delta, where most of Nigeria’s 2.3 million daily barrels of crude oil originate.
    Full Document
    http://www.sweetcrudemovie.com/pdf/icgaugust2006.pdf

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by sgmgrumpy View Post
    Really good paper, thanks for posting it!

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Thumbs up Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by sgmgrumpy View Post
    Hi!
    Thank you very much for doc. Good to know!
    Regards,
    George

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    We The Ijaws, the predominant indigenous people in the Niger Delta, moved to the Delta over 7,000 years. We have a distinctive language.

    The Niger River Delta, one of the largest and beautiful deltas in the world, is the largest delta in Africa, and it covers approximately 14,000 square miles (36,260 square kilometers). Its origination is in the highlands of the Fouta Djallon Plateau in western Guinea 150 miles (240 kilometers) from the Atlantic Ocean.

    From Lokoja in Nigeria, the Niger travels south 250 miles or 400 kilometers, becoming a great fan shaped delta before emptying into the Ijaw Gulf. It is this delta that we the Ijaws have called home for over 7,000 years.
    Ijaw Website
    http://www.unitedijawstates.com/


    Another good read:

    Militancy and Security in the Niger Delta

    The Bottom Line
    The ongoing security situation for foreign oil companies and ex-patriots in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria remains highly
    adverse. Increased militant activity targeting oil production assets, oil workers and government forces will continue, and
    further disruption to oil production in the Delta is expected. The threat of kidnap remains high and hostage taking of oil
    workers has been occurring in the states of Bayelsa, Delta, River as well as at sea and from offshore oil rigs – on 2 June
    eight foreign oil workers employed by Dolphin Drilling Ltd were abducted from Fred Olsen Energy ASA-owned Buford Dolphin
    oil rig 60 km of the coast near Warri in an early morning raid . There have also been troubling tactical developments with
    urban terrorism emerging in Port Harcourt, including a car bombing at an army barracks on 20 April, the shooting of a US oil
    services company executive on 11 May and the murder of six policemen on 15 May. There is a high degree of instability and
    civil unrest in the states of Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ondo and River, with ethnic and religious rivalries
    frequently erupting in violence. Recent attacks have also targeted government security forces, which provide security for
    foreign oil companies. On 21 May, a communiqué was issued by Ijaw militants announcing a new alliance of the most prolific
    militant groups in the region and their intention to launch a new offensive over the coming weeks.

    Militancy and Security in the Niger Delta
    June 2006
    http://www.riskadvisory.net/uploads/..._-_Nigeria.pdf

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    Default Where's China's Role In This Tragedy?

    Tension has ebbed and flowed in the US security relationship with Nigeria, most notably portrayed in Dana Priest's excellent "The Mission", where the Nigerians were all about "give us the guns" while the US was intent on human rights training before anything else.

    The Beijing Consensus certainly doesn't work like that. As the Chinese increasingly edge out the US in providing security training, weapons and cash to the Nigerian obligarchy (a process that could be sped up depending on who wins power in the upcoming Nigerian elections), the government's tactics against peaceful protests and violent rebellion alike will edge toward systematic scorched earth tactics which will only worsen the insurgency.

    Given the propensity for ethnic cleansing and mass murder on behalf of the government in Nigeria's history, this will not end well and could be the big fissure that helps dismember Nigeria along religious, ethnic and even tribal lines. The chances of US intervention of some sort (whether US soldiers, special ops or private contractors like Blackwater) in Southern Nigeria (just like in Southern Sudan) will rise dramatically once it becomes a resource war shrouded in holy and ethnic terms.

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    ICG, 28 Mar 07: Nigeria's Elections: Avoiding a Political Crisis
    ...An election that produces widely disputed results could itself lead to post-election violence, which could degenerate into wider and more intense forms of conflict, threatening the nation’s stability. Electoral malpractice and violence were the military’s justification for seizing power in 1966 and 1983. Violence associated with elections, therefore, poses a serious threat not only to the April 2007 elections but also to Nigeria’s continued path towards stable, democratic development. This in turn could have far-reaching consequences for Africa. The elections urgently need to be salvaged.

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    The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 12 Apr 07:

    Guide to the Armed Groups Operating in the Niger Delta – Part 1
    During the course of the last year in Nigeria's oil-rich but turbulent Niger Delta region, armed men kidnapped more than 150 foreigners, killed unknown numbers of Nigerian armed forces personnel, crippled the oil production of Africa's largest oil exporter by nearly a quarter and detonated five car bombs. There is a bewildering variety of armed groups operating in the delta, ranging from community vigilantes to armed political movements to criminal gangs. The groups, whose aims and members often overlap, are involved in activities that include kidnapping, theft of crude oil, attacking oil infrastructure, extortion, bombings, murders and rigging elections. Without adequate equipment or political will, the military cannot tackle the problem effectively. Unrest in the Niger Delta can be traced back to the beginning of oil exploration, when impoverished communities were exploited and polluted, while billions of dollars were extracted from underneath their feet. In many cases, however, criminal elements and corrupt politicians have exploited the expression of legitimate grievances and armed many of these groups for their own ends. The emergence of modern militant groups is closely related to politics, corruption and bad governance in the delta. Both the 2003 polls and this month's coming elections have strengthened pre-existing armed groups.

    For the purposes of clarity, this two-part analysis focuses on militias and gangs—with part two focusing exclusively on the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND)—and discusses the existence of community groups within that framework. It also explains their leadership structures and links to politicians. In reality, the distinctions are somewhat arbitrary. The gunmen and the government are as tangled together as the mangrove roots of the swamps in the Niger Delta....

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    Prominent Muslim cleric killed in mosque. Right before elections.

    Cleric killed in Nigeria mosque

    A prominent Islamic cleric has been shot dead inside a mosque in the northern Nigerian city of Kano. Ustaz Ja'afar Adam and two followers were killed during dawn prayers.

    He was once a key member of the Kano State government but has fallen out with the governor. The killing could be political, or a dispute between sects.

    The death comes as President Olusegun Obasanjo warned that the government will "deal firmly" with acts of fraud and violence in forthcoming elections.

    In a national radio and TV broadcast, Mr Obasanjo said "highly placed individuals" were encouraging violence.

    ...

    Haruna Idris, one of Mr Adam's disciples, told the AFP news agency that gunmen had shot the cleric twice.

    "The two assailants rushed out of the mosque and jumped into a car with a driver at the wheel and sped off," he said.

    The biggest issue in the elections is the future of my children, the future of Nigeria's children

    Thousands of people had gathered at the mosque, AFP reports.

    Police spokesman Haz Iwendi told the BBC News website that the killing "would not endanger tomorrow's elections in Kano."

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    How to Steal an Election - Economist.

    ... The presidential election in particular, scheduled to take place later this week, was supposed to herald a new chapter in Nigeria’s democratic advance. Olusegun Obasanjo is supposed to hand power over to his elected successor, the first such transition since independence in 1960. That may still happen, but at a dreadful price. The lengths to which Mr Obasanjo’s ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has gone to cling to power has discredited so many of Nigeria’s institutions and office-holders that the country now seems more a prisoner of its bleak past than a beacon for the future.

    So blatant was vote-rigging and fraud in the 36 state elections last weekend that, on Tuesday April 17th, all the opposition parties demanded that those elections be voided and the presidential poll be postponed. On Wednesday the government rejected the call.
    ...

    Things were particularly bad in the oil-rich Delta region, where patently false 95% turn-outs were being recorded in some areas. Voters were routinely intimidated by gunmen who also stole ballot-boxes in front of journalists. An observer from Human Rights Watch, a pressure-group, described the vote-rigging as “shameless”. Privately, EU observers said that in half-a-dozen states there was no real election. Some 50 people are said to have died in violence and protesters burned down several election commission offices ...

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    ISN, 14 May 07: Nigeria: Oil Insurgency Enters New Phase
    ....After a lull following Nigeria's controversial general elections, rebels have launched a new surge in attacks on the country's oil industry. At least 29 foreign oil workers have been kidnapped and major pipelines transporting oil to export terminals have been sabotaged in a rash of attacks since the beginning of May.

    These attacks represent the worst violence targeting oil operations in the world's eighth-biggest exporter in more than a year, signifying a worsening of the insurgency with government troops yet to find a way to counter the insurgents' guerrilla tactics. As in the past, most of the hostages were freed unharmed but at least 13 are still being held.

    Worst hit in the latest attacks has been the Nigerian subsidiary of Italian energy company ENI Spa, forced to shelve exports of 98,000 barrels of oil daily, and US firm Chevron, which has evacuated hundreds of workers and cut back its Nigerian production by 57,000 barrels a day.....

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    Default President Inaugurated in Nigeria

    31 May LA Times - President Inaugurated in Nigeria by Robyn Dixon.

    Umaru Yar'Adua was sworn in Tuesday as Nigeria's president, pledging to be a humble "servant-leader" and to push through political reform after his election last month was widely criticized by international and local observers.

    In a muted style markedly different from that of his ebullient and flamboyant predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, Yar'Adua said he would fight poverty and corruption and reduce violent crime in the oil-rich Niger Delta. The kidnappings of foreign oil workers there have intensified in recent months, casting a shadow over the country's most important industry...

    With Nigeria regularly ranked among the most corrupt countries by the independent group Transparency International, which analyzes corruption and accountability, Yar'Adua said all elected officials must change their "style and attitude."...

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    Nigeria: Failed Elections, Failing State? - ICG report, 30 May.

    Nigeria’s democracy is in crisis. The April 2007 elections were supposed to move the country to a higher rung on the democratisation ladder, create a more conducive environment to resolve its many internal conflicts and strengthen its credentials as a leading peacemaker, but instead generated serious new problems that may be pushing it further towards the status of a failed state. The declared winner, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, assumed the presidency on 29 May with less legitimacy than any previously elected president and so with less capacity to moderate and resolve its violent domestic conflicts ...

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    The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Focus, 12 Jun 07:

    MEND's Fluid Leadership Structure
    ...According to Dr. Ike Okonta, a research fellow at the University of Oxford, the coalition of insurgents that make up MEND are guided by a "collegiate leadership." Dr. Okonta writes that the core leadership of MEND "does not in any way constrain the ability of the various units to make their own decisions and mount military attacks independent of the others. The units plan their attacks separately, but are able to coordinate with other units in joint expeditions when necessary. Consequently, they are active in all parts of the delta, adopting hit and run tactics and making it difficult for federal troops to box them into a particular area and launch a massive attack".

    MEND's leadership is highly amorphous, and various leaders—such as General Columbus Brutus Ebipade, Jomo Gbomo, General Tammo or Akpos Nabena—frequently issue statements on behalf of the group. The above names are believed to be pseudonymous, and MEND is careful not to reveal the true identities of its various commanders. MEND possesses hubs in various states across the Niger Delta area—primarily in Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers and Ondo states—which are in communication with each other. In 2006, MEND and related groups such as the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, the Martyrs Brigade and the Coalition of Militant Action forged a clearing house for their joint activities. The clearing house was named the Joint Revolutionary Council, which coordinates the various activities of disparate networks such as MEND. The JRC is led by Cynthia Whyte, an influential member of Mujahid Dokubo-Asari's NDPVF.

    MEND draws combatants from existing militias and cult collectives. In Delta state, for example, the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities populates and controls MEND. Government Ekpemupolo, the director of mobilization for FNDIC, is a senior commander of MEND. His counterpart in Rivers state is Soboma George, who leads the Outlaws cult....

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