Strengthening Bonds: Iran and Nigeria’s Collaboration at UN Women’s Conference

Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, Ansieh Khazali, has called to form an international coalition against Israel, Iranian-state-backed Mehr News Agency reported on Saturday.

Khazali’s comments came in a meeting with Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye in New York. 

The two were in New York to attend the 68th annual meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

While discussing the war in Gaza, Khazali said that Iran was concerned over the hunger and the increasing number of dead and injured, Gazan women and children in particular. 

Khazali and Kennedy-Ohanenya also raised additional issues related to women, family, the environment, and corruption.

Palestinian women and children wait to receive food, as the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, February 15, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

Khazali is known to have advocated for the marriage of children in defiance of human rights critics who see the practice as sexual exploitation and abuse of young girls, according to an IranWire analysis by Roghayeh Rezaei.

The Iranian and Nigerian officials stressed the need to expand economic cooperation between the two countries. 

The UN Commission on Status of Women is the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment. It will be held at the UN headquarters and run for 12 days, with representatives from member states in attendance.

Terrorism in Nigeria

Nigeria has a history of engagement with Iranian-backed terrorist regimes, including Hamas and Hezbollah. In February, Hamas sent a delegation to Nigeria to increase international support, according to a study by the Institute for The Study of War. The visit concluded on February 15. 

Hamas said the delegation updated stakeholders on the situation in Gaza, general political developments, and Hamas’s positions. They also commended Nigeria for standing with Palestine, the Institute for The Study of War published, citing Iranian state media, which republished Hamas’s statements.

The Nigerian Iranian-backed Shi’a group Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in Nigeria has advocated for Hamas, mainly in the north of the country.

Additionally, Hezbollah’s Foreign Relations Department and Business Affairs Component had networks in Nigeria that the US Treasury sanctioned in 2015 as they were “scout[ing] recruits for Hezbollah’s military units, as well as . . . creat[ing] and support[ing] Hezbollah’s terrorist infrastructure for its operational units in Africa and globally,” according to the Institute for The Study of War report.

Additionally, Hezbollah and Iran provide financial support, as well as training, to IMN terrorists in Nigeria. 

Iran has also visited and sought to expand its ties with several African nations, including, but not limited to, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Uganda, in addition to Nigeria.