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What the Iraq crisis means for Nigeria


The Ijaw’s nationalist movement has produced its own fair share of uprisings, though not on the scale of the Nigerian civil war – one of the bloodiest wars in the 20th century Africa. The struggle over who controls the oil wealth of the Niger Delta championed by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, like the Igbos’ quest for self-determination, may have died down, but it’s not dead yet. Though some people, who out of mischief or sheer ignorance, will argue against this fact.

Historically, the Yorubas, like the Kurds, are not so much interested in what goes on at the centre, preferring regional politics to the intricacies of the federal government instead. Recently, a shift from federalism to regionalism has been advocated in the media by some stakeholders from southwestern Nigerian, with a view to achieving fulltime independence.

Nigeria and Iraq have a lot more in common than we think. Both countries are oil rich, both countries have two major religious groups that are always at loggerheads, both countries harbour irredentist factions and both countries have witnessed and are witnessing serious security challenges. The crisis in Iraq is as much a religious conflict as it is a political upheaval. The Sunni Muslims who are in the majority in Iraq don’t usually get along with the Shiites who, incidentally, are in control of the Iraqi federal government. The ISIS and the Kurds are two Sunni groups fighting themselves and the government of Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite.

In Nigeria, conflicts of a religious nature usually pit the predominantly Christian southern Nigeria against the mostly Muslim north. There has been incidents in the past where several lives were lost following clashes between rampaging Christian and Muslim groups. In some parts of Northern Nigeria, whenever there is a tumult, the first place to be attacked is a church. Among the Christians, Muslims are usually blamed whenever the country is portrayed in bad light by the international press. It is a never ending cycle which does little to suggest that both divides are not intolerant of each other.

The ISIS can be likened to Nigeria’s Boko Haram. The two militias have professed corresponding agendas and have a parallel modus operandi in driving the government out of the territories they have interest in. The Boko Haram insurgency, if left unchecked, can grow in scale and sophistication such that it can hold off the Nigerian military and exercise total de facto sovereignty over certain parts of the north which will be a catalyst in the break-up of the country. [eap_ad_1] The influence of foreign powers in the Iraq crisis can neither be overruled nor overstated. In addition to the ubiquitous interest of the United States and other world powers in what goes on in Iraq, Saudi Arabia has recently been fingered as a major sponsor of the various dissident groups involved in the Iraqi and Syrian uprisings. Their plot, according to some sections of the Middle Eastern political leadership, is to kill off Iraq as a rival and threat to the kingdom’s petroleum industry by inciting unrest in its oil-rich north. The agenda has so far paid off. Iraq’s oil production output has been heavily hit and there are signs that it may go down further as the country nears total collapse and imminent implosion.

The break-up process is already underway. Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu seemingly endorsed an independent Kurdish State in his statement on Sunday that the Kurds “are a fighting people that has proved its political commitment, political moderation, and deserves political independence.” At some point, hostile host, Turkey, also spoke up in favour of Kurdish self-determination – in Iraq. The reason for this is not far-fetched. Erasing an aggressive Iraq from the world map will be one less problem for Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and a dominantly Shiite Iran that sees Iraq as a clog in its quest for ideological supremacy in a highly religious Middle East.

On the home front, there is no gainsaying that there are foreign powers who will stand to benefit from the break-up of the world’s biggest black country. Nigeria, as Africa’s most populous country and largest economy is a clog in some countries’ quest for economic and political supremacy in the continent and beyond, and they will see to it that all of the country’s weaknesses are brought together to actualize its disintegration.

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