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Obama's first foreign policy crisis will be...

... the Somali pirates. (That would be the "test" Biden predicted.) Couldn't be more obvious, could it? Blooomberg:

Pirates have attacked about 125 ships this year off Somalia’s east coast and in the Gulf of Aden sailing to and from Egypt’s Suez Canal, a route used by 20,000 ships a year carrying a 10th of world trade. About 45 were seized. There were 37 reported attacks in 2007, the French government said.

The attacks have prompted the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the U.S., India, Russia and France to dispatch about 15 warships to the pirate-infested area, which is three times the size of Texas.

Yet piracy has continued unabated, in part because it would take 300 warships to control every ship movement in the 772,200- square-mile area, [Christophe Prazuck, a spokesman for the French military,] said.

Anyhow, that would be what the service chiefs in the Navy wants.

We'll just have to see what the Army and the Air Force wants.

Me, I'm betting on a multi-national American-led integrated task force after an incident. Let's just hope the Somalis haven't been reading their Van Riper if the emphasis is on the Navy.

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Submitted by brucedixon on

is the massive and ongoing US intervention in that country, in progress almost continuously since the death of Said Barre in the mid 1990s. Right now there are substantial US naval forces off the coast, crusie missiles, drones and manned sorties are regurlarly flown from US bases in Djbouti, from aircraft carriers and god only knows where else.

Said Barre was the gangster in charge of that country for a while, and was mostly amenable to US interests. But he balked at allowing US oil companies free reign to exploit Somailia's substantial and almost completely untouched petroleum deposits. He said many times that if Somalians could not do those jobs and guarantee that the oil money stayed in-country, the stuff could stay underground a few more decades. Washington didn't like that, and the US invested quite a bit in getting rid of Barre, and a lot more in interventions afterward to ensure that NO central government exists in that country, because any government that comes to power is likely to feel the same way.

They can look at Nigeria, where the oil companies have pumped trillions of dollars worth of oil out, and the oil producing regions are environmentally devastated, the poorest in the country and a substantial portion of the revenue has simply disappeared.

A Chatham House report puts it this way.

The only period during which piracy virtually vanished around Somalia was during the six months of rule by the Islamic Courts Union in the second half of 2006. This indicates that a functioning government in Somalia is capable of controlling piracy.

After the removal of the courts piracy re-emerged.With little functioning government, long, isolated, sandy beaches and a population that is both desperate and used to war, Somalia is a perfect environment for piracy to thrive.

Let's be clear on this: US corporations LOVE weak and powerless central governments in Africa. They just adore the Congo, where 5 million have perished in a decade, because it is a perfect environment to extract the copper, diamonds, coltan, titanium, timber, gold and other resources. By comparison, neighboring Sudan, where in DArfur the death toll has been at most a twentieth of that in the Congo, according to many reliable sources, is called a "genocide" mainly because the French and Chinese are getting the oil and not us.

When local warlords prove inadequate to the task, these ungoverned regions can then be targed for "humanitarian" invasions. I think we did that once in Somalia already, didn't we?

We bankrolled the Ethiopian and Kenyan armies to invade the place, and have killed maybe a million Somalis in the last ten years and made three or four million more homeless. Although we write about the situation in Somalia nearly every week in Black Agenda Report, it's a story you rarely see mentioned anywhere else.

Oh, and by the way, a million people are starving there right now, a situation that the UN calls a genuine humanitarian crisis, and which, like the US. Sorry for only including one link here, I gotta get back to work.

A good place to look for news on the war in Somali is the press of 54 African countries, a lot of which you can find at allafrica.net,