|Africa News Digest
Horn of Africa on Verge of Total War; UN, African Union Meet
The Horn of Africa is threatened with out-of-control warfare, as the UN Security Council met in emergency session Dec. 26, Day Three of military attacks in Somalia, including Dec. 24 air strikes by Ethiopia. The United States reportedly has about 100 troops in Ethiopia, helping to train Ethiopian troops.
While Somali transitional government forces continued their advances Dec. 27, and saner forces urgently sought to end the fighting, the Bush Administration encouraged the Ethiopian-spearheaded advance. The combined military forces of the transitional government of Somalia and Ethiopia, which is providing heavy military support, captured the last major towns that had been held by the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) between the government stronghold, Baidoa and the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and were reported to be 30 kms from the capital. The UIC now only control the coast.
After a meeting today of the African Union, the Arab League, and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a group composed of neighboring African countries which, together with the AU and UN, organized the transitional government, put out a carefully worded statement urging support for the transitional government, and the withdrawal of "all troops and foreign elements" from Somalia. The latter was a reference to fighters and military supplies that have been given to the UIC. Last month, the UN issued a report saying that, besides Ethiopia and Eritrea, eight other countries had sent weapons to Somalia, without specifying which groups were the recipients. This reportedly amounts to millions of dollars.
Also on Dec. 27, the Arab League called for a ceasefire in Somalia and "the withdrawal of all forms of foreign presence for Somali territory." Before the conflict flared up, the Arab League had unsuccessfully tried to mediate between the government and the ICU.
The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) appealed to all factions in Somalia to exercise restraint, and called on Ethiopia to withdraw its military forces.
Diplomats reported that Kenya, which helped establish the transitional government, will hold talks tomorrow with Somalia's UIC leaders, in a bid to end the fighting. On Dec. 26, Kenya urged Ethiopia to halt military operations against the UIC, since it would make the crisis more complicated to solve. Some 160,000 Somali refugees who have fled the last 15 years of fighting are already in Kenya, and now that number is growing.
The UN Security Council has not come to agreement: Qatar is insisting on calling for the immediate withdrawal of Ethiopian forces, while the other 14 members want a ceasefire first, followed by a resumption of peace talks by all the parties, to create conditions for a withdrawal of all foreign forces. This latter approach would have the best chance of working.
As opposed to those trying to calm the situation down, the U.S. State Department, Dec. 26, signalled support for Ethiopian military operations, amidst claims from the Bush Administration that al-Qaeda represents a danger beyond the region, because al-Qaeda is allowed to operate in UIC-controlled areas of Somalia. This claim is based two letters signed by UIC military leader Sheikh Aweys, which call for the assassination of 17 prominent Kenyans and Somalis, an uprising by ethnic groups in Kenya and Ethiopia, and for Shabab militia fighters to mass along the Kenya-Somali border. Many diplomats don't believe the letters are genuine, although the traditional Somali desire to establish a "greater Somalia" that would include ethnic Somali regions of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti keeps feeding the danger of war in the region. Thus, the Washington Post editorialized that the Bush Administration will have to prepare for a more active engagement "in what is emerging as a hot new front in the war on terrorism."
How to prevent this conflict from blowing up, is the concern of those who are sane, and who don't want to be pawns of a conflict being orchestrated from outside the region. As one Ethiopian in the U.S. said: "The war with Somalia was declared neither by the Ethiopians, nor by the Somali people. We all know we are fighting somebody else's war."
Resource War at Center of Somalia Conflict
A preliminary look under the surface of the current war in Somalia reveals strong Anglophile mining and oil interests at play. For example: the Somali state of Puntland, which lies directly astride the strategic Horn of Africa between Southern Somalia and Somaliland, reveals some powerful mining and oil company connections. It should be noted that both Puntland and Somaliland are considered "breakaway states." Puntland has proclaimed an independent autonomous status with its own state government. Somaliland has demanded complete independence. The Ethiopians have supported both Puntland and Somaliland in these efforts. One reason being that in the 1970s, Somalia launched a war over territorial claims in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia which is contiguous with these two states.
In 2005, the Puntland government signed a deal with a mysterious company called "Consort Private Ltd." registered in the Maldives, but operating out of the offices of London-based attorney Anthony Black. The deal gave Consort full rights over all the mineral and oil resources of Puntland. Consort then turned around and sold 50.1% of its interests to Range Resources Ltd. of Australia. The chairman of range is Sir Sam Jonah, President of Anglo Gold Ashanti, Africa's largest gold company. Jonah is also a director of Anglo American Corporation of South Africa, among other Anglo-American-linked companies.
Range is now deeply involved in oil exploration and preparing to start drilling operations in Puntland. Its partners include Canadian-based Canmex. The latter is a subsidiary of the Lundin Mining company, owned by the infamous Lundin family, whose patriarch Adolf Lundin recently died. Lundin is deeply involved in oil and mining in Russia, Scandinavia, Africa, and South America. It is involved in some of the most war-ravaged countries in the region, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. Adolf Lundin was very close to the Axson Johnson family, one of the most powerful oligarchical families in Sweden. It can be said that Lundin functioned as a front for Axson Johnson interests. Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt is a director.
Another company involved is Middle East Petroleum Services, based in Dubai. Run by one Ken Fellows, it is a spin-off of the old Iraq Petroleum Company which, despite its nationalization decades ago, still maintains a corporate existence in Dubai and London. Its shareholders include Total, Mobil, Exxon, and Partex.
Although in 2005, Somali Prime Minister Geedi, of the Temporary Federal Government, questioned the deal, he later became an enthusiastic supporter. Then the trouble started when the forces of the Islamic Courts began to move to control territory claimed by Puntland.
More Background on British Role in Somalia
According to sources from the Italian-Somali community, the European Union moved in as a cover for the "British Lobby" in 2002 in order to take control of raw materials in Somaliland. The EU initially gave $199 million to fund a non-governmental organization set up jointly with the "Somaliland government," to develop mining. Contracts were then given to Rovagold Ltd, a British subsidiary of Centurian Gold Holdings; to Simenole Copenhagen Group, a Danish firm owned by Saudi businessman Feisal Kassim and Mohammed Abdul Aziz; Zarara Energy Ltd, which is part of the Goldfield Group; Awdal Roads Company, a Euro-American fishing company; WorldWater Corporation, which has a contract to drill wells powered by solar energy; and a South African company (not further identified), which got a contract for all mining in Laagaleh, Sinnar, Daarbudug, Gaalloley, Lafaruug, Borama and Daarbuduq.