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London conference on Somalia to plan course for neocolonial control

Published Feb 23, 2012 8:28 PM

The London Conference on Somalia will be held on the present situation and future of the East African state on Feb. 23. Former colonial power Great Britain, which held portions of Somalian territory during the 19th and 20th centuries, is scheming with other Western governments to impose a compliant political system on the strategically located nation.

Somalia has been a focal point for United States and European intervention since the “Ogaden war” of 1977-78. Since 1991, Somalia has struggled to achieve national unity and representative government.

In recent months drought and subsequent famine in much of the country have worsened the already long-term problems of food deficits and water distribution. Since 1992, the U.S., through the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, has militarily intervened directly and indirectly, creating one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

Since October, the Kenyan Defense Forces and the Ethiopian military have invaded Somalia under the aegis of the White House, the CIA and the Defense Department. They seek to defeat the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement and to consolidate the country as an outpost for mineral extraction, oil exploration and international trade. Reportedly, the U.S, France and Israel have been directly involved in the military offensive, with use of naval forces, drones and intelligence assistance.

All previous attempts to dominate Somalian politics since the early 1990s have failed. The latest efforts in London deliberately exclude Al-Shabaab, which has opposed the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government regime now installed in Mogadishu. The African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), which imperialist states train and fund, has been bolstered by interventions from Kenya and Ethiopia as well as Djibouti, where a U.S. and French military base serves as a regional operations center for the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Somalia: Who’s in, who's out?

A British Foreign and Commonwealth Office statement about the London conference says that they “have secured senior attendance from the region, including from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, as well as from the United States, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden, the African Union and the European Union. The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend.”

It continues, “All together we expect around 40 governments to be represented, along with those multi-lateral organizations already mentioned, plus the World Bank, the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and the League of Arab States. Representatives from Somalia will attend, including the leaders of the transitional federal institutions; the Mayor of Mogadishu, the Presidents of Puntland and Galmudug; and representatives of Aluh Sunnah wal Jamaah. The President of Somaliland will attend, and we welcome the experience that Somaliland can provide of peace building in the region.”

By excluding Al-Shabaab, the London conference is setting the stage for further aggressive action inside Somalia, not only against the Islamic forces that oppose the alliance with the West, but also against the nation’s people, who have not been consulted about the deliberations and war raging for control of their country.

How will this conference translate into food, water, jobs, economic security and peace when the imperialists have only brought more underdevelopment and insecurity to the region over the last two decades? That this gathering is being held outside of Somalia and Africa speaks volumes about its strategic purpose. Such meetings hark back to the 1884-85 Berlin Conference where the burgeoning colonial powers set out to carve up Africa for their business and political interests.

The British government claims that its efforts are aimed at assisting Somalia with its national security, political processes, social stability and humanitarian relief. Goals include making a “renewed commitment to tackle collectively the terrorist threat emanating from Somalia … and breaking up the piracy business model” to foster “agreement on improved international handling of Somalia issues.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague revealed in a speech Feb. 8 at Chatham House that this will be a sustained project in Somalia. He said, “We must try to change the dynamic in Somalia from one of inexorable decline to an upwards trajectory of gradually increasing stability and security — including human security.” He also declared, “Our engagement with Somalia is not a luxury, it is a necessity. A lawless Somalia is a base for international terrorist attacks.” (raxanreeb.com, Feb. 11)

On the underlying economic interests, Hague reports, “Lawlessness in Somalia is also a threat to international shipping … 23,000 ships transit through the Gulf of Aden each year, a vital artery of the global economy. Nearly one trillion dollars of trade to and from Europe alone travelled through the Gulf last year.”

Hague visited Somalia in early February, the first visit by a British Foreign Secretary for two decades. London’s enhanced role in Somalia falls in line with Obama administration efforts to encourage more European and allied states to join the Pentagon in military interventions in oppressed nations. With the beginning of oil drilling earlier this year in Puntland — a breakaway region of Somalia — it is no surprise that Britain and the U.S. are accelerating such efforts.

Mart Fineman’s article in the Los Angeles Times of Jan. 18, 1993, exposed that oil exploration was well underway in Somalia and that more than 65 percent of the concessions were already under U.S.-based oil firms’ control. The article pointed out that substantial natural gas resources also exist inside the country.

The article explained, “[N]early two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips in the final years before Somalia’s pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991.” It added, “Industry sources said the companies holding the rights to the most promising concessions are hoping that the [first] Bush administration’s decision to send U.S. troops to safeguard aid shipments to Somalia will also help protect their multimillion-dollar investments there.”

The London Conference on Somalia will serve the same purpose as the meetings held in European countries and imperialist-allied Persian Gulf states during the bombing of Libya between March and October 2011. Since the Moammar Gadhafi government’s overthrow, only the capitalist states and their regional surrogates have profited from the changes as the Libyan people’s conditions worsen daily.

The root cause of underdevelopment and insecurity in Africa is the legacy of imperialism, colonialism and neocolonialism. Only when the African peoples through their organizations and movements break with this pattern of aggression and domination will the possibility exist for genuine peace and security on the continent. n