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January 11, 2010

Nigeria is the New Yemen
Posted by Patrick Barry

Just kidding!  Josh Rogin notes that while many are discovering that the U.S. actually has a policy toward Yemen, the State Department is expanding its gaze to include Nigeria:

...according to a new report made public Monday, Nigeria is at risk of becoming the same type of breeding ground for violent extremism that America is now battling in so many other places around the globe.

"Government neglect is provoking disaffection that, if left unchecked, could lead to the growth of insurgency or even terrorism," the report states. "Increased desertification in the North and a growing population mean increased competition for already scant land and water resources. In the South, where unemployment among youths is widespread, vandalism against infrastructure such as pipelines is almost a way of life. Newly armed groups of youths readily join in the sabotage activities and kidnappings, upping the stakes for control of the energy resources of this area. Nigeria is also haunted by ethnic and political conflicts that have erupted in violence on multiple occasions in recent years. Despite all these issues, Nigeria is crucial as a U.S. partner and regional leader."

The problems Nigeria faces are no doubt serious, and instability there does raise concerns about the country turning into an extremist hot-spot, but what I think this story illustrates more than anything is the problems of extremism-centric thinking.  If the U.S. has interests in Nigeria, it is primarily because Nigeria is one of 22 emerging markets in the world, the 2nd largest economy in Africa (not including Egypt) and the U.S.' second largest trading partner south of the Sahara.  Extremism in Nigeria is important to the extent it impacts these other things, but not so much as something independent from them. 

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Pretty great post.I would like to say both the Yemen and Nigerian governments are carrying out their own investigations. Yemeni security authorities were not aware of terrorist links, and said Abdulmutallab was not on any list of terrorists submitted by the US to Yemen....

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Instead of the US blaming itself for neglect and incompetency over the failed christmas day bombing, they are busy blacklisting countries. It is rather stupid and silly to blacklist a whole country because one wacko individual turned himself in to terrorists.

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