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Oil, Not Terrorists, the Reason for US Attack on Somalia

By Wanjohi Kabukuru

Just why did the US attack Somalia two weeks ago? Of course, the answer given for the US military intervention and the generally accepted notion is the hunt for terrorists. But is it? Are terrorists the only bone of contention the US has with Somalia? When the US military devised “Operation Restore Hope” in 1993 which was short-lived after they were whipsawed by rag-tag militia in and around Mogadishu, were they fighting the ‘war on terror’?

They couldn’t have been because this war was to start much later, If anything it is a post-Sept 11 phenomenon. So then why did the US bomb ICU extremists in the name of Al Qaeda terrorists and not throughout last year when they occupied Mogadishu? Just why is Somalia so important to the US, and by extension the big boys of Europe and some Gulf states? A UN Somalia Monitoring Group report released in November 2005 reveals that a dozen countries, namely Yemen, Djibouti, Libya, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Iran, Syria, Eritrea, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Uganda were all poking their noses into the Somalia pie.

What the UN Somalia Monitoring Group didn’t reveal, however, is that these were not the only countries which were interested in the country. The little known yet well-heeled contact group, consisting of Norway, the US, UK, France and Tanzania (just an appendage) are also deeply enmeshed in Somalia.

While the terrorism theory holds some water, the reality of the factors contributing to the mess in Somalia is pegged on natural resources. Oil and gas are Somalia’s Achilles heel. It is an open secret that four US oil giants are sitting pretty on money-spinning concessions expecting to reap huge windfalls from massive resources of both oil and gas in Somalia.

The story of Somalia and oil goes back to the colonial period. British and Italian geologists first identified oil deposits during that period of imperialism. The first oil wells historically referred to as the Daga Shabell series were dug in the 1960s. Tiny gas discoveries adjacent to Socotra were also noted.

The race for these precious natural resources took a new turn in 1988, when the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank, with the support of the governments of Britain, France and Canada and backed by several Western oil companies financed a regional hydrocarbon study of the countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Eden.

The countries were Somalia, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia was later dropped, but not before it had been established that within the study area, massive deposits of oil and gas existed. The results of the findings were presented to a three-day American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Eastern Hemisphere group conference, in London in September, 1991. Is there oil in Somalia? Listen to the answer:

“It’s there. There’s no doubt there’s oil there,” said geologist Thomas E. O’Connor, the World Bank’s principal petroleum engineer, who steered the in-depth, three-year study of oil prospects in Somalia’s Gulf of Eden in the northern coastal region.

The study was intended to encourage private investment in the petroleum potential of eight African nations. The conclusions of their findings are quite telling as the geologists put Somalia and Sudan at the top of the list of prospective commercial oil producers.

While presenting their results during the conference, two geologists involved in the study (an American and an Egyptian) reported that the investigation of nine exploratory wells dug in Somalia pointed out that the region was “situated within the oil window, and thus (is) highly prospective for gas and oil.”

Geologist, Z. R. Beydoun, who was involved in the survey, noted that “the geological parameters conducive to the generation, expulsion and trapping of significant amounts of oil and gas” were within the offshore sites. Soon after a race for lucrative deals kicked off in earnest.

Four US oil companies, namely Conoco, Chevron, Amoco and Philips have concessions in nearly two thirds of Somalia. This quartet of oil conglomerates was granted these contracts in the final days of Somalia’s deposed dictator, Siad Barre. The US first military engagement in Somalia was fully supported by Conoco.

About the Author: Mr Kabukuru is a Nairobi-based freelance journalist.

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Some ready for a shootout

All of a sudden, Ed Brown has a lot of friends His anti-tax stance attracts wide support

By Margot Sanger-Katz Monitor staff January 22. 2007 8:00AM


Ed Brown parted ways with his wife last week when he decided not to join her for the conclusion of their federal tax evasion trial. But after barricading himself in his fortified Plainfield home and refusing to surrender to authorities, Brown has amassed a new and growing group of friends who support his decision to stand up to government authority.

Since Brown and his wife were convicted last week, his case has captured the attention of a variety of fringe groups, including Gandhi-admiring protesters who have limited their involvement to building bonfires and waving signs and armed militia members anxious for confrontation. Some appreciate Brown's stand against the federal income tax, some his pointed criticism of the federal courts, and others his willingness to die for his cause. Whatever their reasons, they've all congregated at the sprawling fortress Brown calls home, turning it into a libertarian carnival with an uncertain ending.

"Everybody has their own place on that spectrum," said Dave Ridley of Keene, who has spent several days in Plainfield and positions himself on the nonviolent end. Ridley said he owns a gun but locks it up at home before going to Brown's. "Of course, any group of libertarians has a thousand different opinions."

When news of Brown's decision began circulating on talk radio shows and militia-oriented blogs earlier this week, journalists at the Brown homestead outnumbered supporters. As Brown declared that Plainfield might become another Waco, three strangers huddled in his heated garage and emphasized that they had no interest in shooting anyone.

But as word has spread and the weekend freed many from workday obligations, the number of those camping at the Brown home has swelled. Estimates were difficult to obtain because supporters were spread throughout the house, sleeping in shifts. And some, Brown said, were hidden outside. But several visitors estimated that the number fluctuated between 15 and 30 this weekend.

That group includes one woman who drove an hour to Plainfield and brought Brown a bottle of ginger ale, a carload of young libertarians from Keene and the New York leader of a national anti-tax organization with thousands of members. Brown said he's been moved by the number and enthusiasm of the supporters he's met since deciding to hole up at home.

"This situation is exploding so fast in this nation and internationally that the Illuminati around the world are becoming very aware," Brown said, referring to a rumored secret society that he believes has infiltrated the highest levels of the world's governments.

Brown and his wife, Elaine, were convicted Thursday of 20 felonies related to the couple's refusal to pay income taxes since 1996. They will be sentenced in April. Elaine Brown, who is cooperating with authorities, has been prohibited from returning to the house. On Friday, the court unsealed a bench warrant for Ed Brown's arrest.

Brown said he's prepared to wait as long as it takes. His home, with its solar panels and private well, was designed to function "off the grid." Brown said he has enough food to last several months, and those provisions are replenished daily as supporters come and go, bringing snacks and takeout dinners with them.

Despite the threat of looming violence, Brown's kitchen was abuzz with activity yesterday afternoon. Young children built forts from the kindling stacked beside his woodstove. Activists shared newsletters on how to avoid paying property taxes and why it's a bad idea to register to vote. Men munched on Doritos, and women poured their children glasses of orange juice. Rob Jacobs of Allenstown prepared to be sworn into the Constitution Rangers of the Continental Congress of 1777, a group charged with holding law enforcement officials accountable to the Constitution.

Over the course of the week, Brown has said repeatedly that he would rather die than submit to federal jurisdiction and that he's readying himself for an armed standoff when the marshals come to arrest him.

But U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier has said his office has no intention of beginning a violent confrontation. Monier said that his officers have been communicating regularly with Brown in hopes of reaching a peaceful resolution.

Several friends and bloggers have been calling for a bloody conclusion to the situation. William Miller, a friend and fellow Constitution Ranger, sent an e-mail last weekend demanding the hanging of the federal judge and prosecutor who worked on Brown's case - and the martyrdom of Brown himself.

"Ed Brown, my friend and mentor, for patriotic reasons, is now worth more to me, and to what I stand for, dead, than alive," Miller wrote.

Brown said that Miller has clarified his position with the marshals and that he does not personally endorse any violence toward court officials. But Miller is not the only Brown supporter making violent proclamations. The Liberty Guard of New America, a militia group, has also called for the murder of the judge.

Supporters at Brown's home said the only violence they anticipated was defensive, but several said that they see a shootout as an inevitability.

"There's been violence throughout our history, and it's sometimes what it takes to right the wrongs." said Bernie Bastian, a close friend of Brown who has been at his side since the trial ended. "It's a shame that men can't right the wrongs without resorting to it."

Other visitors said they were visiting Brown to lend moral support but did not plan to participate in any gun battle. Tim and Marylisa Logsdon spent the weekend at the house with their three young children. Tim Logsdon said he did not feel he was putting his family in any danger.

"The building is pretty secure," he said. "And the feds have promised that they won't raid."

Brown said he was ambivalent about the prospect of violence. He'd prefer a peaceful resolution, he said, but feels that there are few options available to him.

"I would like to see this whole thing go away," he said. "But now's the time it's continuing to build."

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Read: Tax protester constitutional arguments