Oil-rich Somalia faces famine while U.S. oversees military occupation
Early in September, U.S. President Barack Obama announced he had carried out a targeted assassination of the leader of the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance organization in Somalia. The group has been fighting against the Somali government and a regional military force for over six years.
In a matter of days, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for retaliatory attacks against two convoys of African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops. They were operating alongside high-ranking U.S. military intelligence personnel and representatives of a consultancy firm that advises the government in Mogadishu on counterinsurgency methods against Al-Shabaab.
The attacks against AMISOM and the U.S. military personnel did not gain wide press coverage in the Western corporate media. The Wall Street Journal instead carried a story emphasizing the strategic nature of U.S. intervention in Somalia, where oil and other resources are being exploited.
The AMISOM forces, numbering 22,000, are funded, trained and coordinated by the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency and European Union forces (EUFOR). While the West pours in money for this imperialist intervention, a famine is looming in Somalia. Leading humanitarian agencies concerned with food security have reported that millions of people there are threatened with starvation.
Other than providing additional weaponry, military training and diplomatic support for the fractured federal government in Mogadishu, the U.S. State Department has no plans for reaching any degree of a political settlement in the country. AMISOM troops from Uganda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and other states have been operating in Somalia, some since 2007.
Tensions and disputes have developed surrounding the large-scale Western-funded occupation of Somalia by the AMISOM forces. Allegations of abuse of women by AMISOM troops have been reported. In the southern region of the country, forces not in Al-Shabaab have complained about the dominance of Kenya in the area’s internal politics through its military.
Although the occupation is endorsed by the United Nations, the key players are Washington and its NATO allies.
Speaking of the Somalia Food Security Results survey, Phillipe Lazarrini, the United Nations humanitarian director for Somalia, stressed, “It is terrible to think that with almost 2.9 million people in need in Somalia, the aid appeal is only 30 percent funded, with $658 million still needed to end 2014.” (NTV Uganda, Sept. 11)
In the same TV report, the country’s director for the World Food Program in Somalia noted that food shortages are expected to be more critical in coming months as prices rise due to insufficient rains and the burgeoning conflict among the government, AMISOM and Al-Shabaab. “We have scaled up to meet growing needs, but funding shortages meant the organization risked running short of vital supplies by September, leaving us with no alternative than to reduce food assistance to the most vulnerable — [displaced persons] and malnourished children.”
This problem is not confined to Somalia. It is regional throughout the Horn of Africa, which encompasses Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea and sections of Sudan. Throughout East Africa, a strong U.S. military presence has bolstered regimes that play an integral role in carrying out Washington’s foreign policy imperatives.
On Sept. 15, the regional dimensions of the crisis were highlighted during a joint press conference held by representatives of the U.N. and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African organization.
U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-Wha Kang and Mahboub Maalim, executive secretary of IGAD, stressed the need for urgent funding to assist 14 million people facing food insecurity in the region. “Displacement in Horn of Africa stands at an estimated 6.8 million people and 14 million people are food insecure, yet funding has remained at half of the appeal,” Kang said. (Xinhua, Sept. 15)
Somalia resources exploited by West
All the affected states throughout the Horn and East Africa contain oil, natural gas and other strategic resources. Without persistent conflict, which is largely engineered by the U.S. and other imperialist states, the people in these territories would have adequate food and other resources to raise their standard of living.
The exploration for and drilling of oil is well underway in Somalia’s breakaway region of Puntland in the North. One of the leading firms is Africa Oil Corp., based not in Africa but in Canada. Prospecting for oil is also taking place in another breakaway region of the north, known as Somaliland.
Despite its economic prospects, the peace and security of Somalia remain elusive. In Somaliland, the government has accused a Norwegian petroleum firm of deliberately destabilizing the country. (Reuters, Sept. 3)
The Somaliland petroleum ministry says that oil firms are signing multiple contracts and negotiating agreements with regional governments that are only “adding fire to conflicts.”
“These small companies are destabilizing the country and destroying the international community’s effort to build the peace and the security of the country,” the ministry continued.
The same ministry singled out Norway’s DNO, charging the oil and gas company with “planning to introduce armed militiamen in areas already in conflict and thereby stoking old feuds which resulted in internal displacement and harming the innocent and the most vulnerable people.”
“We are warning [such] companies that the Somali government will lodge complaints with their respective countries and the United Nations Security Council,” the ministry added.
Leading petroleum firms claimed interests in Somali oil resources even before the 1991-92 initial interventions by the U.N. and the U.S.