As Andy Rowell and James Marriott have noted, the key fact is that “some 30 per cent of America’s oil will come from Africa in the next ten years”. (Rowell and Marriott, A Game as Old as Empire – The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption, edited by Steven Hiatt, Berrett-Koehler, 2007, p.118 )
The US has plans for nearly two-thirds of Somalia’s oil fields to be allocated to the US oil companies Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips. The US hopes Somalia will line up as an ally alongside Ethiopia and Djibouti, where the US has a military base. This alliance would give America powerful leverage close to the major energy-producing regions.
Chatham House, a British think tank of the independent Royal Institute of International Affairs, commented on US and Ethiopian intervention last year:
“In an uncomfortably familiar pattern, genuine multilateral concern to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Somalia has been hijacked by unilateral actions of other international actors – especially Ethiopia and the United States – following their own foreign policy agendas.” (http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/15545)
Predictably, the government’s strategic silence is reflected in press reporting. In the last year, the words ‘Somalia’ and ‘famine’ have appeared in a grand total of seven British broadsheet newspaper articles discussing the topic. Of the few references to the latest US attack in the British press over the last week, only the Independent and the Sunday Times made briefs references to Somalia’s humanitarian crisis. The Independent noted that life for Somalia’s nine million residents has become “unbearable”. The Guardian merely quoted Reuters:
“Western security services have long seen Somalia as a haven for militants. Warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre in 1991, casting the country into chaos.” (Reuters, ‘US airstrike kills head of al-Qaida in Somalia,’ Guardian International, May 2, 2008 )
The Amnesty report was mentioned in three broadsheet newspapers. Of these, the Guardian failed to mention the US role at all. Ian Black commented:
“Ethiopia sent in troops in December 2006 and ejected them. Since then, Mogadishu has been caught up in a guerrilla war between the government and its Ethiopian allies and the Islamist insurgents. Up to 1 million Somalians are internally displaced.” (Ian Black, ‘Somali refugees speak of horrific war crimes,’ The Guardian, May 7, 2008 )
By contrast, a short Independent piece led with the US role:
“Amnesty International has called for the role of the United States in Somalia to be investigated, following publication of a report accusing its allies of committing war crimes.” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news /world/politics/call-for-inquiry-into-us -role-in-somalia-822166.html)
Amnesty’s Dave Copeman was cited:
“There are major countries that have significant influence. The US, EU and European countries need to exert that influence to stop these attacks.”
This is the sole reference to Copeman’s comments in the entire national UK press.