Ethiopia


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?

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How well is democracy working in four of the US government’s partner/client/proxy states in East Africa? Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda are all presently in election cycles. Are US military partnerships enabling these countries to become more representative and democratic?

Kagame’s leading challenger in the presidential election scheduled for August is Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Kagame, who has not allowed her to register her candidacy, jailed her briefly a month ago, and today (May 28, 2010) he jailed her American attorney, Peter Erlinder, lead defense counsel in the Military-1 trial at the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda.

Opposition leader and former judge, Birtukan Mideksa, has again been imprisoned (Dec. 2008) by the US-backed regime of Meles Zenawi

ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia held elections in May.

When human rights Watch criticized the results of Ethiopia’s May elections, in which the ruling coalition “won” an improbable 545 out of 547 seats, leaders in Addis Ababa didn’t ignore the influential NGO. Instead, they paid tens of thousands of demonstrators to gather in the capital and denounce the report. (Newsweek)

And from:

ADDIS ABABA, July 20 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s highest court on Tuesday rejected a case brought by the country’s opposition against the ruling party’s landslide May election victory, finally exhausting legal appeals for the defeated parties.

The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allies won 545 seats in the 547-member parliament. Both a European Union observer mission and the United States criticised the overwhelming victory.

Medrek and other opposition parties alleged widespread pre-poll intimidation during a campaign in which both sides claimed candidates and activists were murdered. Medrek also said there was some vote rigging.

Eight-party Medrek won just a single parliamentary seat in the poll. The other seat went to an independent candidate.

The aftermath of the May 23 poll is being watched by Western diplomats in a country that is a growing destination for investment and is Washington’s key ally in the Horn of Africa, where it is seen as standing against Islamic militancy.

So do you think Washington will do anything to encourage more free and representative government in Ethiopia? Ethiopia has been one of the principle US and western proxies for interfering in Somali affairs. I’m willing to bet that looking, and not all too carefully at that, is all the US and western governments will do for Ethiopian democracy. So far the US and EU have blithely ignored the electoral regularities and atrocious human rights record of Ethiopia’s Zenawi.

EU and U.S. say poll short of international standards

The 2005 elections ended with the then opposition disputing the government’s victory. Riots broke out in Addis Ababa in which 193 protestors and seven policemen were killed. The top opposition leaders were jailed until 2007.

The lone opposition member to win a seat in parliament:

Girma won his seat in Addis Ababa’s Mercato district, seen as Africa’s biggest open-air market and one of the city’s poorer areas.

“I won because a lot of my voters were merchants who are economically independent,” he said. “They weren’t civil servants or unemployed and subject to the same forms of intimidation as a lot of other people. I was lucky.”

Girma’s victory was slim, however, and he only beat his ruling party opponent by a margin of 114 votes in a constituency where both he and his father were born.
(Reuters)

The strongest of the opposition leaders, Birtukan Mideksa, is still in jail serving a life sentence. The conditions in Ethiopian prisons are dreadful, as I wrote in Guantanamo in Ethiopia. Birtukan Mideksa’s health is deteriorating. Meles Zenawi and his western allies may not have to worry about the threat she poses to their political expediency much longer if she does not get proper medical attention and care.

In Ethiopia the US has acted as an enabler of anti democratic practices, pouring aid and encouragement on Meles Zenawi, regardless of his dreadful human rights record. Meles is also a great favorite of US Senators and Congressmen who are members of the politically powerful religious cult, The Family, who help appropriate and funnel millions of US taxpayer dollars to his regime.

the Ethiopian government got its fingers burnt when it held multi-party elections in 2005 that it almost lost — and has been busy clamping down on opposition parties and free speech ever since.

________

UGANDA

In Uganda elections are coming up in the next year, in early 2011. Uganda is a great favorite of the US Africa Command, and of the Pentagon in general. Along with Burundi, Uganda provides the proxy warriors acting on behalf of the US and EU in Somalia known as AMISOM. Uganda also provides soldiers employed by US military contractors in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. Uganda’s President Museveni is also a great favorite of the Senators and Congressmen who are members of The Family, who help appropriate and funnel millions of US taxpayer dollars to his regime.

Both Uganda and Ethiopia are virtual military dictatorships, regardless of whether they hold elections or not. In May 2009 President Museveni:

told NRM Members of Parliament that while he would be “happy” to hand over power, he saw “nobody” ready to take on the daunting responsibility of leading Uganda.

Museveni already had presidential term limits removed so he could continue to run for President. The opposition is trying to reinstate term limits along with some other electoral reforms:

The bill will mainly be seeking to restore the two-term limit on incumbency, reform of the electoral commission and removal of the army representatives from parliament,” he said.

It would also compel the president to seek the opposition’s opinion before appointing senior leaders of the electoral commission, a measure the opposition hopes will make the body more independent.

There are also some other interesting developments among Uganda’s opposition.

If passed it would prevent Museveni, who has already served for 24 years, from seeking re-election.

The main opposition candidate:

Besigye said:

… the reforms before the 2011 elections should include the appointment of an independent elections commission and the removal of the military from monitoring elections.

We will be watching with interest. The US Africa Command has found Museveni and his military a particularly valuable partner and proxy. Will it see political opposition as a danger to this relationship? Will it help Museveni label and treat his opposition as terrorists. The stakes are even higher since the discovery of large quantities of oil in Uganda’s great lakes region.

And the bombings in Uganda, allegedly by Al Shabab, complicate the situation. The Somalis declared the bombings were retaliation for the continued deaths of civilians due to the indiscriminate shelling of civilian neighborhoods by AMISOM troops in Mogadishu, Killing of Civilians by UN Supported Troops in Somalia Admitted But Not Acted On. So far the US has seized on the bombings as evidence of international terrorist aspirations. The real story is far less clear. See the July africa comments for more detailed background and a more complete picture.

Some Ugandans are calling for withdrawal from engagement with Somalia:

It is not yet clear what effect this gruesome attack will have on the Ugandan government’s assessment of its ability to effectively deal with this aspect of its involvement in Somalia, or whether such an assessment will induce it to take real leadership within the region by forcing a rethink on this continent-wide challenge of viability.

Under former US President George Bush’s war on terror, they were able to use American money for upgrading their security apparatus, which was then turned on the local opposition, thus dividing local security resources between looking for terrorists and terrorising government opponents.

The other big risk is whether the militarists in Uganda’s government will be able to resist the temptation to take advantage of this security problem and develop another strategy for regime preservation.

________

BURUNDI

Burundi is just concluding its electoral cycle. The opposition boycotted the presidential poll in June, and the parliamentary poll on July 23.

All the main opposition groups boycotted the June presidential election, which Nkurunziza won with more than 90 percent of the vote.

Former rebel leader Agathon Rwasa, who had been regarded as his main rival, went into hiding and later explained in an audio message that he feared for his life after claiming the polls were fixed.

In Bujumbura’s southern Kanyosha district, one group of friends said that they planned to shun polling stations and democracy has deserted Burundi.

“There is no democracy with a single party. This has never been seen anywhere,”

The central African state had hoped the polls would prove its democratic credentials and consolidate a fledgling peace deal but they have instead left the political landscape in ruins and heightened fears of civil strife.

The international community largely endorsed the results of the May local polls despite the fraud claims and urged the opposition to end their boycott and return to the fray for the presidential vote. (h/t, and more information at Breaking the Cycle)

Burundi is awash in small arms, a legacy of years of civil war. A grenade costs about $3, and grenade attacks on politicians are common. Both the ruling party and the opposition blame each other for grenade attacks. Burundi is the other country, in addition to Uganda, that supplies troops to AMISOM in Somalia. The arms and military assistance the US taxpayers provide to this key partner/proxy of the US Africa Command, cannot have a beneficial effect on this divisive political situation. It looks like the Burundi government and military are looking for terrorists by terrorizing government opponents. And the international community seems comfortable with that. This is certainly not a prescription for democracy and US policy appears likely to exacerbate authoritarian rule and a divided terrorized population. President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government is:

… ranked by graft watchdog Transparency International as the most corrupt in east Africa.

________
RWANDA

Rwanda’s presidential election is coming up in August.

For many Western observers – Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates among them – Rwanda’s economic growth is the foundation of its democratic transition. Yet, as Rwandans head to the polls next month to elect a president, Paul Kagame’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has perverted the very democratic ideals it claims to uphold.

Over the last 16 years, the RPF has centralized power into a one-man dictatorship. … The Hutu community, making up some 85 per cent of the population, is largely excluded. … politics, business and the civil service are all dominated by military personnel or former members of the RPF.

In advance of the upcoming presidential elections, many “friends” of Rwanda have remained supportive of its so-called “democratic transition.” They ignore the repeated arrests of journalists and opposition politicians, the closing of independent local newspapers, the ejection of a Human Rights Watch researcher, an assassination attempt against exiled Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, who fell out with President Kagame earlier this year, the murder of journalist Jean-Leonard Rugambage, who attempted to report on Nyamwasa’s assassination attempt in the online version of a Rwandan newspaper the print edition of which the government closed down, and the murder of Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, vice-president of the opposition Democratic Green party. While diplomats from some countries, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, have cut their aid, the U.S. and the U.K. continue to publicly support Kagame. Canada’s position is vague as it encourages Rwanda to adopt policies that promote a pluralist society.

Under the watch of a sympathetic and supportive international community, Kagame has done everything within his power to ensure that the August elections consolidate his political power.

The US has been among the most sympathetic supporters of Kagame. With the RDF, he has acted as a US proxy in the Congo, DRC. Many of the minerals mined in the DRC are marketed by Rwanda, and controlled by the RDF or its subsidiary militias.

According to Charles Onyango-Obbo, who generally has succumbed to Kagame’s spell, TRI-STAR corporation is:

… “the business arm of the RPF”. He goes ahead to tell us that TRI-STAR has business interests worth more than 20 billion dollars “making the RPF the richest party in Africa”. So much power and wealth in very few hands.

Another optimistic sign, he reveals, “the party’s local and international assets could be equal to or larger than Rwanda’s gross domestic product.” A classic example of Fascism!

He even sheds more light into the much publicized Lake Kivu “energy” investment. Apparently, the locals will not reap a cent. The investment is a joint venture between TRI-STAR , a British and an American firm.

What is worrying to many of us is the fact that TRI-STAR as a private entity seems to enjoy unfair support from the government. If TRI-STAR is owned by the RPF, then Kagame’s role in securing TRI-STAR’s business interests is a serious conflict of interest.

Now, also worrisome is the fact that TRI-STAR owns more close to 40% of MTN Rwanda. MTN is the country’s sole internet and mobile phone provider. That is why when the banned newspaper, “Umuvugizi” went online, the government quickly blocked its website.

I’ve said it again and again, that the much praised development in Rwanda is simply for the benefit of a very tiny minority. Corruption is deep but runs undetected due to the absence of a civil society. Beyond the façade of wealthy elites, the majority of Rwandans are dirt poor and the government has done almost nothing to improve their lives. (Nkunda)

Kagame had international human rights lawyer Peter Erlinder arrested in Rwanda. He was there defending opposition leader Ms. Victoire Ingabire accused of the crime of genocide ideology, a “crime” that appears common to all Kagame’s opponents, at least according to his justice system.

I have written more about Kagame here, Paul Kagame, Warlord of Congo’s Wealth. With access to the Congo’s minerals, partnership with the Lake Kivu energy project, and alliances with Tri-Star, the US has a lot invested in Kagame and his control of Rwanda. Rwanda is also a key partner of the US Africa Command:

… since year 2000, Rwanda received “$1,034,000,000 billion in United States taxpayer-funded foreign assistance”and that “an additional $240,200,000 is proposed in the President’s fiscal year 2011 budget. (AFJN)

Much of this has been military assistance, which includes occasional photo op humanitarian activities with little coordination or followup. What the military assistance does is help Kagame fight terrorism by terrorizing the opposition and the general citizenry.

And as Nii Akuetteh writes:

The millions who have already sounded the alarm publicly that Kagame is getting away with (mass) murder include The Economist; The New York Times; three different expert panels assembled by the U.N. Security Council; U.S. Sens. Durbin and Feingold; Mrs. Clinton’s State Department – although theirs may be just crocodile tears; the world’s best experts on the Great Lakes region – renowned researchers and thinkers such as Nzongola-Ntalaja, Howard French, Rene Lemarchand, Gerard Prunier, Thomas Turner and Allan Stam; and ADNA, a network of Africa-focused advocacy nonprofits monitoring U.S. foreign policy.

And the critics include millions of individual Rwandans and other Africans – like me.

Kagame’s leading challenger in the presidential election scheduled for August is Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Kagame, who has not allowed her to register her candidacy, jailed her briefly a month ago, and today he jailed her American attorney, Peter Erlinder, lead defense counsel in the Military-1 trial at the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda.
… right now Kagame’s regime is shutting down newspapers, is kidnapping the homeless and is demonizing and pronouncing Victoire Ingabire guilty – before her sham trial even begins.

In Washington’s current relations with Mr. Kagame, we are seeing the replay of a tired old movie. Since 1960, Africa’s year of independence, each and every U.S. administration has praised, financed and kept in power its own set of brutal African strongmen that, in its secret files, it has labeled “friendly tyrants.” Mobutu sese Seko of Zaire, Siyaad Barre of Somalia, Hissene Habre of Chad, Samuel Doe of Liberia and Jonas Savimbi of Angola – these are just five of the dozens.

Zenawi, Museveni, Nkurunziza, and Kagame are some of the most recent of these brutal “friendly tyrants”, a form of government the US still seems to favor for Africans. That tired old movie remains a favorite in Washington. And even if the US State Department has said a few harsh words, the US taxpayer money and the military partnering and the proxying energetically roll on, amassing power and wealth for client dictators.

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.

Kaliti prison, Ethiopia

Kaliti prison, Ethiopia

Kaliti prison, another view

Kaliti prison, another view

In January 2007, after the Ethiopian invasion, and US bombing of Somalia, at least 85 different people from at least 25 countries, including the US, were part of Africa’s first mass rendition of prisoners. At least 18 of these were children under the age of 15. They were people trying to flee the fighting in Somalia by crossing into Kenya, and were arrested by the Kenyans. They were then held without charge. They were flown by Kenya to Somalia, and were taken on from there to Ethiopia. In Ethiopia they were subjected to lengthy interrogations by Americans, who also took DNA samples from them. They were questioned repeatedly, for months.

“A week after we arrived we were interrogated by whites – Americans, British, I was interrogated for weeks,” Salim says.

“They had a file which was said to implicate me in the Kenyan bombings. So I was taken away and was placed in isolation for two months – both my hands and legs were shackled.

“The interrogations went on for five months. Always the same questions about the Nairobi bombings.”

Former detainees have also told the BBC they were questioned by US agents. One said he was beaten by Americans.

Two others said they were threatened and told that if they did not co-operate they could face ill treatment at the hands of Ethiopian guards.

All said they believed it was the Americans and not the Ethiopians controlling their detention and interrogation.

Human rights groups in the region say this was a new form of extraordinary rendition.

The US did not play an overt role in the transportation or detention of suspects as it has in the rendition of other suspected terrorists, but it nevertheless controlled their interrogation and treatment.

Nobody know for certain how many people have been renditioned to Ethiopia. The number 85 above is based on the manifests of three flights out of Kenya on one night. The wife of Salim, quoted above was also arrested.

They were all:

… part of the first mass “renditions” in Africa, where prisoners accused of supporting terrorists in Somalia were secretly transferred from country to country for interrogation outside the boundaries of domestic or international law.

Along with at least 85 others from 20 countries, she was flown back to Somalia – a war zone with no effective government or law – and on to Ethiopia. There, American intelligence agents joined the interrogations – photographing and taking DNA samples, even from the children.

On April 7, three months after her arrest, Ms Ahmed was released. Salim Awadh Salim, her husband and father of her unborn baby, is still in detention. So, too, are 78 of the other passengers aboard the three secret rendition flights. At least 18 are children under 15.

Ethiopia admits holding 36 other “suspected international terrorists” but has refused to give the Red Cross access to them. The rest of the “ghost plane” passengers are missing.

On April 7 Ms Ahmed was put on a flight to Kilimanjaro. Her escort promised that her husband and the others would be released with a week.

That was in April 2007. Her husband is still in prison in Ethiopia, he has not been charged, and has not appeared before a court. She was briefly able to talk to him when he got access to a cellphone:

“The conditions are really bad: we don’t have enough food, we don’t have enough access to medicine. The cell is wet,” he says.

“We sleep on the floor rather than the sodden mattresses. One of the other prisoners was beaten so badly he’s had his leg broken.”

Another person still languishing in an Ethiopian jail is Canadian citizen Bashir Makhtal. His cousin has been working tirelessly to get him back, and to pressure the Canadian government to do something. So far the Canadian government seems to be dragging its feet. His cousin even created a website to keep people informed, and to try to free him, http://www.makhtal.org

Bashir Makhtal and about 100 other foreigners were swept up in “Africa’s Guantanamo,” a little-known chapter of the U.S.-led war on terror in which a series of illegal “rendition” flights took terror suspects from Kenya to Ethiopia, one of the key allies of the U.S. in the Horn of Africa.

Once in Addis Ababa, the detainees were interrogated by security officials, including agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. In April 2007, Ethiopia finally admitted having Bashir and the others, but refused to allow Canadian diplomats to see him. Bashir, however, said plenty through smuggled letters and messages. In his letter of May 2007, he says that he was beaten and forced to record a false confession to various crimes. Two months after that, according to Human Rights Watch, a fellow detainee saw Bashir briefly and reported that “he was limping. He had a deep cut in one of his legs. He looked weak. He looked so famished.”

There are no rights in Ethiopian jails.

Al Amin Kimathi believes Ethiopia was seen as the ideal destination.

It was the most natural place to take anyone looking for a site to go and torture and to extract confessions. Ethiopia allows torture of detainees. And that is the modus operandi in renditions.”

The US is not only not helping, it is actively hindering:

More than a year and a half after the renditions, the US government still refuses to respond to questions on the alleged US role.

“I have no knowledge of it nor as official policy can I comment on such matters,” US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer told the BBC.

In 2006 a French woman who was living in Addis left Ethiopia. She had been friends with the opposition politicians. The leadership of the opposition party was jailed in 2005. She visited some of them in prison and took the pictures above. She describes the conditions:

Kaliti is a huge waste ground full of big shacks of iron sheet that look built at random. During the rainy season it is muddy, damp and cold. You are not allowed to check the conditions in which the prisoners are living. Yet some views from outside – see below [above] – give a disastrous impression.

According to my experience of stable manager iron sheet shacks are not suitable for horses, they are cold in winter, hot in summer and likely to bring contagious diseases. … where there are iron sheet and food, there are rats… and big ones … flees and parasites prosper.

I was surprised to hear than Woizero Birtukan, for example, was sharing a cell with 70 other female detainees.

There is a network of prisons in Ethiopia.She interviews a friend in Maeklawi prison:

AF: So, how was Maeklawi? Tell me how it looks like… inside…
AA: Conditions are terrible. We were more than 200 prisoners there and only one of us was allowed to go to the hospital daily.
AF: What kind of diseases detainees are suffering of?
AA: You know, coughing, diarrhea… The food is… Well, I have been traveling all around Ethiopia but never saw THAT kind of injera. I could not identify the place it came from. I did not eat it. I had my own food.
AF: I guess they need medical care for being beaten too, no?
AA: Oh yes, of course… broken legs, broken hands…
AF: Did they dare touching you?
AA: No, I was protected because you were coming but others were not that lucky. One of the prisoners even told me they used electric shocks.

And on leaving Ethiopia she writes that it is:

… a police state in which [to] freely express an opinion endangers your life or drives you to prison, a country where young protestors are beaten and shot. I left a jail. … A few days before my departure, a young man told me: “Tell them, tell them how it is to live here, tell them what we endure.”

Salim Lone writes:

Human Rights Watch has documented how Kenya and Ethiopia had turned this region into Africa’s own version of Guantánamo Bay, replete with kidnappings, extraordinary renditions, secret prisons and large numbers of “disappeared”: a project that carries the Made in America label. Allowing free rein to such comprehensive lawlessness is a stain on all those who might have, at a minimum, curtailed it.

These people languishing in Ethiopian jails are caught in something large and evil. This week, on February 16, 2009:

In one of the most extensive studies of counter-terrorism and human rights yet undertaken, an independent panel of eminent judges and lawyers today presents alarming findings about the impact of counter-terrorism policies worldwide and calls for remedial action. The Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, established by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), has based its report “Assessing Damage, Urging Action” on sixteen hearings covering more than forty countries in all regions of the world.

In the course of this inquiry, we have been shocked by the extent of the damage done over the past seven years by excessive or abusive counter-terrorism measures in a wide range of countries around the world. Many governments, ignoring the lessons of history, have allowed themselves to be rushed into hasty responses to terrorism that have undermined cherished values and violated human rights. The result is a serious threat to the integrity of the international human rights legal framework,” said Justice Arthur Chaskalson, the Chair of the Panel, former Chief Justice of South Africa and first President of the South African Constitutional Court.

The report illustrates the consequences of notorious counter-terrorism practices such as torture, disappearances, arbitrary and secret detention, unfair trials, and persistent impunity for gross human rights violations in many parts of the world. The Panel warns of the danger that exceptional “temporary” counter-terrorism measures are becoming permanent features of law and practice, including in democratic societies. The Panel urges that the present political climate may provide one of the last chances for a concerted international effort to take remedial measures and restore long-standing international norms. The change in US administration provides a unique opportunity for change.

“Seven years after 9/11 it is time to take stock and to repeal abusive laws and policies enacted in recent years. Human rights and international humanitarian law provide a strong and flexible framework to address terrorist threats,” said Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, former President of Ireland and current President of the ICJ. “It is now absolutely essential that all states restore their commitment to human rights and that the United Nations takes on a leadership role in this process. If we fail to act now, the damage to international law risks becoming permanent”, she added.

The report calls for the rejection of the “war on terror” paradigm and for a full repudiation of the policies grounded in it.

somalibanner

David Axe has written a pleasant fantasy about US involvement in Somalia over at Wired’s Danger room: Pentagon America Intervenes in Somalia, Quietly (Corrected). It starts out:

Quietly and with baby steps, the Pentagon’s newest combatant command the U.S. is intervening in one of the world’s most tenacious conflicts.

One of the main reasons there is such a violent and tenacious conflict in Somalia is because of US intervention.

This would be a very nice story if it were true. I myself love to hear true stories of US generosity and benevolence. When true, these stories reinforce my love for this country and the constitutional and democratic foundations of its government. Unfortunately, Mr. Axe does not tell a true story. The true part is the US $5 million coming from the US State Department for a Somali security force. Although it will be interesting to see what actually happens to the money and who gets to spend and keep it.

Beginning in late December 2006 the US Ethiopian proxies invaded Somalia and overthrew the only functioning government Somalia had in about 15 years, the Islamic Courts Union, ICU. During the brief rule of the ICU, relative peace and stability returned to Somalia. Under the ICU there was no piracy by Somalis off the Somali coast, documented in this report from Chatham House PDF: Piracy in Somalia. That peace was brutally ended by the Ethiopian invasion, supported by US bombing of the civilian population, creating a worse humanitarian crisis than in Darfur. For more detail you can read a thorough a well documented report by Amina Mire on the invasion and its aftermath here: Menacing Somalia: Unholy Trinity of U.S Global Militarism, Meles’s Ethiopia and Thuggish Warlords.

The Bush administration alleged it was pursuing al Qaeda in Somalia. But as a West Point study cited by Amina Mire points out, al Qaeda was completely unsuccessful in Somalia. The Somali’s did not like them. The US sponsored an invasion, and caused a severe and ongoing humanitarian crisis for nothing, or for no reason that has been honestly revealed.

As Chris Floyd writes in The 13th Circle: Somalia’s Hell and the Triumph of Militarism:

… the extent of Washington’s direct involvement in the ongoing destruction of Somalia, which as we have often noted here, involved not only arming, training and funding the Ethiopian invaders, but also dropping US bombs on fleeing refugees, lobbing US missiles into Somali villages, renditioning refugees — including American citizens — into captivity in Ethiopia’s notorious dungeons, and running U.S. death squads in Somalia to “clean up” after covert operations. (The latter is no deep dark secret, by the way; officials openly boasted of it to Esquire Magazine.)

Now, as anyone not completely blinded by imperial hubris could have predicted, the entire misbegotten exercise has collapsed into the worst-case scenario. A relatively stable, relatively moderate government which held out a promise of better future for the long-ravaged land was overthrown– ostensibly to prevent it from becoming a hotbed of radical extremism. The resulting violence, chaos and brutal occupation by foreign forces led directly and inevitably to — what else? — a rise in radical extremism. Thousands of innocent people have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes, millions have been plunged into the direst poverty and the imminent threat of starvation and disease, unspeakable atrocities and unbearable suffering are arising, as they always do in any situation, anywhere, when a human community is destroyed.

David Axe continues his tale:

Somalia hasn’t had a functional central government in 18 years. Clan conflict, starvation and anarchy have contributed to what the U.S. Army’s top intel agent for Africa called a “vortex of violence” where the fighting at times escapes any rational motivation. That vortex of violence is a hallmark of so-called “Fifth-Generation Warfare.”

The Pentagon’s new Africa Command, more than any other U.S. command, is designed to wage 5GW, according to the command boss, Army General Kip Ward. Since military force often makes the vortex worse, Ward said Africom would “foster continued dialogue and development … enabling the growth of strong and just governments and legitimate institutions to support the development of civil societies.”

Somalia was returned to this vortex of violence by a US sponsored invasion. I think there is no question that military force makes, and in Somalia has made, the vortex worse. The US has been stirring the cauldron of 5GW. Bombing civilians, renditioning captives, and employing death squads are not the same as fostering “continued dialogue” in any lexicon. Yet these are what the US, the Pentagon, the State Department, and AFRICOM, have actually been doing.

You can view some pictures from the invasion of Somalia in Mire’s article, Menacing Somalia: Unholy Trinity of U.S Global Militarism, Meles’s Ethiopia and Thuggish Warlords,
or in these Somalia pictures from the Flickr photostream from Pan-African News Wire.

Added January 17, 2009:
If 5GW has been defined, I doubt what is described here meets the definition of 5GW.   I think the following from an article about HTS, the Human Terrain System, is more on target in that regard:

Gates and Patreaus are … to blame for perpetuating the belief that Irregular Warfare and Asymmetric Warfare are different from past Guerilla/Unconventional wars the United States has been involved with, whether fought in urban or jungle terrain (the singular difference being the globalization of insurgent warfare).

As one source put it, “After the takeover in the North of Iraq (the Mosul area) by the Green Beret’s with their trained Peshmerga’s, they were kicked out by General Patreaus, who during that time was the 101st Commander. He did this because it was his Battlespace. Our so called military leaders are part of the problem. That is why we’ve been in neck deep in this whole thing for seven years. Every military commander (Colonels on up to Generals) that are not Green Beret’s are trying to justify their existence in this Unconventional War. The military has even gone as far as creating terms like Irregular Warfare and Asymmetric Warfare (re-inventing the wheel). The term Special Operations Forces in the military is used loosely now because the military wants everybody to be SPECIAL. Besides, if the Green Beret’s were allowed free reign in this war, what would we do with all the MRAPS, TANKS,STRYKERS, and all other sorts of junk that we bought for the rest of the troops that have no business fighting in this type of war? Bottom line is that our military is still set up to fight a Conventional War.”

Map of global arms transfers

Map of US global arms transfers

The New America Foundation has issued a report describing US arms transfers around the world: US Weapons at War 2008. They include a section on arms transfers to Africa, U.S. Arms Recipients, 2006/07: Africa.

They write:

U.S. arms transfers to Africa are being carried out against the backdrop of a major strategic shift in U.S. attention toward the continent, as embodied in the creation of the Africa Command. … with the growing U.S. interest in curbing terror and expanding access to oil in Africa, the Pentagon moved to create a dedicated military command for Africa.

AFRICOM has ambitions to be the point of contact for all U.S. assistance to the continent, both civilian and military. In addition to the danger of underutilizing civilian expertise and mismanaging major projects–as happened when the Pentagon was running U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq–this approach could contribute to the militarization of overall U.S. policy toward Africa, undermining diplomatic and cooperative approaches to the region’s conflicts.

In the narrative they select three countries where US arms transfers are particularly counterproductive and destructive.

Ethiopia, which is engaged in military actions in the Ogaden, in Eritrea, and has invaded and occupied Somalia at US behest, is a major recipient of arms transfers:

So far, the Bush administration has not responded to Ethiopia’s crimes against humanity in the Ogaden with any restrictions on U.S. assistance, presumably because of Addis Ababa’s role in helping to fight alleged terrorist groups in the Horn of Africa. This may be a false tradeoff, however. As Sam Zarifi of Human Rights Watch noted in his testimony before the subcommittee on Africa of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in October 2007, “U.S. support for Ethiopia in its conflicts in the Somali region and inside Somalia is ineffective and counterproductive.… The current U.S.-backed Ethiopian approach will lead to a mountain of civilian deaths and a litany of abuses.… This approach will only strengthen the hand of the extremist minority in Somalia [and] could lead to the escalation and spread of conflicts in the region and may well help to radicalize the region’s large and young Muslim population.”

This ineffective and counterproductive policy that destroys so many lives is what I wrote about in my previous post. It is effective only in killing and hurting people, and in poisoning US relations with countries in the Horn of Africa

Major U.S. Security Assistance Programs to Ethiopia FY 2002 through FY 2009 (dollars in thousands) $54,360

Kenya has also been a major recipient of arms transfers. Since the disputed/stolen elections there has been ongoing internal violence, and the police and military have strongly overreacted.

Georgette Gagnon of Human Rights Watch has urged the United States and the United Kingdom to “suspend military assistance until there is an independent investigation of the war crimes. They shouldn’t be supporting the military until Kenyan authorities commit to prosecuting those responsible for torture and war crimes.”

Major U.S. Security Assistance Programs to Kenya FY 2002 through FY 2009 (dollars in thousands) $84,032

And in Nigeria:

“Widespread government corruption, political and intercommunal violence, police torture and other abuses continue to deny ordinary Nigerians their human rights. During 2007, Nigerian actors including the police, military and elected officials committed serious and persistent abuses against Nigerian citizens with near-complete impunity.”

… Militancy has become a cloak for all forms of criminality in the Niger Delta …

… Rather than attempting to curb this multi-sided violence, more often than not the Nigerian government and Nigerian politicians are complicit in it.

Nigeria has plenty of money, although the vast amount is stolen and misspent:

To give some sense of how much money is available to Nigeria’s various corrupt entities, the country’s top anticorruption official has determined that over $380 billion was stolen or wasted between 1960 and 1999, almost equaling the country’s $400 billion in oil revenues over the same time period.

Nigeria could use some assistance in developing an accountable and responsive government. Arms transfers seem likely only to strengthen the military, to assist it to become a default government, and to continue and expand its abuses.

Major U.S. Security Assistance Programs to Nigeria FY 2002 through FY 2009 (dollars in thousands) $49,564

These three countries stand out for the amount of arms transfers to them from the US, and for the misuse of those transfers. But they are hardly alone. What is needed is support for government and civilian institutions across the continent. The overwhelming emphasis on arms transfers and military assistance is an incitement to create military governments wherever it occurs.

All of this comes at a time when the citizens of African countries are trying to move beyond military coups and military governments.

Development cannot occur or thrive without local business and local agriculture. Both of these perish in a war zone.

Over at Moon of Alabama b real makes a couple of critical points about AFRICOM’s purpose, and about Department of Defense talking points: Africom: Talking Points for Screwing Mother Africa:

(Brig. Gen. Michael A.) Snodgrass stressed the same message at a business expo hosted by AFRICOM near the German base on May 1st.:

“We’re going to take this one step at a time, we’re going to listen to the Africans and take their advice,” Snodgrass said. “At an appropriate time, we will be invited by countries to come to Africa to bring our presence, which then means (there) will be an increase in activity and an increase in effectiveness in our programs.”

As we have documented here off and on following the February 2007 public announcement of the creation of AFRICOM, one thing that its spokespersons, planners and transition team have typically not done is listen to Africans or anyone bringing up things they don’t want to hear. It’s hard to imagine that changing much at this point, other than trotting out those African representatives already on board and “advising” the U.S. on how to best to go about accomplishing their objectives.

Going from the lineups presented at the various thinktank conferences and seminars, a high percentage of these influential Africans are military officers, usually graduates of IMET or other U.S. training programs.

When General Ward testified before the Armed Services Committee in March, he used the phrase:

… “persistent engagement” five times throughout the 22-page text which emphasizes the long-term focus on building the capacity to help Africans help the U.S. take advantage of Africa’s wealth in “human capital and mineral resources.”

As would be expected, maintaining control of the perception of AFRICOM is very important in the initial stages of the new command. However, since the official public image of AFRICOM (“a new kind of command” combining humanitarian missions with the pentagon’s soft power capabilities to help Africans help themselves) hardly matches up with the command’s true mission (secure and guarantee U.S. access to vital energy sources and distribution channels while containing China’s growing superpower status), AFRICOM, and everyone involved in promoting it, will remain beset by their own contradictions and weaknesses.

Read the whole article, as well as some of his coverage of what is happening in Somalia, which b real continues to document, providing detailed information and insight.

We see these contradictions over and over. The Pentagon and the State Department continue to deny any US interest in oil or China as reasons for the creation of AFRICOM, despite the documentary trail citing oil and China specifically as the reasons for the command.

The denials saying AFRICOM is not about oil and China are no more convincing than denials that the Iraq war is about oil (as has been openly stated by Alan Greenspan, and implied by John McCain in his statements on energy policy last week). The Pentagon is the largest single consumer of oil on the entire globe.

In his book Blood and Oil, Michael Klare describes the Pentagon’s seldom acknowledged oil dependence:

The American military relies more than that of any other nation on oil-powered ships, planes, helicopters, and armored vehicles to transport troops into battle and rain down weapons on its foes. Although the Pentagon may boast of its ever-advancing use of computers and other high-tech devices, the fighting machines that form the backbone of the U.S. military are entirely dependent on petroleum. Without an abundant and reliable supply of oil, the Department of Defense could neither rush its forces to distant battlefields nor keep them supplied once deployed there. (p.9, ISBN 978-0805079388)

A friend sent me a link for a CBS segment about AFRICOM training Ugandans to fight in Somalia. The piece was entirely DoD talking points. I even wondered if it was one of the advertisements masquerading as news items produced by the Bush administration: U.S. Reaches Out In Africa Al Qaeda Fight.

American soldiers are training the Ugandans to combat terrorism, CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reports, preparing them to go to Somalia to fight Islamic insurgents so the U.S. doesn’t have to.

Al Qaeda and other militants have expanded their operations to Africa. Across the top of the entire continent, rebel groups and discontented youth make ideal recruits-a situation made all the more dangerous by growing American dependence on African oil. It’s something the U.S. cannot ignore.

The hardest job facing Africom is image-making. In the words of a senior American official, “It’s open season on U.S. foreign policy. We have to convince people that this is not some diabolical George Bush plot.”

To make Africom succeed, the general has to spend as much time being a diplomat as a soldier. If he does it well enough, the enemy gathering in Africa won’t be America’s alone.

People from Uganda and Namibia have been heavily recruited as mercenaries in Iraq. Many have been recruited for Iraq under false pretences. This is quite controversial in some places. There is much concern about how mercenaries will behave once they return home. Namibia recently closed down and evicted the operations of an American company recruiting mercenaries. This training the US is providing is also suitable for creating an ongoing supply of mercenaries and surrogates for US purposes. And the US will need mercenaries and surrogates if it attempts to control the world by force, as it seems inclined. In fact the rebel groups and discontented youth [who] make ideal recruits – a situation made all the more dangerous by growing American dependence on African oil that the CBS piece describes are far more likely to be ideal recruits for American military aims if they have the opportunity. Al Qaeda is not really popular. Nobody likes outsiders coming in and telling them they are inferior practitioners of their religion. And the Somalis have generally been cool to hostile to al Qaeda. The only thing giving al Qaeda any credibility is US behavior.

In Somalia the US is encouraging one country, Ethiopia, to invade another, Somalia, helping overthow the existing government and occupying the country and bombing civilians. That is not counter terrorism. It is imperialism. Much of it is run out the the CJTFHOA, being held up as a model and template for the rest of AFRICOM.

But all the US news sources are lapping up the al Qaeda terrorist spin and spitting it back out again, letting Americans think they are being protected from a terrible enemy instead of themselves becoming a terrible enemy of peace, and being conned into endless war of imperial aggression. And the only African voices that will be heard are the ones that have been coopted to replay the Pentagon talking points.

The real promise of AFRICOM is foolery, fallacy and failure, for the US, and for Africa.

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