Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 22, 2007

Understanding AFRICOM - Part III

Understanding AFRICOM:
A Contextual Reading of Empire's New Combatant Command

(This is the last part of the Understanding AFRICOM series. You may want to start with reading part I and part II. A PDF version of the complete series is available. Your comments on this are welcome here.)

by b real

A New Cold War in Africa

Apart from its role in protecting oil and natural gas supplies, AFRICOM will inherit additional responsibility on a continent that is fast becoming the geopolitical centerpiece in a new Cold War.  Aimed toward countering China, this context will cast the new combatant command on a parallel with that of EUCOM in its task containing the Eastern Bloc during the decades following the Second World War.

The most significant challenge to U.S. policy in Africa in the coming years may be China. The immediate topic of most strategic discussions regarding China and Africa is oil competition. "Twenty years ago, China was East Asia's largest oil exporter. Now it is the world's second-largest importer; last year, it alone accounted for 31 percent of global growth in oil demand." Just as the U.S. is recognizing the importance of African oil to its interests, China is actively seeking to expand its own market share. But China's economic (and thus political) engagement of Africa since the turn of the century goes far beyond the hunt for energy. China's overall trade with Africa doubled from 2002 to 2003, and then doubled again between 2003 and 2005. This 400% growth in three years comes atop 700% growth in the decade of the 1990s, and there is no end in sight. China is now Africa's third largest trading partner, behind the U.S. and France, and ahead of former colonial power Britain.
Thus Chinese engagement in Africa threatens to substantially reduce the leverage of the U.S. and its Western allies, and thereby undermine the political and economic reform agendas the West has been pushing in Africa for two decades. More than this, however, successful economic engagement by China could open a huge new market for trade and investment, which it would be in position to dominate. The political implications of an economically emerging Africa in close alliance with China are disconcerting in the U.S. policy circles. China's engagement in Africa may soon challenge the longstanding American perception that 'there is no there there,' and encourage serious, interest-driven U.S. engagement with Africa for the first time in history. [48]

Africa weighs heavily in China's plans for the future. Government officials have been making regular trips to Africa for the last few years, buying stakes in oil and natural gas fields, dealing for a variety of resources & agricultural products vital to its rapidly growing economy, signing trade agreements with 45 nations, handing out loans to starving governments, canceling debts, and lining up infrastructure projects. A three-year plan revealed at last November's Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing clearly outlines objectives on multiple fronts to build upon a partnership between China and the majority of African nations.

The plan pledges that China will:

  • Double aid to Africa by 2009 (to about $1bn)
  • Set up a $5 bn China-Africa development fund to encourage Chinese companies to invest in Africa
  • Provide $3 bn in preferential loans and $2 bn in preferential buyer's credits to African countries
  • Cancel all debt stemming from Chinese interest-free government loans that matured by the end of 2005, for the 31 highly indebted and least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa that have relations with China (an amount estimated at around $1.4 bn)
  • Further open China's markets to exports from African LDCs by increasing from 190 to 440 the number of products receiving zero-tariff treatment
  • Train 15,000 African professionals, double the number of Chinese government scholarships given annually to Africans (to 4,000) and send 100 senior agricultural experts and 300 youth volunteers
  • Build 30 hospitals, 30 malaria treatment centers and 100 rural schools [49]
  • Chinese entrepreneurs have also been making inroads into the continent. As one analysis pointed out, "The 800 Chinese companies in Africa are viewed by Beijing as fulfilling both political and economic roles, and as part of a diplomatic effort to project influence." [50] Africa has become both a necessary market for Chinese goods and a laboratory for new products and market campaigns. The influence is continent-wide and largely received favorably by many nations looking to get out under the claws of the Western neoliberal institutions.  And this reality is making the imperialists in Washington see red.

    China has secured oil fields and exploration rights in nations ranging from Kenya and Sudan in the East to Congo in Central Africa, and Angola in the West. And Nigeria, holding 70 percent of Africa's oil, has not gone ignored either.

    Obasanjo is also shaking up the oil industry in a double maneuver interpreted as a rap on the knuckles for his Western allies and a last ditch effort to secure a legacy as the one Nigerian leader who tamed corruption in that sector.
    American, British, and French oil companies enjoyed a virtual monopoly of Nigeria's oil industry. Royal Dutch Shell's joint venture with the government produces half of the country's daily output of 2.5 million barrels. Two U.S. companies, Chevron Texaco and Mobil, are also key players. Obasanjo's new oil policy threatens this dominance.
    China made a dramatic entry into the picture last April, when Nigerian officials announced that China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) had bought a 45% stake in a Nigerian oil field for more than $2 billion. That field will pump 225,000 barrels per day when it begins production in 2008. Obasanjo also negotiated a loan of $1 billion from the Chinese government to finance repair of Nigeria's railways and buy new rolling stock.
    These deals were brokered at the height of the constitutional drama, when America said it would not support an attempt by the government to extend its stay in office unconstitutionally. In addition to rolling out the welcome mat for energy-hungry China, oil ministry officials say they will tighten financial regulations and impose sanctions on companies seen as defaulting on tax and royalty payments - moves apparently aimed as local subsidiaries in the Niger Delta. [51]

    Two months after the $2.27 billion deal for the offshore oil-mining license, CNOOC paid Nigeria another $60 million USD for a 35 percent stake in one more offshore license. And Nigeria has currently opened another 50-60 oil and gas blocks up for investors, of which China is only one expected taker. [52] Basically, China has a lot of money to invest in Africa, and securing energy supplies prominently figures into its agenda.

    Obviously, this conflicts with the United States' priorities, as do the economic inroads that China has been successfully establishing in the continent, and Africa finds itself the major set piece for the grand game.

    In More Than Humanitarianism, the Council on Foreign Relations ... depicts the leading threat as coming from China: "China has altered the strategic context in Africa. All across Africa today, China is acquiring control of natural resource assets, outbidding Western contractors on major infrastructure projects, and providing soft loans and other incentives to bolster its competitive advantage." China imports more than a quarter of its oil from Africa, primarily Angola, Sudan, and Congo. It is Sudan's largest foreign investor. It has provided heavy subsidiaries to Nigeria to increase its influence and has been selling fighter jets there. Most threatening from the standpoint of U.S. grand strategists is China's $2 billion low-interest loan to Angola in 2004, which has allowed Angola to withstand IMF demands to reshape its economy and society along neoliberal lines.
    For the Council on Foreign Relations, all of this adds up to nothing less than a threat to Western imperialist control of Africa. Given China's role, the council report says, "the United States and Europe cannot consider Africa their chasse gardé [private hunting ground], as the French once did in francophone Africa. The rules are changing as China seeks not only to gain access to resources, but also to control resource production and distribution, perhaps positioning itself for priority access as these resources become scarcer." The council report on Africa is so concerned with combating China through the expansion of U.S. military operations in the region, that none other than Chester Crocker, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs in the Reagan administration, charges it with sounding "wistfully nostalgic for an era when the United States or the West was the only influence and could pursue its ... objectives with a free hand." [53]

    AFRICOM is a vital centralization of that military expansion into the 21st century scramble for Africa. The U.S. naval buildup along Africa's coasts is part of a new "force projection" that not only serves to monitor and protect strategic waterways, but also to intimidate and deter Empire's enemies. Pentagon and think-tank strategists, responding to perceptions of China's buildup of their own naval powers, are moving their game pieces around the world accordingly, "making sure that strategic waterways are under their control from the Straits of Hormuz to the Malacca Straits."

    The United States' desperation to control and patrol one of the world's vital sea lanes - the Malacca Strait - indicates just how advanced the U.S. China geo-political containment policy is. A third of all world trade goes through the Strait, as well as eighty percent of China's oil imports.  ... Due to threats of 'terrorism' and 'piracy' America has set up the PSI (Proliferation Security Initiatives) and RMSI - the 'Regional Maritime Security Initiative' - which is designed to 'protect' and 'patrol' this waterway. Discussing the issue in the Jakarta Post in June 2006, Ria Jaslim wrote: "China's fast-paced economic growth and strengthening defense capabilities place them in a position to challenge America's leadership in the Asia-Pacific region. This latent competition will likely prompt the U.S. to adopt a strategy to contain China. This would include controlling the sea-lines of communication and strategic maritime checkpoints, such as the Strait of Malacca, and thus indirectly controlling the movement of raw materials and goods to China.
    Thus, the real reason America wants to bolster its presence in the region, and specifically the Strait of Malacca, is to limit China's access to oil, raw materials, technology and industrial equipment, and to contain China's influence in the region. Using the threat of terrorism and piracy to strengthen the Proliferation Security Initiatives is the most likely strategy."[54]

    These increases in naval activity and initiatives in and around the Gulf of Guinea can be interpreted in the same manner. The possibility of a large strategic naval base on the island of Sao Tome and Principe [55] reminds one of an earlier era of U.S. imperial expansion aimed at the East. Efforts underway to sell resistant Gulf nations on the needs for maritime security programs, building maritime interoperability, forge the bottom section of the "ring fencing" of Nigeria. On the ground to the north, the TSCTI is connecting local militaries under U.S. command, fed regularly on a diet of GWOT pabulum and Congressional funding.

    In FY 2005, the TSCTI received $16 million; in FY 2006, nearly $31 million. "The big push comes in 2008, when the administration hopes to get $100 million each year for five years." All of this far exceeds the $7.75 million allocated to the earlier Pan-Sahel Initiative. If and when the new African Command is approved by President Bush, funding will be ramped up accordingly. [56]

    The goal of building large regional battalions may very well foreshadow larger proxy wars, as well as attempts at the strategic blocking of resource routes from Sub-Saharan to Northern Africa. Efforts are already under way to block access to deep seaports along the Horn of Africa, limiting seaway lanes to China (and India). Regime changes continue in the objective of gaining accommodating client states in strategic zones across the continent. Increases in arms trade and military hardware to gain stability. Agencies and contractors on the ground, building HUMINT. Money changes hands to arm insurgents and warlords. Election results are overturned to keep useful leaders in power. Intelligence equipment and assistance are offered for neutralizing "terrorists." Already, the U.S. supports unpopular governments in nations such as Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Central African Republican, Somalia, and Algeria.

    Perhaps the most worrying of America's new military partners in the [Sahel] region is Algeria. According to [former EUCOM deputy commander General Charles] Wald, European Command is working "heavily" with the Algerian government. When asked about Algeria's contribution to the war on terrorism, Wald has said, "I think they're doing a fantastic job," and that the U.S. military has "a lot to learn from the Algerians." But as Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, recently told the House of Representatives: "In human rights terms, Algeria, with its documented record of torture and 'disappearances,' is in many ways a model of how not to fight terrorism." During Algeria's long-running struggle with the GSPC and other Islamic insurgents, Malinowski explained, "security forces arrested and tortured thousands of suspects. They engaged in summary executions, often rounding up victims arbitrarily in reprisal for attacks on their own troops. And between 1993 and 1997, they picked up and made 'disappear' an estimated 7,000 Algerians who remain unaccounted for until this day." [57]

    This sort of "support" is only bound to increase as rhetoric of stabilizing Africa makes the dailies, copied directly out of official AFRICOM press releases. Readers of the mainstream media can expect to encounter more frequent usages of terms like "blunder" and "misguided." Already the propagandists decry China's human rights record and support for Sudan and Zimbabwe while ignoring the ongoing violations of Western corporations engaged in the various extraction industries as they plunder natural resources and pollute other peoples homelands, of U.S. gunships mowing down villagers in the Horn, and of SOF-trained armies reportedly committing atrocities across the continent to pacify rebellions over territorial and resource disputes and "shore up" repressive regimes.

    In that December Report to Members of the Committee on Foreign Relations, one can read the following example of U.S. priorities in the human and civil rights context.

    One Central African country in particular illustrates the need for State Department perspective and guidance to temper Defense Department enthusiasm. The country is unstable, desperately poor, and run by a repressive government that is being challenged by a persistent armed resistance. Desperate for a military strong enough to protect it from the rebels, the government has signed an Article 98 agreement, exempting U.S. military personnel from International Criminal Court procedures and thus enabling it to receive military assistance. It has also signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States. With extensive "under-governed spaces" as potential terrorist havens and bordering countries with equally uncertain futures, the country was termed "a model country for security assistance" by the regional combatant command. Civilian embassy officials, however, are demonstrably less keen. They question the rate at which military programs are rapidly escalating and the sizable and still growing presence of U.S. military personnel in-country. A U.S.-labeled backpack, observed on a government soldier undergoing U.S. training, underscored for SFRC staff the potential complications of a too-close association with the country's military. It would be a major setback if the United States were to be implicated in support of operations shoring up the repressive regime, regardless of the stated intent of such training. [58]

    A new cold war is underway in Africa, and AFRICOM will be at the dark heart of it.


    Africa has been through this before, caught in the middle of a global chessboard during the first Cold War as competing world powers sought to win friends and contain enemies at the expense of those in the way. Militaries were trained and armed to fight proxy battles or overthrow unsympathetic regimes. Rhetorical allusions to notions of human rights and democratic governments lost out to the more pragmatic ends of protecting economic ideologies. For the most part, the blood that spilled was largely that of Africa, again prevented from achieving true independence, self-identity, and prosperity. The old Cold War blew in primarily on the exaggerated vapors of ideology. This one is not so abstract.

    Africa is now perceived as the final frontier for the world's energy supplies, crucial for the preservation of hi-tech global civilizations, and this new scramble will be much more serious. This is the context in which the new combatant command enters the history books, at the junction of the early 21st century and the pending flare out of the petroleum age.  Expanding the military reach of the most powerful empire the planet has ever known, AFRICOM will be tasked with the responsibility of achieving full-spectrum dominance over mother Africa for fuel. Operating as both energy-protection service and strategic Cold War front, the unified command will concentrate whatever military forces are necessary to keep the furnaces of Empire lit. Whether AFRICOM will succeed in this directive is beside the point, for, while ends may justify the means for the elite in power, their so-called "national interest" payoff, it is regular people who pay the full price at all times. And it does not require a crystal ball or great imagination to realize what the increased militarization of the continent through AFRICOM will bring to the peoples of Africa.

    A PDF version of the complete series is available.
    Your comments on this are welcome here.

    48. Lawson
    49. Ernest Harsch, "Big leap in China-Africa ties," African Renewal, Vol.20 #4 (January 2007), page 3, [link]
    50. Bright B. Simons, Evans Lartey and Franklin Cudjoe, "China On Safari: Emperor Hu's new clothes for Africa," Asia Times Online, February 8, 2007, [link]
    51. Ike Okonta, "Obasanjo's Troubling End-Game," Project Syndicate, July 2006, [link]
    52. "Nigeria To Launch New Oil and Gas Licensing Round," Alexander's Gas & Oil Connection, January 16, 2007, [link]
    53. Foster
    54. Maryann Keady, "U.S.-China and a New Cold War," January 14, 2007, [link]
    55. [link]
    56. Lubeck, Watts and Lipschutz
    57. Khatchadourian
    58. "Embassies As Command Posts in the Anti-Terror Campaign," p.5

    Posted by b on February 22, 2007 at 12:20 UTC | Permalink

    next page »

    There is no open one anywhere so I'll put it here:

    Go to :

    Posted by: vbo | Feb 22 2007 13:08 utc | 1

    Thanks again b real for this essay.

    Unfortunatly the problems AFRICOM will bring will come down to our children and grandchildren.

    A minor correction as there could be misunderstandings on this.

    LNG is liquified natural gas. Usually natural gas is "gas", i.e. not liquified, and is transported by "simple" pressure pumps through pipelines. As pipelines are difficult to build through oceans, sea-transport requires to extremly cool down the gas so it liquifies and can be transported on special isolated ships.

    This process is quite expensive as it requires lots of energy and expensive infrastructure.

    Another possibility that can lead to confusion over "liquid" gas is a different process where gas is transform by a chemical process into liquids, i.e. into diesel fuel, lubricants and naphta. This also requires a lot of energy and infrastructure. (Shell is building such infrastructure in Qatar for $18 billion)

    Posted by: b | Feb 22 2007 13:44 utc | 2

    Center for International Policy: Nigeria and the United States: Convergent Interests

    Pentagon analysts and generals claim that vast “uncontrolled spaces” in Saharan and Sahelian Africa, which are said to include large portions of northern Nigeria, are rife with terrorists seeking to damage the United States, even though the evidence for such claims is woefully thin. Nevertheless, a $500 million “Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative” (TSCTI), which will tie African militaries to American policies, is in the works. Given the internal security problems often found in resource rich countries, it is much more likely that the newly-acquired skills and equipment will be directed against domestic opponents than global terrorists.
    In fact, militarization by the United States will exacerbate an already tense situation in Nigeria and other parts of the Oil Triangle without having any effect on terrorists. Only a concerted effort to support Nigeria’s democratic forces and legislative oversight of the country’s presidency can ensure American and the region’s security, and quell wholesale theft of oil revenues as well as the insurgencies, criminality and social banditry now rampant in oil-producing areas.
    Full report: pdf

    Posted by: b | Feb 22 2007 14:29 utc | 3

    b real, thank you so much for your amazing contributions here. I am sorry I have not commented yet -- have been snowed under with other things. But I am definitely planning to digest all of this this weekend. Meanwhile, I wanted to express my appreciation. I know nothing about Africa so this is very eye-opening.

    Posted by: Bea | Feb 22 2007 16:41 utc | 4

    b real, my thanks also for your great work. I saved the link to the pdf in my sources file.

    Posted by: Alamet | Feb 22 2007 18:24 utc | 5

    b- thanks for catching that & for your explanation

    Would you say there is a serious threath against the oil companies in the Niger delta?

    sure, but not as serious as the threat against the inhabitants -- human & nonhuman -- of the delta should the oil companies continue to go about w/ business-as-usual. while it's very typical to hear u.s. elite & businessmen exaggerate their vulnerabilities throughout history to elicit sympathy & justify actions (military buildup, unethical tactics or business practices, interventions, adventures, whatever...), in the niger delta, as i point out, they do have a lot at stake. big investments in anticipations of big payoffs.

    right now it's still relatively easy to get oil for home from nigeria, but it's an increasingly hostile territory, as some in the resistance movements have moved into armed struggle to defend themselves. supposedly the oil companies lost the equivalent of 500,000 barrels production in 2006 b/c of the conflict going on there. no idea how seriously to take such an estimate, but one of MENDs objectives has been to reduce the oil flow by 30%, using whatever means necessary to interrupt business. so that's definitely perceived as a threat. no doubt, high up on the oil tycoons wish list would be zero population in the area around oil & gas sources. we're seeing that take shape in iraq, as that country gets depopulated via various means.

    (will get to your 2nd question later)

    Posted by: b real | Feb 22 2007 20:24 utc | 6


    US and Ethiopia discuss their anti-terror campaign in Somalia

    In a meeting with a US Congress Intelligence committee today, Ethiopian Prime Minister has reaffirmed its determination to fight terrorism saying it’s a universal threat to the international stability. Also, the two parties discussed ways to establish peace in Somalia.

    Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said Ethiopia will carry on with the role it has been playing to thwart terrorism, which represents a menace to the world.
    Ethiopia will be supporting in the activities in Somalia of realizing an all-inclusive and broad-based government, a senior government official who attended the meeting quoted Prime Minister Meles as saying.

    Currently, the way conditions are stabilizing in Somalia is even speedier than anticipated; Meles told the US congressional delegation. Saying the US can play irreplaceable role in helping the continent ensure stability and defend terrorism, Meles expressed his hope that cooperation in the areas of training and logistical support will be strengthened.

    The US congressional committee chairmen commended Ethiopia’s anti-terror stance and the measures it has taken to pave the way for the creation of stability in Somalia.



    Somalia’s warlords rearm themselves as tension in Mogadishu is high

    Mogadishu’s warlords, who controlled the capital with their heavily armed militias since 1991 when Somalia’s central authority collapsed were forcefully expelled by the Islamic Courts movement in June 2006.

    They came back to their bases in Mogadishu after thousands of Ethiopian troops backing the transitional government defeated the Islamists in ten days fierce battle.

    The UN and the international community have warned in the past that if warlords were given the chance to empower themselves militarily, Somalia would go back to square one.

    Somali government officials assassinated in Mogadishu

    Amid violence and political tension in the Somali capital Mogadishu, at least two government officials were slain by unknown gunmen last night.

    The acting chairman of Wadajir district, Abdi Omar Gogeye and the chairman of Yaqshid, Muhudin Hassan Haji, were killed in minutes of each other on Wednesday evening when Ethiopian and government troops could be seen patrolling in some of the neighborhoods Mogadishu.
    Meanwhile, residents in the Somalia capital Mogadishu still continue fleeing the volatile city to nearby provinces and other neighborhoods in the capital where the mortar and artillery bombs exchanged by the Ethiopian troops backing the Somali government forces and the unknown insurgents have not yet affected.

    Hospital sources say that more than 100 people, most of them civilians were killed and more than 200 were wounded in the killings and explosions in Mogadishu since the unknown armed fighters staged their guerrilla-style war against the Ethiopian and government military bases in the capital.

    also see Governing Somalia

    In UIC controlled areas children could go to school safely and once more hospitals could treat the sick without flows of injured coming in from daily violence. However, the UIC ruled with a strict code of Sharia law, meaning the security came at the cost of some personal freedoms and civil liberties. With the UIC ousted, 2007 began a new chapter for Somalia, a new chapter of violence and insecurity.

    Posted by: b real | Feb 22 2007 20:36 utc | 7

    great post i will link it to places shell is a dirty profft oreented company

    Posted by: tim pellett | Feb 22 2007 21:21 utc | 8

    Thanks B Real.I've thought the last few years about what a nightmare it will be when we really move big time into Africa. One could see it coming.

    Posted by: R.L. | Feb 23 2007 3:39 utc | 9

    here is an online version of the working paper report on MEND by the scholar ike okonta that i referenced in my article. it's split into three parts

    Niger Delta: Behind The Mask
    MEND: Anatomy Of A Peoples’ Militia
    Niger Delta: Restoring the rights of citizens

    Posted by: b real | Feb 23 2007 5:07 utc | 10

    Thank you b real,

    I consider this topic of prime importance and will read your essay in its entirety this weekend.

    Posted by: Rick | Feb 23 2007 5:16 utc | 11

    oronto douglas was ken saro-wiwa's attorney and is a human rights & environmental activist in niger delta. here are two interviews

    Environmental Justice: Conversation with Oronto Douglas

    Assassins in Foreign Lands: A CorpWatch Radio Interview with Nigerian Human Rights Activist Oronto Douglas

    1998 democracynow documentary focusing on chevron's role in killing nigerians
    Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship

    Posted by: b real | Feb 23 2007 5:42 utc | 12

    Fitting here today's NYT "reports" (lots of spin in there): U.S. Used Bases in Ethiopia to Hunt Al Qaeda in Africa

    The American military quietly waged a campaign from Ethiopia last month to capture or kill top leaders of Al Qaeda in the Horn of Africa, including the use of an airstrip in eastern Ethiopia to mount airstrikes against Islamic militants in neighboring Somalia, according to American officials.

    The close and largely clandestine relationship with Ethiopia also included significant sharing of intelligence on the Islamic militants’ positions and information from American spy satellites with the Ethiopian military. Members of a secret American Special Operations unit, Task Force 88, were deployed in Ethiopia and Kenya, and ventured into Somalia, the officials said.

    The counterterrorism effort was described by American officials as a qualified success that disrupted terrorist networks in Somalia, led to the death or capture of several Islamic militants and involved a collaborative relationship with Ethiopia that had been developing for years.
    It has been known for several weeks that American Special Operations troops have operated inside Somalia and that the United States carried out two strikes on Qaeda suspects using AC-130 gunships. But the extent of American cooperation with the recent Ethiopian invasion into Somalia and the fact that the Pentagon secretly used an airstrip in Ethiopia to carry out attacks have not been previously reported.
    the Pentagon for several years has been training Ethiopian troops for counterterrorism operations in camps near the Somalia border, including Ethiopian special forces called the Agazi Commandos, which were part of the Ethiopian offensive in Somalia.
    The latest chapter began last June when the Council of Islamic Courts, an armed fundamentalist movement, defeated a coalition of warlords backed by the Central Intelligence Agency and took power in Mogadishu, the capital. ... After a failed C.I.A. effort to arm and finance Somali warlords, the Bush administration decided on a policy to bolster Somalia’s weak transitional government. This decision brought the American policy in line with Ethiopia’s.
    On Jan. 7, one day after the AC-130s arrived in Ethiopia, the airstrike was carried our near Ras Kamboni, an isolated fishing village on the Kenyan border.
    Several members of the Special Operations team were also in Somalia at the time of the strike, one official said.
    In late January, American officials played a role in securing the safe passage of Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the second-highest-ranking Islamist leader, from southern Somalia to Nairobi, Kenya. The exact role of American involvement is still not clear, but some American officials consider him to be a moderate Islamist.

    As b real had found, there were reports that US SOP troops had been captured and safe passge for the Sheik was a condition for their release.

    Posted by: b | Feb 23 2007 7:50 utc | 13

    You read it first here.
    Today in Northern Province in Iran, there was unsuccessful assassination attempt against Dr Ahmadinejad.
    Assassin drove a car into motorcade of President, but only to crash into bodyguard’s vehicles. No repost of any dead, but few injuries. Ahmadinejad was not harmed.

    Report from official news in Iran,

    Posted by: Hejaz | Feb 23 2007 15:27 utc | 14

    PINR: Somalia Reverts to Political Fragmentation

    The partial tabulation of violent incidents, protests and local conflicts during the first three weeks of February has been chronicled by PINR to give readers a sense of the persistent and deepening instability that characterizes Somalia today, and to temper statements by the T.F.G., Western powers, and regional and international organizations that the country has a "window of opportunity" to form a legitimate and effective government that would reverse the devolutionary cycle.

    Taken separately, the events on the ground have not caused the collapse of the T.F.G. or forced the Ethiopians to withdraw from Somalia; taken together, they show the T.F.G. and the Ethiopians to be on the defensive and embattled, probably by multiple forces, and the population to be seeking safety in sub-clans. As PINR has noted before, the longer the devolutionary cycle goes on and deepens, the more difficult it will be for the T.F.G. to become a viable authority, whether or not reconciliation talks are held and/or AMISOM is deployed. Rather than making progress since the end of January, the T.F.G. has lost ground and is more dependent than ever on the support of external actors. As the T.F.G. gropes for a purchase, Somalia reverts to political fragmentation.

    znet: Somalia: An Oily Cliché

    The story begins in 1990, just prior to the horrible famine of almost Biblical porportions that claimed thousands of innocent lives in Somalia. Mohamed Said Barre was in charge of the country. Barre signed of nearly two-thirds of his country to Conoco, Amoco, Chevron, and Phillips (this was prior to the Conoco-Phillips merger). Unfortunately for them, Barre was overthrown by Mohammed Farah Aideed of the rival Hebr Gedr clan in January 1991 and launched a civil war shortly thereafter.

    After Aideed started the civil war, the oil giants were unable to work their concessions for two reasons. One, the constant fighting, robbery, and pirating off the coast made it impossible. Second, it was technically illegal because Somalia did not have a recognized government. Since Somalia was run by a that it was illegal to do business with, the oil companies were out of luck. Either the U.S. had to legitimize Aideed in the eyes of the international community or remove him. Either way, the fighting had to stop.

    As one of his last acts as President, George H.W. Bush (who owned oil concessions across the Gulf of Aden in Marib, Yemen via Hunt Oil) sent the first wave of U.S. soldiers to Somalia to officially help deliver food to starving Somalis. Meanwhile, U.S. Special Envoy to Somalia Robert Oakley kept in daily contact with Aideed from December 1992 to May 1993. He was unsuccessful in his negotiations to end the fighting. President Bill Clinton then resorted to “Operation Restore Hope.” Conoco’s office in Mogadishu served as a de facto U.S. Embassy for the landing Marines after the original building was shelled and looted. Mr. Oakley and Marine General Frank Libutti wrote a letter of commendation to Conoco Somalia’s General Manager Raymond Marchand thanking him for his service.

    After a series of unsuccessful assassination attempts by U.S. forces, the Somalis struck back during a U.S. raid in the infamous “Blackhawk Down” incident (the U.S. Army dubbed it the “Battle of the Black Sea” while the Somalis’ called it “Maalinti Rangers” [Day of the Rangers]) on 3-4 October, 1994 that claimed the lives of 18 Americans and one Malaysian soldier. President Clinton pulled out of Somalia and the place was left to its own devices while the U.S. cultivated relationships with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Djibouti’s President Hassan Gouled, and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki.

    and, i've linked to the excerpted chapter that counterpunch ran from r.t naylor's book previously, but it fits here too. especially as a counter to the spin about AQ in somalia.
    To the Shores of Muqdisho: Usama in the Land of Qat, Clan and Cattle

    It did not take long after 9/11/2001 for certain American institutions with small minds containing bitter memories to see the chance to use the post 9/11 atmosphere to even some outstanding scores. The usual prime-time experts on places to which they had never been, with names they could not pronounce, insisted that Usama received much of his terror treasure from sympathetic Somalis, well known for their hoards of clandestine wealth, that his operatives (including those responsible for the 1998 embassy bombings) had taken advantage of Somalia's lawless society, long shoreline, and porous borders to smuggle guns and operatives, and that bin Laden himself was intent on making the place his next hideout. He could also use Somalia to run lucrative rackets, particularly in drugs and counterfeit money, to bolster his finances.

    To deal with the first, the U.S. Treasury right after 9/11 had blocked on virtually a world-wide basis the transfer of funds from the Somali Diaspora to families back home--at a time when those remittances, annually around $250 million (some estimates ran to $500 million), were the only thing keeping the country afloat. (Apparently no one bothered to point out to the Treasury that if the problem was Somalia as a source of terror funds, it made little sense to block the flow of money to the country.) To handle the second, the U.S. Navy quickly sent a warship to keep an eye on Somalia's unguarded 1,000-plus kilometer coastline which is serviced by enough small smuggling vessels to make southern Florida blush with envy. To take care of the third, the military dusted off plans for direct intervention, while waiting the situation on the ground to become more propitious. After all, based on the emerging fiasco in Afghanistan and the inevitable drainage of forces that Iraq would entail, it had enough sense to let to wait until proxy forces could do as much of the work, face as much of the danger and share as much of the resulting opprobrium as possible. After all, it had bitter experience in such matters.

    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 Afghan Northern Alliance, wanted to use the U.S. military against local rivals; 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 U.S. embassies; and his role in killing eighteen U.S. soldiers who, in 1993, had been simply helping with relief aid in the famine-ravaged country. Proof of this last offense came during the invasion of Afghanistan, when U.S. troops found in an "al-Qaeda stronghold" a GPS system taken from a U.S. 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 U.S. forces had precipitously pulled out of Somalia.

    Posted by: b real | Feb 23 2007 16:17 utc | 15

    US Marines & the Niger Delta

    Posted by: b real | Feb 23 2007 16:48 utc | 16

    b real,

    I can't thank you enough. this is fascinating stuff. I often wondered what the rest of the story was in Somalia. I shoulda known

    Posted by: dan of steele | Feb 23 2007 19:07 utc | 17

    the economist, showing their true color, on uncle sam's favorite ethiopian dictator of the moment
    On a dilemma in the Horn: Should the West go on helping a repressive Ethiopia?

    ..Meles Zenawi's government is finding it hard to run the show. Some 80% of the people in Addis Ababa probably back opposition parties. In response, the government has become harsher, muzzling free speech and forcing independent newspapers to close. Many journalists are in jail on trumped-up charges. Dissidents have been disappearing, along with critical websites. Telephones are often tapped. For more than a year, text messaging on the country's small number of mobile phones has been hampered by “technical difficulties”.

    The government keeps up a hum of fear with attacks on opposition supporters. Teachers are a favourite target. Some have been beaten so badly in detention they could not stand up in court. Even schoolchildren have faced the authorities' wrath. In Ambo, west of the capital, some 14 of them in a secondary school were detained; some were allegedly tortured. The usual charges, if brought at all, are sabotage or treason. Suspects are often “found” to have links with familiar bogeymen: neighbouring hostile Eritrea; the Oromo Liberation Front, a movement in the centre and south; or, in the heartland of the once-ruling Amhara around Addis Ababa, “terrorist groups” whose existence is fuzzy.

    The opposition's lot may be worsening. Dissidents say as many as 250 supporters were rounded up on terrorist charges after the African Union summit last month; some have disappeared. The opposition's main leaders have been in prison for over a year. Torture, especially against lesser-known prisoners, is common. If rural areas are taken into account, extrajudicial killings may run into thousands. But the opposition is divided, often has regional rather than national allegiances, and tends to take its cue from radicals in exile.

    Moreover, despite help from abroad, the economy is struggling. [!!!!]

    WTF? the govt -- thanks to stealing the 2005 election -- is torturing children, locking up opposition, disappearing people, and killing perhaps thousands of ethiopians but the real problem, evidently, is that zenawi can't make the trains run on time.

    and maybe this is a dot connected to my essay

    After careful consideration of the environmental impacts of the alternatives, along with an evaluation of SPR distribution capabilities, geological technical assessments, projected costs, and operational impacts associated with existing commercial operations, DOE has decided to develop a new 160 MMB SPR storage facility at Richton (Mississippi), expand the storage capacity at the existing Bayou Choctaw (Louisiana) SPR facility by 33 MMB, expand the storage capacity at the existing Big Hill (Texas) SPR facility by 80 MMB, and fill the Reserve to 1 billion barrels of oil as authorized by Congress.

    Posted by: b real | Feb 23 2007 20:01 utc | 18

    that DOE doc also states "On January 23, 2007, the President proposed an expansion of the SPR to 1.5 billion barrels."

    Posted by: b real | Feb 23 2007 20:08 utc | 19

    A billion barrels of oil is only fifty days supply for the voracious US appetite. Then what?

    Of course, everything hinges on the value of the buck, currently supported almost entirely by 'others'. 'Others' being the main financers of the mighty US military which is in the process of commandeering the whole effen world.

    WTF gives?

    Posted by: pb | Feb 23 2007 20:30 utc | 20

    How much oil does it take to keep the US military running per day? Anybody know?

    Posted by: pb | Feb 23 2007 20:35 utc | 21

    pb- from endnote #4

    According to recently released “Annual Energy Management Report”, in Fiscal Year 2006 the Pentagon consumed 320,000 barrels per day of site delivered oil, compared to about 360,000 barrels per day in 2005. Note that these and all other official figures do not include fuel obtained at no cost overseas(6), fuel consumed by contractors(7), fuel consumed in some leased and privatized facilities, and not last but least oil consumed by certain leased and rented fleet vehicles.

    While the official figures for military oil consumption went down in 2006, the costs went to the sky. In 2005 DoD had spent slightly over $8.5 billion for oil but this figure reached $17 billion in 2006. Note that oil accounts for 85% of the DoD’s $20 billion energy consumption costs in 2006.

    Posted by: b real | Feb 23 2007 20:42 utc | 22

    Thankyou b real and thanks for the link.

    Posted by: pb | Feb 23 2007 21:14 utc | 23

    Theres probably a deeper story about the recent high loss of U.S. helicopters in Iraq. A story that does'nt necessarily involve the people shooting them down -- but an institutional one that accounts for a greater reliance, and use of helicopters in theater.

    In 1948 the U.S. military had a big pow-wow, called the Key West Agreement where they re-defined inter service use of fixed wing aircraft along with mission parameters of their use. Hence, the Navy has a pretty full spectrum of fixed wing aircraft, that can be called upon for a variety of missions, most notably, in support to its ground forces, the Marines. The Army on the other hand, was more less prohibited from having its own fixed wing aircraft, being supposedly relient on the Air Force for its ground support. Except that over time, the Air Force has made many moves to define its particular mission away from ground support and onto the the more spectacular long range high tech broad strategic air command type mission. A case in point here would be the C-123 aircraft used to great (multi-purpose) support missions in Vietnam, and immediatly retired and not replaced after the war.

    The Army, throughout this evolution has been victimized by both the ban on fixed wing aircraft, and the Air Force's intrangence on taking up the slack -- and has led the Army to an ever growing reliance on the helicopter to fill the void of close air support, troop movements, re-supply transport, etc.

    So, what might be happening in Iraq, is the Army has been forced into an overburdened reliance on helicopters. Which has made their profile ubiquitious and hencforth predictable, or in other words vulnerable.

    Posted by: anna missed | Feb 24 2007 3:06 utc | 24

    whoops, wrong thread.

    Posted by: anna missed | Feb 24 2007 3:07 utc | 25

    some links re western interests in the gulf of guinea

    here's one that ties kansteiner's remark on africa being a "vital interest" to the israeli thinktank Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies (IASPS), the folks that brought us "A Clean Break" and PNAC.
    Oil War in Africa Next!

    an example from one of their papers on oil in africa from a few years back.

    AOPIG considers the Gulf of Guinea oil basin of West Africa, with greater western and southern Africa and its attendant market of 250 million people located astride key sea lanes of communication, as a “vital interest” in U.S. national security calculations. The Gulf of Guinea, as part of the Atlantic oil-bearing basin, surpasses the Persian Gulf in oil supplies to the U.S. by 2:1; moreover, it maintains significant deposits of critically important strategic minerals including chromium, uranium, cobalt, titanium, diamonds, gold, bauxite, phosphate and copper. The region is also characterized by underdeveloped hydrological, agricultural and fisheries resources. Failure to address the issue of focusing and maximizing U.S. diplomatic and military command organization will be perceived by many in Africa as a device of cultivated neglect by the world’s only superpower, and could therefore act as an inadvertent incentive for U.S. rivals such as China, adversaries such as Libya, and terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda to secure political, diplomatic, and economic presence in parts of Africa. Such threat possibility from such actors exposes U.S. personnel and assets to heightened dangers and diminished opportunities.

    sourcewatch: African Oil Policy Initiative Group

    a collection of articles on
    Oil Policy in the Gulf of Guinea: Security & Conflict, Economic Growth, Social Development
    Published by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

    are here are two 'terror teachers' recommending, in book form, how to get the oil out of the gulf of guinea using lessons learned in the middle east.
    Oil and Terrorism in the New Gulf: Framing U.S. Energy and Security Policies for the Gulf of Guinea

    Our intention in producing this volume was to create an easily accessible, practical, yet scholarly source of information about a topic of increasing importance to the United States: our relationship with the oil producing nations of West and Central Africa. By examining in depth the lessons learned from our relationship with the oil producing nations of the Middle East and exploring the current landscape of noticeable trends and challenges in the Gulf of Guinea, the book offers an integrated policy framework for how we should pursue our energy security and national security goals in tandem.

    one thing i find interesting is that the cover of the book -- the packaging -- screams TERROR while the tone of the preface suggests nation-building & using sweet talk to steal sweet oil.

    Posted by: b real | Feb 24 2007 7:33 utc | 26

    b real, i have printed out the three installments, am working my way through them, and have forwarded them to my sister who has been working in africa for usaid for several years. they are an invaluable resource. thank you for your research and clear writing. i'll have more to say when i am finished.

    Posted by: conchita | Feb 24 2007 16:36 utc | 27

    How much oil does it take to keep the US military running per day? Anybody know? pb asked.

    Nobody knows, really. The problem as pointed out above is not the numbers themselves but the higher level accounting and what is made public... The chap you want is Karbuz.

    The US military oil consumption by Sohbet Karbuz>energy bulletin

    Better, his blog. Perma links a problem (?), so see for ex:

    US military Energy Consumption - data issues, Feb 2007

    US DoD factsheet, March 2006

    and other articles, all carefully referenced when possible.>complete blog index Karbuz

    Posted by: Noirette | Feb 24 2007 17:05 utc | 28

    here's an example of how little power the TFG has in somalia

    earlier last week the gvmt tried to exert control over the media
    Shabelle Media Network: Press Statement on Government curbs and threatens freedom of independent media in Somalia

    Mogadishu 20, Feb.07 ( Sh.M.Network) Shabelle Media Network is deeply shocked and dismayed at the restrictions and threats directed at the freedom of local media by the transitional federal government of Somalia.

    The national security agency of the transitional federal government have officially ordered the independent radio stations in Mogadishu not to report on anything that the government doesn’t need to be reported.

    Gen. Nuur Mohammed Mohamud (Nuur Shirbow), the deputy chief of the Somali national security department, who chaired the meeting with the local media representatives, read the following articles;

    1- You can not report about the Somali government and Ethiopian military operations in the capital as they are considered top secret.

    2- You can not report about the civilian population fleeing the city under any circumstances.

    3- The remnants of the Islamic Courts Union are directly responsible for the explosions and violence in the capital Mogadishu.

    4- As there is an emergency state in place in Somalia generally, there is no so called freedom of expressions.

    5- The government will nominate editors for these three radio stations and you must cooperate with them.

    During the closed meeting with the directors of Shabelle, Horn Afrik and Benedir Radio Stations at the head quarter of NSA, General Nur Shirbow threatened the directors that part of the martial law imposed on the country, government soldiers can shoot and kill everyone they want.

    however, the threats met w/ wide condemnations, the TFG had to backpeddle, and today's headlines at shabelle read
    A large number of residents in Mogadishu flee

    Mogadishu 24, Feb.07 ( Sh.M.Network) - New exodus has begun in some of Mogadishu neighborhoods where residents have not fled during the Ethiopian and insurgents’ heavy weaponry exchanges in the past two weeks.

    Residents living in Wadajir, Dharkenley and Karan, districts in the Somali capital Mogadishu, have massed in bus stations in Mogadishu on Saturday.

    Many of the fleeing families have told Shabelle that they are fleeing in fear that they would be victimized by the guerrilla war staged by unknown gunmen against the presence of Ethiopian troops in Somalia.

    Thousands of people have fled the capital Mogadishu since the mortar attacks against Ethiopian and Somali government positions deepened in the capital launched by unknown armed people who claimed to be members of a new organization dubbed the People’s Resistance Movement in the two migrations, while the Ethiopian troops fire back when attacked.

    The new mass departures were fleeing to nearby region, Afgoi, about 30 km south of Mogadishu.

    Also on Saturday, several hundreds of residents vacated their homes in neighborhoods around former Somali defense ministry, currently an Ethiopian military base, where heavy skirmishes between the insurgents and the Ethiopian forces occurred in late Friday afternoon, fearing other probable attacks against Ethiopian troops in the capital.

    People were hiring buses to travel to southern and central provinces in Somalia. Most of the migrating people, women and children, were heading towards Baidoa about 245 km south of the capital.

    U.S. Diplomat Sees Progress in Somalia

    Somalia's struggle to form a unified government after 15 years of clan warfare is achieving success, thanks to partners in the Horn of Africa region like Ethiopia and with help from the United Nations, the African Union (AU) and the United States, Ambassador Vicki Huddleston told the Council on Foreign Relations February 22 in Washington.

    Huddleston, a former U.S. envoy to Mali and Madagascar, recently served for 15 months as acting ambassador to Ethiopia, whose government, she said, was instrumental in "pressing for dialogue" between the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Islamic Courts Council (ICC), a radical Islamist movement that had wrested control of the country until driven from power by a coalition of TFG and Ethiopian forces in December 2006 after talks failed.

    Before that victory, "many warned that if Ethiopia intervened on behalf of the transitional government it would fuel a wider war. They were all wrong," Huddleston told the CFR panel.

    Now "Ethiopia's and the Somali government's surprisingly easy victories have given Somalia -- and the West -- a second chance to get things right," said Huddleston, who returned in December 2006 from Addis Ababa.

    As it stands now, "we do have a success in Somalia," the diplomat said.

    for a complete debunking of this nonsense, read the PINR analysis that i linked to in comment #15 above. that particular analysis, which in its declared purpose of just reporting the facts happens to completely omit the u.s. role/interest in the events, makes it clear that (1) the any power the TFG actually holds is symbolic, propped up w/ external help, (2) somalia is once again a deeply unstable country, reverting back to its fragmented, chaotic condition prior to the unification & order achieved by the ICU, and (3) "the introduction of AMISOM will further weaken the TFG's position."

    your tax dollars at work

    Posted by: b real | Feb 24 2007 20:43 utc | 29

    here it is

    reuters: Oil profits boost east Africa exploration

    Somalia may be seem an unlikely prospect for investors seeking untapped oil and gas fields, but that could be about to change as the majors turn their gaze off the beaten track.

    Driven by record profits, a race with hungry Asian rivals and fears of growing energy nationalism in South America and Russia, interest in eastern Africa has never been higher.

    "Africa across the board has seen a substantial uptake in acreage in recent years by all sizes of companies from the majors to mega-majors, independents and minnows," said Duncan Clarke, chairman and chief executive officer of international energy consultants Global Pacific & Partners.

    "Quite a few significant players have moved into position."

    Big Western companies including ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Total held Somali exploration concessions before the country slid into civil war in 1991.

    A World Bank and U.N. survey that year of eight northeastern African countries' petroleum potential ranked Somalia second only to Sudan as the top prospective commercial producer.

    Northern Somalia lay within a regional oil window reaching south across the Gulf of Aden, the geologists said.

    Encouraged by that, explorers hoped to find an extension of the crude-bearing deposits that hold nearly 4 billion barrels under Yemen in the Marib-Hajar and Say'un-Al Masila basins.

    Years of warlord-fuelled bloodshed put those plans on hold, but after routing rival Islamists from Mogadishu last month, Somalia's interim government is desperate to attract investors.

    "Somalia has a lot of oil, and our ministers have just approved a key exploration law to regulate how concessions are given out," government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said.

    "But what we need now is international support to restore security and build our nation, and we will be noting who helps us and who doesn't when these decisions are taken."
    ..smaller, fast-moving firms ready to work in difficult areas, often without the protection of mainstream insurance, are getting a slice of the action on the new east African frontier.

    Australia's Woodside Petroleum is drilling off Kenya, South African independent Ophir Energy is prospecting off Tanzania and Sweden's Lundin Petroleum is surveying in Ethiopia.

    Some are even proving that work is possible inside Somalia itself -- albeit in the calmer north.

    Australian minnow Range Resources won a company-making deal in 2005 giving it concession rights to all minerals and petroleum in semi-autonomous Puntland, home to Somalia's president and former warlord Abdullahi Yusuf.

    Unfazed by a mortar duel between rival clans last March on the nearby border with Somaliland, Range is bullish.

    Last month, it unveiled a six-year agreement under which Canada's Canmex Minerals will spend $50 million on exploration for an 80 percent stake in the project.

    Much more controversial in Mogadishu are exploration efforts in Somaliland, a breakaway enclave that split from the rest of Somalia in 1991 and has since enjoyed relative peace. It is also sitting on the most promising geology.

    South Africa's Ophir has a coastal block there, and Chinese and Indian companies are also thought to be seeking acreage from the internationally-unrecognised Somaliland government.

    "These are issues we have to work out, but we are all Somalis and we will solve them with dialogue," Dinari said.

    which ties in to this
    Somalia: Warlordism, Ethiopian Invasion, Dictatorship, & America’s Role

    The Union of Islamic Courts has ceased to exist as an effective organization and their last refuge in the acacia forests and swamps of south-eastern Somalia was devastated by air raid and shelling of American and Ethiopian military forces. It was clear that the Courts made serious strategic mistakes over the last three months of their tenure induced by the haughtiness of their military wing. Among these blunder were their rigid religious rhetoric and interpretation of Islamic texts, and the absence of serious and effective engagement with credible nationalist and skilled people. But the most damaging affair was their military hot-headedness. Such blind miscalculation suggest that the courts will not recover as an organization, but the message that earned them so much respect and following among the Somalis is more salient today than ever before. Among the principals they articulated were: Somalia’s independence, freedom from warlord terror, justice, and respect for the Islamic faith. Whatever were the shortcomings and mistakes of the Islamic Courts, they certainly had an independent mind which was not subservient to other countries or leaders. During their brief tenure the Courts began a process of returning looted property to their rightful owners using Islamic law and without advice from expensive outside consultants. Once the announcement of the restitution policy was announced people came from other regions of the country and from overseas to reclaim their properties. In addition, they nullified the clanist 4.5 formula and articulated the importance of a unified citizenry. The TFG has yet to make any declaration regarding any of these matters or any other vital issue central to reconciliation. Further, the Courts acted as independent Somali leadership which is in sharp contrast with the Ethiopian domination of the TFG. This comparison between the two reminds citizens of the country an earlier time when Somali authorities were accountable to their people and had an autonomous Somali centered domestic and foreign policy.

    Two interrelated principals that guided the Courts will have far reaching consequences for the future of the Somali people and their polity. These anchors were common citizenship unmarred by sectarian and clanistic identity, and Islamic values of justice and inclusion. One of the first things that attracted a majority of the population’s support was the courts’ emphasis on faith and justice and the containment of tyranny. Islam as a foundational principal of community affairs easily dovetailed with common Somali citizenship regardless of genealogical pedigree and that attracted popular support. These twin principals contradict the transitional charter which the warlords wrote in Nairobi and that marginalizes both of these values. The charter grounds public affairs on genealogy rather than common citizenship. Thus, citizens are divided into 4.5 clan units and all public institutions are staffed on the basis of such arithmetic. The immediate and long term consequence of this strategy is to balkanize citizenship and community. Such compartmentalized political order is driven by rent-seeking (corruption) rather than providing an efficient service to the citizens, and has no chance of leading to political stability and economic development.

    Posted by: b real | Feb 24 2007 21:21 utc | 30

    "Somalia has a lot of oil, and our ministers have just approved a key exploration law to regulate how concessions are given out," government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said.

    "But what we need now is international support to restore security and build our nation, and we will be noting who helps us and who doesn't when these decisions are taken."

    Short version: want oil in the future? give us guns now!

    Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Feb 25 2007 2:21 utc | 31

    Everywhere you could see open graves standing empty as the New advanced on the
    Round about stood those who inspire terror, shouting: Here comes the New, it's all
    salute the New, be new like us! And those who heard, heard nothing but their shouts,
    those who saw, saw certain people who were not shouting.
    So the Old strode in disguised as the New, but it brought the New with it in its triumphal procession and presented it as the Old.
    The New went fettered and in rags. They revealed its splendid limbs.
    And the procession moved through the night, but what they thought was the light of dawn was the light of fires in the sky. And the cry: Here comes the New, it's all new, salute the New, be new like us! would have been easier to hear if everything had not been drowned in the thunder of guns.

    Bertolt Brecht, ‘Parade of the Old New’, 1938

    Posted by: Michael Watts | Feb 25 2007 18:09 utc | 32

    b real, thanks for an excellent post, thread and links. more than a few times i have thought of commenting to let you know my appreciation but kept waiting to think of something brilliant to add. hmm.
    nonetheless, i have linked to this post to other sites. so thank you.

    also, noirette, b for links.

    Posted by: annie | Feb 25 2007 18:52 utc | 33

    b real, your series was the most informative and valuable reading i did all weekend. thank you for your diligent research and clear writing. i feel like i want to share this information with everyone i speak. have you considered cross posting it on other blogs? i have seen other africa posts at dkos and believe there are readers there who would find it enlightening and clarifying. and what about eurotrib?

    i kept finding myself feeling pity for the african countries who appear to have no power to fight the oil companies, but then realized that perhaps they are more powerful than we are - at least they are out on the rivers. it all makes me ashamed for my country and its value structure.

    Posted by: conchita | Feb 26 2007 17:24 utc | 34

    b real.

    Thanks for your inputs.

    To add my two cents, the USA does not have a clear plan about how to approach the crisis in the Niger Delta. And a big part of this is due to the incredibly intrigued nature of the Nigerian political environment. Still, the USA's best friend in Nigeria, potentially, is the average woman/man on the street.

    To the extent that the architects of the "new Middle East", schooled in the "cold war" era, have been humbled by realities on the ground, circumstances in the West African region, particularly Nigeria & the Niger Delta , are no less complex, and require nothing less than a fresh new look.

    USA can make friends in this region but work needs to be done. This is not Grandma's Africa. It is not an ideological struggle. For now, its more "Pancho Villa" than "Che Gievera".

    And perhaps the clearest choice USA has to make is whether to act in the interests of the huge oil corporates or otherwise.

    And by the way, China waits to see what USA will leave on the table.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Feb 27 2007 15:58 utc | 35

    some links

    Nigeria plans new refineries with Venezuela and Iran

    Minister of Petroleum Resources, Edmund Daukoru says Nigeria is negotiating with several oil companies including state-run firms from Venezuela and Iran, on the establishment of two refineries that will cost about $ 6 bn.
    "Iran and Venezuela are involved in these discussions. There are also majors (international oil companies) Total, Shell, and Chevron," he said.

    The capacity of each refinery may be around 200,000 barrels.
    "We are at early stage... We also have to get around the domestic situation. We have price caps here in Nigeria on diesel and gasoline and, obviously, that's a concern to investors," the Minister further said that India, which has already been looking at other energy investments in Nigeria, is also looking at the possibility of taking stakes in the refineries.

    US oil major Chevron, Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell and France's Total are also considering investment stakes in the projects, Daukoru said. The negotiations also entail discussions with some of the companies about building production facilities to convert cassava, a root vegetable that is a staple food in Nigeria, into ethanol.
    According to him, the country's four state-run refineries have for years operated at reduced capacity, due poor management and maintenance and sabotage. He said the country has tried to boost its refining capacity by requiring companies bidding in some of the country's recent oil exploration rounds to also invest in refineries.
    Daukoru said he expected to announce in coming weeks a formal date for the country's next bidding round on oil exploration blocks. The round will involve at least 20 onshore and offshore blocks, Daukoru said. In January, he said.

    Nigeria planned a bidding round involving up to 60 oil blocks and also said talks were underway with India's state-run NTPC Ltd. on a deal involving a new power plant and Nigerian supplies of liquefied natural gas to India. Nigeria's oil production in January averaged 2.1 mm bpd, down from December, Daukoru said.
    Nigeria produced about 2.25 mm bpd in December, according to OPEC's monthly oil market report released in January.

    Oil majors fine-tune plans for Nigerian gas project

    A consortium of ChevronTexaco, Shell, British Gas and NNPC has concluded arrangements for the take-off of the 30-mm tpy Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant. The $ 7-bn project will commence operation before the end of the second quarter of this year at Olokola (OK) Free Trade Zone.
    The Ondo Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Chief Bode Sunmonu, said in Akure that "at the construction stage, OK LNG will require the services of 4,500 engineers and technicians".

    Sunmonu said at a ministerial press briefing that the pioneer housing camps alone would host 20,000 people and generate more than 60,000 employment opportunities. The commissioner explained that the gas plant would further make the OK Free Trade Zone attractive for gas-related industries for easy assess to the feedstock.
    He said the free trade zone was an integrated multipurpose project made up of a free trade zone, a deep sea port complex and an oil and gas logistic base covering 10,000 hectares. The project, jointly promoted bythe governments of Ondo and Ogun states, was one of the ventures conceived by the Ondo government to serve as a catalyst to the economic development of the two states, he said.

    human rights watch: Chop Fine: The Human Rights Impact of Local Government Corruption and Mismanagement in Rivers State, Nigeria


    Nigeria has produced several hundred billion dollars worth of oil since independence in 1960, but ordinary Nigerians have derived appallingly little benefit from all of that wealth. This situation exists primarily because successive governments, both military and civilian, have stolen or misused much of Nigeria’s tremendous oil wealth. The head of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has stated that the country lost as much as $380 billion to corruption and waste between 1960 and 1999, the year Nigeria’s current government came to power.

    The human rights impact of those losses has been profound, as funds that government could have spent on basic health care and primary education for Nigeria’s citizens have instead been squandered or embezzled. Nigeria’s public schools and clinics have been left to crumble and wither away and Nigerians have suffered greatly from the decay of those vital public services. Accurate statistics do not exist, but one million Nigerian children are believed to die each year before the age of five, and most of those children lose their lives to diseases that are easily preventable or treatable at low cost. The country is also thought to have the world’s second-highest number of maternal deaths each year, trailing only India. Public primary schools have reached the point of near-collapse in many areas, with many children passing through the system without learning to read.
    Until 1999, local governments often lacked any real resources to invest in health and education, but local revenues have now risen to unprecedented levels, due largely to rising oil prices in recent years. Local government budgets in much of Nigeria have quadrupled since 1999, fueled by federal government allocations that have risen on the strength of international oil prices. Too often, local leaders have failed to direct that windfall into any attempt to meet their most important responsibilities.

    Human Rights Watch investigated these failures in Rivers State, which is in the oil-producing Niger Delta region. Rivers is the heart of Nigeria’s oil industry and its state government is wealthier than that of any other Nigerian state. The contradiction between Rivers’ wealth and the material deprivation experienced by many of its people could not be any starker.

    In five local governments researched by Human Rights Watch in Rivers, local administrations have failed to make more than nominal investments into health care and education. Much of the money that could have gone into improving these services has been squandered or outright stolen. Human Rights Watch found that one local government chairman habitually deposited his government’s money into his own private bank account. Another has siphoned off money by allocating it towards a “football academy” that he has not built. According to state and federal government officials, civil society activists and other sources, these problems mirror the situation in most of Rivers’ local governments.
    This report is based on a four-week research mission to Nigeria. That research included visits to five of Rivers State’s 23 local governments—Etche, Khana, Tai, Obio/Akpor and Akuku/Toru—as well as interviews in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, and the national capital Abuja. Human Rights Watch conducted more than 100 interviews with government officials, civil servants, donor agency officials, health care workers, teachers, civil society groups and residents of communities in Rivers.

    Mercenaries for hire: Part 1

    In this two-part series, Mmegi correspondent ALEXANDER VON PALESKE looks at the West's involvement in the failed [2004] coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. This first instalment profiles the personalities at the centre of the plot.

    The mercenaries who were involved in the coup are in court in Zimbabwe and South Africa this week. This scandal seems to be drawing towards a dramatic end. So how did it all start?

    On March 7, 2004, an old Boeing 727 started from the Wonderboom airport near Pretoria.

    On board were 62 mercenaries, former members of apartheid South African terror and destruction gangs, like the Buffalo Battalion, 44 Parachute Brigade, Reconnaissance Commandos (Recce) and the death squadron, Civil Cooperation Bureau.

    Their destination: Malabo, the capital city of the tiny but oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, Africa's third largest oil exporter after Nigeria and Angola.

    The task: to oust the despotic president, Obiang Mbasogo Nguema, and install a puppet government under the opposition politician in Spanish exile, Severo Moto Nsa, and thus getting hold of the oil income.

    part two doesn't appear to be up yet

    Posted by: b real | Feb 27 2007 19:50 utc | 36

    professors watts & lubeck on kpfa's against the grain tuesday afternoon (02.27.2006) discussing their report referenced in my essay & at b's #3 comment. mp3 archive avail later in the day.

    Posted by: b real | Feb 27 2007 20:11 utc | 37

    an excellent subject. if more meat is put inside the paper could even be a reference material.

    some of the important documents I would suggest to be included are:

    U.S. Oil Politics in the 'Kuwait of Africa'

    US military programs in sub-saharan Africa

    Pentagon to Train a Sharper Eye on Africa by Richard Whittle,

    Skepticism Over US Africa Command By Dulue Mbachu

    also please see National Defense University publications on Africa.

    also watch out Sao Tome and US foreign relations. opening up the US embassy etc.

    Finally a correction: I guess you misquoted me

    I said the US military is "the single largest consumer in the world" NOT the second largest.

    Posted by: Sohbet Karbuz | Feb 28 2007 13:35 utc | 38

    thank you very much for pointing that out, and i apologize for the error. it will be corrected in both versions shortly. and thank you for the reference materials. i intend to incorporate additional material to flesh out some of the items in the PDF version & will use those documents and others that have been drawn to my attention since my initial readings on this topic.

    Posted by: b real | Feb 28 2007 15:44 utc | 39

    b real, i am listening to the podcast now. excellent!

    Posted by: annie | Feb 28 2007 16:46 utc | 40

    haven't been able to find a transcript of tuesday's press conference yet re the arrival of ugandan troops in somalia, but this is interesting

    [EUCOM Deputy Commander] General Ward dismissed the proxy accusation saying: "No. We are not using any state to fight proxy wars. It's a blunt no."

    "All we are doing is to support Africa solve its problems. We are encouraged seeing Africa moving on to solve its own problems and we will always support that," General Ward added.

    He, however, revealed that the US was in the course of setting up another command base- a regional military set-up composed of African forces. He did not give details.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 1 2007 16:00 utc | 41

    oops. the link is Ugandan president sends a message to Somalia’s insurgents

    Posted by: b real | Mar 1 2007 16:01 utc | 42

    Uganda: Museveni Sends Off Somalia Peacekeepers

    PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni yesterday flagged off the UPDF contingent to Somalia, sternly warning the soldiers against illicit love affairs with Somali women.

    At 1:45pm yesterday, the Commander-in-Chief of the army handed over the country's flag to the head of the contingent, Col. Peter Elwelu, amid dancing, loud cheers and clapping from officers and men of the UPDF at Gaddafi Barracks in Jinja.

    The obviously joyous Museveni smiled as excited green-bereted soldiers marched behind their leader Elwelu, who raised the flag high. The contingent has 1,605 soldiers, of whom only three were women - lieutenants Baguma, Asiimwe and Laker.

    The contingent is an infantry and tank battalion, but with members from the legal department, medical and airforce.

    The UPDF buffalo trucks, lorries and mambas at the send-off parade were painted white with large African Union emblems.

    Museveni dispensed parental advice in kiswahili: "I have heard that you went to doctors who found out that you do not have these dudus (HIV/AIDS). Take care of your lives when you go to Somalia. You have had enough women here."

    In Uganda's last peacekeeping mission in Liberia, UPDF soldiers are said to have engaged in wild, illicit affairs.

    In his farewell message, Museveni said the army is going to Somalia not to do the job of the Somalis, but to help them to do their job, and likened UPDF's role to that of a blood donor.

    this is gonna be ugly

    Posted by: b real | Mar 1 2007 23:41 utc | 43

    despite the overwhelming willingness of most Afrcan countries to support sending peace-keepers to Darfur, the USA would not provide funding for the effort.

    on the other hand, having recognized the proxy nature of Ethiopias invasion of Somalia, most other African countries are understandably very reluctant to get involved there.

    and Mama won't tell me why the proxies get the money while the peace-keepers get to stay home.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 2 2007 4:02 utc | 44

    correction to #6 above. i left out the qualifier in recalling a figure. it should read "supposedly the oil companies lost the equivalent of 500,000 barrels production per day in 2006"

    Posted by: b real | Mar 2 2007 16:27 utc | 45

    black agenda report: Africa – Where the Next US Oil Wars Will Be

    The Pentagon does not admit that a ring of permanent US military bases is operating or under construction throughout Africa. But nobody doubts the American military buildup on the African continent is well underway. From oil rich northern Angola up to Nigeria, from the Gulf of Guinea to Morocco and Algeria, from the Horn of Africa down to Kenya and Uganda, and over the pipeline routes from Chad to Cameroon in the west, and from Sudan to the Red Sea in the east, US admirals and generals have been landing and taking off, meeting with local officials. They've conducted feasibility studies, concluded secret agreements, and spent billions from their secret budgets.

    Their new bases are not bases at all, according to US military officials. They are instead "forward staging depots", and "seaborne truck stops" for the equipment which American land forces need to operate on the African continent. They are "protected anchorages" and offshore "lily pads" from which they intend to fight the next round of oil and resource wars, and lock down Africa's oil and mineral wealth for decades to come.

    BAR caught up with Chicago's Prexy Nesbitt, one of the architects of the US anti-apartheid movement in the 1970s and ‘80s. We asked Dr. Nesbitt about the importance to Africans and African Americans of George Bush's Feb. 7 announcement of AFRICOM, the new Pentagon command for the African continent.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 3 2007 5:26 utc | 46

    two on equatorial guinea
    dec. 2006: Awash in Oil and Misery -- Equatorial Guinea's U.S.- Backed Dictatorship

    Self-evidently, the triangle in Equatorial Guinea formed by Obiang's dictatorship, the country's oil wealth and Western economic interests results in prisons like Black Beach and another one in Bata (second most important city in the country). In other words: the Obiang clan's machinations, thoroughly greased by United States oil companies, have turned them into plutocrats amidst an impoverished, oppressed population, who barely enjoy even the most meager crumbs while the dictator's family and the oil companies feast.

    General Obiang is a dictator. Backed by Western governments, he denies fundamental human rights to his compatriots. The United States government and its allies hypocritically tolerate Obiang's dictatorship so long as their international companies enjoy rights to exploit Equatorial Guinea's oil wealth. While an exclusive minority obtain huge benefits, the majority only enjoy a notional "democratization process," which in practice means occasional fraudulent elections, Presidential birthday "pardons" for prisoners, and empty political speeches on Independence Day, all under the complacent gaze of Western ambassadors.

    april 2002: U.S. Oil Politics in the 'Kuwait of Africa'

    It helps that the companies active in Equatorial Guinea have close ties to the Bush Administration. In addition to political heavyweights like ExxonMobil and Chevron, those firms include CMS Energy (which recently sold its holdings in Equatorial Guinea to Marathon). CMS's CEO, William McCormick, gave $100,000 to the Bush-Cheney 2001 Presidential Inaugural Committee. Ocean Energy's consultant on its Malabo operations is Chester Norris, a former ambassador to Equatorial Guinea under George Bush Sr. Perhaps best connected of all is Triton, whose chairman, Tom Hicks, made Bush a millionaire fifteen times over when he bought the Texas Rangers in 1998. Hicks's leveraged buyout firm, Hicks Muse, is Bush's fourth-largest career financial patron, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

    Bush's decision to reopen the US Embassy was taken soon after he received a plea to do so from the oil industry. "It is important to underscore that most of the oil and gas concessions awarded in Equatorial Guinea to date, have been awarded to US firms," said a memo drafted on behalf of the oil companies and sent to Bush last year. "This is in stark contrast to neighboring countries in the region, where the United States has consistently lost out to French and other European and Asian competitors." Sisinio Mbana, first secretary at Equatorial Guinea's embassy in Washington, told me that at least four Bush Administration officials have consulted with Guinean leaders, including two from the State Department who have met discreetly with Obiang. "The oil companies have done a lot for us," Mbana said. "The State Department gets its information about Equatorial Guinea from them."

    In addition to direct lobbying, the oil industry sought to improve Obiang's image by hiring the services of Bruce McColm, a former head of Freedom House who now runs the Institute for Democratic Strategies (IDS), a Virginia-based nonprofit whose stated mission is "strengthening democratic institutions." The Obiang regime's most tireless champion, McColm works closely with the government, which now pays him directly. (According to its latest nonprofit tax form, the IDS spent $223,000 in 2000, of which all but $10,000 went toward its Equatorial Guinea work.) In 2000 McColm sent a team of observers to monitor Equatorial Guinea's municipal elections, which it reported to be basically free and fair. "Electoral officials should be recognized for discharging their responsibilities in an effective and transparent manner," said an IDS press release at the time. "Observers generally felt that the positives of this election far outweighed the negatives." This was in marked contrast to a UN report that said the electoral campaign "was characterized by the omnipresence of the [ruling] party, voting in public and the intimidating presence of the armed forces."

    The oil companies have also worked through the Corporate Council on Africa, which represents companies with investments on the continent. Last year the council published a "Country Profile" of Equatorial Guinea, which was paid for by six oil companies and AfricaGlobal, a DC lobby shop that at the time represented Obiang. The guidebook not only promotes the country as a new investment hot spot but also claims that the Obiang regime "has taken significant measures to encourage political diversity and address human and worker rights issues." On February 8, the council sponsored a private luncheon for Obiang, who was visiting Washington with a small entourage. The event was held in the chandeliered dining room of downtown Washington's Army-Navy Club, and each of the roughly fifty guests in attendance received a biography of Obiang, prepared by McColm's IDS, that describes him as the country's "first democratically elected president" and a man who has "embarked on the total physical reconstruction of his country and the improvement of the welfare of all its citizens."

    Sporting gold-rimmed glasses and dressed in a blue suit with American and Guinean flag pins on the lapels, Obiang sat at the head table, where he was dwarfed by oilmen and State Department officials. During a lunch of fish stuffed with crabmeat and a custard tart with raspberry syrup, a procession of five corporate executives sought to outdo each other in heaping praise on Obiang and his nation. "It will be the Kuwait of Africa," gushed one of the speakers, Gene Van Dyke of Vanco. "It's a fabulous country."

    aug 2004: Bank with close ties to Bush administration engulfed in scandal

    The Justice Department announced on Friday that it is launching a criminal investigation into Riggs Bank. In recent months, the Washington-based bank has become engulfed in a scandal related to charges of money-laundering, corruption and terrorist financing.
    There are three separate activities for which Riggs has come under investigation: (1) its relationship with the Saudi royal family and the potential financing of two of the September 11 hijackers through an account owned by the wife of the Saudi ambassador; (2) its relationship with the corrupt and dictatorial regime of the oil-rich West African country of Equatorial Guinea; and (3) its banking business with the former military dictator of Chile, Augusto Pinochet.
    Equatorial Guinea was Riggs’ largest client. It held over 60 accounts at the bank, with varied holdings of $300-700 million. Its ruler, Teodoro Obian Nguema Mbasogo, came to power in a military coup in 1979 and is infamous for his corruption and brutality. Relations with the United States became strained in the mid-1990s, when the Clinton administration broke off diplomatic ties. However, these were restored by the Bush administration in 2003. The country holds interest for the United States because of its large oil reserves.

    Riggs appears to have held both Equatorial Guinea government treasury accounts and the personal accounts of Obiang, his family members, and ministers in his government.

    According to the subcommittee report, Riggs “serviced the EG [Equatorial Guinean] accounts with little or no attention to the bank’s anti-money laundering obligations...” For example, “Riggs opened multiple personal accounts for the President of Equatorial Guinea, his wife, and other relatives; helped establish shell offshore corporations for the EG President and his sons; and over a three-year period, from 2000 to 2002, facilitated nearly $13 million in cash deposits into Riggs accounts controlled by the EG President and his wife.”

    Riggs also opened an account that received large sums of money from oil companies that did business with Equatorial Guinea, including Exxon Mobil, Amerada Hess, Marathon Oil and ChevronTexaco. Riggs allowed the wire transfer of over $35 million from the account to two unknown companies. “The Subcommittee has reason to believe that at least one of these recipient companies is controlled in whole or in part by the EG President.”

    Riggs appears to have acted as a conduit for large-scale bribes or other corrupt machinations between the giant oil corporations and the dictator of a country with which they were eager to do business. The report also noted that these oil companies made a number of large payments (sometimes valued at over $1 million) to individual officials or family members for a variety of services.

    The manager of Riggs’ accounts for Equatorial Guinea was Simon P. Kareri, who was eventually fired by the bank in January 2004. According to a bank employee, on more than one occasion Kareri visited the Equatorial Guinean embassy and returned with a suitcase full of $3 million in cash, which was deposited in the bank with no reports to financial regulators.

    According to the subcommittee report, “The bank leadership permitted [Kareri] become closely involved with EG officials and business activities, including advising the EG government on financial matters and becoming the sole signatory on an EG account holding substantial funds. The bank exercised such lax oversight of the account manager’s activities that, among other misconduct, the account manager was able to wire transfer more than $1 million from the EG oil account at Riggs to another bank for an account opened in the name of Jadini Holdings, an offshore corporation controlled by the account manager’s wife.”
    The relationship of Riggs to the Bush administration is more than tangential. Riggs owns a money management firm, J. Bush & Co., operated by Jonathan Bush, the brother of George H.W. Bush and the current president’s uncle.

    Jonathan Bush played a very important role in helping find investors for the various failed oil businesses that George W. Bush ran before he began his career in politics. Jonathan Bush also helped raise money for George H.W. Bush and is a former chair of the New York Republican State Finance Committee. In 2000, he was briefly named president and CEO of Riggs Investment Management Company (RIMCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of Riggs Bank.

    While Jonathan Bush appears not to have been directly involved in the Saudi, Pinochet or Equatorial Guinean accounts, his position at Riggs is an indication of the close ties between the bank and the Bush family.

    Moreover, Riggs is owned by the Allbritton family, a Texas family with close ties to the Republican establishment. Joe Allbritton, the former head of Riggs who bought the bank in the mid-1970s, is a friend of the Bush family.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 3 2007 6:12 utc | 47

    Search for oil raises the stakes in Darfur

    The Sudanese government is quietly escalating oil exploration inside the Darfur region, a step that has led to protests from rebel leaders in a volatile area where more than 200,000 people have been killed during three years of fighting.
    A team of Middle Eastern oil companies, including Saudi Arabia-based Al Qahtani Sons Group and Ansan Wikfs, based in Yemen, agreed in November to spend $43 million for drilling rights to a 125,000-square-mile territory. The largely uninhabited area, known as Block 12a, is north of where much of Darfur's fighting is occurring.

    The government's decision to offer new concessions in Darfur is part of an aggressive search for oil in the northern part of the country.

    Since discovering oil in the 1970s, Sudan has become one of Africa's biggest producers. But most of the current production — worth an estimated $6 billion a year — is in the south, and a 2005 peace agreement with former southern rebels gives Sudanese there the right to break away from the rest of the country in 2011, taking much of the oil with them.

    "There's a real scramble to find oil in the north," said a government oil official, who, like several others interviewed for this report, requested that his name be withheld because of the government's sensitivity about speaking publicly. "The likelihood that there is oil in Darfur is quite high."
    The increased exploration has not gone unnoticed by Darfur rebels. In late November, two rebel groups attacked a Chinese oil facility in Abu Gabra, located between the states of South Darfur and Southern Kordofan, according to a United Nations report. Both rebels and government troops claimed victory in the clash.

    U.S. officials have downplayed speculation about oil in Darfur. Andrew S. Natsios, the Bush administration's special envoy for Darfur, dismissed criticism by some Sudanese that the U.S. interests in Darfur might be linked to oil.

    "We're unaware of any significant amount of oil in Darfur," Natsios told reporters recently. "It's a small amount down in the southeast corner."

    Posted by: b | Mar 3 2007 9:10 utc | 48

    this excerpt from the Black Agenda Report link above:

    George Bush, Big Oil, Andy Young and the Pentagon are already implementing their plan for Africa. It looks like Nigeria, the classic case of a rich country full of poor people. It looks a lot like the impoverished, poisoned, festering wasteland of the Niger delta, where they've had a free hand for decades. And when Africans resist, as they surely will, the backup plan is to declare Africans who want to control their own resources "terrorists", and through AFRICOM, deploy US military might to lock down Africans and African resources.

    anti-Western sentiments are pretty high in the Niger Delta region. Quite understandable in an area where people wake up every day to the environmental & social hell brought them by Western oil companies. Many have never known anything different, Hell arived over 50 years ago.

    Though Nigeria is approx 50:50 Christian/Muslim, they are overwhelmingly Christian in the Niger Delta. There is not even the slightest trace of religious extremism anywhere within or in the proximity of the Niger Delta. And nobody (i.e zero) in the entire country (120 millioin) sees the Niger Delta issue in religious terms.

    In order to establish a colonial status-quo in the area, USA would have to have to come up with means to divide the people of the country in a manner favorable to USA's "interests", Maybe there are some very smart people in Washington who can come up with the scheme. If so, they might also be smart enough to come up with a scheme to return Venezuela into the staunch pro-USA fold too.

    Fortunately for USA, Nigeria does not have any enemies in its region. Otherwise, they might be smart enough to "scheme" the USA into expending blood & treasure to fight its wars for them. Afterall, the USA war on the Baath party was Irans war.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 3 2007 14:17 utc | 49

    b- on oil in darfur, check out this (very) long report by keith harmon snow, Oil in Darfur? Special Ops in Somalia? The New Old "Humanitarian" Warfare in Africa.

    it's a long, detailed argument against eric reeves' claims that there isn't oil in darfur, that its not a factor at all, and that the u.s. must overthrow the sudanese govt on humanitarian grounds. since it's so long, skip down to the section Oil in Darfur for the evidence he presents that oil is one of the main issues behind western interests in darfur.

    snow also mentions maps that show this

    Two other maps that have been publicly revealed show quite a different picture of the petroleum resources of the Sudan. Both of these alternate maps suggest that the petroleum reserves of Darfur are potentially much more significant, and that those of northern Sudan are greatly understated in the public realm, and certainly understated by the USAID map on the web site of Dr. Eric Reeves.

    One of these is a full-size map of Africa showing petroleum concessions throughout the continent. It was produced by Petroconsultants s.a., International Energy Services, Geneva, Switzerland, copyright May 1997. The map shows all of the standard oil blocks typically represented in maps that show oil operations in Sudan (such as the map on Dr. Eric Reeves’ web site) which are denoted as Total, or CNPC, etc., but it shows additional concessions or "Blocks" labeled blocks 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15. Block 12 is northern Darfur, the entire region, and like the other blocks (7-15) it is denoted "Block Offered", meaning it was not yet a contracted concession secured by any corporation back in 1997. This map is basically in agreement with another map that establishes that there are vast concessions in the Darfur region, and that is the map cited above by the European Council for Oil in Sudan.

    Mel Middleton of Freedom Quest has suggested that these other maps might be forgeries produced by the Government of Sudan, or by the oil companies, or by the U.S. Government, to serve the hidden petroleum interests working behind the scene to derail the "genocide" claim. This makes no sense. The Petroconsultants map is authentic. We know that because it was not produced by or for Sudan, and it is not about Sudan: it shows all of the petroleum concessions held, and offered, as of 1997, in all of Africa. The map was produced using state-of-the-art remote sensing technologies which operate from satellite platforms and, today, are at the forefront of technologies used everywhere for minerals and petroleum prospecting. The Western intelligence and military apparatus controls the technologies that produce these maps, and the raw data they produce; unclassified maps (like this oil map) are generated from the classified mapping data that otherwise remains in the hands of the Pentagon. Specialty industries purchase or requisition specialty maps for specialty purposes: these might be oil, gold, natural gas, gorilla habitat, or refugee flows.

    All these maps unequivocally show that Darfur is an oil rich area; two of the maps show that oil in Darfur is more than "substantial."

    there's a PDF version of the report here (69 pages). unfortunately, there are no footnotes or links in the article, though the sources are identified in the text.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 3 2007 20:39 utc | 50

    jony_b_cool- There is not even the slightest trace of religious extremism anywhere within or in the proximity of the Niger Delta. And nobody (i.e zero) in the entire country (120 millioin) sees the Niger Delta issue in religious terms.

    the problem is the imperialist-revolutionary types who have a strong influence on u.s. policies. take this guy, and adjunct fellow at the foundation for the defense of democracies, who jumps through logical hoops to connect the resistance mvmt in the delta into a larger worldwide conspiracy against elite western whitefellas.

    The MEND attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta, while largely fueled by ethnic grievances over environmental damage and political neglect, have a link to bigger conflicts. MEND itself is largely a “rebranding” of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, a group active until the late 2005 arrest of its founder, Asari Dokubo—a convert to Islam trained in the same camps that produced Liberia’s Charles Taylor and Sierra Leone’s Foday Sankoh. Dokubo admired Bin Laden, basing the struggle against Nigerian authorities on Al-Qaeda’s “fight against the arrogance of the West.” Photos of MEND attacks against petroleum installations, including a December 15, 2006, attack on a Shell oil facility in southeastern Bayelsa state, have appeared on radical Islamist Web sites with captions describing the combatants as “the mujahidin in Nigeria” who are fighting “U.S. oil companies who rob the wealth of Muslim Nigeria and of the world.”

    The reference to oil majors is not accidental. For several years jihadi strategists, drawing lessons from fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, have discussed focusing on the West’s soft economic underbelly. This leads to the West African sub-region of Nigeria that supplies about 15 percent of America’s hydrocarbon needs, but which, according to the National Intelligence Council, is expected to account for 20 percent in five years and 25 percent by 2015. This supply is at far greater risk than many realize, especially considering threat, vulnerability and cost. Unfortunately, Nigerian officials downplay danger for fear of losing investments, while their American counterparts are often altogether oblivious.

    they will lie to themselves & others -- whatever means necessary -- to keep that oil under the control of client regimes, which they will not hesitate to use u.s. military intervention to do, as the ideologue points out in the conclusion to his article.
    Thus this year is a critical one for both Nigeria and the United States. If President Obasanjo peacefully and constitutionally hands over power to an elected successor, he will not only achieve a feat that no other Nigerian leader has ever managed, he will make a significant contribution to regional stability and international security, including the strategic interests of the United States. This would secure America’s access to the West African country’s important petroleum resources and show that a large Muslim country other than Turkey can make progress along Samuel Huntington’s definition of democratic consolidation (two consecutive peaceful changes of government via free elections). If, on the other hand, Nigeria falters or simply comes unglued, it will not be long before the economic, political and military ripples in the River Niger wash ashore on the banks of the Hudson and Potomac. With America fixated on Iraq, Nigeria’s troubles remind us of other vital interests to attend to.

    Nigeria does not have any enemies in its region

    depends on how one defines "enemies". definitely strong opposition to the central govt from w/i nigeria. and territorial disputes w/ neighboring countries. they don't have a large, active military-focus just for kicks.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 3 2007 21:17 utc | 51

    Thanks for your comments b real@51.

    One operative word in the paragraph on Asari Dokubo is "convert". And I doubt if his conversion from Christianity to Islam had anymore of an impact on his following than if he would have converted to Buddhism or to the Crips. And I would bet a tanker of crude that at least 99% of Asari Dokubo's Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force are Christians or nominal Christians.

    J Peter Pham's work shows just how hard & desperately a justification for intervention in Nigeria is being sought. So far, theres
    very little traction but that may change as you indicate.

    Also, something tells me its going to be very hard to get American GI's motivated to intervene in Africa on a sustained basis. It would require a level of demonization of Blacks/Africans that would make a lot of Americans very uncomfortanble.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 4 2007 0:14 utc | 52


    "All this land, miles and miles of it, and one day some tribe decides to wipe out their neighbors because they've hated them for a long time," a special forces major yelled above the roar of the helicopter engine. "The reason I like Africa so much," he added later, "is because it's human nature in its rawest form. No emotions are suppressed." It all just hangs out, man'e evil soul. The desire to kill other men, to steal from them. Everything was up for grabs nearly all the time. The major carried a concealed Beretta pistol.
    Maj. Dave Duffy, a company commander in charge of training 700 Nigerian soldiers of the 20th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), had served in Haiti, another ungovernable country, where he had acted as police chief and town mayor. He then moved on to train soldiers in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mali, and Kenya. He had learned the limits of American military largesse in Africa: "I'm not here to change the Nigerian army," he said, his strawberry blond crew cut standing at attention. "I'm here to say, 'Here are some basics.'"

    The basics included learning how to carry an AK-47 so you don't shoot someone by accident. Learning how to shoot so you hit the target. Learning how to shoot in the semiautomatic position to really do some damage.

    that's from dana priest's hagiography of the u.s. special forces, the mission: waging war and keeping peace with america's military, and the racist stereotyping exemplified in those two brief accounts are not isolated instances. white mans burden. only w/ guns. it's easy to maintain when one has very little understanding of the cultures and peoples in their area of responsibility. the SOF major projects aspects of his own self into the vast landscapes he is operating in. the company commander imagines himself teaching kids in grownup bodies. they each create their own justifications for being there & being needed. someone else provides the storyline & orders -- GWOT, u.s. national security threatened (on a continent thousands of miles away nonetheless), burn the village to save the people, etc... -- and a majority of soldiers will rationalize being there, "just doing their job", and not questioning authority. we're just "helping africans help themselves," as the good general says.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 4 2007 1:44 utc | 53

    Ghana celebrates first 50 years
    People across Ghana are celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence from Britain.

    Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country to break with its colonial power, prompting many others to seek independence in the following years.

    More than 20 heads of state are attending the events alongside popular figures including the footballer, Pele.

    Thousands of people are out on the streets to watch fireworks and to enjoy festivities across the country.

    Also, excellent interview on DemocracyNow today with

    Pan-African Leader Kwame Nkrumah In His Own Words & His Son Gamal Nkrumah Reflects On His Father's Legacy

    Be sure and listen to his response about the overthrow of his country and Bush Sr.

    Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 6 2007 15:22 utc | 54

    Mogadishu 06, March.07 (Sh.M.Network) Unknown gunmen have fired at least 8 mortar rounds at Mogadishu international airport as around 400 Ugandan troops alighted at airport hours ago.

    Shabelle reporter, Kadiye at the airport said 8 mortars exploded inside the military airfield of Mogadishu’s international.

    Damages and casualties were yet to be known as government and Ethiopian soldiers sealed the area.

    A huge ceremony intended to welcome the arrival of the first AU peacekeepers from Uganda was underway when the explosions happed, Shabelle reporter said.

    The first contingents of Ugandan troops arrived in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Tuesday.

    Three Military cargo planes from Algeria brought the heavily armed Ugandan troops in Mogadishu.

    Mortars explode inside Mogadishu international airport

    Posted by: b real | Mar 6 2007 15:31 utc | 55

    Heavy gunfire erupts in Mogadishu as peacekeepers land

    Insurgents attacked the airport in Mogadishu on Tuesday and fought a heavy battle with government and Ethiopian troops as Ugandan peacekeepers arrived in Somalia's lawless capital.
    Wondering what peaceKEEPERs are doing there ... probably not the welcome they expected.

    Posted by: b | Mar 6 2007 15:49 utc | 56

    more press on ghana's anniversary
    south africa: Nkrumah 50 years on: Africa Must Unite

    zimbabwe: Africa remembers Nkrumah

    zambia: Kaunda - 'I Don't Think We Will Ever Recover From the 1966 Coup'

    Celebrating 50 Years

    Posted by: b real | Mar 6 2007 15:59 utc | 57

    US adds Eritrea to human rights blacklist

    WASHINGTON -- The US State Department added Eritrea Tuesday to its blacklist of the world's worst human rights violators after the Horn of Africa state backed an attempted takeover of neighboring Somalia by radical Islamists.

    "The Eritrean government continued to be one of the most repressive in Sub-Saharan Africa, and its human rights record worsened in 2006," the department said in its annual human rights report.

    "Government security forces committed extrajudicial killings; there were credible reports that security forces shot on sight individuals trying to cross the border into Ethiopia," it said.

    Eritrea joined Belarus, China, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, and Zimbabwe on the State Department's list of "the world's most systematic human rights violators." The other seven states also featured on the 2005 blacklist.

    The downgrading of Eritrea came after Washington accused the government in Asmara of providing aid to the Islamic Courts movement in its failed bid last year to take control in Somalia.
    Ethiopia, Washington's closest ally in sub-Saharan Africa, is Eritrea's main regional rival.

    2005 HRW recommendation to u.s. house of reps:

    Over the past decade, despite clear evidence of widespread human rights abuses, which have been reported in the State Department's annual human rights report, the United States has developed close ties with Prime Minister Meles and the EPRDF government. As this subcommittee is aware, Ethiopia is a major recipient of U.S. assistance. In addition, it is regarded as an important partner in the global campaign on terror. In recent years, relations with Eritrea have been much more limited.

    Given the United States' relationship with Ethiopia, it is crucial that Congress direct U.S. policymakers to consistently urge the Ethiopian government to end ongoing human rights violations. Specifically, the United States should insist that those responsible for crimes against humanity and other serious human rights abuses in Gambella are brought to justice by the Ethiopian government and that the systematic suppression of political dissent in Oromia is ended. In addition, the United States should take steps to ensure that all forms of military assistance and cooperation with the Ethiopian government do not, directly or indirectly, aid or facilitate human rights abuses in Ethiopia.

    The United States must also continue to deny all non-humanitarian aid to Eritrea as long as President Afwerki's government continues to violate the human rights of its citizens.

    Finally, U.S. officials in all branches of government, including the Defense Department, must clearly communicate to the governments in both Eritrea and Ethiopia that cooperation against international terrorism cannot be used as a rationalization for violations of human rights.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 6 2007 17:24 utc | 58

    Somalia: UPDF's Role in Mission Now in Doubt

    Widespread criticisms of the Ugandan military has led Black Star News, a New York-based African-American newspaper, to urge that the United States not provide funds to facilitate the UPDF's deployment in Somalia.

    American lawmakers should ensure that "the US plays no role in this mind-boggling, ill-fated participation by Uganda's army in the Somali mission," Black Star News declared in a February 27 editorial.

    Past human rights abuses committed by Ugandan troops are leading some analysts to warn that the African Union's difficult peacekeeping mission in Somalia could fail to meet its objectives.

    Critics of Uganda's leading role in the Somalia operation point to international monitoring groups' condemnations of the Ugandan army's mistreatment of civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The International Court of Justice, better known as the World Court, ruled in 2005 that Uganda was liable for $10 billion in damages as a result of its intervention in the DRC. The court found that civilians had been tortured and killed during the course of Uganda's 5-year occupation of eastern sections of the DRC.

    Human rights groups have also accused the Ugandan People's Defence Force (UPDF) of brutalising displaced persons in northern Uganda as part of the counterinsurgency campaign against the Kony rebels.

    Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said earlier in February that the United States would provide $2 million to transport and $8 million to equip Ugandan soldiers to be deployed in Somalia. The Bush administration views stability in Somalia as crucial to US interests in the Horn and to the outcome of Washington's "global war on terror."

    "The White House is so desperate," Black Star News observed, "that it's anointed Uganda, a country whose army was found liable for serious human rights abuses and is currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court, as regional policeman."

    Posted by: b real | Mar 6 2007 17:42 utc | 59

    Posted by: b real | Mar 7 2007 4:19 utc | 60

    U.S. hires military contractor to back peacekeeping mission in Somalia

    The State Department has hired a major military contractor to help equip and provide logistical support to international peacekeepers in Somalia, giving the United States a significant role in the critical mission without assigning combat forces.

    DynCorp International, which also has U.S. contracts in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, will be paid $10 million to help the first peacekeeping mission in Somalia in more than 10 years.
    The State Department has committed $14 million for the African Union peacekeeping mission to Somalia and has asked Congress for $40 million more. DynCorp's work force includes many former U.S. troops who frequently work in hostile areas.

    The Virginia-based firm had been contracted until April to help with the “moving of supplies and people” engaged in the Somalia mission, including supplying tents, vehicles and generators, said DynCorp spokesman Greg Lagana.

    “We have an overall contract for African peacekeeping, this is a specific task order for Somalia,” he said. “But we are also present in Liberia and southern Sudan.”

    The Somalia contract allocates $8 million for equipment and $2 million for transportation, according to a the State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized as a media spokesman.

    DynCorp, whose services range from equipment maintenance to paramilitary security forces to training police, provided logistics for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Somalia from 1992-95. It was not immediately clear if DynCorp employees would work inside Somalia under the new contract, signed three weeks ago.
    Other company operations in Africa include a program to disarm and rehabilitate former soldiers in Liberia, while advising the government on the reconstitution of the army. The company also supports peacekeepers in southern Sudan, and is working with the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia to help the African Union create a standby military force to respond to emergencies, according to the company Web site.

    DynCorp, with annual revenues of over $2 billion, has held an umbrella State Department contract since 2004 for “peacekeeping, capacity enhancement and surveillance efforts” in Africa. The contract is valued at between $20 million $100 million, depending on the number of assignments.

    The company is on standby to provide services anywhere on the continent to include “support of peacekeeping missions by training specific countries' armed services to enhance their ability to deploy through air and sea, provide logistics supports to mission and work with regional organization to prevent and resolve conflict,” according to bid documents.

    Dyncorp is not the only U.S. security company working in Africa. Northrop Grumman Corp. has a similar contract, worth up to $75 million, to support the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program, which aims to train 40,000 African peacekeepers over five years.

    KBR Inc., a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., provides services to at least three bases in Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia used by the U.S. Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

    The contracts come at a time when the Pentagon wants to develop closer relationships and provide greater military assistance to Africa.
    The United States is not the only country seeking to provide private military services in Africa.

    In 2005 the Somali government signed a $50 million contract with New York-based TopCat Marine Security to help create a coast guard to protect its coast and shipping from pirates. The State Department blocked TopCat from deploying because of a U.N. arms embargo, Hassan Abshir Farah, Somalia's marine resources minister said.

    Farah said his government was now discussing a deal with the Chinese government and Chinese marine security firms.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 8 2007 3:00 utc | 61

    Uganda: American Govt Eyes Uganda Oil

    THE United States (U.S.) is interested in exploring oil and petroleum in Uganda, Daudi Migereko, the energy minister, has revealed.

    He said this after meeting the U.S. deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, David McCormick, on Monday at his offices in Kampala.

    "The American government has been greatly encouraged by the recent discoveries of oil in Uganda. McCormick wanted to find out if there could be areas of cooperation in the sector for American companies," explained Migereko.

    "McCormick has proposed to provide us materials to develop the mineral sector, renewable energy and bio-fuels."

    Migereko said the U.S. has promised to assist training of manpower in the renewable and petroleum sector.

    The two discussed ways of developing new energy infrastructure under the aid-for-trade arrangements and that the U.S. promised support the energy sector.

    Uganda: Uganda Won't Export Unrefined Oil, Says M7

    UGANDA will not export unrefined oil from the wells which were discovered in Hoima district recently, President Museveni has said.

    According to a State House statement, Museveni described the exportation of raw materials as part of slavery in Africa.

    "He (Museveni) gave assurance that Uganda is going to ensure that its newly discovered petroleum resource will not suffer from the curse of raw materials for export anymore," the statement quoted Museveni as saying.

    He was speaking at celebrations to mark Libya's 30th anniversary of the the establishment of people's authority through the masses on March 2.
    President Museveni asserted that Uganda was working with Libya to stop the haemorrhage of Africa caused by the export of unprocessed materials.

    He commended the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, "for his diligent struggle and resistance against selling petroleum oil cheaply in the early 1970s."

    He said the resistance led to the rise of crude oil prices on the international market from 40 cents per barrel in 1971 to $40 in 1973.

    The President noted that the struggle led to the massive transfer of money to oil producing countries.

    Heritage Oil: Uganda Well Results Exceed Expectations

    Tony Buckingham, Heritage's CEO stated: "The cumulative flow rate of 13,893 bopd from the Kingfisher well has surpassed our expectations. The test results indicate the outstanding potential of the Kingfisher discovery; substantially lowers the exploration risk of drilling other multiple targets in our licenses; and is another step closer to future production and commercial viability. Heritage is accelerating the work program to maximize the potential of what could be a world-class petroleum basin. All five wells drilled in the Albert Basin in the last 15 months have been oil discoveries, which we consider exceptional for a virgin onshore hydrocarbon basin and Kingfisher is the second well that has produced over 12,000 bopd under test. This is a very exciting time for Heritage, as these licenses could transform this Company."

    Posted by: b real | Mar 8 2007 15:55 utc | 62

    rigzone's map & image collection for west african oil activity

    Posted by: b real | Mar 8 2007 16:02 utc | 63

    very good article on darfur, the NYT's nicholas kristof & imperialist use of humanitarian interventions in the london review of books by mahmood mamdani
    The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency

    If many of the leading lights in the Darfur campaign are fired by moral indignation, this derives from two events: the Nazi Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. After all, the seeds of the Save Darfur campaign lie in the tenth-anniversary commemoration of what happened in Rwanda. Darfur is today a metaphor for senseless violence in politics, as indeed Rwanda was a decade before. Most writing on the Rwandan genocide in the US was also done by journalists. In We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, the most widely read book on the genocide, Philip Gourevitch envisaged Rwanda as a replay of the Holocaust, with Hutu cast as perpetrators and Tutsi as victims. Again, the encounter between the two seemed to take place outside any context, as part of an eternal encounter between evil and innocence. Many of the journalists who write about Darfur have Rwanda very much in the back of their minds. In December 2004, Kristof recalled the lessons of Rwanda: ‘Early in his presidency, Mr Bush read a report about Bill Clinton’s paralysis during the Rwandan genocide and scrawled in the margin: “Not on my watch.” But in fact the same thing is happening on his watch, and I find that heartbreaking and baffling.’

    With very few exceptions, the Save Darfur campaign has drawn a single lesson from Rwanda: the problem was the US failure to intervene to stop the genocide. Rwanda is the guilt that America must expiate, and to do so it must be ready to intervene, for good and against evil, even globally. That lesson is inscribed at the heart of Samantha Power’s book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. But it is the wrong lesson. The Rwandan genocide was born of a civil war which intensified when the settlement to contain it broke down. The settlement, reached at the Arusha Conference, broke down because neither the Hutu Power tendency nor the Tutsi-dominated Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) had any interest in observing the power-sharing arrangement at the core of the settlement: the former because it was excluded from the settlement and the latter because it was unwilling to share power in any meaningful way.

    What the humanitarian intervention lobby fails to see is that the US did intervene in Rwanda, through a proxy. That proxy was the RPF, backed up by entire units from the Uganda Army. The green light was given to the RPF, whose commanding officer, Paul Kagame, had recently returned from training in the US, just as it was lately given to the Ethiopian army in Somalia. Instead of using its resources and influence to bring about a political solution to the civil war, and then strengthen it, the US signalled to one of the parties that it could pursue victory with impunity. This unilateralism was part of what led to the disaster, and that is the real lesson of Rwanda. Applied to Darfur and Sudan, it is sobering. It means recognising that Darfur is not yet another Rwanda. Nurturing hopes of an external military intervention among those in the insurgency who aspire to victory and reinforcing the fears of those in the counter-insurgency who see it as a prelude to defeat are precisely the ways to ensure that it becomes a Rwanda. Strengthening those on both sides who stand for a political settlement to the civil war is the only realistic approach. Solidarity, not intervention, is what will bring peace to Darfur.

    a look at some of the neocon's behind the 'save darfur' campaign
    Africa: The Right's Stuff

    A key person in this new aggressiveness is longtime neoconservative figure Elliott Abrams. When he was appointed chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (CIRF) in 1999, Abrams began leveraging U.S. foreign policy away from a concern for poverty and toward a focus on "religious persecution" in the Sudan, Russia, and China. In 2002, he was appointed senior director of Near East and North African Affairs, just as the Bush administration began basing troops in Djibouti on the strategic Horn of Africa. Some of those forces took part in the recent invasion of Somalia. Abrams also helped launch the Trans-Sahel Counterterrorism Initiative, which has drawn a number of North African countries and areas bordering the Sahara into a web of military alliances.

    Abrams is currently the national security adviser for global democracy and strategy and the point person on Israel. His philosophy of diplomacy is perhaps best summed up by a line from a chapter he wrote in Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol's Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy (2000): "Our military strength and willingness to use it will remain a key factor in our ability to promote peace."

    Posted by: b real | Mar 8 2007 23:15 utc | 64

    three articles on china in africa from foreign policy in focus

    walden bello: China Provokes Debate in Africa

    It was unexpected.

    At the Seventh World Social Forum (WSF), held in Nairobi, Kenya, in late January, the most controversial topic was not HIV-AIDS, the U.S. occupation of Iraq, or neoliberalism. The topic that generated the most heat was China’s relations with Africa.

    At a packed panel discussion organized by a semi-official Chinese NGO, the discussion was candid and angry. “First, Europe and America took over our big businesses. Now China is driving our small and medium entrepreneurs to bankruptcy,” Humphrey Pole-Pole of the Tanzanian Social Forum told the Chinese speakers. “You don’t even contribute to employment because you bring in your own labor.”

    Stung by such remarks from the floor, Cui Jianjun, secretary general of the China NGO Network for International Exchanges, lost his diplomatic cool and launched into an emotional defense of Chinese foreign investment, saying that “we Chinese had to make the same hard decision on whether to accept foreign investment many, many years ago. You have to make the right decision or you will lose, lose, lose. You have to decide right, or you will remain poor, poor, poor.”

    The vigorous exchange should have been anticipated since many Africans view China as having the potential to bring either great promise or great harm. If African civil society representatives were hard on China, this was because they desperately wanted China to reverse course before it was too late, so that it would avoid the path trod by Europe and the United States.

    akwe amosu: China in Africa: It’s (Still) the Governance, Stupid

    In its engagement with Africa, China certainly aims to build a political constituency for its much-touted “peaceful development.” But its primary interest is petroleum and raw materials. If Beijing’s goal of quadrupling the size of the economy by 2020 is to be met, energy consumption, and therefore demand, will climb even higher. Africa has resources in abundance but almost no capacity to process those resources: a perfect opportunity for a rising economy like China. Africa can supply its raw inputs and also provide a market for China’s manufactured products.

    Over 800 Chinese companies, the vast majority of them state-owned, are operating in 49 African countries. These companies are the forward edge of China’s operations, although they are backed up by frequent visits by top-level officials to seal deals and smooth their path. China is either drilling or exploring for oil in Nigeria, Sudan, Angola, Algeria, Chad, Gabon, Mauritania, Kenya, Congo Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, and Ethiopia - and this list is not exhaustive. China purchases 64% of Sudan’s production, which accounts for around 6% of its oil imports. Angola contributes half of the oil China buys from Africa. Beyond oil, China is extracting copper and cobalt from Zambia and Congo. It is buying timber in Gabon, Cameroon, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, and Liberia. It buys platinum and chrome from Zimbabwe and iron ore, coal, nickel, and aluminum from several other locations.

    In each of these countries, the Chinese and the government in question will sign a broad-spectrum “package deal” that gives the African partner a number of rewards, featuring a mix of cash, investment, cheap credit, technical expertise and training, and in-kind benefits such as new presidential palaces and stadiums, or cheap infrastructure such as roads, dams, and railways. The Chinese agreed to such an aid package involving major infrastructural investment for Angola, which is Africa’s second largest oil producer and the continent’s lead supplier to China. A $2 billion line of credit was announced in 2004, but since then available finance has risen to a reported $6 billion, over several years, to finance a raft of different projects such as hospitals, schools, roads, bridges, housing, office buildings, training programs, and the laying of fiberoptic cable. China’s diplomatic support in international fora has also proved notoriously handy, for example, for President Bashir of Sudan. Other, less contentious elements include contributing to Africa’s peacekeeping missions, sending medical aid teams to supplement struggling health services, and training and education opportunities for African students in China.

    China is effectively making Africa an integral part of its economic development for decades to come. Africa has not seen inward flows of this volume in all the post-independence years. This is not only a matter of cash but also the linkages, backward and forward, into Chinese and African markets and into government policy and planning. To continue arguing about the desirability of the relationship no longer makes any sense. China’s deep penetration in, and increasing integration with Africa is an established fact. Much has been made of Washington’s decision to announce its new African Command while Chinese President Hu Jintao was on his latest tour of Africa -- as if to warn China that the United States will protect its African interests. But even if China’s rivals in the West wanted to roll back this expansion, there seems little chance that they could do so.

    ian taylor: China and Africa: The Real Barriers to Win-Win

    Over the last five years, Angola has lost to graft as much as $4 billion in oil revenues -- equivalent to 10% of its GDP. As a result of this misgovernance, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was determined to include transparency measures to curb corruption in its 2004 loan to Angola. However, as the IMF pressed for agreement, the Angolan government suddenly stopped negotiations. It had received a counter-offer of a $2 billion loan from China’s export-credit agency. The deal came with an interest rate repayment of a mere 1.5% over 17 years. Angola also agreed to supply China with 10,000 barrels per day of crude oil -- later to increase to 40,000 barrels per day -- as well substantial construction contracts.

    This Chinese offer provoked consternation within Angola’s nascent indigenous business sector. “There is a condition in the loan that 30% will be subcontracted to Angolan firms, but that still leaves 70%,” explains Angolan economist José Cerqueira. “Angolan businessmen are very worried about this, because they don’t get the business, and the construction sector is one in which Angolans hope they can find work.” Thus the real cost of the loan is higher, because the exclusion of non-Chinese suppliers will negatively affect the prices of goods and services imports.

    Furthermore, none of the IMF’s conditionalities regarding corruption or graft was included in the loan’s details. Luanda was thus able to overcome the refusal by Western donors to bankroll a donor’s conference until Angola had reached agreement with the IMF and concluded a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Critics of the Bretton Woods institutions might think putting the World Bank or IMF in their place is a good thing. But ordinary Africans will not likely see any tangible benefits of cutting these institutions out of the picture.

    The Angolan case illustrates the hazards of Chinese investment in Africa. Beijing can easily facilitate corruption, negotiate lopsided contracts, and reinforce existing patronage systems. For many elites in Africa, wealth generation and survival does not depend on productive development on a nationwide scale. Elite survival depends on access to rents to distribute to patronage networks, thereby generating key support, but this network can encompass a relatively limited geographic area. In other words, the advancement of policies that bring in revenue for the elites but that also benefit broad swathes of the population, such as general agricultural policies that raise up large sections of the community, is not required. Consequently, China’s economic and political support could offer African politicians increasing leeway in misusing public funds and manipulating institutions to preserve their own power.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 9 2007 19:41 utc | 65

    b real, your 63 link isn't working. thanks for your steadfastness for continuing to post such interesting info on this thread.

    Posted by: annie | Mar 9 2007 21:25 utc | 66

    Unaccountable contractors making war in Africa ...

    U.S. hires contractor to back Somalis

    The State Department has hired a major military contractor to help equip and provide logistical support to international peacekeepers in Somalia, giving the United States a significant role in the critical mission without assigning combat forces.

    DynCorp International, which also has U.S. contracts in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, will be paid $10 million to help the first peacekeeping mission in Somalia in more than 10 years.

    It's a potentially dangerous assignment. When the first 1,500 Ugandans peacekeepers arrived in Somalia's capital Tuesday, they were greeted with a mortar attack and a major firefight. And on Wednesday, attackers ambushed the peacekeepers in Mogadishu, setting off another gunfight.

    The support for the Ugandans is part of a larger goal to improve African forces across the continent and promote peace and stability in a region that's often lawless and a haven for terrorists, including some tied to al-Qaida. The U.S. has also begun to depend more on African nations for oil and minerals, and wants to expand its influence.
    Other company operations in Africa include a program to disarm and rehabilitate former soldiers in Liberia, while advising the government on the reconstitution of the army. The company also supports peacekeepers in southern Sudan, and is working with the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia to help the African Union create a standby military force to respond to emergencies, according to the company Web site.
    The company is on standby to provide services anywhere on the continent to include "support of peacekeeping missions by training specific countries' armed services to enhance their ability to deploy through air and sea, provide logistics supports to mission and work with regional organization to prevent and resolve conflict," according to bid documents.

    Dyncorp is not the only U.S. security company working in Africa. Northrop Grumman Corp. has a similar contract, worth up to $75 million, to support the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program, which aims to train 40,000 African peacekeepers over five years.

    KBR Inc., a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., provides services to at least three bases in Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia used by the U.S. Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
    The United States is not the only country seeking to provide private military services in Africa.

    In 2005 the Somali government signed a $50 million contract with New York-based TopCat Marine Security to help create a coast guard to protect its coast and shipping from pirates. The State Department blocked TopCat from deploying because of a U.N. arms embargo, Hassan Abshir Farah, Somalia's marine resources minister said.

    Farah said his government was now discussing a deal with the Chinese government and Chinese marine security firms.

    Posted by: b | Mar 9 2007 21:35 utc | 67

    thanks annie. not sure what happened, but i was linking to rigzone's map & image gallery for west africa. there's also a gallery of offshore rigs in the same region.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 9 2007 21:51 utc | 68

    two days ahead of ya, on that one b :) waiting to see what kathryn cramer has to say on the subject...

    Posted by: b real | Mar 9 2007 21:54 utc | 69

    b real

    you are staunch, as us old world old comrades would say

    Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 9 2007 22:35 utc | 70

    Next phase in Somalia:

    AU troops 'may spark Somalia war'
    Eritrea has warned of dire consequences unless Uganda pulls its peacekeeping troops out of war-torn Somalia.

    Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu said that unless Uganda withdrew the situation would be increasingly dangerous for the entire region.


    Eritrea is basically saying that if other countries enters the fight on the side of Ethiopia and the transitional government, then they can count on their troops being attacked. Anything else would of course be surprising. Now it will be interesting to see if Burundi, Nigeria or Ghana gets cold feet.

    Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Mar 10 2007 3:32 utc | 71


    I suspect that if a Nigerian peace-keeping contigent to Somalia were close to being probable, the Nigerians would have wanted to go in first. Because Nigeria being 50:50 Muslim/Christian would want the opportunity to set the right tone from the get-go.

    Simple common sense would suggest that the first AU peace-keeping force contigent into Somalia should have been led by a Muslim officer, which is most certainly what the Nigerians would have done without question.

    Oh well.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 10 2007 15:34 utc | 72

    b real - Your work is outstanding as always. I've been trying to keep up with all of this but just wanted to say thank you.

    Posted by: beq | Mar 10 2007 15:40 utc | 73

    askod- did you catch that the u.s. state dept put eritrea on its list of the world's worst human rights violators (link in #58 above) after repeatedly criticizing the u.s-led military invasion of somalia and failing to get on board w/ the master[s] plan?

    re more "peacekeeping" troops

    from an opinion piece titled Is a Home-Grown Solution to Somalia's Crisis Possible?

    The fact that Ethiopia did not intervene on its own behalf but on behalf of America has complicated matters. Islamist or no Islamist, Somalis are deeply suspicious of American intentions in the region.

    The peacekeepers are at a disadvantage in this regard. By replacing Ethiopia , they become, in perception, an extension of the invasion, not a termination of it. Claims that the peacekeepers are IGAD and AU inspired have fallen on deaf ears. America's air strikes on Southern Somalia early into the Ethiopian invasion made matters very complicated for pro-Americans in Somalia, especially the interim president, Yusuf and rabid Anti-Islamist Prime Minister Gedi. Both Gedi and Yusuf have ruled out dialogue with the Islamists. The international community recommends otherwise. America is ambiguous in its suggestions.

    The role of the US led Somalia Contact Group is questionable. It is believed to be dominating the Somali project over IGAD and AU. Indeed it is the Americans who have picked the initial bill of the peace keepers to the tune of US $40 million. IGAD is said to be split, with Uganda , Kenya and Ethiopia on one side. The organisation does not meet on Somalia any more. Observers fear that Somalia might become the place where proxy wars between powers will be fought, unless dialogue is given the priority. Many agree that no one can pacify Somalia by the force of arms. Yet America is determined to crush the Islamists at any cost. There are fears that peace keepers may be drawn into an unintended venture, thus creating a quagmire for the contributing nations.

    Uganda is reported to be following a different route on Somalia . President Museveni is said to be in contact with the Islamists, to broker a kind of understanding before all Ugandan troops enter Somalia. This will not be the first time he pursues a different line from his American friends. The United States declared the Lord's Resistance Army, LRA, a rebel group that has fought Museveni's government for the past 19 years a terrorist organisation. This did not stop Museveni for entering into peace talks with the "terrorist organisation", something the US could not particularly approve of. Museveni's close ties to Libya's Gadhaffi could be an important factor in the extent to which he takes America 's advice.

    Kenya is also said to be reconsidering the American view on the stabilisation of Somalia and secret meetings with the Islamists are said to have taken place. Kenya has reason to move more cautiously, given the show of force that the Somali community displayed days into the Ethiopian invasion, when they held mammoth protest rally in Nairobi, which was backed by the leading opposition Orange Democratic Movement.

    the analyses that i've been looking at, many of which i have already posted links to, are quite in agreement that the AU forces will only incite tensions & further weaken any legitimacy that the TFG may have ever had -- which up to this point has been largely limited to its external supporters. the statements making the same points coming from the eritrean govt have earned it a blacklisting from the u.s. DoS. the president of djibouti also recently openly questioned the destabilization that the u.s. is sowing in the horn. "There was a possible justification (for the ousting of the Islamic group), but we have not seen the evidence yet."

    the risk of regional conflict instigated by colonial powers is not something that these govts -- puppet strings or not -- are likely willing to tolerate. i think that we will see more moves to avoid following the u.s.-supplied GWOT scripts w/o some form of homegrown improvisation. yes, regime leaders will still us the war on terror meme to attack & isolate their opposition and other parties of conflict, but neither are they blind to who really benefits from such a global strategy, not to who pays.

    also interesting in that opinion piece was this

    The Horn of Africa is a now a hotbed. Alliances will be built and broken. Sudan, traditionally vilified by the United States for human rights abuses and sponsorship of terrorism, is now closer to the super power than even Uganda in its cooperation on counter terrorism. This has given Khartoum some breathing space especially in light of the UN pressures on Darfur. It can be argued that Sudan's intransigence on Darfur is fueled more by its new found relations with Washington than with China.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 12 2007 2:38 utc | 74

    "nor to who pays"

    Posted by: b real | Mar 12 2007 2:42 utc | 75

    Guardian comment: The last thing we need

    The decision to establish Africom, as the command will be known, reflects the Bush administration's primary reliance on the use of force to pursue its strategic interests. Among the key goals for the new command, for example, is the assurance of oil imports from Africa, which have assumed much greater importance given the hostility to the US presence in the Middle East.

    Article continues
    China has similar energy needs, but how differently it is pursuing them. When George Bush announced Africom's creation last month, the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, was touring eight African countries to negotiate oil-related deals and announcing multibillion-dollar aid agreements. Many commentators voiced legitimate concerns about China's intentions; none have been voiced about Africom in the major western media.

    Central to Africom's mission will be tracking and crushing the growing terrorist hot spots in the vast, neglected regions with large Muslim populations, from the Horn of Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. Bush described the new military command as a vehicle to "promote our common goals of development, health, education and economic growth". Is that what huge military bases accomplish for countries whose populations are seething with anger? Hardly.

    Africom will instead militarise American relations with Africa, and militarise numerous African countries. It will also tilt these countries' policies towards the use of force. And it will inflame Muslim passions and create more angry militants opposed to a US military presence in their country or region. The command's establishment will also provide the US with new bases from which to project force into the oil-providing Middle East.

    The misguided reliance on force is shown by the disastrous results of the US forcibly toppling the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Somalia with the muscle of the Ethiopian army. In a smaller-scale reprise of the Iraq catastrophe, the military victory in January was swift, but the plan to install a client regime has quickly gone awry and a fierce insurgency is already under way.

    Posted by: b | Mar 12 2007 8:53 utc | 76

    on monday the interim parliament in somalia voted to relocate the TFG into mogadishu, as part of a plan to assert control & build an image of legitimacy for its unpopular, imposed authority by moving directly into the line of fire. president yusuf snuck into the city tuesday morning.
    Somalia president furtively arrives in Mogadishu as security is tightened

    Residents in some neighborhoods in the Somali capital Mogadishu woke up with the presence of Ethiopian and government troops in their areas on Tuesday morning.

    The troops blocked all roads leading to the presidential compound in Mogadishu, tightening the security of Villa Somalia perimeter.

    Hussein Mohammed Mohmoud, the presidential spokesperson, has told Shabelle on Tuesday that Somalia president Abdulahi Yusuf arrived in the capital early on Tuesday morning by plane.

    The president’s arrival was undisclosed.

    and it didn't take long for welcoming committees to break out the fireworks

    Mortars fired at Somalia presidential palace

    Unknown gunmen fired several mortars at Somalia presidential compound in Mogadishu on Tuesday afternoon.

    With casualties still unknown, witnesses said they could see smoke rising up from buildings near the compound. It is not clear if the presidential house was hit.

    The presidential guards have also fired back several rockets at Mogadishu neighborhoods.

    President Yusuf has only arrived in Mogadishu this morning.

    We will keep you updates as the news emerges.

    meanwhile, the deputy mayor of the city may have been a victim of another attack today

    An explosion targeted at government officials kills two in Mogadishu

    Two people were killed and four were wounded after a vehicle belonging to the deputy Mogadishu mayor, Ibrahim Shaweye, was targeted with an explosive device.

    Government soldiers soon sealed the area, denying journalist to take photographs of the car which was destroyed by the explosion.

    Witnesses said some government officials were inside the Ronet when the explosion occurred. It is not apparent if Mr. Shaweye was among the people inside the vehicle.
    The Somali government has not commented on the incident yet.

    Also unknown gunmen attacked an Ethiopian military convoy around Banadir maternal hospital, south of the capital on Tuesday.

    and the animosity toward the ethiopian occupying forces is likely to ratchet up another level after

    A Somali woman has today revealed at a press conference in Mogadishu that she was tortured and raped by Ethiopian soldiers.

    Suuban Maalin Ali Hassan, 37 year old mother of eight children talked to journalists with presence of her husband inside her house over the ordeal she faced last Saturday as she was on her way near Elirfid, north east of Mogadishu.
    Ahmed Ali Hassan, Husband of Suuban also spoke to the newsmen said, "My wife was raped and tortured by Ethiopian soldiers so that I am calling on everyone who can help to rush to our help"

    Posted by: b real | Mar 13 2007 15:28 utc | 77

    ..and i even missed that last link despite previewing!

    Somali Woman accuses Ethiopian soldiers of rape and torture

    Posted by: b real | Mar 13 2007 15:31 utc | 78

    three links re canada's 1990s experience w/ colonial peacekeeping in somalia

    youtube: Canadas "beasts in blue berets" killed 16yrs old Shidane

    wikipedia: Somalia Affair

    The Somalia Affair was a Canadian military scandal in the mid-1990s. It began with the brutal 1993 beating death of a Somali teenager, Shidane Arone, at the hands of two Canadian soldiers participating in the United Nations humanitarian efforts in Somalia. The crime, documented by grisly photos, shocked the Canadian public and brought to light internal problems in the Canadian Airborne Regiment that went beyond the two soldiers directly involved. Questions were asked about why the unit was chosen for that mission despite disciplinary problems. Perhaps most damaging to the leadership of the Canadian military was how it reacted after the events became public, as accusations of covering up the event surfaced.

    Eventually a public inquiry was called. Despite being controversially cut short by the government, the Somalia Inquiry found deep problems in the leadership of the Canadian Forces. The affair led to the disbanding of Canada's elite Canadian Airborne Regiment, greatly damaged the morale of the Canadian Forces, and damaged both the domestic and international reputation of Canadian soldiers.

    Whose Trauma? The "Somalia Affair" and Canadian mythology

    During Canada's 1993 peacekeeping mission in Belet Huen, Somalia, Canadian soldiers captured impoverished Somalis who were said to have stolen food and supplies from the Canadian military encampment. The captives were subjected to beatings, torture and public humiliation. Most victims were children, many of whom were tied to one another around posts in the street, blindfolded and left next to signs that read 'thief' for all passers by to see. On March 4 of the same year, two Somalis were shot in the back by Canadian soldiers, one fatally. In what came to be known as the "Somalia Affair," 16-year-old Shidane Arone was tortured over the course of an entire night before being killed by Canadian soldiers barely two weeks after the shooting. Six Somalis were killed in total. A series of shocking "trophy photos" of detainees were later exposed, often depicting children detainees being degraded by members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment. In the case of Shidane Arone, an infamous series of photos of the boy at various stages of his torture was revealed, including one of a Canadian soldier using a baton to hold up his head, which is covered in blood. The soldier is grinning at the camera. A video of soldiers on the base making blatantly racist comments about Somalis was discovered a little later, in January of 1995. In it, one of the soldiers announces to the camera that their Somalia operation is called 'Operation "Snatch Nig-Nog."'

    The revelations came as a shock to Canadians accustomed to a steady image of armed forces dedicated to benevolent and competent "peacekeeping." Canada's "national mythology" is a central focus in Sherene Razack's study of the official response to the "Somalia Affair." The result was her 2004 book Dark Threats and White Nights: The Somalia Affair, Peacekeeping, and the New Imperialism. Razack writes that with the exposure of torture by Canadian soldiers, "modern peacekeeping revealed its sordid colonial origins. Soldiers had acted more like conquerors than humanitarians."

    Posted by: b real | Mar 13 2007 18:10 utc | 79

    b real,

    thanks for the updates.

    as I wonder how many more villages have to be burnt, raped & torturted in order to save them.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 14 2007 0:02 utc | 80

    war art

    Posted by: jcairo | Mar 14 2007 0:23 utc | 81

    U.S. allies in Africa may have engaged in secret prisoner renditions

    A network of U.S. allies in East Africa secretly have transferred to prisons in Somalia and Ethiopia as many as 150 people who were captured in Kenya while fleeing the recent war in Somalia, according to human rights advocates here.

    Kenyan authorities made the arrests as part of a U.S.-backed, four-nation military campaign in December and January against Somalia's Islamist militias, which Bush administration officials have linked to al-Qaida.

    The prisoners, who included men and women of 17 nationalities and children as young as 7 months, were held in Kenya for several weeks before most of them were transferred covertly to Somalia and Ethiopia, where they're being held incommunicado, the groups charge.

    The transfers, which authorities reportedly carried out in the middle of the night and made public only after a recent court order in Kenya, violated international law, according to the rights groups. They charge that the program is being driven by the United States, which has built a close relationship with Kenya and Ethiopia in the war on terrorism.

    At least one of the transferees is an American citizen identified on a flight manifest as Amir Mohamed Meshar. Meshar was flown from Nairobi to Baidoa, the seat of Somalia's transitional government, on Feb. 10, according to Islamic human-rights groups. His whereabouts, and those of 12 other detainees aboard that chartered flight, are unknown.

    Posted by: b | Mar 14 2007 8:07 utc | 82

    His whereabouts, and those of 12 other detainees aboard that chartered flight, are unknown.

    taking up residency in our gitmo hotel chain

    Posted by: annie | Mar 14 2007 13:31 utc | 83

    in dana priest's 2005 wapo report that opened up public discussion of secret prisons, CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons, she wrote

    Among the first steps was to figure out where the CIA could secretly hold the captives. One early idea was to keep them on ships in international waters, but that was discarded for security and logistics reasons.

    CIA officers also searched for a setting like Alcatraz Island. They considered the virtually unvisited islands in Lake Kariba in Zambia, which were edged with craggy cliffs and covered in woods. But poor sanitary conditions could easily lead to fatal diseases, they decided, and besides, they wondered, could the Zambians be trusted with such a secret?

    there are supposedly 102 islands in lake kariba, though it doesn't look like it according to this satellite map. and the sizeable ones can hardly be labeled as "virtually unvisited", though the accomodations are definitely more attractive than gitmo.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 14 2007 14:53 utc | 84

    could the Zambians be trusted with such a secret?

    off the coast of africa in a set up not unlike 'the world' in UAE a variety of man made islands, some resorts, private residencies all virtually 'gated'by their isolation w/private memberships that only allow members of 'the club' who could keep 'the secret' somewhere within the labyrinth of islands a special one, set up like a zoo to accommodate their exclusive viewing public.

    sorry, wandering mind. wondering how sadists might consider spending their billions in war treasure.

    Posted by: annie | Mar 14 2007 15:42 utc | 85

    as we watch to see where the fault lines are between Africans & what dividends may yield.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 15 2007 0:15 utc | 86

    The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency


    The similarities between Iraq and Darfur are remarkable. The estimate of the number of civilians killed over the past three years is roughly similar. The killers are mostly paramilitaries, closely linked to the official military, which is said to be their main source of arms. The victims too are by and large identified as members of groups, rather than targeted as individuals. But the violence in the two places is named differently. In Iraq, it is said to be a cycle of insurgency and counter-insurgency; in Darfur, it is called genocide. Why the difference? Who does the naming? Who is being named? What difference does it make?


    The camp of peace needs to come to a second realisation: that peace cannot be built on humanitarian intervention, which is the language of big powers. The history of colonialism should teach us that every major intervention has been justified as humanitarian, a ‘civilising mission’.
    by Mahmood Mamdani

    Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 15 2007 4:41 utc | 87>guess the dude didn't read your series here

    Posted by: slothrop | Mar 15 2007 15:40 utc | 88

    yea, i saw that on sunday & the commentator who remarked that it resembled a DoS press release summed it up for me. salim lone knows what he's talking about. mcleary, otoh, provides cover for imperial interests, parroting talking points that sustain the premise of u.s. rhetorical promises & meddling being sincere, realizable, and, unquestionably, natural.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 15 2007 16:03 utc | 89

    US to build Libya N-plant

    TRIPOLI, March 14 -- The US is to help Libya build its first-ever nuclear power plant according to the African nation’s official news agency, Jana.

    Jana said yesterday that the General People’s Committee, the Libyan parliamentary body, had given approval for the foreign ministry to sign a deal with the US the day before.

    There was no immediate confirmation of the deal from the US, but any such agreement would continue a considerable thawing of relations between the two countries.

    Libya to Launch Gas Bidding Round Later in 2007

    Eager to tap into abundant natural gas reserves, Libya is planning to hold a bidding round later this year to develop gas fields onshore and offshore, the head of the country's oil industry said Wednesday.

    "I can't pinpoint an actual date yet but we are talking about 10 to 15 blocks, a mixture of offshore and onshore," he said.

    This comes as global energy companies are eagerly looking for new opportunities to boost their flagging hydrocarbon reserves. This has been made more difficult in recent months as many key oil producing countries tighten the screws on their resources making access for foreign companies harder.
    Libya is estimated by the International Energy Agency to have more than 100 billion barrels of oil reserves and 40% of Africa's reserves. It has ambitious plans to nearly double its oil output within a decade to 3 million barrels a day, from 1.7 million barrels a day currently.

    Gas output is forecast by the IEA to more than quadruple from 12 billion cubic meters in 2010 to 57 billion cubic meters two decades later.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 15 2007 18:30 utc | 90

    OPEC's Saudi Arabia Warns Angola on Oil Expansion

    Saudia Arabia, the most powerful member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has told Angola, its newest entrant, not to assume it will be able to expand production past 2 million barrels a day, The Financial Times reports Wednesday, without citing sources.

    This is a blow to the world's biggest oil companies, which have already paid Angola billions of dollars for the right to explore and produce its oil.

    Angola joined the oil cartel in January and should reach the 2 million barrel a day threshold at the start of next year. It had a target of producing 2.5 million barrels a day by 2012, a target which has now been thrown into doubt.

    angola is currently china's largest oil supplier

    Shell: No Plans to Leave Nigeria's Oil Region, Despite Unrest

    Royal Dutch Shell PLC said it has no plans to leave Nigeria's oil-rich but volatile Niger Delta, in the face of repeated attacks against it.

    Since Jan 2006, separatist groups seeking a larger share of Nigeria's oil wealth have renewed their violence against oil firms, personnel and related business interests in the region.

    "Shell is here to stay", the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted deputy managing director Dale Rollins as saying in Port Harcourt, the capital of the oil-rich region.

    He said the Niger Delta is "very important" to Shell and stressed that the company wants to make the area better for the local people.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 15 2007 19:02 utc | 91

    news from two of the u.s' fave east african partners in the GWOT

    kenya: Govt Burns 8,000 Guns As Minister Orders Police to Kill Thugs

    Police have been given a new shoot-to-kill order. "An illegal weapon in the hands of a criminal has no other purpose except to kill an innocent person. It is, therefore, justifiable for the law enforcers to take equal measure against such a person," Internal Security minister Mr John Michuki declared, moments before he set ablaze 8,000 illegal light weapons.

    In a solemn ceremony, which captured the magnitude of the loss families have suffered in the hands of roving bands of armed criminals, the minister appeared to shrug off growing criticism by human rights groups - who have accused the Government of sanctioning extrajudicial killings - and directed police officers to gun down armed criminals.

    A tough-talking Michuki said law enforcers were justified in killing criminals in possession of illegally acquired guns "as their motive was evil".
    The guns were recovered from criminals, some of whom had been gunned down by the police, while others were surrendered to the State in the ongoing disarmament exercise in the North Rift region.
    Since January, police have gunned down over 100 suspected thugs and recovered close to 50 assorted firearms as they intensify the war on crime.
    According to the Kenya National Focal Point, more than 140,000 firearms were still in wrong hands... [emphasis mine]

    a dissident blogger in ethiopia: United States supports communism and tyranny in Ethiopia

    It is coming closer. The ongoing arrests now reached my personal circle of friends. No names but this week I was told that a family member of a good friend was jailed already for a couple of weeks because of his sympathy for the opposition. I know the man and can assure that he is a peaceful and positive member of his community. I understand that also family members of the already imprisoned opposition members are being questioned and arrested again. It is scaring and on the other hand it is encouraging that they realize that there is no support for them anymore and the only way for them to survive is through these absurd measures. We feel grieved and distressed and our thoughts are with them who suffer under the tyranny of the EPLF/EPRDF.
    So that is what it is all about nowadays in Ethiopia.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 16 2007 2:34 utc | 92

    one more interesting piece from an ethiopian blogger, comparing the u.s. human rights reporting on eritrea vs ethiopia & how each nation plays along w/ the GWOT determines which abuses get singled out.

    Ethiopia - The Pageant of the Ugly

    An interesting case in point is the US State Department Country Report for 2006 and the way the Ethiopian authorities and their cronies tried to use it against Eritrea while shutting their mouth about what it says about them. Our TPLF guys have either completely forgotten to read what the same Report says about Ethiopia or have simply overlooked that, at least some of us, could also read the same report listed only a cursor away and find out what it says on Ethiopia. Ethiopia is alphabetically listed next to Eritrea on the Report. The report contains 22 pages of damning report on Ethiopia as compared to 12 pages of damning report on Eritrea. If you list the number and kind of violations item by item as I did, you will find that the Ethiopian Woyane rulers have committed more crimes in both quantity and egregiousness and dwarf the violations in Eritrea completely.
    The table below contains a direct excerpt by this author of the most egregious violations of human freedoms cited by the State Department Report on Eritrea and Ethiopia. Compare them and tell me which one (Eritrea or Ethiopia) looks more beautiful.

    that blog post ends w/ this heads up a different subject
    Now watch another developing story. The kidnapping of the five British embassy staff and their Ethiopian companies is getting a life of its own even after the kidnapped “tourists” are freed. Meles Zenawi who mouthfully boasts of starting the Tigrean insurgency by robbing a public bank at Axum and the leader of the TPLF who has a record number of kidnapped foreigners in the Horn of Africa is accusing Eritrea of kidnapping and terrorism. It is accusing all freedom fighters who refuse to be subjugated including the OLF and the CUD as terrorists. Remember the fabricated treatise issued a few weeks back about the apprehension of terrorists supposedly supported by Eritrea? Don’t even ask that the TPLF was also supported by the EPLF and was even given a ride by Shabia to Addis Ababa. And Mrs. Frazer that astonishing diplomat who has helped turn Mogadishu back to hell after six months of respite from 15 years of hell may say it once more - “the Eritrean government is now effectively controlled by Al Qaeda”, copy pasting what she said about the Somali UICs. And then Africa will have one of those things she needs badly – another killing field. Folks read it. The writing is on the wall.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 16 2007 2:59 utc | 93

    DoS: US Partners On Security for Oil-Rich Delta Region

    The United States is partnering with Nigeria to counter growing violence in its oil-rich delta region that is threatening an ally that has made valuable contributions to peacekeeping and regional stability in Africa, says a U.S. defense official.

    Theresa Whelan, deputy assistant secretary of defense, told a March 14 forum in Washington, "There are no quick-fix solutions" to the security problems in the Niger River Delta where most of Nigeria's oil is produced. The forum was sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
    To counter the problem, Whelan said, the Defense Department proposed a regional maritime awareness capabilities program for the Nigerian navy worth $16 million "to help the Nigerians establish greater situational awareness in the delta and try and address some of the bunkering [large-scale oil stealing] problems that contribute to the violence because it provides money to buy arms."

    In addition, she said, "We have offered to provide training and assistance in small-arms, light weapons identification so they can better understand and track the illegal weapons coming into the delta."

    Planning assistance and training also is being provided by the military to develop a riverine unit that would use patrol boats to go after the oil thieves and militants, Whelan told the panel.
    Although the United States is attempting to work with the Nigerian military to confront security challenges the picture has not been all positive, Whelan told the panel.

    A major problem is that the 80,000 members of the Nigerian armed forces -- who are the main security bulwark against the type of violence seen in the delta -- are undertrained and underequipped, Whelan said. Various peacekeeping commitments outside the country also are "drawing off available trained soldiers who could respond to domestic crises," she said.

    Operational readiness rates of the Nigerian navy are low, the U.S. defense official added. "We provided the navy with four U.S. Coast Guard buoy tenders and the Nigerian navy also purchased 17 Defender class response boats. The only problem is that the navy is not appropriately trained to use those boats and so for the most part ... they sit idle down in the delta."

    sounds like a job for team ARFICOM [/snark]

    Posted by: b real | Mar 16 2007 14:53 utc | 94

    Thanks for all the links.

    I had not heard specifically about the list of the world's worst human rights violators, but I am not surprised. Eritrea belong on such a list, and that they are singled out now after Somalia is very unsurprising.

    Eritreas ruling gang are in general crappy at diplomacy and only knows the language of threats, making them more or less bound to go heads to heads with the Bush gang who suffer from similar limitations.

    Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Mar 17 2007 2:51 utc | 95

    a followup on the kenya story i linked to last night
    Kenya: Police Implement Michuki Shoot-to-Kill Order

    Police appeared to enforce Internal security minister John Michuki's shoot-to-kill order even before the ink dried up on the writ.

    It was a killing fiesta as five suspected gangsters were felled even as rights groups criticised the order, saying it gave the law enforcers the powers of the investigator, prosecutor, jury and judge.

    Nairobi, where the order was given Thursday, was the theatre of the five killings, including the felling of two fleeing suspects who had been subdued by the public. The suspects who were reportedly carrying guns may not have taken Michuki seriously when he spoke at Uhuru Gardens, where over 8,000 illegal firearms were destroyed.

    Police shot dead two suspected gangsters who had been apprehended and disarmed by wananchi at the Kariokor Jua Kali garage.

    Three others were killed in Eastleigh and River Road, after botched robberies. The Kariokor shootings illustrated the gravity of the ministerial order that came with the revelation there were proposals for the amendment of the Firearms Act to make possession of unlicensed firearms a capital offence just like murder and robbery with violence.

    Michuki's message was blunt: "An illegal weapon in the hands of a criminal has no other purpose than to kill an innocent person. It is therefore justifiable for the law enforcers to take equal measure against such person."

    Chilling execution

    The two gangsters shot at close range were part of a three-man gang that had robbed a warehouse near the old OTC Bus Station, and then disappeared towards Kariokor, with police pursuing.

    Police lost their trail in the labyrinth of the jua kali garages, but the artisans seized and disarmed them.

    Officers who had slowed down arrived at the scene about ten minutes later to find the two suspects pinned to the ground by a mob and their guns next to them.

    A third suspect made good his escape. The officers wasted no time with the subdued suspects, shooting them instantly on their heads.

    Witnesses who watched the chilling execution later said the suspects were subdued when they were shot.

    "We caught one of the gangsters and we grabbed his gun. Police arrived about ten minutes later and shot him," said Mr Francis Kilei, one of those who had wrestled down the suspects.

    Mr George Mbugua said police were called after residents had apprehended the suspects. "They did not have the guns on their hands when the police arrived," he said.

    doesn't look like the FY 2006 int'l law enforcement (INL) budget included DoS funding for KPS training, though it did so most recently from at least 2004-2004, w/ a focus on "modernizing and professionalizing the force", including "First Police Responder, Field Training Officer, and General Skills Development" in the second half of 06.

    and an update on the u.s.' other fave east african anchor state-slash-GWOT-buddy

    Two American service men died in a car accident in Ethiopia. Well it is not a secret that many of them are already here and are instructing the Ethiopian army. Also they have been operating from Dire Dawa airport during the blitzkrieg of the Ethiopian Army around Christmas last year. It is obvious that the backbone of the repression in Ethiopia, its military, is being trained and facilitated by the Americans. [link]

    Posted by: b real | Mar 17 2007 4:47 utc | 96

    I did enjoy your article, however, I just wanted to point out that the call for increased US capacity-building which you connect with the "white-man syndrom" in note 29 came from the African Union, an organisation not generally known for its neo-imperial tendencies, rather than me.

    All the best with your work,
    B Franke

    Posted by: B Franke | Mar 17 2007 10:52 utc | 97

    from #96
    the law enforcers the powers of the investigator, prosecutor, jury and judge.....

    the amendment of the Firearms Act to make possession of unlicensed firearms a capital offence just like murder and robbery with violence.

    Michuki's message was blunt: "An illegal weapon in the hands of a criminal has no other purpose than to kill an innocent person. It is therefore justifiable for the law enforcers to take equal measure against such person."

    Chilling execution

    i'll say.

    thanks b real, amazing thread

    Posted by: annie | Mar 17 2007 14:42 utc | 98

    it's only proper, one supposes, seeing as how kenya helped to implant the TFG into somalia...

    from today's news
    Somali government orders security forces to kill any suspect

    Mogadishu 17, March.07 ( Sh.M.Network) Government administration in Lower Jubba province, southern Somalia, ordered the security forces in the region to kill anyone they suspect of being a threat to the security and peace in the coastal province near the Kenyan border.

    Ilyas Badal, the government administrator for the provincial main town of Kismayu, was quoted as saying that he had given the security forces the authority to shoot dead anyone they believe is hazardous to general tranquility of the province.

    More than 2,000 Ethiopian forces abandoned the provincial main town of Kismayu early this month and headed towards the volatile city, Mogadishu, leaving control of the town to the government administration in the area where great scuffle prevails between the two powerful clans in the region.

    "I have given the order that the government security forces in Lower Jubba province have the power granted them to shoot dead armed robbers and anyone else suspected of a threat to the calmness and security in the region. In this approach, the forces will kill the suspect without putting him on the dock of a court," he said, while addressing a contingent of security forces.

    yesterday it was
    Islamists return to Jubba following Ethiopian pullout

    KISMAYO, Somalia Mar 16 (Garowe Online) - Former fighters for the ousted Islamic Courts movement have secretly slipped back into major population centers in the Jubba regions of southern Somalia, officials and residents said.

    Lower Jubba regional officials and military commanders convened in the provincial capital Kismayo on Friday to discuss relevant issues, including appropriate ways of dealing with the returning Islamist fighters.

    Ilyas Badal Gabose, Lower Jubba governor, told Garowe Online after the meeting that the officials decided not to do anything about the returning fighters.

    Governor Gabose said Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf previously extended amnesty to Islamist fighters and that his regional government would follow that policy.

    “We will welcome Islamic Courts fighters if they want to join Somali [federal] troops,” Governor Gabose said.

    The Islamic Courts movement ruled Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia, including the port city of Kismayo, until December when Ethiopia-backed Somali troops dislodged them from power.

    haven't seen any news on dyncorp in somalia yet since the announcement that the u.s. was paying mercenaries to assist in "peacekeeping" efforts in that african country.

    but how realistic is it now to even refer to what is transpiring in somalia as a peacekeeping mission anyway? other than the ugandan troops, it's obvious that the other AU member nations are not wanting to get involved, so pipe dreams of 8000 AU peacekeepers have gone up in smoke as they should. 8000 troops would hardly ahve covered mogadishu itself, let alone the rest of the country.

    the TFG plans on moving 4000 of its own quickly-trained govt forces into the city to attempt to secure it. and it sounds like the ethiopian military may remain in mogadishu to assist. aside from the fact that this strategy is as likely to float w/ the somalian people as would a lead balloon, perhaps it's time to discard w/ the "peacekeeping" tag altogether. piece-keepers, maybe, but it will contribute nothing to peace anytime soon.

    Ethiopian troops reportedly to remain in Somali capital

    March 16, 2007 (MOGADISHU) — A Mogadishu based electronic news journal said that Somali President discussed wit the visiting Ethiopian Foreign Minister ways to maintain Ethiopian troops in the Somali Capital within the framework of the African peacekeeping forces.

    Ethiopian foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin who was in a two-day visit to Mogadishu told the press before his departure that the remaining Ethiopian troops in Somalia will immediately withdraw from Somalia. Although the reported that they will remain and participate in peacekeeping operations of the country, especially in Mogadishu.

    Foreign minister Mesfin discussed with President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad how Ethiopian troops can take part in operations to pacify the country, especially Mogadishu.

    President Yusuf is said to have requested the Ethiopian minister for Ethiopian troops to remain in Somalia, until the situation in the country changes. "Reports received from the presidential palace say the president’s request was accepted, and that Ethiopian troops will help the African Union troops (AU)."

    Posted by: b real | Mar 17 2007 19:33 utc | 99

    and here's another benefit for china's interest in africa that didn't get mentioned in my series

    Politically, China is involved in Africa in pursuit of diplomatic ties. China has an interest to seek alliance with other nations who have shared interests. One of the Chinese main foreign policy goals is to reduce the number of countries maintaining diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Currently there are a few African countries who recognize Taiwan. And recently China scored a victory when Chad switched its alliance with China in 2006. More importantly China sees the continent as a significant potential sources of support in the international organizations including UN. To challenge the unipolar role of the US at the international level, the Chinese see Africa as an important battleground against the US.

    Posted by: b real | Mar 17 2007 19:37 utc | 100

    next page »

    The comments to this entry are closed.