Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict
• The Niger Delta Avengers have again violated the ceasefire negotiated with the Nigerian federal government, blowing up Chevron’s 100,000-bpd Escravos pipeline. The militant group had warned Chevron against attempting to repair and restart the pipeline. The NDA also said the peace negotiations with Abuja are not moving forward. The latest attack comes just days before President Buhari’s visit to the Delta to discuss the future of the region with local community leaders. According to some, NDA is being supported by southern politicians who want to see Buhari dethroned. The Nigerian South, where the Niger Delta lies, is predominantly Christian, while Buhari, who comes from the North, is a Muslim and took over the helm of the country from a southerner in the 2015 elections. The Delta communities are much poorer than the North, and unemployment rates are higher, causing widespread unrest. In the meantime, while the Nigerian government announced on Tuesday that Shell’s Forcados terminal exports have been relaunched after attacks forced its shutdown in February, our sources in the Petroleum Ministry say that Forcados has been exporting for some time already, but had kept it quiet to avoid retribution from militants.
• Another Mubarak-era official in Egypt has won an acquittal for criminal charges, this time the former oil minister, charges with selling under-priced gas to Israel and squandering public funds. Mubarak-era oil minister Sameh Fahmy was arrested in 2011, convicted in 2012 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was acquitted in February 2015, after a retrial, but the prosecution appealed. On Thursday, he was acquitted by an Egyptian appeals court.
• While the battle to retake Mosul rages on and ISIS (according to media accounts, at least) is losing ground, it is important to understand why Mosul—and who will control it once ISIS is gone—is so important. So many different groups have a stake in Mosul, and while the coalition of Iraqi Kurd Peshmerga forces, Iraqi security forces controlled by Baghdad and Sunni Arab militias have joined together to root out ISIS, once the dust settles, a secondary battle of sorts will begin. The Kurds’ Peshmerga fighting force has for some time been instrumental in keeping ISIS at bay in northern Iraq (even beyond more secure territory controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government), particularly in oil-rich…