Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 28, 2006

Another Mission Accomplished

After some fifteen years of internal fighting with various external support for this or that side, the Somali people had just had enough of it. Some folks came up with a uniting idea. They proposed some strong measures, banning drugs, banning usury and banning internal fighting and they implemented those by quite strict measures. They found followers and soon the CIA financed warlords in the underdeveloped but resource rich country were in retreat and very likely to lose.

But immediately these successful uniters were accused of harbouring and supporting terrorism. To corner them, someone came up with the idea of installing a new "unitary government" - consisting of some exiles, financed by the U.S. and supported through some disinterested UN security council resolutions. When that government failed to get anything done but filling its own pockets and annoying the population, the U.S. decided to finance a neighbored dictatorship with (at least) some $80 million per year to prepare an invasion and to solve the problem.

The now finished invasion by the neighbor army was done quite easily - there was essentially no real resistance.

But somehow the press reviews of this invasion echo the one on another invasion done only a few years ago:

Triumphant Somali government forces and their Ethiopian allies marched into Mogadishu after their Islamist rivals abandoned the city.
Some Mogadishu residents greeted the arriving government troops, while others hid.

Parts of the city shook with the sound of gunfire and there were outbreaks of looting after leaders of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) fled its base early in the morning.
One former fighter told the Reuters news agency: "We have been defeated. I have removed my uniform. Most of my comrades have also changed into civilian clothes. Most of our leaders have fled."

Surely these folks have been defeated, they fled. The mission is accomplished. The bad guys took off their uniform (where are their weapons?), melted into the population and now - are ... whatever, whereever.

Meanwhile looting is destroying the bit of infrastructure that is left after fifteen years of warfare.

Are there any doubts that this successful U.S. intervention will follow just the same track the one in Iraq took?

There will be less dead U.S. GI's in this war - for now at least - but the track will be essentially the same as the war took in Iraq. The travel down the road to hell will be much faster though as the knowledge that had been developed bit by bit by the resistance in Iraq over the last three years will be immediately be implemented in Somalia.

So what can be achieved by this intervention? I have no idea.

But if sterring another caldron was the idea, then the mission has been accomplished.

Posted by b on December 28, 2006 at 22:00 UTC | Permalink


more lilypad action? or shall we call them cooperative security locations

thanks for keepin on b, excellent post

Posted by: annie | Dec 28 2006 23:56 utc | 1

thanks for the ongoing coverage of this, b. a while back there were some articles floating around about how africa would be the next stop in imperial resource shopping/war-on-muslims. may be ramping up.

Posted by: b real | Dec 29 2006 6:20 utc | 2

It was good to read a sane setting-in-perspective of what is coming down on the Horn of A.

The Danish news reporting has been rather anemic, faithfully referring to the insurgents as islamic fundies with ties to terrorists storming forward to topple the legit gov't.

Then, out of the blue, comes Ethiopia replete with the same pictures from news services of Ethiopean personages mumbling that they will be in Mogadishu just for a few days or maybe a couple of weeks until "order is restored".

One clip I've seen a dozen times is this clean cut Ethiopean soldier (officer?) wearing spotless fatigues standing up in a jeep and proclaiming in a bullhorn that the inhabitants should not panic and they we have come only to restore order and make things safe.

Jeeze, Hollywood could make a better script for these guys!

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Dec 29 2006 8:03 utc | 3

I have this deja vu of witnessing Sandanistas vs. Contras all over again. Yeah, democracy sure is on the march. The last reasonable Republican president just died. And the last truly honorable Democratic president is vilified for telling us the truth about the atrocity in progress in Palestine. Anyone who dares speak truth to power gets demonized in the MSM. The bombs over Iran are being prepared while the sycophants in Washington and the press are well into Act II of the this tragic play. The globe is heating rapidly. And today the Billmon website has been taken down. Is there any reason for hope? Are the fundies right about all this after all. Are we preparing for Armageddon and the Rapture?

Posted by: RWH | Dec 29 2006 15:16 utc | 4

I'd say that we will be in Nigeria(4th largest supplier of oil to US) within a few years.

Posted by: R.L. | Dec 29 2006 17:28 utc | 5

Gunfire echoed around the capital as news of the withdrawal spread. SCIC bases were looted and several people were killed in a return to the anarchy that plagued the city before the courts came to power six months ago. Within hours, warlords who had been driven out by the Islamists were reclaiming their turf, including the presidential palace and the city's main port.

return of the warlords

Posted by: annie | Dec 29 2006 19:32 utc | 6

missing links

The Ethiopian invasion of Somalia occurred because both sides had concluded that the United States supported the idea of a military solution, rather than negotiated power-sharing between the Islamic Courts organization and the so-called interim federal government (IFG). You don't have to take my word for it, it is the well-supported view of John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group (Brussels-based). Unfortunately, the only web-accessible venue for his remarks seems to be Al-Quds al-Arabi, the pan-Arab newspaper published in London. ....

It is a familiar situation: News of an exciting military victory for our side against the dangerous Islamists, touted by the readily-available NYT, and a less-exciting account, often not circulated at all in America, having to do with the actual alignment of political forces, which you really have to hunt for. Only if you put the two accounts together can you grasp the way in which the Bush administration is confirming and strengthening the anti-American, pan-Arab view, which is that Somalia is being added as the fifth Arab nation to be attacked in this way, after Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, and Sudan, just for being Arab and Islamic. Ali Muhammed Fakhro, writing on the Al-Quds al-Arabi opinion page yesterday, warned people in other Arab states not to be complacent in 2007: this could happen to your country too.

What else is new? What else is new is that the Bush administration is about to order an increase in troop levels in Iraq, and not only does nobody know why, but nobody in the American media asks why, either.

equally relevant iraq commentary, don't miss this link

Posted by: annie | Dec 29 2006 21:00 utc | 7

The US is a big part of the situation on the Horn, but to a larger extent it is also internal dynamics.

Ethiopia and Eritrea is both run by dictators that has their main competence in warfare and are kind of crappy at everything else. This crappiness leads to low popularity and low popularity leads to a need for external war. After the last war between themselves (that ended in 2000) both leaderships seams to have concluded that proxy wars are safer. They have thus supported different sides in Sudan and Somalia. After 9/11 both countries tried to sell their part of the fighting as "anti-terrorism" to the US. Looks like Ethiopia got the best marketing firm.

So to restate the news in another way: Ethiopia was loosing the proxy war in Somalia so badly that they felt it was necessary to intervene with regular troops.

If the Ethiopian army gets bogged down in Somalia, Eritrea might feel a opportunity for revenge for 2000 and attack. Outlooks are pretty grim for the Horn.

If you like to read some background, I wrote a piece last summer on Eurotrib. Re-reading that text I see that I wrote:

I would not be surprised if a new battle of Mogadishu is in the works.

Do people get payed to predict this stuff?

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 30 2006 1:45 utc | 8

Read the Guardian piece annie linked. Good reporting from the ground, in my mind not so good analysis of the future scenarios. This one I find most likely:

2. Ethiopia withdraws its troops and the TFG is unable to exert any real authority beyond its base of Baidoa. In the vacuum created by the Islamists' departure, power reverts to clan-based warlords who have held sway in Somalia for the past 16 years. The anarchic situation that existed before the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC) rose to power in Mogadishu returns.

but with a touch of this:

3. The remnants of the SCIC, in particular the militant Shabaab wing, regroup to wage guerrilla war against the government - and the Ethiopians, if they stay. Eritrea and other Arab states continue to sponsor the Islamists. Somalia becomes a magnet for foreign militants keen to help local fighters establish an Islamic state.

as I think the SCIC will fight on but severly weakened.

Ethiopia might withdraw its regular troops but not its interests. I would add that Ethiopia has a interest in keeping Somalia in civil war. A united Somalia would change the power balances on the Horn. So even if Ethiopia todays back the transitional government heavily they can change horse if it is necessary to keep the country from getting a unified leadership. Eritrea on the other hand would benefit from a unified Somalia and thus plays another role.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 30 2006 1:58 utc | 9

"Do people get payed to predict this stuff?"

only when it suits elite interests, otherwise Billmon would be a billionaire, so instead we get the jonah goldbergs and tony blankleys of the world, who can be 100% wrong about everything all the time --

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 30 2006 2:00 utc | 10

first of all, the Somali are a very fierce peoples.

second, this is not about a Christian Ethiopia against a Muslim Somalia. Ehiopia is about half & half Muslim/Christian.

third, its a proxy war. Its not the Ethiopian war against Italy or the Ethiopian/Eritrean wars.

fourth, Ethiopia has to watch Eritrea very carefully. Strong Eritrean support or involvement in support of the Southern Somali may cause regret for Ethiopia.

for whatever its worth, this does not look like a well thought out proxy war.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Dec 30 2006 2:32 utc | 11

askod, thanks for the breakdown in #8

Posted by: annie | Dec 30 2006 2:32 utc | 12

anna missed,
I suspected as much. Darn.

Elites interested in paying for accurate predictions of world events: feel free to send an email.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 30 2006 2:36 utc | 13

one more thing,

Ethiopia has engaged on mid to recent record, in conventional warfare. They are not masters in the field of guerilla or insurgency warfare.

The Somali's are.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Dec 30 2006 2:41 utc | 14

second, this is not about a Christian Ethiopia against a Muslim Somalia. Ehiopia is about half & half Muslim/Christian.

And Ethiopia leaders are originally tigrean nationalists.

you are very welcome. This is an area of the world I happen to know a bit about and since it is in Africa general knowledge is pretty low.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 30 2006 2:41 utc | 15

the ethiopian leadership are pretty skilled at guerilla warfare. After all that was how they got into power in 1991. But I do not know how many veterans from that time there still is in the army. I would guess most senior officers are guerilla veterans as the old compadres may be the only ones Meles trusts.

However, I have not kept up with Ethiopian politics so it is merely a guess.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 30 2006 2:49 utc | 16

Elaborating on j_b_c's post, here is some exc. background on the "conflict" from Dr. Horace Campbell, a specialist in Am. foreign policy & militarism in (horn of?) Africa. Scroll down to Wed. 12/27

Posted by: jj | Dec 30 2006 3:36 utc | 17


I hear you.

The Ethiopians fought Eritrea in one of the few recent conventional wars on record in Africa. Others are the Ethiopia/Italian war and the Biafran war. Theres also the earlier Zulu/European wars. And there were a number of long-running pitched-battle maneuver-type pre-colonial-era wars in West Africa.

The Ethiopian Tigre nationalists may have some experience in the past with insurgency within the internal Ethiopian context, but the present Ethiopian army is configured for trench warfare against Eritrea.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Dec 30 2006 3:36 utc | 18

but the present Ethiopian army is configured for trench warfare against Eritrea.

I agree.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 30 2006 3:41 utc | 19

Somalis, as some Ethiopians, are good at guerrilla and insurgency. I don't think any of them is that good at counter-insurgency, which is a whole different business. Ethiopia is partly an occupying power and will be fought by guerrillas, it isn't using insurgency to fight some foreign occupation.

And indeed, since Ethipia is close to 1/2 Muslim/Christian, it's better not to piss off a third of its population by appearing to wage a crusader war on Bush's behalf. Though I think Ethipia had plenty of regional reasons to get involved in this mess, without US pressuring it.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Dec 30 2006 3:51 utc | 20

found a couple of the links i was refering to re imperial interests in africa, not specifically related to this particular proxy war, but relevant (esp w/ the current "save darfur" propaganda campaign) & foreboding.

john bellamy foster: A Warning to Africa: The New U.S. Imperial Grand Strategy

The U.S. military buildup in Africa is frequently justified as necessary both to fight terrorism and to counter growing instability in the oil region of Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2003 Sudan has been torn by civil war and ethnic conflict focused on its southwestern Darfur region (where much of the country’s oil is located), resulting in innumerable human rights violations and mass killings by government-linked militia forces against the population of the region. Attempted coups recently occurred in the new petrostates of São Tomé and Principe (2003) and Equatorial Guinea (2004). Chad, which is run by a brutally oppressive regime shielded by a security and intelligence apparatus backed by the United States, also experienced an attempted coup in 2004. A successful coup took place in Mauritania in 2005 against U.S.-supported strongman Ely Ould Mohamed Taya. Angola’s three-decade-long civil war—instigated and fueled by the United States, which together with South Africa organized the terrorist army under Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA—lasted until the ceasefire following Savimbi’s death in 2002. Nigeria, the regional hegemon, is rife with corruption, revolts, and organized oil theft, with considerable portions of oil production in the Niger Delta region being siphoned off—up to 300,000 barrels a day in early 2004.16 The rise of armed insurgency in the Niger Delta and the potential of conflict between the Islamic north and non-Islamic south of the country are major U.S. concerns.

Hence there are incessant calls and no lack of seeming justifications for U.S. “humanitarian interventions” in Africa. The Council on Foreign Relations report More than Humanitarianism insists that “the United States and its allies must be ready to take appropriate action” in Darfur in Sudan “including sanctions and, if necessary, military intervention, if the Security Council is blocked from doing so.” Meanwhile the notion that the U.S. military might before long need to intervene in Nigeria is being widely floated among pundits and in policy circles. Atlantic Monthly correspondent Jeffrey Taylor wrote in April 2006 that Nigeria has become “the largest failed state on earth,” and that a further destabilization of that state, or its takeover by radical Islamic forces, would endanger “the abundant oil reserves that America has vowed to protect. Should that day come, it would herald a military intervention far more massive than the Iraqi campaign.”17

Still, U.S. grand strategists are clear that the real issues are not the African states themselves and the welfare of their populations but oil and China’s growing presence in Africa.

Empire of Oil: Capitalist Dispossession and the Scramble for Africa

Energy security is the name of the game. No surprise, then, that the Council on Foreign Relations’s call for a different U.S. approach to Africa in its new report, More than Humanitarianism (2005), turns on Africa’s “growing strategic importance” for U.S. policy. It is the West African Gulf of Guinea, encompassing the rich on- and offshore fields stretching from Nigeria to Angola, that represents a key plank in Bush’s alternative to the increasingly volatile and unpredictable oil-states of the Persian Gulf. Nigeria and Angola alone account for nearly four million barrels per day (almost half of Africa’s output) and U.S. oil companies alone have invested more than $40 billion in the region over the last decade (with another $30 billion expected between 2005 and 2010). Oil investment now represents over 50 percent of all foreign direct investment (FDI) in the continent (and over 60 percent of all FDI in the top four FDI recipient countries), and almost 90 percent of all cross-border mergers and acquisition activity since 2003 has been in the mining and petroleum sector. The strategic interests of the United States certainly include not only access to cheap and reliable low-sulphur oil imports, but also keeping the Chinese (for example in Sudan) and South Koreans (for example in Nigeria)—aggressive new actors in the African oil business—and Islamic terror at bay. Africa is, according to the intelligence community, the “new frontier” in the fight against revolutionary Islam. Energy security, it turns out, is a terrifying hybrid of the old and the new: primitive accumulation and American militarism coupled to the war on terror.

Posted by: b real | Dec 30 2006 5:11 utc | 21

As peredicted: Somalis Split as Fighting Halts and Hint of Insurgency Looms

Anti-Ethiopia riots erupted in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, on Friday, while masked gunmen emerged for the first time on the streets, a day after Ethiopian-backed troops captured the city from Islamist forces.

Hundreds of Somalis flooded into bullet-pocked boulevards to hurl rocks at the Ethiopian soldiers, set tires on fire and shout anti-Ethiopian slogans.

“Get out of our country!” they yelled. “We hate you, Ethiopians!”

In northern Mogadishu, residents said men with scarves over their faces and assault rifles in their hands lurked on the street corners. Mogadishu has plenty of gunmen, of every age and every clan, but gunmen hiding their identity is something new and may be a sign of a developing insurgency.

Posted by: b | Dec 30 2006 6:00 utc | 22

rather than intervene directly in Africa, USA may opt for proxies to act in its interest i.e Ethiopia invades Somali. South Africa was a loyal prroxy for a while.

for historical rreasons, it will be very difficult for USA troops to fight against Africans on a sustained basis. And resistnce at home would be fierce. African-Americans will be watching very closely.

the Chinese are quietly investing & building infrastructure in Africa and creating good-will & legitimacy. Sadly, USA does not appear to seek the same path. And ultimately, USA actions in Africa will end up alientating massive numbers of Africans & Americans.

One thing thats 100% certain is that the USA will dramatically underestimate the interests in Africa that will align to oppose armed intervention on USA behalf, whether direct or indirect.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Dec 30 2006 14:43 utc | 23

jony_b_cool - re china in africa, i haven't read much on the subject, but knowledgable african friends (architect, engineer, etc) tell me that a lot of the infrastructure projects that the chinese are building are not of very good quality - for instance, some of the resulting roads in zimbabwe were so cheaply constructed that they're not drivable any longer - and only serve to secure lucrative resource contracts. nigeria was one example i was told of, where chinese firms had contracted to invest quite a bit in exchange for a share of oil reserves or output into the future. their take is that in many of these areas, the locals are not thrilled about this, as there are enough africans qualified to do the work (better!), given adequate financing & materials. like i said, i'm going off what i hear, not what i've investigated. also, an influx of low-price, cheap-quality chinese merchandise into africa is really pissing a lot of small business & market owners off, in what, to me, sounds reminiscent of the whole wal-mart thing in the u.s. and it's not just the profit-margin argument that's at stake - cheap chinese knockoffs of traditional clothing & other products has a detrimental effect on cultural knowledge & tradition. asian immigrant-run businesses undercut local entrepreneurship. (this has long been a tension w/ indians across the continent, too.) so i'm not sure how much good-will the chinese are generating in africa, based on the impression i get from friends & family.

Posted by: b real | Dec 31 2006 5:04 utc | 24

here's something i found on u.s. efforts to create goodwill & legitimacy in africa, from a jarhead-turned-"anti-terrorism expert"
African Command Good First Step, Expert Says

The creation of a U.S. African command is a good first step to controlling the spread of terrorism from the region, an anti-terrorism expert says.

But to make a real difference, the U.S. will have to treat the region as it did Europe after World War II, he said.

"To check the communist and Islamist expansionism, the West will need nothing short of a modern Marshall Plan," said H. John Poole, a former Marine who has become a counterinsurgency expert.

"The aid would have to be delivered directly to villages or families instead of through governmental channels. It would consist of things like village wells or cisterns, family solar-energy collectors, and individual inoculations," said Poole, who retired from the Marines with ranks of reserve lieutenant colonel and gunnery sergeant. "The "bottom-up" approach would generate millions of pro-democracy voters who would have otherwise died or gone over to the expansionists."
His current book ... details the growing interest by China in African natural resources, and the exportation of African or Chinese guerrilla fighting tactics into Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.

Defense contractors predict a growing African market. Lockheed Martin, for example, said Africa could be a major growth area for C-130 traffic because of the need to move more people and materiel into the region.

Contractors and other Defense officials say Africa is becoming more important because of its wealth in natural resources and geopolitical significance. They say Africa could become a major battleground for global powers like the U.S. and China.

Poole's book says China already has a head start in Africa and with its Islamic leaders. He suggests China may have fomented some of the unrest in the region and ill will against Western powers.

"Through a detailed analysis of African history, Poole has revealed evidence of a Sino-Islamic coalition," retired U.S. Marine Corp. Maj. Gen. Ray Smith writes in the book's forward.
In a Dec. 22 interview, Poole said, "Africa is important because of its natural resources, human rights issues, and susceptibility to Chinese and Islamist expansionism."

diagnosis: imperialism packaged as white jarhead's burden

Posted by: b real | Dec 31 2006 6:04 utc | 25

b real,

from my read, the trend is that African countries can get significantly better terms in resouce exploitation deals with China than with Nato countries. And the Chinese do not tend as much to atttach strings like "you must buy X, Y & Z from American countries".

another trend thats emerging has more Africans looking East rather than West for trade & commerce. And a small but growing number of Africans are learning to speak Mandarin/Cantonese.

another trend is the growing demand for raw commodities from shea-butter to bauxite. These markets have historically been controlled & priced by the Nato bloc. But growing Far East demand has led to increased prices favoring African countries.

Its not all perfect for China in Africa and you are correct in your observations. There is some definitely resentment at some levels especially where locals have to compete with newly established Chhinese interests.

Still overall, China is on the way towards eclipsing all of Nato ccombined in its investment & infrastructure activity in Africa.

There are many Africans with an affinity for the Euro-centric model and they will tend to hold China to a higher standard. There are also many others who see China as a welcome counter-weight to Nato influence. They view China as more of a straight shooter business-wise & politically.

Its also important as you know to mention that Africa is a very very diverse place. Much more diverse than people seem to want to appreciate.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jan 1 2007 5:44 utc | 27

currently reading naylor's latest, satanic purses: money, myth, and misinformation in the war on terror, which i highly recommend (esp to "experts" like the ex-jarhead selling nonsense linked in #25 above). there's a chapter & a half taking on the myths re somalia & AQ/UBL, which, at one point, made that nation seemingly next in line after afghanistan in the 'murikan crusade, erm.. invasion. here's an example of the type of "evidence" the u.s. had implicating somalia in the GWOT.

Information about bin Laden's intimate association with Somalia came from the kinds of objective and disinterested sources so often called upon in the Terror War. They included landlocked Ethiopia covetously eyeing a strip of the Somali coast; Somali warlords who, eager to emulate the Afhan Northern Alliance, wanted to use the US military against local rival; and the Pentagon, which had its own grudge. Among the misdeeds in Somalia they jointly and severally imputed to the dour Saudi were: his central role in the lucrative traffic in qat, the popular local "narcotic"; his financing and/or training of al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya (Islamic Unity), a local terrorist movement that had repaid him by helping to bomb the US embassies; and his role in killing eighteen US soldiers who, in 1993, had been simply helping with relief aid in the famine-ravaged country. Proof of this latest offense came during the invasion of Afghanistan, when US troops found in an "al-Qaeda stronghold" a GPS system taken from a US soldier killed in Somalia - where he undoubtedly had been using it to locate pockets of starving people in need of an Afghan-style food drop. Hours after the find was announced, the company that had supplied the unit pointed out, uncooperatively, that it had been manufactured four years after US forces had precipitously pulled out of Somalia.

good exposé on the propaganda & lies that have made life increasingly difficult for somalians, at home & abroad.

Posted by: b real | Jan 2 2007 5:32 utc | 28

Somalia: New Hotbed of Anti- Americanism

Mission Accomplished, Addis Ababa's Daily Monitor announced when the Ethiopian forces blitzed into Mogadishu, heralding a new U.S. regional alliance at the southern approaches to the oil- rich Arab heartland in the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq; in 2003, the same phrase adorned a banner behind President George W. Bush as he declared an end to major combat operations in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. All facts on the ground indicate that the U.S. mission in Somalia wont be less a failure than that in Iraq, or less misleading.

The U.S. foreign policy has sown the seeds of a new national and regional violent hotbed of anti- Americanism in the Arab world, the heart of what western strategists call the Middle East, by succeeding in Somalia in what it failed to achieve in Lebanon a few months ago: Washington was able to prevent the United Nations (UN) from imposing a ceasefire until the Ethiopian invasion seized Mogadishu; the Lebanese resistance and national unity prevented the Israeli invaders from availing themselves of the same U.S. green light to achieve their goals in Beirut.

In both cases, Washington involved the UN as a fig leaf to cover the Israeli and Ethiopian invasions, repeating the Iraq scenario, and in both cases initiated military intervention to abort mediation efforts and national dialogue to solve internal conflicts peacefully. In Somalia as in Iraq, Washington is also trying to delegate the mission of installing a pro-U.S. regime whose leaders were carried in on the invading tanks to a multinational force in which the neighboring countries are not represented, only to be called upon later not to interfere in Somalia’s internal affairs, as it is the case with Iran, Syria in particular vies -vies the U.S. - occupied Iraq.

The Bush administration has expressed understanding for the security concerns that prompted Ethiopia to intervene in Somalia. So once again U.S. pretexts of Washington’s declared world war on terror were used to justify the Ethiopian invasion as a preventive war in self-defense, only to create exactly the counterproductive environment that would certainly exacerbate violence and expand a national dispute into a wider regional conflict.

Posted by: b real | Jan 3 2007 16:04 utc | 29

no super-power has had much luck in recent memory with advancing its interests in Africa through proxy war.

maybe its because Africans are generally not so close-minded about their religious & ethnic beliefs as to risk life & limb for the interests of the great White Father.

and Ethiopia with its more-or-less equal mix of Muslims & Christians and its diverse ethnicities is actually not a good choice for proxy-warrior.

Ethiopians by nature tend to be questioning peoples. They are not going to blindly follow a script indefinitely because some Dear Leader says so.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jan 4 2007 2:25 utc | 30

did you know that UPI has a "homeland and national security editor"? well, they do.

take a whiff
Analysis: What now in Somalia?

Karen von Hippel, a former United Nations post-conflict reconstruction official in Somalia, now based at the Washington think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies ... said it was noteworthy that the United States, which has a history of policy missteps in Somalia, in this case appeared to have succeeded by not acting.

"Everything we've done has been counter-productive," she said, citing CIA support last year for a rapacious warlord's alliance which had plundered Mogadishu under the guise of fighting terrorism. "Now, when it seems we haven't done anything, it is working."

that's the establishment line, sure. it's popping up all over the press
U.S. patrols Somalia for terrorist watch
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack ... stopped short of an outright endorsement of the Ethiopian attack but said it was apparent that the Islamic Courts had fallen under the control "of those that had links to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups."

These groups, he said, "quite clearly were interested in imposing draconian types of interpretations" of Islamic law on Somalia in contravention of the polices of the transitional government.

Before Ethiopian troops launched their offensive last week, "we certainly would have hoped that there could have been a negotiated, political dialogue," McCormack said.

ain't that something. sorta reminds one of bushco's disappointment w/ the iraqi "government" rushing saddam's execution. but stuff happens, eh?

back to the "analysis" article,

Despite an ambush of Ethiopian troops by a Somali gunman this week, and threats from some Islamist leaders of an Afghan-style insurgency, [David] Shinn dismissed parallels with the situation there. Taliban-style extremism "doesn't go down well in Somalia," he said. "The differences (between Somalia and Afghanistan) are far greater and more significant than the similarities."

He said some of the reports that Arab, Chechen and Pakistani militants had answered a recent call by the courts' leaders for a defensive jihad against Ethiopian troops were probably true, but said estimates of their numbers were largely guess work.

"I haven't seen any numbers I have any reason to believe," he said. "They all seem to be pulled out of the air."

which - along w/ their asses - is where the u.s. govt/military/"experts" are getting most of their nonsense hyping somalia as a front in the war on terror.

from naylor's book

...apart from the Ogaden question, al-Ittihad had never shown any interest in events outside Somalia. Nor had it ever numbered more than a few hundred militants, as distinct from people who broadly supported its social program. (This paucity of numbers id not prevent the U.S. from claiming that the group had two to four thousand members armed, while some reports in the Western press credited it with up to seventy thousand.) Furthermore, the sudden discovery that al-Ittihad had helped al-Qa'idah with the Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam bombings must have been a surprise to the US prosecutors who had certainly not been shy about casting the accusatory net as widely as they could. There were also claims that al-Ittihad, acting as Usama's local auxilliary, had aided Aideed in his confrontation with US forces in Muqdisho. Yet Aideed was vehemently anti-Islamiist. Reputedly, when a business representative of bin Laden's arrived in Somalia (probably looking to sell sesame and sorghum), that agent had to flee for his life on a qat plane heading back to Kenya. As to the alleged terrorist training camps jointly operated by the al-Ittihad and al-Qa'idah (which, in the run-up to Gulf War II, Saddam Hussein, naturally, was helping to finance), they seemed to have vanished into thin desert air.

the same air they were conjured out of, obviously

Posted by: b real | Jan 4 2007 5:48 utc | 31

jony_b_cool -

re china in africa, caught this
China spends to cement ties in Africa

Intent on cementing ties across Africa, China is active even in impoverished Guinea-Bissau, a small nation with little industry, no oil and few exports.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing ended a two-day visit here yesterday, part of a tour that includes Chad, Benin, Central African Republic, Eritrea and Mozambique. Li arrived from Equatorial Guinea, Africa's third-largest oil producer, where he agreed to forgive $75 million in debt.

Some nations on Li's itinerary are sources of the raw materials that China's booming economy craves. Countries such as Guinea-Bissau might not have much to offer today but could in years to come. In courting them, China spurns the Western aid formula that ties public works projects to progress in good governance.

"China is not like the World Bank; they don't attach all these conditions on the money," said Edmundo Vaz, a former adviser to the Guinea-Bissau Finance Ministry who now runs a bank.
Africa has become a crucial part of China's growth strategy. Trade between Africa and China has grown fourfold since 2001, topping $45 billion in the first 10 months of last year. At a summit attended by 35 African heads of state in Beijing last fall, Chinese entrepreneurs signed deals worth $1.9 billion with African governments and firms.

China has found a seemingly limitless market in Africa for its cheap goods. And oil-rich countries such as Nigeria and Angola provide the resources China needs to sustain its rapid growth.

The imbalance between a superpower, China, and a struggling West African country such as Guinea-Bissau has prompted some to describe the Chinese overtures as the latest chapter in Africa's history of exploitation.

there was an opinion piece @ asia times online a couple days back by an economist (i'm guessing) that advocates for china by making the argument that what china is doing is not neocolonialism. at least yet.
China in Africa: From capitalism to colonialism
So where does China fall? Is it a colonizing power or not when it engages Africa, especially as more and more Chinese began to arrive on the continent from the beginning of the 21st century?

Obviously, China hasn't occupied any African country. And as a country with a deep historical memory of being colonized by Western powers, China doesn't want to control Africa's economic and political systems. The Chinese government neither appoints military consultants to African governments nor constructs military bases on the continent.

Moreover, China hasn't used deceitful means to steal and exploit African resources. Relations between China and African countries are grounded on reciprocal benefits, which is not just a slogan but a fact. Financial aid and other investments from China without political conditions are very helpful for African economies. For instance in 2005, the rate of China's contribution to Africa's total economic growth was at least 5%. Simultaneously, China buys African resources at a fair price to fuel its rapid economic growth.

Though China is not a colonialist, it is a successful capitalist in Africa. The path it has taken on that continent is consistent with the logic of market capitalism - liberal trade based on fair contracts.

Of course, we cannot be blind to the possibility of China becoming a colonizing power some day.

he goes on to play that possibility down though, claiming that interdependence between (blossoming superpower) china & the african nations will somehow balance things out. in addition, "China's capitalists have to limit their exploitation within the framework of WTO and abide by local laws." well, if that doesn't convince you, the line he chooses to end this appeal won't help much either.
Thus it can be seen that China is not now and will not likely become a colonizing power. China can demonstrate that by strictly keeping the promise written into the Beijing Declaration of 2006, which declares that Sino-African relations are based on political equality and economic cooperation, it will restrain itself from any harmful societal and political influences while engaging Africa, the last virgin land of capitalism. [emphasis mine]

found an abstract to a paper the author wrote that fuels my skepticism

Title: Globalization and the Collapse of Nation-State’s Modern Program
Author: Jian Junbo
Abstract: In modern times, a clear boundary is the basis for a nation-state’s social integration. The integration is reflected by the modern program carried out by the state. Globalization lead to a borderless world, as a result, the modern program is hard to be realized. Global abstract living mode diminished the functions of time and place system within a national border on common people’s lives. National economic, social and political lives have all surpassed the restriction of boundaries, due to the deepening of economic integration, global public view, common arrangement, and global governance. The collapse of modern program caused great challenge to nation-states, such as the conflict of the society and economy within a country as well as the downfall of national politics. Facing this situation, nation-states should open their borders in order to adapt to globalization, and they should provide a more autonomous environment for the prosperity of society, and thus laid a foundation for the peace of international community. [emphasis mine]

as walter rodney said, the only positive development in colonialism was when it ended. need to make sure it stays that way, neo-sino-liberalism included.

Posted by: b real | Jan 6 2007 6:48 utc | 32

ended, that is

Posted by: b real | Jan 6 2007 6:55 utc | 33

thanks b real for your contributions on Somalia and Africa in general.

I wonder if the naval buildup in the Indian ocean everyone was fretting about a few months ago was not meant for Somalia and Kenya instead of Iran. I have seen stories about the US Navy chasing down "Islamic" fighters on the high seas.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 6 2007 9:05 utc | 34

b real@32
"as walter rodney said, the only positive development in colonialism was when it ended. need to make sure it stays that way, neo-sino-liberalism included."


the nature of Sino-involvement in Africa is going to vary from country to country depending on local conditions. Africa already accomodates a lot of communities from the Indian sub-continent, Europe & the Middle East and as before, the Chinese will likewise adapt to local conditions.

looking at Chinas past, its clear that Chinese (recent) influence in Asia has been advanced more by trade than colonialism. In fact, China itself has had to resist colonizaation by adversaries from Europe & Japan. Plus the Chinese as well as African leaders continue to insist that its a partnership of equals.

as its economic dominance increases, China would like nothing more than to regain sovereignity over Taiwan without firing a shot. And they will approach their quest for influence in Africa similarly.

History provides many models of peaceful co-existence between very powerful & weaker nations. The EU is one such model. However, the Nato countries have failed disastrously in their historic model with Africa & other non-Euro countries.

for example, we see the current debate in Europe over whether the Turks are sufficiently "European" to be allowed into the EU. This is a relic of how Europe sees itself historically. The Chinese are unlikely to pursue a model that would take them down such a path.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jan 6 2007 12:36 utc | 35

dan of steele- interesting thought.

jony_b_cool- we cannot forget that "the west" will not just sit back & watch china continue to de-flower "the last virgin land of capitalism," esp as the global supply of lube spurts down the backside of a supply peak. suitor's intentions aside, geo-strategic games by resource-lacking power ctrs can get quite ugly & it always seems that it's the people who get fucked.
VIEW: Destabilising the Horn —Salim Lone

With these developments, the Bush Administration, undeterred by the horrors and setbacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, has opened another battlefront in this volatile quarter of the Muslim world. As with Iraq, it casts this illegal war as a way to curtail terrorism, but its real goal appears to be to obtain a direct foothold in a highly strategic area of the world through a client regime. The results could destabilise the whole region.

The Horn of Africa, at whose core Somalia lies, is newly oil-rich. It is also just miles across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, overlooking the daily passage of large numbers of oil tankers and warships through that waterway. The United States has a huge military base in neighbouring Djibouti that is being enlarged substantially and will become the headquarters of a new US military command being created specifically for Africa. As evidence of the area’s importance, Gen. John Abizaid, the military commander of the region, visited Ethiopia recently to discuss Somalia, while Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Horn countries a few months ago in search of oil and trade agreements.

Posted by: b real | Jan 7 2007 7:24 utc | 36

b real,
thanks for your efforts on africa (& the other 3'd world players) playing into the big picture, much appreciated.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 7 2007 9:52 utc | 37

b real,

you are absolutely right. And the geo-strategic games over Africa's resources are going to play out for a while.

But if the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia is any indication of the Wests unfolding strategy wrt Africa, it needs rework to avoid playing into China's hands.

the Ethiopian leadership says it only intends to stay in Somalia for a few weeks. Nobody really believes this but its an indication of the pressure they are feeling both domestically & internationally. And they are still yet tto face seriouus resistance from tthe Somali.

But does the West really have a coherent strategy for isolating China from Africa. Or should the West accept the inevitability that they will have to compete with China for influence & trade with Africa ?

On another front, Venezuela is just as important for the West if not more so than any African country from an energy resource point of view. But USA does not seem to have any options on Venezuela besides sending the Marines in.

Meanwhile, Mugabe continues in Zimbabwe. And Walmart/Target gets practically all its stock from China. And China holds huge piles of American notes. And China sells silkworm missiles to its friends & allies. Still litle or no progress in Darfur. And a few months ago, Chad expelled Chevron.

the Chinese are probably hoping the West overplays its hand in Africa.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jan 7 2007 15:08 utc | 38

here's the relevant bits from a nearly two-year old article by f. william engdahl, dated march 3. 2005, which adds more context on oil interests in somalia et al.
The oil factor in Bush's 'war on tyranny'

According also to former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official Vince Cannistraro, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's new war agenda includes a list of 10 priority countries. In addition to Iran, it includes Syria, Sudan, Algeria, Yemen and Malaysia. According to a report in the January 23 Washington Post, General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), also has a list of what the Pentagon calls "emerging targets" for preemptive war, which includes Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, the Philippines and Georgia, a list he has sent to Rumsfeld.
If we add Syria, Sudan, Algeria and Malaysia, as well as Rice's list of Cuba, Belarus, Myanmar and Zimbabwe, to the JCS list of Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia and the Philippines, we have some 12 potential targets for either Pentagon covert destabilization or direct military intervention, surgical or broader.
What is striking is just how directly this list of US "emerging target" countries, "outposts of tyranny", maps on to the strategic goal of total global energy control, which is clearly the central strategic focus of the Bush-Cheney administration.
Sudan, as noted, has become a major oil supplier to China, whose national oil company has invested more than US$3 billion since 1999 building oil pipelines from southern Sudan to the Red Sea port. The coincidence of this fact with the escalating concern in Washington about genocide and humanitarian disaster in oil-rich Darfur in southern Sudan is not lost on Beijing. China threatened a United Nations veto against any intervention against Sudan. The first act of a re-elected Dick Cheney late last year was to fill his vice-presidential jet with UN Security Council members to fly to Nairobi to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, an eerie reminder of defense secretary Cheney's "humanitarian" concern over Somalia in 1991.

Washington's choice of Somalia and Yemen is a matched pair, as a look at a Middle East/Horn of Africa map will confirm. Yemen sits at the oil-transit chokepoint of Bab el-Mandap, the narrow point controlling oil flow from the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean. Yemen also has oil, although no one yet knows just how much. It could be huge. A US firm, Hunt Oil Co, is pumping 200,000 barrels a day from there but that is likely only the tip of the find.

Yemen fits nicely as an "emerging target" with the other target nearby, Somalia.

"Yes, Virginia," the 1992 Somalia military action by George Herbert Walker Bush, which gave the US a bloody nose, was in fact about oil too. Little known was the fact that the humanitarian intervention by 20,000 US troops ordered by father Bush in Somalia had little to do with the purported famine relief for starving Somalis. It had a lot to do with the fact that four major US oil companies, led by Bush's friends at Conoco of Houston, Texas, and including Amoco (now BP), Condi Rice's Chevron, and Phillips, all held huge oil-exploration concessions in Somalia. The deals had been made with the former "pro-Washington" tyrannical and corrupt regime of Mohamed Siad Barre.

Siad Barre was inconveniently deposed just as Conoco reportedly hit black gold with nine exploratory wells, confirmed by World Bank geologists. US Somalia envoy Robert B Oakley, a veteran of the US mujahideen project in Afghanistan in the 1980s, almost blew the US game when, during the height of the civil war in Mogadishu in 1992, he moved his quarters on to the Conoco compound for safety. A new US cleansing of Somali "tyranny" would open the door for these US oil companies to map and develop the possibly huge oil potential in Somalia. Yemen and Somalia are two flanks of the same geological configuration, which holds large potential petroleum deposits, as well as being the flanks of the oil chokepoint from the Red Sea.

last april, when hu jintao was in kenya, he secured a deal w/ kenya to fund oil exploration on kenya's borders w/ somalia & sudan. earlier that week he had lined up "preferential rights" for exploration w/ nigeria. and, as pointed out earlier, china paid visit to the horn, still in pursuit of more deals in that region, as it's shaping up to be an east-west competition on the continent for the world's third largest oil reserves. whether there actually are substantial reserves proven in somalia, i have not been able to google up current data that confirms this; the geostrategic factor is a gimme. but even if reserves aren't discovered yet, that hardly matters if the players think it's there.

here's a guy who pretty much nails it in 2002, back when somalians were sweating out another u.s. "intervention"
The Name of the Game in Somalia is Oil

Bush Senior went into Somalia with 20 thousand US troops in December, 1992 when he had been defeated in his re-election bid by Bill Clinton and was a lame-duck President. Why such a major overseas undertaking by an outgoing president was a question that perplexed many. His excuse was that US was in Somalia on a humanitarian mission to beef up the UN effort to stave off a bloodbath from civil war and anarchy. The real mission for Bush Senior was something else. He went in there to save the interest of US oil giants from his native Texas. After all, he had made his fortunes in the oil industry before making a mark in politics. The powerful and influence-peddling oil cartel had bankrolled him into politics, and he was anxious to pay back in kind. He might have lost his own bid for re-election but he had sons waiting in the wings to inherit his mantle. He had to lubricate their passage into high-stakes politics by obliging his powerful friends.

Bush’s interest in the countries around the Horn of Africa, marking the nexus of the Red Sea with the Arabian Sea, began in the mid-80s when he was Vice-President to Reagan. Hunt Oil Company, a Texas-based oil giant, had explored for oil successfully in Yemen and discovered oil deposits there of up to one billion barrels. Geologists believed that there was a natural trough of oil that extended across the Red Sea into Somalia from Yemen. The World Bank had an intensive technical study on oil prospects in the region around Yemen done by its principal petroleum engineer, an Irishman by the name of Thomas E. O’Connor, in the mid-80s. O’Connor was dead certain that "it’s there. There’s no doubt there’s oil there." Somalia beckoned, just as Yemen had lured them earlier.

Their doubts, if any, put to rest by this independent WB study, Bush’s friends in the oil cartel of America saw a bonanza for themselves and swooped down on Somalia in hordes. Bush used his office and influence to egg them on.
... And the rest, as they say, is history. American soldiers’ arrogant, colonial, behaviour made them the enemies of all the warring Somali factions, especially Aideed’s. Scores of them were killed in hand to hand combat. Clinton, by then in the White House, cut his losses and pulled the entire U.S. contingent out of Somalia. Conoco’s dream of striking rich in Somalia lay buried in the debris of war.

That was 9 years ago. Bush Jr. now thinks September 11 has served Somalia on a platter to him and his powerful friends in the Texas oil lobby. The new Bush doctrine of fighting evil and terrorism is a rehash of the old Bush doctrine of controlling the energy resources of the Gulf and the region around it. The essential thrust, and end-game, of both is the same: keep the world of Islam in thrall to the west and exploit its rich mineral deposits to the hilt for the benefit of the west. That was the thesis expounded by that redoubtable dispenser of power politics, Henry Kissinger, in the early 70s when OPEC imposed the first oil embargo against the west for its unabashed espousal of Israeli interests at the cost of the Arabs.

Conoco and others of their ilk must have started dusting their old blueprints of Somalia. They have, once again, a friend in the White House prepared to wage a crusade on their behalf. None should doubt his resolve to realise his dreams and those of his friends.

on crusades & oil & trade routes (& pipelines), be sure to check out michel chossudovsky's january 04 analysis
The "Demonization" of Muslims and the Battle for Oil
Throughout history, "wars of religion" have served to obscure the economic and strategic interests behind the conquest and invasion of foreign lands. "Wars of religion" were invariably fought with a view to securing control over trading routes and natural resources.
America's Crusade in Central Asia and the Middle East is no exception. The "war on terrorism" purports to defend the American Homeland and protect the "civilized world". It is upheld as a "war of religion", a "clash of civilizations", when in fact the main objective of this war is to secure control and corporate ownership over the region's extensive oil wealth, while also imposing under the helm of the IMF and the World Bank (now under the leadership of Paul Wolfowitz), the privatization of State enterprises and the transfer of the countries' economic assets into the hands of foreign capital.
The US led war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region consists in gaining control over more than sixty percent of the world's reserves of oil and natural gas. The Anglo-American oil giants also seek to gain control over oil and gas pipeline routes out of the region. (See table and maps below).

Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, possess between 66.2 and 75.9 percent of total oil reserves, depending on the source and methodology of the estimate. (See table below).

In contrast, the United States of America has barely 2 percent of total oil reserves. Western countries including its major oil producers ( Canada, the US, Norway, the UK, Denmark and Australia) control approximately 4 percent of total oil reserves. (In the alternative estimate of the Oil and Gas Journal which includes Canada's oil sands, this percentage would be of the the order of 16.5%. See table below).

The largest share of the World's oil reserves lies in a region extending (North) from the tip of Yemen to the Caspian sea basin and (East) from the Eastern Mediterranean coastline to the Persian Gulf. This broader Middle East- Central Asian region, which is the theater of the US-led "war on terrorism" encompasses according to the estimates of World Oil, more than sixty percent of the World's oil reserves. (See table below).

Iraq has five times more oil than the United States.

Muslim countries possess at least 16 times more oil than the Western countries.

The major non-Muslim oil reserve countries are Venezuela, Russia, Mexico, China and Brazil. (See table)

Demonization is applied to an enemy, which possesses three quarters of the world's oil reserves. "Axis of evil", "rogue States", "failed nations", "Islamic terrorists": demonization and vilification are the ideological pillars of America's "war on terror". They serve as a casus belli for waging the battle for oil.

Posted by: b real | Jan 8 2007 6:12 utc | 39

Somali Once was powerful army in horn of africa year 70s & 80s
after "cold war" somali slip to the civil war
even war 77/78 betwen somali/ ethiopia (ogaden war) somali was winner thanks russian tanks Mig23 MIG 23 &25

Posted by: John | Jan 15 2007 14:53 utc | 40

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