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USAID Sides With Chevron Against Niger Delta Rebels - works to create new enemies among Ijo and Ogoni tribes
Sunday, 17 April 2011 06:12
by Matthew Nasuti

In February 2011, in a little known development, the Obama Administration decided to seek new enemies abroad by choosing sides in a low level civil war being waged in southern Nigeria. Astonishingly, the U.S. State Department has publicly allied itself with oil giant Chevron, which is the target of a guerrilla war being waged by the fifteen (15) million Ijo tribesmen in the Niger River Delta.

Chevron is accused of environmental devastation, theft of resources and corruption.

While the formal U.S./Chevron alliance in Nigeria is new, the ties between senior Obama Administration officials and Chevon are long standing. On August 9, 2009, Hillary Clinton, while traveling in Angola, proclaimed that she and Chevron share “a common vision.”

Chevron pipelines and personnel in the Delta have been under attack for twenty years by local tribesman. What occurred in Nigeria in February 2011, is that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) entered into a partnership with Chevron Corporation. USAID contributed $25 million for a joint public relations effort called “the “Niger Delta Partnership Initiative.” Chevron press releases have since trumpeted the U.S./Chevron alliance. Chevron, which has an unsavory reputation within some segments of Nigerian society, is seeking to bolster its image by allying itself with the United States.

The Niger Delta dispute first came to the world’s attention in the early 1990's. At that time the one million plus Ogoni people had begun a mass peaceful protest against Shell Oil due to alleged environmental crimes. Led by poet/writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni pacifist movement came under increasing violent attack by government militias. In 1993, Mr. Saro-Wiwa was arrested, 2,000 Ogoni were massacred and 80,000 were evicted from their homes. In 1995, Mr. Saro-Wiwa was summarily tried by a military court and hanged with eight others on November 12, 1995. His relatives sued Shell in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under the “Torture Victims Protection Act” and received a $15.5 million settlement.

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After witnessing the attacks on the peaceful Ogoni, the Ijo tribes adopted a more militant approach. They formed a rebel movement called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). That movement later splintered into a wing known as the Niger Delta Liberation Front (NDLF) and a wing known as the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force. All three are composed primarily of Ijo (or Ijaw) tribesman, that have a loose federation of about 40 tribes with a total population of about fifteen million. The Ijo are dedicated to seizing the oil production facilities, limiting the damage to the environment and using the resources for the benefit of the local population.
It is beyond the mandate of the State Department and USAID and the height of irresponsibility for them to inject the United States into this tribal conflict on the side of Chevron, yet that is what USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Hillary Clinton decided to do. The United States apparently does not have enough enemies abroad so it needs to wade into a local conflict, pick (seemingly) the wrong side and stir up more enmity.

The American people and the Ijo and Ogoni peoples should not be adversaries. It is likely that 99.999% of the American people have never heard of the Ijo or Ogoni and would be astonished if they suddenly read in their papers that America is their mortal enemy. Despite the vast new media resources in the United States, the coverage of world events is sporadic and superficial. The American people do not realize that the events in Nigeria are being replicated all across the world as the American government quietly takes sides in country after country, usually in support of either local despots or to protect the flow of resources.

This Chevron partnership is part of USAID’s drift away from traditional humanitarian aid as the agency is pulled deeper and deeper into joint military/civilian programs. USAID has now established an Office of Military Affairs, and a Civilian Response Corps, and is increasing funding “conflict management” programs.” That is the cover name for its anti-terrorism efforts. To give the reader an example of the scope of these efforts, USAID has requested $605 million for Fiscal Year 2011, just for military support operations in Afghanistan. 
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