Feb 27 2012
By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
6:00AM GMT 22 Feb 2012
Britain is to spend £20 million on a new civilian rapid reaction force to secure parts of Somalia wrested from the control of the Islamic militant group al-Shabaab, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
The deal will be unveiled by British officials at a landmark London conference on Thursday, at which more than 40 countries will convene to discuss the future of the war-torn African state.
Under the plans, Britain will contribute £20 million to a ‘stability fund’ forSomalia to help its new government secure the territory it has won from the al-Qaeda backed insurgency.
This will pay for a civilian force of “chino-clad warriors” who will be sent into vulnerable areas to help establish a police presence, health care facilities, schools and basic services before the militants can return.
The fund would target areas where either al-Shabaab had been driven out completely, or reduced as a fighting force. Its experts would be trained in forging local peace deals as well as overseeing government services in battle-ravaged regions. Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, said Britain hoped to attract further backing from around the world for the scheme. Somalia has had no functional government for two decades and has been described by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, as “the world’s most failed state”.
“We want to help Somalis find longer-term political solutions, and a key part of tomorrow will be capitalising on recent security progress on the ground,” he said. “We can make a huge difference if we get this right.”
Reports on Tuesday night furthermore suggested that Britain and other EU countries were considering helicopters from warships to mount off shore raids on the logistical hubs and training camps belonging to pirates and al-Shabaab militants in the country.
“We don’t have the assets in place,” a Whitehall source told the Guardian. “That does not mean we could not get them in the air quickly. You have got to think long and hard. You have got to be absolutely sure [about the targets].”
The Somalia Conference, convened by David Cameron, will be attended by governments from around the world. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, and the European Union will advance promises to Somali leaders at the meeting.
A co-ordinated series of announcements will see increased backing for rebuilding Somalia, an expansion of the African Union peacekeeping force under a UN resolution and a new political process under which the Transitional Federal Government will dissolve, to be replaced by a constitutional assembly.
A resolution to be put before the UN Security Council today provides for the expansion of Amisom, the peacekeeping force, to just under 18,000 personnel from 12,000. For the first time, the force will be “blue-hatted”, carrying the insignia of the UN.
Up to four other nations are expected to allocate money to the Stability Fund, which will be launched by a British management team but eventually emerge as a multi-national or private-run scheme.
By targeting areas for assistance, the architects of the scheme hope to secure the loyalties of clans and residents that had been susceptible to al-Shabaab’s rule. Experts deployed in the areas are expected to address local needs, freeing up the Africa troops in Amisom to press their advance on al-Shabaab.
In prepared remarks, David Cameron was due to tell the conference today [Wed] that the terror threat emanating from the Horn of Africa country was “real” and “substantial”.
Al-Shabaab “encourages violent jihad not just in Somalia but also outside Somalia”, he told the BBC Somali service.
“And there is a very real danger of young British Somalis having their minds poisoned by this organisation. So there is a terrorist threat that is current today, and if we are not careful, could get worse.”
A British fighter with Al-Shabaab was killed last month during a drone attack in the capital Mogadishu.
As preparations for the conference entered the final stages, fighting was raging on three fronts in Somalia yesterday.
Ethiopian troops launched a fresh offensive from its southern border to regain the town of Baidoa, seized by the insurgents in 2009; Kenya troops were moving on the southern port of Kismayo; and Amisom troops were reported to have made progress in consolidating territory in the capital Mogadishu.
Not withstanding the article I posted on this site about an hour ago regarding George ‘Hatchet’ Osbourne’s claims that the UK has no money which begs the question where is the £20 million coming from? You also really have to ask yourself why is our beloved nation going all out to help this small war torn African country…Could the answer lie in the article just below this comment?
Why Chris,Yes, I do believe it could.
Monday, 27 February 2012 06:29
‘Britain is involved in a secret high-stakes dash for oil in Somalia, with the government offering humanitarian aid and security assistance in the hope of a stake in the beleaguered country’s future energy industry.
Riven by two decades of conflict that have seen the emergence of a dangerous Islamic insurgency, Somalia is routinely described as the world’s most comprehensively “failed” state, as well as one of its poorest. Its coastline has become a haven for pirates preying on international shipping in the Indian Ocean.
David Cameron last week hosted an international conference on Somalia, pledging more aid, financial help and measures to tackle terrorism. The summit followed a surprise visit by the foreign secretary, William Hague, to Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where he talked about “the beginnings of an opportunity” to rebuild the country.’
The Observer can reveal that, away from the public focus of last week’s summit, talks are going on between British officials and Somali counterparts over exploiting oil reserves that have been explored in the arid north-eastern region of the country. Abdulkadir Abdi Hashi, minister for international cooperation in Puntland, north-east Somalia – where the first oil is expected to be extracted next month – said: “We have spoken to a number of UK officials, some have offered to help us with the future management of oil revenues. They will help us build our capacity to maximise future earnings from the oil industry.”
British involvement in the future Somali oil industry would be a boon for the UK economy and comes at a time when the world is increasingly concerned about the actions of Iran, the second-biggest oil producer in Opec.
Hashi, in charge of brokering deals for the region’s oil reserves, also said Somalia was looking to BP as the partner they wanted to “help us explore and build our oil capacity”. He added: “We need those with the necessary technical knowhow, we plan to talk to BP at the right time.”
Somali prime minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said his government had little choice but to entice western companies to Somalia by offering a slice of the country’s natural resources, which include oil, gas and large reserves of uranium. “The only way we can pay [western companies] is to pay them in kind, we can pay with natural resources at the fair market value.”
Britain is not the only country looking to develop Somalia’s vast natural resources. Last month oil exploration began in Puntland by the Canadian company Africa Oil, the first drilling in Somalia for 21 years. Hashi, who sealed the Africa Oil deal, said the first oil was expected to be extracted within the next “20 to 30 days”.
The company estimates there could be up to 4bn barrels (about $500bn worth at today’s prices) in its two drilling plots. Other surveys indicate that Puntland province alone has the potential to yield 10bn barrels, placing it among the top 20 countries holding oil. Chinese and US firms are among those understood to have also voiced interest about the potential for oil now that, for the first time in 20 years, the country is safe enough to drill.
Yet it is the extent of oil deposits beneath the Indian Ocean that is most exciting Somali officials. One said the potential was comparable to that of Kuwait, which has more than 100bn barrels of proven oil reserves. If true, the deposits would eclipse Nigeria’s reserves – 37.2bn barrels – and make Somalia the seventh largest oil-rich nation.
The state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation has tried to acquire an interest in Somalia’s reserves. Senior officials from the Somali transitional government are adamant that the imminent extraction of oil in Puntland next month would kickstart a scramble from the multinationals.
On Thursday, the last day of the London conference, BP and Shell unveiled an initiative to support job-creation projects in the coastal regions of Somalia. A subsidiary of Shell was thought to have acquired exploration concessions in Puntland before the descent into lawlessness in 1991.
A BP spokesman said there were “no plans” to work in Somalia and no official had recently visited the country.