Somalia


East Africa’s Great Rift includes four rift systems that promise to hold significant deposits of oil. Africa Oil Corporation has been exploring and drilling here, and prepared a report that includes a number of excellent maps and graphics of seismic data. I’ve selected a few to show you here, but you can see them in greater clarity and detail in the PDF report Hunting Elephants In East Africa’s Rift Basins = January 2012 PDF.

Four major rift systems in East Africa.


four rifts key


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The four rift systems from different geologic time are illustrated above and below. You can click the maps to enlarge enough to read.
Tertiary Rift: runs through Uganda Kenya Ethiopia
Cretaceous Rift: runs through Sudan Kenya Mali
Jurassic Rift: crosses to include Yemen and the Puntland region of Somalia
Permian Triassic Rift: crosses the sea from Ethiopia through southern Somalia to Madagascar

The Tertiary Rift

Tertiary Rift Uganda Kenya Ethiopia: Tullow's Uganda discoveries now at 2.5+ billion barrels of reserves. Tertiary rift in Kenya/Ethiopia contains the same source and reservoir system as Uganda as confirmed by Leperot discovery by Shell in 1992.

The Cretaceous Rift

Cretaceous Rift Kenya Mali Sudan: Over 6 billion barrels of oil discovered on trend in the analogous system in Sudan. Thick oil stained section in the 1980s vintage Amoco/Total wells confirms hydrocarbon system.

The Jurassic Rift

Jurassic Rift Yemen Somalia: Prolific, proven play in Yemen expected to extend into Puntland, which shares a common geologic history. Yemen fields produce from high quality Cretaceous and Jurassic reservoirs and source rocks. Numerous oil shows from wells drilled by previous operators confirm Jurassic source rock.

The Permian Triassic Rift

Permo-Triassic Rift Ethiopia Madagascar: Multi-TCF gas reserves have been discovered in Triassic sandstones. Light oil has been tested in fractured Jurassic carbonates. El Kuran field discovered by Tenneco in the 1970s confirmed oil and gas in both systems.

Here is some detail of the Dharoor block in Puntland Somalia.

Dharoor Puntland Somalia

Here is some detail on Block 10A in Kenya where they are beginning to drill.

Block 10A Kenya

A seismic cross section of the Pai Pai prospect, site of drilling in Block 10A.

Pai Pai prospect Block 10A

A map of East Africa suggesting the underlying petroleum system.

East Africa petroleum system

These are the local totals for potential barrels of oil that Africa Oil Corporation expects to be able to recover from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Puntland in Somalia.

Potential

This is the total size of the potential oil prize in both barrels of oil and dollars.

Size of the prize in billions of barrels

Do note the caveat:

There is no certainty that any portion of the resources will be discovered. If discovered there is no certainty the the discovery will be commercially viable to produce any portion of the resources.

All of these countries and locations mapped are of interest to the United States and its Africa Command, AFRICOM. Many aspects of that interest have been covered here in this blog.

These earlier posts, along with their comments, are particularly relevant to East African oil.
Uganda – Stepping On the Mission Creep Accelerator
If Uganda Has Oil It Must Need The Pentagon’s Democracy
Uganda – Oil Reserves To Rival Saudi Arabia?

There was a pause after Iran captured a US drone in early December, but Predator Reaper drone strikes have resumed in Somalia. I’ll continue to update the list of drone strikes in this post as more occur.

US Air Force General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper ordinance

Drone photo from James Gordon on flickr where you will find diagrams and more background information.

I have recorded details of the previous drone strikes occurring October 9 through December 2, plus background information here:
Bombing The Starving For Target Practice In Somalia

You’ll find more background on the drone use in Africa in this post:
Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies
 

Drone Strikes in Somalia:

US drone attack kills 38 in Somalia
Fri May 11, 2012

Somalia’s al-Shabab fighters say a US assassination drone attack has left at least 38 people dead and dozens of others wounded in the Horn of Africa state, Press TV reports.

The airstrike is said to have taken place in Somalia’s southwestern district of Badade, a Press TV correspondent reported

US drone strike kills 22 in Somalia
Fri Apr 27, 2012

A US assassination drone has pounded Somalia’s southwestern region of Gedo, killing at least 22 people in the attack, Press TV reports.

The attack was carried out on Friday when the unmanned aerial vehicle fired missiles at an area near Gedo’s Dhobley town.

Authorities say dozens of people have been wounded in the airstrike

US drone raid kills 31 in Somalia
Tue Apr 17, 2012

At least 31 people have been killed in the latest attack by two US assassination drones near Somalia’s southern town of Afmadow, Press TV reports.

Abdishakur Ahmed Madoobe, a Somali military official, confirmed the attack, adding that the aerial strike took place on Monday.

US terror drones kill 35 in Somalia
Sat Apr 14, 2012

At least 35 people have been killed and dozens of others wounded in a missile attack by two US assassination drones in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.

The casualties come after an unmanned aircraft fired several missiles at al-Shabab training bases located between the country’s capital city of Mogadishu and its neighboring city Afgoye on Thursday.

Captain Mohamed Haruun, a military official from the Halane military base, confirmed the attack, saying two US assassination drones were sent from the base late at night.

Haruun added that dozens of Somali troops were later deployed to seize the control of the damaged bases to from al-Shabab fighters.

US drone crashes in central Somalia  Tue Apr 3, 2012

An American assassination drone has crashed in Somalia’s central province of Galgaduud, causing a “massive explosion,” Press TV reports.

Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu says the unmanned aircraft went down near El-Bur town early Tuesday and caused “a massive explosion.”

The US military uses drones in several Muslim countries including Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

Washington claims the airstrikes target militants, though they have mostly resulted in civilian casualties.

El Bur has been serving as a key command and control base for al-Shabab fighters in the region for the past three years.

Residents of El-Bur told Press TV that hundreds of al-Shabab fighters left the town March 24.

US terror drone kills 18 in southern Somalia Saturday March 31, 2012

At least 18 people have been killed and a dozen others injured in an attack by US assassination drones in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.

The causalities come after an unmanned aircraft fired several missiles at al-Shabab positions in the Daynile District in west Mogadishu on Saturday.

Hussein Mohamed Uraag, a Somali military official, confirmed the attack, saying the aerial strike happened early in the morning.

The US military uses remote-controlled drones in Somalia to carry out reconnaissance operations and targeted killings.

US terror drone kills 30 in southern Somalia Tue Mar 13, 2012

At least 30 people have been killed and a dozen injured in an attack by US assassination drones in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.

The unmanned aircraft fired several missiles at al-Shabab positions in the Dayniile district of south Mogadishu on Tuesday.

Sheik Ibrahim Jaabar, a senior al-Shabab official, confirmed the attack, saying the aerial strike caused major damage to the group’s positions.

US terror drone crashes in Somalia’s Hobyo seaport Wed Mar 7, 2012

Another US assassination drone has crashed in Mudug region near Somalia’s seaport city of Hobyo, Press TV reports.

A Somali officials speaking on condition of anonymity said that the US spy drone had flown from nearby USS Taylor warship.

This is while the main objective of USS Taylor warship which headed towards Somalia from the Suez canal is to hunt kidnappers who abducted US citizens in Somalia’s Puntland Region.

US terror drone crashes in Somalia Mon Mar 5, 2012

Another US assassination drone has crashed near Central Somalia’s Mudug Province, Press TV reports.

According to local witnesses, the US drone crashed in the sea near the town of Harardheere.

The incident took place as the USS Taylor warship was reportedly heading towards the African nation from the Suez Canal.

The town of Harardheere has become notorious for being a pirate base in war-torn Somalia.

Recently, the US is using a new kind of drone, called a kamikaze drone, in Somalia. It functions both as a missile and an intelligence-gathering reconnaissance aircraft.

Scores killed in US drone attack in Somalia Feb. 29, 2012

A US assassination drone has killed scores of people in an attack on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Press TV reports.

Also on Tuesday night, the unmanned American spy planes attacked a number of targets in southern Mogadishu.

In another incident a US spy drone crashed near Halane military base in southern Mogadishu.

Somali officials confirmed that the US drone crashed on Wednesday in the southern part of the capital.

US terror drone crashes in Somalia
Sat Feb 4, 2012

A non-UN-sanctioned US assassination drone has crashed into a refugee camp in the Somali capital Mogadishu, Press TVreports.

Refugees and soldiers in Mogadishu’s Badbado camp say they watched the unmanned aircraft crash into a hut on Friday.

Shortly after the incident, forces from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) closed down the refugee camp, which is in the Dharkenley district of southern Mogadishu, the Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu reported.

Somali government officials and African Union forces found the drone after the crash and took it away.

A police officer told the media that the drone was shaped like a small plane.

The US is using a new kind of drone, called a kamikaze drone, in Somalia. It functions both as a missile and an intelligence-gathering reconnaissance aircraft.

A very British execution? Jan 25th 2012, by J.L.

BILAL AL-BERJAWI was British, but no friend of Britain. Lebanese, he grew up in London. He went to Afghanistan to fight as a mujahid. In 2006, he pitched up in Somalia. In recent years he was said to be involved in logistics for the al-Qaeda linked Shabab militia. Last year, he was stripped of his British citizenship. His family deny the allegations. They say Berjawi wanted to appeal the decision but feared any phone call would be tracked and followed by a drone strike.

His fears were not entirely misplaced. Last year he was said to have been injured in an air strike on a Shabab base in south Somalia. His wife, who had been with him in Somalia, returned to Britain. Three days ago, she gave birth at a London hospital. Berjawi took a chance and called her. That telephone call seems to have been traced by British intelligence and the coordinates passed on to the Americans. Within a few hours, three missiles from an American drone were fired at a Shabab checkpoint on the edge of Mogadishu. Berjawi was killed instantly, along with several other Shabab fighters. The Shabab issued their own propaganda. “The martyr received what he wished for and what he went out for, as we consider of him and Allah knows him best, when, in the afternoon today, brother Bilal al-Berjawi was exposed to bombing in an outskirt of Mogadishu from a drone that is believed to be American.” The Shabab spokesperson, Ali Mohamed Rage, promised revenge.

The efficiency of the attack was, in Baobab‘s opinion, offset by its lack of transparency. Questions abound. Who was Berjawi? What threat did he pose? Was the British connection a coincidence or a cool calculation? Did British politicians have any knowledge of the action? And what are the ramifications of drone attacks in Somalia? Will they break the jihadists, or deepen the cult of martyrology that may become evident in suicide bombings across the region?

In mid December a drone crashed in the Seychelles: U.S. military drone crashes in Seychelles

US terror drone, Kenya strike Somalia Fri Jan 6, 2012

At least 30 people have been killed after a US assassination drone launched an aerial attack on southern Somalia near the Indian Ocean coast as Kenyan fighter aircraft pounded another location in the south, Press TV reports.

Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that the remotely-controlled aerial vehicle had fired several missiles at the town of Kuda from Kismayo, a strategically important port city on the Somali coast, located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Friday morning.

They added that 11 houses had also been razed to rubble in the strike.

Somalia is the sixth country, where the United States has used drones to launch deadly missile strikes. The US military has also employed the aircraft in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen.

On October 28, the United States admitted to flying the terror aircraft from a base in Ethiopia.

“The US has unarmed and unmanned aircraft at a facility there (Ethiopia) to be used only for surveillance as part of a broad, sustained integrated campaign to counter terrorism,” said Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby.

The confirmation appeared a day after The Washington Post revealed in a report that the US flied ‘armed’ drones from an airfield in Ethiopia’s southern city of Arba Minch.

Meanwhile, Kenyan fighter jets carried out airstrikes on villages in Somalia’s southern region of Gedo.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, the country remains among those generating the highest number of refugees and internally-displaced persons in the world.

Do It Yourself Drones

DIY Drones, for those with some serious curiousity about drones.
This is the home for everything about amateur Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Use the tabs and drop-down menus to navigate the site.
 

Drone Background and History

“The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (originally the Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), capable of remote controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) for use by the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, the CIA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Royal Air Force, and the Italian Air Force. The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the U.S. Air Force to indicate their human ground controllers. The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.

The MQ-9 is a larger and more capable aircraft than the earlier MQ-1 Predator (other than loiter time), and it can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s. The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine, far more powerful than the Predator’s 115 hp (86 kW) piston engine. The increase in power allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance and cruise at three times the speed of the MQ-1. The aircraft is always monitored or controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS) and weapons employment is always commanded by the flight crew.

In 2008 the New York Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing began the transition from F-16 piloted fighters to MQ-9 Reapers, becoming the first fighter squadron conversion to an all-UCAV attack squadron.As of March 2011, the U.S. Air Force was training more pilots for advanced unmanned aerial vehicles than for any other single weapons system.

Then U.S. Air Force (USAF) Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley said, We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.

DevelopmentWith the success of the MQ-1 in combat, General Atomics anticipated the Air Force’s desire for an upgraded aircraft and, using its own funds, set about redesigning Predator.

Prototype Predator B”General Atomics began development of the Reaper with the “Predator B-001, a proof-of-concept aircraft, which first flew on 2 February 2001. The B-001 was powered by an Allied Signal Garrett AiResearch TPE-331-10T turboprop engine with 950 shp (712 kW). It had an airframe that was based on the standard Predator airframe, except with an enlarged fuselage and the wings were lengthened from 48 feet (14.6 m) to 66 feet (20 m). The B-001 had a speed of 220 knots (390 km/h) and could carry a payload of 750 pounds (340 kilograms) to an altitude of 50,000 feet (15.2 kilometers) with an endurance of 30 hours.

The company refined the design, taking it in two separate directions. The first was a jet-powered version; Predator B-002 was fitted with a Williams FJ44-2A turbofan engine with 10.2 kN (2,300 lbf, 1,040 kgf) thrust. It had payload capacity of 475 pounds (215 kilograms), a ceiling of 60,000 feet (18.3 kilometers) and endurance of 12 hours. The U.S. Air Force ordered two airframes for evaluation, delivered in 2007. The first two airframes delivered with prototypes B-001 and B-002 (now in the USAF museum at Wright-Patterson AFB). B-002 was originally equipped with the FJ-44 engine but it was removed and a TPE-331-10T was installed so that the USAF could take delivery of two aircraft in the same configuration.

The second direction the design took was the Predator B-003, referred to by GA as the Altair, which has a new airframe with an 84-foot (25.6 m) wingspan and a takeoff weight of about 7,000 pounds (3,175 kg). Like the Predator B-001, it is powered by a TP-331-10T turboprop. This variant has a payload capacity of 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg), a maximum ceiling of 52,000 feet (15.8 km), and an endurance of 36 hours.

Version for U.S. Air Force
First MQ-9 arrives at Creech AFB, March 2007.In October 2001, the U.S. Air Force signed a contract with GA to purchase an initial pair of Predator B-003s for evaluation, with follow-up orders for production machines. The first test MQ-9s were delivered to the Air Force in 2002. The name Altair did not follow the aircraft into testing, with the Air Force continuing to refer to the system as “Predator B” until it was renamed Reaper (Altair instead became the designation for the unarmed NASA version); this is confusing, however, as the manufacturer uses the term to refer to the smaller B-001 prototype.

Operators, stationed at bases such as Creech Air Force Base, near Las Vegas, can hunt for targets and observe terrain using a number of sensors, including a thermal camera. One estimate has the on-board camera able to read a license plate from two miles (3 km) away. An operator’s command takes 1.2 seconds to reach the drone via a satellite link. The MQ-9 is fitted with six stores pylons. The inner stores pylons can carry a maximum of 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) each and allow carriage of external fuel tanks. The mid-wing stores pylons can carry a maximum of 600 pounds (270 kilograms) each, while the outer stores pylons can carry a maximum of 200 pounds (90 kilograms) each. An MQ-9 with two 1,000 pound (450 kilogram) external fuel tanks and a thousand pounds of munitions has an endurance of 42 hours.

The Reaper has an endurance of 14 hours when fully loaded with munitions. The MQ-9 carries a variety of weapons including the GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb, the AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles, the AIM-9 Sidewinder, and recently, the GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition). Tests are underway to allow for the addition of the AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missile.
The Air Force believes that the Predator B will give the service an improved “deadly persistence” capability, with the RPV flying over a combat area night and day waiting for a target to present itself. In this role an armed RPV neatly complements piloted strike aircraft. A piloted strike aircraft can be used to drop larger quantities of ordnance on a target while a cheaper RPV can be kept in operation almost continuously, with ground controllers working in shifts, carrying a lighter ordnance load to destroy targets. In March, 2011 U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that, while manned aircraft are needed, the Air Force must recognize “the enormous strategic and cultural implications of the vast expansion in remotely piloted vehicles” that already play a major role over Afghanistan and Iraq. “The view still lingers in some corners that, once I depart as secretary and once U.S. forces draw down from Iraq and Afghanistan in accordance with the president’s and NATO’s strategy, things can get back to what some consider to be real Air Force normal, he said. “This must not happen. Even as it buys new manned fighters and bombers, the Air Force must give equal weight to unmanned drones and “the service’s important role in the cyber and space domains.
By October 2007 the U.S. Air Force owned nine Reapers, and by December 2010 owned 57 with plans to buy another 272, for a total buy of 329 Reapers. On 18 May 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a certificate of authorization that allows the MQ-1 and MQ-9 aircraft to fly in U.S. civilian airspace to search for survivors of disasters. Requests had been made in 2005 for the aircraft to be used in search and rescue operations following Hurricane Katrina but, because there was no FAA authorization in place at the time, the planes were not used.

In September 2007, the MQ-9 deployed into Iraq at Balad, the largest U.S. air base in Iraq. On 28 October 2007 the Air Force Times reported an MQ-9 had achieved its first “kill”, firing a Hellfire missile against “Afghanistan insurgents in the Deh Rawood region of the mountainous Oruzgan province. The strike was ‘successful’,” the United States Central Command Air Forces said.

Critics have stated that the USAF’s insistence on qualified pilots flying RPVs is a bottleneck to expanding their deployment. Air Force Major General William Rew stated on 5 August 2008, For the way we fly them right now”—fully integrated into air operations and often flying missions alongside manned aircraft—”we want pilots to fly them. This may be exacerbating losses of Air Force aircraft, in comparison with US Army operations.
The typical MQ-9 system consists of multiple aircraft, ground control station, communications equipment and links, maintenance spares, and military (or contractor) personnel. The crew consists of a pilot and sensor operator. To meet combat requirements, the MQ-9 tailors its capabilities using mission kits of various combinations of weapons and sensors payloads. The Raytheon AN/AAS-52 multi-spectral targeting sensor suite includes a color/monochrome daylight TV, infrared, and image-intensified TV with laser rangefinder/target designator to designate targets for laser guided munitions. The Synthetic Aperture Radar system enables GBU-38 JDAM targeting, is capable of very fine resolution in both spotlight and strip modes, and has ground moving target indicator capability.

DesignThe typical MQ-9 system is composed of multiple aircraft, ground-control stations, satellites, and flight and maintenance crews. The aircraft is powered by a 950 horsepower turboprop, with a maximum speed of about 260 knots (300 miles per hour) and a cruising speed of 150-170 knots. With a 66 foot wingspan, and a maximum payload of 3800 lbs, the MQ-9 can be armed with a variety of weaponry, including Hellfire missiles and 500-lb laser-guided bomb units. The 3200 nm range of the MQ-9, and its 50,000 ft operational altitude, make it especially useful for long-term loitering operations, both for surveillance and support of ground troops.

Operational history U.S. Air Force
MQ-9 Reaper in Afghanistan in 2007On 1 May 2007, the 432d Wing of the U.S. Air Force was activated to operate MQ-9 Reaper as well as MQ-1 Predator UAVs at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. The pilots first flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan in the summer of 2007. In October 2007 the USAF was flying operational missions in Afghanistan.[14] As of 6 March 2008, according to USAF Lieutenant General Gary North, the Reaper has attacked 16 targets in Afghanistan using 500 lb (230 kg) bombs and Hellfire missiles. On 4 February 2008 the MQ-9 dropped a bomb on a truck carrying an insurgent mortar and team near Kandahar.

On 17 July 2008, the Air Force began flying Reaper missions within Iraq from Balad Air Base. It was reported on August 11, 2008 that the 174th Fighter Wing of the USAF will consist entirely of Reapers. By March 2009 the U.S. Air Force had 28 operational Reapers.

On 13 September 2009, an MQ-9 was flying a combat mission over Afghanistan when positive control of the aircraft was lost resulting in the drone flying out of control towards the Afghan border with Tajikistan. An F-15E Strike Eagle was sent to destroy it; the Reaper’s engine was disabled with an AIM-9 missile. The satellite link with the vehicle was restored immediately after, leaving the operator no option other than to steer it into a mountainside along with its ordnance. It was the first time a US drone was destroyed intentionally by allied forces.

Beginning in September 2009, Reapers were deployed by the Africa Command to The Seychelles for use in Indian Ocean anti-piracy patrols.

As of July 2010, 38 Predators and Reapers have been lost during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, with another 9 crashing during training operations in the U.S. The U.S. Air Force conducted more than 33,000 close-air-support- mission flights in 2010, an increase of more than 20 percent compared with 2009. As of March, 2011, the U.S. Air Force had 48 Predator and Reaper combat air patrols flying in Iraq and Afghanistan compared with 18 in 2007.

As of March, 2011, the U.S. Air Force was training more pilots for advanced unmanned aerial vehicles than for any other single weapons system.
In October 2011 the U.S. Air Force began operating Reapers out of Arba Minch in Ethiopia. It has been reported that these shall be used for surveillance only operations over Somalia.

NASA had initially expressed some interest in a production version of the B-002 turbofan-powered variant,[12] but instead has leased an unarmed version of the Reaper, which carries the GA-ASI company name “Altair”. Altair is one of the first 3 “Predator-B” airframes. The other 2 airframes, known as “Predator-B 001″ and “Predator-B 002″, had a maximum gross weight of 7,500 pounds (3,400 kg). Altair differs from these models in that it has an 86-foot (26 m) long wingspan (20 feet greater than early and current MQ-9s). The Altair has enhanced avionics systems to better enable it to fly in FAA-controlled civil airspace and demonstrate “over-the-horizon” command and control capability from a ground station. These aircraft are used by NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise as part of the NASA ERAST Program to perform on-location science missions.

In November 2006, NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center obtained an MQ-9 from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. The aircraft has been named Ikhana and its main goal is the Suborbital Science Program within the Science Mission Directorate. NASA also acquired a ground control station in a mobile trailer. This aircraft was used extensively to survey the Southern California wildfires in 2007. The data was used to deploy firefighters to areas of the highest need.

The California Office of Emergency Services requested NASA support for the Esperanza Fire, and in under 24 hours the General Atomics Altair (NASA variant of the Predator B) was launched on a 16 hour mission to map the perimeter of the fire. The Altair had just returned from a test mission a day before the Esperanza Fire started. The fire mapping research is a joint project with NASA and the US Forest Service.

US Homeland Security
UAV Operators at Joint Base Balad (LSA Anaconda), Iraq, April 20, 2005The United States Department of Homeland Security initially ordered one Reaper for border patrol duty, referred to as MQ-9 CBP-101. It began operations 4 October 2005, but on 25 April 2006, this aircraft crashed in the Arizona desert. The NTSB determined (Record Identification: CHI06MA121) that the cause of the crash was most likely a pilot error by the aircraft’s ground-based pilot in the use of a checklist. During its operational period, the aircraft flew 959 hours on patrol and had a part in 2,309 arrests. It also contributed to the seizure of four vehicles and 8,267 pounds (3,750 kg) of marijuana.[40] Because of these successes, a second Reaper, called CBP-104 (initially referred to as “CBP-102″), was delivered in September 2006, and commenced limited border protection operations on 18 October 2006. The program was further expanded on 16 February 2009, including Canadian border patrols where US officials were concerned about the exploitation of the border by drug smugglers, migrants and terrorists.

The CBP-101 was equipped with the Lynx SAR, AX-15 payload, ARC-210 radios, and other sensors and communications equipment; CBP-104 was enhanced with Ku band satellite command and control link and MTS-A EO/IR sensors.

The President’s FY 2006 Emergency Supplemental budget request added $45 million for the Reaper program, and the FY 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill adds an additional $20 million. In October 2006, GA-ASI announced a $33.9 million contract to supply two more Reaper systems by Fall 2007.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has six operational MQ-9s. In 2009, one was based in North Dakota, at the UAS Operations Center in Grand Forks, four in Arizona, at the UAS Operations Center in Sierra Vista and one based at Fort Drum, New York. The aircraft are equipped with GA-ASI’s Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (Lynx SAR info/web page) and Raytheon’s MTS-B ElectroOptical/Infrared sensors.

On 25 April 2006, an MQ-9 operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection crashed near Nogales, Arizona. The pilot, remotely operating the vehicle from Sierra Vista Municipal Airport, reported a momentary lockup of the displays on the primary control console. The pilot switched control to a secondary console, and in doing so inadvertently shut down the vehicle’s engine, causing it to descend out of reach of communications and ultimately crash.

TestbedThe Reaper is being used as a testbed for Gorgon Stare, a wide-area surveillance sensor system.

Non-US use[edit] AustraliaIn September 2006, the General Atomics Mariner demonstrator aircraft was operated by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in an exercise designed to evaluate the aircraft’s ability to aid in efforts to stem illegal fishing, drug running and illegal immigration. The Mariner operated from RAAF bases Edinburgh, South Australia and Learmonth, Western Australia in conjunction with a Royal Australian Navy Armidale class patrol boat, the Joint Offshore Protection Command and the Pilbara Regiment.

United KingdomOn 27 September 2006, the U.S. Congress was notified by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency that the United Kingdom was seeking to purchase a pair of MQ-9 Reapers. They are operated by No. 39 Squadron RAF from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.[49] A third MQ-9 was in the process of being purchased by the RAF in 2007.[49] In December 2010, the UK Ministry of Defence announced that it would increase its fleet of Reapers to 10.

On 9 November 2007, the UK Ministry of Defence announced that its MQ-9 Reapers had begun operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban. In April 2008, following the crash of one of the UK’s two Reapers, British special forces were sent to recover sensitive material from the wreckage before it was blown up to prevent the enemy from obtaining it.

Germany
Germany has made a request to purchase five Reapers and four ground control stations, plus related support material and training. The request, being made through the Foreign Military Sales process, was presented to Congress through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on 1 August 2008 and is valued at US$205 million. However, Germany did not go through with this procurement for the time being and decided to lease the IAI Heron offered by IAI and Rheinmetall instead, initially for the duration of one year, representing a stop-gap measure before a long-term decision on a MALE-system is being made.
On August 1, 2008, Italy submitted a FMS request through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency for four aircraft, four ground stations and five years of maintenance support, all valued at US$330 million. Italy ordered two more aircraft in November, 2009.

Variants
Naval versionGeneral Atomics designed a naval version of the Reaper, named the “Mariner”, for the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program requirements. The design would have an increased fuel capacity in order to have an endurance of up to 49 hours. Proposed variations on the ultimate design included one designed for carrier operations with folding wings for carrier storage, shorter and more rugged landing gear, an arresting hook, cut-down or eliminated ventral flight surfaces and six stores pylons with a total load of 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms).
The US Customs and Border Protection has ordered a “Maritime Variant” of the MQ-9.”

________

MQ Reaper drone background and history from James Gordon on flickr, where you will find photos, diagrams, and history of this and other UAVs.

The dumbest war ever continues.

When we thought Dubya had waged enough dumb wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We have kenya army with 2,000 infrantry invading a lawless somalia with apparently no plan; no objective;no real mandate from constitution or international law; no real support from international bodies; no support from somalis; no nothing. Just a shadowy suspicious dumb “war”. RV Pundit

The competition for the dumbest war ever is fierce, but the Kenyan invasion of Somalia is certainly in the running. The problem is, if they “win” what then? Who governs Somalia? And how?

As a headline in the East African put it: Kenya’s headache: Al Shabaab goes, then what?

Cartoon by Amin Amir of Kenyan troops trying to figure out the way forward in Somalia.

Kenya’s troops are untested and it isn’t clear if they are prepared for a long-term occupation requiring counterinsurgency skills — a scenario that ended U.S. and Ethiopian interventions during Somalia’s 20-year-old civil war. The Somalia operation is Kenya’s biggest foreign military commitment since independence in 1963. (Garowe online)

According to the same article the French are continuing their imperial military adventuring in Somalia:

Kenya on Sunday said that France’s navy bombed a town in Somalia near a stronghold of al-Shabab, the first confirmation that a Western military force is involved in the latest push against the Islamist militia.

Kenyan military spokesman Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir said the French navy bombed the town of Kuday near the southern al-Shabab stronghold of Kismayo on Saturday night. A Nairobi-based diplomat told The Associated Press last week that France was carrying out military attacks in Somalia; French officials in Paris denied French forces were carrying out any attacks.

The Ethiopians have returned: Ethiopian troops cross into Somalia

And the Israelis are getting involved: Israeli terror drones kill 17 in Somalia Thu Nov 24, 2011

This invasion certainly looks like the Kenyans are going into Somalia as US proxies. Although the article says this:

U.S. officials told AP last week that the United States had been pressuring Kenya to “do something” in response to a string of security incidents along the Kenya-Somalia border, but that Kenya’s invasion of Somalia took the U.S. by surprise.

I think I’ll maintain some skepticism about the US being surprised.

The same US/Anglo/French imperialists that used NATO and the UN to destroy Libya are at work on Somalia and Kenya. The Brits are staging their own commando raids into Somalia. British commandos raided into Somalia to snatch a clan leader for discussions. The Brits also claim Somalia is training UK born terrorists. The Chinese are meddling in Somalia as well.

The US has taken the opportunity created by the Kenyan invasion to practice the use of its assassination drones. There has been about one strike per day since the Kenyan invasion began on October 16. I am listing them here: Bombing The Starving For Target Practice In Somalia

From On Kenya’s war against Al-Shabaab by Abena Afia:

The invasion has already helped to revive Shabaab’s fading appeal, enabling them to appear as genuine freedom fighters to Somalis. Press statements released by the extremist group display a distinct and deliberate departure from their usual fundamentalist rhetoric, employing a more nationalistic approach that has earned them a growing support. Unanimity on their call could establish the ascent of Shabaab domination.

Somalis have resisted occupation from previous foreign interventions, the US in 1992 and Ethiopia in 2006, ending in humiliating withdrawals. Provisions in the road map would have allowed Kenya to hold a significant stake in Somali resources. If Somalia was occupied and annexed by Kenya, tourism and business would again flourish. The decision to resurrect Somalia’s territorial claims caused anxiety to its neighbours.

Deals long exist between Kenya and multinational petroleum companies for offshore exploration blocks; of particular interest is block L5, thought to have the highest concentration of oil. Pursuit of this part of the block lying within the perimeters of Somali territorial waters is illegal.

In accordance with Article 10 of Somali Law No. 37 Territorial Sea and Ports (1972), Somalia has the right to territorial waters of 200 nautical miles (nm) and an Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nm provided in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

It seems of little coincidence then that an invasion has taken place following the fall of the roadmap, reinforcement of Somali law and protection of its sea.

… Kenya has not sought permission to enter and war crimes increase each day that they remain. Somalis already in a desperate situation continue to suffer.

Somalia, a current hotspot for international interest owing to its East African coastal location, oil explorations and other ‘free for all’ attractions such as illegal fishing and lucrative international piracy activity, now hosts Blackwater and Saracen mercenaries who have built base in Puntland. The unsettling presence of such ‘private security firms’ could see the orchestration of Somalia’s current internal war handled and controlled by more lawless but “professional” killers, whose interests do not coincide with those of Somalis.

The calamity engulfing Somalia is often blamed on an inability to manage its own country but active aggressors play a major role in its stagnation and underdevelopment.

Meanwhile, there is another pressing issue in Kenya that everyone is ignoring. Somalia is not an ideal breeding ground for terrorists. There is little infrastructure and strangers stand out. Kenya on the other hand does provide an ideal breeding ground for terrorists:

Kenya: Perfect breeding ground for Al-Shabaab terrorists by Rasna Warah

Kenya is a perfect breeding ground for terrorists and suicide bombers because it has the two ingredients that make recruitment to terrorist organisations so attractive – a high unemployment rate among youth and widespread corruption.

Impressionable and unemployed youth who have nothing much to look forward to can be easily lured to become terrorists, if presented with incentives such as money or a better afterlife.

Jobless, dejected and disillusioned youth may find the idea of becoming a martyr to a cause attractive. Some may become terrorists just for adventure.

Corruption ensures that would-be terrorists escape the security dragnet easily. I wonder how many Al-Shabaab have got away scot-free at police checks and border posts by parting with as little as Sh200.

Corruption, incompetence and lack of respect for ordinary citizens are the conditions under which terrorism thrives.

In addition to the corruption and high youth unemployment, Kenya has a third feature making it a welcoming environment for terrorists. Kenya has a diverse population and many urban environments into which people can blend or disappear far more easily than in Somalia.

William Oeri | NATION Kenyan troops heading to Amuma border entry point to flush out al Shabaab militants. The army captured a pirates haven of Ras Kamboni in southern Somalia on October 20, 2011 and were advancing towards the al Shabaab stronghold of Kismayu.

Regarding the coverage of the war, Henry Makori writes: Kenya’s media in bed with the military

These are the daily media images of the Kenyan war in Somalia. A clean war. Not a drop of blood. There have been frequent reports of killings of al-Shabaab militiamen and bombing of their bases. But no one has seen any images of the ‘frontline gains’ as NTV once described the army’s progress.

The headlines on TV and in the newspapers have been entirely celebratory since the fighting began on 16 October 2011 – except on those days when suspected retaliatory grenade attacks rocked Nairobi; the media has played down subsequent grenade attacks in other parts of the country.

Some observers believe Kenya decided to enter Somalia after a plan to create a new state (Azania) in the south of the country to act as a buffer between Kenya and al-Shabaab-controlled areas failed. The question that has not been openly asked – or answered in the military and political briefings – is why Kenya decided to pursue al-Shabaab inside Somalia and not the other militias inside other neighbouring countries which have for years attacked, killed and robbed Kenyans living near the national borders.

The invasion was said to be in response to the kidnapping of some Western tourists by al-Shabaab. But the militia group never claimed responsibility for those kidnappings, but actually denied the allegations.

One could get an idea of what is going on at the ‘frontline’ by speaking to reporters who have been there. Patrick Injendi, a journalist with Citizen TV, spent three weeks with the soldiers. The media has been reporting that the Kenyan army has ‘captured’ or ‘liberated’ town after town in Somalia apparently with little resistance from al shabaab as the soldiers make their way to the militia’s stronghold in the port city of Kismayu. But Injendi says the only ‘towns’ he ever saw were settlements with two or three buildings.

How do the reporters get their ‘frontline’ stories? ‘There is no freedom of movement’, Injendi says. ‘You couldn’t just wake up and decide you were going to look for news in a certain place. You must be accompanied by soldiers for security.’ That means the media reports are merely what the soldiers tell the reporters.

What about Somali civilians killed in the bombings? How many are they so far? No numbers have been published, or even the mention of civilian deaths.

The vice-chair of the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights, Hassan Omar says the anger may not be reported in the Kenyan media but it is there, boiling in blogs run by Somalis. … ‘There is a lot of anger there. Don’t ever underestimate it because of the fact that it is not reaching the Kenyan media.’

Because of civilian casualties, says Omar, the Kenyan army could end up facing charges of war crimes.

Radio journalist Kassim Mohammed who has reported on Somalia … ‘The Kenyan media has failed in reporting this war. On the other hand, the Somali media has done very well: they question, they criticise a lot of the things going on.

there is no doubt that the truth about what is exactly happening will eventually come to light. Trouble is, immense damage would already have been done.

With no real plan and no truthful reporting in Kenya, there is a lot of supportive evidence to RV Pundit’s observation that this is the dumbest war ever.

“Somalia is a counterterrorism planner`s dream … It`s far, far harder to do counterterrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan than in Somalia” (NYT)

Anyone who thinks the US is “surgically striking” only hardcore badguys in Somalia is living in a western corporate media induced dream world. The US is practicing and expanding its use of robot drones, practicing on real people, real lives, real deaths, real maiming. The Somali people have no one to stand up for them, which leaves them open to being abused and experimented on in this way. The US and its proxies, in this case mainly Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi, allege they are representing Somali interests. Yet they are the ones inflicting the most harm on Somalis.

Somalia surrounded by predators as illustrated by talented cartoonist Amin Amir of aminarts.com

Somalia is experiencing a severe famine. It’s government is a creation of the US and the western “international community”, and is so weak that it barely exists. Most members of the government live outside Somalia, hardly a representative government. Listed below is the sort of “aid” the US is providing.

“We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.” (U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley)

Drones: Predator MQ-9 Reaper

There are drone bases in Djibouti, the Seychelles and in Ethiopia, and more are planned. These may not be an HQ, but they are AFRICOM bases in Africa.

What follows is a list of killer drone strikes and drone crashes in Somalia. There are a lot of crashes, Either some drones are being brought down, or they are still an unreliable technology, or both.

December 8 2011: The Iranians captured a US spy drone announced on December 4, and put it on display in Iran on December 8. There is no record of any drone strikes in Somalia since the one below on December 2. I’ll watch to see how this continues.  So far the strikes on Somalia seem to have stopped, or at least paused.   This is also interesting:  US Keeps Losing Control Of Its Drones, regarding another drone that came down in the Seychelles.

Funny how these drones keep experiencing failures in areas where they’re engaging in a covert war …

One of the Air Force’s premier drones crashed Tuesday morning in the Seychelles, the Indian Ocean archipelago that serves as a base for anti-piracy operations, as well as U.S. surveillance missions over Somalia.

Prior to the downing of the spy drone in Iran, these are the drone strikes in Somalia.  These strikes occurred more recently than the original posting date of this article:

US terror drones kill 24 in Somalia Fri Dec 2, 2011

At least 24 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia, near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
Abdi Hirsi, a Somali military officer, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Buzar village, which is located close to El Wak city in Somalia’s southwestern region of Gedo, on Friday morning.
He added that dozens of people were also injured in the strikes.

US terror drones kill 11 more in Somalia Thu Dec 1, 2011

At least 11 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Thursday morning.
They added that over 50 people were also injured in the strikes.

US drone raid kills 9 Somali civilians Wed Nov 30, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least 9 civilians and left 28 others wounded in south Somalia, Press TV reports.
According to witnesses, the terror attack took place near the southern Somali town of Kulbiyow on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, informed sources at the southern border town of Dhobley have confirmed that more than 700 Kenyan forces that had entered Somalia to fight al-Shabab militants are retreating towards the Kenyan territory following threats of retaliation.
Last month, Kenya dispatched soldiers over its border into Somalia to pursue al-Shabab militants, who have been accused of being behind the kidnapping of several foreigners on its territory. Al-Shabab has denied any involvement in such incidents.
Additionally on Sunday, United Nations Political Office for Somalia met with the country’s civil society and rights groups in a bid to solve the decades-long crisis in the war-torn nation.

US terror drone kills 18 in Somalia Mon Nov 28, 2011

A US assassination drone has killed at least 18 al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia, injuring dozens more, Press TV reports.
According to a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) officer, the incident occurred in an al-Shabab training camp in the town of Badade.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Political Office for Somalia has met with the country’s civil society and rights groups in a bid to solve the war-torn nation’s crisis.

Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia remains among the ones generating the highest number of refugees and internally displaced persons in the world.

US terror drones kill 39 more in Somalia Sun Nov 27, 2011

At least 39 people have been killed after US assassination drones launch aerial attacks on southern Somalia near the Indian Ocean coast, Press TV has reported.
Dozens of others were also injured after the remotely-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles, Somali tribal elders told Press TV on Saturday evening.
The incident took place on the outskirts of Kismayo — a strategically important port city on the Somali coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the country’s capital Mogadishu.

The following strikes were recorded in this original article:

US drone attacks kill 21 in Somalia Fri Nov 25, 2011

At least 21 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Friday morning.
They added that 21 people were killed and scores of others injured in the drone attacks.
The aerial attacks followed US terror drone strikes against the same area on Thursday evening.
Witnesses told Press TV that at least 14 people were killed and 37 others injured in the strikes.

US terror drones kill 14 more in Somalia Fri Nov 25, 2011
This is the Thursday evening Thanksgiving Day strike mentioned above.

At least 14 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali tribal elders told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Thursday evening.
They added that 37 people were also injured in the strikes.

This report shows the Israelis are getting in a bit of targeted robot killing practice too.
Israeli terror drones kill 17 in Somalia Thu Nov 24, 2011

At least 17 people have been killed after Israeli assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali military officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at the town of Kuda along the coast from Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Thursday morning.
They added that more than 60 others were also injured in the strikes.
Israel has reportedly deployed five unmanned aerial vehicles in a Kenyan military base near the border with neighboring Somalia, and has also passed a considerable amount of heavy weapons to Kenya. The Israeli regime has even sent thirteen trainers to Kenya to provide the Kenyan army with technical training or assistance related to Nairobi’s military operations in war-torn Somalia.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga recently requested Tel Aviv’s assistance in carrying out intensified offensives inside Somalia.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, in response to the request, has vowed to aid Kenya with whatever it needs in its fight against al-Shabab fighters.
Hundreds of families have been fleeing towns in southern Somalia in the wake of Kenyan military’s aerial strikes.
Residents in Kismayo as well as in Buale, Jilib, and Afmadow towns have been leaving their homes over the past weeks for fear of their lives.
Last month, Kenya dispatched soldiers over its border into Somalia to pursue al-Shabab militants, which it accuses of being behind the kidnapping of several foreigners on its territory. Al-Shabab has denied involvement.
Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed has said his UN-backed transitional government was opposed to the military incursion, which is reportedly being contributed to by the US and France.

US drone raid kills 7 in Somalia Wed Nov 23, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least seven civilians and injured several others in Somalia, Press TV reports.
The US drone carried out the assassination attacks Wednesday morning in Hiiraan region near Kalaberka of central Somalia.
The US has expanded the number of its aerial assassination attacks by unmanned remote-controlled aircraft in Somalia. Consequently, many civilians have fallen victim to the non-UN-sanctioned assaults.

US spy drone crashes in Somalia Mon Nov 21, 2011

An American remote-controlled reconnaissance drone went down on the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Monday.
Local residents said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
They added that that the remains of the spy drone were collected by al-Shabab fighters.

US terror drone kills 25 Somalis Sun Nov 20, 2011

The attack took place near Bardera city in the southern Gedo region of the African nation, leaving many others injured.
The incident follows an attack last night, which also left at least 18 others dead and tens of others wounded between Kismayo and Afmadow

US terror drones kill 46 more in Somalia Fri Nov 18, 2011

Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles on the outskirts of Afmadow city, which is situated in the middle of the Juba region and 620 kilometers (385 miles) south of Mogadishu, on Friday.
They said that 15 people were killed and several others wounded in the strikes.
The aerial attacks came as US assassination drones had struck Balanbale district in Somalia’s central region of Galguduud earlier in the day.

US terror drones kill 13 in south Somalia Thu Nov 17, 2011

Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Buzar village, which is located close to El Wak city in Somalia’s southwestern region of Gedo, on Thursday.
They added that dozens of people were also injured in the strikes.
The aerial attacks came as US assassination drones had struck Buzar village a day earlier. At least 26 people were killed and dozens more were also wounded in Wednesday’s drone attacks.

US drone crashes in central Somalia Thu Nov 17, 2011

The remote-controlled aerial vehicle went down on the outskirts of Feer town, which is located in Somalia’s central region of Middle Shabelle, on Thursday.
A Somali military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that 15 people were injured in the incident.
Local residents also said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire

US terror drones kill 35 more in Somalia Wed Nov 16, 2011

A Somali military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles struck the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Wednesday morning.
He added that dozens of people were also injured in the attacks

US drone strike kills 17 in Somalia Tue Nov 15, 2011

The attack occurred in a civilian region near the town of Dhobley in southern Somalia on Tuesday.

US terror drones kill 36 more in Somalia Sat Nov 12, 2011.

At least 36 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali tribal elders, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Haawina village, which is located in the Lower Juba region of southern Somalia, on Saturday evening.
dozens of people were also injured in the attacks, the tribal elders added.
Somalia is the sixth country where the United States has used assassination drones.
The US military has also used drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen.
On October 28, the United States admitted to flying the terror aircraft from a base in Ethiopia.

US terror drones kill 146 in two days Fri Nov 11, 2011

Seventy-nine more people have been killed in US assassination drone attacks in southern Somalia, bringing the death toll to 146 over the past two days, Press TV reported.
The US military launched terror drone attacks on Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Friday. At least 79 people were killed and several others were injured in the strikes.
The aerial attacks followed US terror drone strikes against Afmadow city, which is situated in the middle of the Juba region and 620 kilometers (385 miles) south of Mogadishu.
Witnesses told Press TV that at least 29 people were killed and 43 others were also injured in the aerial assassination attacks.
Meanwhile, at least 38 people were killed and over 66 others were wounded after US remote-controlled terror drones launched attacks on Tabataa town, which is located in the southern Lower Juba region of Somalia.

2 US terror drones crash in Somalia Fri Nov 11, 2011

Two US military assassination drones have crashed separately in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
One of the American remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles went down on the outskirts of Dhoobley town, situated 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Kenyan border and about 500 kilometers (312 miles) southwest of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, on Thursday.
Local residents said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
Later in the day, another US terror drone reportedly crashed near Dhoobley town. Locals said they had witnessed the aircraft crashing in outskirts of the town.

US terror drone raid kills 6 in Somalia Wed Nov 9, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least six civilians and injured several others in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The terror drone raid was carried out Wednesday morning near Kismayo in southern Somalia, leaving six people dead and 70 women and girls that were fleeing the area toward Kismayo wounded.
The US has expanded the number of its aerial assassination attacks by unmanned remote-controlled aircraft in Somalia, which is suffering a disastrous famine.
Consequently, many civilians have fallen victim to the non-UN-sanctioned assassination assaults.

US, Kenya airstrikes kill 64 in Somalia Sun Nov 6, 2011

US assassination drone attacks and Kenya airstrikes have claimed the lives of at least 64 people in southern Somalia, as violence continues to intensify in the war-torn African nation, Press TV reports.
A US drone strike killed at least 29 civilians near the town of Hoosingow in Jubbada Hoose district, while Kenya jet fighters bombed an area near the town of Afmadow, killing at least 35 al-Shabab fighters.
Witnesses say dozens of civilians were injured in both attacks.
The incident comes hours after an earlier US assassination drone attack on the town of Kuda along the coast of Kismayo, which left at least 24 Somalis dead.
The US has deployed bombing and intelligence drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Washington claims the airstrikes target militants, though most such attacks have resulted in civilian casualties.
These attacks are authorized by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Meanwhile, tension has been growing between the Somali government backed by Kenyan troops and al-Shabab fighters since they engaged in fierce battle over control of towns in south Somalia.

US terror drones kill 24 more in Somalia Sun Nov 6, 2011

At least 24 Somalis have been killed in a US assassination drone attack near the country’s border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
The remotely-controlled drones launched an aerial attack on the town of Kuda along the coast of Kismayo, a strategically-important port city located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu on Saturday evening.
The attack followed two similar US assassination strikes against Bardera city and Burdhubo town in the southern Gedo region. At least 75 people were killed and over 80 others wounded in the two strikes.

US drone attacks kill dozens in Somalia Sat Nov 5, 2011

Two US assassination drone attacks have left at least 75 people dead and about 80 others wounded in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The first strike happened in the southern city of Bardera on Saturday, killing nearly 45 people, witnesses said.
In the second attack, more than 30 people were killed in Burdhubo town, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Nearly 80 civilians were also injured in the attacks.
Hundreds of Somali troops entered Bardera city following the US assassination drone strike.

US terror drones kill 38 more Somalis Thu Nov 3, 2011

At least 38 Somali civilians have been killed in a US assassination drone attack near the country’s border with Ethiopia, Press TV reports.
Two US terror drones carried out airstrikes in Qeydar and Marodile towns near Somalia-Ethiopia borders on Wednesday, killing 38 people and injuring 74 others.
The aerial attacks come few days after the prominent US daily Washington Post revealed in a report that the US flies “armed” drones from a secret airfield in Ethiopia’s southern city of Arba Minch.
The US Air Force has spent millions of dollars to improve the airfield in Ethiopia to accommodate a fleet of Reaper drones that carry Hellfire missiles and precision-guided bombs, the report said.
A day after the report was published, the Americans admitted to flying unmanned aerial vehicles from Ethiopia, claiming that the assassination drones merely conduct surveillance missions in the Horn of Africa.
Although the United States has tried to downplay its military and intelligence presence in the Horn of Africa region, the US military has carried out numerous terror drone strikes in Somalia in the past few months, killing hundreds of people, most of them civilians.
Somalia is the sixth country where the US military has engaged in unauthorized aerial bombing campaigns through the use of its remote-controlled aircraft.
The United States has also deployed its assassination drones for aerial attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen.
Washington claims the airstrikes target anti-American militants, though a far greater number of victims of such attacks have been civilians.

US terror drones kill 41 more in Somalia Thu Nov 3, 2011

At least 41 people have been killed in a US assassination drone attack near the country’s border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
The US remote-controlled drones launched an aerial attack on the outskirts of Hoomboy town, which is situated in Somalia’s southern region of the Middle Juba.
The aerial attack followed a US assassination strike against Jamame town in Somalia’s southern Jubbada Hoose region earlier on Thursday. At least 28 people were killed and dozens more were wounded.

US drone attack kills 28 in south Somalia Thu Nov 3, 2011

At least 28 people have been killed after US remote-controlled drones launched an aerial attack in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Witnesses told Press TV that the unmanned aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Jamame town, which is situated in Somalia’s southern region of Jubbada Hoose.
They added that dozens more people were also injured in the strike.

US drone strikes kill 38 in Somalia Wed Nov 2, 2011

At least 38 people have been killed after US remote-controlled drones launched aerial attacks in central Somalia near the border with Ethiopia, Press TV reported.
Witnesses told Press TV that the unmanned aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Qeydar and Marodile villages, which are situated between Guriceel and Balanbale districts in Somalia’s central region of Galguduud.
Somali tribal elders said that more than 74 people were also injured in the strikes.
Earlier in the day, 20 people were killed and 60 others were injured after a US drone struck the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Somalia is the sixth country where the United States has used remote-controlled drone aircraft to launch deadly missile strikes.

US drone strikes kill 38 in Somalia Wed Nov 2, 2011

At least 38 people have been killed after US remote-controlled drones launched aerial attacks in central Somalia near the border with Ethiopia, Press TV reported.
Witnesses told Press TV that the unmanned aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Qeydar and Marodile villages, which are situated between Guriceel and Balanbale districts in Somalia’s central region of Galguduud.
Somali tribal elders said that more than 74 people were also injured in the strikes.
Earlier in the day, 20 people were killed and 60 others were injured after a US drone struck the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

US drone attack kill 20 Somalis Wed Nov 2, 2011

A US drone attack has killed 20 civilians and injured 60 others in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The US assassination drone carried out the attacks on Wednesday morning on the outskirts of Kismayo city, leaving 20 people dead and 60 others, mostly women and children, injured.
Somali security sources have also told Press TV that another drone attack in Kismayo killed dozens of al-Shabab fighters.

US drone strike kills eight in Somalia Tue Nov 1, 2011

At least eight people have been killed and several others have been wounded in a US assassination drone attack in Somalia, Press TV reports.
Witnesses said the strike happened in Mussa Haji district of south Kismayo town on Tuesday, a Press TV correspondent said.

US drone kills 28 in south Somalia Sun Oct 30, 2011

Another attack by a US assassination drone has claimed the lives of at least 28 civilians, while injuring dozens of others in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The incident took place in the town of Gilib, 350 kilometers south of Mogadishu, a Press TV correspondent reported on Sunday.
Meanwhile, other US drones also crashed near the Balet Weyne Town in Hiiraan. Further details have not been released yet.

US terror drone kills 21 in Somalia Sun Oct 30, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least 21 civilians and injured several others in southern Somalia, Press TVreports.
The US drone carried out attacks Sunday morning near Kismayo city in southern Somalia, leaving 21 people dead and 67 others wounded.

US drone crashes in south Somalia. Sun Oct 30, 2011

An unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the US military has crashed in southern Somalia near the Horn of African country’s border with Kenya, Press TV has reported.
The remotely-controlled aircraft went down on the outskirts of Kalaberka town, which is located in Somalia’s south-central region of Hiiran, on Saturday.
Local residents said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
Earlier on Saturday, 16 civilians were killed and 19 others injured after one such drone fired several missiles at Kulbiyow village in the Lower Juba region in the south of the country.

US drone strike kills 49 in Somalia Sat Oct 22, 2011

An unmanned US drone strike has killed at least 49 people in famine-stricken in southern Somalia, while injuring at least 68 others, Press TV reported.
According to Somali military officials, the attack took place near the town of Bilis Qooqani hours ago, a Press TV correspondent reported on Saturday.
Washington claims the airstrikes target militants, though most such attacks have resulted in civilian casualties in Somalia.
The developments come as witnesses say hundreds of Somali families are fleeing from the troubled area.
Drone strikes in Somalia make the lawless state the sixth country where the US military has used remote-controlled aircraft to conduct such lethal strikes.

US strike kills 11 civilians in Somalia Sat Oct 22, 2011

The Saturday attack took place near Hoosingow district in the south of the country, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Meanwhile, another US drone also crashed near Bilis Qooqani town located in the south of the country, leaving three people injured.

Two US drones crash in south Somalia Sat Oct 22, 2011

A Somali military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled drones went down in close proximity to Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, late on Saturday.
He added that he heard massive explosions after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
Earlier in the day, 49 people were killed and 68 others were injured after a US drone fired several missiles that landed on the outskirts of Bilis Qooqaani town

US drone attacks kill 26 in Somalia Thu Oct 20, 2011

Somali military officers said a US drone carried out attacks Thursday morning near the Taabto and Bilis Qooqani districts in southern Somalia, resulting in the casualties.
Meanwhile, Somali troops have said that they have collected the remains of two US drones that crashed near Bilis Qooqani within the last 24 hours.
On Wednesday, at least 46 people were killed after a US drone struck a city in southern Somalia near the Kenyan border.
The unmanned aircraft fired several missiles into the outskirts of Kismayo, a port and capital of the Lower Juba region located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
Thousands of local residents are fleeing Kismayo city in face of the American UAV attacks, as the Somali people are already struggling with famine in their country.
Earlier on Wednesday, 18 civilians were killed and 37 others wounded in another US drone strike on Musa Haji district in southern Somalia.

27 Somalis killed in US drone strike Mon Oct 17, 2011

Dozens of civilians were also injured after an American strike on the port town of Kismayo, about 500 kilometers south of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Monday, witnesses told Press TV.
A similar airstrike killed over a dozen people in another southern region on Saturday.

Two US drones crash in south Somalia Wed Oct 12, 2011

Two unmanned aerial vehicles operated by the US military have crashed in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
A Somali government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the American remote-controlled drones went down in close proximity to Dhoobley town, situated 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Kenyan border and about 500 kilometers (312 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, late on Tuesday.
He added that the remains of the aircraft were retrieved by Somali government forces.

Three US drones crash in Somalia Sun Oct 9, 2011

Three unmanned US drones have crashed in the southern region of Somalia

h/t Pruning Shears who found and has been listing these reports from Press TV.

Whether we want more drones and more people killed by drones is becoming irrelevant. The CIA has promised and created a drone hunter killer career track. So drone killing will only continue and expand. People are being maimed and killed to feed the growing bureaucracy and the corporate drone manufacturers. Since Somalia is a counterterrorism planners dream, the people of Somalia will continue to pay for this program with their lives. US taxpayers will continue to pay in dollars in order to rain torture and death on Somali families.

Whether hunter-killer drones are effective or necessary is not what is driving their expanded use.

CIA’s Push for Drone War Driven by Internal Needs

[The CIA's] mission has changed in recent years from gathering and analysing intelligence to waging military campaigns through drone strikes in Pakistan, as well as in Yemen and Somalia.

… CIA Director Michael Hayden lobbied hard for that expansion at a time when drone strikes seemed like a failed experiment.

The reason Hayden pushed for a much bigger drone war, it now appears, is that it [the CIA] had already created a whole bureaucracy in the anticipation of such a war.

The shift in the CIA mission’s has been reflected in the spectacular growth of its Counter-terrorism Center (CTC) from 300 employees in September 2001 to about 2,000 people today – 10 percent of the agency’s entire workforce, according to the Post report.


… In 2005, the agency had created a career track in targeting for the drone programme for analysts in the intelligence directorate, the Sep. 2 Post article revealed.

That decision meant that analysts who chose to specialise in targeting for CIA drone operations were promised that they could stay within that specialty and get promotions throughout their careers. Thus the agency had made far-reaching commitments to its own staff in the expectation that the drone war would grow far beyond the three strikes a year and that it would continue indefinitely.

By 2007, the agency realised that, in order to keep those commitments, it had to get the White House to change the rules by relaxing existing restrictions on drone strikes.

That’s when Hayden began lobbying President George W. Bush to dispense with the constraints limiting the targeting for drone attacks, according to the account in New York Times reporter David Sanger’s book “The Inheritance”. Hayden asked for permission to carry out strikes against houses or cars merely on the basis of behaviour that matched a “pattern of life” associated with Al-Qaeda or other groups.

… Leon Panetta, Obama’s new CIA director, was firmly committed to the drone war. He continued to present it to the public as a strategy to destroy Al-Qaeda, even though he knew the CIA was now striking mainly Afghan Taliban and their allies, not Al-Qaeda.

In his first press conference on Feb. 25, 2009, Panetta, in an indirect but obvious reference to the drone strikes, said that the effort to destabilise Al-Qaeda and destroy its leadership “have been successful”.

Under Panetta, the rate of drone strikes continued throughout 2009 at the same accelerated pace as in the second half of 2008. And in 2010 the number of strikes more than doubled from 53 in 2009 to 118.

The CIA finally had the major drone campaign it had originally anticipated.

Two years ago, Petraeus appeared to take a somewhat skeptical view of drone strikes in Pakistan. In a secret assessment as CENTCOM commander on May 27, 2009, which was leaked to the Washington Post, Petraeus warned that drone strikes were fueling anti-U.S. sentiments in Pakistan.

Now, however, Petraeus’s personal view of the drone war may no longer be relevant. The CIA’s institutional interests in continuing the drone war may have become so commanding that no director could afford to override those interests on the basis of his own analysis of how the drone strikes affect U.S. interests.

If the US were actually practicing counter terrorism, it might try to avoid giving people so many reasons to become terrorists.

For more discussion of drones and the legalities involved, see my earlier post: Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies

For background on the base in the Seychelles see Building A US Military Base In The Seychelles

I noted these selected paragraphs from articles I read today. The topics are most certainly related.

From an article in Nigeria’s Daily Independent:

On Sudan, my country Nigeria was made to ratify the break-up of that country into North and South so that the powerful nations can have access to the oil fields in the South which they currently cannot control under the incumbent regime. Will Nigeria allow UN to split it into North and South? Never! …

Gradually, White House is bringing Al Qaeda to Nigeria even when Nigeria has no issue with Al Qaeda. The US attempt to force its Africa Command (AFRICOM) base on Nigeria is responsible for the current bombings being tagged ‘Al Qaeda bombs’, so that Nigeria can accept the inevitability of US forces in Nigeria. What’s more, with CIA agents now prowling Nigeria, more bombings should be expected, as the US is determined to pursue its 2015 prediction that Nigeria will break-up. (Cornelius Segun Ojo)

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Which country has the biggest military budget per year?

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The US military budget in context

From the Narco News Bulletin:

State Department cables recently made public by WikiLeaks do seem to confirm that the U.S. government is very aware that much of the heavy firepower now in the hands of Mexican criminal organizations isn’t linked to mom-and-pop gun stores, but rather the result of blowback from U.S. arms-trading policies (both current and dating back to the Iran/Contra era) that put billions of dollars of deadly munitions into global trade stream annually.

As the death toll mounts in the drug war now raging in Mexico, it pays to remember that weapons trafficking, both government-sponsored and illegal, is a big business that feeds and profits off that carnage. Bellicose government policies, such as the U.S.-sponsored Merida Initiative, that are premised on further militarizing the effort to impose prohibition on civil society only serve to expand the profit margin on the bloodshed. (Pentagon Fingered as a Source of Narco-Firepower in Mexico)

There is an election this week in Uganda. Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire records some of her observations:

We have also seen Museveni try to tell the youth in the last few days, through the New Vision newspaper, which largely leads with his stories that they shouldn’t vote the opposition for it will sabotage a government plan to give them jobs. I don’t think Ugandan youth are fools to think that what a man has not done in 25 years can achieve in 5 years. Uganda produces about 400,000 graduates from higher institutions of learning every year but less than 50,000 jobs are created annually. President Museveni and his brother Salim Saleh have even gone into security business sending hundreds of Ugandan youth to Iraq and Afghanistan to reduce the numbers of idle youth. The truth is there’s no real plan for the youth and many will not be voting for the ruling party.

… But because many have for long trusted Museveni on security, few Ugandans bother to know or even ask why their sons are fighting in Somalia.

For a regime that has enjoyed such trust on security matters, there shouldn’t be thousands of police officers at every corner in Kampala right now. … no wonder people are now anxious …

We wait for the next three days and see if every home will have a policeman attached to it in the name of security.

Museveni is one of the US’s prized client dictators, sending proxy armies to Somalia and around the world, and also, a favorite of the US Africa Command.

Meanwhile, back at home in the US, the US government fails its own people and fails to do the job of governing:

Dear Poor People, Thank You for Going Without Heat So We Can Buy Another Week of War

As a result of your going without heat next winter, we will be able to afford almost one whole week of fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which cost about $468 million a day. Although when you add in the many hidden costs like increased long-term veteran’s health care due to the conflicts, your sacrifice is probably only really going to cover maybe half a week.

I hope you understand that when we had to choose between providing basic necessities to our citizens or fighting about five more days in Iraq and Afghanistan because of [insert newest justification here], we clearly just had to choose the wars over you.

These few bits of news are worth considering in relation to each other. Our choices have consequences.

In a State Department briefing Johnnie Carson let us know the real reason for US involvement in Somalia, and the reason for sponsoring African proxies through AMISOM.

Somalia has dominated the 15th African Union summit in Uganda (AFP) July 2010

Not until the very end does Carson give an inkling of what the real U.S. fear is wrt Somalia, which is why the ICU’s revolution was crushed so violently.

It is important that the TFG be strengthened, for if it is not, Shabaab will continue to emerge as a significant political threat not only in the south, but also throughout the region.

They’re not really worried about ‘violent extremists’– after all, what’s more extreme than intentionally dropping bombs from remote control onto human beings as a matter of policy — they’re worried about popular control of political & economic power & authority, as are the regional dictators who understand the role model this would function as. (africa comments)

In other words, they are worried about the possible emergence of democracy, which is much more difficult for external actors to control, and a serious threat to dictators everywhere.

The dictators and their US and EU sponsors do not want a political solution, do not want Somalis to be allowed to stabilize their own country. That is why the continued involvement and the continued destabilizing use of proxy force in Somalia.

In Uganda Carson changes position on Ugandan democracy:

New Vision: Museveni has not become a dictator — Carson
THE US assistant secretary of state for Africa, Johnny Carson, has said President Yoweri Museveni has not turned into a dictator as he had predicted five years ago.

In an article published in The Boston Globe in May 2005, Carson said “Africa’s success story” (Uganda) could return to the dictatorial past if Museveni continued his controversial push for the removal of presidential term limits from the Constitution.

Asked yesterday whether he still held the same view five years later, Carson said: “I don’t believe [there's that phrase again - AC] President Museveni is a dictator. He is a president duly elected in a free and fair election.” (h/t africa comments)

Karoli Ssemogerere tells us: Johnnie Carson has delivered early warning to the Opposition:

After the World Cup attacks, of course all sorts of help have been here. Washington sent Attorney General Eric Holder, their top law enforcement official, to Kampala. Carson has become a regular face in Kampala and this visit is as remarkable since on his last visit, he faced open rebuke from President Museveni and his Foreign Minister Sam Kuteesa for publicly supporting the replacement of the Electoral Commission.

A few weeks later, Carson rewrote the institutional memory …

One of the shortcomings of American foreign policy is its obsession with the status quo, predictability and who is on our side versus who is on their side mentality? Museveni, exhausted after two decades in power, seems to offer the reassurance that Uganda on its own can serve as a bulwark for American interests in the region and now backed by its newfound oil wealth, need not continue on a sustained path to greater democratisation and respect for human rights.

The Americans could not sustain the democratisation rhetoric in the face of oil and the “terrorist threat.” Neither can their public officials in the face of a well oiled lobbying machine that recruits former government officials at will.

Carson is saying in a few words, we understand the complexities of the system. We prefer to deal with the defined quantity Museveni, a product of years of experience, be nice to the opposition through cups of tea and other empty platitudes.

Democracy does not matter, human rights do not matter, American interests, mostly oil, are what matters. Of course in the long run, the big picture, genuine support for democracy and human rights would be far better protection for American interests. But nobody is thinking that way.

AFRICOM’s General Ward recently addressed the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). As b real describes in the comments on the previous post, Gen. Ward manages:

to make clear two main items –

economic development tops the list of opportunities for the u.s. in africa

and

sustained security engagement is required to create & exploit those opportunities

Sustained security engagement is the polite way of saying ever increasing militarization. Militarization is US policy in Africa.

90% of the revenue of Xe, formerly Blackwater, comes from the United States Government, which means it comes from United States taxpayers. What are taxpayers getting for their money?

Prince proposed that the US government deploy armed private contractors to fight “terrorists” in Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia.

Is this the work of Blackwater/Xe? This is from the aftermath of a mosque bombed in Mogadishu May 1, 2010, bombed while people were at worship. I do not usually include pictures of horrors, I do not like to disrespect those people caught in the chaos. But we need to ask: Are US taxpayers paying for this? If we are, what are we getting for our money?

The Nation magazine has obtained an audio recording of a recent, private speech delivered by Prince to a friendly audience .  The speech, which Prince attempted to keep from public consumption, provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater. The people of the United States have a right to media coverage of events featuring the owner of a company that generates 90% of its revenue from the United States government.

Prince appears both clueless and contemptuous of Afghani and Pakistani opposition, calling them “barbarians” who “crawled out of the sewer.” This kind of COIN partnering will bring the US many more enemies. It is also unlikely to bring any victories, just more violent interludes. It seems unlikely that Prince and his company have any greater respect or concern for the people of Somalia than they do for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Prince claims he has been operating under US contract in Pakistan. Although the US and Pakistani governments officially deny this.

“You know, people ask me that all the time, ‘Aren’t you concerned that you folks aren’t covered under the Geneva Convention in [operating] in the likes of Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan? And I say, ‘Absolutely not,’ because these people, they crawled out of the sewer and they have a 1200 AD mentality. They’re barbarians. They don’t know where Geneva is, let alone that there was a convention there.”

This kind of arrogance makes people blind. Blackwater/Xe was in charge of security at “the deadly suicide bombing on December 30 at the CIA station at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan.” Did arrogance cause them to miss important clues, or skip security protocols?

Regarding the bombing of the mosque in Somalia:

A senior official of Somalia’s radical Islamist group Al-Shabaab, who was target of Mogadishu mosque blast that killed several people have accused American security companies of the attacks.

Sheikh Fu’ad Muhammad Khalaf aka Shongolo accused the Xe, formerly of Black Water, whom he alleges to based at Mogadishu airport of being behind the blast …

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, which attracted condemnation from all quarters of the war-torn Somalia. (Garowe Online)

Generally some group claims credit for bomb attacks. Bombing a mosque with no claim for credit makes it appear more likely that foreign fighters are involved, foreigners who are not allied with the various Somali Islamist movements. The largest group of foreign fighters in Somalia are those sponsored by the donor countries, chiefly the US and EU, trying to prop up the TFG, Transitional Federal Government, the government installed primarily by the US, which is neither federal nor a government. It limps along under constant propping and pressure from the US.

Garowe Online: Somali warring sides condemn Mogadishu Mosque blasts

A twin bomb explosion that killed scores of people inside a mosque in Somalia ’s restive capital Mogadishu on Saturday has been strongly condemned by all warring sides involved in Somali conflict.

The attack took place inside a packed mosque in the main Bakara market, an area controlled by insurgent group Al-Shabaab.

The leader of Somalia’s Hizbul Islam Islamist militant Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys said targets on worships are unheard off in Somalia but now seems to be getting its way into the country thanks to ‘foreign enemies’.

The fragile UN-backed [read: foreign-backed] Somali government termed the incident as ‘new foreign barbaric phenomena’ that totally dints the historic Islamic culture of Somalis.

Sheikh Abdullahi Abdirahman Abu Yusuf Al-Qadi, a spokesman for pro-government Ahlu-sunna Wal-jamaa group, which is involved in bloody war with insurgents groups Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam described the act as a foreign terror campaign that is finding its way into the Somali society.

Al Shabaab movement blamed the attacks on foreign security firms operating in Mogadishu. The group is waging war against the UN-backed Somali government and its backer African Union troops.

We know mercenary corporations are working for the US Government in Somalia. Dyncorp has its own offices in Mogadishu. Employing mercenaries, especially to commit acts of terrorism, will accomplish nothing, and earn the United States quite a few more enemies.

Prince and Blackwater/Xe also want to go into Nigeria where they could make even more enemies for the US. In his speech Prince spoke about this.

Prince also proposed using private armed contractors in the oil-rich African nation of Nigeria. Prince said that guerilla groups in the country are dramatically slowing oil production and extraction and stealing oil. “There’s more than a half million barrels a day stolen there, which is stolen and organized by very large criminal syndicates. There’s even some evidence it’s going to fund terrorist organizations,” Prince alleged. “These guerilla groups attack the pipeline, attack the pump house to knock it offline, which makes the pressure of the pipeline go soft. they cut that pipeline and they weld in their own patch with their own valves and they back a barge up into it. Ten thousand barrels at a time, take that oil, drive that 10,000 barrels out to sea and at $80 a barrel, that’s $800,000. That’s not a bad take for organized crime.” Prince made no mention of the nonviolent indigenous opposition to oil extraction and pollution, nor did he mention the notorious human rights abuses connected to multinational oil corporations in Nigeria that have sparked much of the resistance.

Prince fails to note that many members of Nigeria’s government are reputed to be involved in the illegal oil bunkering. And that the neglect and exploitation by both the oil companies and the Nigerian government, is responsible for much unrest and dissatisfaction in the Niger Delta. The only help Blackwater/Xe might provide is assisting in some temporary financial gain by the exploiters, and quite likely for itself as well. Of course with Prince’s contempt for local populations, he may see this as a plus.

Regardless of the income that comes from their employers, PMCs and their employees are ideally placed to deal in contraband, especially weapons, drugs, and slaves. All of these are traded and for sale in a war zone. Five Blackwater employees are currently under indictment for weapons charges.

Poppy production continues strong in Afghanistan. Much of the product is currently being marketed in Iran and Russia. A PMC operating in Afghanistan is perfectly placed to take advantage of this trade without any US stigma that might attach to dealing drugs to the United States. They might even regard themselves as engaging in a patriotic activity or carrying out the wishes of their employers, at the same time making a huge profit.  This is especially the case for Prince who characterizes Iran as the source of evil in his speech.

Prince claims:

“The overall defense budget is going to have to be cut and they’re going to look for ways, they’re going to have to have ways to become more efficient,” he said. “And there’s a lot of ways that the private sector can operate with a much smaller, much lighter footprint.”

The private sector also operates as a private sector, and can engage in additional enterprises including the trade in contraband to enhance and supplement their income. That is one way to be more efficient.

If Blackwater is engaged in acts of terror, such as bombing mosques or other places where people are gathered, it hurts the United States. If taxpayers are paying for it, they need to know what they are getting. And the US taxpayers have a right and responsibility to monitor the words and deeds of Prince and his companies wherever they operate at taxpayer expense, and wherever their actions threaten the security and reputation of the United States.

Artist's impression

Graphic h/t to Ado on The Darkest of Liquids

Photo credit from the bombing wardheernews.com PDF

h/t africa comments where there is more information on ongoing events in Somalia

Hundreds of Somali soldiers trained with millions of U.S. tax dollars have deserted because they are not being paid their $100 monthly wage, and some have even joined the al-Qaida-linked militants they are supposed to be fighting.
Unpaid Somali Soldiers Desert to Insurgency

The desertions raise fears that a new U.S.-backed effort beginning next month to build up Somalia’s army may only increase the ranks of the insurgency.

About 500 of the Somali transitional government troops have been wrapped up training in Djibouti. Reports say that the Djiboutian national army and French forces had concluded the military training for the transitional government troops which continued for months in Djibouti especially the high Academic of Al-haji Hassan, a military centre in Djibouti which named the former Djiboutian president Al-haji. Reports from Djibouti say that the UN was playing an important role for the rebuilding the security forces of the transitional government which it had already established and the troops who took the military training will return to the home country.

In an effort to rebuild the tattered Somali military, the United States spent $6.8 million supporting training programs for nearly 1,000 soldiers in neighboring Djibouti last year and about 1,100 soldiers in Uganda last year and earlier this year, the State Department and Western diplomats told the AP. The troops were supposed to earn $100 a month, but about half of those trained in Djibouti deserted because they were not paid, Somali army Col. Ahmed Aden Dhayow said.

Some gave up the army and returned to their ordinary life and others joined the rebels,” he said.

Somalia’s state minister for defense, Yusuf Mohamed Siyad, confirmed some trainees had joined the al-Shabab militants, but he declined to specify the number of deserters.


The U.S. has provided $2 million to pay Somali soldiers and purchase supplies and equipment in Mogadishu since 2007, according to the State Department. Another $12 million went toward transport, uniforms and equipment.

Earlier this year, trainee soldiers had their guns confiscated and replaced with sticks after a riot broke out between those who had been paid and those who had not. The African Union, which has peacekeepers at Camp Jazira, temporarily suspended payments over fears that men who had been paid would be killed by those who had not, an official involved with the training said.

Soldiers also had problems with some battalion-level commanders stealing their rations, a European official said. The U.S. has sent a shipment of food this month to try to help the malnourished soldiers regain their strength, he added.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Siyad, the defense minister, said the U.S. was currently funding the salaries of around 1,800 Somali soldiers, and another 3,300 soldiers were being paid by other donors. However, that is only about half the 10,000 troops allowed under the peace agreement that formed the coalition government.


Both the police and soldiers need to feed their families,” Geyson said. “They need to be paid every month. Otherwise they have to find other solutions.”

Other “solutions” may be highly dangerous to the local population. They have certainly proved devastating in the past.

[T]he Somali government is forced to rely on donor nations that are often slow to pay, undercutting soldiers’ confidence in regular paychecks, and feeding desertions and corruption. There are few signs Somalia’s government will ever be able to deliver social services, shape military strategy and pay its army on its own.

Siyad said the success of the multimillion-dollar training programs funded by American and European taxpayers is completely dependent on being able to pay the graduates.

“If this is not done, then we shouldn’t even start. Otherwise the soldiers will just join the opposition,” he said.

Read the entire post: Unpaid Somali Soldiers Desert to Insurgency

Somalia is one of the major projects of AFRICOM, the US Africa Command. If you are a US taxpayer, you may want to consider if this is worth your support, especially considering the dismal prospects for the present Somali government. What does the US gain for the money invested? Results are what matters, not intentions. Is this a good investment for your money?

h/t africa comments where you may find a great deal more information about this story and more details as to exactly what is going on.
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Photo credit

90,000 tons of diplomacy is just the beginning.

Imagine a future where the people of countries at odds with U.S. policies suddenly find America’s “massive seaborne platforms” floating just outside their territorial waters.

The George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) the nation’s 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, from a Northrop Grumman poster. (click to enlarge)

That future is now present. We have seen a massive exercise in sea basing in the occupation of Haiti following the earthquake. A word document on the Haitian exercise is linked to this page, pictured below, from the Marine Corps on Sea Basing. In another linked document they describe seabasing:

From NWP 3-62/MCWP 3-31.7, Seabasing (PDF p.19)
“Seabasing, a national capability, is the overarching transformational operating concept for projecting and sustaining naval power and joint forces, which assures joint access by leveraging the operational maneuver of sovereign, distributed, and networked forces operating globally from the sea.”
“The sea base is an inherently maneuverable, scalable aggregation of distributed, networked platforms that enable the global power projection of offensive and defensive forces from the sea, and includes the ability to assemble, equip, project, support, and sustain those forces without reliance on land bases within the Joint Operations Area.”

The first major exercise in seabasing was in Liberia, I wrote about it earlier in this post: Seabasing Begins Off the Coast of Liberia. Currently the US an ongoing military presence in the Seychelles that certainly looks like establishing a host nation for a base, and as a friendly neighbor for seabasing. I wrote about the activity in the Seychelles in Building A US Military Base In The Seychelles, and Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies. The African Partnership Station has been visiting all around the coast of Africa, partnering in African countries for the US Africa Command. It has spent a lot of time along the coast of West Africa, and a lot of time visiting Ghana. Although AFRICOM officials continue to assure Ghanaians they have no interest in establishing a military base in Ghana, that may be because a sea base is just around the corner. Seabasing is an extension of the doctrine of Full-spectrum Dominance. One of the most succinct descriptions of Full-spectrum Dominance comes from Harold Pinter in his 2005 Nobel acceptance speech:

… the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. … Its official declared policy is now defined as ‘full spectrum dominance’. That is not my term, it is theirs. ‘Full spectrum dominance’ means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources.

Controlling all attendant resources, most importantly oil, is what the current push for US global militarization is all about. The occupation of Haiti, the revival of the US 4th fleet for Latin America, AFRICOM, with its African Partnership Station patrolling the coasts of Africa, and its ongoing military to military exercises, as well as covering the globe with SOUTHCOM, EUCOM, CENTCOM, PACOM, NORTHCOM, are all part of Full-spectrum Dominance. Below is a screenshot of the USMC web page Seabasing – Enabling Joint Operations & Overcoming Access Challenges

USMC webpage Seabasing – Enabling Joint Operations & Overcoming Access Challenges. The African Partnership Station and the Haitian exercise are circled in yellow. (click to enlarge)

The Pentagon sees security as a full spectrum global operation, as illustrated in the slide below from a linked document, Seabasing Concepts and Programs PDF . They project at least 2 decades of war, based mainly in coastal areas, the littorals, all around the world. Documents and videos linked to the above page cover various aspects of seabasing.

The graphic below is the future security environment the US Department of Defense imagines. The map area outlined is what the Pentagon calls the Arc of Instability. All the arrows point at Africa. Keep the areas outlined on this map in mind when looking at the other maps below. Look at the arrows; all are directed at Africa, including one pointed from Latin America to West Africa, and one from western Asia into northeast Africa, as well as arrows pointed at northwest Africa and at Somalia:

The text reads:
Future Security Environment (PDF p.3)
“Hybrid” Threats &
Challenges …
Largely in the Littorals
ARC OF INSTABILITY
• Nuclear armed states
• Top ten oil reserves
• Significant drug regions
• Anti-West attitudes
• Increasing Global Interdependence
• Emerging Global Powers
• Improved anti-access weapons
• “Haves” vs “Have Nots”
The “asymmetrical kind of war” we face today will last at least two decades…

Clearly this is war, not a humanitarian mission. That is why it is called a war and assigned to the military. The military may engage in humanitarian exercises, but the threat is represented as a military security threat. The real reason for the global militarization is controlling resources and containing potential rivals. Africa is a central target because of its vast resources, oil, mineral, land, water, and more. Labeling almost the entire continent as part of the Arc of Instability demonstrates an intent to keep the continent destabilized. The intent to destabilize is particularly evident in North Africa where the US has Lied Into the War On Terror in the Sahara. The security environment pictured shows the US fears south south alliances and trade, alliances and trade that bypass the United States entirely. The big emerging economies are China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey. Along with Russia, these make up the largest 7 emerging economies, the E7.

I have wondered for a long time about why the US has been wedded to a policy in Somalia that is obviously disastrous for Somalia and harmful to nearby countries, as well as doing no good for the citizens of the United States. The US is maintaining a massive naval presence off the coast of Somalia. But it has done nothing to curb the illegal fishing that has devastated the economy of Somalia, a piracy far more significant in overall cost compared to the value of losses to the Somali pirates. Rather the US, NATO, and the international navies off the coast of Somalia appear to be assisting the illegal fishing at the expense of Somalia. Mohamed Hassan explains the global reasons for US Somalia policy quite clearly. The US policy is about containing emerging Asian powers, especially China and India, about controlling trade in the Indian Ocean, and about preventing the growth of south south alliances and trade. Preventing rather than supporting a functioning government in Somalia, keeping Somalia weak and unstable, is part of the reason for the policy:

Somalia: How Colonial Powers drove a Country into Chaos
Mohamed Hassan interviewed by Gregoire Lalieu and Michel Collon, Feb 10,2010

Q: Somalia had every reason to succeed: an advantageous geographical situation, oil, ores and only one religion and one language for the whole territory; a rare phenomenon in Africa. Somalia could have been a great power in the region. But the reality is completely different: famine, wars, lootings, piracy, bomb attacks. How did this country sink? Why has there been no Somali government for approximately twenty years?

MH: Since 1990, there has been no government in Somalia. The country is in the hands of warlords. European and Asiatic ships took advantage of this chaotic situation and fished along the Somali coast without a license or respect for elementary rules. They did not observe the quotas in force in their own country to protect the species and they used fishing techniques –even bombs!- that created huge damages to the wealth of the Somali seas.

That’s not all! Taking also advantage of this lack of any political authority, European companies, with the help of the mafia, dumped nuclear wastes offshore Somali coasts. Europe knew of this but turned a blind eye as that solution presented a practical and economical advantage for the nuclear waste management. Yet, the 2005 Tsunami brought a big part of these wastes into the Somali lands. Unfamiliar diseases appeared for the first time among the population. …

Q: No Somali state for almost twenty years! How is that possible?

MH: This is the result of an American strategy. In 1990, the country was bruised by conflicts, famine and lootings; the state collapsed. Facing this situation, the United States, who discovered oil in Somalia a few years ago, launched Operation Restore Hope in 1992. For the first time, US marines intervened in Africa to take control of a country. It was also the first time that a military invasion was launched in the name of humanitarian interference.

Q: Why is it strategic?

MH: The issue is the control of the Indian Ocean. Look at the maps.

Somalia, outlined in yellow, opposite India on the Indian Ocean, with the surrounding countries (click to enlarge)

As mentioned, western powers have an important share of the responsibility in the Somali piracy development. But instead of telling the truth and paying compensation for what they did, those powers criminalize the phenomena in order to justify their position in the region. Under the pretext of fighting the piracy, NATO is positioning its navy in the Indian Ocean.

Q: What is the real goal?

MH: To control the economic development of the emerging powers, mainly India and China. Half of the world’s container traffic and 70% of the total traffic of petroleum products passes through the Indian Ocean. From that strategic point of view, Somalia is a very important place: the country has the longest coast of Africa (3.300 km) and faces the Arabian Gulf and the Straight of Hormuz, two key points of the region economy. Moreover, if a pacific response is brought to the Somali problem, relations between African in one hand, and India and China on the other hand, could develop through the Indian Ocean. Those American competitors could then have influence in that African area. Mozambique, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Zanzibar, South Africa etc. All those countries connected to the Indian Ocean could gain easy access to the Asian market and develop fruitful economic relationship. Nelson Mandela, when he was president of South Africa, had mentioned the need of an Indian Ocean revolution, with new economic relationships. The United States and Europe do not want this project. That is why they prefer to keep Somalia unstable.
(h/t africa comments for Somalia information)

The Indian Ocean, both Somalia, and the Seychelles where the US is establishing a military presence, are indicted with a yellow outline. (click to enlarge)

Countries have noticed the US actions and intentions. South Africa, India, and Brazil have cooperated in joint naval exercises.

The full spectrum project is underway all around the globe. Efforts to contain China are well underway in Southeast Asia, from How the US got its Philippine bases back:

The American war on terrorism has provided the US an excellent justification to hasten its reestablishment of a strategic presence in Southeast Asia … Combating Islamic terrorism in this region [Southeast Asia] carried a secondary benefit for the United States: it positioned the US for the future containment of nearby China.

The Indian Ocean, with the strategic positions of Somalia and the Seychelles marked with yellow. Also the Philippines marked with yellow, strategically located in the Pacific east and south of China. All are key to sea basing. (click to enlarge)

In Latin America the US intends to contain Brazil and Venezuela. In February 2010 the US released a USGS report indicating that Venezuela now has larger oil reserves than Saudi Arabia. It is heavy crude, but still recoverable and refinable. One of the techniques of containment is stability operations, in fact these stability operations help keep the countries surrounding Brazil and Venezuela destabilized and in conflict. If you look at the Arc of Instability, you will note that it clings around the borders of Brazil.

Again from Pinter’s speech:

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America’s favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as ‘low intensity conflict’. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued – or beaten to death – the same thing – and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed.

Brazil as a Key Player
by Raúl Zibechi | February 17, 2010

“Bit by bit, quietly, like a spider weaving its web in the middle of the night, an impressive military circle threatens Venezuela and, by extension, the entire group of progressive governments in Latin America,” writes Ignacio Ramonet in the January issue of Le Monde Diplomatique. A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) established that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, thanks to recent discoveries in the Orinoco Belt, now possesses 513 reserve billion barrels of crude, accessible with “current technology.” Venezuela thus replaces Saudi Arabia, which “only” has 266 billion barrels, as possessor of the world’s largest oil reserves.

The article by Ramonet and the USGS conclusion are based on solid evidence. It is not the first time that it has been estimated that Venezuela’s reserves have are truly enormous. The crucial difference is that this time the confirmation comes from a North-American agency, not just from the Bolivarian employees. In effect, the USGS report effectively doubles the reserves in Venezuela’s domain. As for Ramonet’s contention, various developments in the region in recent months seem to substantiate it: in March 2009, we discovered that Colombia had allowed the United States to take over and control seven military bases; in June 2009 political turmoil resulted in the coup in Honduras where the United States has the military base of Soto Cano; in Oct. 2009 the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, announced the concession of four military bases to the Pentagon. The total number of U.S. bases, including the two bases in Aruba and Curacao (Dutch Antilles), to the north and east of Venezuela to date number 13. The current rapid conversion of Haiti into a gigantic aircraft carrier incorporating the 4th Fleet will no doubt soon add another.

Aiming South
The intervention in Haiti is so blatantly militaristic that the China Daily (Jan. 21, 2010) asked whether it was the intention of the United States to make Haiti the 51st state of the Union. The newspaper quotes TIME Magazine which categorically states that “Haiti is being turned into the 51st state, and while the process unfolds, it already is America’s backyard.” In one week, the Pentagon had mobilized one aircraft carrier, 33 rescue planes, numerous war ships, and 11,000 marines. MINUSTAH, the UN stabalization mission in Haiti, consists of 7,000 soldiers. According to the Folha de Sao Paulo (Jan. 20, 2010), the Brazilian military, which had, up until the earthquake, been in charge of the UN mission and thus been the main military presence on the island, will have been outnumbered by the United States with projected numbers in a few weeks reaching 16,000 soldiers, or “12 times more military personnel than Brazil.”

In the same issue of the China Daily, an article about the American influence on the Caribbean asserts that the military intervention in Haiti will have a long-term effect on U.S. strategy in the Caribbean and in Latin America, given that it maintains a long-running confrontation with Cuba and Venezuela. According to Beijing, the region is “the door to its backyard,” which it seeks to “control tightly and exclusively” in order to “extend its influence south.”

To the south is the whole Andean region, which includes not only Venezuela but above all, Brazil.

The US Government still treats military spending as spending that has no cost to the nation or its citizens. As a result of a decade of making war off the books, keeping the real figures out of the federal budget, the United States is significantly weakened financially. It has failed to invest in its own growth and own citizenry, and has given away its manufacturing base. It is deeply in debt ot China. The US media is mostly owned by those who continue to profit from US military and financial adventurism. The US public know comparatively little about what is going on in the rest of the world, and are mostly unaware that they don’t know. In this regard:

In the last few weeks, a few important issues have come to light … On Jan. 20, 2010, the British newspaper The Financial Times published a comparative list of the 10 top banks in the world in terms of market capitilization for the year 2000 and again for 2009. The results are shocking. In 2000, five of the top 10 were American: Bank of New York, Mellon, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs were placed in first, third, fourth, and fifth respectively. In second place was the British bank Lloyds. In other words, out of the top 10, the top five were American and British. The crème de la crème of financial power rested in Wall Street and the City of London, and in other Western countries.

Only nine years later, the view has changed dramatically: in the top 10 banks five are Chinese: China Merchants Bank, China Citic Bank, ICBC, and China Construction (nos. 1-4), Bank of Communications (no.6), and three Brazilian banks: Itau Unibanco (no. 5), Bradesco (no. 7) and Banco do Brasil (no. 9). The former giants of banking have sunk. Goldman Sachs now sits at no. 22 on the list and JP Morgan Chase at 31. While the Wall Street banks dropped massively in value, the Chinese banks doubled their value in 2009. “The result of the turbulence is the dramatic shift in the financial center of gravity,” concludes the Financial Times.

A large proportion of these banks, like Banco do Brasil and three of the Chinese banks, are state-owned, an interesting Copernican twist to this financial adjustment away from the capitalist nucleus which had its base in the United States. To complete the picture, it is necessary to look at the vulnerability of countries regarding their public and private debt and their GDP (gross domestic product), as tabled by LEAP (the European Laboratory of Political Anticipation) in December 2009. In first place in terms of vulnerability is Iceland, followed closely by various smaller Baltic and Eastern European states, Greece in fifth place, and Spain in sixth. In ninth and tenth places are Great Britain and the United States, where the federal debt is dangerously close to 100% of GDP. In the United States, the combined private and public debt is triple the annual GDP. If these countries had been South American, they would have defaulted on their sovereign debt, and some analysts predict that this eventuality is not far off.

… Pricewaterhouse Coopers released figures that indicate a dramatic twist on the global stage. It predicts that in 2020, the G7 (the United States, Japan, France, Germany, the UK, Italy, and Canada) will have an economic weight equal to that of the emerging nations, recently christened the E7: China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey.

In this global power reshuffling, Brazil is very well positioned. Its enviable situation in terms of energy self-sufficiency, due to possessing large untapped reserves of both oil and uranium, makes it unique in the global superpower game.

Brazil has the sixth-largest uranium reserves in the world, and this figure relates to only the 25% of Brazilian territory that has been surveyed. Once the reserves in the basin of Santos are adequately calculated, it is estimated Brazil will own one of the five largest oil reserves in the world (more than 50 billion barrels). Brazilian multinational companies are already some of the biggest in the world …

The Brazilian Development Bank, BNDES, has been playing its cards close to its chest in favor of Brazilian capitalism. It is the largest development bank in the world, and has “transformed itself into the most powerful tool for the restructuring of Brazilian capitalism.”* … Lula’s government has pushed a policy that “ensures the active participation of the state in the building of new global players in a wide range of economic activity.”

Brazil has no option but to fortify its defenses, given that its power as a nation shows no signs of slowing. …

Brazil has understood the essence of the game plan of the United States. The Pentagon has dedicated to Brazil the same strategy it uses to contain China: to fan the fires of conflict on its borders in order to destabilize and prevent its ascent. It is the same logic which has transferred the center of military gravity from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Seen in this context, it is easier to understand what is happening in Latin America, of which the massive militarization of Haiti is the latest chapter. Haiti is the first step in the operations of the 4th Fleet. Taking the predicted calamities caused by climate change in the near future into account, the operation in Haiti will provide a template for what is to come in this decade.

In South America, the United States Southern Command military installations surround Brazil in the Andean region to the west and south. The powder keg lies in the Colombian-Venezuelan and Colombian-Ecuadorian conflicts, which have the potential to ignite the whole region. The tension generated by the Colombian attack on the encampment of Raul Reyes on Ecuadorian soil has been exacerbated by the de facto occupation of Haiti. Latin America is marching toward an unprecedented increased militarization of international relations which, with the exception of Brazil, it is neither psychologically nor physically prepared to defend itself from.

With the US in debt, and failing to invest in itself to create growth, how long and how well will it be able to sustain the present military expansion? Is the US now doing to itself what it did to the former Soviet Union, amping up the threats, and forcing itself to spend itself into bankruptcy with military spending? It is certain to be able to cause a great deal more destabilization and destruction throughout the world before that might happen.

US Military Intervention on behalf of corporate interests has a long history in the United States. Back in 1933 Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, the most decorated soldier of his time said:

… the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

(from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, author of War is a Racket)

The same is equally true today. The only change is that what was Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism is now Super-Globalistic-Capitalism. People should not have to suffer and die all around the globe so that a few rich can become richer. Genuine diplomacy and mutually beneficial trade agreements are both preferable and still possible. Here in the US, in what is supposed to be the beacon of democracy, I hardly hear any voices calling for this.

Here is the timeline for full implementation of seabasing (PDF p.38):

Seabasing timeline (click to enlarge)

acronyms:
MLP Mobile Landing Platform
JHSV Joint High-Speed Vessel
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future)
MLP Mobile Landing Platform
LMSR Large, Medium Speed, Roll-On/Roll-Off
T-AKE Auxiliary Dry Cargo and Ammunition Ship
LHA(R) Amphibious Assault Ship (Replacement)
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) Future Operating Concept
LPD Amphibious Transport Dock
JMAC Joint Maritime Assault Connector
IOC Initial Operational Capacity
FOC Full Operational Capacity

To summarize seabasing, from a US Marine Corps Seabasing Brochure (PDF).

Seabasing is a concept that enables employing the
full range of government capabilities from the sea.
Innovations in shipbuilding, cargo handling, at sea
transfer and sea based defense systems allowed the
Seabasing concept to become a reality. Currently in
order to employ an expeditionary force of 15,000 or
greater, a secure port and or airfield ashore is needed,
however by 2022 it will be possible to do this at sea.

Such a capability recognizes that nations are
increasingly placing restrictions on or denying the use
of their facilities at a time when we must have a greater
forward presence to reduce the ability of extremists
to gain a foothold or disrupt the flow of commerce
.
Seabasing will allow the use of the world’s oceans as
large or small scale Joint, Multinational and
Interagency bases for operations without dependence
on ports or airfields ashore.

Extremists may be those who legitimately disagree with US policies. The flow of commerce that needs protection is commerce that advantages the United States, commerce that advantages those who wield corporate power over the US government.

And for a graphic that pulls together the entire Seabasing concept here is Joint Seabasing Overview, PDF. Notice that the Spectrum of Operations pictured arches across the top of the Indian Ocean, from Somalia through the Arabian peninsula, through western Asia and down towards India and south Asia. You will also see the enabling air and sea equipment pictured, and text describing the Full Spectrum Utility of seabasing.

Joint Seabasing Responsive Scalable National Power Projection (this is a very large graphic, you may need to click more than once and scroll around to read it all)

acronyms:
CSG Carrier Strike Group
ESG Expeditionary Strike Group
GFS Global Fleet Station
HA/DR Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
MAGTF Marine Air Ground Task Force
MARDET Marine Detachment
MCO Major Combat Operation
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future)
MEU Marine Expeditionary Unit
NEO Noncombatant Evacuation Operations
SOF Special Operations Forces
SPMAGTF Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force

The U.S. government needs to change its Somalia policy—and fast. … The international community`s repeated attempts to create a government have failed, even backfired.

SharifAmisom

Somalia`s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is surrounded by AU troops upon his arrival in Mogadishu, February 7, 2009. Ahmed arrived in the Somali capital for the first time since he was elected President in neighboring Djibouti.

In the Quicksands of Somalia: Where Doing Less Helps More in the Nov. Dec. 2009 issue of Foreign Policy, describes the problem.

The brutal occupation of Somalia by its historical rival Ethiopia from late 2006 to early 2009, which Washington openly supported, only fueled the insurgency and infuriated Somalis across the globe. One of Washington`s concerns today is that al Qaeda may be trying to develop a base somewhere in Somalia from which to launch attacks outside the country. Another is that more and more alienated members of the Somali diaspora might embrace terrorism, too. … isolated incidents have generated more hype than they deserve, but they have nonetheless put the Obama administration in a tough position. If only to avoid seeming weak in combating terrorism, it must prevent these threats from escalating, but it is entering the fray at a time when almost any international action in Somalia is likely to reinforce the Somalis` anti-Western posture.

Alarmingly, the State Department seems not to realize this or the failures of past policy. …
… the TFG`s presence in Somalia hurts U.S. goals. Resistance to the so-called government has united various radical groups that would otherwise be competing with one another.
… With 3.8 million people urgently in need of relief, Somalia has once again become the site of one of the world`s worst humanitarian crises. This error stems from Washington`s mistaken belief that state building is the best response to terrorism. Because Washington has lacked both the political will and the resources to launch a large enough state-building program, U.S. efforts in Somalia have been inadequate.
Somalis may have grown weary of war, but they remain highly suspicious of centralized government. And they disagree about questions as fundamental as whether a Somali state should be unitary, federal, or confederal; whether the judicial system should be wholly Islamic or a hybrid of sharia and secular law; and whether the northern territory of Somaliland should be granted its long-sought independence. Efforts to create a central government under such conditions are a recipe for prolonging conflict.
… Another major problem with Washington`s Somalia policy is that it has not kept pace with important shifts in U.S. thinking about how to confront terrorism.


U.S. intelligence analysts have argued that Somalia is fundamentally inhospitable to foreign jihadist groups. Al Qaeda is now a more sophisticated and dangerous creature, but its current foothold in Somalia appears to be largely the product of the West`s latest interference. In fact, the terrorist threat posed by Somalia has grown in proportion to the intrusiveness of international policies toward the country. Al Shabab metamorphosed from a fringe movement opposed to the foreign-backed TFG into a full-blown political insurgency only after the U.S.-supported Ethiopian invasion.


Giving up on a bad strategy is not admitting defeat. It is simply the wise, if counterintuitive, response to the realization that sometimes, as in Somalia, doing less is better.


Under the Bush administration, Somalia became a front in the war on terrorism. A messy decades-long conflict was recast as an ideological battle between secular democracy and Islam, between “moderates” and “extremists”—blunt categories that blurred important differences in ideologies and tactics. This oversimplification has both severely undermined the capacity of U.S. and other international representatives to relate to the Somali public and allowed al Shabab to unify an otherwise diverse array of actors into a motivated armed opposition.


Even if the TFG were able to control more territory, this would serve little good: the government is simply incapable of governing. The parliament has swollen to an unwieldy 550 members. Most of its members reside safely outside the country, and the remainder are paralyzed by factionalism and infighting; just getting a parliamentary quorum in Mogadishu requires Herculean support from the UN.

AMISOM is widely viewed as a combatant in the conflict and has been accused by the local press and some clan leaders of firing indiscriminately on civilians. Both al Shabab and legitimate authorities among the clans and Mogadishu`s local clerics council have called for ousting the troops. Under these circumstances, bolstering the AMISOM contingent is a fool`s errand.


As al Shabab has gained ground, it has attracted opportunists and consequently has fractured along both ideological and clan lines.

The presence of al Qaeda operatives in al Shabab`s ranks is indeed alarming, but it is as much a tactical arrangement as an ideological alignment. And the utility for al Shabab of having foreign jihadists fighting by its side will decrease as doing so begins to impede the group`s hopes of governing Somalia: many Somalis condemn the presence of foreign fighters in the country on the grounds that they are bound to promote non-Somali values or act like brutal colonizers.


The tenuous nature of these alliances means there is no clear horse on which the U.S. government can bet. Both the TFG and al Shabab have backers among Somalis, but neither can count on a critical mass. The ostensibly moderate ASWJ has local supporters, but its factionalism and its dependence on Ethiopia are likely to undermine its capacity to generate a national constituency. No doubt this is a problem for the advocates of state building, who were counting on the TFG to be the solution to anarchy. But the weakness of all the parties is also something of a blessing: it means that al Shabab is less powerful than is often feared. The implications of this are clear. With no side capable of keeping the peace if it wins the war, the U.S. government, as well as the rest of the international community, should not focus its efforts on backing any one group. It should also forget about grand political projects to create a central government authority, which are likely to be futile.


Exploiting these tensions is the most reliable and cost-effective means of fighting terrorism in Somalia.

It will be impossible to isolate the truly dangerous elements from the nationalist, the pragmatic, and the merely thuggish factions of al Shabab until the United States stops supporting one group over another and disconnects local conflicts in Somalia from broader counterterrorism efforts.

The article provides much more detail on what has worked, and what has not worked in Somalia, and why, and on what is going on there now.

For now, the United States should commit itself to a strategy that promotes development without regard to governance. At the same time, it will have to continue its counterterrorism efforts, although preferably in the form of monitoring and de-radicalization strategies pursued in cooperation with the local population rather than air strikes.

There is a great deal more to Bruton’s article, and much food for thought for US policy makers if they are smart enough to pay attention. Of course this assumes the intent of US policy is to improve the situation in Somalia. Observation of US actions to date allows many to doubt US motives, and some assume the US prefers acting to destabilize Somalia, and to keep it weak and unstable. If US intentions toward Somalia are positive there is much in the article on how to proceed. I recommend the entire article: In the Quicksands of Somalia: Where Doing Less Helps More

________
h/t
africa comments

photo credit

Somalia is a counterterrorism planner`s dream.

“We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles … to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.”

… there is no longer any doubt that targeted killing has become official U.S. policy.

PredatorReaper

Predator MQ-9 Reaper

These predator drones are now being deployed over East Africa and the adjacent waters, based by the US in the Seychelles. At present we are told the drones are unarmed, and are part of anti-piracy surveillance. But that is only the toe in the door. The CIA uses these drones for extrajudicial killings in Pakistan, a country that is supposedly a US friend, and with whom the US is not at war. In Pakistan the CIA is probably assassinating some genuine international terrorists. It may also be assassinating innocent individuals, or local political leaders. The CIA appears accountable to no one in the US or the world at large for these actions. In all cases these are assassinations.

The CIA and the US Africa Command now appear ready to expand this predation in East Africa, most likely in order to continue efforts to destabilize Somalia (called stability operations). The US has been pushing the notion that Islamist fighters in Somalia are allied with al-Qaeda. There is no real evidence for this, see the commentary about halfway+ down this page, in response to a comment. But since it is repeated over and over in the US media, many people believe it. Just as the New York Times pushed the bogus story of weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war, it is pushing the supposed link between al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab.

From the:

UNITED NATIONS: US drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be breaking international laws against summary executions, the UN’s top investigator of such crimes said. “My concern is that drones/Predators are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” he [UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston] said.

“The onus is really on the United States government to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary extrajudicial executions aren’t in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons,” he added.

… you have the really problematic bottom line that the CIA is running a program that is killing significant numbers of people and there is absolutely no accountability in terms of the relevant international laws,” Alston said.

Since August 2008, around 70 strikes by unmanned aircraft have killed close to 600 people in northwestern Pakistan.

“I would like to know the legal basis upon which the United States is operating, in other words… who is running the program, what accountability mechanisms are in place in relation to that,” Alston said.

“Secondly, what precautions the United States is taking to ensure that these weapons are used strictly for purposes consistent with international humanitarian law.

“Third, what sort of review mechanism is there to evaluate when these weapons have been used? Those are the issues I’d like to see addressed,” the UN official said.

b real provides more research in his africa comments, where you can read in more detail the information from the following sources:

AP: US drones protecting ships from Somali pirates

Military officials said Friday the drones would not immediately be fitted with weaponry, but they did not rule out doing so in the future.

Analysts said they expected the Reapers would also be used to hunt al-Qaida and other Islamist militants in Somalia. While Moeller said the aircraft would “primarily” be used against pirates, he acknowledged they could also be used for other missions.

“The long-term solution to the piracy issue is basically [us] getting the conditions right in Somalia,” he said.

More information about the Reaper here: MQ-9 Reaper Hunter/Killer UAV

… the [Reaper] aircraft can carry up to 14 Hellfire missiles, compared with two carried on the Predator. The Reaper can stay airborne for up to 14 hours fully loaded.

Trading off some of the missiles, Predator B can carry laser guided bombs, such as the GBU-12. MQ-9 is equipped with both Lynx II SAR and the MTS-B 20″ gimbal, an improved, extended range version of the MQ-9’s EO payload. The availability of high performance sensors and large capacity of precision guided weapons enable the new Predator to operate as an efficient “Hunter-Killer” platform, seeking and engaging targets at high probability of success.

The Wikipedia entry adds:

Then U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley said, “We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.”

The New York Times adds its voice to the war machine fear mongering: In Somalia, a New Template for Fighting Terrorism. The NYT starts with the popular but unsubstantiated assertion that: “Al-Qaeda is working feverishly to turn Somalia into a global jihad factory”.

So a new template for fighting terrorism may be emerging as the United States shows less desire to get involved in the local intricacies of nation building and more interest in narrowing its focus to Al Qaeda. …

To Mr. Nagl, in fact, Somalia is a counterterrorism planner`s dream, with its desert terrain, low population density and skinny shape along the sea; no place is more than a few minutes` chopper flight from American ships bobbing offshore. “It`s far, far harder to do counterterrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan than in Somalia,” he said.

And from an abstract of Jane Mayer’s article in the October 26th issue of The New Yorker: The Risks of the CIA’s Predator Drones: The Predator War:

Hina Shamsi, a human-rights lawyer at the New York University School of Law … said of the Predator program, “These are targeted international killings by the state.”

The Predator program, as it happens, also uses private contractors for a variety of tasks, including “flying” the drones.

According to a new study by the New America Foundation, the number of drone strikes has gone up dramatically since Obama became President. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the defense contractor that manufactures the Predator and its more heavily armed sibling, the Reaper, can barely keep up with the government’s demand.

there is no longer any doubt that targeted killing has become official U.S. policy.

Somalia will make a convenient African practice field for targeted killings by robot assassins. There is no government to stand up for the Somali people in this, especially as the United States claims to be the one standing up for Somalia. As Mr. Nagi said above, Somalia is a counterterrorism planners dream. As long as Somalia is kept destabilized, aka stability operations, it will be an easy target.

Somalia is just the beginning, it may have oil, but it looks like there is a lot more oil in the African great lakes region, beginning with the recent finds in Uganda. Southern Sudan has oil and is the site of US corporate and international land grabs. The DRC has vast quantities of minerals including 80% of the world’s coltan. Its mineral resources are considered a US strategic interest. That is why the US helped overthrow Lumumba and installed Mobutu, dismissing Mobutu’s 30 years of failed government as an African problem. For US purposes, Mobutu was a success, he was a faithful client. When he was no longer useful, the US helped overthrow him.

The term terrorist is evolving to mean anyone who questions or stands up to the US in its quest to coopt and control oil, minerals, and other natural resources, or who stands up to the forces of global capitalism. A “terrorist” is a political or economic opponent, only a few of them have violent intentions towards the US.

A robot assassin looks like just the tool to eliminate an obstructive political opponent. It appears risk free and cost free to the US. Few outside the neighborhood will care about the collateral damage, the many innocent civilians killed at the same time. The term terrorist is necessary to give political assassination a figleaf of legality.

From africa comments:

… US targeted killings of Al Qaeda terrorists is a legal act of self defense under international law. (You can get a free pdf download, here, at SSRN, “Targeted Killing in US Counterterrorism and Law.

… US law and regulation contains a ban on “assassination.” Assassination in that specific legal sense is prohibited – but also not defined in US law or regulation. However, successive administrations dating from the 1980s have taken the position – e.g., the speech in 1989 to which the article refers – that a targeted killing is not (prohibited) “assassination” if it meets the requirements for self-defense under international law, including self defense against terrorists.

The Reaper may be a perfect tool for global capitalism to assassinate and decapitate any growing movements and civil society groups with economic or democratic aspirations. Jeremy Keenan reminds us that an estimated 55% of the world population are left out of global capitalism, neither producers or consumers. Many of these live in Africa. If these people continue to be marginalized, the profits and benefits will continue and increase for the elites controlling their resources now. So the elites have strong incentives to prevent and crush democratic movements.

Jeremy Keenan describes this use of the war on terror and the reason for the Africa Command in: Demystifying Africa’s Security:

[The] Bush administration decided to use a military structure to secure access to and control over African oil and opted to use the GWOT as the justification, rather than acknowledging that US military intervention in Africa was about resource control.

emphasizing the threat posed by the marginalised and excluded, Africa’s ‘dangerous classes’, and the role of aid and ‘development’ … merging the development and security agendas so that the two have become almost indistinguishable

The securitisation of Africa has been further promoted by drawing attention to the association between underdevelopment and conflict and the various discourses on ‘failed states’, which, in no time at all, were linked directly to the 9/11 attacks. It took only a few steps – from ‘poverty’ and ‘underdevelopment’ to ‘conflict’, ‘fear’, ‘failed states’ and the black holes of the ‘ungoverned areas’ – to recast Africa as the ‘Heart of Darkness’ and to transpose the GWOT into its vast ungoverned spaces: the DRC, Sudan, Somalia and EUCOM’s infamous ‘swamp of terror’, the Sahara.

Far from bringing ‘peace and security’ to Africa, AFRICOM is directly instrumental in creating conflict and insecurity.

Social scientists unfamiliar with the new ‘security development’ discourse may find its emphasis on ‘security’ and ‘development’ seductive. What more does Africa need? However, as Abrahamsen (2005) has already pointed out, London and Washington have used this discourse to link Africa’s underdevelopment with the threat of terrorism. And the regimes of Africa have followed suit: many are now using the pretext of the GWOT to repress legitimate opposition by linking it with ‘terrorism’. … Above all, the ‘security-development’ discourse explicitly links Africa’s poor, her ‘dangerous classes’ as Abrahamsen calls them, the marginalised and excluded to international security ‘problems’ and ‘terrorism’.

And so the war on terror becomes the war on the poor and marginalized, the “dangerous” classes. Keenan gives us a number of examples of countries in Africa where this is already happening. If the US is using the Reaper to kill, and is not engaged in open war with a country, it is using the Reaper as a tool of political assassination, killing opposing leaders and their families to control the economy and the politics.

A former Somali ambassador to the UN writes a clear and concise description of the current relationship between the US and Somalia, and its implications for both countries. I have copied his entire piece here, as it is all well worth reading, critical reading for anyone wishing to understand what is going on in Somalia and the US role.

Somali TFG President Sharif, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, August 6, 2009 in Kenya
Somali TFG President Sharif, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, August 6, 2009 in Kenya

The Somali government the US created in Djibouti, President Sharif’s TFG, the Transitional Federal Government, is neither federal, nor a government. The only true word in that name is the word transitional.  The TFG only controls a few blocks in Mogadishu, and none of the rest of the country.  It has no functioning institutions of government.  As a government, it is a sham and a fraud.

The U.S & Somalia: A Somali Perespective

22 Aug 22, 2009 – 8:28:09 PM

By: Amb: Ahmad Abdi Hashi

US –SOMALI relationship, at different periods, have been characterized by an adversarial relationship as in during the Cold War, a forget about Somalia after the Blackhawk Down disaster, the fight against terrorism after 9/11 and some humanitarian support through international NGOs.

It was, however, the Blackhawk Down incident in October 1993 that defined for a long time US policy towards Somalia. President Bill Clinton ordered all US troops out of Somalia and closed the Somali file in Washington. The world took the cue, labelled Somalia as a failed State and relegated Somalia to the backburner.

It was only after 9/11 that the US showed some interest albeit in relation only to the fight against international terrorism. The US saw the vacuum in Somalia as a possible haven for Al-Qaida but failed to support the Transitional National Government formed a year earlier in 2000.

When the Islamic Courts came to power and consolidated their control over most of southern Somalia, in 2005-6, alarm bells rang in Washington. The Bush administration would not accept an Islamist regime in Somalia. Consequently, CIA hired the notorious warlords to fight the Islamic Courts which resulted in the rout of the warlords. It was another Bay of Pigs debacle for the US but in Africa this time.

With the Islamic Courts entrenched, the Bush administration gave the green light to Ethiopia to invade and occupy Somalia 2006-08. The Islamic Courts made a strategic withdrawal, regrouped and forced the Ethiopian to leave the country in defeat.

Naturally, these foreign military adventures and the post 911 policy of the Bush administration in Somalia served neither the strategic interests of the US nor the aspirations of the Somali people to resurrect a strong Somali State. In short, the Bush administration viewed Somalia with unmitigated hostility.

As the new Obama administration came to power, fires of hope were ignited throughout the world. Hope that the injustices of the Bush era would be corrected. The closure of the Guantanamo Detention Center, withdrawal from Iraq, prohibition of torture, rendition and the olive branch to the Moslem world were a welcome change in US foreign policy. These first tentative steps raised high expectations.

We, the Somalis as well, hoped for a change in US policy towards Somalia based on objective analysis of the real situation on the ground; a new paradigm, different in substance from the Bush administration’s ill-conceived and failed policies in Somalia.

Contrary to the expectations of the Somali people, the new Obama administration remains committed to the same failed policies of its predecessor; engagement in Somalia solely through the narrow prism of fighting international terrorism and piracy off the Somali coast as well as reliance on Ethiopia, the erstwhile enemy of Somalia and chief trouble maker in the Horn of Africa, for all matters relating to Somalia.

What Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced in Nairobi on 7th July, 2009 signalled a continuation of the same arrogant policies of the Bush administration as well as an escalation of US military mischief in Somalia. To the profound disappointment of Somalis, Secretary Clinton declared that the US is sending 40 more tons of military hardware in addition to the 40 tons already shipped. That is a total of 80 tons military materiel and much more is in the pipeline.

The tons of weapons and millions of US taxpayer money as well as political support go to a so-called government in Somalia which has no territory to control, no institutions, does not command the support and respect of the Somali people and whose “ president” hides in a Ugandese APC when travelling to and from Mogadishu Airport.

That is the “government” the US and other western powers support.

By throwing its weight behind a fiction, the US shed the veneer of a backroom player. It has come out of the closet. The aim is to impose upon the Somali people a small group of its choice; former warlords, Islamic turn coats and famously corrupt politicians.

Forcing unpopular politicians on a country does not work. Iraq and Afghanistan are relevant examples. This will not work in Somalia either.

Siding with this insignificant faction makes the US becomes an active participant in the Somali conflict. It remains to be seen whether putting all eggs in this one basket of choice will serve the best interests of the US or the aspirations of the Somali people for durable and sustainable peace. US strategic objectives can only be achieved if it reaches out to the real stakeholders that matter in Somalia. Evidently, the US is again missing the boat.

There are as well other disturbing aspects to this new US military venture in Somalia that defy logic.

In the absence of a responsible government in Somalia, this huge influx of US weapons will make Mogadishu the biggest arms bazaar in Africa south of the Sahara. Illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition will flourish and proliferation of weapons especially in Africa will be out of control. And nobody would know where the weapons end or who has what. Whether a situation like this would contribute to peace and security in Africa and other places remains to be seen.

Another miscalculation is that the US and its allies ignore the easy access to and availability of every type weapons in Somalia. One can even buy a tank and park it in front of the house like a car. There is no weapons scarcity; the result of years of Ethiopian violations of the UN arms embargo on Somalia.

We must not, as well, overlook the devastating effect these military shipments have on Somalia. It is like pumping more gasoline into an already out of control forest fire. Such military fire power will at the end of the day cause heavy damage and destruction, kill, maim thousands of Somalis and add more millions to the already displaced.

A question is relevant in this regard. Whether these US military shipments are in line with the UN arms embargo or not? Security Council Resolution 751 0f 1992 obligated all member Sates of the UN to respect “a general and comprehensive arms embargo on Somalia”. The corollary to this requires all States to refrain from any military venture that jeopardises peace and security in Somalia. US weapons shipments undermine peace in Somalia and are consequently a violation of the arms embargo irrespective of any exemptions.

In further reference to the arms embargo on Somalia, the US sets a double standard with regard to violations of the arms embargo. It has the audacity to scapegoat Eritrea while ignoring its own and those violations of recidivist Ethiopia.

This arrogant behaviour has already encouraged countries like Djibouti as well as the predator States of Ethiopia and Kenya to violate with impunity the arms embargo. Other States will definitely follow suit. Consequently, this will lead to the internationalization of the Somali conflict.

Since the tons of US weapons constitute a violation of the arms embargo and are meant to kill, maim Somalis and destroy their properties, the US must be held responsible. It is the moral obligation of all peace loving nations to do so.

If the US wants to play a constructive role in Somalia, it must accept the urgent need for a structural correction in its policy towards Somalia. And for this to happen, the US and its allies must adjust to certain facts:

FACT I : US support for the fiction created in Djibouti must be exposed for what it is. There is no government in Somalia at the present time. A government that cannot ensure security for its people establish institutions, provide services and which sells, in retail, State patrimony and national assets to the highest bidder is no government worth the name.

This fiction includes warlords who should be facing the music at the Hague. Others were the erstwhile enemy of the US yesterday.

Today, they are the darling of the West and Ethiopia, the same countries they regularly condemned as imperialists, invaders and occupiers. One would wonder how this strange metamorphosis happened overnight and at what price.

FACT II : Attempts to impose a fiction on the Somali people is not right. We the Somalis have, like other nations, the sovereign right to choose our own leadership without foreign interference.

FACT III : Shipments of weapons or any other kind of foreign led military intervention cannot work in Somalia; this will only escalate the conflict. Historically, we the Somalis have an aversion to foreign domination and interference. The US led UN military venture in the early 90s, CIA hiring of the notorious warlords in early2006 as well as the two year occupation of Somalia (2006-8) all failed. History tells that no nation can ever be subdued by any number of troops or weapons. Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are the most recent examples.

A foreign led military venture of any kind is therefore not an option for Somalia.

FACT IV : Viewing Somalia only from the perspective of piracy and terrorism is a wrong track. This deviates from the real issue which is: the lack of a truly representative central authority. Piracy or any security concerns-perceived or real- can be addressed only when such authority is installed by the Somali people themselves without foreign dictation.

FACT V : The role of the regime in Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa must be re-evaluated and in particular with regard to Somalia. There is an unresolved territorial dispute between us, the Ethiopian occupied Ogaden region. Somalia and Ethiopia fought two wars in 1964 and 1977. The traditional enmity is deep-rooted.

Even Jonnie Carson, the US Deputy under Secretary of State acknowledged this fact in a recent statement when he correctly labelled “Ethiopia as the traditional enemy of Somalia.”

Yet, the US relies and acts on a flow of misinformation provided by this traditional enemy of Somalia. The US and its western allies must understand the long standing animosity between Ethiopia and Somalia and Ethiopia’s interest in a weak unstable Somalia, taking orders from Addis Ababa.

And one more final truth: Somalia belongs to Somalis; we, Somalis are a resilient nation even in times of adversity. Our destiny, leadership and any constitutional arrangements can and must be decided by us, Somalis, without foreign interference.

The models in Somaliland and Puntland were developed by Somalis, under an acacia tree, free from the manipulations of the Ahmedou W. Abdallas of the world. Whether one agrees with their current status is another matter. But, the two areas are peaceful because the process was indigenous and Somali owned. Hopefully at some point and time, these confederate corners will come to the fold of a strong and united Somalia.

We Somalis want peace for our people more than any one else. But we need a genuine lasting peace by the people for the people. The type being offered and supported by the US and Ethiopia is fake. It is manufactured in Washington, New York and Addis Ababa. And there is a growing international consensus that what was created in Djibouti at the beginning of 2009 is a complete failure.

The road to durable and lasting peace in Somalia is evident: a Somali owned process, immediate and full withdrawal of foreign troops, participation of stakeholders on the basis of equality and limiting UN role to logistical support. The result would be a comprehensive peace agreement, with mechanisms for implementation and a truly representative Somali government that can bring peace and stability to its citizens and act as a responsible player at the international arena.

Thus the need for a new paradigm and an unequivocal departure from the failed policies of the Bush administration is imperative. This will serve the best interests of the US and promote the aspirations of the Somali people for peace.

Amb. Ahmed Abdi Hashi( Hashara), Former Somali Amb. to the U.N 2001-2005; Secretary for Foreign Affairs ARS, asharo @ gmail . com

________
h/t africa comments

wreckage from the plane

wreckage from the Ilyushin 76, photo/Reuters

On March 9 an Ilyushin cargo plane, S9-SAB, Soviet era plane, owned by Aerolift, known gunrunners, and chartered by Dyncorp, one of the largest suppliers of mercenaries, burst into flames and crashed into Lake Victoria. Supposedly it was carrying tents and water purification equipment to the AMISOM, African Union Mission in Somalia, soldiers in Somalia. Reports say 11 people on the plane were killed. Dyncorp is currently under contract with the US Department of State.

From Uganda’s New Vision, a description of the crash:
Entebbe place crash kills eleven

The accident occurred moments after the Ilyushin cargo plane, S9-SAB, operated by Aerolift left the airport. Dynacorp, an American company, had chartered the plane.

The aircraft plunged into the water at a place referred to as Magombe, loosely translated as graveyard, owing to the disasters that have occurred there in the past. Several boats have reportedly capsized in the area, fishermen disclosed.

Magombe, according to a statement from the Civil Aviation Authority, is about 5.5 nautical miles (9.9km) south of the airport. The plane burst into flames before it hurtled into the water and got submerged, witnesses said.

“It left the airport after a Kenya Airways flight but it made an awkward sound. It caught fire soon after it got off the ground,” an officer at Kigungu Police post said.

A policeman, Gerald Ssesanga, who resides near the airport, said he saw the blaze but thought it was a fire lit along the shore. Juma Kalanzi, a fisherman, also saw the fire but initially thought it was on the nearby Nsaze Island.

“I realised it was a plane when the fire started spreading on the lake,” he stated.

So big was the blaze that it caught the attention of the early risers along the shores of the lake.

A search and rescue team comprising the army, the Police and CAA staff rescued two tired fishermen, Karim Mubajje, and another only identified as Deo. Mubajje and Deo narrowly survived after their boat capsized as the blazing plane plunged into the lake where they were fishing.

Mubajje recounted hearing a loud explosion as they drew nets out of the water. “In a few seconds, the plane spun several times and tumbled into the water, capsizing our boat,” he said.

They held onto the wooden pieces of their boat for four hours until they were rescued.

Responding to a question on whether the crash was the work of terrorists, Masiko remarked: “I am not ruling out anything and I am not including anything. Don’t speculate. Let us wait for the investigations.”

On the plane’s airworthiness, the minister disclosed that it was okay, adding that it flew to Somalia 20 times in February.

There are only 28 days in February, that means this plane, chartered by Dyncorp, was making almost daily flights to Somalia during February. What was it carrying? Who was paying for the cargo? Was it in violation of the UN Arms Embargo? And was it only flying these trips in February, did it start before that? Does Dyncorp continue to charter Soviet era Aerolift planes registered in Sao Tome for flights back and forth to Somalia?

Further description of the crash from Uganda’s Daily Monitor:

Mr Yusuf Buga, a fisherman, said he heard an explosion first and then about 10 miles away from where he was winding up his fishing, a fireball fell from the sky into the lake.
“It was not a plane that plunged into the water; by the time it hit the water, it was a fireball that continued to burn on the water surface for about an hour,” Mr Buga says.
Mr Charles Kiwanuka, 19, seems to have seen even more action than Mr Buga.

“By 5:00am, we were all packing up because we fish at night. From our boat we heard an explosion and, on looking up, saw a fireball headed for the waters where two other fishermen dozed on their canoe. The aircraft exploded from the air before falling into the lake as a fire.”

The two fishermen Mr Kiwanuka refers to, who survived by holding onto a piece of crap from the shattered aircraft …

Also from Uganda’s Daily Monitor: Crashed plane ‘not inspected’

The Illyushin-76 cargo plane carrying 16 tonnes of supplies including tents and water-purification equipment for Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers in Somalia plunged into Lake Victoria soon after take-off from Entebbe Airport.

The aircraft was on a support flight carrying water purifiers and other equipment for ugandan peacekeeping troops in Somalia.” It seems unlikely that the plane was carrying 16 tonnes of just tents and water purification equipment for the 3700 AMISOM troops. So what else was on the plane? Additionally, three high ranking Burundian officers were in the plane, including a brigadier general and a colonel.

SA plane crash victim identified

Duncan Rykaart, a former special forces operator and colonel, was one of 11 people aboard a Ilyushin 76 cargo plane that crashed into Lake Victoria on Monday.

He had been working for Bancroft Global Development, an American company specialising in research on explosive devices and landmines, since January. The company advises the African Union’s peacekeeping troops in Somalia.

Regarding Mr. Rykaart’s history:

November 2001: Guns for hire again

A born-again Executive Outcomes operation is at the centre of allegations of a military contract between ex-South African Defence Force soldiers and the Sudanese army.

We hear South African security has established a link between a local company known as NFD and the Sudan contract.

NFD’s directors include Duncan Rykaart (ex- colonel in the SA Defence Force’s Five Recce Brigade)

NFD Operations Manager Rykaart denies any knowledge of the Sudan contract, though SA military sources pinpoint him as taking the lead role in the negotiations with Khartoum. … Rykaart insists his company has no foreign security contracts currently, although the NFD website boasts a client base in Egypt, Congo-Brazzaville, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Angola and Bulgaria.

As b real points out:

all of the training & arming of somalis on all sides continues in violation of the arms embargo. that’s part of what makes the 20 flights into mogadishu so interesting. and the u.s. sponsored training by the ugandans, rwandans, and kenyans (and possibly even south africans)

He adds some relevant background material on Dyncorp, and its contract with the Department of State:

US hires military contractor to support peacekeeping mission in Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya: The United States has hired a major military contractor to provide equipment and logistical support to the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, bringing U.S. dependence on private military companies in several hot spots to a particularly troubled corner of Africa. The DynCorp International contract is the latest in a series of deals that allow the United States to play a greater role in African military matters, without having to use uniformed troops…

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.

If everything was legit, why was Dyncorp using an uninspected Aerolift plane? The old Russian planes were supposed to be banned in Uganda in 2005, plus, the crew of the plane may have been drunk:

Queries raised over ‘condemned’ aircraft that plunged into Lake Victoria

..as efforts to recover the wreckage and the bodies continued into the weekend, reports were emerging that the aircraft should not have been in Ugandan airspace in the first place because the Civil Aviation Authority had banned aged Russian-type planes from operating in the country in 2005.

Even more intriguing were reports from patrons of a popular pub in Entebbe that the crew drank well into the night before their 5.14 am departure on the flight.

Conceding that the authority suffers from political interference that limits its capacity for safety oversight over ad-hoc operators, highly placed sources in the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority told The EastAfrican that the flying coffins were back in force, operating on the authority of powerful political figures who exert considerable pressure on the regulator.

So far AFRICOM, the US Africa Command, has not been named in this story. But it officially enters the picture in the efforts to recover the wreckage from the lake:

US Army to help Uganda in plane crash recovery
The US government is scheduled to assist the government of Uganda in conducting search and recovery operations of human remains and the flight data recorder from the wreckage of an Ilyushin 76 aircraft that crashed in Lake Victoria recently.

Service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, a US body based in Djibouti are expected in Uganda to help in the rescue mission, according to a press statement from the body.

This follows a request by the U.S. Embassy in Uganda and the government of Uganda for U.S. military assistance in recovery operations at the crash site. …

AFRICOM and the Ugandans work on recovering the wreckage:

Ugandan, US divers recover plane wreckage

The Americans have been tasked to retrieve the remains of the dead, recover the black box and advise the investigation team based at the Civil Aviation Authority offices in Entebbe. “US service members are in the Horn of Africa to build relationships with partner nations,” Anthony Kurta, a US commander, said.

“We have deployed a team to support Ugandans in the operations. We work beside Ugandan military forces on a regular basis as part of our efforts to strengthen their own security capacity,” he added.

Two Russians; a captain and the co-pilot, two Ukrainians, three senior Burundian army officers, two Ugandans, a South African and an Indian died in the March 9 incident.

The remains of the Ugandans, Burundians and Ukrainians have been buried.

And the nature of the plane’s cargo, and the recovery efforts take an even odder turn in this press release, with explanatory comments from b real:

From a press release by CJTF-HOA’s public affairs outfit: U.S. Horn of Africa Personnel Dive for Aircraft Wreckage in Lake Victoria

U.S. Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa have located the wreckage of an Ilyshin II 76 aircraft that crashed in Lake Victoria and are conducting diving operations to retrieve information.

The divers have found the aircraft tail.

“It was very tall, and it was in the flight path, so we splashed divers on it and there it was,” said Lieutenant Junior Grade Scott Bryant, the on-scene diving operations officer. “We also located portions of the fuselage, that are not enclosed, they are cracked open like an egg.”

According to Bryant, divers have also located both wings, landing gear with four tires and what they believe to be one of the engines. However they believe the other engines are sunk and will confirm over the next few days.

“Most of the heavy stuff is underneath the silt. We found parts of the tail that are sunk and the divers had to dig five feet under,” he said. “This is very difficult diving and potentially very hazardous. Probably some of the most difficult I’ve seen in 19 years of service. There is no visibility, especially once you touch the bottom; a powder, like talcum powder, floats up everywhere and you can’t see at all. Because of the wreckage, there are very sharp medal objects pointing everywhere and we have fishing nets to deal with.”

Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh water lake in the world. The wreckage is 80 feet under water, buried in approximately 15 feet of silt and 6.8 miles from the closest pier.

CJTF-HOA brought personnel and equipment to Uganda from Bahrain, Italy and Djibouti. Equipment includes sonar systems, self contained under water breathing apparatus (SCUBA) gear, surface-supply diving equipment, a hyperbaric chamber for emergencies and three boats. CJTF-HOA is part of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

As b real points out:

of course the pr piece omits any mention of dyncorp or its contract w/ DoS so that it can portray (“shape” is the popular term these days) the operation as assisting the ugandan govt.

that’s alot of expensive equipment to bring in for the recovery operations. fortunately for them nobody really is asking any important questions

Note the captions of the following pictures of the recovery operation taken from the CJTF-HOA photo gallery:

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Lieutenant (junior grade) Scott Bryant, assigned to U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 2 (EODMU 2), directs a team member to approach a safety boat provided by the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority on Africa's Lake Victoria March 27, 2009. Bryant is the diving officer-in-charge of a search and recovery operation being conducted by the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and the government of Uganda. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Cory Drake)

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Lieutenant (junior grade) Scott Bryant, assigned to U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 2 (EODMU 2), directs a team member to approach a safety boat provided by the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority on Africa's Lake Victoria March 27, 2009. Bryant is the diving officer-in-charge of a search and recovery operation being conducted by the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and the government of Uganda. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Cory Drake

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Petty Officer 2nd Class John Handrahan, assigned to the forward-deployed U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 (EODMU 11), dives into Lake Victoria in Africa March 28, 2009 as part of a search and recovery operation being conducted by the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and the government of Uganda. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Cory Drake)

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Petty Officer 2nd Class John Handrahan, assigned to the forward-deployed U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 (EODMU 11), dives into Lake Victoria in Africa March 28, 2009 as part of a search and recovery operation being conducted by the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and the government of Uganda. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Cory Drake

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Sailors assigned to U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8, EODMU 2 and Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 reflect upon a day of completed dives into Africa's Lake Victoria April 1, 2009. The units are diving as part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) mission to locate the wreckage of an Ilyushin 76 cargo aircraft which crashed into the lake on March 9 and retrieve information for the Ugandan government's investigation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Dustin Q. Diaz)

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Sailors assigned to U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8, EODMU 2 and Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 reflect upon a day of completed dives into Africa's Lake Victoria April 1, 2009. The units are diving as part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) mission to locate the wreckage of an Ilyushin 76 cargo aircraft which crashed into the lake on March 9 and retrieve information for the Ugandan government's investigation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Dustin Q. Diaz)

Recovery operations include U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8, EODMU 2 and Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2, and U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 (EODMU 11). Again from b real:

at least 3 EODMU units on the scene?

according to the website global security, this represents both “Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 1″ (EODGRU 1) and “Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group Two” (EODGRU 2)

on the former,

The mission of EODGRU 1 is to provide the Pacific Fleet with the capability to detect, identify, render safe, recover, evaluate, and dispose of explosive ordnance which has been fired, dropped, launched, projected, or placed in such a manner as to constitute a hazard to operations, installations, personnel, or material.

on the latter,

EODGRU 2’s mission is to provide combat ready EOD and Diving & Salvage forces to the Fleet per unit ROC & POEs. Eliminate ordnance hazards that jeopardize operations conducted in support of the national military strategy. Clear harbors and approaches of obstacles. Salvage/recover ships, aircraft and weapons lost or damaged in peacetime or combat.

nothing in either of those missions about recovering tents & water purifiers

which is more likely –

1. the EODMU’s are looking for evidence of sabotage
2. the EODMU’s are looking to recover ordnance

After this there is not much more information. At least two accounts say the black box was found, although there was one denial that it was found.  No statements about any information from the black box have been forthcoming.

no mention of dyncorp, dos, dyncorp, amisom, africom, the eodmu teams, ordnance disposal, etc…

okay, hold on a moment.

“The wreckage is still 80ft under the water and 15ft under silt in Lake Victoria that cannot enable the divers get the black box out of the wreckage,” The Air Force spokesperson Captain Tabaro Kiconco has said.

yet

Capt. Kiconco said that the divers had successfully mapped the area w[h]ere the wreckage was found and also retrieved the cracked open portion of the fuselage, plane wings, one of the engines and landing gear with four tyres.

what do you wanna bet that’s not all those divers from the different explosive ordnance disposal mobile units retrieved from the lake?

And that is where the story ends, or at least where the telling of the story ends. There are no serious answers on what caused the crash, or what the plane was carrying that required explosive ordnance disposal units to recover. There are no further questions asked or explanations given. There is no clue as to what those multiple Aerolift flights back and forth to Somalia were (perhaps are) carrying. In fact, no one has posed serious questions to the parties involved, and they are not volunteering any answers.

So all we get is: move along there, nothing to see here, move along, just keep moving. Everything is under control. And it certainly looks like everyone concerned is under very heavy manners. Unless someone with some clout asks some questions, and that does not seem likely, we are unlikely to learn AFRICOM’s Lake Victoria secret.

Note:
I am indebted to the extensive research on this incident by b real, and posted in the comment threads on these articles:
A Carrier Group to Attack Somalia
Somalia Thread
Africa Comments

b real continues these topics and more at his newer location
africa comments blog. 
If you want to follow events in Somalia and East Africa, I suggest you visit.

somalia-kenya-sea

Reverse Robin Hoods are still busy off the Somali coast, stealing from the poor to give to the rich, stealing fish from the sea, pouring poisons in the sea, and now trying to steal the sea itself.

Kenya is making a bid to expand its territorial waters into Somali territory. The Kenya government, and the TFG government of Somalia, installed by the US, have signed a Memo of Understanding.

NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 11 (Garowe Online) – The governments of Somalia and Kenya inked a Memorandum of Understanding last week that has stirred socio-political controversy across Somalia, re-igniting memories from half a century ago when Kenya was “awarded” Somali territory by withdrawing European colonizers.

A copy of the MoU, obtained by independent Somali news agency Garowe Online, indicated that the Somali and Kenyan governments will pose “no objection in respect of submissions on the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf beyond 200 Nautical Miles” to a United Nations body tasked with enforcing the the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The MoU between the governments of Somalia and Kenya regarding the continental shelf has stirred public debate among the Somali people, who are already weary of foreign agendas.

The MoU signed between the governments of Somalia and Kenya leaves room for different intepretations, as the document openly admits that upcoming submissions to the UN body may allow the two countries to lay claim over the so-called “area of dispute.”

This vague clause throws into question Somalia’s sovereign rights over natural resources found on the continental shelf, as the long-standing “maritime dispute” between Somalia and Kenya has been placed on hold to allow Kenya to lay claim over the so-called “area of dispute” within the 10-year submission deadline period required under international law.

there is the sense that since Somalia is a weaker nation-state, the MoU was written to empower Kenya to lay claim over an area of ownership that has apparently been in “maritime dispute” for years.

The signing of this MoU comes at a time when Kenya is intensifying its search for oil, especially in offshore blocks, with Swedish and Chinese firms leading the effort.

Rebels opposed to the TFG in the Somali capital Mogadishu have spread information and accused the Somali government of “selling the sea” to the neighboring Republic of Kenya.

This information, rightly or wrongly, has largely been accepted at face-value by a Somali public reeling from nearly 20 years of civil war, gross abuse of public trust and a legacy inherited from the colonial years
.

The central regions of Somalia fall under the control of various groups, including clan militias and Islamist fighters. Support for Sheikh Sharif’s government in these regions is very fluid and uncertain.

In the northwest, the unrecognized breakaway republic of Somaliland has refused to recognize President Sheikh Sharif’s government, strictly following a separatist policy since the early 1990s.

The Puntland regional authority, in northeastern Somalia, has adopted a wait-and-see approach, although the region’s leader has repeatedly supported federalism as the only acceptable system of government for Somalia.

It is not clear what impact the MoU between Somalia and Kenya will have on the rest of the country, but the document has stirred debate across the country as Somalis largely view such agreements hidden from the public with suspicion.

The TFG does not represent much of the country. This agreement will give Kenya rights to waters that belonged to Somalia. The current Somalia government was installed with a great deal of help from the US Ambassador to Kenya, Ambassador Ranneberger, who remains tireless in his efforts to suppress democracy and strengthen America’s enemies.

MOGADISHU, April 8 (Xinhua) — The Somali government on Wednesday defended a controversial maritime boundary agreement signed with the Kenyan government this week.

The two governments on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding on their maritime boundary but some in Somalia suggested that the agreement cedes Somali maritime territory to Kenya.

According to the provisions of UNCLOS, coastal states intending to delineate the outer limits of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles are required to submit particulars of such limits with supporting scientific and technical data.

Some local media reported that the Somali government agreed the demarcation of the maritime boundary between the two east African countries in favor of Kenya.

Somalia which had not functioning government for nearly two decades has the longest coast in Africa but its case for drawing its continental reach will be complicated by internal division and the lack of capacity to generate supporting scientific and technical data.

Oil is at the heart of this move, and possibly some fishing rights. If Kenya owns more of the sea, it means more potential money from oil leases. The oil majors have recently returned to Somalia, and Kenya would like a piece of the action.

Kenya: Can Government Beat the Deadline to Lay Claim to Expanded Territorial Waters?
The question of where exactly to draw the offshore border between Kenya and its northern neighbour Somalia has long been a concern for Kenya’s efforts in oil exploration in the Lamu region. However, with no central government or any legitimate governing body, Somalia will not be in a position to file the necessary documentation to secure its coastal areas, and therefore may lose its erritorial waters to Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen. With the increased incidences of piracy in its waters too, it is likely that the international community will be more than willing to see the waters of the country be fall under the jurisdiction of one of its more stable neighbors. Already, the UN security council has given the green light to states to patrol the waters of Somalia to curb the incidences of piracy. Under the UNCLOS, this would actually not be allowed as it will be encroachment of a sovereign country’s territorial waters.

offshore oil leases == $$$$$$
Posted by: b real | Apr 9, 2009 11:37:34 AM | 33

Since US Ambassador Ranneberger is in charge of Kenya and Somali policy for the US. We can be sure he is involved in this diplomatic activity, robbing from the poor to give to the rich. In this case the rich are oil interests. They are moving back into Puntland. And it looks like someone is sending arms into Somalia:

MOGADISHU, Somalia Apr 12 (Garowe Online) - Witnesses and workers at Mogadishu’s main seaport said African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) closed off roads near the port and entered nearby neighborhoods as a ship docked.

“There were many AMISOM soldiers in our area…on top of buildings and they refused us to leave [homes],” said a witness.

Port workers said the ship unloaded military hardware, including vehicles, which were transported to AMISOM bases in Mogadishu.

The spokesman for Islamist hardliners Al Shabaab vowed to continue the war against the government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed after accusing the government of “selling the sea.”

President Sheikh Sharif’s government and the government of Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Nairobi that has stirred political debate across Somalia. READ: Somalia-Kenya sign MoU for maritime ‘area of dispute’

Al Shabaab rebels control many regions in southern Somalia, including regions near the border with Kenya.

President Sheikh Sharif’s government, which controls some sections of Mogadishu, is the 15th attempt by the international community to restore national order in Somalia.

Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its seas have been ruthlessly exploited since 1992. All of the navies supposedly fighting pirates are also guarding the illegal fishing and the illegal toxic dumping that have been ongoing and increasing since 1992.

The international navies are protecting their piratical raids on Somali resources, and calling the Somalis pirates when they try to fight back. This internationally sponsored piracy is completely brazen, and no one is held to account. The fishing pirates openly request the assistance of the supposedly anti-pirate navies in Somali waters:

Ecoterra Intl. – SMCM (Somali Marine & Coastal Monitor) Part IX
Leaders from the National Association of Freezer Tuna Vessel Owners (ANABAC) and the Big Frozen Tuna Vessels Producers Association (OPAGAC) have also sent written requests to the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs for the establishment of a secondary Atalanta Operation command centre in Mahe, Seychelles, or Mombassa, Kenya, that would bolster protection of tuna fishing vessels from Spain and the EU that operate off southern Somalia.

Amy Goodman interviewed Mohamed Abshir Waldo for Democracy Now:

AMY GOODMAN: Mohamed Abshir Waldo, explain how what you call “fishing piracy” began.

MOHAMED ABSHIR WALDO: Fishing piracy means fishing without license, fishing by force, even though the community complains, even though whatever authorities are there complain, even though they ask these foreign fishing fleets and trawlers and vessels that have no license, that have no permit whatsoever, when they tell them, “Stop fishing and get out of the area,” they refuse, and instead, in fact, they fight. They fought with the fishermen and coastal communities, pouring boiling water on them and even shooting at them, running over their canoes and fishing boats. These were the problems that had been going on for so long, until the community organized themselves and empowered, actually, what they call the National Volunteer Coast Guard, what you would call and what others call today as “pirates.”

AMY GOODMAN: So you’re saying illegal fishing is happening off the coast of Somalia. What countries are engaged in it?

MOHAMED ABSHIR WALDO: The countries engaged include practically all of southern Europe, France, Spain, Greece, UK. Nowadays I hear even Norway. There were not many Scandinavians before, but Norwegian fishing now is involved in this, you know, very profitable fishing business. So, there are others, of course. There are Russian. There are Taiwanese. There are Philippines. There are Koreans. There are Chinese. You know, it’s a free-for-all coast.

And to make things worse, we learned that now that the navies and the warships are there; every country is protecting their own illegal fishing piracies—vessels. They have come back. They ran away from the Somali volunteer guards, coast guards, but now they are back. And they are being protected by their navies. In fact, they are coming close to the territorial waters to harass again the fishermen, who no longer have opportunity or possibility to fish on the coast because of the fear of being called pirates and apprehended by the navy, who are at the same time protecting the other side.

So the issue is really a matter of tremendous injustice …

AMY GOODMAN: A little more on the issue of toxic dumping, if you would, Mohamed Abshir Waldo. I don’t think people in the United States understand exactly what it is you’re referring to and how it affects people.

MOHAMED ABSHIR WALDO: Well, toxic dumping, industrial waste dumping, nuclear dumping, as you are probably aware and have heard and many people know, for quite some time, in the ’70s mainly, in the ’80s, in the ’90s, there was a lot of waste of all these kinds that companies wanted to get rid of, following very strict environmental rules in their countries. So where else to take but in countries in conflict or weak countries who could not prevent them or who could be bought? So these wastes have been carried to Somalia. It’s been in the papers. It has been reported by media organizations like Al Jazeera, I think, like CNN. Many had reported about the Mafia, Italian Mafia, who admitted it, dumping it in Somalia for quite some time, for quite a long time.

And as we speak now, I heard yesterday, in fact, another vessel was captured in the Gulf of Aden by community—this time not pirates, by the community, when the suspected it, and it was carrying two huge containers, which it dumped into the sea when they saw these people coming to them. They have been apprehended. The vessel had been apprehended. Fortunately, the containers did not sink into the sea, but they are being towed to the coast. And this community has invited the international community to come and investigate this matter. So far, we don’t have action. So this dumping, waste dumping, toxic dumping, nuclear waste dumping has been ongoing in Somalia since 1992.

AMY GOODMAN: When I read your article, Mohamed Abshir Waldo, it reminded me of a controversial memo that was leaked from the World Bank—this was when Lawrence Summers, now the chief economic adviser, was the chief economist at the World Bank—in which it said, “I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable, and we should face up to that. I’ve always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted.”

Using the same excuse people always use for offensive and discriminatory remarks, Summers said he was just being sarcastic. People always try to hide prejudice and offense behind “I was just joking”, or “can’t you take a joke”. Summers was voicing something that many people think, but are not willing to articulate. Do you think anyone in the international community will notice the toxic waste that was just dumped?

Nobody cared when the tsunami washed up many tons of toxic waste in broken and leaking containers, and poisoned whole communities along the Somali coast. Rather than protecting the Somali coast, the international navies are protecting the illegal fishing and toxic dumping, and treating Somali fishermen as if they are all pirates. The only chance Somalia has is to form a central government that has support from a majority of the Somali people. But with th US, Ethiopia, and Kenya, undermining all attempts to do this, things don’t look good. Plus it looks very much like the US wants to invade Somalia. The recent execution of the three teenage pirates is probably just another play in the invasion game. Stealing from the poor to give to the rich will continue unquestioned.

cjtf-hoa-djibouti

Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, seen from space, view it in Google Maps.

It looks like Camp Lemonier is on its way to becomming a permanent base. From the Stars and Stripes (you can see more photos in the article):

Camp Lemonier grows to support AFRICOM

… Increasing American activity in the Horn of Africa has propelled Lemonier from a sleepy 97-acre post to a 500-acre base that’s become one of the military’s major installations on the continent. Last year’s stand-up of U.S. Africa Command means the base is only going to get busier.

“As AFRICOM matures, Camp Lemonier will transition to supporting long-term [theater security cooperation] efforts and establishing strong and enduring regional relationships,” Gen. William “Kip” Ward, the AFRICOM commander, said during testimony to the House Armed Services Committee in March 2008. “Camp Lemonier will be a part of supporting and developing regional African capability and capacity; thus, its funding support must continue.”

… Congress has set aside more than $100 million for camp improvements between fiscal 2007 and 2010 …

… the most telling indicators of the camp’s larger role may be the new infrastructure that will allow it to serve as a support hub for Africa Command. Crews have already broken ground on new taxiways to increase its ability to manage aircraft. Leaders are considering putting in a “hot pad” that will allow planes to refuel, rearm and get back on their way quickly.

Lemonier is now set to be an enduring base of operations for Africa Command. Navy Capt. Patrick Gibbons, the base commander, envisions the camp as a forward staging base for troops making last minute preparations before a mission. It is already a logistics hub that supports ships working in the Gulf of Aden and aircraft flying counterpiracy missions there. Other teams are tasked to pick up anyone who needs to be rescued. Lemonier’s mission even extends beyond the Horn of Africa region where Djibouti lies.

“The camp is becoming an enduring mission” …

Unfortunately, to date, and aside from the development photo ops in Djibouti, Camp Lemonier has contributed to destabilizing both Somalia, and Kenya, and facilitated the invasion and occupation of one country by another, the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia, and involved in planning and funding the disastrous raid on the Lord’s Resistance Army by Uganda in December. These are all the actions of AFRICOM in East Africa. AFRICOM and Camp Lemonier contribute to propping up the dictator Meles in Ethiopia, as the US cozies up to Meles, funding his ambitions and excesses in the way that has discredited American good intentions and foreign policy around the world. It does not matter how real your politik, deeds tell the story. Mary Carlin Yates was just in Ethiopia planning further cooperation. The effect will be to destabilize, exploit, and oppress in Ethiopia and its neighbors:

March 25, 2009 (ENA) – Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Wednesday received and held talks with US Africa Command Civilian Deputy (AFRICOM), Ambassador Mary Yates.

Ambassador Yates said as Ethiopia is AFRICOM’s partner in security, the visit is intended to further scale up the relation.

Meles said Ethiopia and AFRICOM have been cooperating to ensure peace and security.

Accordingly, he said encouraging activities are being carried out in the area of military cooperation and capacity building.

The two parties have also discussed as to how to maintain the prevailing peace and security in Somalia, according to a senior government official who attended the discussion.

Of course step one to increase and maintain peace and security in Somalia would be to end Ethiopian involvement. There is nothing good Ethiopia can do in Somalia. It has no credibility. The history is so bad, that even if Ethiopians had good intentions, they would not be believed. That Ambassador Yates was discussing continued involvement in Somalia with Meles signals just how bad are US intentions, and how poorly informed is US planning.

AFRICOM is still looking for a permanent base in Africa. I doubt Camp Lemonier is seen as the permanent HQ, but it obviously is becoming permanent. Judging from a number of signals, including the very minor one, which parts of the archive of this blog are getting traffic, Ghana and Botswana are both under pressure and being seriously considered as potential home bases for AFRICOM. I surely hope Ghana can resist. The idea of hosting AFRICOM is not popular with any Ghanaians I know.

The US GAO, General Accounting Office, released a February report. From the New York Times

A report issued Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office acknowledged that the command had taken steps recently to win the trust of American diplomats and development experts, as well as African leaders. But it said the command must do a better job explaining what it does to build credibility among its United States government partners and with the African nations it is seeking to help.

“The military’s large size brings the promise of increased resources,” the report said, but that size also stirs concerns among African nations “about potential encroachment into civilian responsibilities like development and diplomacy.”

In an interview here on Monday, before the G.A.O. issued its report, Gen. William E. Ward, the head of the command, said many of the misperceptions about the command had been dispelled.

If General Ward believes the “misperceptions”, the products of realistic skepticism and knowledge of history, have been dispelled, he is living in a dream world. More likely he is continuing the same mistake AFRICOM planners have made all along, only listening to themselves, and those they have selected to agree with them.

The GAO report (PDF) on Africom makes clear that AFRICOM headquarters is still planned for the continent. It is one of the three main recommendations of the report:

• Include all appropriate audiences, encourage two-way communication, and ensure consistency of message related to AFRICOM’s mission and goals as it develops and implements its communications strategy.

• Seek formal commitments from contributing agencies to provide personnel as part of the command’s efforts to determine interagency personnel requirements, and develop alternative ways for AFRICOM to obtain interagency perspectives in the event that interagency personnel cannot be provided due to resource limitations.

• To determine the long-term fiscal investment for AFRICOM’s infrastructure, we recommend the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, as appropriate, conduct an assessment of possible locations for AFRICOM’s permanent headquarters and any supporting offices in Africa.

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