• Opinion - Editorial
  • Updated: April 14, 2024

The Iran-Isreal war hurt us, but it will also wake us up

The Iran-Isreal war hurt us, but it will also wake us up

By Bemgba Iortyom

Last night Iran launched a military strike from its own soil directly against Israel using kamikaze drones, ballistic and cruise missiles of various kinds. The strike was in retaliation for an earlier air strike by Israel on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus, Syria in which 7 Iranian Revolutionary Guards personnel died, among them 2 Generals.

The Iranian strike came in waves of about 300 projectiles, however the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in a statement said 99% of them were shot down by combined defensive action by IDF, USA, and British forces as well as allies in the region notably Jordan. Only a few of the missiles made it past the air defense shield over Israel and those managed to cause some damage at an IDF base and also injured a teenage girl.

This certainly is the beginning of a war as Israel had previously warned that any strike against its territory by Iran directly in retaliation for the Damascus Consulate strike will be met with stiff military response. Knowledgeable sources claim that the aim of the Consulate strike by Israel was to get Iran to come out of its comfort zone from where it has been using proxies such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis to cause regional instability.

The stage is now set for direct military confrontation between the two regional powers, and doubtless, their foreign backers will be involved: USA and its Allies on the side of the Israelis, while Russia and China will surely back the Iranians. There is also the factor of Turkey which, though a NATO member, has been opposed to US unconditional support for Israel in its ongoing war against the Palestinians, with President Recep Tayip Erdogan recently labelling Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a war criminal and his country guilty of genocide over killings of civilians in Gaza and the West Bank.

In the face of this all, there is cause for worry as this war portends grave implications for developing economies like Nigeria's.

Preceding last night's strike on Israel, Iranian Republican Guards Commandos in a helicopter borne operation had seized a cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz believed to belong to Israeli born billionaire businessman, Eyal Ofer, and this underscores the fact that the Strait which is a vital sea route for international trade will be a theatre of the war. This is not good news for economies like Nigeria's which depend largely on imports and exports to stay afloat.

For context it is important to note that the Strait of Hormuz, which lies between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean, is one of the world's most strategically important choke points. Estimatedly a third of the world's liquefied natural gas and almost 25% of total global oil consumption passes through the strait, making it a highly important strategic location for international trade, and this has been so for centuries. (Wikipedia).

Iran which litoral territory shares close proximity to the Strait has over time exercised dominance there, interfering with activities on the Strait as suits its military and diplomatic designs. Already Iranian proxy, the Houthis in Yemen, have been making life in the Strait difficult for ships with acts of piracy on the increase since the onset of the Israeli - Hamas war.

The US has deployed significant naval forces including an Aircraft Carrier to the Persian Gulf, and the British also have drafted a Destroyer and fighter jets to the region. Last night both super powers demonstrated their resolve to stand by Israel as they participated in the joint operation to shoot down Iranian drones and missiles heading towards Israel. President Joe Biden had shortly afterwards condemned the Iranian attack reiterating his earlier declaration that America's commitment to the defence of Israel remains "ironclad".

Yet the implications remain that the Strait of Hormuz will no longer be safe for maritime traffic, most of which is for international trade, and this will affect countries like Nigeria whose economy depends almost entirely on its export of crude oil. There will for sure be alternative routes, yet it will be at greater costs in terms of transactions which end result will be in the already depleted pockets of ordinary citizens.

The Iran - Israel war also means the opening of a second war front for the USA and its Allies, after the one in Ukraine, and there is the possibility that the Chinese could open a third in their territory with Taiwan or the Philippines, with the scenario most likely to further embolden Kim Jong Un in North Korea. The game plan by the alliance of Russia, China and North Korea seems to be to stretch America's military resources across the world in a manner and at a cost which will be unbearable for the American populace. 

Americans are known to prioritize their economic prosperity and lives over protracted wars outside of their shores and their politicians have always exploited this for political brinkmanship, as is happening in Ukraine at the moment where much needed military aid to the former Soviet Republic worth over $60 billion has been frozen in Congress over disagreements between the Democrats and the Republicans with Presidential elections around the corner. Such calculations very likely must have fuelled Iran's courage to take on Israel believing a long protracted conflict will eventually get bogged down in the sort of quagmire being witnessed in Ukraine.

One way or another, this war which now looms between Iran and Israel has the capacity to hurt weak economies, particularly those in Sub Saharan Africa which are almost entirely dependent on imports and exports for their survival. 

The solution, however, lies in a tightening of belts and digging in to bolster local production of particularly food to boost subsistence capacities. This makes it all the more urgent for a state like Benue to reclaim its lands and secure it for its agrarian populations to generate subsistence and wealth creation capacities.

The Iran - Israeli war will make it all the more a necessity that Benue expels armed Fulani herdsmen intent on the crisis prone practice of open grazing of their livestock, and resettles the people back to their ancestral lands.

This war will hurt us, but it will push us more towards the existential need to take back the land that belongs to us from the occupying force of terrorists and armed herdsmen.

Chief Bemgba Iortyom, media aide to Samuel Ortom, writes from Benue State, Nigeria.

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