The Somalian crisis – after the fall of the Berlin Wall – was more or less alike the Ethiopian scenario. The country was divided among factions and in 1991, the corrupt government of Siad Barre was contested. Why did the US step in Somalia in 1992 and not in Ethiopia in the late 1980s? The US diplomacy declared that the American interests were to stop the escalation of the civil war started in 1991. The primary objective was to monitor the first ceasefire of the Somali war. Prior of the collapse of the Somali state in 1991, 4 major oil petroleum companies had agreements with Somalia to receive concessions. Media reports have stressed that Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Philips were lobbying the Bush administration to intervene in Somalia to protect their investments. In reality, a large reserve of oil was tapped in North Somalia. In 2012 it was notoriously projected that the reserves might go up to 4 billion barrels of oil. Oil exploration has begun in the arid northeast of the country after two decades of civil war, in the semi-autonomous Puntland region where the drillings stand. Ironically, Puntland is relatively stable compared with other parts of Somalia.
What did the US really made in Somalia in 1992? What were the ends of the bloody Battle of Mogadishu?
Why did the US never care about the 30 years of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and suddenly show concern about preventing the collapse of Somalian State? Why were the Americans so obsessed to catch general Aidid and get trapped in a man hunt with the UN? Didn’t the US create, partly, the chaos they were supposed to solve? It will be short to accuse the US for Somalian turpitudes and internal anarchy but the reasons for US intervention are not clear and the pretext of delivering food to the population could be an excuse for other ends.
In Rwanda the “crisis” was a real genocide meeting the juridical concept of genocide of the 1948 convention. It was the quickest and most murderous genocide in Africa in the twentieth century. In a 100 days, almost 800,000 Tutsi were barbarically slaughtered by the pro-governmental Hutu militia. The international community did not take action to protect the Tutsis in Rwanda. It is the Tutsi military forces of Paul Kagamé that stopped the genocide. Where were the promoters of humanitarian action?
There is a consensus among scholars to that everybody knew what was going on in Rwanda in 1994. The French organized the most ridiculous Operation Turquoise, indirectly assisting the Pro Hutu regime. President Mitterrand would say that it was just another African crisis. The US deliberately ignored the Tutsi genocide. They decided to bury the information about the killings. A human rights activist, Mrs. Des Forges, recognized that the US administration felt nervous to use the word “genocide” because it would demand action. The US fiasco in Somalia in 1992 was a like a “ghost” scaring the US diplomacy to make the mistake again with another intervention. The “Mogadishu line” was a mark in the History of intervention, a point not to by-pass. Journalists mentioned that Rwanda was a small country with no minerals or strategic value. Bill Clinton later apologized on a visit in Kigali, in 1998, for the US failure in stopping the genocide but declassified documents highlight this defense of ignorance. When they intervene the US are accused of being a global empire but when they do not move they are also accused of “non assistance to people in danger”.
In Yugoslavia, the nation collapsed under the peripheral forces dividing the country in small ethnic-units. The story of disintegration, similar to, the above examples started in 1991. The western media presented Serb nationalism as the evil force to crush down. Slobodan Milosevich, like Aidid in Somalia, and after Sadam Hussein in Iraq, wasportrayed as an evil despot imposing atrocities on ethnic minorities.
Yugoslavia, like Somalia, was presented as a failed state incapable to protect the whole populations on its territory. NATO Bombardments in Yugoslavia, according to Chomsky, fabricated the humanitarian crisis. He pointed out that in Kosovo, killings and atrocities did not precede but followed the NATO Bombings. (Chomsky, 2007: 96). Brendam Stone (Global Research, 29, 2005, Globalresearch.ca), in a paper, defended the idea that NATO had economical and geostrategic interests in the Balkan. The Western regimes had planned to transform the valuable Trepca mining complex into a western corporation. The Caspian region is supposed to be one of the richest for oil,gas and gold reserves. The region might produce 6 millions of barrels of oil per day by 2020.
The Congo crisis was named the “First African War” because many West African states were committed in the war since 1996. The first Congo war in 1996 will be followed by a second one in 1998. The early stage of the conflict can be described as a Tutsi revenge in Zaire. The war was a prolongation of the Rwandan genocide in Congo territories. The revenging game played by Hutu refugees in Congo forced the Tutsi government of Paul Kagamé to make an intrusion in Congo in early 1995. The Congo crisis is a paradigm of the post-colonial state’s failure: the inability for different ethnic groups to co-exist inside an inclusive nation. Post-colonial nations have inherited the frontiers traced artificially by the colonial powers. Unnatural demarcations never met the distribution of the ethnic groups on the territorial space. At the genesis of back-to-back wars in Congo, there is the brutal Belgium colonial experience. Congo was the private property of king Leopold II. He ruthlessly imposed one of the most violent, bloody, autocratic, rule involving slave labor. The death rate in Congo was terrible during the colonization but remained higher during post-colonial Congo wars. Since 1996, and the aftermath of the the conflict 5. 4 million people have been killed. The number of victims is more important than in the Rwandan or Darfur genocides. The country had lost almost 8% of its population of 66 million. There is still a debate among specialists over how to estimate war-related deaths but it is recognized by consensus that it is one of the world’s deadliest crisis. Despite the death toll, the West and the UN resolutions remained inefficient. Reports indicatethe tight connection between the plunder of Congo’s resources and the pursuit of the conflict especially in the Ituri region. Copper, coltan, cobalt, diamonds and gold are the precious minerals the neighboring countries are fighting for.
Congo’s crisis illustrates the Paul Collier theory which defined rebellions as predations motivated by greed. Ironically, the abundance of resources has not served as fuel for growth or reconstruction. Instead, the resources have been used to fuel the war and became the source of impoverishment and exhaustion of the environment.
Dr. Fabienne Le Houerou,
Chercheur (IREMAM- UMR 7310-CNRS/Aix-Marseille-Université)
About the Author:
Dr. Fabienne Le Houerou is a social science researcher working in the French National Center For Research (CNRS), Institut de Recherches et d’Etudes sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman (IREMAM) and the author of the e-book ‘Humanitarian Crises and International Relations 1959-2013‘ published by Bentham e-books, in March 2014. The book explores the sophisticated ways the International Community exploits the genuine ‘good feelings’ of the world’s Societies in order to impose an order. Fabienne Le Houérou stresses how the use of ‘honey language’ can hide a ‘vinegar reality’ in our multipolar international system.
[Read the first part here]
[Stay tuned for the last part]