December 26, 2009
Is Nigeria the Next Iraq?
Octopus Mountain has expressed disapproval of this silent treatment. If only human suffering could create such a rise, but unfortunately nothing lights a fire under Washington like a terrorist attack.
Hours ago a Nigerian man attempted to blow up a US airplane as it approached Detroit. The man, identified as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, had “some kind of incendiary device he tried to ignite” in a bag strapped to his body, U.S. officials told NBC News.
Representative Peter King of New York called the device "fairly sophisticated" and said it, "appears to be different from what we've encountered before." Apparently it did go off too. King said, "He himself was seriously injured. He has third-degree burns."
Sources told CNN that Abdulmutallab flew into Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on a KLM flight from Lagos, Nigeria, then bought a one way ticket to Detroit. He also claims to be affiliated with al-Qaeda and device, according to a federal security bulletin, "was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used."
Even if the bomb turns out to be a firecracker, the US media may still focus its fleeting gaze on Nigeria and hype it as the next front in the "War on Terror."
They'll be late again if so, just like Yemen is the "new spot" despite it being an old conflict. The fact is Nigerian guerrillas have expressed admiration for the Taliban and al-Qaeda for years; MEND claims to have sent fighters to train in Afghanistan.
Yet only now does Nigeria stand a chance of receiving the attention it deserves because America would be "the victim," because the words Nigeria and al-Qaeda appear together in the papers.
Forget decades of resource exploitation and human rights abuses at the hands of the government and Western oil companies, and that military victory has eluded the Nigerian government to this day. Forget that new human rights abuses surfaced as Clinton visited in summer, that the actual victim is Nigeria's delta population, an estimated 30 million people.
Washington tuned out as President Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua's health failed and MEND, flushed with weapons, boats, and cash, resumed its long-standing war and has Shell on the ropes. But America is too deep in Nigeria's corrupt oil game not to become a potential target for retaliation - it has to pay attention now even if Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab joined al-Qaeda only in his mind.
This would make him more dangerous in fact, an al-Qaeda lone wolf. That's what bin Laden is really going for, inspiring others to do his actions.
The question is will America's response be constructive or destructive? Only radical political and economic reform can bring stability to the Niger river delta, but considering President Obama's actions in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, MEND should start preparing defenses and contingencies for Hellfire and cruise missiles.
And Americans should keep a sharp eye on Obama's militarizing foreign policy. Oil, over 40 ethnic tribes in the delta alone, several extensively armed groups, a potential jump-off point for al-Qaeda - Nigeria has the ingredients of a distant-future Iraq.