www.MountainRunner.us

A Blog on Understanding, Informing, Empowering, and Influencing Global Publics, published by Matt Armstrong

TopCat, Somalia, Ethiopia: Ogaden, Gedi, EPRDF/TPLF

Some excellent questions and conflicts in wording were raised by a reader (see Marathon, PETRONAS, and PexCo Oil and Somalia) that deserve their own post. The additional research was insightful and makes me more confident in my Boots on the Ground post earlier today.

To start, Hale pointed out a contradiction found on the Global Exploration and Product News website
(aka "Oil and Gas Investor" in my previous post, or E & P) regarding the validity of Range Resource’s
agreement with the Transitional Government, of which Prime Minister
Gedi (Geedi) is the (nominal?) head. The exact wording of the text I posted contains the contradiction Hale points out:

Mixed messages are being sent about licensing in Somalia with a Dutch firm taking acreage but an Australian firm, which thought it had won a block, being told it had negotiated with the wrong people. [Holland's] PexCo exploration has signed up for with the Ministry of Mines and Energy for exploration in the Ogaden area, according to reports in Ethiopia.

As Hale points out, there is apparently a valid agreement signed by Prime Minister Gedi and Range Resources. The contradiction is possibly just in the reporting, as the Ministry of Mines and Energy is Ethiopian, as Hale points out referencing the Alexander’s Gas & Oil Connection announcement of 19 October 2005.

So, with the Ogaden area in Eastern Ethiopia and not actually in (anymore) Somalia, what gives? Is there some rumbling fallout from the 1977 war when Somalia invaded Ethiopia to "liberate" Ogaden? (This was ultimately led to Somalia agreeing to American use of "naval ports and airfields at Berbera, Chisimayu, and Mogadishu.")

There seems to be a flurry of interest in Ethiopia and Somalia and the region. So why the "mixed messages" in E & P? Was it simply a mistake? Somebody misreading Range Resources claim with Somalia and thinking it was Somali? I don’t think so.

There is an overall deterioration in security in the region with Ogaden "rebels" claiming civilian deaths at the hands of Ethiopians. Between ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front) and the recent public statement about al-Qaeda in Mogadishu, Ethiopia is lining us reasons to move eastward. Fighting AQ is always a crowd pleaser and wiping out pesky ONLF while lining up routes to the sea would seem like a by-product when it is the real purpose.

Hale also commented on the agreement between Puntland and HAFZA, specifically in regards to the suspension of work due to security issues. Hale correctly points out this suspension, which I had already commented on in Puzzle Pieces when I first researched HAFZA. This security problem could be Ethiopian stocked, but that is speculation. What is not speculation is an increase in arms shipments into the Transitional Government’s capital that may or may not be intended for the TG.

The cooperative agreement signed between Somalia and Ethiopia
on 1 Dec 2005 came with pledges of assistance to calls "upon the
international community to extend financial and political support to
the transitional government and take measures on those forces who attempt to hamper peace
in Somalia" [emphasis added]. Further, the "African Union, European
Union, UN, World Bank and other donors pledged for their continued
support to the Transitional Government of Somalia."

This "take measures on those forces…" statement could be the public pronouncement to what is coming.

Something else I noticed during this additional research was the both
HAFZA (left) and Range Resources (right) used an identical map with
identical dot-styles to indicate place. [Update 9 Dec 05: still believe the web designer for both are the same, which has pretty much been proven; add'l info: this map graphic is found at State.gov]

Hafza_free_zones

Somalia_sm05_range

Based on this information, I think the scenario painted by Donna is going to be accurate. The details are fuzzy and contradictions do appear, but I believe the weight of the evidence points toward war breaking out in the region. With Chinese, American, and other interests heavily involved over the natural resources in the area, it would seem likely that at least one government is involved. Unfortunately, based on the TopCat starter (possibly with the luxury cruise ship w/ military grade hardware conveniently on-board… violation of the Geneva Conventions anyone? The media never questioned that, just fascinated by its use), it appears the United States may be involved.

  • Matt says:

    Hale,
    No, I absolutely have zero financial or even personal interest in Somalia. What I do have is an interest in private military force (aka private military companies, private security companies, private military firms… pick your punch) and this is what drew me to the region. To make it clear, the draw was the TopCat $50m (or “$55m” or “$50m plus”) contract. The $50m figure being a “magic” threshold, as you can (and likely did) read in my earlier posts on TopCat.
    That Ethiopia fully contains Ogaden is not (currently) in dispute. I suggest you re-read the above post, which was too long for a reply on the previous thread, and you’ll see a) the agreement that Ogaden is in fact within Ethiopia’s boundary, and b) suggestive evidence that things are being lined up for a move, which Abdalla Haji Ali already exclaimed: “Besides donating assorted weapons to favored factions, unfortunately Ethiopian military personnel crossed deep in to Somali regions of Bakol and Bay in the last 48 hours.”
    The colour of Range’s and HAFZA’s circles are not the issue, the underlying map was the common element. Your link to what is clearly the same underlying map is a) an indication that both HAFZA and Range coincidently picked the same “best” map, b) the same person picked the map for both, or c) something else. I intentionally did not proceed further about the source of the map because it really is un-important and was simply interesting aside. The map *may* indicate a link between the two, which I had also suggested / inferred in a previous post, but definitely does not prove anything.
    My belief in the what appears to be data is not central to this. I do not wish to make or further any conspiracy theories. Far from it. There is information I have come across (including data and suggestions sent to me) that I felt were either off the mark, too fanciful, not in the line of investigation I was pursuing or redundant to what I had or was going to write. I am simply aggregating what appears to be evidence that individually may not amount to much, but together seem to paint an interesting picture. I am intentionally vague or simply suggestive, as in the previous sentance because of the limits of this information and because I do not make blanket statements or jump to conclusions.
    May I ask what, if any, interest or connection you have to the issues or region?
    I do continue to appreciate your comments and welcome further discussion on the same or different points on this or other topics.

    December 4, 2005 at 10:35 pm
  • Ali Ahmed says:

    Hallow Matt,
    May I ask what your qualifications are to be speaking on behave of Somalia or the state of Puntland? I do not understand why Americans like yourself and Kathryn Cramer have this desire to profess to be so knowledgeable about what is happening within Somalia / Puntland. Have you ever been to Somalia or Puntland or Ethiopia? Myself and others are puzzled by your comments and Kathryn Cramer’s. Your reply as to why you think you know more about what is happening in Somalia than Somalians would be appreciated.
    Mahadsanid

    December 4, 2005 at 11:14 pm
  • Kathryn Cramer says:

    It’s a hobby.

    December 4, 2005 at 11:31 pm
  • Matt says:

    Hello Ali Ahmed,
    Subah Wanaxun
    It is not my intent or my purpose to speak on behalf of Somalia or the state of Puntland and I do not feel that I have spoken for either the state or the people. My reply to Hale clearly stated my vantage point and the cause of my inquiry. With respect, the information I have posted and the arguments I have made and the analysis I have drawn are based on evidence. Some of this evidence is factual and some of it is not yet determined to be fact or not. I am sure that some information I have relied upon will turn out to be either false or it will point in a direction different than I have offered. With that said, I still stand by my analysis as it is merely suggestions based on available and seemingly accurate evidence.
    I ask that you explain your last sentance as it is not clear how “I know more about what is happening than Somalians”. To be honest, I do not know how much Somalians know just as I do not know what they don’t know. Other posts concerned with the region do include information that I take as supporting and verifying the conclusions I am drawing. However, not being a local and without substantial local contact, I may not have the same factual information that contradicts what I have written that you have, which you suggest. If you do have additional contradictory information that indicates something other than what I’ve written I would be happy to review and include it. I get the impression you do not have information that would support my analysis. You will also see in my response to Hale that there is other information that I have not found useful or distracting or flights of fancy that I have not included.
    Do you have specific items in my posts that you disagree with? If so, be specific and we can discuss. I appreciated Hale’s comments and will appreciate further discussion with Hale. The same holds true with you: I welcome further dialogue on this or other issues.
    With respect, there is an ultimate reason why I care. There is a saying a friend told me… they came for the jews, but I did not care for I am not a jew, they came for the catholics and I did not care for I am not a catholic, they came for the muslims and again I did not care for I am not a muslim, now they come for me and there is no one left to help me.
    ma al-salamah
    -Matt

    December 4, 2005 at 11:38 pm
  • Kathryn Cramer says:

    Mahadsanid:
    I see a lot of people in this doing increadibly stupid things, but I don’t have an underlying conspiracy theory. Maybe you can tell me what a heavy dude like McCabe could possibly gain from associating with a flake like Casini.

    December 4, 2005 at 11:41 pm
  • Hale says:

    Matt,
    Do you agree that Piracy is a problem in Somalian waters?
    What other solution do you propose? Since you criticize it you must have an alternative Solution?
    Piracy puts food aid on slow road to Somalia
    04 Dec 2005 12:25:19 GMT
    Source: Reuters
    By Guled Mohamed
    WAJID, Somalia Dec 4 (Reuters) – The U.N’s World Food Programme on Sunday delivered its first aid shipment to starving Somalis since pirates prowling its lawless coast forced them to take a dangerous and slow land route.
    The 14-truck convoy arrived in Wajid, a barren and scrubby town in south-central Somalia, after a 13-day trip from the Kenyan port of Mombasa — a route the aid trucks have not taken in four years because of the cost and difficulty.
    WFP operations in Somalia were sabotaged this year by the hijacking of two ships carrying food, which forced the U.N. food agency to opt for an equally treacherous and longer route over land.
    “Until the hijackings it was safe and much cheaper to transport the food aid by sea,” WFP spokesman Peter Smerdon said.
    The effect of the reversion to a land route not used since 2001 is a reduced ability to deliver food, WFP said.
    The final six days of the journey were spent crossing just 220 km (138 miles) from the Kenyan border — and 25 checkpoints manned by militia who extort money from passing drivers, officials said.
    WFP distributed 404 metric tonnes of food, mostly maize and oil, to 120 displaced families suffering from a deadly drought and years of endless conflict in the anarchic nation.
    “It’s not enough, because we’ve been hungry for so long. We need utensils, beddings, milk and medicine. But I’m grateful today I can cook for my family,” Nurie Liban, a 62-year-old mother of eight, said after receiving her food on Sunday.
    Another 600 families who have taken shelter in the refugee camp in Wajid will have to register for the aid and await the next shipment. Out of more than 1 million people in Somalia that WFP aims to reach with food aid in 2005, 640,000 are in the south and Wajid is among the hardest-hit regions.
    Up to 20 percent of children under the age of 5 suffer from acute malnutrition in some areas, WFP said.
    WFP anticipates serving northern Somalia via roads from Djibouti until it can return to seaborne shipments.

    December 5, 2005 at 3:15 am
  • Hale says:

    Matt,
    Its a bit cheeky to move my comments to a new thread?
    Do you really believe what you’ve just written?
    As for the style map? Well its found on many websites here is an example:
    http://www.pnm.my/mtcp/images/maps/Somalia-map.jpg
    The circle on Range’s Web site is Pink, and the one on HAFZA is both Red and Blue.
    Notice where Oganden is shown on the map? Why its inside Ethiopia?
    I’m really not sure what type of conspiracy theories you are trying to prove?
    Why the interest in Somalia?
    Do you have a financial interest in Somalia?

    December 4, 2005 at 9:47 pm
  • Ali Ahmed says:

    Yes Matt or Kathryn I too would be interested in your solution(s) to Somalia’s current problems. America always seems to have the answer to the problems of the world. Maybe you could share some ideas about how to improve the current situation instead of trying see a conspiracy under ever bed and behind ever door. The last solution that America had put Somalia in it’s current situation. If you want to look at conspiracies then I would suggest you looking at how Somalia got into it’s current situation. I see the EU, the AU, the UN and the World Bank working together with the TG to improve the situation in Somalia. What do you have to offer other than conspiracies around every corner?

    December 5, 2005 at 5:45 am
  • Ali Ahmed says:

    Matt,
    Thank you for your reply. I will take the time to read more of your information and look at it with a clear mind and open heart.
    As Kathryn asked “What would LBJ say?”. From my study of LBJ he would say “Grab them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow”. I feel that Americans should look to it’s past and reread what George Washington said in his “Farewell Address (1796)”. I feel that the LBJ approach along with others has caused many of the problems we see in the world today.
    A section from George Washington’s “Farewell Address”…
    //So, likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld; and it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country without odium, sometimes even with popularity, gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation….
    Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial, else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests.
    The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.//
    With respect to you as well Matt.

    December 5, 2005 at 2:15 pm
  • mountainrunner says:

    Hale,
    I completely agree that piracy is a problem in the region and must be dealt with immediately and decisively. The Reuters article you kindly attached is just one of many such pirate attacks with the intent of winning ransom, using a decoy, or similar criminal profit motives.
    Early on in my postings on TopCat, in fact in one of the first if not the first, I did not question the need for anti-piracy measures but questioned the use of TopCat and generally “foreign policy by proxy”, as the TopCat solution may be (see the MPRI passage in elsewhere on this site). There is a tremendous amount of international support to go after the pirates, to stabilize the region, and overall achieve a more peaceful situation so people can live comfortably (see my ending statement on my last comment response).
    Does this necessarily mean exporting “democracy” (as I anticipate the question from Mr Ahmed)? No. I have posted in another post on this site (and can send you other articles I’ve written on the subject) that the American democratic experience is extremely unique and does not match the French, German, British, or anyone else’s. So, as a pre-emptive statement: do not lump me into the “democracy or die” crowd. We can talk about nationalism and identity of the past and present efforts in the Middle East, including or excluding the Maghreb, through the lands of Islam etc. if you want to discuss how peoples “hold hands and sing” together. I do not subscribe to the “Clash of Civilizations” (Common-sense would be more appropriate) theory, so don’t suggest I see the world as black or white also.
    The honey that drew me into this topic was the use of a private military company to do the bidding of the international community, the United States in particular or exclusively. If you re-read the earlier posts, you should clearly see this as my concern (if it is not clear, let me know and I’ll make it so). I am not making judgments on private military companies themselves (which is why you will generally see me using the term “private military force”) unless forced to do so by circumstances, which the TopCat “umbrella”, if it can be called that and time will tell if it should, demands with the excessive fee ($50m – $55m) and being an essentially unknown quantity affiliated with individuals strongly and historically affiliated with the less than savory side of the privatisation of force. I also suggest you glance at my post regarding international accountability on private military force and the prescriptive at the end (which in my full version goes further).
    Mr Ahmed, you are correct in saying the EU, AU, UN, and World Bank are working together on this, as they should. My concern lies in the previous paragraph: American use of a private military company (not “force”) to promote an agenda. Let me say this, if TopCat was and continues to be a front for a clandestine AMERICAN “public military force” (i.e. United States Armed Forces) mission operated by CJTF-HOA (Mar 2005) out of Camp Lemonier, then I suggest the use of TopCat as cover was a very poor choice for reasons mentioned above.
    The impression that “America always seems to have the answer” is rightly deserved, although for very wrong reasons. The public diplomacy of the United States has, especially under the present Administration but not restricted to this Administration, been extremely poor. See my post Impressions Matter and you will see I agree with you the basis of your sentiment. In fact, you should see from this response and previous responses that I actually agree with you on improving the local situation.
    It is not a conspiracy in its negative term that I believe is taking shape, but either an operation of the USG (US government) with a poorly planned front (USAF using TopCat et al) or a private enterprise or a private enterprise with USG backing. Again, I try to use evidence and not emotionally subjective statement or allegations.
    The argument that Somalia is in its current status in part because of the actions, past or present, of the United States cannot be disputed. The same can be said of Afghanistan prior to 9/11 (after is quite obvious), much of Latin America, Europe, Japan, the Middle East (although our involvement did not really take shape there until the 1950′s, before that blame the British and the French), and almost anywhere else.
    The core issue is how to resolve problems and dilemmas and my project is to seek the appropriate path if not solution. Since I am not a decision or policy maker, I can do no more than analyze a situation that I have only glimmers of insight into. The present path that includes TopCat is not appropriate and will, in my judgment of the facts I have now (which is my way of saying “subject to change”), do more harm than good by incrementing the number of occasions that you may make statements like you, Mr Ahmed, rightly make. This is not the way to win the “hearts and minds”; this is not the way to make peace and do the “right thing”.
    With Respect-
    Matt

    December 5, 2005 at 8:52 am
  • Hale says:

    Matt,
    Thankyou for your response…Interesting comments you have raised? :)
    Hale

    December 6, 2005 at 4:04 am

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*