10 Jun 2009 11:19

SOMALIA WATCH

 

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WHILE   MOGADISHU BURNS, U.N. ENVOY IS FRONTING FOR OIL EXPLORATION IN SOMALIA

Where there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY, anything can happen with impunity. It started with Kofi Annan. But during Ban Ki-moon's tenure, Special Envoys have practically taken over the role of the Secretary General, particularly if they feel they have support of one or two big powers. The case of Terje Roed Larsen in the Middle East is commonly known. Now there is a worse case in Somalia which may grow into scandalous proportions. There is no indication that the Secretary General is doing anything about it.

" Somalia is a graveyard of bungled foreign interventions," as The Financial Times recently reminded everyone. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and millions are living subsistence level while Secretary General Ban and his Special Envoy Ould Abdallah were issuing "hot and cold" statements from expressing concern to noting with great satisfaction one event or another. Eventually, their irrelevance -- sad as it is -- was taken for granted.

However, now they are going beyond failure to suspicious business ventures.

Less than a week after the formation of a new yet contested "Transitional Federal Government of Somalia," Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General Ahmedou Ould Abdallah was named in a "memorandum of understanding allowing the government of Kenya" -- where Ould Abdallah operates (when he's not fine dining in New York!) -- "and Norway to explore the offshore of Somalia for oil." The memo placed with the U.N. seeks to ensure that no future Somali government would be able to object .

According to the document, the U.N. Special Representative had initiated the preparation of preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of the continental shelf of Somalia. It added that the SRSG has accepted an offer of assistance from the government of Norway, pointing out vaguely that the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate "have been involved in the preparations." Of course, all expenses related to the preparation of the present submission have been covered by the Government of Norway. What these "expenses" entail were unclear. What is clear is that one Somali government member (who has been living outside his country's capital for years) has placed his signature. Abderrahman Abdishakur, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation in the Transitional, repeat TRANSITIONAL, cabinet, is supposedly binding future Somali governments from revoking his deal.

Now, that is just for openers. It is just a signal for inviting politico-financial deals where Ould Abdallah would play a central role.

Meanwhile, the basic role of the Secretary General Special Representative remains unattended.

Fighting is erupting regularly in Mogadishu, with hundreds killed and thousands fleeing. The return of former Islamic Court's Chief, Sheikh Cherif Ahmed Cherif, after the collapse of the U.N.-sponsored government, did not seem to settle the situation, although secret talks were being held by religious leaders. Former allies are now at each others' throats. The Shabab (meaning youth) brigades overtook suburbs of Mogadishu while Sheik Cherif's supporters hang on to other suburbs -- for now, at least. Meanwhile, World Food Programme indicated that it needs $168 million urgently for this year (2009) alone.

Interestingly, a recent report about lack of funds for human assistance in Somalia was mysteriously suppressed. Although reported by U.N. Radio, it was never highlighted nor repeated. As if the situation on Somalia was all fine, as long as the prospects of oil shore drilling are imminent.

Incidentally, Ould Abdallah recently called for establishing in Mogadishu a Green Zone similar to that in Baghdad. Obviously, hallucinating in the heat of Nairobi, he would like to have his own palace to run Somalia. He may also invite "Abu Chatterjee" to visit. Which troops would protect him is unclear. He first tried to fight until the last Ethiopian soldier, but failed. U.S. Marines are no longer interested. His co-signatory Abdishakur would rather stay at Djibouti's Kempinski hotel. Kenyans are very hospitable; they would wine and dine him at Carnivore but will not blaze a trail to central Mogadishu. "Preparatory" Norwegian experts won't do. His Mauritanian countrymen had given him up since he turned his back towards Paris then Washington. It may be best for him to have another round at New York's Downtown Cipriani. That would be expensive, but less costly to the U.N. than another "Oil for Food" type scandal.


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