Somalia: Imperialists to blame for half a million famine deaths

As imperialist powers jostle for Somalia’s promising oil and gas fields, organising one bogus conference after another, a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has revealed that 258,000 people died as a result of famine in Somalia between 2010-2012, including 133,000 children under the age of five. This vast human tragedy is the responsibility of imperialist policy, particularly by Britain and the US, which has destroyed Somalia in pursuit of influence in the wider region.

2010-12 famine worse than 1992

The FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network found that, between 2010 and 2012:

  • An estimated 4.6% of the total population and 10% of under-fives died in Southern and Central Somalia –the areas most affected.
  • Deaths included Somalis in refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.
  • ‘Excess’ deaths caused by the famine peaked at 30,000 per month between May and August 2011.


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British conference to cement carve-up of Somalia

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 232 April/May 2013

Britain’s announcement in December 2011 of its intention to secure ‘British interests’ in the oil-rich and strategically important Horn of Africa, intensified the scramble by the imperialists and local powers to secure their own regional interests. Now another conference is to be held in London on 7 May 2013.


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Britain’s quest to divide and rule Somalia

On 7 May 2013 the British government will host another conference in London to discuss the future of Somalia. Undoubtedly the new Somali Federal Republic model, chosen by the UN, will be hailed a ‘success’. The reality is it is fast becoming a sectarian nightmare for the Somali people who are forced to divide into smaller and smaller clan-based enclaves and ‘buffer-zones’, like the latest breakaway Jubaland, where foreign authorities, including Kenya and Ethiopia, seek proxies to control.

Britain holds its former protectorate Somaliland, in northern Somalia, as its big ‘success story’, keeping quiet about the brutal behaviour of President Ahmed Silanyo towards protests following municipal elections in November 2012. Ten people are said to have been murdered after protests spread across the region. On 6 December the Somaliland Police Special Protection Unit, an anti-terror unit trained and funded by the British MOD, is thought to have been involved in four murders in Hargeisa. At least nine other people were injured, some of them seriously, including a ten-year-old girl who was shot in the stomach. The government also attacked protesters in Zeila, Saylac (western Somaliland); videos posted online show government troops deliberately shooting and killing teenagers on a demonstration against the fraudulent election results.


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Hands off Somalia!

Imperialism continues to target Somalia, as the nation sees an ever-growing interest in its oil and an accelerating rush to grab its natural resources. Australia-based Jacka Resources, Ophir Energy and Turkish firm Genel all announced plans to start ‘extensive exploration activities’ in the semi-autonomous area of Somaliland, in what has been called the biggest exploration programme in the region for 21 years.

Genel, headed by former BP chief executive Tony Hayward, who visited the region in early November 2012, is preparing to commence ‘seismic work’ early next year, with an eye to drilling its first well in the second quarter of 2014 and another following in 2015. Despite speculation that the new federal government may up-end oil agreements made after 1991, the London-listed company remains unmoved and plans to spend $400m drilling five wells across Africa in the next three years. Negotiations continue between Somaliland and ‘unnamed groups’ to give away remaining oil blocks. In a continuation of secrecy, further unnamed private equity firms, backed by Chinese, Korean and Indian investors, are also developing manganese, iron ore and coal projects in the region. Iran, hoping to gain influence in the Horn of Africa, announced plans to open an embassy in Somalia, replicating Turkey amidst tensions between the two nations over Syria. Prior to this, only five countries had embassies in Somalia.


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Somalia: imperialists impose new constitution

Imperialism is set to impose a new constitution on Somalia on 20 August. There will be no elected constituent assembly to discuss or modify it, no plebiscite to approve it. There will not be the slightest shred of a popular mandate for it. Its purpose is not to aid the reconstruction of a country devastated by imperialist plunder, invasion and civil war, but to provide the political conditions for renewed imperialist looting, particularly of the oil resources in the north east of the country.

The main constitutional proposal is to end the post-colonial attempt to build a unified state and to create a federation of what will be in effect three statelets – Somaliland in the north-west, Puntland in the north-east, and Somalia to the south. This process of balkanisation is aimed at establishing conditions of political stability for the profitable operations of oil and other monopoly corporations. Already British imperialism, which has been leading the imperialist intervention following the February conference in London, is establishing Somaliland as its client state in the region. This will serve as a launch pad to grab the oil resources of neighbouring Puntland. The remainder of Somalia will be left to the UN AMISOM force with the remit of destroying Al Shabab, the Islamic militant organisation formed in response to the Ethiopian invasion in 2006.


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Unmasking Britain’s crude plans for Somalia

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227 June/July 2012

It has been three months since the British conference on 23 February, set up by the ruling imperialist powers to define their idea of a future for Somalia. Since then, the British government has been hardly public on its plans, but through its influence in the UN in Kenya and Uganda, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) in Somali waters, a new proxy war is being waged against Somali people in a battle for their natural resources and sovereign nation.

The first EU NAVFOR attack hit Somali shores on 15 May at 3am. Sea-based attack helicopters bombed ‘pirate supplies’ on a beach near Harardhere, which in detail only amounted to three speed boats, four ladders, and fishing supplies being destroyed. EU NAVFOR Lieutenant Commander Sherriff was quoted as saying: ‘What we want to do is make life more difficult for these guys’ (New York Times). Residents are reportedly terrified, due to reports of Somali fishermen being killed by foreigners, such as the two murdered by the US Navy on 17 March (Somalia Report).


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Hands off Somalia!

Muna Hassan

Hands Off Somalia (HOS) was initiated by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism in January 2012. The campaign was then set up by both Somali and non-Somali activists, who understand what western intervention means and the destruction that it imposes on its victims. It was a response to David Cameron’s speech in November 2011 at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, in which he claimed ‘Somalia is a failed state that directly threatens British interests’ and that ‘young British minds are being poisoned by radicalism’.


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London Conference on Somalia cover for oil grab

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 226 April/May 2012

Photo by Aimee Valinski
London Conference on Somalia cover for oil grab

The London Conference on Somalia on 23 February, convened and hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron, was the 15th attempt since 1993 to solve the ‘Somalia problem’, all of which have ended in failure. The Conference was a grubby cover to enable Britain and the US to bargain over Somalia’s oil resources. Its final communiqué stated that ‘decisions on Somalia’s future rest with the Somali people’, but like the final statement read by Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, it was written before the Conference. They agreed to ‘inject momentum into the political process, strengthen AMISOM [the African Union mission] and help Somalia develop security forces, build stability, and tackle pirates and terrorists’.


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Imperialist hands off Somalia! 23 February 2012

On 23 February, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supported a demonstration called by the Hands Off Somalia! and Voice 4 Somalia campaigns in opposition to the London Somalia Conference.

This conference was a high profile event, hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron, which boasted it would bring together representatives of 40 governments, as well as international organisations, to decide how best to tackle the ‘problem of Somalia’. Cameron, Hillary Clinton, Alain Juppe and other imperialists discussed how to deal with ‘piracy’, ‘Islamic militancy’ and the other factors which in their eyes render Somalia ‘the world’s most failed state’. The day ended with a communiqué which had been written and widely leaked a month prior to the event, and a press conference, at which Cameron and other speakers made it clear that ‘targeted’ military intervention and air-strikes against Somalia are on the cards.


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TALK ON SOMALIA - Trevor Rayne - 4 Feb 2012

The following is an extended version of a talk given by Trevor Rayne at the Kentish Town Community Centre on 4 February 2012.

First, some word images from a person who has recently been to Somalia [these are re-worked from the London Review of Books 3 November 2011]: After three years of drought thousands of colourful tents have sprung up in Mogadishu, amidst the destroyed buildings. Thousands of starving Somalis left the countryside for the city. They appear in the streets in tattered clothes with bundles on their heads, jerry cans in their hands and babies on their backs. These are the younger people; the older ones and the sick are left in the villages.

Even in the drought what water there was in parts of the country was diverted to banana plantations – a cash crop, sold mainly to the Middle East.


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Oil corporations rush to carve up Somalia

When in December 2011 British Prime Minister David Cameron described Somalia as ‘a failed state that directly threatens British interests’ he was signalling Britain’s intention to secure its economic interests in the oil-rich and strategically important Horn of Africa. It has little to do with pirates, Islamists, terrorists or the famine in the country. The continent has become a battleground for imperialists scrambling to control energy sources. The oil in East Africa is historically underexplored. British firms BG Group, Tullow Oil, Premier Oil and Cove Energy, have acquired oil interests in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania since 2010. Puntland in northern Somalia can yield 5-10bn barrels of oil, and drilling has begun there. With political instability in the Middle East, African oil has grown in strategic importance to the imperialist parasites. This is the reality behind the increasing military attacks and interventionist rhetoric against Somalia.


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Somalia: Imperialists scramble for oil

Between 8 and 10 January 2007 the US bombed villages in the Lower Juba region of southern Somalia near the Kenyan border, killing almost 100 civilians including many children, some burned beyond recognition. The bombings were launched from neighbouring Djibouti by the Joint Combined Task Force Horn of Africa, comprising US Marines, Special Operations Forces and a naval task force whose primary mission has been training regional East African armies ostensibly to fight ‘Islamist terrorist groups’. British PM Blair supported the bombing.

The assault continued US imperialism’s policy in the oil-rich and strategically important Horn of Africa. The US claimed it was targeting the Al Qaida leadership in the region, including three men said to have masterminded the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. On 11 January, the US confirmed that all three suspects had survived. The US has never provided any credible evidence of Al Qaida’s presence in Somalia – the ‘Islamic terrorists’ story is a cover for its real goals – to prevent an Islamic government and to obtain a foothold in a highly strategic area of the world via a client regime.


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