Monday, September 30, 2013

Kenya terror attack: Putting the Westgate siege in context

Horace G Campbell (2013-09-26)The Somali militant group Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the September 21 attack at an upmarket shopping mall in Nairobi in which dozens of people were killed. Progressives must intensify their opposition to extremists who manipulate Islam, but also reject the imperial forces inside Africa and their alliesTHE FUTURE OIL BONANZA IN SOMALIA

In the past two years the news from Somalia has been dominated by the information that there could be as much as 110 billion barrels of oil and gas off the shores of Somalia. There is also likely to be vast natural gas reserves in Somali waters in the Indian Ocean. Fields containing an estimated 100 trillion cubic feet of gas have been found off Mozambique and Tanzania. British politicians and British oil companies have been the most active in seeking to corner the future exploration of this oil and it is not by accident that the most recent conferences on the future of Somalia has been held in London and hosted by David Cameron, the Prime Minister and head of the Conservative Party of Britain. One of the first companies to have signed a contract with the Government of Somalia is the front for British petroleum interests that is now registered as Soma Oil & Gas Exploration Ltd. This company was recently founded in the United Kingdom and its chairman is Michael Howard, a former leader of the Conservative Party. We are also informed that CEO Robert Sheppard has experience as an adviser for the U.K. oil company BP PLC (LON: BP) in Russia.

Very soon after the long transition and the more than fifteen meetings to organize a sensible form of governance in Somalia, the British moved in to muscle out an African as the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Somalia. Nicholas Kay has emerged as the SRSG for Somalia at a moment when Britain is seeking to dominate the institutions and organizations that will have control over the decision making processes for the oil and gas exploration in Somalia. From the moment of the decomposition of the Somalia government and the manipulation of the military entrepreneurs by western forces, Britain had been cooling its heels working with the political elements in that section of Somalia that had been colonized by Britain after the Berlin Conference. During the colonial era Britain had used this region to provide meat for its troops in the Gulf and British Somaliland was governed from India.

British oil companies for decades had knowledge of the massive oil reserves off the coast of Somalia and the British teased the ‘leaders’ of Somaliland with the gesture that they would recognize this secessionist region as a breakaway state. Pan Africanists will remember that at the Berlin Conference in 1885 the peoples of Somalia were divided in to five areas (French Somaliland, -now called Djibouti, British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, the Ethiopian areas of Somalia –in the Ogaden and the Somalia peoples who were located in what came to be known as Kenya), There are up to 300,000 citizens of Somali extraction in Europe and while the racism of Britain alienates the more than 100,000 Somali youth, Britain is opportunist and when Mo Farah won the gold medal for the 10,000m at the London 2012 Olympics, the British press forgot the jingoism that alienated and confused many youth of Somali extraction who yearned for some purpose in their lives.

British newspapers and politicians had showered praises on the breakaway region telling them that this was a region of peace in a haven of violent Somalia. However, the British always had their eyes on the massive oil resources. Some foreign companies signed deals with the breakaway governments of Puntland and Somaliland but these entities were never recognized by the African Union.

For about ten years the British were waiting in Somaliland until they knew that Ugandans had cleaned up the situation and many Africans died. They were quite willing for Africans (Ugandans and Burundians) to die in the AMISOM operation while the western P3 members of the Security Council quibbled over how much money the UN should spend on the peacekeeping force in Somalia. Nicholas Kay, the new SSRG, has traveled to the General Assembly this week to lobby for more resources for AMISOM, presumably because it will be important to guard the British nationals who will be flocking to Mogadishu. Kay is by no means a small player in the British political establishment. Before he was deployed to Mogadishu as the SSRG he had been the Africa Director at the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Prior to this position at the FCO, he served as Ambassador to the Republic of the Democratic of the Congo and the Sudan from 2007 to 2010 and 2010 to 2012, respectively. He was also the United Kingdom’s Regional Coordinator for Southern Afghanistan and Head of the Provincial Reconstruction Team for Helmand Province from 2006 to 2007. In short, he has the experience of serving British interests in war zones. There are numerous other British elements in the interstices of the United Nations system working to ensure the ascendancy of British interests.


The US form of warfare in Somalia had followed the new template of drones, local militia forces, private military contractors and third party countries. In the war in Libya, this form of warfare had been used with the army of Qatar acting as the third party country. In Somalia; Uganda had been the country most willing to serve imperial interests after the Ethiopians had invaded to oust the Union of Islamic Courts. The historic differences between Somalia and Ethiopia ensured that Ethiopia could not be a real force for peace, especially in the very undemocratic and repressive conditions inside Ethiopia. Ugandans deployed more than 6000 fighters to Mogadishu and hundreds lost their lives. The Ugandans and Burundians formed the bulk of the African Union Peace Keeping forces (AMISOM) that drove Al Shabaab out of Mogadishu

The reports from the families in Uganda were that hundreds, if not thousands of Ugandans lost their lives in the forms of battle that raged from street to street and alley to alley in Somalia. Reports of the fighting were that it was similar to the kind of warfare of 1914-1918. While this fighting was going on, the western countries were opposed to financing the AMISOM mission and were quite willing and ready to have Africans die in the streets of Mogadishu as it turns out now to serve the interests of western oil companies.

If Museveni was a front for the US military in Somalia, by the time the body bags were being flown back to Kampala, Museveni had his own interest in ensuring that the violent extremists in Somalia were decapitated. Museveni worked closely with Augustine Mahiga who had moved from the safety of Nairobi when he took up the position of SRSG in 2010. Both Mahiga and Museveni had worked closely with Nyerere and both had been on the periphery of the Dar es Salaam school in the era of Walter Rodney, Issa Shivji and the period when all operatives in Tanzania identified with the African liberation project. When Britain wanted to get the position of SRSG, the campaign of disinformation intensified about the diplomatic and military capabilities of their African allies such as Mahiga and Museveni.

After the Ugandans died in the hundreds, the Western military lobby moved against Augustine Mahiga the Special Representative of the Secretary General. Mahiga is a Tanzanian and he worked hard from Mogadishu while the European members of the UN team spend their time in Nairobi. There had been a struggle between Germany, Norway, Britain and South Africa to get this SRSG post that can be like the neo-colonial governor in Mogadishu. Kay won out using the British special relationship with the USA to succeed.

The Norwegians wanted the position of SRSG and promised $30 million in aid to the new Somalia government, but the British muscled out the Norwegians. The secessionist state of Somaliland had signed a production sharing agreement with DNO, a Norwegian oil and gas company, but British interests were working hard against Norway. Enter David Cameron who became the champion for the convening of conferences to reconstruct Somalia. This very same Cameron who had been attacking Somali nationals in Britain as the forces that ensured that multiculturalism does not work was the same who dispatched William Hague to Mogadishu in n 2012. The Prime Minister of Turkey, Edrogan had been the first leader of a foreign government to visit Mogadishu in 2011 and Britain wanted to be counted as a state that supported the people of Somalia. More recently in September 2013, there was the convening of a special EU New Deal for peace meeting in Brussels. The European Union pledged 650 million euros to help Somalia's peace and rebuilding process but after one read the fine print one could see that most of what was said amounted to pledges. The British Department for International Development (DFID) rolled out and published its own commitments made in the meeting but when the sums were added it did not come to the $30 that had been pledged by Norway and rejected by the Government of Somalia in favor of the British promises.


The heavy fighting to remove Al Shabaab from Mogadishu had been undertaken by Ugandans and Burundians but in September/October 2011, the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) invaded Somalia under the banner of Linda Nchi (Kiswahili for defend the nation). At the time of the Kenyan incursion in 2011, I had written in Pambazuka that the intended remilitarization of Africa will fail. I had written,

“The government of Kenya has declared that it will end its military campaign against Al-Shabaab in Somalia when it is satisfied it has stripped the group of its capacity to attack across the border. If one goes by the experience of the past 18 years, then this statement can be read that Kenya will be in for a long-term deployment to Somalia. The corollary to this is the reality that Kenya and its cities will be spaces of war, security clampdown and general destabilisation of the population. Since the Kenyan foray, there have been two grenade attacks at a bar and a bus terminal that killed one person and wounded more than 20 people in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. These attacks have already affected the tourism industry, one of the most important sources of revenue for the government of Kenya.”

From the books mentioned above we have read that the Kenyan incursion into Somalia had been planned long in advance by the KDF and that the Kenyans were looking for the most opportune time to justify the incursion into Somalia. The international media blitz about famine, refugees and Al Shabaab in 2011 provided the right background for the Kenyan people to support the KDF into Somalia. Kenyans had been lukewarm towards the military after the security forces had failed to protect innocent civilians after the violence of 2008.

The political leaders of Kenya had been working with French companies to map out the future of the recovery of oil resources in Kenya on land and offshore. There had been disputes between Kenya and the Federal Transition Government of Somalia over the Exclusive Economic Zones of Kenya and Somalia. Both countries had produced competing maps to lay claim to the EEZ off the coast of Southern Somalia. The Kenyan forces had collaborated with a questionable military entrepreneur of the Ras Kamboni group and the Ugandans were not happy that Kenya had intervened in Somalia after hundreds of Ugandans had already lost their lives.
[ed notes;click link for whole article..just citing few excerpts..

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