In the first of a two-part series examining the US response to drought and hunger in the Horn of Africa, Fault Lines travels to Mogadishu to meet refugees who have fled to the most war-ravaged city in the world to escape a worse fate, and the aid and medical workers struggling to help them. We examine the legacy of US engagement in Somalia and its efforts to address the current crisis.
Has aid in this region of the world become politicised? And has Washington’s pre-occupation with terrorism in the Horn of Africa contributed to the deadly consequences of this disaster?
This episode of Fault Lines first aired on Al Jazeera English on 28 November, 2011 at 2230 GMT.
By CNN National Security Producer Jamie Crawford
October 4th, 2011
03:53 PM ET
While the newest U.S. regional military command may be “small potatoes” in the current budget debates gripping Washington, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, says it is essential for national security that the United States remain engaged in Africa.
“What keeps me awake at night is the thought of an American passport holder who transits through a training camp in Somalia and then finds their way back to the United States to attack Americans,” Ham said Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
That type of “mission failure” figures most prominently in Ham’s mind in a role he has only held for little more than six months.
And while Libya is busy forming a new government, Ham said, there are some “worrying indicators” that advanced mobile weaponry left in Libya in the aftermath of Moammer Gadhafi’s ouster has found its way into neighboring countries.
In his meetings with leaders of Libya’s governing National Transition Council, he said, they say they recognize that concern and “understand their responsibilities” to control the weapons, and the work needed to regain those that have fallen outside their control.
The State Department has established a task force operating with partners in the region to address the concern of weapons from Libya crossing borders.
East Africa, where the most “negative security issues” on the continent are present, is the “highest priority” region, Ham said.
With its close proximity to the Arabian peninsula, the “growing relationship” between Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-inspired terrorist group based in Somalia, and the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are of great concern, he said. The ongoing threat of Somali-based piracy, along with a large cycle of famine and death sweeping through the region add, to the instability in the region.
Full Story Here
NAPLES, Italy (NNS) — Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), met with AFRICOM component commanders from Europe and Africa for the semi-annual AFRICOM Component Commander’s Conference on the Naval Support Activity in Naples, Italy, Nov. 21
Commanders, deputy commanders, and command senior enlisted leaders from U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, U.S. Marine Forces Africa, U.S. Army Africa, 17th Air Force, Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, and Special Operations Command Africa gathered at Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa headquarters to discuss current issues, future challenges, and the wide range of U.S. military programs and activities focused on building partner capacity in Africa.
In addition to the conference, the spouses of senior leadership discussed the efficiencies of the quality of life programs throughout the commands in Europe and Africa. “I think that it’s important to start talking about a more joint world,” said Amy LeVault, wife of Fleet Master Chief Bradley LeVault. “As we look at the budget constraints and move into the future, we all need to work more jointly and see how we can work together to cut things where we can while still supporting the military.”
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephen Oleksiak, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
More information about AFRICOM for those of you who may not be familiar with it yet:
From Council on Foreign Relations Website – May 3, 2007
In February 2007, President Bush announced the creation of a unified military command for Africa. This puts the continent on par, in the Pentagon’s eyes and command structure, with the Pacific Rim (Pacific Command), Europe (European Command), Latin America (Southern Command), the Middle East (Central Command), and North America (Northern Command). The Pentagon and many military analysts argue the continent’s growing strategic importance necessitates a dedicated regional command. But some experts suggest the command’s creation was motivated by more specific concerns: China and oil. With Soviet influence gone and France’s traditional presence much diminished, China has poured money into the continent in recent years as it jockeys for access to natural resources. And the United States is projected to import at least 25 percent of its oil from Africa by 2015, according to the National Intelligence Council…
Many of the experts who heralded the command’s creation seem to validate African concerns. Writing in World Defense Review, J. Peter Pham, director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs, calls Africom’s creation “long overdue” in light of U.S. dependence on Africa’s oil, its concern over radical Islamist groups targeting the region, and the continent’s identity as “an arena for intense diplomatic competition with other states with global ambitions, like China.” Others note that Africom will help the United States secure vital sea lanes.
The recent upsurge in violence in the Horn of Africa clearly has the Pentagon focused on the threat that Somalia, long a festering realm of warlordism, could become a new base for al-Qaeda. However, the Pentagon stresses that Africom’s primary mission will be preventing “problems from becoming crises, and crises from becoming conflicts.”
The Pentagon calls Africom a “unifed combatant command,” meaning a command that combines military and civil functions. Though Africom will be led by a top-ranking four-star military general, unlike other regional commands, it’s deputy commander will be a State Department official. The current transition team of about sixty people—which is largely military—will form the core of Africom’s headquarters staff, but Moeller anticipates there will eventually be several hundred personnel when the command becomes operational in September 2008. Africom aims to bring together intelligence, diplomatic, health and aid experts. Staff will be drawn from all branches of the military, as well as USAID and the departments of state, agriculture, treasury, and commerce. These nonmilitary staff may be funded with money from their own departments as well as the DOD.
The Pentagon has touted the new interagency structure of Africom, but experts question whether the command will be any different than other regional commands in execution. The small size of other government offices in comparison to the military means that it may be difficult to hire enough nonmilitary staff. Even if interagency personnel are brought into the command, it is not clear how instrumental they will be in the command’s decision-making process. Ambassador Loftis says having a State Department official as deputy commander is “uncharted territory” for the Department of Defense. Some defense officials say that Africom could function like the interagency task force within Southern Command; in that structure, interagency members have the authority to make decisions without consulting Washington.
Visit Resist AFRICOM Here
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The “Prince” of Africa -
‘Prince of Mercenaries’ who wreaked havoc in Iraq turns up in Somalia – WASHINGTON — Erik Prince, the founder of the international security giant Blackwater Worldwide, is backing an effort by a controversial South African mercenary firm to insert itself into Somalia’s bloody civil war by protecting government leaders, training Somali troops, and battling pirates and Islamic militants there, according to American and Western officials.
…With its barely functional government and a fierce hostility to foreign armies since the hasty American withdrawal from Mogadishu in the early 1990s, Somalia is a country where Western militaries have long feared to tread. The Somali government has been cornered in a small patch of Mogadishu by the Shabab, a Somali militant group with ties to Al Qaeda.
This, along with the growing menace of piracy off Somalia’s shores, has created an opportunity for private security companies like the South African firm Saracen International to fill the security vacuum created by years of civil war. It is another illustration of how private security firms are playing a bigger role in wars around the world, with some governments seeing them as a way to supplement overtaxed armies, while others complain that they are unaccountable.
Mr. Prince’s precise role remains unclear. Some Western officials said that it was possible Mr. Prince was using his international contacts to help broker a deal between Saracen executives and officials from the United Arab Emirates, which have been financing Saracen in Somalia because Emirates business operations have been threatened by Somali pirates.
According to a report by the African Union, an organization of African states, Mr. Prince provided initial financing for a project by Saracen to win contracts with Somalia’s embattled government.
…At least one of Saracen’s past forays into training militias drew an international rebuke. Saracen’s Uganda subsidiary was implicated in a 2002 United Nations Security Council report for training rebel paramilitary forces in Congo.
That report identified one of Saracen Uganda’s owners as Lt. Gen. Salim Saleh, the retired half-brother of Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni. The report also accused General Saleh and other Ugandan officers of using their ties to paramilitaries to plunder Congolese diamonds, gold and timber.
According to a Jan. 12 confidential report by the African Union, Mr. Prince “is at the top of the management chain of Saracen and provided seed money for the Saracen contract.” A Western official working in Somalia said he believed that it was Mr. Prince who first raised the idea of the Saracen contract with members of the Emirates’s ruling families, with whom he has a close relationship.
…In December, Somalia’s Ministry of Information issued a news release saying that Saracen was contracted to train security personnel and to carry out humanitarian work. That statement said the contract “is a limited engagement that is clearly defined and geared towards filling a need that is not met by other sources at this time.”
For years, Mr. Prince, a multimillionaire former Navy SEAL, has tried to spot new business opportunities in the security world. In 2008, he sought to capitalize on the growing rash of piracy off the Horn of Africa to win Blackwater contracts from companies that frequent the shipping lanes there. He even reconfigured a 183-foot oceanographic research vessel into a pirate-hunting ship for hire, complete with drone aircraft and .50-caliber machine guns. Full Story Here on The Independent
Lafras Luitingh, the chief operating officer of Beirut-registered Saracen International, said the company had sought to keep the project secret to surprise the pirates. He said his company signed a contract with the Somali government in March. He declined to say whether Prince was involved in the project and said he was not part of Saracen.
Since the signing, a new Somali government has taken office and has appointed a panel to investigate the Saracen deal and others, said Minister of Information Abdulkareem Jama. He said he had not been aware of Prince’s involvement. Separately, the U.N. is quietly investigating whether the Somalia projects have broken the blanket embargo on arms supplies to Somali factions.
The money is moving through a web of international companies, the addresses of which didn’t always check out when the AP sought to verify them.
There are at least three Saracens — the one registered in Lebanon, and two run by Luitingh’s business partner and based in Uganda, where government office employees told the AP the registration papers have disappeared. An AP reporter in Beirut could not find the address Luitingh’s company provided in the Somali contract. Lebanese authorities had no address listed for Saracen in Lebanon and said it is based in the United Arab Emirates.
Afloat Leasing, which owns two ships that have been working with Saracen, said it was Liberian-registered, but an AP reporter didn’t find it at the address given or in Liberian records. Full Story on MSNBC
The Business of Punishment – South Africa
DuPont-Pannar Deal Is Stymied in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG—Dupont Co. said South Africa’s Competition Tribunal has rejected its planned purchase of a majority stake in South African seed company Pannar Seed Ltd., upholding a regulatory ruling from last year.
The rejection comes as South Africa is balking at foreign-owned companies’ buying up local assets. Regulators, for example, are taking a harder look at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s $2.4 billion merger with African retailer Massmart Holdings Ltd. which won competition approval earlier in the year.
The Pannar deal with Dupont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred unit, announced last September without citing a value, was touted as a way for the U.S. chemicals company to expand its presence in Africa, where yields have lagged for crops such as corn. Improved yields there are seen as crucial to feeding a growing world population that is consuming more meat, which requires more grain for feed. Opposition to the deal was based on worries it would stifle competition.
The companies said in a joint statement Friday they will study the tribunal’s ruling and consider further action. Full Story on WSJ
SAGCOT, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, brings together public and private sector investment to promote transformational improvements in agricultural productivity.
Prorustica is currently involved in the development of the SAGCOT partnership organization that will help coordinate and guide investments. New financing facilities, including “social venture capital” (for start-up businesses) and “patient capital” (long-term debt) will help new farming and processing operations get established and become internationally competitive.
Initiated at the World Economic Forum on Africa in May 2010, SAGCOT is an international partnership of global agriculture businesses which include: * Unilever * Yara International * Diageo * Syngenta * Dupont * Monsanto * Stanbic * USAID * The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa * The Food and Agriculture Organisation * Norfund * The Norwegian Embassy * Tanzanian businesses and farmer groups Tanzanian government.
Tanzania and Global Partners Launch a Blueprint for Food Security at the World Economic Forum – USAID Commits $2M to Catalytic Fund
As the world faces up to another food crisis, Tanzania is leading the fight back with a strategy to triple agricultural production and lift millions out of poverty.
A report launched in Davos on Friday by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete shows how to achieve a green revolution in East Africa, by promoting “clusters” of profitable agribusinesses which incorporate small-scale farmers.
At the launch Rajiv Shah Administrator of USAID announced a $2 million investment into the Corridor’s $50 million catalytic fund. USAID is considering additional investments in the southern corridor.
The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) is an area the size of Italy with rich farmland and good “backbone” infrastructure – roads, rail, power and an international port at Dar es Salaam. It could feed the East Africa region and become a major agricultural exporter, to rival the likes of Brazil.
- U.S. assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say (mb50.wordpress.com)
- America’s War on Terror in Africa (thewasat.wordpress.com)
- Africom Continues Aggression and Maneuveres on the African Continent (mayihlome.wordpress.com)
- Somalis Under Relentless Drone Attack as U.S. Tightens Military Grip on Continent (jhaines6.wordpress.com)
- US Quietly Assumes Military Posture in Africa (abcnews.go.com)