2. Why Are We Really In Somalia?
LOS ANGELES TIMES, Date: 1/18/93, Title: "The Oil Factor In Somalia,"
Author: Mar Fineman; PROPAGANDA REVIEW, Date: No. 10, 1993, Title: "Somalia?*,"
Author: Rory Cox; EXTRA!, Date: March 1993, Title: "The Somalia Intervention:
Tragedy Made Simple," Author: Jim Naureckas
SYNOPSIS: There was little question about the influence of oil
on our decision to send troops to the Persian Gulf on behalf of Kuwait.
But Somalia was strictly a matter of humanitarian aid. Right?
Or was the preponderance of tragic images of starving Somalis all
over the major media outlets during the end of 1992 and the first half of 1993
merely a more refined and cynical method of selling yet another war for oil, asked
Rory Cox in Propaganda Review.
Or, as Jim Naureckas asked in EXTRA!, "If
the U.S. has not consistently acted in an altruistic manner toward starving people
in Africa, why did it dispatch troops to Somalia at this point? There have been
frequent media denials that geopolitical considerations might have entered into
the decision. The Washington Post reported (12/6/92) that `Unlike previous large-scale
operations, there is no U.S. strategic or economic interest in the Somalia deployments."'
enough, while the U.S./U.N. military involvement in Somalia began in mid-November,
it wasn't until January 18, two days before George Bush left office, that a major
media outlet, the Los Angeles Times, published an article that revealed America's
oil connection with Somalia.
Times staff writer Mark Fineman started his
Mogadishu-datelined article with, "Far beneath the surface of the tragic
drama of Somalia, four major U.S. oil companies are quietly sitting on a prospective
for tune in exclusive concessions to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres
of the Somali countryside. That land, in the opinion of geologists and industry
sources, could yield significant amounts of oil and natural gas if the U.S.-led
military mission can restore peace to the impoverished East African nation."
to Fineman, nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants
Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips before Somalia's pro-U.S. President Mohamed
Siad Barre was overthrown. The U.S. oil companies are "well positioned to
pursue Somalia's most promising potential oil reserves the moment the nation is
While oil industry spokesmen, along with Bush/Clinton administration
spokespersons, deny these allegations as "absurd" and "nonsense,"
Thomas E. O'Connor, the principal petroleum engineer for the World Bank, who headed
an in-depth three-year study of oil prospects off Somalia's northern coast, said,
"There's no doubt there's oil there .... It's got high (commercial) potential
... once the Somalis get their act together."
Meanwhile, Conoco is
playing an intimate part in the U.S. government's role with the humanitarian effort
in Somalia. Conoco agreed to "rent" its Mogadishu corporate compound
to U.S. envoy Robert B. Oakley, who transformed it into a temporary U.S. embassy.
Conoco executive said, "With America, there is a genuine humanitarian streak
in us ... that many other countries and cultures cannot understand." Nonetheless,
the cozy relationship between Conoco and the U.S. intervention force, coupled
with America's well known need for oil, has left many Somalis and foreign development
It may well be that the Operation Restore Hope slogan
was less representative than Operation Restore Oil.
SSU Censored Researcher:
COMMENTS: Jim Naureckas, investigative journalist and editor
of EXTRA!, noted that Somalia has received two intense bursts of coverage
in the media. "The second burst, obviously, corrected some of the
simplistic assumptions of the first-but in many cases simply replaced
them with new stereotypes. Some information, like the role of oil companies
in the Somalian intervention, has never gotten adequate attention. And
there has still not been the sustained discussion of the causes of famine
that we (EXTRA!) called for.
The general public
would benefit from wider exposure of this subject since it was given minimal information
on which to base a judgment on the Somalian intervention, Naureckas added. The
limited amount of information "led to shock and disillusionment when it turned
out military intervention was not the easy solution it had been sold as. U.S.
citizens need realistic discussions of the real causes of famine if humanitarian
efforts are to have real success."
Naureckas charged that the primary
beneficiaries of the flawed coverage of Somalia are "the U.S. military and
foreign policy apparatus, who treated Somalia as an opportunity for a p.r. victory,
while treating Somalis as a conquered people. The oil companies with stakes in
Somalia are secondary beneficiaries."
Author Rory Cox, who examined
the influence of oil on our Somalian policy for Propaganda Review, said that "While
U.S./U.N. involvement in Somalia has been covered widely, scant information is
available on the oil-producing potential of the region. This was the gist of my
piece, and since I wrote it the story has continued to be virtually ignored, though
strangely enough I've heard a few talk-radio hosts rant about it."
feels the public should be aware of the oil potential since "there seems
to be a general sense of confusion about the mission in Somalia and its changing
nature, i.e. from feeding the starving to chasing a warlord. If the public knew
about the oil angle on all of this, they/we would have a clearer picture of the
situation, and that there is potentially a resource for us to use (or for oil
companies to profit from)."
Cox adds a caveat to his comments, noting
that he has not personally been to Somalia, nor is he an expert on the region,
but "regardless of what role oil plays, it's potential in Somalia is a well
documented fact, and one that should be considered in any debate on the subject."
Fineman, staff writer with the Los Angeles Times, who examined the "oil factor
in Somalia," was on assignment in Cypress and not available to comment on
Clarence Page, a syndicated columnist in Chicago, raised another
little known fact about our Somalia involvement in his column published October
14, 1993. In trying to understand how we got into the mess in Somalia, Page said
"one comes across an ominously familiar name from the past: April Glaspie.
Yes, the same former ambassador to Iraq who many believe inadvertently signaled
during a meeting with Saddam Hussein that the Bush administration would not get
all that upset if he invaded Kuwait.
"Glaspie has re-emerged like the
Typhoid Mary of American diplomacy as a senior adviser to the United Nations in
Somalia, our latest disaster," Page said.
Page reports that Glaspie
may have played a key role in turning Aidid against the U.N. and the United States
at a time when he was cooperating with peacemaking efforts.