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January 21, 2006
TEJU COLE is blogging from Lagos.
Meanwhile, here's some unfortunate information from elsewhere in Nigeria:
More troops were sent to the Niger Delta, to aid in the search for the hostages taken from an oil platform. Secret negotiations were said to be underway with the kidnappers, but the government is also committed to crushing the gangs, which have prospered for years from stealing oil. The gangs have gotten political because the tribes in the Delta have gotten lots of pollution and no money from all the oil fields, and people are unhappy about this. The corruption that permeates the government, and much of Nigerian society, makes negotiation futile and armed violence more attractive.
Corruption and bad government -- a recipe for disaster. And, God knows, Nigeria has both in copious quantities. On the other hand, if you put this together with trouble in Iran, and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, it almost looks as if somebody is trying to put a lot of oil sources under pressure simultaneously.
UPDATE: A troubling email from James Egan:
Perhaps the hostage taking and the threats on oil production in Nigeria is motivated by pollution, corruption or poverty or... Maybe... it's more complicated than that.
Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in Africa after Egypt -- about 50% of the country. 12 states have already implemented shari'ah and there's pressure on others to do the same. (Link)
While most of the Muslims live in the north, the dude leading up the insurrection in the delta region (where the oil is), from the Ijaw tribe, is a Muslim. In fact, he is a great admirer of bin Laden, so much so he's named one of his kids Osma in the terrorist's honor. Saying "...in admiration of the courage of Osama I named my child Osama. But that is my own personal belief. I admire Osama." (Link)
Nice t-shirts too. (Link)
Reports claim that the American hostage is not doing well and the rebel group is threatening to kill all 4 hostages if he dies. (surprising that the main stream media isn't reporting this story). Despite their leaders' claim that they reject killing of innocents.
This is an ever more important region and our military has it on radar but recent events there, along with the antics in Iran and the recent bin Laden tapes makes me wonder what's grand scheme is under foot (Link).
It is said that the brilliance in Reagan's B team was that it identified the Soviet economy as their weak spot thereby enabling us to defeat them without firing a shot. Perhaps the Islamists have been good students. Maybe they see a kink in our armor and are in the final days of preparing to pry it open.
If the Iranians can get the dollar to collapse by tying their oil sales to the Euro (Link) as is planned for March, if bin laden can successfully attack us at home again as he threatened, if oil climbs above $100 a barrel and if the Mid-East become a tinderbox, could we manage better than the Soviets did in the 80's?
Certainly the Muslim world is aware of the opportunity.
What did the recent bin Laden tape state, "diamonds cut diamonds". Boy that has a strange and eerie ring to it.
Maybe we need take a wider view of recent events? I'm just saying, that's all.
I doubt that such a plan would succeed, but that's not the same as saying that there's no such plan. I don't know enough to say, but I hope that someone's paying attention.