Bush: Don’t Send Uganda To Somalia
Black Star News Editorial
February 27th, 2007
The Bush Administration wants to drive remnants of the Islamic Courts Union government from Somalia—the White House is so desperate that it’s anointed Uganda, a country whose army was found liable for serious human rights abuses, as regional policeman.
It’s true that Somalis continue to suffer as a consequence of collapse of government there and widespread anarchy. Equally valid are observations that only international intervention –preferably by the African Union – can help restore Somalia. But there are other stellar candidates to lead the mission, including South Africa and Nigeria.
Let’s review the facts with respect to Uganda: President Yoweri Museveni’s legitimacy in power is under a serious cloud. Last year’s Presidential election was compromised with serious allegations that Museveni stole the elections from key challenger Dr. Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Moreover, Uganda’s own Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the election was flawed; it by the one-vote majority that Dr. Besigye’s petition to nullify the election results was denied. To begin with, Museveni had used a rubber stamp Parliament to remove constitutionally barred term limit in order to run.
Secondly, Uganda’s army has failed to bring peace and stability to a large part of the country—northern Uganda. War with the vicious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has lasted 20 years, and nearly 2 million civilians languish under deplorable conditions in camps. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1,000 civilians perish from hunger and diseases in these camps every week. Just this week, Uganda media reported that a new survey shows that as much as 60% of children report being sexually abused. Soldiers have also been pointed as culprits.
But the primary reason why Uganda is not a suitable member for a Somali intervention force is the army history in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR). Uganda’s army invaded Congo under the pretence of pursuing anti-Uganda rebels. DRC’s government and international human rights organizations accused Ugandan soldiers and officers of conducting massacres in the DRC and of widespread destruction and plunder.
The DRC case was solid and the Kinshasa government took Uganda to the International Court of Justice (the ICJ, or World Court), which announced its decision in December 2005 rule that Uganda was liable for $10 billion in damages in the case (Democratic Republic of Congo v. Uganda) please see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uganda/Story/0,,1671176,00.html
The court ruled that Uganda’s DRC intervention from 1998 to 2003 violated international sovereignty and led to the torture and killing of civilians and the destruction of Congolese villages.
To this date, Uganda has not paid the Congo government a dime or apologized. Now, this same army is being financed and sent by the Bush Administration to bring peace to Somalia? Uganda’s army is set to deploy early March—the Democratic Congress, if it has any backbone –and there are many doubters– must ensure that the US plays no role in this mind-boggling ill-fated participation by Uganda’s army in the Somali mission.
The White House is merely confirming, again, that it doesn’t care about human rights when it come to Africans.
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Uganda talks to Islamic Court militia
Tuesday, 27th February, 2007
By Felix Osike
PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni last night said Uganda is talking to the Islamic Court militia in Somalia ahead of the UPDF deployment in Mogadishu.
The Islamists, who were ousted by a joint Somali-Ethiopian force last December, had vowed to fight the Ugandan led peacekeeping operation, due to start in the next days.
“The militias have no good reasons to be worried about us,” Museveni said. “Our job will be mainly to train the Somali army. We shall involve this militia. We are already talking to them. Our role is not to disarm them but to help the transitional government.”
Asked how UPDF soldiers will be protected against attacks, the President said: “We shall take precautions against the terrorists. There will be no delay. Parliament has approved and we are now moving.”
On the funding of the mission, Museveni said the US has financed the operation through the African Union.
He denied allegations that America is using Uganda as the policeman of the region.
“Uganda to be a police man of anybody would be a radical departure of our long history. We always exercise an independent foreign and domestic policy. Where our interests coincide, we share with them.”
Museveni, flanked by US General William E. ‘Kip’ Ward, addressed the press to announce a partnership with the US on peace efforts in the region.
Gen. Ward praised Uganda for the support in trying to bring peace and stability to the African continent.
The American General Ward said he was optimistic that the Somali operation would be successful.
“The conditions are certainly very different from the time the US went in on a humanitarian mission.”
Museveni declined to give details on the departure date of the UPDF.
However, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf said a first deployment of troops from Uganda should begin in the first week of March, according to Reuters.
The main base for the troops would be the former Somali defence ministry building in Mogadishu – now the headquarters of the Ethiopian forces, the Somali defence minister announced.
A senior Somali official said the government had prepared two camps for the peacekeepers – in Afgoye, 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of the coastal capital and another nearby. AU peacekeepers will guard Mogadishu international airport and the main port, the official added.
Court orders Uganda to pay Congo damages
Rory Carroll, Africa correspondent
Tuesday December 20, 2005
The international court of justice yesterday ordered Uganda to pay reparations to the Democratic Republic of Congo for the five-year occupation of its eastern regions.
The UN’s highest judicial body ruled that Uganda’s 1998-2003 intervention violated international sovereignty and led to the killing and torture of civilians and the destruction of villages. Kampala’s claim that it acted in self-defence was dismissed in a sweeping ruling which piled fresh pressure on President Yoweri Museveni.
The court upheld Congo’s claim that it had been the victim of unlawful military intervention, though it did not find a deliberate policy of terror. Kinshasa welcomed the ruling and said it would seek $6-$10bn (£3.4-£5.6bn) in compensation, an estimate the court said would be appropriate.
Uganda’s foreign minister, Okello Oryem, told Reuters the ruling was unfair. “We went in Congo to pursue rebels, we were not the only people in Congo.”
More than 3 million died in fighting which spawned myriad Congolese militias and rebel groups and sucked in armies from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia. Foreign forces withdrew after accords paved the way for Congo’s current fragile peace.
“By the conduct of its armed forces, which committed acts of killing, torture and other forms of inhumane treatment of the Congolese civilian population … [Uganda] violated its obligations under international human rights law,” Shi Jiuyong, president of the 17-member court based at The Hague, said in the judgment. It said Ugandan forces deployed child soldiers, stirred ethnic tension and stole natural resources. The ruling is final.
Kinshasa is to seek legal redress from Rwanda as well even though the government in Kigali did not recognise the court
A UN report in 2001 found that Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda intervened to secure their borders but later the plunder of resources became a reason to stay.
Yesterday’s decision was a further blow to Mr Museveni, 62, whose main rival, Kizza Besigye, 49, appeared in court yesterday to be charged with treason and rape. Mr Besigye pleaded not guilty, claiming that the charges were politically motivated. Sweden froze $5.1m in aid on Sunday because of Mr Museveni’s behaviour. Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Ireland have already frozen some of their aid.
The president is also under pressure about the humanitarian toll in northern Uganda, where his forces have fought the Lord’s Resistance Army for two decades.
Are African peacekeepers in Somalia to serve Western Oil and Gas interests?
Feb 24,2007 by: http://www.nyasatimes.com/Features/296.html
The United States (US) supported and financed the Ethiopian army to rout out the Islamists who had taken control of the country for six months having ousted the warlords who have been in control since the removal of dictator Siad Barre in 1991.
The Somali gunmen ambush Ethiopian troops as insurgents fire rockets at military bases and pirates prowl the turquoise Indian Ocean shipping lanes offshore.
Somalia may be seem an unlikely prospect for investors seeking untapped oil and gas fields, but that could be about to change as the majors turn their gaze off the beaten track.
Driven by record profits, a race with hungry Asian rivals and fears of growing energy nationalism in South America and Russia, interest in eastern Africa has never been higher.
“Africa across the board has seen a substantial uptake in acreage in recent years by all sizes of companies from the majors to mega-majors, independents and minnows,” said Duncan Clarke, chairman and chief executive officer of international energy consultants Global Pacific & Partners.
“Quite a few significant players have moved into position.”
Big Western companies including ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Total held Somali exploration concessions before the country slid into civil war in 1991.
A World Bank and UN survey that year of eight northeastern African countries’ petroleum potential ranked Somalia second only to Sudan as the top prospective commercial producer. Northern Somalia lay within a regional oil window reaching south across the Gulf of Aden, the geologists said.
Encouraged by that, explorers hoped to find an extension of the crude-bearing deposits that hold nearly 4bn barrels under Yemen in the Marib-Hajar and Say’un-Al Masila basins.
Years of warlord-fuelled bloodshed put those plans on hold, but after routing rival Islamists from Mogadishu last month, Somalia’s interim government is desperate to attract investors.
“Somalia has a lot of oil, and our ministers have just approved a key exploration law to regulate how concessions are given out,” government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said.
“But what we need now is international support to restore security and build our nation, and we will be noting who helps us and who doesn’t when these decisions are taken.”
As his administration fights to set up centralised rule for the first time since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown 16 years ago, the US majors are watching from the sidelines.
They each have hundreds of millions of dollars from high oil prices to spend on exploration this year, but have been burned in countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Russia, which are all taking a much tougher stance on production deals.
That has boosted Africa’s profile, while factors like growing violence in Nigeria and rising taxes for producers in Algeria have shone a new spotlight on the eastern seaboard.
Much of the interest is from Chinese, Indian and Malaysian firms with deep pockets, technological skills and an appetite for higher insecurity than Western competitors, experts say.
China, the world’s second top energy user, already funds oil projects from Angola to Sudan, and is eyeing opportunities in northern Somalia and neighbouring Ethiopia’s Ogaden region.
“The huge Chinese companies now have full technical expertise, and they no longer ever feel it necessary to take Western partners,” said one veteran Western oil executive.
But smaller, fast-moving firms ready to work in difficult areas, often without the protection of mainstream insurance, are getting a slice of the action on the new east African frontier.
Australia’s Woodside Petroleum is drilling off Kenya, South African independent Ophir Energy is prospecting off Tanzania and Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum is surveying in Ethiopia.
Some are even proving that work is possible inside Somalia itself – albeit in the calmer north.
Australian minnow Range Resources won a company-making deal in 2005 giving it concession rights to all minerals and petroleum in semi-autonomous Puntland, home to Somalia’s president and former warlord Abdullahi Yusuf.
Unfazed by a mortar duel between rival clans last March on the nearby border with Somaliland, Range is bullish.
Last month, it unveiled a six-year agreement under which Canada’s Canmex Minerals will spend $50mn on exploration for an 80% stake in the project.
Much more controversial in Mogadishu are exploration efforts in Somaliland, a breakaway enclave that split from the rest of Somalia in 1991 and has since enjoyed relative peace. It is also sitting on the most promising geology.
South Africa’s Ophir has a coastal block there, and Chinese and Indian companies are also thought to be seeking acreage from the internationally-unrecognised Somaliland government.
- Strategic Implications of AFRICOM | By James J.F. Forest
Black editor in Detroit on Somalia and Sudan
From a talk entitled “A review of developments in Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe and the role of the African Union and the Pan-African Parliament/Aspects of the politics of contemporary Africa in the era of continuing imperialism” delivered at a Detroit Workers World public meeting on Feb. 10 by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wir
Azikiwe is a co-founder of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI). He can be heard on radio weekly on WDTW, 1310 AM, on Sundays from 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. in Detroit. In Toronto, he can be heard on Thursdays on CKLN, 88.1 FM, from 9:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m. This broadcast can be heard online at http://www.ckln.fm
The talk was dedicated to the memory of the late Mama Adelaide Tambo, the African National Congress Women’s League leader and widow of the late Oliver R. Tambo, longtime acting president of the ANC while Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in South Africa. Go to www.workers.org/2007/world/colonialism-0222/ to read the first installment of this talk.
Prior to the advent of European colonialism the center of world economic activity heavily centered on the so-called Indian Ocean basin. It was the necessity of Europe to break out of this isolation that provided incentives for the expeditions and the slave trade. Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, was a major link in the Indian Ocean basin. This area was connected through trade, culture and transport with Mombasa, Beira and Aden, leading into Asia Minor, China, Malaysia and Japan.
During the colonial era in Somalia, the people resisted the onslaught of several western European powers. The people of Somalia were eventually divided among five different nations: Italian Somaliland, British Somaliland, French Somaliland, Kenya—which was colonized by the British—and Ethiopia, as a result of the expansion of the Abyssinian monarchy.
When the country gained its independence in 1960, it resulted in the unification of the sections that had been controlled by Britain and Italy. However, the areas controlled by the French eventually became Djibouti as an independent nation. Somalis living in Ethiopia and Kenya remained under the control of these states despite a longing for total reunification.
In 1969, a group of military officers responding to popular pressure seized control of the government in Mogadishu. Their politics were left-leaning in an effort to break with the legacy of colonialism that was imposed by the British and the Italians. By 1974, a Mogadishu Declaration was issued pledging to pursue a non-capitalist path and expressing solidarity with the overall struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism in Africa and the world.
Meanwhile in neighboring Ethiopia a general strike beginning in early 1974 led to the eventual collapse of the monarchy under His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie. A group of young military officers called the “Dergue” seized power in the absence of a well-developed nationalist or socialist political party that was capable of taking control of the state.
By 1977, the Dergue had declared itself socialist and moved towards an alliance with the Soviet Union and Cuba. The government sent students into the countryside to engage in a literacy and development program. A military base controlled by the United States in Ethiopia was abandoned as the country brought in advisers from Cuba to help build up its security.
Unfortunately, when Jimmy Carter became president of the United States in 1977, a concerted campaign was launched to bring Somalia back into the Western sphere of influence. The government of Siad Barre was armed by the Carter administration and encouraged to attack Ethiopia in the Ogaden region, purportedly in support of ethnic Somalis suffering national oppression inside Ethiopia.
In the early months of 1978, the Ethiopian military, along with Cuban internationalist forces, entered the Ogaden region and put down the rebellion as well as defeating the Somalian military troops who had crossed over into Ethiopian territory. Despite promises by the U.S. to intervene on behalf of Somalia, they did not dare do so, remembering the tremendous defeats during 1975 in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia as well as Angola. By the early 1980s, famine had swept through large sections of Somalia. In 1991, the government of Siad Barre fled, leaving the country stateless.
When the administration of George H.W. Bush invaded Somalia in December of 1992, this appeared to many as an effort to exert American imperialist influence in the Horn of Africa. When Bill Clinton inherited this occupation under the guise of providing humanitarian assistance from United Nations coordinated sources, the stakes became greater due to efforts aimed at disarming political factions hostile to America’s desire to establish permanent bases in this region of the continent.
After the United States military massacred over 50 Somali elders holding a meeting in Mogadishu on July of 1993, the Americans were on a collision course with large sections of the population. A clash on Oct. 3, 1993, in Mogadishu resulting in the deaths of many U.S. soldiers sent shockwaves through the country and led eventually to an American withdrawal from Somalia in 1994.
Today the Americans have intervened once again in Somalia. They are using the pretext of the involvement of al-Qaeda or other Islamic so-called “terrorists” as the cause of their involvement. As anti-imperialists and organizers within the anti-war movement, we realize that any statement of cause for American military involvement must be held to strict scrutiny on the basis of the many falsehoods utilized to justify invasions and occupations.
This is why the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice has raised the question of American involvement in Somalia right alongside the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the role of the U.S. in the overthrow of the Aristide government in Haiti in February of 2004.
Sudan: legacy of British colonialism and U.S. interference Sudan was also colonized by Britain during the late 19th century. The imperialists’ methodology of divide and conquer was employed where the peoples of the south, north and west were taught that they were separate entities. Some of the earliest nationalist movements on the continent took place in Sudan, with rebellions after the conclusion of World War I extending through the early 1920s.
Some of the elements within the nationalist movement pushed for a unification plan with Egypt. Others sought a solution to the colonial problem through the breaking down of the barriers erected by British colonialism. On the eve of independence, which took place in 1956, the people in the south mutinied within the paramilitary colonial forces, hampering the potential for a national identity in the country. The conflict with the southern region of the country lasted from 1955 through 1972, when a negotiated settlement was reached.
However, a decade later, the conflict reemerged in 1983 and lasted for 20 years until a peace agreement was reached in 2003.
The Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army led the southern rebellion under John Garang. A government of national unity was established with the understanding that the people in southern Sudan would eventually vote whether the people would remain in the unity government or establish an autonomous region in the south. It was after the agreement between Khartoum and the SPLA was reached that the conflict in the Darfur region erupted. Two rebel groups surfaced. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) had links with the National Islamic Front (NIF) that became an opposition force in northern politics. The NIF initially played a pivotal role in the Omar al-Bashir government inside the country.
However, a split occurred, placing the NIF in opposition to the president and also the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) that appeared to be independent of northern influences. Since 2003, the Darfur rebel movement has further fragmented with splits inside the SLM/A largely over a peace agreement with Khartoum.
The imperialist nations and their allied press agencies have sought to portray the conflict in Darfur as an African/Arab conflagration with fundamental racial dimensions. Nonetheless, Darfur is predominately Islamic, like the population in the north. There is no pronounced racial difference between the peoples of the country. It is the legacy of British imperialism and U.S. interference that is at the root cause of the current conflict. These divisions are politicized in an effort to provide a rationale for possible military intervention. Consequently, anti-imperialists should look at the struggle in Darfur in light of American and British imperialists’ aims in the region.
China has stepped up its economic investments in Sudan. The country is rich in oil and consequently provides the American government with an incentive to seek dominance over the resources. The only true and lasting solution to the Darfur crisis lies within the Sudanese people themselves and does not require a military occupation by the West.
Distributed by: The Pan-African Research and Documentation Center, 50 SCB Box 47, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Intervention in Somalia sets stage for conflict
Wed, 31 Jan 2007
The United States government has once again intervened militarily in Somalia. Its pattern of intervention this time is different from 1992. Last Dec 24, the Bush Administration chose to use the Ethiopian government to mount an invasion of Somalia. The Ethiopian army with its military superiority has for the time managed to defeat the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which in June 2006 had ousted the weak, effete and corrupt interim government of Abdullahi Yusuf and Ali Mohamed Gedi and imposed its rule over most of Somalia.
Now the Ethiopian army has restored Abdullahi and Ali to power. They, in turn, have not only endorsed the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia but have also given their full support to US air strikes, ostensibly aimed at Al Qaeda suspects and bases in the country.
Though Ethiopia, with US backing, appears to be in control of the situation at the moment, it is doubtful if it will be able to establish a viable, workable government with total jurisdiction over the whole of Somalia.
The UIC has already begun re-grouping and is determined to launch a guerilla war to regain its lost power. Like a lot of Somalis, it views the Abdullahi-Ali leadership as a “puppet government” that is servile to a foreign invader that had fought two wars against Somalia in the late 70s and early 80s.
Because Ethiopia is regarded as a Christian state – though more than 40% of the population is Muslim – resistance to Ethiopian occupation is going to assume an even sharper edge. Since the US is also militarily involved – and US intervention has an unpleasant history behind it – one can expect Islamic resistance to reach a crescendo.
The ensuing strife and conflict will guarantee that Somalia remains trapped in the turmoil that has plagued the blighted land for more than 15 years.
Seen from this perspective, the UIC had at least brought a degree of law and order to most of Somalia in the six months that it was in power. Using Islam as a rallying point, it managed to unite the warring clans which have been the Achilles heel of Somali politics for so long. The UIC also began to adopt some measures against corruption and abuse of power.
But its rigid, dogmatic adherence to an atavistic vision of a virtuous Islamic society alienated quite a lot of Somalis. Like so many other Islamic movements of a similar orientation, it adopted a “prohibit and punish” approach to issues pertaining to personal morality. Nonetheless, even its critics acknowledge that apart from its ability to restore law and order, the UIC was determined to protect Somali independence and sovereignty.
It was this assertion of independence on the part of the UIC, which, in the ultimate analysis, piqued the US government. Indeed, right from the beginning of the Cold War era, the US had, on various occasions, tried to thwart any attempt by any group, religious or secular, in Somalia and in the whole of the Horn of Africa, to pursue policies that were independent of US interests in the region.
Invariably, it would accuse such a group of being “pro Soviet Union” and subvert its position. After the end of the Cold War, the US sought to use its superpower status in a unipolar world to exercise total dominance over the Horn.
Its military intervention in Somalia in 1992 under the guise of the United Nations was part of that endeavor. It failed when Somali militias shot down two US helicopters in October 1993 in the famous “Black Hawk Down” incident that left 18 US servicemen dead. Now the Bush administration is trying once again to bring Somalia under its control.
Why is the US so set on controlling Somalia and the Horn of Africa? The primary reason is strategic. The Horn provides access to the Red Sea and is a vital link to the Indian Ocean. It explains why the US has an aircraft carrier, the USS Eisenhower, in the region and a military base in Djibouti.
But there is also the question of oil. A 1991 World Bank study of the petroleum potential of eight African states for instance ” put Somalia (and Sudan) at the top of the list of prospective commercial oil producers”.
It should also be remembered that before Somalia plunged into chaos in 1991, American oil giants such as Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips were involved in oil explorations in an areaÊ covering nearly two-thirds of Somalia.
It is mainly because of these two reasons that the Bush Administration does not want an independent minded Islamic group in charge of Somalia. Such a group, needless to say, would not dance to Washington’s tune.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST). Comments: email@example.com
Somalia: An Oily Cliché
Today, it is a reflexive cliché to claim the United States (U.S.) is off on another oil-acquisition conquest anytime they invade an Arabic nation. In the case of Somalia, the cliché may neverless be true. While undoubtedly, the U.S. and its Ethiopian proxy conqured Somalia and “liberated” it from the clutches of Al-Qaeda primarily for geostrategic reasons (possible launching point to attack Iran, more friendly territory close to Arabic Sudan, more ports under their control, a possible regional base for the AFRICOM command post, potential launching points to protect the Strait of Hormuz [the primary shipping point of Middle Eastern oil], etc), Somalia is awash in unspoken oil and provides a tantalizing business opportunity.
Perhaps We Had Better Start From the Beginning…
The story begins in 1990, just prior to the horrible famine of almost Biblical porportions that claimed thousands of innocent lives in Somalia. Mohamed Said Barre was in charge of the country. Barre signed of nearly two-thirds of his country to Conoco, Amoco, Chevron, and Phillips (this was prior to the Conoco-Phillips merger). Unfortunately for them, Barre was overthrown by Mohammed Farah Aideed of the rival Hebr Gedr clan in January 1991 and launched a civil war shortly thereafter.
After Aideed started the civil war, the oil giants were unable to work their concessions for two reasons. One, the constant fighting, robbery, and pirating off the coast made it impossible. Second, it was technically illegal because Somalia did not have a recognized government. Since Somalia was run by a that it was illegal to do business with, the oil companies were out of luck. Either the U.S. had to legitimize Aideed in the eyes of the international community or remove him. Either way, the fighting had to stop.
As one of his last acts as President, George H.W. Bush (who owned oil concessions across the Gulf of Aden in Marib, Yemen via Hunt Oil) sent the first wave of U.S. soldiers to Somalia to officially help deliver food to starving Somalis. Meanwhile, U.S. Special Envoy to Somalia Robert Oakley kept in daily contact with Aideed from December 1992 to May 1993. He was unsuccessful in his negotiations to end the fighting. President Bill Clinton then resorted to “Operation Restore Hope.” Conoco’s office in Mogadishu served as a de facto U.S. Embassy for the landing Marines after the original building was shelled and looted. Mr. Oakley and Marine General Frank Libutti wrote a letter of commendation to Conoco Somalia’s General Manager Raymond Marchand thanking him for his service.
After a series of unsuccessful assassination attempts by U.S. forces, the Somalis struck back during a U.S. raid in the infamous “Blackhawk Down” incident (the U.S. Army dubbed it the “Battle of the Black Sea” while the Somalis’ called it “Maalinti Rangers” [Day of the Rangers]) on 3-4 October, 1994 that claimed the lives of 18 Americans and one Malaysian soldier. President Clinton pulled out of Somalia and the place was left to its own devices while the U.S. cultivated relationships with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Djibouti’s President Hassan Gouled, and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki. Aideed was assassinated in 1996 by Osman Hassan Ali Atto.
Somalia continued to be deeply fractured after the death of Aideed. The extreme northwest corner of Somalia, known as Somaliland, declared independence in 1991, but did not receive any diplomatic recognition. The adjacent region to the east, known as Puntland, followed suit in 1998 under the leadership of presidency of Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, but with one major difference. They only wanted to be a separate Somali state, not a country.
Puntland had some lucrative oil concessions, but the turnover of governments left most of the contracts null and void. The companies also faced a legal problem. Since Puntland was not its own autonomous state, the companies had to deal with the central government in order to do business. The problem was…there was no central government entity. That needed to be changed.
Somalia began toying with creating a government in 2001. Indeed, the French oil giant TotalElfFina signed an agreement with the Transitional Government for a concession in southern Somalia. After lots of jockying for power between the clans, the first government plan was signed in July 2003. Kenya was overseeing the process and the federal charter was signed in September 2003.
Fighting broke out again in 2004, particularly in the south, and it reached Mogadishu by the end of May. As a result, the Somali Government was in exile in Nairobi.
Despite the chaos, parliament members were sworn in during August 2004. They voted Abdullahi Yusuf (from the Darod clan, which is not liked in Mogadishu) president. Mr. Yusuf is a career soldier who served as Somalia’s mlitary attaché to the Soviet Union. When the U.S. backed Barre’s rise to power, Mr. Yusuf refused to turn on his Soviet Allies and was imprisoned. After he was released, he took part in a failed coup attempt on Said Barre. He fled to Kenya and befrended the Ethiopians. He later returned to northern Somalia and ran Puntland since its independence in 1998, making him a valuble ally to U.S. oil interests if he could shed his communist-supporting background.
In December 2004, Ali Mohammed Gedi was appointed the Prime Minister. He hails from the Abgaal sub-clan of Mogadishu’s Hawiye clan, one of the two largest clans in the country. The new government relocated to Mogadishu and by May 2005, Mohammed Qanyare Affrah, Osman Ali Atto, and Muse Sudi Yalahow united their militias as a de facto government army. By late 2005, the government’s transition process was derailed.
Some factions were not happy the largest clans possessed all the power positions. President Yusuf and Prime Minister Ghedi both survived assassination attempts and retreated back to Kenya. By October 2005, the Transitional Government was purchasing large amounts of arms from Yemen and arming allied clans to defend Mogadishu and Baidoa to the south. Ethiopia was also suppling the Transitional Government with weapons.
From the beginning of 2006 until July, fierce fighting between rival clans and political movements occurred. It culminated with the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) seizing control of Mogadishu, and in effect, the country, though most of the Transitional Government was still located in Baidoa. While Eritrea armed the UIC, the U.S. unsuccessfully backed the opposing forces, called the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPC). The so-called warlords leading the ARPC, Mohamed Dheere, Bashir Raghe, and Mahamed Qanyare, had been spying for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) years. A U.S. diplomat at the Nairobi Embassy was even fired for criticizing the CIA’s policy. Once again, U.S. business interests were thwarted and the UIC’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, was already on the U.S.’ official terrorist list for heading al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, a group supposedly linked to Al-Qaeda during the 1990s, making it illegal for them to do business with his regime.
“Slick” Business Deals
Beginning in 2005, Prime Minister Gedi demanded all business proposals go through the Transitional Government. He forbade anyone to approach the local administrations in Puntland, but he was willing to allow business there provided he approved of it. The Australian firm Range Resources Limited signed an agreement with the government of Puntland for exclusive rights to all their minerals, including oil, lead, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, tin, beryl, tantalum, niobium (columbium), uranium, coal, and gypsum. Range Resources obtained permission to exploit the land from Puntland President Mohamud Muse Hirse on 18 October, 2005, and from Prime Minister Gedi on 2 November 2005. They are also bidding to buy addition consessions from the Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC).
Range Resources is run by Non-Executive Chairman Sir Samuel Kwesi Jonah. Sir Jonah is a Board Member of: Lonmin, the Commonwealth African Investment Fund (Comafin), Transnet Limited, Anglo-American Platinum Corporation Limited, the Ashesi University Foundation, Equinox Minerals (Chairman), the uranium-producing nuclear power company UraMin Incorporated (Chairman), Anglo-American Corporation, Moto Goldmines Limited, Scharrig Mining (Chairman), Sierra Rutile Limited (Chairman), Sierra Resources Holding, Titanium Resources Group, Copper Resources Corporation (with George Arthur Forrest and George Andrew Forrest), Standard Bank Group of South Africa, Bayport Holding Limited, Transnet Limited, Equator Exploration Limited in Nigeria and São Tomé – Príncipe (with Baronness Chalker), and Mittal Steel (currently in the proverbial hot seat for a contract they signed with the government of Liberia).
He is a Advisory Council member of the U.N. Secretary General’s Global Compact, South African President Thabo Mbeki’s International Investment Advisory Council, the African Regional Advisory Board of the London Business School, First Atlantic Merchant Bank, Defiance Mining, Ghanian President John Kufuor’s Ghana Investors’ Advisory Council, President Obasanjo Nigerian Investors’ Advisory Council, and serves as a Presidential Advisor to President Mohamud Muse Hersi of the Somali state of Puntland. He also holds an honorary British knighthood, the Star of Ghana and several other international awards and titles.
Meanwhile, Perth-based Ophir Energy seeks to drill in Somaliland. Ophir is led by Alan Stein and is 50%-owned by South Africa’s Mvelaphanda Holdings. Mvelphanda is run by Tokyo Sexwale and its Board of Directors includes Michael Beckett (former Chairman of Ashanti Goldfields, a company prevously run by Sir Jonah), and Bernard Van Rooyen (former director of the Canadian firm Banro Resources). Ophir was reportedly introduced to Somalia by Mvelaphanda’s partner Dr Andrew Chakravarty, who’s wife is a well-connected Somali national. Mr. Chakravarty’s Rova Energy Corporation acquired offshore concessions formerly belonging to Equitable Life Investment Company and its U.S. partner Somapetroleum. Ophir currently is a 75% shareholder of Rova.
The Rest, as They Say, is History
Somalia’s Transitional Government desired to keep Puntland as a part of the larger Somalia. This fact, coupled with several nations’ unwillingness to work with the UIC (who may or may not recognize the contracts) led to a need to restore the Transitional Government in Mogadishu and remove the UIC. This line of thinking was directly in line with the U.S., who wanted to control Somali for the aforementioned geostrategic reasons and also to prevent the nation from becoming a “terrorist safehaven.” The U.S. backed Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia to stamp out the UIC once-and-for-all. They also supplied air support and Special Forces soldiers to aid in the mission. The UIC was run into Kenya, where many of its leaders were arrested. Others fled into hiding in southern Somalia.
The U.S. officially continues to hunt Al-Qaeda in Somali. They are pushing for an African peacekeeping force to be deployed in the nation as soon as possible. Unsurprisingly, two nations with a history of acting as U.S. proxies in the region answered the call. The Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) pledged two battalions to enforce the peace and train the Somali army. The U.S. has pledged to provide logistics support for Uganda,which likely will include airlift support. If the private military contractor Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI) gets involved in the logistics like they have in Darfur, the context of U.S. involvement in Somalia could take on a whole new outlook, especially if counterinsurgency operations become the norm. MPRI offers a perfect opportunity to embed U.S. operatives to do the illicit bidding of the Pentagon the U.S. Armed Forces cannot.
The Somali Government has been reinstalled in Mogadishu and though violence is constant in the city, the government has moved forward. Many of the cabinet members are dual citizens, with the majority coming from Canada. Others are former warlords. The Deputy Prime Minister is Hussein Farah Aideed, the son of the late warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed. In contrast to his father, Hussein is actually a naturalized American citizen and a former U.S. Marine who served in the Gulf War. He even served as a U.S. emissary during Operation Restore Hope, where he met with his father several times.
With a central government in place, the corporations with concessions in the more peaceful northern region of the country can begin their work. ConocoPhillips has stated they are not interested in doing business in Somalia at this time. Will ChevronTexaco and other American oil giants take advantage of the opportunity to exploit Somalia? Only time will tell, but Ophir, Rova, and Range Resources are probably grateful to the U.S. and Ethiopia.
1. Madsen, Wayne. “Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa 1993-1999.” Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales, United Kingdom: Edwin Mellen Press, Limited. 1999. pg. 31.
2. “The Oil Factor In Somalia,” Mark Fineman. Los Angeles Times. 18 January, 1993.
3. Bowden, Mark. “Blackhawk Down: A Story of Modern War.” New York, New York: Penguin Putnam Incorporated. 1999.
4. “UN: Arms Pouring Into Somalia,” Al-Jazeera. 8 October, 2006.
5. “U.S. Secretly Backing Warlords in Somalia,” Karen DeYoung, Emily Wax. The Washington Post. 17 May, 2006. Note: A confidential U.N. Security Council report revealed several armed Islamic groups armed and fought with the UIC, including Hezbollah and fighters from several Islamic nations including Saudi Arabia.
6. “Somalia: Fighting in the Shadows.” Jeffery Bartholet, Michael Hirsh. Newsweek. 5 June, 2006. Note: One of the planners for these types of intelligence operations was Steven Cambone’s Deputy Undersecretary of Intelligence at the Pentagon, General William “Jerry” Boykin, who is known for his anti-Islamic comments. Boykin commanded the Delta Force team deployed in Mogadishu in 1993.
7. “Profile: Somalia’s Islamist Leader,” Joseph Winter. BBC News. 30 June, 2006.
8. Range Resources Limited. “Exclusive Rights to All Minerals in Puntland.” Company Announcements Office. 5 October, 2005.
9. President Mohamud Muse Hirse. “Letter to Consort Private Limited and Mr. Tony Black.” Office of the President. 18 October, 2005; Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi. “Letter to Puntland State of Somali and Vice President Hassan Dahir Mohamud. Offic of the Prime Minister. OPM/251/05. 2 November 2006.
10. “Minnows See Oil Seeping Out From Fractured State,” Eleanor Gillespie, Jon Marks. African Energy. Issue 100. 20 July, 2006.
12. State House of the Republic of Uganda. “’US to Provide UPDF Support to (sic) Somalia’ – Frazier.” Press Release. 29 January, 2007.
13. Confidential Source. 2007.
14. Kevin Sites. “Son of Aideed.” Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone. Yahoo News. 29 September, 2005. http://hotzone.yahoo.com/b/hotzone/blogs1077.
Appendix I: Documentation
Warlordism, Ethiopian Invasion, Dictatorship, & America’s Role
The American sponsored UN Security Council Resolution on Somalia in December 2006 prepared the grounds for an Ethiopia invasion of Somalia. This resolution authorized the deployment of an African Union force, excluding Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti from participating in the force due to their conflict of interest in Somali affairs. Despite such a clear instruction from the Security Council the US government gave Ethiopia the green light to invade Somalia. The aborted visit to Mogadishu, under Ethiopian occupation, by the America Assistant Secretary of State for African Affair, US air bombardment of southern Somali villages, and the confirmation that US and UK forces and mercenaries have worked with Ethiopia over the last year all attest to Washington’s collusion with Addis Ababa from the start. These American direct actions and those of its proxy once more demonstrate the disregard the world’s dominant power has for international law. Such an affront sends the message that might is right no matter how illegal its application. In addition to the American/Ethiopian aggression against Somalia, warlords who have terrorized the Somali people, before the Union of Islamic Courts drove them out, have returned with Ethiopian blessing. These developments completely discredit America’s claim of being the friend of democrats in the Third World. This short editorial examines four concerns: a) why the American government endorsed Ethiopia’s illegal invasion; (b) why does it support the deeply sectarian and corrupt Somali transitional government which it loathed until recently; (c) why is it silent about the return of the warlords on the backs of Ethiopian tanks if its rhetoric on democracy has any validity; (d) and what all of this might mean for the Somali people and American image in the region.
Genesis of the Problem
The Somali saga began about 37 years ago when a military coup ousted the last democratically elected government on October 1969. Somalia which was up to that time Africa’s most democratic country succumbed to a military coup. Military rule undermined and ultimately destroyed the nascent democratic institutions as well as the functioning quasi-meritocratic public services. Moreover, the regime developed an elaborate sectarian system which further politicized genealogical difference between communities as it divided citizens into friendlies and enemies, and rewarded its allies while it punished whole communities it considered anti-regime. This war against many segments of the population eroded public confidence in state institutions and the rule of law became the rule of the man with the gun. The military regime turned the state into the people’s enemy and most denizens became estranged from public affairs. Disaffected Somalis failed to organize a national movement to remove the dictatorship from power. Instead they became the foot soldiers of estranged members of the elite whose agenda was driven by personal ambition rather than a national cause. Opposition members of the elite turned to force as their preferred method of confronting the regime and mobilized the population on the basis of genealogical identity rather than civic belonging or a political program. The net result of the opposition’s strategy was to play into the hands of the regime by adopting the same tactic. Such a genealogy based political mobilization also fractured the various elements of the elite into enemies rather than allies. As a result, the regime’s life span was extended for almost a decade due the weakness of the fragmented opposition. When the regime finally collapsed under its dead weight no national political front existed to hold the country together under one authority. The first Prime Minister of the post-military government instructed the remnants of the national army to surrender to the sectarian militias and this was in effect the final act of literally killing the Somali state.
Warlords and Dictators as proxies
With the collapse of the state in January 1991, Somalia became the first country in modern history to become stateless. Consequently, lawlessness gripped the country and roaming militias terrorized the population. A little over a year after the regime disintegrated, violent confrontations developed between two competing factions in Mogadishu which ultimately led to one of them using food as a weapon against vulnerable population in southwestern region of the country in the vicinity of Baidoa. Farmers in the region were unable to cultivate their fields due to the fear induced by gangs and with warlords blocking food shipments to the region thousands of people began to slowly waste away. By the time the news media took note of the problem an awful famine was in full swing and tens of thousands of people were deliberately condemned to death through starvation. The United Nations which had a small contingent of peace-keepers was unable to clear bandits off the roads in order to deliver food aid to the needy. Life conditions became so ghastly that the first President Bush was moved to act and ordered thousands of American troops to enter Somalia in order to open the roads so emergency food aid can urgently get through to the people. The troops were able to accomplish this task with relative ease and as a result tens of thousand of lives were saved. By contrast, rebuilding Somalia’s government from scratch was more difficult, even under the best of circumstances, but the US/UN force had ill-defined mandate and solicited bad advice regarding the causes of Somalia’s disintegration. American/UN agenda of rebuilding the government was incoherent and led to a fiasco in which 18 American soldiers were killed by the militias of one of the warlords of Mogadishu. By then a new American President, Clinton, was so shaken by this singular event that he evacuated US forces from Somalia. Other nations who had contributed troops to the campaign and the UN followed and Somalia was left to the warlords.
Warlord terror became the order of the day since 1995 and numerous attempts to form a national government failed. A most promising effort in this regard was in the neighboring state of Djibouti where representatives of nearly all Somali civil society groups were invited in 1999 excluding warlords. The conference successfully led to the establishment of a Transitional National Government (TNG). However, the Ethiopian government which had supported many of the warlords, particularly Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf, and supplied them with weapons over the years was not happy about the prospect of a civic order and worked against it from the start. The combination of Ethiopian sabotage and Somali leaders’ incompetence and venality destroyed this precious chance. At one point the Ethiopian Foreign Minister told the TNG’s Foreign Affair chief that Ethiopia will be able to support the Somali government on the condition that their ally, Mr. Yusuf, was appointed as prime minister. The Ethiopian minister was not pleased when he was told that the responsibility to appoint and confirm the PM rested with the president and parliament. In the meantime, Ethiopia used its diplomatic influence in Africa and elsewhere to call for yet another Somali reconciliation conference with the pretext of forming an “inclusive” government while it continued to supply the warlords with weapons. The proposal was accepted by the Intergovernmental Agency on development (IGAD) and there started another reconciliation process in which the mediators (Kenya and Ethiopia) openly favored the warlords. After two years of pretentious negotiations the conference was brought to a conclusion without any reconciliation among Somalis. The Ethiopian government successfully attained its goals of wasting the remaining time of the TNG’s tenure, enabled the warlords to appoint more than two-thirds of the members of parliament, and finally succeeded in having its clients selected as president and prime minister.
American policy, during the long two years of negotiations in Kenya, was characterized by indifference at best and tacit support for warlords’ domination of the conference. In the main, the US representatives in Kenya watched the process from the sidelines and seemed disgusted with the quality of the output in the form of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). For nearly two years after the formation of the TFG the American government remained disinterested in the affairs of the TFG. Instead it financed the formation of “anti-terror alliance” which consisted of the very warlords who have tormented the population for over a decade. America’s objective in supporting the warlords was to hound three people accused of being involved in the attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and who were presumed to be hiding somewhere in southern Somalia. The warlords’ contract with the CIA also included capturing or killing those who were considered radical Islamicists. America’s warlord project backfired as the majority of Mogadishu’s population sided with the Muslim leaders and routed the warlords. American policy makers panicked with the formation of the Union of Islamic Courts (UICs) and the liberation of Mogadishu and surrounding region from the tyranny of the warlords. Shortly after UICs took over Mogadishu senior American policy makers began to speak about the “internationally legitimate” government of Somalia and actively used America’s diplomatic and other resources to bestow respect on what it previously considered decrepit operation. Meanwhile, Ethiopia activated its propaganda machine and accused the courts of trying to establish a fundamentalist regime which it claimed will endanger its security despite the fact that Somalia did not have an army. It immediately dispatched a “protection” force for its client Somali government holed in the regional center of Baidoa. As the Courts spread their reach into most parts of southern Somalia, Ethiopia increased its troop presence in Baidoa into several thousand heavily armed units. The US government encouraged this invasion and used its diplomatic muscle to shield Ethiopia from international criticism. The united American-Ethiopian propaganda machine completed the demonization of the courts as a fundamentalist organization in cahoots with Al Qaida. This joint effort led to US government sponsoring a resolution at the Security Council, 1725, which mandated the deployment of an African Union force in Somalia aimed at protecting the TFG and stabilizing the country. Other countries in the Security Council insisted and prevailed that those countries who share a border with Somalia must not be part of the African force. America and Ethiopia were worried that the Courts might overrun their client in Baidoa before the African Union force was in place. Consequently, Washington gave Ethiopia the green light to take on the Courts and openly invade Somalia, contrary to the tenets of the UN Security Council Resolution. Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia was accomplished four weeks after the UN resolution was passed in violation of two UN Security Council Resolutions. Attempts by some members of the Security Council to demand Ethiopian withdrawal was blocked by the American government. While most analysts knew that America was implicated in the invasion, it was the use of American airpower against villages in Southern Somalia in early January 2007 that confirmed how deeply the US was involved. About 73 nomadic individuals and their livestock were killed by the air raid and no one openly condemned this aggression, including the AU. More recently, it has been discovered that American, British, and hired mercenaries supported the Ethiopian invasion.
Supplicant Tyranny versus Autonomous Legacy
Somalia’s “internationally legitimate” government came to Mogadishu, the Somali capital, onboard Ethiopian military helicopters and guarded by Ethiopian troops. The Ethiopian invasion brought back the warlords who were defeated by the Courts and the latter took over their former fiefdoms. Some of Mogadishu’s roads are once again punctuated with checkpoints manned by young thugs. It is not certain how long the warlords and their fiefdoms will last but it is clear that insecurity has returned to the city and the country. The declaration of martial law by the TFG on January 13, 2007 gives utmost power to the TFG president who is known for his clanistic behavior and dictatorial practices. Such leadership does not bode well for the city and the country, and is unlikely to lead to just peace and stability. The imposition of martial law (the troops enforcing this law are Ethiopian) means that the TFG is no longer a government of reconciliation, if it ever was, as this act forbids public meetings and citizens’ attempts to organize political campaigns to challenge the TFG. Subsequently, the TFG ordered that the major radio and TV stations in the capital cease their operation. This draconian law muzzles freedom of expression and association, and is therefore a throw back to the days of the old military dictatorship. Finally, the Ethiopian occupation force and the militias of the warlords have begun to scour the city for people who were opposed to their agenda and others suspected of being against the regime in Ethiopia such as Oromo refugees. The hunt is on and more bloodshed can be expected. Ethiopian military contingents continue to abduct businessmen, professional, and others who are opposed to the TFG and the invasion, from their homes in the dead of night. Senior leaders of the TFG and the majority of MPs are people not known for their public management skills and high ethical standards. Consequently, Somalis can not expect political relief from these leaders who are supplicants of the Tigray regime in Addis Ababa.
The Union of Islamic Courts has ceased to exist as an effective organization and their last refuge in the acacia forests and swamps of south-eastern Somalia was devastated by air raid and shelling of American and Ethiopian military forces. It was clear that the Courts made serious strategic mistakes over the last three months of their tenure induced by the haughtiness of their military wing. Among these blunder were their rigid religious rhetoric and interpretation of Islamic texts, and the absence of serious and effective engagement with credible nationalist and skilled people. But the most damaging affair was their military hot-headedness. Such blind miscalculation suggest that the courts will not recover as an organization, but the message that earned them so much respect and following among the Somalis is more salient today than ever before. Among the principals they articulated were: Somalia’s independence, freedom from warlord terror, justice, and respect for the Islamic faith. Whatever were the shortcomings and mistakes of the Islamic Courts, they certainly had an independent mind which was not subservient to other countries or leaders. During their brief tenure the Courts began a process of returning looted property to their rightful owners using Islamic law and without advice from expensive outside consultants. Once the announcement of the restitution policy was announced people came from other regions of the country and from overseas to reclaim their properties. In addition, they nullified the clanist 4.5 formula and articulated the importance of a unified citizenry. The TFG has yet to make any declaration regarding any of these matters or any other vital issue central to reconciliation. Further, the Courts acted as independent Somali leadership which is in sharp contrast with the Ethiopian domination of the TFG. This comparison between the two reminds citizens of the country an earlier time when Somali authorities were accountable to their people and had an autonomous Somali centered domestic and foreign policy.
Two interrelated principals that guided the Courts will have far reaching consequences for the future of the Somali people and their polity. These anchors were common citizenship unmarred by sectarian and clanistic identity, and Islamic values of justice and inclusion. One of the first things that attracted a majority of the population’s support was the courts’ emphasis on faith and justice and the containment of tyranny. Islam as a foundational principal of community affairs easily dovetailed with common Somali citizenship regardless of genealogical pedigree and that attracted popular support. These twin principals contradict the transitional charter which the warlords wrote in Nairobi and that marginalizes both of these values. The charter grounds public affairs on genealogy rather than common citizenship. Thus, citizens are divided into 4.5 clan units and all public institutions are staffed on the basis of such arithmetic. The immediate and long term consequence of this strategy is to balkanize citizenship and community. Such compartmentalized political order is driven by rent-seeking (corruption) rather than providing an efficient service to the citizens, and has no chance of leading to political stability and economic development.
America’s Pledge: A Sectarian Dictatorship
Finally, the American-endorsed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia and the imposition of sectarian warlord-dominated government on the country are unlikely to lead to a democratic development. The U.S. government’s absurd support for the warlords in Somalia and an Ethiopian government that is at war with its own people and American leaders’ anti-Islamic orientation has deepened that population’s antipathy towards the USA. America’s instrumental collaboration with other people’s terrorists (states and non-state actors) has undermined the purchase of its democratic rhetoric. In essence, the hallmark of America’s bankrupt policy is the conspicuous gulf between its democratic rhetoric and its support for thugs, warlords, tyrants, and venal politicians in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere. In the minds of most people in the region American foreign policy and practice has become synonymous with dictatorship and arrogance, and most people believe that those are the core values of the America government. Consequently, the US government has lost the hearts and minds of the Muslim people all over. America’s gifts to the Somali people in the last few years have been warlords, an Ethiopian invasion, and an authoritarian, sectarian and incompetent government. Recent discussions of a broad-based government and a reconciliation conference based on the TFG model will not deliver legitimacy for the occupation or produce the necessary peace and common Somali agenda. Supporters of the proposed conference to be held in Mogadishu can not seriously expect a genuine agreement since the capital is under Ethiopian occupation and is dominated by the sectarian militias of the TFG leadership. Participants of such a conference will be handpicked by the Ethiopian occupiers and their clients and therefore will be charade. The alternative positive sum game is a civic centered program which does not seem to be on the cards for now, but this is the only avenue to reconciliation, and through which the people’s hearts and minds could be won and which might eliminate all types of terror.
by Ignacio Ramonet | February 18, 2007
THE United States, heavily engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq in its global war on terror, is now fighting on a third front in Somalia (1). Washington assembled an anti-terrorist coalition in the Gulf of Aden in 2001 and it is clear from recent air raids and the deployment of US battleships that it regards the Horn of Africa as part of the theatre of operations in its battle against al-Qaida.
It is up against the Union of Islamic Courts, funded by Mogadishu traders who had had enough of Somalia’s warlords and their multiple abuses. Union forces drove the warlords out of Mogadishu last June and began to bring order to Somalia after nearly 15 years of chaos.
The US takes a narrow view of the fight against terrorism. It had backed the warlords and was not prepared to accept the new order, especially as the Islamic Courts were rumoured to be receiving aid from Iran. The US had run a programme of military assistance to Christian Ethiopia since 2002 and the Pentagon encouraged it to launch an offensive against Somalia, providing aerial reconnaissance and satellite surveillance support.
The Ethiopian campaign was a blitzkrieg: the areas held by the Islamic Courts were occupied within a week, Mogadishu was taken on 28 December 2006 and 20,000 Ethiopian troops are now deployed in Somalia. The US-led International Somalia Contact Group, set up last June, met in Nairobi, Kenya, in January and called for the proposed United Nations peacekeeping force to be sent in urgently. So far only Ethiopia and Uganda have agreed to send troops. Washington has agreed to grant $16m in aid to the interim Somali president, Abdullahi Yusuf, as well as humanitarian aid and a further $24m, $14m of which is to be allocated to the peacekeeping force. The Bush administration has accused the Somali Islamists of sheltering terrorists Fazul Abdullah Muhammad and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, involved in the 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaida number two, responded by calling on Islamist fighters to resist: “I appeal to my Muslim brethren everywhere to respond to the call for jihad in Somalia. The real battle will begin by launching your campaigns against the Ethiopian forces.” He recommended “ambushes, mines and suicide bombs” and urged the Islamists to employ the tactics used by insurgents fighting US-led forces in Afghanistan and Iraq (2).
Abulrahim Ali Modei, spokesman for the Islamic Courts, claims his movement has not lost the battle (3). His men have regrouped south of the Juba river, on the border with Kenya, in a zone where the Ethiopians and US special forces have been pursuing the Islamists with backup from AC-130 fighter aircraft based at Djibouti. The capture of Kabul in 2002 and Baghdad in 2003 did not solve the problems of the Taliban or Iraq, and the capture of Mogadishu by the Ethiopians has not solved Somalia’s problems. They are just beginning. ________________________________________________________
(1) Or possibly a fourth front. Bush declared that Lebanon was “the third front in the global war on terror” when Israel launched its offensive against Hizbullah in August 2006.
(2) BBC News, 5 January 2007.
(3) International Herald Tribune, 4 January 2007
Translated by Barbara Wilson
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 1997-2007 Le Monde diplomatique
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Although it should provide development opportunities, renewed oil interest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) represents a real threat to stability in a still vulnerable post-conflict country. Exploration has begun, but oil prospecting is nurturing old resentments among local communities and contributing to border tensions with neighbouring countries. If oil reserves are confirmed in the east, this would exacerbate deep-rooted conflict dynamics in the Kivus. An upsurge in fighting since the start of 2012, including the emergence of a new rebellion in North Kivu and the resumption of armed groups’ territorial expansion, has further complicated stability in the east, which is the new focus for oil exploration. New oil reserves could also create new centres of power and question Katanga’s (DRC’s traditional economic hub) political influence. Preventive action is needed to turn a real threat to stability into a genuine development opportunity.
Potential oil reserves straddle the country’s borders with Uganda, Angola and possibly other countries and could rekindle old sensitivities once exploration commences. In the context of a general oil rush in Central and East Africa, the lack of clearly defined borders, especially in the Great Lakes region, poses significant risk for maintaining regional stability.
Clashes between the Congolese and Ugandan armies in 2007 led to the Ngurdoto Accords establishing a system for regulating border oil problems, but Kinshasa’s reluctance to implement this agreement and the collapse of the Ugandan-Congolese dialogue threaten future relations between the two countries. In the west, failure to find an amicable solution to an Angolan-Congolese dispute about offshore concessions has worsened relations between the two countries and led to the violent expulsion from Angola of Congolese nationals. Instead of investing in the resolution of border conflicts with its neighbours before beginning oil exploration, the Congolese government is ignoring the problem, failing to dialogue with Uganda and officially claiming an extension of its maritime borders with Angola.
The abduction in 2011 of an oil employee in the Virunga Park, in the Kivus, is a reminder that exploration is taking place in disputed areas where ethnic groups are competing for territorial control and the army and militias are engaged in years of illegally exploiting natural resources. Given that the Kivus are high-risk areas, oil discovery could aggravate the conflict. Moreover, confirmation of oil reserves in the Central Basin and the east could feed secessionist tendencies in a context of failed decentralisation and financial discontent between the central government and the provinces.
Poor governance has been the hallmark of the oil sector since exploration resumed in the east and west of the country. Even with only one producing oil company, the black gold is the main source of government revenue and yet, with exploration in full swing, oil sector reform is very slow. Instead of creating clear procedures, a transparent legal framework and robust institutions, previous governments have behaved like speculators, in a way that is reminiscent of practices in the mining sector. Reflecting the very degraded business climate, they have allocated and reallocated concessions and often acted without considering the needs of the local people and international commitments, especially regarding environmental protection.
The official division of exploration blocks includes natural parks, some of which are World Heritage Sites. It also directly threatens the resources of local populations in some areas. Initiatives to promote financial and contractual transparency are contradicted by the lack of transparency in allocating concessions. The state’s failure to adequately regulate the diverging and potentially conflicting interests of companies and poor communities is clearly causing local resentment, which could easily flare up into local violence that could be manipulated.
In a context of massive poverty, weak state, poor governance and regional insecurity, an oil rush will have a strong destabilising effect unless the government adopts several significant steps regionally and nationally to avert such a devastating scenario. Regionally, it should draw on the close support of the African Union (AU) and the World Bank Group to design a management model for cross-border reserves and help facilitate a border demarcation program. Nationally, the government should implement oil sector reform, declare a moratorium on the exploration of insecure areas, especially in the east where the situation is again deteriorating, until these territories are made secure, and involve the provinces in the main management decisions concerning this resource.
To the countries of the sub-region:
1. Negotiate a framework agreement for the exploration and development of cross-border reserves, with the support of the AU and the World Bank Group, to provide for the involvement of one or more companies, revenue-sharing and dispute resolution mechanisms.
To the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring countries:
2. Begin a border demarcation program, with support from the AU Border Programme, before allocating any more exploration blocks in disputed areas, to clarify the situation on various borders; implement the Ngurdoto Accords with Uganda; and seek a comprehensive and amicable agreement to end disputes with Angola.
To the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
3. Declare a moratorium on exploration in insecure areas of eastern Congo and enforce the ban on exploration in World Heritage Sites.
4. Reform oil governance, including by:
a) defining a policy for the sector and setting up an hydrocarbons code;
b) ensuring contractual and financial transparency;
c) democratising the decision-making process for the awarding of oil rights and the assessment of the implementation of the production sharing contracts signed with the companies;
d) granting exploration and production rights following an open and transparent competition and banning mutual agreements and allocation of exploration and production rights to companies whose beneficial ownership information is not publicly available; and
e) determining clearly the fiscal, social and environmental obligations of companies according to international good practice and making information and consultation of local communities compulsory, as well as a participatory approach for local development.
5. Involve affected provinces in main oil management decisions and, if oil reserves are confirmed, ensure the provinces and local communities benefit from revenues.
To the African Union, the World Bank Group and donors:
6. Provide technical and financial assistance to the Congolese authorities for the border demarcation, the framework agreement for the exploration and development of cross-border reserves and oil governance reform.
7. Support the Congolese civil society efforts to build a monitoring capacity in the oil sector.
To the oil companies:
8. Disclose contracts and payments made to the Congolese government.
9. Respect international laws and agreements and Congolese laws.
10. Include a human rights assessment in their preliminary studies.
Kinshasa/Nairobi/Brussels, 11 July 2012