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Opportunity or Danger: Mixed Messages from the Middle East to Cameroon

National Times (Yaounde) – Cameroonians will be waking up this morning focusing on the ongoing consultation by the Prime Minister towards a National dialogue for the resolution of the Anglophone civil war, but there are other important events happening abroad that may even have bigger consequences for the conflict and the country.

Yesterday, the US government claimed that it has credible evidence showing Iranian military forces were behind the attack on Saudi Arabian oil fields.

The attack that forced the Saudi to cut over a quarter of their oil output drove the prices for oil to over $71 dollars a barrel, from $62. The prices have eventually fallen, but the insecurity and uncertainty will likely see oil prices rise.

That spike in oil prices is good news for Cameroon. We currently generate over 76% of our foreign exchange earnings from oil revenue.

 Over the past couple of months fall in oil prices have dented the country’s treasury as the government misses over FCFA 100 billion as taxes from the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon. And Anglophone crisis has also made it quite difficult for Cameroon’s oil operators, as oil companies find it increasingly difficult to operate their wells.

Yaounde will be closely watching the current hostility between Saudi Arabia, Iran and the US, as it may mean more revenue from its oil and ability to sustain its war effort in the Anglophone regions. Also an outbreak of a conflict may give Biya and his government more leverage over the west, US as the US led coalition looks for alternative sources for oil.

But all isn’t going well in the Middle East as far as Biya is concern. Israel’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may possible loss an election, after exit polls predict the incumbent struggling against the centrist Blue and White Party.

Netanyahu, a staunch Zionist and Nationalist, has maintained a pragmatic policy between Israel and Cameroon for decades. Israelis are currently leading Cameroon’s top military institution the Battalion Intervention Rapid (BIR), and Israel is providing top equipment and intelligence to Cameroon.

The election of former military chief Benny Gantz, a centre left progressive, could lead to the restructuring of Israel’s ties with authoritarian and human right abusing states like Cameroon.

That will be a big blow to the Biya’s regime that is already struggling of selling its poor governance and corruption to the west.

The ongoing crisis in Cameroon would definitely remain the top issue on the minds of millions of Cameroonians, but don’t forget what happens next in the Middle East may shape how the country’s domestic instability is managed.

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©THE NATIONAL TIMES NEWS (2018)