Somalia: An Oily ClichÃ©
In the case of Somalia, the clich may neverless true. While undoubtedly, the U.S. and its Ethiopian proxy conqured Somalia and "liberated" it from the clutches of Al-Qaeda primarily for geostrategic reasons (possible launching point to attack Iran, more friendly territory close to Arabic Sudan, more ports under their control, a possible regional base for the AFRICOM command post, potential launching points to protect the Strait of Hormuz [the primary shipping point of Middle Eastern oil], etc), Somalia is awash in unspoken oil and provides a tantalizing business opportunity.
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.
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.
Somalia continued to be deeply fractured after the death of Aideed. The extreme northwest corner of Somalia, known as Somaliland, declared independence in 1991, but did not receive any diplomatic recognition. The adjacent region to the east, known as Puntland, followed suit in 1998 under the leadership of presidency of Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, but with one major difference. They only wanted to be a separate Somali state, not a country.
Somalia began toying with creating a government in 2001. Indeed, the French oil giant TotalElfFina signed an agreement with the Transitional Government for a concession in southern Somalia. After lots of jockying for power between the clans, the first government plan was signed in July 2003. Kenya was overseeing the process and the federal charter was signed in September 2003.
In December 2004, Ali Mohammed Gedi was appointed the Prime Minister. He hails from the Abgaal sub-clan of Mogadishu's Hawiye clan, one of the two largest clans in the country. The new government relocated to Mogadishu and by May 2005, Mohammed Qanyare Affrah, Osman Ali Atto, and Muse Sudi Yalahow united their militias as a de facto government army. By late 2005, the government's transition process was derailed.
The so-called warlords leading the ARPC, Mohamed Dheere, Bashir Raghe, and Mahamed Qanyare, had been spying for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) years. A U.S. diplomat at the Nairobi Embassy was even fired for criticizing the CIA's policy.
"Slick" Business Deals
Range Resources obtained permission to exploit the land from Puntland President Mohamud Muse Hirse on 18 October, 2005, and from Prime Minister Gedi on 2 November 2005. They are also bidding to buy addition consessions from the Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC). Range Resources is run by Non-Executive Chairman Sir Samuel Kwesi Jonah. S
He is a Advisory Council member of the U.N. Secretary General's Global Compact, South African President Thabo Mbeki's International Investment Advisory Council, the African Regional Advisory Board of the London Business School, First Atlantic Merchant Bank, Defiance Mining, Ghanian President John Kufuor's Ghana Investors' Advisory Council, President Obasanjo Nigerian Investors' Advisory Council, and serves as a Presidential Advisor to President Mohamud Muse Hersi of the Somali state of Puntland. He also holds an honorary British knighthood, the Star of Ghana and several other international awards and titles.
The Rest, as They Say, is History
The U.S. officially continues to hunt Al-Qaeda in Somali. They are pushing for an African peacekeeping force to be deployed in the nation as soon as possible.
If the private military contractor Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI) gets involved in the logistics like they have in Darfur, the context of U.S. involvement in Somalia could take on a whole new outlook, especially if counterinsurgency operations become the norm.
The Deputy Prime Minister is Hussein Farah Aideed, the son of the late warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed. In contrast to his father, Hussein is actually a naturalized American citizen and a former U.S. Marine who served in the Gulf War. He even served as a U.S. emissary during Operation Restore Hope, where he met with his father several times.
1. Madsen, Wayne. "Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa 1993-1999." Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales, United Kingdom: Edwin Mellen Press, Limited. 1999. pg. 31.
3. Bowden, Mark. "Blackhawk Down: A Story of Modern War." New York, New York: Penguin Putnam Incorporated. 1999.
5. "U.S. Secretly Backing Warlords in Somalia," Karen DeYoung, Emily Wax. The Washington Post. 17 May, 2006.Note: A confidential U.N. Security Council report revealed several armed Islamic groups armed and fought with the UIC, including Hezbollah and fighters from several Islamic nations including Saudi Arabia.
7. "Profile: Somalia's Islamist Leader," Joseph Winter. BBC News. 30 June, 2006.
9. President Mohamud Muse Hirse. "Letter to Consort Private Limited and Mr. Tony Black." Office of the President. 18 October, 2005; Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi. "Letter to Puntland State of Somali and Vice President Hassan Dahir Mohamud. Offic of the Prime Minister. OPM/251/05. 2 November 2006.
13. Confidential Source. 2007.
Appendix I: Documentation