British conference to cement carve-up of Somalia

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 232 April/May 2013

Britain’s announcement in December 2011 of its intention to secure ‘British interests’ in the oil-rich and strategically important Horn of Africa, intensified the scramble by the imperialists and local powers to secure their own regional interests. Now another conference is to be held in London on 7 May 2013.

Ugandan, Burundian, Kenyan, Ethiopian, US, British and latterly French troops have entered Somalia. Britain, Japan and Turkey have given ‘aid’. Britain’s High Commissioner to Kenya admitted in February 2013 that Britain was part of Operation Linda Nchi, the Kenyan incursion into Somalia in October 2011. This operation was launched after the kidnapping of two female Spanish Médecins Sans Frontières aid-workers from Dadaab refugee camp, allegedly by Al Shabaab. However, WikiLeaks, The Guardian and SomaliaReport.com (14 November 2011) have revealed that Linda Nchi was planned in January 2010 (21 months earlier) at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, as a plot to annex Jubaland, a semi-autonomous region in southern Somalia. It was finalised with the US, with Kenya using the kidnappings of foreign nationals as a pretext to launch a pre-planned operation. When US officials said ‘Kenyan officers had given their American counterparts “zero” information before the offensive started’, it was a barefaced lie, as usual (New York Times, 20 October 2011).

Somalia has been balkanised into south central Somalia, Jubaland, Galmudug, Mogadishu, Puntland and Somaliland, which Britain wants to control. Kenya has carved out Jubaland, to be run by a Kenyan-appointed puppet government and containing the lucrative port of Kismayo. Kenya is a British military client. The British Army Training Unit in Kenya has undertaken ‘training’ in Kenya for decades and has a strong partnership with the Kenyan Defence Forces. Britain sent military advisers to Somalia in February 2013 and opened a ‘new defence section’ at its embassy in Mogadishu. In 2012, the first UK-Somaliland investment conference was held.

The corrupt Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was disbanded and a Somali Federal Government (SFG) created for the renamed Federal Republic of Somalia in August 2012.

Somalia’s carve-up is driven by imperialism’s need to exploit East Africa’s energy resources where the decade’s biggest natural gas discoveries have been made – off the coasts of Mozambique and Tanzania. British company Tullow has discovered oil in Kenya and Uganda. ‘Somalia, including Somaliland, can potentially be the Saudi Arabia of East Africa’, according to Osman Salad Hersi, associate geology professor at the University of Regina in Canada. Chinese, Canadian, Australian, US, Anglo-Turkish and British oil companies have signed oil deals with the various Somali ‘governments’. Al Shabaab or any other effective opposition hinder oil or gas exploration and have to be removed.

The British government hosted a London conference on Somalia in February 2012 which terminated the TFG and expanded the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) occupation from 12,000 to 17,000 troops. Istanbul hosted a follow-up conference, which Turkey used to further its East African interests. Britain and Somalia ‘will co-host an international conference on Somalia on 7 May [2013] in the UK’, to ‘help Somalia to reverse the underlying state failure... help to improve the security of the country, reduce the levels of piracy and terrorism, enable refugees to return home, and improve the lives of millions of Somalis.’ Oil is not mentioned as a possible motive. Britain wants to ‘rebuild [Somalia’s] armed forces, police, coastguard, justice and public financial management systems’ – not schools, hospitals or homes for refugees. Britain wants to wrest the initiative from Turkey and shape events to its benefit.

The British government states: ‘Somalia now has a new parliament...a new president elected by the parliament. As a result, Somalia has a more legitimate government than it has seen in many decades. In addition, the proscribed terrorist organisation Al Shabaab has been expelled from many of Somalia’s major towns and cities. Confidence is increasing and the diaspora is returning.’ The Conference will ‘engage with the diaspora around the conference’ – but they won’t be invited.

Al Shabaab has simply melted away to fight a guerrilla war and defend their 2006 and 2009-era strongholds; they still control Jubaland, despite Kenyan forces entering Kismayo in September 2012, almost a year after their invasion. Al Shabaab would not have grown if Ethiopia, with US and British support, had not invaded Somalia in 2006 and provoked the people’s anger. The SFG still has no control over districts of Mogadishu, let alone areas beyond the capital. SFG soldiers have gang-raped women inside and outside refugee camps, and rape victims and journalists reporting this brutality have been gaoled. An estimated 1.5 million people remain displaced, with a further one million having fled the conflict and famine. The SFG has a deficit of political power and legitimacy and a surplus of international donor, mainly US, support. Turkey and the EU compete for influence. The meddling in Somali internal affairs by Kenya and Ethiopia in particular, and the imperialist carve-up to grab Somali oil is fomenting future conflict - the SFG is backing former warlords against Kenyan-backed factions trying to form the Jubaland state, while Puntland supports those factions. The TFG was an eight-year failure; it’s not rocket science to see what the SFG will be – another failure.

Imperialism out of Somalia!

Charles Chinweizu

 

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