Posts Tagged ‘Djibouti’

USA: Auf dem Weg zum globalen Drohnenkrieg?

Donnerstag, September 22nd, 2011

“U.S. assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say

By Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller

The Obama administration is assembling a constellation of secret drone bases for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of a newly aggressive campaign to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, U.S. officials said.

One of the installations is being established in Ethi­o­pia, a U.S. ally in the fight against al-Shabab, the Somali militant group that controls much of that country. Another base is in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, where a small fleet of “hunter-killer” drones resumed operations this month after an experimental mission demonstrated that the unmanned aircraft could effectively patrol Somalia from there.

The U.S. military also has flown drones over Somalia and Yemen from bases in Djibouti, a tiny African nation at the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. In addition, the CIA is building a secret airstrip in the Arabian Peninsula so it can deploy armed drones over Yemen.

The rapid expansion of the undeclared drone wars is a reflection of the growing alarm with which U.S. officials view the activities of al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia, even as al-Qaeda’s core leadership in Pakistan has been weakened by U.S. counterterrorism operations.

The U.S. government is known to have used drones to carry out lethal attacks in at least six countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The negotiations that preceded the establishment of the base in the Republic of Seychelles illustrate the efforts the United States is making to broaden the range of its drone weapons.

The island nation of 85,000 people has hosted a small fleet of MQ-9 Reaper drones operated by the U.S. Navy and Air Force since September 2009. U.S. and Seychellois officials have previously acknowledged the drones’ presence but have said that their primary mission was to track pirates in regional waters. But classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the unmanned aircraft have also conducted counterterrorism missions over Somalia, about 800 miles to the northwest.

The cables, obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, reveal that U.S. officials asked leaders in the Seychelles to keep the counterterrorism missions secret. The Reapers are described by the military as “hunter-killer” drones because they can be equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs.

To allay concerns among islanders, U.S. officials said they had no plans to arm the Reapers when the mission was announced two years ago. The cables show, however, that U.S. officials were thinking about weaponizing the drones.

During a meeting with Seychelles President James Michel on Sept. 18, 2009, American diplomats said the U.S. government “would seek discrete [sic], specific discussions . . . to gain approval” to arm the Reapers “should the desire to do so ever arise,” according to a cable summarizing the meeting. Michel concurred, but asked U.S. officials to approach him exclusively for permission “and not anyone else” in his government, the cable reported.

Michel’s chief deputy told a U.S. diplomat on a separate occasion that the Seychelles president “was not philosophically against” arming the drones, according to another cable. But the deputy urged the Americans “to be extremely careful in raising the issue with anyone in the Government outside of the President. Such a request would be ‘politically extremely sensitive’ and would have to be handled with ‘the utmost discreet care.’ ”

A U.S. military spokesman declined to say whether the Reapers in the Seychelles have ever been armed.

“Because of operational security concerns, I can’t get into specifics,” said Lt. Cmdr. James D. Stockman, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Africa Command, which oversees the base in the Seychelles. He noted, however, that the MQ-9 Reapers “can be configured for both surveillance and strike.”

A spokeswoman for Michel said the president was unavailable for comment.

Jean-Paul Adam, who was Michel’s chief deputy in 2009 and now serves as minister of foreign affairs, said U.S. officials had not asked for permission to equip the drones with missiles or bombs.

“The operation of the drones in Seychelles for the purposes of ­counter-piracy surveillance and other related activities has always been unarmed, and the U.S. government has never asked us for them to be armed,” Adam said in an e-mail. “This was agreed between the two governments at the first deployment and the situation has not changed.”

The State Department cables show that U.S. officials were sensitive to perceptions that the drones might be armed, noting that they “do have equipment that could appear to the public as being weapons.”

To dispel potential concerns, they held a “media day” for about 30 journalists and Seychellois officials at the small, one-runway airport in Victoria, the capital, in November 2009. One of the Reapers was parked on the tarmac.

“The government of Seychelles invited us here to fight against piracy, and that is its mission,” Craig White, a U.S. diplomat, said during the event. “However, these aircraft have a great deal of capabilities and could be used for other missions.”

In fact, U.S. officials had already outlined other purposes for the drones in a classified mission review with Michel and Adam. Saying that the U.S. government “desires to be completely transparent,” the American diplomats informed the Seychellois leaders that the Reapers would also fly over Somalia “to support ongoing counter-terrorism efforts,” though not “direct attacks,” according to a cable summarizing the meeting.

U.S. officials “stressed the sensitive nature of this counter-terrorism mission and that this not be released outside of the highest . . . channels,” the cable stated. “The President wholeheartedly concurred with that request, noting that such issues could be politically sensitive for him as well.”

The Seychelles drone operation has a relatively small footprint. Based in a hangar located about a quarter-mile from the main passenger terminal at the airport, it includes between three and four Reapers and about 100 U.S. military personnel and contractors, according to the cables.

The military operated the flights on a continuous basis until April, when it paused the operations. They resumed this month, said Stockman, the Africa Command spokesman.

The aim in assembling a constellation of bases in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula is to create overlapping circles of surveillance in a region where al-Qaeda offshoots could emerge for years to come, U.S. officials said.

The locations “are based on potential target sets,” said a senior U.S. military official. “If you look at it geographically, it makes sense — you get out a ruler and draw the distances [drones] can fly and where they take off from.”

One U.S. official said that there had been discussions about putting a drone base in Ethiopia for as long as four years, but that plan was delayed because “the Ethiopians were not all that jazzed.” Other officials said Ethiopia has become a valued counterterrorism partner because of threats posed by al-Shabab.

“We have a lot of interesting cooperation and arrangements with the Ethiopians when it comes to intelligence collection and linguistic capabilities,” said a former senior U.S. military official familiar with special operations missions in the region.

An Ethio­pian Embassy spokesman in Washington could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

The former official said the United States relies on Ethiopian linguists to translate signals intercepts gathered by U.S. agencies monitoring calls and e-mails of al-Shabab members. The CIA and other agencies also employ Ethiopian informants who gather information from across the border.

Overall, officials said, the cluster of bases reflects an effort to have wider geographic coverage, greater leverage with countries in the region and backup facilities if individual airstrips are forced to close.

“It’s a conscious recognition that those are the hot spots developing right now,” said the former senior U.S. military official.”

 

(Quelle: The Washington Post.)

Somalia: Vor einer neuen US-Militärinvasion?

Donnerstag, September 1st, 2011

“Obama Widening War in Somalia

Led by the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) the U.S. is stepping up its war in Somalia, The Nation magazine reports.

by Sherwood Ross

“The CIA presence in (the capital) Mogadishu is part of Washington’s intensifying counter-terrorism focus on Somalia, which includes targeted strikes by US Special Operations forces, drone attacks and expanded surveillance operations,” writes Jeremy Scahill, the magazine’s national security correspondent.

According to well-connected Somali sources, the CIA is reluctant to deal directly with Somali political leaders, who are regarded by U.S. officials as corrupt and untrustworthy. Instead, Scahill says, the U.S. has Somali intelligence agents on its payroll. Even the nation’s president, Sharif Sheihk Ahmed is not fully briefed on war plans.

The CIA operates from a sprawling walled compound in a corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport defended by guard towers manned by Somali government guards. What’s more, the CIA also runs a secret underground prison in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency headquarters, where conditions are reminiscent of the infamous Guantanamo Bay facility President Obama vowed to shut down.

The airport site was completed just four months ago and symbolizes the new face of the expanding war the Obama regime is waging against Al Shabab, and other Islamic militant groups in Somalia having close ties to Al Qaeda.
Typical of U.S. strongarm tactics, suspects from Kenya and elsewhere have been illegally rendered and flown to Mogadishu. Former prisoners, Scahill writes, “described the (filthy, small) cells as (infested with bedbugs), windowless and the air thick, moist and disgusting. Prisoners…are not allowed outside (and) many have developed rashes…” The prison dates back at least to the regime of military dictator Siad Barre, who ruled from 1969 to 1991, and was even then referred to as “The Hole.”

One prisoner snatched in Kenya and rendered to Somalia said, “I have been here for one year, seven months. I have been interrogated so many times…by Somali men and white men. Every day new faces show up (but) they have nothing on me. I have never seen a lawyer…here there is no court or tribunal.” The white men are believed to be U.S. and French intelligence agents.

Human Rights Watch and Reprieve have documented that Kenyan security forces “facilitated scores of renditions for the U.S. and other governments, including 85 people rendered to Somalia in 2007 alone,” Scahil writes.
Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a leader of Al Qaeda in East Africa and Kenyan citizen, was slain in the first known targeted killing operation in Somalia authorized by President Obama, The Nation article said, several months after a man thought to be one of Nabhan’s aides was rendered to Mogadishu.

In an interview with the magazine in Mogadishu, Abdulkadir Moallin Noor, the minister of state for the presidency, confirmed that US agents “are working without intelligence” and “giving them training.” He called for more U.S. counter-terrorism efforts lest “the terrorists will take over the country.”

During his confirmation hearings to become head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, Vice Admiral William McRaven said the U.S. is “looking very hard” at Somalia and that it would have to “increase its use of drones as well as on-the-ground intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.” U.S. actions appear to circumvent the president, who is not fully kept in the loop, the magazine reported.

A week after a June 23rd drone strike against alleged Shabab members near Kismayo, 300 miles from the capital, John Brennan, Mr. Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser, said, “From the territory it controls in Somalia, Al Shabab continues to call for strikes against the United States. We cannot and we will not let down our guard. We will continue to pummel Al Qaeda and its ilk.”

Author Scahill reports the Pentagon is increasing its support for, and arming of, the counter-terrorism operations of non-Somali African military forces. A new defense spending bill would authorize more than $75 million in U.S. aid aimed at fighting the Shabab and Al Qaeda in Somalia. The package would “dramatically” increase US arming and financing of AMISOM’s (African Union) forces, particularly from Uganda and Burundi, as well as the armies of Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia.

The AMISOM forces, however, “are not conducting their mission with anything resembling surgical precision,” Scahill writes. Instead, in recent months they “have waged a merciless campaign of indiscriminate shelling of Shabab areas, some of which are heavily populated by civilians.”
According to a senior Somali intelligence official who works directly with U.S. agents, the CIA-led program in Mogadishu has yielded few tangible gains. Neither the U.S. nor Somali forces “have been able to conduct a single successful targeted mission in the Shabab’s areas in the capital,” Scahill reports.

Francis Boyle, distinguished authority on international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, says the US. is “just using Shabab as an excuse to steal Somalia’s gas. Just before President Bush Senior’s Gulf War I, Somalia was already carved up among four or so U.S. oil companies. Then Bush Sr. invaded under the pretext of feeding poor starving Somalis…(but) the Somalis fought back and expelled us… So now we are just trying to get back in there. Notice they are escalating the propaganda again about poor starving Black People in Somalia, as if we ever cared diddly-squat about them. All we care about is stealing their oil. Shabab and famine are just covers and pretexts.

The expanding war in Somalia, largely unreported in America, marks the sixth country in the Middle East—-after Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, and Yemen—in which the regime of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Obama is engaged. One wonders how many additional countries Mr. Obama, (the former secret CIA payroller,) has to invade to win another Peace Prize?


Sherwood Ross directs the Anti-War News Service. To comment or contribute, reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com

 

(Quelle: Veterans Today.)

Afrika: Die Strategie der Weltbank

Freitag, Juni 24th, 2011

The World Bank’s Africa Strategy

Neoliberalism, Poverty and Ecological Destruction

By PATRICK BOND

A renewed wave of development babble began flowing soon after the February launch of the World Bank’s ten-year Strategy document, “Africa’s Future and the World Bank’s Support to It”. Within three months, a mini-tsunami of Afro-optimism swept in: the International Monetary Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook for SubSaharan Africa, the Economic Commission on Africa’s upbeat study, the African World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Report, and the African Development Bank’s discovery of a vast new “middle class” (creatively defined to include the 20% of Africans whose expenditures are $2-4/day).

Drunk on their own neoliberal rhetoric, the multilateral establishment swoons over the continent’s allegedly excellent growth and export prospects, in the process downplaying underlying structural oppressions in which they are complicit: corrupt power relations, economic vulnerability, worsening Resource Curses, land grabs and threats of environmental chaos and disease.

These are merely mentioned in passing in the Bank’s Africa Strategy – the most comprehensive of these neoliberal-revival tracts – but a frank, honest accounting of the author’s role is inconceivable, even after an internal Independent Evaluation Group report scathing of mistakes the last time around. That effort, the 2005 Africa Action Plan (AAP), was associated with the G-8’s big-promise little-delivery Summit in Gleneagles.

The Bank admits the AAP was a “top-down exercise, prepared in a short time with little consultations with clients and stakeholders”, and that the “performance of the Bank’s portfolio in the Region” was lacking. Tellingly, the Bank confesses, “People who had to implement the plan did not have much engagement with, and in some cases were not even aware of, the AAP.”

Tyrants and democrats

Though in 2021 the same will probably be said of this Strategy, the Bank claims its antidote is “face-to-face discussions with over 1,000 people in 36 countries.” However, as quotes from attendees prove, the Bank could regurgitate only the most banal pablum.

Nor does the Strategy propose grand new alliances (e.g. with the Gates Foundation). There is just a quick nod to two civilized-society partners, the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (Harare) and African Economic Research Consortium (Nairobi) which together have educated 3000 local neoliberals, the Bank proudly remarks.

Embarrassingly, the Bank hurriedly stoops to endorse three continental institutions: the African Union (AU), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (founded by former SA president Thabo Mbeki in 2001) and African Peer Review Mechanism (2003). The latter two are usually described as outright failures.

As for the former, there were once high hopes that the AU would respond to Africa’s socio-political and economic aspirations, but not only did Muammar Gaddafi exercise a strong grip as AU president and source of no small patronage.

Horace Campbell pointed out other leadership contradictions in Pambazuka News in March: “That the current leaders of Africa could support the elevation of Teodoro Obiang Nguema to be the chairperson of this organisation pointed to the fact that most of these leaders such as Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Republic of Congo, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan , Paul Biya of Cameroon, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Ali Bongo of Gabon, King Mswati III of Swaziland, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia are not serious about translating the letters of the Constitutive Act into reality.”

These sorts of rulers are the logical implementers of the Bank Strategy. No amount of bogus consultations with civilized society can disguise the piling up of Odious Debts on African societies courtesy of the Bank, IMF and their allied strongmen borrowers.

Yet these men are nowhere near as strong as the Bank assumes, when reproducing a consultancy’s map of countries considered to have “low” levels of “state fragility”, notably including Tunisia and Libya – just as the former tyranny fell and the latter experienced revolt.

In contrast, the Africa Strategy makes no mention whatsoever of those pesky, uncivil-society democrats who are opposed to Bank partner-dictators. Remarks Pambazuka editor Firoze Manji, “Their anger is being manifested in the new awakenings that we have witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Côte d’Ivoire, Algeria, Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Djibouti, Botswana, Uganda, Swaziland, and South Africa. These awakenings are just one phase in the long struggle of the people of Africa to reassert control over our own destinies, to reassert dignity, and to struggle for self-determination and emancipation.”

Unsound African architecture

The Bank will continue standing in their way by funding oppressors, leaving the Africa Strategy with a structurally-unsound, corny architectural metaphor: “The strategy has two pillars – competitiveness and employment, and vulnerability and resilience – and a foundation – governance and public-sector capacity.”

Setting aside hypocritical governance rhetoric, the first pillar typically collapses because greater competitiveness often requires importing machines to replace workers (hence South Africa’s unemployment rate doubled through post-apartheid economic restructuring). And Bank advice to all African countries to do the same thing – export! – exacerbates mineral or cash crop gluts, such as were experienced from 1973 until the commodity boom of 2002-08.

The Bank Strategy also faces “three main risks: the possibility that the global economy will experience greater volatility; conflict and political violence; and resources available to implement the strategy may be inadequate.”

These are not just risks but certainties, given that world economic managers left unresolved all the problems causing the 2008-09 meltdown; that resource-based conflicts will increase as shortages emerge (oil especially as the Gulf of Guinea shows); and that donors will be chopping aid budgets for years to come. Still, while the Bank retains “some confidence that these risks can be mitigated”, in each case its Strategy actually amplifies them.

It is self-interested – but not strategic for Africa – for the Bank to promote further exports from African countries already suffering extreme primary commodity dependency. Economically, the Strategy is untenable, what with European countries cracking up and defaulting, Japan stagnant, the US probably entering a double-dip recession, and China and India madly competing with Western mining houses and bio-engineering firms for African resources and land grabs. Nowhere can be found any genuine intent of assisting Africa to industrialise in a balanced way.

The Bank’s bland counterclaim: “While Africa, being a relatively small part of the world economy, can do little to avoid such a contingency, the present strategy is designed to help African economies weather these circumstances better than before.” But these are not “circumstances” and “contingencies”: they are core features of North-South political economy from which Africa should be seeking protection.

Neoliberalism, poverty and ecological destruction

A poignant example is the Bank’s warm endorsement of Kenyan cut-flower trade in spite of worsening water stress, commodity price volatility and inclement carbon-tax constraints. Nevertheless, “Between 1995 and 2002, Kenya’s cut flower exports grew by 300 percent” – while nearby peasant agriculture suffered crippling water shortages, a problem not worth mentioning in Bank propaganda.

Where will water storage and power come from? Bank promotion of megadams (such as Bujagali in Uganda or Inga in the DRC) ignores the inability of poor people to pay for hydropower, not to mention worsening climate-related evaporation, siltation or tropical methane emissions.

Other silences are revealing, such as in this Bank confession of prior multilateral silo-mentality: “Focusing on health led to a neglect of other factors such as water and sanitation that determine child survival.” The reason water was underfunded following Jeffrey Sachs’ famous 2001 World Health Organisation macroeconomic report was partly that his analysts didn’t accurately assess why $130 billion in borehole and piping investments failed during the 1980s-90s: insufficient subsidies to cover operating and maintenance deficits.

Lack of subsidies for basic infrastructure is an ongoing problem, in part because “the G-8 promise of doubling aid to Africa has fallen about $20 billion short.” So as a result, “the present strategy emphasizes partnerships – with African governments, the private sector and other development partners,” even though Public-Private Partnerships rarely work. Most African privatized water systems have fallen apart.

South Africa has had many such failed experiments, in every sector. The latest Bank loan to Pretoria, for $3.75 billion (its largest-ever project loan) is itself a screaming rebuttal to the Strategy’s claim that “the Bank’s program in Africa will emphasize sustainable infrastructure. The approach goes beyond simply complying with environmental safeguards. It seeks to help countries develop clean energy strategies that choose the appropriate product mix, technologies and location to promote both infrastructure and the environment.”

That loan also caused extreme electricity pricing inequity and legitimation of corrupt African National Congress construction tenders. This generated condemnation of the government by its own investigators and of the Bank by even Johannesburg’s Business Day newspaper, normally a reliable ally.

South African workers would also take issue with a Bank assumption: “The regulation of labor (in South Africa, for instance) often constrains businesses… In some countries, such as South Africa (where the unemployment rate is 25 percent), more flexibility in the labor market will increase employment.”

This view, expressed occasionally by the Bank’s aggressively neoliberal Africa chief economist, Shanta Devarajan, is refuted not only by 1.3 million lost jobs in 2009-10 but by the September 2010 International Monetary Fund Article IV consultation analysis, which puts SA near the top of world labour flexibility rankings, trailing only the US, Britain and Canada.

There are other neoliberal dogmas, e.g., “Microfinance, while growing, has huge, untapped potential in Africa.” The Bank apparently missed the world microfinance crisis symbolized by the firing of Muhammad Yunus as Grameen executive (just as the Strategy was released), the many controversies over usurious interest rates, or the 200,000 small farmer suicides in Andra Pradesh, India in recent years due to unbearable microdebt loads.

The Bank also endorses cellphones, allegedly “becoming the most valuable asset of the poor. The widespread adoption of this technology – largely due to the sound regulatory environment and entrepreneurship – opens the possibility that it could serve as a vehicle for transforming the lives of the poor.” The Bank forgets vast problems experienced in domestic cellphone markets, including foreign corporate ownership and control.

And as for what is indeed “the biggest threat to Africa because of its potential impact, climate change could also be an opportunity. Adaptation will have to address sustainable water management, including immediate and future needs for storage, while improving irrigation practices as well as developing better seeds.” Dangers to the peasantry and to urban managers of the likely 7 degree rise and worsened flooding/droughts are underplayed, and opportunities for wider vision for a post-carbon Africa are ignored, such as the importance of the North (including the World Bank itself) paying its vast climate debt to Africa.

“An African Consensus”?

Compared to Bank funding for insane mega-projects such as the $3.75 billion lent to South Africa to build the world’s fourth largest coal-fired power plant last April, not much is at stake in the Strategy’s portfolio: $2.5 billion/year over the decade-long plan.

Nevertheless, the Africa Strategy hubris is dangerous not only for diverging from reality so obviously, but for seeking a route from Bank Strategy to “an African consensus.” The Bank commits to “work closely with the AU, G-20 and other fora to support the formulation of Africa’s policy response to global issues, such as international financial regulations and climate change, because speaking with one voice is more likely to have impact.”

Does Africa need a sole neoliberal voice claiming “consensus”, speaking from shaky pillars atop crumbling foundations based on false premises and corrupted processes, piloting untenable projects, allied with incurable tyrants, impervious to demands for democracy and social justice? If so, the Bank has a Strategy already unfolding.

And if all goes well with the status quo, the Strategy’s predictions for 2021 include a decline in the poverty rate by 12 percent and at least five countries entering the ranks of middle-income economies (candidates are Ghana, Mauritania, Comoros, Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia).

More likely, though, is worsening uneven development and growing Bank irrelevance as Africans continue courageously protesting neoliberalism and dictatorship, in search of both free politics and socio-economic liberation.

Patrick Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Civil Society in Durban: http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za

 

(Quelle: CounterPunch.)

Horn von Afrika: Millionen droht Hungertod – Westen schaut weg

Dienstag, Mai 24th, 2011

“HORN OF AFRICA: Food insecurity grips region

The number of people requiring humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa could increase sharply in coming months due to below-average rainfall and high food and fuel prices, say aid workers.

Moreover, funding shortfalls, drought and conflict could further increase the number of people needing humanitarian aid in the region from an estimated 8.75 million people.

Peter Smerdon, spokesman for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Kenya, told IRIN on 18 May: “The total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in the Horn is 8.75 million; some of them get food aid from governments and other aid organizations. At least six million people need food assistance from WFP but this number could increase if the current rains are poor or below average.”

According to Smerdon, by early May, about halfway through the rainy season, rainfall was well below average in most of the Horn, ranging from 5 to 50 percent of normal rates, and well below forecasts.

Funding shortfalls

Of particular concern, he said, were areas of southern and southeastern Ethiopia.

“Amid growing concern about the impact of drought in the southern and southeastern pastoralist areas, many of WFP’s food assistance activities in Ethiopia face significant funding shortfalls,” Smerdon said.

The agency said it was assisting 4.3 million people in Ethiopia.

In Somalia, WFP faces a 70 percent shortfall from May through October and urgently needs contributions of US$53 million to feed one million people in accessible areas for the next six months.

In Kenya, Smerdon said, WFP has a 50 percent funding shortfall of $47 million needed to provide food aid for the next six months to 1.7 million people.

In an April food security report Kenya’s Agriculture Ministry said the national stock of maize – the country’s staple – is expected to be about 5.9 million 90kg bags by the end of July, adequately covering only 1.7 months beginning in August.

The April–September 2011 Food Security Outlook by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) forecast that most households in the hard-hit pastoral areas would become extremely food insecure and many more livestock would die.

According to WFP, the Horn of Africa drought, which began with the failure of the short rains in December 2010, is the first since a two-year regional drought in 2007-2009 that saw the number of people needing humanitarian assistance in the region rise to more than 20 million.

Conflict could further increase the number of people requiring help. In early May, dozens of people were killed and others displaced when violence broke out on the Ethiopia-Kenya border between two communities over rising food prices.

The fighting between the Turkana community of Kenya and the Merille of Ethiopia, local media reported, reflected a broader pattern of inter-ethnic conflict resulting from food scarcity and persistent drought.

On 15 May, international NGO CARE called for more attention to severe food insecurity in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, saying almost eight million people in these countries needed emergency aid.

“Chronic vulnerability, poverty, social injustice and climate change are all responsible for recurring food insecurity in the Horn of Africa,” Mohamed Khaled, CARE’s regional emergency coordinator for East Africa, said in a statement. “On top of that, a significant increase in food and fuel prices has worsened the current situation.

“In Kenya, for example, the price of maize, a staple food, has increased over 27 percent during the last three months. Sufficient attention is needed now to prevent further loss of lives and livelihoods. At the same time, the underlying reasons need to be tackled to break the recurring cycles that have persisted in recent years.”

Djibouti and Somalia have declared the drought situation a national disaster while the Ethiopian government revised its humanitarian requirements document in April 2011 to reflect the growing needs and mobilize a scale-up of humanitarian response.

Khaled said: “While governments of the affected countries have already started interventions, short- and long-term international assistance is needed to help address critical needs but also underlying structural causes and chronic vulnerabilities. What is needed is a set of interventions which strengthens people’s own resilience capacity and coping mechanisms to survive such severe conditions while at the same time responding to their current humanitarian needs and protecting their livelihoods. It is crucial that people can feed themselves through their own means instead of being dependent on food distributions.”

Somalia

Somalia’s situation is dire as conflict continues. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Security, Nutrition and Analysis Unit (FSNAU), some 2.4 million Somalis are in food crisis, representing 32 percent of the population.

The effects of the ongoing drought, deteriorating purchasing power, rampant conflict and limited humanitarian space continue to aggravate the situation in most parts of the country, FSNAU said in an April update.

js-ah/mw”

 

(Quelle: IRIN Africa.)

Somalia: Hintergründe eines komplizierten Konflikts

Samstag, Juli 24th, 2010

Somalia: Al-Shabab, extremism and US allies

By Yohannes Woldemariam



cc S W

The rise of Al-Shabab in Somalia must be seen in the context of decades of mismanagement, dictatorship and abuse, writes Yohannes Woldemariam. Following Ethiopia’s US-backed intervention in 2006, the ascendancy of Somalia’s moderate UIC (Union of Islamic Courts) was blocked and some 300,000 people were displaced, in the wake of which ‘the Al-Shabab extremists triumphed as a hegemonic force’ from within the UIC. And as the dust settles on last week’s Kampala bombing, Woldemariam contends, the governments of US allies Ethiopia and Uganda are once again seeking to capitalise on the tragedy for their own ends, ‘with Obama playing right into it’.

The emergence of Al-Shabab in Somalia is not an accident. It stems from many decades of mismanagement, dictatorship, regional and international abuse. Superficially, one expects Somalia to be a unified entity because all Somalis speak a common language and are not plagued by ethnic differences as in many parts of the post-colonial world. Yet Somalia was always beset by deep clan cleavages even as Somali elites fantasised about the notion of a ‘Greater Somalia’ and made it their mission to unite all Somali-speaking peoples. This included Somalis in neighbouring states: the Ogaden region in Ethiopia, the Issas in Djibouti and the Somalis who inhabit the area known as the Northern Frontier District of Kenya. The Horn of Africa was of course faced with the same arbitrariness of borders inherited from colonial rule, where there were cultural links with people across borders.



Notion of 'Greater Somalia' marked in yellow on map

But the project of an ethnically homogenous state by embracing neighbouring Somali minorities was a non-starter and contrary to the African charter of respecting colonial boundaries. Hence, Somali irredentism pitted it against Kenya and Ethiopia, worsening in particular its historic enmity with Ethiopia. The tension between the two countries provided one of the openings for the Soviet Union and the United States to use these nations as proxies in the geopolitical games of the Cold War. The Horn of Africa of which Somalia is a part became much like Afghanistan, Vietnam and other hot spots of that era.

Ethiopia and Somalia waged two major wars, including one that involved Cuban troops in 1977–78. A combined force of Ethiopians, 15,000 Cubans, 1,500 Soviet advisors and weaponry broke the back of the Somali army. This defeat was the beginning of the end of a functioning Somali state. It was followed by a protracted civil war in the 1980s, culminating in the disintegration of the country. Clumsy US and UN involvement in the 1990s made an already bad situation worse. Clan-based warlordism replaced the centralised dictatorship of Mohammed Said Barre, who ruled Somalia from 1969 to 1991. After the fall of Barre, Somaliland and Puntland became two separate, relatively stable but unrecognised entities. In fact, in late June 2010, Somaliland held the only election in the region which met international standards. Opposition candidate Ahmed M. Maha Silanyo won the election, defeating incumbent President Dahir Riyale Kahin. In contrast, anarchy had reigned in southern Somalia and the Mogadishu area for at least the last two decades.

For the most part, the US disengaged after the death of 18 of its marines and the downing of two Black Hawk helicopters in 1993. The gruesome scene in October 1993 – with pictures of a dead American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu and dubbed the ‘CNN effect’ – is a fixture in the memory of many Americans. It influenced the Clinton administration’s decision to withdraw US troops from the country. Somalia became of renewed interest only after 9/11 out of concern that it would be a breeding ground for global jihad and a hide out for Al-Qaida elements.

There were 14 unsuccessful top-down attempts for a centralised government in Somalia between 1991 and 2010. The current Transitional Federal Government (TFG) led by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is the latest mutation of these trials. Most Somalis view Sharif Ahmed as an Ethiopian puppet, but Hillary Clinton had called him the ‘best hope’ for his country. He barely controls two blocks in Mogadishu and only because of the protection of approximately 3,000 Ugandan and 2,000 Burundian troops representing the ill-conceived AU Mission In Somalia (AMISOM). The Ugandan, Burundian and Ethiopian intervention is deeply resented by Somalis of various political persuasions. The justification for their presence is ostensibly to keep peace, but there is no peace to keep in Somalia. Uganda and Ethiopia really need peace within their own borders before pretending to bring peace to other lands. Among several insurgencies within Ethiopia is the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), which is waging a perennial struggle for self-determination for the four million or so ethnic Somalis. It has claimed thousands of lives and is being called ‘the other Darfur’ by some observers. Since the 1980s, Uganda’s northern region has also been ravaged by a murderous group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

The primary reason for Ethiopian intervention is its vested interest in a weak and disintegrated Somalia. It also benefits from American financial, military and political support by positioning itself as an ally in the ‘war on terror’. Ethiopia receives the largest amount of American aid of any country in sub-Saharan Africa. Similarly, Uganda and Burundi are intervening to garner support from the United States when they don’t even share a common border with Somalia.

In return, the US keeps mum when these leaders rig elections or change constitutional clauses to enable them to extend presidential terms. It is a Machiavellian game all around.

If one were genuine about peace, Ethiopia would be among the last countries in the world to be encouraged to send troops to Somalia. Yet in 2006, it intervened in Somalia with American support and pre-empted the ascendancy of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), who were relatively moderate Muslims and had managed to establish a modicum of order for the very first time in 15 years. From the ranks of UIC, the Al-Shabab extremists triumphed as a hegemonic force. Ethiopia officially withdrew in 2009, but only after experiencing a quagmire which plunged Somalia into deeper chaos, displacing 300,000 Somalis and causing disarray for a grassroots movement that had seemed promising before it was nipped by Ethiopian intervention. And this official withdrawal notwithstanding, Ethiopian troops still make periodic incursions into Somalia at will.

Given the predatory nature of the governments of Burundi, Ethiopia and Uganda – which are essentially military dictatorships or de facto one-party control – little faith can be placed in them for enhancing regional stability in the Horn region. Current Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki is also believed to have stolen the presidential election from Raila Odinga (who happens to hail from the same ethnic group as Barack Obama's father), who is now prime minister in a shaky power-sharing government. Yet the country is an ally in security matters in the region and therefore immune from any serious US scrutiny.

In 2006, the Bush administration provided intelligence to Ethiopia in support of the invasion. It also used military facilities in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya to launch air raids and missile strikes against Al-Qaida suspects at several sites in Somalia in 2007 and 2008. The air attacks killed several dozen Somali civilians and injured hundreds more, and they made US backing for the invasion highly visible. These periodic airstrikes are continuing under the Obama administration. The killing of Somali civilians only serves to drive Somalis into desperation and extremism. AMISOM is not any better. There are credible reports that it is responsible for civilian deaths and other excesses.

In the aftermath of the Kampala bombings, Obama said that Al-Qaida is racist and doesn’t care about African lives. No sane person would dispute that. However, the real question is whether Obama cares about African lives. If he truly does, why would he meddle and prop up dictators like Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, dictators who wilfully sacrifice their soldiers and the lives of innocents for some foreign exchange dollars? Not surprisingly, both Zenawi and Museveni are already positioning themselves to argue for expanded intervention and to milk the Kampala tragedy, with Obama playing right into it. Ironically, Al-Shabab will also welcome the escalation and regionalisation of the conflict in the hope of bolstering its waning domestic support base as ordinary Somalis become weary of the heavy-handed repression by the movement.

Relying on Ethiopia, Uganda and Burundi for keeping peace in Somalia is like sending Indian soldiers to occupy and pacify the Pakistani tribal areas. It is an oxymoron. It undermines the moderates and helps the extremists. The willingness of the United States to endorse interventions is rarely matched by a commitment to a comprehensive effort of securing peace. With the quagmire in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is hardly any political will in the US to effectively deal with the complexities of the issues in Somalia. Somalia does not need intervention and further militarisation by self-serving neighbours. A possible starting point for rebuilding Somalia could be to use the money that is being wasted on AMISOM to assist the Somali people and the nascent democratic experiment in Somaliland in light of the severe democratic drought in the region.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

 

(Quelle: Pambazuka News.)

Kenia: “Krieg gegen den Terror” bald auch hier?

Montag, Juni 7th, 2010

Biden’s Visit Underlines New U.S. Strategic Interest in Region

By Fred Oluoch

Nairobi — Why does US Vice-President Joe Biden all of a sudden want to visit Kenya, when his boss refuses be seen in public together with the two leaders of this East African nation?

As Kenya heads for a vote that will determine whether the country gets a new constitution, a lot hangs in the balance for the American strategic interest in the region.

If Kenyans vote for a new constitution, it is widely expected that this could open up a new chapter for a country that was heading to the abyss just two years ago after political violence broke out in response to a disputed general election and presidential poll.

Optimism already runs high among investors, who are trooping back to the country, opening up international hotels or spending hundreds of million dollars to secure the railway concession.

This trend is expected to pick up after a Yes vote and gain momentum. If the vote is No, however, investment analysts say the country will go back to square one and it is unlikely that there will be enough time or political will to push for a third referendum.

This would heighten Kenya’s political risk among investors, and for the US, a weak Kenya harms its strategic interests in the region, the most urgent one being containing Al-Qaeda and now Al Shabaab.Security analysts say that poverty and mass unemployment among semi-skilled youths, especially in Coast Province, make it easy for global terrorism networks and drugs cartels to recruit cell members in the country.

This potential threat has seen Kenya get $2.2 billion of the $6.7 billion that America has spent on economic and security assistance to the region since 1994.

Biden’s visit to Kenya this week is thus being seen as a precursor to a visit by his boss, Barack Obama, some time in the near future.

But the question is what kind of pressure he is likely to bring to bear on the Kenyan leadership behind the scenes, besides the usual noises about promoting democracy, and fighting official corruption?

According to a press release from the US embassy in Nairobi, the US vice president will meet with key leaders in Kenya, including President Kibaki and Kenyan Prime Minister Odinga, to discuss bilateral issues and the shared interests in peace and stability in the region, particularly in Sudan and Somalia.

While other issues such as terrorism, piracy off the coast of Somalia and transnational crimes such as drug trafficking could be on the cards, the key focus will be US interests in the region, normally expressed through bilateral assistance.

In East Africa, especially in Kenya and Tanzania, the US is keen on funding programmes that go towards youth employment at the coastal areas.

According to a recent paper by Sarah Arrow of Colombia University, the US assistance to the region has become an integral part of its foreign policy, and has come to occupy an important place in the post-September 11 national security strategy.

This is especially so in the Greater Horn countries like Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.

In 2009, the United States provided more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Africa. Africa is also a major recipient of Millennium Challenge Account funding, with 15 African countries currently participating in the programme.

Total US foreign assistance to Africa through various programmes for 2009 is estimated at $6.6 billion.

The US Economic Support Fund aid has supported a wide range of programmes according to identified strategic objectives.

These priorities are to enhance strategic partnership; consolidate democratic transitions; bolster fragile states; strengthen regional and sub-regional organisations; enhance regional security capacity, and strengthen African counterterrorism cooperation and capacity.

Ms Arrow notes that while in 1995, only Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa appeared among the top 15 recipients of US aid, by 2005, there were eight countries.”

(Quelle: The East African.)

Siehe auch:

What Kenya wants from Obama’s man