You may have missed this story (I know I did), but thanks to Laura Flanders on Air America’s Morning Sedition today, I learned for the first time that the United States, thanks to Madam Secretary Condoleeza Rice, has entered into a “energy security partnership” with the corrupt government of Nigeria which provides that the United States will operate in the Niger delta as a sort of super policeman to protect Nigeria’s energy infrastructure there, among other things:

As part of efforts to address the security crises in the Niger Delta, Nigeria and the United States announced yesterday the establishment of a joint committee that would be charged with the task of coordinating a comprehensive action against insecurity in the oil-rich region.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) also said yesterday that Nigeria is currently losing 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) to production deferment due to the lingering crises and sporadic clashes in the area. In monetary terms, this translates to a daily loss of $12 million (N1.6 billion).

In the communiqué on the bilateral pact released in Abuja yesterday, Nigeria and the US agreed to establish four special committees to co-ordinate action against trafficking in small arms in the Niger Delta, bolster maritime and coastal security in the region, promote community development and poverty reduction, and combat money laundering and other financial crimes.

On the face of it, this could seemingly be an effort to combat terrorism, i.e., just another front on Bush’s global war on terror. But appearances, as we all know, rarely tell the whole truth. For example, who exactly is suffering these millions of dollars of lost production daily? Well . . .

Shell, Chevron and Total are the companies that suffered the production losses following the forced closure of their facilities in the region.

And what are these so-called “security crises” of which the communique speaks? ” Is Al Qaida implicated in attacking Nigeria now? Well, not exactly. The groups involved are not affiliated with Bin Laden. They are local people who have reason to complain about what’s happening on their lands in the name of economic development:

[T]he 200-page Human Rights Watch report documents how Nigerian security forces are using brutal methods to suppress dissent in the Niger Delta.

“The oil companies can’t pretend they don’t know what’s happening all around them,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, an international monitoring group based in New York. “The Nigerian government obviously has the primary responsibility to stop human rights abuse. But the oil companies are directly benefiting from these crude attempts to suppress dissent, and that means they have a duty to try and stop it.” Roth noted that recent events in the Niger Delta, especially the crackdown on Ijaw communities over the New Year’s weekend, indicate that the Nigerian government is continuing to use violence to protect the interests of international oil companies.

In one particularly serious incident on January 4, soldiers using a Chevron helicopter and Chevron boats attacked villagers in two small communities in Delta State, Opia and Ikenyan, killing at least four people and burning most of the villages to the ground. More than fifty people are still missing. Chevron has alleged to a committee of survivors of the attack that this was a “counterattack” resulting from a confrontation between local youths and soldiers posted to a Chevron drilling rig. Community members deny that any such confrontation took place. In any event, the soldiers’ response was clearly disproportionate and excessive.

. . . In the report, Human Rights Watch describes numerous other incidents in which the Nigerian security forces have beaten, detained, or even killed people who were involved in protests over oil company activities and individuals who have called for compensation for environmental damage. Victims include youths, women, children, and traditional leaders. In some cases, the abuse occurs after oil companies have requested that security forces intervene.

The report charges that multinational oil companies are complicit in abuses committed by the Nigerian military and police because they fail to condemn them publicly and to intervene with the Nigerian government to help ensure that they do not recur. In many cases, Human Rights Watch found that the oil companies had made no effort to learn what was done in their name by abusive local security forces seeking to keep oil flowing in the face of local objections.

Human Rights Watch strongly criticized the oil companies for excessive secrecy, and called upon them to make public their security agreements with state entities. It urged the companies to insist on screening all security staff assigned to protect company property, to investigate violent incidents, and to publish the results of those investigations. The companies were urged to take all necessary steps to ensure that their legitimate need to safeguard their facilities and personnel does not result in abuses against members of the communities where they operate.

Much of the protest against oil companies’ activity in Nigeria has surrounded issues such as environmental pollution and corruption . . .

What a surprise, eh? Oil companies in bed with a brutal regime that oppresses its own people in order to protect the oil companies’ “investments”? I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

Which reminds me: Who do you think used to work for Chevron who now plays a prominent role in the Bush administration? I’ll give you one guess.

14 Nov 1954 Condoleezza Rice born, Titusville (in Birmingham), AL

* * *

7 May 1991 Named a director, Chevron Corporation.

7 Oct 1991 Named a director, Transamerica Corporation (exact date is an estimate).

1995 Chevron names their largest oil tanker (136,000 tons) the Condoleezza Rice.

* * *

May 2001 Oil tanker Condoleezza Rice renamed to Altair Voyager. Chevron’s Fred Gorell: “We made the change to eliminate unnecessary attention caused by the vessel’s original name.” This was likely done at the behest of the Bush Administration, but nobody is saying anything.

Now, some of you might think there’s a connection here between Ms. Rice’s former directorship at Chevron at the sudden need to enter into a securty arrangement to help defend Nigeria’s coastal waterways, etc. You might think the real reason we are agreeing to assist Nigeria is to protect the investments of Chevron and other oil companies in the region. Well, you’re not the only ones. Here’s an editorial from which comes to the same conclusion:

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)

practice, the treaty holds dark foreboding. Talk about community development and poverty reduction are mere sops thrown in to sweeten the partnership. The real object of the treaty is aimed at securing the undisturbed exploitation of oil by the partners. From the Nigerian standpoint, Mr. Kupolokun has said that it is meant to a safeguard the oil wealth of the Niger-Delta which is crucial to Nigeria’s achievement of 40 million barrels per day production of crude oil by 2010.

Ambassador Campbell was equally blunt about US interest. Affirming that energy supply from Nigeria is very important and strategic to the US, he noted that the partnership exists to keep the supply lines open. . . .

So, to sum up, the United States has agreed to help provide security to Nigeria in order to protect the oil production infrastructure and the interests of Chevron and Shell, at the expense of local peoples in the Niger delta who are incurring grevious harm, both from environmental pollution and from government crack downs on dissent as a result of that development.

Tell me again: Who are the terrorists here?

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