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London Conference

Farid Omar

February 27, 2012

The much-hyped London Conference on Somalia that took place in the British capital on February 23 has set a new militarization agenda including “peacekeeping” operations. The day before the conference, the UN Security Council approved additional troops for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), expanding the current troop level from 12,000 to nearly 18,000.

Convened by British Prime Minister David Cameron, the conference was attended by more than 40 nations and multilateral organizations with the objective of “tackling” Somalia’s security crisis, “terrorism,” piracy and ongoing humanitarian disaster. By seeking a military solution in Somalia, Western powers are bent on escalating the conflict to forcefully secure Somalia’s vital resources.

A couple days after the conference, The Guardian reported that Britain was leading the dash for Somalia’s vast untapped oil reserves, natural gas and uranium deposits, adding that Somalia’s offshore oil reserves in the Indian ocean are “comparable to that of Kuwait, which has 100 billion barrels of proven reserves,” easily “eclipsing” that of Nigeria, which could make the Horn of Africa nation the seventh largest oil producer in the world.

Already, British oil firms like BP are lining up to exploit oil in the north-eastern, semi-autonomous region of Puntland, with extraction scheduled to begin as early as next month.

“British involvement in the future Somali oil industry would be a boon for the UK economy and comes at a time when the world is increasingly concerned about the actions of Iran, the second-biggest oil producer in OPEC” read The Guardian. Last month, Canadian energy firm Africa Oil became the first new western corporation to drill for oil in Somalia in the last 21 years. US and Chinese oil companies are also seeking to take control of Somalia’s oil.

Western powers are moving quickly to impose the Libyan scenario in Somalia, pushing for expanded military intervention to lay the groundwork for seizing Somalia’s oil and other resources. Already, US-led proxy forces from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti, backed by air strikes and drone attacks, are conducting multi-pronged attacks on Al-Shabab’s Islamist forces throughout south-central Somalia.

By turning its attention to Somalia, the West is also seeking to counter the rise of Turkey, which has taken a prominent role in tackling humanitarian crises in places like Pakistan, Gaza and now Somalia—where it has initiated massive reconstruction projects. Turkey’s rising influence in the Muslim world is worrisome to Western powers like Britain that are increasingly jittery of even the faintest hint of a possible re-emergence of a “new” Ottoman Empire.

During the run-up to the London Conference, members of the Somali civil society made it clear that what Somalia badly needs is a political settlement, not another bloody military intervention. Notwithstanding alleged links to Al-Qaeda, progressive analysts state that the weak and ineffectual Western-backed Transitional Government should open the door for direct negotiations with Al-Shabab. Peaceful negotiations, coupled with an end to Western meddling in Somalia, are the only viable solutions to ending Somalia’s political upheavals.

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