Somalia Facing Famine Despite U.S. Role and Oil Wealth

Failure to reach political settlement hinders development and relief

Early in September United States President Barack Obama announced that he had carried out a targeted assassination killing the leader of the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance organization in Somalia which has been fighting against the Federal 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 operating alongside high-ranking U.S. military intelligence personnel and representatives of a consultancy firm which advises the government in Mogadishu on counterinsurgency methods against Al-Shabaab. These attacks resulted in the deaths of at least twelve people including four from the U.S.

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 carried a story indicating the strategic nature of the imperialist interventions in Somalia where oil and other interests are being exploited.

Amid the existence of the AMISOM forces numbering 22,000, which are funded, trained and coordinated by the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the European Union forces (EUFOR), another famine is looming inside this nation. Leading humanitarian agencies concerned with food security have reported over the last several months that millions of people in Somalia 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 aimed at reaching any degree of a political settlement inside the country. AMISOM troops have been operating in Somalia since 2007 and today soldiers are deployed from Uganda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and other states.

Tensions and disputes have developed surrounding the large-scale western-funded occupation of Somalia by the AMISOM forces. In the southern region of the country, forces outside of Al-Shabaab have complained about the dominance of Kenya through its Defense Forces in the internal politics in the area.

Allegations of abuse of women by AMISOM troops have been reported. Although the so-called peacekeeping operation is endorsed by the United Nations, the key players in the occupation are Washington and its NATO allies.

Food Insecurity Reflects Failed U.S. Foreign Policy in East Africa

While providing introductory remarks for the Somalia Food Security Results survey, Phillipe Lazarrini, the United Nations humanitarian director for Somalia, stressed that “It is terrible to think that with almost 2.9 million people in need in Somalia, the aid appeal is only 30 per cent funded with $658 million still needed to end 2014.” (NTV Uganda, Sept. 11)

The Somalian country director for the World Food Program noted that food shortages in the country are expected to become more critical during the next few months principally due to insufficient rains, the burgeoning conflict between the government, AMISOM and Al-Shabaab prompting the rise in food prices. “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 most vulnerable — IDPs and malnourished children,” Mr Bukera said. (NTV Uganda, Sept. 11)

In fact this problem is not confined to Somalia but is regional throughout the Horn of Africa which encompasses Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and sections of Sudan. Throughout the region of the entire East Africa, there is a strong U.S. military presence and several allied regimes which play an integral role in carrying out Washington’s foreign policy imperatives.

On Sept. 15 the regional dimensions of the crisis was highlighted during a joint press conference between representatives of the UN and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African organization. Fighting has escalated in southern Somalia, South Sudan and unrest has taken place in Kenya as well since 2013.

In the combined statement delivered in Nairobi, UN Assistant Secretary- General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-Wha Kang, and Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (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 Oil and Other Resources Exploited by the West

All of the affected states throughout the Horn of Africa and the entire East Africa region contain oil, natural gas and other strategic resources. Without persistent conflict 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.

With specific reference to Somalia, the exploration and drilling of oil is well underway in the breakaway region of Puntland in the North with one of the leading firms being Africa Oil Corp. based in Canada. Prospecting for oil is also taking place in another breakaway region of Somaliland.

Despite these economic projects, the peace and security of Somalia remains elusive. In Somaliland, the government has accused a Norway petroleum firm of deliberately destabilizing the country.

The Somaliland Petroleum ministry said that oil firms are signing multiple contracts and negotiating agreements with regional governments which 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 added.

This same ministry singled out Norway’s DNO, charging the 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”. (Reuters, Sept. 3)

“We are warning those companies that the Somali government will lodge complaints with their respective countries and the United Nations Security Council,” the ministry added. Leading petroleum firms have claimed interests in Somalia oil resources even prior to the 1991-92 initial interventions by the UN and the U.S.

Somalian governmental officials in August met with representatives of ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, and BP for the first time since 1991. The federal government said it wanted these firms to propose a scheduled return to Somalia.

Mr. Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire, is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.

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One Reply to “Somalia Facing Famine Despite U.S. Role and Oil Wealth”

  1. Dear Matt Baugh,Somalia needs a bottom up appcraoh, its difficult to get positive results in Somalia untill reconciliation starts right at the bottom, where neighbors in a village reconcile, then neighbors in a city, then neighbours in a state then finally neighbours at the national level. But when neighbors in a village haven’t even reconciled it’s a bit much to ask for them to sit down genuinely and talk about national matters.Somalia’s only cure can be reconcilation at the bottom-layers and working up until the national level. Somalia’s religion, culture and traditions needs to also be taken into consideration since on the ground this is what most people follow.Somalia’s main issues are tribal ones, any solution that doesn’t answer this is doomed to fail. The war today in Somalia may appear to have religious over-tones, however when assessed their is an underlying clan over-tone that is hidden. For example the Islamist groups all share the same extreme form of islam yet their divided into groups such as Hisbul Islam, Ras Kamboni, Shabab, etc.Its quite clear what divided then is not the extreme interpretation they have of islam, but clan factors.Somalis in-general before colonialism, lived united but autonomous where each clan took care of it’s own territory and people. This can only be best replicated under a federal united Somalia. When the colonial era came they implemented their own central based system which gave one city everything and everybody else nothing. This made locals view the central government as a by-product of a clan and it incited clan anomousity.The clan anomousity was already occuring right after indepedence at 1960 where somalis had enlisted over 100 parties all of which represented clan interests, their were attempts of coups, and finally resistance groups in the late 70s till the 90s.As for the Somaliland issue, The solution their proposing of dividing the nation will not solve Somalia problems but only add to it. Colonial borders are not what somalis are fighting about, noone at the local level cares which country colonized where. The Colonialism system is the very system that laid the foundation for Somalia’s civil war when everything was politically, militarily, economically, socially located at mogadishu.For Somaliland to suggest to solve Somalia’s issues is to go back to colonialism is obviously not what any sane person would propose. There is also the legality of the issue, Somalia united as one country voluntarily in 1960 and both areas indepedence days were sychronized for hargeisa it was the 26th of june and Mogadishu the 1st of July. This was planned years before and mutually agreed upon.Economically Hargeisa was never discriminated against in Somalia, it was the second largest city after mogadishu. All Somaliland infrastructure today is what the previous Somalia governmentt built such as the ports, airports, roads, water networks. These basic economic infrastructure didn’t exist in other parts of Somalia such as Puntland where it was even referred to by somalis as un-reachable . Politically the Isaaq enjoyed all the powers that other clans enjoyed. They had senior officers in the army, they were prime minister, held major portfolios within the government. Ethnically they are no different to other somalis infact the people who live in Bay and Bakool are ethnically, culturally, and linguistically more different to Somalis yet they are not calling for separation of the nation. The War-Crime argument they putting forth is no different to when Somalia Military Government genocided areas of mudug province of Puntland, yet Puntland remains staunchly pro-union and pro-somalia. Its no different to the genocides that occurred in Baydhabo by USC militias loyal to Mohamed Farah Aideed, its no different to when a section of somalis were genocided in the capital city in 1991 by USC Clan militants.Infact the SNM movement itself has blood on its own hands where senior milita commanders such as Lihle, Dhegaweyne and many others genocided people on clan basis. The Hargeisa administration till this day calls heros those commanders and even praise people such as Hassan Kulmiye Farah in Hargeisa who were part and parcel of the Military Regime yet they demonize other clans who were part of the military authority. So its very clear for all to see their agenda is a clan based one concealed under colonial premises with a sprinkle of genocide to entice the world to act upon their hidden clan objectives. But Thankfully the UK govt is not blind and can see through it!!!Even if the nation is divided, the clan factor will just continue in Somaliland where other clans in that area are vehemently opposed to it such as the Awdal and SSC areas. The SSC area can have a spill over effect to Puntland and create an all out clan war.The Somaliland administration is also clan based where 66% of the parliament is from the Isaaq clan and 80% of the government post is for the Isaaq clan. Anyone who is rational can see that doesn’t seem like a government that will last long in peace with it neighbours.Finally the piracy issue the best solution is to provide support to the Puntland government in creating an effective coast-guard to protect it’s waters from local piracy and also illegal fishing. Piracy can not only be stopped by naval fleets around the world since they don’t have access to where the pirates are coming from. It cannot even be stopped by mogadishu or hargeisa administration because 90% of the pirates are based in Puntland’s jurisdictions and due to somalia’s clan based territories other administrations cannot go access areas of other clan’s territory without a local uprising or even clan war.Puntland is situated at the redsea and indian ocean channels which is one of the main factors why piracy exists there and not in other parts of Somalia. No Administration in Somalia controls 1600km of Somalia’s 3300km coastline other then Puntland.To ignore this is not going to solve the issue of piracy.The main factors that caused piracy is well known; It is the lack of a strong coastal coast-guard policing it’s waters, a total absense of road infrastructure to reach coastal areas by authorities, local grievances who feel they are not getting any opportunities for development and the strong illegal fishing crisis happening in Puntland.The above factors is what made it so lucrative for pirates to base themselves in Puntland because they are working in the most strategic part of somalia coastline and have access to half of Somalia coastline to conduct their activities and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. The pirates have gained local support to base themselves in their towns due to the local grievance in coastal communities to illegal fishing which is robbing them of their livlihood. The Pirates know full well the lack of local development in the coastal area has made locals think its better to host pirates and finally the pirates have full knowledge knowing they have no threats from local authorities since they know the authorities on land cannot respond quick enough due to the lack of coastal roads, lack of a strong coastal guard, and the local grievances against illegal fishing and lack of development.The UK needs to make sure they answer the following if piracy is to be truly defeated;1. Win back the locals in the coastal areas with development opportunities so they see that as better alternative then hosting pirates.2. Help Puntland build a strong coastal force to respond to pirate bases on-land, this will also give locals coastal community job opportunities.3. Puntland Coastal Guard needs to also deal with the illegal fishing as part of it’s mandate so the pirates cannot use this to win over local fishermen4. UK government needs to tell the international community Somalia waters need to be protected and pass legislations at the U.N.5. Puntland Govt needs to re-educate the locals not to host the pirates since all the issues they were upset about such as illegal fishing, lack of development and no coastal guard would be answered.The above formula is the only way to deal with piracy an
    d eradicate it, because it answers many of the factors above and it does in a way taking into consideration realities on the ground. To build a coastal force in Mogadishu or Hargeisa wont stop the issue and the pirates will use the clan card to garner support from the locals and it will be back to square one again.So the only way to end piracy is to work with the Puntland government and coastal communities anything other then that, we will still be holding piracy conferences in 2030!!!

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