Nigeria’s kidnapped girls, oil and foreign armies

This video says about itself:

The Case Against Shell: ‘The Hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa Showed the True Cost of Oil

18 May 2009

In May 2009, multinational oil giant Shell will stand trial in United States federal court to answer to charges that it conspired in human rights abuses including murder in Nigeria in the 1990s. This mini-documentary tells the story of the rise of an inspiring and nonviolent movement for human rights and environmental justice, and the lengths Shell was willing to go to stop it.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Western intervention will turn Nigeria into an African Afghanistan

The plight of kidnapped girls is set against the corruption and inequality that the west’s economic war has helped to create

Lindsey German

Tuesday 6 May 2014 17.21 BST

It seems almost beyond belief that more than 200 girls can be kidnapped from a school in northern Nigeria, held by the terrorist group Boko Haram, and threatened on a video – shown worldwide – with being sold into slavery by their captors. The disbelief is compounded by today’s news that, overnight, eight more girls have been kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram gunmen in north-east Nigeria. This tragedy touches the hearts of everyone, evoking a feeling of revulsion not only at the danger and loss of freedom itself, but at the assumption that for young girls their destination must be forced marriage and servitude, not education.

There is rightly anger that so little has been done by the Nigerian government to find the girls, and that those who have demonstrated in huge numbers against President Goodluck Jonathan have themselves been accused of causing trouble or even temporarily arrested.

But we should be wary of the narrative now emerging. This follows a wearily familiar pattern, one we have already seen in south Asia and the Middle East, but that is increasingly being applied to Africa as well.

It is the refrain that something must be done and that “we” – the enlightened west – must be the people to do it. As the US senator Amy Klobuchar put it: “This is one of those times when our action or inaction will be felt not just by those schoolgirls being held captive and their families waiting in agony, but by victims and perpetrators of trafficking around the world. Now is the time to act.”

The call has been for western intervention to help find the girls, and to help “stabilise” Nigeria in the aftermath of their kidnap. The British government has offered “practical help”.

Yet western intervention has time and again failed to deal with particular problems and – worse – has led to more deaths, displacements and atrocities than were originally faced. All too often it has been justified with reference to women’s rights, claiming that enlightened military forces can create an atmosphere where women are free from violence and abuse. The evidence is that the opposite is the case.

Women’s rights were a major justification for the Afghanistan war, launched in 2001, when Cherie Blair and Laura Bush supported their husbands’ war as a means of liberating Afghan women. Today, with millions displaced and tens of thousands dead, Afghanistan remains one of the worst countries on earth for women to live, with forced marriage, child marriage, rape and other atrocities still occurring widely.

And western intervention is already firmly embedded in Africa. It does not have the same profile as in Afghanistan or Iraq, because past wars have made it harder to put boots on the ground. But Barack Obama has his military forces engaged in West Africa through their Predator drone base in Niger, which borders northern Nigeria. It also borders Mali, the scene of recent French and British interventions, and Libya, object of a disastrous western bombing campaign in 2011 that has left that country in a state of civil war and collapse.

US drones also operate in Djibouti, Ethiopia and just across the Red Sea in Yemen. The west has been engaged in proxy wars in Somalia in recent years.

If Islamism is now a threat to western interests in growing parts of Africa, it is one that they have played a large part in creating.

But there is another war going on in Africa: economic war. A continent so rich in natural resources sees many of its citizens live in terrible conditions. In President Jonathan’s Nigeria, economic growth has not trickled down to the poor. Healthcare and education are beyond the reach of many.

There is widespread corruption, yet weapons and armies are paid to protect the wealthy and the foreign companies, such as Shell, that want to access the country’s resources, especially oil. This corruption and inequality is not separate from the role of the west, but an integral part of a system that is prepared to go to war over resources such as oil and gas, but will not go to war on poverty or to provide education for all.

It is this background that informs the terrible plight of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. It will not be improved by more western weapons and armies on the ground or in the air.

The former colonial power in Nigeria, the UK, could send SAS soldiers to Nigeria: here.

U.S. security team heading to Nigeria: here.

Washington sends military personnel to Nigeria: here.

Nigeria: Boko Haram kidnappings used to justify US military build-up in Africa: here.

US Special Forces are training and arming military units in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali as part of an expanded intervention in Africa: here.

The horrible tragedy of the Nigerian girls may work in present circumstances as another example of what Naomi Klein calls The Shock Doctrine.

In Haiti, there was a terrible earthquake disaster. It became a pretext for bringing in foreign occupation soldiers bringing a cholera epidemic with them.

In the Philippines, there was a typhoon disaster killing many people. It also became a pretext for bringing in United States soldiers, who subsequently got a treaty enabling military bases for them.

Saying “Doing nothing is not an option” to problems is in itself correct. But why, o why, does that “doing something” so often turn out to be lots of foreign people coming in shooting and bombing?

Even Al Qaeda is appalled by the kidnappings. However, the village the search was based out of was torched by the Boko Haram, who killed over 310 villagers. Some were allegedly burned alive. [Reuters]

The Women Affairs Department in Al Wefaq National Islamic Society in Bahrain stated, “The kidnapping of 200 Nigerian school girls has nothing to do with Islam and is a alarming and ugly crime”: here.

Emile Schepers cautions against acting on the symptoms rather than causes of Boko Haram’s terrorist campaign in Borno state: here.

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6 thoughts on “Nigeria’s kidnapped girls, oil and foreign armies

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