Nigeria: Iran Denies Everything


November 20, 2010:  MEND (Niger delta rebels) are demanding that the army withdraw and all prisoners be freed or else there will be a  new wave of attacks on oil facilities. The rebels want the terms of last year's amnesty deal kept, and corrupt officials running the program removed. In the past week, the military has attacked over half a dozen MEND associated camps in the Niger delta, seizing lots of weapons and equipment, but not making many arrests. The rebels tend to hear the troops coming (usually by boat, and preceded by aerial reconnaissance), and slip away into an area of numerous creeks and islands they know well. This operation was part of a larger police anti-kidnapping effort in the Niger delta which has, in the last two months, made nearly 500 arrests. Kidnapping has become a big business in the Niger delta, with criminal gangs as well as with the rebels. Most of those arrested were soon released, but about a quarter of them appear involved in criminal activity. Many criminals in the delta also support rebel goals (for more autonomy in the delta, less corruption and spending additional oil money locally). Even through the government has screwed up their end of the amnesty deal, they insist that the rebels keep the peace. But corruption and mismanagement have kept many rebels from getting the amnesty benefits, and the government is seen as unreliable, corrupt and a hostile force.

November 19, 2010: The latest round of attacks on Niger delta oil facilities has reduced shipments, the first time this happened in over a year.

In the north, Boko Haran Islamic terrorists fired on worshippers at a mosque, killing two men. This was the first daytime Boko Haran attack. The terrorists are trying to terrorize more moderate Moslems into supporting them, or not at least opposing them.

November 18, 2010: Acting on intelligence, police found 130 kg (286 pounds) of heroin hidden in aircraft parts that were packed inside a shipping container carried by ship from Iran to Nigeria. Iran is a major transshipment point for heroin coming out of Afghanistan.

November 17, 2010: In the Niger delta, a force of soldiers attacked a MEND camp and freed 19 kidnap victims, with only a few being lightly injured. This interrupted ransom negotiations for the largely foreign captives.

Russia has agreed to build nuclear power plants in Nigeria, if acceptable terms can be worked out.

November 15, 2010: The government reported to the UN that Iran had illegally smuggled weapons to Nigeria. Iran first insisted that it was all a misunderstanding, and that the weapons were actually purchased by an unnamed Nigerian politician. Most Nigerian politicians maintain private armies. These forces are illegal, and are usually criminal gangs in the pay of local politicians. Iran then changed its story and denied that the arms shipment was from Iran at all (despite all the shipping documents and witnesses indicating otherwise.) Another claim was that the arms were actually legal exports headed for Gambia (about a thousand kilometers up the coast from Nigeria). But some believe that Gambia was but another stop on the way to Egypt, where the weapons would be smuggled to Iranian supported Hamas in Gaza via tunnels under the border.

Nigeria is generally friendly with Iran, a country that has been generous with bribes, and other favors, for Nigerian officials. The two Iranians who arranged the shipment are hiding in the Iranian embassy, are believed to be members of the al Quds Force (which supervises Iranian sponsored terrorism overseas).

November 14, 2010: In the Niger delta, an oil facility was attacked and eight workers kidnapped.

November 13, 2010:  The army has begun operations to shut down MEND, and other rebel group, camps deep in the swamps. These camps can be found from the air, or by interrogating enough people who have been to the camps.

In the north, Islamic terrorists (Boko Haran) were believed  responsible for killing a soldier.

November 9, 2010:  In the north, police have arrested 23 more suspected members of Boko Haran, an Islamic radical group that likens themselves to the Taliban. In the last few months, police have made 128 such arrests.

November 8, 2010:  MEND rebels attacked an oil rig off the Niger delta, and kidnapped seven oil workers.


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