Somalia: imperialists impose new constitution

Imperialism is set to impose a new constitution on Somalia on 20 August. There will be no elected constituent assembly to discuss or modify it, no plebiscite to approve it. There will not be the slightest shred of a popular mandate for it. Its purpose is not to aid the reconstruction of a country devastated by imperialist plunder, invasion and civil war, but to provide the political conditions for renewed imperialist looting, particularly of the oil resources in the north east of the country.

The main constitutional proposal is to end the post-colonial attempt to build a unified state and to create a federation of what will be in effect three statelets – Somaliland in the north-west, Puntland in the north-east, and Somalia to the south. This process of balkanisation is aimed at establishing conditions of political stability for the profitable operations of oil and other monopoly corporations. Already British imperialism, which has been leading the imperialist intervention following the February conference in London, is establishing Somaliland as its client state in the region. This will serve as a launch pad to grab the oil resources of neighbouring Puntland. The remainder of Somalia will be left to the UN AMISOM force with the remit of destroying Al Shabab, the Islamic militant organisation formed in response to the Ethiopian invasion in 2006.

Britain’s renewed intervention in Somaliland – it was the former colony of British Somaliland – dates back some years. A leaked US embassy cable from 24 July 2009 says that Britain ‘plans “to thicken” its support to Somaliland, though the British government is not considering recognition at this stage... the UK government would only look at recognition if south central Somalia appears to be in chaos for another 20 years’. A further cable on 2 December 2010 spoke of Britain funding the Somaliland Special Protection Unit, a branch of the police force in 2010 and 2011 ‘in order to increase the UK’s and international community’s ability to access Somaliland.’

British aid for Somalia has increased significantly, starting in 2009 under the Labour government. The annual average until 2015 will be £63m, and as the Department for International Development says, 40% is destined for Somaliland as it is ‘a more peaceful and democratic self-governing region. Progress there could help stability across the region.’ A new project backed by the City of London, called the Somaliland Development Corporation (will serve as a vehicle for foreign investment. Reuters reported in February: ‘several foreign banks have expressed interest in operating in Somaliland where they are keen to capitalise on its untapped market potential.’ The Somaliland ruling elite has placed itself at the service of imperialist interests: foreign direct investors in Somaliland will pay no tax for three years, then only 10% on profits which can be freely repatriated. There will be full compensation for any future expropriations.

Once the new Somali constitution is approved by a hand-picked group of local politicians and clan elders, the imperialists will seek to bring the Puntland administration under their control. At present many Puntland leaders are linked to pirate operations with officials taking kick-backs from pirate negotiators. The renewed pressure will be through further funding of local security forces, the hiring of private security contractors, and the recent extension of EU naval operations allowing EU forces to target pirate infrastructure on the Somali mainland (see FRFI 227).

Hands off Somalia! was set up in response to the British-led imperialist intervention in Somalia, organising its first protest outside the 23 February London conference. On 16 June it held a meeting ‘Imperialist Hands off Africa’ devoted to analysing the multiple threats imperialism poses to the continent. The meeting was supported by FRFI, Uhuru and Pan Afrikan Women’s Association and called for action against the BBC which recently screened a documentary which effectively promoted British foreign policy on Somalia. The Hands off Somalia! Rage against the BBC! protest took place on 30 June with an open mic outside the BBC Broadcasting House building with an enormous banner made by supporters saying: ‘British Biased Corporation – censoring truth, manufacturing lies’.

Somalia is not for sale!

Imperialist hands off Somalia!

Imperialist hands off Africa!

Anthony Rupert

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 228 August/September 2012


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