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Somalia: Next Target in Bush's War?/E Cohen/Long Draft

Friends, Eduardo Cohen has spotted a 'new' US target, which like Iraq, is
being targeted because of its oil resources. The
UK Independent has also been reporting on this for the last several
days.  Philippa Winkler

>===== Original Message From Eduardo Cohen <> =====
19 December 2001
Somalia: Next target in Bushıs War on Terrorismı?
by Eduardo Cohen

Ever since serving in the Vietnam War in 1966, after volunteering for
service as an Army paratrooper,  I have been skeptical of official
government reasons provided to explain the motives of US foreign and
military policy.  It was clear to me within weeks of my arrival in Vietnam,
where US forces were protecting the dictatorial regime of General Nguyen Cao
Ky, that the stated purpose of our mission, defending democracy, had
absolutely no connection with reality.

My skepticism was further reinforced over the course of eight years in Latin
America.  In Bolivia, in 1973, I was shown a silenced sub-machine gun
provided to the National Guard of right-wing dictator General Hugo Banzer
Suarez.  It had been sent there by the United States Agency for
International Development as part of their ŒPublic Safety Programı which we
were told was designed to train and Œmodernizeı friendly police forces in
Latin America.

In Costa Rica in 1985 I entered Costa Ricaıs La Reforma prison to interview
mercenaries who had been arrested for smuggling arms and explosives into
Nicaragua.  They had been working for the Central Intelligence Agency to
secretly arm the US supported Contra guerrillas in President Reaganıs proxy
war against Nicaragua.   Curiously, such activities had been prohibited by
the American Congress and were officially denied by the Reagan

And in 1990, shortly after we were told by the first President Bush that the
United States would reluctantly go to war to defend Saudi Arabia and Kuwait
in the wake of the brutal and unexpected Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, I had
seen hard evidence that on the eve of that invasion Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein had been given a clear green light for the invasion by at least
three official representatives of the United States government.  Of course
that evidence indicated that the Persian Gulf War was a conflict that the
Bush Administration actually wanted to have and that might facilitate
expansion of US geo-political control in the region.

So in 1992 when American military forces were dispatched by President
Clinton to carry out humanitarian intervention in Somalia out of American
concern for starving famine stricken Africans, I couldnıt help but view
those events with some level of skepticism also.  After all, I wondered,
when had concern for starving Africans ever been a significant factor in the
formulation of American foreign and military policy in that part of the
world before?

Then, when the United States became involved in an attempt to build a stable
and assuredly pro-American government there, something we euphemistically
call Œnation-buildingı, an assignment far exceeding the stated purpose of
providing humanitarian assistance, we were told that American Forces in
Somalia were suffering from something called Œmission creepı.  We went into
Somalia do this but somehow we wound up doing that.  My curiosity and
skepticism deepened.

So I just scratched my head and wondered... until January 18th, 1993.

It was on January 18th, 1993 that I saw an article in the  Los Angeles times
that allowed me to stop scratching my head.  The story explained that four
American oil giants had negotiated oil concessions with the previous
government in Somalia, effectively dividing up more than two-thirds of the
land area of Somalia into four giant oil concessions.  Geologists had told
the oil companies that a subterranean structure, from which oil was already
being extracted in Yemen, extended in a sweeping arc beneath the Gulf of
Aden and much of the Somali desert.  But in order to gain access to those
oil deposits, the four companies, Chevron, Amoco, Conoco and Phillips
Petroleum needed a stable government in Somalia that would honor the
agreements they had negotiated with the  previous regime.

So then I knew.   There were two possible explanations for the dispatch of
US military forces to Somalia:  The official explanation based on US concern
for the plight of starving Africans or the need of four American oil giants
to have a stable government in Somalia which would allow them to exploit oil
concessions possibly worth billions of dollars.

Given the history of US foreign and military policy in the Middle East and
Northern Africa, it would be politically naive to believe that the interests
of these major oil companies was a mere coincidence and that US foreign and
military policy was being driven simply by an unprecedented concern for
starving Africans.

But American operations, apparently to control local militias and install a
friendly government, were cut short when 18 American soldiers, members of an
Army Ranger team, were killed in a failed attempt to kidnap the leader of
one of the most powerful Somali militias.  The American public had not been
prepared for significant loss of American lives.  The number of soldiers
killed along with the graphic footage of the corpse of a US soldier being
dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, created a sharp political backlash
resulting in the withdrawal of US forces from Somalia.

In recent months, the US military machine has been unleashed against
Afghanistan in what the Bush administration describes as an international
war against terrorism that will not be limited to Afghanistan.  The careful
efforts of the Bush Administration to prepare the American public in advance
to expect and accept American casualties in the war on Afghanistan indicates
that the lesson of the 1994 withdrawal from Somalia was not lost on the Bush

In the wake of what has the appearance of a successful military campaign in
Afghanistan, there is much speculation as to who and where the next target
of Bushıs war on terrorism will be.  A handful of nations have been
mentioned as either rogue states, nations in which terrorist groups exist
and operate or states that support or sponsor terrorist groups. .  The list
of potential targets includes Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Syria, North Korea,
Somalia and the Philippines.

The United States is already deeply involved in supporting the Philippine
government in military campaigns against Muslim separatist militias on the
island of Mindanao, at least one of which, Abu Sayyaf, has alleged ties to
Osama bin Laden, and a stronger but less publicized communist insurgency in
the Central Philippines led by the New Peopleıs Army.  The Bush
Administration has already sent over 100 million dollars of military aid as
well as a number of military advisers to assist the Philippine government.

There is good reason for growing concerns that the country of Iraq, already
devastated by a decade of bombing and economic sanctions, may be the next
military target in Bushıs Œwar on  terrorismı.  There have been concerted
efforts by many of Washingtonıs influential military and foreign policy
hawks to garner support for a renewed military campaign against the nation
of Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein.  That campaign is led by Defense
Department policy adviser and American Enterprise Institute fellow Richard
Perle, President of the right wing Center for Security Policy, Frank
Gaffney, former UNSCOM director Richard Butler and Assistant Defense
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz among others.  Still, more powerful forces may be
at play.

The oil deposits in Somalia are still there.  The four American oil giants,
now reduced to three as the result of the recent merger of Conoco and
Phillips Petroleum, would predictably still like to gain access to the oil
they believe is waiting for them.  It is that American corporate interest in
Somali oil deposits, estimated to be worth billions of dollars, that may
push Somalia next into the cross hairs of the US military and the ŒWar on

Al-Qaeda, the network which we are told was formed by Saudi militant Osama
bin Laden to carry out terrorism against American targets throughout the
world, is reportedly one of the main targets of the American campaign in
Afghanistan.  Now we are told by senior American officials that parts of the
al-Qaeda network continue to function in Somalia - a claim that might be
difficult to substantiate at best.

American officials recently claimed that al-Qaeda sent some of its
lieutenants to Somalia to help Somali forces plan the ambush that brought
down those two American Blackhawk helicopters and that killed 18 American
Rangers in 1993.  But that claim had me scratching my head again.

Why would armed Somali militias, with years of wartime experience under
their belts, need al-Qaeda advisers to tell them how to carry out an
ambush..  It just didnıt make any sense... unless, of course, the Bush
Administration was laying the groundwork for another US military
intervention in Somalia.

Ever since hearing those claims, I have been concerned that President Bush
might be preparing to send military forces into Somalia once again to finish
the mission they were sent there to carry out in 1992.  While most Americans
heard about the 18 American soldiers that were killed at that time, few
Americans heard very much about the hundreds of Somali citizens who were
killed by American gunfire.

There are some disturbing indications that a second intervention may soon be
attempted.  Alex Duval, South African based correspondent for The
Independent, recently reported widespread concern in Kenya that the US is
pressuring the government there to use that nation as a base for air attacks
on Somalia.

If those suspicions are true, they tell us not only of the Bush
Administrationıs intent to attack Somalian targets soon but also something
about the probable scope and intensity of those attacks.

The United States could launch air attacks against Somalia from aircraft
carriers in the Indian Ocean.  But intense air campaigns, such as the
campaign now winding down in Afghanistan, require heavier bombers than those
able to operate from aircraft carriers.  Heavier bombers such as the B-1ıs
and B-52ıs have been operating from bases in Europe and on the island of
Diego Garcia in the southern Indian Ocean.

Heavier bombers could reach Somalia from Diego Garcia also.  But using land
bases in Kenya, next door to Somalia, the U. S. Air Force could fly four or
five times the number of missions in the same period of time. That could
indicate that the Bush Administration is anticipating an extremely intensive
air campaign against Somalia.

Of course, if there is a new military campaign in Somalia, the American
public will almost certainly be prepared in advance to accept American
casualties.  Judging from the first intervention, civilian casualties among
the Somali population will be horrendously high.  And of course weıll be
told that the purpose of the campaign will be to root out terrorism.

If the American news media function as poorly and as uncritically as they
did during the first US intervention in Somalia, the American people will
have little reason to believe otherwise.

Should the questions be raised, Iım sure weıll be assured by the Bush
Administration that it is mere coincidence that there are oil reserves in
Somalia with an estimated worth in the billions of dollars, that three
powerful American oil giants have been coveting those oil deposits for
nearly a decade or more and that no fewer than five high ranking officials
in the Bush Administration, including the National Security Adviser, the
vice-president and the President himself, are former oil industry employees.

And like the those in the first US military operation there, as well as my
fellow American soldiers in the Vietnam War, the American soldiers asked to
kill or be killed in that far off place may be the only people in Somalia
who wonıt know why theyıre actually there.

# # #

About Eduardo Cohen:

Eduardo Cohen served in a combat unit in Vietnam (173rd Airborne Brigade,
USAR) where he first noticed sharp contrasts between what he saw on the
ground and what was being reported in American newspapers.  After two months
in a ground combat unit he was assigned to the 173rdıs Press Information
Office where he refused orders to make up stories to be given to US news

He later lived seven years in Latin America where he once again saw deep
disparities between the impact of US policy and what was being reported in
the United States.  In Bolivia, National Guard officers showed him silenced
9mm submachine guns supplied to them through the US Agency for International
Developmentıs ŒPublic Safety Programı.

He studied Anthropology and Communications at UC Santa Barbara from 1980 to
1984.  While at UCSB he created ŒThe Other Americası radio program at KCSB
in Santa Barbara in 1981. It aired on several California radio stations
until 1995 including seven years on KPFA in Berkeley.

ŒThe Other Americası used the world press, human rights experts, government
officials and other primary sources, to examine discrepancies between the
impact of US foreign policy in Latin America and the Caribbean and what was
being reported here by the US news media.  ŒThe Other Americası later
expanded its coverage to include Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Eduardo Cohen was one of the first journalists in the United States to
expose the first practice invasion of Grenada, carried out on the Puerto
Rican island of Vieques in 1981, and the creation and training of the
Nicaraguan Contras by the CIA in Honduras.

Cohen exposed the covert funding of banned CIA  operations in Costa Rica and
Nicaragua - an operation that would later be known as a component of the
Iran-Contra scandal - after interviewing mercenaries imprisoned by Costa
Rican authorities in 1985 for smuggling
arms and explosives.

In 1990 he was sponsored by the Bay Area American Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee to participate in a delegation that traveled to the Middle East
during the Persian Gulf War.

In 1991, Cohen produced 'Israel, Palestine and the Requisites of Peaceı, a
slide presentation on the Palestinian-Israeli crisis from interviews and
photographs taken during three weeks of travels in Israel, Gaza and the West

He has lectured on: Media Distortion of US Foreign Policy; Propaganda and
Racism in News and Popular Culture; and How Anti-Arab Racism Distorts
American Perception of Middle East conflict.

He has lectured on these topics at numerous universities including Stanford,
UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, California State University
Sacramento, San Francisco State University and Villanova.

In 1999 he was invited to lecture on anti-Arab racism in American news
reporting at a conference at Villanova University organized by the
Department of Arab and Islamic Studies.

He is now a freelance writer, media relations consultant  and lecturer
living in Sacramento, California and he is a member of the speakers bureau
of Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action.

His lecture topics include:
*The Hidden History of US Foreign and Military Policy
*The impact of mass media on public perception.
*American news coverage during military intervention and conflict.
*Government management of public perception.
*Anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism in US perception of the Middle East.
*The importance of Critical News Consumption;
*Critical failures in American journalism.
*The relationship between the American Press and the CIA.
*The contradictions between covert policies and democratic process.
*The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict thru the lenses of American news media.

Eduardo Cohen can be contacted at:
    Tel:   (916) 442-5811

Also see The Independent, UK, Thursday, December 20:
Los Angeles Times Abstract:
The Oil Factor in Somalia

The Oil Factor in Somalia;
Four American petroleum giants had agreements with the African
nation before its civil war began. They could reap big rewards if peace
is restored.

Monday, January 18, 1993
Home Edition

ID: 0930006020
PART A Section
1850 words

Far beneath the surface of the tragic drama of Somalia, four major
US oil companies are quietly sitting on a prospective fortune in
exclusive concessions to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres of
the Somali countryside.
Conoco Inc, Amoco Corp, Chevron Corp, Phillips Petroleum Co

Search the archives for similar stories about: Oil - Somalia, Somalia -
Contracts, Oil Industry - United States, United States - Foreign Policy -
Somalia, Conoco Inc, Amoco Corp, Chevron Corp, Phillips Petroleum Co, Bush,

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İ 2001 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
18 December 2001 22:21 GMT  Home > News  > World  > Africa
Fears of strike on Somalia from bases in Kenya
By Alex Duval Smith Africa Correspondent

The Independent
18 December 2001

There are strong indications that the United States is preparing to launch
air attacks on Somalia from bases in neighbouring Kenya, despite convincing
evidence that al-Qa'ida groups of any significance are unlikely to be
operating in the country.

Although the threat of attacks may yet prove to be a bout of energetic
sabre-rattling by America, it is causing considerable unease in Kenya and
enormous fear in Somalia.

Yesterday, the BBC World Service began broadcasting two extra daily
15-minute programmes on FM in Somalia, a move it denied had been prompted by
the Foreign Office and which it said was in response to growing paranoia and
a lack of reliable information in the country.

Barry Langridge, the head of the World Service's Africa and Middle East
section, said: "People are extremely nervous. Banking systems and phone
companies in Somalia have been hit by the American clampdown on groups
allegedly linked to al-Qa'ida and people feel very isolated."

He said people in Somalia felt the US had a "score to settle" after the
deaths of 18 of its soldiers during a botched US intervention in 1993. "We
have blanket listening in Somalia, but since the closure of banking
institutions and the internet, people cannot get information and feel

"The expanded service is our decision. We do not have to ask the Foreign
Office. We have not done this so as to get Mr Blair or Mr Bush on the air."

Kenyans, who were not compensated for the 1998 al-Qa'ida-linked bombing of
the US embassy in Nairobi, are reluctant to invite possible further
instability in their country, which has a large Somali community. They see
any deal between the US, Britain and Kenya's President, Daniel Arap Moi,
merely as a way for the 77-year-old leader to bargain for a resumption of
foreign aid in the run-up to elections next year.

In Nairobi, the opposition leader Mwai Kibaki said he feared Mr Moi had once
again overridden the country's parliament by promising his support for the
second wave of the campaign against terrorism at meetings earlier this month
with the Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, and the US assistant
secretary of state for Africa, Walter Kansteiner.

Many observers believe Mr Moi has offered Kenya as a "launch pad" for air
attacks on Somalia. Others say the US, which according to some reports
already has a small number of special forces in Somalia, is more likely to
bomb the country from warplanes based on aircraft carriers in the Indian
Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, and support an Ethiopian land invasion.

Mr Kibaki said: "This is too serious a matter for Kenya's government to act
on by itself and they [the US and Britain] should not treat us as a colony.
Parliament must know the scale of risk to our security before we can justify
surrendering any control of our territory."

Few experts on the Horn of Africa region can see any good reason why
Somalia, which has no national government and is largely run by rival
warlords, could be perceived as a viable haven for terrorists.

America's informants on the "terrorist" activities of al- Itihaad, a
Saudi-funded group that unsuccessfully tried to unite the country under an
Islamic banner in the 1980s and 1990s, is a Somali faction, the Rahanwein
Resistance Army.


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