A damning report penned by the United Nations Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, submitted to the UN Security Council in October 2014 for approval, has outlined potentially damaging UN sanction violations. In effect, this links the United Kingdom to illegal gun sales and less-than-clear international oil contracts. Eighty percent of these weapons end up in the hands of Al-Shabaab, padding pockets within the shady halls of the Somalia’s federal government on their way to Bakara market. The UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron, and specifically Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, have some explaining to do.
Excerpt of UNSC resolution #2093 (2013):
“The Security Council resolution would allow sales of such weapons as automatic assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, but leaves in place a ban on surface-to-air missiles, large-caliber guns, howitzers, cannons and mortars as well as anti-tank guided weapons, mines and night vision weapon sights.”
Arms embargoes are nothing new to Somalia. The U.N. Security Council first applied an embargo to the country in 1992 after a year of clan warfare following the coup of the then dictator Mohamed Siad Barre that displaced thousands and killed double that. The security council thought it wise to stem the influx of weapons into that region.
The decades-long embargo remained until March 6, 2013, when drafts were presented to the 15-member security council. The council unanimously agreed to the British version of the resolution, in which it renewed contracts for the 18,000-strong African Union peacekeepers currently fighting the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab.
The second portion addressed the Federal Somalia Government (FSG) request to lift the arms embargo to allow weapons and equipment to be shipped to the country in support of its security forces. The United States supported this request and further insisted on lifting the arms embargo entirely. Some security-council members thought this counter-productive, as the region was already overflowing with illegally smuggled weaponry. The agreed-upon recommendation went to the British, as their version specifically stated that the sale of weapons would be limited to “light weapons” that must be tracked by the FSG, facilities must be built to house them, and inventory reports must be sent to the U.N. Security Council every six months.
It briefed well on paper, but that reporting and tracking thing? Never happened.
The U.N. Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) found that over 80 percent of the weapons designated for delivery from UK-sanctioned dealers for FSG security forces were diverted to al-Shabaab and clan militia by way of two brigades of the Somalia National Army (SNA) stationed in Jowhar and Afgoye. Both of those units were manned by predominantly Abgaal and Habar Gedir clansmen. In a confidential letter to the SEMG, high-ranking members of these brigades described “preferential access to army logistics” approved by the Somali president and elements of the FSG national-security cabinet.
To date, the SEMG is reporting 13,000 weapons and 5.5 million rounds of ammunition that are excess or unaccounted for, and possibly in the hands of al-Shabaab and clan militias. This isn’t counting a cache 220 RPG rockets, 304 boosters, 230 hand-grenade detonators, 137 kilograms of TNT, and five rolls of “red det cord” with 500 electronic detonators. All off this was confiscated from a Yemeni individual with ties to al-Shabaab in Qandala, northeastern Somalia.
So how are these weapons getting past the Somali government? Well, the SEMG has collected evidence that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed’s advisor, Musa Haji Mohamed or “Musa Ganjab,” is a member of the Abgaal subclan. Fun fact: Ganjab is a tribal village in a rural area of Iran, and has been known as a facilitator for al-Shabaab in the past. And the SEMG have it on good authority and physical evidence that Ganjab has not only been supplying al-Shabaab with weapons, but national-security intelligence as well.
It’s no surprise that President Mohamed, along with the Somali Army Chief of Logistics Colonel Abdullahi Moalim Nur and former Minister of Interior and National Security Abdikarim Hussein Guled, are emphatically denying any affiliation with this former advisor to the the Somali president. The private security firm Ganjab established in Mogadishu will also be the frontrunner for logistical support for UK-based Soma Oil Company, which, according to the UN report draft, is conducting “questionable site and seismic analysis to secure 12 future oil contracts not publicly known or cataloged.”
Soma Oil security contractors are predominant in the middle and lower Shabelle.
“The contract has never been made public, nor was it approved by the federal parliament of Somalia, although it was ratified by the council of ministers.”
In 2013, Soma Oil approached the Somali government to offer its ‘services’ conducting 3D geospatial and seismic surveys of potential oil resource sites for further exploitation. According to the confidential agreement, upon completion of these services, Soma would get priority rights to apply for 12 lucrative oil contracts covering 40 square miles, or 60,000 kilometers. Somalia would be willing to sign over potential black-gold mines to the chief shareholders headed by former U.K. Parliamentary Conservative Party leader Robert Sheppard. Sheppard just happens to be the former senior executive of British Petroleum and Rockefeller’s Amoco, which was acquired by BP in 1998. Soma was founded in 2013 with the explicit purpose of exploring oil and natural resources within Somalia.
So what is the United Kingdom doing? Are we expected to believe that this superpower had no idea their sanctions were not being adhered to? Or is this about past land rights established after the historic 1884 Berlin Conference? Is the UK still hoping for a throwback to British colonial rule and a “protectorate” contract with the Somali merchants at the ports?
Regardless of the excuse, the West is destabilizing the Horn of Africa. The question remains, are we serious about quelling terrorism or are we really just interested in making money? With the United Kingdom being the penholder on Somalia’s governmental future and the United States being the penholder on quelling piracy, will Somalia get a fair shake?
(Featured Image Courtesy: Al Jazeera)