Playing on people’s fears is about the only thing the Bush administration knows how to do well. Every time Bush dipped in the polls in his first term, and before the 2004 election, a new terror threat was announced and the US would suddenly have a heightened terror alert. Now Bush cannot run again, he does not have so much need of terror alerts in the US. But it looks like they still might be useful elsewhere.

LAGOS, Sept 6 (Reuters) – U.S. and other Western interests in Nigeria are at risk of “terrorist attack”, the United States embassy in Africa’s top oil producer said on Thursday.

The official warning, in a message for U.S. citizens in Nigeria, gave few details, but said potential targets included official and commercial installations in the capital Abuja and the commercial city of Lagos.

“The U.S. Mission in Nigeria has received information that U.S. and other Western interests in Nigeria are currently at risk for terrorist attack,” the statement said.

In Washington, a U.S. official said the advisory was based on “very nonspecific threat information.”
. . .
Analysts said the alert on Nigeria, which is the fifth largest oil supplier to the United States, could be related to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Or, could these “threats” be related to attempts to find a home for Africom?

If countries are truly concerned about terrorism, the US under Bush is about the last place I would think they would want to turn for advice or help. And hosting a large US military installation seems like an invitation to trouble. Bush and company have had NO successes in their “war on terror” other than keeping the American people sufficiently scared, and manipulating the vote just enough to keep Bush in office. Look at Afghanistan, where the US could have made a difference, but blew the opportunity. Or look at the needless destruction of Iraq, which is now a breeding and training ground for terrorists. Or look at the absence of successful terror prosecutions, because their cases can’t stand up in courts, even courts packed with their own judges.

Back in June North African countries signaled their unwillingness to host Africom. And Southern Africa, the SADC, has said no, with South Africa being particularly vocal. West Africa, ECOWAS, and East African countries have not sounded such a unified voice. But the press I read from every country, with the possible exception of Liberia, shows the citizens as being overwhelmingly opposed to hosting US troops on African soil.

In July, Theresa Whelan, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Africa tried to drive a wedge between African countries.

Answering questions about her government’s response to the outright rejection of Africom by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Whelan said that would be fine, but that the US would simply cut off military relations with SADC as an organisation while continuing to engage with amenable countries in Southern Africa on an individual basis.

And neo-con Africa “expert” Peter Pham chimed in early August with more wedging action:

. . . smaller countries will tend to view the new command as a potential hedge against the aspirations of their larger neighbors to regional hegemony, while larger nations may conversely come to view AFRICOM as a potential obstacle to those ambitions. That certainly appears to be case with South Africa.

As the previous South African article concludes:

It is apparent that there is a considerable gap to be closed between African and US perceptions of each other’s legitimate security interests and how these should find expression in military and security co-operation.

I have no doubt South Africa wants to flex its muscles. And I have some reservations about their actions in Ghana at times. But I am terrified at the thought of Bush messing up Ghana, or any other African country, calling anyone who gets in the way of US oil interests a terrorist. In politics it is often important to avail oneself of allies where you find them. It can pay off with improvements in the long run. And South Africa is part of Africa, and has a right to speak in this regard. Africa is still vulnerable, and it is still iffy as to whether individual countries will stand up to the Africa Command.

Added September 7:
b real brings some important information and questions to the issue. I’ll excerpt from his comment below, but please read the full comment for details:

consider the following as a possible motive for the “nonspecific” terror threat in nigeria.

OPEC is meeting in vienna on 11 sept. there have been stories over the past week, quoting different OPEC representatives, that the cartel would not be increasing output at the upcoming meeting.

for instance, see tuesday’s african oil journal: OPEC Will Not Increase Production at the Next Meeting on Sept 11

Qatar’s energy minister on Tuesday declared that there were no plans to increase crude oil production at next week’s OPEC meeting in Vienna as the 12-nation cartel sees no shortages in the market.
. . .
after the announcement of the “terror” threat to production & distribution facilities in the niger delta, crude prices have increased.
Oil climbs on Mid-East tension, US inventory falls
. . .
so could this warning from the u.s. embassy in abuja be part of a tactic to help push the price of crude up so high that it puts more pressure on OPEC to increase quotas next tuesday?

or is it a ploy to push up the price in order to grab a lot of quick profits? perhaps of which some of that $$$ is needed to help stabilize the troubled financiers requiring bailout in the us?

or is it part of a campaign to justify an increased military presence in the delta? the “year-long trial deployment of a U.S. navy vessel to the region in October” is just around the corner, after all.

or has there actually been a legit threat from one of the militant groups or gangs warning specifically of the targeting of u.s. installations? definitely not enough info in the few news copies on the warning right now to determine how serious to take it, although the stuff like the former u.s. ambassador to nigeria’s story about AQ finding haven in nigeria can be dismissed out of hand for the baloney that it is. which lowers the credibility of threat itself, leading me to wonder about a connection to the OPEC meeting this tuesday.

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