This piece was originally posted yesterday under Nigeria Imploding. However I have come across a number of other reports regarding US interest in African generally and Nigeria specifically which are worth mentioning.
Another interesting development which ties in with Soyinka’s statements was reported in Jane’s Intelligence & Insight on 29th June. Militants target oil rich Nigeria.
Western intelligence services believe that Islamic extremists are making a determined effort to penetrate West Africa, an emerging world-class oil giant, amid signs that Osama bin Laden has singled out Nigeria for jihad……Having been ignored by the USA for decades, Africa has assumed a new importance for Washington as it moves to control oil supplies in the region, centred on the Gulf of Guinea, west of Nigeria. The US military is already seeking bases in the region.
A rather scary story I must admit though after all the misinformation in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq one has to be a bit doubtful about Western intelligence. Still this is a possible scenario. If the aim of Bin Laden is to stop the oil flow to the USA then why not go for their supplies in Africa which are relatively easy targets.
Jane’s goes on to say
The USA is already deploying small groups of special forces throughout the impoverished Sahel region states of Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to counter infiltration by Islamic militants moving south from Algeria. With West Africa in danger of becoming the new battleground between the USA and Al-Qaeda, heavier oil-driven US intervention may become unavoidable – a path fraught with pitfalls and one that could have a dramatic impact on US policy in Africa.
Bascially what I read from this is the possibility of the US expanding it’s war on terror from the Middle East to West Africa and Nigeria in particular. If this is the case then the many ethnic nationalities in Nigeria calling for secession need to have a rethink as the price maybe too high, that is if the cost of secession is invasion by the US to "defend" their oil supplies, that would be much too higher price to pay for us all.
All of this could be pure fantasy but so too was 9/11 – a film script that went real.
If you have any doubt as to the importance of oil for the US and global strategy in general, then this article may help convince you.
Rising US stakes in Africa published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. I have not read the whole report (no surprise there) but a quick scan produced the following excerpts from the report.
First, Africa has assumed a new strategic place in U.S. foreign policy. This shift is reflective of how 9/11 altered the overall strategic U.S. conception of global security.
It is also reflective of how five factors over the past decade have forced a reap-praisal of Africa’s significance: HIV/AIDS; terror; oil; armed conflicts; and global trade.
Central/West Africa is in the early phases of an extended oil boom that will signifi-cantly enhance the global position of Nigeria and Angola and bring greater attention to emergent, unstable producers–Equatorial Guinea, Chad, and SÃ£o TomÃ© and PrÃncipe, most importantly. With proven reserves of more than 60 billion barrels, the region today provides one in four new barrels of oil coming onto world markets from outside the Persian Gulf. In 10 years, if it remains attractive for invest-ment, Central/West Africa could supply up to 20 percent of U.S. imported oil, bolstering vital U.S. energy security and commercial interests.
Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia are named as a priority in the "war against terror" and lists various strategies for .each country.
The usual promises of financial aid though supposedly if they (US) become desperate they will actually REALLY do something useful.