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A Port Harcourt website, Oyibos On Line, posted a news article yesterday that announced the United States has rejected a call from the Nigerian Federal Government at Abuja to deploy the US Marines to the violent Niger Delta region of the country to provide security for the multinational oil companies working there.
The report said inpart, “Washington does not believe military force can resolve the Niger Delta question and has rejected Abuja’s request to deploy American marines in the region. Such a deployment would have been part of an Africa Military Command approved by President George Bush, as mooted by the Pentagon to enable African countries break the backs of terrorism and Islamic militancy.”

The United States has already sent thousands of military forces to various staging areas along the African continent. These sites are also used as points from which American training teams can fan out from to help the countries of the region.

There are US Marines in Nigeria. A contingent guards the US Embassy and consulates. There is a US Marine training team working at a base in Kaduna State. Their mission is to train the Nigerian Force preparing to be sent to peacekeeping duty in Darfur, Sudan early next year.

The on-line story said, “(The United States) believes that Africa is becoming an attractive haven for terrorists dislodged from other parts of the world by the global war on terror. Defense officials had called on countries to send in recommendations of how the new command can assist them to handle local or sub regional security problems.”

Abuja is reported to have requested “the presence of American marines in the Niger Delta to counter growing threats by militants on vital oil facilities.” Nigerian defense officials think that the presence of American troops would help restore the confidence of oil firms who are worried about disruption of operations and the abduction of their staff.

“The administration would provide security assistance to Nigeria, but we do not want to be bogged down and be drawn into what is essentially an internal Nigerian issue,” an official stated.

Interestgingly, a few short months ago, Nigeria said any offer of military assistance from the United States would not include deployment of Marines in the Niger Delta. According to a September 4, 2006 report by Uchechukwu Olisah, in the Nigerian Tribune, “The Federal Government has given conditions for the acceptance of the offer of the United States government to assist in addressing the security challenges in the Niger Delta, saying the acceptance of such an offer would exclude the deployment of US Marines in the region.”
In September, the Special Adviser to President Obasanjo on Policy and Programs Monitoring, Professor Julius Ihonvbere, said “Nigeria would only accept logistics and technological support and not the deployment of American Marines.”

Ihonvbere stated that the Nigerian government was capable of curbing the restiveness in the Niger Delta. “For technical assistance, yes. Logistical support, yes. They have satellites, so they can see things going on. So with their superior technology they can offer this to us. They have training experiences all over the world.

“But in the sense of dealing with the practical issue on the ground in the Niger Delta, the Federal Government of Nigeria is capable of deploying logistical, military, security and other resources needed.”
Is this apparent new request for the deployment of US Marines a sign that the Nigerian Federal Government is beginning to question its ability to solve the Niger Delta Crisis? Would the infusion of US Marines into the volatile mix simply cause the pot to boil over and explode into a civil or regional war due to the magnet-like attraction of world terrorists to whereever the American military operates? Is there a military solution to this socio-economic and justice issue?


Nigeria Tribune

Oyibos On Line

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