TV reports that �There are . . . allegations of US-sponsored bomb plots in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. As of 12 Jan 2010, at
least 18 people have been killed in clashes between rival factions in southern
and central Somalia,
and there are reports that Blackwater/Xe mercenaries have entered the country.�
That�s for starters.
What�s more, �A battle broke out between the pro-government
Ahlu Sunnah militia and Hizbul Islam fighters in the town of Baladwayne on Sunday and went well into
Monday, during which at least 13 people lost their lives, witnesses said . . . There
are also allegations of US-sponsored bomb plots in the capital. The bombings
will be carried out in order to create a pretext to launch a campaign against
the [hard-line Islamist] Al-Shabab, a spokesman of the group, Sheikh Ali
Mohammed Rage, told Reuters.
He also told reporters, ��We have discovered that US
agencies are going to launch suicide bombings in public places in Mogadishu . .
. They have tried it in Algeria,
Pakistan and Afghanistan . .
. We warn of these disasters. They want to target Bakara Market and mosques,
then use that to malign us. At a meeting with tribal elders in Mogadishu
on Monday, the Al-Shabab spokesman said that mercenaries of the Xe private
security firm -- formerly known as Blackwater -- have arrived in the Somali
capital, the Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu
reported on Monday.�
So what threat has brought out the notorious Xe? Somalia is
this small sub-Saharan country in the horn of Africa�s east to north coast,
south of Yemen, on the
bottom of the Arabian Peninsula, across the Gulf of Aden.
Somalia is also
strategically at the mouth of the Red Sea to the north and the Indian Ocean to the south.
Britain pulled out of British Somaliland in 1960 to permit
its former protectorate to join with Italian Somaliland into the new nation Somalia. In
1969, a coup headed by General Mohamed Siad Barre brought in an authoritarian
socialist rule that managed to impose a level of stability in the country for
several decades. It included close relations with the former Soviet
Union, which caused frequent conflicts with neighbors.
After the regime�s overthrow early
in 1991, Somalia fell into decades of clan turmoil, factional fighting, and
anarchy. Barre went into hiding while the country was carved up by heavily
armed warlords. Many Russian arms were left behind to acerbate the hostilities.
The long-suffering population, numbering more than 10 million, was thrown into
more misery when famine raged the country. In 1992, President Clinton sent the
US Marines, who arrived ahead of UN peacekeepers in an attempt to supposedly
�restore order.� But the �humanitarian intervention� crashed and burned when
two US Black Hawk helicopters were shot down. This while angry warlords cheered
the death of 19 American soldiers and the US beat a hasty retreat.
Somalian clan elders and other senior figures appointed
Abdulkassim Salat Hassan president at a conference in 2000. Little progress was
noted until 2004, when a new parliament was created and Abdullahi Yusuf was
inserted as president. The fledgling regime soon stalled and fighting between
the factions resumed.
In June 2006, a coalition of clerics, business leaders, and
Islamic court militias known as the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC)
defeated the powerful Mogadishu
warlords and took control of the capital. The courts continued to expand and
spread their influence throughout much of southern Somalia, threatening to overthrow
the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) in Baidoa. Ethiopian and TFG forces
were concerned over possible links between some SCIC factions and al-Qaida
(think CIA) in late December 2006. They drove the SCIC from power.
Nevertheless, the joint forces continue to fight remnants of
SCIC militia in the southwestern corner of Somalia near the Kenyan border. The
TFG, backed by Ethiopian forces, in late December 2006 moved into Mogadishu. It continues
to struggle and exert control over the capital and to prevent the reappearance
of Warlord rule reminiscent of Mogadishu
before the rise of the SCIC.
Yet, dating back to 1991, just after Barre left the country,
SomaliaWatch.org, reported about The Oil Factor in
Somalia. �Far beneath the surface of the tragic drama of Somalia, four major U.S. oil companies are quietly
sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions to explore and
exploit tens of millions of acres of the Somali countryside. That land, in the
opinion of geologists and industry sources, could yield significant amounts of
oil and natural gas if the U.S.-led military mission can restore peace to the impoverished
East African nation.� This was during the closing days of Bush Sr.�s
administration. He lost his bid for reelection in November 1992, leaving the
�peace-keeping� mission to Clinton.
�According to documents obtained by The Times, nearly
two-thirds of Somalia was
allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips in the
final years before Somalia�s [then] pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was
overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991. [Conceivably,
Barre awarded the rights to the US
in return for the millions in aid his country was receiving from us]. Industry
sources said the companies holding the rights to the most promising concessions
[were] hoping that the Bush [Sr.] Administration�s decision to send U.S. troops
to safeguard aid shipments to Somalia [would] also help protect their
multimillion-dollar investments there.�
�Officially, the administration and the State Department
insist[ed] that the U.S. military mission in Somalia [was] strictly humanitarian.
Oil industry spokesmen dismissed as �absurd� and �nonsense� allegations by aid
experts, veteran East Africa analysts and several prominent Somalis that
President Bush [Sr.], a former Texas oilman, was moved [originally] to act in
Somalia, at least in part, by the U.S. corporate oil stake.� In fact, some
38,000 soldiers from 23 different nations, including the US, and representatives from 49 different
humanitarian relief operations worked together to put food into the mouths of
the starving people of Somalia.
�But corporate and scientific documents disclosed that the
American companies [were] well positioned to pursue Somalia�s most promising
potential oil reserves the moment the nation is pacified. And the State
Department and U.S.
military officials acknowledge that one of those oil companies has done more
than simply sit back and hope for peace.�
That one company, �Conoco Inc., the only major multinational
corporation to maintain a functioning office in Mogadishu
throughout the past two years of nationwide anarchy, has been directly involved
in the U.S.
government�s role in the U.N.-sponsored humanitarian military effort.�
Humanitarian efforts generally go hand in hand with military might to realize
commercial goals . . .
�But the close relationship between Conoco and the U.S.
intervention force has left many Somalis and foreign development experts deeply
troubled by the blurry line between the U.S. government and the large oil
company, leading many to liken the Somalia operation to a miniature version of
Operation Desert Storm, the [Bush] U.S.-led, military effort in January, 1991,
to drive Iraq from Kuwait and, more broadly, safeguard the world�s largest oil
reserves . . .�
The bottom line, according to one expert, was that the oil
reserves were � . . . potentially worth billions of dollars, and believe me,
that�s what the whole game is starting to look like.� And that may be the whole game 17 years later. And why
we find Blackwater/Xe there to continue the destabilization to grab the
country�s oil and gas for Conoco. Just as the surge for Afghanistan real estate
is to insure the running of oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea basin to
Pakistan (presently under drone siege), thence to shipment across the Indian
Ocean to India and China. . . .
Despite subsequent denials and assertions as to whether
there is oil and gas in Somalia,
the answer is yes. Just as Yemen (right across the Gulf of Aden) produces some
200,000 barrels of oil a day, the reserves are part of a great underground rift
or valley that arcs from Yemen into and across northern Somalia. Texas-based
Hunt Oil Corp geologists disclosed this in the mid 1980s and the information
wasn�t lost on then Vice President GHW Bush. He obviously passed the good news
back to his Texas
Skipping to February 2009, alarabiya.net wrote in The new TFG,
political legitimacy and extremism in Somalia: �The Transitional Federal
Government (TFG) of Somalia
must adapt or die. This is a statement of fact. Great change is afoot inside Somalia at the
present time, and the new President Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed, must demonstrate
that he is capable of seizing the opportunity that has been presented to him. Somalia has
been effectively stateless for eighteen long years, and the people of this East
African nation have suffered great many deprivations during this nightmarish
period of time.�
On January 31, 2009, the New York Times also ran the
election story, Moderate
Elected President in Somalia. �A moderate Islamic cleric was elected
president of Somalia early
Saturday morning by the Somali Parliament, which was meeting in Djibouti.
�The cleric, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, headed the Islamic
courts movement that governed the capital, Mogadishu,
and most of southern Somalia
until 2006. Some analysts had said they thought that Sheik Sharif had the best
chance of all the candidates for president to unite Somalis, because of his
Islamist roots and his acceptability to a variety of factions.
�Parliament was selecting a replacement for the former
president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed,
who resigned in late December after four years in office. A former warlord, Mr.
Yusuf had been widely blamed for Somalia�s deepening crisis and had
been steadily marginalized.� So, this time the ICM won over the warlords.
The Times noted, �For Sheik Sharif, the burden of
reconciling Somalia�s 10 million people and ending 18 years of bloodshed will
be daunting. Most of Somalia
is controlled by various Islamist militias, although some of the moderate
Islamist groups support the government. The government itself controls only a
few blocks of Mogadishu.
�The Shabab, a hard-line Islamist
militia, controls most of Mogadishu
and much of the southern part of the country. It has denounced the election in Djibouti as meaningless, and on Monday captured
the seat of Parliament in the town of Baidoa.
has been without a functioning central government since 1991, when General Siad
Barre was removed from power and the army fell into the hands of clan militias,
who turned on one another and left the country largely in anarchy.�
Sadly for Somalia, member of the Islamic Conference, the
League of Arab States, the Organization of African Unity, former close ally of
the US, and keeper of good relations with former colonizers, Britain and Italy,
and member of the UN, none of these countries or institutions, supposedly
friends of Somalia, made any serious effort to assist the country post haste in
its hour of crisis. The Washington Post datelined September 24, 1992, pointed
out �Just thirty years after it officially became an independent nation, Somalia
essentially has ceased to exist.� That might have been an exaggeration of the
moment, but there is some sad truth to it.
Then, too, the abuse and poverty of Somalia, its people and
resources, have contributed to the present, industry of piracy, and the CIA�s
call for a presence �on the beach side� as well as in the water. As Wiki reports. �Piracy off the Somali coast has been a
threat to international shipping since the beginning of the Somali
Civil War in the early 1990s. Since 2005, many international organizations,
including the International Maritime Organization
and the World Food Programme, have expressed concern
over the rise in acts of piracy.
�Piracy has contributed to an increase in shipping costs and
impeded the delivery of food aid shipments. Ninety percent of the World Food
Programme�s shipments arrive by sea, and ships have required a military escort.
According to the Kenyan foreign minister, Somali pirates have received over
US$150 million in ransom
during the 12 months prior to November 2008.
As stated, �Clashes have been reported between Somalia�s Islamist fighters (who are opposed to the Transitional Federal Government
(TFG) and the pirates. In August 2008, Combined Task Force 150, a multinational
coalition task force, took on the role of fighting Somali piracy by
establishing a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA)
within the Gulf of Aden.
The increasing threat posed by piracy also caused significant concerns in India since most of
its shipping trade routes pass through the Gulf of Aden.
Navy responded to these concerns by deploying a warship in the region on
October 23, 2008. In September 2008, Russia announced
that it too will soon join international efforts to combat piracy.
�On October 5, 2008, the United Nations Security Council
adopted resolution 1838
calling on nations with vessels in the area to apply military force to repress
the acts of piracy. At the 101st council of the International Maritime Organization,
India called for a United Nations peacekeeping
force under unified command to tackle piracy off Somalia. There has been a general and complete
arms embargo against Somalia since 1992.�
Interestingly, the pirates recently have managed to arm
themselves to the teeth with the profits from hijacking higher profile ships at
much higher ransoms rather than smaller, more vulnerable vessels carrying trade
across the Straits or employed in the coastal trade on either side of the
�In November 2008, Somali pirates began hijacking ships well
outside the Gulf of Aden, perhaps targeting ships headed for the port of Mombasa, Kenya.
The frequency and sophistication of the attacks also increased around this
time, as did the size of vessels being targeted. Large cargo ships, oil and
chemical tankers on international voyages became the new targets of choice for
the Somali hijackers.
As stated, �There are discussions under way to begin an
aggressive covert operation against the pirates . . .�
As mentioned earlier, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has
been publicly warning of this potential threat for months. In a Harpers
Magazine article, a CIA official stated, �We need to deal with this
problem from the beach side, in concert with the ocean side, but we don�t have
an embassy in Somalia
and limited, ineffective intelligence operations. We need to work in Somalia and in Lebanon, where a
lot of the ransom money has changed hands. But our operations in Lebanon are a joke, and we have no presence at
all in Somalia.�
Take that with a grain of salt.
Wiki also points to years of toxic waste dumping in Somali
waters by European nations, exacerbated by the Tsunami which spread the waste
settled on the bottom, redistributing the toxic radiation, which has seriously
sickened many Somalis who have eaten the fish.
Fortunately, the pirates kept out industrial fishing and
gave the waters and the fish a chance to heal and repopulate. The ransom monies
have contributed to reviving the coastal economies of impoverished towns. So
there�s a bit of Robin Hood afoot with the pirates here as well as
eco-protection. Then, too, the pirates were wise enough to handle with care
their hijacked crews and expensive vessels. This takes some of the sting out of
the ransoms, making them simply a cost of doing business in the region.
So goes this sketch of a very complex political picture.
Coups, instability, insurgencies, counterinsurgencies, warlords, clans, pirates
and now Blackwater�s newly-minted Blackwater/Ex. As to the future, I feel Somalia will be
further destabilized by factionalism blamed on Al Qaeda, this to fuel more
Worse-case scenario would be the introduction of a
Karzai-like puppet, pro-US government as the gas and oil rights go to one the
big four companies hovering like tyrannosaurs around them. But stay tuned.
Today Somalia, tomorrow the world. Anything can happen as the US lands in Africa
thirsty for its favorite drink, oil, with a side of natural gas, bought with
bloodshed and catastrophe. Whatever happened to our Peace President, our Obama,
who disliked dumb wars?
Estimates range from 300,000 to 1,000,000 slaughtered in
these �dumb� wars.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long
resident of New York City. Reach him at email@example.com. His new book, �State Of
Shock: Poems from 9/11 on� is available at
www.jerrymazza.com, Amazon or Barnesandnoble.com.