Imperialist-backed conferences set stage for intervention in Somalia & Syria
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published Mar 1, 2012 9:50 PM
Back-to-back conferences held Feb. 23-24 to determine the destiny of Somalia and Syria took place outside the respective countries with the full backing of the imperialist states, guaranteeing that these efforts oppose the best interests of the two countries’ people.
Somalia has had no legitimately recognized government since 1991. In London, the British government promoted the conference on Somalia as a turning point to purportedly stabilize the country.
Representatives of the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government attended the conference. The conference organizers invited no one from al-Shabab, the Islamic resistance movement. The imperialists support outside military forces occupying Somalia that put al-Shabab under siege.
The African Union Mission to Somalia, composed of troops from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti, is attacking al-Shabab supporters in the capital of Mogadishu. The Ethiopian Defense Forces have launched a major offensive in the central region, taking control of the city of Baidoa.
U.S. drone surveillance and strikes, along with French naval forces and Israeli intelligence, have supported the more than 2,000 troops from the Kenyan Defense Forces that entered Somalia last October to attack supposed al-Shabab bases.
British interests in Somalia
Several reports indicate that Britain is seeking to exploit the emerging oil industry in Puntland — a breakaway region of Somalia — and within existing Somalia.
“Britain is involved in a secret high-stakes dash for oil in Somalia, with the government offering humanitarian aid and security assistance in the hope of a stake in the beleaguered country’s future energy industry. … away from the public focus … talks are going on between British officials and Somali counterparts over exploiting oil reserves that have been explored in the arid north-eastern region of the country.” (British Observer, Feb. 27)
Abdulkadir Abdi Hashi, the minister for international cooperation in Puntland, said, “We have spoken to a number of UK officials, some have offered to help us with the future management of oil revenues. They will help us build our capacity to maximize future earnings from the oil industry.” (Observer, Feb. 27)
Conservative estimates of Somalia’s oil reserves put them at 4 billion barrels, worth approximately $500 billion today. Others estimate up to as much as 10 billion barrels in Puntland alone. The Observer article says that “it is the extent of oil deposits beneath the Indian Ocean” that have a potential “comparable to that of Kuwait, which has more than 100 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. … If true, this would … make Somalia the seventh largest oil-rich nation.”
In addition to Britain, where BP has expressed an interest, Canada, the U.S. and China are also seeking ways to get involved in the initial onslaught of production.
This is not the first time that imperialist-oriented efforts to shape developments in Somalia have taken place. Previous direct and indirect military interventions in Somalia have failed to stabilize the country in the interest of the West.
In 1992-93, Somalis rose up and resisted the U.S. Marines and the United Nations so-called peacekeepers, forcing them to leave the country. A 2006-2009 invasion and occupation by Ethiopia at the aegis of the U.S. failed to resolve the internal crises.
The current politico-military situation in Somalia is not caused by the conflict among Somali politicians but by the role of the imperialist states that will stand to benefit the most from the forceful subjugation of the country and the exploitation of oil, waterways and other strategic resources throughout the Horn of Africa region.
U.S. policy in Somalia represents the continuation of the same policies from successive administrations as it relates to the region. “Terrorism” is abstractly used as a justification and rationale for escalating the destabilization of Somalia.
Tunis hosts ‘Friends of Syria’ conference
On Feb. 24 in the capital of Tunisia, another conference was held under the sponsorship of the so-called “Friends of Syria.” This initiative grew out of the failure of the U.S. and other imperialist states to get the U.N. Security Council endorsement for a war against Syria.
Russia and China vetoed the resolution calling for the total isolation of Syria. Both Russia and China refused to recognize the conference in Tunis, which was attended by over 60 nations and numerous opposition groups claiming to represent dissidents in Syria as well as high-ranking officials from the Western states and their Arab allied governments.
The conference was condemned by the Syria government, which called the gathering, the “Enemies of Syria.” Several hundred pro-Syrian-government demonstrators attempted to storm the conference, saying that it should not be held inside Tunisia, which is undergoing a political transformation process since January 2011 after a popular uprising toppled dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Ezz Eddine Koutali, the spokesman for the Tunisian section of the Baath Party, said that the “Friends of Syria” conference was held “under the supervision of American imperialism.” He also rejected the Tunisian government’s collaboration in this effort and said that U.S. imperialist figures such as Hillary Clinton and John McCain were behind it.
A statement issued by the Russian government said: “The invitations to attend the Tunis meeting were issued to some parts of the opposition, but representatives of the Syrian government were not invited. … This means that the interests of the majority of the Syrian population, which supports the authorities, will not be represented. We cannot accept the offer to attend this meeting.” (Middle East Online, Feb. 21)
Oppose imperialist intervention in Somalia and Syria
Inside the Western capitalist states, it is important for the peace and anti-war movements to protest the current efforts by the imperialists to determine Somalia and Syria’s future. The people of Somalia and Syria must be allowed to resolve their own internal conflicts, without imperialist interventions.
In Somalia, the imperialists have regional designs on the Horn of Africa and other areas of the continent. The war against Syria is also directed against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Hezbollah resistance party in Lebanon and the Palestinians.
Also, both destabilization campaigns are directed towards weakening the influence of China and Russia, which have opposed U.S. and British imperialism in Syria and Iran. Both Syria and Somalia will continue to be a focal point for Western intrigue in Africa and the Middle East in the months to come.
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