Friday, February 10, 2006

WAR AND THE QUEST FOR OIL PT 1 Nigerian Civil War 1967-70

Dobber unfurls the first in an occasional series! – brief thumbnail readings of combat scenarios through the lens of resource control. In particular incidents of combat that have involved a quest for oil. Dobber aims to look at a number of conflicts from around the globe since the 1940's to highlight the grim and violent historical consistency associated with exploitation of Oil.

Whilst almost all conflicts are historically rooted in a need to appropriate or consolidate resources it is pertinent in todays unstable climate of dwindling Oil reserves to reflect on the role the energy resource has played in previous violent disputes. If the past is read in this sense the future looks increasing dangerous. Alternative options must be sought to avoid an escalation of the horrors that have cost the lives of many millions.

The present day conflict in Iraq is in part a further extension of this "Great Game". The position here is consistent with the predictions of former US President Coolidge in 1924 that "It is even probable that the supremacy of nations may be determined by the possession of available petroleum and its products."

Another factor which is also consistent is the cloaking of the resource issue. As Dobber's series intends to suggest, the need for Oil as a catylist for combat has traditionally been concealed beneath more dramatic explanations. It is the one justification for war which remains unannounced. It is the Elephant in the room that everyone notices but no one brings themselves to mention.

Part One Nigerian Civil War 1967-70

Ethnic, religious and political differences were accelerated by the discovery of oil in the Biafran region of Nigeria in 1956. On May 27 1967 The military governor of the largely Christian Igbo population of Biafra, Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu declared the region a sovereign and independent republic. Soon, fighting broke out between federal Nigerian and Biafran forces with officers and politicians from the mainly Muslim North attempting to bring the delta oil fields back under greater Nigerian control.

Although being openly aided by Portugal and covertly assisted by France, Rhodesia and South Africa, Biafra was ravaged by the war. Despite attempts by the Organisation of African Unity to end the civil war hostilities continued until 1970. The new Biafran Republic lasted only three years. Amid the economic and military collapse, Ojukwu fled the country and the rest of the republic's territory was re-incorporated back into Nigeria. At least a million people are thought to have died in the conflict, mostly through starvation and illness. As current President Olusegun Obasanjo recently stated, "the Biafran war was caused by resource control".