Somalilandsun – The Horn of Africa politics is a quagmire of alliances and interest groups vying to take control politically and economically. Given the strait of Bab Al Mandab is an important shipping route that connected East and West for centuries the geopolitical significance of the area is not to be estimated or ignored lightly. Chinese goods and skills at rapid development in exchange for abundance of raw materials for its growing economy will shift African nations from its sole dependency on its colonial masters which is causing disruption.
The Saudi coalition relentless bloody pursuit of control in the Arab Sea hasn’t gone unnoticed, it’s genocidal suicidal ventures into Yemen and Somalia supported by military assistance from US, U.K. And Frenchsecurity groupshas wide implication for peace and security.It is a deadly foolhardy conquest instigated to create confusion and political paralysis. Military action in Yemen has already caused serious financial hardship to the people of Saudi and UAE who are pursing zero sum strategy to Iranian existential threat. The war in Yemen is an unjust war, it can no longer be accepted or tolerated, western government polices such as the War on Terror is not making the world saferand resolutions to combat threats from “terror groups” lacks legitimacy because the very organisations profiting from the war on terror are inextricably linked to political establishment in governments such asHalliburton acompany that received contractural agreement for Iraq reconstruction which former Vice President Dick Cheney received $34 million 2010. It’s “ Like giving the keys to the fox to guard a hen house”, African nations do not wish to be enslaved and this passive acceptance of been ruled by Washington consensus is no longer sufficient to deal with 21st century problems. Foreign Direct Investment flowinto Africa was $42 billion in 2017 it fell by 21 % from 2016 according to UNCTAD, Ethiopia received $3.6billion and Kenya $672 million respectively and with all the donor money contributed to peace building initiatives it is baffling why these border countries are receiving so much support while Somalia languishes in financial uncertainty and obscurity. Thus Chinese economic influence in Africa is a welcome alternative to the aid centred loan debt policies that crippled African countries and since multinational enterprises seek security and profitability Chinese presence in Africa is creating distress but to whom and why
Somalia and Yemen’s geographical strategic dominion on the Horn of Africawas and is highly sought after by western/European powers and Arab nations. Thus Somali and Yemeni peoplepolitical instability and fragmentation raises questions of autonomy, self- determination and what entities or forces benefited from continuous conflict in those countries? Furthermore what is the plan for peaceful resolutions? Will Yemen be annexed to Saudi Arabia and what shall happen to Somalia/ Somaliland/ Puntland and all the other self declared states when Ethiopia and Kenya divide the country?
The shift towards limiting African economies dependence on aid inadvertently began with international policies such as millennium development programmes. As an emerging markets with young population capitalism model of consumerism necessitated targeting new customers to sustain its profit marginssubsequently this required shift in IMF policies towards developing nations whose middle classes were the new consumers. Thus MDGs was suppose to be the “Marshall plan” for Africa.
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were designed to tackle (poverty, education, gender, equality, child mortality, maternal health, disease, environment and global partnership)it had some success improving the lives of 21 to 29 million people around the worlds poorest according to UN reportshowever Structural Adjustments Program (SAP)policies required poor countries tostill restructure its economics negating MDGs roleas short term solution. Unsustainable policies are responsible for systemic poverty such as unfair tariffs and economic partnership with conditions. Exploitative measures exists and most often associated with Africa (richest continent in the world). What the China economic intervention or collaboration does is it shatters this neo colonialist idealism, however African countries who welcomed investment from Beijing are being castigated and frowned upon. Why?
There is a power shift in Europe and America, increase in xenophobia and divisive politics is centralised on project fear, migrants are not responsible for bankers irresponsible and criminal behaviour of 2008 financial melt down. The austerity program and quantitive easing prolonged unsustainable debt leading to rise in far right groups advocating for isolationist policies that neither benefits or addresses the root cause of inequality in societies laden with personal debts.
China has been criticised for human rights abuses which are many but the world can not forgot western and US foreign policy inhuman transgression in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Venezuela, Diego Garcia and Palestine. Yet we condemned Russia for its role in Syria and remain silent on the currency war waged against Turkey’s Erdogan and even accept the unpalatable aggression on Qatari sovereignty; these recent events indicate epic foreign and domestic policy failures. The political and economic miscalculation by western governments and their allies struggling with debtshow lack of adequate grasp of history, in order sustain thestatus quounconstitutional laws curtailing personal freedom were legislated such as Trumps immigration policy! The people’s wish for economic equality and transparentliberal values based on truthand freedom are systematically been destroyed implicitly and explicitly, for example social media/internet has become a battle ground for misinformation. Egyptians ( Internet blackoutduring Arab Springis indicative of government fear and lack of political control)by and largeshutting down face book or Twitter is contrary to Western democratic values and the perception is it’s common occurrence in repressive regimes. People in developed countries are condoning atrocities in the name of democracy, Italy’s Salvini racist rant about African slaves exemplifiespinnacle of racist values taking over and it also blurred the lines between what is constituted as acceptable or not. Thus insinuation that has no factual basis has become the norm such as China is exploiting or colonising Africans which is simply absurd!
China doesn’t want to be the next imperial power to dominate Africa as Rex Tillerson former Secretary of State purported, according to scholars at Johns Hopkins University and Boston University study on Chinese loans since 2000figures indicate that between 2000-2015 China lent $95.5 billion. The loans accelerated the economy of many African countries, given that 600 million Africans lacked electricity 40% was allocated towards this goal, 30% improving transport, not all construction projects were necessaryand money wasn’t utilised properly asundoubtedlysome form of bribery and corruption did occur. However figures from the world bank testify increase in productivity and given African countries successful growth rate in commodities, services and manufacturing Chinese interest played significant role in transforming African politics. Theresa May visit to Africa recently and Australian overtures of friendship corroborates that China has the upper hand in this new” trade war”. It doesn’t necessarily bode well for Somalia and Yemen as instability in the region could have a negative impact in terms of security. Accusation of illicit arms dealing byDjibouti since relationship improved between Ethiopia and Eritrea is debatable. According to investigation carried out by EXX Africa UK (specialist intelligence company) weapons are been smuggled from Djibouti military to Al-Shabab, Somaliland andHouthi rebels. The Chinese like US, French, Japan, Italy and Germany have military bases in Djibouti, would Omer Gelleh government openly supply weapons without retribution from its benefactors is questionable assertion.
The government of Djibouti had a contentious court battle with DP World since it revoked its concession rights to Doraleh Container Terminal claiming national interest reasons for doing so, a U.K. Court awarded and upheld its decision in 2018 in favour of DP World decreeing Djibouti acted unlawfully in terms of” contractual obligation”. Djibouti as a country is not conducting itself well, selling arms is the least of its transgression, it has aims to destabilise the Horn of Africa because it always had existential fear of being overlooked by Its neighbours and the Berbera /Bossaso Port deal heightened its fears as a hub. The UAE military and naval bases in Somaliland didn’t sit well with Djibouti government future economic plans and the lucrative arms dealing business was allowed to thrive without fear of reprisal to further destabilise the region. What is worrisome is lack of foresight by Djibouti, there are no guarantees that terrorist won’t target Djibouti if the flow of weapons dries up.
The worst political plunder Saudi coalition made June 2017was its catastrophic mistake accusing Qatar of terrorism when in fact 19 of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi citizens and the commission investigating September 11th concluded a link existed between Saudi governments support of Wahhabism ideology and terror attacks. Indeednor will (war on terror sentiments) convince the sleeping masses who for so long been drinking from the jug of apathy and discontentburdened with inescapable austerity, debts and depression in societies around the globe that the real terror for governments is only Islamic fundamentalism. The real issues for the elite and establishment is to maintain and regulate unsustainable boom and bust economies that hasn’t functioned terribly well under globalisation. This is evident in Trumps election and the rise of far right movements sweeping Europe. In fact the war profiteers Wall Street conglomerates or agents of chaos claiming justice and fair play are the very people selling Saudi military to kill 40 children in a bus in Yemen (no contrition or apology or responsibility) that the coalition forces admitted it was unjustly action against Saada province August 2018.
The choices are obvious, for US /European governments to survive the populace discontent and people within the democratic system must be told about government interventions and how foreign policies were managed/ manipulated into signing up for wars that could neverrealistically achieve successful outcomes like the War on Terror. As long as profitability comes before human rights the foundation of western philosophy based on democratic values and principles are just ethos and words with no real meaning, China can not be chastised for doing what everyone else is or has been doing for centuries.
The Arab coalition will fail in East Africa because of unfinished business, in terms of Somalia and Yemen the Gulf countries excluding Qatar haven’t been kind to Somali or Yemeni citizens.
Huffington post headline March 2016 (Ever thing must go : Somalia sells its Dignity) is bad but not terrible. What is worse is (Saudis lift ban on Somalia livestock ) July 2016 and 2018 at the height of drought and starvation. I would like to remind the readers of this fact :
The Saudi government does not represent Islam alone nor has it overall power or authority to dictate who should go to Hajj in Mecca or not. If a Muslim Qatari or Iranian wishes to visit the Kaaba (centre of Islam) they should do so without prejudice as it is in direct conflict of the main principles of Islam which the Saudi government can not deny in Islam. A Muslim is “one who believes complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed many times before through prophets including Adam,Abraham,Moses and Jesus. Islam is submission,safeness and peace to Allah.”
The Saudi government has no rights to dictate who can be a Muslim or not it’s illogical.
The Saudi royalty should also remember a time their people before the discovery of oil relied on the alms and gifts of their Muslim brothers including Somali and Yemeni people.
What is atrocious and sad are the people re writing history and misrepresenting facts to suit their agendas to justifying killings,murder and mayhem.
China’s president Xi Jinping $60 billion new loans and commitment in Africa has ruffled feathers and it was done in direct retaliation to Trumps trade war. The Chinese are not the enemy of Africa, the real enemies are those who wish Africa to stagnate and be subservient.
The author Fatheya Gelleh Yallas is a Diaspora based Somaliland and an MSc international conflict