By Columnist T.J. Coles. Axis of Logic
“Shame makes the world go around”
Afghanistan. Iraq. Pakistan. Libya … Who will be next in the Anglo-American quest for Full Spectrum Dominance? Jonathan Evans, the head of Britain’s intelligence agency MI5, alleged that “Somalia has become the next destination after Pakistan for terrorist training due to the presence of al-Shabaab, an extremist group with links to al-Qa’ida.”1 “This region could become the next big conflict for the [Ministry of Defence],” officials were quoted as saying in November 2011.2
The fact that the British press can make statements such as “Until now, the Shebab [sic] … has thrived through the very fact that the rest of the world has left Somalia to its own devices”, should reduce readers to an aching belly-laugh. The fact that such statements can appear without utter ridicule is an example of how well indoctrinated most Britons are. Since special forces began funding, arming, and training the Ethiopian-based Transitional Federal Government (TFG) back in 2004, Britain has been the cause of much of Somalia’s grief, which dates back to the days of Empire.3
Somalia is in such a precarious humanitarian situation, thanks largely to UK foreign policies initiated under the New Labour Government, that any military action will exacerbate the suffering of millions of people, and may well lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths. A month after the plan of attack was announced in the British press, the Red Cross reported that it “has distributed beans, rice and oil to over 917,000 people in southern and central Somalia,” meaning that at least one million people are dependent on food aid delivered by NGOs. Any bombing could drive out the NGOs.4 This fact, vastly more important than any alleged terror threat, was not reported.
Al-Shabaab is the armed youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union.
A Somali father with his family.
|A Somali camp outside Mogodishu for people who have fled their homes inside the country. They western media has a name for them - "IDPs." (Photo: Ismail Taxta)
|Water delivered to the people of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital city of 2.5 to 3 million people ... by donkey cart.
|Somali women carrying water from a well in Mogadishu to their homes. The western media has a name for them too, "Internally displaced." We call them women who have been driven from their homes and their water supply.
||Coca Cola, a transnational corporation exploits precious Somali water to manufacture their sugar-syrup product with cheap labor, train the children to like it and sell it to thirsty Somalis. Protected by Western-paid mercenaries.
Since 9/11, there has been tried-and-tested methodology: claim that any country we wish to attack has links with “al-Qaeda.” A free media would ask questions, such as: where did al-Shabaab come from? Al-Shabaab is the armed youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union. The Islamic Courts Union (ICU) was the government of Somalia which emerged from the wreckage of the Civil War. Despite media propaganda about the abuse of women and the imposition of Sharia Law, US Congressional sources confirmed that the Islamic Courts Union was in fact running a social welfare programme, and that Western accusations of human rights abuses were lies.
|A desperate mother arrives with her son on a beach in Yemen after fleeing Somalia.
The ICU was destroyed in 2007-08 by the UK-trained, armed, and backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) which invaded Somalia in 2006. Millions of people were already on the brink of starvation. Because of the TFG’s well-documented record of appalling human rights abuses, over one million Somalis fled Mogadishu. Many seek refuge in Kenya, where UK-armed and trained forces rape and extort the women. Tens of thousands of other Somali refugees flee across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen each year, where they face the mercy of UK-armed and trained Yemeni forces, which committed atrocities against Yemenis during the Arab Spring.5
Yemen’s President Saleh agreed to Euro-American economic reforms back in 1997, so Britain has done everything it can to support him, despite public calls for his removal (an example of something we call “democracy”). Libya’s Gaddafi and Syria’s Assad, on the other hand, did not agree to economic liberalisation, with obvious consequences.
Returning to Somalia, as we shall see, the leadership of the ICU-offshoot, al-Shabaab, has links with the CIA and MI6 which date back to the 1980s—leadership must be stressed, because the ICU (from which al-Shabaab emerged) was not extremist, according to US State Department officials. Before examining those links, it is perhaps useful to examine who and what is driving UK foreign policy in Somalia, and in the world generally.
Oil, Money, and Arms
In 2009-10, Chatham House hosted the Rethinking the UK’s International Ambitions and Choices project, which was funded by BAE Systems, Barclays, and BP—oil, money, and arms. One of the core reports, “Organizing for Influence”, became the basis of the UK’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR, both published in 2010). The National Security Strategy reiterated that “The security of our energy supplies increasingly depends on fossil fuels located in some of the most unstable parts of the planet.”6
Likewise, the Strategic Defence and Security Review stated that “The UK faces a range of risks related to our ability to access secure, diverse and affordable supplies of energy.”7 Notice that even though the resources are located in other countries (despite the UK’s own vast North Sea reserves), they are “our” resources.
Somalia’s strategic position on the Gulf of Aden is of prime importance to oil and arms companies. According to Chatham House specialist Roger Middleton, “Some 16,000 ships a year pass through the Gulf of Aden, carrying oil from the Middle East and goods from Asia to Europe and North America.” He added that “one of the most important trade routes in the world is now threatened by the chronic instability in Somalia”—neglecting to add that the UK caused much of the “instability” (a polite word for one million refugees and nearly four million on the brink of starvation).8
Somalia and the Gulf of Aden
Likewise, the US Department of Transportation lamented that “Over 80 percent of international maritime trade moving through the Gulf of Aden is with Europe.” Somali piracy, which House of Lords and Select Committee documents admit have replenished fish stocks depleted by European vessels, threaten this international trade.9
The Transportation Department added that “[re-] routing from Europe to the Far East via the Cape of Good Hope, rather than through the Suez Canal,” in order to avoid the pirates, “would incur an estimated additional $89 million annually, which includes $74.4 million in fuel and $14.6 million in charter expenses”—a figure so slight for multibillion dollar international oil companies that it falls within a statistical error of their annual profits.10 This is apparently more important than making sure that starving people have enough fish to eat.
|Abdullahi Yusuf, "the West's favorite warlord," TFG president from 2004-2008, (s)elected to his post by the TFG Parliament.
Somalia also has oil and gas reserves within its borders, coveted by international energy companies, including BP: the sponsor of key documents shaping British foreign policy. According to Range Resources Ltd chief, Mike Povey, Puntland, one of the more “stable” areas of Somalia once controlled by the West’s favourite warlord, Abdullahi Yusuf,
"... is believed to have all the geological requirements to become a commercial oil-producing region. Somalia, and in particular Puntland remains one of the last under-explored countries that has a high potential for considerable reserves of hydrocarbons. … This view was further reinforced in the mid 1980’s following the successful exploration efforts of Hunt Oil Corp across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen … Several major oil companies obtained exploration concessions and conducted considerable exploration and drilling over large parts of the State both onshore and offshore during the late 1980’s and early 90’s. These companies included AGIP, Shell (Pecten), Conoco, Phillips and Amoco." (Emphases in original).11
Amoco became part of BP following a £67 billion merger which “create[d] Britain’s biggest company.”12 Despite massive resistance from Somalis, mostly non-violent, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has been backed to the hilt by international organisations without any input from Somalis. In 2011, the International Crisis Group authored a report titled “Somalia: The Transitional Government on Life Support”, which whitewashed the TFG’s atrocities, and for obvious reasons:
The International Crisis Group is funded by the following organisations (to pick just some): Anglo-American PLC (accused of complicity in the Congo Genocide by the UN); Chevron (which has resource interests in Somalia); Shell; Talisman Energy; and, on the President’s Council sit executives from Statoil ASA.
Top: George Soros, Gareth Evans, Mark Malloch Brown. Center: Chris Patten, Sandy Berger. Bottom: James Arbuthnot, Louise Arbour, Wesley Clark. (Image by Axis of Logic)
On the International Crisis Group’s Board of Trustees sit Britain’s former Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Malloch-Brown (who was confronted on-camera by journalist Aden Hartley over his staunch support for the TFG); Lord Chris Patten (former UK Cabinet Minister); George Soros; Wesley Clark (former NATO commander who oversaw the assault on Serbia in 1999); Louise Arbour (former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia who refused to hear evidence of NATO crimes in Serbia); Sandy Berger (former US National Security Advisor who oversaw the atrocities in East Timor in 1999); and Gareth Evans (former Australian Foreign Minister who signed away the rights of East Timor’s resources to Australia with his Indonesian counterpart in the 1980s).
This coterie of war criminals and human rights abusers decreed that:
The Transitional Federal Government shall have authority throughout the Somali Republic over the following matters:
- Foreign Affairs.
- Defence and Security.
- Finance and Central Bank.
- Establishment of State structures.
- Posts and Telecommunications.
- Immigration and Naturalisation.
- Ports Administration.
- Planning and Economic Development.
- Natural Resources.
- Acceptance and licensing of private companies specifically at national level.
- Collecting import/export and indirect taxes. (Emphasis added).13
Confirming the International Crisis Group’s annoyance that the TFG could not establish itself thoroughly in Somalia, Reuters reported that
"BP and Shell insist that their [Somalia] exploration contracts from the 1980s are still valid. Conoco, Chevron and ENI declined to comment, but industry sources said they also probably had similar claims. Although the contracts typically spanned only a few years, BP and Shell say the civil war forced them to declare “force majeure”, a term that effectively stops the clock on the contract but keeps it intact."14
Because the TFG was not powerful enough to impose a socioeconomic order favourable to Western businesses, the UK Ministry of Defence has been called in by its arms and energy company paymasters to intervene. This general global position was explained by Britain’s First Sea Lord Admiral Stanhope, whom, in 2009, said that Britain’s role in the world is “wielding a big stick … [to] compel others to act in a desired manner.”15
The situation with the TFG is not unprecedented. During the 1990s, US companies (with UK complicity) were paying the Taliban to build a pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan and on into Pakistan. The Taliban failed, and thus were disposed of by November 2001. (Why they regrouped during the decade of Anglo-American occupation is another story).16
The authors of “Organizing for Influence” (the BP-funded study which became the basis for the NSS and SDSR) acknowledged that “Voters [in the UK] will not actively call for a more effective foreign policy”, therefore “The government should define its international mission as managing global risks on behalf of British citizens.” In other words, deceive the public into acquiescing to foreign policy decisions in another example of elite hatred of democracy.17
This was confirmed by the Ministry of Defence in 2010, which wrote that out to 2040,
“Military operations are likely to continue to result in casualties and face the challenge of demonstrating legitimacy to skeptical public audiences. Influence activity, the battle of ideas, and perceptions of moral legitimacy will be important for success.” That’s why the West had to “perceive” that the NATO destruction of Libya and the killing of 30,000 people was a humanitarian intervention. “Concepts of casualty acceptance and aversion are likely to remain linked to perceptions of the legitimacy of the conflict.” (Emphases in original).18
There are lies, damn lies, and then there’s “al-Qaeda”
One surefire way to rally public support for attacking an utterly defenceless country is to claim that the people you are attacking are linked to “al-Qaeda.” Given that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group thugs who destroyed Libya with British-backing ended up flying an “al-Qaeda” flag over the Benghazi Court after Gaddafi’s murder, any effort to claim that a UK attack on Somalia would have anything to do with countering “al-Qaeda” would be pure, cynical farce, as would any claim of “humanitarian intervention.”
Prime Minister David Cameron’s “decision to tackle the Somalia quagmire is seen by some as being fuelled by the success of the Libyan venture,” apologist Kim Sengupta wrote in the supposedly “leftwing” Independent.
“The would-be jihadists are not just of Somali background, but include those from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Yemen and north Africa resident in Britain. 'There is a real risk,' Mr. Evans [MI5’s Jonathan Evans] stressed, 'that returnees from Somalia could carry out bomb attacks in British cities'.”19
Perhaps the most salient example of the farce is that just months before Evans’s statement, the head of UK counter-terrorism, Campbell McCafferty, told a Foreign Affairs Committee the following:
"There has not been any evidence of a link between the pirates and al-Shabab … [but] that link to terrorism would change entirely the international community’s view … If we could get intelligence that allowed us to take out that crossover [between pirates and terrorism], then you might well start to have an impact on both terrorism and piracy. … I think people are looking hard for those links.” (Emphases added).20
The inference is that if no links exist, they must be created. A couple of months after these unreported revelations, People newspaper claimed that “Fanatics from the [al-Shabaab] group were responsible for 21/7, the botched plot to set off bombs in London in 2005.”21 There’s just one thing wrong with this analysis: al-Shabaab didn’t even exist in 2005, so already we’re getting spurious (even embarrassing) media accusations.
“Al-Shabaab was not active and did not control any territory in Somalia until 2007-2008,” a US Congress report reads. “The Ethiopian invasion and the ouster of the [Islamic Courts Union] … contributed to the emergence of a strong resistance movement”—resisting the TFG. The August 2011 Congress report also states that “Al-Shabaab recruitment among the Somali Diaspora seems to be declining due to increased law enforcement monitoring and also growing anti-Shabaab sentiment,” concluding that “In late September 2010, Al-Shabaab lost many fighters infighting and retreated from some areas it had firm control in the past.”22
These statements waylay Telegraph lies from July 2010 that “al Shebab [sic] has been allowed to become much more powerful and extreme than it used to be,” quoting Rashid Abdi, “a Naroibi-based Somali expert with the International Crisis Group”—the very energy and arms-funded organisation writing policy papers for the TFG! (The Telegraph article failed to mention that). The article added that “Such fears are shared by British police, who claim to have detected evidence of Shebab [sic] funding networks within the [UK’s] 100,000-strong Somali community.” Providing no evidence, the claim is a pathetic effort to demonise British Somalis by association, which the Congress report (cited above) contradicts.23
Another example of the farce is Kim Sengupta’s mention of alleged links with terrorists in Pakistan. Former Chatham House Fellow Mark Curtis’s seminal book Secret Affairs (2010, London: Serpent’s Tail) copiously documents Britain’s long-time collusion with Pakistani terrorists. As for Sengupta’s mention of Bangladesh, Britain has been committing its own terrorism in the country for nearly a decade:
The Metropolitan Police, which has made unfounded allegations of support for al-Shabaab among British Somalis, has, since 2004, been training a Bangladeshi death squad, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which by 2006 had murdered 700 people (mostly political opponents). During the build-up to the “humanitarian” destruction of Libya, Amnesty International published a letter condemning Britain’s involvement with RAB. According to Human Rights Watch, “RAB’s torture methods include beatings with batons on the soles of the feet and other parts of the body, boring holes with electric drills, and applying electric shock.”24 UK atrocities in Yemen, Sengupta’s other country of concern, have also been documented.25
Perhaps the mother of all farces, however, is the People newspaper allegation that al-Shabaab (which didn’t even exist at the time) was involved in the failed plot to blow up the London transportation system on 21 July 2005, following the July 7 outrage. It transpired that the actual ringleader, Haroon Rashid Aswat (an ethnic Pakistani), is an MI6 agent:
According to FBI agent John Loftus, this has caused a minor spat between MI6 and the CIA because MI6 will not extradite Aswat to the US where he is wanted on suspicion of setting up terror training camps. Even more amazingly, Loftus made the extraordinary claim that the Muhajiroun organisation has been recruiting terrorists to fight in Somalia:26 British Parliamentary sources confirm “at the time of al-Muhajiroun’s founding in 1996, the network was mobilized by MI6 to send British Muslims to Kosovo - coinciding with British and American military assistance to the Kosovan Albanians.” In other words, the Somali “terrorists” are more than likely double agents.27
It also transpired that one of al-Shabaab’s alleged members, Ahmed Abdi Godane (also known as Abu Zubayr), joined al-Itihad al Islamiya in the 1990s. According to the US State Department, cited by the Critical Threats think-tank (which is funded by the American Enterprise Institute):
"Al Ittihad al Islamiya (AIAI) was an Islamist militant group founded by Somali Salafis in the 1980s. Many of its fighters trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, and returned to Somalia after the war. The group emerged as a prominent actor following the collapse of [Somalia President] Siad Barre’s regime in 1991 and sought to create an Islamic state in Somalia. Although the exact start and extent of the relationship is unclear, al Qaeda began providing AIAI with direct financial and tactical support in the early 1990s."28
The 1980s was the decade during which the CIA, SAS and MI6 were training Arab fighters from Yemen, Libya, and mainly Saudi Arabia with the intent of “drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap” by creating “a few stirred-up Moslems”, in the words of Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Britain also supplied the “stirred-up Moslems” with Stinger missiles and rifles (Stephen Dorril, MI6, London: Fourth State). These terrorists were called the Mujahideen (“freedom fighters”).29
“Al-Qaida, literally “the database”, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA [and MI6] to defeat the Russians,” former UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook informed the Guardian.30 Shortly afterwards, he died of a heart attack.
Returning to Somalia, as late as 2010, a Mr. Hanson told the British Parliament that “we cannot comment directly on intelligence matters, but I have made an assessment … that there is a small but genuine risk [to] British nationals”, adding that “British interests may be harmed as a result of al-Shabaab’s activities in Somalia and, indeed, in the wider region.”31  In response, Dari Taylor (Labour MP) made this astonishing statement:
“If there is no evidence that this organisation, al-Shabaab, exists or is behaving in a way that is causing serious concern, some in our community—with some justice—will be concerned that the Government are exaggerating the existence of terrorist threat in this country.” (emphases added)
... but as Campbell McCafferty inferred, links to terrorism have to be actively sought.32
According to the respected journal, Terrorism Monitor, the idea that “al-Qaeda” could even operate in and from Somalia is highly questionable. “Lack of infrastructure and modern communications will inhibit rather than enhance international operations based in Somalia”, one study found, adding that “The prevailing xenophobia of many Somalis does not offer the same sort of welcome and refuge al-Qaeda found in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan,” which are well infiltrated by SAS-MI6 agents. “Southern Somalia also offers a possible trap for global jihadis, as seen from the experience of the ICU [Islamic Courts Union] in December 2006.”33
It should be obvious by now that any time British and American oil and finance companies want to attack a country for financial gain, they simply get the CIA and MI6 to call on their old Mujahideen friends—“al-Qaeda”—to travel around and blow up buildings in order to justify wars, be it wars on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or Somalia. If—if—there is a terrorist attack on London in time for the London Olympics, we can be sure that it won’t be al-Shabaab: it will more than likely be the organisation with the world’s longest record of terrorism, MI6.
READ MORE ANALYSES & ESSAYS BY
T.J. COLES, AXIS OF LOGIC COLUMNIST
- Kim Sengupta, “Britain’s new year resolution: intervene in Somalia”, Independent, 22 December, 2011.
- Nick Dorman, “2012 Terror Threat - Al Quada [sic] Offshoot Targeted In Somalia”, 6 November, 2011, The People.
- For the shocking details and the consequences for neighbouring Yemen, see my “How US-UK Create Terrorist States: Yemen as a Case Study”, Yemen Times, July 2010.
- Red Cross, “Somalia: food aid distributed to over 900,000 people”, No 11/04 16, December, 2011.
- For extensive sources, background and quotes, see my, “Somalia: “A famine caused by men, not global warming””, Axis of Logic, 27 November, 2011.
- Cabinet Office, “A Strong Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The National Security Strategy”, October, 2010.
- Cabinet Office, “Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review”, October, 2010.
- Roger Middleton, “Piracy in Somalia: Threatening global trade, feeding local wars”, Africa Programme, October, 2008, Chatham House Briefing Paper, AFP BP 08/02.
- For top-level sources, again unreported, see my, “Somalia: “A famine caused by men, not global warming””, Axis of Logic, 27 November, 2011.
- “Economic Impact of Piracy in the Gulf of Aden on Global Trade”, undated.
- Mike Povey (Executive Chairman), “Letter to Manager of Company Announcements, Australian Stock Exchange Limited”, 1 December 2005, Range Resources Limited.
- BBC News Online, “BP and Amoco in oil mega-merger”, 11 August, 1998.
- The International Crisis Group, “SOMALIA: THE TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT ON LIFE SUPPORT”, Africa Report No. 170, 21 February 2011.
- Tom Bergin, “Somalia to struggle to tap Western oil investment”, 21 August, 2007, Reuters.
- For further quotes, see my “More Blood for Oil? Libya and the UK”, Palestine Telegraph, 4 March, 2011,posted by Ronan MacField.
- For sources and background details, see my “What Have We Done to Afghanistan”, Axis of Logic, and “What Are We Doing in Afghanistan?”.
- Alex Evans and David Steven, “Organizing for Influence”, June, 2010, Chatham House.
- MoD, “Strategic Trends Programme: Out to 2040”, February, 2010.
- Kim Sengupta, “Britain’s new year resolution: intervene in Somalia”, Independent, 22 December, 2011.
- Campbell McCafferty, “Piracy off the coast of Somalia”, Foreign Affairs Committee, 29 June, 2011.
- Nick Dorman, “2012 Terror Threat - Al Quada [sic] Offshoot Targeted In Somalia”, 6 November, 2011, The People.
- Ted Dagne, “Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace”, Congressional Research Service, August 31, 2011.
- Colin Freeman and Mike Pflanz, “‘At your service, Osama’- the African Bin Laden behind the Uganda bombings”, 17 July, 2010.
- Amnesty International, “Bangladesh: UK-trained security forces must stop extrajudicial executions”, 27 January 2011, and HRW, “Judge, Jury and Executioner”, December, 2006.
- See my “How US-UK Create Terrorist States: Yemen as a Case Study”, Yemen Times, July 2010.
- Loftus interviewed on Fox News.
- Supplementary memorandum from Institute for Policy Research & Development(PVE 19A), undated.
- Nathaniel Horadam, “Profile: Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys,” Critical Threats, 14 November, 2011, , footnote 6.
- Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, “Zbigniew Brzezinski: How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen”, 15 January, 1998.
- Robin Cook, “The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means”, The Guardian, 8 July 2005, Cook was no sweetheart. Under the New Labour Government, he oversaw the genocide of over a million Iraqi children during the sanctions. When asked by John Pilger why he didn’t want to appear in Pilger’s film on the sanctions, Paying the Price, his office replied: “He doesn’t want to appear in a film with dying babies.”
- Hanson, Parliament, Parliament Business, UK.
- Dari Taylor, Parliament Business, UK.
- Andrew McGregor, “Perspectives on the Future of the Somali Jihad”, Terrorism Monitor, Volume 7, Issue 34, 13 November, 2009.