Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, is a frequent guest commentator on various media outlets throughout the world. Azikiwe is also a broadcast journalist and hosts the Pan-African Journal blogtalk radio program., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
London Conference on Somalia to Plan Course for Neo-Colonial Control
Regional efforts continue by imperialist states to dominate the Horn of Africa
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
A conference on the present situation and future of the East African state of Somalia will take place on February 23 in London. The former colonial power which held portions of Somalian territory during the 19th and 20th century is now scheming along 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 late 1970s during the so-called Ogaden war of 1977-78. Since 1991, Somalia has struggled to achieve national unity and representative government.
In recent months a drought and subsequent famine in large sections of the country has 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 (CIA) has made numerous direct and indirect military interventions that are largely responsible for one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
Since October the Kenyan Defense Forces and the Ethiopian military have invaded Somalia at the aegis of the White House, the CIA and the Defense Department in order to defeat the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement and to consolidate the country as an outpost for mineral extraction, oil exploration and international trade. The U.S, France and Israel have been reported to have direct involvement in the military offensive through the utilization of naval forces, drones and intelligence assistance.
All the previous attempts to dominate Somalian politics since the early 1990s have failed. The latest efforts in London is deliberately excluding the Al-Shabaab organization which has opposed the western-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) regime now installed in power in Mogadishu. The African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM, which is itself trained and funded by the imperialist states, has been bolstered by the 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 and Who’s Out?
In a statement issued by the British Foreign Office in relationship to the London conference it 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 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend.”
This same document goes on to note that “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.”
With the exclusion of Al-Shabaab the London Conference on Somalia is in fact setting the stage for further aggressive action inside the country not only against the Islamic forces that oppose the alliance with the West but also the people of the nation who have yet to be consulted in regard to the deliberations and the raging war for control of the masses. How will this event 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?
The very fact that this gathering is being held outside of Somalia and Africa as a whole speaks volumes as it relates to its strategic purpose. Such meetings hark back to the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 where the burgeoning colonial powers set out to carve up Africa for its own business and political interests.
The British government claims that its efforts are based on the desire to assist Somalia with their national security, political processes, social stability and humanitarian relief. Other goals include making a “renewed commitment to tackle collectively the terrorist threat emanating from Somalia…and breaking up the piracy business model”… in order to foster “agreement on improved international handling of Somalia issues.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague revealed in a speech delivered at Chatham House on February 8 that this will be a sustained project in Somalia. He stresses that “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.” (Speech at Chatham House, London)
Hague goes on to declare “Our engagement with Somalia is not a luxury, it is a necessity. A lawless Somalia is a base for international terrorist attacks.”
Not to ignore the underlining 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 of such a visit by a
British Foreign Secretary for two decades. The enhanced role in Somalia for London falls in line with the Obama administration efforts to encourage more European and allied states to join with the Pentagon in military interventions in oppressed nations. With the beginning of oil drilling in Puntland (a breakaway region of Somalia) earlier in the year, there is no surprise that such efforts by Britain and the U.S. are accelerating.
It was exposed as far back as 1993 in the Los Angeles Times that oil exploration was well underway in Somalia and that over 65 percent of the concession were already under the control of U.S.-based oil firms. The same article also points out that substantial natural gas resources also exist inside the country.
This article written by Mark Fineman notes that “nearly 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. Industry sources said the companies holding the rights to the most promising concessions are hoping that the (then) Bush administration’s decision to send U.S. troops to safeguard aid shipments to Somalia will also help protect their multimillion-dollar investments there.” (Los Angeles Times, January 18, 1993)
Therefore this conference in London will serve the same purpose as the series of meeting held in various European and imperialist-allied Persian Gulf states during the bombing of Libya between March and October 2011. Since the overthrow of the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi it is only the capitalist states and their surrogates in the region that have profited from the changes as the conditions for Libyans worsen every day.
The root cause of underdevelopment and insecurity in Africa is the legacy of imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism. Only when the African peoples through their organizations and movements break with this pattern of aggression and domination will there be the possibility of genuine peace and security.