Monday, July 09, 2007

Horn of Africa

The American involvement in Somalia and other nations of the Horn of Africa has been cast in our media either in terms of national self-determination or, more recently, the global war on terror (GWOT). As recently noted by Brian of Black Star Journal, however, the Horn's natural resources may also be motivating recent U.S. military involvement. Brian refers his readers to a story by Carl Bloice posted May 10th at Pambazuka News - "Somalia: The Hidden War for Oil."

The primary source for Bloice's piece actually turns out to be an interview by Amy Goodman with Salim Lone, spokesperson for the UN mission in Iraq in 2003, now a columnist for The Daily Nation in Kenya. In the interview from the April 27th Democracy Now!, Mr. Lone observes that "Somalia itself and the region, the Horn of Africa, is newly oil-rich. Kenya has some oil. Oil is the key to domination for the United States -- global domination, I mean. But it is going about, you know, the wrong way to get that oil."

Interestingly enough, the prime minister backed by the United States has been trying to pass a new oil law to encourage foreign oil companies to return to Somalia. Major companies including Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron Corporation once had exploration contracts in Somalia but left the country in 1991. A compendium of technical analyses of the resources and their geological context was posted May 19th on Somalia Watch. All of these analyses are based on older studies from the 1990s and earlier. Although war may be motivated by resource abundance, it typically hinders both exploration and production.

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